Friday, April 04, 2014

Larry Hurtado

Larry on Paul's Eschatology: Further Comments on Wright’s New Opus

Larry wrote:"Also, Wright links (again correctly) the Spirit with eschatology, and so the presence and experience of the Spirit in early Christian circles was for Paul evidence of the new age underway, the Spirit raising new possibilities, new energies for obedience to God, even among former pagans."

This sounds like an advert for soap powder. Eschatology was not involved, except by fabrication. Wright, Hurtado and others should remember that there is nothing new under the sun. The idea of the Spirit had been around for a long time in Jewish circles, particularly among the prophets, who in the form of James took it to Rome, the Roman Jews, and the Roman establishment.  Acts 2 was originally written by James as an eye witness account of the Spirit of God in Rome.  If anything was new, it was the prophets expanding their horizons to include gentiles.  Salvation was to be had by obeying the Spirit, not by obeying the law of sacrifice for sins.  From a time near to the death of Herod, all ideas that sacrifice had been undertaken are scholarly myths.  There was a very strong current of prophetic belief, flowing from time immemorial, that the gentiles would be included in God's kingdom, and that sacrifice was unnecessary. 

Unfortunately, the later establishment, in the form of Vespasian, had other greedy ideas.  He bid his time, destroyed the temple for its gold, carted off the prophets that he hadn't killed for his so-called triumph, a triumph completely misclaimed, for which he knew what to do because he had arranged one previously for Claudius.  Then he created his own gentile religion.

Wright, Larry and others live in a small enclosed world.

Larry's Whinge

Read the full whinge here:

"But from a few (I’d say over the 3.5 years of operating this site, about three/four) fall clearly into the puzzling type I’ve mentioned above. This sort typically has developed some pet idea, not something small, mind you, but a “big idea” that fundamentally skews their view of the whole subject.

Among them, on this site, e.g., that Paul was a totally fictional character (yes, you heard that right).

The noisy folk who likewise are convinced (I guess they really mean it and aren’t putting us all on) that Jesus of Nazareth is a fictional character are another such category.

And on this site we’ve got a frequent commenter who, among his pet notions, has the curious idea that, e.g., references to “circumcision” in the NT are actually references to sacrifice."

I say yes to all three.

Larry Hurtado and the Bible Hunters Programme (Part 2) 



"Another feature of the Bible Hunters programme (part 2) that caught my attention was the reference to ancient gnostic Christians as 'intellectuals'. That was very funny, really."

Larry, do you think that most NT scholars suffer from cognitive bias or confirmation bias? Their views are based on past experiences or what they know already. I think so. It’s easier to say they have been brainwashed.

Geoff: Leave off your nasty jibes. Just because you’re not a scholar yourself, that’s no reason to rubbish those who give their lives to scholarship. Nobody’s brainwashed, Geoff. Get over yourself. And if you can’t offer something useful, take yourself elsewhere. I tire of nonsense readily.

You are right, I am not a biblical scholar. But you folk want to influence people, so don't be surprised when someone reacts.

Larry, so we have gnostic Christians living side by side with traditional Christians, in Egypt, a place where the Jewish religion had been known for centuries.

Look like, yes.

Larry, do the gnostic texts take us a step nearer to the original christianity? For the gnostics, Jesus was a spirit being. Then there is Judas. Some would argue that the gnostics took a positive view of Judas, and that he was anti-priest and anti-sacrifice. And which Judas were they referring to? In my view there can only be one. See

The so-called “gnostic” texts tend to have come from sometime in the 2nd century and thereafter, and so are most commonly taken as indicative of emergent forms of Christians/Christianity in that period. That means that these texts are not evidence of an “original” form of Christianity, but of subsequent forms (among which there were many). And, yes, some of these texts have different views of Jesus/Christ. In some cases, they distinguish between “Jesus” (the man) and the divine Word/Son/Spirit. In some cases “Jesus” is presented as only appearing to be a man. All of this contrasts, of course, with the earlier texts (preserved in the NT) where there is a firm insistence that the human figure Jesus of Nazareth is also of heavenly significance.


Larry, I don’t see that you have proved that the gnostic texts come later than the traditional texts.

For me the question to ask is why did the gnostic texts emerge? The gnostics had a spiritual Jesus, which in my book cannot go unnoticed. And it had a Judas who worshipped in the sanctuary, and who rejected priests and sacrifice. Was this a dim remembrance of what Judas the Maccabean was really about? Did Judas the Maccabean, reject priests and animal sacrifice? This would make sense of what Antiochus was about also. Antiochus was for animal sacrifice. Was it also a dim remembrance of why a Jewish temple was built later in Egypt? Did this temple also reject priests and animal sacrifice? The link back to older times of the gnostic texts shows us that their version of ‘christianity’ was more original.

Geoff: The so-called “gnostic” texts are judged later (2nd century & thereafter) on a number of grounds, which are accepted by pretty much all the scholars who’ve worked on them.
What you call a “spiritual” Jesus is actually often a figure portrayed as one of the numerous emanations of the ultimate divine essence (referred to variously, e.g., “the All”), and the basic scheme seems to be heavily influenced by late versions of “middle-Platonism” that went on to generate both Christian and non-Christian types of elaborate speculations. So, these “gnostic” texts seem to show that some early Christians were influenced by, and interested in, this kind of Platonic-influenced speculation and mysticism. That’s why they were written.

You’ve confused the “Judas” of the Gospels and the gnostic texts with Judas Maccabee. And you’ve completely fabricated what the latter stood for. There is no evidence that he stood against sacrifice. For heaven’s sake, Geoff, he was from a priestly family, and what do you think Jewish priests did back then?

Instead, the Maccabean revolt was over Antiochus’ attempt to assimilate Jews religiously, perhaps urging the identification of YHWH with Olympian Zeuw, etc. (Where do you get these weird ideas? Don’t you read the scholarship and primary texts??)

Larry, but some of the priests converted to prophets, who you know were the ones who wrote the books of the prophets, and who the writers of the scrolls attacked as “seekers of smooth things”, and whose scriptures the priests polluted mockingly, with their re-interpretations or peshers. The two ‘christian’ beliefs of Egypt were a reflection, or a development, from the division of Judaism into priests and prophets, who became the deadliest of enemies. And don’t tell me that the “seekers of smooth things” were pharisees because it is obvious to a blind man that they were interpolated into the writings attributed to Josephus.


Hey Larry, your post was a bit of a rant, wasn't it? You reckoned that the gnostics were not really intellectuals. More than likely they could see the threat that was coming from their immediate neighbours, the 'real Christians'. The gnostics would ever likely want to keep their religion close to their chest, because they could see the storm clouds gathering. They were shortly to be wiped from the face of the earth by the western power in the shape of Constantine, who was supposedly the first Christian emperor. They would have to hide their scriptures, as the TV programme showed.

The gnostics were intellectual enough to realise that their fundamental belief was in direct opposition to that of traditional Christians. For the gnostics, Jesus was a spirit. The gnostic hatred of the priests, as in the Gospel of Judas, showed that they were against sacrifice, and that sacrifice was useless in the sight of God. More to the point, Judas, who also appears as a spirit, speaks with Jesus while both are in the sanctuary where the altar of incense was. They were not at the altar for burnt offerings where the priests would have been. If this does not involve an intellectual idea, then I don't know what does.

So we have two christian religions in Egypt. One, an export from Rome. The other, essentially, indigenous.

The first believed in sacrifice, the sacrifice of Jesus. The second rejected sacrifice. The first paralleled the Jewish priests, and the second the prophets who eventually also rejected sacrifice. Egypt had a long history with the enmity between Jewish priests and prophets.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Epistle to the 'Galations' - Cleansing by the Spirit (not by Sacrifice)

[ ] = read out

{ } = read in

Chapter 1

"All the brothers with me" (1.2) were in Rome.  James wrote this epistle from Rome to the prophets of Judea who gathered in synagogues or assemblies.  The Spirit calls and cleanses. (1.6).  The so-called "different gospel" was sacrifice.  "Some people" (1.7) is a non-descript for some specific people, Ananus and his brothers.  Some prophets were trying to please priests (1.10).  James received the Spirit from God (1.10,11,12), not from priests.  "Received" is explicit in 1.12. 

 (1.13-24) The editor dissimulates.  He knows that James himself wrote this epistle, so he has his pseudo author Paul seeing only James (and the fictitious Peter) in Jerusalem.    He then has Paul unknown to the Judean assemblies, despite saying Paul persecuted them.   “They only heard the report” of his conversion.  Paul is sent  away to remote Syria and Cilicia. 
1.1.[Paul] {James},

[an apostle – not sent from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead]

1.2.and all the brothers with me, to the [churches] {assemblies} in [Galatia] {Judea}:

1.3.[Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
1.4.who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of God and Father, whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.]

1.6.I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the [one] {Spirit} who called you [by the grace of Christ] {and cleansed you}, and are turning to [a different gospel] {sacrifice}.

1.7.[- which is no gospel at all].

Evidently [some people] {Ananus and his brothers} are throwing you into confusion

[and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.
1.8.But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!
1.9.As we have already said,
So now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! 
1.10.Am I now trying to win the approval of God? 
Or am I] 

{Are you} trying to please [men] {priests}?
If I were still trying to please [men] {priests}, I would not be a servant of [Christ] {the Spirit}.

1.11.I want you to know, brothers, that the [gospel] {Spirit} I [preached] {proclaimed} is not [something that man made up] {a spirit of man}.

1.12.I did not receive [it] {the Spirit} from any [man] {priest}

[, nor was I taught it];

rather I received it [by revelation] from [Jesus Christ] {the Lord}.

1.13.[For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God.
1.14.I was advancing in reputation beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
1.15.But when God, who set me apart before I was born and called me by his grace, was pleased reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the gentiles, I did not consult any man,
1.17.nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was but I went immediately into Arabia, and later returned to Damascus.
1.18.Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem
to become acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.
1.19.I saw none of the other apostles – only James, the Lord’s brother.
1.20.I assure you before God, that what I am writing to you is no lie.
1.21.Later I went to Syria and Cilicia.
1.22.I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.
1.23.They only heard the report: that the man who formerly persecuted us is was now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.

1.24.And they praised God because of me.]

Chapter 2

Fourteen years before James wrote his letter, Nero had been staying with king Agrippa (The Great, ie Agrippa I) in his Palace at Ein Gedi.  James met Nero at Agrippa I's palace. Barnabas was fabricated.  Titus (2.1) was Titus the son of Vespasian wanting his name up in lights instead of Nero's.  Ananus, the high priest, and eventually James's murderer, went to Rome to challenge what James was teaching.  The text has been added to, so that the men who opposed the fictitious Paul were sent from James in Jerusalem.

2.1.Fourteen years [later] {ago}, I went up [again] to [Jerusalem] {Rome} [this time] with [Barnabas] {Nero}.

[ I took Titus along also].

2.2.I went in response to [a revelation] {an invitation from the Emperor Claudius}, and set before them the [gospel] {Spirit} that I [preached] {proclaimed} among the [Gentiles] {Jews}.

[But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders,
for fear that I was running, or had run my race in vain.
2.3.Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.
2.4.This matter arose previously because some false brothers tried to take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.
2.5.We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.
2.6.As for those who seemed to be important
– whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance – these men added nothing to my message.
2.7.On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.
2.8.For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.
2.9.James, Peter and John, those reputed pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognised the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.
2.10.All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor -- the very thing I was eager to do -- and to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.]


2.11.When [Peter] {Ananus} came to [Antioch] {Rome}, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.

2.12.[Before certain men came from James, he ate with Gentile sinners. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.
2.13.The Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
2.14.When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth],

I said to [Peter] {Ananus} in front of them all,

["You are a Jew, yet you act like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

2.15.“We who are [Jews by birth] {prophets}
[and not Gentile sinners]

2.16.know that a man is not [justified] {cleansed} by [observing the law] {sacrifice}, but by [faith] {obedience} in [Jesus Christ] {the Spirit}".

[So we too have put our faith in Christ, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no-one will be justified.
2.17.If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!
2.18.If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a law-breaker.
2.19.For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.
2.20.I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
2.21.I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"]

Chapter 3


3.1.You foolish [Galatians] {prophets}! [Who] {Ananus} has bewitched you ? Before your very eyes, [Jesus Christ] {the Spirit} was clearly portrayed as [crucified] {God}.

3.2.I would like to learn just one thing from you:  Did you receive the Spirit by [observing the law] {sacrifice}, or by [believing] {obeying} [what] {him} you heard?

3.3.Are you so foolish? After [beginning with] {obeying} the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your [goal] {cleansing} by [human effort] {sacrifice}?

3.4.Have you suffered so much for nothing -- if it really was for nothing?

3.5.Does God give you his Spirit [and work miracles among you] because you [observe the law] {sacrifice}, or because you [believe] {obey} [what] {him} you heard?

3.6.[Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."
3.7.Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.
3.8.The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced in advance the gospel to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you."
3.9.So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
3.10.All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."
3.11.Clearly no-one is justified before God by the law, because “The righteous will live by faith.” 3.12.The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them."
3.13.Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”
3.14.He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
3.15.Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life.
Just as no-one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case.
3.16.The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The scripture does not say “and to seeds”, meaning many people, but “and to your seed”, meaning one person, who is Christ.
3.17.What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.
3.18.For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
3.19.What, then, was the purpose of the law?
It was added because of Israel’s transgressions until the seed to whom the promise referred had come.  The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator.
3.20.A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.
3.21.Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
3.22.But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
3.23.Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.
3.24.So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
3.25.Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
3.26.You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
3.27.for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
3.28.There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
3.29.If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.]

Chapter 5


5.1.It is for [freedom] {glory} that [Christ] {the Spirit} has [set us free] {cleansed us}.
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of [slavery] {sacrifice}.

5.2.Mark my words! I [Paul,] tell you that if you [let yourselves be circumcised, Christ] {sacrifice}, {the Spirit} will be of no value to you at all.

5.3.[Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is required to obey the whole law.
5.4.You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
5.5.But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.
5.6.For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
5.7.You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth. 
5.8.That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.
5.9."A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough."
5.10.I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view.
The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty ,whoever he may be.
5.11.Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted?
5.12.As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
5.13.You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
5.14.The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbour as yourself."
5.15.If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.]


5.16.So I say, [live by] {obey} the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the [sinful nature] {spirit of deceit}.

5.17.For the [sinful nature] {spirit of deceit} desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the [sinful nature] {spirit of deceit}. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

5.18.But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the [law] {spirit of deceit}.

5.19.The [acts] {spirits} of [the sinful nature] {deceit} are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery,

5.20.idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who [do] {obey} these [things] {spirits} will not [inherit] {receive} the [kingdom] {Spirit} of God.

5.21.But the [fruit of the Spirit is] {spirits of truth are} love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

5.23.gentleness and self-control.

[Against such things there is no law.
5.24.Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.]

5.25.Since we [live] {are cleansed} by the Spirit, let us [keep in step with] {obey} the Spirit.

5.26.[Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.]

Chapter 6

6.1.Brothers, if someone is caught in a [sin] {spirit of deceit}, you who are [spiritual] {in the Spirit} should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

6.2.Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will [fulfil] {obey} the [law] {Spirit} of God.

6.3.If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives [himself] {his own spirit}.

6.4.Each one should test his own [actions] {spirit}.  Then he can [take pride] {glory} in [himself] {the Spirit}, without comparing himself to somebody else,

6.5.for each one should [carry] {be responsible for} his own [load] {spirit}.

6.6.Anyone who receives instruction in the [word] {Spirit} must share all good things with his [instructor] {brothers}.

6.7.Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

6.8.The one who sows to please his [sinful nature] {spirit of deceit}, from that [nature] {spirit} will reap [destruction] {condemnation}; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap [eternal life] {glory}.

6.9.Let us not become weary in [doing good] {the Spirit}, for at the proper time we will reap [a harvest if we do not give up] {glory} .

6.10.[Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.]


6.11.See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!

6.12.[Those who want to make a good impression outwardly] {Ananus and his brothers} are trying to compel you to [be circumcised] {sacrifice}.

[The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.]

6.13.[Not even] Those who [are circumcised] {sacrifice} obey the [law] {spirit of deceit}, yet they want you to [be circumcised] {sacrifice} that they may boast about your [flesh] {cleansing}.

6.14.May I never boast, except in the [cross] {Spirit} of our Lord

[Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me].

6.15.[Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision] {Sacrifice} [means] {counts for} [anything] {nothing}; what counts is a [new] {cleansed} [creation] {spirit}.

6.16.Peace [and mercy] to all who follow [this rule, even to] the [Israel] {Spirit} of God.
6.17.Finally, let no-one cause me trouble just because I bear in my body the [marks of Jesus] {Spirit of God}. 

6.18.The [grace] {Spirit} of our Lord [Jesus Christ] be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Agrippa The Great seen as a Prophet?

Now don't say a word to Larry Hurtado, as he might blow a gasket, but did you know that the so-called death of Agrippa the Great, as described in the writings attributed to Josephus, is a falsified account?  (See Ant.19.8.2 below).  

Agrippa didn't die such an inglorious death, but lived to tell the tale, until he met his real death in about 64 at the hands of priests who were warriors.  He was alive near the time Paul was supposed to have been in Jerusalem and supposedly spoke to Agrippa junior and his sister Berenice.  But these two were already dead, killed about the same time while imprisoned by the warrior priests at Masada.  The archaeologists found Berenice's plaited hair and skull buried there in the lower Northern Palace. (See Page 305 of Back to Masada, by Ben-Tor).  They also found in the same place the skeleton of a young man dressed in what appeared to be the parade armour of an important person.  This was Agrippa junior.  Needless to say, these remains were spirited away to be buried somewhere. 

So don't say anything to Larry, but Agrippa junior could not have spoken to Paul in Acts.  (See Acts 25.24,23).  You see Larry believes the writings attributed to Josephus - Berenice supposedly was Titus's lover - just the Roman's fanciful thinking.     

Ant.19.8.2.Now when Agrippa had reigned three years over all Judea, he came to the [city Caesarea, which was formerly called Strato'sTower] {temple}; and there he [exhibited] {offered} [shows] {prayers} in [honour of Caesar] {the Spirit} upon [his being informed that there was a certain] {the} festival {of Tabernacles} celebrated to make vows [for his safety].  At which festival a great multitude was gotten together of the [principal persons] {prophets} [, and such as were of dignity through his province]. On the second day of which [shows] {festival} he put on a garment made wholly of [silver] {white linen} [, and of a contexture truly wonderful,] and came into the [theatre] {temple} early in the morning; at which time the [silver] {whiteness} of his garment being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun's rays upon it, shone out after a surprising manner [, and was so resplendent] as to spread [a horror] {joy} over [those] {the prophets} that looked intently upon him; and presently [his flatterers] {the prophets} [cried out] {prayed}, one from one place, and another from another, [though not for his good,] that he was a {prophet of} God; and they added, "Be thou merciful to us; for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a [man] {king}, yet shall we henceforth own thee as [superior to mortal nature] {a prophet}.  

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Cain and Abel (A Story about Priests and Prophets?)

In his preface to Antiquities the Roman editor of the writings attributed to Josephus wrote: "However, those that have a mind to know the reasons of every thing, may find here a very curious philosophical theory, which I now indeed shall wave the explication of; but if God afford me time for it, I will set about writing it after I have finished the present work."  "A very curious philosophical theory" - I wonder what he was referring to!  Did the writer ever explain this?  And why did he defer the explanation? Did he explain it in terms of the so-called Jewish War?  That would be the simplistic explanation probably adopted by most scholars.  But was War propaganda for Vespasian?  In which case, what was the real explanation for "a very curious philosophical theory"?   

The original writer attributes this part of Antiquities to Moses.  Moses established the priests and the prophets.  The writer thinks that Moses taught that God formed man out of dust from the ground and then gave man an animating spirit.  God commanded Adam and Eve to take care of the plants.  It seems that God was biased towards prophets who were agriculturalists.  Adam and Eve lived happily in obedience to the commands that they received directly from God.  God spoke by his Spirit.  This was not a matter of obeying the written Law, but of obeying God's Spirit.  But they disobeyed the commands of God.  Terms such as "soul", "sin", and "evil conscience" were later.          

Have you ever wondered why and when the story of Cain and Abel was written? Was the story about Cain and Abel derived from the conflict between priests and prophets?  Was Antiquities originally written by a prophet?  It has clearly been interfered with.  Abel was meant to be a farmer, an agriculturalist, growing plants, not rearing/taming animals.  Why do I say this?  The text say of Abel that he brought as an offering "what grew naturally of its own accord".  Exactly the same is said of "Banus" in Life 2 - He "used no other clothing than grew upon trees, and had no other food than what grew of its own accord."   "Banus" was a strict vegetarian. 

So Cain must have reared animals (forcing the ground indeed!) and he brought one to sacrifice.  The text plainly says that Cain offered sacrifice.  

After Cain murdered his "brother" Abel, God said that he "used to observe them conversing together".  I suggest that this was a prophet writing, recalling the time when priests and prophets talked to each other.  God then pressed Cain, "as resolving to know what the matter was".  Cain replied, "he was not his brother's guardian or keeper", recalling the deep split between priests and prophets.  

Ant.1.1.2. "Moreover, Moses, after the seventh day was over begins to talk philosophically; and concerning the formation of man, says thus: That God took dust from the ground, and formed man, and inserted in him a spirit [and a soul]."  

Ant.1.1.3."Moses says further, that God planted a paradise in the east, flourishing with all sorts of trees; and that among them was the tree of life, and another of knowledge, whereby was to be known what was good and evil; and that when he brought Adam and his wife into this garden, he commanded them to take care of the plants." 

Ant.1.1.4." God therefore commanded that Adam and his wife should eat of all the rest of the plants, but to abstain from the tree of knowledge; and foretold to them, that if they touched it, it would prove their destruction. But while all the living creatures had one language, at that time the serpent, which then lived together with Adam and his wife, shewed an envious disposition, at his supposal of their living happily, and in obedience to the commands of God; and imagining, that when they disobeyed them, they would fall into calamities, he persuaded the woman, out of a malicious intention, to taste of the tree of knowledge, telling them, that in that tree was the knowledge of good and evil; which knowledge, when they should obtain, they would lead a happy life; nay, a life not inferior to that of a god: by which means he overcame the woman, and persuaded her to despise the command of God. Now when she had tasted of that tree, and was pleased with its fruit, she persuaded Adam to make use of it also. Upon this they perceived that they were become naked to one another; and being ashamed thus to appear abroad, they invented somewhat to cover them; for the tree sharpened their understanding; and they covered themselves with fig-leaves; and tying these before them, out of modesty, they thought they were happier than they were before, as they had discovered what they were in want of. But when God came into the garden, Adam, who was wont before to come and converse with him, being conscious of his wicked behaviour, went out of the way. This behaviour surprised God; and he asked what was the cause of this his procedure; and why he, that before delighted in that conversation, did now fly from it, and avoid it. When he made no reply, as conscious to himself that he had transgressed the command of God, God said, "I had before determined about you both, how you might lead a happy life, without any affliction, and care, and vexation of [soul] {spirit}; and that all things which might contribute to your enjoyment and pleasure should grow up by my providence, of their own accord, without your own labour and pains-taking; which state of labour and pains-taking would soon bring on old age, and death would not be at any remote distance: but now thou hast abused this my good-will, and hast disobeyed my commands; for thy silence is not the sign of thy virtue, but of thy [evil conscience] {disobedience}." However, Adam excused his [sin] {disobedience}, and entreated God not to be angry at him, and laid the blame of what was done upon his wife; and said that he was deceived by her, and thence became an offender; while she again accused the serpent. But God allotted him punishment, because he weakly submitted to the counsel of his wife; and said the ground should not henceforth yield its fruits of its own accord, but that when it should be harassed by their labour, it should bring forth some of its fruits, and refuse to bring forth others.

Ant. ADAM and Eve had two sons: the elder of them was named Cain; which name, when it is interpreted, signifies a possession: the younger was Abel, which signifies sorrow. They had also daughters. Now the two brethren were pleased with different courses of life: for Abel, the younger, was a lover of righteousness; and believing that God was present at all his actions, he excelled in virtue; and his employment was that of a [shepherd] {farmer}. But Cain was not only very wicked in other respects, but was wholly intent upon getting; and he first contrived to [plough the ground] {rear/tame animals}. He slew his brother on the occasion following: - They had resolved to [sacrifice] {bring an offering} to God. Now [Cain] {Abel} brought the fruits of the earth, and of his husbandry; but [Abel] {Cain} brought milk, and the first-fruits of his flocks: but God was more delighted with the [latter oblation] {former offering}, when he was honoured with what grew naturally of its own accord, than he was with what was the invention of a covetous man, and gotten by [forcing the ground] {sacrificing an animal}; whence it was that Cain was very angry that Abel was preferred by God before him; and he slew his brother, and hid his dead body, thinking to escape discovery. But God, knowing what had been done, came to Cain, and asked him what was become of his brother, because he had not seen him of many days; whereas he used to observe them conversing together at other times. But Cain was in doubt with himself, and knew not what answer to give to God. At first he said that he was himself at a loss about his brother's disappearing; but when he was provoked by God, who pressed him vehemently, as resolving to know what the matter was, he replied, he was not his brother's guardian or keeper, nor was he an observer of what he did. But, in return, God convicted Cain, as having been the murderer of his brother; and said, "I wonder at thee, that thou knowest not what is become of a man whom thou thyself hast destroyed." God therefore did not inflict the punishment of death upon him, on account of his offering sacrifice, and thereby making supplication to him not to be extreme in his wrath to him; but he made him accursed, and threatened his posterity in the seventh generation. He also cast him, together with his wife, out of that land. And when he was afraid that in wandering about he should fall among Wild beasts, and by that means perish, God bid him not to entertain such a melancholy suspicion, and to go over all the earth without fear of what mischief he might suffer from wild beasts; and setting a mark upon him, that he might be known, he commanded him to depart.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Judas and The Maccabean Revolt (Why the Septuagint was produced in Egypt and the DSS in Jerusalem)

The Maccabean Revolt

I wrote on Larry Hurtado's blog

"Larry, I don’t believe that the Maccabean revolt was about what is otherwise generally believed. It was about a war between those Jews (priests) who wanted to preserve the sacrificial cult, and those Jews (prophets) who thought that sacrifice was unnecessary which included Judas the Maccabean."  Antiochus IV supported the priests.

He ignorantly replied:

Geoff: "As with other things, your “belief” isn’t (1) based on any evidence, and so (2) isn’t shared by scholars who’ve worked on the matter."   What he means by (2): MY BELIEF IS NOT SHARED BY LARRY HURTADO, especially as he has written on the "matter" in his article Ancient Jewish Monotheism in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods, shortly to be published.  

I then wrote to his blog:

"Larry, in Antiquities 12.3.1,2 we have a long piece of Roman propaganda interpolated into the text. It shows that the long arm of the Roman propaganda machine reached a long way back into the writings attributed to Josephus, where the writer calls it a “digression”. The text says they (Vespasian and Titus) “overcame the prayers of the Alexandrians and the Antiochians”. This was a subliminal allusion to the Alexandrian prophetic Jews who were supported by Egypt, and Antiochus the ally of the priests.  Antiochus did not abolish the normal animal sacrifice. He insisted on it - he insisted that all Jews sacrificed. The prophets rejected animal sacrifice. 

Vespasian and his son Titus were afraid to reveal that they had finished off the prophets, carting the remaining 800 or so to Rome for Vespasian's triumph. Their aim all along had been to get the temple gold, and to eliminate all trace of the history of the prophets. Academics say that prophets died out in earlier times."  Larry wouldn't publish this.  And I haven't finished with his impertinence by a long way.  He should be serious about the warning Steven Weitzman wrote: Steven Weitzman says (in JBL 123/2 (2004) 219-234), "Antiochus IV's persecution of Jewish religious tradition is a notorious puzzle, which the great scholar of the period Elias Bickerman once described as 'the basic and sole enigma in the history of Selucid Jerusalem' ".  

The trouble is that this wasn't the beginning of religious persecution of ALL Jews, as Weitzman implies, but it was the start of a serious difference (which had been there a long time) between two sections of Jewish society, the priests and the prophets and their respective followers.  It was Antiochus IV who sided with the priests and was let into Jerusalem by them.  Antiochus persecuted the prophets.  Bickerman and Weitzman (and Hurtado's "scholars who’ve worked on the matter"), have no explanation for the history of Selucid Jerusalem, because they can't understand why the Greek King Antiochus IV, once friendly to Jews, should suddenly turn on them, apparently as a complete nation.  These scholars have been led astray by anti-Greek Roman propaganda in the writings attributed to Josephus.     

Hyrcanus was the 'wicked priest' of the DSS (see
He was the son of Tobias, and had been made high priest in opposition to his brothers. Hyrcanus was regarded as wicked because he wanted the prophets to have the freedom not to sacrifice.  But his brothers went to Antiochus and said that they wanted to force all Jews to sacrifice according to their law.   Antiochus thus made a "league" with the priests.  By common agreement, they would get rid of the prophets and their "party".  Antiochus first attacked Egypt where Tobias's son Hyrcanus had made a name for himself, and where he had a large number of Jewish supporters.   With the help of the Alexandrian Jewish prophets and their followers, the Egyptian army repulsed Antiochus who then proceeded to set about Jerusalem where the prophets were weaker. 

There are so many invented names in Ant.12.5.  These were inserted by the Roman editor to confuse the reader.  Tobias was a high priest, not just a leader of the prophets.  The multiple Onias's never existed.  Jews wanting to build a gymnasium, leave the laws of their country, accept the Grecian ways of living and hiding or reversing circumcision, was all Roman propaganda. The Greek names Jason and Menelaus (and may be even Tobias) were also a part of this fraud.

Ant 12.5
12.5.1.ABOUT this time, upon the death of [Onias] {Tobias} the high priest, they gave the high priesthood to [Jesus] {Hyrcanus} his [brother] {son};

[for that son which Onias left (or Onias IV) was yet but an infant; and, in its proper place, we will inform the reader of all the circumstances that befell this child.] (You bet they will!)

But [this] Jesus, who was the brother of [Onias] {Hyrcanus}, [was deprived of the high priesthood by the king, who] was angry with him.

[and gave it to his younger brother, whose name also was Onias;]

for [Simon] {Tobias} had these sons, to each of which the priesthood came 

[, as we have already informed the reader. This Jesus changed his name to Jason, but Onias was called Menelaus.] (Yet more deception!)

Now as [the former high priest,] Jesus, raised a sedition against [Menelaus] {Hyrcanus},
[who was ordained after him,] the multitude were divided between them both. And the sons of Tobias took the part of [Menelaus] {Jesus}, but the greater part of the people assisted [Jason] {Hyrcanus}; and by that means [Menelaus] {Jesus} and the sons of Tobias were distressed, and retired to Antiochus, and informed him that they were desirous to [leave] {enforce} the laws of their country.

[, and the Jewish way of living according to them, and to follow the king's laws, and the Grecian way of living. Wherefore they desired his permission to build them a Gymnasium at Jerusalem. And when he had given them leave, they also hid the circumcision of their genitals, that even when they were naked they might appear to be Greeks. Accordingly, they left off all the customs that belonged to their own country, and imitated the practices of the other nations]. (Roman anti-Greek propaganda)

12.5.2.Now Antiochus [, upon the agreeable situation of the affairs of his kingdom,] resolved to make an expedition against Egypt, [both because he had a desire to gain it, and] because he contemned the son of Ptolemy, as now weak, and not yet of abilities to [manage affairs of such consequence] {defend the prophets}; so he came with great forces to Pelusium, and circumvented Ptolemy Philometor by treachery, and seized upon [Egypt] {Pelusium}. He then came to the places about Memphis; and when he had taken them, he made haste to Alexandria, in hopes of taking it by siege, and of subduing [Ptolemy] {the prophets}, who [reigned] {lived} there. But he was driven not only from Alexandria, but out of all Egypt by the [declaration of the Romans] {prophets}, who charged him to let that country alone. ("by the declaration of the Romans" is clearly an interpolation that is false).  

Hyrcanus Built a Sanctuary in Egypt
Antiochus was taking cities in the Nile delta.  These included the cities Pelusium and Memphis.  He probably tried to attack the "castle" - actually a sanctuary complex built by Hyrcanus at Heliopolis, made of white stone - see Ant.12.4.11. This became the temple, "smaller and poorer" than the one in Jerusalem, see Ant.13.3.3, supposedly built later by a fictitous Onias.  The Roman editor had both places associated with animals which he knew would be the last thing prophets would have entertained.  There were images of large animals engraved on the "castle", see Ant.12.4.11.  Onias's so called temple was supposedly constructed from a "fallen down" Egyptian temple that had been "unclean" and "so full of sacred animals" - see Ant.  

[; according as I have elsewhere formerly declared. I will now give a particular account of what concerns this king, how he subdued Judea and the temple; for in my former work I mentioned those things very briefly, and have therefore now thought it necessary to go over that history again, and that with great accuracy.] (Would you believe the editor?) 

12.5.3.King Antiochus returning out of Egypt for fear of the [Romans] {prophets}, made an expedition against the city Jerusalem; and when he was there, in the hundred and forty-third year of the kingdom of the Seleucids, he took the city without fighting, [those of his own party] {the priests} opening the gates to him. And when he had gotten possession of Jerusalem, he slew many of the [opposite party] {prophets};

[and when he had plundered it of a great deal of money, he returned to Antioch.
12.5.4.Now it came to pass, after two years, in the hundred forty and fifth year, on the twenty-fifth day of that month which is by us called Chasleu, and by the Macedonians Apelleus, in the hundred and fifty-third olympiad, that the king came up to Jerusalem ,and, pretending peace, he got possession of the city by treachery; at which time he spared not so much as those that admitted him into it, on account of the riches that lay in the temple; but, led by his covetous inclination, for he saw there was in it a great deal of gold, and many ornaments that had been dedicated to it of very great value, and in order to plunder its wealth,] 

(Antiochus was not about to plunder the temple for its wealth.  This was Roman propaganda to cover-up their own theft of the temple gold)

He ventured to [break] {secure} the league he had made (with the priests). So he [left the temple bare, and] took away the golden candlesticks, and the golden altar (of incense), and table of (shew-bread),

[and the altar (of burnt-offering); and did not abstain from even the veils, which were made of fine linen and scarlet. He also emptied it of its secret treasures, and left nothing at all remaining;] (And apparently, left his friends, the priests with nothing).

and by this means cast the [Jews] {prophets} into great lamentation, for he forbade them to offer those daily sacrifices which they used to offer to God. (The altar of incense was kept burning 24 hours a day). 

[, according to the law. And when he had pillaged the whole city, some of the inhabitants he slew, and some he carried captive, together with their wives and children, so that the multitude of those captives that were taken alive amounted to about ten thousand. He also burnt down the finest buildings; and when he had overthrown the city walls, he built a citadel in the lower part of the city, for the place was high, and overlooked the temple; on which account he fortified it with high walls and towers, and put into it a garrison of Macedonians. However, in that citadel dwelt the impious and wicked part of the Jewish multitude, from whom it proved that the citizens suffered many and sore calamities.] 

And when the king had [built an idol altar upon God's altar, he slew swine upon it, and so]
offered a sacrifice [neither] according to the law, [nor the Jewish religious worship in that country.] he also compelled [them] {the prophets} to forsake the worship which they paid [their own] {to} God.  
(You see Larry, mate)

[, and to adore those whom he took to be gods; and made them build temples, and raise idol altars in every city and village, and offer swine upon them every day. He also commanded them not to circumcise their sons, and threatened to punish any that should be found to have transgressed his injunction.]

He also appointed overseers, who should compel them to do what he commanded. And indeed many [Jews] {prophets} there were who complied with the king's commands, either voluntarily, or out of fear of the penalty that was denounced. But the [best men, and] those of the noblest souls, did not regard him, but did pay a greater respect to the [customs of their country] {worship of God} than concern as to the punishment which he threatened to the disobedient; on which account they every day underwent great miseries and bitter torments; for they were whipped with rods, and their bodies were torn to pieces, and were crucified, while they were still alive, and breathed. They also strangled [those] {their} women and their sons [whom they had circumcised, as the king had appointed], hanging their sons about their necks [as they were upon the crosses]. And if there were any sacred book of the [law] {prophets} found, it was destroyed, and those with whom they were found miserably perished also.

(Now we know why the Septuagint was produced in Egypt under Ptolemy.  The books of the prophets had been banned in Israel by Antiochus.  The bible in Israel became like the Septuagint as far as the books of the Law were concerned, but the books of the prophets were mocked and abused with pesher by the priests) 

5. When the [Samaritans] {priests} saw the [Jews] {prophets} under these sufferings, they no longer confessed that they were of their kindred.  (The sufferings were similar to those endured later by the 'Essenes').

(More Roman rubbish follows.  Temple on Mount Gerizzim indeed!!) 
[, nor that the temple on Mount Gerizzim belonged to Almighty God. This was according to their nature, as we have already shown. And they now said that they were a colony of Medes and Persians; and indeed they were a colony of theirs. So they sent ambassadors to Antiochus, and an epistle, whose contents are these: "To king Antiochus the god, Epiphanes, a memorial from the Sidonians, who live at Shechem. Our forefathers, upon certain frequent plagues, and as following a certain ancient superstition, had a custom of observing that day which by the Jews is called the Sabbath. And when they had erected a temple at the mountain called Gerrizzim, though without a name, they offered upon it the proper sacrifices. Now, upon the just treatment of these wicked Jews, those that manage their affairs, supposing that we were of kin to them, and practiced as they do, make us liable to the same accusations, although we be originally Sidonians, as is evident from the public records. We therefore beseech thee, our benefactor and Saviour, to give order to Apollonius, the governor of this part of the country, and to Nicanor, the procurator of thy affairs, to give us no disturbance, nor to lay to our charge what the [Jews] {prophets} are accused for, since we are aliens from their nation, and from their customs; but let our temple,which at present hath no name at all be named the Temple of Jupiter Hellenius. If this were once done, we should be no longer disturbed, but should be more intent on our own occupation with quietness, and so bring in a greater revenue to thee."  When the Samaritans had petitioned for this, the king sent them back the following answer, in an epistle: "King Antiochus to Nicanor. The Sidonians, who live at Shechem, have sent me the memorial enclosed. When therefore we were advising with our friends about it, the messengers sent by them represented to us that they are no way concerned with accusations which belong to the Jews, but choose to live after the customs of the Greeks.  Accordingly, we declare them free from such accusations, and order that, agreeable to their petition, their temple be named the Temple of Jupiter Hellenius." He also sent the like epistle to Apollonius, the governor of that part of the country, in the forty-sixth year, and the eighteenth day of the month Hecatorabeom] 

1. NOW at this time there was one whose name was Mattathias, who dwelt at Modin, the son of John, the son of Simeon, the son of Asamoneus, a priest of the order of Joarib, and a citizen of Jerusalem. He had five sons; John, who was called Gaddis, and Simon, who was called Matthes, and Judas, who was called Maccabeus, and Eleazar, who was called Auran, and Jonathan, who was called Apphus.  Now this Mattathias lamented to his children the sad state of their affairs, and the ravage made in the city, and the plundering of the temple, and the calamities the [multitude] {prophets} were under; and he told them that it was better for them to die for the [laws of their country] {worship of God}, than to live so ingloriously as they then did.

(Priests have always been able convert to prophets.  The prophets were pacifists in obedience of God)

2. [But when those that were appointed by the king were come to Modin, that they might compel the Jews to do what they were commanded, and to enjoin those that were there to offer sacrifice, as the king had commanded, they desired that Mattathias, a person of the greatest character among them, both on other accounts, and particularly on account of such a numerous and so deserving a family of children, would begin the sacrifice, because his fellow citizens would follow his example, and because such a procedure would make him honored by the king. But]  

(No-one came to Modin.  The story was about Mattathias's reaction to Antiochus's command that everyone should offer sacrifice.  "Worship of God" was what the prophets did in the sanctuary at the altar of incense, now removed by Antiochus).  

Mattathias said [he would not do it; and] that if all the other nations would obey the commands of Antiochus, either out of fear, or to please him, yet would not he nor his sons leave the [religious] worship of [their country] {God}.

[But as soon as he had ended his speech, there came one of the Jews into the midst of them, and sacrificed, as Antiochus had commanded.  At which Mattathias had great indignation, and ran upon him violently, with his sons, who had swords with them, and slew both the man himself that sacrificed, and Apelles the king's general, who compelled them to sacrifice, with a few of his soldiers.] 

(There were no idol altars, and Mattathias and his sons didn't kill anyone, because they were prophets)

He also [overthrew the idol altar, and] cried out, "If," said he," any one be zealous [for the laws of his country, and] for the worship of God, let him follow me." And when he had said this, he made haste into the desert with his sons, and left all his substance in the village. Many others did the same also, and fled with their children and wives into the desert, and dwelt in caves.

But when the king's generals heard this, they took all the forces they then had in the citadel at Jerusalem, and pursued the [Jews] {prophets} into the desert; and when they had overtaken them, they in the first place endeavored to persuade them to repent, and to choose what was most for their advantage, and not put them to the necessity of using them according to the law of war. But when they would not comply with their persuasions, but continued to be of a different mind, they fought against them [on the sabbath day], and they burnt them as they were in the caves, without resistance, and without so much as stopping up the entrances of the caves. And they avoided to defend themselves [on that day], because they were not willing to break in upon the honor they owed [the Sabbath] {God} [, even in such distresses; for our law requires that we rest upon that day]. 

(The prophets were pacifists in obedience of God.  This was nothing to do with the Sabbath and not fighting on the Sabbath. The prophets made no resistance, such that Antiochus's forces had no need to block the entrances to the caves) 

There were about a thousand, with their wives and children, who were smothered and died in these caves; but many of those that escaped joined themselves to Mattathias, and appointed him to be their ruler, who taught them to fight [, even on the sabbath day]; and told them that unless they would do so, they would become their own enemies [, by observing the law so rigorously], while their adversaries would still assault them [on this day,] and they would not then defend themselves, and that nothing could then hinder but they must all perish without fighting. This speech persuaded them.

(Mattahias persuaded the prophets that unless they began to fight their enemies, they would all die.  This was a seed change in the prophets attitude to fighting.) 

[And this rule continues among us to this day, that if there be a necessity, we may fight on sabbath days.]

So Mattathias got a great army about him, and overthrew [their idol altars, and slew those that broke the laws,] {the generals} even all that he could get under his power; for many of them were dispersed among the nations round about them for fear of him.

[He also commanded that those boys which were not yet circumcised should be circumcised now; and he drove those away that were appointed to hinder such their circumcision.]

3.But when he had ruled one year, and was fallen into a distemper, he called for his sons, and set them round about him,

[and said, "O my sons, I am going the way of all the earth; and I recommend to you my resolution, and beseech you not to be negligent in keeping it, but to be mindful of the desires of him who begat you, and brought you up, and to preserve the customs of your country, and to recover your ancient form of government, which is in danger of being overturned, and not to be carried away with those that, either by their own inclination, or out of necessity, betray it, but to become such sons as are worthy of me; to be above all force and necessity, and so to dispose your souls, as to be ready, when it shall be necessary, to die for your laws; as sensible of this, by just reasoning, that if God see that you are so disposed he will not overlook you, but will have a great value for your virtue, and will restore to you again what you have lost, and will return to you that freedom in which you shall live quietly, and enjoy your own customs.  Your bodies are mortal, and subject to fate; but they receive a sort of immortality, by the remembrance of what actions they have done. And I would have you so in love with this immortality, that you may pursue after glory, and that, when you have undergone the greatest difficulties, you may not scruple, for such things, to lose your lives. I exhort you, especially, to agree one with another; and in what excellency any one of you exceeds another, to yield to him so far, and by that means to reap the advantage of every one's own virtues. Do you then esteem Simon as your father, because he is a man of extraordinary prudence, and be governed by him in what counsels be gives you. Take Maccabeus for the general of your army, because of his courage and strength, for he will avenge your nation, and will bring vengeance on your enemies. Admit among you the righteous and religious, and augment their power."]

4. When Mattathias [had thus discoursed to his sons, and] had prayed to God to be their assistant, and to recover to the [people] {prophets} their former [constitution] {worship}, he died a little afterward, and was buried at Modin; all the [people] {prophets} making great lamentation for him. Whereupon his son Judas took upon him the administration of public affairs, in the hundred forty and sixth year; and thus, by the ready assistance of his brethren, and of others, Judas cast their enemies out of the country, 

[and put those of their own country to death who had transgressed its laws, and purified the land of all the pollutions that were in it.] 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

If it walks like a duck: Ossuary 6 of the Talpiot 'Patio' Tomb depicts 'commonly' used Jewish images?

As usual, Mark Goodacre deleted my post to his blog here:
But he has subsequently given me a fair hearing.

Although I disagree with almost everything that James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici have written, in my post to Goodacre's blog, I agreed with them that the Talpiot Tomb B, Ossuary 6 belonged to people who had 'Christian' beliefs.  

Mark Goodacre didn't like that. He has made Tabor and Jacobocvici the butt end of his jokes, as in his latest post above. But it has backfired on him. He has recruited one Dr Meijer in support of his views on Ossuary 6. Goodacre regards Dr Meijer as a "sharp-eyed" and "instinctively right" individual. Needless to say Dr Meijer is an expert. But weirdly he is expert in Biomolecular and Biomedical science.

Meijer says:"Therefore, in my opinion ossuary 6 is not from a distinctively Christian ‘resurrection’ tomb, but from a tomb belonging to a normal Jewish family." I ask is there any such entity as a "normal Jewish family"?  Here I will argue that ossuary 6 belonged to a prophetic family who were among the first 'Christians'.

On Goodacre's blog, the image of a 'cup' or amphora on the side of Ossuary 6 is shown along with images of cups on the so-called coins of revolt. According to Meijer (and Goodacre who regards Meijer's observations as "enlightening and persuasive") these images are "standard Jewish images of the period, not connected to the emerging Christian movement".

I pointed out to Goodacre that none of the images on the ossuary and the coins of so-called revolt, showed anything to do with the sacrifice of animals, which one may have thought would have been very important to priests.  (I have written about the coins of so-called revolt before on this blog). Ossuary 6 clearly shows, on the side, a view of the sanctuary doors. The temple as a whole is not shown, only the sanctuary.  The sanctuary, as distinct from the temple as a whole, is a highly significant symbol.  The position where one would expect to find the altar of burnt offerings was outside the sanctuary and is therefore not shown. One can only assume that the altar of burnt offerings was of no importance to the owners of ossuary 6.

Meijer says ossuary 6 belonged to a 'priestly' Jewish family, yet there is nothing to indicate that ossuary 6 did belong to priests as such.  Why does he say 'priestly', a commonly used expression of academics to blurr what they mean?  Why didn't Meijer write priest?  Is there little or no evidence that this ossuary was a priest's?.  I can accept that ossuaries were afforded by the wealthy.  But what if it was a priest's ossuary?  The priest (by birth) could have given up on animal sacrifice and converted to the prophets, as happened in the New Testament. He would have worshipped God in the Spirit, as in Acts. His place of worship would have been the altar of incense in the Sanctuary.  In Acts, the place of worship was anywhere.

On page 151 of her book Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit, Jodi Magness says that:"Levy Yitshak Rahmani connected the appearance of ossuaries with the Pharisaic belief in the individual, physical resurrection of the dead".  Pharisees and Sadducees were Roman Flavian inventions in the writings attributed to Josephus.  The only other source is the New Testament which is thus highly suspect also.  Pharisees were invented to obfuscate the prophets, and Sadducees the priests.  Pharisees were clearly interpolated into the writings attributed to Josephus. Neither Pharisees nor Sadducees are referred to in the Scrolls or Philo.  Philo (from Alexandria) does not mention Pharisees and Sadducees, only priests and Essenes.  Eusebius, supposedly quoting Philo, says that that the Essene's "lawgiver (Moses) trained an innumerable body of his pupils" and that "they were "honoured with this appellation because of their exceeding holiness". (See Philo's Hypothetica 11.1)  This was a serious slip-up by Eusebius who was clearly referring to prophets.  The use of ossuaries was thus by the prophets.  Prophets are interpolated as Essenes in the writings attributed to Josephus.  It is no surprise to me that Essenes, Sadducees and Pharisees are not named on any ossuaries, or in the Scrolls.      

Why did most of the 3000 or so ossuaries discovered come from Jerusalem?  There were no priests in the temple from the time of Herod.  They were brooding and plotting in their villages, and not having much to do with other people.  From the time of Herod, animal sacrifices had ceased.  Herod's altar had been destroyed by the priests because they considered it unlawful, and they were sent into exile out of Jerusalem.  The occupants of the sanctuary were prophets who were supported by the Herodian kings, Aristobulus II and later his son Agrippa I who was also a prophet, and a friend of Nero. Although many of the prophets were poor farmers, and not so poor construction workers, many others would have been rich, living off income from their own businesses.  They were friends of Agrippa I and Nero.   They were the anointed ones, who went back a long way in Jewish history.  Eusebius knew that the prophets (Essenes) were legislated for by Moses, as stated in Philo.  Hence he stuck to the obfuscation that they were called Essenes.  In Rome, Pompeii and other Italian cities they became the Christianos or anointed ones.  

Magness says (see page 152 of her book) that "outside of Jerusalem, the largest cemetery ....containing ossuaries is at Jericho, which was the site of the .... Herodian winter palaces and the center of  a 'priestly' community".  Why is she afraid to say it was a priest's community.  The reason is it was a prophet's community.  The relationship between priests and Herodians was at an all time low.  The cutting of rock and stone must have been a common transferable skill used in quarrying, mining, and rock-cut tombs, ossuaries, and a wide range of buildings and structures, especially in this area of Jericho near to the Herodian palaces. So, I could see some tombs and ossuaries being a DIY effort, by skilled relatively poor or relatively wealthy, whichever, workers who were also prophets.  Such workers would have been a step above farm labourers in the social scale. 

Fig. 46 in Magness's book shows a different ossuary with an amphora in between two incised rosettes. Here the amphora looks as though it has been amateurishly scratched into the surface in contrast with the rest which is professionally inscribed. The same could be said about the amphora on ossuary 6. The amphora on Fig. 46 was incorporated later, as were names that appear on other ossuaries.  Both ossuaries show amphora with a fine hole at the bottom through which a semi-liquid could flow.  This flow could be easily stopped with a plug. The amphora was of central importance to the owners of the ossuary.  The amphora was of prime importance to prophets because it contained anointing oil associated with the Spirit of God.  Anointing oil was precious, being a mixture of various perfumes with olive oil. There is thus a difference between the cups depicted on the so-called coins of revolt and the 'cup' or amphora on ossuary 6 and the amphora on Fig 46 of Magness's book.  The amphora, on ossuary 6 and Fig.46 depicts oil for anointing.  The oil would be a symbol on the side of the ossuary of people who believed they had been anointed  by the Spirit of God. "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor" Isa:61.1. There are no symbols on any of the ossuaries of animal sacrifice.  

The symbol of the amphora was a reminder that the Holy Spirit had already purified these individuals and their spirits had risen in a pure state, on death, to heaven to be with God.  The individual's spirit had been translated to heaven.  There was to be no waiting.  The prophets realised that the bones would eventually decay - "the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it" (Eccl:12.7).  
So Rahmani was wrong when he says that the bones in an ossuary were connected with the Pharisees who he says had the "notion that the decay of flesh from the bones is connected with the expiation of sin". (See page 152 Magness's book).  Magness says that Rahmani implied each individual's remains were preserved intact in an ossuary, in a sinless state, awaiting future future resurrection.  This was all a doing of the Flavian editors, passing down a falsified account of Pharisees.  Prophets believed they had already been cleansed by the Spirit.   

In Chapter 3 of Craig Evans' book, Jesus and the Ossuaries, he has quotations taken from ossuaries. These relate to scribes, builders, farmers, smiths, butchers and other professions. They were a thriving middle-class, the entrepreneurs of the day.  Eusebius, quoting Philo, knew that these people had all sorts of different jobs, and were highly organised into clubs, societies, combinations, and unions with one another, for their mutual advantage.  Quoting Philo, Eusebius says "the different members of this body have different employments in which they occupy themselves, and labour without hesitation and without cessation, making no mention of either cold or heat, or any changes of weather or temperature as an excuse for desisting from their tasks.  But before the sun rises they betake themselves to their daily work, and they do not quit it till some time after it has set, when they return home rejoicing". (Philo's Hypothetica; 11.5-6). This was a far cry from the 'Essenes' described in the writings attributed to Josephus where they are only agriculturalists.  One of their common practices was to put the bones of their dead first into tombs and then into ossuaries. They contributed jointly to purchase land for construction of their tombs and the cutting of ossuaries.  And judging by their work ethic they were not above doing much of the stone cutting themselves.  

The cup on the coins of so-called revolt has a sealed bottom to hold a liquid, possibly wine. This cup too was concerned with the Spirit (as was the grape vine)  - "those who gather the grapes will drink it in the courts of my sanctuary" Isa:62:9.  These symbols represented a celebration of the Spirit of God.  But this was a time when some of the prophets had realised that God's Spirit could be received by Gentiles.

Simon the builder of the Sanctuary

In his book Jesus and the Ossuaries, Craig Evans writes on page 56 that one of the ossuaries had an inscription "Simon, builder of the temple".  Has the christian Evans made a mistake?  A different translation from a Jewish source is "Simon, builder of the sanctuary".  Did the Jews distinguish "sanctuary" from "temple"?  The temple covered a vast acreage.  The sanctuary was much smaller by comparison.  To me it is obvious that they did.  The sanctuary was very important to prophets, because their worship was centred upon the altar of incense.  

Simon would have known every nook and cranny in and under the sanctuary.  His male relatives would have inherited his profession and knowledge.  His relatives (one may be Simon son of 'Gioras') were no doubt among the defenders of the sanctuary when it was ransacked by Titus's army.  Titus plundered the sanctuary for its wealth of gold to fund the army and Vespasian's rise to power. Earlier in 66, Nero had been let into Jerusalem by the prophets who had occupied the temple. He had destroyed many of the priests, but did not harm the prophets or pillage the sanctuary.  It was prophets, friends of herodians, who defended the sanctuary against Titus, not the mixed bag of cut-throats described by the Roman writers of War.  It was prophets who went through tunnels they had previously cut, and when their way was blocked, tried to tunnel their way out and escape.  They were using a skill acquired throughout their lives, of cutting stone.  Simon "took the most faithful of his friends with him, among them some that were stone cutters, with those iron tools that belonged to their occupation, and let himself and them all down into a certain subterraneous cavern". But they ran out of food and became exhausted.  When Simon came out of the ground, he was wearing a white garment, the simple white garment all prophets wore.  (See War 7.2.1).