In the annals of history and religion, the notion of Jesus Christ using cannabis is not only provocative but also highly contentious.
However, some theorists suggest that the sacred anointing oils Jesus used in healing rituals might have contained cannabis extracts.
This hypothesis primarily rests on linguistic interpretations, historical context, and the known medicinal properties of cannabis. It’s essential to approach this theory with an open mind, recognizing the complexities of historical interpretations.
The Linguistic Connection
The primary piece of evidence driving this hypothesis comes from the Old Testament of the Bible, in the book of Exodus (30:22-25). Here, a recipe for holy anointing oil is given, listing myrrh, cinnamon, “kaneh-bosm,” and cassia, all blended with olive oil.
The Hebrew word “kaneh-bosm” has been the center of an ongoing debate.
Polish etymologist Sula Benet proposed in 1967 that “kaneh-bosm” was inaccurately translated as “calamus” in the King James Bible, while it should have been translated as cannabis.
Sula Benet, born Sara Benetowa in 1903, was a Polish anthropologist and etymologist with an esteemed academic background. She completed her doctoral studies at the University of Warsaw, where she later became a professor.
Known for her thorough research on Eastern European and Middle Eastern cultures, Benet made significant contributions to the study of ethnobotany, particularly the cultural uses of plants.
If Benet’s interpretation is accurate, it suggests that the holy anointing oil used by Jesus and his disciples might have contained cannabis extract.
At first glance, the notion of Jesus employing cannabis in his healing rituals may seem far-fetched. However, upon closer scrutiny, it becomes increasingly plausible.
This intriguing theory has captured global media attention, being featured in established news outlets like the BBC, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and Vice, among others.
The 2014 YouTube documentary above, “Kaneh Bosm: the Hidden Story of Cannabis in the Old Testament,” explores the possible role of cannabis in the Old Testament, known by the Hebrew term “kaneh bosm.”
This hypothesis, initially proposed by Benet, has been progressively gaining acceptance in academic communities.
Historical and Cultural Context
Examining the historical context adds another layer to this argument. The use of cannabis for medicinal and spiritual purposes has been documented in many ancient cultures, including China and India.
While direct evidence of cannabis use in the Middle East around the time of Jesus is less robust, a study published in 2020 identified cannabis residues at a Jewish shrine in Tel Arad, Israel dating back to the 8th century BCE, implying that cannabis may have been used in some religious rituals in the region.
The Healing Properties of Cannabis
When discussing Jesus’ healing miracles, it’s worth considering the known medicinal properties of cannabis. As an analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent, cannabis can alleviate physical discomfort and possibly help manage certain medical conditions.
If cannabis was indeed an ingredient in the anointing oil, it might have contributed to the relief or healing experienced by the people Jesus anointed, making his healing activities even more influential and meaningful to those he helped.
The Significance of Anointing
In the early Christian tradition, anointing was considered a deeply sacred act, symbolizing the transfer of divine blessing or authority.
If cannabis was part of this ritual, it could imply a profound, overlooked connection between early Christian practices and the therapeutic use of plants.
In the context of Jesus Christ’s ministry, anointing took on an even deeper significance. His act of anointing the sick, often accompanied by healing, was seen as a manifestation of God’s mercy and power.
It served not only a medicinal purpose but also a spiritual one, embodying the love, compassion, and transformative power of Christ’s ministry.
Thus, anointing in the biblical context was a deeply sacred act, symbolizing divine selection, empowerment, and blessing.
It suggests that Jesus might have been a proponent of holistic healing, utilizing both spiritual and natural remedies to aid those in need.
A Theory on Biblical Healing Practices
Carl Ruck, a Boston University professor specializing in classical mythology, supports the theory of a significant role for cannabis in Judaic religion.
He suggests that Jesus possibly used cannabis oil, referred to in Aramaic as “kaneh-bosem” (Exodus 30:22-36), for healing and anointing. This substance was traditionally believed to be the herb calamus.
Ancient Hebrews usually anointed only priests and kings, a tradition rooted in the biblical story of the burning bush. However, Jesus is believed to have diverged from this practice by anointing commoners, often resulting in miraculous healings.
For instance, in Mark 6:13, they “anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.”
The connection to cannabis becomes particularly interesting considering anecdotal evidence suggesting CBD, a cannabis compound, can potentially treat epilepsy, which could have been mistaken for demonic possession in ancient times.
A Matter of Interpretation
The suggestion that Jesus used cannabis oils in his anointing rituals is a captivating theory that challenges traditional narratives.
However, it’s important to acknowledge that it remains a theory, reliant on interpretations of ancient texts and circumstantial historical evidence.
While the argument is plausible and offers a fresh perspective on early Christian practices, it’s yet to gain broad acceptance among historians and biblical scholars.
Ultimately, whether or not Jesus used cannabis in his anointing rituals, the core message of his healing works remains the same – a message of compassion, care, and transformative love.
The debate over “kaneh-bosm” and its implications simply adds another intriguing dimension to our understanding of historical religious practices and the potential role of medicinal plants within them.