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Author Topic: Early Forms of Christianity  (Read 9346 times)
Soulfire
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« on: September 10, 2003, 17:13:11 »

Hi Beth,

Welcom to the forums!  [Smiley]  

This topic sounds very interesting and I look forward to it.  Will you please share with us your understanding of how the modern and "original" approaches to Christianity differ in meaningful ways?  Thanks.  [Smiley]

--Soulfire
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Beth
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« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2003, 17:52:12 »

Hey there Soulfire!

Thank you for your welcome!

It would require another "very lengthy" post to do your question justice!!  (and I must go and accomplish a few things today--so I will be out of pocket for 8-7 hours.)

But I will give a quick overview of "some" of the primary ways in which the differences do exist "in meaningful ways."

1) First, biblical scripture, if understood properly contains a vast wealth of knowledge that has really only been barely tapped into.  The language of the periods in which scripture was written had a structure and understanding mostly unknown to us.  When you read scripture from a metaphorical, mystical standpoint--what you find there is absolutely amazing.  And what it provides as a starting point is the same. Sripture was a "springboard" so to speak--that was a stimulator for the conscious mind to expand.

2) The scriptures are not talking about a solid organized doctrine that we have today.  If anything, it is coming out against such an establishment.  It points the way to a "personal experience" the opportunity for "the divine" to "show the way."  It actually beseeches us all to open our hearts and let the divine realm lead us instead of falling into the "darkness" of what everyone insists that you MUST believe.  

3) During this period of time, Mystery Schools were prolific.  In this case, the education of Greek speaking Jews began with a Greek philosophical curriculum. This included langauge and grammar, mathematics, art, music, the sciences and their cultural literary corpus.  After these subjects were mastered, then the student could move up through the system and begin to address more specific topics such as we find in Philosophy today: more in-depth language studies, ethics, the law, and of course metaphysics. Within/beyond this level--the mystery schools appear to have branched off into different specialties.  For us in this discussion, this would now be considered Jewish Mysticism. Note that this was pre-Kabbalah as we have it today--but the word kabbalah itself means tradition--so at this early stage the tradition was definately being taught in some form or another.  To the best of my knowledge we do not have a full systemitized accounting for this early form of mysticism. We have a lot of information--but there are still A LOT of unanswered questions. Scholars are working hard, however, to try to recapture all that they can.  

5) In my experience, both personal and academic, the mystery school with which I am most familiar is a language based mysticism.  It was by interpreting scripture through many different levels that the sub-conscious was adequately stimulated enough for each person to experience the divine according to his/her capacity to learn, accept and understand.  This was not a static progression of learning.  As far as I know, no one who wrote in any of these ancient mystical texts ever claimed to possess all of the answers.  I guess you could say that it is truly "the journey that counts--not necessarily the destination."  

6) These ancient mystery texts do address many types of mystical experiences such as astral projection, lucid dreaming, prophetic dreaming, periods of heightened intellectual awareness, experiences of light and angelic manifestations, just to name the main ones we are aware of today.  These writers also had the same problems that we have today--i.e., if you have never had experiences such as these...then you cannot possibly understand. And yes, they also address encounters with "adversarial" entities (both human and non-human) and other adversarial obstacles that will be encountered on the spiritual path. But they were taught that their ultimate checkpoint was always to be their "rational mind" and "their strong moral fiber."  If they were still in doubt after these checkpoints, then I assume that they prayed fervently for the right answers and perhaps were then led to consult with others.

This is just a brief outline of some of the primary differences.  There is so much more to discuss, but alas, I must leave for now[Smiley]

I will, however, return later [Wink]

[portions of this post were extracted from Fire on the Water: Biblical Proper Name Exegesis and Language Based Mysticism, Beth B. Phillips, Copyright 2003.]    
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« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2003, 20:24:24 »

Hi,

With regard to the concept that scriptural wisdom is often hidden beneath the surface:

How do you feel the language barrier comes into play with this?  It would seem that this type of layered complexity would depend heavily on precise phrasing, grammer, and literary structure used by the original author to retain the integrity of its "deeper" meaning.  How much of this would generally be lost, distorted, our even destroyed by the translation process?  How trustworthy do you feel the oldest manuscripts we have avaliable to work with are with regard to being precise and unaltered copies of the original works?

--Soulfire

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« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2003, 20:24:24 »



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James S
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« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2003, 21:13:20 »

Hello Beth,

So Robert managed to drag you kicking and screaming on to this forum [Smiley]
Really though, a big welcome to you. I very much looking forward to what you have to share with us.

 
quote:
Originally posted by Beth

2) The scriptures are not talking about a solid organized doctrine that we have today.  If anything, it is coming out against such an establishment.  It points the way to a "personal experience" the opportunity for "the divine" to "show the way."  It actually beseeches us all to open our hearts and let the divine realm lead us instead of falling into the "darkness" of what everyone insists that you MUST believe.  



This bit in particular I find utterly fascinating! Having spent nearly half of my life experiencing this "organized doctrine" first hand, I cannot help but to think that it is all supposed to be very much a personal thing, not a follow-this-belief-like-sheep thing. Somewhere somebody got it terribly wrong!

Kind regards,
James.
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Beth
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« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2003, 23:39:46 »

Hey there!

Soulfire--you wrote several questions:

 
quote:
How do you feel the language barrier comes into play with this?

As in most cases the language barrier is most definately a serious issue when it comes to finding the original meaning of any text going from one language to another.  It is even more complicated when it comes to biblical scripture. The Greek Septuagint (a.k.a., the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament written in Greek) for example is thought to have been translated from an original Hebrew text that is no longer in existence.  All very early copies of the Septuagint itself are long gone.  What we do have is a record/legend in an ancient letter of Aristeas that tells the story of the Septuagint being created. Now--going from an original ancient Hebrew text into ANY language would have be open to translation and interpretation primarily because the ancient Hebrew manuscripts did not have any vowels as such (other than a few of the letters that served both vowel and consonant purposes)nor were there spaces between words or sentences and no punctuation.  Thus what you had to start with was just row after row of letters--basically an untranslated text.  This made the way clear for NUMEROUS possible translations. What was of interest in the legend is that from this extremely large amount of "Hebrew Letters" all 70 translators came up with the "exact same" translation! This translation is purported to be what we have today (pretty much anyway!)

 
quote:
It would seem that this type of layered complexity would depend heavily on precise phrasing, grammer, and literary structure used by the original author to retain the integrity of its "deeper" meaning.


So true.  This is where it gets most "fascinating!" [Wink]  In the language based mysticism that I have researched through my studies I found that the ancients saw ALL of the potential that language offers.  Language can be used to communicate to the masses--and it can also be used to communicate esoterically.  To communicate esoterically--all one needed were the keys required to arrive at a particular interpretation--and viola--you would have access to one or more levels of deeper meaning.

On preserving the integrity of scripture.  I have no doubt that relatively speaking a great deal has been "lost through the cracks" of multi-lingual translations. And yes--I am sure that some redactions (editing) did take place by later more agenda driven scholars. BUT--if a person that was translating a text "did not know" about the "hidden meaning" in a text--then they would not know "how to edit" the deeper meanings out.  This is the beauty of scripture.  Buried within the surface stories found throughout both the Hebrew Bible (OT) and the New Testament--these hidden layers of meaning have been inadvertantly preserved!!! Pretty cool huh?[8D]

 
quote:
How much of this would generally be lost, distorted, our even destroyed by the translation process? How trustworthy do you feel the oldest manuscripts we have avaliable to work with are with regard to being precise and unaltered copies of the original works?[/


Like I just said...the meanings are buried within the surface layer of stories.  The only way to totally destroy the esoteric is to totally destroy the scripture itself.  As a result, the esoteric has all pretty much been preserved. Assuming there were later redactors that changed things to suit their own agenda...the affects were probably just minimal.  There will probably always be some parts of translated works that can be considered dubious--but there is little we can do about that.  But--there is A LOT to learn from what we have at hand! So many meanings--so little time!![Wink]

And James--yes...somewhere early on...the keys were lost, ignored or buried underground. There is no telling how many different "sets of keys" there were.  BUT--that is also the beauty of working with the divine realm.  The keys will always find their way into "this world" when the divine realm deems it necessary!!  It is not WE that are in charge here--in my opinion--it is the divine realm that is "calling the shots!!"


[portions of this post were extracted from Fire on the Water: Biblical Proper Name Exegesis and Language Based Mysticism, Beth B. Phillips, Copyright 2003.]
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« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2003, 01:48:21 »

Ok,

I am not sure I agree with everything you say, but a lot of it definately seems reasonable.  I want to keep an open mind and give you the benefit of the doubt for now on even the things that feel questionable to me.  So assuming for now that all of this information so far is essentially accurate, can you please give me some examples of these "keys" that you discuss and possibly share with me how they work?  Even just an imaginary example that illustrates the concepts is fine if the "real" keys cannot be easily explained.  

I sincerely appreciate any information you can give me, but if it ever becomes too much of a burdeon typing it, please just refer me to a book?  It may take me a while to get to the information that way (as I always have many more books on my to-buy list than I can afford).   If I cannot get it from a local library and you highly recommend it and I am intuitively drawn to it, I will check it out as soon as I can afford to.  [Smiley]

--Soulfire
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« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2003, 03:57:31 »

Very interesting. The Bible does over and over talk about the Kingdom being hidden, it also says that Peter was given the "keys" to the kingdom. Maybe indicating to us that all things are not what they seem but that the "real" meaning of the scripture is to be searched for. As it is today it seems that you only need a membership card and you then have the whole truth served as a fast food meal. No labour in prayer contemplation etc. Just a quick fix every sunday and you are in the clear. It is my life experience that the reason there even exist a deeper level (only God knows how many)is to give everyone a chance, and take them where they are at . It talks about "hiding the truths of God , from the wise and giving it to the simple". Maybe the simple, are folks who intuitivly accepts the LOVE they "feel" and does not get stranded on the "mind" or brain level. It seems that many things in life has to be understood at another level. Sort of like the old adage about women, the mouth says no the body language says no way, but still.....the heart says come closer. Bad example but I hope that you get the point. I argued this on the other thread that Christians also evolve ( or should )like anyone else to a deeper understanding of things. I personally believe it is God , or what I call the Holy Spirit who decides when you are ready to move on. I find it is similar to trying for OBEs . One can try sooo hard and ....nothing. Maybe too much desire. It is so frustrating, the right position relaxation, time full moon etc....and zero. Then other times you just want a nap and suddenly ...whooee. It is like organized Christianity, what I call Churchanity, is trying too hard and straying from the very basic principles that they believe. There is something bigger than man, we are not to judge , they want to play god so to speak and by taking on that attitude of being great and mighty teachers they through their lack of love become the "blind leaders of the Blind". As the Bible says "they crucify him new every day". I hope this is not out of line, but that is how it speaks to me.[Smiley]

I had a particular question about the Greek original. There appear many places in the english versions the word "forever". (the cause of many arguments and lots of fear)It is as I understand the greek word "aeon" I think that is the spelling. Meaning "a time or age" this seem to be a contradiction with the way it is used in the text nowadaysand seem to have given cause for many hellfire preachers. Is "aeon" a limited time or literally forever. I also wonder about the word used in "the grave" I remember it from Greek being "hades" = the unseen state, in hebrew it is "gehenna" is that the same or similar. I also believe that the word Church which people now adays see as a building , is "eclisia" = the called out or chosen people, and not a building. Is this correct?
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« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2003, 04:48:06 »

Soulfire: I wish it were so simple to just give out the keys in a very straightforward fashion.  I guess I “could” just give them to you, but to do so may hold little meaning for you—as well as do you no real good.  You would still have to trust “me” on what I say about these things unless you are familiar with these ancient languages and have access to them in Hebrew and Greek.  These levels of meaning are very “fluid” so my interpretation would—by far—NOT be the “only” interpretation.  I can, and will, give many examples as this discussion unfolds.  So, I am being vague for a very specific reason and I realize this can give rise to suspicion.  I am not boasting of having possession of these keys—most all of the ones that I know of are available in books that you can purchase on amazon.com. I do, however, feel a great responsibility for the information that I personally discuss and give out. I do not know the level of understanding for those who may read these posts, and while I can discuss some of these keys, others will require preparatory work that I am not sure will ever be accomplished here.  There is A LOT to this.  It is NOT simple.  We are all very spoiled and usually enjoy instant gratification, but in this it will take time and a great deal of study.  It has taken me 10 years to learn what I do know.  

I will start off by giving you some ancient background and academic backup for that background.  The footnotes will provide you with a few of the major texts if you want to eventually purchase them.  (BTW: I certainly understand having a long “wish list” of books!  I have however, been blessed to have access to a major university library that is well-stocked with many of the necessary texts.  I will be glad to share with you what I have found in these texts as we go along.)  

Okay…we must first go to the Middle Ages to find one of the major keys.  In the late thirteenth century c.e, Rabbi Moses de Leon, believed to be the author of the well-known mystical Zohar, also wrote a now lost work titled Pardes, which literally means “paradise” or “orchard.”1   The title of this work hints at its acronym (PRDS), through which de Leon expounded four different levels of biblical interpretation:  P for peshat2 , the plain meaning known to the masses, R for remez, the allegorical level, D for derasha, the Talmudic and Aggadic interpretation and S for sod, or the mystical meaning. R. de Leon does so in reference to the famous Talmudic story of the four ancient rabbis that entered the pardes. The term ‘paradise’ is also used in and believed to be directly connected to Paul’s revealing statement of II Corinthians 12:2-4 which also implies an astral projection into the “third heaven.”3    This four-fold division is language-based mysticism and entering pardes therefore came to represent mystical speculations of the true meaning of Torah on all four of these levels of meaning.  

Since we are all familiar enough with peshat, let’s move on to remez. This is the level of meaning that arises from symbols and metaphors found within scripture.  The term “allegory” from the Greek allegoria, means most simply “to say something other than what one seems to say.”  In general, however, allegory must have a narrative dimension which serves to distinguish it from metaphor, simile, and allusion, all of which are actually tools of allegory.  

First let’s look at a few examples of metaphorical meaning.  In Sefer ha-Bahir for instance, “sea” is a metaphor for Torah.4    On the level of remez when Moses parted the Sea of Reeds (The Red Sea) what he really did was “part” or “open-up” the Torah.  At the opening up of the Torah, the Israelites were able to “pass through”—perhaps in understanding—and thus escape the ensuing Egyptians.  When Moses then closed the waters on Pharaoh’s army, they were subsequently drowned—perhaps you could say—they were way “over their heads.”  So, from the metaphorical meaning of “sea” as Torah, an allegory arises that only the Israelites, under the leadership of Moses, could truly understand the Torah.  This seems rather simplistic doesn’t it?—well perhaps it is—but that is one of the esoteric meanings that has been safely preserved within the surface story of Moses and the Israelites sojourn into the wilderness.  

Another example is found with the “food” and “eating” metaphors that abound throughout scripture.  “Food” was considered the metaphor for knowledge in general, and specially prepared foods or sacred foods were “higher knowledge.”  The word “eat” appears over 500 times in scripture.  Many instances of “eating” and the ability to digest certain foods are clearly obscure references when read on the surface level of scripture alone.  For example, there is the ever-popular example in Genesis about eating the fruit from the tree of good and evil.  Many misconceptions have arisen from a literal interpretation of this one!![Sad]  There is also the even more obscure references in Ezekiel. In just the first three chapters you can read of “eating scrolls” some of which were sweet and some of which bitter.  And finally, from the NT, just in the Epistles of Paul, the subject of eating is referred to on many occasions.  For example in Hebrews 5:11-6:3:

5:11We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. 61Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And God permitting, we will do so.    


With some reflection, this eating metaphor would also extend to Jesus and the Eucharist (The Lord’s Supper.)

So, the four levels of meaning within scripture are ONE "key." Within this is the second level of meaning or “allegory” and one of its tools “metaphor” becomes another “key”--a key that communicates a myriad of esoteric messages.  There are no doubt, hundreds if not thousands of these metaphors scattered throughout scripture.  See, I told you it wasn’t so simple!  And already, there are many people who may read just this one post, and potentially have a very hard time “swallowing” and “digesting” this information.  So please understand why I insist upon proceeding slowly.[Smiley]

Footnotes:
  1-Scholem, Gershom, On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, pg. 57, and Scholem, Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and Talmudic Tradition, pg. 16.  
  2-According to Gershom Scholem, this designates the literal or simple meaning which is always preserved although made “transparent by the mystical light shining through it.” On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, pg. 56-57. This is the first way in which one comes to understand scripture, further explained that at this stage of understanding, the intellect is still undeveloped. See Idel, Moshe, Language, Torah, and Hermeneutics in Abraham Abulafia, pg. 83. In the New Testament, Paul refers to this as the Letter of Law, as opposed to the Spirit of the Law.  Paul further likens the Letter of the Law to a child’s mentality.  
  3-II Corinthians 12:2-4: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know--God knows. 3And I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows-- 4was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.”
  4-Kaplan, Aryeh. The Bahir Illumination, pg.2. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1979.


[note to Mustardseed:  Isn’t it interesting that you said “…you then have the whole truth served as a fast food meal” Huh   I will also address your questions tomorrow.  I will have to consult my Greek Lexicon and think about this for a bit.  I am also in the US and it is past my bedtime[|)]!!—((((yawn))))—so, I will get back to you soon!]


[portions of this post were extracted from Fire on the Water: Biblical Proper Name Exegesis and Language Based Mysticism, Beth B. Phillips, Copyright 2003.]
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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2003, 05:09:45 »

G'day Folks!

The mention of 'keys' to decode sacred text is fascinating. Have you ever heard the phrase 'to see the writing on the wall'? I think this comes from Jewish mysticism, if memory serves me.

Going back over twenty years, I had an experience where in deep meditation I sensed a powerful presence enter my room. I opened my eyes and saw what looked like Hebrew letters being written on the wall facing my chair, as if an invisible man were writing them in bold marker pen. When it finished writing, there were about a dozen letters or so.  They stayed visible for over a minute. I have no idea what these letters represent or mean, but I feel they are important.

I am wondering if there is a divine phenomenon that, when a person reach a particular state or level of consciousness, the 'writing on the wall' phenomenon is triggered. And, that maybe this writing is a key to decoding something.

I've witnessed this phenomenon three or four times in my life.


....food for thought....


Take care, Robert.

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« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2003, 07:04:40 »

Hi again,

First of all let me admit that I will need to re-read this last post several times and really take some time to think it through to fully absorb everything you said.  But I do have some issues that spring to mind immediately, so I will address them now.  Most of what I am going to say might sound critical, but please know that I am just expressing my honest thoughts and mean no disrespect.  Most of what I offer here is intended as sincer questions and possibilities for further discussion rather than criticism.  Furthermore, I will be the first to admit that I just plain may not be wise or intelligent enough to see much of the truth that sits right in front of me.

My experience in life has been that God does not usually make things complicated.  From my perspective, everyting I see of God's creation seems very elegant and simple.  It may be "complex", but not usually as far as I have been able to perceive as "complicated".  Complication seems to be man's game - not Gods.  To whatever extent this is true, it seems unlikely to me that God would go out of his way to make "his word" complicated.  It also seems unlikely to me that God would require vast amounts of intelligence from his people in order for them to have much hope of acquiring wisdom from the scriptures.  Most spiritual traditions (including the bible) state that intelligence is not the key to wisdom.  In my personal experience, I often see where intelligence actually impedes the acquisition of wisdom.  I cannot see where anybody with less than exceptional intelligence would have much hope of unlocking the treasures of the scriptures if I am correctly understanding what is invloved in this process.

I can see where MEN could easily be likely to try and hide something they consider valuable.  If this was the case, it would essentially be just another instance of the "elite" hoarding something of value and trying to make it inaccessable to the masses.  So it may well be that men hid God's truth in the scriptures and that because the truth was hidden there, they are indeed worth studying for those with enough mental resources and availibility of instruction for how to properly accomplish this.  Unless I am missing something, it seems reasonable to assume that nobody of any level of intelligence would have much chance of "unlocking" these hidden treasures without alos having access to a lot of external material giving hints and theories of how to decode everyting in addition to having the scriptures themselves.  An entire lifetime's work studying the scriptures without availability of this external scholarly material to summarize all of man's previous "discoveries" would seem doomed to very limited success.  It is also worth considering that this material is simply unavailable to the vast majority of the world's population even in the modern age, and it was much less accessable in the past.  This would seem to "exclude" not only the less than brilliant from discovering God's wisdom, but probably also the less than materially wealthy.

Now if any of the above makes any sense, it seems reasonable to me that God would also make all those same truths available in other ways that everyone had reasonable access to.  I believe God would give a mentally challenged person an equivalent opportunity to learn his truth as as was offered to the brilliant scholar.  If this is true, it would seem reasonable to question whether this much more complex method of acquiring these same truths is really an efficient use of time even for the brilliant, but especially for the less than brilliant.

My next major point is that this method of interpreting literature would provide brilliant insights into almost anything.  Looking at anything that exists from many different angles, and using a little imagination to apply it to issues personally meaningful to you would usually yield a wealth of valuable information.  Just for an example, try using those exact same methods investing the same amount of energy and creativity with the "Jack and Jill ran up the hill..." story, or even to the migratory patterns of geese.  This is not necessarily a criticism, but rather points out that maybe this process is extremely valuable, but perhaps it should be applied much more broadly than just to scripture?

My final concern goes back to my impression that God is usually elegant and simple:  If you look for the most joyful and wisest person you can find, I believe you will always find the person who has learned to love unconditionally more deeply and consistently than everybody else.  Maybe this is the simple essence of spirituality?  Maybe it is possible than anything we seek beyond this is just a diversion...almost like a "hobby"?  If it is possible that this is the true essense of spirituality, then how necessary is all this layered complexity spanning thousands of pages of scripture, apocrapha, and pseudopigrapha (sp?)?  Couldn't you master this just as easily by simply "practicing" love as best you know how moment by moment as you live your life?

Anyway, those are my thoughts so far.  It was 3:30AM when I wrote this, so please forgive any gibberish.  [:I]  I do not claim that any of this is accurate, and I sure don't have any answers, but I hope some of this will at least qualify as reasonable questions for further discussion?

--Soulfire
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« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2003, 15:37:57 »

I think that Soulfire makes a very good point here. It is also my experience that God does not require a lot of enteligence (see I cant even spell) but I was thinking that maybe inteliligence is not the most important thing!! There are many scriptures about this, one says "now when they heard the wisdom of Peter and John and precieved that they were unlearned and ignorant fishermen they marveled and took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus" (dont wanna offend by qoute the Bible but it is my personal reference). Anyway I sort of get the feeling that intelligence is not enough neither is insight or even intuition. Maybe it is more a question all of these things together and most important, of motive. The 13th chapter of 1 cor talks about all these things wisdom intelligence knowledge of great mysteries are nothing it says "the greatest of these is love" . I have experienced that it is more in having the right motive or desire and then a lot of insight is GIVEN not only learned. Its like there are 2 ways to learn. The reason for this is, that all the things you qoute Beth, allegories about the milk vs the meat etc I seem to have always understood like that. I have also found that I have in some instances read  some scriptures over and over for years till suddenly  one day it was like scales fell from my eyes and I understood what it was all about. All that to say that your approach which is academic is maybe just one way (your way) of putting words on it. So even though I am limited by bad english , no education , except very inferiour highschool dropout standard etc all hope is not lost. A Rose under another name is still a Rose. Maybe it is given to people to understand these keys and sense the order of things if the motive is right. Not all locked doors has to be unlocked by oneself. The Bible says "Knock and it shall be opened to you seek and ye shall find for who seeketh shall find and whoso knocks it shall be opened unto him". Indicating some outside force (God?)also is helping out. Maybe all those who truly seek to understand need to do is use all that we have been given, in brains intuition experience etc all give a 100% and then God will make up for the difference.

Regards Mustardseed
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« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2003, 17:36:42 »

Soulfire-

I agree whole heartedly with you.  God does not need this much or this kind of complexity to communicate with us.  I also agree that being “spiritual” is not necessarily being “intelligent” by the way we gauge it today.  More often than not—true “intelligence”—is found in being kind, loving and forgiving—always with the intention of promoting peace.  

If you will notice from my posts, I never made the claim that only the “intelligent” or the “elite” class of academically trained people had access to the divine realm.  Personally, I have found this to be quite the contrary—most especially, and ironically, in biblical studies.  

That is not what my posts in this section are all about and I hope to clear up any assumptions that may have already been made.  First—I am not saying that only the “intelligent” can reach have access to the divine realm.  My posts are about “biblical scripture” and what biblical scripture has to say about all of the things that this board has been addressing for quite some time now.  And yes, it will take the academically trained to decipher the wisdom hidden within the actual books of scripture.  But just peruse this board to find that it does not take an intense study of scripture or an academically trained mind to make contact with the divine realm and be on one of a very diverse number of progressive paths toward spiritual enlightenment.  

Internet message boards such as this are one of the methods that we use to communicate the “mysteries” today.  The writer’s of scripture however, did not have that luxury.  The “truth” that will be communicated by me, is that the bible is not what most people think it is.  In my opinion, it is not a true historical document the way we try so hard to make it—and to me trying to make it so is entirely missing the point.  It is rather, historical in the sense that it tells of how ancient mystics communicated to each other about the divine realm.  Man did write these scriptures.  And man did make deciphering the scriptures very complicated.  As too the writers “hoarding this knowledge” to themselves, the NT very blatantly tells the story of how Jesus tried to share this knowledge with the masses, and the story ends by illustrating how people were brutally murdered for trying to do so.  The Pauline epistles continue in the same vein, illustrating how not only in spite of possible persecutions and murder, some people continued to pursue the sharing of this knowledge with the world.  To “hide” their knowledge was a matter of life and death.  We cannot even conceive of the political and economic turmoil that was present during this period, nor can we conceive of actually being persecuted for our beliefs.  Today—at worst—we get harassed and not even to any great extent.  As you can see from the “Satan is Deceiving You” thread—you can either jump-in-there and argue your position—or you can just ignore it.  But you do not have to worry about losing your life or leaving your children orphaned.

Many people today, want and perhaps need the Bible to be the ultimate source of wisdom regarding the divine realm.  The Church has done well in making that the case.  The nature of humankind in relationship with “fiction” has taken care of the rest.  People tend to “believe” in the fictional sometimes much more than their own experience.  So we read books, and/or go to the movies and get drawn into dramas that are more exciting than our own mundane existences—if just for a few hours.  Today we also “medicate” ourselves if we have “experiences” that we cannot explain, most especially if we go to the clergy and find no explanation or support there.  Aren’t they supposed to know about this divine realm stuff?  It is even more traumatic for some who hear that “Satan is Deceiving Us.”  I would venture to guess that at least once, at least for a fleeting moment, that this possibility has crossed the minds of many astral travelers. But upon reflection they somehow “know” this is not the case.

Many of us have struggled with the fact that what the Church teaches does not match our own personal experience—and yet—we keep wondering “why.”  At least I know that I have.  I kept being drawn back to scripture time and time again.  I intuitively knew that what the Church offered us—was not the whole story.  I was driven to “figure it out” I suppose you could say.  I did not take the route of trying to prove or disprove the “historical validity” of scripture.  I took the path of searching for the answers in the very scriptures that resonated within me regardless of how the Church interpreted them.  I had never been to Jerusalem, but I knew when I was 10 years old, that I had made contact with the divine realm. By the time I was 40 years old, I had had many mystical experiences that had eventually led up to numerous spontaneous astral projections.  That was what I was looking for—not the actual city of Jericho—but information about this otherworldly activity and the divine realms that I was visiting.  

On the surface of biblical scripture it only barely hints to this kind of activity.  When I found out how to use “these keys” and that my experiences were really truly “in there”—albeit that they were brilliantly hidden away within the scripture—I was absolutely thrilled, but I was also totally stunned—and afraid. Christianity has done great deal of harm through the centuries, especially to those who rise up against them.  But this was the 21st century, and I had to admit that Christianity has also brought about a great deal of goodness.  I became afraid because of the latter--who was I to tell the good people that their scripture was just a fictional creation?  But I have to take the position that it depends upon the person, and upon how willing they are to “allow the divine to come into them,” rather than falling into the false belief that you can somehow just say some words or go to a church every Sunday and “be spiritual.”  But—even that serves a great purpose I guess.  Some people need to be kept on a “tight rein” and/or “to belong to THE RIGHT GROUP” to stay on the “straight” and “narrow path.”   In my opinion, the biggest error the Church has made is making the claim that it is the “only way.”  But, that is what the surface level of their scripture tells them and the keys to understanding the scriptures were either ignored or driven underground.

These “elite” people that wrote scripture were not, I don’t think, deliberately trying to hide “their mysteries” from us—they probably never even dared to hope that their writings would actually be preserved over 2,000 years in the future—and further, to know that their writings would actually be “printed” to the extent that their words would be found in millions of homes across the world—well this would have probably boggled their minds!  Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, they probably never had a clue that their writings would be taken so literally to the point that their words would actually do more to harm their original cause than good.  

In closing, I want to say that it is not my intention to cause harm to anyone.  For many people, being exposed to what I have found may be very painful and could very likely cause some serious spiritual crises.  Yes, to the best of my knowledge the stories in the bible were originally written to preserve secrets that are really no longer that much of a secret.  I will for the rest of my days continue to seek answers for myself, but at least for now, I have been offered the opportunity to help those “who want to know” exactly “how” they can find “themselves” and “their experience” written within these ancient texts. I want to be considerate of their beliefs and try to show them that there is a great deal more to know and experience beyond the surface layer of scripture.  It took 1,700 hundred years to create this misunderstanding, and it will not be cleared up any time soon.  But, for those that need to know, whatever it was that was at work between the divine realm and the writers of scripture is still working today.  There are no doubt many people on this board that can offer guidance and information that will create a more full understanding of the divine.  I believe that with or without “the book” the divine realm is very much available to us, and the bible, if viewed in the proper light, can offer us some age-old validation for our experiences of that realm.


(Whew…1,500 words and three hours of writing…I think I will go mediate now and leave “words” behind me for a while!  After this one—I am going to strive for pith![B)])

[Post Script: Once again Mustardseed, you have made a post after I compiled my own!!!  We must be in different time zones!  Ya’ think?  LOL.  Anyway…all that you say is very true.  Maybe the above has clarified “why” I was taking the approach that I was.  I just came onto this board reading the “Satan is Deceiving You” thread and thought that perhaps this was the best strategy.  Please forgive me if I made an erroneous decision.  Just like Robert, and I am sure many people on this board, I just want to help.[Smiley]]  


[portions of this post were extracted from Fire on the Water: Biblical Proper Name Exegesis and Language Based Mysticism, Beth B. Phillips, Copyright 2003.]
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« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2003, 18:40:14 »

Thanks Beth I will be silent for a while and will have to read this over a coulpe of hundred times so I am sure I understand it. [Tongue]

Regards Mustardseed
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« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2003, 20:32:50 »

Ok,

That last post really helped me a lot, thanks.  [Smiley]  

I see where I did mistakenly assume that your perspective was that the Scriptures were either the primary or only "doorway" to God.  This assumption had a lot less to do with "you" than with some of my past experiences with Biblical scholars.  As I have been shown in the past, "Never assume...it makes an ASS out of U and ME".  [Cheesy]  As many times as I have experienced that lesson, I still fail to master it.  I could have saved us both a lot of time by simply asking for clarification.  [:I]

I am still working through absorbing the details of the post about the "keys", so I have nothing useful to contribute until I feel satisfied with my progress on that.  Unless somebody else throws something in for us to discuss?

Thanks again Beth for your time, expertise, and patience.  [Smiley]

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« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2003, 23:31:48 »

Ha me shutting up...that is a laugh. Ok Beth I am trying to understand your point and I think I am getting closer. However I still do not see the compleate picture you are trying to paint (metaphor alert[Wink]!!)If you believe that the scriptures has a infinite number of intrepretations, and that a allegory is not only a story to bring about a point but even deeper to bring about a point about a point (the mind boggles) maybe then my mind just have to give up. That seems to advocate confusion like in modern math. 2+2 is not nessesary 4 becaurse 2 might not be 2 if 2 is 5 then 2+2 is really 10!!!!To me that is confusion and is not consistant with what I see around me. Nature is not in turmoil and confusion. There are absolutes. Your statement , the way I understand indicates that there is not. I agree that there are many hidden meanings in the Bible but believe that to be becourse it is the LIVING word of God. It has actual life in itself. Another reason that folks in general and you in specific have these negative feelings is becourse of the hypocricy you saw in Church. You and many others equate Church with Christians. Church doctrines with Bible teachings, and in so doing make a mistake. It seems to me God has no grandchildren it says in the Bible that "God chooses people in every generation to serve Him. His people are the ones who die daily who walk the walk so to speak, and a fact is that I for one have seen almost none of those people in the Churches. Generally the church is like "white sepulchers full of dead mens bones". It is almost as if in order to truly understand the Bible you have to leave the confines where it is taught as doctrine and understand it for yourself in a very personal way, and then further more you have to live it. Even the hard parts like "having all things in common" "pray without ceasing" and "take no thought for yourselves what ye shall eat what ye shall wear...but seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you" "love your enemies" there are many many scriptures that the Church omit . They simply say that in our day and age things are different. We cant prophesy have healing exorsisms etc and by doing so they in my opinion "kill the Spirit" of the Bible. I still believe that you are throwing out the Baby with the bath water so to speah oops Metaphor alert again [Wink]simply becourse of the intrepretation and lack of sincerity you have seen in the Churches. Another point is that in the exorsisms I have been involved in, the name of Jesus has had tremendous power. If the whole thing is just a story I guess it could have been any name then. I agree that the actual letters in not where the power lies but the spirit one connects with when they are mentioned, like a light switch, as well as what He did, and believe me the negs know who Jesus is.
Hoping that I make sense I remain
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« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2003, 05:02:11 »

Mustardseed-

You wrote:
 
quote:
...the name of Jesus has had tremendous power. If the whole thing is just a story I guess it could have been any name then

Not necessarily. Think of this in different terms. There is great POWER in STORY and in NAMES.   We all live by stories and our entire identity grows around our name.  

The ancients were not only aware of this—but had very serious beliefs above and beyond what we do today.  First, they thrived on stories.  The literacy rate was nil compared to today and it doesn’t take much of an imagination to go back and visualize how much that was indeed the case.  They did not have radio, TV, movies, etc.  They did not even have books like we do.  The printing press was not even a twinkle in their eye.  Stories were told orally at the well, at the table, in the pasture, and in the temple.  Stories provided the ancients with a historical reference—without the demand for proof that we want today. For them, the gist was good enough. It had to be.

Imagine if you had heard stories of your grandparents or great-grandparents and how they lived and perhaps even died for their beliefs.  You didn't have the exact details, but you had the general overall story.  Let’s sweeten the pot, and say that you just happened to know how to read and write (which made you very special) and you also had a very keen talent for telling stories—much better than the average person.  And you were of course familiar with the secular languages in use at the time as well as the language of your particular minority culture.  What if you decided you wanted those stories to be preserved and never forgotten? Additionally, I would surmise that you would also possess the details of that belief system and would not want that to be forgotten either.  Moreover, what if people were still being persecuted for this particular belief system and you could very easily come under persecution yourself?  How would you accomplish this without being found out?

This is what the ancient writers of scripture could have been faced with—they wanted to accomplish both the creation of stories that in general recounted certain events, but more importantly they wanted to preserve the details of the actual belief system. Jewish writers came up with a brilliant solution to the problem—by using the structure of their own native language to their advantage.  They would write of Jewish ideas but hide these ideas within the Greek language.  How so?  Through the power of STORY and the power of NAMES.

The Hebrew vocabulary is built upon a three-consonant verbal root system. In other words, most every verb, noun, adjective, etc., is derived from a certain three-consonant root.  (I have to illustrate this solely in English because there is not a Hebrew font available.) Let’s take the noun salvation for example—the Hebrew verbal root ysh means to save or to deliver.  As a noun salvation would be spelled yeshua. Can you see the primary consonants in the noun form? All Hebrew proper names are constructed this way.  Every name carries within it an implicit meaning based upon the verb stems used. The proper names Joshua, Isaiah, Hosea and Jesus all share this same Hebrew root ysh, and therefore carry the same meaning—salvation.  

In Greek, however, the word for salvation is a completely different word, but what if you used the Hebrew proper noun that meant salvation as a proper noun in the Greek language as well?  The story-line could have a main character named Iesous—which is the letter for letter transliteration of Yeshua into Greek.  Every time someone read this proper name in Greek, it would be assumed the writer was talking about a person, but when a Hebrew reader read this word back into Hebrew, they would see that the text was really talking about salvation every time the word was encountered.  Get it?  The name Jesus (which is of course the letter for letter English transliteration from the Greek) carries within it the implicit meaning of salvation.

Because the writers of NT scripture were Jewish, they used the name Jesus throughout the Gospels (and other books that didn’t make it into the Bible) to tell not only a surface story about the persecutions of their ancestors, but also of a more hidden message of salvation. This not only kept the story alive, but perhaps more importantly, it also kept the controversial belief system alive.  It could have also protected the writers from persecution.  
 
Ancient writers of scripture were very cunning with their use of language! There are 3,000+ proper names found throughout the entire bible and there is most definitely a Hebrew meaning for each one.  If you know the key to understanding this, you can find a myriad of new meanings for individual verses, entire chapters or full books. In the case of the NT, Jesus is the main character and according to Christian doctrine it is salvation that the Name of Jesus offers to all who accept him as the messiah.  

 So now, when we use or call upon the name Jesus—on some level we are also calling upon salvation (albeit three languages removed!)  In my opinion, intention is everything, and as you know from your astral travels, all languages must surely be known by those who dwell on the astral plane.  So let’s say you invoke the name Jesus in an exorcism, or just a prayer for that matter, if your intention matches the meaning of the name, I assume those on the astral plane will know what it is that you are after and will help accordingly if they can.  (This is just an off-the-cuff guess.)

 
[portions of this post are taken from Fire on the Water: Biblical Proper Name Exegesis and Language Based Mysticism, Beth B. Phillips, Copyright, 2003]
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« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2003, 15:16:38 »

Wow Beth,

That last example is really interesting!  I would love to see more examples of things like this.  Smiley

--Soulfire
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« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2003, 20:40:42 »

Spiritfire:

Whew!  I was not sure how that was going to go over!![Wink]  

Sure, here is another one, straight from scripture:  

Acts 9:36  In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which when translated, means Dorcas, who was always doing good and helping the poor.

Not only does this verse specifically show that "translation from one language to another" is being offered here, but what is more important is the fact that the names Tabitha in Aramaic and Dorcas in Greek--share the same meaning--"gazelle."

The example of Tabitha/Dorcas is very important to this long-lost tradition. First, it shows us how the writers of NT scripture left us clues as to what they were doing.  Second, the clue also shows that proper names were tied together from one language to another—not only through letter for letter transliteration of the names, but also through the shared meanings of the names. Lastly, this is also a way to establish metaphorical meaning between languages, i.e., the word "gazelle" could become a metaphor for "doing good and helping the poor."  If you knew this, then whatever language you were reading a "coded message" in, you would know what the metaphor meant.


So with the name Jesus that I illustrated above, which comes from a straight letter for letter transliteration back and forth into Hebrew and Greek, we now have Tabitha from the Aramaic language, and its "twin" Dorcas from Greek. We also now have two different methods of "hiding meaning," one is through the letter for letter transliteration, and the other through shared meanings.  This also establishes this activity within three of the primiary languages in use at the time--Hebrew, Greek and now Aramaic.  

Pretty cool huh?[8D]


[portions of this post are taken from Fire on the Water: Biblical Proper Name Exegesis and Language Based Mysticism, Beth B. Phillips, Copyright, 2003]
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« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2003, 22:22:57 »

Yes it is pretty interesting stuff.  I can see a lot of the possibilities in what you are saying.  [Smiley]

My problem is that I feel I am left with nothing to contribute to the discussion.  I can see where you are going, and it makes sense and sounds very interesting, but all I can do is listen to you at this point.  I simply lack the knowledge and experience necessary to actually contribute on this topic.  [:I]

Maybe you can recommend a few good introductory books or web pages and I can investigate further?  I am quite happy to read whatever you write or share, but I feel that is a little "one sided" when I have nothing to offer you in return.

--Soulfire
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« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2003, 02:03:44 »

Spiritfire:

That is what I was afraid of. I guess I was originally hoping for an "exploratory" discussion that would eventually lead us into this realm of thought, but I have only been on this board for a few days now, and everyone immediately started pushing "for proof" of my position.  I didn't at that point know what else to do except just lay my cards on the table. I guess in today's instant gratification world--the "mysteries" aren't very mysterious anymore. In the ancient mystery schools, however, it would have been very different--different levels of initiation would earn one the advancement to a new level of knowledge. It would have probably taken an initiate many years to get to this point in language and scriptural studies.  

So maybe I failed in my task here by just laying my work out all at once, but I had no desire to play "cat and mouse" or any other kind of power game. And power games seem to abound on these particular threads.  I didn't even want to come across any more than I already had of being an "authority."  It seems that as an "authority" or having an academic background is greatly scorned. There are actually quite a few slurs against me in these threads--and that makes me not want to continue my participation.  
 
If you are truly interested I would be glad to email you a bibliography.  But it is a very time consuming project to actually work with this method. I have been working on this for two years now--and could probably work on it for the rest of my life. I work from both the Greek and Hebrew scriptures so I also consult Hebrew and Greek lexicons and concordances.  In other words, it will take more than a few books to get you started especially if you need to learn the languages. I realize that everyone cannot afford the luxury to study as I have been very blessed to do, and it was my hope to share with others all that I had learned in ten years of formal study. But I can see that this will not be appreciated here.  (You being an exception of course. Thank you!) But, even for you, I do not know of any books that are introductory in nature or any websites that cover this material.  I am in the process of writing the only introductory book that I am aware of.  Maybe it will be available before long.
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« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2003, 03:31:20 »

Hi Beth,

I hope you will please e-mail me when you get your book published?  I'd really love to read it!  [Smiley]  I do not know Hebrew or Greek, so unless a lexicon (sp?) is adequate, any book you suggest to me would need to be accessible with only english.  If there is anything worthwhile I can investigate within those boundries, I would love to check it out.  Smiley

--Soulfire
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« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2003, 06:39:13 »

beth, i appreciate what you are doing here, and find this quite fascinating.  i think that what you are doing is important... there has to be someone who will explore the various possibilities of the bible.  even if a lot of people do not like this approach, well, the fact of the matter is, all the people who have been taking the bible literally still disagree on the what it all means.  this is just yet another way of looking at the bible.  there are so many people bickering over what this and that means, and they are taking it all literally, so what makes this approach any more invalid?  and perhaps some people who find out about your work and these new possibilities and meanings of the bible stories will find that it helps them out spiritually more than ever before!  those who felt they weren't really getting much out of the bible before will be able to see it with new eyes.  right now this idea is something people are afraid of, but soon the idea will sink in a little better with some.  for a long time i always kinda looked down on the bible, but now i think that if there are perhaps deeper aspects and meanings to it, it becomes more interesting.  anyway, i'm babbling.  thanks for sharing your info with us, and i hope maybe some people will decide to try to get more in depth about it and have a good discussion! [8D]
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« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2003, 18:33:07 »

Thank you very much Curiousgirl.  Your appeal really sounds sincere, so I have made a new post in the "Allegory" thread.  I too hope that people will start to join in.  There are SO many implications to this, that I really would like to engage with people's specific questions.

Peace,
Beth
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« Reply #23 on: September 13, 2003, 22:46:25 »


This post was moved, by the moderator, to the Modern Christianity Forum, under the "Debating Christianity" thread. It was not appropriate for this thread.  It can be read in its entirety in the other thread.

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« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2003, 02:17:04 »

On Satan:  
In Hebrew the verbal root means, “to attack” which then forms nouns such as “accuser” “liar” “deceiver,” "adversary" etc, but could also denote a “war or battle” term.  When used as a proper noun, the root then forms the proper name Satan.  “Satan” can represent any or all of these.  When stories are written around him, they are interpreted with all these meanings in mind.  Add to this a metaphysical or non-human existence and you have a “superhuman adversary” in the form of perhaps a fallen angel.  There are several different stories that I have read that address how and why Satan fell from his original glory as an angel of God and later became an angel of darkness.  For a Greek translation, the Hebrew word was both transliterated letter by letter with its meaning "adversary," but in the New Testament, the corresponding word "Devil" also became associated with it. “Devil” comes from the Greek word “diabolos” which also means “deceiver, or accuser.”  This is where the Hebrew meaning was intended but a Greek word was used rather than the Hebrew transliteration.  In the New Testament both Satan (the Hebrew transliteration) and Devil (the corresponding Greek term) are used, but they both reflect the same meanings.  Now “demon” is another word altogether.   The Greek word “daemon” can be good or bad—depending upon the context and usage.  It usually denotes a non-physical or metaphysical being, e.g., an angel, rather than a human (or human action.)  

Anyone who “accuses” “deceives” or otherwise performs acts that are "adversarial" to whatever is being perceived as truth and righteousness, could easily be called Satan or Devil.  Now, let me qualify if I may.  An “accuser” could be anyone who accuses anyone else--even in the most mundane sense of the word.  For example, it is not that far a leap to say that today’s prosecuting attorneys could legitimately be termed as such in these ancient languages.  They do “accuse.”  It is of course up to the court system to determine guilt, but in the strict sense of the word, satan or devil as a verb or noun would be correct.  This would support any claim for various scribes being called Satan or Devil, as scribes in biblical times performed many different functions, among them what today’s attorneys or legal positions do.  The same would hold true for Judas Iscariot, as according to the text he was the treasurer for the group that followed Jesus.  As treasurer, he was well within his position to “question” or “accuse” Mary Magdelene of “wasting” precious resources that held monetary value.  Jesus of course, in this case, was the ultimate judge of Mary’s action and Judas’ accusation was overturned (John 2:4-5.)  As for the rest of the cases, they all probably include some form of “accusation” “deception” (perceived as such anyway) or “threat.”  As for being a “tempter” this is a different Greek word, but can certainly be used with the implication of tempting as an “adverse action.”  In other words, being a “tempter” and an “adversary” can pretty much be used together in the same context.  

So, in summary:  Anyone who “accuses” “deceives” or otherwise performs "adversarial" acts that are contrary to whatever is being perceived as truth and righteousness, could easily be called Satan or Devil.  

As it is written in Matthew 16
23Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

Jesus was not implying that Peter WAS Satan.  He was using this word in the context and usage of the language.  Jesus rebuked Peter for being an “adversary” to what in the story Jesus would undergo in his last days.

Satan is another notion that has been used through the centuries to support a misinterpretation of scripture in the attempt (apparently successful for quite a while) to control people by forcing them to adhere to a particular religion.

Now—with all of that said.  Negs, and Negative influences DO exist.  What I say above does NOT in ANY way attempt to “prove” that these influences are false or non-existent.  How and why these things exist—well that is a different conversation all together and would require another thread all its own.  Once again, I am only explaining the use of the names (Satan and Devil) in scripture as it is found in the ancient biblical context.
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