Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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Alice C. Linsley

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Alice C. Linsley

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Luwian: Another Theory

Alice C. Linsley

Eberhard Zangger is the head of the international non-profit organization Luwian Studies based in Zurich, Switzerland. He believes that the Luwians were the "Sea People" who destroyed the Hittite Empire 3200 years ago and were also responsible for destabilising the Egyptian New Kingdom. Read more here.

The Luwian populations are called by various names: Luwian or Luian or Luwi. During the Hellenistic Period they were known to inhabit Lycia, Cilicia Aspera, and Crete, which is why they are considered by some to be the "Sea People" to which many Biblical and extra-Biblical texts refer.

Zangger believes the Luwian aggression explains the enigmatic and quick disappearance of many Bronze Age civilizations in the eastern Mediterranean during a period of about 50 years around 1200 BC. This is the conventional explanation of the Bronze Age collapse, but the identity of the Sea People continues to elude scholars.

The Hittites were kinsmen of the Horite Hebrew. Genesis 23 recounts how Abraham the Habiru ruler of Edo/Edom did business with Hittites. Here the Hittites are designated the "sons" of Heth/Het (Gen. 23:2-11) and one of the clans of Canaan (Gen. 10:15). They recognize Abraham as their kinsmen, addressing him as "a great prince among us" (Gen. 23:6).

The clan of Het lived near Kirtiath-Arba or Hebron (Genesis 23:3,7), at the northern boundary of Abraham's territory. This was the location of Sarah's settlement. Here Abraham purchased a cave tomb for Sarah's burial.

It is evident that the Hittites were widely dispersed, from Canaan to the kingdom of Khatti in eastern Asia Minor. The Hittite Empire of the second millennium BC rivaled that of the Babylonians and Egyptians. Current research on the Hittites relate the Hittites to the ancient city of Zippalanda and to recent excavations in Turkey. The Hittite and Luwian peoples were a major influcence on the cultural development of the Aegean civilization.

Hurrians are an ancient people of northern Mesopotamia, Syria, and eastern Asia Minor circa1500 BC and possibly descendants of the Horites that inhabited the Dead Sea region and the Nile Valley. Research suggests an organic connection between the Hurrian and Akkadian languages, although this is disputed by the Russian ethnologist Sergey Arutiunov. Arutiunov believes that the Luwians are the Luwi who live in Luya, on the southern coast of Asia Minor. According to Arutiunov, the Luwian and Hurri languages are not related. I don't agree with him. There seems to be a linguistic connection, but the complexity of languages by 2300–1000 BC is so great that it is difficult to pursue all the connections.

Recent research connects the Luwian hieroglyphs and the Hittite hieroglyphs. The Luwian inscriptions from the Yazilikaya site in Turkey are connected to the Hittite religion. The Luwian scripts took two forms: (1) Akkadian cuneiform, as with the Hittite scripts found at Hattusa, because from the 21st century BC to the late 18th century BC, Assyria controlled Anatolia; and (2) Egyptian hieroglyphic. Both writings systems are connected to the Proto-Saharan rulers who dispersed out of Africa into the Mediterranean and Southern Europe.

The spoken language had properties typical of Chadic, Nilotic and ancient Sumerian languages, which like spoken Luwian, are ergative-agglutinative languages. The Luwian writing system is known from quotations in Hittite documents and from ancient scripts from Crete and Cyprus.

Features of Luwian and Hittite Religion

The Luwian religion is similar to that of the Hurrian or Horite Habiru religion. There is a common symbolism involving the Sun, horns of the cow, stone altars, fortified temples, a binary worldview, etc.

Yazilikaya Water Shrine at Hattusa, Turkey

The binary feature of Hittite religion is expressed in the arrangment of male and female deities. The west wall of the Yazilikaya shrine is adorned with reliefs of gods and the east wall is devoted to goddesses. A relief of great significance shows the divine appointment of a woman by the overshadowing of the Sun and the divine appointment of a ruler as one who wears the horns as a solar cradle.

Another binary aspect of the ancient heliocentric religion is the distinction between heaven and earth. The Creator, known by many names in the ancient world, was portrayed as a male. At the Yazilikaya Sanctuary he is known as Teshub, also written Teshup or Tešup (cuneiform dIM). He makes the T journey (the solar arc) over Earth. One relief at the Yazilikaya shrine depicts the gathering of the celestial beings to witness the marriage between Teshub (Sky) and Hepat (Earth).

The sky was very important to archaic peoples and anything that came from the sky was regarded as coming from the Creator. This included rays of sunlight and meteroritic iron beads. These were perceived as the Creator's semen/seeds giving life to "mother" Earth. Obviously, the Creator was perceived as male/father and the source of fertility.

Divine Appointment

Luwian is the Anatolian language of cattle-herding peoples. The Luwian hieroglyph is a bull's head with horns, the sign of divine appointment. The bull's horns are a prominent feature of the religion of the archiac rulers. It represents the widespread solar symbolism that pertained to the Creator.

It was believed that the divinely appointed ruler would be conceived in his mother's womb by the overshadowing of the Sun, the Creator's emblem. This belief was widely held among the archaic rulers in the Nile Valley, in India, in Mesopotamia, and in Southern Europe. Sargon claimed such a miraculous conception, and according to Luke's Gospel, the Virgin Mary conceived by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).

Horus was conceived when Hathor was overshadowed by the Sun. That is why Hathor is shown wearing the Sun within the horns of the cow.

The Y image came to designate divinely appointed rulers among Abraham's people: Yitzak, Yacob, Yaqtan, Yishmael, Yeshua, Yishbak, etc. One of the signs of divine kingship was that the new born child was swaddled in a red cloak.

The Luwian: Another theory

The Luwian are also known as the Luwi. Luwi resembles the name of the Nilo-Saharan Lwo (Luo), an ethnic group that inhabits South Sudan and Ethiopia. The Luo languages belong to the Nilotic group and form part of the larger Eastern Sudanic family. This is the region of Abraham's Proto-Saharan ancestors.

There are many linguistic and cultural connections between the Luwian and the Nilotic Luo. Consider the word qanyty or qanitti in Genesis 4:1. Cain's mother declares, "Kaniti (Qanitti); I have gotten a man, as has YHWH."
The word qanitti is of Akkadian origin, but it is also found among the Nilotic peoples. This should not surprise us. Akkadian was the language of Nimrod's kingdom and Nimrod was the son of Kush, according to Genesis 10. The Akkadian itti, as in itti šarrim, means "with the king" or "for the king." It is attached to the names of royalty. Even today the Oromo and the Luo attach itti to names: Onditi, Kaartuumitti, Finfinneetti and Dimashqitti. That itti is associated with Nilotic rulers is evident in the name of the great Egyptian queen Nefertitti.

Related reading: Hittite Religion; Haplogroups of Interest to Biblical Anthropologists; The Sun and the Sacred; Abraham and the Hittites; The Yazilikaya Sanctuary; Boats and Cows of the Proto-Saharans; Binary Sets and Gender Distinctions

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ken Ham and the "Ark Park" miss the boat

Image from Answers in Genesis

Alice C. Linsley

This is one of the ads to promote Ken Ham's "Ark Encounter" which is scheduled to open in Kentucky on July 7th. Look carefully at the animals in the doorway of the wooden ark. See a few problems?

At the time Noah lived, Nilo-Saharan rulers were building large boats out of גפר (gofer/gopher) wood, as described in Genesis 6:4. The word gofer refers to reeds and is used in reference to the basket made by Moses mother (Exodus 2:3). The Schocken Bible reads: "Make yourself an Ark of gofer wood, with reeds make the Ark...", Vol. I, p. 35. Noah's ark probably looked like this.

Anthropological study of Noah's ancestry, based on the biblical data, indicates that he was a Proto-Saharan ruler in the region of Lake Chad. This is the only place on earth where the people claim the land to be that of Noah, that is, Borno, in the region of Lake Chad. The word "bor" has a double meaning: "land/territory" and "flood". The Dinka/Nuer word for flood is bor, and the word No is an African variant of the Hebrew Noah.

During the time when Noah would have lived in the region of Lake Chad, this African Shear Zone was very wet due to a 500-year period of monsoonal rains known as the Aqualithic, the Gurian Wet Period, or the African Humid Period.

As to the animals, Proto-Saharan rulers kept personal menageries. The oldest known zoological collection was found during the 2009 excavations at Nekhen on the Nile. The royal menagerie dates to about 3500 BC and included hippos, elephants, baboons and wildcats. Noah likely kept a menagerie which he would have protected in the time of flood.

Were we to test the DNA of Noah and his descendants we would likely find them to be in the R1b Haplogroup (Y-DNA). The Biblical data concerning dispersion of the archaic rulers from this region and the genetic tracking of the dispersion of these peoples corresponds closely.

The dense red dot in central Africa is the region of Bor-No, "the Land of Noah" near Lake Chad.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Q and A with Mr. Jose Bulang

Father of Jose C. Bulang

For a few years I have been having fascinating conversations with Mr. Jose C. Bulang of Bohol in the Philippine Islands. Some of these conversations are available to read under "related reading' at the bottom of this post. What follows is a more recent conversation.

Mr. Bulang: Good afternoon, Madame Linsley. Pardon my ignorance mam, but I wish to ask clarification. Am I right to say that Kushite is a nation being composed of many races or people with mixtures of colors of their skin tones? And among the Kushite is an Ainu race, Ainu or Annun or Annen is a race being of a red skin tone? If Shri Vijaya, accordingly is a brown race which is the description of Malay race, is it possible that they are the Ainu, Annun, or Annen which have only become brown being living along the seas of the southeast Asia island countries?

Alice: In Genesis chapter 10, we find that one of Noah's grandsons was named Kush (also spelled Cush in English). He had many descendants. The Kushite peoples are in the R1 Haplogroup which has 2 main subgroups - R1a and R1b. There are a range of physical features in the R1 haplogroup. The point of origin is the Upper Nile Valley (Nubia, Ethiopia, Somalia, etc.) and the Lake Chad area of Africa. The physical features include dark skin, light brown skin, yellow-brown skin, and a reddish brown skin tone. Hair types varied also.

The Kushite ruler-priests dispersed into Mesopotamia, Southern Europe, and Northern India where they were called "Saka" and said to have ruled the ancient world for 7000 years. Among them were the Kushan-Yuezhi who called themselves Visha or the VijayaVijaya is usually rendered "tribes" although the word refers to their two ruling royal houses, as in vijana, the splitting of wisdom. The honorific title Pharaoh derive from pr-aa, which means "great house." In Vedic tradition, pra-jna means "wisdom of the great house." The Vijaya are called "Vaishnavites" in Andhra Pradesh and Indonesia. They were "Vijay-ana-gar" kings. You can see the words Vijaya - Anu - and Gar in this word. The Ainu dispersed out of Africa before Kush's time. They were already in Indonesia, Okinawa, and Hokkaido by 20,000 years ago. Noah lived long after this, close to the end of the Africa Humid Period, an interval between 16,000 and 6,000 years ago when Africa was much wetter due to a strengthening of the African monsoon.

Mr. Bulang: I learned of many things from the past from the knowledge you imparted to me.  As regards the ancient name of the Creator Aza/Azu/Asha, is it related to the Arabic word AZIZ? Names like ABD UL AZIZ literally mean "place of Aziz," I hope I am correct.  Is there a connection between these words and if there is then how have this entered into the Arabic language.  Pardon my curiousity, but I wonder why most of the words you have mentioned are appearing in other places and uses.

Alice: The Arabic word Aziz refers to the Creator. It means "powerful, respected, beloved", derived from Arabic عزّ ('azza) meaning "to be powerful" or "to be cherished". In Islamic tradition al-'Aziz is one of the 99 names of Allah. Arabic was the language of the Kushite traders who came to the Philippines in the 10th century AD. Sargon I is said to have been the son of a woman who was overshadowed by the High God. His home was called Azu-piranu, meaning house/sun temple of God (Azu in Akkadian, Asa in Chadic, Asha in Kushitic, and Ashai in Hebrew.)

Mr. Bulang: Thank you madame for your generosity of sharing this vast knowledge about people. Have you any literature about the word JAH-BUL-ON?  My limited knowledge about it is this is a combination of three name of GODS in ancient times, of different times and of different places and from it comes the word RAJAH or BAAL. I read somewhere that JAH-BUL-ON was translated like "I am what I am, Lord Most High, Father of All" and if the translation is correct is the word BUL, related to Melchizedik the Priest of the LORD MOST HIGH who met Abraham after he and his 318 warriors won in a battle against the 5 Kings?

Alice: I do not believe that Jah-bul-on means "I am what I am, Lord Most High, Father of All." Jah or Yah is a very ancient name for the Creator God and it originated in the region on the Upper Nile. The divine name appears on monuments and altars there. Two hieroglyphic references dating to the New Kingdom (BC 1550-1069) refer to “the land of the Shasu of YHWH.” These are the oldest references to YHWH outside the Bible. The "Shasu of Yhw" is found on inscriptions from the Nubian temples of Soleb and Amara West, and corresponds precisely to the tetragrammaton YHWH.

Reproduction of the hieroglyphic inscription of YHWH (1400 BC) from the Soleb built by Amenhotep III
Credit: Benny Bonte

Melchizedek was a Jebusite ruler-priest. The Jebusites controlled Jerusalem before the time of King David. They were ethnically Kushite. Melchizedek was Abraham's priest and one of his kinsmen.

The word bul refers to a kingdom or a territory, such as in the word Bulgaria, which means Kingdom of the Gur/Ghur/Gurjar. The word On is a reference to the Ainu who were the first builders of the great Nilotic shrine at On (Heliopolis, Sun City). Genesis chapter 41 says that Joseph married the daughter of the ruler-priest of On. The people of Bohol, where you live are called Bul-Annun, which would mean people of Annun territory. (The arrival of the Kushite rulers in Bohol probably corresponds to the time of the Eskaya alphabet, about AD 670.) Likewise, there are Sugbu-Annun (Cebuano) of Cebu; Buay-Annun of Buayan, Butu-Annun of Butuan, and Hiligay-annun or Ilonggo of Anninipay (Panay).

Mr. Bulang:  Dear Madame Linsley, Noah was born about 5,000 BCE. I read that the Kingdom of Ur was founded by Ur son of Kessed offspring of Arphasad son of Shem son of Noah about 4,000 BCE. This UR city, which at its time is the biggest in the world with a population of 65,000, ceased to exist about 450 BCE. I believe that it is safe to assume that at the time of UR it was the seat of knowledge of religion, sciences, and even hidden wisdom. And Abraham was born about 2,000 BCE at Ur Kasdim or Ur of the Chaldeans.

Alice:  Noah's homeland was in the region of Lake Chad. This is the point of origin of many of the people in the R1b Haplogroup, including Abraham's Proto-Saharan ancestors. The story of Abraham opens in the Bible with him living in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley because that is the territory of his Kushite ancestor, Nimrod. Abraham's father was a descendant of Nimrod and a ruler-priest who maintained two wives. One resided at Ur and the other at Haran. Terah died in Haran. This map shows the dispersion of the peoples in the R1b Haplogroup. Note the deep red in the location of Lake Chad in central Africa. That is Noah's homeland, called Bornu, meaning "Land of Noah." The density of people in the R1b group is quite great there, as it is in Spain, France and the British Isles. There is a range of physical appearance among these peoples, yet they are kin.

Mr. Bulang: You told me that the Ainu, Annun, or Annen, which is the race of Abraham, have already reached southeast Asian island about 20,000 years ago even before the period of Noah, Terah, and Abraham and the existence of the city of Ur. So the Ainu, Annun, or Annen who first reach the south east asian island may not yet have the knowledge of Noah, Terah, Ophir, Abraham, and the City of Ur when they reach Southeast Asia. Or they are already trading with city of UR at the time of birth of Abraham, which one?

Alice: There were Ainu among Abraham's ancestors, certainly, but they were only one people group from whom Noah, Terah and Abraham descended. All of these men were rulers and the ruling houses of the Proto-Saharans and the Nilotes intermarried. These archaic kingdom builders built many urban centers and many of them have the designation 'R because that indicates a shrine city. Examples include ER-ech, IR-ad, AR-am, AR-menia, and Tamana IR-ik, a town in Papua New Guinea.  In the Phippines you have a ruler of Ur, Rajah Urangguwan, who governs the people called Ur-Annun. These fortified cities were usually at higher elevations and therefore are called "the high places" in the Bible. In ancient Sumerian ékur refers to a mountain house, a pyramid, or an elevated Sun temple.

Mr. Bulang: Abraham has his six sons from Keturah who he sends to the far away country on the East, far away from Abraham (Gen 25.6) which happen about 2,000 years BCE. And he give gifts to his sons of Keturah. But no mention of what the gifts are, right mam?

Alice:  Abraham had nine sons. His two firstborn were Joktan (Yaqtan) and Isaac (Yitzak). Isaac was his proper heir and inherited Abraham's territory in Edom after Abraham died. Yaqtan ruled as a prime minister in the territory of his maternal grandfather, after whom he was named. The Joktanite clans still reside in Southern Arabia. Some of these are called "Dedanites" in the Bible.

The typical gifts given to sent-away sons included: slaves, cattle, sheep, donkeys, camels, warriors, weapons, tents, ropes, metal objects and ritual objects such as circumcisin knives and protective amulets and figurines.

Mr. Bulang: I am thinking deeply. If I am to be Abraham what gifts will I give to my beloved six sons? They are beloved because their mother is my cousin Ainu, annun, annen, my race and blood and a daughter of my uncle a ruler priest, and surely beloved because I am able to have six sons with her several times more than my other wives. I am thinking that if I am Abraham I will give the following gifts:

1. Territory

2. I will gift my sons the Titles of Royalties or Monarchy form of government appropriate for their being sons of a ruler priest. I will provide the King Making Rights and the titles and maybe just maybe I will give the highest title worthy of a King of my Ainu, Annun, Annen race the title RA+YAH (son God RA plus highest God YAH) which become RAJAH which are the titles of highest nobility of Southeast Asian Empire Shri Vijaya and all the Kingdoms of the Ophir or Philippines as mentioned such that Buul has Rajah Sikatuna, Sugbu has Rajah Humabon, Buayan has Rajah Balatamay, Ur has Rajah Urangguwan , Butuan has Rajah Silongan, Rajah Siagu, Anninipay (Panay) has Rajah Marikudo.

3. I will gift my sons of religion of my forefathers... and because there were six of them I will consecrate them as ruler priest, but I will surely insure that they will be a priest of a God Most High. My father when praying he would raise his hands from the below forming letter V while imploring then close his palms up and bring it down in inverted V like the shield of David, raising him as offering from the mother Earth to the father in heaven, and imploring that the father in heaven bring his blessings down to the mother earth.

4. I will gift my sons with  knowledge and wisdom of mining, engineering, navigation, and architectures.  That is the reason why where my sons are settled there are petroleum reserves. This thing I been wondering that mostly of the areas where there are royalties there are petroleum or mineral reserves, and I would say they are blessed. I read somewhere that Abraham gifted his sons with black magic. I think it is out of character to a Patriarch like Abraham to gift his sons, blood of his blood and flesh of his flesh, with black magic, what you think?

Alice:  Black magic, sorcery, and all occult practices were forbidden to the Habiru (Hebrew) ruler-priests. Unlike shamans who consult the spirits, the ruler-priests of the Bible consulted only the Holy Spirit through prayer and study of holy Scriptures. When Saul consulted a medium to call up the spirit of Samuel, he was condemned for this as a great evil. Samuel, the Horite prophet, told him, "For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king." (1 Samuel 15:22-24)

Your sons will have a good inheritance from you. There is no gift as great as the gift of knowing who we are and the faith traditions of our ancestors. Only then can we live in accordance with their good values.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Anglican Priesthood in Anthropological Context

Alice C. Linsley

Anglican holy orders include bishop, priest and deacons. Some priests may also be monks. In the Eastern churches these are called "hieromonks" and all bishops in the Eastern Orthodox churches are taken from the ranks of celibate monks. This is one of the differences between Anglican orders and Eastern Orthodox orders. Anglican and Eastern Orthodox orders differ also from Roman Catholic orders on the matter of celibacy. Contrary to the position of the Roman Church, priests of old, that order from which the priesthood of the Church emerged, married and enjoyed sexual relations with their wives. However, they abstained from sex, shaved their bodies, fasted, and entered periods of intense prayer in preparation for their time of service at the temple or shrine. Married Orthodox clergy continue this practice, abstaining from sexual relations with their wives for 24 hours prior to presiding at the Divine Liturgy.

Before the ordination of women priests, Anglican orders were more highly regarded by the hierarchs of both the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches. This innovation devalued Anglican orders in the view of those churches and continues to be an obstacle to wholeness within catholic Christendom. The innovation reveals confusion about the nature of the priesthood and suggests infidelity to the received tradition of the Apostles which was embraced by the early priests of the Church. The ordination of women as priests is an accommodation to a culture that does not understand blood covenants or the distinction between the blood work of males and females. The contemporary confusion about the distinction between life and death reflects this lack of understanding. (The matter of blood work will be addressed in the last section of this paper.)

The heresy of gender equality

At the outset, the reader should understand that this paper does not advocate either the complementarian view of men and women in the Church or the Roman sacramental arguments against women's ordination. I agree with Dr. William Witt that these arguments are not found in the early Fathers' writings and they are not convincing. Dr. Witt's objection is to innovations in response to cultural changes. That seems to be a vote for holding on to the original pattern which is the male priesthood. My objection to women priests is based on anthropological study of why women were never priests until the 20th century. Ultimately, the question rests on whether the Church has the authority to change received tradition that extends back to Jesus' ancestors named in the king lists of Genesis 4 and 5. Should the Church decide it has such authority, it must recognize that a woman priest also changes our received Christology.

The biblical view of men and women is not complementarian. It is binary and reflects acute observation of reality on the part of the ancients. The assertion that women and male are equal is a heresy. Citing Genesis 1:27 to prove the complementarian position reveals ignorance of the larger pattern in Scripture. In its context this verse makes a distinction between humans and other animals. The phrase "male and female" is a biblical merism that parallels the phrase "God created man in the image of God..." This verse speaks about ontology. It does not speak about equality as that notion is taken today. Today gender equality has become tyranny for Christians who desire to adhere to biblical teaching.

The female form speaks of birth, but is not the source of life. Mary brought forth Jesus, and Jesus honored her, but she is not Christ's equal in divinity or glory. This is consistent with the binary pattern of Scripture in which one entity in the binary set (light-dark, male-female, etc.) is superior in a visible way to the other: the sun is the greater light, the moon the lesser as its light is refulgent. Males are large and stronger than females. The one must be stronger in order to save the weaker. Christ must be overall in order to stoop to save all. Further, this binary feature of the Biblical worldview militates against Asian dualism, a framework in which the blood work of Christ becomes meaningless.

The veneration of Mary expresses the truth that she is unique among women as God-bearer. Her service is to the greater glory of her divine Son just as the Church's service to Christ is as a weaker vessel. The argument that the Church is female and this justifies women priests is illogical and unfounded when we study the biblical pattern.

The Roman argument against women priests

For Martin Luther, the priest stands at the altar in persona christi. This Eucharistic theology was developed in the writings of Thomas Aquinas and reiterated by Paul VI's Inter Insigniores in October 1976 and further clarified by Cardinal Ratzinger in Responsum ad Propositum Dubium in November 1995.

The encyclical Inter Insigniores bears closer examination in its assertion that the canonical documents of the oldest Christian communities preserved the pattern they had received.

The Catholic Church has never felt that priestly or episcopal ordination can be validly conferred on women. A few heretical sects in the first centuries, especially Gnostic ones, entrusted the exercise of the priestly ministry to women: This innovation was immediately noted and condemned by the Fathers, who considered it as unacceptable in the Church. It is true that in the writings of the Fathers, one will find the undeniable influence of prejudices unfavourable to woman, but nevertheless, it should be noted that these prejudices had hardly any influences on their pastoral activity, and still less on their spiritual direction. But over and above these considerations inspired by the spirit of the times, one finds expressed -- especially in the canonical documents of the Antiochan and Egyptian traditions -- this essential reason, namely, that by calling only men to the priestly Order and ministry in its true sense, the Church intends to remain faithful to the type of ordained ministry willed by the Lord Jesus Christ and carefully maintained by the Apostles. 

Responsum ad Dubium concludes with these words:

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of Our ministry of confirming the brethren. We declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.

In her book The Catholic Priesthood and Women, Catholic laywoman Sara Butler acknowledges that a shift has taken place in Catholic theology as a result of the affirmation of the gender equality. She recognizes that this view undermines traditional arguments against women priests. She acknowledges that the in persona christi argument first appeared in Paul VI's Inter Insigniores.

Anglo-Catholics have embraced the Roman position that the priest acts in persona christi and many Anglicans are unaware of  the Eastern Orthodox position that the priest acts in persona ecclesiae. Dr. Witt believes that the Orthodox view removes the objection based on gender representation. However, this is not so.  In Eastern Orthodox theology the Church is viewed as the "new Israel" and the figurehead of the new Israel is the male priest, the "father" who offers sacrifice for the family (as did Job) and baptizes and chrismates. Father Georges Florovsky points to this in the following statement:

The first followers of Jesus in the "days of His flesh," were not isolated individuals engaged in their private quest for truth. They were Israelite regular members of an established and instituted Community of the "Chosen People" of God ... Indeed; a "Church" already existed when Jesus began His ministry. It was Israel, the People of the Covenant... The existing Covenant was the constant background of His preaching. The Sermon on the Mount was addressed not to an occasional crowd of accidental listeners, but rather to an "inner circle" of those who were already following Jesus . . . "The Little Flock" that the community which Jesus had gathered around Himself was, in fact, the faithful "Remnant" of Israel, a reconstituted People of God. Each person had to respond individually by an act of personal faith. This personal commitment of faith, however, incorporated the believer into the Community. And this remained forever the pattern of Christian existence: one should believe and confess, and then he is baptized, baptized into the Body. ("Worship and Everyday Life: An Eastern Orthodox View," Studia Patristica, vol. 2 (1963), p. 266.

The Orthodox maintain that God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants were fulfilled through
Christ and His Church. “In Christ, then, the covenant with Israel was fulfilled, transformed, and transcended. After the coming of the Messiah—the Incarnation of God the Son—only those who are ‘built into Christ’ are counted among the people of God. In Christ, the old Israel is superseded by the Christian Church, the new Israel, the body of Christ; the old covenant is completed in the new covenant in and through Jesus Christ” (George Cronk, The Message of the Bible; St. Vladimir Seminary Press; 1982, p. 80).

In other words, those who faithfully believe in Jesus Christ inherit the status that Israel had before it rejected the Messiah. This view is based on a wrong interpretation of Galatians 3:7-9: “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham . . . if you are Christ’s then you are of Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Paul is not speaking of the Church supplanting the faithful of Israel when he calls the followers of Jesus “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). He is reiterating that the pattern of faith and the ground of salvation are the same for all faithful people throughout time. This touches on Paul's understanding of the pleromic nature of the Blood of Jesus. Nor can the Orthodox view of the relation of the Church and Israel be supported by I Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” for here Peter is addressing believing Jews in the diaspora. They were for the most part biological descendants of the ruler-priest caste from which the priesthood of the Church emerged. Martin Luther's generalization of the priesthood to all believers served his purpose by undermining the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, but it also deflects from historical facts concerning the origin and nature of the priesthood.

What is the Priesthood?

Many years of anthropological investigation using Biblical data has convinced me that Messianic expectation is one of the earliest religious beliefs. It is expressed in the burial practices of Abraham's archaic ancestors who believed in bodily resurrection and anticipated the coming of a Righteous Ruler who would overcome death and lead His people to immortality.

From the earliest times, the office of priest and ruler were connected. The ruler-priest stood as the altar as one who intercedes for his people, offering sacrifice according to divinely inspired law. The anticipation of the One who would overcome death, crush the serpent's head under His feet, was fulfilled in only one ruler-priest, Jesus the Messiah.

The Christian priest is to be like Jesus Christ, exemplifying Christ in purity of life and in masculine form. When Anglicans contemplate reception of Christ's body and blood in the Eucharist, it is appropriate to see before them a masculine form. Likewise, in contemplation of the Annunciation and Incarnation we would have before us an image or icon of Mary, not a masculine form. To place a female form at the altar unravels the fabric of the Messianic tradition. It tells this story: The ewe who gives birth, and nurtures with her milk, is sacrificed, offering herself for the life of the world. It simply does not work! The ewe is a timid creature who stays with her young and seeks protection from the ram when threatened. She embodies feminine virtues and her self-sacrifice is at odds with the order of creation.

Here is another story told by the female standing at altar: The one who saves is the daughter of God. The divine council agrees to take the life of one who is divinely designed to give life. Now we have a pagan tragedy!

Despite what feminists, politically-correct academics, and rights activists might say, the ministry of priests in the Church developed organically from the Horite priesthood of Abraham's people and was exclusively the work of a select group of men (a ruler-priest caste) whose devotion to the worship of the Creator involved, by today's standards, extreme asceticism and purity of life. That there were priestesses in the Greco-Roman world is irrelevant to the question of women priests in the Church because this practice has no connection to the priesthood known by Jesus Christ and his followers. Failure to make this distinction has led to much confusion and obfuscation.

In the ancient world Horite priests were known for their purity, sobriety and devotion to the High God whose emblem was the Sun. Plutarch wrote that the “priests of the Sun at Heliopolis never carry wine into their temples, for they regard it as indecent for those who are devoted to the service of any god to indulge in the drinking of wine whilst they are under the immediate inspection of their Lord and King. The priests of the other deities are not so scrupulous in this respect, for they use it, though sparingly.”

The Horite priests, who are often called "Habiru" (Hebrew) in ancient texts, worshiped the Creator when other peoples were worshiping lesser deities. They anticipated the coming of the Seed of God (Gen. 3:15) and believed that He would be born of their ruler-priest bloodlines. That is why the lines of priests intermarried exclusively and why unchaste daughters of priests were burned alive (Lev. 21:9). Sexual impurity was not tolerated.

In the ancient world, only men born into the priestly caste could serve a priests and many of those never did. Some served in sub-castes as warriors, scribes, and metal workers. There was never a question about having a "right" to this work. It was reserved for those who were born into the caste or sub-caste. Among Abraham's ancestors bloodline was traced through the mothers, as is still the case today with Jews. Social status and occupation were traced through the fathers. Jesus' bloodline is traced through his mother. His social status and work as a carpenter came through Joseph's line. Both Mary and Joseph were of the Horite ruler-priests caste and they were cousins.

The Horite marriage and ascendancy pattern remained unchanged from the Neolithic period of Genesis 4 and 5 (the lines of Cain and Seth) to the time of Joseph and Mary. The pattern can be traced through the Bible using the anthropological tool of kinship analysis, and it is an impossibility that this pattern could have been written back into the text at a late date.

There were priests among Jesus' first followers. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were members of the Sanhedrin and of the Horite ruler-priest caste. Arimathea refers to the Horite line of Matthew or Matthea. This was Jesus' ancestry through both Mary and Joseph. Horite priests expected a Righteous Ruler to defeat death and lead his people to immortality. This is why Horite priests took great precautions in the preparation of the bodies of dead kings. It is likely that Joseph of Arimathea and Joseph, the husband of Mary, were both of the Pharisee persuasion.

Priests were dispersed throughout Palestine. Settlements often took their names from the priestly division that resided there. For example, Nazareth was the home of the eighteenth priestly division, Hapi-tsets (a word of Nilotic origin), so Nazareth is Happizzez in 1 Chronicles 24:15. Nazareth was the home of Joseph who married Jesus' mother. Mary was from Bethlehem. Her full name would have been "Miriam Daughter of Joachim, Son of Pntjr, Priest of Nathan of Bethlehem." From predynastic times among the Egyptian Horites, ntjr designated God or the king. Pntjr is Pa-Netjer, the name of Joachim’s mother. The Horite priests traced descent through both the mother and the father. A limestone stela (1539-1291 B.C.) bearing the names of Pekhty-nisu and his wife Pa-netjer is on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. The Ancient Egyptian word nisu (ruler) became nasi in Hebrew and applied to the High Priest who presided over the Sanhedrin.

Through Mary the promise of Genesis 3:15 came to be fulfilled. The Seed of the Woman crushed the serpent's head and death has been overcome. The ancient expectation of a divine royal son who would overcome death and lead his people to immortality was fulfilled.

The connection between Bethlehem and the Horites is alluded to in I Chronicles 4:4, which lists Hur/Hor as the "father of Bethlehem." To this day Jews call their ancestors Horim, which is Horite in English. The ancient Horite priests were devotees of Horus, the son of Ra, the creator. Horus' conception took place by divine overshadowing. He is the pattern by which Jesus would be recognized by Abraham's descendants as the Son of God. When the Virgin Mary asked how she was to have a child since she "knew" no man, "The angel answered her and said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the holy child will be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35)

Anglican Orders and the Horite Priesthood

None of the twelve Apostles served as ruler-priests, as far as we know. Originally only priests belonging to prominent families were members of the Sanhedrin (bet din). A "prominent" family was one whose lineages could be traced back to Horite ruler-priests of renown. These members of the Sanhedrin served under the presidency of the high priest much as priests today served under the presidency of their bishop. The high priest bore the title nasi (ruler, king, prince) and retained this even after the presidency was transferred to other hands. Similarly, in Anglican orders there is an understanding that a bishop remains a bishop even after he has stepped down from serving in that office.

The second in charge was a ruler-priest who was called ab bet din (father of the court). The role of the ab bet din appears to have been a combination of the roles of the Bishop's chaplain and the chancellor of the Diocese who serves as the chief legal consultant to the Bishop.

The third century Rabbi Johanan enumerates the qualifications of the members of the Sanhedrin as follows: they must be tall, of imposing appearance, of advanced age, and scholars. They were also required to be adept in the use of foreign languages.

The only followers of Jesus that are known to be members of the Sanhedrin were James the Just, Nicodemus, and Joseph bouleutēs (honorable counselor).  Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin, was "waiting for the kingdom of God" according to Mark 15:43. He is designated Joseph Hari-Mathea (not Arimathea), that is, Joseph of the Horite line of Matthew. Apparently, he had business and family connections in the British Isles. Eusebius of Caesarea (AD 260–340) may have been referring to this connection in Demonstratio Evangelica when he reports that some of Jesus' earliest disciples "have crossed the Ocean and reached the Isles of Britain." Since a qualification of membership in the Sanhedrin was facility of languages, Joseph would have been able to communicate with the people of Britain.

As a ruler-priest Joseph would have appointed men who were qualified to serve as priests in Britain. Being of advanced age, he would have been older than Jesus and the disciples. This suggests that the priesthood came to Britain very early and is older than generally supposed. It must be nearly as early as the episcopacy of Evodius of Antioch (53–69 A.D.) and the episcopacy of James the Just of Jerusalem (d. 69 A.D.), but would likely precede the episcopacy of Linus of Rome (67-79 AD).

Further, the legend concerning Joseph of Hari-Mathea coming to Britain has basis in science. Horite priests were among the Ainu and genetic studies have confirmed that the Ainu dispersed widely across the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion. Some came to the British Isles and Scandinavia and migrated to Greenland, Labrador and Eastern Canada where they are called "Micmac."

Anthropological studies have shown that the Ainu were among Abraham's Nilotic ancestors. Further, Genesis 41 confirms that Joseph, the son of Jacob, married the daughter of a priest of On (Heliopolis) and On has been identified as an Ainu shrine city.

Received Tradition and Change

The priesthood as a tradition received from Jesus' Horite ancestors and it was a tradition which the Hebrews, and later the Jews, and then Christians preserved without change. The Church does not have the authority to change this tradition any more than it has authority to change the doctrine of Jesus' two natures, or the Eucharistic words of institution. This is the consensus of the Church Fathers, the Council of Nicaea (Canon 19), and the Council of Laodicea (Canon 11), as well as the consensus of the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II spoke ex cathedra on female priests in 1994. Observing that the male priesthood had been "preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and clearly taught by the Magisterium in recent documents," he decreed that the Church has "no authority to confer priestly ordination on women."

In "The Veiling of the Virgins" Tertullian speaks of the sacerdotal life as a "male function," and St John Chrysostom wrote, "When one is required to preside over the Church, and be entrusted with the care of so many souls, the whole female sex must retire before the magnitude of the task, and the majority of men also” (On the Priesthood).

The Western tendency to innovate is not a new development. Speaking against this tendency, St. Basil the Great wrote, “The dogmas of the Fathers are held in contempt, the Apostolic traditions are disdained, the churches are subject to the novelties of innovators” (Letter 90, To the Most Holy Brethren and Bishops Found in the West).

This willful disregard of Apostolic traditions reached new heights in the Episcopal Church with the unprecedented and politically-motivated decisions to ordain women and non-celibate homosexuals. Again, St. Basil's words well describe the present condition of that body which can scarcely be called a "church." He wrote:

“Every man is a theologian; it does not matter that his soul is covered with more blemishes than can be counted.  The result is that these innovators find an abundance of men to join their factions. So ambitious, self-elected men divide the government of the churches among themselves, and reject the authority of the Holy Spirit.  The ordinances of the Gospel have been thrown into confusion everywhere for lack of discipline; the jostling for high positions is incredible, as every ambitious man tries to thrust himself into high office. The result of this lust for power is that wild anarchy prevails among the people; the exhortations of those in authority are rendered utterly void and unprofitable, since every man in his arrogant delusion thinks that it is more his business to give orders to others than to obey anyone himself” (On the Holy Spirit).

Feminist theologians have pressed the Church to ordain women, seeking to overthrow the wisdom of the Fathers and the Councils in their own brand of "liberation theology." They paint only one portrait; that of universal male oppression of women. They misrepresent the reality of women in the early church and in the Bible. Phoebe, Lydia, Priscilla were ministers in the early church, and more than 90% of the women named in the Bible are the wives and daughters of high ranking ruler-priests and they exercised considerable influences in their communities. Further, in the Eastern Orthodox Church women are highly revered and at least half the icons in a given church are of women saints, martyrs, and a few women who are regarded as "equal to the Apostles," such as Photini (the Woman at the Well), and a central place is given to the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is venerated, as she was by early Christians. Feminists theologians would overthrow any tradition which they regard as misogynistic to advance their agenda. For such as these, St. John Chrysostom has these stern words: “The divine law indeed has excluded women from this ministry, but they endeavor to thrust themselves into it; and since they can effect nothing of themselves, they do all through the agency of others.” (De Sacerdotio)  A review of the past 30 years of the Episcopal Church's history makes it fairly easy to identify who the "others" are.

Breaking the Ancient Pattern

It is a historical and anthropological observation that no woman ever served in the office of priest until 1944, at which time Florence Li Tim-Oi was ordained by Ronald Hall, Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong, in response to the crisis among Anglicans in Communist China. She later stepped down from serving as a priest. In 1976 the Episcopal Church broke the age-old tradition of the all-male priesthood by vote of General Convention. At that time the "irregular" ordinations of the "Philadelphia Eleven" and the "Washington Four" were made regular. The first woman ordained to the priesthood in the United States was Ellen Marie Barrett (January 1977). She was ordained by the Rt. Rev. Paul Moore, Jr., Bishop of New York. Ellen Barrett, a lesbian, had served as Integrity's first co-president. Other lesbians had been among the Philadelphia Eleven. In the United States, the ordination of women and gay and lesbian "rights" were intertwined from the beginning, so that today it is difficult to treat these as separate issues. Both have been framed as "equal rights" issues, revealing a profound misunderstanding of the nature of the priesthood.

The faith of Christ, the Son of God, is an unchangeable tradition coming from Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors who were a caste of ruler-priests who, as devotees of Horus, were called "Horites." They came to rule the Nile and many of the major water systems of the ancient world. Josephus calls the descendants of Abraham by Keturah "Horites" and quoting another ancient historian, speaks of them as "conquerors of Egypt and founders of the Assyrian Empire." These Nilo-Saharan ancestors of Abraham did indeed come to rule Egypt where they built remarkable shrine cities at Karnak and Heliopolis (Biblical On).

In "Isis and Osiris" Plutarch remarked that Horite priests burned incense three times a day: frankincense at dawn, myrrh at mid-day, and kyphi at dusk. These were the three most significant points in the Sun's daily journey and high noon was considered the sacred center, a time when there are no shadows (cf. James 1:17).

The distinctive traits of the Horite belief system align remarkable well with key features of catholic faith and practice because Christianity emerged from the belief system of Abraham's Horite people. Consider these beliefs:
  • Male ruler-priests who were mediators between God and the community
  • A binary (versus a dualistic) worldview
  • Blood sacrifice at altars for atonement
  • Expectation of the appearing of the Son of God in the flesh
  • God's will on earth as in heaven, interpreted by morehs or prophets
  • Belief in an eternal and undivided kingdom to be ruled by the Son of God
  • Belief in a Righteous Ruler, the Son of God, who they called Horus, who would overcome death and lead his people to immortality. This last point was a bone of contention between the Pharisees and the Sadducees in Jesus' time. 
The priesthood is recognized as an extremely ancient office, and there is but one priesthood, that of Jesus Christ's Horite people. Its point of origin is the Nile Valley at a time when the Sahara was wet (7500 B.C.-3000 B.C). It is quite distinct from the other ancient religious office of the shaman. Both the priest and the shaman are intermediaries, but their worldviews are quite different. Underlying shamanism is the belief that spirits cause imbalance and disharmony in the world. The shaman’s role is to determine which spirits are at work in a given situation and to find ways to appease the spirits. This may or may not involve animal sacrifice.

Underlying the priesthood is belief in a single supreme Spirit to whom humans must give an accounting, especially for the shedding of blood. In this view, one Great Spirit (God) holds the world in balance and it is human actions that cause disharmony. The vast assortment of ancient laws governing priestly ceremonies, sacrifices, and cleansing rituals clarifies the role of the priest as one who offers animal sacrifice according to sacred law. The priest was forbidden to consult the spirits of the ancestors as shamans do in trance states. Had Anglican clergy taken this prohibition seriously the tragedy of Bishop James Pike might have been averted.)

Priests are intermediaries between the Creator and the community, not between the spirits and the community. When sickness, sudden death, or a great calamity such as flooding or plague affects the community, the shaman investigates the cause and seeks to balance benevolent and malevolent energies. When the community served by the priest experiences hardship, deprivation and loss, the priest calls the people to repentance and seeks to restore the community to the peace of God. For the priests of old, this involved blood sacrifice, a work performed exclusively by male priests.

Blood Work

For Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors blood was perceived as having power. Genesis 4:10 describes Abel's shed blood as having power to cry out to God from the ground. Leviticus 17:11 declares that life is in the blood: "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life." 

Archaic man had an intuitive anxiety about blood. The sacrificing priesthood likely came into existence the first day that blood was shed and the individual and the community sought relief from blood anxiety and guilt. Abraham's Horite people made a distinction between the blood work of men in killing and the blood work of women in birthing. The two bloods represent the binary opposites of life and death. The blood shed in war, hunting and animal sacrifice fell to warriors, hunters and priests. The blood shed in first intercourse, the monthly cycle, and in childbirth fell to wives and midwives. The two bloods were never to mix or even to be present in the same space. Women did not participate in war, the hunt, and in ritual sacrifices, and they were isolated during menses. Likewise, men were not present at the circumcision of females or in the birthing hut.

The confusion of bloods was not permitted because this blurred the distinction between life and death. Similarly, the Hebrews were commanded never to take the life a young goat by boiling it its mother’s milk, a symbol of life. This clarifies the gravity of abortion, a procedure in which placental blood and water which sustain life become mixed with blood of the fetus being killed. In the Biblical worldview this is utter desecration.

As the priest sacrifices animals on the altar, his blood work requires the taking of life. The blood work of women, on the other hand, pertains to giving life, and the two should never be confused. Another example of the segregation of blood work is seen in the forming of brotherhood pacts among tribal peoples by the intentional mixing of bloods between two men, but never between male and female. The binary distinctions of male and female, and their distinct blood work, are maintained as part of the sacred tradition that Abraham received from his Horim.

Archaic man regarded blood and water as the primal substances of life. For Christians the blood and water that give life to the world are those that flowed from the pierced side of Jesus, the Lamb of God. Though the blood of animals points to the blood of Jesus Christ, His blood was always prevenient and eternally efficacious, as is His grace. This is the meaning of the story of the binding of Isaac (Gen. 22) when understood in the Horite religious context, and it sheds light on the nature of the priesthood.

As Abraham and Isaac ascended Mount Moriah, Isaac asked his father "where is the lamb for the sacrifice?" and Father Abraham answered that God Himself will provide a lamb (seh), but in fact, God provided a ram (ayil). For Abraham the Horite the meaning would have been clear, that God alone provides the one to be offered, in this case clearly not Isaac, though he was of Horite blood and miraculously conceived. The pattern of Horus whereby he rises in the morning as a lamb and dies with the setting sun as a ram speaks of a future fulfillment of the Horite expectation of a deified son who would defeat death and lead his people to immortality. Horus was sometimes shown with a ram's head, signifying mature vitality, having grown in strength from lamb to ram. This image of Horus was found at the Temple of Horus at Edfu, 70 miles south of Luxor. It is an image consistent with the understanding of Horus as the "son" of God, not a daughter; as the divine ram, not a ewe.

Horus shown with falcon head (left) and with ram's head (right) 

When Scripture poses binary opposites such as God-Man, Heaven-Earth, Life-Death, Day-Night, East-West or North-South, it is initiating a pattern of thought that travels between two points. This is a particularly important feature of the Biblical worldview because, as has been observed by anthropologist and philosophers, this binary structure brings complexity of meaning while on the surface the meaning seems obvious. For example, the Sun's daily movement from east and west is evident and can be observed by the position and length of the shadows it casts. On a sunny day the sun's rays are felt most intensely at high noon, the mid-point of the solar arc. This is a time without shadows when we are exposed to the full glory of the Sun.

For Jesus' Horite ancestors the Sun was the emblem of the Creator and his son Horus. The son was called "Horus of the two horizons" (east-west) and "Horus of the two crowns" (north-south, Lower Nile-Upper Nile).  are examples of how meaning is derived by holding two points in view. We see this in the Passover sacrifice at twilight, what is called in Hebrew ben ha-'arbayim, meaning "between the two settings." According to Rabbi Radak, the first "setting" occurs when the sun passes its zenith at noon and the shadows begin to lengthen, and the second "setting" is the actual sunset (p. 55, vol. 2, The Jewish Publication Society Torah Commentary, "Exodus").

On the eastern horizon Horus is the lamb, young and pure as the new day. On the western horizon, after his sacrifice at the sacred center (the Cross), he is the ram who comes to full strength. The ram's horn (shofar) symbolized the covenant between God and the Hebrews. When it was blown the veil or tehome was lifted, allowing God's Presence to be seen. The ram's horn which lifts the veil refers to Jesus Christ and his blood work by which he makes all things new.

Jesus Christ's blood work cleanses, heals, restores, redeems and justifies. He is both offered sacrifice and offering priest. Every priest from before the time of Abraham to the first priests of the Church are of his order, and there is no other true order of priests. Jesus Christ is the one true Priest of God, and all priests appointed by God and rightly ordained belong to him and are to be like him as an icon is to the spiritual reality which it mirrors.

Friday, April 29, 2016

As in the days of Noah

The Apostles asked Jesus, "When shall these things be?" They were asking about the dawning of the Kingdom of God. In reply, Jesus said:
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark… Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming." (Matthew 24:36-42)
In this passage from Matthew's Gospel Jesus compares the coming Day of Judgement to events surrounding Noah's survival of the flood. In that great flood some died and some were spared.  Those who were spared owed their salvation to God's intervention in their lives.  Noah, a great ruler in the region of Lake Chad, was a righteous man who listened to God and obeyed.  Likewise, on that great Day, some will experience salvation through faith while others will be lost. This passage is about the Judgement. To make it be about the "Rapture" is to do damage to the text.

The term "rapture" is taken from St. Jerome's Latin translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:17—"we will be caught up" [Latin: rapiemur]. The Rapture is a cherished doctrine of American Fundamentalists. It has been perpetuated through popular books and movies. The doctrine maintains that Christ will return twice, first to the sky where He will gather to Himself all the elect, and later to the Earth for the Day of Judgment. A deep study of the Bible does NOT support this view.

The rapture was popularized in the 1970s by Hal Lindsey’s novels, especially The Late Great Planet Earth, and more recently by the apocalyptic fiction of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. These writers were elaborating on an idea that appeared in the thought of John Nelson Darby, considered to be the founder of Dispensationalism. Belief in "the Rapture" is a key element of Dispensationalism.

John Nelson Darby

For Americans, the most influential figure of Dispensationalism was C.I. Scofield who perpetuated this doctrine in the footnotes of his Scofield Reference Bible. Many who uncritically read the Scofield Bible have adopted the doctrine, though it has no precedent in the Church or in the writings of the Church Fathers.

According to Dispensationalists, when Christ returns, those who have died in Christ will be raised to a glorious state, along with all living believers. As a body these will be caught up from the Earth to be with Jesus Christ. This is the assumption based on 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17, which states, "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord."

Here the Apostle Paul is stressing the bodily resurrection and proper order. He is describing the Last Day, not an intermediate event when the faithful are "caught up" as was the mysterious Enoch of old.

In the Bible, God reveals enough about the future to give us hope, but not so much that we can trust in ourselves for salvation. Noah was a faithful ruler who recognized the Creator as his God and obeyed Him as his Lord. He lived in a time much like our own, with the effects of climate change and a dependence on false spirituality.

Before His ascension, the Apostles asked Jesus, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" Jesus said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority." (Acts 1:7)

Because no one knows the day and hour when the second advent will occur, many assume that it is impossible to say anything more precise in regard to Christ's return than what is stated at Matthew 24 and Acts 1:7. However, we should ask this question: "What were the days of Noah like?" Today there is a great deal of information about Noah's homeland at the time of the flood. We also have a good picture of the customs of the people around him that displeased the Creator.

Many who lived in the region of Noah's homeland relied on shamanic ritual to gain favor from the spirits. The ruler-priests of Noah's line did not perform these rituals. Instead they offered burnt sacrifice to atone for the sins of their people and they did not consult spirits. Their worldview was distinct from the worldview of the prehistoric pagans, just as today the worldview of Christian priests is distinct from the worldview of shamans and modern pagans who rely on rituals rather than the atoning work of the Incarnate Christ.

It is sufficient for us to know that God has appointed a day for the restoring of all things. It is sufficient for us who await that day to continue in the Apostles' teaching, in the breaking of bread, and in prayer.

As with Noah, we are to be vigilant, ever watchful, heeding the Creator's warnings so that we are ready for the Last Day. It took many years for the waters to accumulate in Noah's homeland to the point where the great water systems overflowed into one another. So there is time, though limited, for people to be warned of the Judgement that is to come.

The Church Father Origen has this to say about the vigilance that is to characterize the Christian life:
All who listen to the depths of the gospel and live it so completely that none of it remains veiled from them care very little about whether the end of the world will come suddenly and all at once or gradually and little by little. Instead, they bear in mind only that each individual’s end or death will arrive on a day and hour unknown to him and that upon each one of us “the day of the Lord will come like a thief.” It is important therefore to be vigilant... When God the Word comes and brings an end to the progress of this life, he will gather up the one who gave “no sleep to his eyes nor slumber to his eyelids” and kept the commandment of the One who said, “Be vigilant at all times.”…But I know another kind of end for the righteous person who is able to say along with the apostle, “Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me and I to the world.” In a certain sense, the end of the world has already come for the person to whom the world is crucified. And to one who is dead to worldly things the day of the Lord has already arrived, for the Son of man comes to the soul of the one who no longer lives for sin or for the world. (Commentary on Matthew 56)
Related reading: Noah's Ark; Dispensationalism and the Three Witnesses; The Kingdom of God in Genesis; Male Spiritual Leaders: Two Patterns; Shamanic Practice and the Priesthood; Was Noah Mesopotamian or Proto-Saharan?; Ken Ham and the "Ark Park" Miss the Boat

Monday, April 18, 2016

Discrepancies are Evidence of Authenticity

…but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence… (1 Peter 3:15)

Alice C. Linsley

Supposed "contradictions" are one of the excuses people sometimes offer for rejecting the claims of Jesus Christ. Often these same people have little first-hand acquaintance with the Bible. They are uncritically repeating a lie.

When we consider the Gospel accounts of Jesus' birth, ministry, death and resurrection we do not encounter contradictions. We find discrepancies that result from different perspectives. In fact, if the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John agreed in every minute detail, we would have evidence of collusion among the witnesses. We would have reason to be suspicious.

J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective and a Christian case maker at Stand to Reason.  He applied his expertize in forensic investigation to the Gospels and concluded that the testimonies are authentic. Wallace writes, "The Christian life is a rational and reasonable life that is rooted and grounded in the evidence of the Resurrection and the truth of the Bible. Christians are saved by placing their trust in Jesus, but Christians become a powerful force in their world when they commit themselves to being 'case makers' for what they believe."

My father was an attorney who handled criminal cases. He knew how to cross-examine witnesses and how to detect collusion. He was impressed after reading the different Gospel accounts by how they agree on the main events but note different details. Had they all given exactly the same testimony he would have reason to doubt them, as that is a sign of collusion or conspiracy.

That there are different accounts of an event does not mean the event was invented, nor does it indicate fabrication on the part of the witnesses. Recognition of the different contexts of Biblical writers is also recognition that they represent real people in history. Consider how this is so.

Genesis 46:27 in the Septuagint says, "Thus all the souls of Jacob's house who went to Egypt were seventy-five" but the Masoretic says, "....all the persons of the house of Jacob, that came into Egypt, were seventy." There is no contradition here, but rather a significant discrepancy that testifies to different contexts. For the Masoretes 70 represented fullness and was not intended to be taken as an exact number of people. The Sanhedrin, for example, consisted of 70 men, never more and never less. Further, the number 70 referenced the number of appointed ones in their tradition and implies that those who went down into Egypt were appointed.

Numbers in the Bible are usually symbolic and reflect a specific contexts. For example, the number 40, as in the phrase "40 days and 40 nights" has a Nilotic context. The Nile flooded for 40 days and the people who had left their homes waited another 40 nights before returning home. It took "40 days and 40 nights" for the waters to recede. Though the book of Daniel is rich in number symbolism it is significant that the number 40 does not appear in that book. The context of Daniel is Babylonian rather than Nilotic and the Babylonian number symbolism is different.

The Masoretes were Temple scholars of the 6th–10th centuries AD, long after the time of Moses. They had been greatly influenced by the theology and number symbolism of their ancestors who had been in Babylon. For the Masoretes 7 was a sacred number. The number is associated with the ancient Habiru/ Hebrew priesthood. This is evident in the priestly account of Noah's flood where Noah to told to take 7 sets of "clean" animals onto the ark. Contrast this with the older account in which Noah is told to take 1 set: male and female. (Note the binary feature; male-female, a distinguishing mark of the older version of the flood).

What I find most provocative about this discrepancy is the suggestion in the Masoretic text that not all the Habiru went with Jacob down to Egypt. This is certainly the case since many Hebrew clans besides Jacob's remained in Canaan. Among them were the clans of Seir, Elon, Esau and Uz. Uz was Job's clan.

Genesis 38 tells us that Judah, who had gone down to Egypt with his father, came back to Canaan where he had relations with Tamar. It appears that the ruling men of Jacob's clan continued to interact with kinsmen and business associates in Judah, Edom and Beersheba.

When we dig deeply into the Bible we find that discrepancies reveal different perspectives and traditions, but they also point to a shared religious tradition that can be traced to the dawn of human existence. The features of this shared tradition have been of great interest to Biblical anthropologists.

Related reading: Number Symbolism in the Bible; The Life Spans of Methuselah and Lamech; Who Is Jesus Christ?; Noah's Ark; Levi-Strauss and Derrida on Binary Oppositions; Binary Sets