Sunday, August 14, 2016

Question: Was Lazarus the Beloved Disciple and author of the Gospel?

This is an interesting alternative theory but I don't think it is correct. One should not always believe 'tradition' without question, but in this case John seems designated. Why?
Clearly Lazarus was a beloved disciple. Jesus wept at his death. But so were many others 'beloved'.
Why should anyone not mention his name that he is the author of a book? There are several reasons. One is modesty. That semi-anonymity seems to be the reason that the writer of the fourth gospel can modestly describe his own activities and also the prophecies of his own future without admitting his name.
However Lazarus of Bethany is mentioned by name in John 11.  Because Lazarus is mentioned by name in the incident where he is resurrected, it is unlikely that, if he were the author, he would hide his name at the end of the book.
A second reason for anonymity is that by exposing a name the enemies of he gospel might persecute and kill that person as a special target. Lazarus was a major target as he could witness to his own resurrection! As mentioned in J3, p22, 685ff etc the enemies wished to kill him, but were perhaps afraid to do so. If they killed him who could say he would not rise from the dead again by a miracle?! That would hardly silence him! Instead they cast him and his sister into an open boat on the Mediterranean expecting them to die and disappear. They landed in France and went perhaps to Britain. 
John the apostle is a more likely candidate for the authorship of he book as he was one of the four leaders of the twelve. He also stayed in Israel where he was later involved with the Temple, possibly after the death of James.
There are a number  of other incidences of where the early gospels show discretion and then the later gospel of John reveals the name, presumably when the danger was over. One example is the name of the servant of the high priest whose ear Peter sliced off. His life would also have been threatened in the early years, up to the end of Caligula's reign with its major persecution and planned ethnocide.  Afterwards the danger subsided or he might have left Israel or even died. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Scientist Dr Joseph Priestley FRS on Design in Creation
This is an extract of a speech given by Dr Joseph Priestley in Philadelphia before John Adams and other American Founding Fathers, in 1796.

"Far am I from supposing that the evidence for the being of a God is not demonstrative, since marks of design, with which the world abounds, necessarily imply a designing or intelligent cause. But notwithstanding this, we can never fully satisfy ourselves with respect to the objections of the atheist, that if the universe require a cause, this cause must require another; and if the author of nature, or the being we call God, exist without a cause, so may the universe itself.
"All that we can say in answer to this is that, whatever difficulty we may labour under with respect to this subject, which will always be above our comprehension, the actual visible world, and marks of design in it, cannot be denied, and therefore, whether we be able to proceed further or not, we must acknowledge a designing cause. Otherwise we might say that a house had no architect, or a child no father. If the eye of man had no designing cause, neither did a telescope, which is the instrument of a similar nature, evidently adapted to answer a similar purpose. And at this every mind would revolt."

"The author of nature is one,
that he is simply, invariably, and infinitely good, and
that all the evils we see and experience, are calculated to promote good,
are great and sublime truths, which derive from revelation only, though, on strict examination, they appear not to be inconsistent with the appearances of nature."
"Discourses related the Evidences of Revealed Religion", 1796 with a Dedication to John Adams, published during his exile in America. Joseph Priestley was known as Chemist, the discoverer of Oxygen, a philosopher, theologian and historian of the Corruptions of Christianity.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Two ways to prove the exact site of the Temple

The difference between authentic, lasting scholarship and transient scholarship is the ability to looks facts in the eye and not distort them. Many of the critics of Dr Ernest L Martin's identification of the site of the Temple have yet to deal with two key aspects of the issue. (Truth-seekers can look at the facts impartially. But remember the Temple's location is a highly emotional topic because of religious traditions. It is today a political issue of global importance!)

1. The size of the Temple. Josephus (Antiquities bk 15, 398ff) says the Temple was a square built like a fortress. Each side was one Roman furlong or between 185 to 200 meters. The circumference was four furlongs. It had two connecting colonnades or elevated passageways on either side like arms on a body, one furlong each, making six furlongs. See map below. The Talmud is more or less in agreement.

Josephus and many other witnesses such as Eusebius etc also say that after the war, ALL the huge stones of the Temple were removed and the top of the temple hill was plowed! Some modern critics say Josephus exaggerated as the Haram is the Temple Mount and its huge stones (some 560 tons!) are still standing in place.

Did Josephus exaggerate? The Haram site of the al Aksa-Dome of the Rock site is 3.8 to FOUR times the size Josephus describes. Eusebius and others say only the Roman fort or Antonia remained in his days. The Haram is not square. It is oblong or trapezoidal. The sides are 280 meters north, 485 meters west, 460 meters east and 280 meters south. It is the shape of a typical Roman fort ( of which we still have examples around Europe).

The other feature often neglected  is the external Miphkad altar, associated with the Red Heifer ceremony, mentioned both in the Hebrew Bible, NT Hebrews and the Talmud. This lies to the east across the Kidron valley and was connected by a passage of amazing architecture. (Eye-witness Josephus says Jerusalem had features that many Romans etc could not even conceive of, let alone build! Remember it was Jewish engineers who built mountain-top city of Masada and the amazing Caesarea habour with its huge 15 m stone blocks set as a breakwater 60m deep in rough Mediterranean seas, p442.)

The Miphkad altar on Mount of Olives was identified by Dr Martin in his book on Golgotha as also near the place of crucifixion, outside boundaries of the City and Temple, p vii. In spite of wars and occupations, these sites all belong by right and by purchase to the Jewish family of David and Solomon. By divine Law they may not be sold or rented permanently to anyone else, Lev 25:23-30. After more than 3000 years the properties are still David's and his offspring.

2. There is no fresh water source in the Haram site. There are several huge underground cisterns or resevoirs for rain water and imported water. Such water was not acceptable for a Temple, either for washings or for sacrifices. Both the Bible (which is replete with references) and ancient secular sources say that the Temple had an inexhaustible supply of water that gushed from within. There is only one source in the whole extended area. That is the Gihon Spring, located 200 meters (around a Roman furlong) from the Haram. This is the area where archaeologists recently found a small gold bell of the type that the Bible describes was on the edge of the high priest's robe. It was in the drainage channel south of the Haram. 

Where did all the great Temple stones go? Josephus describes the destruction. In the fire the massive gold stores were melted and seeped into the stones. So the Romans got the enslaved population to destroy everything. The gold market plummeted due to the huge sales of gold, says Josephus. What was not taken as building blocks for the empire would have been dumped into the Kidron hundreds of feet below. Why have they not been found? The Valley bottom is estimated to be a couple of hundreds of feet under the top soil, according to British surveyors.

'Truth seekers' need to take the ancient records seriously, keep digging for Truth but also know where to dig!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Resurrecting James, the brother of Jesus

Roman Catholic propaganda in the Middle Ages buried, and denied even the existence of the first leader of the post-Resurrection church, James, the brother of Jesus. However, just before this attempted character assassination, Jerome, writing around 400, republished some remarkable early records about James. If he had been a clever counterfeiter he would never have published this book.

James, according to unanimous early accounts, prayed inside the Temple of Jerusalem. So confirms Jerome in his book On Illustrious Men. That is an extraordinary historical fact. No one was allowed inside the Holy Place of the Temple unless his genealogy was verified as a Levite or Aaronic priest. Such early accounts, that Rome failed to destroy completely, also say James had a throne in the Temple.  

In Hebrew law, sacred access was hereditary, generally from father to son. That would mean that not only James but Jesus sat on this throne and also their father Joseph.  The Greek New Testament supports this view.

Some people say James, the 'brother of Jesus' was not the son of Joseph, the father of Jesus, and his wife 'Mary'. He was rather the son of Alpheus or Cleopas. Is it true? This theory comes from Jerome. He may have invented it. It became official dogma of the Roman cult that he represented under 'pope' Damasus

It is also false.  

It is not hard to disprove this falsehood. Jerome did not believe it himself! Jerome expounded this view in a treatise written around 383 against Helvidius. Yet in a letter to one of his female supporters, Hediba, around 406 or 407 he destroyed the key point of his own argument by saying Mary of Cleopas and Mary the mother of James were different people. Very few people thought otherwise. Thus Jerome's libel has no foundation . He exposes his own disinformation plan against James in this private letter.

Leonardo's Jerome

Jerome's earlier public  libel became the official dogma of the Roman Catholic Church -- because it was a convenient lie. It reinforced another lie. That is about the perpetual virginity of what they call the 'Blessed Virgin Mary' (BVM). 

That fabrication was necessary, the popes argued, to encourage the adherence of pagans to their cult. Pagans believed in many virgin goddesses who gave birth and stayed virgins. Now with a quick sprinkle of holy water they could join the neo-pagan brand of Vatican 'Christianity', the new Roman State religion. They didn't have to change their views, only keep them quiet and worship the new virgin goddess! Such was the innovation of Jerome and 'pope' Damasus.  

Earlier Damasus had violently seized the bishopric, murdering hundreds of his Christian opponents who supported the more well-informed deacon Ursinus. Thus, at a time when bishops were voted into office, Damasus assured himself of more votes and death to opponents whom he now called 'heretics'.

Rome was in crisis. For pagans, the city's continuity depended on having  an eternal supply of Vestal Virgins for its main temple. But they could not find enough young virgins any more! Not because of conversion to Christianity but because of promiscuity. And no young girl fancied being buried alive as a Vestal Virgin if she was found to be no longer a virgin!

So the crooked 'pope' Damasus assigned his secretary, Jerome to come up with an alternative plan. Behold the Blessed Virgin Mary! With their twisted view of sex, Jerome proposed that both Joseph and Mary were perpetual virgins! The New Testament lists the siblings of Jesus as James, Simeon, Joses, Jude and probably three sisters. Did Joseph and Mary have seven or eight children and still remain virgins?

Hence it was necessary to find a father and mother for the brothers and sisters of Jesus, the family of Joseph and Mary.  Unfortunately for Rome, the NT is full of references that James was the brother of Jesus. So are the writings of early Christians and non-Christians.  That's why Rome banned the Bible in Greek and Hebrew. Jerome's Latin Vulgate modified previous translations to hide the facts. One thousand years later in 1516, Erasmus printed the Greek New Testament ... and Jerome's letters! It began to expose the facts again and spill Jerome's bad beans.

Paul in Galatians 1:19 says when he, Paul, was in Jerusalem, he did not see the apostles but 'only James, the Lord's brother.' In Acts 15 James presided the conference or ekklesia of God. Who was this James? And who wrote the book of James in the NT? 

This is a smoking gun identifying murderers and fraudsters. In the original order of Greek NT manuscripts, James's book is prominent. It followed the Gospels and Acts about Jesus. The pope's secretary, Jerome, displaced this book to near the end of the NT, after Paul's epistles. Why? And why is it still there today? Are Christians who agree to leave the seven pastoral books of James to Jude, brothers of Jesus, in Jerome's limbo still living in the spiritual Dark Ages?

Is it true that Alpheus or Cleopas had a wife called Mary? Was she the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus? How come?

What do the earliest writings say? The early historian Hegesippus of the late first or second century is quite specific. He says that not only were these two women sisters but also Cleopas and Joseph were brothers. What are we to make of that?

Alpheus, also called Cleopas, was certainly the brother of Joseph but his wife was called Maria, not Mary, in Greek. Joseph's wife was called Mariam in the Greek NT, not Mary or Maria. Hardly any translation makes this distinction which is quite clear in the Greek. Why? The same reason no translation of these sectarians puts the books of the Bible in the right order of the early NT manuscripts or the Hebrew texts. The book of James follows the NT Pentateuch of the four gospels and Acts. That reinforces the unity of 22 Hebrew books (equal to the 22 letters of Hebrew, as Josephus says) and 27 Greek books, equal to the number of Greek letters. It produces a total of 49 (7x7) books.

If we go back to Biblical times, there is no reason to be surprised that two sisters had similar names -- or even the same names. Names were given for family and dynastic reasons. This is a similar practice as in royal families today. Princes are given several names which may include many names that are the same, relating to past kings.

Some of the children of both the families of families of Josepha and Cleopas had the same names. Both Cleopas and Joseph had a son called James, that is, Jacob in Hebrew or Greek. This Jacob refers to the great Patriarch Israel, the father and chief of the twelve tribes. Names were not given by whim and fancy as they are today but represent specific ancestors of great importance to the dynasty. Mariam or Miriam in Hebrew indicates that the line has Aaronic blood as Miriam was the sister of Aaron and Moses. 

It is therefore clear that this was a dynastic marriage between a daughter of the family of Aaron the priest, Luke 1:5, 36.  Joseph was a royal descendant, a son of David the King of Judah and hence of Israel, Matt 1:20.

Many sectarians or their 'scholars' want to try to cause confusion by saying this James must equal that James as the name is the same. This is simplistic. There were many Jameses. That is why the NT makes it clear about 'James the brother of the Lord', also defining him with a title: he is called 'James the Just'. The very earliest writers like Hegesippus, as quoted in Eusebius, are clear that James the Lord's brother was leader and successor of Jesus Christ to 'rule the ekklesia.' He also had a throne inside the Temple, the same as that of Jesus. Hegesippus says that when James died in the 60s CE, he was succeeded at the Jerusalem Temple by 'Simeon the son of Cleopas'. Obviously this Simeon was not the brother of James or the writer would have said simply 'Simeon his brother'. (Eusebius: Eccl History 3:32.)

Some other points:

1. United opinion of historic documents, not commentaries of Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics and other sectarians, is unanimous. It is of little use listening to the fourth century
Roman Catholic Church or treating the partisan theories of fifth century Jerome seriously. They had ulterior motives for distorting history. 

The earliest sources are clear. They are eye witnesses. First century Jewish commander and historian, Josephus was born in 37 CE. He probably spoke to relatives of the family of Jesus, maybe even James himself. He was Governor of Galilee in the 60s. Josephus was around 30 years old, James in his late fifties or sixties. Both James and Josephus were associated with the Temple and its priests. He says 'James, the brother of Jesus called the Messiah,' was defended by the most honest citizens against calumnies. The Roman governor also took his side. Josephus is quite clear: Jesus was anointed in a special way ('the Christ' in Greek). That confirms everyone treated Jesus as Anointed Davidic King.

Secondly, he describes
in the 60s CE an attack and kangaroo court against James at the time of Roman procurator Albinus  (Jesus, James, Joseph, p4/5). This caused an international scandal. The high priest behind the plot was sacked by the Romans. This James was clearly highly placed and honored. When Josephus says that James was 'the brother of Jesus called the Anointed', it is obvious he was not a cousin or anything like that. In Jewish terms Christ means 'Anointed'. Hebrew 'Messiach' means 'king'. Jesus was executed because he was 'King of the Jews' according to Hebrew and Roman law. Jesus Christ is the title: King Jesus of the line of David. It is not a surname in the way Catholic and Protestants use it like John Smith. The line does not go through cousins when there are many brothers of Joseph.

Thus Josephus (who wasn't a Christian according to Origen) is as clear as he can be that James was the oldest son of Joseph after Jesus. Josephus is one of several eyewitnesses. He is not confused by mythic ideas centuries later about carpenters and the Catholic BVM 'Blessed Virfgin Mary'.

2. The early Christian writer Hegesippus (first & second century), quoted in Eusebius, affirms that there were many men called James (as there were many women called Maria, and variations Mariam, Mariamne, Meira etc). Eusebius was a librarian and had all the writings of Hegesippus on the authentic early ekklesia/ church and many others too. Today we are left only with extracts in Eusebius. He distinguishes the 'Jameses'. Eusebius says the James who ruled the ekklesia after the Resurrection  was called the 'brother of the Lord since he too was called Joseph's son and Joseph {was} Christ's father.' (Book 2 Eccl History).

He says early Christians called James 'the Just' -- a specific title of priesthood with 'the throne of the ekklesia in Jerusalem.' Eusebius quotes Hegesippus at length on James the Just's office, his work, prayer in the Temple and how he was assassinated just before the Roman wars.

3. There are many other documents
from the first century which speak of James, the Lord's brother, as 'bishop of bishops' in Jerusalem. Bishop then meant Administrator or Superintendent, a political title, not a church office. Many in the RCC and Protestant churches reject these writings or bury them because they are hugely embarrassing to the myth of Rome as 'Mother Church' of Christianity myths about Peter and popes. This term 'bishop' has nothing to do with the office and comportment of RC or Anglican 'bishops' -- it means ruler of the tribes. The NT says Christ is Ruler of all the Earth and Bishop, Superintendent of our souls, 1 Peter 2:25.   

4. We have the unanimous voice of the New Testament confirming James's Davidic status and priestly importance.  In Acts 1:14, 12:17, Acts 15:13 v16 he defends 'David's tabernacle', and in v19 he says 'I judge...' for the whole Community of Israel. James is clearly the same figure, James the Just, brother of Christ etc as in Gal 1:19 'the Lord's (kuriou) brother'

5. In his book coming after the gospels and Acts, James, as brother of Jesus, the king of the Jews and Israel, alone is permitted to write to all twelve tribes of Israel in their worldwide dispersion. See James 1:1. This text is a great embarrassment to Jerome and other Catholics as he is obviously not addressing gentile members of their cult. He is writing as someone who sits on the throne in the Temple in Jerusalem as successor to Jesus. 

It is absurd today to maintain that this James is a cousin of Jesus. Facts refuse to stay buried -- even after 1500 years of propaganda.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

 Col. Rose Mary Sheldon, professor of Military History at Virginia Military Institute wrote on

Jesus as a Security Risk: Intelligence and Repression in the Roman Empire…/jesus-as-a-security-risk-intelligenc…/ 

This is my comment:

You post an unusual attempt to explain the inconsistencies in the story from the medieval RCC-Protestant tradition that came down to many of us in childhood. It seems this is still not correct. It conflicts with Jewish Law and historical accounts such as Josephus and Philo and early writings about the Temple. It wasn't some sort of public cathedral, open to all!
In the NT Jesus avoided being declared Son of David outside the Temple. Inside the Temple was different. Matt chap 1 shows that he was entitled to this as son of Joseph so it was not an unfounded claim. Pilate was a brutal governor yet it is Pilate who says that Jesus is innocent. No hint of treason or insurrection.
The high priests, who were not anointed, wanted Jesus the anointed dead. If Pilate wanted an excuse to kill him he could have cited 'causing an affray in the Temple' when he chased out the Temple the merchants 'thieves and robbers'. Both Josephus and Eusebius record that such affrays in the Temple caused thousands of deaths near the narrow passages that led to the Roman legion headquarters, the Antonia. It is more likely that Jesus cleared the 'thieves and robbers' in conjunction with the Roman authorities rather than without their knowledge. It caused no deaths among the tens of thousands of Passover visitors.
This incident occurred just before his night-time arrest by high priests but is not mentioned at the trial. Why? The Temple was under separate, priestly jurisdiction and not under Roman control. The area of his arrest on the Mount of Olives was connected to the Temple by a bridge and considered holy ground.
The Temple precinct was a small city-State and fort structure under armed Israelites and priests. This had been agreed in a treaty with Julius Caesar, according to Josephus. Roman army banners of their gods were banned. It was a no-go area. In Acts Paul was arrested in the external parts of the Temple merely on a false rumor. The so-called 'carpenter-preacher' was involved in very vigorous action INSIDE the Temple.
The missing piece of intelligence involves understanding what Christ's position was inside the Temple. It caused the high priests (plural) to want him dead. Pilate who was responsible before Caesar for justice and order merely acquiesced. Jesus was executed and the soldiers took his single-piece robe -- which was a priestly one described in Ex 28:4, 31 etc.
According to Justin Martyr (early second century), Tertullian around 200 and Eusebius and others, Pilate confirmed Jesus rose from the dead. He may have witnessed the Ascension from the Antonia. On receiving his and other reports, Tiberius declared Jesus was God and forbade Romans to persecute the Nazarenes. His successor Caligula defied God and tried to foment a war of genocide by ordering a huge golden idol of himself as Jupiter be placed inside the Temple-fortress at Jerusalem.
Far more than a simple accusation of insurrection based on military spies was involved.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Caesar's Edict: Proof of Resurrections

The following archaeological Proof of the Resurrection is included in the latest version of the book. Many documented physical resurrections took place -- for centuries! The Romans were faced with empty tombs  -- where the body was missing but the other articles were left. Hence, not grave robbery! There are also numerous historical confirmations not included here. Roman emperors, like Tiberius and later second century ones, acknowledged the resurrection of Christ was a fact. These events were a major incentive and proof for those who gave their lives in the pagan persecutions. Christians preferred to die for the Creator God who could resurrect rather than offer a pinch of incense to the pagan gods or to a 'divine' Caesar like Caligula. Roman pagan gods .lost credibility.
The Resurrection of Christ and physical resurrections of Christians -- and the Roman Emperors acknowledgement of them -- led to the destruction of the pagan system. This is why Constantine declared the Roman Empire 'Christian'. For the majority of the citizens, the pagan gods were dead!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Who defined and bound the New Testament Canon?

The New Covenant books were written and made into a canon directly by the disciples of Christ. 'Bind up the testimony; Seal the Law among my disciples!' Isaiah 8:16. That is the principle and the prophecy.
Dr Ernest L Martin set out the facts in his book: Restoring the Original Bible.
The idea that only in the fourth century the Roman Catholic Church alone defined these books for ‘Christianity’ is patently absurd.
One word in the NT explains the process. It consistently mistranslated. In fact I know of no accurate translation. That is a curious fact. Correctly translated from standard references and lexicons, it would have indicated who could, should and did define the canon. It would also make clear that the Roman church could not have defined the canon!
The churches have been bamboozled after more than a thousand years of Roman Catholic propaganda. The Vatican (which hated Jews and any idea that Christ held any office in the Temple) made sure that no one asked questions about such Greek terms. They banned the Greek text from Europe for five centuries. Jerome mistranslated key Greek terms and replaced them by nondescript Latin terms. And in the later period the Roman Catholics made sure no one, not even its priests, understood Latin!

Why today have all the churches’ translators refused to translate this word correctly? Self-interest and anti-Semitism may be some motives. What is the mystery word that this is all about?
That word is epistatēs. It occurs not once but seven times in the NT. Its true translation undermines the false dogma instigated by the imperial Roman ‘Mother Church’. It also exposes the difference between word church as used today and the original Greek word, ekklesia. The concept of church today is as different as if the Romans had looked at a pig in a trough and said that is what the Bible means by a horse! Many today still can’t recognize the ekklesia – it’s a war horse!
All of the occurrences of Jesus being called epistatēs are in the priestly book of Luke which centers around the Temple (5:5, 8:24, 45, 9:33, 49, 17:33). It is addressed to his Excellency Theophilus, 1:3. Luke covers many technical Temple matters such as the 24 priestly courses, the Sabbath, the calendar and various other tough topics of Torah. Luke was no gentile! (See Luke the Priest: The Authority of the Author of the Third Gospel by Dr Rick Strelan.)
Luke 1:3 implies the book is written to the high priest, his ‘Excellency Theophilus’ specifically to be deposited in the archives as a true, witnessed record of resurrections and miracles. One vital reason was that the Temple was under threat of desolation by the arrival of the arch anti-Semite, Caligula, as emperor. Reacting to the Resurrection which had trashed belief in the Roman pantheon, Caligula wanted to reign from Jerusalem and have a gigantic statue of himself inside the Temple and every synagogue in the Empire.
The title ‘Excellency’ relates to Theophilus being the political leader of the nation, the high priest put in power under the Romans. He was in office from 37 to 41 during all Emperor Caligula’s near ethnocidal persecution. When Luke later wrote Acts, Theophilus was no longer in office. Hence he wasn’t then addressed as ‘Excellency’ in Acts 1:1. This evidence identifies him unambiguously. It explains what would otherwise be an affront by omitting his title in Acts 1.

What is an epistatēs?
So when Luke has the disciples refer to Jesus in the early ministry as ‘epistatēs’ we should take
special note. What is an epistatēs? Nearly all translations render it ‘Master’. But in the Greek language it is a very precise term about a high office. To render it ‘Master’ is the equivalent of going to a hospital and referring to the chief brain surgeon as a health worker!
In fact, one translation, the Concordant version, translates it as ‘Doctor’! But in that case it has the sense of Professor of Hebrew Law. (The NWT has Instructor.) But at least the translators realized they were faced with a special term of office. Schonfield has ‘Chief’. The Weymouth translation gives it as ‘Commander’. That signification is far off from the idea of ‘Herr Doktor’!
So what does it mean? The word has in fact two main senses as you will see if you check any normal Greek lexicon as distinct from the Romanized ones. One is in fact Commander of the city’s troops. In this sense it is equivalent, in the Hebrew context of the Temple, to the Priest for Warfare mentioned several times in the Bible. (see Jesus, James, Joseph p218 for the summary table.) There is some linkage with the sense that contemporary Jewish writers like Philo and Josephus use the term as Superintendent.

President of what?
The second sense in normal Greek usage is President of the city’s ruling Assembly. What did the Greeks call their assembly? An ekklesia! That should have rung mighty bells for any honest translator. The word ekklesia occurs frequently in the NT. The same translators render it as ‘church’, an extremely bad choice. ‘Church’ is a self-serving term for the RC-Protestant community.
There was no such thing as their church in the first century. There were no churches with steeples. There were no stone cathedrals to terrify the population by their soaring architecture. There were no crucifixes and there were no statues of saints. Once people had all this under the fourth century Emperor Constantine, a hierarchy of bishops under his central authority could begin to control all the religion across the whole Roman Empire. Their church meant all the local population meeting like pigs at their trough in their buildings and subject to their lordship.
Attack the idea of ‘church,’ bishops and cathedrals and you attack the very foundation of medieval autocracy. It would turn society upside down. In fact so worried was King James that any translation would undermine the hierarchy where the king not only ruled but defined the religion for the people, that he laid down two very strict conditions for the translators of the King James Bible.
Firstly, no marginal notes, especially those that appeared in earlier versions denouncing Israel’s evil kings. Secondly, all occurrences of the word ekklesia should be translated church! Why? Because Tyndale and the earlier translators had had the audacity to translate the word correctly as ‘Congregation’! Even today you will find the Bibles of most of church committee translations render Matt 16:18 (I will build my ‘ekklesia’) as church. Only those brave individual scholars like Robert Young’s literal translation or Darby’s have ‘I will build my Assembly’. The Assembly of Israel! In the first century ekklesia for Jews meant a governmental body, the Assembled Congregation of God’s people.
How can we be sure what ekklesia meant to Hebrews? It was the word used in the current Greek Septuagint version to translate the Hebrew word qahal, meaning the Assembly of the twelve tribes. They met in ancient times in the Court of Israel of the Temple. To reinstate it was part of Christ’s mission.
Christ is called an epistatēs of such an ekklesia. If modern churchman translated it as something like ‘President, professor, superintendent or Commander of the church’ they would have a lot of questions put to them! So what was Christ’s new Assembly?

Christ commands the Seventy
Luke explains it himself. In Luke 10 he says Christ created an Assembly of Seventy. This clearly relates to the Assembly created under Moses in the wilderness, Num 11:16f. It was composed of six men from each tribe, with two of them staying in the camp. They experienced the power of God’s spirit in the Tabernacle. It was a foretaste of the NT Pentecost.
Then after the Resurrection, the 12 tribes had been forewarned to bring more witnesses. In Acts 1:15 there were 120 from the 12 tribes, ten ‘named ambassadors’ per tribe. They came from far and wide, ‘every nation under heaven,’ including Parthia, Rome’s rival superpower ruled by Israelite exiles, Acts 2:5-11.
The Hebrew scriptures speak many times of the Assembly of Israel, the qahal. Peter is recorded in around 37 CE as saying that the Assembly of Seventy that Christ formed, composed of tried and honest men, was the first real qahal meeting all the criteria since the time of Moses. This was, said Peter, a real sign that Jesus was the Prophet greater than Moses and foretold by Moses in Deuteronomy 18. Early historians such as Eusebius record how important the Seventy were in propagating worldwide the proof of the Resurrection.
So if the qahal is the real meaning of ekklesia, what is the title that Jesus has as its epistatēs? Turn to a standard reference like the Oxford Classical Dictionary and you will find that the epistatēs ..
'presided over the Council (boulé) and Assembly (ekklesia).'
A classical Greek reference like Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Latin Antiquities will tell you that the epistatēs was in charge of the city treasury and public works. In the Greek Septuagint version of the Hebrew scriptures, the word epistatēs occurs numerous times. It is translated as Commander of the Army of Israel or as Superintendent of works in the Temple. Those two functions describe the office of the Sagan, or Chief Priest in the Temple.
But what has that to do with the canon?
The Oxford Classical Dictionary describes other attributes of the epistatēs.
'He held the State seal and keys. … In the Hellenic kingdoms the title epistatēs is given to an agent of the king within a subject city who exercises considerable power.'

The Key
Jesus held the powers of the kingdom of heaven. The Temple seal was clearly necessary for the exiled tribes of Israel to recognize the writings of Jesus, James and the Davidic House. The canon is a sealed book, sealed with the Temple seal of David’s House. Up to just before the destruction of the Temple, this high post of Sagan was occupied by James, the brother of Jesus Christ. He wrote to the twelve tribes, 1:1. After he died or rather was murdered, we hear in early writings of the period that John, son of Zebedee, wore the diadem of office. He clearly was empowered to close the NT canon and its 27 books. He sealed them.
What of the Key? The Temple had a huge ‘Key of David’ that was used to open and close the door to the Temple fortress. Christ, according to John’s book of Revelation, holds the Key of David on his shoulder, Rev 3:7, Isaiah 22:22. He is dressed in the robes of the Sagan Chief Priest, the cohen ha-rosh, Rev 1:13.
No one other than the epistatēs, and certainly not the paganized, gentile church of Rome could ever define the canon.
Case closed.

A fuller treatment is found in the free ebook: Jesus, James, Joseph and the past and future Temple at

David Price
Write a comment...

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Magi and the extraordinary Parthian Peace Process

Is there any event equivalent in history to Europe’s extraordinary peace record? Europe is living in the longest peace in its known history. That peace was based on supranational principles and initiated by Robert Schuman after a lifetime’s work.
An amazing peace process took place two thousand years ago between two fighting superpowers. They divided the planet as much as the Soviet Union and the USA did in recent times. And it covered the exact area that is the source of today’s conflict in the Near and Middle East — Syria, Iraq and Iran.
In the middle of the earth at the point of contact of these two superpowers lay Israel. It was conquered first by one power, the Roman Empire and then by the other, the Parthian Empire. Who won? Rome was humiliated. Its armies were decimated. It renounced any further attacks on the superpower of the East.
Then a peace treaty was forged. At this time and because of this peace, trade was boosted from the Far East to Gaul in the West. An era of prosperity allowed the Temple at Jerusalem to be rebuilt.
Parthia map-X
During this Augustan-Parthian peace, Jesus Christ was born at Bethlehem. Why have most Europeans not learned the facts behind this key event in Christian civilization? What did most people learn about the Parthian Empire at school or even university?
Yet every year many people send each other cards with Parthians on them. Who are they? The Magi! Why does the real identity of the Magi remain obscure to most people?

Parthian Magus
Early in the Middle Ages great confusion, not to say false propaganda, arose about the supposed three Magi who visited the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. First, it is important to go to the record itself in the New Testament (NT) and get the facts.
* There were not three Magi. The number is not specified. It is only stated that they brought three types of gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh.
* The Magi came from the East. No names are mentioned.
* The event took place more than a year after the birth of Jesus as he is called a ‘toddler’ in Greek. That means he was about a year and a half old.
* No other children are mentioned which means that James, the brother of Jesus, was probably not yet born.
* The visit took place in Bethlehem. When Jesus was born, the David’s ancestral home no longer existed. Why? Because Herod the Great had destroyed all trace of the Davidic dynasty and the ‘castle’ of David there. James says in Acts 15, that the ‘Tabernacle of David had fallen down’. Herod did not hesitate to kill off his own sons and wives if he thought they would usurp him. It is therefore certain that he would wipe out any trace of a Davidic dynasty he could find.
The NT says that at the time of the Magi’s visit Joseph had a house there. How come? Joseph was of direct royal lineage. He had the temerity and obligation to register the lands of David as his own. The registration took place as the first one under Quirinus, governor of Syria. (He made two.) This coincided with the celebration of twenty-five years of Augustus’s reign and the 750th anniversary of the foundation of the city of Rome. (See Dr Ernest L Martin: The Star that astonished the World).
Augustus was proclaimed Pater Patriae, Father of the Fatherland. Prominent citizens were required to register their smaller fatherlands and acclaim allegiance to Caesar. Thus Joseph registered his right under Roman and Israelite laws as patriarch of the tribe of Judah. This was a very dangerous move as his life was at immediate risk by Herod. But Joseph also had protection under Roman law. Herod could not simply kill a Davidic son without Roman acquiescence. As James said, the ruins were prophesied by Amos to be rebuilt.
So why in the Middle Ages did the Magi become a source of controversy? Firstly, the Magi were not Christian or even Jewish as far as the ignorant scholars of the time could say. People asked: why did pagans come and worship the infant Jesus? Why did they come at all? How many were there? Why didn’t Herod kill them?
The answers are clear once we understand the dilemma faced by the Roman State Church founded under Constantine in the 300s CE. Constantine’s amalgam of paganism and Christianity replaced Rome’s ancient pantheon. The Roman Empire had its capital in Constantinople, today’s Istanbul.
The lasting shame of the Roman Empire is that it destroyed the kingdom of Judah, its capital Jerusalem and its Temple. The term ‘Magi’ relates to the rival super power of Rome, the Parthian Empire. It extended from the River Euphrates to India and modern Afghanistan. Parthians traded with the Far East. It was a feudal confederation of kingdoms, not a military dictatorship like Rome.

Kings of Parthia-page-0
The Head of the Parthian Empire was called Arsaces, ‘King of kings’. A single dynasty had a succession of 30 Arsakoi kings. They ruled from 255 BCE for nearly half a millennium, more than any dynasty there before or since. The kings were selected, elected and sometimes rejected by a Council of Wisemen, priestly scientists. Its name? The Magi! (See Rawlinson’s Parthia or Steven M Collins: Parthia, Forgotten Ancient Super-power.) Rawlinson says that Parthia divided ‘with Rome … the sovereignty of the earth.’
There is good reason why Europeans are so ignorant about Rome’s super-power rival. The Magi again! The paradox became an intense political problem for the Roman Empire of Constantinople. Why? Because, although the ruling Arsakoi tribes of the Parthian Empire had migrated by then, the Roman Empire was still at war with the successor Sassanian Persian Empire.
It was excruciatingly painful for the priests of the Roman ‘Mother Church’ to explain why the Magi of Persia had worshiped the infant Jesus and the Roman Empire had destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. Parthia worshiped Jesus. Rome pillaged Jerusalem and destroyed the Jews. How could Romans justify a Christian heritage?
The Roman Mother Church therefore blamed the Jews for the death of Jesus although the crucifixion was conducted by the Roman soldiers, under Roman imperial authority and with Roman nails.
As for the Magi, they became non-persons. They were reduced to just three foreigners. But in reality the Magi helped govern Parthia. They performed a similar task to the Levitical priesthood for the Israelitish kings.
Were there three Magi or more? We can say with near certainty that there were not three but many thousands! The Parthians were highly mobile and had several capitals. They traveled in massive, opulent, oriental style. The general selected by King Orodes to fight the Roman invader Crassus arrived with two hundred litters for his concubines. A thousand camels carried his personal baggage. A body of ten thousand horsemen and slaves served his personal needs. The Magi, the resplendently rich Parthian kingmakers, would have come to Jerusalem in their thousands or not at all!
This is how Matthew’s gospel describes the scene:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judah in the days of Herod the king,
BEHOLD! There came wise men (Magi) from the East to Jerusalem, saying:
‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews? … We are come to do homage to him.
When Herod heard this, he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him.
The word ‘troubled’ can better be translated ‘terrified’, ‘set in a tumult’ ‘consternated’.
Parthia had forged a peace treaty with Rome two decades earlier. This came after Roman legions had been grossly humiliated. In 55 BCE the avaricious Consul Crassus sought booty. Crassus, he of the saying ‘as rich as Crassus,’ was the powerful oligarch of Rome. Parthian king Orodes slaughtered his 40,000 strong legions. Presented with his severed head during a performance of the Euripides play ‘Bacchae’, Orodes filled its mouth with molten gold, mocking him to drink to his fill. In 40 BCE Parthia invaded Judea and deposed the Roman-selected high priest at the Temple and installed another, Antigonus. In 37 BCE Mark Antony invaded Parthia with a massive 16 legions of 100,000 men. They were decimated. He barely escaped with his life. In 34 Julius Caesar planned to attack Parthia. He was assassinated in Rome.
If in the next few days you hear people talking about ‘Three wise men’, you can tell them, ‘It’s time to wise up on the Parthian Magi!’
Today’s leaders need to remind themselves how this area of an amazing peace, became again the furnace of conflict.