Thursday, January 24, 2019

What you missed in the Jonah drama


The epic movie The Story of Jonah—A Lesson in Courage and Mercy was released during the 2018 regional conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and may be viewed here:

https://www.jw.org/en/publications/videos/story-of-jonah-courage-and-mercy/

This video is highly recommended and is my all-time favorite.

In it though is a scene with some significance that you may have missed:


The vignette Jonah is looking at is the famous depiction of the chaos monster Tiamat being defeated by Marduk. This is a creation myth where Marduk made the oceans and watery atmosphere from Tiamat’s body. This connects with Jonah’s earlier statement to the sailors that Jehovah is “the One who made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9) He is then depicted as looking at the same creation act being attributed to the false-god Marduk.


Additional reading:
Credits: All pictures from jw.org.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Notes on Japheth

Japheth, one of the three sons of Noah who survived the Noachian Deluge, may enjoy independent corroboration among his progeny in Greece and Rome.

Iapetus, or Iapetos in Greek, comes from Greek mythology. “Iapetus’ sons were thought to have been the ancestors of humans, and that they had some detrimental qualities that not only led to their own demise, but they also passed them down to humans.”
(Greek Mythology.com. https://www.greekmythology.com/Titans/Iapetus/iapetus.html)

“Iapetus as the progenitor of mankind has been equated with Japheth (יֶפֶת), the son of Noah, based on the similarity of their names and the tradition. … Iapetus was linked to Japheth by 17th-century theologian Matthew Poole [Commentary on the Holy Bible (1685), vol.1, 26] and, more recently, by Robert Graves [The Greek Myths vol. 1 p. 146] and by John Pairman Brown. [Israel and Hellas (1995), 82]”

“Iapetus (“the Piercer”) … His name derives from the word iapto (“wound, pierce”) and usually refers to a spear, implying that Iapetus may have been regarded as a god of craftsmanship, though scholars mostly describe him as the god of mortality.”
(Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iapetus)

“His name derives from the Greek word meaning to pierce usually with a spear; therefore, Iapetus may have been considered as the god of craftsmanship, although other sources site him as the god of mortality.”
(Greek Mythology.com. https://www.greekmythology.com/Titans/Iapetus/iapetus.html)

Japheth in Insight on the Scriptures means “May He Grant Ample Space.” The Jewish Encyclopedia says: “The name ‘Japheth’ is derived, according to Gen. ix. 27, from the Aramaic root פתה = ‘to extend,’ in allusion to the expansion of the Japhetites. Saadia and the modern lexicographers, as Gesenius and others, derive it from יפה = ‘fair’; but this interpretation had already been rejected by Ibn Ezra.”

It adds: “As to the identification of Japheth with the Iapetos of the Greek mythology, see D. S. Margoliouth in Hastings, ‘Dict. Bible’; comp. also Sayce in ‘Tr. Soc. Bibl. Arch.’ 1883, p. 154.”
http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8516-japheth

Wikipedia adds: “The meaning of the name Yafet/Yefet (יָפֶת/יֶפֶת) is disputable. There are two possible sources to the meaning of the name.
  1. From Aramaic root פתה, meaning to extend. In which case, the name would mean may He extend (Rashi).
  2. From Hebrew root יפה, meaning beauty. In which case, the name would mean beautiful.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japheth

So the meaning of Japheth is debatable, and the Greek meaning from iapto (“wound, pierce”) may be coincidental. Since his name matches phonetically with Iapetus and since they both were “the progenitor of mankind,” being the father of the Japhethitic Romans and Greeks, it seems quite reasonable that Iapetus is the Greek and Roman version of Japheth. This would provide independent corroboration for the historicity of Japheth, even though Iapetus is isolated from any Flood legend in a mythological matrix.

To Summarize:
  • Iapetus and Japheth match phonetically
  • Both are progenitors of humans
  • Thus, even though isolated in a mythological setting, Iapetus provides independent corroboration for the historicity of Japheth

See also:
Credits:
Iapetus from Greek Mythology.com. https://www.greekmythology.com/Titans/Iapetus/iapetus.html

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Satanic Scheming

The end of diabolical scheming

As shown in the blog entry The Festival of Dedication,[1] there was a time when Messianic prophesies were doomed to fail. The Gentile king Antiochus IV had defiled Jerusalem’s Temple to Jehovah, cutting the legs out from underneath those prophesies. This state of affairs harmonizes with what Paul called “the crafty acts of the Devil.” (Ephesians 6:11) The schemes of Antiochus IV to eradicate Judaism were so diabolical that they must have been orchestrated by Satan in an attempt to prevent the Messiah from coming. But Satan’s machinations were crushed by Jehovah supporting the Maccabean Revolt (which itself may have been prophesied at Micah 5:7-8 and Zechariah 9:13) which defeated Antiochus IV and rededicated the Temple, thus restoring the legs under the Messianic prophesies.

But Satan hardly admitted defeat and continued to try to sabotage the Messiah’s coming. (Compare this tenacity with Luke 4:13.) This can be seen when the Roman-appointed king Herod the Great, an Edomite, installed a golden eagle, a symbol of Jupiter, over the main entrance of the Temple of Jerusalem.[2] This too can be seen as a defilement threatening the legitimacy of the Temple which had to be standing with its services in operation at the time of the Messiah’s appearance. (Psalm 69:9; John 2:17; Daniel 9:27) Thus, as with the Maccabean Revolt and its success, there too was an uprising to remove this reproach. Josephus reports that a group of “young men…let themselves down from the top of the temple with thick cords, and this at midday, and while a great number of people were in the temple, and cut down that golden eagle with axes.”[3] This last-ditch effort at defiling the Temple—making it unfit for a messianic appearance—is dated to 4 BCE, two years before Jesus Christ was born!

However, Satan was hardly deterred. Even though thwarted twice in defiling the Temple, he resorted to a different tactic that would deeply affect the Messiah personally: an extreme Roman rage against anyone called the “King of the Jews.” In this strategy, he was successful. Prior to Jesus’ birth, the Roman Senate had appointed Herod to rule in Jerusalem and replace the last king of the Maccabbean (Hasmonean) dynasty, Mattathias Antigonus. However, in attempting to duplicate the success of the first Maccabean ruler, Judah, he led an unsuccessful revolt against Roman rule. This became a very bloody and abhorrent tragedy. As Josephus recorded, due to Antigonus‘ resistance King Herod

made an assault upon the city, and took it by storm; and now all parts were full of those that were slain, by the rage of the Romans at the long duration of the siege, and by the zeal of the Jews that were on Herod's side, who were not willing to leave one of their adversaries alive; so they were murdered continually in the narrow streets and in the houses by crowds, and as they were flying to the temple for shelter, and there was no pity taken of either infants or the aged, nor did they spare so much as the weaker sex; nay, although the king sent about, and besought them to spare the people, yet nobody restrained their hand from slaughter, but, as if they were a company of madmen, they fell upon persons of all ages, without distinction.[4]

A horrendous slaughter ensued, and Antigonus was captured alive and handed over to Roman general Mark Antony. So great was the Roman rage that befell him, the “King of the Jews,” that he was “bound to a stake [stauros] and scourged, a punishment no other king had suffered at the hands of the Romans, and so slew him.”[5] Citing this passage, scholar J. G. Cook writes: “σταυρός [stauros] in certain contexts can be used for the stake to which an individual was bound … and then flogged.”[6] This makes more sense than the usual translation of stauros as “cross” here. Of particular import though is how he was “bound” to the scourging stake. His remains found in an ossuary reveal that nails were driven though the back of his hands into the stake. This highlights the extreme, brutal rage against this “King of the Jews.” Not only was scourging royalty unprecedented, but exactly how he was slain was too, for he was then beheaded, “the first example of that punishment being inflicted on a king” Plutarch observed.[7] Josephus concurred, stating that “Antony seems to me to have been the very first man who beheaded a king, as supposing he could no other way bend the minds of the Jews so as to receive Herod.”[8] This occurred in 37 BCE, just under 70 years before Jesus was also labeled as the “King of the Jews.” So the aftermath of Antigonus’ botched resistance was to make the title “King of the Jews” odious and libelous, inviting the unrelenting rage of the Romans, making the streets run red with blood.

Excursus: Insulting the King of the Jews
Josephus reports that Antigonus was first handed over to the Roman general Gaius Sosius in Jerusalem. He added that Sosius “took no pity of him, in the change of his fortune, but insulted him beyond measure, and called him Antigone [i.e. a woman, and not a man;] yet did he not treat him as if he were a woman, by letting him go at liberty, but put him into bonds, and kept him in close custody.”[9] What a strange turn of fate that the “King of the Jews” was insulted as a “woman” and that Jesus the “King of the Jews” is ubiquitously depicted effeminately! Jesus was also ‘insulted beyond measure’ during his punishments at the hands of the Romans.
End excursus

This special rage against this title provides “behind the scenes” historical context for Herod’s brutal response to the inquiry in Matthew 2:2, “Where is the one born king of the Jews?” First, he obviously wanted to kill him (Matthew 2:13), not bow to him as he lied about in Matthew 2:8. Being thwarted from that by divine intervention (Matthew 2:13), Herod “flew into a great rage, and he sent out and had all the boys in Bethlehem and in all its districts killed, from two years of age and under.”—Matthew 2:16.

With the memory of the bloody pogrom from 37 BCE seared into public consciousness, it is no wonder then that the Jews responded the way they did in John 19:15 to Pilate’s plea: “See! Your king!” (John 19:14) Their response was the same earlier in John 19:5 when Jesus was presented before the mob “wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe,” sadistic and mocking symbols of royalty, when Pilate declared: “Look! The man!” On this, the NET Bible noted: “Pilate may have meant no more than something like ‘Here is the accused!’ or in a contemptuous way, ‘Here is your king!’” Thus, it was likely out of fear of a repeated pogrom that the response was “We have no king but Caesar.” Satan had successfully infused the title “King of the Jews” with extreme odious contempt. This explains why when given the choice to free him as “the King of the Jews” or Barabbas the robber, that they chose the latter.—John 18:39-40.

Indeed, this contempt was seen precisely in the brutal excesses of the crown of thorns that was beaten down on his head. Matthew 27:29-30 says that: “they braided a crown out of thorns and put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying: ‘Greetings, you King of the Jews!’ And they spat on him and took the reed and began hitting him on his head.” This is repeated in Mark 15:17-19: “they … braided a crown of thorns and put it on him; and they began to [mockingly] call out to him: ‘Greetings, you King of the Jews!’ Also, they were hitting him on the head with a reed and spitting on him, and they [mockingly] got on their knees and bowed down to him.” None of these brutal abuses and ‘insults beyond measure’ were necessary or required for Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. But they were added due to Satan’s machinations of earlier infusing the title “King of the Jews” with extreme prejudice with the fall of Mattathias Antigonus. This is also why this charge was written the way was on the titulus crucis, the “sign” on the crux. All the Gospel accounts harmonize on this one detail:
  • “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.”—Matthew 27:37.
  • “The King of the Jews.”—Mark 15:26.
  • “This is the King of the Jews.”—Luke 23:38.
  • “Jesus the Nazarene the King of the Jews.”—John 19:19.
Stressing how frightful this charge was, “the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate: ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews,” but that he said, “I am King of the Jews.”’ Pilate answered: ‘What I have written, I have written.’” (John 19:21-22) They felt the urgent need to have that title contested and diluted to avoid any resulting Roman retaliation on their lives.

The same concern was voiced earlier after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding a colt. (Matthew 21:8-11; Mark 11:7-11; Luke 19:37-40; John 12:12-15) In Matthew’s account, the supportive crowd cheered: “Save, we pray, the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in Jehovah’s name! Save him, we pray, in the heights above!” (Matthew 21:9) In Luke’s account, they repeated: “Blessed is the one coming as the King in Jehovah’s name! Peace in heaven, and glory in the heights above!” (Luke 19:38) In response to this standing ovation and clamor, Matthew reports that “when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in an uproar, saying: ‘Who is this?’ The crowds kept saying: ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee!’” (Matthew 21:10-11) And Luke reports that Pharisees became very concerned and pleaded with Jesus: “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” (Luke 19:39) Announcing someone entering Jerusalem in this manner, fulfilling the royal Messianic prophecy at Zechariah 9:9 that declares “Look! Your king is coming to you!”, is nothing short of inviting calamity. Satan was trying to make it impossible for any Messianic prophecy to be fulfilled.

Thus from this analysis it has been observed that Satan is tenacious and indefatigable in his scheming. If he could not defile the Temple and sabotage the rightful appearance of the Messiah, then he would rig society to either have him killed as a defenseless baby or, failing at that, add brutal excessive torture to his sacrificial death. These were clear acts of war.

Defiling the Temple:
  • Converting the Temple to one for Jupiter/Zeus.
  • Placing a symbol of Jupiter in the Temple.
Scandalizing the title “King of the Jews” with extreme prejudice and fear:
  • Endangering his life as a baby.
  • Brutal excesses in torture.
The full, bullying force of the later can only be seen in the Messiah having a pre-human existence, contrary to Adoptionism.[10] Indeed, that someone else had to help Jesus make it to Golgotha (did Jesus become incapacitated?) indicates the severity of the excesses, making it a victory over Satan that he even arrived there to die.—Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26; compare with John 19:17.

With all of Satan’s schemes though failing in succession, including his temptations of Jesus himself (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:1-13), would we expect that Satan would then leave the Messiah’s resulting, nascent congregation alone, not trying to corrupt it to make it unfit as an approach to God? That would be naive as even the Apostles were all too aware.—Acts 20:29-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 7-12; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Peter 2:1, 3; 1 John 2:18; 1 John 4:2, 3; 2 John 1:7, 8.

Scheming after Christ
This period of time in early post-Biblical Christian history is murky with only sporadic information on councils and unifying decrees.

To be continued…

Footnotes:
[1] http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-festival-of-dedication.html
[2] Josephus. Wars 1.33.2
[3] Ibid. 1.33.3
[4] Antiquities 14.16.2
[5] Dio Cassius. Roman History 49.22.6
[6] Crucifixion in the Mediterranean World. (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014), 5 n. 17.
[7] Life of Antony 36.4
[8] Antiquities 15.1.2
[9] Supra note 4.
[10] A position denying Christological preexistence, that Jesus was “adopted” by the Father after his birth from Mary.

Credits: The arch-villain in Star Wars coming to his end.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

“The only true God”


At John 17:3 the Lord Jesus called the Father (John 17:2, 5) “the only true God.” Or as William Barclay conveyed it: “the only real God.”[1] It is significant that the Father never returned the favor. It is not reciprocal. (The Father never called Jesus “the only true God.”)[2]

In this passage “Jesus addresses God on behalf of his followers” and “here he prays for himself and on their behalf.”[3] It is “The priestly prayer of Jesus before his sacrifice.”[4]

Thus, Jesus petitioned and believed in one (1) sovereign Jehovah God his Father (Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 63:16, 64:8; Jeremiah 31:9; Psalm 89:26; Malachi 2:10): the Prime Jehovah.

Any additional explanation commensurate with the Trinitarian ideology disagrees with the Lord Jesus’ crystal-clear clarion expression of praise.

I will believe Jesus, and hold Trinitarian ideology to be in error disagreeing with Jesus. Any who disagree with Jesus and side with Trinitarian ideology place themselves in a precarious position.—Matthew 7:21-23.

Jesus therefore would not hold Conciliar Christology[5] in high esteem like the Trinitarian churches do. Neither do I, and will err on the side of Jesus.—Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21; 1 Corinthians 1:20-21.

Erring on the side of Jesus is the safest side to err on.


Footnotes:
[1] The New Testament, a Translation by William Barclay. (1999)

[2] Trinitarians may appeal to Hebrews 1:8, but this is a quote from Psalm 45:6 to the Davidic King representing God. This only proves that Jesus is the Davidic King representing God. They may also appeal (as the popular Dr. Heiser has) to Genesis 48:15-16 (NWT) which parallels “true God” with “angel.” However, this is moot as the NET Bible notes for “angel”:
Jacob closely associates God with an angelic protective presence. This does not mean that Jacob viewed his God as a mere angel, but it does suggest that he was aware of an angelic presence sent by God to protect him. Here he so closely associates the two that they become virtually indistinguishable. In this culture messengers typically carried the authority of the one who sent them and could even be addressed as such. Perhaps Jacob thought that the divine blessing would be mediated through this angelic messenger. (underscore added)
Thus, if anything, the angel could be called “true God” (NWT) representationally and not reciprocally vis-à-vis John 17:3.

(See a discussion of the Genesis 48:15-16 argument here: youtu.be/bRAYYMGmMA0.)

Other Trinitarians in what is observed to be an act of sheer desperation appeal to Jude 1:4, where Jesus is called: “our only Master and Lord.” (Barclay) Jesus is “our only Master and Lord” under the “the only real God.” This is the most natural, direct conclusion due to the subordinationist terminology excluding “God.” Jesus is our Master, Lord, and Christ because the “only real God” exalted him to that status.—Acts 2:32-33, 36; 5:31; Philippians 2:9.

[3] The Jewish Annotated New Testament, page 189

[4] RSV footnote.

[5] That is, the Christology (the branch of Christian theology relating to the person, nature, and role of Christ) derived from the Ecumenical Councils starting with Nicea in 325 CE.


Additional reading:
Video:
Credits:
Opening graphic from: All About Japan’s First Sunrise of the Year and 5 Good Places to View It. http://jpninfo.com/66563

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Impale in the NWT


In 1950, the New World Translation was released which, in the spirit of being accurate and open-minded, employed “impaled” instead of the traditional “crucified.” However, this word has always included an unintended meaning of running a stake through a person. Thus, the 2013 Revised New World Translation Appendix A2: Features of This Revision, admits the following concerning the translation choice of “impale”:

The English verb “impale” was used in previous versions of this Bible in connection with the execution of Jesus. While this term could refer to the way that Jesus was nailed to the torture stake, it is more often used in reference to the ancient method of execution by running a sharp stake through the body and fixing the victim on it. Since Jesus was not impaled with the torture stake, this revision uses such expressions as “executed on a stake” and “nailed to the stake” with regard to the manner in which Jesus was fastened to the torture stake.—Matthew 20:19; 27:31, 35. (italics original) https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1001070202
The Roman impalement stake was specifically called a stipes in Latin. Thus, as the Romans also practiced rectal impaling on a stake (which Jesus thankfully did not experience), I applaud its removal for clarity. May we ever continue to humbly smooth-out translation choices and not cower from making further emendations to our RNWT “in order to touch the heart of today’s reader.”

Thus, we should also conform to this usage and refrain from saying that our Lord Jesus Christ was impaled. Frankly, that sounds horribly confusing.


Related news, released the same day as this posting!
Humor: The 2013 movie Frozen illustrated the unintended meaning of “impaled” of running a stake through a person when the snowman Olaf was run-though by an icicle. He said: “Oh look at that, I’ve been impaled.” (This movie was released a month after the 2013 RNWT.)

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Monday, November 19, 2018

Linchpin of Truth

The Greek word for “east” (anatolon, genitive case) in Isaiah 43:5 and 46:11 LXX

In mathematics, a truth claim is easy to test without any debate. In science, it becomes more complicated as evidence is weighed and experiments are tested for repeatability, with bias occasionally rearing its ugly head. Religious truth claims are even harder to test, as biases and emotions usually hold sway over interpretations of sacred text. However, that does not mean it’s impossible to test a religious truth claim. Even if it has devout adherents, if a religious teaching is thoroughly refuted, sometimes repeatedly, then honesty will eventually prevail. This is especially true if the teaching is exposed to be completely without merit and only benefitting a select few or even just one leader.

A sterling example of this is with a non-Trinitarian church originating in the Philippines, officially going by its name in Tagalog: Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) (“Church of Christ”). The INC has a very central, unique and equally testable truth claim. It is so central, that if it fails, then the entire INC implodes, like removing a linchpin holding an entire structure together.

This church states: “We believe that the late Brother Felix Y. Manalo is God’s last messenger; he was the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecies concerning the messenger from the Far East (Rev. 7:2-3).” (Under “Beliefs” of their official website.)

Scrutinizing this truth claim is rather easy.

The NET Bible says for Revelation 7:2, “Then I saw another angel ascending from the east...” The Greek word for “east” is ἀνατολῆς (anatolēs) which means “1) a rising (of the sun and stars) 2) the east (the direction of the sun’s rising).” (Anatolia derives from this word, being “east” of Greece.) The NET Bible notes here that it means “from the rising of the sun,” and may be taken “as a geographical direction.” The Greek text specifically reads ἀνατολῆς ἡλίο (anatolēs hēlio), which literally means “rising of the sun.”

But the INC says it means “Far East” for the Philippines. While it is true that in modern geographical terminology that the Philippines are in the “Far East,” as opposed to the “Near East” or “Middle East,” this is a self-serving identification that is inconsistent with the same usage in Revelation 16:12. This interpretation appears then to be a clear and tangible linchpin.

In its article “The fulfillment of the prophecy” on its official website, INC also uses Isaianic references to “east” to validate its truth claim: Isaiah 43:5 and 46:11. Both scriptures use the same Greek word in Revelation 7:2 in the LXX, ἀνατολή (anatolḗ) for the Hebrew word מזרח (mizrach). It additionally claims that the “bird of prey” in Isaiah 46:11 is the INC founder, the “last messenger.”

However, it must be stated that there was a fulfillment of these prophecies with Cyrus from the east acting like a “bird of prey” and liberating the Jews from Babylonian captivity. Thus, Isaiah 43:5 was fulfilled when they were released from that captivity and reunited in the west in the Promised Land. The reference to “north” and “south” in Isaiah 43:6 are assurances that “Not even the remotest parts of the earth will be beyond Jehovah’s reach when the time comes to free his sons and daughters and to bring them back to their beloved homeland. (Jeremiah 30:10, 11)”[1] This was fulfilled.

INC’s problem then is failing to look at how the prophecy was originally fulfilled. Instead, they are just grabbing frantically at anything in scripture to validate their church. Simply put, it’s getting lost in small details and not seeing the bigger picture on how those prophecies were initially fulfilled.

Concisely: If it does not demand the meaning of “Far East,” then the linchpin of INC’s truth claim has been removed and the structure falls down.

Honest truth seekers follow the truth wherever it leads. A religion may have some things right, but if a central, primary teaching shows signs of having a linchpin removed, then it really is time to move on and follow the truth wherever it takes you. Fortunately, there is another non-Trinitarian family of believers that does not suffer from having a linchpin of this nature being removed: Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s worth investigating.

Footnote:
[1] Isaiah’s Prophecy vol. II page 50.


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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Exposing a Trinitarian trap


The Trinitarian “Jesus is Jehovah” is a slogan. One Trinitarian strategy when dialoging with Jehovah’s Witnesses is to use the Bible against itself using their New World Translation (NWT) to support that slogan. Below is my response to a strategy to try to trap Jehovah’s Witnesses into unwittingly saying their slogan.

The trap is set this way:
First, ask them to open their NWT to John 12:41 and note its marginal references to Isaiah 6:1 and 8. In the NWT, these read:
(John 12:41) Isaiah said these things because he saw his [Jesus’] glory, and he spoke about him.
(Isaiah 6:1) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw Jehovah sitting on a lofty and elevated throne, and the skirts of his robe filled the temple.
(Isaiah 6:8) Then I heard the voice of Jehovah saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said: “Here I am! Send me!”
John said Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory, and Isaiah saw Jehovah’s glory via the NWT’s marginal references.
Thus, according to John NWT, Jesus is Jehovah.
The solution to this trap is pretty straightforward. First, educate your Trinitarian interlocutor of the main problem with this conclusion, that the Bible identifies Jehovah as the Father, and Jesus is not the Father. This is declared in Deuteronomy 32:6, Isaiah 63:16, 64:8, Jeremiah 31:9, Psalm 89:26 and Malachi 2:10, which all irrefutably identify Jehovah or God as the Father.

Next, highlight the “us” language in Isaiah 6:8. The NWT marginal reference there is to Genesis 1:26 which also has “us” language. The prehuman Jesus is the primary member of the “us.”

Additionally, in Isaiah 6:8 in the NET Bible, its footnote states: “Heb ‘for us.’ The plural pronoun refers to the Lord, the seraphs, and the rest of the heavenly assembly.” It states this even though “the rest of the heavenly assembly” was evidently not seen in Isaiah’s vision. “So it is reasonable to conclude,” the Study NWT states in its note for John 12:41, “that when John wrote that Isaiah ‘saw his glory,’ this refers to Jesus’ prehuman glory alongside Jehovah. (Joh 1:14) This harmonizes with such scriptures as Ge 1:26, where God said: ‘Let us make man in our image.’” So both the NET Bible for Isaiah 6:8 and the Study NWT direct our attention to “the heavenly assembly” where the prehuman Jesus was included. The NET Bible footnote for Genesis 1:26 cites Isaiah 6:8 and points out that “In its ancient Israelite context the plural is most naturally understood as referring to God and his heavenly court (see 1 Kgs 22:19-22; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Isa 6:1-8).” Thus, the “us” language in Isaiah 6:8 and Genesis 1:26 is being interpreted as including the prehuman Jesus as the primary referent.

There is also the relevant concern of being aware of Jesus “being Jehovah” representationally. This is showcased in the NET Bible for Exodus 23:21: “Take heed because of him [the angel], and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him.” The footnote on “name” says in part: “Driver quotes McNeile as saying, ‘The “angel” is Jehovah Himself “in a temporary descent to visibility for a special purpose.”’”

As Jesus represented his Father and came in his Father’s name (John 5:43; 8:29), it could be said that Jesus is ‘Jehovah God Himself in a temporary descent to visibility for a special purpose.’ It is representational not ontological.

Additionally, at Zechariah 3:1-2 a NET Bible footnote informs us: “The juxtaposition of the messenger of the LORD in v. 1 and the LORD in v. 2 shows that here, at least, they are one and the same.” Therefore, there is a scriptural precedent for representing God and bearing his name in a representational sense.

Consequently, the Trinitarian trap of using John 12:41 has been disarmed.


The binary star system GG Tau A illustrating the heavenly court.

Bibles:


Additional reading:
Suggested videos:

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Fact-Checking Assurances


The 2011 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses revealed that a greater concerted effort at fact-checking had recently been implemented, resulting in some unreliable information being eliminated, with two examples being given: Gandhi’s statement to Lord Irwin and Newton’s model of the solar system.[1] This situation was showcased in the November 2017 JW Monthly Broadcast where David Splane of the Governing Body said that “we have to keep up. We have to check, check, check.” He added: “And when credible research reveals that we have to adjust or tweak a statement that we made in the past, we do so without hesitation.”[2] Thus, some information prior to this era of rejuvenated fact-checking may be suspect and in fact be unreliable, or less reliable than what we would prefer.

In this broadcast he also assured us: “We would never deliberately distort a quotation.”[3] That is, craft a quote as saying something that its author never intended.

Additionally, he stated after that their goal of keeping up with the latest research on a topic:
Now, it’s important to keep up with the very latest research. Something that was stated years ago as a fact may have been disproved. And the reason why is obvious. Someone may spend his entire life researching a very limited point in history—a very small point in history—and, of course, if he spends so much time researching, he’s going to uncover things. And so it’s not surprising that from time to time we have to adjust our view of some historical points. We have to check, check, check.[4]
Following this admission, Brother Splane provided an encouraging anecdote:
Now, someone might ask, ‘Why is it necessary to be so picky, to be so fussy, about accuracy?’ And in answer, I’d like to give an experience that I heard about a few years ago. In Northern Europe, there was a man who accepted a Bible study from Jehovah’s Witnesses. And when he was asked what motivated him to want to study, he said: “I read an article in your Awake! magazine on trees. Now, I happen to be a bit of an expert on trees. And after I read the article, I said to myself: ‘That article was so well-documented. It was so precise. Any organization that is that careful when writing about trees is going to be just as careful when teaching me the Bible.’” And on that basis, he accepted a Bible study.[5]
I applaud this effort at rejuvenated fact-checking, and I hope it produces beneficial results in pruning away past points that lacked sufficient fact-checking. Personally, I think we can see this at work in the new commentary on Ezekiel released this month at the Annual Meeting.

Lastly, this assurance of more conscientious fact-checking may remind one of this statement announced as recently as February, 2017, where a Watchtower commenced a paragraph confessing: “The Governing Body is neither inspired nor infallible. Therefore, it can err in doctrinal matters or in organizational direction.”[6] While such humility is great to see, may our rejuvenated fact-checking apparatus also add to our credibility across the board!

Footnotes:
[1] Tracing All Things With Accuracy,’ pages 9-13. https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/302011018#p12
[3] Ibid. From minute marker 4:20-25.
[4] Ibid. From minute marker 4:33-5:03.
[5] Ibid. From minute marker 5:10-6:00.
[6] w17.02 4:12, page 26. (italics added) Or, as the Simplified Edition put it: “The Governing Body is neither inspired nor perfect. It can make mistakes when explaining the Bible or directing the organization.”—page 24. (italics added) https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2017283#h=23 Simplified: https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/402017283#h=23

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

“Who Is on Jehovah’s Side?”


The title comes from Exodus 32:26, where Moses is the speaker. Immediately after asking this pleading question, he declares: “Come to me!” (Revised 2013 NWT) I found this interesting since the previous NWT I grew up on had Moses simply saying: “To me!” Comparing other translations, Byington has: “Whoever is for Jehovah, come here to me!” Additionally, the NET Bible has: “Whoever is for [Jehovah], come to me.” It explains in a footnote: “‘come’ is not in the text, but has been supplied.” It adds: “S. R. Driver suggests that the command was tersely put: ‘Who is for Yahweh? To me!’ (Exodus, 354).”

Thus, the earlier NWT had the terse style of translation of “To me!”, whereas the RNWT has updated this to be smoother, now like other Bibles reading as “Come to me!” I like this much better, for it is so much clearer to me!

The application is also clearer: we must gather to God’s appointed agent(s) for direction, judgment, and salvation.

Credits:
Image from:
https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/watchtower-study-july-2018/who-is-on-jehovahs-side/

See also:
Moses’ Example jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2018/06/moses-example.html

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Saturday, September 08, 2018

Serpentine connection?


Asclepius was the Greek god of healing, and his Rod was a staff with a serpent wound around it. While visually similar to the account in Numbers 21:8, 9, it is only coincidental to it as this was an isolated event. If there would be any scriptural origin for the Rod of Asclepius, it would be the account of the “original serpent” who said: “You certainly will not die” while likely mounted on a tree branch; thus the serpentine Rod of life would be a legend harking back to this event Eden with the claim of not dying. (Genesis 3:4; Revelation 12:9) However, it is only coincidental to this too.

In fact, its actual origin is likely more down-to-earth and less-savory. Regarding the asclepian Rod, a medical doctor reported: “The single serpent staff also appears on a Sumerian vase of c. 2000 B.C. representing the healing god Ningishita [sic: Ningishzida], the prototype of the Greek Asklepios. However, there is a more practical origin postulated which makes sense.” He adds:
In ancient times infection by parasitic worms was common. The filarial worm Dracunculus medinensis aka “the fiery serpent”, aka “the dragon of Medina” aka “the guinea worm” crawled around the victim’s body, just under the skin. Physicians treated this infection by cutting a slit in the patient’s skin, just in front of the worm’s path. As the worm crawled out the cut, the physician carefully wound the pest around a stick until the entire animal had been removed. It is believed that because this type of infection was so common, physicians advertised their services by displaying a sign with the worm on a stick.[1]
This Rod is also similar to the caduceus, a rod carried by the Greco-Roman god Hermes/Mercury that sported wings at the top and two serpents intertwined around it, which is also associated with the medical practice. However, this too has a more profane origin, as the Encyclopedia Britannica notes:
Originally the caduceus was a rod or olive branch ending in two shoots and decorated with garlands or ribbons. Later the garlands were interpreted as two snakes entwined in opposite directions with their heads facing; and a pair of wings, in token of Hermes’ speed, was attached to the staff above the snakes. Its similarity to the staff of Asclepius the healer (a staff branched at the top and entwined by a single serpent) resulted in modern times in the adoption of the caduceus as a symbol of the physician and as the emblem of the U.S. Army Medical Corps.[2]
Thus we are dealing with sets of coincidences. There is nothing here with a Biblical origin; instead, they have mundane and practical origins. This highlights that we must be careful before associating something serpentine with a Bible account.

Footnotes:
[1] Blayney, Kieth. The Caduceus vs the Staff of Asclepius (Asklepian) http://drblayney.com/Asclepius.html
[2] https://www.britannica.com/topic/caduceus

Credits:
  • Introductory picture from Instagram user jw_united_in_truth
  • Picture of Moses and the copper serpent on a pole is specifically from My Book of Bible Stories, Story 41: The Copper Serpent, available at jw.org.

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