Friday, April 24, 2020

The Kindest Words in the Bible

1 Kings 19:5-8 says:
Then [Elijah] lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree. But suddenly an angel touched him and said to him: “Get up and eat.” When he looked, there at his head was a round loaf on heated stones and a jug of water. He ate and drank and lay down again. Later the angel of Jehovah came back a second time and touched him and said:
“Get up and eat, for the journey will be too much for you.”
So he got up and ate and drank, and in the strength of that nourishment he went on for 40 days and 40 nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of the true God.

Notice, the angel not only showed great sympathy for him, but also provided materially with a jug of water!

But that’s not all. In Zechariah 1:12, 13, God replies to someone who should have known better. Does he do so with burning anger?
So the angel of Jehovah said: “O Jehovah of armies, how long will you withhold your mercy from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with whom you have been indignant these 70 years?” Jehovah answered the angel who was speaking with me, with
kind and comforting words.

Lastly, notice how an angel talked to Daniel. Daniel 9:23:
When you began your entreaty the word went out, and I have come to report it to you, because
you are someone very precious.

Daniel 10:18-19 says:
The one who looked like a man touched me again and strengthened me. Then he said: “Do not be afraid,
O very precious man.
May you have peace. Be strong, yes, be strong.”
The NET Bible for 9:23 has the angel saying “you are of great value in God’s sight,” with “precious treasure” in the footnote. Similarly, in 10:19 he is called “highly valued” and a “treasured man” in the footnote.

These kind choices of words reflect the kind personalities in the spirit realm, personalities of patience and kindness we can do well to imitate.

See also:
  • Opening picture from:


Monday, March 23, 2020

Mining Gems in Genesis

Reading Genesis calls for humility and a willingness to learn new ideas and information. Genesis 3:8 and 10:9 are examples of where this may be needed, and are even about how the Tetragrammaton can be used in language. This is pointed out in the NET Bible footnotes.

Genesis 3:8
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord [sic LORD] God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the orchard.

  • The Hitpael participle of הָלָךְ (halakh, “to walk, to go”) here has an iterative sense, “moving” or “going about.” While a translation of “walking about” is possible, it assumes a theophany, the presence of the Lord God in a human form. This is more than the text asserts.
  • The expression is traditionally rendered “cool of the day,” because the Hebrew word רוּחַ (ruakh) can mean “wind.” U. Cassuto (Genesis: From Adam to Noah, 152-54) concludes after lengthy discussion that the expression refers to afternoon when it became hot and the sun was beginning to decline. J. J. Niehaus (God at Sinai [SOTBT [Studies in Old Testament Biblical Theology]], 155-57) offers a different interpretation of the phrase, relating יוֹם (yom, usually understood as “day”) to an Akkadian cognate umu (“storm”) and translates the phrase “in the wind of the storm.” If Niehaus is correct, then God is not pictured as taking an afternoon stroll through the orchard, but as coming in a powerful windstorm to confront the man and woman with their rebellion. In this case קוֹל יְהוָה (qol yehvah, “sound of the LORD”) may refer to God’s thunderous roar, which typically accompanies his appearance in the storm to do battle or render judgment (e.g., see Ps 29).
Genesis 10:8, 9
Cush was the father of Nimrod; he began to be a valiant warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord [sic LORD]. (That is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD.”)

  • The Hebrew word for “hunt” is צַיִד (tsayid), which is used on occasion for hunting men (1 Sam 24:12; Jer 16:16; Lam 3:15).
  • Another option is to take the divine name here, לִפְנֵי יִהוָה (lifne yehvah, “before the Lord [YHWH]”), as a means of expressing the superlative degree. In this case one may translate “Nimrod was the greatest hunter in the world.”
So the “breezy time of the day” may actually refer to the original idea of divine judgment “in the wind of the storm,” with God “coming in a powerful windstorm to confront the man and woman with their rebellion” with a “thunderous roar.”[1] This is much more dynamic than how we usually read it!

Lastly, with Nimrod, it is being proposed that the Tetragrammaton is being used adjectivally describing his might as a warrior, being “the greatest hunter in the world.” What a fear-inspiring person!

A description of his fame as a city-founder is then given—and here too we must be open-minded. Is verse 11 describing his might as the greatest warrior in the world with an invasion and conquest of the Assyrians?

Genesis 10:10-12
The primary regions of his kingdom were Babel, Erech [Uruk], Akkad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, and Resen, which is between Nineveh and the great city Calah.

First, it is interesting to note both lists close with the similar-sounding Calneh and Calah. However, the NET Bible footnote cautions us about Calneh that “No such place is known in Shinar (i.e., Babylonia). Therefore some have translated the Hebrew term כַלְנֵה (khalneh) as ‘all of them,’ referring to the three previous names (cf. NRSV).” Robert Alter concurs, and in his new translation he explains in a footnote: “all of them. This translation adopts a commonly accepted emendation wekhulanah, instead of the Masoretic Text’s wekhalneh, ‘and Calneh.’”

Returning to the question if this is referring to a conquest of the Assyrians, another footnote informs us: “The subject of the verb translated ‘went’ is probably still Nimrod. However, it has also been interpreted that ‘Ashur went,’ referring to a derivative power.” Indeed, this is how Robert Alter translated the Hebrew text:
The start of his kingdom was Babylon and Erech and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar. From that land Asshur emerged, and he built Ninevah…”
Thus, verses 11-12 may not be about Nimrod at all, but instead be a parenthetical note that Ashur was also building cities to the north.

These gems have been mined for your evaluation of their worth.

[1] This reading appears to be supported in verse 10, where Adam and Eve are hiding from His voice. Interestingly, in verse 9 where God asks “Where are you?” a footnote explains:
The question is probably rhetorical (a figure of speech called erotesis) rather than literal, because it was spoken to the man, who answers it with an explanation of why he was hiding rather than a location. The question has more the force of “Why are you hiding?”
In response, Adam answers: “I heard you moving about in the orchard, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” A footnote explains regarding what Adam heard:
If one sees a storm theophany here, then one could translate, “your powerful voice.”
So they were cowering in fear, and Adam blamed it on being naked. This motif of nudity was introduced in Genesis 2:25, where it conveyed a sense of innocence. Interestingly, the next verse in 3:1 says the serpent was “shrewd.” A footnote here points out a lingual connection:
There is a wordplay in Hebrew between the words “naked” (עֲרוּמִּים, ʿarummim) in 2:25 and “shrewd” (עָרוּם, ʿarum) in 3:1. The point seems to be that the integrity of the man and the woman is the focus of the serpent’s craftiness. At the beginning they are naked and he is shrewd; afterward, they will be covered and he will be cursed.
Another footnote here explained about the serpent:
He showed knowledge beyond the capacity of animals. He lied and so was disloyal to God. These facts indicate control of the serpent by a supernatural being.

See also:
  • Depiction of Nimrod from Gilgamesh-Art on Deviant Art.


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

“The Authentic New Testament”

The Authentic New Testament is a 1958 paperback by Hugh J. Schonfield (1901-1988). This presents the New Testament books in an unusual order, commencing with Mark for instance, and with different chapter divisions—all without verses. However, it is a valuable study Bible, for it contains scholarly footnotes, maps of Jerusalem, and various illustrations, like of coins.

Of particular interest though is how it presents John 1:1, 8:58, and 20:28. The accompanying footnotes for John 1:1 and 20:28 are noteworthy as well. These will be showcased below:

John 1:1-5
Schonfield groups the first five verses, called the Prologue, together in a unique treatment as explained in his footnote:
In the beginning was the Word.
     And the Word was with God.
So the Word was divine.
     He was in the beginning with God.
By him everything had being.
     And without him nothing had being.
What had being by him was Life.
     And Life was the light of men.
And the Light shines in the Darkness
     And the Darkness could not suppress it.
Footnote: The Prologue consists of a hymn interspersed with brief remarks. The hymn is antiphonal, the alternate lines being chanted as a response. Our book was published in Asia Minor early in the second century, and this hymn could well be the one mentioned by Pliny the Younger, when as Governor of Bithynia (c. A.D. 112) he wrote about the Christians to the Emperor Trajan, that ‘they met on a certain fixed day before it was light and sang an antiphonal chant to Christ, as to a god’. See also Acts of John, 94-6.

Schonfield says it was published “early in the second century,” but this is compatible with it being written in the late first century and does not affect his reasoning. First, he uses an oft-missed historical association with a report from Pliny the Younger to Emperor Trajan that Christians (1) called Christ “a god” in (2) an antiphonal song.

In his report to Trajan, Pliny related the confessions of a group of former Christians where he stated that “They affirmed the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that [when they were Christians] they met on a stated day before it was light, and addressed a form of prayer to Christ, as to a divinity, binding themselves by a solemn oath.” This letter “was preserved by the Christians themselves as a clear and unsuspicious evidence of the purity of their doctrines.”[1]

Pliny wrote in Latin, and the critical words he used are: “carmenque Christo quasi deo.”

The “sang an antiphonal chant” or “addressed a form of prayer” derives from carmenque, which includes the meanings of “a song, poem, verse, oracular response, prophecy, form of incantation.”[2] The other critical word is deo or deus, meaning “a god, deity.”[3] Thus deus in this report about a Christian hymn is the Latin equivalent of the Greek theos in John 1:1. This exposes the usual Trinitarian translation of “the Word was God” as uninsightful and unscholarly, as well as Fundamentalism on par with Young-Earth Creationism.

Corroborating Schonfield’s connection to the antiphonal hymn calling Christ “a god,” he appealed to the “Acts of John, 94-6.” Classified among the “New Testament Apocrypha,” this is dated to as early as the second century. Verse 94 contains an antiphonal hymn, a relevant portion of which reads, with introduction:[4]
He bade us therefore make as it were a ring, holding one another's hands, and himself standing in the midst he said: Answer Amen unto me. He began, then, to sing a hymn and to say:
Glory be to thee, Father.
And we, going about in a ring, answered him: Amen.
Glory be to thee, Word: Glory be to thee, Grace. Amen.
Glory be to thee, Spirit: Glory be to thee, Holy One:
Glory be to thy glory. Amen.
We praise thee, O Father; we give thanks to thee, O Light, wherein darkness dwelleth not. Amen.
Thus, antiphonal praise was sung to the Father, the Johannine Word, and to God’s spirit in line with the Matthean baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19.

Therefore, this scripture that is popularized by Trinitarianism as a “proof-text” does not necessarily support the Trinitarian agenda after all, and is seen to be a very pompous and ignorant, unscholarly Fundamentalist abuse by Trinitarianism.

John 8:58
Jesus told them, ‘I tell you for a positive fact, I existed before Abraham was born.’

This is a refreshing break from the typical unscholarly, Fundamentalist, and nonsensical translation of “I AM” with the biased and deceptive aim of connecting it to Exodus 3:14. It is also refreshingly similar to scholar McKay’s translation, where he states that John 8:58 “would be most naturally translated ‘I have been in existence since before Abraham was born.’” McKay adds that it would be translated this way “if it were not for the obsession with the simple words ‘I am.’”[5] Thus, the typical and deceptive Trinitarian translation is simply an obsession and not a serious or scholarly translation.

John 20:28
Thomas answered, ‘My Lord and my God!’

Footnote: The author may have put this expression into the mouth of Thomas in response to the fact that the Emperor Domitian had insisted on having himself addressed as ‘Our Lord and God’, Suet. Domit. xiii.

The reference is to Suetonius’ book The Life of Domitian, 13: “With no less arrogance he began as follows in issuing a circular letter in the name of his procurators, ‘Our Master and our God [Dominus et deus noster] bids that this be done.’ And so the custom arose of henceforth addressing him in no other way even in writing or in conversation.”[6]

Thus, John was redirecting attention from Domitian to Jesus. He was the real “lord and god” as opposed to it being Domitian. The Emperor was only “lord and god” for the time being, not eternally like Jesus. This claim that John was modifying Thomas’ actual acclamation to suit his purposes would not sully the Gospel’s canonicity, and other scholars have noticed this parallel to Domitian too.[7] Consequently, applying “my Lord and my God” to support Trinitarianism was always anachronistic, unhistorical, and laughably inappropriate to an extreme degree. It becomes a brazen, shameful example of Trinitarian misuse and abuse of Scripture.

I found these translations of John along with the historical insights to be groundbreaking. How refreshing it is to see a treatment of the text that is not willfully bent towards supporting the failed and deceptive Trinitarian theology!

[3] As scholar Jason Beduhn explained: “Latin has no articles, either definite or indefinite. So the definite noun “God” and the indefinite noun “god” look precisely the same in Latin, and in John 1:1-2 one would see the three occurrences of what appeared to be the same word, rather than two distinct forms used in Greek [with or without the definite article].” Thus, it is significant that deus in Pliny’s report is translated as “a god” and “a divinity.” The Father was “the God” the Father, and Christ was “a god” subordinate to him. Thus, in the Greek, theos with the definite article is the Father, and without it is the indefinite “a god.” This is due to Biblical monolatry, Christ being a divine person subordinate to the “only true God” Father per John 17:1-5. Beduhn agreeably elaborates further: “There are different types of “god”—for example, a god of the living as opposed to a god of the dead. One can talk of someone being in the role of “a god” to someone else.” He then adds: “John 1:1c is one of the most significant examples of this explanatory effort, because it deals with the very crucial issue of how Christ can be so central to the Christian faith without violating the Christian commitment to monotheism.” (Truth in Translation, 116, 128.)
[4] Text from:
[5] K. L. McKay, ‘I am’ in John’s Gospel. The Expository Times, (T&T Clark, Edinburgh, July 9, 1996), 302.
[6] Text from
[7] See: Did Thomas Teach Trinitarianism at John 20:28? Appendix A. A Common Accolade?

See also:

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Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Psalms of Despair and Rejoicing

One feature of the Psalms that is nothing short of amazing are examples of people in the depths of spiritual despair, even feeling betrayed by God. These same people then plead with God and take steps to recover their trust in Him. Imagine that, in an era where divinely-inspired prophets walked the earth, people still felt like how we may feel sometimes. What follows are examples I have in mind, presented in parallel with the New World Translation and the NET Bible.

The first example bristles with terrified panic:

NET Bible
Psalm 74:9-11
There are no signs for us to see; There is no longer any prophet, And no one among us knows how long this will last.
How long, O God, will the adversary keep taunting? Will the enemy treat your name with disrespect forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Draw it out of your bosom and put an end to them!

Psalm 77:10
Must I keep saying: “This is what distresses me: The Most High has changed his position toward us”?

Psalm 143:3, 4
… like those long dead.
My spirit is failing; My heart is numb within me.

Psalm 143:7
Do answer me quickly, O Jehovah; My strength has come to an end. Do not hide your face from me, Or I will be like those going down into the pit.
Psalm 74:9-11
We do not see any signs of God’s presence; there are no longer any prophets, and we have no one to tell us how long this will last.
How long, O God, will the adversary hurl insults? Will the enemy blaspheme your name forever?
Why do you remain inactive? Intervene and destroy him!

Psalm 77:10
Then I said, “I am sickened by the thought that the Most High might become inactive.”

Psalm 143:3, 4
… like those who have been dead for ages.
My strength leaves me; I am absolutely shocked.

Psalm 143:7
Answer me quickly, [Jehovah]. My strength is fading. Do not reject me, or I will join those descending into the grave.

(All exclamation points and italics have been added for emphasis.)

This repeated concern of being dead is made all the more pressing in Psalm 115:17: “The dead do not praise Jah; Nor do any who go down into the silence of death.” One does not actually have to be dead however—the feeling of being like dead is enough.

But these psalmists do not leave themselves in the darkness of despair.

For instance, the psalmist at Psalm 74:12 reminds himself that “God is my King from long ago, The one performing acts of salvation on the earth,” and then contemplated His saving act of the Exodus including His care of them in the Wilderness. (Psalm 74:13-15) His attention then turned to His power over creation.—Psalm 74:16-17.

In the same vein, the psalmist at Psalm 77:11-12 declared: “I will remember the works of Jah; I will remember your marvelous deeds of long ago.  And I will meditate on all your activity And ponder over your dealings.” He then contemplated the Exodus event as well in epic detail, saying “ With your power you have rescued your people … You led your people just like a flock.”—Psalm 77:14-20.

The psalmist at Psalm 143:5 then made himself contemplate God’s creative acts: “I meditate on all your activity; I eagerly ponder over the work of your hands.” He then petitions: “Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God. May your kind presence lead me into a level land.” (Psalm 143:12 NET Bible) The NET Bible footnote for “level land” says: “A level land (where one can walk free of obstacles) here symbolizes divine blessing and protection.”

Thus, these psalmists help us appreciate that they were real people, just as we are, susceptible to feeling discouraged and even falling into hopeless despair. But they also provide an example of spiritual recovery, of meditating on Jehovah’s saving acts and works of creation. One creative act to meditate on is seen in Genesis 2:19, where it reveals that “Jehovah God had been forming from the ground every wild animal of the field and every flying creature of the heavens, and he began bringing them to the man to see what he would call each one.” The Reference Bible NWT has a footnote for “forming” which says that “In point of time it was still the sixth creative day. The verb ‘form’ in the imperfect here denotes continued, progressive action.” So far from contradicting the order of creation in Genesis 1, it is pointing out that God was creating animals and birds with us in mind—ones that we personally would take exquisite delight in. Jehovah also created food we would take exquisite delight in, as expressed in Psalm 104:14-15: “He is making grass grow for the cattle and vegetation for mankind’s use, to grow food from the land and wine that makes man’s heart rejoice, oil that makes the face shine, and bread that sustains the heart of mortal man.” Therefore, only by concentrating on what He has done for us, in particular the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, and by focusing on his creative works for our personal benefit can we take steps to recover from any spiritual meltdown we may experience.

Related blog entry:


Friday, November 08, 2019

Favorite “Q&A”

This is one of my favorite answers in the “Questions From Readers” column of the Watchtower:

Are Jehovah and Jesus the ones meant at Proverbs 30:4, which asks: “What is his name and what the name of his son?”

This verse makes it evident how limited man is compared to the Most High. Its rhetorical questions could be asked about any man, but these questions should lead a reasoning person to the Creator.

The writer Agur asked: “Who has ascended to heaven that he may descend? Who has gathered the wind in the hollow of both hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in a mantle? Who has made all the ends of the earth to rise? What is his name and what the name of his son, in case you know?”—Proverbs 30:1, 4.

No imperfect human has gone up to heaven and come back omniscient; nor has any human the ability to control the wind, the seas, or the geological forces shaping the earth. In effect, then, Agur asked: ‘Do you know the name or family line of any man who has done these things?’ We must answer no.—Compare Job 38:1–42:3; Isaiah 40:12-14; Jeremiah 23:18; 1 Corinthians 2:16.

Thus, we have to look outside the human sphere to find one who has the superhuman power to control natural forces. We are not, though, limited to learning about him by observing his accomplishments. (Romans 1:20) This is because he has, as it were, descended with information about himself and his dealings. He has provided specific information. He did this, for example, when he ‘descended’ to give the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. (Exodus 19:20; Hebrews 2:2) He has also helped his servants to appreciate his meaningful name, Jehovah. (Exodus 3:13, 14; 6:3) Later, he identified his Son, who was named Jesus and who literally descended from heaven with additional information about the Creator.—John 1:1-3, 14, 18.

This should help all of us to reach certain conclusions: Like Agur, we cannot from our own resources gain true wisdom. (Proverbs 30:2, 3) And we cannot name any human who has superlative powers or knowledge. Hence, we should humbly look to the One who is able to provide the wisdom we need. This is the Most Holy One, whose name we can know and whose Son has died so that we might be ransomed and gain everlasting life.—Matthew 20:28.

(July 15, 1987 issue)

Related blog entry:


Similar to a Satyr?

We should be alert to the quality of our ministry and teachings. One comparison I’m seeing more frequently now from fellow believers is causing me a measure of consternation. Now, I used to find this comparison insightful, even though I never incorporated it: how the Greek satyr Marsyas was tied to a tree trunk with his hands above his head (and feet tied standing on the ground) to be flayed. This has been used to corroborate the no-crossbeam teaching in Jesus’ death.

Upon first glance, the way this satyr is positioned on the tree may look corroborative; but upon closer inspection, some inconsistencies arise:
  1. Jesus was not suspended for flaying. It would be unwise to quickly dismiss this distinction—for his feet were nailed, not standing.
  2. The condemned (or someone else pressed into service) had to carry the torture stake.—Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26; John 19:17.
Thus, it could not have been something like a telephone pole which is impossible for a person to carry. What Marsyas is suspended from fits that category of being too heavy for anyone to carry, much-less a flogged and weakened person—but it also is strong enough to support a suspended person.
The problem with using this statue then is that it could look like a case of confirmation bias and selective use of history and archeology. Therefore, it would be wiser to stick to the Bible and not use this suspended satyr.

As a statue of this Greek satyr Marsyas is on display in the world-famous Louvre Museum in France, it has been mentioned in our publications—but only three times: in a 1969 and a 1978 Awake, and once in a 1987 Watchtower. The 1978 Awake said he was “flayed on a torture stake;” however this is Greek, not Roman—thus technically not a torture stake but a tree for flaying. The last reference merely depicted the statue for comparison.

Fortunately, and wisely, this has not been repeated since 1987—and we should follow this example and cease using this satyr too. Being tied by the wrists to a heavy tree with standing tied feet (for flaying!) is not what the Romans did to Jesus. It really is not that all comparable, and is really more of a liability than a support.

Thank you for listening.

Related blog entries:

  • Ancient History Encyclopedia. “A marble statue of Marsyas, he who, in Greek mythology, challenged Apollo to a music contest and was flayed alive for his audacity. Found in Rome, early Roman imperial age copy of a 2nd century BCE Greek original.” (Capitoline Museums, Rome)
  • Encyclopedia Britannica: “Marsyas” “Marsyas about to be flayed, antique sculpture; in the collection of the Capitoline Museums, Rome.” Isolating his feet bound together, not to the tree.


Friday, October 11, 2019

Identifying the Resurrected Jesus

After Luke related the experience of Cleopas and his companion on the Road to Emmaus and how they did not at first recognize the resurrected Jesus (Luke 24:13-35), he then related the event where he appeared suddenly in a room full of his disciples, which John identified as being locked when describing the same event.

In these famous accounts in Luke and John, it is noteworthy that there is no indication that they immediately recognized the instantaneously appearing figure as being the resurrected Jesus.
Read them here from Bible Gateway in the NIV and NET Bible translations:

NET Bible
Luke 24:36-41
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”

John 20:19-27
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Luke 24:36-41
36 While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 But they were startled and terrified, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 Then he said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet; it’s me! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones like you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still could not believe it (because of their joy) and were amazed, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”

John 20:19-27
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” 22 And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.”

24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “Unless I see the wounds from the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!”

26 Eight days later the disciples were again together in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.”

Bible Gateway reference link

The NET Bible translation in its footnote for “ghost” informs us that this is not “a phantom” but that πνεῦμα (pneuma) here may be rendered as a “ghost,” or “an independent noncorporeal being, in contrast to a being that can be perceived by the physical senses” as the BDAG defines. So, the disciples did not immediately think it was Jesus but something else, and were thus understandably frightened. Yet, it was only after Jesus spoke to them in his familiar way and showed them his stigmata (specifically in his hands, feet and side only) that they began to see this was a materialization of the risen Lord Jesus—obviously not in his sacrificed form, but in a form representing it with select stigmata on display (the thorn wounds and scourging marks were not spoken for, as they certainly would have been if it was his actual sacrificed form on display).

In another instance, the resurrected Jesus later appeared to his disciples when they were engaged in fishing on a boat, and he was only recognized when he performed an unmistakable miracle of fishes—not before, not with his voice or form, silhouette or not, but only by the effects of his unmistakable identifying miracle.—John 21:1-8; Luke 5:3-6.

This confusion over who was appearing to them is resolved by the conclusion that Jesus’ sacrificed body was forever gone, and thus he was appearing in a different human body, different enough to prevent immediate identification, but similar enough to prevent continued doubt.

Hungry Jesus?
When the resurrected Jesus appeared to Cleopas and his companion, he agreed to dine with them. At this point their eyes were still “kept from recognizing him,” which was understood to be due to Jesus appearing “in another form” by the author of Mark 16:12. (Luke 24:16) The account relates that Jesus took a loaf of bread, and in his characteristic manner prayed over it, then distributed it to them. (Luke 24:29-31, 35) Then after he was recognized by his idiosyncrasies, he suddenly disappeared just like the “angel of Jehovah” did previously in Judges 6:21. So he vanished before eating any bread. Then following that and after appearing in the locked room, he apparently is still hungry, for he asks: “Do you have anything here to eat?” They then gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in front of them. (Luke 24:41-43) So why would he materialize with a hungry body? “He asked for something to eat, not because he was hungry, but merely to help impress upon them that he was a real person, not imaginary.”[1] This request then is a logical follow-up from his invitation for them to touch and see that he was a physical person. Him eating is also a reminder of how Abraham’s three materialized angels also ate a meal.—Genesis 18:1-8.

[1] w60 9/15 p. 576 Questions From Readers



Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Riches in Fishes?

Mammon in salmon? In Matthew 17:24-27, Jesus tells Peter to go “cast a fishhook” on a boat and that in the first fish’s mouth there will be a tetradrachma (4-drachma or stater) coin, the equivalent of about four days’ wages, for them both to pay the temple tax.

In Luke 5:1-10, Jesus tells Peter and the other fishermen to move the boat to another location and cast the net one more time even though it had been previously fruitless. They do it, and are blessed with more fish than they can handle, ripping their net.

Similarly, in John 21:4-11, Jesus tells the fishermen and Peter to cast the net on the other side of the boat. When they do, they are blessed with more fish than they can handle, but without the net ripping this time.

Lessons on Matthew 17:24-27:
  • Instructions to do a task Peter was already thoroughly, routinely familiar with.
  • It was the first fish caught, not particularly hard work.
  • The coin paid for not just Jesus but for Peter as well. Thus, Peter financially benefited from just one fish.
Lessons from the Luke and John narratives:
  • Instructions to do a task they were already thoroughly, routinely familiar with, but to do it again per his instructions.
  • They were financially blessed with more than they could handle, but not enough to make them rich.
So, in all cases, instructions were given that were not hard and did not require any training, they just required humility. Financial blessings followed, but not enough to make them rich.

This then adds context to John’s assurance that “for this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.”—1 John 5:3; see also Deuteronomy 30:11.

Fishy Miracle in Matthew?
Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament alerts us to the fact that
Some try to get rid of the miracle by calling it a proverb or by saying that Jesus only meant for Peter to sell the fish and thus get the money, a species of nervous anxiety to relieve Christ and the Gospel of Matthew from the miraculous. “All the attempts have been in vain which were made by the older Rationalism to put a non-miraculous meaning into these words” (B. Weiss). It is not stated that Peter actually caught such a fish though that is the natural implication.
The last statement is humorous, for the absence in the narrative of Peter following Jesus’ instructions to retrieve a valuable tetradrachma to pay the temple tax is most conspicuous!

What may be used as a basis for questioning its historicity is this note from The Jewish Annotated New Testament regarding “fish”: “Rabbinic literature speaks of fish containing riches (b. Shabb. 15a).” (Shabb. is the Talmudic tractate Shabbat, and b. abbreviates Babylonian, as in the Babylonian Talmud.) However, the citation to 15a seems to be a mistake for 119a:5. 15a does not mention fish, but 119a:5 relates this parable:
The gentile went and sold all of his property, and with the money he received he bought a pearl, and he placed it in his hat. When he was crossing a river in a ferry, the wind blew his hat and cast it into the water, and a fish swallowed it. The fish was caught and removed from the water and it was brought to shore adjacent to nightfall on Shabbat eve. [The fisherman then ignorantly sells the fish to a Jew named Yosef.] He ripped the fish open and found a pearl inside it. He sold it for thirteen vessels filled with golden dinars.
Then this verse appears to give the moral of the story by saying: “One who lends to Shabbat, Shabbat repays him.”[1]

With this background in mind, an example of trying to remove the miraculous from Matthew 17:27 is this next more-recent quote, which employs the above tractate Shabbat to support its skepticism (note though it uses the same erroneous reference to 15a from the earlier Jewish Annotated NT):
Jesus’s instruction for Peter to go fishing is a delicious snippet of ancient Hebrew lore that doesn’t translate well into modern English. It is one part hyperbole, one part Jewish wisdom saying, and several parts Jesus of Nazareth. Logic, both modern and ancient, tells us that the fish wouldn’t have a coin in its mouth; nor would the market value of one fish be enough to pay the Temple tax for two men. Rabbinic literature (b. Shabb. 15a) pairs fish with riches. So, Jesus’s point was probably a simple observation that an afternoon of fishing was more valuable than an afternoon of arguing with tax collectors.[2]
First, there is an apparent failure to fact-check the Jewish Annotated NT reference to 15a when 119a:5 was evidently meant. Secondly, the statement that “logic, both modern and ancient, tells us that the fish wouldn’t have a coin in its mouth” is incorrect based on the following notes from the following study Bibles:

The ESV Archeology Study Bible states:
The only types of fish native to the Sea of Galilee that can be caught by a baited hook are the barbel (a kind of carp) and the hafafi, both of which feed on mollusks, snails, and sardines at the bottom of the lake. It is likely that either one of these picked up the shekel coin at the bottom of the sea that Peter presumably harvested for his and Jesus’ temple tax. Fishing hooks dating back to the first century AD have been found at Bethsaida.
And the HCSB Study Bible pointedly adds: “Several ancient texts refer to fishermen discovering valuable items inside fish.” So the discovery of a valuable coin in a fish is not a “fish story.” Thus, it may not have had to be a counterfeit either, just a stater coin that someone had previously lost to the unforgiving waves—but even if it was divinely counterfeited, it would hardly disrupt the local economy that was doomed for destruction in 70 CE anyway. (By way of comparison, Elijah was miraculously provided with meat, bread, and even a jug of water at one point.—1 Kings 17:2-7, 19:5, 6)

Thus, we have both the means for a fish to be able to have a coin in its mouth, and the historical backing for fish swallowing precious items. We also have the physical artifacts of first-century Palestinian fishhooks—removing any potential of doubt for an anachronism on Jesus’ lips.

Lastly, it seems for this reference to the Babylonian Talmud to have any weight, one would have to prove its popularity in first-century Palestine. Barring that, this claim of removing the miraculous should not be swallowed hook, line and sinker.[3]

[1] Sefaria:
[2] Jack W. Page Jr. Y’All Come: An Invitation to G-D’S Neighborhood Issued by a Jew from Nazareth (under The Temple, Taxes, and Caesar) (WestBow Press, Dec 19, 2016).
[3] As one scholar stated: “The appearance of a tradition even in an authoritative work, such as the Babylonian Talmud, does not guarantee that it was universally excepted among the Sages, much less among contemporary Jews in general.”—Darrell D. Hannah, Michael and Christ: Michael Tradition and Angel Christology in Early Christianity, (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, Dec 31, 1999), 94.

See also:


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

What you missed in the Josiah drama

The theatrical drama The Story of Josiah: Love Jehovah; Hate What Is Bad is currently playing at the 2019 Regional Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you have not yet seen it, then you are safe to continue reading, as this is not a spoiler.

Ones who have seen it will find this crystalizes one scene for them, and ones who have not seen it yet will be better prepared to understand the significance of this one scene: a reenactment of events described in 2 Kings 23:14.

When attacking a temple of Baal, what appears to be nondescript monoliths are demolished. These were tall and thick, and appear roughly like this:

I think these are supposed to be depicting Baal stelae, like this one called Baal with Thunderbolt, which is 142 centimetres (56 in/over 4 and-a-half feet) high, 50 centimetres (20 in/over a foot and-a-half) wide, and a whopping 28 centimetres (11 in) thick. It is a slab of white limestone and was found in 1932 near a temple of Baal. If so, then the producers of this film spared the audience of all the Baalic details (sacred poles also appear rather nondescript).

This film will deepen your appreciation of what King Josiah set out to accomplish!

Watch the trailer.
Read more about the Baal with Thunderbolt stele:


Thursday, August 08, 2019

The Trinitarian Hammer

For illustration sake, say you were putting a desk together by reading the instructions that came with the parts. However, you quickly notice some quirks in the instructions. For instance, you notice after scanning though it that it relies heavily on the hammer tool, even for screws, for it directs you to use its claw to turn the screws. Your eyes then look back to the introduction, and you see that all it shows is the hammer for suggested tools, even going so far as to say that “a hammer is the only tool you will need to build this desk.” Looking at the parts to assemble the desk, you see not only screws, but also cams, nuts and hex bolts. Clearly, the author of the instructions is lying by saying that ‘all you’ll need is a hammer,’ and may also be ignorant of the range of tools available and how the parts function together. He is therefore an amateur and his instructions are unprofessional and near useless. In utter disgust, you may even wonder if he ever graduated from high school and seriously doubt that he ever stepped into a technical institute to receive the proper education needed to write these instructions. Clearly, you are on your own for building the desk, relying on your own God-given common sense.

I find that the same situation exists when reading an anonymous pamphlet, The Trinity.[1] The Trinity presents the bread and butter of Evangelical Trinitarian theology and reasoning, and it would be fair to assume then that its author received the highest education Trinitarian scholarship has to offer, and also that it would be honest, and certainly never present a single lie. Indeed, presenting just one single lie in defending your theology is unthinkable for any Christian!—Matthew 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20.

Reading this pamphlet, on page 1 it displays a classic Scutum Fidei (“shield of the faith”), commonly celebrated as the “Shield of the Trinity” diagram, and then declares: “Early Christians used this diagram to explain the Trinity.” (See Figure 1 below.)

Figure 1
~click to enlarge~

“Early Christians” is meant to convey the idea of first Christians. This is made clear when Irenaeus is called an “early church leader (A.D. 177)” and when “early” is defined as being before 300 CE: “early church leaders and/or writings all defended the doctrine of the Trinity long before A.D. 300.”[2] It then gives a list reaching back to 90 CE, with the claim that the Didache document teaches Trinitarianism. However, this claim about the Didache is so laughably wrong as to be a blatant lie.[3] The author of this pamphlet is not aware of the range of reading-comprehension tools at his disposal, for he is only familiar with his Trinitarian hammer. This right here destroys the credibility of The Trinity, just as the hypothetical author of those instructions has destroyed his credibility with his “hammer.”

Another Trintarian teacher even declared that the Scutum Fidei is “an ancient symbol.”[4] Is this claim of it being “early” and “ancient” also a blatant lie? The excellent scholar of Christian art, Robin M. Jensen, knows nothing about the Scutum Fidei in early Christianity, even up to the fourth century. There is no mention of it in her books Understanding Early Christian Art (2000) and Face to Face: Portraits of the Divine in Early Christianity (2005). Alarming us further is another source stating that it derived from the Medieval Tetragrammaton-Trinity diagram of three circles and the Triquetra of three interlocking circles, thus:
The Shield of the Trinity diagram is attested from as early as a c. 1208–1216 manuscript of Peter of Poitiers’ Compendium Historiae in Genealogia Christi, but the period of its most widespread use was during the 15th and 16th centuries, when it is in found in a number of English and French manuscripts and books … The diagram was used heraldically from the mid-13th century, when a shield-shaped version of the diagram (not actually placed on a shield) was included among the c. 1250 heraldic shields.[5]
This is entirely in the domain of Medieval Christians, which are nowhere near the same chronological zip code as “early” (not to mention “ancient”).[6]

Is this pamphlet right on page 1 then stating an outright lie to be sensational? Placing something Christian in the “early” category naturally conjures up the domain of the first few centuries, as the pamphlet defines “early.” Likewise, calling something Christian “ancient” is obviously meant to identify it as originating with the first Christians—even Jesus himself. A professional and honest historian however would never describe something Medieval in this way, as “early” or “ancient.” That would be entirely misleading. I just don’t see any wiggle room here for these Trinitarian teachers. I find it hard to believe that the actual Medieval origin was unknown by them. Even though I am inclined towards being charitable, I sadly am left with little choice but to see deliberate lying here with the motivation to be sensational. This is no small matter. Lying about your theology with the aim of substantiating it would place them in the category described in Revelation 21:8, of being “cowards and those without faith,” “and those practicing spiritism (or “those who practice magic arts” NIV) and idolaters and all the liars.”

This would naturally extend to anyone using the Scutum Fidei “Shield of the Trinity” as ones practicing deception—for Jesus never instructed us to make such a diagram! It is a lie and akin to casting a magic spell of deception.

This type of “Trinitarian hammer” reasoning sadly reared its ugly head when an otherwise credible and well-respected astronomer, Hugh Ross, in a Facebook post presented a Scutum Fidei with the standard Trinitarian misreading of Genesis 1:26, 27 and Elohim.[7] These are misreadings due to failing to consider other tools of reading comprehension, and using the hammer of Trinitarian interpretation to the exclusion of other tools. I explained this in “Skeptical About Trinitarianism.”[8] Trinitarianism then makes its adherents into simpletons who fail at basic reading comprehension of their own scriptures, as well as liars. This level of ineptitude is sustained by the logical fallacy of the Lonely Fact followed by the fallacy of Hasty Generalization—that is, isolating one fact to the exclusion of others and then forming a conclusion based on that artificial restriction on the available facts. It’s a bad and abusive theology, with the remainder of The Trinity reading like a comic book of Mad Magazine proportions. It’s intellectually and spiritually disgusting.

[1] Rose Publishing (1999)
[2] Pages 9 and 4.
[3] Didache 7:1, 3 provides directions for baptism including the Matthean formula “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Exposing the claim that this teaches Trinitarianism as a blatant lie is the obvious fact that it is not stating that these three are persons of one God. The Didache ironically condemns the author of The Trinity by saying “you shall not bear false witness.”—2:3.
[4] Michael Patton and Tim Kimberley. Credo House, Apologetics Boot Camp, Part 4: The Deity of Christ. 32:55, in a video presentation when displaying the Scutum Fidei. Tim Kimberley specifically made that claim with Patton’s support. The quote in context is: “This is an ancient symbol. You say, ‘Ok well how do I conceive of God…’” Michael: “It’s not ancient, I just made it on Photoshop today.” (Laughter) “Well, you plagiarized it pretty heavily though. [laughter] I’ve seen something like this before in Latin.” (Laughter) Thus, this claim was not corrected, and this is no laughing matter and nothing to take lightly.
[5] Wikipedia, “Shield of the Trinity.”
[6] Additionally, Yale historian of Late Antique and Medieval art, Felicity Harley, stated regarding the origin of the Scutum Fidei: “I am not aware of any visual or archaeological evidence that places its origins in an ancient Christian context – I would suspect it was medieval.” (Personal correspondence, October 4, 2019.)
Lastly, after this entry was posted I found this reference: Depictions of the Trinity in Early Christian Art Between 200AD and 400AD by Shawn Patrick Thomas (A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Talbot School of Theology Biola University, December 2018). There, he informs us that “abstract icons … were not found until the Middle Ages with the Scutum Fidei (or Trinity Shield).” (Page 80)
[7] July 31, 2019. This Scutum Fidei was presented with the outer three circles blank, as if intended for teaching children to fill them in—which in my estimation amounts to spiritual child abuse.

Further reading:
Recommended videos:

Labels: ,

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Apollo Moon Landings

Did you know that some of the people responsible for successfully landing men on the moon in the Apollo Program later became Jehovah’s Witnesses? Two cases are published on this, Isidoros Ismailidis and Wendell Marley. The relevant parts are presented below:
The Watchtower, 2000 8/1 p. 25 From Building Weapons to Saving Lives
AS TOLD BY ISIDOROS ISMAILIDIS ... I was working for the U.S. Air Force at a missile and space company in Sunnyvale, California. I was involved with a variety of air and space projects, including the Agena and Apollo programs. I even received medals for my contribution to the Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 missions. After that, I continued my education and became heavily involved in various military space projects.
He also mentioned a certain coworker:
In early 1967, at work, I met Jim, a very humble and kind man. Jim always seemed to have a smile on his face, and he never turned down an invitation to take a coffee break with me. He used these opportunities to share information from the Bible with me. Jim told me that he had been studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The outcome of Jim’s studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses is not stated, but he apparently also worked for the success of the space program.
The Watchtower, 1982 5/1 pp. 3-4 In Search of Success
IT WAS July 20, 1969. The Apollo 11 spacecraft and the lunar landing module named Eagle circled the moon making last-minute preparations for the first historic landing of man on the moon. I sat in the mission support room at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas, with dozens of thoughts rebounding in my mind: Will the landing be a safe one? Will the system for which I was responsible operate properly and carry out its necessary functions?

I, as well as many others who had worked diligently many years for this moment, waited and listened intently. Suddenly, a voice from 240,000 miles in space said: “Houston, the Eagle has landed.” How excited and thrilled I was at hearing those words! ...

At the conclusion of the Gemini Program (two-man spacecraft), I was offered an opportunity to move from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas, to work on the three-man Apollo Lunar Landing Program. Since this looked like a good means to make further advancement, I wasted no time in accepting the offer.

The next few years were spent working hard on the first moon landing flight, developing computer software for the guidance and navigation systems, planning mission techniques and simulating the flight on a ground computer. I remember being told by one of my superiors: “Nothing is more important than making a success of this flight.” (p. 4)
... Contributed by Wendell Marley. (p. 6)

[Blurb on page 4]
‘“The Eagle has landed!” I had helped to design the guidance system that placed the first man on the moon’
Incidentally, I knew another man from social media, who went by the moniker PeterJ and who sadly passed away years ago, who is another example.

By the way, denying that this space program was real, accusing the space agencies and their employees of hoaxing, has become a modern-day psychosis displaying the Dunning-Kruger effect. It is a very libelous and sinister accusation fulfilling 2 Timothy 3:3, and is also only a step away from falling for the demonized propaganda of the flat earth folly.

I hope you have benefited from knowing that some responsible for the success of the Apollo moon landings became Jehovah’s Witnesses.


Monday, June 17, 2019

“The New Humanity” by The Bible Project

The Bible Project is a Trinitarian workshop that creates educational videos about the Bible and how to read it. Some videos it produces are great, and others, well, not so much. Its video, “The New Humanity,”[1] while looking like it could be informative, comes across as presumptuous in the nature of the “Dunning-Kruger effect,” “a cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.” (Hereafter abbreviated as DKE.) This was seen in how it explained how Adam and Eve were supposed to live forever, and in Jesus’ resurrection body. As explained below, this is DKE upon DKE![2]

Regarding Adam and Eve and their goal of eating from the Tree of Life, it explained:
What does that mean to eat of the Tree of Life?
Well it’s an image of receiving God’s own eternal life into yourself. It’s about a whole new kind of existence.
So, wait, physical beings living forever? How could that even work?
Well, somehow sharing in God’s life transforms our bodies so that we can inhabit heaven and earth at the same time.
Or, was it a human that was healthy enough to live indefinitely on earth, with telomeres maintaining their length? With this in mind, The Bible Project gurus would do well to read and reflect on Psalm 115:15-16,
May you be blessed by Jehovah, The Maker of heaven and earth. As for the heavens, they belong to Jehovah, But the earth he has given to the sons of men.
From this scripture that The Bible Project failed to take into account, there is no cross-over body. Humans remain physical people on the earth, and the Divine Council dwells in heaven, the spirit realm that Jesus said was τῶν ἄνω (“the above,” or “realms above”) in contrast with the physical universe he said was τῶν κάτω (“the below,” or “realms below”). (John 8:23) To say that a human “can inhabit heaven and earth at the same time” is to say that a cube can exist in a two-dimensional plane. It is a contradiction like square circles and freezing infernos. Frankly, as it cannot exist, they are unwittingly calling God’s promise fictional. It is presumptuous and DKE.

Also, introducing that wild claim of being in two radically different locations simultaneously with “somehow” does not induce confidence in their claim. Outlandish claims need more support than “somehow.”

There is also no scriptural citations to support the claim that eternal life is “God’s own eternal life” one is imbued with.

They then later apply their DKE to Jesus:
The Risen Jesus is human, but a new kind of human.
Yeah, when Jesus’ followers met him alive from the dead, he had a transformed body that could live in heaven and earth at the same time. He’s like a new category of human, one that can live and rule with God forever.
This is more of the contradiction fallacy used above. A body cannot inhabit two realms simultaneously, one transcending the other, just like a cube cannot exist in a two-dimensional plane. A transcendent body cannot exist in a realm it is transcending. It can intersect it, but it cannot be simultaneously two- and three-dimensional. It can only be one or the other, just like a shape cannot be simultaneously a circle and a square, or like how a temperature cannot be simultaneously freezing and infernal.

Claiming otherwise is presumptuous and stubborn, and is maintaining DKE.

Thankfully, Jesus was resurrected as a spirit creature,[3] and no longer bears his crucifixion stigmata as depicted in this video (see opening screen capture). Indeed, if Jesus’ heel bones were nailed as indicated by the archeological record, then him taking his sacrificed body back would prevent him from walking, as his feet would be broken, as a person cannot walk with broken heel bones. Thus when he showed his foot wounds to his disciples as recorded in Luke 24:39-40, they must have been mostly healed, along with his side spear wound. However, his thorn wounds were evidently not on display, not marking his forehead. These two points demonstrate that the body he materialized in was not the same body he died in, meaning he was a spirit-being manipulating a materialization like a hand in a puppet. This should be excruciatingly obvious and logical to all careful readers.

This subject should have been taken more seriously and scripturally by The Bible Project.

See also:

[1] Seen here:
[2] This cognitive failure was introduced in this entry: Christological Physicalism Reveals Dunning-Kruger Effect
[3] This is explicitly stated not only scripturally but also in the themes of Jesus’ appearances in a locked room and most notably in the Atonement Day drama. Refer to the entries in the label of Jesus’ resurrection linked to below:

What Does It Mean for God to Be “Spirit”?
By Dr. Nicholas J. Schaser
When Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman, he tells her that “God is spirit” (Jn 4:24; πνεῦμα ὁ θεός; pneuma ho theós). For some, this phrase denotes that God is an ethereal being who is not spatially delimited; in other words, that God has no bodily form. However, the Bible often describes spirits as embodied, and John’s own Gospel presents God as both “spirit” (πνεῦμα; pneuma) and as having some kind of body. When Yeshua says that “God is spirit,” he does not argue against divine embodiment. Instead, for God to be “spirit” means that the Lord is not made of flesh and blood like human beings, nor is God bound by our physical world.

For help in understanding what Jesus means by “God is spirit” (Jn 4:24), the best place to go is back to the beginning of John’s Gospel. In the Johannine prologue (1:1-18), the evangelist asserts that God (1) has some sort of “body,” and (2) that body is not physical in an earthly sense—that is, God’s bodily form is not that of flesh and blood. On this second assertion, the Gospel clarifies that God is not made of human materials. John says that everyone who receives the Word of God becomes “children of God, who were born, not of blood (αἱμάτων; haimáton) nor of the will of the flesh (σαρκὸς; sarkòs) nor of the human (ἀνδρὸς; andròs) will, but of God” (1:12-13). These verses highlight the fact that God is not made up of “blood” or “flesh,” nor is God “human”; according to John, the Father exists and operates beyond the earthly realm.

At the same time, John also notes that God exists in a bodily form that is not like our own. The very end of the prologue states that “no one has ever seen God,” but that the one-of-a-kind Word, “who is in the Father’s bosom (κόλπος; kólpos), has made him known” (1:18). The Greek word translated “bosom” (sometimes translated “side” [e.g., ESV, CEB,]) literally describes God’s chest or the part of the body between the arms. [This article then makes the point that a person resurrected into heaven] is no longer made of flesh and blood—his physical body remains in the grave. Nevertheless, [a person resurrected into heaven] is still very much embodied in the afterlife—in what we might call a “spiritual body” (cf. 1 Cor 15:42-44). In a similar way, God has a bodily form, but the divine body is made of “spirit” rather than “flesh.” The Fourth Gospel shows that God can be both “spirit” (πνεῦμα; pneuma) and embodied in heaven. (Emphasis original.)


Friday, June 14, 2019

Christological Physicalism Reveals Dunning-Kruger Effect

In the field of psychology, the Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.

This cognitive deficiency was demonstrated quite profoundly in an attempted rebuttal of my blog entries on Jesus’ resurrection as a spirit person. One responder in a series of eight or so tiresome pseudo-rebuttals on his blog argued for Christological Physicalism, that Jesus was resurrected in his sacrificed body and took it to heaven in an undefined “glorified” state. (“Undefined” in that no one ever, my responder included, offers a scientific explanation on how flesh can be conditioned to exist outside of earth’s atmosphere without any physical protection.) To illustrate how Christological Physicalism reveals the Dunning-Kruger effect, it will be compared to the contemporary craze of flat earth belief, which also commits the Dunning–Kruger effect (herein abbreviated as DKE).

I will not dignify this responder by identifying him or by linking to his blog.

These responses were written in 2017-18, and while aware of his activity, I am only now able to stomach this type of reasoning in response to my presentations.

He littered his response with the insult that I am unimaginative. Considering that I actually have a problem with being over-imaginative and continually struggle against day-dreaming and controlling my overactive imagination, his insult becomes as detached from reality as the flat earth is. (DKE alert.) Indeed, any casual reader of JimSpace should immediately recognize this indisputable fact. I think the reason for his baseless insult is that I tend to be down-to-earth. Being down-to-earth or realistic is not to be confused with being unimaginative. His failure at discerning this distinction is due to a basic cognitive failure of being unthoughtful and intolerant. I also note though that he unintentionally contradicted himself over this insult when he mentioned that I explored the cross topic differently than other Jehovah’s Witnesses. That is due to me ironically being able use my imagination to think outside the box and objectively consider other viewpoints. It also demonstrates that I am objective and down-to-earth.

Leaving that uninsightful ad hominem attack behind, I will now show instances of cognitive failure and DKE.

At one point he introduced a pseudo-rebuttal this way: “Jim recently published another post on this topic, this time responding to me, though, not by name.” Don’t flatter yourself. What I posted was what was developed in stimulation of talking to you on a discussion board. It was what was on my mind, and thus I posted it in a more developed and collected format. Another case of DKE (as in an assumption he had all the insight).

At another point he asked: “Now, why does Jim think that I should have to give a description of how Jesus' human body was glorified…?” Because if you don’t, then you don’t have a Christological model. All you have are empty words and DKE. Your words have to be meaningful. Failure to use meaningful words is to use counterfeit words, the very verbiage of apostates per 2 Peter 2:3.

He then continued that Jesus “was raised up a human being, (2) that the resurrection body is glorious, incorruptible, immortal and so so…” No scripture is provided here for the contention that he was resurrected as a human being, when the Bible does explicitly declare in the clearest words imaginable that he was by necessity resurrected as a spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45, 50) He thus epically failed to define “glorified,” and thus admitted defeat in the nature of DKE. Now he would tell me to “calm down, Jim.” Well, there can be no calming down in the face of this outrageous indignity to the Biblical Jesus. To “calm down” would be to acquiesce to Paul’s opponents who complained that “his letters are weighty and forceful.” (2 Corinthians 10:10) I call it like it is, and he should be humble enough to repent.

The closest he came to a definition is that Jesus’ body is “glorified in that it is supernaturally endowed to be incorruptible.” But that just repeats the same ludicrous and unscriptural claim of DKE proportions. He continued: “Is it really so strange to think that God could raise up a human being incorruptible?” Yes, for he cannot create square circles or freezing infernos as I explained in “The Laws of Physics, Scripture, and Things that are Impossible for God.”

It gets rather frustrating having to explain the obvious to Christological Physicalists, just like it gets frustrating having to explain that the earth is a globe to flat earth believers. It’s the equivalent level of frustration and it’s DKE galore.

He also expresses a failure at comprehending the obvious fact that physical objects occupy physical space. He asks, referring to me: “Does he think that to say that Christ is in heaven is to say that he's floating in in the space around the earth, waving at the astronauts in the ISS? Who has ever suggested such a notion?” Well, if he’s human as you say, then, yes, you’re the one who teaches that nonsense. That you are unable to think long enough to take your belief to its logical conclusion is not my problem. But it is good to see that he finds the immediate logical conclusion of that belief to be nonsense. Physical objects occupy physical space, and that would obviously include the “glorified” physical Jesus. That he and his Trinitarian comrades cannot think long enough to reach that logical conclusion is not my problem. But it does demonstrate why I cannot believe in it. If they cannot believe in the logical conclusions of their own nonsense, then neither can I, nor anyone else who values rational thought, for that matter.

Adding to DKE and failure to comprehend the blindingly obvious, he then expresses uncharitable reading or lack of reading comprehension. Case in point where he quoted me:
Lastly, one scripture that must be showcased is John 6:63, where Jesus answers his question in verse 62: “Then what if you see the Son of Man ascending where he was before?” The “before” is defined for us previously in John 6:38 as being heaven. He then answered that the spirit is life-giving but that “human nature is of no help!” (NET Bible) If that’s Jesus’ view of human nature in heaven, then why would he have one?
The fundamental problem is that Jim misunderstands what Jesus is saying here. Jim takes him to be describing the kind of body that he will have in his resurrection.
That is exactly what I am not describing. I am quite clearly constructing a principle.

Another case in point where he quoted me:
It appears to me that ones insisting otherwise, that Jesus retained his sacrificed Nazarene body are clinging to Jesus’ body when he said “Stop clinging to me,”[1] and are contradicting Jesus when he said that “the flesh is of no use at all” (NWT) “the flesh doesn’t help at all” (HCSB) “the flesh counts for nothing” (NIV) in heaven (per John 6:38). (John 20:17; 6:38, 62-63) He sacrificed his flesh (blood and the rest of his body) during the crucifixion, and by his own admission it is not currently needed in heaven. Thus, in order to obey Jesus’ direct command, we should not cling to it.
He danced around after this quote as he wasn’t able to comprehend its point, and then said regarding what Jesus said to Mary: “If so, whatever. If not, he's obviously misapplied the verse.” Again, I was obviously constructing a principle. This is also quite ironic in the face of his accusation that I am unimaginative. Here I am using my creativity, which he says I lack, at constructing a scriptural principle, which he then fails to understand!

There is much more that my responder fails to understand, and exhibits a tiresome bigoted arrogant complaining mentality, which is unspiritual. (James 3:15; Jude 1:19) He must want to side with this most inane doctrine of Christendom and defend it, turning himself into a closed-minded simpleton, for he has also accepted the refuted and unscriptural Trinitarian ideology.

Let me summarize a resounding response simultaneously covering multiple points: Jesus is currently a Jew EXPERIENTIALLY. Not ontologically. If the latter is true (that Jesus exists as a human however “glorified”), then Jesus has glorified human body parts that he no longer needs (that are only needed on earth): feet, buttocks, sexual organs, eyelashes, corneas, etc. etc. ad nauseam.

Why Christological Physicalists cannot grasp this searingly obvious logical conclusion is incredible. It is akin to flat earth belief. It is a doctrine of demons of the most perverse sort, and is a laughingstock in the secular world—bringing unnecessary disrepute to Christianity. What a wicked sin!—1 Timothy 4:1, 2.

(To his credit, I noted a time when Trinitarian Dr. William Lane Craig appeared to see that logical problem, and sought to avoid it saying that human nature only manifests itself as physical in our universe. [See Defending Trinitarianism] But by saying that, he unwittingly removed human nature from Jesus since human nature by its very definition is physical! For in Trinitarianism, Jesus is ontologically physical albeit mysteriously “glorified” of DKE proportions, not human experientially—by way of past experience.)

But fortunately, my responder also provided a scriptural argument that deserves to be analyzed.

In an entry entitled His Flesh Saw Not Corruption, he quoted Acts 2:24-31 and 13:35-37 that applies King David’s words in Psalm 16:8-10 to Jesus.

With the words of verses 9 and 10 in mind, which say “I reside [Or “my flesh resides.”] in security. 10 For you will not leave me in the Grave. You will not allow your loyal one to see the pit,” he explained:
This plainly shows that the resurrection body of Christ is human and is the self-same physical body that he died in. For only if he rose up in it could it not see corruption.
If he took to heart the description of Jesus’ sufferings before and during the crucifixion, then he would not be able to say that it “is the self-same physical body that he died in.” This is exactly why I say that Christological Physicalists betray ingratitude for the ransom sacrifice. They clearly could care less what the Lord Jesus experienced; all they want is his flesh to relish in. What an incredibly self-serving and shallow mentality! It is revolting.

(The Jewish Study Bible has for verse 9: “So my heart rejoices, my whole being exults, and my body rests secure.” This is not about keeping the corpse! It is rather about the being itself, not molecules of a corpse.)

Additionally, he fails to understand the very simple concept that avoiding corruption is met by simply NOT DECAYING. His sacrificed, crucified body was removed by God as Moses’ body similarly was. Christological Physicalists have therefore turned Jesus’ earthly sojourn body into an idol, exposing themselves as idolaters.

Another point Christological Physicalists fail to understand is sacrifice. What you willfully sacrifice you cannot take back, or it is clearly not a sacrifice. Why they cannot grasp that very simple concept is beyond all rational minds.

He also ignored my presentation on Ignatius, on how this disciple of the Apostle John manifestly denied Christological Physicalism. (This is seen in Appendix D of With what sort of body?)

I will conclude with noting that omission, and noting that Christological Physicalists apply DKE, betray a simpleton mindset akin to flat earth believers, and are idolaters turning Jesus’ sacrificed body into an idol.

For all Christological Physicalists: it is time to repent. Reject your idolatry without delay. Be enlightened! And find the true, Biblical Jesus Christ.