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.