The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
(2 Corinthians 3:6b, KJV)
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
(John 4:24, KJV)
Q ~ As a follower of Christ, what relevance does the Old Testament of the Bible have to me, other than its being the tradition by which Christ came to us?
A ~ I am grateful for the question and the opportunity to ponder it with you!
First of all, Jesus clearly wasn’t coming from an exclusively Jewish tradition. Jesus was sent to the Jew first and the Gentile second…but sent by whom? Jesus even says at one point that salvation is from the Jews. Jesus embraces his Jewry and sees divinity in it and light radiating from it that could touch all the world—a true mystical nationalist and folk hero in time of near-insurmountable foreign subjugation à la Pádraig Pearse—and this was of course his initial ticket to renown!
Jesus quotes the Lawgiver (Moses/YHWH) and the Prophets often when speaking to his mostly Jewish (albeit deeply Hellenized and even a little Romanized) audience, starting when he’s about 30 (ॐ ?) or so, a ripe age for a Jewish man to start becoming a mystic and contemplating the hereafter, unencumbered by concerns of what the clergy might think of his dabbling into the Kabbalah (tradition) found in the Zohar (light) including Merkabah (chariot/chair/throne) mysticism, typically associated by those who study such things with Paul’s oft-abstruse expression. Heck, he might even experiment with some kaneh bosm, which only the priests could put in their incense for their “religious” clam bake. Dangerously hierarchical times were these to be sure.
But Judaism itself is a composite tradition—in many ways the most melting-pot tradition of its time, owing largely to its central geographic position among the ancient civilizations, which is great for trade (so again probably Jesus’s winning card) but terrible for being left alone, which is crucial to anyone interested say in meditation. (Jesus proposes the closet solution to his fellow-Jews for their prayer, though he also makes copious use of the uninhabited neighboring wilderness.) For example, Judaism builds primarily on Egyptology (by way of Moses) and secondarily on Hellenism (by way of Alexander the Great of Macedonia, who was also responsible for opening up India via the Silk Road, with Jerusalem again smack dab in the middle of it all). Just as important, Judaism was heavily molded by the Persians (aside from questions of whose law was written down when), who bankrolled the Second Temple and whose Zoroastrian priests—the original magicians (the Kabbalah would later become the foundation of all western witchcraft and Masonry)—recognized the infant Jesus as the true heir to the Jewish Throne, which he would later seemingly abdicate in favor of an esoteric kingdom “not of this world” just before leaving this world to reign in another world (India? or simply the spirit-world to which India seems to be a propitious doorway, supposing one had the connections), in a display of transcendence, as much as of condemnation, of Jahwist Temple Cult Judaism as it was known then and is no longer. As Jesus says quite tactfully but also, looking back, quite ominously, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:17, KJV).
Based on prophecies coming out of King David’s school, some people took to calling Jesus Messiah (in Greek Christ, meaning “anointed”), though the Sadducees, being strict Torach (law) types, weren’t having any of it. And that’s without even going into Solomon and his internationalism, pluralism and (the constant companion of these) esotericism (again, hugely influential on Freemasonry together with the Zoroastrian Magi). Though there’s much to indicate that Jesus’s original teaching was that he would return within a generation, it seems like he was already having second thoughts, particularly given his musing that he might not find any faith on earth when he returned. (It seems likely to me that Thomas rendezvoused with Jesus in Kashmir after all the drama in Jerusalem, partly because Thomas was the most interested in learning the way to follow Jesus out of the Levant to more contemplatively conducive destinations, whether in the body or out, as it were.)
Yeah, there’s this pattern where Jesus just kept refusing to be as worldly as his followers expected, and in many ways the inclusion of the Old Testament could be seen as an attempt at diluting the bitter taste this left in the mouths of the politically-minded persons who tended to rise through the ranks of the clergy. So a lot of Jews—some followers of Jesus, others followers of other rabbis or elders—demoralized by the destruction of the temple became what are known as Gnostics (those who look in ward rather than outward, often aided by whatever mind-freeing stuff was in the Library of Alexandria), and from them Christianity gets a lot of the more refined, mystical (i.e. less political) themes in the New Testament, as well as the whole concept of having a canon of scripture (which for many Gnostics such as the prodigious Marcion by no means included the Hebrew scriptures), monks, and the Trinity (from the Hindu Trimurti). In fact, the sociopolitical appication of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) can be found in the Emperor, Bishop, and Monk of the ancient organized Christian church (though the more advanced monks managed to slip out of the matrix entirely). And it was from this point of departure that the rest of the Christians, meanwhile, made-believe that the Roman Empire could substitute for Jesus’s indefinitely delayed return, and this theology would eventually pivot in Western Europe from the non-clerical imperialism to what is now known as the Roman Papacy, courtesy of the (as we now know) forged Donation of Constantine. Of course by the time the forgery was uncovered, people had forgotten that Peter had never been bishop of Rome, so we pivot again to a more divine claim that later culminates in the dogma of papal infallibility. So…where there’s an ego, there’s a way.
Anyway, Jesus quoted Moses and the Prophets extensively, but many of the words he kinda sorta passed off as his own were rooted in Egyptian and Indian wisdom lore. So in other words, this idea that the Old Testament is “where Jesus was coming from” or even simply “where Jesus’s human side was coming from” is an irresponsible and misleading one. Jesus’s secret disciple Joseph of Arimathea, in whose tomb the former is claimed in the canonical gospels to have been buried, was a wealthy man, perhaps through trade. So while Jesus confined his public ministry to Galilee, Samaria and Judea, there is no intellectually honest reason to ignore the possibility that he traveled and at the very least had at his fingertips much international store of traditions both mainstream and esoteric, through his obviously close connection to Joseph of Arimathea. A Jew with an open mind could go far, both physically and intellectually, with the roads that had been opened up by the Greeks and now by the Romans, not to mention the waterways. (Much the way that Genesis does not pretend to tell us everything that happened but is primarily a teaching tool, the same is true of the Gospels.) (Take this together with the fact that Joseph the Handyman was not Jesus’s real father, and think what you will—again, who gets buried in the tomb even of close family, unless something’s up with that?!)
Jesus was a very spiritual being (whether or not he actually took a wife in Kashmir as the very Jesus-revering Hindus tell us he did), and he confided in the Samaritan woman that “God is Spirit” or “God is Breath” which seems to be a clear reference to the Hindu Creator Brahma, whose name means just that, whereas the Hebrew Creator is (are?) Elohim, a name meaning “Mighty”, from which “Allah” is derived, and look at how that’s working out for us, LOL. (“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” [Zechariah 4:6]; note: for the Jains of India, just as for the Celts, there is no creation and therefore no “creator dude”, the cosmos being eternal.) In short, one finds it inescapable that most of the teachings that got Jesus in trouble with the Jews were of distinctly Indic origin.
So no, I do not see the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly these exoteric ones of the Imperial-Christian “Old Testament”, as being especially useful in coming to know the Jesus of the Gospel, let alone understand his teachings, quote them though he may for the benefit of his Jewish and quite simple-minded audience. Or if you’re going to take the mainline Hebrew Scriptures, then you should at least take with it the Hindu Upanishads and the Egyptian Book of the Dead, compared with either of which the Hebrew Scriptures seem oppressively worldly and lifeless (particularly the readings at Mass today, so obsessed with earthly prestige—and wealth—that the Hebrew deity promises to dole out to those who jump through his hoops, though wisely this is all interpreted [I think] spiritually by Christians: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/010817.cfm). The Hebrew Scriptures, then, are a sad example of ancient offerings, but I think the institutional Church had a need to so misrepresent the ancient world (and indeed exaggerate the meaning of the Adam and Eve story) so as to make certain to portray Jesus as the first real light in this world (and not merely in the Jewish world, in which arguably he was the last light). It was key to ignore, downplay and often malign the tradition of the yogis, Buddhas and your more enlightened Jewish elders such as Hillel (the Golden Rule guy) of which Jesus was clearly very much a part. The lie that Abraham and his descendants were the first to follow just one god is particularly transparent and reveals just how western-thinking (and anti-mystical) the authors of organized Christianity really are. (But hey, at least there’s choir.)
So yes, I do see the Bible as we know it to be a tactical collation by principalities, whether Constantine I or James I, calculated to coat the Gospel on both sides with a textual minefield of political nonsense, lest the citizens, subjects and slaves become spiritually empowered yoga or Zen masters and awaken their third (or “single”) eye to their direct link to all that is meant by “God” and “heaven”, and in consequence the world, heaven forbid, might actually come to know the peace and even unity that these conmen so loudly claim to desire!
There is no doubt in my mind, for example, that Jesus taught reincarnation and the bindi (meaning “third eye” and also associated with æther)! The Greeks, being like Jesus stout-hearted nationalists to the point of being xenophobes, have just sort of ignored these “too eastern” references, and the Romans have followed suit, as have the Germans, but today I think a lot of what I’m saying here is so public domain that many clergy are facing a crisis of political capital, mirroring the sheeple’s crisis of faith, whose cure (Gnosis) the clergy still largely hoard for themselves (in the knowledge that, when you pare it down, their secrecy is why they eat), all the while telling you and me it’s “heresy” (which is code for not for you simpletons, whose growth we are doing everything in our power to stunt).
The other biggest boost for Jesus is probably John the Baptist and the Essene Community, from whence he launches his yogic mission to the Jews. And we can see that indeed Jesus comes to the Jews as a spiritually overpowering force. They’ve probably never seen a yogi before. But is Jesus the only son of the only god? For many desperate Jews probably. But who decided they were the only ethnic group with anything to say? Cæsar?! Well doesn’t that just figure? Back to philosophy go I, LOL