- Mattha 1: 18-25
The Birth o Jesus the Messiah
An this is hoo the birth o Jesus the Messiah cum aboot: His mither Mary wus promist tae Joseph, but afore the’ cum thegither, she fun oot she wus wi a wean bi the Halie Spirit. Noo Joseph hir husband wus a dacent man, an he didnae want hir tae be affrontit afore the community, he haed in min tae divorce hir on the quait. But efter he haed thocht aboot aa this, an angel o the Laird appeart tae him in a draim an saed, “Joseph, ma man, sinn o Davit, dinnae be feart tae tak Mary hame fur yer wife, fur the wean she’s carryin is o the Halie Spirit. She wull hae a sinn, an ye ir tae gie him the name Jesus, fur he wull save his ain fowk frae thair wrangdaeins”. Noo aa this wus daen tae bring aboot whut the Laird haed saed thru the proaphit: A virgin wull carrie a wean, a sinn, an whan he is boarn, he’ll be caad Immanuel – meanin “God is wi iz”. Whaniver Joseph waakent up, he daen whut the angel o the Laird haed toul him tae dae, an he tuk Mary hame fur tae be his wife. But he didnae sleep wi hir til efter the wean wus boarn. An he caad him bi the name Jesus.
- Mattha 5: 13-16.Youse yins ir the Saut o the Yirth. But gin the saut gaes saurless, hoo can it git bak its tang? It is nae lang’r o onie use, but fur tae be throwed ootby, fur fowk tae thramp unner fit.Youse yins ir the Licht o the Warld. A toun biggit on a hill-tap cannae be hid. An agane forbye, whan fowk licht a lamp, they dinnae pit it unner a boul, but set it up on its stan, an syne it gies licht fur aabodie in the hoose. In the same wye, see at yer licht shines afore iveriebodie, sae at the’ wull see yer guid deeds an ruise yer Faither in heiven.
- Luik 4: 16 – 18
- The Manifesto o the Messiah.
- An he cum tae Nazareth, whar he haed bin raired, an on the Sabbath Day he went intae the synagogue, as wus his custom. An he stud up fur tae read. The screed o the proaphet Isaiah wus gien tae him..Whan he haed unrollit it, he fun the place whur it is writ:”The Spirit o the Laird is cum ower me,
fur he haes anointit me
tae tell oot Guid News tae the puir.
He haes sent me tae
free thaim that’s in prison
an tae gie sicht tae the blin,
tae release the oppressit
tae proclaim the acceptible yeir o the Laird”
- Whan Jesus haed rowlt up the screed, he gien it bak tae the attendint, an he sut doon.. An naebodie ben the synagogue cud tak their een aff him, An he stairtit aff bi tellin thaim,” Theday this scripture is fulfillit in yer hearin”.
Luke 6: 17-26
An he cum doon frae the moontin wi thaim an stud on the flet apen grun, an aa his follaers an a hale crood o fowks oot o Judea, an Jerusalem, an frae alang the shores o Tyre an Sidon, cum tae hear him an be cured o thair ailments. An thae yins vext sair wi ill spirits wus aa cured. An the hale crood o fowks wantit tae touch him acause a pooer o guid wus… cumin oot o him an curin thaim aa. An he cast his een on his follaers, an sayed,
Blissit be the puir, fur yers is the kingdom o God
Blissit ir youse that hung’r noo, fur ye wull get yer fill,
Blissit ir youse that’s greetin noo: fur ye wull lach.
Blissit ir youse whan fowk hate ye, or gie ye the coul shoother, an ball yis oot or blekin yer name on the Sinn o Man’s accoont.
Be richt gled on that day an leap for joy: fur ye hae a pooerfu reward in haiven; fur thair faithers daen the same tae the proaphits.
But sorra on youse weel-aff fowk! fur ye hae got aa ye ir gettin.
Sorra on youse that’s fu noo. fur yis wull be hung’rie.
Sorra on youse that ir lachin, fur yis wull be greetin an sorrafu.
Sorra on yis when aa fowk spakes weel o ye, fur thair faithers daen the same wi the fause proaphits
Luik 6: 37- 45
Dinnae judge an yis’ll no be judged: dinnae condemn, an yis’ll no be condemnit: forgie an yis’ll be forgien: Gie an yis’ll be gien tae; a guid misure, preesed doon, an shakin thegither an skailin ower, wull menfowk gie intae yer bosom. For wi the same misure that ye mete wi aa it wull be misured tae ye agane.
An he spauk a parable tae thaim,
Can the blin lead the blin? wull the’ no baith faa intae the sheuch? The follaer is no abain the maister, but whaniver he is weel lairnt, he wull be jist like the maister. An why dae ye see the skelf in yer brither’s ee, but dinnae see the plank in yer ain ee? Hoo can ye say tae yer brither,” Brither, let me pu the skelf oot o yer ee” whan ye yersel cannae see the plank in yer ain ee? Ye hippocrit, furst pu the plank oot o yer ain ee an then ye’ll be able tae see clearly tae pu oot the skelf that is in yer brither’s ee.
Fur a guid tree disnae gie rotten fruit, nor daes a rotten tree gie guid fruit. Ye ken iverie tree bi its ain fruit.Ye dinnae pick figs frae a thoarn bush. A guid man oot o the guidness o his hairt brings oot guid, an an evil man oot o the evil o his hairt brings oot evil. Fur whutiver his hairt is fu o, that’s what cums oot o his mooth.
Luik 11 v 14-25
Yinst, he wus castin oot a divil, an it wus dum. An it cum tae pass, whan the divil haed left him an the man startit tae taak, the fowk wur dumfoonert. But sum o thaim sayed, He casts oot divils throu the pooer o Beelzebub, the heidyin o the divils. But ithers tempted him bi axin him for a sign frae haiven,But he, kenin whut wus in thair mines, sayed,
Iverie kingdom divid agin itsel wull gae tae reck an ruin, an a hoose divid agin itsel wull faa doon. Sae if Satan is divid agin hissel, hoo shall his kingdom stan? fur ye say that A cast oot divils throu Beelzebub. An if bi Beelzebub A cast oot divils, bi whom dae yer ain fowk cast thaim oot? sae they wull be yer judges. But if A, wi the fing’r o God, cast oot divils, nae doot the kingdom o God is here amang ye. Whaniver a strang man, wha’s well-airmed, gairds his palace, his belangins is safe: But whaniver a man stranger than he attacks him an gets the better o him, he taks frae him aa the armour he lippens on, an the belangins is aa divid oot. Him that’s no fir me is agin me an him that is no getherin wi me is scatterin. Whan the ill spirit is gang oot o a man, he daunders throu the desert lukin fir rest; an findin nane, he says,”A’ll gae bak tae ma hoose whar A was leevin afore.” An whan he gaes bak, he fins it swep and clain.
- Jhone 1: 1-5
- In the beginnin wus the Wurd, an the Wurd wus wi God, an the Wurd wus God. He wus alang wi God in the beginnin.Thru him aa things wur made; wioot him naethin ava wus made that wus iver made. In him wus life, an this life wus the Licht o aa fowk. The Licht shines in the dairkness, but the dairkness haes unnerstood it naw.
- Jhone 3: 16 &17
- Fur God sae luvit the Warld, that he sent his onlie begottin Sinn, that whosaeiver believit in Him , shudnae perish but hae everlastin life…..Fur God didnae send His Sinn intae the Warld tae condemn the Warld , but that thru Him the Warld micht be savit….
- Jhone 8: 31&32 .
- Sae He sayed tae the Jews who haed heedit Him, “If ye conteenye in My word, ye are richtly My follaers. Then ye will ken the truth, an the truth wull set ye free.”
- Luik 23: 32-38
- The Crucyfiction
- An their wur twa ithers as weel, crimnals, led oot alang wi him tae be pit tae deith. An whan the’ cum tae the place caad “Calvarie” the’ crucified him thair, an the twa crimnals alang wi him, the yin on the richt side, the ither on the left.
- An Jesus sayed “Faither, forgie thaim, fur the’ dinnae ken whut the’ dae”.
- An the’ pairtit his claes amang thairsels an gemmelt fur thaim. An the fowk stud bye, lukin on. An the heidyins as weel wi thaim deridit him , sayin,
- “He savit ithers, Let him save hissel, if he is the Messiah, the chosen yin o God.”
- An the sodgers jeert him tae, offerin him sooer wine. An sayed tae him,
- “If ye ir the King o the Jews, save yersel.”
- An a sign boord wus written abain him sayin in the Greek, the Latin an the Hebrew,
- ” This is the King o the Jews”.
- Luik 23: 44-48
- The Deith o the Messiah
- An it wus bi this time aboot the sixth hoor, a there wus a dairkness ower the hale yirth tae the nineth hoor. An the licht o the sin wus blekt oot, an the curtin in the Halie o Halies wus torn in twa. An whan Jesus haed cryed oot wi a lood voice , he sayed,
- “Faither, intae thy hans A gie up ma spirit”
- An wi that, he gien his last breath. Noo whan the sodger that wus in charge o a hunner men saen what wus daen, he gien glorie tae God , an sayed,
- “For shair, thon wus yin guid man”
- An aa the fowk that cum thegither tae see that sicht, whan the’ saa whut wus daen, the’ bate thair breeshts in sorra an went awa. An aa his freens alang wi the weemen that follaed him frae Galilee, stud awa bak, takkin it aa in.
- Luik 24: 1-8
- The Resurrection o Jesus
- Noo on the furst day o the week, at the scraitch o day, the’ (the weemen) cum tae the sepulchre, an brocht the spices the’ haed made readie, an thair wus ither yins alang wi thaim. An the’ fun the stane rowlt awa frae the sepulchre. An the’ went in, an didnae fin the bodie o the Laird Jesus. An it cum tae pass, as the’ wur dumfoonert thairaboot, behoul, twa men stud bi thaim in shinin claes. An as the’ wur hairt feart, an bood doon wi their faces tae the grun, the’ sayed tae thaim,
- Whut fur ir yis seekin the leevin amang the deid? He’s no here, bot is ris, mine hoo he taakt tae ye, whan he wus yit in Gallilee, sayin, “the Sinn o Man maun be gien intae the hans o sinfu men tae bi crucyfied, an on the thurd day wull rise agane”.
- An the’ mined whut he haed sayed.
He [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.
And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Gospel of Luke Chapter 4, verses 16-21
The Gospel of Mark may well be the first to have been written, by John Mark, the personal secretary of the apostle Peter. The version we have now was certainly composed in 65-70 AD, 35 to 40 years after the events Mark recorded, by a well–educated Greek-Speaking Christian. The term Gospel means “Good News” and the author was concerned with how he was bringing such news to the people rather than writing an actual biography of Jesus.
In this Gospel, Jesus is described as “the Christ, the Son of God” (1:1). For most Jewish people at the time this would have been a remarkable statement and to the educated élite would have appeared quite unacceptable. For “Christ” is Greek for the “Anointed One”, and is the equivalent of the Hebrew term for “Messiah”. The Jews were awaiting a great military leader or cosmic figure who would deliver them from their enemies, not a person who had just suffered and in their eyes died ignobly on Calvary. And yet that is precisely why the author says… Jesus was the Messiah….
One of the significant points about the account is that at the beginning nobody actually seems to have known he was the Messiah. Jesus’s family didn’t seem to know. The neighbours from his virtually unknown little village of Nazareth wondered what on earth this son of the local carpenter was talking about… But, most of all, his disciples didn’t seem to know who he was. God, of course, knew who he was, because Jesus, at his baptism by John the Baptist, and only Jesus, heard a voice from heaven declaring” you are my beloved son” (1:11)…. Mary Magdalene knew, for she was the closest and most faithful friend Jesus ever had, and he loved her more than the other disciples…. And the demons he cast out knew….But no one else seems to have had a notion.
All this changes in the middle of the Gospel, with the metaphor of the blind man who gradually regains his sight. The disciples at last begin to understand, though Jesus instructs them not to tell anyone. And he continues to predict that he must suffer and die, to take away the sins of the World. Yet, at the very end, even Jesus himself seems not to be so sure after all. He prays to God three times to save him from his fate, and then cries out in total despair before he dies, literally of a broken heart. He had suffered extreme torture and mental anquish, following flogging or scourging with a flagrum, consisting of braided leather thongs with metal balls and pieces of sharp bone woven or intertwined with the braids, causing hypovolaemic shock, so he could no longer carry the cross.
On crucifixion his heart finally failed, with massive pulmonary oedema and pericardial effusion, as the description of his death authentically shows, for ”one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water” ( John 19:34), rupturing his heart and releasing the pleural and pericardial effusions. He was totally, absolutely, completely dead. Yet if anyone had any doubts at all about what happened next, the author does not. Jesus’s death and resurrection had inevitably to be such, and, in fact, we are all expected to take up our own crosses and follow the Master….
The Gospel of Thomas is of another kind, a “Sayings” Gospel, which records 114 of Jesus’s sayings rather than the story of his life, death and resurrection. Its purpose is to promote the secret teachings of Jesus and explain to the faithful that by understanding his words rather than by believing in his death and resurrection that they would have everlasting life. The Gospel is attributed to Didymus Judas Thomas, whom Jesus says is his “twin”, “Didymus” being Greek and “Thomas” Aramaic for “twin”. If it is not a forgery, as some believe, it may be the closest we ever get to the real Jesus. Yet, as we have been told, the leadership of the church in Jerusalem passed, not to Thomas, but to Jesus’s brother, James the Just, who followed the Law, supported the poor against the rich and was deeply respected among the whole Jewish community. He sought to limit the doctrine of Paul, whose mission was essentially to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews. When James was executed in 62 A.D., therefore, on the orders of Ananus (Hanan), a corrupt High Priest who was bathed in luxury, the whole Jewish community were appalled.
The convert Paul was, apart from Jesus Himself, the most important figure in the spread of Christianity as we know it. His letters to the young churches were probably written sometime between 50 and 60 AD. Paul’s conversion appears to have been the result of an encounter with the living Jesus following his death and resurrection which completely altered his understanding of Jesus, God’s Law and the true road to salvation. He became convinced that the end of the World was nigh and people needed to be saved before it was too late. His total belief in the resurrection of the Christ had the clearest implications for the ethical well-being of the community.
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke have been dated to between 80 and 85 AD. The Gospel of Matthew concentrates on Jesus’s Jewishness but at the same time demonstrates his opposition to the Jewish leaders of his day. Yet for all that, Jesus was a Jewish Messiah, sent by a Jewish God to a Jewish people to gather Jewish disciples, in fulfilment of Jewish Scriptures. He was merely summing up the Jewish Law into two Commandments: to love God above all else and to love one’s neighbour as oneself (22:35-40).Thus he superseded the Scribes and Pharisees and all their works.
Luke was a Gentile physician, known to have been a travelling companion of the apostle Paul, but there is the usual academic debate about whether he wrote the Gospel or not. Nevertheless, Jesus is portrayed as a Jewish prophet, who as the Son of God brought the whole world to salvation, not just Jewish people but Gentiles as well. He was therefore the Salvator Mundi, the Saviour of the World. He was born like a prophet, preached like a prophet, and finally died like a prophet. He was even obliged to go to Jerusalem to be killed, for that is where all the prophets die (13:33).
The Gospel of John, as we have it, was written between 90 and 95 AD and has been traditionally ascribed to John, the son of Zebedee, one of Jesus’s closest friends. But this ascription cannot be found anywhere until the latter part of the 2nd Century. In earlier sources John is described as a countryman from Galilee, who would have spoken, like Jesus, Aramaic, not the literary Greek in which the Gospel is written. Moreover in Acts 4:13 John is described as illiterate. The Gospel is, in fact, likely to have been translated from oral or written Aramaic sources towards the end of the 1st Century, so that whether John was illiterate or not is of no special significance.
John’s Gospel provides a completely different view of Jesus. He is no longer the compassionate and charismatic healer and worker of miracles, proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom of God, a prophet without honour among his own people. Nor even the Jewish Messiah, sent by the Jewish God to fulfil the Jewish Scriptures to physically liberate the Jews from their enemies. He is now the Logos, the Word. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. Jesus had passed from the prophetical to the mystical to the Divine….
For on the third day he rose from the dead as He Himself had foretold.
“Correct” belief, the now standard orthodoxy of the Christian Church, was established chiefly at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (now Iznik in Turkey) in May 325 AD. The Council was called by the Roman Emperor Constantine I to settle what he described “as a fight over trifling and foolish verbal differences” between the major Alexandrian ecclesiatics. One group, the followers of Arius, had integrated Neoplatonism, which accented the absolute oneness of the divinity as the highest perfection, with a rationalist and literal approach to the New Testament. Jesus of Nazareth was seen as the most perfect creature of the universe whose standing had caused him to become “God’s Son”, but who, as the “Logos” or “Word”, was created by the uncreated “Father” and thus subordinate to His Will. Arius had published this thesis in the verse of his Thalia (Banquet) around 323, and it spread rapidly by the way of the popular songs of the common people.
The champion of Nicene orthodoxy was Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria in Egypt, and he and his followers eventually won the day. The resultant Nicene Creed was an enlarged and explanatory version of the Apostles’ Creed in which the doctrines of Christ’s divinity and of the Holy Trinity were defined. The Creed found in the seventh century Irish manuscript known now as the “Bangor Antiphonary”,which is kept in the Ambrosian Library in Milan, differs in wording from all other versions which are known, and is, in substance, the original creed of Nicaea. The Bangor School accepted orthodox Christianity as “the true vine brought out of Egypt” and through it Columbanus and his followers helped to wrest Europe from Arianism.
Following the Reformation Neoplatonic mysticism rose once more in Italy. Fleeing from the Roman Catholic Inquisition its followers found an equally severe orthodoxy in Calvinist Geneva. One Michael Servetius was burned there as a heretic in 1553. Faustus Socinius was banished during the 17th century Counter Reformation and in Poland he founded a group based upon Arian theology. These Polish Socinians had a profound effect on Church and State in the British Isles among Calvinists and Anglicans alike. In Ireland Thomas Emlyn suffered persecution as a Socinian and in 1725 and 1828 trouble over the acceptance of the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) led to the founding of the Non-Subscibing Presbyterian Church of Ireland which was, ironically, strongest in those modern counties of Antrim and Down, which constituted Ulster in Columbanus’ day.
In 367 AD, Anthananius decreed that heretical books should be destroyed. A corpus of writings known to us now as the “Gnostic Gospels” were among these. Previously known to us through attacks on them by the Presbyter Irenaeus, the second century Bishop of Lyon, several of these gospels survived by being buried at a monastery founded by a friend of Athanasius called Pachomius. The monastery was at Cheroboskian, now called Nag Hammadi, in Upper Egypt.
One finds much relevance for today in these texts, particularly as they relate to Jesus’ view of women. Women are indeed regarded more highly in the Gnostics texts than in orthodox texts. The Gnostics allowed women priests and gave a special place to Mary Magdalene above all the disciples. The Gospel of Philip says
“…..the companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdelene. But Christ loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often ……… The rest of the disciples were offended by it. They said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Saviour answered and said to them;” Why do I not love you as I love her”
A text called the “Dialogue of the Saviour” says: “She spake as a woman who knew the call”. A Gospel of Mary (Magdalene) contained in a Coptic Codex in Berlin, known as long ago as 1896 was not published until 1955.
Today special and psychological arguments continue to operate against the place of women which was such a feature of Gnosticism. A Vatican 2 document saying “Every type of discrimination…..based on sex is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God’s intent” has not been put into effect. It is remarkable that conditions today are not unlike those which pertained during the formation of the early Church. Now we have the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Texts. But not only that, we have many women teachers of vision to show us again the Way of the Lord in a manner relevant to our own times.
Such inspired people already know in some mysterious way the true wisdom of human existence.They see out only to see in. Such mystics are never really at home in a “lawed and ordered” society with its organised Church. The ebb and flow of their exegesis must be allowed that freedom to grow which is necessary for the maturation of the human species. Neither force, nor power, nor autonomy can provide inroads into this process of maturation, for without freedom there will be a holding back in that evolution necessary to prepare us for our rightful place in the universe.
I often wonder whether the “orthodoxy” usually attributed in common Christian heritage to the formulation of the Nicene fathers has been more of an oppression than a safeguard. As a collective phenomenon human beings are still at the stage of the toddler, who is many times distressing, but who, with care and patience, will evolve and progress to maturity. My old friend Brian Smeaton is a Church of Ireland Minister and poet based in County Donegal. former Rector of Ramelton, parish of Aughnish, within Donegal’s Ulster-Scots or Ullans speaking area. In the Declaration of Nazareth, which Brian has called the Manifesto of Christ, Jesus evinces from us those capabilities which lie in us all.