Thursday, August 13, 2020

Why did John the Baptist wear a black belt and camel hair garment?

John the Baptist and the Black Belt business

John the Baptist,
by Brueghel the Elder
Among the score of surviving manuscripts in Hebrew of the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 3, all manuscripts are unanimous about describing John the Baptist.
He wore a black belt.
Thanks to the tireless work of Nehemia Gordon and his team, some 21 Hebrew manuscripts have been found and checked in Museums like the British Museum, Israel and even in the recesses at the Vatican. Those derived from the Hebrew Matthew manuscript of Shem-Tov, known as 'the Ancient', a fourteenth century Jewish polemicist, repeat one word:

Black.
The Greek and the Latin Vulgate do not say that. Nor do other translations. The Greek Matthew and the KJV say that John wore a coat of camel hair and was girded with a leather belt. It says nothing of the color.
So why are the Hebrew versions so adamant on the color being black?
History records that Matthew wrote his gospel first in Hebrew. What we have today are a variety of documents, but none of them are originals from the first century. They are either copies of copies etc of the originals with variations and mistakes or some may be translations from the Greek for use in the grand and dangerous debates between Jews and Roman Catholics. In these debates the Jews had to maintain a position without contradicting Catholic doctrine. A difficult and sometimes lethal game of words.

But whoever wrote these multiple documents, whether free or persecuted, careful or not, they all wrote a word that is not found in Greek: black.

What is the significance of the black belt? Black belt has a special connotation today: martial arts. Obviously this black belt does not relate to Judo. What about Judah? Hebrew descriptions must have something to do with Jews!  Why do all the Jewish scribes writing over several centuries and in different countries and cultures, emphasise black? How could it be coordinated so widely and accurately?
But does it really even relate to Jews? Is there a deeper, traumatic story about Israel that no one could forget? Why was the 'black' belt not relevant for Gentile/ Greek Christians who had the Greek NT?

Rabbi John the Baptist
John is called a Rabbi in the Greek NT, John 3:26. This has nothing to do with a modern Jewish synagogue rabbi – the NT and other writings use another term for the ruler of the synagogue, ‘archon’. ‘Rabbi’ in the first century meant a member of the Council of the Temple, or perhaps the Great Council (sanhedrin). It was most likely the anointed head of the Temple Council. Only two people in all the NT are called rabbi: John and Jesus. Paul is not called a rabbi.
This restricted sense of Rabbi as an anointed post is confirmed by the Hebrew version of Josephus’s ‘Jewish War’ known as the ‘Destruction of Jerusalem’ by ‘Josephus ben Gorion’. Flavius Josephus said he wrote his first account to his countrymen, that is Israelites, and identified them as Scythians, Parthians and Kelts. They spoke many languages with Hebrew and Aramaic as a common tongue. Despised and feared by Romans, Latins and Greeks, who called them ‘the Upper Barbarians,’ they lived and roamed across the whole earth North of Rome from the Steppes to Northern Europe.
With the rise of biblical scholarship, this Hebrew Destruction of Jerusalem was translated and first printed in English in 1558 by Peter Morvyn. Many reprints followed. Thus it predates the English translation of the Greek Flavius Josephus. It was much better known until Whiston's translation of the Greek became a standard in Christian homes alongside the Bible.
The Hebrew version, known as Josippon, has some surprises.
In it John is not only called Rabbi but ‘Rabbi John Baptist the High Priest.
High Priest!
The real Rabbi
First what did Rabbi mean? Historically the word ‘rabbi’ appears in writing first in the NT. At that time it may have been an Aramaic title—it means ‘anointed’ in Aramaic.
It is not in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
In the first century it was later confused by Christ's enemies with Hebrew for ‘my master’, as Jesus says, Matt 23. The scholars  'have sat down on' or placed themselves falsely on 'Moses's seat' (took it over). They act holy but are hypocrites. They prostrate themselves in the streets, then shout ‘my master’ to each other in the market place, hoping the common people would understand it as Aramaic ‘Anointed One’.  (The scholars were NOT anointed.)
Jesus told the disciples not to call each other Rabbi = Christos or Messiah.
Did the false scholars stop? Obviously not.
Rabbi’ became a common term in the Talmud, (2nd/3rd century) synagogues or among Jewish scholars of the Pharisaic persuasion. Some Jews including Karaites objected to this title. They dismissively called such people ‘rabbinites’.

Black Belt
So what of the black belt? Why do the Jewish MSS insist on it? Simply because the high priest did not wear a black leather belt. He does not wear any leather. In the Temple he wore linen and no leather, not even sandals. In the synagogue pious Jews do not wear leather, especially on fasting days such as the Day of Atonement. They don't even wash. Yet the Torah scrolls themselves are made of leather.
As for camels, a single camel hair might render a priest ceremonially unclean.
The High Priest’s dress is specified in the Bible, Ex 28. No camels, no leather!
The Jewish versions are trying to insist that John was not a regular high priest. The NT is also shouting this out.
Why did John have a black leather belt? A priest has a white linen girdle. The Pharisees might say:

Imagine that! Black leather! Is he really an Aaronic high priest?

Yes, he was.
An additional fact supports the case. The Romans' economy required leather in large quantities. Their tanning process produced brown cow leather in large amounts, but outside towns and cities. The tanning process caused bad and persistent smells.
This leather was not only for belts and clothes but for military tents. If leather was tawed with alum it became softer and had a lighter tone but could then be dyed. Sheep leather is also softer; goat leather may be tougher. Softer leather is not best for a testing environment like a desert. So if it was dyed black by the Roman process it would be too soft for a sturdy belt. Roman leather was typically brown. A brown belt would be normal in a Roman context.
Black was unusual for Romans. Did it identify the wearer as coming from Parthia? Methods of curing leather vary with social cultures. East of the Roman Empire smoking and the use of special green leaves and fats would have produced a different-looking product.

This character, Rabbi John the Baptist the high priest, was wearing clothes that were not typical of Jews, certainly not of high priests like Annas, and not of Romans.

The Camel Superpower
The further clue is in the other part of his dress: a garment of camel hair. This was even more removed from the Torah's byssus, sparkling white linen, from the flax plant. More so, camel hair was foreign and, to some, inappropriate and even unclean.  The camel was not a sacrificially pure animal. Moreover it was so basically foreign, no Jew in Israel would wear it.
Camels today are associated with regions like Arabia. In the first century they were a symbol of powerful lands further East like Parthia and Bactria. (The Bactrian camel famously has two humps.)
Parthia was the great superpower rival of the Romans. Compare the rivalry to that of USA and USSR. But Parthia was not a military dictatorship like Rome, but a freer mercantile confederation, run by a royalty that had been formerly transported as slaves under the Assyrians. It had links as far away as China.
It was mighty in battle too. It had defeated Roman legions several times and even liberated Israel from Rome. It installed its own high priest there.
Parthia, under its Semitic kings, the Arsacids, with major populations of Israelites and Jews, was intimately involved with the priesthood.
So the NT is saying that John came from those many worshippers in Parthia (as mentioned in Acts 2:9, and the Parthian Magi of Matt 2).
Phraates IV, defeated Mark Antony.
Augustus made a peace treaty with him.
Parthia had made a peace treaty with Rome around 20 BCE so the Temple could be rebuilt and glorified in peace. The Magi were the powerful priestly class of Parthia who selected, elected and deposed their kings. The commander, the surena, traveled with a personal entourage and personal baggage train of 10,000 camels, Rawlinson's Parthia, p94.

Who did John proclaim to?
The KJV says that John proclaimed the coming of God's ruler, the Messiah, and his Kingdom of the Heavens at the Jordan river. Why not Jerusalem? Why not elsewhere?
Those who came to him came from 'Jerusalem and all Judea and all the country around about the Jordan.' KJV. 'All the adjacent region' is somewhat vague in Greek and may have been so phrased with political sensitivity as the Greek text was read by Romans and Gentiles.
But the Hebrew says much more. It is not just the countryside that is mentioned in the Hebrew, or the cities.
It says they came from 'all the kingdom around about the Jordan.'
Legally speaking only Herod had been proclaimed a king, that of Judea, by the Romans. Is that what is meant? Judea is already mentioned without the name of the hated Herod. So 'kingdom' must be elsewhere.
The Hebrew Malkhut can be translated 'kingdom' but also 'Empire'.
For those in the East of Israel that was an unmistakable reference. Israel was living next to the big superpower of Parthian Empire and its satellite kingdoms. These were part of the Israelite 'family business' -- members of the Arsacid dynasty as distinct from Rome where the most powerful military leader became the Caesar. Israel was a small State captured by Rome next to a huge empire. Imagine being occupied by the Soviet Union with a major superpower just across the borders!
So those who came to hear John herald the coming Kingdom of Heaven would know that
(a) John was speaking about a regime change of both Rome and Parthia and everyone else.
(b) John's dress showed he knew what he was talking about when it came to Parthia and military power.
(c) the Roman-Parthia peace treaty and the Temple was the start of something really BIG. 

Preserving the Aaronic line
John as an infant may have been taken in Parthia for safety after the turmoil around the death of Herod and the bloody civil and religious war and the subsequent Roman war of Varus against Jews, which devastated the country. Two thousand people were crucified. Jesus was taken to Egypt for safety.
Later in the same condemnation of Matt 23, Jesus denounces the cultic high priests (the sons of Annas, the son of Seth) and Pharisees who had taken over the high priesthood. He says they were hypocrites taking control of holy things while being responsible for the death of Zacharias (the father of John?), slain between the Holy Place and Altar.
The key fact that is often forgotten is that John’s mother and Mariam, the mother of Jesus, were cousins, Luke 1:36. Both were registered in genealogical archives not only as being of the priestly Levitical tribe but direct descendants of Aaron, Luke 1:5. That made their sons far more legitimate than Annas, Caiaphas and the later sons of Annas, who claimed the office.
Both women gave birth, one to John, and Mariam to Jesus, in their old age (Greek, gera. Luke 1:36 Elizabeth has ALSO conceived a son in her old age.) There is no evidence that Mariam was 14 years old. The NT says the opposite. These names reflect back to Miriam, the sister of Moses, who also gave birth in her old age, and Elizabeth = Hebrew Elisheva, the Jewish wife of Aaron.
John became the true Aaronic priest at 30 years.
Outside the Temple, authentic high priests do not have to wear white linen garments, as some Pharisees might have said. He can wear a black leather belt and also camel hair garments like the Magi from Parthia.
If John had been living in Parthia, he would have known from the Magi that they had proof that the Messiah of royal David descent had been born in the Davidic city of Bethlehem. His genealogy was confirmed not only in the Jewish archives but by the Roman authorities who had demanded the registration of families.



Monday, May 4, 2020

Where did God come from?

Where did God come from?

or 

Physical reality can really exercise your mind!

To answer the question, let's start with the solid world of physics. At the start of the Universe there was INFORMATION, lots of it. Some people think of this beginning as a 'Big Bang'.
Wrong.
That implies an explosion where information and order is destroyed in a BANG. 
All physicists now recognize that a different process took place. A vast amount of information was brought into effect  (laws of mathematics, laws of physics, constants of physics, and constants of mathematics like Pi, and laws of morality of good and not-so-good etc).
That BEGINNING was the most ordered part of the history of our universe. The second law of thermodynamics is about decay of order. It shows that order, form and shape fall apart. Things decay. Iron rusts. Houses collapse to ruins. Hot and cold mix to form a uniform lukewarm temperature. Unless there is a sustainer.... For us photosynthesis and the sun's energy stop us from becoming cold and dead.
We on the Earth, that was formed only 4 1/2 billion years ago, are not the most ordered part of the universe but part of what we have after the passage in time of the universe formed about 14 billions of our years ago. Materially we are decay products -- if no further input has been given to the Universe in those years as we count them and imagine have past.
What does Physics tell us? Information cannot be destroyed. Laws of Physics remain the same. However, -- wait for it -- there are massively disturbing consequences for this. Order, shape and form can be destroyed Big Time in a Black Hole.

With a Black Hole we move from changes of shape as might happen in a car crash or composition as might happen in a chemical reaction, or even the effects of an atomic bomb to something beyond violent destruction. A Black Hole makes mincemeat of atoms and even atomic particles and its most intimate substructures, crushing them to seeming oblivion.
Can information be 'done in' too? 

When matter is pulverized in a Black Hole, where does the information go? After some controversy among physicists they came to a common understanding. Information can't be lost. (Crushing does not go on forever. Matter and radiation is eventually spewed out in devastatingly powerful beams.)
So what happens to the information?
The information relating to shape and form of a theoretical space ship falling into it is held at the 'event horizon' . That is the border where we see object around or crashing into a Black Hole and them disappearing to be crushed to pieces and where light cannot leave the hole because the gravity is so strong.
This event horizon or border can be considered to be like a two dimensional sheet wrapped around the Black Hole. It has no thickness. It is more than a two-dimensional spherical map. Think of it as a hologram. A plain sheet hologram can project a three dimensional reality as we move and observe it. The mathematical data is the same. But curiously those looking from the outside at the Black Hole and those on the space ship plunging into it see the event horizon in slightly different places!
In fact everything can be considered in the same way as a hologram.
Longer amusing video at World Science Festival with top physicists including ex-plumber Prof Leonard Susskind (who has a separate presentation on this on the Net.).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnETCBOlzJs
He says the permanence of information is more sure than, in effect, the physicality of the universe (such as what happens inside a black hole). All the information inside the Black Hole can be converted to information in (bit-like) information units on its surface area.
This led to the broader principle that all the information could be recorded on its surface with bits of Planck cube size (1.6 x 10 to minus 35 meter). All information about you materially could be written on your surface. (Caution: this 'information' that scientists talk of is the material universe, its atoms, substructure plus such effects as light photons. It does not refer to the conscience spirit of man or the existence of a non-material spirit world. That can't be measured by the best of scientists.)

All the material information in the universe can be written on its surface. What is the surface of the universe? Where does it end? It is not only expanding but accelerating in the expansion.  
Information is eternal as far as physicists can tell. Information is the true track to understand about God. Solomon wrote: 
Great is God above all 'gods'. The heaven and heaven of the heavens cannot contain him.
We cannot hide ourselves anywhere in the Universe from God. It is like trying to hide on a flat plain where we would stick out. Jeremiah 23:24 records:
'Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?' says the Eternal.
'Do I not fill heaven and earth?' says the Eternal.'
So 3-D information in our universe can be seen as a two dimensional hologram.

What about TIME? Four dimensions of Space-Time of Relativity can be considered to be like a graph paper. In effect, we can move our finger to a point in the graph but the line of the graph exists of itself.
A satellite around the earth has a different clock than a clock on surface. Why? Because it is moving at speed. We all have a different clock. The universe too. It started as a huge expansion with small space and compressed time.
Gerald Schroeder showed that the expansion of the universe could be considered as Six Days of a Creation doubling in size and expanding the notion of time from an earth point of view. The process of expansion of the universe doubles the four dimensions of space-time. Time expands! If someone sent a pulse of light out every second at the start of the universe, it would take longer to reach us because both the distance and the time frame is expanding.
How much?  A million million seconds!
The God-perspective of the Creator sees it as six days. The factor of expansion is a million million, and six times a million million DAYS equals around 15 billion years. This must be the only way to look at it if time is relative. Recent discoveries found the cosmic microwave radiation background temperature to be around 2.73 degrees Kelvin (from the 3.03 it would be otherwise) and astoundingly that the universe is accelerating in its expansion. Schroeder is able to correct the age of the universe in our terms to be about 14 billion years.
Viewed from God's angle as Creator, the days of the universe would measure in our years:
Day 1       7.1 billion years
Day 2       3.6 billion years
Day 3       1.8 billion years
Day 4       0.89 billion years
Day 5       450million years
Day 6       230 million years
  
The Greeks thought of the standards of length and time as absolute. The Hebrews didn't. Days were measured from sunset to sunset, not by a mechanical clock. The movement of the earth around the sun was another clock for the Hebrews. But that is not mechanical and varies because the earth moves in an ellipse not a circle and it 'wobbles' and is influenced by the moon and other planets.
It is quite different from the system scientists use today which is Caesium isotope decay.
We live in a culture dominated by the false Hellenistic world view. That makes it harder for us to grasp some of these concepts. Schroeder shows that the Jews had a long tradition about a view of the Six Days of Genesis that is entirely in harmony with modern physics, and our understanding of the age of the universe as we see it. It also provides material for further scientific investigation.   
How should we consider time? What does the four-dimensional map of space time look like? Philosopher Huw Price (no relation) talks to Robert Kuhn about this substratum of time in the following video.    https://www.space.com/29859-the-illusion-of-time.html
Physicists have also identified an area of information that humans cannot access. When I was at university it was called the Absolute Elsewhere.
All the above assumes physics is dealing with materialism. (Materialism is a false theory that has led to both Communism and Fascism.) The idea of LIFE -- that is only found on Earth -- having a spiritual existence lies far beyond this present discussion. 
So we are left with the conclusion from the most down-to-earth people, physicists, that
Real Reality lies outside our experience.  We may be creations in the mind of God. Physics shows us that we are in some ways imaginary in a greater mind.
This real reality begins with an Information-giver. That is the Being I worship. The logical linkage shows he is the God of the Bible.   

Thursday, December 19, 2019

How modern historians got confused over the year of Christ's birth

What year was Jesus born? Today a reader will find a range of dates but this was not always the case. In the time most close to the actual birth there was little doubt as to what year Jesus was born. Everyone, with hardly any exception, was unanimous. What was that year? When and why did all the confused scholarship about the date arise, so that today few people really can put a finger on the year?

No year Zero!
Most people know that it wasn't a Year Zero. Why? Because the year zero does not exist in the system of BC and AD (Before Christ and Anno Domini= year of our Lord).
The system of dating goes from one BC and then directly to one AD. It does not pass by year Zero. It is not like mathematics where a graph has an origin of zero and to the left is -1 and to the right is +1.

That is why most historians nowadays use the system of Common Era where no implications about the year of the birth of Jesus are involved. That's because the BC/ AD system was introduced in Rome by a learned, multilingual Scythian monk, Dionysius Exiguus, (c470-c544) who got his arithmetic slightly wrong.
However the CE system makes little difference to the dates as 1999 AD = 1999 CE and 444 BC = 444 BCE (Before the Common Era).
The Astronomer Johannes Kepler is generally credited with starting the system of Common Era as it was necessary for years to be properly identified without ambiguity when scientists were discussing the years when planets and comets approached the earth in their orbits.

When was Jesus born?
It would have been simpler for scientists and historians to correct Dionysius's mathematics and leave it at that. However there was still a slight disagreement among specialists about which year that was.

All the early chroniclers and historians were in agreement that the birth happened within a very few years of around 2 or 3 BCE.  There are slight variations as various calendar systems were used in different locations. Some calendars begin in January, others in August or October. The Hebrew calendar begins in the autumnal month of Tishrei, based on a 19 year cycle that is automatically adjusted to the seasons.
Here's what the various authorities said, adjusted to our calendar:

Irenaeus (late 2nd century)        41st year of Augustus =                Aug 3 to Aug 2 BCE
Tertullian   c 200                        41st year of Augustus   =              Aug 3 to Aug 2 BCE
Origen (early third century)       41st year of Augustus  =               Aug 3 to Aug 2 BCE
Clement of Alexandria (c 200) 28 years after Cleopatra's death =  Aug 3 to Aug 2 BCE
Julius Africanus (c 200) .           2nd yr 194 Olympics . =                Oct 3 to Sept 2 BCE
Hippolytus of Rome                   2nd yr 194 Olympics . =                Oct 3 to Sept 2 BCE
Eusebius (c 300)                         42 year of Augustus from 44  =                           2 BCE
                                                    28 yrs after Cleopatra's death =                           2 BCE
                                                     3rd yr of 194 Olympics         =                            2 BCE
                                                     42 yr from 43 BCE                =                            2 BCE
Epiphanius  c400                         3rd yr of 194 Olympics         =                            2 BCE
                                                     42 yr from 43 BCE                =                            2 BCE
Dionysius Exiguus early 500s                                                                                  1 BCE
Appolinarius of Laodicea                                                           =                            2 BCE
Paulus Orosius                              end 42 yr Augustus               =                            2 BCE
                                                      752 AUC                               =                            2 BCE
Hippolytus of Thebes 9th century 42 yr of Augustus     
                                                       43 yr of Augustus                =                          2/3 BCE

These dates are all fairly consistent but a year or two off from the date of Dionysius. He had translated from Greek to Latin the canons of the synods from Nicea (325) to Chalcedon (451) giving the new doctrines of the centralised Gentile church based in Constantinople. The computation of the Easter Table was a central part of his work. It was based on Egyptian calculations.
The annual date for Easter was a sensitive matter for the Roman church. The pagan Roman Pontifex Maximus had authority over the calendar and public festivals of the gods. From Julius Caesar on, it was passed on as part of the powers of all Roman emperors. In the late fourth century Emperor Gratian, now nominally Christian, refused the title as being too pagan. The bishop of Rome (pope) Damasus took up the title.
Easter was the church's alternative to the biblical Passover. One of the directives was not to make the Christian festival coincide with the biblical date but exactly the opposite. To make sure that it didn't! Eventually the Easter calculation became the standard one of today, although the Orthodox retain a difference because of the Gregorian calendar adjustment.
The chronology of Dionysius had to fit in with what was Constantine's now centuries-old, well-established but falsified doctrine of Sunday-worship. His aim was to overturn the Hebrew calendar and apply one that allowed both Sunday worship and the pagan Easter tradition to replace the biblical Passover.
A harmony of the Gospels shows that Jesus was crucified on the Preparation Day of the Festival Sabbath of Unleavened Bread, that is Wednesday. The biblical holy days do not fall on the same days each year. It was obviously not the Preparation for the weekly Sabbath, Friday. He rose after three days and three nights in the tomb. The Resurrection is recorded as happening as the (weekly) Sabbath ended towards the first day of the week. These dates can be calculated to show the year with these characteristics. Hence the year of the Crucifixion is fixed mathematically. Then it is simple Hebrew mathematics to work back to the year of Christ's birth.
As the Dionysius Easter Table was also based on a mathematical 19-year cycle, it could be calculated which years coincided exactly with the new Easter doctrine (with its Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection, itself difficult to reconcile with a three days and three nights period of the NT) around 30s CE.
Dionysius also tried to simplify the complicated system of dating that existed in Rome, based on the consulates in power each year. Dionysius also made a revolutionary innovation that few of his contemporaries probably understood. He used the term zero (Latin nulla or nihil). There was no zero in the Roman mathematics system. It was not until the Middle Ages that the idea of zero (originating from India) came into use.

These may be the main reasons why his dating was a little bit off. It is significant that his dating system was the one that was used by the Roman Catholic 'missionaries' in Britain after the arrival the pope's emissary Augustine around 400 CE. In Britain the Roman churchmen who attempted to convert the Anglo-Saxons found that the native Britons were keeping their Christian festivals on a different day. Passover was kept like Jews and Nazarenes on the fourteenth day of the first spring month. The Britons had been doing so for hundreds of years before Augustine arrived. With the spread of the Roman doctrines, the Easter computation, reinforced by the work of Bede, became that recognised from East to West.
The Dionysius system of dating was common during the thousand years of Roman control of books and learning.
With the onset of printing and the publishing of the Bible in native languages people began to question intensely why this date was taken as correct.
Science and historical research began to probe the facts and offer other solutions.

The 4 BCE error
How did Christian scholars move from the dates of both Dionysius and just about all early writers and historians of the first centuries to what is found in many Bibles? According to the King James version, Christ was born in 4 BCE. An even broader range of dates is now proposed and the dates of all the early writers is treated as error. Why?

Firstly, let us explore why the KJV came up with 4 BCE. This was a predominant date around the time the Bible was published in English. How was the earlier date eliminated?
The answer is a mixture of good science and bad history.
This date derived from one of Europe's greatest scientists, Johannes Kepler, the astronomer and a Polish historian.  By careful observation and mathematics Kepler was able to deduce the conjunction of major planets such as Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. He thought that this close visual encounter of the planets might have accounted for the Bethlehem Star. His calculations gave him a date of around 22 June in 7 BCE.
If the star appeared in the East, he argued, the birth might have occurred a year or two later, 6 or 5 BCE.  He ruled out the theory that it could have been a comet, as Origen had surmised. In his book he argued that the Magi came from pagan Chaldea and applied Chaldean techniques for interpreting the heavenly phenomenon. God provided the material events for the Chaldeans to this conclusion. he said it must be a conjunction of the major planets.
This rested on two or more bits of guesswork: what did the gospels mean by a star? How could a star seen in the East in Parthia then stand over a house in Bethlehem? What principles of astronomy did ancient Parthian Magi use? Isaiah 47:17 and other scriptures make clear there is a right and wrong interpretation of 'astrology'. How were the stars tied into biblical prophecy? Was what was mentioned related to the movement of the planets, the usual focus of such studies?
While he was observing a conjunction in 1605 a bright new star appeared, a nova stella. Maybe this Nova was a solution.
If the mechanics of the solar system showed a different date from 2/3 BCE, how could this be justified? Kepler relied on a Polish historian Laurentius Suslyga.
While reflecting on the problem, Kepler found his book, calling for a revision of the datings, in a shop in Graz. Examining secular history, he challenged the traditional dating of Dionysius. Suslyga came up with a date of 4 BCE or earlier. But Kepler went further.
First, how did Suslyga come to the date of 4 BCE?

Enter Philip and Julias
Suslyga was among the first to suggest that the date of Herod's death must have been no later than 4 BCE.
His argument revolves around a son of Herod called Philip, born of his fifth wife, Cleopatra of Jerusalem.
Suslyga's argument involved the town of Bethsaida. Philip had renamed Bethsaida as Julias after Julia, the daughter of Augustus, Suslyga maintained. But Augustus exiled her in 2 BCE so Philip would have had to come up with the idea well before that, when she was in favour.
So Herod must have died well before that so his son Philip could reign in part of his territory afterwards. This seemed a good argument for Kepler at the time. But modern scholars now believe this scheme of things is not necessarily so. Augustus also gave Julian honours to his wife Livia, and renamed her Julia to emphasise a connection with Julius Caesar and the imperial family. So Philip could have renamed the town of Bethsaida, Julias, at any time up to the time of her death in 29 CE. In the second century the geographer Claudius Ptolemy identified the town of Julias with Livia.

Conclusion: We can conclude that Suslyga and Kepler were most probably wrong. There is no evidence that the Julias argument is correct. Rather the reverse. There is no evidence that Kepler's idea of a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is correct. Two planets can always be seen separately; over a period of a day or two it is even more obvious. A conjunction of several planets does not look like a single star. Kepler was basing himself on pagan Chaldean astrology and there is no evidence that this (usually condemned system in the Bible) is relevant here. Nor does it take a year or two for a caravan of Magi to travel from Chaldea to Jerusalem. The Nova idea is also a theory without evidence, because it presupposes the Bethlehem star was a nova. 

Search for the eclipses
A new line of argument revolves around eclipses in history at the time of Jesus. This helped to solidify what is a common belief that the date was 4 BCE.
But this includes several errors that logically would eliminate them from consideration.
Eclipses of the moon are also predictable both into the future but back in the past.
Why are eclipses important?
This is where the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, enters the scene. He describes how Herod was in Jericho suffering and dying from an atrocious disease. He also describes quite a number of events including killings of Jews that fought for the purity of the Temple, in expectation of the Messiah. All these events need to be taken into consideration as they mark temporal dates in sequence.
He died and then his body was brought in a solemn procession from Jericho. to Jerusalem That year was marked by a remarkable eclipse of the moon over the land of Israel.
Which was it?
The New Testament also gives a quite clear timing of events in the Gospels. Christ was born during the reign of Herod the Great. So if we have the exact dates of his reign, we know they must include the birth of Jesus. But some while after his birth Herod ordered the massacre of infants from the north of Jerusalem to the south. This happened soon after the Parthian Magi arrived to celebrate the birth of Israel's Messiah. The Greek NT text says they visited Jesus in his Bethlehem home when he was then a toddler (paidion), that is, a year or two old.
So the birth of Jesus was a year or two before Herod died.
When did he die? When was the eclipse?
From the work of mathematical astronomers like Kepler, we now know the exact days when eclipses happened in the Holy Land from 7 BCE to 1 BCE.

The dates are:

  • 23 March 5 BCE
  • 15 September 5 BCE
  • 13 March 4 BCE
  • 10 January 1 BCE.
By collating all facts and events that Josephus mentions the two early dates can be eliminated. These facts include killing of pious Jews, the dates of the Hebrew festivals, Herod's death and when it was reported in Rome (a distance of 3400 sea mile round trip) and the time taken for the long royal mourning procession to move from Jericho to Jerusalem. A closer examination points to a winter eclipse: Jericho would not be too fiercely hot for the dying king. He would not reside there in summer. Temperature in winter was moderate.

Conclusion: Taking together all the reported events of Josephus and the Gospels, together with a biblical interpretation of the astronomy of Revelation 12, one date is the inevitable candidate above all others. Revelation describes the birth of Christ in astronomical terms that people at the time could understand.

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.

Why do Historians reject 1 BCE?
The scholars, have however, rejected the eclipse of January 1 BCE and plumbed for 4 BCE.
Why?
They are convinced (or have convinced themselves) that Herod's death took place in 4 BCE. That would eliminate any recourse to the eclipse of 1 BCE as the one mentioned in Josephus. It would also cause problems with the chronologies about Jesus's thirty years and many other events in order in Josephus. It flies in the face of both secular and religious writers of the early years.
However historians today are often adamant (and sometimes aggressively supportive) about the idea that Jesus must have been born in or before 4 BCE.
Why?

Herod and Philip
Did Herod die after the spectacular total eclipse of the moon in 1 BCE or after the partial one of 4 BCE? Why does historians' choice of the year for Herod's death fall nowadays on 4 BCE? That eliminates the 1 BCE date as Jesus was born when he was alive. But is this correct? How do scholars come up with the date? Josephus mentions only one eclipse in all his long and detailed writings of history. (Hundreds took place in the course of centuries that he describes.) So it must be significant.
Is Josephus's eclipse a partial one with the shadow of the earth covering barely a third of the moon, just 37%, or a total one blacking it out? How do we decide?
The simple answer is to see how today's historians take it from a passage they read in Josephus's Antiquities book 18 about Herod's son Philip. He reigned in the eastern part of the Holy Land, the Tetrarchy of Batanaea and rugged Trachonitis (modern day Golan, parts of Syria and Jordan).
Josephus says, in the English translation of Antiquities, that Philip died in the twentieth year of Tiberius after ruling 37 years. The twentieth year of Tiberius is 34 CE. Therefore 37 years back would be the start of his reign, the year thatHerod died. Remembering there is no year zero, that should be 4 BCE.

Historic Detectives
Simple and concise! What could be wrong with this arithmetic? Facts are not always obvious. The detective work of David W Beyer started to reveal some hidden or rather buried clues. The first trace was published by W E Filmer in an article in 1966 in the Journal of Theological Studies. Filmer reported that divergent chronologies about the reign of Philip were noted in the nineteenth century. They had disappeared from scholarly view. In a 1798 dissertation, a monk, Molkenbuhr, reported seeing several Josephus manuscripts where the text read 'the twenty-second year of Tiberius.' Filmer remarked that this was the last remaining obstacle for the acceptance of Herod's death in 1 BCE. The existence of such manuscripts would make it difficult to argue that Herod died in 4 BCE.
Beyer went on the hunt for the manuscripts.
The evidence was in a fairly obvious place. In the British Library Beyer found 46 editions of Josephus published before 1700. Of these the majority -- twenty-seven -- had the reading of 'twenty-second year of Tiberius.' Of these 27, not a single edition published before 1544 had the reading 'twentieth year of Tiberius.' This is of crucial importance.
In 1994 Beyer examined the copies of Josephus in the Library of Congress. Five more editions were found having 'twenty-second year of Tiberius'. Among the others none published before 1544 supported the reading 'twentieth year of Tiberius.'
Beyer realised that the year 1544 was of some importance. It was the date of the first printing of the Greek text of Antiquities. Froben working in Basel accomplished the monumental task of printing the Greek text. Unfortunately for the understanding of Philip's reign, it became the universal standard. Four years later a Latin version based on it was published reinforcing the reading. By 1550 any alternative reading to 'twenty years' were almost non-existent. In 1605 Laurence Suslyga published his dissertation on chronology, opting for the date of 4 BCE or earlier. But an edition in the British Library of Venice dated 1608 shows that some printers followed Greek manuscripts and not the printed Froben works.
Writing in the Festschrift study, Chronos, Kairos Christos II, Beyer says the cover argument for 4 BCE is no longer tenable. These early more authoritative manuscripts show Philip reigned to 36 CE. With a reign of 37 years, he must have begun his rule in 1 BCE. And this must be the year Herod died.

Manuscript mentions
Beyer lists a dozen manuscripts from the 12th century up to the period of printing. All of them have the 22 years of Tiberius. There is some variation about the length of Philip's rule. His accession to the throne was in troubled times. Most say that his reign was 32 years -- indicating that his reign was not established until some years after he was legally made the ruler. But the point is clear from these manuscripts and four early printed books in the British Library: Herod did not die in 4 BCE but in 1 BCE.

Early Manuscripts all with 22 years and 32 years for his reign
Royal 13 D VII                          12th century
Additional 22, 860                     13th century
Additional  15, 280                    13th century
Harley 5116                                ?
Harley 3883 1                             ?
Harley 4962                                14th- 15th century
Harley 3699                                 1478/ 1469?
Arundel 94fl                                 ?

Printed Editions (first stage) all with 22 years of Tiberius and 32 years for his reign
IC 50150                                       1475
IC 9806                                         1480?
IC 9807                                         1480?
4515 f9                                          1511 (Paris)

Printed Editions (second stage) with 22 years of Tiberius and 35 years of Philip's reign
C 13 d9                                          1470
(G) 8333 .                                      1470?
IB 20662                                        1481 Venice
IB 23112                                        1486 Venice
IB 23201                                        1499 Venice
C 55 hl                                           1510 Venice
L 22 b5                                           1514, 13

Third and fourth stage. Eight other editions printed in various locations like Basel, Strasbourg and Venice give 22nd year of Tiberius and various durations for Philip's reign from 22 to 32 or 35 years.

In the fifth stage, Beyer lists two dozen printed editions from 1544 to 1701. Three Venice editions have the 22nd year of Tiberius. All the rest have the 20th year.

In the Library of Congress, five editions from 1470 to 1481 (Augsburg and Venice) give the 22nd years of Tiberius. Four from 1559 to 1597 give the 20th year of Tiberius.

In the Renaissance and early Reform period Greek manuscripts became the treasures of the libraries of Venice and Florence where a free press was allowed. Many printers from Germany and northern Europe set up their presses there.

In 1726 the Oxford scholar John Hudson published his translation into Latin and his notes of the Greek text of Josephus by Siegbert Havercamp. The text has the 20th year of Tiberius but with an extensive note that some versions had 22nd.
The Latin translation attributed to Rufinus (who lived at the time of Jerome around 400) has the translation 'twenty-second year of Tiberius'. This clearly used the Greek texts extant at the time.
However the main text has that of Froben 'twenty years'.
This is the text that all English translators use -- with the 20th year implying that Herod died in 4 BCE.
William Whiston, author of the most widespread version of the Works of Josephus, goes along with this text. He even adds a note supporting it.

Beyer says that a proper dating of Herod's death date is essential for understanding the events in the Holy Land around the time of Jesus. Augustus received a special title Pater Patriae (Father of the Fatherland) around the time of the 750th anniversary of the founding of the city of Rome. It celebrated the fact that in 2/3 BCE the Roman empire was at peace.
However, it is clear that after the death of Herod a vicious civil war erupted in Israel. Herod had killed Jewish scholars who had defended the Temple. He planned to kill one member of each Jewish family so the whole nation would mourn his passing.
That did not happen but later that year a civil war broke out. One great issue was the correct dates and celebration of Passover and Pentecost. Two great Jewish scholars, Judas and Matthias, knowing that Herod was dying, pulled down the massive golden eagle, symbol of Rome, that defiled the Temple.
Herod was alive enough to deprive the high priest (also called Matthias but of Boethus) of his office and burn the other Matthias, son of Margalothus and many of his colleagues alive.
'And that very night,' says Josephus, 'there was an eclipse of the moon.' Antiq 17.167.
At the Pentecost after Herod's death of that year of 1 BCE, the righteous high priest of Simon of Boethus and his family (related to Mariam (Mary), Joseph and his son Jesus) were all removed. (Joseph had officiated once as a Mishnah High Priest (cohen moreh) at a previous Day of Atonement.) The Boethusian family was replaced by the 'sons of Seth' whose offspring included Annas and Theophilus of the NT. Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas.
The Jewish people rose in rebellion once Herod was dead and demanded Archelaus that the purer high priesthood be restored. In vain. Archelaus's position had not been confirmed by Rome. Jerusalem was in turmoil and fighting. 'Ten thousand' other disturbances broke out in Judea, Antiq 17.269. Robber bands roamed the country as it fell into disorder.
Varus was president of Syria with supreme powers in charge of Rome's eastern possessions.
The Pentecost, after Herod's death, saw increasing disturbances.
That is when Varus acted. There was one legion in the country. He brought in two others and four troops of horsemen. He also drew on several auxiliary forces that were supplied by kings and tetrarchs (286). The capital city of Galilee, Sepphoris, of which Nazareth is a suburb, and several other cities were burnt to the ground. Two thousand Jews were crucified and 30,000 Jews sold into slavery (17.295) before order was restored.
This major war with the Jews could not have happened when Augustus was being celebrated as bringing peace to the whole empire. It is known as the War of Varus (Antiquities bk 17.10-11 250-). It is also known that Philip received the title of Tetrarch after this war had ended. That accounts for the some of the doubts about when he started his reign, either legally (de jure) or in practice (de facto).
But it also renders impossible the supposed 4 BCE chronology with Philip taking over immediately Herod died.
'Ernest L Martin has solidly demonstrated that the conclusion of that major conflict occurred in late 1 BC,' Beyer wrote. 'Thus Philip's appointment as tetrarch most likely took place shortly thereafter, in 1 AD. This is the de jure date referred to by the twenty-two/thirty-five chronology. The tremendous political instability of the entire region very likely prevented Philip rom assuming full administrative authority for some of the period of time. This is by no means unusual for it was also the case with his own father. Herod the Great was declared king by Caesar Augustus in 39 BC but assumed de facto control with the capture of Jerusalem in 36 BC. The thirty-two year tenure provided by the twelfth- to fifteenth century texts mark the de facto date of Philip's reign beginning in AD 4.
Coins of Philip show that his de jure date of accession is antedated to 1 BCE just after the death of Herod.

Let's hope that the penny drops more widely in the scholarly community and for the public in general. The year of the birth of Jesus was 1 Tishrei in the autumn of 3/2 BCE.









Saturday, October 26, 2019

Why does Genesis say Abraham's army went to Dan before Dan was even born?

'When Abrahman heard that his brother was taken captive {by the army of a coalition of nations including Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar) he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.' Genesis 14:14.

The city of Dan was called Laish in the time of Abraham, long before the man Dan and his tribe existed. Dan was the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham.
The tribe of Dan conquered the city of Laish and called it Dan. The same question goes for the city of Ramasses (Gen 47:11) and in Ex 1:11. It is a later name for Avaris in the land of Goshen.  Pi-Ramesses was a later city built by Ramasses II on the site. What is the explanation? 
It is the same as saying that the Romans in Britain had a legion in York. York did not exist then. It was known as Eboracum. 
All the question is asking is who changed the names and updated the geography to modern recognisable names? The updates do not imply, and far less prove, that Moses did not write the Pentateuch or that the Romans did not invade Britain and have a fortress there because "York" did not exist at the time.
Who edited Moses and why? And under whose authority? Can anyone alter the texts? The answer to the last question is NO. There is a line of authority where responsibility for preserving the texts is passed on from generation to generation. New books are added to the canon under the supervision and imprimatur of the canon authority usually under the headship of a designated person.
It is often correctly pointed out that the last lines of Deut were probably added by Joshua who wrote the next book and was given authority as leader by Moses. How do we know?
Firstly the Pentateuch says so. The Hebrew Bible mentions later editors and canonisers.
There is also a document written by Hippolytus the Syriac Targumist who lists all the Canon Supervisors from Moses to Christ. The law, it says, was delivered by Moses son of Amram to Joshua son of Nun.
Fifty six Canon Supervisors are listed up to Joseph the Teacher. It includes Simeon the high priest 'who carried the Messiah in his arms' (Luke 2:25, known elsewhere as Simon Boethus). Simeon delivered it to Jehuda and Jehuda delivered it to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. Zechariah delivered it to 'Joseph the Teacher of his tribe'.
Technically the term Teacher refers to the Cohen haRosh (chief priest) who supervised the high priest (cohen haGadol) in his work and catechised the high priests. The NT uses the terms Tekton which is badly translated in Vulgate and Protestant version such as KJV as 'carpenter'! That is through the millennium-long influence of the RCC. (Geobbels and Soviet disinformation department of the KGB would have loved that amount of time to manage information!)
Tekton means technical expert. The NT also uses the term Master of the Holy House (Temple) oikodespotis. Jesus is called a Temple Teacher and so this Joseph the Teacher is most likely his father, Joseph. (Joseph of Heli or Elem in the Talmud, the Tosefta and Josephus).

As well as adding books to bring it up to the requisite 22 books corresponding to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the Canon Supervisors could with their editorial council bring geographical terms up to date. For more on this see Ernest L Martin's Restoring the Original Bible.
For the answer to the question:
Who finalized the Hebrew Scriptures and then the Greek ones see my article at


and Rome's fraud about the Bible canon at

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

How did the Crucifixion affect Roman-Parthian relations?

The anticipation of the Messiah changed both the Roman and Parthian Empires, the crucifixion more so. Parthia was a confederation of tribes that Roman legions tried to conquer. Parthia was the Super-Power of the East, a deadly rival of Rome's military autocracy.
Parthia trounced mass invasions of Roman legions several times. In 55 BCE Parthian King Orodes slaughtered 40,000 legionnaires under Consul Crassus. In 40 Parthia invaded the Holy Land and deposed the Roman-designated high priest. Parthia soundly defeated Mark Antony in 37 BCE. In 34 BCE Julius Caesar was assassinated mysteriously before his planned invasion of Parthia.
The two empires made peace in 22 BCE under Augustus and Phraates IV (=Arsaces XXII). Why?
Parthia was run by the Arsacid dynasty (250 BCE to 225 CE). Its rulers were composed of Israelite and Jewish exiles (Sons and rulers rosh of ISaac). Secular histories say they were formerly slaves and called themselves Exiles (Parthi in Scythian or Hebrew Galut = Gauls, Galatians, Kelts). They wanted to rebuild the Temple in preparation of the Messiah, dated according to Daniel’s prophecies. (Daniel was member of the Persian Magi, the priestly class of scientists and prophets).

The reconstructed Temple became the most important and biggest construction site of the time (one million man-years work). Vast riches were received from across both empires and around the world (Josephus).
Jesus was identified by genealogy and miracles as the Son of David through Joseph. Mariam (Mary) was of pure Aaronic descent. Jesus was not an itinerant preacher, Protestant style! Pilate acknowledged him as King of the Jews. Pilate recognised Jesus as having a higher rank that he had, as merely a governor of Rome but not a royal. The high priests called Pilate Lord, (Kurios) but Jesus did not.
The resurrection was a shock to both the high-priestly ruling class and the Romans. Ample evidence existed it took place with many Roman witnesses, including Pilate. Based on diplomatic reports of Pilate, Emperor Tiberius acknowledged that Jesus Christ was a god. The Senate, however, refused to ratify this. Tiberius decreed however that anyone who persecuted the Nazarenes (his followers) would be put to death (Tertullian etc).
When Tiberius died in 37 CE (at the hands of Gaius Caligula), Caligula became emperor. He saw that the resurrection undermined the whole Roman/Greek pantheon. Roman gods had to be authorised by the Senate. But here was a Jewish king resurrected and recognised as a god by Tiberius! Caligula, drawn by Egyptian paganism, wanted to be deified as God of this world. In that way he would, he thought, outclass Christ. He planned first to raise a mammoth idol of himself in the Temple of Jerusalem. Why? Because Christ had prophesied that the Abomination of Desolation would stand in the Temple before the end of the Age. This was also prophesied by Daniel (Matt 24:15). Caligula wanted to prove Christ wrong and that he was all-powerful and more god than Jesus. He failed.
The later emperors like Claudius were at first more cautious with the Christian threat, but then introduced a vicious campaign of anti-Semitism, trying to provoke a Jewish revolt. Wars broke out from Britain to Parthia.
James the brother of Jesus was Sagan and Priest of Warfare in the Temple and advised passive resistance. He was killed in the Temple around 62 CE and the high-priestly class then refused to make offerings to the Roman emperor in the Temple. This led to the war with Rome.
it also created a dilemma for Parthia (which was not a military dictatorship like Rome). Suppressing a revolt in Judea did not violate the peace treaty. Titus went further. He destroyed the Temple. He said that that way he would put an end to both Judaism and Christianity (Sacred History of Sulpicius Severus) quoted on NazareneProject site. Titus raised a pagan pillar to his father on or near where the Temple had been.
The Parthian empire lasted nearly two centuries further but on a war-like footing. The Parthian Peace based on the Temple and its Messiah had lasted longer than almost any other in history. The Roman pantheon was destroyed by the resurrection. Rome reverted to Sun worship and foreign cults. The gods like Jupiter, Mars, Minerva became a laughing stock. Rome tried syncretism — trying to combine their paganism with the facts of the resurrection and resurgent Christianity.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Review of Siege of Jerusalem video animation



Invicta animation of the Siege of Jerusalem under Vespasian and Titus
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y741QbT1YEo

Riveting and highly educational! Great artistic work with careful descriptive detail! However, the narrative makes more sense if the identity of the Roman fort Antonia -- which was central to the battle -- is not identified as the itsy-bitsy building of the Holyland Hotel model but is identified as the so-called "Temple Mount" itself, the Haram. See Dr Ernest L Martin's book 'The Temples that Jerusalem forgot" at askelm.com or nazareneproject.com . It is built in the size and shape of a Roman fort -- which was usually square or oblong if extra large as this one was. It was the size of several cities (thus residence for multiple tens of thousands) says Josephus. It dominated the Temple from a higher position, he says. It was pagan and not considered part of the City of Jerusalem because of its paganism. Roman legionary eagles and pagan priests were allowed there but not in any other part of of Jerusalem. A correct translation of Josephus shows that the fort, a pagan military occupied site, was separated from the fort of the holy Temple by 200 metre bridges. It was in these stoa that the fierce fighting you described took place. The hand to hand struggles were so close that fighters could not recognise friend from foe. Then the bridge was burned. The bridge had provided high-level defense against anyone attacking the walls below. The Romans then had access to the outer wall of the Temple fort. The Jewish defenders themselves were at odds with each other, brigands versus others and the priests. The Temple itself was located on the curved peninsula of land the you showed at first as being highly strategic. It is south of the so-called "Temple Mount" or Haram, exactly 200 metres. It contained the only perpetual spring of water for Jerusalem at the Gihon Spring. The Temple was built on a platform partly suspended over the Kidron valley and was completely destroyed because the Roman soldiers tore everything apart. In the fire the gold and silver melted between its stones. This can be proved right or wrong by excavating into the deep soil of the Kidron valley to identify Temple stonework lying there. Thanks for the other details. For example that Titus offered a pig as sacrifice at the eastern Gate of the burnt out Temple. This confirms the account probably from Tacitus about Titus's plan to destroy Christianity and Judaism as they did not conform to the Roman pantheon and escaped Caesar's control as pontifex maximus: "Titus himself, thought that the Temple ought especially to be overthrown, in order that the religion of the Jews and Christians might more thoroughly be subverted; for these religions, although contrary to each other, had nevertheless proceeded from the same authors; that the Christians had sprung up from among the Jews; and that, if the root were extirpated, the offshoot would speedily perish. "

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Rome’s aim in destroying the Temple was to destroy Christianity


Why was the medieval Roman church and the Orthodox church so antisemitic? Why were the Hebrew scriptures and all knowledge of Hebrew banned? Why were Christians expelled for 'judaizing' when it is clear that Jesus and nearly all the early Christians were Jews?
The last verse of Luke says that Christ's disciples were “continually in the Temple, praising and blessing God.” In the book of Acts, James, the brother of Jesus, instructs the Apostle Paul how best to perform Temple ritual. In early Christian writings up to the time of Jerome around 400, James is described as bishop of bishops, praying inside the Temple as Sagan priest.
Church history has been turned upside down. Black means white and white black. Judaism is allegedly anti-Christian. Paul is proclaimed as making a break with all aspects of the Temple tradition. The Bible, on the other hand, shows Paul anxious to fulfill the Temple tradition scrupulously. He is taught by someone whom the Roman church writes out of their history—James the brother of Jesus!
Why in short was Christian history re-written between the first century when Christians took full part in the Temple services, as the gospels and Acts say, and the time of Constantine in 325 when at Nicea he created an imperial Catholic Church profoundly anti-Jewish?  
Meir Ben-Dov pointed out the Titus pillar

A major discovery mentioned in archaeologist Meir Ben-Dov's book 'In the Shadow of the Temple' p187f  helps explains what was behind the so-called 'lost centuries' of Christian history.
Here's what he wrote about an extraordinary discovery during the first modern dig near Temple Mount:

"Among the most outstanding volunteers working on our dig were students from Ambassador College in Pasadena, California, who returned annually in groups of 100 and spent six weeks in arduous and energetic labor. Because of their remarkable fortitude and energy we often assigned them to particularly difficult projects.
One was to uncover what could be found under the remains of the Moslem palace south of the Temple Mount. A group of Ambassador students set work among the foundations of the building, which sometimes extended as far down as 7 meters and included parts of columns from earlier buildings placed in secondary use by the Moslem builders. The year was 1970 and we were approaching the 9th of Av -- when one of the members of this group came running towards me flushed with excitement.
"I've been looking all over for you!" he shouted. "What's up?" I asked, though it seemed pretty clear from the state he was in that he had found something interesting. "There's an inscription down there," he told me, and I accompanied him back to the area and climbed down the ladder to find that a column that the Moslems had incorporated into the palace foundation walls bore a clear inscription in Latin letters.
Even at first glance I could tell that this was a royal inscription, though most of it was still not visible. After a few hours' hard work we managed to free the column from the wall of which it had become a part -- without damaging the wall itself -- and cleaned off the remaining plaster that still clung on to it. Then came our startling discovery that it was a dedicatory inscription to the Tenth Legion mentioning none other than Titus himself.
We were filled with emotion because of the uncanny symbolism of the find. Here we were on the eve of the 9th of Av. One thousand nine hundred years ago to the day, Titus had briefed his troops on the storming of the Temple Mount. And now, in the renewed State of Israel, standing in Jerusalem, digging alongside the Temple Mount, we had come into tangible contact with Titus and his legions." (emphasis added.)

Ambassador College was collaborating in the first dig at Jerusalem organized by Prof Benjamin Mazar of the Hebrew University and the Israel Exploration Society. 



 Dr Ernest L Martin, who led the Ambassador College group, revealed the truth about Titus at the time that student John Turner uncovered the Titus Pillar inscribed with the imperial name of his father Emperor Vespasian.
There are two versions of the briefing that Titus gave to his General Staff about storming and looting of the Temple in 70 CE. One is a short version. It looks more like Roman propaganda. Why? Because it appears to be a censored version that gives the entirely wrong impression of the facts. This was a common technique in Rhetoric or "spin" management as we would say today. It excises inconvenient facts from and account to lead the reader to a distorted conclusion.
What it leaves out is more significant than what it mentions. The fragment is attributed to the historian Tacitus and says:
The military staff told Titus:

“This holy building is the most beautiful structure ever built by the hand of man and should not be destroyed. If we leave it unharmed, its continued existence would serve as a witness to the moderation of the Romans. But if it were destroyed, the Roman name would be forever blackened. "

What it admits is striking. That the 'Jewish' Temple outshone anything in the Roman world is an extraordinary admission for any Roman writer, proud of Rome's achievements.
Many other writers, however, make the same assessment. This account, in itself, indicates the desperation to put some form of positive gloss on what in effect was a global disaster to its prestige. Rome destroyed the World's Wonder, a city greater than Rome and in direct violation to the Treaty between Caesar and the Jewish Ethnarch at the time of the Maccabees. It blackened its reputation forever.
The extract implies that the Roman army were careful not to harm this Wonder of the World.
Is it true?
  
The fuller story is revealed in the Sacred History of Sulpicius Severus, an educated Gallic Christian, a post-Nicene father (NPNF, s2, vol xi, p111). He appears to be quoting from the same or similar historical records but this time he gives the unvarnished truth. The Caesars wanted to destroy the Temple because the Temple Teacher and his Resurrection made nonsense of their pagan pantheon of false gods. Hence the Empire was threatened.

"Titus is said, after calling the council, to have first deliberated whether he should destroy the Temple, a structure of such extraordinary work. For it seemed good to some that a sacred edifice, distinguished above all human achievements, ought not to be destroyed, inasmuch as, if preserved, it would furnish an evidence of Roman moderation, but, if destroyed would serve as a perpetual proof of Roman cruelty. But on the opposite side, others and Titus himself, thought that the Temple ought especially to be overthrown, in order that the religion of the Jews and Christians might more thoroughly be subverted; for these religions, although contrary to each other, had nevertheless proceeded from the same authors; that the Christians had sprung up from among the Jews; and that, if the root were extirpated, the offshoot would speedily perish. "
The Titus Pillar may have been a Roman celebration of the brutal destruction of the Temple and the subjugation of Jews and Christians. It was the victory pole of paganism. If it was erected near where it was found, it would have stood like a vile asherah, decorated with an pagan eagle in the court before the Temple.
If that is so, it would have echoed repeated attempts to erect the pagan symbol in the Temple to proclaim to all Roman supremacy of their pantheon.
The Roman Governor Pontius Pilate had, according to the contemporary historian Josephus, tried to infiltrate Roman Legion standards into Jerusalem, something forbidden by the earlier treaty between Julius Caesar and the Maccabees. He failed, due to the passive resistance of the Jewish nation, who would rather die than see their Temple defiled.
An even more remarkable event occurred around the time of the birth of Christ and the dying days of Herod the Great. Josephus records that Romans attempted to raise an eagle at the great gate of the Temple. Jews, in fervent expectation of the coming of the Messiah at this time, ripped it down. They were led by two fervent Jewish scholars, Judas of Sepphoris and Matthias of Margalus. Fearing the whole nations would rise against him and Rome, Herod burnt alive the main perpetrators and killed their students in a bloody slaughter. Wracked with a putrefying disease, Herod in his last days instructed his soldiers to gather the most illustrious leaders from the entire Jewish nation into the hippodrome and slaughter them all at his death.


Seventy years later Titus may have erected this Pillar as the Roman signal of their definitive destruction of Judaism and Christianity.


Despite the myriad of martyrs who maintained the facts of the resurrections, miraculous healings and personal revelations, Rome was unable to accomplish the human destruction of Christianity or Judaism. Roman emperors conceded that the resurrections and miracles had taken place and were taking place in their own times. (Jesus, James, Joseph, p530 and chapter 32).
Then it became obvious that Rome had lost the war against truth. It tried another tactic: Fake history, disinformation and dissembling about why the Temple was destroyed.
The Titus Pillar reveals one reason for the truth gap, the so-called 'missing centuries' of Christian history. It took centuries of antisemitic propaganda before the Romans could dissociate and expunge the real facts of the New Testament. The NT showed Christians' strong involvement in the Temple.
 Jesus, James and Joseph taught and officiated there.
Rome was destroyer of the building God had decreed to be built. How then could Rome, the determined destroyer of the King of Jews, the Chief Priest of that building, present itself as champion of Christianity? It banned first the Hebrew Scriptures and then the Greek New Testament. It persecuted and exiled its opponents.
It took centuries of killings and propaganda to subvert all connections between Christ, the Bible and Israel. Then with an empire that had only modified its effete and dying paganism, Constantine could proclaim an imperial religion that he called 'Christianity' where the Hebrew scriptures, the Temple, Sabbath and the festivals were banned on pain of death.
                                      David Heilbron Price, Nazarene Project   8/2018