Rolling away the stoner

It seems that everyone wants to claim Jesus as their own. Jesus, it is said, was a new age guru (see, e.g., "What is the New Age View of Jesus Christ?"), a Hindu avatar of God (see, e.g., "What is Hinduism?"), the the word and spirit of Allah and the one who predicts the coming of Muhammad in Islam (see, e.g., "Jesus through Muslim eyes"), and Buddha figure in Buddahism (see, e.g., "Christ as a Buddha Figure: Buddhist sources for Christianity"). Now, by pure chance, I have come across the most absurd claim of Jesus yet: Jesus as the stoner.

High Times Magazine, the magazine of the marijuana counterculture, published about three years ago an article entitled "Was Jesus a stoner?". Yes, the stoners of America (their word of self-description) claim that Jesus was, himself, healing people using an early form of medicinal marijuana. According to the article:

"Christ" is the Greek translation of the Hebrew "Messiah." In modern English, this term would be translated as the "anointed one." The title "Christ" was only placed upon he who had "God’s unction upon him."

This holy anointing oil, as described in the original Hebrew version of the recipe in Exodus (30:22-23), contained over six pounds of kaneh-bosem, a substance identified by respected etymologists, linguists, anthropologists, botanists and other researchers as cannabis, extracted into about six quarts of olive oil, along with a variety of other fragrant herbs. The ancient anointed ones were literally drenched in this potent mixture.

Carl P. Ruck, the scholar who coined the term "entheogen," is a professor of classical mythology at Boston University, and has researched the history of psychoactive substances in religion for over three decades, working with such luminaries as the father of LSD, Albert Hoffman; entheobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, and mycologist R. Gordon Wasson. On the subject of Old Testament cannabis use he explains:

"There can be little doubt about a role for cannabis in Judaic religion. There is no way that so important a plant as a fiber source for textiles and nutritive oils and one so easy to grow would have gone unnoticed… the mere harvesting of it would have induced an entheogenic reaction."

Ruck comments further on the continuation of this practice into the early Christian period: "Obviously the easy availability and long-established tradition of cannabis in early Judaism… would inevitably have included it in the [Christian] mixtures."

Occasionally, there is a story that really needs no refutation -- this is one of them. I find this argument completely absurd at its heart, but let me at least give a couple of reasons that this is just plain silly.

First reason: the article seems to rely on the work of Carl A.P. Ruck for the claims made. Carl A.P. Ruck is a professor of Classical studies at Boston University who has written several books about the use of entheogens in classical western culture, including The Apples of Apollo: Pagan and Christian Mysteries of the Eucharist. Now, I don't normally "diss" a professor who has studied a subject and teaches on it at a respected university like Boston University, but a brief recital of one of his arguments as set forth in the link immediately above speaks loudly about what a stretch Dr. Ruck has to make to argue that Jesus was a user of medicinal drugs. Here is what the link says:

In the Hellenized world, the Jews tended to replace their Hebrew names with Greek names that sounded similar. Hence many an assimilated Jesus was called Iason, like the Jason of Classical mythology, perhaps to avoid the approbrium of belonging to the people who had crucified the Nazarene, but even Christians adopted this manner, inscribing their name on the walls of the catacombs. (page 145)

... In Greek, this Iao is the root for the "drug" (ios) of the "drug man" or doctor (ia-tros) who performs the act of "healing" (iasis). As a healer, Iesous was the "savior" of his namesake Iesoue (Joshua): easily recognized as a male version of Iaso (or Ieso), the Greek goddess of healing. All the gospels use the verb "to heal" (ia-sthai) of Jesus' ministry; and he refers to himself quite ofter as a "drug man."

Hence, the Nazarene was Lord and Savior, Iao's agent in healing. The iao-root, moveover, fortuitously reinforces the assimilation of Iesous to the name of the mythical hero Iason (Jason), for Jason was so named for the ceremonial chrismation or anointing that made him a shaman. In the Hebrew tradition, Messiah is the name for the "anointed," who in Greek is called Christos. It is as the Christ that Lord Jesus Savior can lay claim to the fulfillment of the prophesies, announcing the return of Iao. The ritual of chrismation had become a validation for the authority of kings and prophets; but the unguent of annointment originally conferred its power through the entheogen that made the recipients consubstantial with the sacred plant of their shamanism, for both kings and prophets were divinely inspired. They were a manifestation of the presence of god among us, which is the name Emmanuel." (pages 146-148)

So, Jesus, if read in the Greek, is Iason which means healing drug man and the annointing that Jesus received was the annointing of a shaman? Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor.

I'm sorry, but this is patently absurd and an inexcusable bastardization of the overall teachings of the Bible. He strips the language of its meaning and intent for the purpose of promoting a view that supports his thesis that cannibis was freely used and gave rise to our Western religious traditions. If this is the basis for the claims that Jesus healed using cannibis, I don't find it even slighty persuasive, let alone compelling.

Second reason: Last time I checked, cannibis -- regardless of whether it really has an healthful benefits -- never led to anyone rising from the dead. If the claim is that the Apostles collectively hallucinated the risen Jesus, that claim has been repeatedly refuted. Throwing in the fact that cannibis was involved in such a vision of resurrection does not make the claim any more believable, and, in fact, adds fuel to the fire that cannibis use ought not be legalized if it leads to such hallucinations.

In all sincerity, lots of people try to take bits and pieces of what Jesus said or did in order to claim Him as their own. But the Jesus of the Bible is not a Hindu, a Buddhist, a new age teacher, a Muslim prophet, or -- least likely of all -- a stoner. He is, as the Bible taken as a whole asserts, the Son of God who became human so that he could die for our transgressions in order that we may have eternal life. Let's not try to fit him into little slots to meet our own personal ends.


Weekend Fisher said…
Would it be too tacky if I mentioned that, in the efforts to remake Jesus in their own image, I think the Jesus Seminar's efforts to turn him into someone who said and did nothing worth noting and does not deserve his reputation ... erm, well, draw your own conclusions.
BK said…
Not only is it not too tacky, I agree wholeheartedly.
Boanerg said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Edward said…
"It seems that everyone wants to claim Jesus as their own."

Look who started it! Jesus was a Jew, and the gentile Christians claimed him as their own.

"Last time I checked, cannibis [sic] -- regardless of whether it really has an healthful benefits -- never led to anyone rising from the dead."

Neither has anyone claiming to be the Son of God.

Carl Ruck does not claim in his book that "cannibis led to anyone rising from the dead". Firstly, he relates Jesus to the fly agaric mushroom. Secondly he relates the effects of fly agaric mushroom (first a deep sleep and then a vigorous reawakening) as a metaphor for dying and being reborn, just like nature seems reborn after winter.

"lots of people try to take bits and pieces of what Jesus said or did in order to claim Him as their own... He is, as the Bible taken as a whole asserts... Let's not try to fit him into little slots to meet our own personal ends."

That's precisely what you're doing yourself with Carl Ruck's book. You take one bit out of his book to misinterpret to your own liking so that you can refute the book as a whole. I suggest you look up Matthew 7:1-5 and Luke 6:41-42.
Edward said…
Exodus 30:23 / Isaiah 43:23-24
The Hebrew kaneh bosm, has been identified as cannabis.

The first solid evidence of the Hebrew use of cannabis was established in 1936 by Sula Benet, a little known Polish etymologist from the Institute of Anthropological Sciences in Warsaw.

The word cannabis was generally thought to be of Scythian origin, but Benet showed that it has a much earlier origin in Semitic languages like Hebrew, and that it appears several times throughout the Old Testament. Benet explained that "in the original Hebrew text of the Old Testament there are references to hemp, both as incense, which was an integral part of religious celebration, and as an intoxicant."

Benet demonstrated that the word for cannabis is kaneh-bosm, also rendered in traditional Hebrew as kaneh or kannabus. The root kan in this construction means "reed" or "hemp", while bosm means "aromatic".

The word kaneh-bosm has been mistranslated as calamus, but even calamus is a psychoactive drug plant containing TMA, a close relative to MDMA (Ecstasy).
BK said…
Yes, Jesus was a Jew, but he was also the Son of God -- or, at least, that is the clear message of His teaching. You cannot nitpick and take the references you want to interpret as being marijuana and reject the rest. That is special pleading.

The same holds true to your comment about no one being raised as the Son of God. Again, you want to take the texts that seem to support a theory that has no support among anyone but High Times readers and elevate it above both the generally accepted meaning and the meaning of historians who would be more in line with your thinking because they reject the supernatural elements. Either way, a view that holds that Jesus did drugs is way down on the list of probable explanations.

I readily admit that I have not read his Ruck's book. If he is not saying that Jesus and his disciples did drugs, then I may not have a problem with him. But the language that I quoted seems pretty clear to me. I could be mistaken, but not based on what you have said so far. Ruck's work, to the extent I have researched it so far, is only cited on pro-marijuana sites. No one else seems to take him seriously.

Anyway, thanks for the Bible verses. I will certainly take them to heart. Of course, I have a plank in my own eye, but that hardly answers the question of whether Ruck's work is worth the paper it is printed on.

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