An addition to the BHT, which may be the very earliest words written in the New Testament, around 50 AD, in Paul's letter to the family who are gathering in Thessaloniki. Paul is exuberant about their faith, and talks about how they knew it for themselves through the manifestation of the Spirit in themselves, after much suffering, just like Paul and Jesus. Their great example was quickly spreading abroad.
I wonder if Silas/Silvanus could be Paul's nickname for his own alter ego, the "Saul" of his prior persecuting life, his shadow side, his human side, his "sinful" side, prior to perhaps taking a "new name" of Paul after his conversion experience.
It's taken more time to write about this reconstruction, because it is perhaps a more sensitive subject, and more complex, than any I have written before about Mormonism or Christianity, yes, even more so than Jesus or Joseph Smith (which might be an indication that something is off-kilter). The Salt Lake City based Latter-day Saints take the Book of Mormon very seriously as a holy text, as scripture revealed by God, similar to the Bible, and perhaps even more important than the Bible. The Book of Mormon is one thing that makes them unique, their own testament of the divinity of "Jesus Christ," which they believe is also evidence of the unique prophethood of Joseph Smith and the divinity of the church he organized as God's "true church." But I think the truth may be much more nuanced.
An addition to the BHT, containing the earliest account of the post-resurrection appearances of Christ in the New Testament, where Paul describes his witness of the resurrection and what it means to be resurrected into Christ consciousness. This seems to be an excellent summary of the Christian Gospel, or "good news," but it is something which I think we've generally misunderstood in Christianity for centuries. I feel that this is one of the most important translations of the BHT that I have been given the Grace to work out yet—yet not I. I was in tears by the end.
It is true that traditionally God and Christ have been predominantly associated with the male gender and masculine principle (a "He"), at least in the West. What we need to decide today is if that traditional interpretation, these symbols of the Divine, are still valid, and accurate, and if they point to truth in the present, or if we need a better interpretation of these symbols as a society, a culture, in our interspirituality, in the world today.
An addition to the BHT, where Paul describes how we are liberated from the suffering of the ego in the life of Christ consciousness, or the Spirit, and all are beneficiaries of this consciousness, from which we cannot ever be separated.
I've been reading about the post-resurrection appearances of Christ, and the description of the earliest written records and development of the early Christian resurrection narrative is quite intriguing. It seems to show that there was a significant change of the meaning of resurrection beginning in the very first few decades of Christianity, between the time of Paul and when the gospels were written.
Mormonism traces back its history in modern times to its founding prophet, Joseph Smith Jr., and his "First Vision." Joseph was a young farmer boy who lived in western New York, born in the early nineteenth century. This was the time of what's known as the Second Great Awakening, and where Joseph lived is known as the "burned-over district." It was a time of much Protestant religious excitement, revivals, reforms, and the formation of new religious movements and denominations (which eventually included Mormonism). A Restoration Movement grew in popularity in the area, which involved ideas of "restoring" a pure, primitive, uncorrupted, and original form of Christian faith.
Jesus is, of course, the center of Christianity, including Mormonism. In Mormonism, he is prominently identified in the name of the largest denomination of which I was a member, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Everything revolves around Jesus.
This weekend I had the fortunate opportunity to go to Fairfax, Virginia, to attend a seminar hosted by the Shalem Institute, an organization that fosters contemplative living and leadership. Their invited guest to present for their annual Gerald May Seminar was Bernard McGinn, who is Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. McGinn is an American Roman Catholic Theologian and is considered one of the world's foremost expert scholars on the history of Christian mysticism. He has written seven volumes outlining the history of Christian mysticism, and may write two more, bringing the history up to the present time. This series is known as The Presence of God.