The teachings of Jesus truly are a gospel of peace. But what about that part, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34 KJV)? It is possible that Jesus was making a statement that, like any other belief system, will be a cause for contention because of human nature and agency. Some will refuse to accept a path of peace. Yet he clearly promoted peace: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Peace is the opposite of anxiety. In today’s anxious world, we need these teachings as much as ever.
Thorough scholarship. “Dr. Keizer is a scholar who has researched the historical message of Yeshua for half a century and published many books and articles reconstructing the authentic teachings. He completed his M. Div. studies at the Episcopal Divinity School with classes at Harvard Divinity School…earned his Ph.D. degree at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA; was a member of the faculty at the University of California in Santa Cruz teaching Religious Studies and Classics.”
Independent thinker. Dr. Keizer belongs in the IDW hall of fame. He resigned from the Episcopal Church in 1967 to pursue his research and spiritual practices without pressure to conform to their standard Christian doctrine. He was consecrated an independent Bishop in 1976. Like Martin Luther, he carries the tradition that a seeker of truth can access truth and inspiration without a human authoritative intermediary. His websites are www.hometemple.org and www.wisdomseminars.org. You can download the work cited below for free at https://independent.academia.edu/LewisKeizer
Interpretations of New Testament teachings. The following subsections present a few segments of Jesus’ teachings from Keizer's redactions. The teachings are clarified by contextual and cultural understanding as well as extensive comparison of all available historical documents related to the teachings. For the benefit of those not wanting to look up the Jewish terminology, there are the equivalent English terms in brackets. Keizer admits that the teachings sound similar to some Buddhist teachings, though he finds them related to Kabala, the mystic tradition of Judaism. It should be expected that some teachings and terminology would be passed down from the Jewish spiritual traditions that Jesus was familiar with. These traditions were not familiar to the European converts, so some of the meanings were misinterpreted or incomprehensible.
Non-attachment to the physical world. Jesus “told his disciples that kichesh (renunciation, non-attachment) is the existential condition of his [divine energy] for spiritual rebirth. The only remedy for impermanence is non-attachment to the illusions of material reality” (Keizer, 2015, p. 160). This is like the Zen teaching that freedom or enlightenment comes from dying before one’s death, in other words, a complete acceptance of death that includes the understanding of limitations of one’s influence. With clarity of the principle that “you can’t take it with you,” savoring the simple enjoyments in life seems a better way of living than striving after security, domination, or competitive advantage. Sustaining life becomes an adventure, a creative challenge, rather than a predictable chore.
Non-attachment was also self-release from anxiety, worry, and fear. The instruction to Martha illustrates one kind of worry. “When Mary is criticized for laying aside women’s kitchen work to hear the teachings, [Jesus] says, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful’ ” (p. 162).
Materialism and wealth. “Let him who has grown spiritually wealthy be Sovereign, and let him who possesses worldly power renounce it” (Thomas logion 81). Keizer (2015) notes, “Attachment is an egoistic emotional state natural to all of us. It desires to possess and control all the elements of its life, whether people or things. It is selfish. … It is obsessed with material goods and finances. It wants to keep parental control over its grown children. If it does charitable acts, it always exacts a price—social or emotional” (p. 562). Jesus remarked that it is more difficult for a rich person to find spiritual liberation than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. This kind of exaggerated saying was a common literary form at the time, and emphasized a near impossibility. Those who accumulate much wealth often become slaves to their possessions. Jesus said not to worry about clothes or food; “instead seek the [divine realm of the physical], and all these things are provided for you,” a statement found in several sources: Q (Matthew 6:29, Luke 12:27), Papias, and Greek Thomas logion 36 (p. 163). In other words, “If you make the divine kingdom your first priority, all needs will be provided for you” (p. 165).
Freedom. It seems the unassuming people, disinterested in accumulating wealth, would be easy prey for the strivers to take advantage of. On the contrary, they should be immune to being controlled, because they can’t be convinced to subjugate others. They refuse to be a link in a chain of oppression. Like Victor Frankl, they find a mental freedom even in the most oppressive circumstances. They are told, “Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the [soul or spirit]” (p. 162). “Become passers-by” (Thomas logion 42; p. 161). He may have meant these would not be constrained by holding on to land, nor prevented from the learning that travels could bring. Alternately, it could mean simply to understand yourself as passing temporarily thru this existence, and thereby not being emotionally attached to land one may own.
Highest value. “The divine sovereignty entrusted to the new humanity is precious and invisible to the old humanity. It must be sought by each disciple individually, and when found it must be valued as a spiritual treasure beyond all earthly treasure” (p. 166). “The Tao is beyond price” (Lin, 2007, p. 204).
Keizer, L. (2015). The pre-Christian teachings of Yeshua. Available from https://independent.academia.edu/LewisKeizer
Lin, D. (2007). The Tao of daily life. Penguin Group.