WHERE IT ALL BEGAN (Part VII)
WHERE MYTHOLOGY MEETS REALITY
When we examine the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, especially His miracles of healing and raising the dead, sometimes it makes us wonder why He was received so wildly in some places, but rejected to caustically in others. Why did His opponents say He was casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub? Why did the Pharisees object to His healing on the Sabbath? Why did His raising people from the dead cause the Sadducees to want to kill Him?
We may gain some insight when we go back to see what was being taught world-wide through Greek influence some 400 years before Jesus came into the world, and by His arrival what had become conventional wisdom among the leading scholars of the world, including many Jews. It starts in Greek mythology with the god Apollo.
Apollo was generally recognized as a god of light and the sun, of truth and prophecy, of healing, the plagues, of music, poetry, and more. When Apollo favored you, he found answers for your illnesses. When he was displeased with you, he would send disease and plagues. Therefore, the Greeks associated medicine and healing with Apollo, whether mediated through himself or through his son
Asklepios (or Asclepius).
So it is no wonder that disease, illness and death were thought by the whole civilized world at that time as being in the hands of the gods. That’s why wise men and sages developed prayers, chants and rituals to be performed for the gods, especially Apollo and Asklepios. So we can see that when Jesus went around healing the sick and raising the dead, why some thought He was a god to be worshipped and some thought He was a god to be feared because He might also send disease or a plague if disobeyed. Since Beelzebub, which for the Jews was another name for Satan, was thought to be the lord Hades, they come to believe that Jesus’ powers came from Beelzebub..
Asklepios was born to the Greek god Apollo by way of a human mother, a Trikkaian princess named Koronis. Apollo had him trained in the art of medicine. Therefore, because of his divine and human parents, he was both god and man in one. Asklepios was depicted as a kindly, bearded man holding a serpent-entwined staff. Asklepios became so skilled at the art of healing that he began to raise the dead to life. However, this did not go well with another mythological god named Hades. He considered raising the dead a crime against nature, so he went and complained to the great god Zeus.
Haides (or Hades) was the King of the Underworld, the god of death and the dead. He presided over funeral rites and defended the right of the dead to due burial. Hades was also the god of the hidden wealth of the earth. So if you wanted to become wealthy, you must favor with him. But he was also very influential among the gods. So when he went to Zeus and complained that by Asklepios resurrecting people from death, he threatened to put him out of business, Zeus answered Hades’ request and killed Asklepios with a thunderbolt. But Apollo was so hurt by this action, that he went to Zeus and asked permission to have his son placed among the stars as the constellation of Ophiuchus, which means “the Serpent Holder”
But into the arena of history while all of this was going on, entered a young man who went to Athens to learn and practice medicine, his name was Hippocrates (460-375 B.C.). He rejected this idea of disease being caused by the gods, and said that it was the result of physical factors that could be understood and analyzed by humans, and then treated and cured by humans using their intellect and skills without resorting to these prayers and incantations. Therefore, medicine became a science through the teachings and influence of Hippocrates.
Hippocrates was so committed and dedicated to his craft that he wrote an oath, which has become the basis for the oath taken by doctors to this day. Here is the original oath written by Hippocrates:
I swear by Apollo the physician, and Asclepius, and Hygieia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses as my witnesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this contract:
To hold him who taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to be a partner in life with him, and to fulfill his needs when required; to look upon his offspring as equals to my own siblings, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or contract; and that by the set rules, lectures, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to students bound by this contract and having sworn this Oath to the law of medicine, but to no others.
I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment, and I will do no harm or injustice to them.
I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.
In purity and according to divine law will I carry out my life and my art.
I will not use the knife, even upon those suffering from stones, but I will leave this to those who are trained in this craft.
Into whatever homes I go, I will enter them for the benefit of the sick, avoiding any voluntary act of impropriety or corruption, including the seduction of women or men, whether they are free men or slaves.
Whatever I see or hear in the lives of my patients, whether in connection with my professional practice or not, which ought not to be spoken of outside, I will keep secret, as considering all such things to be private.
So long as I maintain this Oath faithfully and without corruption, may it be granted to me to partake of life fully and the practice of my art, gaining the respect of all men for all time. However, should I transgress this Oath and violate it, may the opposite be my fate.
Various versions of this oath now exist. One report gave the following breakdown of its use by schools of medicine:
1. Only 1 school used the original Hippocratic Oath.
2. In 1928, only 26% of schools administered some form of the Oath
3. In 1993, 98% of schools administered some form of the Oath.
4. 68 schools used versions of the original Hippocratic Oath.
5. 100% of current Oaths pledge a commitment to patients.
6. Only 43% vow to be accountable for their actions.
7. 14% include a prohibition against euthanasia.
8. Only 11% invoke a deity.
9. 8% prohibit abortion.
10. Only 3% prohibit sexual contact with patients.
Perhaps this is why when the scribes and Pharisees doubted Jesus’ authority to forgive sins, He would perform a miracle of healing to show that God was also involved in curing man’s diseases. Jesus knew about the influence of Greek mythology and how it had affected the world up to His day. Could it be that Jesus was making a subtle hint at Asklepios as the constellation of Ophiuchus when he said to the people of Capernaum, “And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades” (Mt. 11:23). And when speaking to Peter, did Jesus take a swipe at the power that Hades had over the dead when He said, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the power of Hades will not be able to prevent it” (Mt. 16:18). And in 1 Corinthians 15:55, even the Apostle Paul, who was very familiar with Greek gods and their mythology, said sarcastically about the resurrection of the dead in Christ, “ “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O Hades, is your sting?” (1Cor. 15:55). Paul was quoting Hosea (13:14), and there the prophet used the Hebrew word for Hades which is “sheol.”
As we can see, Jesus did not just drop out of the sky with some other worldly philosophy that the people of His day could not understand, nor did He tell His disciples to go out and form some cult that bore no resemblance to what man had come to understand about God in seeking the truth. No! He came to tie all these loose ends together so that mankind could clearly see and understand more about God through Him. And that is the last straw. God has no other Son to send, He has no other plan to roll out. This is it! Either the world accepts it and is saved, or they hang on to the fables and myths of the past and miss the greatest revelation of God the world has ever witnessed.
As Paul explained, the Greeks and others were looking into the mysteries of God through a dark glass, but God sent His Son to turn on the light so mankind could see more clearly. We know what has happened and is going to happen to this humanist belief that man himself is his own savior, that there is no supernatural power to help him. John saw it clearly in the Revelation he received when the Son of God said to him, “I am the living one. I died, but look – I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades!” (Rev. 1:18.) Then later on in the same Revelation, after death and Hades had surrendered all the departed spirits they were holding hostage for judgment, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the ultimate death.” (Rev. 20:13-14.)