Every now and then I like to massage my
religious beliefs. It is good to have a healthy curiosity about the spiritual
things that you believe in.
In the discourse that preceded the Casino
Gambling Bill for example I did not once say that I was against the concept of
playing roulette, poker or blackjack for money. But I did object to the fact
that the President of this country acting as if he was the sovereign lord of
this nation, rather than its elected head of state, gave his agreement to the
building of the hotels for World Cup Cricket by promising the owners of these
hotels the right to have a casino Gambling License, thereby committing this
nation to Casino Gambling two years before it was put before the public. The
fact that he made a monstrous mistake and spent billions of dollars on a pipe
dream is now a matter of record and we are poorer today because of it and in
the coming months, maybe even in the coming years we will pay the price, and it
will be heavy!
In a report released by the United
Nations/ World Bank on the 3rd of May 2007 high crime rates, narco
trafficking and violence are impeding the growth of much of the Caribbean.
Giving narco traffickers a Casino is
like putting fuel on a raging fire. We had that discussion before so I will not
go into that here.
But here is additional evidence that this
entire region is in a very bad situation as a result of our proximity to the
US, making it inevitable that we would be part of the southern hemispheric
network that allows illegal narcotic drugs to get into the US which is the most
lucrative market for it in the world, and our police forces are just not up to
the task of stropping it since they are not properly equipped, motivated or
remunerated to do it, especially in view of the fact that the narco trade is so
lucrative, well equipped and organised that even the US authorities are losing
the battle against it, so it may be advisable for the US authorities to examine
the cost effectiveness of stopping the drug trade closer to the source here in
the Caribbean, with economic support for us rather than after it arrives in the
This is after all a battle between the
drug lords and the US authorities which is being conducted on our territory,
since very little of these drugs are actually sold here, and we are completely
unprepared for the consequences.
What appalled me was that all of the
Church people who were so vociferous in their condemnation of this perceived
scourge on our society of Casino Gambling and numbering within their midst my own
Catholic Bishop forgot their objections after having met and basked in the
sunshine of Bharat Jagdeo for a few short hours, completely forgetting their
religious convictions and left the office of the President with their tails
between their legs and have not been heard from since.
And so we come back to me and my
religion. It is not comforting to realise that the church, of which I am a member,
will back down on a matter which it considered as offending such a fundamental moral
issue, simply because the Head of State tells them that whatever they did,
there was going to be Casino Gambling in Guyana and they can take it or leave
it and they slunk away licking their wounds.
Surely my religion which boasts more martyrs
than any other religion should have moral convictions which is made of sterner
This episode has shaken my religious
beliefs quite a bit. Since not only was my bishop involved but the Guyana Council
of Churches including the Muslim religious leaders were involved. It is very
Recently some people began a debate in
the letter writing columns about the genesis of the gospels and about who wrote
them and when.
Decades ago I decided that I would
research the fundamentals of my faith just to make sure that my parents got it
right and that I was practicing the right religion. After all are talking about
eternity here and I don't want to spend it in the wrong place, so you will
forgive me if I decided to hedge my bets. At that time one of the most frequent
visitors to my home at Versailles was the sainted father Bernard Brown who was
my parish Priest at Malgretout. Whilst I was questioning him one evening, he
asked me if I was having a crisis of faith, he knew me that well that he say my
doubt, I told him that I was, he then arranged for me to get two books from
England the Jerusalem Bible and the Jerome Biblical Commentary these two books
contain over 2500 pages so we are talking about a substantial amount of
The Jerome Biblical Commentary was published
in 1968 and is supposed to be the foremost biblical commentary on the contents
of the bible, it contains one thousand four hundred and seventy four pages and
I have used it as a guide to the meaning of numerous concepts written in the bible
since Father Brown got it for me in 1975-76, in fact when it was revised in
1990 I got the revised version which updated the theological thinking of the
bible's genesis and meaning, it is called predictably enough the New Jerome
No legitimate scholar of the bible can
operate without it, if they do not rely solely on it, they should read the
bible in conjunction with it, and other legitimate commentaries which explain
what the intention of the passages in the bible mean. No lay person should seek
to interpret the meaning of what is contained in the bible, without help.
The Jerome is very clear as to who
wrote the gospels and indeed the order in which they were written, well as
clear as anything can be when clouded by 2000 years of time and it says so.
There will probably never be a universal
agreement on this issue but we have to start somewhere. There is however universal
agreement that the 4 gospels are not exactly similar, three are synoptic
gospels Mark, Matthew and Luke and then there is John.
The Synoptic gospels are in fact
eyewitness accounts of events in the life of Jesus Christ, whilst John's gospel
was more of a philosophical work substituting and introducing Christianity to
replace the Jewish religion.
By looking at the composition of the
gospels it became clear to scholars since the 1830's that everything that is in
Mark is in Matthew and in Luke. This gave rise to what is called the Markian hypothesis
i.e. that the first gospel was written by Mark, his gospel contains 661 verses
of which 80% is reproduced in Matthew and about 65 % in Luke. the Markian
material found in the three synoptic Gospels is called the triple tradition,
the non Markian material found in Luke and Matthew about 220 verses is called
the double tradition. i.e. the verses are only common to two and not all three
gospels. The discussion of course continues to today, but modern bible theory
tells us that the best bet is for the order of the Synoptic Gospels to be Mark,
Matthew and then Luke.
Who was Mark? Well contrary to the views
expressed in the newspaper letters columns he was not an apostle, acts 12:12
&:25, 13:5-13; 15:37-39 point to a man called John Mark who was a scribe
and interpreter for St. Peter and then at a later time a companion to Saul also
known as St. Paul. The gospel was ascribed to Mark, the interpreter of Saint
Peter, and was placed in Rome around 64 to 67 AD.
Tradition then gives the next oldest
gospel to Matthew. The commonality between Matthew and Luke suggests that there
was an earlier work called the Logien-Quelle which was an early collection of
sayings of Jesus Christ and when combined with the Mark gospel gave rise to the
gospel of Matthew [now remember that Mark was interpreter to Peter himself so
he would not have needed to be an eyewitness] if in fact apostle Matthew was
the author of the Logien-Quelle then he Matthew would have been instrumental in
writing some of the contents of the Matthew Gospel, but the Matthew Gospel was
first seen after Mark's gospel after 64 AD but before 102
AD since at that time it was known by Ignatius of Antioch, its specific
authorship however is still a matter of conjecture. So it is tentatively dated
at around 80 AD.
The gospel of Luke was probably written by
a physician called Luke, a Syrian of Antioch a companion and collaborator of St. Paul. But the gospel dates itself since it visualises the destruction of Jerusalem so it is dated at around 85 AD very close to the Matthew gospel but a few years
later. Remember there are no absolutes here what I am giving you are the most
widely held hypotheses based on the current research on the matter. There are
other opposing views but for a layman the above satisfies me. I am not saying
that it has to satisfy everyone, it satisfies me as an individual, and I hope
that it has helped you.
If there is a next time,
and I feel like massaging my religious beliefs in public, I will tell you about
the incredible Gospel of John.