Saturday, February 13, 2021

Bamboozled after 1000 years of Mariolatry? Check the Bible!

Astrophysicist Carl Sagan wrote:

If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken in. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

Paul wrote: 'To whom you yield yourself servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey,' Rom 6:16. 

What to do? We are told by Simon Peter to 'Obey God, not man' Acts 5:29. We should seek the truth and obey it, not man.

It is a dangerous path even for an astrophysicist to submit himself to an atheistic dogma instead of keeping an open mind. It is like propelling yourself into a cul-de-sac and then complaining there is no way forward.

When it comes to a relationship with the Creator, we cannot give up in our search for the truth. How can we be sure of the truth of biblical Christianity, free from propaganda and disinformation? 

Check the Bible. Prove all things. Avoid shuttered thinking.

 The Roman Catholic Mary

Original 'Christianity' is vastly different from that a few centuries later. The Roman Empire subjected its population to a sustained disinformation campaign. Thus a church arose that tried to absorb the beliefs of Christ and the apostles of the first century into its deeply pagan framework. 

The early believers did not even call themselves 'Christian'. This was a term invented by their opponents at Antioch as Acts 11:26 records. 

Since the time that a form of 'Christianity' became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the imperial authorities centralised doctrine in a way that drew in the masses. Thus the Roman Catholic Church became a mixture of paganism including myths of Greek, Roman and Egyptian demigods with a veneer of Christianity. At the same time the church remained antisemitic so the Hebrew Scriptures were despised, banned and burned. Jewish Christians were declared heretics.



Thus the Catholic dogma of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) arose. It had more in common with Greek pagan legends than Hebrew history and custom. Mary, or Mariam as the NT calls her, should be given due respect. But this version had little in common with the Bible. She was transformed into a plaster model of the Greek goddess, Artemis, the Queen of Heaven. The theme of the virgin goddess with child is common throughout all paganism from China to the West. It is denounced in the Bible. 

Once the BVM falsehood was entrenched as a doctrine, how was it sustained against questions by the few who had access to the New Testament? By bad logic and subterfuge. Up to quite recently Roman Catholics were forbidden to read the Bible and only listen to their priests. Why? The Bible makes nonsense of the doctrine of the forever virginal Queen of Heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

One example is John 8:38 41, the incident when Jesus was in the Temple and confronted by people who wanted to kill him. They say that 'We are not the children of fornication.' 

Ah ha, say the Roman Catholics, obviously they thought Jesus was a child of fornication because he was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Joseph was not his father.

Bad logic! It is amazing how such illogicalities persist. If someone says to you: ‘I am not a thief’, does that mean that you are a thief? If he says 'I am not an idol-worshipper,' does that mean you are?

Some Pharisees were of dubious birth. That created jealousy compared with the stricter Sadducees on Temple matters. They were shamed by the undeniability of Christ’s legitimate pedigree as both King and Priest. Jesus was perfect in all his generations. The Hebrew Scriptures, Tanak, finish with the genealogies of Chronicles and the NT begins with the genealogy from there to Christ. Above all Christ was true to his ancestors' faith in God, unpolluted by the devil. The Pharisees not only perverted the truth but wanted to kill the son of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David, a personage prophesied throughout the Scriptures as the Anointed, Dt 18:18 and 17:14.

The spirit of murder showed they were not legitimate, even though they might be sons of Abraham. It was the spirit of the devil.

Three proofs

How do I know the Roman Catholic interpretation is incorrect? I will give you three proofs. Jesus spoke inside the Temple and taught priests inside the Court of Priests. The Torah in Deut 23:2 says that

No bastard (mamzer – someone of unproven pedigree) shall enter the Court of Israel surrounding the Temple – on pain of death.

And no Israelite other than Levitical priests could enter the Court of Priests. Furthermore, no offspring of such a person may enter the Temple for TEN generations. If as Catholics say Jesus maintained he had no earthly father then he would be dead if he tried to enter the Temple, dispatched by the armed Temple guards. To claim that he was like the pagan demigods and was the offspring of a virgin and Zeus/ Jupiter was an even surer way to oblivion if he crossed into the precincts of the Temple.

The word of a future emperor

Secondly, the Romans under Julius Caesar when they made a treaty with the Jews respected the right for them to forbid all foreigners and mamzers from the Temple.

This continued until the very date of the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. We have the witness of Titus, son of emperor Vespasian, recorded in Josephus.

Josephus Wars Bk 6,2,4 (124):

Titus was deeply affected and reproached {those in the Temple}:

Have not you, vile wretches that you are, by our permission, put up this partition wall before your sanctuary? Have not you been allowed to put up the pillars thereto belonging, at due distances, and to engrave in Greek and in your own letters, this prohibition, that no foreigner should go beyond the wall.

Have we not given you leave to kill such as go beyond it, though he were a Roman?

Proof in stone

Thirdly, those massive stone warnings, written in Greek and Latin (and Hebrew for the Court of Priests) were repeated every few meters. They said in bold red letters that anyone entering (a) the Court of Israel who was not an authentic Israelite (verified for ten generations) and (b) anyone who was not an authentic Levite (verified over ten generations) would be killed and their death was their own fault.

This is my facsimile of it.

 It says:

Nobody at all of alien racial stock may proceed within the balustrade surrounding the sanctuary and the encompassing court. Whoever ventures inside will be responsible for his death that will ensue.

The original stone 90cm by 60 cm by 30 cm was discovered by Clermont-Ganneau in 1871. It is now on display in the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul. Another piece of such a Warning Stone has also been uncovered.

The reluctance of the churches to draw the right conclusions about the Catholic BVM dogma shows how deeply disinformation over a millennium by the RCC is hard to shift.

If modern 'Christianity' is all based on a false premise, then what is it really? BAMBOOZLED. 

If 'scientists' and modern theologians believe that the miracles of Christ and his resurrection could not happen, then they are denying the evidence and are equally bamboozled.


 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Science before our Science proves an all-knowing God

 The God of the Universe is the Information Giver


Carl Sagan, the cosmologist, was a well-known and vocal advocate of science over religion. Science, for him, was 'a candle in the dark in the demon-haunted world.' 

By that Carl Sagan wanted to replace all religions by 'science'. 

It is true the world is full of superstition and lies. Clear thinking and logic is needed to disentangle the knots and see the truth. That logical, analytical process is today called science. 

Sagan did not believe in loving, all-powerful, wise God. At best he considered himself as a pantheist.  Why?

Is his true science? Can we call Sagan a real scientist? Sagan was keen to show how small mankind was as a dot on a planet that is a dot in a solar system that is insignificant as one of innumerable galaxies across the untold vastness of space.

Where Sagan failed was to assume that any brain could not be greater than man's brain; no constructor could be greater than man's arm; no force greater than the explosive inventions his mind could conceive.

That is a pretty pathetic analysis. It is scarcely comparable to ant any regarding the Great Pyramid of Giza or a moon rocket on its return trajectory. 

What is impossible for an ant brain and its physical limitations, should tell us to search for bigger minds and vaster physical capabilities far beyond our own imagination.

The existence of that power is beyond doubt.

At the start: Information

Science is based on first establishing a sound premise that all can agree on. Then add perceived facts, make some theories and do some testing.

I start with the fact that information exists. That is fundamental to all science. How did it arise? What is its cause? Scientists should deduce by the laws of causality that information came from the Information Giver, some super-intelligent being. 

What do those on earth learn? No earthy power, including death, is greater than love. That is a main message from the Information Giver to all earthlings. Animals, even, show that love to their offspring. That concept reaches far beyond the physics of the universe. It poses questions that no physicist can answer from physics.

Logically then Sagan did not believe in real science. He was a bamboozler. He is building his exposition on something less substantial than air.

All information whether about galaxies, humans, plants, cars or how to make atomic bombs came from the original information made before the universe began. Wikipedia and Britannica too. If the information did not exist before the universe began, then we would not exist nor be able to brush our teeth because the specific materials would not exist or be available at hand.

A single strand of DNA has as much information as an encyclopedia -- 1.5 Gbytes. DNA has been artificially manipulated to produce coded messages and successfully sent to a recipient in Europe. Sherlock Holmes now needs a laboratory! The human body alone with its 100 trillion cells contains 150 Zettabytes (ten followed by 21 noughts). https://bitesizebio.com/8378/how-much-information-is-stored-in-the-human-genome/  

Three spheres of Information

There are three spheres of information to explain: mathematics, the laws of physics, and the moral law that allows us to judge other’s actions and thoughts (and if we are honest our own.)  The human default mode is not to judge ourselves, especially when we recognize human deceit in others.

These three dimensions of knowledge were described by John Wilkins the first Secretary of the Royal Society (of Newton, Boyle, Wren etc.) in London in the late 1600s. Atheists have had more than three centuries to explain how this happens.

Scientists already accept these as the founding premises of science.  All scientists believe that the universe is governed by laws in these three spheres of information. True scientists not only adhere to the laws of information but go further. Science confirms that an effect B derives from an earlier one A. Information that is omnipresent in our world, they deduce, comes from an Information Giver. When we say that that Information Giver = God, then we can say that all true scientists can be called theists. 

Atheists are not scientists. They adhere to the laws of logic and deduction but on physical matters. But there they stop. They refuse to accept an Information Giver in the moral sphere. That defies logic. It shows they are not impartial. They are prejudiced at a step that can affect their lives with a major scientific conclusion. If they do not accept the universality of these laws, mathematical, physical and moral, they do not understand science. 

Science proves its conclusions by mathematics, physical observation of objects and in the human sciences showing the success and failures of individuals and societies by moral law. But atheists say 'When it comes to me, there is an exception. I do not have to submit to a conclusion that will affect my life style.' They throw up spurious, unscientific arguments, logically inconsistent with their avowed process. 

Wilkins was, among many other things, a cryptographer and well knew that what seems gibberish to some people contains a message from a real information giver.

The moral message of the Information Giver passes through all the noise and human gibberish. 
God has a Plan for us all. God is Love. 


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Conjunctions, the Bethlehem Star Prophecy and Precision Astrophysics

Humankind needs to learn humility when gazing at the stars and planets. It is clear that mankind was not their maker. What man can make is insignificant, even in relation to our own home.

But I disagree with those that say the Stars and Planets do not have significance. They speak for the Great Creator and Information Giver who first designed and then made them all.

Pleiades

Let us go to one of the signs of the Hebrew zodiac: the Pleiades, Hebrew Kimah

The Eternal God asked Job out of a whirlwind, Job 38:31:

Can you fasten the harness of Pleiades? (New Jerusalem)

Can you bind fast the cluster Pleiades? (Bullinger) 

Can you bind the sweet influences of Pleiades? (KJV)

The Pleiades are known as the Seven Sisters. What does it mean fastening or binding them? Only recently the most powerful telescopes make it clear. Imperceptibly to the naked eye they are moving closer together. This data was collected from massive earth telescopes in Australia and elsewhere and combined with recent data from the Gaia space satellite launched in 2013.

Careful measurements with the Gaia space telescope and others show the stars of the Pleiades are slowly moving in the sky. One star, Pleione, is now so close to the star Atlas they look like a single star to the naked eye.

But if we take what we know about the movement of the stars and rewind 100,000 years, Pleione was further from Atlas and would have been easily visible to the naked eye.

The writer of the book of Job had magnificent eyes or maybe, as the book says, someone listened to the Great Information Giver who made the stars.

Orion

What about the other part of the verse about Orion, Hebrew Kesil:

Can you loosen great Orion's bands?

The three stars of Orion's belt are a line-of-sight constellation. Two stars may now be shown to look like they are approaching each other while the third is drifting out of the arrangement and may eventually break up the three-star line-up completely.

Arcturus

Next verse:

Can you guide Arcturus and his sons?

Highly unusually Arcturus, Hebrew Aysh, has a stream of 52 stars connected to it. That was discovered in 1971. Equally unusually Arcturus, one of the greatest stars in the universe, is a runaway. It has a speed of 257 miles a second. That compares with the normal under 25 miles per second and our own sun's 12 1/2 miles a second.

Arcturus and his sons are all on their own course at rip-neck speed.

Can the movement of Planets, Stars and Constellations predict the future? Can they show events of the past?

Humans have no ability to move stars. Their course can be worked out by the eternal laws of mathematics and physics. We have a sure means to see how their position predicted events before, when and after such notable events happened. Humans have no excuse for not paying attention.


 Eternal God, creator of the Universe

Humans are subject to error and tempted by deliberate deceit. Humans cannot muck with movement of the planets, comets and stars. That was the reason that Kepler, Newton, Whiston and other believing scientists tried to determine what, when and where was the Star of Bethlehem.
The heavens have an extraordinary, clear and unambiguous message. But what is it? We should not seek it in pagan, Chaldean astrology.
What does the Bible say? What is the configuration of the heavens in the autumn of 3/2 BCE?
Astronomers in the past could work this out. Many people in the early centuries were far more skilled and literate in astronomy and its real significance than people today -- in spite of so-called popular astrologers.
They looked at the sky at night and knew the stars and the movements.
But how do you see what was happening way back in the past?
You can also this ancient stellar display in the heavens at a planetarium when they set the mechanism back 2000 years.
Now with the help of the computer and software it is possible for anyone at home to see exactly the movement of the planets back into the distant past.
What did the night sky look like in 3/2 BCE?
It is an extraordinary fact, as Dr Ernest L Martin points out, that
  • on only one day in 3 BCE was the moon under the feet of the constellation of Virgo, the virgin and the sun 'clothed' her. 
  • It was when it was the first crescent of the New Moon. 
  • It occurred on 11 September. 
  • It remained there for only a few hours. 
Click the link here to have a description of the Ancient Astronomy of this time by Dr Michael Heiser.

One reason people observed the stars was that it was religiously significant because observation of the New Moon was essential to define months and proclaim the New Year. What is even more extraordinary is that 11 September was the beginning of the Feast of Trumpets in the Hebrew calendar. Revelation 12:
'And there appeared a great wonder in the heaven; a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.'
This year is also confirmed by Luke's statement that Jesus was 'about thirty years old' when he began his work as chief priest and teacher in the Temple. This has to be understood in relation to the Hebrew inclusive arithmetic system and the Jewish secular new year (common through the eastern Roman Empire). It is also defined by the known dates for the reconstruction of the Temple by Simon Boethus under Herod the Great.

The date of the birth of Jesus is 1st Tishrei in year 3 BCE in the autumn.
This fits all the criteria of
  • historical events in the NT and Josephus
  • Hebrew chronology
  • Hebrew festivals
  • Hebrew interpretation of the movement of the planets in 3 BCE,
  • The near unanimous report of nearly all early writers of the first centuries.
The heavens don't lie.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

How old were Joseph and Mary when they had Jesus?

Was Mary a young girl, barely a teenager, when she had Jesus? That is what many people believe. But that tradition is the result of a thousand years of medieval myths and mixture with pagan Greek ideas about how a god or demi-god should be born. For the Greeks and Romans, demi-gods were born of the intercourse of Zeus/ Jupiter who disguised himself and seduced some young girl. For the truth of the birth of Jesus we must stick to the Bible and understand what Hebrew and Jewish customs were.
Firstly there is a misunderstanding about the the term 'betrothed' in the gospels.
Is it equivalent to modern 'engagement'? Or does it mean marriage?   

Hebrew Marriage
Jews in the first century usually had arranged marriages that were decided between the parents of the young couple when they were still children. The children were often quite young infants when these discussions began to take place. Sometimes the families were helped by an experienced wise person who knew how to make the backgrounds and personalities match for a long term marriage. Personality shows in young infants. Agreement on religious matters is important for family harmony. The children might therefore come from geographically separated communities who held the same beliefs. 

However this was not the primary consideration. That was the longevity of the family line and its adherence to the laws of God. So religious belief and solid character were seen as contributing to this major duty. 

This choice was even more pronounced when it came to two sorts of families: those belonging to the priestly line and those of the royal line. The first had to show real understanding of the instructions that had to be fulfilled in the worship in the Temple. The royal family had to have sound judgement to rule a nation. 

When it comes to Joseph and his wife it was especially delicate because both aspects, the priestly and the royal, were involved. Joseph was of the royal line of David, as Matthew chapter one shows. His wife was of the priestly line of Aaron as Luke chapter 1 verse 36 and verse 5 show. She was a cousin of Elizabeth who was defined as a daughter of Aaron.

So how old were they when the parents decided they were a fitting couple for the future? That could be any age before adolescence. Their ages may have been similar but usually the male is older. According to Hebrew custom and law, parents would then make a formal agreement that a young girl was promised to a young boy. They were then excluded from making any further arrangement for their children. 

Once grown up the children have the right to decide whether to go through with this arrangement. The age of manhood for a boy, that the the age he was able to make this decision, was a minimum of thirteen years old. That does not mean they married immediately but that the deal had been set. The girl, still usually premenstrual, had also to give her consent.  

The ceremony is called betrothal in many Bibles. In Hebrew custom it is called sanctification, kiddushin. The boy and girl are sanctified, set apart, for marriage. This betrothal was solemnised by a gift like a ring signifying the ‘purchase’ of the bride. She agrees by accepting and the young man becomes her husband at that moment. This ceremony celebrated between the families is called erushin

This is equivalent to marriage in the modern, western world. Both the couple and the families have given their solemn agreement. It is a public ceremony and the communities are there to witness.
But this is not all. The bridegroom is still young, as is the bride. They do not have independent means. So the bride can stay with her parents while the bridegroom prepares a home for his wife. They have started on a life of total commitment to each other.

So now we come to the Home-coming. When the husband feels that all his ready for his wife, he sends a party out to the parents' house to say they may all come and he is ready to receive them. That is described in the NT. 

Once he brings the wife over the threshold of his new home they have arrived at another stage in life. That is the nisu'in. This is a celebration and should not be considered a legal requirement or condition. The bridegroom welcomes the bride to the new home and usually the whole community is in festive mood. The parable of the ten virgins, Mt 25, who wait for the bridegroom shows that the nisu'in was still part of first century custom. And it is important in the whole theology of the Bible, about God's relationship to his people as a wedding and marriage. 

What if the building of a house by the husband is not necessary? Then the couple are still considered married. They are free to have children but the bride must leave the shelter of her parents. To show that this erushin or 'betrothal' of the KJV is fully marriage, Jews in the first century and Jews today need a divorce, called a get, if they break up. Betrothal is not the equivalent of modern engagement.
  
Let us return to the original question: how old were Joseph and his wife when they had Jesus?
The birth of Jesus to Mary or Mariam (her name in Greek NT) was miraculous. Not because she was young. But because she was old! The NT scriptures say the couple were betrothed. That is they were fully married. If she were young and she became pregnant it would hardly be a miracle.

Birth miracle
So what was behind the miracle? The first thing to notice is that the NT does not say that they were young. It says the opposite. They were very old!

Luke starts by describing the miraculous birth of John the Baptist to his aged parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth. He also describes Anna the prophetess in her old age and her marriage. 

Luke 1:38 says that both Mariam and her cousin Elizabeth (Elisheva in Hebrew), mother of John the Baptist, became pregnant when in ‘old age’ (Greek 'in their gera' — the term used in geriatrics). Both had been married for many decades — they were old and the ‘betrothed’ of the KJV means ‘married’ in Jewish/ Hebrew law and custom. Cousins are usually around the same age.

Miracles of conception to women in their advanced years show God’s power and the direction of his plan for mankind: Sarah, Abraham’s wife, Rebecca Isaac’s, Rachel mother of Joseph, Hannah, mother of Samuel the Prophet, who anointed David. Mariam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, also had children in her old age. Sarah was in her menopause and convinced she could not have children and said so to God’s messenger!

Given that Mariam, Joseph’s wife was advanced in years, Joseph too would be old, or most probably older, at the time of the birth. Then they not only had Jesus but probably 7 children as well, many named in the NT and secular sources, like Josephus and Eusebius, Hegesippus.

That is the miracle. It was one everyone could see.

If this contradicts with modern beliefs that Mary (BVM) was 14 years old or so, and that she was impregnated by a person called the Holy Ghost, that is because in many pagan traditions had gods descending and impregnating young virgin girls. But that is not what the Bible and secular sources of the first centuries say. Becoming pregnant at such an early age was not part of Hebrew tradition. It is part of pagan Greek and Roman culture.

In Hebrew custom, the couple may have become betrothed at that age but they did not live together immediately. The Bible, Jewish tradition and secular sources such as Josephus say that another process had to take place.

Rule out Hollywood
In Hebrew culture, marriage is not like some Hollywood concept of romantic love of incompatible persons. Young children were promised to each other and got to know each other for years before they were married. The purpose of marriage was quite different from the self-centered Hollywood idea. 
It was a covenant-based custom based on centuries-old relationship between God and Israel.
It is a means to have children and show the fulfilment of God's promises to Israel. So a bride had to show she was healthy and fit to have children before copulation took place.

This involved showing that she had regular periods. This was recorded because after each period she had to wash ceremonially in a bath called a mikvah.  These periods had to be regular. The Esseans (or Essenes) of the first century said that the wife had to have at least three regular periods before she was considered fit for even joining her husband in his home. 

In practice that meant that the wife had to show she was mature and healthy. Thus it was likely that childbirth did not take place before the wife was around 17 or in her late teens. 

Old Age
It is speculative to say that because Joseph was not mentioned later he died. His life was also threatened by the high priestly and Roman authorities. He was not only the son of David and the heir to the throne of Israel but also had priestly (Aaronic) blood and could serve in the Temple.

Early sources like Eusebius record that some of his family were long-lived. For example Jesus’s cousin Simon who followed James the brother of Jesus, as Bishop or Superintendent of the ekklesia or Legislative Assembly in Jerusalem, lived more than 100 years old and was then martyred for his firm, unbending belief in Christ. Essenes were also known for their longevity.

Simon was martyred at 120 years old. He was just one of a long series of leaders of the ekklesia so it was probable he died early in the 70s. His birth would have been around 50 BCE. But remember he was the nephew of Joseph. Joseph was the elder son. Simon was the cousin of Jesus, but Simon was much older because Joseph was very late having Jesus as a child.  Joseph, Simon's uncle would have been born a generation earlier. 

So both Joseph and Mariam might have been 70 years or older when Jesus was born.

The family of Joseph and Mariam
For Simon to be the Sagan or Superintendent would mean that he had been trained for that highly complex post. At the time the Sagan was in charge of the Temple and had to be familiar with all the rites and know all the duties of all the thousands of priests there. But Joseph was first in line and after him his son. But apparently as we have discovered, Joseph did not have a son until his old age. 

Simon was not the youngest son of his father, Alpheus or Cleopas. Joseph would have been born several years before Cleopas. Simon would have been born some years after the marriage of Cleopas to his wife Mary. 

So Joseph might have been born around 70 BCE. That would make sense. His wife Mariam would also be about the same age. They would both be around 70 years, maybe older. Abraham was approaching 100 when he and Sarah had Isaac. Both Mariam and Sarah would be considered to be in her 'old age' that is completely unable to have children because she had passed her menopause.  

Meaning of 'Virgin'
The other significant factor would be that in Jewish custom an old woman would also be considered to be a virgin! In Hebrew the main significance of the term 'virgin' is either pre-menstrual or post-menstrual. It does not signify, as the Greek term in the NT, intactness.  

The term 'virgin' revolves around the laws of the Torah which specifies what happens when a woman has a period. That way of thinking is far from the Greek one. It is also far from the modern ideas that some commentators wrongly apply when expounding on the Gospels. First rule is to put the text in its historical and traditional context. 
The laws of Niddah are set out in Lev 19:15 and throughout the Bible.

So when a woman is described as a 'virgin' it can mean one of three things. 
  • She is young and has not had a period. 
  • She is old and no longer has periods. 
  • She has a physical deficiency and has never had a period.
So both Joseph and Mariam would have been in their seventies at the time of the birth of Jesus.

How long would it have been after the marriage of Joseph and Mariam that it was obvious they were not going to have children right away? Five years? Ten years? Twenty years? 

If Joseph had married at just before or around 20 years of age, it would not have been obvious that Mariam was not able to have children for some time. Then it became many decades. That infertility and miraculous birth parallels the births of Isaac, of Jacob, of Samuel and others whose fervent prayers were not only fruitful but a sign to all the world. 

These issues are dealt with in detail in the book, “Jesus, James, Joseph and the past and future Temple” (available also as a free eBook zt academia.edu/43233588).



Monday, October 26, 2020

Did Jesus know John the Baptist?

Did Jesus know John the Baptist before and after the baptism?

Jesus and John were relatives. Their mothers were cousins. Jesus was baptised at the Jordan River, where John had suddenly appeared dressed in a camel-hair garment. This was an event that brought people from far and wide, including the Jerusalem elite.

Did Jesus know John before this event? How much did they meet afterwards? Both suffered violent deaths.
What is the background to this relationship in the turbulent times of Israel?
Context is important. This includes religious history, dates and politics. 1. Dating So it is important, vital, to understand the priestly and political events of the time and also the dates of the writings. Luke’s gospel was clearly written during the period of the high-priesthood of Theophilus, son of Annas, son of Seth. He reigned from 37 to 41. Luke addresses him as ‘kratiste,’ Most Excellent, using the title applied to governors etc. Theophilus was then in office. As high priest recognized by Rome, Theophilus was the ethnarch, ruler of the people. When Luke wrote the book of Acts for him, he was no longer in office and therefore not called ‘Most Excellent’, as this would be a slur and even be seen as a treasonous act to the high priest then in office. Luke reminds Theophilus of the facts. John had a miraculous birth as his mother was ‘in old age’, beyond the age of normal childbirth. Miriam the mother of Jesus was ALSO post-menstrual, Luke 1:36. Furthermore Jesus rose from the dead and there were many witnesses of it including Romans, Luke 1:1. See Jesus, James, Joseph and the Temple on academia.edu/43233588 2. Why the shock of John? John’s appearance on Jordan was a shock event for the priestly dynastic family of Annas. The Jerusalem elite came to the banks of the Jordan. It brought up the nightmare, earlier events of the past, of which they were clearly guilty. What was the scandal? John and Jesus were born at the end of Herod’s despotic life. Two political events are important here. First, two scholars made an attempt to purify the Temple in anticipation of the prophesied coming of the Messiah. They pulled down a pagan eagle at the entrance to the Temple. It glorified the goddess Victory and the Roman legions. Then came a broader revolt which ended in armed Roman intervention and the bloody War of Varus. Thousands of the faithful were crucified. Sepphoris, the reclaimed northern capital in Galilee, was burnt and its inhabitants sold into slavery. 3. Murder in the Temple The Seth dynasty of priests seized power and supplanted the Boethusean priesthood by force and bloodshed. John’s father, Zacharias, was probably killed then ‘between the altar and the Holy Place.’ A subservient high priesthood was set up in Jerusalem as the Roman controller to keep a lid on religious revolt. Then Annas and the other sons of Seth changed some of the festival calendar and introduced other foreign Temple customs. 4. What’s in a name? The mothers of John and Jesus knew each other. Their fathers too. Troubles began with a religious dispute, escalated to civil war then bloody Roman destruction. How were John and Jesus affected by this bloody war and what were religious backgrounds of John and Jesus? History shows they left Israel in two different directions. Why? Safety and to provide double security for continuing the priestly line. Both John and Jesus derived their priestly prominence because of their high Aaronic pedigree. The names of their mothers show it. They were cousins and both ‘daughters of Aaron’ Luke 1:5. John’s mother was named Elizabeth (Hebrew Elisheva, the same as the name of Aaron’s wife) and Jesus’s Mariam in NT Greek (Hebrew Miriam, the name of the prophetess and sister of Aaron and Moses). Names were not, as today, chosen at random. They recalled verified genealogy. The women were cousins descended directly from Aaron (Luke 1:5). When the son was named Jechoniah and not Zacharias like his father, it caused shock and surprise. 'Fear came on all that dwelt round about' Jerusalem and Judea, Lk 1:65. Why? because it reflected back to the genealogy of Elisheva’s line, recalling Onias, the high priest in Jerusalem who fled to Egypt for safety when Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the Temple, Josephus War, bk 1. Onias built a duplicate of the Temple at Heliopolis and taught priests the rituals so they would not be lost. John’s birth and naming revealed many secrets and exposed the guilty.
5. Herod initially tried to control the priesthood Note that, when Herod took power, there was no true Aaronic priest in office. Initially Herod, an enthusiastic pagan, had put into priestly office those without genealogical right to the Holy Place, says Josephus. The male Aaronic line had been killed off. But a son of a ‘daughter of Aaron’ could claim office because the grandfather was an Aaronic priest. When the NT stresses that Elizabeth and Mariam were both ‘daughters of Aaron’ it casts a slur on the genuineness of the priests that had seized office (Joshua son of Seth and Annas of Seth). It also implies that all the authentic sons of Aaron had been killed or were in hiding. 6. What family, what person was the last true Aaronic priest? Go back further. Two decades before their birth, Caesar Augustus had agreed to a peace treaty with its main enemy, Parthia, which was ruled by the Hebrew-speaking Arsacid dynasty, favourable to Israel and the Jews. It insisted on religious restoration too, including that of the high-priest dynasty. That treaty reshaped the world, till then divided in two. Parthia had trading relations as far as China and controlled parts of India. Under this historic pact, Rome agreed on the reconstruction of the Temple under the legitimate Aaronic priesthood of Sim(e)on Boethus. Herod was forced to concur. Simon returned from Egyptian exile to the shock of the nation. Simon had authenticated Aaronic pedigree. He wasn’t rich but he became the lever that broke Herod’s grip on power. Herod had married into the previous priestly dynasty, the Hasmoneans, hoping this would ensure loyalty of the population. He had forced a marriage to the daughter of that previous priestly house, even though priestly daughters were forbidden to marry outside the tribes of Israel. The Hasmonean priestly line had died out. The last one, Aristobulus, was killed by Herod’s Gauls. Herod put in place people who had no genealogical right to the office. The contrast was stark. Now it was clear that these fraudulent priesthoods had nothing to show compared to Simon’s. It was also obvious that they had become corrupt and Hellenised. Herod divorced this wife, Mariamne I, the last daughter from the Hasmonean/ Maccabee dynasty. Herod forced a further marriage. The daughter of Simon became his queen, Mariamne II. Who were these legitimate Boethusean priests who had taken shelter in Egypt during the wars and syncretic paganisation of the Maccabees? John’s naming showed he was part of the family. 7. Simon Boethus Simon remained high priest and reconstructed the Temple until he was retired by Herod just before the birth of Jesus. Boethus is probably not a name but the crude Greek version of his dynastic claim. It was also useful for this not to be too obvious as the priests that got killed first were those with the most authentic genealogy. What does Boethus signify? It is probably the Greek for Beth Yesse. That would imply that the Simonian priesthood were intermarried with the Davidic line. David was the son of Yesse. 8. Where did the child, Jesus, go? Forty days after his birth Jesus was presented in the Temple where he was received by Sim(e)on. He is described as righteous, the term used often for the authentic high-priestly family. He prophesies. Simeon praises God for the coming deliverance of the country through this child as Savior. Simon met the family in the Temple at the time of their purification ceremony and no doubt recorded the genealogical details in the archives as we see it in Matt 1 (Greek and Hebrew). The beginning of Matthew’s gospel dates from this time. Having disclosed in Bethlehem that he was of the family of David and heir to his throne, Joseph could no longer stay in Israel. Herod was becoming more and more crazed with acute disease, conspiracies and killing potential rivals. Jesus was taken to the same place where Simon had found safety against persecution. His father and mother took him to Egypt when he was a toddler, paidion. 9. Where did John go? What happened to John? Luke tells us diplomatically that he went East and 'dwelt in the desert' Lk 1:80. Matthew is more specific. At thirty he returned from exile dressed in the costume of that country. He wore a camel-hair garment and Hebrew Matthew adds a black leather belt (Roman leather was brown). See Why did John wear a camel-hair garment and a black belt? academia.edu/44001253. Parthia, the super-power in the East, had vast resources of camels and horses. They often went into battle with multiple thousand camels, the general himself having a baggage train of a thousand, according to Plutarch: Crassus #21 in Rawlinson’s Parthia. John’s dress implies he came directly from Parthia. (Hebrew Matthew is more specific.) It is unlikely that he previously met Jesus though he would obviously know of his relatives, equally under death threat, especially on the important topic of priestly succession. Jesus clearly came from a senior branch of Aaronic priests, although he was younger. ‘It behoves him (Jesus) to increase, but me to decrease,’ Jn 3:30. It was a matter of precedence and prophecy. 10. Why did John’s appearance on the Jordan make such an impact? Firstly he came out of exile from Rome’s hereditary enemy. Secondly he denounced the pro-Roman Quisling priesthood that displaced by force and bloodshed that of Simon the righteous. Thirdly, his own father Zacharias was probably killed by this clique, Matt 23:35. Fourthly, he preached repentance not revenge. He led the people to baptism as a sign of their already changed lives to virtue: burial of the past in the waters. Josephus Antiq 18,5,2 (117). Baptism signifies burial and resurrection to a new spiritual life. This was like the mikva a personal process in front of witnesses, not a dunking by a preacher to wash away sins. It is possible therefore that this was the first meeting of Jesus with his cousin since infancy. Their parallel lives came to the same conclusions and similar actions, reinforcing that God’s covenant with Israel demanded virtue and obedience to his laws. 11. Only 2 Rabbis in NT. In the Hebrew Yosippon – which may reflect the Hebrew version that Josephus says he sent to Parthia and Scythia before writing the Greek ‘Jewish War’ – John is called ‘Rabbi John the Baptist High Priest’. Yes, high priest.
He had right to this office through Elizabeth/ Elisheva not his father Zacharias. John is also called ‘Rabbi’ in the NT but it did not mean leader of a synagogue in the first century. All the documents and epigraphical remains of the period call the leader of the synagogue an archisynagogos or archon, as does the NT. ‘Rabbi’ means ‘anointed’ in Aramaic. Jesus is the only other person called Rabbi in first century literature. He is referred to more than a dozen times as priest or high priest in the book of Hebrews. He is also called Great Priest, Faithful High Priest (= Chief Priest) and Teacher, that is, the despotes of the Temple. The teacher was the controller of the Temple and it was off limits to Romans and non-Israelites. The Teacher is teaching high priests. He catechized priests like Theophilus in the Temple, Luke 1:4 Gk, katechethes. After his resurrection, James / Jacob, his brother, was in control of the Temple rituals. All early writers, like Hegesippus, Eusebius, Jerome and others, confirm that James as Sagan or Teacher was permitted to enter the Holy Place and pray there for Israel on a daily basis. 12. John as Family Defender, Goel. When Herod the Tetrarch seduced the wife of Herod (Philip) the son of Mariamne II, John risked and lost his life to defend the honor of the family. This incident is described in Josephus Antiq 18.5 (109) and in the NT in Matt 14. It was the duty of the goel, or Redeemer, as head of the family to right the wrongs of relatives and if necessary buy back a relative from slavery. In this case, Herod imprisoned him. The wife is named Herodias and Josephus names the daughter who requested the head of John the Baptist on a charger as Salome. This incident shows that John was indeed a high priest and related to Mariamne II, the daughter of Simon Boethus. 13. Seniority Thus we have two high priests of the authentic Aaronic family, John and Jesus, who grew up separately. John was raised in Parthia. Jesus in Egypt where Simon Boethus retained the true faith. He was then in Nazareth – the genealogical center of northern Israel, the Yeshana of Sepphoris. Why did John cede to Jesus? Firstly Jesus was anointed possibly by Simon in the Temple after his birth when Simeon declared he was the Messiah, then by John at the baptism with the heavenly signs and divine voice, Hebrew: bat kol. Secondly, Jesus had both high priestly pedigree through his mother and his father, and also royal blood through Joseph as the genealogy of Matt 1 shows. A king has the right over a high priest, for example, to dismiss him. 14. The ‘Essene’ incident Did John and Jesus meet much after the baptism event? There is little to say they did. The incident of Mt 11 where John in prison sends two disciples to enquire whether Jesus was definitely the Messiah, ‘the one to come’, suggests that they did not meet previously to discuss this. Jesus replies that the sick were being healed; the blind were given back their sight; lepers are cleansed, deaf hear and the dead are raised. That seems an extraordinary list ending with the dead being raised. But it does not end there. Jesus adds what to materialists may seem incongruous: ‘the poor have the Gospel preached to them.’ This is clearly more important than all the rest. It speaks of the coming Kingdom of God. What is also remarkable is that this unusual order of events is repeated in what is considered an Essean document among the Dead Sea Scrolls, 4Q521 called ‘Redemption and Resurrection.’ It says ‘The Eternal shall do glorious things that have not been done, just as he said. For he shall heal the critically wounded. He shall revive the dead. He shall send good news to the afflicted.’ This implies that both were in communication through this group who represented the combined royal line and priestly line in Israel.


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Why did Matthew write that Jesus was called Nazarene and thus fulfilled prophecy?

The Gospel of Matthew says that Joseph, Mariam and Jesus came to live in Nazareth. That fulfilled the words spoken by the prophets that 'He shall be called a Nazarene (Nazarean, Greek: nazooraios).'  So says Matt 2:23. 

What was the prophecy and where is it? Bible sceptics say that nowhere in the Bible is there such a prophecy written. They say that shows Matthew made up false stories. But these sceptics do not tend to point out that Matthew says the prophecy was spoken, not written.

But there is another grave error, a humongous one. In fact the prophecy encompasses more or less every prophecy ever written or spoken by Israelite prophets. 

How? 

There is a key factor that such commentators willingly leave out. They are too often microscopically concentrated on not only the letters of the text, (not even the meaning of the words). They become victims of unsubstantiated theories about how and when the gospel of Matthew was written. 

Let's first deal with the historical facts.    

Despotism

What most commentators leave out is the historical context – Herodian despotism. Herod killed his own sons because he merely suspected them of disloyalty. How do you think he would react to everyone calling Jesus: Jesus the Messiah, the king, the rightful son of David, and only legitimate heir to rule Israel? 

Herod's Massacre of the Innocents (Kerold)

Herod's record was as clear as red blood on a white linen cloth. When it came to Jewish pretenders to what he considered his throne, given him by Rome, he wiped from the face of the earth anyone who could claim Davidic heritage. 

He burned the family archives and the city of Bethlehem. 

When Parthian Magi announced that the Davidic Messiah was born he ordered a baby genocide. He killed all children under two in an area from Bethlehem in the south to the northern suburbs of Jerusalem.

No one even dared to name a child David in Herod’s time.  

Joseph, Jacob, Simon, Judas, yes. 

David absolutely not.

What has this to do with Nazareth?

Imagine someone who supported the Czar in the time of Stalin’s USSR. Would they call the group, the ‘Czarist’ group? Would they proclaim: ‘I am a Czarist’?

They would be dead men. 

Subtly and truth are required. The prophets referred to in Matt 2 most obviously include those such as Isaiah, Ezekiel and Micah that refer to the Davidic Messiah – the Branch (Netzer) of David.

Why is Nazareth mentioned frequently in the NT and Nazarene describes the followers of Christ? The answer is the same to the question: why is the capital of Galilee, Sepphoris, not mentioned at all? 

Nazareth in Ceasarea inscription
of priestly courses



Sepphoris became a pagan Roman town. Nazareth was a suburb of the capital. The name of the town, Nazareth, was found on a stone tablet in Caesarea in 1962. It lists the priestly courses or mishmarot and their geographical assembly points. It is clear from the spelling Nazareth has nothing to do with the Nasarites of Num 6. 

Nazareth was holy. Sepphoris was unholy and Roman.  It was previously a center of rebellion. It had been the center of Israelites and Jews reclaiming their hereditary land after the return from Babylonian captivity. In a revolt against Roman oppression of their religious beliefs, the population had been slaughtered or sent into slavery. It had been rebuilt. Now it was ultra loyal to Herodian Rome.

Jews and Israelites still returned. According to Josephus, millions of the faithful attended the annual festivals in Jerusalem. Only those who could prove that they were legitimate Israelites with proven genealogy could attend. 

Talmudic sources say the genealogical history of all legitimate Israelites (and a few non-Israelites too) was found in the archives of the Depository (Jeshana) of Sepphoris.  It had pedigree records (copies or originals) of material Herod tried to destroy in the family archives in Jerusalem to assure his dominance. 

For priests and Israelites, 

             ‘If his father’s name was found in the archives at Sepphoris, no further inquiry was made.’ 

Evidently this vital history of Israel and material for its future was not in the city center where pagan riots could burn them. It was on a defendable hill as the NT describes for Nazareth. 

Israel a society ruled by pedigree.

It is no coincidence that the first words of the New Testament are a genealogical listing of Jesus Christ's family back to Abraham. In the Hebrew Scriptures the last book is that of Chronicles, which lists the genealogies of kings and priests.


Proof of genealogical pedigree was essential in all levels of Israelite society. Israel was probably the strictest and most prominent genealogically-centered society on earth. 

It was impossible to enter the Temple without proof of descent – legitimate descent reinforced at least by 2 or 3 honest witnesses– from one of the twelve tribes. 

Priestly pedigree had even stricter rules. They had to marry virgins from a tribe of Israel. Israelites were allowed to marry virgins of converted gentiles.

Thus protecting the identity of an authentic descendant of David from Herod required subtlety and ruse. Hence the term 'Nazarene' was used. It meant the Messiah who fulfilled the Tanakh prophetic promises from Genesis to Chronicles. 

But it was camouflage for Romans and Herodians. To foreigners and gentiles it meant a man from a small town near the Rome-loyal city of Sepphoris. That is evident in the varieties of describing a man from Nazareth. How did these Nazarene variations arise and by whom?

There are variations of the term of Nazarene: nazooraios or nazarinos. The town of Nazareth itself is spelt in several ways, ending with -a, -ath, -eth or -et. These may be due to local use or in the case of non-believers like the servant girl who accused Peter as understanding it to refer to a geographical location of a suburb of the Galilean capital Sepphoris.  ‘His speech betrays him.

For the faithful Hebrew-speakers the name Nazareth could mean the city of Genealogies or Branches. The Hebrew word 'Netzer' means branch or off-shoot or descendant. 

Jesus the Nazarene means Jesus of the Branch of David. It encompasses the main prophecies of the whole Bible. 

Centuries of Regicide

The term ‘Nazarene’ derives from Netzer, an off-shoot or branch, someone who was a legitimate Davidic descendant or part of this Davidic group. That is Hebrew. Few gentiles knew Hebrew and even less had access to the records. 

In Herod’s time anyone saying ‘I can prove I am a Son of David’ outside the Temple (where gentiles were not allowed) would be killed by Herod’s men. Nazarene or ‘Branchist’ implied a Davidic descent without being overt. 

The Helenistic Syrians under the Seleucids did their level best to eradicate the Davidic line. The Maccabees or Hasmoneans liberated the land from this pagan oppression. But they did not want a Davidic king to replace their military power based on their high priests. Instead they claimed to be 'ethnarchs' or rulers of the people. And then they succumbed to self-pride and made themselves kings. 

The Hasmoneans were not able to resist the intrusion of Roman power. But in the Roman civil wars they allied themselves to Julius Caesar and won recognition 'for ever' as rulers of Israel. They had no interest in seeing a Davidic king. Then Rome decided to make Herod king of Judea. The high priest was demoted to be a Quisling of Roman power. Herod was ruthless in wiping out any opposition.

Herod the Great Despot

In all these centuries of the post-exile world up till Joseph, father of Jesus, the identity and even the existence of the Davidic line was obscured to the point of its assumed non-existence. The rigidly enforced Herodian/ Roman ‘registration’ of the Bethlehem property forced Joseph to courageously step forward and reveal his royal lineage. He had been able previously to distract attention because he also held priestly (Levitical) lineage.

There was one place on earth were Herod's men could not enter. That was the Temple.

The danger without

Jesus would be killed, if, outside the Temple, he openly proclaimed that he was the Son of David. But the death sentence would also apply to those who Herod thought would support this assertion. Outside the Temple the people took their life in their hands to call Jesus, Son of David. That would be deadly for Jesus and anyone who was seen concurring with the title. He told people bluntly not to say this title.

Desperate people sometimes make desperate moves. 

In Matt 9:27 two blind men cried out: Son of David, have mercy on us! 

He asked them whether they believed he could heal them and did so. Then he charged them: 'See that no man know it.' v30. It was dangerous for the newly sighted men and anyone who agreed with them. Later other blind people used the same psychological technique to be cured because they knew he could heal them, Matt 20:30. In Mk 10:47, Bartimeus, after regaining his sight, stuck with him as the safest place. In Luke 18:39 the crowds rebuked the blind man, for crying out, Son of David, -- before he was healed. 

After the Resurrection

After the Resurrection, it was different. It was witnessed and affirmed officially by Romans.  

In the 60s, decades after the Resurrection, believers were all normally referred to as Nazarenes. Paul was called a Nazarene in Acts 24:5. It was proof of Christ's future active kingship of the planet. 

He wrote: 

Jesus Christ (=Jesus the anointed king) came from the seed of David according to the flesh.’ Rom 1:1-3. 

When, in John 1:46-9, Nathanael acclaims ‘Jesus the son of Joseph who is from Nazareth’ to be ‘Son of God and king of Israel’ it was completely verified in the most authentic genealogical archives of Israel and unchallengeable.


The early ekklesia was Nazarene, not Christian

Paul was not a Christian. He was a Nazarene. 

Once Jesus had proved his Messiahship, by the resurrection and the Romans acknowledged it, it was more easy to overtly identify as Nazarene followers, like Paul and the early ekklesia.  

The Hebrew term, Nazarene, was the normal name for Christ’s followers. 

Around the time of Caligula in 41 CE, when he was trying to destroy all Judaism, the term ‘Christian’ was first invented. It was used as an insult by gentile Greeks of Antioch, Acts 11:26. This belittles the prophetic resonance of Nazarene, the legitimate Davidic King, destined to rule the world, to a mere leader of a movement. The significance of holy oil and anointing was lost on pagans. ‘Christian’ became the official term for the imperial Roman syncretic religion. 

The faithful Nazarenes were excluded and persecuted.


Further Proof that Nazarene meant Davidic genealogy 

The Messiah fulfilled genealogical prophecies. He was to be the Son of David, however unlikely that appeared to be in the early first century. There was no movement called the Davidics. The three main groups, according to Josephus were the Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes. The NT speaks a lot about the first two groups and condemns many of their practices. It does not condemn any practice of the Essenes. Why? It does not even mention them by name! That too was a camouflage name.

The other deadly exposure of linguistic Davidism was also relieved after the resurrection. Those who supported Davidic legitimacy and purity across all Israel were known as Essenes or more correctly Esseans. Josephus uses both terms. 

Essene comes from the Latin usage. Where does the term Essean come from? It relates to Yesse or Jesse, the father of David. As late as the 400s CE Epiphanius, the bishop of Constantia of the imperial church, a converted Jew who knew Hebrew, wrote a list of the origin and beliefs of early Christian groups. He wanted them eliminated.  http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/5819-epiphanius

On the Nazarenes he said: 

‘These people did not give themselves the name of Christ or Jesus’ own name, but that of Nazoreans. They also came to be called ‘Jesseans’ for a short while, before the disciples began to be called Christians at Antioch. But they were called Jesseans because of Jesse, I suppose, since David was descended from Jesse…’ Panarion 2.29.

This shows that 'Nazarene' relates directly to the genealogical prophecies of the whole Bible. The parallel name of Esseans is also of genealogical origin. Both have significance for the prophecies of the Messiah made over the many centuries of Israel’s history. 

The real meaning of Nazarene is a topic of no trivial importance but a major one in the history of the world. It uncovers the prophetic nature of the coming of God's Messiah or Christ. It also describes those, like Paul before Agrippa, who were convinced by Christ to follow him, even to death. 
It encapsulates the truth of God Christ revealed by his resurrection to Jew and Gentile, the entire world.