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, which all demonstrate that the body he materialized in was not the same body he died in (as him being 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:

Footnotes:
[1] Seen here: youtu.be/takEeHtRrMw
[2] This cognitive failure was introduced in this entry: Christological Physicalism Reveals Dunning-Kruger Effect jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2019/06/christological-physicalism-reveals.html
[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:
jimspace3000.blogspot.com/search/label/Jesus%27%20resurrection
jimspace3000-index.blogspot.com/#Jesus%27%20resurrection

Appendix
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.)
weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/mean-god-spirit/

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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 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.” http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2010/10/the-laws-of-physics-scripture-and.html

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 http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2012/01/defending-trinitarianism.html] 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.

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Flat earth folly refutes itself

Flat earth goes down the drain

An irrefutable axiom is that “absurdity refutes itself.” If you wait long enough, in a relatively short time an absurd position will eventually refute itself. The flat earth explanation is no exception. This craze propagated on YouTube has refuted itself by unintentionally slipping into explaining geology using globe earth mechanics, as seen right on The Flat Earth Society website. This happened when it tried to explain how volcanoes can work on a flat earth:
Volatile Mountains are formed when molten rock, or magma deep within the earth, erupts, and piles upon the surface. Examples of Volatile Mountains include Mount St. Helens in North America and Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.
So what it calls “volatile mountains” includes volcanoes. How deep within the earth does the magma come from? It answers:
Volcanoes can be caused by "mantle plumes". These so-called "hotspots" , for example at Hawaii, can occur far from plate boundaries.
There can be no mantle in a flat earth, only in a globe earth. A mantle also means there is a core. Therefore, The Flat Earth Society has unwittingly shot itself in the foot with a bazooka.

See screenshot:
Click to enlarge

It also has an article on “Antipodal volcanism” that is as comprehensive as it will ever be:
Click to enlarge

Flat earth fails to explain the very thing it claims to: the earth.

The end.
(This will be the last blog entry on this peculiar topic.)


See also:

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

William Lane Craig on The Ben Shapiro Show

On May 12, 2019 William Lane Craig was interviewed by Ben Shapiro.

I really enjoyed this and now have rejuvenated respect for WLC. I like how he never affirmed Trinitarianism even though Ben seemed to have been baiting him to affirm it. Instead, he stressed that God sent Jesus and that Jesus was the Son of Man from Daniel 7:13-14.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Socrates Scholasticus on the Council of Nicaea

Socrates Scholasticus (c. 380 – after 439), a 5th-century Christian Church Historian, wrote concerning the events preceding the Council:

“Now a short time previous to the general assembling of the bishops, the disputants engaged in preparatory logical contests before the multitudes;”

This was not a closed-doors private affair, it was presented to the general populace beforehand!

He continued:

“and when many were attracted by the interest of their discourse,” [this was no boring affair!] “one of the laity, a confessor, who was a man of unsophisticated understanding, reproved these reasoners, telling them that
Christ and his apostles did not teach us dialectics,[1] art, nor vain subtleties, but simple-mindedness, which is preserved by faith and good works.
As he said this, all present admired the speaker and assented to the justice of his remarks; and the disputants themselves, after hearing his plain statement of the truth, exercised a greater degree of moderation: thus then was the disturbance caused by these logical debates suppressed at this time.”
www.newadvent.org/fathers/26011.htm (Church History, Book 1 chapter 8.)
(End quote)

This anonymous layman spoke the brutal truth, and provides us with a window into the popular mindset and the volatile climate of this theological crisis.[2]

In other words, beliefs about God and Jesus should be rooted first in the Bible and not in philosophy. That layman detected that some theologians were rooting their beliefs in philosophy and admonished them that their beliefs should be rooted in the Bible. Thus, he saw a real danger in their approach and courageously voiced his concern. My heart goes out to that anonymous commoner.


Footnotes:
[1] Defined as the “inquiry into metaphysical contradictions and their solutions.”
[2] The September 1, 1984 Watchtower pp. 25-30 “We Worship What We Know” article referred to this incident apparently through the book A History of Christianity, Volume 1: Beginnings to 1500 by Kenneth S. Latourette (1953), which says on page 154 without any citation to Socrates Scholasticus:
We read that one of these who had suffered for his faith in the persecutions which were of recent memory and who, hearing the pre-council disputes before the gathering at Nicaea, bluntly told the debaters that Christ did not “teach us dialectics, art, or vain subtleties, but simple-mindedness, which is preserved by faith and good works.” (https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.502917/2015.502917.A-History_djvu.txt)
Compare this with the above Watchtower article, which said Jehovah’s Witnesses
share the view of the Christian layman who is recorded as having bluntly told the wrangling theologians assembled in Nicaea in 325 C.E.: ‘Christ did not teach us dialectics, art, or vain subtleties, but simple-mindedness, which is preserved by faith and good works.’ Apparently this man had suffered for his faith in Christ, even as many of Jehovah’s Witnesses have. Like him, they have no faith in theological philosophy. They accept with simplicity what the Bible states about God, Christ and the holy spirit, and they are willing to suffer for their simple faith and prove it by good works. (wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1984647#h=15)
(Underscoring added.)


Additional reading:

Credits:
  • Cover from Wipf and Stock: https://wipfandstock.com/socrates-ecclesiastical-history.html

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Friday, May 10, 2019

Splitting the Adam


In Genesis 2:21, 15:12 both Adam and Abram are described as falling into “a deep sleep.” The Hebrew word here is תרדמה, tardema. In Adam’s case, when he awoke, he found a female human, which he praised as “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Genesis 2:23) In Abram’s case however, “Jehovah then apparently spoke to him in a dream,” as seen in Genesis 15:12-16.[1] Also, in both cases, the Greek word used in the LXX is ἔκστασις (ekstasis)—literally “outside oneself” (producing the English word “ecstatic”). While tardema is used elsewhere in 1 Samuel 26:12, Job 4:13, 33:15, Proverbs 19:15 and Isaiah 29:10, it literally means just “deep sleep,” and it was not translated in the LXX as ἔκστασις.

Now if Abram’s tardema lead to a vision, did Adam’s as well? There is no evidence for this, as Genesis 2:21 even clarifies that “he was sleeping” during the famous rib extraction process, reminiscent of a medical operation. That the LXX translator(s) used ἔκστασις here may indicate that they thought it was like Abram’s, which is fascinating on a historical level, but it cannot be counted as evidence, as the LXX is not divinely inspired and that Genesis 2:21 was not quoted in the Christian Greek Scriptures and applied as a visionary event.

Indeed, a notable difference between Adam and Abram here is that Adam expressed surprise when he awoke, declaring “This is at last…!” Whereas with Abram, the account merely continues from verse 11 with Jehovah accepting his sacrifice.

So while “splitting the Adam” (in obvious wordplay on “splitting the atom”) the text does not lend itself to him experiencing a vision like Abram did. Instead, it most likely lends itself to Adam being “out like a light.”

Footnotes:
[1] “Dream.” Insight on the Scriptures. wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200001222#h=4

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Wednesday, May 01, 2019

All about Plate Tectonics


Plate tectonics or paleogeography has always fascinated me for as far back as I can remember.

Here is a video from PBS Eons explaining this science, its origins, mechanism, and history: Here is another presentation on the importance of plate tectonics, from What If: Here are two online plate tectonics simulators:
Notice how Pangaea was not the first supercontinent.

Of particular interest are projections into future continental configurations together with the concern of human habitability. Regarding that, Amos 4:13 reminds us that the Creator is the “Former of the mountains,” so He is in control of future continental geography and our habitation.

Recommended reading:

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Satanic Scheming - Part 2

The end of diabolical scheming

Scheming after Christ
Portrayed on the floor of a Catholic cathedral in Siena, Italy is a fifteenth-century portrait of Hermes Trismegistus, a mythical pre-Christian pagan Hellenic-Egyptian philosopher. (See Figure 1.) How this was included in church artwork has a long history that will now be explored.

Figure 1

This period of time in early post-Biblical Christian history is murky with only sporadic information on councils and unifying decrees. As one scholar observed: “No absolute certainty can be reached in this field, given the extreme scantiness of the available sources.”[1] Another scholar corroborated: “It is important to recognize how little is actually known about the progress of Nicene orthodoxy along the Danube during the two generations after 381.”[2] “Nicene orthodoxy” was established at the Council of Nicaea convened by Emperor Constantine in 325, which produced the Nicene Creed, which affirmed that the son of God was coeternal and consubstantial [homoousios] with the Father. Secondly, the significance of 381 lies in two events: first, in 380 Roman Emperor Theodosius issued an imperial decree enforcing Nicene theology at the point of a sword, and banned the competing Arianism, the theology that “the son of God was created by the Father and was therefore neither coeternal nor consubstantial with the Father.”[3] Then in 381 he convened the Council of Constantinople to clarify the Nicene theology, bringing Trinitarianism into sharper focus.

But what occurred at the Council of Nicaea and how exactly was the resulting Nicene Creed agreed upon? First, this council presented itself as a welcome relief from the persecution and intolerance inflicted beforehand. However, we must ask if this “olive branch” of peace from the Emperor was another form of persecution to divide and conquer. This question must be objectively considered, for dismissing it would ignore Satan’s previous machinations and thus would be naïve. Illustrating the relevance and importance of this inquiry is what happened to Jesus when he arrived at Golgotha. As recorded at Mark 15:23, “they tried to give him wine drugged with myrrh, but he would not take it.” Thus, “Christ refused to partake of any such means of alleviation; He would retain all His mental power for the complete fulfillment of the Father’s will.”[4] Indeed, if Jesus had accepted this drugged elixir, he would have been contaminated and unable “retain all His mental power for the complete fulfillment of the Father’s will.” Thus, he would have compromised the sacrificial value of his imminent death. This custom then of offering drugged wine to the condemned harmonized with Satan’s scheming, and it too failed. Based on this observation, would Satan mimic this event and offer Christianity, already made vulnerable from previous doctrinal wrangling with heresies and from persecution, a similar elixir meant to alleviate suffering that was really a trap leading to compromise and failure? That is, an elixir in the form of a council in the fourth century to make peace and unity that was actually compromise and heresy?

Legitimizing this inquiry is the contemporary popularity of a body of pagan Egyptian-Greek syncretic philosophy and writings identified as the Corpus Hermeticum. A dictionary explains: “The Egyptian Hermes, known under the name of Trismegistos, was the reputed author of the Corpus Hermeticum, which was widely read by Gnostics and Christians.”[5] Another source states: “some saw in the Hermetic texts an anticipation of Christianity.”[6] So the pagan (and likely demonic) Corpus Hermeticum was being read by Christians—being taught by Hermes Trismegistus—thinking that Hermes anticipated Christ and thus respected his corpus of literature enough to have it influence them. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2: Hermes Trismegistus

It would be prudent then to objectively analyze the historical setting of the Nicene Council, for if it was like the drugged wine Jesus rejected to maintain his integrity before his Father and God, then Christians should reject it as well to maintain their integrity before Jesus and God. The stakes could not be any higher.

Precisely, the key word of contention in the Nicene debates was homoousios, introduced by Constantine in order to unify the discussions. However, as Professor Pier Franco Beatrice stated:
homoousios came straight from Constantine’s Hermetic background. As can be clearly seen in the [Greek Hermetic tractate] Poimandres, … in the theological language of Egyptian paganism the word homoousios meant that the Nous [Mind]-Father and the Logos [Word]-Son, who are two distinct beings, share the same perfection of the divine nature.
He added: “In fact, the only pagan text known so far in which homoousios is used in the context of a discussion specifically and exclusively concerned with the nature of God and his cosmogonic activity is the Poimandres, the first tractate of the Corpus Hermeticum.” And: “The Gnostics evidently drew this word from their Egyptian and Hermetic sources, introducing it for the first time into the Christian lexicon.”[7]

Figure 3: Lactantius

That Constantine had a “Hermetic background” is seen in that one of his favorite advisers, the Christian intellectual Lactantius,[8] “considered Hermes Trismegistus to be a wise pagan prophet who foresaw the coming of Christianity.”[9] (See Figure 3 above.) Thus, Beatrice explains that “Everything becomes clear if we read the strikingly similar texts of Lactantius and Constantine against the background of the Hermetic tradition, rather than of the Christian controversies of their time.”[10] Hermes’ corpus then was esteemed for its wisdom and utilized for composing the Nicene Creed. This is seen in that the Nicene Creed says Jesus is “of one substance with the Father [ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί, homoousion toh Patri],” and Poimandres says regarding “God-the-Mind” [Νοῦς ὁ θεός, Nous ho Theos] that “God’s Reason (Logos) [θεοῦ Λόγος, Theou Logos] … was at-oned with the Formative Mind [“God-the-Mind”]; for it was co-essential [ὁμοούσιος, homoousios] with it.”[11] So in Hermeticism, the Word is homoousios with God the Father, the same in the Nicene Creed coming after it. With Poimandres in mind, Beatrice summarized Hermetic teaching that “the Logos is also defined ‘Son of the Father,’ separate by name but really one with him. The word homoousios appears in the last oracle, designating the consubstantiality of the Logos-Son with the Nous-Father.”[12] Thus, another scholar wrote that “Beatrice’s persuasive evidence that the Nicene Creed’s use of the philosophical word homoousios was drawn from Hermeticism has yet to be appreciated on a wider scale.”[13]

This being the case, we should expect evidence of a strong reaction opposing the inclusion of a Hermetic, pagan and demonic word into a Christian creed. We find just that. Leading dissenting voices expressed the following. One fifth-century Arian document “laments how, in the previous generation, the Nicenes had ‘seized the Church’; they had established there the ‘Abomination of Desolation’ (the homoousion).”[14] (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14) Another Arian document declared: “The odious and execrable, depraved and perverse profession of the homousians” should be “rejected and trampled underfoot as the invention of the Devil and the doctrine of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1) It continued, grouping the “homousians” with other heretical movements and calling them “Antichrists” who are “not teachers but deceivers, not preachers but prevaricators” of “wicked doctrines,” being “evil workers.”[15] (1 John 2:18; Acts 20:29) That homoousios was called an “Abomination of Desolation” and “the invention of the Devil and the doctrine of demons” matches with it being understood as deriving from a pagan and demonic source. That modern scholarship has revealed this to be the Corpus Hermeticum is nothing short of astonishing.

Consequently, with the inclusion of a demonic concept from the pen of “Hermes Trismegistus” into a Christian credal formula—into the Nicene Creed—with the aim of it being a salve, it becomes apparent that the Church drunk from the cup of “wine drugged with myrrh.” Instead of fighting heresy on the Bible’s terms, it chose a compromise route with a pagan and Hermetic word leading to a Hermetic theology. The Church became drugged with apostasy. This spiritual drug persists to this day as seen in Trinitarian apologetics with its veneer of sophistication defending its Hermetic theology. In the face of a veneer of sophistication, Jesus himself responded with a very perceptive comment that equally applies today: “You have a clever way of rejecting God’s law in order to uphold your own teaching.” (Mark 7:9, GNT) The inclusion of homoousios was indeed clever, but it resulted in rejecting Biblical theology—creating a theological disaster inflicting incalculable damage to hermeneutics.[16]

Thus, Beatrice concluded his landmark study with this insight: “Many centuries before being portrayed on the floor of the Siena cathedral (at the end of the fifteenth century), Hermes Trismegistus had already entered the body of Christian doctrine in the semblance of Constantine, setting his seal on the formulation of the Nicene Creed.”[17]

This was indeed Satan’s greatest victory. As he failed in getting Jesus to compromise, he instead was ultimately successful in getting his resulting congregation to compromise, leading not to peace, but to more dissent as sincere Christians strove to recover scriptural theology and restore true worship, much like the rebellion of the Maccabees.

In closing, only by being humble and objective can we break free from confirmation bias and sophisticated veneers. Biblical theology and Christology have been here the entire time, waiting to be seen and recovered, free of the shackles of theological apostasy. In this venture, the Christian congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses has striven the hardest to sober up from the “wine drugged with myrrh” that our exemplar rejected.

Part 1: jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2019/01/satanic-scheming.html

Footnotes:
[1] Pier Franco Beatrice, “The Word ‘Homoousios’ From Hellenism to Christianity,” Church History, Vol. 71, No. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 244.
[2] Neil McLynn, “From Palladius to Maximinus: Passing the Arian Torch,” Journal of Early Christian Studies, Vol. 4, No. 4, Winter 1996 (Johns Hopkins University Press, Winter 1996), 481.
[3] “Arianism.” Oxford English Dictionary.
[4] “Myrrh.” Vine’s Dictionary.
[5] “Thoth.” Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd ed., 1999, 863. “Trismegistos,” the “thrice greatest,” is more commonly known by his Roman spelling Trismegistus.
[6] “Hermetic.” Oxford English Dictionary.
[7] Supra note 1, 243, 257, 263.
[8] Supra note 1, 268.
[9] “Hermeticism.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermeticism
For instance, Lactantius wrote: “But that there is a Son of the Most High God, who is possessed of the greatest power, is shown not only by the unanimous utterances of the prophets, but also by the declaration of Trismegistus.” (The Divine Institutes; Book IV. Of True Wisdom and Religion, Chapter vi.-Almighty God Begat His Son; And the Testimonies of the Sibyls and of Trismegistus Concerning Him.) http://faculty.poly.edu/~jbain/mms/texts/mmslanctantius.htm
Additionally, one scholar reports that “Hermes [Trismegistus] was a favourite prophet of Christians associated with Constantine, notably of Lactantius.” (Caroline Nicholson and Oliver Nicholson. “Lactantius, Hermes Trismegistus and Constantinian Obelisks.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 109 (1989): 198.) (Refer to Appendix C.) He adds that “the Latin Christian apologist Lactantius, … has some claim to being the brains behind Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor.” (Oliver Nicholson, Faculty & Staff Directory. University of Minnesota. https://cla.umn.edu/about/directory/profile/opn)
[10] Supra note 1, 267.
[11] Verses 9 and 10, seen here in an English translation by G.R.S. Mead and in the Greek: http://www.ldysinger.com/@texts/0301_corp_herm/01_poimandres.htm
[12] Supra note 1, 262.
[13] Kegan Chandler, Hermes and Hermeticism: An Historical Introduction. 2017: 2 n. 2. See also his video presentation here: “Revisiting Homoousios: Origins, Intentions, and Aftermath.” burieddeepblog.wordpress.com/2018/12/19/presentation-revisiting-homoousios-origins-intentions-and-aftermath/
[14] Supra note 2, 484.
[15] Peter Heather and John Matthews, The Goths in the Fourth Century, (Liverpool University Press: Liverpool, 1991, 2004), 138-9.
[16] Hermeneutics is “the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible,” deriving from the Greek hermēneutikos, from hermēneuein ‘interpret’.
[17] Supra note 1, 272.

Appendix
  1. Mark 7:9 in different Bibles
  2. Sibyls in Siena
  3. Constantine’s Context
Mark 7:9 in different Bibles
Good News Translation (GNT)
And Jesus continued, “You have a clever way of rejecting God’s law in order to uphold your own teaching.”

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
“Indeed,” he said to them, “you have made a fine art of departing from God’s command in order to keep your tradition!”

Amplified Bible (AMP)
He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside and nullifying the commandment of God in order to keep your [man-made] tradition and regulations.”

The Voice (VOICE)
Then, indeed, you have perfected setting aside God’s commands for the sake of your tradition.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.”

Revised New World Translation (RNWT)
Further, he said to them: “You skillfully disregard the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.”

Sibyls in Siena
Among the portrayals in this cathedral are Isaiah, Moses, Paul, Mary and Jesus. Included in a floor panel is the she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus in Roman mythology surrounded by “emblems of confederate cities.” Lastly, also included more in-line with its portrayal of Hermes Trismegistus are “ten panels of the Sibyls,” pagan Greek prophetesses. Some of these Sibyls are also depicted on the Sistine Chapel ceiling (the Erythraean and Lybian Sibyls) and as statues in Scalzi, Venice (the Hellespontine and Samian Sibyls). So this cathedral is unique in Europe for also depicting Hermes Trismegistus.

The following are links to articles on the artwork in the Siena Cathedral, with the last one explaining the inclusion of Sibylline art, which aligns with the rationale for including Hermes Trismegistus.
Constantine’s Context
The paper “Lactantius, Hermes Trismegistus and Constantinian Obelisks” referenced in footnote 9 contains some fascinating insight into the context of Constantine’s and Lactantius’ reason for employing Hermes Trismegistus:

This paper reports regarding Constantine installing an Egyptian obelisk in Rome that “Constantine may have had more in mind when he decided to offer an obelisk than a desire to keep some of the Senate happy some of the time. Christian significance may be discerned in an oblique manner. Dr Fowden points to a reminiscence in Ammianus’ account of Constantine’s act of a phrase from the Perfect Discourse attributed to Hermes Trismegistus and recalls that Hermes was a favourite prophet of Christians associated with Constantine, notably of Lactantius.” (page 198) According to Lactantius, “The original religion of mankind had been monotheism: ‘God made man to serve and worship him,’” “Ancient men were agreed that the Egyptians had the oldest Gods. To Lactantius this meant that they were the first to be duped into idolatry.” “Lactantius’ view of the history of the world enabled him to find in ancient authors memories, more or less distorted, of primitive monotheism.” “Among these witnesses to primitive monotheism, Hermes Trismegistus held a special place, on account of his considerable antiquity.” (page 199) “Hermes asserted unequivocally the unity of God.” “The words of Hermes were for Lactantius not isolated testimonia torn from their original context, they were fragments of evidence which guaranteed the validity of a larger pattern. Christianity was no novelty, it was the reassertion of the original religion of mankind, the worship of the Most High God.” “Christians in the city which had witnessed the church council convoked by Constantine [at Nicaea] would have no reason to be offended if they looked upon it [the Egyptian obelisk] in the spirit in which Lactantius regarded Hermes Trismegistus, as a monument of the primaeval monotheism which they were trying to revive.” (page 200)[C1]

Thus, Constantine’s context was employing pagan Hermeticism via Lactantius to restore what they thought was “the primaeval monotheism.” Regardless of their noble intentions though, employing Hermeticism resulted in creating a diabolical Chimera protected by the Imperial sword.[C2]

Appendix C footnotes:
[C1] This was not the first attempt at this. Earlier in the third century the Gnostic Mani, founder of Manicheism (from Syriac Mānī ḥayyā “Living Mani”), desired to syncretize world religions and philosophies into “a single gospel.” One historian informs us that
Mani accepted that the message of salvation had been proclaimed to humankind by a succession of prophets and teachers that included Plato, Hermes Trismegistus (in Poimandres), Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus of Nazareth, and Paul, each for his own times and to different peoples. Now, it was time to bring these different proclamations together and proclaim a single gospel from one end of the earth to the other and in all the languages of the day. (W. H. C. Frend. The Rise of Christianity, (Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1984), 316)
So, this religious syncretism provides important historical precedence and context for Lactantius’ and Constantine’s desire to use Hermes Trismegistus for the same goal—exposing it as originally being Manichean and Gnostic.

Figure C1: Mani
[C2] The Chimera was a Greek mythological monster combining the elements of three different animals: a lion with the head of a goat on its back, with its tail being a viper. This three-in-one monstrosity was slain by Bellerophon/Bellerophontes. “The mythological etymology of Bellerophontes[’] name was ‘Slayer of Belleros’ from the Greek Belleros and phonos. However, it is likely that the name originally meant ‘Wielder of Missiles’ from the Greek words belos and phoreô.” (Theoi Greek Mythology: Bellerophon (Bellerophontes) https://www.theoi.com/Heros/Bellerophontes.html) May the three-in-one Trinitarian theology find the same fate from the ‘Slayer of Belial’! (Genesis 3:15; 2 Corinthians 6:15; Revelation 20:10)

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

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Friday, April 05, 2019

Regarding Jesus’ Pre-Human Existence


“Don’t add anything to what I command you, and don’t take away anything from it.”
Deuteronomy 4:2 (The Voice)

Abbreviations:
  • PHE: Jesus’ Pre-Human Existence
  • NPHE: No PHE
I was asked about my appraisal of the explanatory power of NPHE by a NPHE believer. My response:

Thank you for asking. I see scriptural evidence and even explicit statements from Jesus for PHE. I also see NPHE believers making cases for NPHE by explaining away or downplaying the evidence and explicit statements.

Explicit statements
In John 8:21-24 Jesus uses “above and below” dualism and identifies it as locational. In verse 21 he said (NET Bible) “I am going away, and you will look for me but will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” In other words, ‘I am going to a different location, and you will look for me in your current location, but will die in your sin. This different location I am going to you cannot come.’

When pressed for clarification, he answered: “You people are from below; I am from above. You people are from this world [a location]; I am not from this world [a location]. 24 Thus I told you that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”

They will not be able to find Jesus if they reject him as Christ because they will not be able to follow him into heaven. Jesus literally ascended into heaven (a location) at Acts 1:9, “the above” he is going to that his enemies cannot enter.

However, NPHE scholar Kegan Chandler in his “Hermes & John” paper said John 8:23 is ethical dualism and not locational. By saying this, I note he isolated verse 23 from the context and especially from Jesus’ identifying locational language in verse 21. Thus, he had to work very hard to make a case for NPHE. Ethical dualism can be a corollary, but the primary dualism here is locational.

To recap, Jesus identified “above and below” dualism in this context as locational not ethical. If NPHE is true then Jesus was from our world and his argument collapses into nonsense.

Another example of working very hard to make a case for NPHE is in verse 58. Trinitarianism errs by translating it as “before Abraham came into existence, I am!” where “I AM” is said to be the divine name from Exodus 3:14. But for that to be correct, more Greek words would have to be present, as in “before Abraham came into existence, I existed as the I AM!” On the other hand, NPHE posits that Jesus’ words should be understood as being “before Abraham ever existed, I am the Messiah.” (Buzzard, Sir Anthony. The One God, the Father, One Man Messiah Translation – New Testament with Commentary. 2014)

Here though more words are added that are not in the Greek, and are inserted per NPHE. Additionally, this NPHE NT holds that this interpretation of inserting “the Messiah” refers to “the Messiah planned in God’s great design for humanity.” (Footnote 608.)

To review, Trinitarianism doesn’t add words but reads the text in a way that demands more words. NPHE on the other hand adds words and then reads the revised text in a way that demands even more words, as in “before Abraham ever existed, I am the Messiah in the sense of being planned in God’s great design for humanity.”

Is this not a sad state of affairs? Rescuing Bible readers from exegetical oblivion is the more mundane translation of Jesus’ reply: “before Abraham was born, I have been” (1960-1973 NASB with marginal reading), “before Abraham came into existence, I have been” (NWT), and “I existed before Abraham was even born!” (1996 NLT). No dangling “I am” with a blank to be filled in. No, Jesus was indeed attempting to answer their derisive question of seeing Abraham or not—and it was his answer affirming pre-Abrahamic existence that was the final straw.

Pauline Descent Narratives of Ephesians 4:9 and Philippians 2:5-8
Buzzard’s translation presents Ephesians 4:9 as: “it says he ascended, but that means he also had previously descended.” This translation ends the verse prematurely without any explanation and fails to include the highly relevant and qualifying ending of “to the lower regions, namely, the earth.” Hopefully this was an unintentional omission, especially since this omitted phrase may be seen as a significant contribution to the debate, for NPHE interprets these as a descent into the grave. But Ephesians 4:9 says he descended to the earth, not the grave. Thus, NPHE had to truncate this scripture, unintentionally or not, to make room for its exegesis. Either way, this is embarrassing.

When discussing Philippians 2:5-8, to his credit Dale Tuggy in Podcast 49 said it’s possible that this passage can support PHE, but he then had to tear it down and make a case for NPHE.

So yes, in the end I see much evidence for PHE and NPHE believers tearing down arguments for PHE and making cases for why a PHE text has to mean NPHE. One example is John 6:62 where Jesus said: “if you should see the Son of man ascending to where he was before.” Tuggy takes this as an assent from the grave to the surface of the earth, but Jesus identified his location before as heaven in John 3:13, 6:32, 33, 38, 50, 51. I’m afraid Tuggy has to miss Jesus’ point and make a contrary argument. (Coming Down, Cannibalism, and Ascending in John 6 – Part 2.)

I also think that Jesus had a virgin birth which is powerful evidence for PHE. I don’t see it being compatible with NPHE.

Two blog entries I recommend are:
Appendix
  1. God sent out his Son
God sent out his Son
Another Pauline text to take into account is Galatians 4:4, which says: “But when the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman.” (NET Bible) That uses ἐξαποστέλλω (exapestello), meaning: 1) to send forth and 2) to send away.

The use of ἐξαποστέλλω is seen in other scriptures, providing a precedent:
  • Acts 7:12, NASB: “in Egypt, he sent our fathers.”
  • Acts 12:11, NASB: “that the Lord has sent forth His angel.”
  • Gal. 4:6, NASB: “God has sent forth the Spirit.”
So, it appears to be used as going from one location to another. In Galatians 4:4, from one location (the spirit realm) to the earth to be born. The BDAG lexicon supports this in its definition of ἐξαποστέλλω:
1. to send someone off to a locality or on a mission, send away, send off, send out …
b. for fulfillment of a mission in another place [citing Galatians 4:4] …
3. to send someth. off in an official sense, send, dispatch.
Thus, moving from one location to another, only supporting PHE in opposition to NPHE, to be born from a woman.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Tragedy of Hypatia


Regarding Cyril of Alexandria (c. 375-444 C.E.), a journal presented this research:
While he was bishop of Alexandria, Cyril used bribery, libel, and slander in order to depose the bishop of Constantinople. He is considered responsible for the brutal murder in 415 C.E. of a renowned philosopher named Hypatia.[1]
One scholar wrote:
In 415 CE, on her way home from delivering her daily lectures at the university, Hypatia was attacked by a mob of Christian monks [Christopher Haas disputes this identification, arguing that the murderers were more likely “a crowd of Alexandrian laymen.”[2]], dragged from her chariot down the street into a church, and was there stripped naked, beaten to death, and burned. In the aftermath of Hypatia’s death the University of Alexandria was sacked and burned on orders from Cyril, pagan temples were torn down, and there was a mass exodus of intellectuals and artists from the newly-Christianized city of Alexandria.[3]
Intellectuals and artists leave Alexandria as apostates burn its university.

So apostate Christians were whipped into a frenzy by an arch-apostate bishop into murder and anti-intellectualism.

Apostate Christianity injured Western Civilization.

Footnotes:
[1] The Watchtower. April 15, 2001. The Church Fathers—Advocates of Bible Truth? page 20. wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2001283#h=34
[2] Alexandria in Late Antiquity: Topography and Social Conflict. (Baltimore, Maryland and London, England: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), p. 314, in “Hypatia,” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypatia.
[3] Mark, Joshua J. “Hypatia of Alexandria.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified September 02, 2009. www.ancient.eu/Hypatia_of_Alexandria/ Joshua J. Mark also wrote:
By the year 400 CE Alexandria was in constant religious turmoil and, in 415 CE, this resulted in the murder of the Neo-Platonic philosopher Hypatia and, according to some scholars, the burning of the great library and the complete destruction of the temple of Serapis. Alexandria declined rapidly after this date with scholars, scientists, and thinkers of all disciplines leaving the city for safer locales. The city became steadily impoverished after the rise of Christianity, both financially and culturally, and became increasingly a battlefield for warring faiths. (“Alexandria, Egypt.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified May 02, 2018. www.ancient.eu/alexandria/.)


See also:
Credits:
  • Depiction of Hypatia by Elbert Hubbard, 1908, from his work Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Teachers.
  • Burning Of The Royal Library by Science Source.

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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: The first two pictures are 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


Iapetus is also one of Saturn’s moons.

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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. Thus, he was treated like a common contemptuous criminal: shackled to a scourging stake and mercilessly flogged.[7] 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.[8] 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.”[9] 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.”[10] 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.[11] 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.

Part 2: jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2019/04/satanic-scheming-part-2.html

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. Cook repeats this point in his second, 2019 edition where he writes that “There seems to be no evident justification for translating this usage of σταυρός as ‘cross.’” (Page 467.)
[7] Regarding this, I had written that “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.” However, Cook in his second, 2019 edition of Crucifixion in the Mediterranean World disputes this claim that his remains were in this ossuary. (Pages 464-5.) Indeed, supporting this contention is that Dio Cassius did not record a brutal act of nailing his hands to the scourging stake. However, the simple fact that he was scourged alone illustrates the hatred of the Romans without the need to add nailing to it.
[8] Life of Antony 36.4
[9] Antiquities 15.1.2
[10] Supra note 4.
[11] 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.
  • Golden eagle depiction from The Rabbis and Herod’s Golden Eagle https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/rabbis-herods-golden-eagle/

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