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TESTING THE FAITH

1ST CENTURY GOSPEL OF MARK FOUND?

Could be oldest fragment of New Testament known to exist

Published: 02/19/2012 at 3:13 PM-by JOE KOVACS

A New Testament professor is setting the world of Bible scholarship on fire with his claim that newly discovered fragments of early Christian writings could include a first-century version of the Gospel of Mark, from the same century in which Jesus and the apostles lived.

Gospel_of_MarkDaniel B. Wallace of the Dallas Theological Seminary made the stunning announcement during a Feb. 1 debate with Bart Ehrman at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill on whether we have the wording of the original New Testament today.

“If this Mark fragment is confirmed as from the first century, what a thrill it will be to have a manuscript that is dated within the lifetime of many of the original followers of Jesus!” Wallace said. “Not only this, but this manuscript would have been written before the New Testament was completed.”

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Wallace says seven New Testament fragments written on papyrus had recently been discovered – six of them probably from the second century and one of them probably from the first. He expects further details to be published “in about a year.”

“These manuscripts now increase our holdings as follows: we have as many as eighteen New Testament manuscripts (all fragmentary, more or less) from the second century and one from the first. Altogether, more than 40 percent of all New Testament verses are found in these manuscripts. But the most interesting thing is the first-century fragment.

“It was dated by one of the world’s leading paleographers. He said he was ‘certain’ that it was from the first century. If this is true, it would be the oldest fragment of the New Testament known to exist. Up until now, no one has discovered any first-century manuscripts of the New Testament. The oldest manuscript of the New Testament has been P52, a small fragment from John’s Gospel, dated to the first half of the second century. It was discovered in 1934.”

Wallace’s interest is focused on the portion from Mark’s Gospel.

“Before the discovery of this fragment, the oldest manuscript that had Mark in it was P45, from the early third century. This new fragment would predate that by 100 to 150 years.”

Craig A. Evans, professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College, says the find may indeed be of very great importance.

“If authenticity and early date are confirmed, this fragment of the Gospel of Mark could be very significant and show how well preserved the text of the New Testament really is. We all await its publication,” Evans told the Christian Post.

Others agree.

“Any find that gets us a quarter-century or so closer to the time the original gospels were written would be highly significant, even sensational,” Andreas Kostenberger, senior professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological in Wake Forest, N.C., told Baptist Press.

“Of course, in part the significance of the discovery depends on the size of the fragment, not to mention the verification of the date. There have been previous reports of discoveries of early Mark or other gospel manuscripts that did not check out at closer scrutiny, so it is certainly appropriate to maintain scholarly caution until the full data are known and available to public scrutiny. For example, some scholars got burned when they prematurely accepted so-called ‘Secret Mark,’ which turned out to be a forgery.”

When asked about the trustworthiness of what Mark really wrote if we don’t possess an actual original copy of his manuscript, Kostenberger said, “The fact is that the earliest manuscripts of all or parts of Mark that we do have show remarkable consistency and stability. And none of the minor variations between different manuscripts affect any major doctrine of Christianity at all.

“Of course, there is no way to prove positively one way or another what might have happened during the period between the original writing of Mark and the first available copies. Knowing what we do know about the care with which ancient Jews as well as early Christians took to preserve the original wording of what they believed to be authoritative and sacred writings – in fact, the very words of God – inspires a high degree of confidence. First the apostles, and then those after them carefully guarded the reliability of the eyewitness testimony to Jesus contained in the four canonical gospels.”



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Having described the four differences between the present body and the resurrection body, Paul elaborates the doctrine of the two Adams. His statement that the first Adam was eiV yuchn zwsan and the second eiV pneuma zwopoioun (v 45) must be understood in light of the foregoing discussion. Just as Paul does not mean Adam was a disembodied soul, neither does he mean Christ turned into a disembodied spirit. That would contradict the doctrine of the resurrection of the swma. Rather these terms refer once again to the natural body made at creation and the supernatural body produced by the resurrection (cf. v 43b). First we have our natural bodies here on earth as possessed by Adam, then we shall have our supernatural bodies in the age to come as possessed by Jesus (vv 46, 49; cf. vv 20-23). The fact that materiality is not the issue here is made clear in v 47:

 

o prwtoV anJrwpoV ek ghV coikoV
o deuteroV anJrwpoV ex ouranou

There is something conspicuously missing in this parallel between to yucikonand to pneumatikon (v 46): the first Adam is from the earth, made of dust; the second Adam is from heaven, but made of-- ?{24} Clearly Paul recoils from saying the second Adam is made of heavenly substance. The contrast between the two Adams is their origin, not their substance. Thus, the doetrine of the two Adams confirms the philological analysis. Then comes a phrase that has caused great difficulties to many: 'I tell you this, brethren, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable' (v 50.) Does not this clearly indicate that the resurrection body will be immaterial? Jeremias has tried to escape this conclusion by arguing that 'flesh and blood' refers to those alive at the Parousia, while the 'perishable' refers to the dead in Christ: Paul means that neither living nor dead as they are can inherit God's kingdom, but must be transformed (v 51).{25} This, however, is unlikely, for it requires that v 50 go with v 51. But not only does v 50 appear to be a summary statement of the foregoing paragraph, but v 51 introduces a new paragraph and a new thought, as is indicated by the introductory words, 'Lo! I tell you a mystery!' and by the fact that something new and previously unknown is about to be communicated. Neither need one adopt the expedient of Bornhäuser that Paul means flesh and blood will decay in the grave, but the bones will be raised.{26} This falsely assumes Paul is here speaking of anatomy. Rather commentators are agreed that 'flesh and blood' is a typical Semitic expression denoting the frail human nature.{27} It emphasizes our feeble mortality over against God; hence, the second half of v 50 is Paul's elaboration in other words of exactly the same thought. The fact that the verb is in the singular may also suggest that Paul is not talking of physical aspects of the body, but about a conceptual unity: 'flesh and blood is not able to inherit . . . .' Elsewhere Paul also employs the expression 'flesh and blood' to mean simply 'people' or 'mortal creatures' (Gal 1.16; Eph 6.12). Therefore, Paul is not talking about anatomy here; rather he means that mortal human beings cannot enter into God's eternal kingdom: therefore, they must become imperishable (cf. v 53). This imperishability does not connote immateriality or unextendedness; on the contrary Paul's doctrine of the world to come is that our resurrection bodies will be part of, so to speak, a resurrected creation (Rom 8.18-23). The universe will be delivered from sin and decay, not materiality, and our bodies wil1 be part of that universe.

In the following paragraph, Paul tells how this will be done. When he says 'We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed' (v 51), it is not clear whether he means by 'all' either Christians in general or Christians alive at his time (cf. I Thess 4.15, 17). But in either case, two things are clear: (1) Paul held that the transformation would take place instantaneously at the moment of the resurrection (v. 52). In this he differs sharply from II Bar 50-51 which holds that the resurrection yields the old bodies again which are transformed only after the judgement.{28} Paul's doctrine is that we are raised imperishable and glorified. (2) For Paul the resurrection is a transformation, not an exchange.Klappert draws the distinctions nicely:

 

Es geht also in der Auferstehung nach Paulus weder 1. um eine Wiederbelebung, d. h. um eine Neuschöpfung aus ( ! ) dem Alten, noch 2. um eine Shöpfung aus dem Nichts, d. h. um eine Neuschöpfung anstelle ( ! ) des Alten, Sondern 3. um eine radikale Verwandlung des sterblichen leibes, d. h. um eine Neuschopfung an ( ! ) dem alten. {29}

I n the resurrection the 'ego' of a man does not trade bodies. Rather the natural body is miraculously transformed into a supernatural body. The metaphor of the sowing and raising of the body points to this. In fact, the very concept of resurrection implies this, for in an exchange of bodies there would be nothing that would be raised. When Paul says 'We shall all be changed,' he means the bodies of both the dead and the living alike. Paul's doctrine is that at the Parousia, the dead will rise from their graves transformed and that those who are still alive will also be transformed (vv 51-52; I Thess 4.16-17). The concept of an exchange of bodies is a peculiarly modern notion. For the Jews the resurrection of the dead concerned the remains in the grave, which they conceived to be the bones.{30} According to their understanding while the flesh decayed, the bones endured. It was the bones, therefore, that were the primary subject of the resurrection. In this hope, the Jews carefully collected the bones of the dead into ossuaries after the flesh had decomposed. Only in a case in which the bones were destroyed, as with the Jewish martyrs, did God's creating a resurrection body ex nihilo come into question. It is instructive that on the question of the resurrection, Jesus sided with the Pharisees. He held that the tomb is the place where the bones repose and that the dead in the tombs would be raised (Matt 23.27; John 5.28). It is important to remember, too, that Paul was a Pharisee and that Luke identifies his doctrine of the resurrection with that of the Pharisees. Paul's language is thoroughly Pharisaic, and it is unlikely that he should employ the same terminology with an entirely different meaning. This means that when Paul says the dead will be raised imperishable, he means the dead in the graves. As a first century Jew and Pharisee he could have understood the expression in no other way.

Thus, Grass is simply wrong when he characterizes the resurrection as an exchange, a re-creation, and not a transformation.{31} He mistakenly appeals to v 50; his statement that Paul has no interest in the emptying of the graves ignores the clear statements of I Thess 4.16 (which in light of v 14, which probably refers, according to the current Jewish idea, to the souls of the departed, can only have reference to the bodies in the graves) I Cor 15.42-44, 52. be attempts to strengthen his case by arguing that the relation of the old world to the new is one of annihilation to re-creation and this is analogous to the relation of the old body to the new. But Grass's texts are chiefly non-Pauline (Heb 1.10-12; Lk 13.31; Rev 6.14; 20.11; 21.1; II Pet 3.10). As we have seen, Paul's view is a transformation of creation (Rom 8.18-23; cf. I Cor 7.31). According to Paul it is this creation and this body which will be delivered from bondage to sin and decay. Paul, therefore, believed that the bodies of those alive at the Parousia would be changed, not discarded or annihilated, and that the remains (the bones?) of the dead bodies would likewise be transformed.

 

But this at once raises the puzzling question: what happens to those Christians who die before the Parousia? Are they simply extinguished until the day of resurrection? The clue to Paul's answer may be found in II Cor 5.1-10. Here the earthly tent = swma yucikon, and the building from God = swma pneumatikon. When do we receive the heavenly dwelling? The language of v 4 is irresistibly reminiscent of I Cor 15.53-54, which we saw referred to the Parousia. This makes it evident that the heavenly dwelling is not received immediately upon death, but at the Parousia. It is unbelievable that had Paul changed his mind on the dead's receiving their resurrection bodies at the Parousia, he would not have told the Corinthians, but continued to use precisely the same language. If the body were received immediately upon death, there would be no reason for the fear of nakedness, and v 8 would become unintelligible. In short this would mean that Paul abandoned the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead: but his later letters show he continued to hold to it.

 

In I Cor 15 Paul did not speak of a state of nakedness; the mortal simply "put on" (endusasqai) the immortal. But in II Cor 5 he speaks of the fear of being unclothed and the preference to be further clothed (ependusasqai), as by top-clothing. It is evident that Paul is here describing losing the earthly body as being stripped and hence naked. He would rather not quit the body, but simply be transformed at the Parousia without experiencing the nakedness of death. In this sense, putting on the new body is like putting on top-clothing; namely, one need not undress first. Taken in isolation, this might be thought to imply that the resurrection is an exchange of bodies, not a transformation; but this presses the metaphor too hard. Paul is not trying to be technical, as is evident from his use of the ordinary endusamenoi in v 3; and the notion of 'putting on' is not inconsistent with the concept of transformation, as I Cor 15.53-54 makes clear. Indeed, the 'putting on' consists precisely in being transformed. Neither theecomen nor the aiwnion of v 1 indicates that the new body already exists; rather they express the certitude of future possession and the subsequent eternal duration of the new body. The idea that the new body exists already in heaven is an impossible notion, for the idea of an unanimated swma pneumatikon, stored up in heaven until the Parousia, is a contradiction in terms, sincepneuma is the essence and source of life itself. Rather from I Cor 15 we understand that the heavenly dwelling is created at the Parousia through a transformation of the earthly tent, a point concealed by Paul's intentional contrast between the two in v 1, but hinted at in v 4 (cf. also Rom 8.10-11, 18-23). What Paul wants to express by the metaphor is that he would rather live to the Parousia and be changed than die and be naked prior to being raised.

 

The nakedness is thus the nakedness of an individual's soul or spirit apart from the body, a common description in Hellenistic literature. This is confirmed in vv 6-9 where Paul contrasts being at home in the body and being at home with the Lord as mutually exclusive conditions. Paul is saying that while we are in this natural body we sigh, not because we want to leave the body through death and exist as a disembodied soul, but because we want to be transformed into a supernatural body without the necessity of passing through the intermediate state. But despite the unsettling prospect of such an intermediate state, Paul still thinks it better to be away from the body and with the Lord (v 8). Christ makes all the difference; for Paul the souls of the departed are not shut up in caves or caskets until the end time as in Jewish apocalyptic, nor do they 'sleep': rather they go to be with Jesus and experience a conscious, blissful communion with him (cf. Phil 1.21, 23) until he returns to earth (I Thess 4.14). This overrides the dread of nakedness.

 

Paul's doctrine of the nature of the resurrection body now becomes clear. When a Christian dies, his conscious spirit or soul goes to be with Christ until the Parousia, while his body lies in the grave. When Christ returns, in a single instant the remains of the natural body are transformed into a powerful, glorious, and imperishable supernatural body under the complete lordship and direction of the Spirit, and the soul of the departed is simultaneously reunited with the body, and the man is raised to everlasting life. Then those who are alive will be similarly transformed, the old body miraculously changed intro the new without exess, and all believers will go to be with the Lord.

 

This doctrine teaches us much about Paul's conception of the resurrection body of Christ. In no sense did Paul conceive Christ's resurrection body to be immaterial or unextended. The notion of an immaterial, unextended body seems to be a self- contradiction; the nearest thing to it would be a shade in Sheol, and this was certainly not Paul's conception of Christ's glorious resurrection body! The only phrases in Paul's discussion that could lend themselves to a 'dematerializing' of Christ's body are 'swma pneumatikon' and 'flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of God.' But virtually all modern commentators agree that these expressions have nothing to do with substantiality or anatomy, as we have seen. Rather the first speaks of the orientation of the resurrection body, while the second refers to the mortality and feebleness of the natural body in contrast to God.

 

So it is very difficult to understand how theologians can persist in describing Christ's resurrection body in terms of an invisible, intangible spirit; there seems to be a great lacuna here between exegesis and theology. I can only agree with O'Collins when he asserts in this context, 'Platonism may be hardier than we suspect.'{32} With all the best will in the world, it is extremely difficult to see what is the difference between an immaterial, unextended, spiritual 'body' and the immortality of the soul. And this again is certainly not Paul's doctrine! Therefore, the second supporting argument for Jesus's having a purely spiritual resurrection body also fails.

 

We have seen, therefore, that the traditions of the appearance of Jesus to Paul do not describe that event as a purely visionary experience; on the contrary extra-mental accompaniments were involved. Paul gives no firm clue as to the nature of that appearance; from his doctrine of the nature of the resurrection body, it could theoretically have been as physical as any gospel appearance. And Paul does insist that it was an appearance, not a vision. Luke regarded the mode of Jesus's appearance to Paul as unique because it was a post-ascension encounter. Paul himself gives no hint that he considered the appearance to him to be in any way normative for the other appearances or determinative for a doctrine of the resurrection body. On the contrary, Paul also recognized that the appearance to him was an anomaly and was exercised to bring it up to the level of objectivity and reality of the other appearances. Furthermore, Paul conceived of the resurrection body as a powerful, glorious, imperishable, Spirit-directedbody, created through a transformation of the earthly body or the remains thereof, and made to inhabit the new universe in the eschaton. The upshot of all this is the startling conclusion that Paul's doctrine of the resurrection body is potentially more physical than that of the gospels, and if Christ's resurrection body is to be conceived in any less than a physical way, that qualification must come from the side of the gospels, not of Paul.

 

So although many theologians try to play off the 'massiven Realismus' of the gospels against a Pauline doctrine of a spiritual resurrection body, such reasoning rests on a fundamental and drastic misunderstanding of Paul's doctrine. One cannot but suspect that the real reason for scholarly scepticism concerning the historicity of the gospel appearances is that, as Bultmann openly stated, this is offensive to 'modern man,' and that Paul has been made an unwilling accomplice in critics' attempts to find reasons to support a conclusion already dictated by a priori philosophical assumptions. But Paul will not allow himself to be put to this use; a careful exegesis of Pauline doctrine fully supports a physical resurrection body. And, it must be said, this was how first century Christians apparently understood him, for the letters of Clement and Ignatius prove early wide acceptance of the doctrine of physical resurrection in first century churches, including the very churches where Paul himself had taught. The ground is thus cut from beneath those scholars who object to the historicity of the gospel resurrection narratives because of their physicalism.

 

But more than that: given the temporal and personal proximity of Paul to the original witnesses of the resurrection appearances, the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus can scarcely be denied. For the physicalism of the gospels cannot now be explained away as a late legendary or theological development; on the contrary, what we see from Paul is that it was there from the beginning. And if it was there from the beginning, then it must have been historically well- founded--otherwise, one is at a loss how to explain that the earliest witnesses should believe in it. Though it is constantly repeated that the physicalism of the gospels is an anti-docetic apologetic, scarcely a single piece of evidence is ever produced in favor of this assertion--and mere assertion is not proof. We have seen that both Paul's personal contact and temporal proximity with the original disciples precludes a late development of the notion of physical resurrection, which is implied by the anti-docetic hypothesis. And Paul's doctrine can hardly be explained away as an anti-docetic apologetic, for it was the crass materialism of the Jewish doctrine of resurrection that Paul's Corinthian opponents probably gagged at (I Cor 15.35), so that Paul found it necessary to emphasize the transformation of the earthly body into a supernatural body. An anti-docetic apologetic would have been counter-productive. Hence, the evidence of Paul precludes that the physical resurrection was an apologetic development of the gospels aimed at Docetism.

 

But this consideration aside, there are other reasons to think that in the gospel narratives Docetism is not in view: (1) For a Jew the very term 'resurrection' entailed a physical resurrection of the dead man in the tomb. The notion of a 'spiritual resurrection' was not merely unknown; it was a contradiction in terms. Therefore, in saying that Jesus was raised and appeared, the early believers must have understood this in physical terms. It was Docetism which was the response to this physicalism, not the other way around. The physical resurrection is thus primitive and prior, Docetism being the later reaction of theological and philosophical reflection. (2) Moreover, had purely 'spiritual appearances' been original, then it is difficult to see how physical appearances could have developed. For (a) the offense of Docetism would then be removed, since the Christians, too, believed in purely spiritual appearances, and (b) the doctrine of physical appearances would have been counter-productive as an apologetic, both to Jews and pagans; to Jews because they did not accept an individual resurrection within history and to pagans because their belief in the immortality of the soul could not accommodate the crudity of physical resurrection. The church would therefore have retained its purely spiritual appearances. (3) Besides, Docetism was mainly aimed at denying the reality of the incarnation of Christ (I John 4.2-3; III John 7), not the physical resurrection. Docetists were not so interested in denying the physical resurrection as in denying that the divine Son perished on the cross; hence, some held the Spirit deserted the human Jesus at the crucifixion, leaving the human Jesus to die and be physically raised (Irenaeus Against Heresies 1.26. 1). An anti-docetic apologetic aimed at proving a physical resurrection therefore misses the point entirely. (4) The demonstrations of corporeality and continuity in the gospels, as well as the other physical appearances, were not redactional additions of Luke or John, as is evident from a comparison of Luke 24.36-43 with John 20.19-23 (it is thus incorrect to speak, for example, of 'Luke's apologetic against Gnosticism'), but were part of the traditions received by the evangelists. Docetism, however, was a later theological development, attested in John's letters. Therefore, the gospel accounts of the physical resurrection tend to ante-date the rise and threat of Docetism. In fact, not even all later Gnostics denied the physical resurrection (cf. Gospel of Philip, Letter of James, and Epistle of Rheginus). It is interesting that in the ending added to Mark there is actually a switch from material proofs of the resurrection to verbal rebuke by Jesus for the disciples' unbelief. (5) The demonstrations themselves do not evince the rigorousness of an apologetic against Docetism. In both Luke and John it is not said that either the disciples or Thomas actually accepted Jesus's invitation to touch him and prove that he was not a Spirit. Contrast the statements of Ignatius that the disciples did physically touch Jesus (Ignatius Ad Smyrnaeans 3.2; cf.Epistula Apostolorum 11-12). As Schnackenburg has said, if an anti-docetic apology were involved in the gospel accounts, more would have to have been done than Jesus's merely showing the wounds.{33} (6) The incidental, off-hand character of the physical resurrection in most of the accounts shows that the physicalism was a natural assumption or presupposition of the accounts, not an apologetic point consciously being made. For example, the women's grasping Jesus's feet is not a polemical point, but just their response of worship. Similarly, Jesus says, 'Do not hold me,' though Mary is not explicitly said to have done so; this is no conscious effort to prove a physical resurrection. The appearances on the mountain and by the Sea of Tiberias just naturally presuppose a physical Jesus; no points are trying to be scored against Docetism. Together these considerations strongly suggest that the physical appearances were not an apologetic to Docetism, but always part of the church's tradition; there is no good reason to doubt that Jesus did, in fact, show his disciples that he had been physically raised.

 

And it must be said that despite the disdain of some theologians for the gospels' conception of the nature of the resurrection body, it is nonetheless true that like Paul the evangelists steer a careful course between gross materialism and the immortality of the soul. On the one hand, every gospel appearance of Jesus that is narrated is a physical appearance. {34} The gospels' unanimity on this score is very impressive, especially in view of the fact that the appearance stories represent largely independent traditions; they confirm Paul's doctrine that it is the earthly body that is resurrected. On the other hand, the gospels insist that Jesus's resurrection was not simply the resuscitation of a corpse. Lazarus would die again some day, but Jesus rose to everlasting life (Matt 28. 18-20; Luke 24.26; John 20.17). And his resurrection body was possessed of powers that no normal human body possesses. Thus, in Matthew when the angel opens the tomb, Jesus does not come forth; rather he is already gone. Similarly, in Luke when the Emmaus disciples recognize him at bread-breaking he disappears. The same afternoon Jesus appears to Peter, miles away in Jerusalem. When the Emmaus disciples finally join the disciples in Jerusalem that evening, Jesus suddenly appears in their midst. John says the doors were shut, but Jesus stood among them. A week later Jesus did the same thing. Very often commentators make the error of stating that Jesus came through the closed doors, but neither John nor Luke says this. Rather Jesus simply appeared in the room; contrast the pagan myths of gods entering rooms like fog through the keyhole (HomerOdyssey 6. 19-20; Homeric Hymns 3. 145)! According to the gospels, Jesus in his resurrection body had the ability to appear and vanish at will, without regard to spatial limitations.

 

Many scholars have stumbled at Luke's 'a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have,' claiming this is a direct contradiction to Paul. In fact, Paul speaks of 'flesh and blood', not 'flesh and bones.' Is the difference significant? It certainly is! 'Flesh and blood,' as we have seen, is a Semitic expression for mortal human nature and has nothing to do with anatomy. Paul agrees with Luke on the physicality of the resurrection body. But furthermore, neither is 'flesh and bones' meant to be an anatomical description. Rather, proceeding from the Jewish idea that it is the bones that are preserved and raised (Gen R 28.3; Lev R 18.1; Eccl R 12.5), the expression connotes the physical reality of Jesus's resurrection. Michaelis writes,

 

Wenn nach Lukas ein Geist weder Fleisch noch Knochen hat, der Auferstandene aber kein Geist ist, so besagt das nicht, dass der Auferstandene, mit der paulinischen Terminologie zu reden, kein "pneumatisches (verklärtes, himmlisches) Soma," sondern ein "psychisches (natürliches, irdisches) Soma" habe. Mit Fleisch und Knochen in der lukanischen Aussage ist vielmehr (wie zugeben werden muss, in einem kräftigen Ausdruck, den Paulus aber nicht unbedingt als "lästerlich" empfunden haben müsste) das ausgedrückt, was Paulus mit dem Begriff "Soma" (Leib, Leiblichkeit) ausdrückt. Durch den Hinweis auf Fleisch und Knochen soll nicht der pneumatische Charakter dieses Soma bestritten, sondern die Realität des Somatischen bezeugt werden. Auch Lukas steht, wie sich zudem aus der Gesamtheit der bei ihm sich findenen Hinweise ergibt (vgl. 24.13ff; Apg. 1.3), unter den Voraussetzung, dass es sich bei den Erscheinungen nur um Begegnungen mit dem Auferstandenen in seiner verklärten Leiblichkeit handeln kann.{35}

T he point of Jesus's utterance is to assure the disciples that this is a real resurrection, in the proper, Jewish sense of that word, not an appearance of a bodiless pneuma. Though it stresses corporeality, its primary emphasis is not on the constituents of the body. Thus, neither Paul nor Luke are talking about anatomy, and both agree on the physicality and the supernaturalness of Jesus's resurrection body.

In conclusion, we have seen that the critical argument designed to drive a wedge between Paul and the gospels is fallacious. Neither the argument from the appearance to Paul nor the argument from Paul's doctrine of the resurrection body serves to set Paul against the gospels. Quite the opposite, we have seen that Paul's evidence serves to confirm the gospels' narratives of Jesus's bodily resurrection and that their physicalism is probably historically well-founded, that is to say, Jesus did rise bodily from the dead and appear physically to the disciples. And finally we have seen that the gospels present like Paul a balanced view of the nature of Jesus's resurrection body. On the one hand, Jesus has a body--he is not a disembodied soul. For the gospels and Paul alike the incarnation is an enduring state, not limited to the 30 some years of Jesus's earthly life. On the other hand, Jesus's body is a supernatural body. We must keep firmly in mind that for the gospels as well as Paul, Jesus rises glorified from the grave. The gospels and Paul agree that the appearances of Jesus ceased and that physically he has left this universe for an indeterminate time. During his physical absence he is present through the Holy Spirit who functions in his stead. But someday he will personally return to judge mankind and to establish his reign over all creation.

 

NOTES

 


{1} This research was made possible through a generous grant from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and was conducted at the Universität München and Cambridge University. The full results of this research will appear in two forthcoming volumes, The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus: Its Rise, Decline. and Contribution and The Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus.

{2} Hans Grass, Ostergeschehen und Osterberichte (4th ed.; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1970).

 

{3} John E. Alsup, The Post-Resurrection Appearance Stories of the Gospel-Tradition (Stuttgart: Calwer Verlag, 1975), 32.

 

{4} Ibid., 34.

 

{5} Ibid., 54.

 

{6} Robin Scroggs, The Last Adam (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1966), 92-3.

 

{7} Grass, Ostergeschehen, 222.

 

{8} Ibid., 219-20.

 

{9} See ibid., 189-207.

 

{10} Ibid., 229-32.

 

{11} The outstanding work on this concept, which I follow here, is Robert H. Gundry, Soma in Biblical Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976).

 

{12} C. Rolsten, Zum Evangelium des Paulus und des Petrus (Rostock: Stiller, 1868); Hermann Lüdemann, Die Anthropologie des Apostels Paulus und ihre Stellung innerhalb seiner Heilslehre (Kiel: Universitätsverlag, 1872); remarkably so also Hans Conzelmann, Der erste Brief en die Korinther(KEKNT 5; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1969), 335.

 

{13} See the six point refutation in Gundry, Soma, 161-2.

 

{14} See ibid., 122, 141. Most of Gundry's texts do not support dualism, but merely aspectivalism; but when he adduces texts that clearly contemplate the separation of soul or spirit and body at death, then his argument for dualism is strong and persuasive.

 

{15} Gundry, Soma, 50.

 

{16} Robert Jewett, Paul's Anthropological Terms (AGAJY 10; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1971), 211.

 

{17} Gundry, Soma, 167.

 

{18} Ibid., 80.

 

{19} Paul's teaching is essentially the Jewish doctrine of glorified bodies, according to Johannes Weiss, Der erste Korintherbrief (9th ed.; KEKNT 5; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1910), 345: W. D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism (2d ed; London: SPCK, 1965), 305-8; Ulrich Wilckens,Auferstehung (Stuttgart and Berlin: Kreuz Verlag, 1970), 128-31; Joseph L. Smith, 'Resurrection Faith Today,' TS 30 (1969): 406.

 

{20} On the different types of flesh, see Tractate Chullin 8. 1, where the author explains that one cannot cook flesh in milk, unless it is the flesh of fish or of grasshoppers; fowl may be set on the table with cheese, but not eaten with it. See also Davies, Paul, 306.

 

{21} Cf. II Bar 51.1-10 where the glory of the righteous seems to be a literal brightness like the stars'. For Paul the glory of the righteous seems to mean majesty, honor, exaltation, etc., not so much physical radiance, which is a mere analog. See Joseph Coppens, 'La glorification céleste du Christ dans la théologie neotestamentaire et l'attente de Jésus,' in Resurrexit (ed. Édouard Dhanis; Rome: Editrice Libreria Vaticana, 1974), 37-40.

 

{22} R. Clavier, 'Breves remarques sur la notion de swma pneumatikon,' inThe background of the New Testament and Its Eschatology (ed. W. D. Davies and D. Daube; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956), 361. Despite the philological evidence, Clavier goes for a substantial understanding of spiritual body on two grounds: (1) in the seed/plant analogy, the plant is not numerically identical with the seed, and (2) I Cor 15.50. The first reason is astounding, for the plant certainly is numerically identical with the seed! Pressing the analogy this far supports the continuity of the resurrection body with the earthly body. Clavier sadly misunderstands v 50, as evident from his remark that Paul should have mentioned bones along with flesh and blood.

 

{23} Jean Héring, La première épître de saint Paul aux Corinthiens (2d ed., CNT 7; Neuchatel, Switzerland: Delachaux et Niestlé, 1959), 147.

 

{24} Or alternatively, the first Adam is made of the dust of the earth; the second Adam is from heaven. The first speaks of constitution, the second of origin. See also TWNT, , s. v. pneuma,' by Kleinknecht, et. al.

 

{25} Joachim Jeremias, "'Flesh and Blood Cannot Inherit the Kingdom of God" (I Cor. XV. 50),' NTS 2 (1955-6): 151-9.

 

{26} Karl Bornhäuser, Die Gebeine der Toten (BFCT 26; Gütersloh: C. Bertelsmann, 1921), 37.

 

{27} It is found in Matt 16.17; Gal 1.16; Eph 6.12; Heb 2.14; see also Sir 14.18 and the references in Hermann L. Strack and Paul Billerbeck, eds.,Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud and Midrasch (5th ed., 6 vols.; München: C. H. Beck, 1969), 1: 730-1, 753. The Semitic word pairsarx kai aima is first attested in Eccelesiasticus 14.18; 17.31 and occurs frequently in Rabbinic texts, especially Rabbinic parables, as 

 

{28} According to Baruch the old bodies are raised for the purpose of recognition, that the living may know that the dead have been raised. But for Paul, believers, like Christ, emerge glorified from the grave.

 

{29} Berthold Klappert, 'Einleitung,' in Diskussion um Kreus und Auferstehung (ed. idea; Wuppertal: Aussaat Verlag, 1971), 15.

 

{30} See Bornhäuser, Gebeine; C. F. Evans, Resurrection in the New Testament (SBT 2/12; London: SCM, 1970), 108; Walther Grundmann, Das Evangelium nach Lukas (8th ed., THKNT 3; Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1978), 451.

 

{31} Grass, Ostergeschehen, 154.

 

{32} Gerald O'Collins, The Easter Jesus (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1973), 94.

 

{33} Rudolf Schnackenburg, Das Johannesevangelium (3 vols., 2d ed., HTKNT 4; Freiburg: Herder, 1976), 3: 383. This goes for both the appearance to the Twelve and to Thomas, he argues.

 

{34} Although some critics have wanted to construe Matthew's mountaintop appearance as a heavenly vision similar to Paul's, this attempt seems futile. Matthew clearly considered Jesus's appearance to be physical, as is evident from his appearance to the women (Matt 28.9, 10) and his commissioning of the disciples. Even in the appearance itself, there are signs of physicality: the disciples' worshipping Jesus recalls the act of the women in v 9 and does not suit well a heavenly appearance; and Jesus's coming toward the disciples (proselqwn) seems to indicate decisively a physical appearance.

 

{35} Wilhelm Michaelis, Die Erscheinungen der Auferstandenen (Basel: Heinrich Majer, 1944), 96.



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The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus

Dr. William Lane Craig 


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William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife Jan and their two teenage children Charity and John. At the age of sixteen as a junior in high school, he first heard the message of the Christian gospel and yielded his life to Christ. Dr. Craig pursued his undergraduate studies at Wheaton College (B.A. 1971) and graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A. 1974; M.A. 1975), the University of Birmingham (England) (Ph.D. 1977), and the University of Munich (Germany) (D.Theol. 1984). From 1980-86 he taught Philosophy of Religion at Trinity, during which time he and Jan started their family. In 1987 they moved to Brussels, Belgium, where Dr. Craig pursued research at the University of Louvain until 1994.



 

It has been argued on the basis of Paul’s testimony that Jesus’s resurrection body was spiritual in the sense of being unextended, immaterial, intangible, and so forth. But neither the argument appealing to the nature of Paul’s Damascus Road experience nor the argument from Paul’s doctrine of the resurrection body supports such a conclusion. On the contrary, Paul’s information serves to confirm the gospels’ narratives of Jesus’s bodily resurrection. Not only is the gospels’ physicalism well-founded, but it is also, like Paul’s doctrine, a nuanced physicalism.

 

Source: "The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus," in Gospel Perspectives I, pp. 47-74. Edited by R.T. France and D. Wenham. Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, 1980.

 


There are probably few events in the gospels for which the historical evidence is more compelling than for the resurrection of Jesus. Historical-critical studies during the second half of this century, increasingly freed from the lingering Deistical presuppositions that largely determined in advance the results of resurrection research during the previous 150 years, have reversed the current of scepticism concerning the historical resurrection, such that the trend among scholars in recent years has been acceptance of the historical credibility of Jesus's resurrection.

Nevertheless, there is still one aspect of the resurrection that a great number of scholars simply cannot bring themselves to embrace: that Jesus was raised from the dead physically. The physicalism of the gospels' portrayal of Jesus's resurrection body accounts, I think, more than any other single factor for critical skepticism concerning the historicity of the gospel narratives of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Undoubtedly the prime example of this is Hans Grass's classic Ostergeschehen and Osterberichte. {2} Inveighing against the 'massiven Realismus' of the gospel narratives, Grass brushes aside the appearance stories as thoroughly legendary and brings every critical argument he can summon against the empty tomb. Not that Grass would construe the resurrection, at least overtly, merely in terms of the survival of Jesus's soul; he affirms a bodily resurrection, but the body is 'spiritual' in nature, as by the apostle Paul, not physical. Because the relation between the old, physical body and the new, spiritual body is totaliter- aliter, the resurrection entails, not an emptying of the tomb, but the creation of a new body. Because the body is spiritual, the appearances of Christ were in the form of heavenly visions caused by God in the minds of those chosen to receive them.

 

It is difficult to exaggerate the extent of Grass's influence. Though few have been willing to join him in denying the empty tomb, since the evidence inclines in the opposite direction, one not infrequently finds statements that because the resurrection body does not depend upon the old body, we are not compelled to believe in the empty tomb. And it is everywhere asserted, even by those who staunchly defend the empty tomb, that the spiritual nature of the resurrection body precludes physical appearances such as are narrated in the gospels. John Alsup remarks that '. . . no other work has been so widely used or of such singular importance for the interpretation of the gospel accounts. . . as Grass'. . .' {3} But, Alsup protests, Grass's insistence that the heavenly vision type of appearance underlies the physical appearances of the gospels 'is predicated upon the impossibility of the material realism of that latter form as an acceptable answer to the "what happened" question. . . . Grass superimposes this criterion over the gospel appearance accounts and judges them by their conformity or divergence from it.'{4} As a result, '. . . the contemporary spectrum of research on the gospel resurrection appearances displays a proclivity to the last century (and Celsus of the second century) in large measure under the influence of Grass' approach. In a sense the gospel stories appear to be something of an embarrassment: their "realism" is offensive.'{5}

 

What legitimate basis can be given to such a viewpoint? Those who deny the physical resurrection body of Jesus have developed a line of reasoning that has become pretty much stock-in-trade:

 

The New Testament church does not agree about the nature of Christ's resurrected body. Material in Luke and John perhaps suggest this body to be corporeal in nature.43 Paul, on the other band, clearly argues that the body is a spiritual body. If any historical memory resides in the accounts of Paul's conversion in Acts, he must not have understood the appearance of Christ to have been a corporeal appearance. Most critics identify this conversion with the event referred to in I Cor. 15:8: 'Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.44 The arguments in verses 47-50 of this chapter for the identity between Christ's body and the spiritual body of the resurrection indicate that for the Apostle his Lord rose from the dead in a spiritual body. Most importantly, Paul has equated the appearance of Christ to him with the appearances to the other apostles. The resurrected Christ, as he was manifested to the church is thus a spiritual body . . . .
------------------
43Luke 24.39-43; John 20.26-38. There are, of course, contradictory elements in the stories which imply the body is more than physical.
44. . .{6}

We can formulate this reasoning as follows:

1. Paul's information is at least prima facie  more reliable than the gospels. 

   a. For he stands in closer temporal and personal 
      proximity to the original events. 

2. Paul's information, in contrast to the gospels, 
   indicates Jesus possessed a purely spiritual 
   resurrection body.

   a. First Argument:

      (1) Paul equated the appearance of Jesus to 
          him with the appearances of Jesus to the 
          disciples.
      (2) The appearance of Jesus to Paul was a 
          non-physical appearance.
      (3) Therefore, the appearances of Jesus to the 
          disciples were non-physical appearances.

   b. Second Argument:

      (1) Paul equated Jesus's resurrection body with 
          our future resurrection bodies.
      (2) Our future resurrection bodies will be 
          spiritual bodies.
      (3) Therefore, Jesus's resurrectionbody was a 
           spiritual body. 

3. Therefore, Jesus possessed a purely spiritual 
   resurrection body.

 

In this way the gospel accounts of the physical resurrection may be dismissed as legendary.

 

Now it is my conviction that this reasoning cannot bear the weight placed upon it by those who would reject the physical resurrection. I shall not in this essay contest the first premise. But I wish to take sharp issue with the second. Neither of the two supporting arguments, it seems to me, is sound; on the contrary, they embody serious misconceptions.

 

With regard to the first supporting argument, concerning the appearance of Jesus to Paul, it seems to me that both premisses (1) and (2) are highly questionable. Taking the premisses in reverse order, what is the evidence for (2)The appearance of Jesus to Paul was a non-physical appearance? Usually appeal is made to the accounts of this incident in Acts, where, it is said, the appearance is to be understood as a visionary experience (Acts 9.1-19: 22.3-16 26.9-23). As a matter of fact, however, the appearance in Acts, while involving visionary elements, cannot without further ado be characterized as purely visionary, since in all three accounts it is accompanied by extra-mental phenomena, namely, the light and the voice, which were experienced by Paul's companions. Grass dismisses these as due to Luke's objectifying tendencies.{7}This is, however, very doubtful, since Luke does not want to objectify the post-ascension visions of Jesus; it is the pre-ascension appearances whose extra-mental reality Luke emphasizes. Had Luke had no tradition that included Paul's companions, then we should have another vision like Stephen's, lacking extra-mental phenomena. And secondly, if Luke had invented the extra-mental aspects of the appearance to Paul, we should have expected him to be more consistent and not to construct such discrepancies as that Paul's companions heard and did not hear the voice. These inconsistencies suggest that the extra-mental phenomena were part of Luke's various traditions.

 

Grass further maintains that Luke had before him a tradition of Paul's experience that could not be assimilated to the more physical appearances of Christ to the disciples and that therefore the tradition is reliable; the extra-mental aspects are the result of mythical or legendary influences.{8} But one could argue that precisely the opposite is true: that because the appearance to Paul is a post-ascension experience Luke is forced to construe it as a heavenly vision, since Jesus has physically ascended. Grass's anthropomorphic parallels from Greek mythology (Homer Illiad a 158; idem Odyssey p. v. 161; ApolloniusArgonauts 4. 852) bear little resemblance to Paul's experience; a genealogical tie between them is most unlikely. Thus, no appeal to the Acts accounts of the appearance to Paul can legitimately be made as proof that that appearance was purely visionary in nature.

 

Paul himself gives us no firm clue as to the nature of Christ's appearance to him. But it is interesting to note that when Paul speaks of his 'visions and revelations of the Lord' (II Cor 12.1-7) he does not include Jesus's appearance to him. Paul and the early Christian community as a whole were familiar with religious visions and sharply differentiated between these and an appearance of the risen Lord. {9} But what was the difference? Grass asserts that the only difference was in content: in an appearance the exalted Christ is seen.{10} But surely there must have been religious visions of the exalted Christ, too. Both Stephen's vision and the book of Revelation show that claims to visions of the exalted Christ which were not resurrection appearances were made in the church. Nor can it be said that the distinctive element in an appearance was the commissioning, for appearances were known which lacked this element (the Emmaus disciples, the 500 brethren). It seems to me that the most natural answer is that an appearance involved extra-mental phenomena, something's actually appearing, whereas a vision, even if caused by God, was purely in the mind. If this is correct, then Paul, in claiming for himself an appearance of Christ as opposed to a vision of Christ, is asserting to have seen something, not merely in the mind, but actually 'out there' in the real world. For all we know from Paul, this appearance could conceivably have been as physical as those portrayed in the gospels; and it is not impossible that Luke then 'spiritualized' the appearance out of the necessity of his pre- and post-ascension scheme! At any rate, it would be futile to attempt to prove that either Acts or Paul supports a purely visionary appearance to the apostle on the Damascus road.

 

But suppose this is altogether wrong. Suppose the appearance to Paul was purely visionary. What grounds are there for believing premise (1), Paul equated the appearance of Jesus to him with the appearances of Jesus to the disciples? Usually appeal is made to the fact that Paul places himself in the list of witnesses of the appearances; hence, the other appearances must have also been visionary appearances like his own. This, however, does not seem to follow. First, in placing himself in the list of witnesses, Paul does not imply that the foregoing appearances were the same sort of appearance as the one to him. He is not concerned here with the how of the appearances, but with who appeared. He wants to list witnesses of the risen Christ, and the mode of the appearance is entirely incidental. But second, in placing himself in the list, Paul is not trying to put the appearances to the others on a plane with his own; rather he is trying to level up his own experience to the objectivity and reality of the others. Paul's detractors doubted or denied his apostleship (I Cor 9. 1-2; II Cor 11.5; 12.11) and his having seen Christ would be an important argument in his favor (Gal 1.1, 11-12, 15-16; I Cor 9. 1-2; 15.8-9). His opponents might tend to dismiss Paul's experience as a mere subjective vision, not a real appearance, and so Paul is anxious to include himself with the other apostles as a recipient of a genuine, objective appearance of the risen Lord. By putting himself in the list, Paul is saying that what he saw was every bit as much a real appearance of Jesus as what they saw. In fact, one could argue that Paul's adding himself to the list is actually a case of special pleading! At any rate, it is anon sequitur to infer that because Paul includes himself in the list of witnesses, all the other appearances must be of the same mode as the appearance to Paul.

 

Hence, the first argument against Jesus's physical resurrection seems doubly unsound. Not only does the evidence run against a purely visionary appearance to Paul, but there is no indication that Paul equated the mode of the appearance of Jesus to himself with the mode of the appearances to the other disciples.

 

Let us turn then to the second supporting argument for a purely spiritual resurrection body of Jesus: the argument from Paul's term swma pneumatikon. Premise (1), Paul equated Jesus's resurrection body with our future resurreation bodies, is surely correct (Phil 3.21; I Cor 15.20; Col 1.18). But the truth of premise (2), our future resurrection bodies will be spiritual bodies, depends upon how one defines its terms. Therefore, before we look more closely at Paul's discussion of the resurrection body in I Cor 15.35-57, a word ought to be said about Paul's anthropological terms swma, sarx, and yuch.

The most important term in the second half of I Cor 15 is swma.{11} During the nineteenth century under the influence of idealism, theologians interpreted theswma as the form of a thing and the sarx as its substance.{12} In this way they could avoid the objectionable notion of a physical resurrection, for it was the form that was raised from the dead endowed with a new spiritual substance. Hence, in the old commentaries one finds that the swma pneumatikon was conceived to be a body made out of himmlischer Lichtsubstanz. This understanding has now been all but abandoned.{13} The view of swma as merely form and sarx as its substance cannot be exegetically sustained;swma is the body, form and substance. This does not mean, however, that twentieth century theologians take swma to mean the physical body. Rather under the influence of existentialism, particularly as adopted by Bultmann, they take swma, when used theologically, as the whole person conceived abstractly in existentialist categories of self-understanding. Thus, swma does not equal the physical body, but the person, and hence, a bodily resurrection means, not a resurrection of the physical body, but of the person. In this way the doctrine of physical resurrection is avoided as adroitly as it was in the days of philosophical idealism. It is the burden of Gundry's study to show that this understanding is drastically wrong. Even if his exegesis suffers at times from over-kill,{14}Gundry succeeds admirably in carrying his main point: that swma is never used in the New Testament to denote the whole person in isolation from his physical body, but is much more used to denote the physical body itself or the man with special emphasis on the physical body. Gundry's conclusion is worth quoting:

The soma denotes the physical body, roughly synonymous with 'flesh' in the neutral sense. It forms that part of man in and through which he lives and acts in the world. It becomes the base of operations for sin in the unbeliever, for the Holy Spirit in the believer. Barring prior occurrence of the Parousia, the soma will die. That is the lingering effect of sin even in the believer. But it will also be resurrected. That is its ultimate end, a major proof of its worth and necessity to wholeness of human being, and the reason for its sanctification now.{15}

T he importance of this conclusion cannot be overemphasized. Too long we have been told that for Paul swma is the ego, the 'I' of a man. Like a dash of cold water, Gundry's study brings us back to the genuine anthropological consciousness of first century man. The notion of body as the 'I' is a perversion of the biblical meaning of swma: Robert Jewett asserts, 'Bultmann has turnedswma into its virtual opposite: a symbol for that structure of individual existence which is essentially non-physical.'{16} Hence, existentialist treatments ofswma, as much as idealist treatments, have been a positive impediment to accurate historical-critical exegesis of I Cor 15 and have sacrificed theology to a philosophical fashion that is already passé.{17} To say that swma refers primarily to the physical body is not to say that the word cannot be used assynecdoche to refer to the whole man by reference to a part. 'The soma may represent the whole person simply because the soma lives in union with the soul/spirit. But soma does not mean "whole person," because its use is designed to call attention to the physical object which is the body of the person rather than the whole personality.'{18} Nor does this preclude metaphorical use of the word, as in the 'body of Christ' for the church; for it is a physical metaphor: the church is not the 'I' of Christ. When we turn to I Cor 15 and inquire about the nature of the resurrection body, therefore, we shall be inquiring about a body, not about an ego, an 'I', or a 'person' abstractly conceived apart from the body.

I have already alluded to Paul's use of sarx , and it will not be necessary to say much here. Theologians are familiar with sarx as the evil proclivity within man. This touches sensitive nerves in German theology because the Creed in German states that I believe in the resurrection of the Fleisch, not of the bodyas in the English translation. Hence, many theologians are rightly anxious to disassociate themselves from any doctrine that the flesh as a morally evil principle will be resurrected. But they seem prone to overlook the fact that Paul often uses sarx in a non-moral sense simply to mean the physical flesh or body. In this morally neutral sense the resurrection of the flesh = resurrection of the body. Now in I Cor 15 Paul is clearly speaking of sarx in a physical, morally neutral sense, for he speaks of the flesh of birds, animals, and fish, which would be absurd in any moral sense. Hence, understood in a physical sense, the doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh is morally unobjectionable.

 

Finally a brief word on the third term yuch: Paul does not teach a consistent dualism of swma-yuch, but often uses pneuma and other terms to designate the immaterial element of man. In fact in the adjectival form, yuchikoV has a meaning that does not connote immateriality at all, but rather the natural character of a thing in contradistinction to the supernatural character of God's Spirit. Thus in I Cor 2.14-3.3 Paul differentiates three types of men: theanJrwpoV yuchikoV or natural man apart from God's Spirit; theanJrwpoV pneumatikoV or spiritual man who is led and empowered by God's Spirit; and the anJrwpoV sarkinoV or carnal man who, though possessing the Spirit of God (I Cor 12. 13), is nevertheless still under the sway of the sarx or evil principle in human nature. This makes it evident that for Paul yucikoV did not have the connotations which we today associate with 'soul.'

 

With these terms in mind we now turn to Paul's discussion in I Cor 15.35-37. He begins by asking two polemical questions: How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come? (v 35; cf. II Bar 49.2-3). Paul's opponents seemed to have been unable to accept the resurrection because the resurrection of a material body was either inconceivable or offensive to their Greek minds (cf. Bultmann's 'resuscitation of a corpse'). Paul's answer steers a careful course between the crasser forms of the Pharisaic doctrine of resurrection, in which the raised will, for example, each beget a thousand children and eat the flesh of Leviathan, and the Platonistic doctrine of the immortality of the soul apart from the body. Paul will contend that the resurrection body will be radically different from this natural body, but that it will nevertheless be a body-- Paul contemplates no release of the soul from the prison house of the body. Paul's answer is that the resurrection body will be a marvellous transformation of our present body, making it suitable for existence in the age to come-- a doctrine not unusual in the Judaism of Paul's day and remarkably similar to that of the contemporary II Bar 50-51, which should be read in conjunction with Paul's argument.{19} It is highly instructive, particularly if we accept that the author of Luke-Acts was an associate of Paul that Luke specifically identifies Paul's doctrine of the resurrection with that of the Pharisees (Acts 23.6; cf. 24.14; 16.6, 21-23).

 

In the first paragraph, vv 36-41, Paul searches for analogies to the resurrection of the dead (v 42). The first analogy is the analogy of the seed. The point of the analogy is simply to draw attention to how different the plant is from the seed that is buried in the ground (cf. Matt 13.31-32 for Jesus's use of a similar analogy in another context). It is a good analogy for Paul's purposes, for the sowing of the seed and its death are reminiscent of the burial of the dead man (vv 42-44). To criticize Paul's analogy from the standpoint of modern botany--saying, for example, that a seed does not really die--presses the analogy too far. Similarly some commentators criticize Paul's analogy because he lacked the modern botanical notion that a particular type of seed yields a particular type of plant; Paul thought God alone determined what plant should spring up from any seed that was sown (v 38). But this is quite unreasonable, as though Paul could think that a date-palm would conceivably spring from a grain of corn! He specifically says that God gives 'each kind of seed its own body' (v 38), which harks back to the Genesis account of creation according to kinds (Gen 1.11). At any rate this loses the whole point of the analogy: that from the mere seed God produces a wonderfully different plant.

 

Paul then appeals to the analogy of different sorts of flesh again in order to prove that if we recognize differences even in the physical world then the resurrection body could also be different from our present body. Paul's analogy may have in mind the creation account, but I think the Jewish distinction between clean and unclean food is closer (cf. Lev 11; animals: 1-8; fish: 9-12; birds: 13-19; insects: 20-23; swarming things: 29-30).{20 } So I do not thinksarx here is precisely identical with swma. Not only would that reduce Paul's argument to the rather banal assertion that men have different bodies from fish, but it would also entail the false statement that all animals have the same kind of body. Rather in the present connection, sarx means essentially 'meat' or 'organic matter.' The old commentaries were therefore wrong in defining sarxtout simple as 'substance,' for inorganic matter would not be sarx; Paul would never speak of the flesh of a stone. To say that the resurrection body has therefore a different kind of flesh than the present body probably presses the analogy too far; all Paul wants to show is that as there are differences among mundane things, analogously the supernatural resurrection body could also differ from the present body.

 

The third analogy is that of terrestrial and celestial bodies (vv 40-41). There can be no doubt from v 41 that Paul means astronomical bodies, not angels. Again the point of the analogy is the same: there are radical differences among bodies in the physical world, so why should not the body in the world to come differ from the present body? Paul's analogy is particularly apt in this case because as the heavenly bodies exceed terrestrial bodies in glory, so does the resurrection body the natural body (v 43; cf. Phil 3.21).{21} The doxa of the heavenly bodies is their brightness, which varies; there is no trace here of Lichtsubstanz.When applied to the resurrection body, however, doxa seems to be honor (v 43). Paul has thus prepared the way for his doctrine of the world to come by three analogies from the present world. All of them show how things can be radically different from other things of the same kind; similarly a swma pneumatikon will be seen to be radically different from a swma yuchikon. Moreover, Paul's analogies form an ascending scale from plant to animal to terrestrial bodies to celestial bodies; the next type of body to be mentioned will be the most wonderful and exalted of all.

 

From vv 42-50 Paul spells out his doctrine of the swma pneumatikon. The body that is to be differs from the present body in that it will be imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual; whereas the present body is perishable, dishonourable, weak, and physical (w 42-44). These are the four essential differences between the present body and the resurrection body. What do they tell us about the nature of the resurrection body?

 

First, it is sown en jJora, but it is raised en ajJarsia. These terms tell us clearly that Paul is not talking about egos, or 'I's,' but about bodies, for (1) thespeiretai-egeiretai has primary reference to the burial and raising up of a dead man's body, not the 'person' in abstraction from the body and (2) only the body can be described as perishable (II Cor 4.16), for man's spirit survives death (II Cor 5.1-5; cf. Rom 8.10; Phil 1. 23), Rather the disjunction under discussion concerns the radical change that will take place in our bodies: Paul teaches personal bodily immortality, not immortality of the soul alone (cf. vv 53-54). Strange as this may seem, the Christian teaching (or at least Paul's) is not that our souls will live forever, but that we will have bodies in the after-life.

 

Second, it is sown en atimia, but it is raised en doxh. Our present bodies are wracked by sin, are bodies of death, groaning with the whole creation to be set free from sin and decay; we long, says Paul, for the redemption of our bodies (II Cor 5.4; Rom 8.19-24). This body, dishonored through sin and death, will be transformed by Christ to be like his glorious body (Phil 3.21). In a spiritual sense we already have an anticipation of this glory insofar as we are conformed inwardly to the image of Christ and are sanctified by his Spirit (II Cor 3.18), but Paul teaches that the body will not simply fall away like a useless husk, but will be transformed to partake of this glory also.

 

Third, it is sown en asJenia, but it will be raised en dunamei. How well Paul knew of weakness! Afflicted with a bodily malediction which was offensive to others and a burden to those around him, Paul found in his weakness the power of Christ (Gal 4.13-14; II Cor 12.7-10). And on his poor body which had been stoned, beaten, and scourged for the sake of the gospel, Paul bore the marks of Christ, so much so that be dared to write '. . . in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions. . .' (Cal 1.24). Just as Christ 'was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God' (II Cor 13.4) so Paul longed to know the power of the resurrection and looked forward to the day when he, too, would receive the resurrection body (II Cor 5.1-4; Phil 3.10-11).

 

Fourth, it is sown a swma yucikon, but it is raised a swma pneumatikon, By a swma yucikon Paul clearly does not mean a body made out of yuch. Rather just as Paul frequently uses sarkikoV to indicate, not the physical composition of a thing, but its orientation, its dominating principle, so yucikoValso indicates, not a composition, but an orientation. In the New TestamentyucikoV always has a negative connotation (I Cor 2.14; Jas 3.15; Jude 19); that which is yucikoV partakes of the character and direction of natural human nature. Hence, the emphasis in swma yucikon is not that the body isphysical, but that is natural. Accordingly, swma yucikon ought rightly to be translated 'natural body;' it means our present human body. This is the body that will be sown. But it is raised a swma pneumatikon. And just as swma yucikon does not mean a body made out of yuch, neither does swma pneumatikon mean a body made out of pneuma. If swma pneumatikonindicated a body made out of spirit, then its opposite would not be a swma yucikon, but a swma sarkinon. For Paul, yuch and pneuma are not substances out of which bodies are made, but dominating principles by which bodies are directed. Virtually every modern commentator agrees on this point: Paul is not talking about a rarefied body made out of spirit or ether; he means a body under the lordship and direction of God's Spirit. The present body isyucikon insofar as the yuch is its dominating principle (cf. anJrwpoV yucikoV I Cor 2.14). The body which is to be will be pneumatikon, not in the sense of a spiritual substance, but insofar as the pneuma will be its dominating principle (cf. anJrwpoV pneumatikoV-- I Cor 2.15). They do not differ qua swma; rather they differ qua orientation. Thus, philological analysis leads, in Clavier's words, to the conclusion that '. . . le "corps pneumatique" est, en substance, le même corps, ce corps de chair, mais controlé par l'esprit, comme le fut le corps de Jésus-Christ.'{22} The contrast is not between physical body / non-physical body, but between naturally oriented body / spiritually oriented body. Hence, I think it very unfortunate that the termswma pneumatikon has been usually translated 'spiritual body,' for this tends to be very misleading, as Héring explains:

 

En français toutefois la traduction littérale corps spirituel risque de créer les pires malentendus. Car la plupart des lecteurs de langue française, étant plus ou moins consciemment cartésiens, céderont à la tendence d'identifier le spirituel avec l'inétendu et naturellement aussi avec l'im-matériel, ce qui va à l'encontre des idées pauliniennes et crée de plus une contradictio in adjecto; car que serait un corps sans étendue ni matière?{23}

H éring therefore suggests that it is better to translate swma pneumatikon as the opposite of natural body ( swma yucikon ) as supernatural body. Although this has the disadvantage of ignoring the connotation ofpneumatikoV as 'Spirit-dominated,' it avoids the inevitable misunderstandings engendered by 'spiritual body.' As Héring rightly comments, this latter term, understood substantively, is practically a self-contradiction. By the same token, 'physical body' is really a tautology. Thus, natural body/supernatural body is a better rendering of Paul's meaning here.

contd...

 



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The Gospel of Matthew, the Fraud!

Read / Write Comments | By Vexen Crabtree 1999 Dec 22


1. Matthew's Time of Writing

Matthew's works were written between 90-100ce in Syria, probably written in the same time range as Luke, as they were unaware of each other's existence. The original works of Matthew were completely anonymous and it was not until about 150ce that the author "Matthew" was assigned to the writings. In traditional pseudepigraphic fashion the author was based on a historic character, in this case on "Mattai", who was a disciple of Yeishu ben Pandeira, who lived in Hashmonean times, predating the Jesus concept, but containing many similarities. (SeeHayyim ben Yehoshua for details.)

The first two chapters of Matthew, the virgin birth and the genealogy, were not contained in the first versions of Matthew's gospel, and were added at a later date later.

2. Matthew's Sources

Matthew's gospel contains 92% of the text that appears in Mark! This is a very high percentage - almost a copy - but Matthew corrected many of Mark's blunders about the Jewish ways of life and proceeded, a few versions later, to add the chapters about the virgin birth. See: "The Gospel of Mark" by Vexen Crabtree (2006).

Matthew also uses a source that historians call "Q" - a completely unidentified source who was supposedly an original disciple of Christ (or a friend of Paul), none of whose work has survived.

3. Problems In Matthew

Matthew staked his writing career on the fact that Jesus was a great man, divine and the Messiah. He set out in his writings to prove that Jesus was all of these things. He went through the Old Testament searching for any passage that he could apply as a prophecy of Jesus' divine nature. In many cases he found a text, and because he did not know Jesus, felt free to invent details in order to make the Old Testament text he was reading appear as a prophecy.

Here are some of the famous cases that can be used as proof of his untrustworthy tactics and furtive imagination:

  1. There Was No Virgin Birth
  2. The Guiding Star
  3. King Herod's Infant Genocide
  4. The Prophecy of the Two Donkeys
  5. The Crucifixion

3.1. There Was No Virgin Birth

The Prophecy of the Virgin Birth appears in Matthew 1:22-23. Matthew wrote this seventy years after Jesus Christ was born (35-40 years after he died). Up until that point no other text mentions Jesus' virgin birth. He quotes Isaiah 7:14 which was written 700 years before Jesus was born - thus claiming it was a sign, a prediction of the Messiah's virgin birth.

But there is a serious problem. Matthew states that, due to prophecy, it is true that Jesus was a male line descendant of King David, and presents a genealogy at the beginning of his gospel tracing Jesus' lineage through Joseph. Matthew, apparently, like Luke and Paul and the rest of the early Christians, did not believe in a virgin birth. There are two theories that explain how this contradiction occurred. (1) A Septuagint mistranslation of the word "virgin" instead of "young woman" caused the discrepancy. The original prophecy is not that someone called Immanuel will be born of a virgin, but merely that someone called Immanuel will be born. In the original context of the story, this makes a lot of sense. (2) Matthew, writing for a Roman gentile audience in Greek, included popular myths surrounding sons of gods, who in Roman mythology were frequently said to be born of virgins. In either case, it is clear that Matthew's prophecy of a virgin birth was a mistake, and modern Bible's actually include a footnote in Matthew pointing out that the virgin birth is a Septuagint mistranslation.

3.1.1. Matthew did not write that the virgin birth was prophesized nor fulfilled

The text in Matthew reads: "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" --which means, 'God with us.'".

As it happens, the ancient Greek translators of the Septuagint and similar translations made an ancient error. They translated the Hebrew word "almah" into the Greek "parthenos", which usually means a "virgin." "Almah" appears 9 other times in the Hebrew Scriptures; in each case it means "young woman" - a female who might have been a virgin or might have been sexually active. When the Hebrew scriptures referred to a virgin (and they do over 50 times) they always used the Hebrew word "betulah." So, Isaiah was referring to a young woman becoming pregnant (a rather ordinary event) and not to a woman having conceived while still remaining a virgin (a miracle). During the Christian era, the passage has become so famous that many modern translators find it difficult to conform to the Hebrew original. Many duplicate the error of those ancient Greek translations.

The story in Isaiah 7:14 is unrelated to the birth of Jesus. 6 It describes a siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians about 715 BCE. The child that was born to the young woman at the time was a sign from God that the siege would be lifted and that Jerusalem would continue as before.

"Timing, location & prophecy of Jesus' birth" by OCRT

If the quote is examined in context, it is easy to see that the young woman of the prophecy was Isaiah's own wife or concubine, and it was the birth of her son, or the promise of it, that was being offered to King Ahaz as a sign that God would protect his kingdom from its enemies.

Text from "No Holy Night" by M. R. Gates (1997)

This means that the original text only prophesizes that "A young woman will be with child and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel". As pointed out above the Biblical text makes perfect sense in the context of the story, it was never meant to be taken out of context, nor mistranslated in part to read "of a virgin". This would explain why Matthew states that Joseph, of the line of David, was Jesus' father and that this fulfils the Old Testament requirement that the saviour would be born of the lineage of King David. It is only as a result of the early 6th century ce Septuagint mistranslation that we think Matthew believed simultaneously that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that Joseph was his father.

OCRT list several modern bibles that correctly translate the term as "young woman", and some that mistranslate it as "virgin", and some who cleverly avoid the problem by saying a "virgin will conceive", therefore leaving it unclear.

3.1.2. Other Christians and Previous Christians Did Not Believe in the Virgin Birth

 

  • 50ce : The writer(s) of the gospel of Q were unaware of the virgin birth.
  • 64ce : Paul died without writing of the virgin birth.
  • 70ce : The writer of the Gospel of Mark does not mention it.
  • 90ce : The belief appears in the writings of Matthew and Luke.
  • The author(s) of John seemed committed to making it clear that Jesus' birth was not of a virgin.

Bullet points from Virgin Birth Summary by the OCRT

The apostle Paul makes no reference to the virginal conception by the mother of Jesus when speaking of Jesus' origins and divinity. His epistles were written during the 50's A.D. and predate all of the four gospels. Although Paul never met Jesus (who died about 30 A.D.), he personally did know James, the brother of Jesus. Yet despite this eye-witness link to Jesus, Paul apparently knows nothing of the virgin birth, for he states only that Jesus was "born of a woman" (Galatians 4:4) and was "descended from David, according to the flesh" (Romans 1:3), thereby implying a normal birth.

www.religioustolerance.org/xmas_lib.htm

3.1.3. Matthew Included a Roman Myth in the Jesus story

Thus it can be seen that nowhere in the Old Testament is a prophecy that the messiah will be born of a virgin. In fact, virgins nowhere give birth in the Old Testament. The following text explains why Matthew would have included and supported text on a virgin birth even if the original prophecy did not read as such.

Matthew would have been aware of all the Roman myths, being a Syrian. In Roman (pagan) myths there are many virgin births of great heroes and mythical characters, eg Herakles, Romulus and many others. For Matthew it would be unthinkable that the Messiah would not be born of a virgin along with these other great heroes. Matthew was writing for a gentile, Roman audience, in Greek, and he would have also known that his readers also would assume that Jesus, if at all divine, was born of a virgin.

In a fashion typical of Matthew worked, and of the way Roman mythology as a whole worked, Matthew included a virgin birth in Jesus' historical life in order to add credence to his story. He then looked through the Old Testament, and either in haste or dishonesty, appropriated some relevant-sounding text from Isaiah.

It is only a later Greek mistranslation that makes Matthew say "called Immanuel, born of a virgin", rather than "of a young woman". This saves Matthew from an accusation of deception, but no matter which of these two theories we accept, we see that there was never a virgin birth.

3.2. The Guiding Star

One of Matthew's plotlines is the three visitors from the East who visit the newborn Jesus. They say that a star came up in the East, however no other people in the story appear to notice this. It must have been a relatively unnoticeable event, a fairly faint star, only noticed by people who study the stars. The three visitors are called "Star Readers" in Matthew 2:1. However no other astrologers across the world at that time document this phenomenon. It appears Matthew made it up.

3.3. King Herod: The Killing of Every Male Baby

Chapter two of Matthew tells us of King Herod's anger at the three wise men and then of the killing of every child. Surely, the slaughter of every male child (Matthew 2:16-17) in Bethlehem, Ramah, and the surrounding area would have got mentioned in many places, such as Josephus' detailed accounts of the times, in fact it would likely cause the downfall of such an immoral, monstrous leader who issued such orders! Incidentally, the other 'great' leader in the Bible to issue such orders was Moses (Numbers 31:17-18Joshua 6:21-24), killing all the women/young/old in a city in two separate occasions.

Many other myths, including more ancient Roman ones, had an event where all the male children were killed, and the famous Romulus and Remus story is (once again) a good, famous example. The story of Moses also contains a period of time when all Jewish male children are being killed by the King of the time, when Moses escapes in a basket pushed down a river by his mother. The princess who picked him out of the water called him Moses, which means "picked out".

3.4. Prophecy of the 2 Donkeys

Mark wrote that Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey. Luke and John both stuck to this. Matthew was in the habit of "correcting" Mark's errors and on this point of Jesus' riding into Jerusalem, Matthew felt he should have been riding on TWO donkeys at the same time.

On all three times Matthew mentions this part (Matthew 21:1-7) he says the same thing, so it was not a transcription error. Why does Matthew alter the text in such a bizarre way? It seems he misread Zechariah 9:9: "mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey". We have already seen from Matthew's misinterpretation of the difference between the Hebrew word "Almah" and "Betulah" that he has a poor understanding of Hebrew. This passage also was misunderstood by Matthew.

In Hebrew an emphasis is expressed by the doubling of a word or a phrase, like "and David's enemies were dead, and yes, very dead," so the original phrase does not mean two animals at all (as is also clearly shown by Jewish comments on the passage).

Once again Matthew changed the meaning of the text to reflect what he thought it should say in order to make a prophecy come true, a conscious act of fraud in order to make the text fits his own personal opinion of the facts.

3.5. The Crucifixion

Matthew contributed some very unlikely events to the Biblical account of the crucifixion and resurrection. For example, the Guards on the Tomb, the empty Tomb, the Angel, the Earthquake and the 3 hours darkness at Jesus' death are all very likely to be wrong. These side-stories, although not essential to the idea of the resurrection, reinforce the feeling that Matthew was writing anything he could to make Jesus out to have existed, whether such things were true or not.

I quote at length from "2g. Was the Tomb Guarded?" by Richard Carrier. At this point in his essay on the Resurrection, Richard Carrier is casting doubt on Matthew's text on the crucifixion.

Doesn't the fact that the tomb was guarded make escape unlikely, even if Jesus survived? Although one gospel accuses the Jews of making up the theft story, it is only that same gospel, after all, which mentions a guard on the tomb, and the authors have the same motive to make that up as the Jews would have had to make up the theft story: by inventing guards on the tomb the authors create a rhetorical means of putting the theft story into question, especially for the majority of converts who did not live in Palestine. And it is most suspicious that the other gospel accounts omit any mention of a guard, even when Mary visits the tomb (compareMatthew 28:1-15 with Mark 16:1-8Luke 24:1-12, and John 20:1-9), and also do not mention the theft story--this claim is not even reported in Acts, where a lot of hostile Jewish attacks on the church are recorded, yet somehow this one fails to be mentioned. Neither Peter nor Paul mention either fact, either, even though their letters predate the gospels by decades. Worse, Matthew's account involves reporting privileged conversations between priests and Pilate, and then secret ones between priests and guards that no Christian could have known about (27.62-65, 28.11-15). This is always a very suspicious sign of fiction. Such a story could very easily be a Christian invention. They had the motive to make it up, to answer the objections of later skeptics (just like the Thomas story in John), and the story looks like an invention, because it narrates events that could not be known by the author.

 

How would this story develop? If a doubter had claimed that the Christians "could have" stolen the body, and someone overheard this charge and, in the manner of all rumours which get altered in transmission, thought that they heard the body was stolen and then accused the Christians of theft, the Christians could have responded that "the Jews said that, to thwart us" (as Matthew says, "this story is spread around among Jews to the present day," 28.15). This would be quite plausible, since the story does portray the Jews as having a motive to torpedo the cause. One can easily imagine the skeptics answering back that if the Jews really feared theft, they would have guarded the tomb. This skeptical charge would then inspire the addition of guards, which would also require a story of bribery to explain why there are no guards around who could vouch for the resurrection, as well as the invention of an earthquake and angelic intervention to explain why the guards would not interfere with Mary, since, now that he has placed guards on the scene, Matthew has to invent some bizarre reason for their cowering before a woman, a strange story appearing in no other accounts of Mary's visit to the tomb.

It seems, then, that a lie is getting larger and more implausible, in a desperate attempt to make it more plausible, a fate that has befallen many a tall story. [...]

An additional reason to reject Matthew's story is that it contradicts all other accounts and is illogical: if the tomb was sealed until the angel came and moved the stone before the women and the guards, how did Jesus leave the tomb undetected? Did he teleport? For he wasn't in the tomb: it was already empty. Even if he want to imagine that he did teleport, all the other Gospels record that the stone had already been moved when the women arrived (Mark 16:4Luke 24:2,John 20:1). Thus, Matthew's account is contradicted three times, even by an earlier source (Mark), and does not make a lot of sense. That is further ground for rejecting it: for Matthew alone must have the angel open the tomb when the women are present in order to silence the guards that he alone has put there.

"2g. Was the Tomb Guarded?" by Richard Carrier

Matthew appears to have included, as part of Jesus' history, the same story that accompanies many other myths in history. That of the darkening of the sun when an important person dies. I now quote Kersey Graves' essay "The Aphanasia":

MATTHEW tells us (xxvii. 31) that when Christ was crucified, there was darkness all over the land for three hours, and "the earth did quake, and the rocks were rent, and many of the saints came out of their graves."

 

Here we have a series of events spoken of so strange, so unusual and so extraordinary that, had they occurred, they must have attracted the attention of the whole world -- especially the amazing scene of the sun's withdrawing his light and ceasing to shine, and thereby causing an almost total darkness near the middle of the day. And yet no writer of that age or country, or any other age or country, mentions the circumstance but Matthew. A phenomenon so terrible and so serious in its effects as literally to unhinge the planets and partially disorganize the universe must have excited the alarm and amazement of the whole world, and caused a serious disturbance in the affairs of nations. And yet strange, superlatively strange, not one of the numerous historians of that age makes the slightest allusion to such an astounding event.

"The Aphanasia, or Darkness at the Crucifixion" by Kersey Graves

Matthew included this story (just like he included many others) because he assumed that because Jesus was Christ that all the stories surrounding other Christs would be true of Jesus also. This would be a natural assumption, just like today we assume a banker wears a suit and a tie to work.

Graves continues to partially list major myths of the time that included such a darkening of the sun: The ancient pagan demigod Senerus, the Indian God Chrishna, the Egyptian Osiris, Prometheus, Romulus, even Caesar and Alexander the Great.

If we removed from Matthew all the stories about Jesus that were to be found to be part of Roman popular culture about sons-of-gods, then, we find that there is very little left! Some people theorize that all stories about Jesus are copies of other stories because Jesus himself never existed!

4. Appendix: Bible Verses

The Gospel of Matthew, the Fraud!
Matthew 1:22-23 used on The Gospel of Matthew, the Fraud!: There Was No Virgin Birth
Matthew 1:22-23 used on The Birth of Jesus and the Christmas Story from the Bible Are Pagan and Unhistorical: The Virgin BirthMatthew 2:1 used on The Birth of Jesus and the Christmas Story from the Bible Are Pagan and Unhistorical: The Guiding StarMatthew 2:1 used on The Gospel of Matthew, the Fraud!: The Guiding StarMatthew 2:16 used on Christian Moral Theory and Morality in Action: Social Disaster: Matthew's Nativity StoryMatthew 2:16-17 used on The Birth of Jesus and the Christmas Story from the Bible Are Pagan and Unhistorical: King Herod: The Killing of Every Male BabyMatthew 2:16-17 used on The Gospel of Matthew, the Fraud!: King Herod: The Killing of Every Male BabyMatthew 4:1-11 used on Arian Christianity (the Father is Greater than the Son): A Precursor to Modern Christianity: Biblical ReferencesMatthew 5:18-19: SAB: Are the laws of the Old Testament still binding? Some Bible Verses Say Yes, Others Say NoMatthew 5:17-20 used on 1st Century Christian Ebionites: The Original Christians?: The Gospel of MatthewMatthew 6:16-18 used on Prayer is Not Godly, But Useless and Satanic: Biblical Rules: Pray in Private and Secretly, Not In PublicMatthew 6:1-4 used on Prayer is Not Godly, But Useless and Satanic: Biblical Rules: Pray in Private and Secretly, Not In PublicMatthew 6:5-6 used on Prayer is Not Godly, But Useless and Satanic: Biblical Rules: Pray in Private and Secretly, Not In PublicMatthew 6:7 used on Prayer is Not Godly, But Useless and Satanic: Biblical Rules: Use Not RepetitionsMatthew 7:7-8 used on Prayer is Not Godly, But Useless and Satanic: Those With Some Faith Will Have Prayers Come TrueMatthew 7:12 used on Ethics Of Reciprocity like the Golden Rule and the Wiccan Rede Do Not Work: Adherents of the Golden Rule, by ReligionMatthew 10:34-37 used on The God of the Christian Bible is Evil: Evidence from Scripture and Nature: God Destroys FamiliesMatthew 10:34-37 used on Marriage: Its Diversity and Character: Christian Divorce RatesMatthew 12:11 used on Christian Universalism in Matthew and Luke: Parables of the Vineyard Workers and the Lost SheepMatthew 17:6: SAB: And they fell on their faces. A recurring phrase found throughout the Bible.Matthew 17:20 used on Prayer is Not Godly, But Useless and Satanic: Those With Some Faith Will Have Prayers Come TrueMatthew 18:19-20 used on Prayer is Not Godly, But Useless and Satanic: Those With Some Faith Will Have Prayers Come TrueMatthew 18:11-14 used on Christian Universalism in Matthew and Luke: Parables of the Vineyard Workers and the Lost SheepMatthew 18:3-4 used on Infanticide and Heaven: ConclusionsMatthew 19:17 used on 1st Century Christian Ebionites: The Original Christians?: The Gospel of MatthewMatthew 19:17 used on Arian Christianity (the Father is Greater than the Son): A Precursor to Modern Christianity: Biblical ReferencesMatthew 19:13-15 used on Infanticide and Heaven: ConclusionsMatthew 19:30 used on Christian Universalism in Matthew and Luke: Parables of the Vineyard Workers and the Lost SheepMatthew 20:1-16 used on Christian Universalism in Matthew and Luke: Parables of the Vineyard Workers and the Lost SheepMatthew 21:21-22 used on Prayer is Not Godly, But Useless and Satanic: Those With Some Faith Will Have Prayers Come TrueMatthew 21:1-7 used on The Gospel of Matthew, the Fraud!: Prophecy of the 2 DonkeysMatthew 22:23-30 used on Marriage: Its Diversity and Character: Christianity and MarriageMatthew 24:36 used on Arian Christianity (the Father is Greater than the Son): A Precursor to Modern Christianity: Biblical ReferencesMatthew 26:39: SAB: And they fell on their faces. A recurring phrase found throughout the Bible.Matthew 26:39 used on Prayer is Not Godly, But Useless and Satanic: Biblical Rules: Pray in Private and Secretly, Not In PublicMatthew 26:42 used on Prayer is Not Godly, But Useless and Satanic: Biblical Rules: Pray in Private and Secretly, Not In PublicMatthew 26:44 used on Prayer is Not Godly, But Useless and Satanic: Biblical Rules: Pray in Private and Secretly, Not In PublicMatthew 27:46 used on The Crucifixion Facade: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John Contradict Each OtherMatthew 28:1-15 used on The Gospel of Matthew, the Fraud!: The Crucifixion

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By Vexen Crabtree 1999 Dec 22

Links:

Notes

  1. 2002 Oct 08. Text on "The Crucifixion" added.
  2. 2003 April 06. Text on virgin birth completely rewritten


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Fraud in the Bible
or
It Sucks That You Don't Know Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic
http://www.mksmith.org/

bar.jpg


What is Pious Fraud?

Pious fraud was a common technique employed by early Christian writers to make a point. Their intention was to convert anyone and everyone by any means available. One of the more persuasive methods was to write a text and falsely tell others that it was written in first person. For example, the four canonized gospel tales were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. That has been a well known fact for about 200 years. And to this day, no one knows who the gospel stories were written by. These texts are perfect examples of pious fraud. Pious fraud is the foundation of the deception known as Christianity and it continues to this day. 

During the first couple of centuries of the Common Era the early Christian priest craft, which would eventually become the early Catholic fathers, were in the process of assimilating religions from all over Europe. Ultimately the new religion become known as the Christian religion, or more accurately The Catholic Church. The Bible was put together by hundreds of people who were either at the head of the fraud or were pawns in its assembly. Once the original languages were translated into Latin, it was only a matter of time before the original language nuances could be discarded. Ever wonder why it was punishable by death to read the Bible during the Middle Ages? Punishable by death by the common folk to read it, that is. Well, the reason was that the priest craft was well aware of the errors, inconsistencies and flat-out lies that riddled the Bible. If the common man found out, it could have been the death of the Church's authority, power and control over the masses. And since the original languages are rarely, if ever, used by those who read the Bible (well, those who actually READ it), the fraud is perpetuated.

When a pious fraud is knowingly perpetuated in the name of power and money, you have deception. Remember, 1700-2000 years ago, when these texts were being assembled into a 'new testament', the vast majority of humanity was illiterate. Science was not known. Demons rules the world. Anything could be put forth and said to be 'absolute truth' when it was in fact, completely fraudulent.

What is the implication of this? The implication is self-evident. The story of Genesis, that Christian proselytizers love to advance (althou it is part of the much older Jewish texts), is a complete and utter forgery. In that story we are led to believe that there was a single god who created the earth, etc. in 6 days. Not only has science proven the timeline to be completely false, the religious aspect is a complete fabrication. At the time that the Genesis story was supposed to have been written the Hebrew people were not monotheistic. That's history. They believed in many gods and Genesis proves it. The story actually goes back to before the Hebrews were a distinct people-it is not Hebrew in origin. 


Pious Fraud in Translation

Let's take a look at the very first words of the book of Genesis. Note very carefully that the Hebrew culture, at the time of this writing, was not monotheistic, but rather, polytheistic. Will your priest, minister or preacher tell you that? No. But you can find out for yourself with a simple dictionary.

The Hebrew word for God is el; the plural is elohim, gods. What is the first sentence in the Bible?

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). 

Here is Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew (transliterated into the Latin alphabet, of course): 

"Bere****h bara elohim," etc., 

"In-beginning created (the) gods (the) heavens and (the) earth." 

In the same chapter the word "elohim" (gods) is used thirty times., Those gods are the ones who created the 'universe' in 6 days.

To clarify, here is the translation of the Hebrew text of Genesis 1. Notice how Jewish and Christian 'fathers' don't bother to tell you what the original text says. They would like you to believe that a single god created everything. But, they messed up big time and actually translated it properly. In plain English, the translation reads 'let us make man in our image':

Here are three examples of the Hebrew plural gods mentioned in Genesis: 1. "And-said elohim (gods), let-US-make man (adam) in-image-OUR, after-likeness-OUR" (1:26).

2. And when "adam" had eaten of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge, "the Lord God" said, "Behold, the-man has become like one of US, to know good and evil" (3:27).

3. And when the Tower of Babel was being built: "The Lord [Heb. Yahveh] said ... Come, let US go down," etc.

elohim.jpg
Elohim


When speaking of the Hebrew deity, Yahveh, elohim, (gods) is used in the Hebrew texts, The plural elohim is used 2570 times. It is always falsely translated to the singular "God", thus falsely making us believe that this text was written at a time when the Hebrew people were monothestic, when it clearly is the case (written at least 2570 times, no less!) that they WERE NOT.

In the three Genesis verses above, there are three different designations of the Hebrew deity or deities: elohim, (gods), falsely translated "God":

Lord God (Heb. Yahveh-elohim); and Lord (Heb. Yahveh). Yahveh is the proper name of the Hebrew God, which, in English, is Jehovah.

Yahveh-elohim is a Hebrew "construct-form" which is translated to "Yahveh-of-the-gods." Invariably these personal names were falsely translated "Lord" and "Lord God," respectively, for purposes of pious fraud. 


First Man, First Woman

There was no first man "Adam," according to the Hebrew text. The word adam in Hebrew is a common noun, meaning man in a generic sense and in Genesis 1:26, it states:

"And elohim (gods) said, Let us make adam (man)"; and so "elohim created ha- adam (the-man); ... male and female created he them" (1: 27).

In the second creation story, where man is first made alone:

"Yahveh formed ha-adam (the-man) out of the dust of ha-adamah-the ground" (2:7).

Man is called in Hebrew adam because he was formed out of adamah, the ground; just as in Latin man is called homo because he was formed from humus, the ground. Early Christian father Lactantius stated it as 'homo ex humo' ('man from the ground', or 'dust' as it commonly stated today).

The forging of the name Adam from the Hebrew noun adam into a mythical proper name Adam, was after the so-called Exodus. The fraud in the forging of fictitious genealogies from "in the beginning" to Father Abraham.

And this wasn't done by Christians, but rather by early Hebrew priests. Nonetheless, early Christians took this deception and used it for their own newly forged religion.


Who has a Soul?


In Genesis 1 is the account of the creation of the elohim-gods-on the fifth day, of "nephesh hayyah" which is "the moving creature that hath life," and of "nephesh hayyah-every living creature" out of the waters (1:20, 21); and on the sixth day of "nephesh hayyah-the living creature" out of the ground (1:24); and he gave to ha-adam-the-man dominion over "kol nephesh hagyah-everything wherein there is life," (1:30.)

The Hebrew text states that all animal living creatures are by God called "nephesh hayyah," literally "living soul".

In Chapter 2 is the history of ha-adam made from ha-adamah; and, in contrast to these lowly "living creatures" (nephesh hayyah), Yahveh-clohim "breathed into his nostrils nishmath hayyim -- (living breaths), and ha-adam became nephesh hayyah-a living soul". (2:7)

In Hebrew everywhere you read the word nephesh it simply means soul, and hayyah (living) is the feminine singular adjective from hai, life. 

In the original Hebrew texts, Man was created exactly the same as the other animals. All had or were 'nephesh hayyah' or living souls.

Remember, tho, that the reason there are two creation stories is because two culture's stories of creation were woven together by the early Hebrew priest craft.

Unknown scribes, in translation, made animals merely creatures, and "Creation's masterpiece, Man," became a "living soul." They falsely altered these plain words so as to deceive us into believing a special God-breathed soul is in man which is completely different from animal that merely perishes to dust.

The implication of this is that someone has fraudulently decided that we are a special creation that has a soul, and eliminated the actual words of what Genesis says. Now all other animals don't have a soul. According to the story, all things that live have a soul. So what happened here? Forgery. That's what happened.

Chalk one up for vegetarians.


There Was No Continuous Hebrew Monotheistic Culture

When Yahveh appeared to Moses in the Burning Bush, and announced himself as "the God of thy fathers," he was a total stranger to Moses. How do I know? Read the account. It doesn't take a scholar to read where Moses ASKS who's taking. No, Moses wasn't merely surprised at the voice…he simply didn't know what was going on. (The fact that Moses is just a rehash of the Egyptian Mises is another essay altogether. But for the purposes of this essay, I'm pretending that Moses was a real person.)

Moses did not know this Yahveh, and had never heard of him. So that he asked, "What is thy name?" -so that he could report it to the people back home in Egypt, who had never heard it. After some intermission, the God came directly to the point, and declared-here are the exact words-one of the most notorious falsities in the Hebrew text:

"And elohim spake unto Moses, and said unto him., anoki Yahveh -- I am the Lord!

"And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of el-shaddai, but by my name Yahveh (JEHOVAH) was I not known to them." (Ex. 6:2, 8.)

The Hebrew God for the first time since the world began, is "revealed" to mankind the "ineffable name" of Yahveh, here first appearing in the Bible translations, and there printed as JEHOVAH in capital letters; for more vivid and awe-inspiring impression. 

But this is a notorious lie-since we known that Moses did not write the first five books of the Hebrew text.

In Genesis 2:4, the name YAHVEH first appears; "in the day that Yahveh-elohim made the earth and the heavens." Its first recorded use as a mystical personage, was when Eve "conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from Yahveh-the Lord." (Gen. 4:1.)

The personal name YAHVEH occurs in the Book of Genesis one hundred and fifty-six times. It's spoken dozens of times by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as any one can read in Genesis. Every single time that the title "the Lord" and "the Lord God" appears, it is a false translation by the priests for the Hebrew personal name YAHVEH.

Throughout the Hebrew "scriptures" it occurs thousands of times: "The sacred name occurs in Genesis ~156 times; and is found in the Old Testament approximately 6000 times, either alone or in along with another Divine name."

More exactly, the Tetragrammaton (YHVH), appears in the Old Testament 6823 times as the proper name of God as the God of Israel. As such it serves to distinguish him from the gods of the other nations." Thus was the Hebrew tribal god YAHVEH distinguished from Bel, and Chemosh, and Dagon, and Shamash, and the dozens of "gods of the nations". Just as James would distinguish his name from Rudolph, or Cary, this was precisely the Hebrew usage-to distinguish one heathen god from another.

And this the pious translators, foisting their fraud on us, sought to hide, giving names to all the "other gods," but suppressing a name for the Hebrew deity, who as "the Lord," or "the Lord God," was high and unique, "a god above all gods," -the one and only true God-thru the use of a tetragrammaton.

But yet a more malicious and evil-intentioned deception, 6828 times, is the name of the Hebrew God concealed by false rendition for the deliberate purpose of forging the whole Hebrew texts, as translated, into a semblance of harmony with the false declaration of Exodus 6:3, that "by my name YAHVEH was I not know unto them."

Search as one may, outside Exodus 6:3, the god-name YAHVEH (Jehovah) is never to be found in the translations, except in Psalm 78:18, and Isaiah 12:2 and 26:4. (But they are irrelevant for this discussion because those passages were written well after the original 5 books were forged.)

The false translations thus "make truth to be a liar," the lie of Exodus 6:3 to seem the truth; and a barbarous heathen tribal god among a hundred neighbor and competitive gods to be the nameless One Lord God of the Universe. For more on this tribal god, you can read

Who is this Jehovah and Where Does He Live?

What does this imply? It implies this: the Hebrew-Christian-One-God is a patent forgery and myth; a mythological Father-god can have no "only begotten Son"; Jesus Christ is a myth even before he is mythically born by the forged whimsy of the early Christian 'fathers'.


A Few Translations

These translations, while only three in number, will change your whole way of thinking about what is being presented in your Bible.

Son of Man: In all three major Semitic languages (Aramaic, Hebrew, and Arabic) the term barnasha means "human being". Jesus often referred to himself as a human being (28 times in the Gospels). Barnasha comes from bar (son) and nasha (man). The meaning of barnasha has created a lot of confusion in the Gospels. It is impossible to translate the Aramaic term of barnasha literally as "son of man" - and yet most biblical translators have and still do just that to this day. In the Aramaic language the word bar is combined with many other words to create different meanings - most specifically is means a "likeness." For example barabba means "resembles his father". Barhila translated literally would mean "son of power" but in reality it means "soldier". So when we read in the Gospels the phrase "son of man" it should be read correctly as "human being".

Son of God: The word bar means a likeness or resemblance to the suffix word. The Aramaic term that Son of God comes from is bardalaha. Translated literally as "son of God" it does not mean this. Bardalaha in reality means "like God" or "God-like". So when Jesus is referred to as the "Son of God" we should read this correctly as "God-like" or "like God". So what does that tell you about the translation we read in today's Bibles? It tells you that Jesus was not the Son of God - but that he was "God-like". There is a big difference. Jesus himself repeatedly referred to himself as a "human being". The Aramaic reference does not mean one is physically divine - it means there is an important spiritual relationship between God and the man whom is bestowed that phraseology. In addition, don't forget that the Council of Nicea in 325 CE voted to change the human Jesus to a supernatural being. It wasn't until that time that any church thought of Jesus as such.

Only Begotten Son: The world ehedaya is Aramaic. It is very important to understand its meaning when hearing that phrase being bantered about. When we read that Jesus was God's "only begotten son" - it is an incorrect translation of the Aramaic word. The term is found exclusively in the Gospel of John. The phrase we read in English was translated from a Greek word, monogenes. Monos means "single" or "one" and genos means "kind". So the Greek translation originally was with "one-of-a-kind". So where does 'begotten' come from? The Greek word genos is distantly related to the verb gennan which means "to beget". Thus, to translate monogenes as "only begotten" is improper and incorrect--which is an indication of an ill-trained translator being involved with the text. The actual translation should be "unique son" or "one-of-a-kind". The Aramaic word ehedaya means "sole heir" and "the beloved". So when we combine monogenes ehedaya we get "one-of-a-kind, beloved son". That's considerably different from 'only begotten son'.

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biblianazar25_top1.gif

by Tony Bushby

Extracted from the introduction and chapters 1 and 2 of his book The Bible Fraud

2001

Extracted from Nexus Magazine,

Volume 9, Number 1 (December-January 2002)

from NexusMagazine Website

recovered through WayBackMachine Website

 

What has been passed down in the New Testament is not a true account of the life history of Jesus Christ or the origin of the Christian religion.

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Part 1 of 3

TWO CONFUSED STORIES IN THE GOSPELS

Jesus Christ has captured the imagination of millions of people around the world for almost 2,000 years. Few people know that he represents something far different, and the following chapters unravel an entirely new story about the circumstances surrounding the birth and emergence of the Christian religion.

In order to cover this ground, it is necessary to consider the New Testament stories from a different perspective. By stripping away their supernatural elements, the earliest Church writings relay a confused skeletal outline of the lives of two separate men. This work unravels those stories and shows how the New Testament came into being and what it really is. Until now, this aspect of the Gospel story has never been fully developed; and by coordinating new information with surviving records, a reconstruction of the probable course of events that resulted in Christianity today is presented.


WHAT WAS THE CHURCH TRYING TO HIDE? 

In 1415, the Church of Rome took an extraordinary step to destroy all knowledge of two second-century Jewish books that it said contained "the true name of Jesus Christ". The antipope Benedict XIII firstly singled out for condemnation a secret Latin treatise called Mar Yesu, and then issued instructions to destroy all copies of the Book of Elxai. No editions of these writings now publicly exist, but Church archives recorded that they were once in popular circulation and known to the early presbyters.

 

Knowledge of these writings survived from quotations made by Bishop Hippolytus of Rome (176-236) and St Epiphanius of Salamis (315-403), along with references in some early editions of the Talmud of Palestineand of Babylonia. The Rabbinic fraternity once held the destroyed manuscripts with great reverence, for they were comprehensive original records reporting "the life of Rabbi Jesus". 

Later, in a similar manner, Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) ordered all copies of the Talmud destroyed. The Council of the Inquisition required as many Jewish writings as possible to be burned, with the Spanish Grand Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada (1420-98) responsible for the elimination of 6,000 volumes at Salamanca. In 1550, Cardinal Caraffa, the Inquisitor-General, procured a Bull from the Pope, repealing all previous permission for priests to read the Talmud which he said contained "hostile stories about Jesus Christ".

 

Bursting forth with fury at the head of his minions, he seized every copy he could find in Rome and burned them. Solomon Romano (1554) also burned many thousands of Hebrew scrolls, and in 1559 every Hebrew book in the city of Prague was confiscated.

 

The mass destruction of Jewish books included hundreds of copies of the Old Testament and caused the irretrievable loss of many original handwritten documents. The oldest text of the Old Testament that survived, before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, was said to be the Bodleian Codex (Oxford), which was dated to circa 1100. In an attempt by the Church to remove damaging Rabbinic information about Jesus Christ from the face of the Earth, the Inquisition burned 12,000 volumes of the Talmud. However, many copies survived and today provide opposing traditions about the person called Jesus Christ

In the mass destruction of Jewish writings, the Church overlooked two particular British documents that also recorded "the true name of Jesus Christ". They survive to this day in the British Museum, and are called theChronicles and the Myvyean Manuscript - treasured ancient documents with a very early origin. Supporting evidence was also found on early first-century gold, silver and bronze coins discovered at the site of an ancient mint at Camulodunum (Colchester) in Britain.

"Thus the testimony of the Briton coins establishes clearly and positively the historicity of the traditional ancient ’Chronicles’ as authentic historical records."1

The evidence is compelling, and additional supporting clues are found on a mysterious headstone in Germany, in Vatican art treasures and in a series of coded sentences in the Shakespearean plays. Further concealed information was left in the form of specially created statues commissioned by a Catholic priest and positioned in a small hilltop church in southern France. Coded ciphers were also secreted into the first English-language printings of the Bible, and a combination of all clues provides interlocking information and presents a new insight into the origin of Christianity. 


Secret Ciphers in the New Testament 

It was the "wisest fool in Christendom"2 who "authorized" the translation and publication of the first Protestant version of the Bible in English. He came to the English throne in 1603 and quickly became unpopular because of "his disgusting personal habits and his unsavoury character".3 He pretended to be a scholar in theology and philosophy, but his learning was shallow and superficial. He wallowed in filth, moral and physical, but was endowed with a share of cunning that his associates called "a kind of crooked wisdom".4

For his new edition of the Bible, King James I issued a set of personal "Rules" the translators were to follow and ordered revisions to proceed, although he never contributed a farthing to its cost. Work began early in 1607 and took a committee of 47 men (some records say 54, others say 50) two years and nine months to rewrite the Bible and make it ready for the press. Each man received 30 shillings per week for his contribution. 

Upon its completion in 1609, a remarkable event occurred. The translators handed over the reviser’s manuscripts of what is now called the King James Bible to the King for his final personal approval.

"It was self-evident that James was not competent to check their work and edit it, so he passed the manuscripts on to the greatest genius of all time... Sir Francis Bacon."5

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was a man of many talents, a lawyer, linguist and composer. He mastered every subject he undertook: mathematics, geometry, music, poetry, painting, astronomy, classical drama and poetry, philosophy, history, theology and architecture. He was a man of many aims and purposes, the father of modern science, remodeller of modern law, patron of modern democracy and possibly the reviver of Freemasonry.

 

His life and works are extensively documented and his intellectual accomplishments widely recognized, particularly in academic circles. At the age of sixteen, he was sent to Paris "direct from the Queen’s Hand" and there studied Egyptian, Arabian, Indian and Greek philosophy, with particular attention given to the ancient mysteries and their ritual rites. He personally recorded that while in Paris he created a secret cipher system that could be inserted into a document without arousing suspicion. 

While living in Europe, Francis Bacon was initiated into the mysterious Order of the Knights Templar and learned a very special secret. Before he returned to London, he travelled through France, Italy, Germany and Spain, and at the age of twenty he completely devoted himself to the study of law. From his understanding of the secret information he had learned during his initiation into the Knights Templar, he conceived the idea of reactivating various secret societies and in 1580 founded the secret Rosicrosse Literary Society in Gray’s Inn. Later in the same year, he founded the Lodge of Free and Accepted or Speculative Masons, also at Gray’s Inn. 

On 25 June 1607, Sir Francis Bacon was appointed Solicitor-General and Chief Adviser to the Crown. He had presented new ideas to the government for the reformation of the Church and was officially instructed to commence restructuring the Bible. Research in the Records Office of the British Museum revealed that original documents still exist which refer to important proceedings associated with Sir Francis Bacon’s involvement with the editing of both the Old and New Testaments.

 

They reveal that he personally selected and paid the revisers of the New Testament, who completed their task under the instructions of Bacon’s long-time friend, Dr Andrews. The first English-language manuscripts of the Bible remained in Bacon’s possession for nearly a year. During that time:

...he hammered the various styles of the translators into the unity, rhythm, and music of Shakespearean prose, wrote the Prefaces and created the whole scheme of the Authorized Version.6

He also encoded secret information into both the Old and New Testaments. An ancient document recorded that the true history of early Christianity was known to the initiates of the Order of the Knights Templar, having originally been:

...imparted to Hugh de Payens by the Grand-Pontiff of the Order of the Temple (of the Nazarene sect), one named Theocletes, after which it was learned by some Knights in Palestine.7

Regarding the months of editing work applied to the Bible by Bacon, his biographer, William T. Smedley, confirmed the extent of the editing:

It will eventually be proved that the whole structure of the Authorized Bible was Francis Bacon’s. He was an ardent student not only of the Bible, but also of early manuscripts. St Augustine, St Jerome, and writers of theological works were studied by him with industry.8

At the completion of the editing, Sir Francis Bacon and King James I had a series of meetings to finalize editorial matters associated with the new Bible. It was at this time that King James ordered a "Dedication to the King" to be drawn up and included in the opening pages. He also wanted the phrase "Appointed to be read in the Churches" to appear on the title page. This was an announcement clarifying that King James had personally given the Church [of England] "special command" for this particular version of the Bible to be used in preference to the vast array of Greek and Latin Vulgate Bibles current at the time.

 

His reason was personal, as King James had previously instructed the revisers to "defend the position of the King" in their restructuring of the texts. This was seen as an attempt to distance the Protestant Bible from the Catholic version. The Protestant versions of the Bible are thinner by seven books than the Catholic version and the variant churches have never agreed on a uniform Bible. In their translation of 1 Peter 2:13, the revisers changed the phrase "the emperor, as supreme" to "the king, as supreme".

 

Because King James’s Bible was written to support the authority of a king, the later Church often referred to it as the one from "authority", and it later came to be presented as if officially "authorized". In subsequent revisions, the word "authorized" found its way onto the title page and later still came to be printed on the cover, giving King James’s new Bible a false sense of authenticity. 

The King James Bible is considered by many today to be the "original" Bible and therefore "genuine", and all later revisions simply counterfeits forged by "higher critics". Others think the King James Bible is "authentic" and "authorized" and presents the original words of the authors as translated into English from the "original" Greek text.

 

However, the "original" Greek text was not written until around the mid-fourth century and was a revised edition of writings compiled decades earlier in Aramaic and Hebrew. Those earlier documents no longer exist,9and the Bibles we have today are five linguistic removes from the first Bibles written. What was written in the "original originals" is quite unknown. It is important to remember that the words "authorized" and "original", as applied to the Bible, do not mean "genuine", "authentic" or "true"... 


JUST WHO WERE THE PARENTS OF Jesus CHRIST? 

In the opening sentence of a New Testament parable, Jesus stated:

A man of noble birth was on a long journey abroad, to have himself appointed king, and return. (Luke 19:12)

Herein lies part of a profound Gospel truth revealing the substance of historical information that the Church has strived for 2,000 years to conceal. This tale of long-ago misconceptions and mistaken identities must be clarified so that the original story may be seen to rest upon a true and sure foundation. For this purpose, we begin with the examination of Church writings purporting to record the birth of Jesus Christ

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke state that Jesus Christ was the first-born of Mary and Joseph and that he had four younger brothers and at least two sisters (Mark 6:3). Roman Catholics are obliged to hold the opinion that the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ were the children of Joseph by a former marriage. This conclusion originally stemmed from the Gospel of James (the Protevanglium) which refers to the age of Joseph at the birth of Jesus.

 

However, it is clearly recorded that Joseph had sexual relations with Mary after the birth of Jesus. The statement in the Gospel of Matthew that Joseph "knew her not until she had born a son" (Matt. 1:25) eliminated the Church’s claim that Mary was a perpetual virgin. From the statements in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, it is clear that the brothers and sisters of Jesus were subsequent children of Mary in the fullest sense

Joseph returned to Galilee with the intention of marrying Mary. The Gospels according to Matthew and Luke clearly explain that they were "betrothed" before Joseph’s departure. This was the equivalent of being "engaged" in modern-day terminology. However, upon his return some months later, it was plainly apparent that Mary "was with child" (Luke 2:5) and it "could not be hid from Joseph".

 

The Gospel of Matthew elaborated extensively upon the feelings of Joseph when he saw the violated condition of his bride-to-be. He was uneasy, and being unwilling to defame her he privately discussed ending their engagement (Matt. 1:19). From the description in the Gospels, it is clear that Joseph was not the biological father of Mary’s child. So, who was?


The Evidence of the Rabbis

The Jewish records of the Rabbis are of extreme importance in determining Gospel origins and the value of the Church presentation of the virgin birth story of Jesus Christ. A common appellation for Jesus in the Talmud is Yeshu’a ben Panthera, an allusion to the widespread Jewish belief during the earliest centuries of the Christian era that Jesus was the result of an illegitimate union between his mother and a Roman soldier namedTiberius Julius Abdes Panthera.

The Talmud enshrines within its pages Jewish oral law. It is divided into two parts, the Mishna and the Gemara. The first discusses such subjects as festivals and sacred things. The Gemara is basically a commentary on these subjects. When the Talmud was written is not known. Some authorities suggest a date of 150-160, around the same time the Christian Gospels began to emerge, while others say 450. 

The Talmud writers mention Jesus’ name 20 times and quite specifically documents that he was born an illegitimate son of a Roman soldier called Panthera, nicknamed "the Panther". Panthera’s existence was confirmed by the discovery of a mysterious tombstone at Bingerbrück in Germany. The engraving etched in the headstone reads:

Tiberius Julius Abdes Panthera, an archer, native of Sidon, Phoenicia, who in 9 AD was transferred to service in Rhineland [Germany].10

This inscription adds fuel to the theory that Jesus was the illegitimate son of Mary and the soldier Panthera. Classical scholar Professor Morton Smith of Columbia University, USA, describes the tombstone as possibly "our only genuine relic of the holy family".11 In many Jewish references, Jesus is often referred to as "ben Panthera", ben meaning "son of". However cautious one ought to be in accepting anything aboutJesus from Jewish sources, in the matter of Jesus ben Panthera the writers seem more consistent than the men we now call the Church fathers. 

Scholars over the centuries have discussed at length why Jesus was so regularly called ben PantheraAdamantius Origen, an early Christian historian and Church father (185-251), recorded the following verses about Mary from the research records of a highly regarded second-century historian and author named Celsus (c. 178):

Mary was turned out by her husband, a carpenter by profession, after she had been convicted of unfaithfulness. Cut off by her spouse, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard; that Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt; that while there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing.12

Later, in passage 1:32, Origen supports the Jewish records and confirms that the paramour of the mother of Jesus was a Roman soldier called Panthera, a name he repeats in verse 1:69. Some time during the 17thcentury, those sentences were erased from the oldest Vatican manuscripts and other codices under Church control.13

The traditional Church writings of St Epiphanius, the Bishop of Salamis (315-403), again confirm the ben Panthera story, and his information is of a startling nature. This champion of Christian orthodoxy and saint of Roman Catholicism states:

Jesus was the son of a certain Julius whose surname was Panthera.14

This is an extraordinary declaration, simply recorded in ancient records as accepted Church history. The ben Panthera legend was so widespread that two early stalwarts of the Christian Church inserted the name in the genealogies of Jesus and Mary as a matter of fact. Enlarging on that statement, this passage from the Talmud:

Rabbi Shiemon ben Azzai has said: I found in Jerusalem a book of genealogies; therein was written that Such-an-one [Jesus] is the bastard son of an adulteress.15

"Such-an-one" was one of the well-known substitutes for Jesus in the Talmud, as has been proved and admitted on either side. Shiemon ben Azzai flourished at the end of the first century and beginning of the second. He was one of four famous Rabbis who, according to Talmudic tradition, "entered Paradise". He was a Chassid (the pious Jews of Palestine), most probably an Essene, and remained a celibate and rigid ascetic until his death. 

The story of Mary’s pregnancy by a Roman soldier also appears in the sacred book of the Moslems, the Koran. It states that "a full-grown man" forced his attentions on Mary, and in her fear of the disgrace that would follow she left the area and bore Jesus in secret. This story was supported in the Gospel of Luke, with the description of the departure of Joseph and Mary from their home prior to the birth.

 

Rape was a common event in Palestine during the Roman occupation, and soldiers were notorious for their treatment of young women. It would be unthinkable for Mary to admit such an event had occurred, for under the Law of Moses a betrothed virgin who had sex with any man during the period of her betrothal was to be stoned to death by the men of the city (Deut. 22:21). Simply put, Mary faced the death penalty unless she could prove her innocence.16


The Mother’s Name

There is another, lesser-known name Jesus was called during those early years, and that is "Yeshu’a ben Stada" (son of Stada). This name is recorded in the records of the Sanhedrin and also in the Talmud. 

What can also be found in the Gemara, and has embarrassed Christian authorities for centuries, is this:

Ben Stada was ben Panthera, Rabbi Chisda said; the husband was Stada, the lover Panthera. Another said the husband was Paphos ben Jehuda; Stada was his mother... and she was unfaithful to her husband.17

These apparently contradictory assertions can be ironed out when read in context. In summary, Stada was Yeshu’a (Jesus) ben Panthera’s mother

The Gemara goes on to record that Yeshu’a ben Panthera "was hanged on the day before the Passover". That is to say, apparently, that after the stoning, ben Panthera’s body was hung or exposed on a vertical stake. Crucifixion was an unused mode of execution amongst the Jews, who favoured stoning as the main form of capital punishment. To shorten the cruelty of death by stoning, the victim was first rendered unconscious by a soporific drink, and subsequently the stoned body was exposed on a vertical stake as a warning to others. 


The Evidence of the Safed Scroll 

The name "ben Stada", given to Jesus in the Talmud, was found to be paralleled in the ancient Mehgheehlla Scroll, which was discovered by Russian physician D. B. de Waltoff near Lake Tiberius in 1882 and is now called simply "the Safed Scroll". 

In this old text, there were two brothers called Yeshai and Judas ben Halachmee who were the illegitimate twin sons born of a fifteen-year-old girl called Stadea. The closeness of the name "Stada" in the Talmud to the "Stadea" in the Safed Scroll is extraordinary, and the slight difference in spelling can be explained by variations in translations. The interesting point here is that the name "ben Halachmee" was the name of Stadea’s later husband, not the biological father of her sons. Unfortunately, no mention is made of the real father’s name, but ben Halachmee was the name given to Stadea’s illegitimate twin boys. 

According to the Safed ScrollYeshai and his brother Judas ben Halachmee were taken in, raised and educated by the religious order of Essene monks. The Essenes were a perennial Jewish colony that particularly flourished in Judea for some centuries previous to the time ascribed to the New Testament stories. Subsequently, one of the boys became a student of Rabbi Hillel’s school of philosophy and the other became the leader of the Essenes. An older Essene named Joseph was assigned as Yeshai’s "religious father" and guardian. 

The Safed Scroll suggests that, eventually, Yeshai ben Halachmee’s outspoken religious views angered the Jewish priests. He was tried by a Roman court on a charge of inciting the people to rebel against the Roman Government. He was found guilty and sentenced to death, but escaped, left the area and travelled to India. 

The Mehgheehlla Scroll mirrors aspects of the hidden story in the Gospels and provides external evidence that the conclusion reached in this volume was known in ancient tradition. 


Who was Stada/Stadea?

One of the most popular aspects of etymology is the history of names--those words or phrases which uniquely identify persons, animals, places, concepts or things. The earlier forms of a name are often uncertain, and different dialect pronunciations have led to divergent spellings of the same name.

 

The social pressure to use a standard spelling did not emerge until the 18th century, and earlier writers saw no problem presenting a person’s name in a variety of ways. In one study, for example, over 130 variants of the name "Mainwaring" were found among the parchments belonging to that family. 

Many Hebrew names in the Old Testament are believed to bear a special significance, as individual subjects originally were called by a name expressive of some characteristic, e.g., Edom, red; Esau, hairy; Jacob, supplanter; and Sarai (Sara), from the base word sharat. A similar concept applied in Jewish writings and for a long time confused researchers.18

 

Like Roman and Hebrew tradition, the names of the characters "often appear in distorted form in Rabbinic literature" and were sometimes an attempt to disguise their true personality.19 This type of understanding provided the key that enabled researchers to unlock the true essence of what was really being relayed in ancient writings. 

"Names research" is an open-ended and complex domain, and one which is particularly greedy of the researcher’s time. In any study of the New Testament, however, it must be remembered that the first Gospels were written in Hebrew,20 and this is a vital point in determining who Stadea really was. "The name [Stadea] has various forms and may have been borrowed from a fanciful name that meant a scholar; or had a regional identity like Stabiae or Statila, or a woman of good family."21

 

According to Jewish writings, Stadea was "the descendent of princes and rulers"22 and her royal heritage provided a clue to her real name. The Talmud further states that Yeshu’a (Jesus) ben Panthera’s mother "was also called Miriam, yes, but she was nicknamed Stada... Stat-da, this one has turned away, being unfaithful [Stat-dato her husband".23

St Jerome explained the difficulty that he had in translating the earliest Gospels into Latin24 and added that the "original Hebrew" versions of Matthew’s Gospel and the earliest Luke Gospels were written in the Chaldaic language but with Hebrew letters. The "original Hebrew" version of the name "Mary" was "Mariamne".25 Therefore, "Mary" in the English-language Gospels of today was originally written "Mariamne" in the Hebrew versions and was sometimes translated as "Miriam".26


Mary Unknown in Early Church History 

What was actually recorded of Mary/Mariamne in the only accepted Christian writings provides scant information indeed about the woman the Church now calls "the Mother of God". In the Gospels she is rarely mentioned. In fact, she is not mentioned by name in the oldest version of the Mark Gospel in the oldest Bibles. Nor is she mentioned in the oldest version of the John Gospel.

 

The Church has said that,

"the reader of the Gospels is at first surprised to find so little about Mary... this obscurity has been studied at length".27

Both the Gospels of Mark and John introduce Jesus as an adult. Only in contrived narratives does Mary play an important role in the biblical texts and, excluding these, she is mentioned only briefly on three occasions. 

The church presbyters were also silent on Mary. There was nothing recorded of her, external to the Church, for more than four centuries after the time she was said to have lived. She had no ancestry or background except in spurious apocrypha. 

The earliest documented reference to Mary can be found in the Mark Gospel of the Sinai Bible (Mark 3:32). This narrative refers to her as simply the earthly mother of several sons and daughters. The reference is actually about a group of people who addressed Jesus and said, "Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you".

 

Here is a profound truth. Modern Bibles show the three words "and your sisters" to have been removed or indexed to a footnote. From here onwards, Mary almost vanished from the Church texts and, apart from an obscure final reference to her in the Acts of the Apostles (1:14), she disappeared forever from the New Testament.

However, when the name "Mary" in the Gospels was replaced with the original Hebrew version, "Mariamne", an historic aspect arose. Combining the evidence available, the position advanced in this book is that Mary, the mother of Jesus in the Gospels, Stadea of the Jewish writings, and Mariamne of the House of Herod were one and the same person. 

At the time of the development of the Gospels, Mariamne was the younger sister of Herodias and the two girls were an integral part of the vast "family of Herodes" ("Herod" today). They were the much-loved granddaughters of King Herod and he "cared for them with great devotion".28 Their mother, Berenice, later remarried and moved with her teenage daughters to live in Rome, where she gained the friendship of Emperor Augustus.29

Mariamne and Herodias Herod were of noble birth through King Herod (c. 73-74 BC) and his wife, Mariamne I. Mariamne Herod’s father was Aristobulus, the son of Herod the Great, and her mother Berenice was the daughter of Herod’s sister, Salome. Mariamne also had two brothers named Herod II, King of Chalcis, and Agrippa, who became Agrippa I. King Herod himself was descended from a noble line of kings through his Nabatean mother, Cypros of Petra. 

The Nabateans were a Semitic people and the earliest sources regarded them as Arabs. Today they are generally referred to as Nabatean Arabs. Owing to its secure location, Petra was adopted by the Nabatean kings as their capital city, and it became incorporated into the Roman Empire in 106. The Nabatean Arabs passed out of history with the advent of Islam.30

The House of Herod was founded by the marriage of Cypros of Petra to Antipater (Antipas) the Idumean, to whom Cypros bore four sons, Herod being one. The name "Herod" subsequently became the title of seven rulers mentioned in the New Testament and in Roman history. 

King Herod was known to the Romans as "the Great", but in the eyes of the people over whom he ruled he was always known as "the Impious", despite his costly restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem. Herod was a Roman citizen, Governor of Galilee by 47 BC, and then King of Judea from 37 to 4 BC.

 

He was one of the major figures in politics of Palestine in the early years of the Roman Empire. In 7 BC he strangled to death two of his sons, Aristobulus and Alexander, drawing a comment from Roman Emperor Augustus (27 BC-14 AD) that it was safer to be one of Herod’s pigs than one of his sons. Another son was later born to Herod and, for his safety, his mother dispatched him to the care of her family in Ariminum, a city near Ravenna in northern Italy.31 He was Prince Joseph, the Joseph of Arimathea in the Gospels, and he later became the unseen power behind his father’s throne. 

Mariamne Herod’s ancestors can be traced back on her grandmother’s (Mariamne I) side to the Hasmonean "priest-kings" and "hereditary priests" from the tribe of Benjamin. She, her sister and her brothers were descendants of the legitimate Hasmonean dynasty and "carried the Hasmonean blood".32

 

They also carried the blood of the Nabatean Arabs, so much so that King Aretas IV, who was legally confirmed a Nabatean Arab king by Emperor Augustus,33 divorced his wife to marry Herodias (who died after AD 41) to maintain the Nabatean bloodline, but she declined him. It was Herodias who was involved in the Gospel story of the beheading of John the Baptist, for which she received a level of notoriety and defamation similar to that of Mary Magdalene

The available records reflect an intricate tangle of marriages, intermarriages and divorces between the Herods and the Romans. In the account of the Gospel of Mark (6:17), for example, Herodias later married Herod Philip I, her own uncle, by whom she had a daughter, Salome. Salome was named after her Hasmodean ancestor Salome Alexandra, herself a "priestess-queen".34

 

Later in time, Herod Antipas ("without-land") apparently fell in love with Herodias and proposed to her. Seeing that his fortunes were rising faster than her husband’s, Herodias accepted his hand. She longed for social distinction, and accordingly left her husband and initially entered into an adulterous union with Herod Antipas, who was also her uncle.35 She was not married to Antipas at this time, but married him at a much later stage (c. 38).

When Herodias saw how well her brother Agrippa I had fared in Rome, whence he returned a king, she urged her husband Herod Antipas to go to Caesar and obtain the royal title, for she believed his claim to it was far greater than that of her brother. Antipas was not king, but only Tetrarch of Galilee.36 Contrary to his better judgment he went, and soon learned by messengers that Agrippa I had accused him before Emperor Caligula of conspiracy against the Romans. The Emperor banished Herod Antipas to Lyons, Gaul (France), in 41, and although he permitted Herodias to return to her home in Rome she chose to accompany her husband into exile. 

It was recorded that the male offspring of the House of Herod were forced to become circumcised Jews in the reign of John Hyrcanus, a Hasmonean of the earlier Maccabean period. In other words, the Herod family adopted the religion of Judaism. The religious movement of the Essenes was also connected to the Hasmonean bloodline through the High Priest Mattathias, the father of the military king Judas Maccabeus. 

We know that Herod the Great was favourable towards the Essenes, maybe because they made it their invariable practice to refrain from disobedience to the political authority. The Jewish historical writer Philorecorded that they had never clashed with any ruler of Palestine, however tyrannical, until his lifetime in the mid-first century. This was a passive attitude which could not fail to commend itself to King Herod, and it was reported he even went so far as to exempt the Essenes, like the Pharisees, from the oath of loyalty to himself. 

In the reconstruction of the story, and drawing upon the concept of the Safed Scroll, the pregnant Stadea (Mariamne Herod, née Mary) secretly went to one of the Essene communities until the time of the birth, andbore twin boys. Numerous groups of Essenes existed "all over, as they were a very numerous sect"37 and were found in secluded country areas as well as cities.

 

Upon the birth of the twins, she then moved into the palace of Emperor Augustus and there she lived until the boys were old enough to receive schooling. It was due to their solidarity and the family affinity that the young Mariamne Herod had her illegitimate twin boys educated within the Essene community. The Essene hierarchy were her blood relatives and expounded similar principles and traditions to the Herodian philosophy.

"They perpetuated their sect by adopting children... above all, the Essenes were the educators of the nobility, their instruction being varied and extensive."38

To avoid confusion in developing the premise provided in this work, Mary, the mother of Jesus in the New Testament, shall be called Mariamne Herod, except when quoting from the Gospels. 

Continued next issue...

Endnotes

1. Waddell, L.A., The Phoenician Origin of Britons, Scots and Anglo-Saxons, 1924, p. 393.
2. Shakespeare, Henry IV. Also W. McElwee, Declaratio Pro Iure Regio, 1615; Sully, King James I, 1566-1625.
3. Williams, Charles, James I, c. 1640.
4. Proceedings in Parliament, 17 March 1621.
5. Wigston, W.E.C., Bacon and the Rosicrucians, 1902.
6. Dodd, Alfred, The Martyrdom of Francis Bacon, c. 1940, p. 141.
7. Rawley, Dr William, Resuscitatio, or Bringing into Publick Light, Several Pieces Hitherto Sleeping, 1657.
8. Smedley, William T., The Mystery of Francis Bacon, c. 1910, p. 128.
9. Encyclopaedia Britannica, ed. IX, vol. X, p. 814. Also Papias, Ecclesiastical History.
10. Morton Smith, Prof., Jesus the Magician, San Francisco, 1978.
11. ibid.
12. Origen, Contra Celsum (Against Celsus), 1:28.
13. See notes on both passages (Origen 1:28 and 1:32) by Lommatzech in his Origen Contra Celsum, Berlin, 1845.
14. Epiphanius, Haer (Heresies), lxxvii, 7.
15. The Jebamoth, 49A.
16. Michaelis, Jonathon D., Commentaries on the Law of Moses, vols I-IV, 1814.
17. Babylonian Shabbath, 104b, repeated in almost identical words in the Babylonian Sanhedrin, 67a.
18. Schwab, Moise, Translations in Progress (the Jerusalem Talmud).
19. Mead, G.R.S., Mary in the Babylonian Talmud, London and Benares, 1903.
20. St Jerome, 347-420.
21. Eumenides, The Name of the Furies.
22. Babylonian Sanhedrin, 106a.
23. Babylonian Shabbath, 104b.
24. Hieronymus, Commentary to Matthew, book ii, chapter xii, 13.
25. Eisenman, James, the Brother of Jesus, Faber & Faber Ltd, 1997, p. 471.
26. See Syrian Bible, for example.
27. Catholic Encyclopaedia, vol. XV, 1 October 1912, pp. 459-472.
28. Encyclopaedia Judaica Jerusalem, 1971, p. 443.
29. ibid., p. 601.
30. ibid., pp. 740-744.
31. Farrar, Dean, The Herods. Also Skeats, Joseph of Arimathea, 1933.
32. Catholic Encyclopaedia, vol. VI, 1910, pp. 291-292.
33. Josephus, Antiquities, 16:355.
34. Jones, A.H.M., The Herods of Judea, Oxford, 1938.
35. Catholic Encyclopaedia, ibid., p. 292.
36. The New Testament, however, sometimes called him "king" (Matt. 14:9; Mark 6:14).
37. Doane, T.W., Bible Myths, 1882 (reprinted 1949, Charles P. Somerby, Truth Seeker Co.), p. 431.
38. Catholic Encyclopaedia, vol. V, 1909, p. 546. Also Josephus, Jewish Wars, II, p. 120.


About the Author

Tony Bushby, an Australian, became a highly successful businessman and entrepreneur very early in his life. He established a magazine publishing business and spent 20 years researching, writing and publishing his own magazines, primarily for the Australian and New Zealand markets.

With strong spiritual beliefs and an interest in metaphysical subjects, Tony has developed long relationships with many associations and societies throughout the world. He has been given access to rare biblical manuscripts in the archives of numerous private libraries and museums. The Bible Fraud involved him in 12 years of full-time, painstaking research at great personal expense.

 

His extensive travels have taken him to Egypt, the Middle East, England, Wales, Scotland, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. He is currently abroad, preparing further manuscripts to follow The Bible Fraud.




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Demons allow divination, says Origen

4.92 In my [Origen's] opinion, however, it is certain wicked demons, and, so to speak, of the race of Titans or Giants, who have been guilty of impiety towards the true God, and towards the angels in heaven, and who have fallen from it, and who haunt the denser parts of bodies, and frequent unclean places upon earth, and who,possessing some power of distinguishing future events, because they are without bodies of earthly material, engage in an employment of this kind, and desiring to lead the human race away from the true God, secretly enter the bodies of the more rapacious and savage and wicked of animals, and stir them up to do whatever they choose, and at whatever time they choose: either turning the fancies of these animals to make flights and movements of various kinds, in order that men may be caught by the divining power that is in the irrational animals, and neglect to seek after the Godwho contains all things; or to search after the pure worship of God, but allow their reasoning powers to grovel on the earth, and amongst birds and serpents, and even foxes and wolves. For it has been observed by those who are skilled in such matters, that the clearest prognostications are obtained from animals of this kind; because the demons cannot act so effectively in the milder sort of animals as they can in these, in consequence of the similarity between them in point of wickedness; and yet it is not wickedness, but something like wickedness, which exist in these animals.
[Origen, Against Celsus, 4.92]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Auspices
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Augury Liver-reading 
Oh yeah, the Pagan priests could also foretell the future by reading the livers of animals sacrificed to the Gods.

Pagan priests learned how to read livers by consulting model livers like this one >>

etruscan_liver.gif
The famous ">Bronze Liver of Piacenza, Italy was used by Etruscan priests to ">predict the future
Romans called liver-reading the Etruscan Discipline (disciplina etrusca)

Rediscovered in 1877


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The Pythagoreans also assert that the whole air is full of souls, and that these are those that are accounted daimons or heroes. They are the ones that send down among men dreams, and tokens of disease and health; the latter not being reserved to human beings, but being sent also to sheep and cattle as well. They are concerned with purifications, expiations, and all kinds of divinations, oracular predictions, and the like.
[Diogenes Laertius, The Life of Pythagoras, 19 (Guthrie's divisions) (3d century AD),—which you can find in: Gutherie, Kenneth. The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library (1988), pg. 149]
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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44.5 Constantine was enjoined in a dream to mark the heavenly symbol of God on the shields of his men and so to engage in battle. He did as commanded, and marked Christ on the shields in the form of a letter X placed sideways with the top bent around.

44.7 Discord arose in the city and the emperor [Maxentius] was upbraided for abdicating responsibility….. 44.8 Disconcerted by this cry, he hurried away and, summoning some senators, he ordered the Sibylline books to be consulted. In them was found the statement thaton that day the enemy of Rome would perish.
[Lactantius, On the Death of the Persecutors, 44.5 & 44.7-8 (early fourth century),—which you can find in: Lee, A.D. Pagans & Christians in Late Antiquity(2000), pg. 82]
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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Here's Herodotus' long—but very cool—bit about how dreams influenced Xerxes to invade Greece-

7.12. ...When he [Xerxes] had thus made up his mind anew, he fell asleep. And now he saw in the night, as the Persians declare, a vision of this nature-he thought a tall and beautiful man stood over him and said, "Have you then changed your mind, Persian, and will you not lead forth your host against the Greeks, after commanding the Persians to gather together their levies? Be sure you do not well to change; nor is there a man here who will approve your conduct. The course that you determined on during the day, let that be followed." After thus speaking the man seemed to Xerxes to fly away.

13. Day dawned, and the king made no account of this dream, but called together the same Persians as before, and spoke to them as follows: "Men of Persia, forgive me if I alter the resolve to which I came so lately. Consider that I have not yet reached the full growth of my wisdom, and that they who urge me to engage in this war leave me not to myself for a moment. When I heard the advice of Artabanus, my young blood suddenly boiled, and I spoke words against him little befitting his years; now however I confess my fault, and am resolved to [page 397] [page 397] follow his counsel. Understand then that I have changed my intent with respect to carrying war into Greece, and cease to trouble your selves." When they heard these words, the Persians were full of joy, and falling down at the feet of Xerxes, made obeisance to him.
14. But when night came, again the same vision stood over Xerxes as he slept, and said, "Son of Darius, it seems you have openly before all the Persians renounced the expedition, making light of my words, as though you had not heard them spoken. Know therefore and be well assured, that unless you go forth to the war, this thing shall happen to you-as you are grown mighty and puissant in a short space, so likewise shall you within a little time be brought low indeed."
15. Then Xerxes, greatly frightened at the vision which he had seen, sprang from his couch, and sent a messenger to call Artabanus, who came at the summons, when Xerxes spoke to him in these words: "Artabanus, at the moment I acted foolishly, when I gave you ill words in return for your good advice. However I soon repented, and was convinced that your counsel was such as I ought to follow. But I may not now act in this way, greatly as I desire to do so. For ever since I repented and changed my mind a dream has haunted me, which disapproves my intentions, and has now just gone from me with threats. Now if this dream is sent to me from god, and if it is indeed his will that our troops should march against Greece, you too will have the same dream come to you and receive the same commands as myself. And this will be most sure to happen, I think, if you put on the dress which I wear, and then, after taking your seat upon my throne, lie down to sleep on my bed."
15. Then Xerxes, greatly frightened at the vision which he had seen, sprang from his couch, and sent a messenger to call Artabanus, who came at the summons, when Xerxes spoke to him in these words: "Artabanus, at the moment I acted foolishly, when I gave you ill words in return for your good advice. However I soon repented, and was convinced that your counsel was such as I ought to follow. But I may not now act in this way, greatly as I desire to do so. For ever since I repented and changed my mind a dream has haunted me, which disapproves my intentions, and has now just gone from me with threats. Now if this dream is sent to me from god, and if it is indeed his will that our troops should march against Greece, you too will have the same dream come to you and receive the same commands as myself. And this will be most sure to happen, I think, if you put on the dress which I wear, and then, after taking your seat upon my throne, lie down to sleep on my bed."

16. Such were the words of Xerxes. Artabanus would not at first yield to the command of the king, for he considered himself unworthy to sit upon the royal throne. At the last however he was forced to give way, and did as Xerxes bade him; but first he spoke thus to the king:

"To me, sire, it seems to matter little whether a man is wise himself or willing to hearken to such as give good advice. In you truly are found both tempers, but the counsels of evil men lead you astray; they are like the gales of wind which vex the sea---else the most useful thing for man'in the whole world—and suffer it not to follow the bent of its own nature. For myself, it irked me not so much to be reproached by you, as to observe, that when two courses were placed before the Persian people, one of a nature to increase their pride, the other to humble it, by showing them how hurtful it is to allow one's heart always to covet more than one at present possesses, you chose that which was the worse both for yourself and for the Persians. Now you say, that [page 398] from the time when you approved the better course, and gave up the thought of warring against Greece, a dream has haunted you, sent by some god or other, which will not suffer you to lay aside the expedition. But such things, my son, have of a truth nothing divine in them. The dreams, that wander to and fro among mankind, I will tell you their nature,-I who have seen so many more years than you. Whatever a man has been thinking of during the day, is likely to hover round him in the visions of his dreams at night. Now we during these many days past have had our hands full of this enterprise. If however the matter be not as I suppose, but god has indeed some part therein, you have in brief declared the whole that can be said concerning it-let it appear to me as it has to you, and lay on me the same injunctions. But it ought not to appear to me any the more if I put on your clothes than if I wear my own, nor if I go to sleep in your bed than if I do so in mine-supposing, I mean, that it is about to appear at all. For this thing, be it what it may, that visits you in your sleep, surely is not so far gone in folly as to see me, and because I am dressed in your clothes, straightway to mistake me for you. Now however our business is to see if it will regard me as of small account, and not vouchsafe to appear to me, whether I wear mine own clothes or yours, while it keeps on haunting you continually. If it does so, and appears often, I should myself say that it was from god. For the rest, if your mind is fixed, and it is not possible to turn you from your design, but I must go and sleep in your bed, well and good, let it be even so; and when I have done as you wish, then let the dream appear to me. Till such time, however, I shall keep to my former opinion."

17. Thus Artabanus spoke; and, thinking to show Xerxes that his words were nought, he obeyed his orders. Having put on the garments which Xerxes was wont to wear, and, taken his seat upon the royal throne, he lay down to sleep upon the king's own bed. As he slept, there appeared to him the very same dream which had been seen by Xerxes; it came and stood over Artabanus, and said, "You are the man, then, who, as if concerned for Xerxes, seek to dissuade him from leading his armies against the Greeks! But you shall not escape, either now or in time to come, because you sought to prevent that which is fated to happen. As for Xerxes, it has been plainly told to himself what will befall him, if he refuses to perform my bidding."

18. In such words, as Artabanus thought, the vision threatened him, and then endeavoured to burn out his eyes with red-hot irons. At this he shrieked, and leaping from his couch, hurried to Xerxes, and, sitting down at his side, gave him a full account of the vision; after which he went on to speak in the following words: [page 399] "I, O King, am a man who have seen many mighty empires overthrown by weaker ones; and therefore it was that I sought to keep you from being carried away by your youth; since I knew how evil a thing it is to covet more than one possesses. I could remember the expedition of Cyrus against the Massagetae, and what was the issue of it; I could recollect the march of Cambyses against the Ethiops; I had taken part in the attack of Darius upon the Scyths; bearing therefore all these things in mind, I thought with myself that if you should remain at peace, all men would count you fortunate. But as this impulse has plainly come from above, and a heaven-sent destruction seems about to overtake the Greeks, behold, I change to another mind, and alter my thoughts upon the matter. Therefore make known to the Persians what the god has declared, and bid them follow the orders which were first given, and prepare their levies. Be careful to act so, that the bounty of the god may not be hindered by slackness on your part."

Thus these two spoke together; and Xerxes, encouraged by the vision, when day broke, laid all before the Persians, while Artabanus, who had formerly been the only person openly to oppose the expedition, now showed as openly that he favoured it.

19. After Xerxes had thus determined to go forth to the war, there appeared to him in his sleep yet a third vision. The Magi were consulted upon it, and said that its meaning reached to the whole earth, and that all mankind would become his servants. Now the vision which the king saw was this: he dreamed that he was crowned with a branch of an olive-tree, and that boughs spread out from the olive-branch and covered the whole earth; then suddenly the garland, as it lay upon his brow, vanished. So when the Magi had thus interpreted the vision, straightway all the Persians who were come together departed to their several governments, where each displayed the greatest zeal, on the faith of the king's offers. For all hoped to obtain for themselves the gifts which had been promised. And so Xerxes gathered together his host, ransacking every corner of the continent.
[Herodotus, The Persian War, 7.12 - 19 (c 440 BC),—which you can find in: Godolpin, Francis. The Greek Historians (1942), pg. 396- 9]
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.
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107. The barbarians [Persians] were conducted to Marathon by Hippias, the son of Pisistratus, who the night before had seen a strange vision in his sleep. He seemed to have intercourse with his mother, and conjectured the dream to mean that he would be restored to Athens, recover the power which he had lost, and afterwards live to a good old age in his native country. Such was the sense in which he interpreted the vision. He now proceeded to act as guide to the Persians, and in the first place he landed the prisoners taken from Eretria upon the island that is called Aegileia, belonging to the Styreans, after which he brought the fleet to anchor off Marathon, and marshalled the bands of the barbarians as they disembarked. As he was thus employed it chanced that he sneezed and at the same time coughed with more violence than was his wont. Now as he was a man advanced in years, and the greater number of his teeth were loose, it so happened that one of them was driven out with the force of the cough, and fell down into the sand. Hippias took all the pains he could to find it, but the tooth was nowhere to be seen; whereupon he fetched a deep sigh, and said to the bystanders, "After all the land is not ours, and we shall never be able to bring it under. All my share in it is the portion of which my tooth has possession."

So Hippias believed that this fulfilled his dream.
[Herodotus, The Persian War, 6.107 (c 440 BC),—which you can find in: Godolpin, Francis. The Greek Historians (1942), pg. 375]
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.



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94. Since we are upon this subject, it may not be improper to give an account of the omens, before and at his birth, as well as afterwards, which gave hopes of his future greatness, and the good fortune that constantly attended him. A part of the wall of Velletri having in former times been struck with thunder, the response of the soothsayers was, that a native of that town would some time or other arrive at supreme power; relying on which prediction, the Velletrians both then, and several times afterwards, made war upon the Roman people, to their own ruin. At last it appeared by the event, that the omen had portended the elevation of Augustus.

Julius Marathus informs us, that a few months before his birth, there happened at Rome a prodigy, by which was signified that Nature was in travail with a king for the Roman people; and that the senate, in alarm, came to the resolution that no child born that year should be brought up; but that those amongst them, whose wives were pregnant, to secure to themselves a chance of that dignity, took care that the decree of the senate should not be registered in the treasury.
Upon the day he was born, the senate being engaged in a debate on Catiline's conspiracy, and Octavius, in consequence of his wife's being in childbirth, coming late into the house, it is a well-known fact, that Publius Nigidius, upon hearing the occasion of his coming so late, and the hour of his wife's delivery, declared that the world had got a master. Afterwards, when Octavius, upon marching with his army through the deserts of Thrace, consulted the oracle in the grove of father Bacchus, with barbarous rites, concerning his son, he received from the priests an answer to the same purpose; because, when they poured wine upon the altar, there burst out so prodigious a flame, that it ascended above the roof of the temple, and reached up to the heavens; a circumstance which had never happened to any one but Alexander the Great, upon his sacrificing at the same altars. And the next night he dreamt that he saw his son under more than human appearance, with thunder and a sceptre, and the other insignia of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, having on his head a radiant crown, mounted upon a chariot decked with laurel, and drawn by six pair of milk-white horses.
Whilst he was yet an infant, as Gaius Drusus relates, being laid in his cradle by his nurse, and in a low place, the next day he was not to be found, and after he had been sought for a long time, he was at last discovered upon a lofty tower, lying with his face towards the rising sun. When he first began to speak, he ordered the frogs that happened to make a troublesome noise, upon an estate belonging to the family near the town, to be silent; and there goes a report that frogs never croaked there since that time. As he was dining in a grove at the fourth mile-stone on the Campanian road, an eagle suddenly snatched a piece of bread out of his hand, and, soaring to a prodigious height, after hovering, came down most unexpectedly, and returned it to him.
Quintus Catulus had a dream, for two nights successively after his dedication of the Capitol. The first night he dreamt that Jupiter, out of several boys of the order of the nobility, who were playing about his altar, selected one, into whose bosom he put the public seal of the commonwealth, which he held in his hand; but in his vision the next night, he saw in the bosom of Jupiter Capitolinus, the same boy; whom he ordered to be removed, but it was forbidden by the God, who declared that it must be brought up to become the guardian of the state. The next day, meeting Augustus, with whom till that hour he had not the least acquaintance, and looking at him with admiration, he said he was extremely like the boy he had seen in his dream. Some give a different account of Catulus's first dream, namely, that Jupiter, upon several noble lads requesting of him that they might have a guardian, had pointed to one amongst them, to whom they were to prefer their requests; and putting his fingers to the boy's mouth to kiss, he afterwards applied them to his own.
Marcus Cicero, as he was attending Gaius Caesar to the Capitol, happened to be telling some of his friends a dream which he had the preceding night, in which he saw a comely youth, let down from heaven by a golden chain, who stood at the door of the Capitol, and had a whip put into his hands by Jupiter. And immediately upon sight of Augustus, who had been sent for by his uncle Caesar to the sacrifice, and was as yet perfectly unknown to most of the company, he affirmed that it was the very boy he had seen in his dream. When he assumed the manly toga, his senatorian tunic becoming loose in the seam on each side, fell at his feet. Some would have this to forbode, that the order, of which that was the badge of distinction, would some time or other be subject to him.
Julius Caesar, in cutting down a wood to make room for his camp near Munda, happened to light upon a palm-tree, and ordered it to be preserved as an omen of victory. From the root of this tree there put out immediately a sucker, which, in a few days, grew to such a height as not only to equal, but overshadow it, and afford room for many nests of wild pigeons which built in it, though that species of bird particularly avoids a hard and rough leaf. It is likewise reported, that Caesar was chiefly influenced by this prodigy, to prefer his sister's grandson before all others for his successor.
In his retirement at Apollonia, he went with his friend Agrippa to visit Theogenes, the astrologer, in his gallery on the roof. Agrippa, who first consulted the fates, having great and almost incredible fortunes predicted of him, Augustus did not choose to make known his nativity, and persisted for some time in the refusal, from a mixture of shame and fear, lest his fortunes should be predicted as inferior to those of Agrippa. Being persuaded, however, after much importunity, to declare it, Theogenes started up from his seat, and paid him adoration. Not long afterwards, Augustus was so confident of the greatness of his destiny, that he published his horoscope, and struck a silver coin, bearing upon it the sign of Capricorn, under the influence of which he was born.
[Suetonius, The Divine Augustus, 94]
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.
Prodigies
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As Xerxes leaves to attack Greece, the sun quit the sky.

7.37. And now when all was prepared-the bridges, and the works at Athos, the breakwaters about the mouths of the cutting, which were made to hinder the surf from blocking up the entrances, and the cutting itself; and when the news came to Xerxes that this last was completely finished, then at length the host, having first wintered at Sardis, began its march towards Abydos , fully equipped, on the first approach of spring. At the moment of departure, the sun suddenly quitted his seat in the heavens, and disappeared, though there were no clouds in sight, but the sky was clear and sereneDay was thus turned into night; whereupon Xerxes, who saw and remarked the prodigy,was seized with alarm, and sending at once for the Magians, inquired of them the meaning of the portent. They replied, "God is foreshowing to the Greeks the destruction of their cities; forthe sun foretells for them and the moon for us." So Xerxes, thus instructed, proceeded on his way with great gladness of heart. 
[Editor Godolphin notes: 'There was no eclipse of the sun visible in Western Asia this year (480 BC)]
[Herodotus, The Persian War, 7.37 (c 440 BC),—which you can find in: Godolpin, Francis. The Greek Historians (1942), pg. 405]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Birth of Alexander the Great attended by prodigy

However this may be, Alexander was born on the sixth day of the month Hecatombaeon, which the Macedonians call Lous, the same day on which the temple of Artemis at Ephesus wasburned down. It was this coincidence which inspired Hegesias of Magnesia to utter joke which was flat enough to have put the fire out: he said it was no wonder the temple of Artemis was destroyed, since the goddess was busy attending to the birth of AIexander. But those of the Magiwho were then at Ephesus interpreted the destruction of the temple as the portent of a far greater disaster, and they ran through the city beating their faces and crying out that that day had brought forth a great scourge and calamity for Asia.
[Plutarch, Life of Alexander, 2- 3 (early 2d century AD),—which you can find in: Scott-Kilbert, Ian. The Age of Alexander; Nine Greek Lives by Plutarch(1982), pg. 253—4]
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Dreams
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Philostratus describes how dreams work.

And more than this, as a faculty of divination by means of dreams, which is the divinest and most god-like of human faculties, the soul detects the truth all the more easily when it is not muddied by wine, but accepts the message unstained and scans it carefully. Anyhow, the explainers of dreams and visions, those whom the poets call interpreters of dreams, will never undertake to explain any vision to anyone without having first asked the time when it was seen. For if it was at dawn and in the sleep of morningtide, they calculate its meaning on the assumption that the soul is then in a condition to divine soundly and healthily, because by then it has cleansed itself of the stains of wine. But if the vision was seen in the first sleep or at midnight, when the soul is still immersed in the lees of wine and muddied thereby, they decline to make any suggestions, and they are wise. 
[Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, 2.37 (217 AD),—which you can find in: Conybeare, F. C..Philostratus I: The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Books I - V (Loeb Classical Library #16) (2000), pg. 215]



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Christian prophets foretold the future. Pagan prophecy readers and Sybils and the Pythian priestess and the priests of Dodona and Clarus and Branchidae and Jupiter Amon and a multitude of others foretold the future first.

livy.jpgLivy describes the

 

Sibylline Oracles is the name given to certain collections of supposed prophecies, emanating from the sibyls or divinely inspired seeresses, which were widely circulated in antiquity

In pagan times the oracles and predictions ascribed to the sibyls were carefully collected and jealously guarded in the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, and were consulted only in times of grave crises.

[29.10]… Hannibal [general of the invading army] had gone into winter quarters [in Italy]
Owing to the unusual number of showers of stones which had fallen during the year, an inspection had been made of the Sibylline Books, and someoracular verses had been discovered which announced that whenever a foreign foe should carry war into Italy he could be driven out and conquered if the Mater Idaea were brought from Pessinus to Rome.The ... deputation who had taken the gift to Delphireported on their return that when they sacrificed to the Pythian Apollo the indications presented by the victims were entirely favorable, and further, that the response of theoracle was to the effect that a far grander victory was awaiting Romethan the one from whose spoils they had brought the gift to Delphi...

[29.11] ... Accordingly, they decided to send a mission to him [ king Atalus, who controlled the Great Mother goddess (a meteor?)]......He then handed over to them the sacred stonewhich the natives declared to be "the Mother of the Gods," and bade them carry it to Rome. . .

Sistine_Sibyl.jpg[29.14]... Two suns were said to have been seen; there were intervals of daylight during the night; a meteor was seen to shoot from east to west; a gate at Tarracina and at Anagnia a gate and several portions of the wall were struck by lightning; in the temple of Juno Sospita at Lanuvium acrash followed by a dreadful roar was heard. To expiate these portents special intercessions were offered for a whole day, and in consequence of a shower of stonesnine days' solemnity of prayer and sacrifice was observed.

P. Scipio was ordered to go to Ostia [Rome's port], accompanied by all the matrons, to meet the goddess... The matrons, each taking their turn in bearing the sacred image, carried the goddess into the temple of Victory on the Palatine.
[Livy, History of Rome, 29.10 & 14 (1st century AD)] Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

I am Serenus, assistant to the illustrious Ptolemaios—together with Felix and Apollonios the painter. We have come here, in accordance with the oracles of the invincible Apollo, to offer libations and sacrifices… to Isis.
[stone inscriptions from Philae, Les Insccriptions grecques et latines de Philae, # 168 (March 25, 191 AD),—which you can find in: Lee, A.D.. Pagans & Christians in Late Antiquity (2000), page 27]
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

The Epidaurian images

5.82. The ancient feud between the Aeginetans and Athenians arose out of the following circumstances. Once upon a time the land of Epidaurus would bear no crops, and the Epidaurians sent to consult the oracle of Delphiconcerning their affliction. The answer bade themset up the images of Damia and Auxesia, and promised them better fortune when that should be done. "Shall the images be made of bronze or stone?" the Epidaurians asked; but the priestess replied, "Of neither: but let then be made of the garden olive." Then the Epidaurians sent to Athens and asked leave to cut olive wood in Attica, believing the Athenian olives to be the holiest; or, according to others, because there were no olives at that time anywhere else in all the world but at Athens. The Athenians answered that they would give them leave, but on condition of their bringing offerings year by year to Athena Polias and to Erechtheus. The Epidaurians agreed, and having obtained what they wanted, made the images of olive wood, and set them up in their own country. Henceforth their land bore its crops, and they duly paid the Athenians what had been agreed upon.
[Herodotus, The Persian War, 5.82 (c 440 BC),—which you can find in: Godolpin, Francis. The Greek Historians (1942), pg. 323]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

13. Gyges was afterwards confirmed in the possession of the throne by an answer of the Delphic oracle. Enraged at the murder of their king, the people flew to arms, but after a while the partisans of Gyges came to terms with them, and it was agreed that if the Delphic oracle declared him kingof the Lydians, he should reign; if otherwise, he should yield the throne to the Heraclidae. As the oracle was given in his favour he became king. The Pythian priestess, however, added that, in the fifth generation from Gyges, vengeance should come for the Heraclidae; a prophecy of which neither the Lydians nor their princes took any account till it was fulfilled.

14. When Gyges was established on the throne, he sent no small presents to Delphi, as his many silver offerings at the Delphic shrine testify. Besides this silver he gave a vast number of vessels of gold, among which the most worthy of mention are the goblets, six in number, and weighing altogether thirty talents, which stand in the Corinthian treasury, dedicated by him. I call it the Corinthian treasury, though in strictness of speech it is the treasury not of the whole Corinthian people, but of Cypselus, son of Eetion. Excepting Midas, son of Gordias, king of Phrygia, Gyges was the first of the barbarians whom we know to have sent offerings to Delphi. Midas dedicated the royal throne whereon he was accustomed to sit and administer justice, an object well worth looking at. It lies in the same place as the goblets presented by Gyges. The Delphians call the whole of the silver and the gold which Gyges dedicated, after the name of the donor, Gygian.
[Herodotus, The Persian War, 1.13-14 (c 440 BC),—which you can find in: Godolpin, Francis. The Greek Historians (1942), pg. 8]



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pythagoras2_r1_c1.jpgPythagoras
Chances are you think of Pythagoras as the s.o.b. who invented that geometry thingy. Pythagoras was also a guru who founded a philosophy-religion, gathered disciples, performed miracles and madeprophecies.

Pythagoras had the power of God in him. How do we know this? His prophecies always came true, that's how.>>

The Pythagoreans are said to have predicted many things, and Pythagoras' predictions always came true.
[The Life of Pythagoras, 8 (Preserved by Photius, c 820 - 891 AD),—which you can find in: Gutherie, Kenneth. The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library(1988), pg. 138]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

'Cause I'm sure you're dying to know, here's the Pythagorean's theology about how prophecy worked >>

The Pythagoreans also assert that the whole air is full of souls, and that these are those that are accounted daimons or heroes. They are the ones that send down among men dreams, and tokens of disease and health; the latter not being reserved to human beings, but being sent also to sheep and cattle as well. They are concerned with purifications, expiations, and all kinds of divinations, oracular predictions, and the like.
[Diogenes Laertius, The Life of Pythagoras, 19 (Guthrie's divisions) (3d century AD),—which you can find in: Gutherie, Kenneth. The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library (1988), pg. 149]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Christian prophets foretold the future. Pagan prophecy readers and Sibyls and the Pythian priestess and the priests of Dodona and Clarus and Branchidae and Jupiter Amon and a multitude of others andPythagoras and his disciples foretold the future first.

apollonius_of_tyana.gifApollonius of Tyana
was a religious teacher who lived in the first century AD,traveled widely teaching goodness, performedmiracles (raising the dead was one), and gathered disciples. After he died he was worshiped as a God.

Apollonius had the power of prophecy >>
(as did Socrates and Anaxagoras)

For the circumstance that Apollonius foresaw and foreknew so many things does not in the least justify us in imputing to him this kind of wisdom [black magic]; we might as well accuseSocrates of the same, because, thanks to his familiar spirit, he knew things beforehand,and we might also accuse Anaxagoras because of the many things he foretold.
[Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, 1.2 (217 AD),—which you can find in: Conybeare, F. C..Philostratus I: The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Books I - V (Loeb Classical Library #16) (2000), pg. 7 - 9]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Christian prophets foretold the future. Pagan prophecy readers and Sybils and the Pythian priestess and the priests of Dodona and Clarus and Branchidae and Jupiter Amon and a multitude of others andPythagoras and his disciples and the godman Apollonius of Tyana and Socrates and Anaxagoras foretold the future first.

Are you seeing the pattern here?

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They saw that what both the fearful and thehopeful needed and wanted the most wasknowledge of the future, that this was the reason Delphi and Delos and Carus andDidyma had ages ago become rich and famous;men ... were forever coming to these shrines and asking to know the future, and, in payment, the sacrificed whole hecatombs and donated ingots of gold. After turning this discovery over in their minds and pondering it, the partners laid plans to set up an oracle, a seat of prophecy. 
[Lucian, Alexander the False Prophet, 8 (2d Century AD),—which you can find in: Casson, Lionel.Selected Satires of Lucian (1962), pg. 272]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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Amphilochus, you see, after his fatherAmphiaraus' death and disappearance in Thebes, had been banished from his home town; he make his way to Cilicia and there came out of it all very nicely by going into oracle making himself, and foretelling the future for the Cilicians at a charge of 75 cents per prediction.

[Lucian, Alexander the False Prophet, 8 (2d Century AD),—which you can find in: Casson, Lionel.Selected Satires of Lucian (1962), pg. 278]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

"Amphiaraus had been a seer during his lifetime. After a mysterious death (Zeus clove the ground in front of his chariot and he was swallowed up), he continued prophesying from a famous shrine in central Greece. The son's oracle was located in the town of Mallus."]
[Casson, Lionel. Selected Satires of Lucian (1962), pg. 299]

POCM quotes modern scholars

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Pretty soon Alexander was even sending agents into neighboring lands to spread the word about his oracle among various people. These men advertised that he offered general prophecy,recovery of runaway slaves, detection of thieves and bandits, discovery of buried treasurehealing of the sick, and, on occasion,raising of the dead. The result was a stampede from all sides plus sacrifices and offerings.
[Lucian, Alexander the False Prophet, 8 (2d Century AD),—which you can find in: Casson, Lionel.Selected Satires of Lucian (1962), pg. 23]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Christian prophets foretold the future. Pagan prophecy readers and Sybils and the Pythian priestess and the priests of Dodona and Clarus and Branchidae and Jupiter Amon and a multitude of others andPythagoras and his disciples and the godman Apollonius of Tyana and Socrates and Anaxagoras and thepriests at Delos and Dymma, and Amphilochus and Amphiarus and Glycon's prophet Alexander foretold the future first.

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Be not, O Greeks, so very hostilely disposed towards the Barbarians, nor look with ill will on their opinions. For which of your institutions has not been derived from the Barbarians? The most eminent of the Telmessians invented the art ofdivining by dreams; the Carians, that ofprognosticating by the stars; the Phrygiansand the most ancient Isauriansaugury by the flight of birds; the Cyprians, the art ofinspecting victims.
[Tatian, Address to the Greeks, 1 (2d century AD)]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Christian prophets foretold the future. Pagan prophecy readers and Sybils and the Pythian priestess and the priests of Dodona and Clarus and Branchidae and Jupiter Amon and a multitude of others andPythagoras and his disciples and the godman Apollonius of Tyana and Socrates and Anaxagoras and thepriests at Delos and Dymma, and Amphilochus and Amphiarus and Glycon's prophet Alexander and the nation of the Greeks, and the nation of the Telmessians, and the nation of the Carians and the nation of thePhyrgians, and the nation of the Isaurians and the nation of the Cyprians foretold the future first.

Are you seeing the pattern here? Prophecies made and prophecies fulfilled were basic to Paganism.

I promised we'd run out of patience before we ran out of prophecies. And so we have.

Oracles
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Christian prophets foretold the future. Pagan prophecy readers foretold the future first.
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The 
Christian Sybil
You knew there was a Christian Sybil, right?

Sibyls = prophetesseseszz One good thing about Pagan Gods was they didn't mind letting on what they knew about the future. You could get a forecast by consulting a Sibyl. (Why "Sibyls"? Because it was easier than "prophetesseseszz." The ancients didn't have spill chuckers.)

Here's the second century Christian writer Justin Martyr describing a Pagan Sybil at work >>

A Sybil was a woman, a prophetess who spoke God's words for Him. There were lots of Sibyls in lots of places. A God would move the Sibyl to speak, someone would quick write down what she said and later on folks would consult her words (in Rome they kept them in them the "Sibylline Books"—you'll someday run across that term in the ancient texts) for help foretelling the future.

[T]he ancient Sibyl, who by some kind of potent inspiration teaches you, through her oracular predictions, truths which seem to be much akin to the teaching of the prophets. She ... uttered her oracular sayings in a city called Cumae ... And they who had heard it from their fathers as part of their country's tradition, told us that it was here she used to publish her oracles. . .. [T]hey said that she washed, and having put on her robe again, retires into the inmost chamber of the basilica, which is still a part of the one stone; andsitting in the middle of the chamber on a high rostrum and throne, thus proclaims her oracles.

Many writers, including Plato said Justin Martyr, agreed that such prophecies were divinely inspired >>

 

...and that their prophecies were fulfilled >>

 

 

...because the prophetesseseszz 
got their divine power from God >>

And both by many other writers has the Sibyl been mentioned as a prophetess, and also by Plato in his Phaedrus. And Plato seems to me to have counted prophets divinely inspired when He read her prophecies. For He saw that what she had long ago predicted was accomplished; and on this account He expresses in the Dialogue with Meno his wonder at and admiration of prophets in the following terms: "Those whom we now call prophetic persons we should rightly name divine. And not least would we say that they are divine, and are raised to the prophetic ecstasy by theinspiration and possession of God, when theycorrectly speak of many and important matters, and yet know nothing of what they are saying,"--plainly and manifestly referring to the prophecies of the Sibyl. 
[Justin Martyr, Hortatory Address to the Greeks, 37, 2d century AD]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Christian prophets foretold the future. Pagan prophecy readers and Sybils foretold the future first.
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You'd figure the place a Sibyl worked would be a Sibylarium, but it wasn't. It was anoracle. The predictions she gave were also oracles. Sometimes the Sybil was called an oracle. It was fun to say "oracle," so they used it whenever they could. Try it yourself: Oracle, oracle, oracle. See?

Pagans had lots of oracles, 
and the oracles prophesied correctly >>

Celsus goes on to say of us: "They [Christians] set no value on the oracles of the Pythian priestess, of the priests of Dodona, of Clarus, ofBranchidae, of Jupiter Ammon, and of a multitude of others; although under their guidance we may say that colonies were sent forth, and the whole world peopled.
[Origen, Against Celsus, 7.4]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

There are many oracles among the Greeks, many among the Egyptians, some in Libya, andmany in Asia. None of the others, however, speaks without priests or prophets. This god [Apollo] takes the initiative himself and completes the oracle of his own accord. This is his method. Whenever he wishes to deliver an oracle, he first moves on his throne, and the priests immediately lift him up. If they do not lift him, he begins tosweat and moves still more. When they put him on their shoulders and carry him, he leads them in every direction as he spins around and leaps from one place to another. Finally the chief priest meets him face to face and asks him about all sorts of thing. If the god does not want something done, he moves backwards. If he approves of something, like a charioteer he leads forwardthose who are carrying him. In this manner they collect the divine utterances. The god also speaks of the year and of all its seasons, even when they do not ask. He also talks about the "Sign", when it must make the journey I have just mentioned. I will tell something else which he did while I was present. The priests were lifting him up and beginning to carry him, but he left them below on the ground and went off alone into the air. 
[Lucian, The Syrian Goddess (De Dea Syria), Ch. 36 (2d century AD),—which you can find in: Meyer, Marvin W. The Ancient Mysteries; A Sourcebook of Sacred Texts (1987), pg. 137]
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.









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Origen acknowledges pagan prophesies
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In the next place, miracles were performedin all countries, or at least in many of them, as Celsus himself admits, instancing the case of Asclepius, who conferred benefits on many, and whoforetold future events to entire cities, which were dedicated to him, such as Tricca, and Epidaurus, and Cos, and Pergamus...
[Origen, Against Celsus, 3.3]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Celsus mentions a multitude of Pagan oracles

Celsus goes on to say of us: "They [Christians] set no value on the oracles of the Pythian priestess, of the priests of Dodona, of Clarus, ofBranchidae, of Jupiter Ammon, and of a multitude of others; although under their guidance we may say that colonies were sent forth, and the whole world peopled.
[Origen, Against Celsus, 7.4]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Origen admits the oracles are real, but says: demons!

[the Christian father Origen replies]
But let it be granted that the responses delivered by the Pythian and other oracles were not the utterances of false men who pretended to a divine inspiration; and let us see if, after all, we cannot convince any sincere inquirers that there is no necessity to attribute these oracular responses to any divinities, but that, on the other hand, they may be traced to wicked demons...
[Origen, Against Celsus, 7.4]

Maxentius told: this day an enemy of Rome will perish

44.7 Discord arose in the city and the emperor [Maxentius] was upbraided for abdicating responsibility….. 44.8 Disconcerted by this cry, he curried away and, summoning some senators, he ordered the Sibylline books to be consulted. In them was found the statement that on that day the enemy of Rome would perish.
[Lactantius, On the Death of the Persecutors, 44.7-8 (early fourth century), which you can find in: Lee, A.D..Pagans & Christians in Late Antiquity (2000), pg. 82]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Christianity borrowed the Pagan notion of Sibylline Oraclessybil2.jpg

In pagan times the oracles and predictionsascribed to the sibyls were carefully collected and jealously guarded in the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, and were consulted only in times of grave crises. Because of the vogue enjoyed by these heathen oracles and because of the influence they had in shaping the religious views of the period, the Hellenistic Jews in Alexandria, during the second century B.C. composed verses in the same form, attributing them to the sibyls, and circulated them among the pagans as a means of diffusing Judaistic doctrines and teaching. This custom was continued down into Christian times, and wasborrowed by some Christians so that in the second or third century, a new class of oracles emanating from Christian sources came into being. Hence the Sibylline Oracles can be classed as Pagan, Jewish, or Christian.
[Catholic Encyclopedia (1912), Sibylline Oracles]

POCM quotes modern scholars

Christian prophesies
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Celsus describes Christian's filled with the holy spirit

However, let us see what he [the Pagan Celsus] considers the most perfect kind of prophecy among these nations. "There are many [Christians]," He says, "who, although of no name, with the greatest facility and on the slightest occasion, whether within or without temples, assume the motions and gestures ofinspired persons; while others do it in cities or among armies, for the purpose of attracting attention and exciting surprise. These are accustomed to say, each for himself, 'I am God; I am the Son of God; or, I am the Divine Spirit; I have come because the world is perishing, and you, O men, are perishing for your iniquities. But I wish to save you, and you shall see me returning again with heavenly power. Blessed is He who now does me homage. On all the rest I will send down eternal fire, both on cities and on countries. And those who know not the punishments which await. them shall repent and grieve in vain; while those who are faithful to me I will preserve eternally.'" Then He goes on to say: "To these promises areadded strange, fanatical, and quite unintelligible words, of which no rational person can find the meaning: for so dark are they, as to have no meaning at all; but they give occasion to every fool or impostor to apply them to suit his own purposes."
[Origen, Against Celsus, 7.9] 
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Second century Christian prophetess

in the period after the emperor Alexander [Severus (193 - 211 AD)]... There were numerous frequent earthquakes… some towns were even swallowed up by cracks opening in the ground and taken down to the depths. ….
Suddenly a woman came to the fore who presented herself as a prophetess experiencing states of ecstasy and acted as through filled with the Holy Spirit. But she was so overwhelmed by the onset of the leadingdaemons that for a long time she seduced and deceived the brethren…. that evil spirit [in the woman], being able to foresee that an earthquake was about to happen, sometimes pretended that it was going to bring about what it saw would happen anyway….
He also made the woman go barefoot in the freezing snow in the harsh winter, without her being troubled or harmed in any way by the outing….
[S]uddenly there appeared before him an exorcist, a man of proven character…. By subtle deceit, the daemon had even foretold shortly beforehand that an unbelieving assailant would come against him.
[ Cyprian, Cyprian's letters, Letter 75.10,—which you can find in: Lee, A.D.. Pagans & Christians in Late Antiquity (2000), section 2.10, page 48 - 49]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

And while he [Polycarp] was praying he fell into a trance three days before his arrest, and he saw his pillow being consumed by fire. And he turned and said to those who were with him: "It is necessary that I be burned alive."
[The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 5.2—which you can find in: Holmes, Michael. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations (1999), pg. 231]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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44.5 Constantine was enjoined in a dream to mark the heavenly symbol of God on the shields of his men and so to engage in battle.He did as commanded, and marked Christ on the shields in the form of a letter X placed sideways with the top bent around.
[Lactantius, On the Death of the Persecutors, 44.5 (early fourth century),—which you can find in: Lee, A.D. Pagans & Christians in Late Antiquity (2000), pg. 82]



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"What could be called more divine than the power of foreknowing and foretelling the future?"
[Celsus, quoted by Origen, Against Celsus, 4.96]

Was Christianity new?  Was Christianity unique?
Lets talk about prophecy.

Pagan prophets predicted the future—correctly. You know this if you've heard of the famous oracle at Delphi. You probably also know that our word "auspicious" comes from "auspices", the Roman religious ritual where priests told the future by reading the livers of sacrificed animals. (Sheesh. Have you noticed how often other peoples' beliefs are crazy stupid?)

Prophsies were like other miracles. Paganism had plenty of them, the early Christains believed in the Pagan miracles (though they often attributed them to Pagan demons). Early Christianity also had plenty of spirit filled prophets of it's own.

Both Christians and Pagans understood their prophesies with the same—Pagan—ideas.

Reasons

insetBorrowing.jpgChristian ideas about prophesy were identical with Pagan ideas about prophesy—the only difference was Christians believed their prophesy came from their one true God and Pagan prophesies came from Pagan demons. Christian ideas about prophesy come from deep in the Pagan center of ancient culture

Why the mess?POCM 2009

POCM_05.jpg
SOPtiny.gifFor Paganism, prophesy was Standard Operating Procedure
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Jews too
Judaism

 

josephus_r1_c2.jpg

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"the signs that were so evident, and did soplainly foretell their [the Jews] future desolation."[Josephus, Jewish War, ,6.5.288] He goes on:

"Thus there was a star resembling a sword, whichstood over the city, and a comet, that continueda whole year." [6.5.289]

And in the Temple, "at the ninth hour of the night of the night a great light shoneround the altar....This light seemed to be a good sign to the naive, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes as to portend the events that followed."[6.5.291- 293]

And, "also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple." [6.5.292]

"Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner temple. . .was seen to be opened of its own accord. This also the vulgar thought a happy prodigy...but the men of learning understood it."[6.5.293 - 295]

And, "...chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds. [6.5.298 - 299]

And "Jesus, son of Ananus...came to that feast whereon.. everyone makes tabernacles to God in the temple...and began on a sudden to cry aloud, "A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house." [6.5.300- 301]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

So strong was the Pagans' faith, they institutionalized prophecy-miracles with professional prophesy-readers—guys with training and text-books, guys you'd consult like you consult a doctor. Ask a question, the prophecy-guy would find it on his list, apply his divine-seer skills, andforetell your future for you. Very comforting.

How do we know this? We have the prophecy books they used> >

Professor Lee describes:
"[I]n addition to a numbered list of nearly one hundred questions, the oracular expert would have had at his disposal a set of numbered answersand a mathematical formula for selecting, in an apparently baffling and mysterious manner, an appropriate answer." [Lee, A.D. Pagans & Christians in Late Antiquity (2000), section 1.10, pages 28]

 

Questions to an oracle:
"72 Shall I receive the wages?
73 Am I to remain where I am going?
74 Am I to be sold?
75 Am I to receive help from my friend?
76 Has it been granted to me to make a contract with another?
77 Am I to be restored to my position
78 Am I to receive leave?
79 Shall I receive the money?
80 Is the one who is abroad alive?
81 Am I to profit from the business transaction?
….
90 Am I to be divorced from my wife?
91 Have I been poisoned?"
[ Papyrus Oxyrhynchus, # 1477—which you can find in: Lee, A.D. Pagans & Christians in Late Antiquity(2000), section 1.10, pages 28 - 30]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.
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They saw that what both the fearful and the hopeful needed and wanted the most wasknowledge of the future, that this was the reason Delphi and Delos and Carus andDidyma had ages ago become rich and famous; men, because of the two tyrants I mentioned, hope and fear, were forever coming to these shrines and asking to know the future, and, in payment, the sacrificed whole hecatombs and donated ingots of gold. After turning this discovery over in their minds and pondering it, the partners laid plans to set up an oracle, a seat of prophecy. 
[Lucian, Alexander the False Prophet, 8 (2d Century AD),—which you can find in: Casson, Lionel.Selected Satires of Lucian (1962), pg. 272]

So Alexander gave out oracles and made prophecies, using a great deal of resourcefulness and combining guesswork with inventiveness.
[pg. 272]
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Why so many prophesies?
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Another SPFYMLMWhy so many Pagan prophecy-miracles? Pagan faith was stronger than ours.
Like the Pagans we see prophesy as supernatural. The difference is, we see the supernatural as rare; the Pagans? everywhere they looked they saw the supernatural.
Pagan supernatural powers guided everything, all the time. Our God cares, maybe, but He's got physics to move the sun. Pagan Gods moved the sun across the sky, physically moved it every day. Pagan faith saw the supernatural in the moving sun; in where lightning hit, and when; in the paths birds flew; in doors banging, lights shining and chariots running in the clouds.

By the way Fatetiny.gif

Ancient civilization also had the notion of Fate:some stuff was gonna happen and there wasn't squat you could about it.

Gods sometimes knew what was fated to happenThey'd pass what they knew along to their prophets, the prophets would pass it along to you.

Even the Gods were subject to fate sometimes. And there were different kinds of fate. It's a big subject.

What was going to happen next was nothing more that what the Pagan Gods planned to do next, so of course the Pagan Gods and their prophets knew the future.

One good thing about Pagan Gods was they didn't mind letting on what they knew about the future. So, like Pagan miracles generally, Pagan prophecy-miracles number in the tens of thousands. You run out of patience before you run out of prophecy miracles. So here at POCM, I've included enough to give you a sense of how central prophecy was to Paganism. Need more? Just pick up Herodotus, Livy, Josephus, or any other ancient historian. They're chock-a-block with prophecy-miracles. Guaranteed.

Christians believed Pagan prophesies
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Delphic oracle done by demons.

If, then, the Pythian priestess is beside herself when she prophesies, what spirit must that be which fills her mind and clouds her judgment with darkness, unless it be of the same order with those demons which many Christians cast out of persons possessed with them? And this, we may observe, they do without the use of any curious arts of magic, or incantations, but merely by prayer and simple adjurations which the plainest person can use.
[Origen, Against Celsus, 7.4]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Moreover, if it is believed not only among Christians and Jews, but also by many others among the Greeks and Barbarians, that the human soul lives and subsists after its separation from the body; and if reason supports the idea that pure souls which are not weighed down with sin as with a weight of lead ascend on high to the region of purer and more ethereal bodies, leaving here below their grosser bodies along with their impurities; whereas soulsthat are polluted and dragged down to the earth by their sins, so that they are unable even to breathe upwards, wander hither and thither, at some times about sepulchres, where they appear as the apparitions of shadowy spirits, at others among other objects on the ground;--if this is so, what are we to think of those spirits that are attached for entire ages, as I may say, to particular dwellings and places, whether by a sort of magical force or by their own natural wickedness? Are we not compelled by reason to set down as evil such spirits as employ the power of prophesying—a power in itself neither good nor bad—for the purpose of deceiving men, and thus turn them away from God, and from the purity of His service? 
[Origen, Against Celsus, 7.5]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Justin Martyr acknowledges Pagan miracles—says Christian miracles are similar

For let even necromancy, and the divinationsyou practise by immaculate children, and theevoking of departed human souls, and those who are called among the magi, Dream-sendersand Assistant-spirits (Familiars), and all that is done by those who are skilled in such matters--let these persuade you that even after death souls are in a state of sensation; and those who are seized and cast about by the spirits of the dead, whom all call daemoniacs or madmen; and what you repute as oracles, both ofAmphilochusDodanaPytho, and as many other such as exist; and the opinions of your authors, Empedocles and Pythagoras, Plato and Socrates, and the pit of Homer, and the descent of Ulysses to inspect these things, and all that has been uttered of a like kind. Such favour as you grant to these, grant also to us, who not less but more firmly than they believe in God; since we expect to receive again our own bodies, though they be dead and cast into the earth, for we maintain that with God nothing is impossible.
[Justin Martyr, First Apology, 18]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Demons allow divination, says Origen

4.92 In my [Origen's] opinion, however, it is certain wicked demons, and, so to speak, of the race of Titans or Giants, who have been guilty of impiety towards the true God, and towards the angels in heaven, and who have fallen from it, and who haunt the denser parts of bodies, and frequent unclean places upon earth, and who,possessing some power of distinguishing future events, because they are without bodies of earthly material, engage in an employment of this kind, and desiring to lead the human race away from the true God, secretly enter the bodies of the more rapacious and savage and wicked of animals, and stir them up to do whatever they choose, and at whatever time they choose: either turning the fancies of these animals to make flights and movements of various kinds, in order that men may be caught by the divining power that is in the irrational animals, and neglect to seek after the Godwho contains all things; or to search after the pure worship of God, but allow their reasoning powers to grovel on the earth, and amongst birds and serpents, and even foxes and wolves. For it has been observed by those who are skilled in such matters, that the clearest prognostications are obtained from animals of this kind; because the demons cannot act so effectively in the milder sort of animals as they can in these, in consequence of the similarity between them in point of wickedness; and yet it is not wickedness, but something like wickedness, which exist in these animals.
[Origen, Against Celsus, 4.92]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

But, to use the very words of Celsus, let it be granted that "the sun, moon, and stars doforetell rain, and heat, and clouds, and thunders," why, then, if they really do foretell such great things, ought we not rather to do homage to God, whose servant they are in uttering these predictions, and show reverence to Him rather than His prophets? Let them predict, then, the approach of lightnings, and fruits, and all manner of productions, and let all such things be under their administration; yet we shall not on that account worship those who themselves offer worship, as we do not worship even Moses, and those prophets who came from God after him, and who predicted better things than rain, and heat, and clouds, and thunders, and lightnings, and fruits, and all sorts of productions visible to the senses. Nay, even if sun, and moon, and stars were able to prophesy better things than rain, not even then shall we worship them, but the Father of the prophecies which are in them, and the Word of God, their minister. But grant that they are His heralds, and truly messengers of heaven, why, even then ought we not to worship the God whom they only proclaim and announce, rather than those who are the heralds and messengers?
[Origen, Against Celsus, 5.7]



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The Assyrian and Babylonian Bel Myth Parallels to the Christian Jesus Myth

Robert Howard Kroepel
Copyright © 2001
20 South Shore Road
New Durham, NH USA 03855-2107

Was the Assyrian/Babylonian Bel myth in which a god is slain and resurrected a forerunner of the Jesus crucifixion/resurrection myth?

Is it possible that the Jesus myth was assembled from mythical elements found in the Assyrian/Babylonian Bel Myth?

Here are two sets of answers, one from John G. Jackson, and another by me resulting from correspondence with an official, Christopher Walker, of The British Museum.

From Christianity Before Christ by John G. Jackson, American Atheist Press, PO Box 2117, Austin, TX 78768-2117, 1985, pp. 43-46.

Quick Book Report: Various myths are shown to be forerunners of the Jesus myth.

The immediate following chart from is my compilation of Jackson's report citing Arthur Findlay and George R. Goodman:

(A) Arthur Findlay's report of the translation by a Professor H. Zimmern, in German, of an ancient tablet which Jackson reports (citing Findlay) as Babylonian dating back to circa 2000 BC now in the British Museum in which the Babylonian myth of Bel (Baal in Hebrew) is described in a passion play in which (1) Bel is taken prisoner; (2) Bel is tried in a great hall; (3) Bel is smitten; (4) Bel is led away to the Mount (a sacred grove on a hilltop); (5) with Bel are taken two malefactors, one of whom is released; (6) After Bel has gone to the Mount and is executed, the city breaks into tumult; (7) Bel's clothes are carried away; (8) Bel goes down into the Mount and disappears from life; (9) weeping women seek Bel at the Tomb; (10) Bel is brought back to life.

(B) A Bel myth—Jesus myth parallel table created by George R. Goodman and presented in "Easter" in The Freethinker of May 14, 1965. 

The Bel (Baal) Myth Parallels to the Jesus Myth
The Bel (Baal) MythThe Jesus Myth
(1) Bel is taken prisoner.(1) Jesus is taken prisoner.
(2) Bel is tried in a great hall.(2) Jesus is tried a great hall—the Hall of Justice.
(3) Bel is smitten.(3) Jesus is scourged.
(4) Bel is led away to the Mount (a sacred grove on a hilltop).(4) Jesus is led away to Golgotha.
(5) With Bel are taken two malefactors, one of whom is released.(5) With Jesus two malefactors are led away; Barrabas is released.
(6) After Bel has gone to the Mount and is executed, the city breaks into tumult.(6) After Jesus is executed, there is an earthquake, the veil of the Temple is rent, the dead rise from their graves and walk among the living.
(7) Bel's clothes are carried away.(7) Jesus's clothes are carried away after soldiers cast dice for them.
(8) Bel goes down into the Mount and disappears from life.(8) Jesus disappears from life into the tomb.
(9) Weeping women seek Bel at the Tomb.(9) Weeping women seek Jesus at the Tomb.
(10) Bel is brought back to life.(10) Jesus is resurrected—rises from the grave/Tomb.

NOTE: This table is patterned after a table by George R. Goodman presented in "Easter" in The Freethinker of May 14, 1965.

10/12/01: Update: The report by Jackson and the chart shown above has flaws which are addressed in the following report. The tablet referenced by Jackson, Findlay, and Goodman, does in fact exist, but according to Christopher Walker of The British Museum it is Assyrian, not Babylonian, was discovered in the town of Nineveh in Assyria, and dates from 700 B.C., not 2000 B.C., as reported by John Jackson citing Arthur Findlay.

The following report is based upon a photocopy provided to me by Christopher Walker of The British Museum of a translation of the Bel Myth Tablet by S. Langdon, published in 1923.

The Bel myth parallels to the Jesus myth are nevertheless present in the Langdon translation, clearly indicating that regardless of the discovery of the tablet in Nineveh in Assyria, not in Babylonia, and its dating as 700 B.C. and not 2000 B.C. The Bel myth does in fact have mythical elements including death and resurrection which parallel the Jesus myth and thus are forerunners of mythical elements in the Jesus myth.

In Babylonia, the god Bel is also called Marduk. In some writings the two names are linked as Bel-Marduk or Marduk-Bel.

In the Babylonian myth, The Epic of Creation, the god Marduk does not die and is not resurrected.

However, as S. Langdon stated, as shown below, the Bel myth presented in the writings inscribed upon the Assyrian Bel myth tablet found in Nineveh clearly describe a different Bel myth from the Bel (Bel-Marduk/Marduk-Bel) myth presented in The Epic of Creation. Thus, there are two Bel myths; (A) The Bel myth found in The Epic of Creation and (B) The Bel myth found in the Assyrian Bel myth tablet.

The fact that the Bel myth tablet exists and has writings translated by at least two translators, H. Zimmern, and S. Langdon, in which we find mythical elements which are different from the mythical elements found in The Epic of Creation refutes any claims that the Bel myth found on the Bel myth tablet is not authentic. 

Paraphrases and Comments on a Translation of the Bel Myth Tablet

Copyright © 2001
Robert Howard Kroepel
20 South Shore Road
New Durham New Hampshire, USA 03855

From: Christopher B. F. Walker, Keeper 
Department of Ancient Near East 
The British Museum 
London, England

The Babylonian Epic of Creation: Restored from the recently recovered Tablets of Assur

Translation and Commentary by S. Langdon, M.A.

Clarendon Press, Oxford, England, 1923

The tablet containing references to the Bel myth is in the possession of The British Museum; C. Walker states that it was created circa 700 B.C.E. and was discovered in Nineveh, Assyria.

The following are my notes and paraphrases of Langdon’s text with direct references by means of page numbers to Langdon’s text of comments and information and with direct references by means of Line numbers to Langdon’s translation.

p. 32. The tablet, recovered by Germans from excavations in Assyria, refer to a New Year’s festival celebration performed in Assyria which was very similar to a New Year’s festival celebration performed in Babylon. The Babylonian poem, The Epic of Creation, celebrated the Babylonian god, Marduk, and the Babylonian New Year’s festival celebration therefore celebrated also Marduk; but Assyrians substituted their deity, Assur, in place of Marduk.

In Babylon, Marduk was a solar god who died, descended into the earth, or a lower world, and was resurrected, or returned to the upper world, each year at the spring equinox, when the sun/day/light gained more time and therefore victory over night/darkness.

Marduk is also called Bel (Babylonian) or Baal (Jewish). The Marduk/Bel myth is therefore called the Bel-Marduk or Marduk-Bel myth.

pp. 32-33. Langdon speculates that the Bel-Marduk text and mythology was based upon an older mythology of Tammuz, a god who died yearly, descended into a lower world, and resurrected/returned to the upper world.

p. 33. The tablet discovered in Assyria is the only source for the death and resurrection of Bel-Marduk. Professor H. Zimmern wrote the first interpretation and a list of the parallels to the Jesus myth including an arrest, trial, scourging, crucifixion, and resurrection.

What do I read in Langdon’s translation that supports Zimmern’s contentions?

The translation is not in clear, straightforward English. The grammar is disjointed. There is no linear timeline, and people, things and events are presented and discussed out of their chronological order. There are gaps among the words which disturb the sense of the words, and I assume those gaps are disfigurations of the original tablet wherein the words do not exist or otherwise are not readily translatable.

The translation is presented via Lines of text.

I present therefore my personal paraphrases of the highlights of Langdon’s Lines of translation.

Line 1. Bel is confined in a mountain. 
Line 3. Someone unnamed brings Bel from the mountain. 
Line 11. A female goes to seek Bel at his  grave. 
Line 12. Twins are appointed to guard Bel at the Gate of Esagila. 
Line 13. Bel was bound by the gods and caused to perish. 
Line 14. The gods caused Bel to descend from the sun and light. 
Line 15. Bel is/was wounded. 
Line 16. A goddess descends into the mountain for the welfare of Bel. 
Line 18. Bel was judged. 
Lines 20 and 21. A malefactor (criminal) was slain with Bel. 
Line 23. After Bel went to the mountain/lower world, the inhabitants of the city where Bel was slain rioted because of Bel’s death. 
Line 29. A female (goddess?), Beltis, of Babylon, looks for Bel, weeps for Bel, says, “O my brother! O my brother!” 
Line 30. Bel’s garments were taken from him. 
Line 31. Bel’s silver, gold, and jewels were taken from him. 
Line 32. There was a garment put upon Bel when he was put into his coffin. 
Line 33. Bel was nursed and reared by Ishtar of Nineveh. 
Line 34. The hymn, “When On High,” was recited and sung by Bel’s followers during the month of Nisan, when he was bound/slain. 
Line 36. The high priest says “These benefactions for Asur (Bel/Marduk) I do” and asks, “What is his sin?” 
Line 38. [H]e (Bel) comes from within the mountain. (Bel is to be resurrected.) 
Line 51. Bel was seized in the Month of Nisan. 
Line 52. After Bel was taken away (from from the building in which he was tried and judged), water for handwashing was brought to the building. 
Line 67. A goddess wails and a woman weeps (for Bel?).

Once again, my paraphrases of Langdon’s text.

p. 50. The Assyrian tablet is a commentary on the ritual which was the festival celebration of the death and resurrection of Bel. The ritual itself was never discovered. From the tablet it is not possible to determine if or not the death and resurrection of Bel was an annual event, but since there is the conjecture/speculation/opinion that the Bel-Marduk myth is based upon the myth of the annual death and resurrection of Tammuz there is reason to believe that the Bel-Marduk death and resurrection was an annual event.

p. 51. Additional Assyrian tablets were discovered which suggest that the Bel-Marduk mystic ritual was widely practiced, that the Bel-Marduk cult was widely known, and therefore would have been easily and readily known in Syria and Judea.

My personal interpretations:

From Line 51 we can read that Bel was seized (arrested).

From Line 18 we can read that Bel was judged, and if he was judged then we can assume that he was tried.

From Line 15 we can read that Bel was wounded, therefore scourged.

From Lines 1, 13 and 14 we can read that Bel was bounded/caused to perish by the gods.

From Lines 20 and 21 we can read that a malefactor (criminal) was slain alongside/at the same time as Bel.

From Lines 30 and 31 we can read that Bel’s garments and silver and gold and jewels were taken from him (from his body?).

From Line 23 we can read that because of Bel’s death the people of the city in which he was slain rioted.

From Line 32 we can read that there was a garment put upon Bel’s body and the body was put into a coffin.

From Line 14 we can read that Bel was forced to descend into a lower world.

From Line 11 we can read that Bel was buried in a grave and that a female went to his grave to seek him.

From Lines 3 and 38 we can read that Bel is (to be) resurrected.

From all this we can create a reasonable script that suggests that Bel was arrested, tried, judged, scourged, slain, a criminal (malefactor) was slain alongside him, the people in a nearby city rioted because of his death, his garments/etc. were taken from him, his body wrapped in a garment and put into a coffin which was put into a grave which was guarded by two men (twins), a woman (female, goddess) sought him at his grave, he was descended into the lower world, and he was resurrected.

From what is common knowledge of the Jesus myth of Christianity, we can make a reasonable judgment that there are enough parallels of the JC myth with the Bel myth that we can judge Christianity to be at least in part based upon the Bel myth.

Judging that the JC myth is based, in part, upon the Bel myth, we can reasonably judge that the parts of the JC myth based upon the Bel myth are not original and that, therefore, those parts of the JC myth are not true.

When a newer myth contains much of an older myth and we find no physical evidence which can serve as conclusive proof of the truth of the older myth, then we have good reason to judge that both myths are equally likely to be false.

My grateful thanks to C. Walker of The British Museum for providing a photocopy of the text and translation from Langdon’s book.

[The end of my report.]

10/31/01: Update: the Bel myth inscribed on the Assyrian Bel myth tablet presents the parallels of an arrest, trial, judgment, scourging, execution, and resurrection of a god/godman which are the mythical elements found in both the Bel myth and the Jesus myth.

Here is a table summarizing the parallels from the Bel myth found on the Assyrian Bel myth tablet with the Jesus myth. 

The Assyrian-Babylonian Bel Myth Parallels to the Christian Jesus Myth
The Assyrian-Babylonian Bel Myth
The Jesus Myth
1. The Arrest of Bel [In the Month of Nisan-- April]1. The Arrest of Jesus [In the Month of April]
2. The Trial of Bel2. The Trial of Jesus
3. A Priest/Judge Asks "What is his sin?"3. Pilate Asks "What evil has he done?" [St. Matthew 27:23]
4. The Judgment Against Bel4. The Judgment Against Jesus
5. Water Is Brought to the Building for the Washing of Hands5. Pilate Washes His Hands [St. Matthew 27:24]
6. The Scourging of Bel6. The Scourging of Jesus
7. A Criminal Condemned to Die with Bel Is Released7. Criminals Are Condemned to Die with Jesus; Barrabas Is Released
8. Bel is Led Away to the Mount (a sacred grove on a hilltop--a hill for the kill))8. Jesus is Led Away to Golgotha (a hill called The Skull--a hill for the kill) [SeeNote 1 below]
9. Bel is Executed [Bel is "Bound/Caused to Perish"--Most likely Crucified]9. Jesus is Executed/Crucified [See Note 2 below]
10. A Commotion: A Riot Begins in a Nearby City10. A Commotion: An Earthquake, the Renting of the Veil of the Temple, The Dead Rise, and Walk and Talk with the Living
11. Bel's Clothes Are Taken Away11. Jesus' Clothes Are Taken Away
12. A Burial Garment Is Put Onto Bel's Body12. Jesus' Body Is Wrapped in a Burial Garment
13. Bel Is Taken to a Tomb13. Jesus Is Taken to a Tomb
14. Bel Goes Down into a Mountain/Descends into the Underworld14. Jesus Descends into Hell [See Note 3 below]
15. Women/Goddesses Seek Bel at the Tomb15. Women Seek Jesus at the Tomb
16. Bel Is Resurrected16. Jesus Is Resurrected

Note 1: In a reply on the SecWeb, ...

See http://www.infidels.org/electronic/forum/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=6&t=000601

See also http://www.infidels.org/electronic/forum/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=6&t=000879&p=2

... an individual who identifies himself as "Kosh" pointed out that both the Bel myth and the Jesus myth had a "HILL for the KILL"!!!

Note 2: What was the chronological sequence of the execution of Jesus?

Deut. 21:22-23. And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou shall hang him upon a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day: (for he that is hanged is accursed of God); that thy land not be defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

NOTE: These are the words of God as dictated to Moses, ordering a sequence of 1. putting to death a convict and then 2. hanging his body upon a tree, and, therefore, these words and this execution sequence are the Law to the Jews and as the Law are to be obeyed and not modified in any way.

The standard Xn Bible Mark/Matthew/Luke/John death of Jesus chronological sequence is thus: J is executed by crucifixion, in which (1) J is hung on a cross and (2) dies.

There are two passages in Acts which contradict this chronological sequence:

Acts 5:30: The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree [emphasis added].

Acts 10:39: And we were witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree [emphasis added]

Notice that the sequences in Acts is thus: (1) Jesus is slain/dies/is dead; (2) Jesus is hung upon a tree.

The sequence of execution/death by crucifixion is not the same as the sequence of execution/death by some unknown method and then being hung upon a tree.

Note that the execution sequences in Acts follow the execution sequence Law given in Deuteronomy.

Question: Why would anyone execute condemned man/woman and then hang the now dead body upon a tree or cross?

Answer: To publicly humilate the condemned man/woman (dogs were allowed to eat the corpses) and to serve notice of the consequences of their actions to other potential traitors/criminals/terrorists.

There is a serious Xn Bible contradiction herein.

The focus in this discussion is the chronological sequence contradictions.

If the writer(s) of Acts (said to be Luke, the same as in St. Luke?) simply intended to convey the sequence of execution by crucifixion, as found in the Mark/Matthew/Luke/John gospels, then why did they not give the correct sequence instead of the sequence of execution by some unknown means and then being hung upon a tree?

And if Luke wrote both St. Luke and Acts, then why did he contradict himself by writing the execution by crucifixion sequence in St. Luke and the execution then hanging upon a tree sequence in Acts?

Note 3: The descent of Jesus into Hell is specifically stated in The Apostle's Creed:

The Apostle's Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth:

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into Hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; henceforth he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. [Emphasis added.]

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Biblical references for the idea that Jesus descended into Hell are thus:

1 Peter 3:18:

“... being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.”
The idea that Hell is a prison suggests that this passages refers to a descent into Hell by Jesus.

Acts 2:31:

“... his soul was not left in hell.”
Seehttp://www.askwhy.co.uk/awmob/awcmyth/myt385LIFDescentintoHell.html

John G. Jackson, in Christianity Before Christ [American Atheist Press, PO Box 2117, Austin, TX 78768-2117, 1985, pp. 43-46.], cites Gerald Massey in Ancient Egypt: Light of the World, Vol. II, p. 757 [London, T. Fisher Unwin, 1907], as providing information concerning the mythical elements of an annunciation, an immaculate conception, a virgin birth, and an adoration as presented as consecutive engravings on the inner walls of Temple of Luxor, in Luxor, Egypt, from the time of King Amenhotep III (1538-1501 B.C.).

The engravings are presented as four scenes in consecutive order describing the birth of the Egyptian god, Horus.

Citing Jackson citing Massey, we have the following four scenes:

1. The Annuncation

The god Thoth announces to a virgin, Isis, the impending birth of her son, Horus.

2. The Immaculate Conception

The god Kneph (Holy Ghost) and the goddess Hathor hold crosses, sign of life, to the head and nostrils of Isis and mystically impregnate 
her.

3. The Birth of the Child God

The mother, Isis, sits on a midwife's stool, and the newly born infant, Horus, is held by attendants.

4. The Adoration

The infant Horus receives homage from gods and Three Kings, the Magi, who offer him gifts.

Jackson cites Samuel Sharpe in Egyptian Mythology and Egyptian Christianity [London: J. R. Smith, 1879, p. 19.] thus:

In this [set of engravings] we have the Annunciation, the Conception, the Birth, and [the] Adoration as described in the first 
and second chapter of Luke's Gospel ...

Critics should remember that the scenes described are literally carved in stone on the walls of the Temple at Luxor and stand as an original source of mythical elements of the Horus myth.

Here is a table presenting the Egyptian mythical element parallels to the Jesus mythical elements. 

The Egyptian Horus Myth Parallels to the Christian Jesus Myth
The Egyptian Horus Myth
The Jesus Myth
1. The Annunciation of the Birth of Horus1. The Annunciation of the Birth of Jesus
2. The Immaculate Conception/Impregnation of a Virgin by God(s)2. The Immaculate Conception/Impregnation of a Virgin by God
3. The Birth of Horus3. The Birth of Jesus
4. The Adoration of Horus by Three Kings/Magi Bearing Gifts4. The Adoration of Jesus by Three Kings/Magi Bearing Gifts

The Egyptian Horus myth mystical elements of annuncation, immaculate impregnation, birth, and adoration are similar to the mythical elements of the early life of Jesus found in the Jesus myth.

Jackson, in Christianity Before Christ, pp. 96-109, describes the Egyptian Horus myth as connected to the Egyptian Osiris myth:

The mythology and symbolism relative to Osiris and Horus is rather complicated ... In ancient Egypt the kings were gods; the living king was the Horus and the dead king was the Osiris.
Jackson, p. 96, cites a Professor Hocart as saying the following:
Osiris, after his death, became a king in the underworld ... and from his dead body his successor, Horus, is conceived. But every dead king is Osiris and every living king Horus. Thus Osiris and Horus are really the same, Horus being the living form of Osiris, an Osiris the dead form of Horus. There is thus a succession of men who are killed, become gods, and are succeeded by their posthumous sons. ... (A. M. Hocart, Social Origins, London, Watts and Co., 1954, pp. 79-82.)
Jackson, p. 109, states that the resurrection of Osiris is depicted bybas-reliefs(stone carvings on the a wall or a side of an altar, a statue, etc.) of the walls of a Temple of Osiris a Denderah, Egypt, in which Osiris is presented (1) as a  mummy on his bier, (2) he arises, and (3) stands erect, with Isis standing behind him, and a male figure hold acrux ansata, an Egyptian symbol of life. Jackson also states that another Osiris resurrection is depicted at the Temple of Isis in Philae, Egypt, upon which is this inscription: "This is the form of him whom one may not name, Osiris of the Mysteries (myths), who springs from the returning waters."

Again, critics should remember that the Osiris myth resurrection scenes described are literally carved in stone on the walls of the Temple of Osiris at Denderah and the Temple of Isis at Philae and stand as original sources of mythical elements of the Osiris myth.

We herein have an ancient Egyptian mythical element of a death and resurrection and a parallel to the death and resurrection mythical element in the Jesus myth. 

The Egyptian Osiris Myth Parallels to the Christian Jesus Myth
1. Osiris is Killed (Death of Osiris)1. Jesus is Killed (Death of Jesus)
2. Osiris is Resurrected2. Jesus is Resurrected

Jackson, pp. 113-114, states that the English expert on Egyptology, Gerald Massey, listed in an appendix to his book, Ancient Egypt: Light of the World, 200 Egyptian parallels to the Jesus myth.

Jackson, p. 114, further cites Albert Churchward, a follower of Massey, as offering the Egyptian Horus mythical element parallels to the Jesus myth contained in the following table: 

The Egyptian Osiris Myth Parallels to the Christian Jesus Myth
1. Horus was the son of Seb, an earthly father1. Jesus was the son of Joseph, an earthly father
2. Horus stayed with his mother until the age of twelve2. Jesus stayed with his mother until the age of twelve
3. Between the ages of twelve to thirty there is no record of the life of Horus3. Between the ages of twelve to thirty there is no record of the life of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew/Mark/Luke/John/Acts)
4. At age thirty, Horus was baptized by Anup4. At age thirty, Jesus was baptized by John
5. By his baptism Horus was transformed into the beloved and only begotten Son of the Father, the Holy Spirit, represented by a bird5. By his baptism Jesus was transformed into the beloved and only begotten Son of the Father, the Holy Spirit, represented by a dove/bird

From a stone tablet discovered in Nineveh, Assyria, and dated 700 B.C., now housed in The British Museum, and referred to by British Museum officials as the Marduk's Ordeal tablet (thanks to British Museum official Christopher Walker for this information and photocopies of translations by S. Langdon and S. A. Pallis of the Marduk's Ordeal tablet), and by me as The Assyrian Bel Myth Tablet, we get a version of the Assyrian Babylonian Bel (Bel-Marduk or Marduk-Bel) myth in which the god Bel is arrested, tried, judged, scourged, executed, and resurrected and thus are similar to the mythical elements of the last days of the life of Jesus found in the Jesus myth.

Critics should remember that the mythical elements of the Bel-Marduk myth are literally carved in stone on Marduk's Ordeal tablet/Assyrian Bel Myth Tablet which stands as an original source of mythical elements of the Bel-Marduk myth.

Here is a table presenting the combination of Egyptian and Assyrian/Babylonian myth parallels to the Christian Jesus myth. 

The Egyptian Horus-Osiris/Assyrian-Babylonian Bel-Marduk Myth Parallels to the Christian Jesus Myth
The Egyptian Horus Myth
and
The Assyrian-Babylonian Bel Myth
The Jesus Myth
1. The Annunciation of the Birth of Horus1. The Annunciation of the Birth of Jesus
2. The Immaculate Conception/Impregnation of a Virgin by God(s)2. The Immaculate Conception/Impregnation of a Virgin by God
3. The Birth of Horus3. The Birth of Jesus
4. The Adoration of Horus by Three Kings/Magi Bearing Gifts4. The Adoration of Jesus by Three Kings/Magi Bearing Gifts
5. Horus was the son of Seb, an earthly father5. Jesus was the son of Joseph, an earthly father
6. Horus stayed with his mother until the age of twelve6. Jesus stayed with his mother until the age of twelve
7. Between the ages of twelve to thirty there is no record of the life of Horus7. Between the ages of twelve to thirty there is no record of the life of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew/Mark/Luke/John/Acts)
8. At age thirty, Horus was baptized by Anup8. At age thirty, Jesus was baptized by John
9. By his baptism Horus was transformed into the beloved and only begotten Son of the Father, the Holy Spirit, represented by a bird9. By his baptism Jesus was transformed into the beloved and only begotten Son of the Father, the Holy Spirit, represented by a dove/bird
10. The Arrest of Bel10. The Arrest of Jesus
11. The Trial of Bel11. The Trial of Jesus
12. A Priest/Judge Asks "What is his sin?"12. Pilate Asks "What evil has he done?" [St. Matthew 27:23]
13. The Judgment Against Bel13. The Judgment Against Jesus
14. Water Is Brought to the Building for the Washing of Hands14. Pilate Washes His Hands [St. Matthew 27:24]
15. The Scourging of Bel15. The Scourging of Jesus
16. A Criminal Condemned to Die with Bel Is Released16. Criminals Are Condemned to Die with Jesus; Barrabas Is Released
17. Bel is Led Away to the Mount (a sacred grove on a hilltop--a hill for the kill)17. Jesus is Led Away to Golgotha (a hill called The Skull--a hill for the kill) [SeeNote 1 below]
18. Bel is Executed [Bel is "Bound/Caused to Perish"--Most likely Crucified]-Osiris is Executed/Killed.18. Jesus is Executed/Crucified
19. A Commotion: A Riot Begins in a Nearby City19. A Commotion: An Earthquake, the Renting of the Veil of the Temple,  
The Dead Rise, and Walk and Talk with the Living
20. Bel's Clothes Are Taken Away20. Jesus' Clothes Are Taken Away
21. A Burial Garment Is Put Onto Bel's Body21. Jesus' Body Is Wrapped in a Burial Garment
22. Bel Is Taken to a Tomb22. Jesus Is Taken to a Tomb
23. Bel Goes Down into a Mountain/into the Underworld23. Jesus Descends into Hell (The Apostle's Creed)
24. Women/Goddesses Seek Bel at the Tomb24. Women Seek Jesus at the Tomb
25. Bel Is Resurrected/Osiris is Resurrected25. Jesus Is Resurrected

With this many parallels to the Jesus myth found in Egyptian/Assyrian-Babylonian myths—25 in all, the chances are excellent that the Jesus myth is a copycat Christ myth.




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By the way the Gospel of John, Chapter 9tiny.gif

1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth....

6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

 

4.81 During the months which Vespasian spent at Alexandria waiting for the regular season of the summer winds* to ensure a safe voyage, there occurred many miraculous events manifesting the goodwill of Heaven and a certain favour of Providence towards him. At Alexandria a commoner, whose eyes were well known to have wasted away, on the advice of Serapis (whom this superstitious people worship as their chief god) fell at Vespasian's feet demanding with sobs a cure for his blindness, and imploring that the Emperor would deign to moisten his eyes and eyeballs with the spittle from his mouth. Another man with a maimed hand, also inspired by Serapis, besought Vespasian to imprint his footmark on it.

At first Vespasian laughed at them and refused, but they insisted. He half-feared a reputation for gullibility, but was half-moved to hope by their petition and the flattery of his courtiers. He eventually told the doctors to form an opinion whether such cases of blindness and deformity could be remedied by human aid. The doctors discussed the question [pg 229] from various angles, saying that in the one case the power of sight was not extinct and would return if the impediments were removed; in the other case the limbs were distorted and could be set right again by the application of an effective remedy: this might be the will of Heaven and the Emperor had perhaps been chosen as the divine instrument. They added that he would gain all the credit if the cure were successful, while, if it failed, the ridicule would fall on the unfortunate patients.

This convinced Vespasian that there were no limits to his destiny: nothing now seemed incredible. To the great excitement of the bystanders, he stepped forward with a smile on his face and did as the men desired him. Immediately the hand recovered its functions and daylight shone once more in the blind man's eyes. Those who were present still attest both miracles today, when there is nothing to gain by lying.
[Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome, 4.81 (c 110 AD),—which you can find in: Levene, D.S.. Tacitus, The Histories (1997), pg. 228- 9]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

By the way the Gospel of John, Chapter 9tiny.gif

1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth....

6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus' spittle cures a blind man

The Emperor 
Vespasian's spittle cures a blind man

1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth....

6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
[Gospel of John, Chapter 9 (1st or 2d century AD)]

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At Alexandria a commoner, whose eyes were well known to have wasted away ...fell at Vespasian's feet demanding with sobs a cure for his blindness, and imploring that the Emperor would deign to moisten his eyes and eyeballs with the spittle from his mouth.
... Vespasian .... did as the men desired him. Immediately the hand recovered its functions and daylight shone once more in the blind man's eyes. Those who were present still attest both miracles today, when there is nothing to gain by lying.
[Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome, 4.81 (c 110 AD),—which you can find in: Levene, D.S.. Tacitus, The Histories(1997), pg. 228- 9]

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Asclepius healed the sick and raised the dead.

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"Asclepius was the son of Apollo [a god] and Coronis [a mortal woman—is the pattern sinking in here?]...he healed many sick whose lives had been despaired of, and... he brought back to life many who had died." [Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History, 4.7.1.1- 2]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Asclepius raised at least six dead men:

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"I found [in writing this history] some who are reported to have been raised by him [Asclepius] , to wit, Capaneus and Lycurgus, as Stesichorus [645- 555 BC] says... Hippolytus, as the author of the Naupactica reports[6th century BC], Tyndareus, as Panyasis [c. 500 BC] says; Hymnaneus, as the Orphics report; and Glaucus...as Melasogoras [5th century BC] relates." Apollodorus, The Library, 3.1.3- 3]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

and

"When Hippolytus was killed,...Asclepius raised him from the dead." [Pausanias, Corinth, Description of Greece, 1.27.5]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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Asclepius healed blindness

"Alcetas of Halieis. The blind man saw a dream [while sleeping in Asclepius' temple]. It seemed to him the god came up to him and with his fingersopened his eyes....At daybreak he walked out sound." [Inscriptiones Graecae, 4.1.121 - 122, Stele 1.18]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

and

" Hermon of Thasus. His blindness was cured by Asclepius.[Inscriptiones Graecae, 4.1.121 - 122, Stele 2.22]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

and

"To Valerius Aper, a blind soldier, the god revealed that he should go and take the blood of a white **** along with hone and compound and eye salve and for three days should apply it to his eyes. And hecould see again and went and publicly offered thanks to the god." [Inscriptiones Graecae, 14.96 ]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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Asclepius heals a mute boy

"A voiceless boy. He came as a supplicant to the Temple [of Asclepius]...the temple servant demanded the boys father...to bring...the thank offering for the cure. But the boy suddenly said, "I promise." His father was startled at this and asked him to repeat it. The boy repeated the words and after that became well.[Inscriptiones Graecae 4.1.121- 122; Stele 1.5]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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Asclepius heals a lame man

"Nicanor, a lame man. While he was sitting wide-awake [in Asclepius' temple], a boy snatched his crutch from him and ran away. but Nicanor got up, pursued him, and do became well.[Inscriptiones Graecae 4.1.121- 122; Stele 1.16]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

And

"Cleimenes of Argus, paralyzed in body. He came to the Abaton and slept there and saw a vision... When he woke up he took a bath and walked out unhurt."[Inscriptiones Graecae 4.1.121- 122; Stele 2.37]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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Isis healed the sick

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"Isis...finds her greatest delight in the healing of mankind... In proof of this...they advance not legends...but manifest facts...For standing above the sick in their sleep she gives them aid for their diseases and works remarkable cures upon such as submit themselves to her..." [Diodorus Siculus,The Library of History, 1.25.2 -5]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Isis cures blindness

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"Numbers who have lost the use of their eyes or of some other part of their body, whenever they turn for help to this goddess, are restored to their previous condition. ." [Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History, 1.25.5]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Isis and immortality

"Furthermore, she [Isis] discovered also the drug which gives immortality." [Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History, 1.25.6]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.



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Magic power was magic power. Even the Pagan dark-side powers could—did—prophesy Christian victory. When Constantine defeated the Emperor Maxentius, with God's help, even the Pagan Sibylline books saw it coming >>

Discord arose in the city and the emperor [Maxentius] was upbraided for abdicating responsibility….. Disconcerted by this cry, he scurried away and, summoning some senators, he ordered the Sibylline books to be consulted. In them was found the statement that on that day the enemy of Rome would perish.
[Lactantius, On the Death of the Persecutors, 44.7-8]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Here are a few more, from the thousands recorded, dark-side miracles in early Christianity >>

[I]n the period after the emperor Alexander [Severus, 193 - 211 AD],….. There were numerous frequentearthquakes… some towns were even swallowed up by cracks opening in the ground and taken down to the depths.…

Suddenly a woman came to the fore who presented herself as a prophetess experiencing states of ecstasy and acted as through filled with the Holy Spirit. But she was so overwhelmed by the onset of the leading daemons that for a long time she seduced and deceived the brethren…. that evil spirit [in the woman], being able to foresee that anearthquake was about to happen, sometimes pretended that it was going to bring about what it saw would happen anyway….

He also made the woman go barefoot in thefreezing snow in the harsh winter, without her beingtroubled or harmed in any way by the outing….

Demons with the power of prophecy >>.

[S]uddenly there appeared before him an exorcist, a man of proven character…. By subtle deceit, thedaemon had even foretold shortly beforehand that an unbelieving assailant would come against him.
[Cyprian, Cyprian's letters, Letter 75.10]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Of course the good guys had power too, and plenty of it. And they used it all the time. Here are a few miracles from the Martyrdom of Polycarp, an account of the death of one of the earliest Church Fathers.

Even the fact the events were recorded at all was a miracle, revealed to the coppiest by the dead Polycarp himself >>

This account Gaisus transcribed …. And I Pionius, wrote it down again…(for the blessed Polycarp showed it to me in a revelation).
[The Martyrdom of Polycarp, Moscow manuscript 22.2 -3,—which you can find in: Michael Holmes.The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations (1999), pg. 245]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Polycarp miraculously prophesied his martyrdom >>

And while he [Polycarp] was praying he fell into atrance three days before his arrest, and he saw his pillow being consumed by fire. And he turned and said to those who were with him: "It is necessary that I be burned alive." 
The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 5.2

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

As he entered the stadium to be martyred, a voice spoke to him from heaven>>

But as Polycarp entered the stadium, there came a voice from heaven: "Be strong, Polycarp, and act like a man."
[The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 9.1 (v),—which you can find in: Michael Holmes. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations (1999), pg. 233]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

And when the Pagans tried to burn Polycarp, the fire miraculously would not burn him—a miracle visible only to the believers, a display of the good-power explicitly intended by God to persuade non-believers to join the Church. >>

 

…the men in charge of the fire lit the fire. And as amighty flame blazed up, we saw a miracle (we, that is, to whom it was given to see), and we have been preserved in order that we might tell what happened. (2) For the fire, taking the shape of an arch, like the sail of a ship filled by the wind, completely surrounded the body of the martyr; and it was there in the middle, not like flesh burning but like bread baking or like gold and silver being refined in a furnace. For we also perceived a very fragrant odor, as if it were the scent of incense or some other precious spice.
Ch 16: When the lawless men eventually realized that his body could not be consumed by the fire, they ordered an executioner to go up to him and stab him with a dagger…. And the whole crowd was amazed that there should be so great a difference between the unbelievers and the elect.
[ The Martyrdom of Polycarp, Ch 15—which you can find in: Michael Holmes. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations (1999), pg. 239]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

The first Christians did more than borrow the idea of Pagan miracles, they accepted the fact that Pagan miracles were real. Wow. Bet you didn't pick that up in church.



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How come were miracles so common? Because the ancients didn't have science, that's how come. Inventing civilization? That the ancients got. Everyday all around you stuff like why the wind blows and what the sun is? That they didn't get.

Another SPFYMLMWhich is a big deal. Like the ancient man giving his mother- in- law a sacred penis, this is one of the ways ancient civilization was incomprehensibly different from ours. We know about science; we explain everything we see with a few invisible rules—Newton's laws, radio waves, germs. Thoserulescreate our picture of what the world is and how the world works.

Take away our rules and Dorothy, you're not in Kansas any more.

The ancients had different rules. The sun traveled across the sky because God moved it, physically moved it. What made people sick was demon possession. And they didn't mean sissy spiritualdemon possession, they meant actual, physical demons living in your body, making you sick.

dionysus.jpgSo it's not hard to see how stories that make sense according to the ancients' rules are impossible according to our rules. And when they're impossible to us, we call them supernatural. Miracles. But for the ancients what we call miracles—that was just how the world worked.

So when we say an ancient God "performed a miracle"—say, raised a dead person—we mean he broke the rules of nature, and for us that's evidence he was outside nature, supernatural.

But to an ancient, a God raising the dead didn't break the rules, it fit the rules perfectly. Gods had extra powers, and they used them. That's what made them Gods. Which made for a system with a lot of miracles.

Cool, huh?

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An early Christian miracle
Here's a miracle described in by an early Christian. Actually, two miracles.

Tsimon_magnus.jpghe first miracleflying—was performed by the Samaritan Christ (you knew there was a Samaritan Christ, right?), Simon Magnus.

The second miracle, performed by Jesus' disciple, the apostle Petercaused Simon to fall from the air—proving whose Christ had the greatest power.


(We'll talk more about this miracle later,down at the bottom of the page.)

" Now when he [Simon Magnus] was in Rome, he mightily disturbed the Church, and subverted many, and brought them over to himself, and astonished the Gentiles with his skill in magic, insomuch that once,...he...promised he would fly in the air; and...indeed he was carried up into the air by demons, and did fly on high in the air, saying that he was returning into heaven, and that he would supply them with good things from thence... I [Peter] stretched out my hands to heaven... and besought God through the Lord Jesus to throw down this pestilent fellow, and... When I had said these words, Simon was deprived of his powers, and fell down headlong.
[Constitutions of the Holy Apostles6.9 (Third century? AD)]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

priapus.gifThis is is another one of those times ancient culture was incomprehensibly different from ours. Wesee miracles as way way unusual—so unusual that when Jesus does them, we take that as proofhe was divine.

Those wacky ancients saw miracles as everyday events that happened when someone was tuned-in to the powers that ran the universe. It worked pretty much like Star Wars, with The ForcebattlingThe Dark Side. Simon Magnus did miracles—Christians didn't doubt it—because he was tuned in to the demonic powers. Jesus and Peter did miracles because they were tuned in to God's power. The point of Peter's story here is that his Jesus-power was greater than Simon's demon-power.

The first Christians didn't invent this explanation of miracles, theyinherited it from the pagan culture around them.

By the way, this Star Wars force-and-the-dark-sideexplanation of miracles isn't something Christianity picked up late. It's right there in the bible. Here's Mark's gospel describing a sick woman touching Jesus' garment; the power flows out of Jesus and instantly heals her. Jesus feels His power draining away, so He turns to say, Who touched me?

our_bible.jpgFriend, it don't get no more Pagan than that.

 

And a woman, who had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, having heard the things concerning Jesus, came in the crowd behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I touch but his garments, I shall be made whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her plague. And straightway Jesus, perceiving in himself that the power from him had gone forthturned him about in the crowd, and said, "Who touched my garments?"
[Gospel of Mark, 5:25 - 30]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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Christianity: Miracles everywhere
You probably know Jesus apostles—his earliest followers—had the power to performmiracles. What you maybe don't know is that from very early on, even before our Gospels were written, having the power to do miracles was understood as a sign you were "filled with the Holy Spirit."—that you were 'tuned-in' to Jesus. That the Force was with you.

And "the apostles" weren't just Jesus disciples (that part of the myth developed later anyway), the apostles were, basically, Jesus earliest followers who had the Force with them. That theology made for a lot of miracles.

Thumb through an early Christian book; just like Pagan books it will be full of miracles.Trying to explain how common miracles were in early Christian culture is like trying to explain how stinking big the ocean is ... yadda yadda yadda. You know the drill.

What do I mean? 
Here are a few early Christian miracles, from among the thousands recorded.

Here's the apostle Peter again, describing how the Samaritan Christ Simon flew, and how he, Peter, knocked Simon out of the sky with God's power. After whichfolks watching, seeing that Peter's Jesus-power was greater than Simon's demon-power, came over to Jesus' Christianity.

That's how early Christianity used miracles. To convert. And you've already noticed, they used miracles not in our modern way-way-unusual-must-be-god sense. They used them in the ancient Pagan force-and-the-dark-side sense. Simon had miraculous power—no one denied it—but Peter's Jesus-power was greater. Better switch to Jesus.

In fact force-and-the-dark-side miracle working was the main technique earliest Christianity used to get people to join up. Theearly Church wasn't filled by preaching. It wasn't filled by good works or living a life of holy example. It was filled by magicWow.

Book_christianizing_roman_empire.jpgIs this just Greg talking? Nope. For a thorough review of the ancient evidence, try Christianizing the Roman Empire, by Yale's Dr. MacMullen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Simon, Desiring to Fly by Some Magical Arts,Fell DownHeadlong from on High at the Prayers of Peter, and Brake His Feet, and Hands, and Ankle-Bones.

IX. Now when he [Simon Magnus] was in Rome, he mightily disturbed the Church, and subverted many, and brought them over to himself, and astonished the Gentiles with his skill in magic, insomuch that once,...he...promised he would fly in the air; and when all the people were in suspense at this, I prayed by myself. And indeed he was carried up into the air by demons, and did fly on high in the air,saying that he was returning into heaven, and that he would supply them with good things from thence... I stretched out my hands to heaven, with my mind,and besought God through the Lord Jesus to throw down this pestilent fellow, and... When I had said these words, Simon was deprived of his powers, and fell down headlong with a great noise, and was violently dashed against the ground, and had his hip and ankle-bones broken; and the people cried out, saying, "There is one only God, whom Peter rightly preaches in truth." And many left him; but some who were worthy of perdition continued in his wicked doctrine. And after this manner the most atheistical heresy of the Simonians was first established in Rome; and the devil wrought by the rest of the false apostles also.
[Constitutions of the Holy Apostles6.9 (Third century? AD)]



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Borrowing? tiny.gifThinking about the reasons.borrowing_beavers.gif

The point of all this is that it changes the facts we have to work with. Nowadays people don't cure blindness by spitting on the blind guy. So when modern folks, try to explain Jesus doing that, we come up with theories like supernaturalism or rationalism.

Turns out that in ancient times people did cure blindness by spitting on the blind guy. Or thought they did. In ancient times divine men did raise the dead by speaking magic words and letting on they were only sleeping. Just like Jesus. Our fact-set has changed. Now Jesus' miracles are nott new and they are not unique, Now Jesus is one of dozens of ancient divine men who did miracles. And now He did the same miracles the other guys did. Jesus' story fits seamlessly into ancient culture. Jesus' story comes from ancient culture.

To explain the new facts, our explanation has to change.

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vespasian_icon.jpgFor example, the rationalist analysis applies to the emperor Vespasian curing the blind man, right? And to Apollonius of Tyana raising the dead gjesus_icon.jpgirl back to life, right? After all, these are well documented historical events.
"Those who were present still attest both miracles today, when there is nothing to gain by lying." [Tacitus]

And Pythagoras calming the storm, and the midday clear-sky darkness when Xerxes set off to invade Greece, and Alexander T. Great parting the sea, and the Egyptians curing disease by driving out demons—those historical accounts are all true too, right?

The rationalist method either analyses the evidence (historical account) correctly (must be true), or it doesn't. But applying the same analysis to the Pagan evidence gives us an answer (Pagan miracles must be true) that we can't believe. The method gives the wrong answer. It doesn't work.
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inset_big_bang.jpgTheSupernaturalist Faith in God's Magictheory looks different too. With only Jesus' miracles on the table, forthright people could have faith in His miracles and keep a straight face. But now we know that over and over miracles just like His were the common currency of ancient legend. So recognizing all the other ancient miracles as legends, while still having faithin Jesus' miracles, begins to look less like forthright faith and more like flat-Earth superstition—stubborn belief held in the face of clear and convincing contrary evidence. We can still be friends, but people are going to snicker at you. 
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I never thought the ancients were suckers made much sense to start with—women don't bleed because they're hysterical. But now it makes less sense, because we know ancient people believed in miracles that couldn't be simple non-scientific explanations of natural events. Stone statues getting down and chasing the enemy. Stars in the sky blinking out when important people died. Godmen flying. Cows birthing baby sheep.

The ancients began with the belief that divine powers and signs were everyday events, and they wrote their histories as if they were. 
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inset_borrowing_isis.gifEven Miracles as myth needs tweaking, at least .to the extent it is based on a vague sense that magical stories in general are mythical or, as Herr Strauss put it in 1835, on logical problems with a historical explanation. Now we know Jesus was one of dozens of ancient divine men who did miracles. Jesus' story comes from deep in the Pagan center of ancient culture.

Why the mess?POCM 2009

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SOP—examples showing that miracles were a key part of the ancients' world view, and that the ancients often made up miracles to add meaning to their histories.

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Why so many miracles—explains why

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Christian accepted Pagan miracles—examples

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Examples—from the pens of the ancients themselves, a tiny sampling taken from the tens of thousands of recorded Pagan miracles

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Miracles were everywhere. Trying to explain how common miracles were in ancient culture is like trying to explain how stinking big the ocean is: naming wet places doesn't get the idea across. You run out of patience before you run out of ocean.

It's like that with pagan miracles—there were too stinking many to count. Miracles were everywhere. Here's what I mean. This blue ancient-quote box >> has a list of miracles taken from one page of my copy of an ancient book called The Jewish War, written by a fellow named Josephus, who lived through it.

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Josephus is telling how the war should have been foreseen, because >>

 

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"the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their [the Jews] future desolation."[Josephus,Jewish War, ,6.5.288] He goes on:

"Thus there was a star resembling a sword, whichstood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year." [6.5.289]

And in the Temple, "at the ninth hour of the night of the night a great light shoneround the altar....This light seemed to be a good sign to the naive, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes as to portend the events that followed." [6.5.291- 293]

And, "also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple." [6.5.292]

"Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner temple. . .was seen to be opened of its own accord. This also the vulgar thought a happy prodigy...but the men of learning understood it."[6.5.293 - 295]

And, "...chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds.[6.5.298 - 299]

And "Jesus, son of Ananus...came to that feast whereon.. everyone makes tabernacles to God in the temple...and began on a sudden to cry aloud, "A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house." [6.5.300- 301]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Did you catch that? Those are the miracles on one page of one book. There are hundreds of books, thousands andthousands of miracles. Pick up any ancient text; Pagan or Christian, it's got miracles in it. Guaranteed.

On account of which, here at POCM I can't list every pagan miracle I know about; we'll run out of patience before we run out of miracles. So I'll tell you about just a few—a few that, if you've read your Bible, are going to sound mighty familiar. Here we go.

If book_miracles_in_greco-roman_antiquity.jpgyou're interested in primary evidence, you'll like professor Cotters book—two-hundred-something pages of pagan miracles direct from the pens of the ancients themselves: 
Miracles in Greco-Roman Antiquity: Sourcebook for the study of New Testament Miracle Stories, by Dr. Wendy Cotter.

 

By the way, Duh

You know that before Jesus, people believed in Gods. You know those pre- Christian Gods did supernatural things—that's sort of what made them Gods. The supernatural things those other Gods did—those were miracles. In fact now you think about it, it's hard to imagine a God who doesn't do miracles. Miracles are one of the things that make a God a God. Duh.

Was Christianity new and unique?Nope. Jesus did miracles—but Pagan Gods did them first.

So there.

I call upon you, demon, whoever you are, and I charge you from this hour, from this day, from this moment—torment and strike down the horses of the Green and White [factions]. Strike down the charioteers Clarus and Felix and Primulus and Romanus, and cause them to crash, and leave no life in them. I call upon you by the one who loosed you for periods of time, the god of sea and air.
[curse tablet from Hadrumentum, north Africa, . (200s AD),—which you can find in: Lee, A.D.. Pagans & Christians in Late Antiquity (2000), pg. 1.11, pages 30 - 31]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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Among the many lovers who took him [the Prophet Alexander] on was some quack, one of those who offer magic, miracle working incantations, charms to snare a lover, tricks to defeat an enemy, places to dig for buried treasure, and ways to inherit a fortune…. The two of them went around masquerading as magicians, pulling off swindles, and fleecing the "fatheads", as he public is called in the magicians' argot.
[Lucian, Alexander the False Prophet, 5 (2d Century AD),—which you can find in: Casson, Lionel.Selected Satires of Lucian (1962), pg. 271 - 2]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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Libo was a fatuous young man with a taste for absurdities. One of his closest friends, a junior senator named Firmius Catus, interested him inastrologers' predictions, magicians' rites, and readers of dreams.
[Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome, 4.1 (c 110 AD),—which you can find in: Grant, Michael. Tacitus: The Annals of Imperial Rome (1996), pg. 90]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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67. Scythia has an abundance of soothsayers, whoforetell the future by means of a number of willow wands. A large bundle of these wands is brought and laid on the ground. The soothsayer unties the bundle, and places each wand by itself, at the same time uttering his prophecy: then, while he is still speaking, he gathers the rods together again, and makes them up once more into a bundle. This mode of divination is of home growth in Scythia. The Enarees, or womanlike men, have another method,which they say Aphrodite taught them. It is done with the inner bark of the linden-tree. They take a [pg 250 ] piece of this bark, and, splitting it into three strips, keep twining the strips about their fingers, and untwining them, while they prophesy.

68. Whenever the Scythian king falls sick, he sends for the three soothsayers of most renown at the time, who come and make trial of their art in the mode above described. Generally they say that the king is ill, because such or such a person, mentioning his name, has sworn falsely by the royal hearth. This is the usual oath among the Scythians, when they wish to swear with very great solemnity. Then the man accused of having forsworn himself is arrested and brought before the king. The soothsayers tell him that by their art it is clear he has sworn a false oath by the royal hearth, and so caused the illness of the king-he denies the charge, protests that he has sworn no false oath, and loudly complains of the wrong done to him. Upon this the king sends for six new soothsayers, who try the matter by soothsaying. If they too find the man guilty of the offence, straitway he is beheaded by those who first accused him, and his goods are parted among them: if, on the contrary, they acquit him, other soothsayers, and again others, are sent for, to try the case. Should the greater number decide in favour of the man's innocence, then they who first accused him forfeit their lives.
[Herodotus, The Persian War, 4.67- 8 (c 440 BC),—which you can find in: Godolpin, Francis. The Greek Historians (1942), pg. 249- 50]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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4.172. The Nasamonians, a numerous people, are the western neighbours of the Auschisae. . ... The following are their customs in the swearing of oaths and the practice of augury. The man, as heswears, lays his hand upon the tomb of some one considered to have been preeminently just and good, and so doing swears by his name. Fordivination they betake themselves to the sepulchres of their own ancestors, and, after praying, lie down to sleep upon their graves; by the dreams which then come to them they guide their conduct. When they pledge their faith to one another, each gives the other to drink out of his hand; if there be no liquid to be had, they take up dust from the ground, and put their tongues to it.
[Herodotus, The Persian War, 4.172 (c 440 BC),—which you can find in: Godolpin, Francis. The Greek Historians (1942), pg. 285]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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. ...The Ausean maidens keep year by year a feast in honour of Athena [the virgin goddess], whereat their custom is to draw up in two bodies, and fight with stones and clubs. They say that these are rites which have come down to them from their fathers, and that they honour with them their native goddess, who is the same as the Athena of the Grecians. If any of the maidens die of the wounds they receive, the Auseans declare that such are false virgins.
[Herodotus, The Persian War, 4.180 (c 440 BC),—which you can find in: Godolpin, Francis. The Greek Historians (1942), pg. 287]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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A trick to prove the daemon had left the victim
Here's another Jesus-Pagan parallel miracles story where the Pagan version gives not just the facts but also an explanation of what the facts meant to the ancients. Daemons caused madness. Magic workers cured madness by casting out the demon.

jesus_icon.jpgIn this famous bit from Matthew, Jesus cures madness by casting out demons. Notice the bit at the end, the daemons going into the heard of pigs, who rush off and drown. Notice the function of this bit in the story: the herdsmen realize demons have been cast out, and they run to the city with the news—the same purpose as the wobbly cup in Josephus' story.

josephus_r1_c2.jpgHere Josephus describes a 1st century Judean miracle worker (not Jesus) curing madness by casting out demons. Part of his shtick was a little move at the end that proved to an ancient audience that a real demon had left the victim. Josephus saw this done himself. This must be how it was really done in 1st century Palestine. Holy ****.

28 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way.

29 And behold, they cried out, "What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?"

30 Now a herd of many swine was feeding at some distance from them.

31 And the demons begged him, "If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of swine."

32 And he said to them, "Go." So they came out and went into the swine; and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and perished in the waters.

33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, and what had happened to the demoniacs.

34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood.

God also enabled him to learn that skill which expels demons, (4) which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed such incantations also by which distempers are alleviated. And he left behind him the manner of usingexorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they never return;

and this method of cure is of great force unto this day; for I have seen a certain man of my own country, whose name wasEleazar, releasing people that were demoniacal in the presence of Vespasian, and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. The manner of the cure was this: He put a ring that had a Foot of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils; and when the man fell down immediately, he abjured him to return into him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed.

And when Eleazar would persuade and demonstrate to the spectators that he had such a power, he set a little way off a cup or basin full of water, and commanded the demon, as he went out of the man, to overturn it, and thereby to let the spectators know that he had left the man...

Gospel of Matthew, 8:28-33

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 8.2.5

 

Lucian, who came from Syria, describes how exorcisms were done there. Any of this sound familiar?

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Everyone knows about the Syrian from Palestine, the adept in it, how many he takes in hand who fall down in the light of the moon and roll their eyes and fill their mouths with foam; nevertheless, he restores them to health and sends them away normal in mind, delivering them from their straits for a large fee.

When he stands beside them as they lie there and asks: 'Whence came you into his body?' the patient himself is silent, but the spirit answers in Greek or in the language of whatever foreign country he comes fromtelling how and whence he entered into the man ; whereupon, by adjuring the spirit and if be does not obey, threatening him, he drives him out. Indeed, I actually saw one coming out, black and smoky in color."

Lucian, Lover of Lies, 16 (2d century AD), -- which you can find in: Henderson, Jeffrey. Lucian III (1921/ 2004), pg. 345

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Credulity
Here Lucian's Pagan account doesn't explain the logic of the ancient miracle, it reveals what educated people though of simpletons who could believe this crap [to get Lucian's take it helps to read the whole book].

jesus_icon.jpgJesus walked on water.

Lucian puts miracle workers who walked on water in with other silly superstitions only really really credulous people could believe.

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,

17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Caper'na-um. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.

18 The sea rose because a strong wind was blowing.

19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat. They were frightened,

20 but he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."

21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

"You are joking," said Cleodemus: "I myself was formerly more incredulous than you in regard to such things, for I thought it in no way possible that they could happen; but when first I saw the foreign stranger fly—he came from the land of the Hyperboreans, he said— I believed and was conquered after long resistance. What was I to do when I saw him soar through the air in broad daylight and walk on the water and go through fire slowly on foot?"

"Did you see that?" said I — "the Hyperborean flying, orstepping on the water?"

"Certainly," said he, "with brogues on his feet such as people of that country commonly wear.

Gospel of John, 6:16-21

Lucian, Lover of Lies, Chapter 13 (2d century AD), -- which you can find in: Henderson, Jeffrey. Lucian III (1921/ 2004), pg. 339

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One more thing. Miracles are easy to think about generally, but very hard to think about rationally. Because miracles are super-natural, beyond the rules of nature, they are beyond the rules of reason and logic. For example, there can be no such thing as "evidence of a miracle." So, instead of jumping right into examples of ancient miracles, let's start by reviewing how modern people think about Jesus' miracles:

Modern folks generally explain New Testament miracles in one of three ways: 
1) Supernaturalism
= Gods magic, 
2) Rationalism = the gospel writers were suckers, 
3) Myth = they made them up.

By the way

pythia_r1_c1.gifNowadays people seem to findprophesy miracles especially persuasive. I don't know why. Pagan prophesy miracles were, no kidding, everyday events. They were so common that great public institutions were built around them. Yet, funny thing, the folks who write me persuaded by Jesus' fulfillment of prophesy are never persuaded by pagan fulfillment of prophesy. Why do you think that is?

At POCM prophesy miracles have their own page.

As we'll talk about in a minute, at least one of these three explanations is not rational. Can you guess which one?

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miracle1.jpgSupernaturalism the miracles really happened—by God's magic. Jesus really did the things described in the gospels, and the things He did really were miracles.

We'll talk about the reasonableness of this theory in a minute.

Supernaturalism was the standard explanation of Jesus' miracles all the way up to the 1700s. Then, what with science going strong and all, in the period called the Enlightenment, folks realized that probably everything in nature has a natural cause -- and if it can't have happened naturally, it can't have happened.

But because everyone thought the gospels were histories, the fact they included impossible miracles meant the gospel writers were liars. That bothered people. Which led to....

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Rationalists see Jesusas a charismatic Hebrew placebo

Rationalism The miracles really happened, but they weren't really miracles—the gospel writers were suckers. Rationalists did, and still do, see the gospels as histories. Jesus really did the things described in the gospels, but the things he did were not really miracles, the were natural events that the gospel writers misunderstood as miracles.

miracleStar.jpgThe ancients didn't know stuff like we do—science and all—so when Jesus was born and a comet showed up, they were suckers for the theory that the comet showed upbecause He was born, whereas smart people like us knowthings like comets swinging by just happened by chance
I don't remember any the ancients were suckers analysis going much into the fact that what showed up wasnot a comet, but a star. I wonder why that is?

And those people Jesus healed? They really did get healed; but only of "hysterical" symptoms. See, people got stressed and only thought they were blind, or only thought they were lame, or only thought they were bleeding (every - month - for - twelve - years). Jesus was a charismatic Hebrew placebo. He made people think they would get better, and they did.

Jesus apparently had a talent for picking neurotics. How He got by never once having a go at a hobbling blind fellow with a real disease that He presumably couldn't cure, this theory doesn't say. But if you have any doubt Jesus' sort of healing can happen, let me remind you of that episode of MASH, where the 4077th ran out of morphine and Hawkeye treated battle wounds—battle wounds!—with sugar pills. And it worked. So, it canhappen. QED.

Professors call this the "rationalist" view of miracles, although "stretching to keep it sort of rational-sounding, if you don't think about it too hard" would be closer. No one seems to have noticed this until a German fellow, in 1835,published a book describing...

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myth.jpgMyth The "history" from which the miracles are taken did not really happened. Not only were the miracles not miracles, the events themselves never happened; the gospel writers made 'em up.

The idea the New Testament miracles are mythdavidFriedrichStrauss.gifs was first written about in a big way by a German guy genamened David Strauss, in 1835, in The Life of Jesus Critically Examined.

Herr Dr. Strauss's did not start with the idea the miracles are myths; he started with an analysis of the miracle explanations of the rationalists. He went through the gospels miracle by miracle, analyzing the best rationalist explanations of each of them. What his book shows, over and over, is that the rationalist explanations were so contrived and self contradictory and far fetched, they couldn't be believed.

By the way
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If New Testament miracles were a martial art, David Friedrich Strauss could kick your ass.

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Reading Strauss' Life of Jesus is lboxulation.gifike watching an forty round prize fight that everyone can tell by the first round is over, only chapter after chapter the little guy gets dragged back into the ring and Dr. Strauss beats the crap out of him all over again. It's a terrible thing to see—and you can't stop watching. Rationalism is not rational.

This was huge. Everybody knew supernaturalism is not rational. Now rationalism was not rational. That meant the "history" in the gospels could not not be real history. The only reasonable conclusion is that gospel writers got their "history" by making it up. The unavoidable implication of David Friedrich Strauss' the Life of Jesus Critically Examined was that—is that—the gospels are not histories. Oops.

Strauss changed the world. People were not happy. The book—"the most pestilential book ever vomited out of the jaws of hell'—cost Herr Strauss not just his job but his career. A professor by profession, he never held a teaching position again.

Another huge deal
swaggart2_r1_c2.jpg1835 is the year much of believing Christianity left rational analysis of Christianity behind; they weren't willing to accept Strauss' inevitable conclusion that the gospels are not historical. These folks went on talking book_the_lost_gospel.jpgand writing about supernaturalism and rationalism. They still do today.

Believers who could accept the non-historicity of the gospels went on analyzing the implications of Strauss, and the implications of those implications, and so on. All the way down to form criticism, Q, an allegorical explanation of Jesus' life, and the Jesus Seminar.

OK, you got all that?
1) Supernaturalism = Gods magic, 
2) Rationalism = the gospel writers were suckers, 
3) Myth = they made them up.

That's how modern people explain early Christian miracles. The ancients saw miracles differently...

Another SPFYMLMFor the ancients, miracles were just how the world worked
If you've read much of POCM you'll probably not be surprised to learn the ancients didn't think about miracles the way we do. In fact, their take was way different.

For us miracles are exceptional; they need explanation. For the ancients, miracles were just how the world worked. The ancients didn't have Newton's laws and Maxwell's equations to explain the world. dionysus.jpgThey had spirits and powers.

Gods had lots of power, people had a little. People could get extra power —magicians and soothsayers had a bit extra. So did prophets: the Pythian priestess at the oracle at Delphi was just one of hundreds of examples. If a person got enough power he could become divine; in Greece the technical term was "hero."

Some Gods brought divine power to their followers. Dionysus is the regulation example, but He was just one one of many. The divine ecstasy of Cybele led Her priests to take a sword and slice off their own testicles and penis. I will pause now while the men recover from reading that last sentence. Other middle eastern Gods led their priests to do the same thing—including Jesus. What, you didn't know this?

Jesus' early followers didn't just borrow self-castration; the Christian Holy Spirit "indwelling" in early Christian believers, giving them power to prophesy and do miracles, that's just another example of how Gods brought believers divine power worked in the ancient world.

One thing about miracles was the same for us and for the ancients; miracles still happened by Gods' magic. For us it's God's magic; for the ancients it was Gods' magic—only the apostrophe changed.

By the way

Actually, it's not true that all the ancient Pagans thought Pagan miracles happened by God's supernatural power. Some Pagans—Cicero and Lucian come to mind—thought they were silly superstitions.

They thought the same thing about the Christians' miracles.

Making up miracles
The ancients made up miracles to give their stories meaning.

 

 

 

 

 

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At Alexandria a commoner, whose eyes were well known to have wasted away ...fell at Vespasian's feet demanding with sobs a cure for his blindness, and imploring that the Emperor would deign to moisten his eyes and eyeballs with the spittle from his mouth.
... Vespasian .... did as the men desired him. Immediately the hand recovered its functions and daylight shone once more in the blind man's eyes.Those who were present still attest both miracles today, when there is nothing to gain by lying.
[Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome, 4.81 (c 110 AD),—which you can find in: Levene, D.S.. Tacitus, The Histories (1997), pg. 228- 9]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

How about the connection between Pagan and Christian miracles? Let's start with some background facts.
Pagan miracles
1. There were a lot of them. Tens of thousands.
2. Pagans understood miracles one way: God's magic.
3. The pagans made up miracles—added them to their stories as a way of adding meaning.

Christian miracles
1. There were a lot of them
2. The Christians understood their miracles one way. God's magic.
3. The Christians also believed Pagan miracles were real. They believed the Pagan miracles were done by demons.
4. The Christians made up miracles—added them to their stories as a way of adding meaning.

What's more Pagan Gods did the same miracles Jesus did—and the Pagan Gods did them first. What sort of miracles are we talking about? These miracles:

Jesus healed the sick.

Pagan Gods healed the sick first.

Jesus walked on water.

Pagan Gods walked on water first.

Jesus turned water into wine.

Pagan Gods turned water into wine first.

Jesus calmed the storm.

Pagan Gods calmed storms first.

Jesus fulfilled prophecy.

Pagan Gods fulfilled prophecy first.

Jesus prophesied correctly.

Pagan Gods prophesied correctly first.

Jesus raised the dead.

 

Pagan Gods raised the dead first.

Jesus rose from the dead.

Pagan Gods rose from the dead first.

Jesus apostles performed miracles.

Pagan Gods' apostles performed miracles first.


Don't believe me? Believe this: [and read on for other examples]

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Jesus' 
spittle cures a blind man

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The Emperor Vespasian's
spittle cures a blind man

1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth....

6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
[Gospel of John, Chapter 9 (1st or 2d century AD)]

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At Alexandria a commoner, whose eyes were well known to have wasted away ...fell at Vespasian's feet demanding with sobs a cure for his blindness, andimploring that the Emperor would deign to moisten his eyes and eyeballs with the spittle from his mouth.
... Vespasian .... did as the men desired him. Immediately the hand recovered its functions and daylight shone once more in the blind man's eyes.Those who were present still attest both miracles today, when there is nothing to gain by lying.
[Tacitus, The Histories, 4.81 (c 110 AD),—which you can find in: Levene, D.S.. Tacitus, The Histories (1997), pg. 228- 9]

jesus_icon.jpgThe 1st century AD godman Jesus uses magic words to raise a girl from death—she was only asleep

appolonius_inset.jpgThe 1st century AD godman 
Apollonius of Tyana uses magic words to raise a girl from death—she was only asleep

While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?” Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don't be afraid; just believe.”

He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand andsaid to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" ). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old).
[ Gospel of Mark, 5.21- 42]

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girl had died just in the hour of her marriage, and the bridegroom was following her bier lamenting as was natural his marriage left unfulfilled, and the whole of Rome was mourning with him, for the maiden belonged to a consular family. Apollonius then witnessing their grief, said : "Put down the bier, for I will stay the tears that you are shedding for this maiden." And withal he asked what was her name. The crowd accordingly thought that he was about to deliver such an oration as is commonly delivered as much to grace the funeral as to stir up lamentation ; but he did nothing of the kind, but merely touching her and whispering in secret some spell over her, at once woke up the maiden from her seeming death ; and the girl spoke out loud, and returned to her father's house, just as Alcestis did when she was brought back to life by Hercules. 
[Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, 4.45 (217 AD),—which you can find in: Conybeare, F. C.Philostratus I: The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Books I - V (Loeb Classical Library #16) (2000), pg. 457- 9]

And Pagan - Christian borrowing wise, here's the thing: the early Christians understood that their miracles had meaning in exactly the same ways that Pagan miracles had meaning. How do we know this? They said so.

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The Christian FatherOrigen understood the meaning of Christianmiracles withexplicitly Paganideas.

For example, for Pagans great events were heralded by miraculous "prodigies" (a technical religious term)—the sky going dark at the very minute the Persian king Xerxes set off to conquer Greece, the appearance of new stars heralded the births and deaths of important people.

Stick with me and in a few minutes you'll read Origen, a second century Christian Father, commenting on the star that heralded Jesus' birth. Origen understands the meaning of the star with explicitly Pagan ideas. Early Christians understood that their miracles had meaning in exactly the same ways that Pagans understood their miracles had meaning.

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I'm still working on this page

Reasons

insetBorrowing.jpgRemember how I said thinking about miracles generally was easy, but that thinking about miracles rationally was hard? This is the hard part.

Of course there is no reasoned way to analyze this theory. Supernatural goings on do not follow rules made up by measuring and testing the natural world. "God is omnipotent"—magic can do anything.

Does this mean it is impossible Jesus miracles were God's magic? No. It just means there is no reasoned, reasonable analysis to get you there. You believe the miracles were God's magic? Fine. But you can't then claim the authority and dignity and believability of science and reason. You're standing on the side of the room with the naked Hottentot and the stone-age cannibal Aztec.

---------------------

There's an orthodoxy to this. You're not supposed to say "They made 'em up;" on account of it points out that the stories aren't true. Of course, so does "myth," but orthodoxy has a way around that. "Myth" is good. "Myth" is "how people express meaning," etc.

The handy thing about "myth", said orthodox-ularily, is that it changes the focus to the social meaning of the miraclesand away from whether they really happened. Don't want to talk about that—cause they made them up.

Exactly why does myth have meaning? Why aren't myths just ridiculous stories made up by credulous primitives? Are the moral and spiritual principles myths supposedly represent so weak they can't be said all on their own? I don't know. Ask your professor.

Pegasus and Cupid were ancient myths too. You ever hear anyone blather over brie and Chardonnay about their inner meaning? No, you haven't. "Myth" is maybe one part "how people express meaning." The other three parts are a way to deal with sorry made up Christian miracles without giving up on Christianity. There, I said it, and I feel better.



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The ancients invented miracle stories to add meaning to their historiesbullett_gargoyle28x30_faceleft.gif
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If you had been there and seen these wonders for yourself, you would have gone down on your knees and prayed to the god you now deny.

[Euripides, The Bacchae, 712 (5th century BC)]

Was Christianity new? Was Christianity unique? Let's talk about miracles.

Miracles persuade. People email me about miracles Jesus did; "Explain that, why don't ya?" After all, who but God could do something as rare and supernatural as turning water into wine or raising the dead?

The emailers are right. For us and for the ancients, supernatural doings do imply supernatural power. But what you're about to learn is that in the ancient world supernatural doings—miracles—weren't rare. Miracles were just how the world worked. You can't explain Jesus' miracles until you understand that.

Let's start with a few examples

jesus_icon.jpg

Jesus' 
spittle cures a blind man

vespasian_icon.jpg

The Emperor Vespasian's
spittle cures a blind man

1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth....

6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

tiny.gif

At Alexandria a commoner, whose eyes were well known to have wasted away ...fell at Vespasian's feet demanding with sobs a cure for his blindness, and imploring that the Emperor would deign to moisten his eyes and eyeballs with the spittle from his mouth.
... Vespasian .... did as the men desired him. Immediately the hand recovered its functions and daylight shone once more in the blind man's eyes. Those who were present still attest both miracles today, when there is nothing to gain by lying.

Gospel of John, Chapter 9 (1st or 2d century AD)

Tacitus, The Histories, 4.81 (c 110 AD),—which you can find in: Levene, D.S.. Tacitus, The Histories (1997), pg. 228- 9

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Raising a dead girl
These two miracle stories share more than a punch line. Both have a set up showing the girls really are dead (or appear to be). Both girls are cured with magic words. Both only appeared to be dead (a recurrent theme of contemporary novels). Both stories end with details that prove the girls really did recover. The structure of these stories is the same.

jesus_icon.jpgThe 1st century AD godman Jesus uses magic words to raise a girl from death—she was only asleep

appolonius_inset.jpgThe 1st century AD godman 
Apollonius of Tyana uses magic words to raise a girl from death—she was only asleep

While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?” Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don't be afraid; just believe.”

He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" ). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old).

tiny.gif

girl had died just in the hour of her marriage, and the bridegroom was following her bier lamenting as was natural his marriage left unfulfilled, and the whole of Rome was mourning with him, for the maiden belonged to a consular family. Apollonius then witnessing their grief, said : "Put down the bier, for I will stay the tears that you are sheddingfor this maiden." And withal he asked what was her name. The crowd accordingly thought that he was about to deliver such an oration as is commonly delivered as much to grace the funeral as to stir up lamentation ; but he did nothing of the kind, but merely touching her and whispering in secret some spell over her, at once woke up the maiden from her seeming death ; and the girl spoke out loud, and returned to her father's house, just as Alcestis did when she was brought back to life by Hercules.

Gospel of Mark, 5.21- 42

Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, 4.45 (217 AD),—which you can find in: Conybeare, F. C. Philostratus I: The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Books I - V (Loeb Classical Library #16) (2000), pg. 457- 9

Did you see how when he raised the girl, Jesus spoke special words. Magic spells were one way ancient miracle workers raised the dead. The Apollonius story says so specifically. So does this next story, from an ancient novel called "An Etheopian Story."

6.13 "I cannot at the moment," replied the old woman. "I have certain rites for the dead to perform that can be performed only at night....

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Magic words raise a man from the dead >>

6.14 ... Supposing herself now secure against any intrusion or observation, the old woman began by digging a pit, to one side of which she lit a fire. After positioning her son's body between the two, she took an earthenware bowl from a tripod that stood beside her and poured a libation of honey into the pit, likewise of milk from a second bowl, and lastly of [page 486] wine from a third. Then she took a cake made out of fine wheat flour and shaped into the effigy of a man, crowned it with bay and fennel, and flung it into the pit. Finally she picked up a sword and, in an access of feverish ecstasy, invoked the moon by a series of grotesque and outlandish names, then drew the blade across her arm. She wiped the blood onto a sprig of bay and flicked it into the fire. There followed a number of other bizarre actions, after which she knelt over the dead body of her son and whispered certain incantations into his ear, until she woke the dead man and compelled him by her magic arts to stand upright.

 

Magic words raise a man from the dead    >>

.... the old woman had now begun to question the corpse in a somewhat louder voice. ....Then he suddenly collapsed and fell flat on his face. The old woman rolled the body over onto its back and persisted with her questions. Employing apparently more powerful spells of compulsion this time, she repeated her string of incantations into his ears, and, leaping, sword in hand, from fire to pit, from pit to fire, she succeeded in waking the dead man a second time and, once he was on his feet, began to put the same questions to him as before, forcing him to use speech as well as nods of the head to make his prophecy unambiguous.

Heliodoros, An Ethiopian Story (Aithiopika), 6.3- 4 (3d century AD?), -- which you can find in: Reardon, B. P.. Collected Ancient Greek Novels . (1989), pg. 185- 6
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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Did this happen in real life? No, it didn't. It's a story. A made up story. When the ancients made up stories, speaking magic words to raise eople from the dead was one of the things they put in.

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While they were delayed at sea for some days and as many nights, the girl gave birth in the ninth month. But the placenta failed to be discharged, her blood clotted, her breathing became constricted, and she suddenly died. …After the coffin had been made, he adorned it with royal accoutrements, placed the girl in the coffin, and…

Weeping bitterly, he ordered that the coffin be thrown into the sea. Three days later waves cast up the coffin. It came to rest on the shoreline of Ephesus, not far from the estate of a doctor… the doctor eagerly opened it, and, seeing a very beautiful girl adorned with royal ornaments and lying in a state of apparent death…ordered that a pyre be constructed immediately.

THE STORY OF APOLLONIUS KING OF TYRE

But while the pyre was being carefully and expertly constructed and assembled, a medical student of youthful appearance but mature judgment arrived. When hesaw the corpse of the beautiful girl being placed on the pyre, he looked at his teacher and said, "What is the cause of this recent unexplained death?"

The teacher said: "Your arrival is timely; the situation requires your presence.Take a jar of unguent and pour it over the body of the girl to satisfy the last rites."

raise2.jpgThe young man took a jar of unguent, went to the girl's bier, pulled aside the clothing from the upper part of her body, poured out the unguent, ran his suspicious hands over all her limbs, and detected quiescent warmth in her chest cavity. The young man was astounded to realize that the girl was only apparently dead. He touched her veins to check for signs of movement and closely examined her nostrils for signs of breathing; he put his lips to her lips, and,detecting signs of life in the form of slight breathing that, as it were, was struggling against false death, he said, "Apply heat at four points." When he had had this done, he began to massage her lightly, and the blood that had coagulated began to flow because of the anointing.'"When the young man saw this, he ran to his teacher and said: "Doctor, the girl you think is dead is alive.To convince you, I will clear up her obstructed breathing."

With some assistance he took the girl to his bedroom, placed her on his bed, opened her clothing, warmed oil, moistened a woolen compress with it, and placed the compress on the upper part of the girl's body. Her blood, which had congealed because of severe cold, began to flow once heat was applied, and her previously obstructed breathing began to infiltrate to her innermost organs. With the clearing up of her veins, the girl opened her eyes, recovered her breath, and said in a soft, indistinct voice, "Please, doctor, do not touch me in any way other than it is proper to touch the wife of a king and the daughter of a king."

Apollonius King of Tyre, Ch 25 - 7 (3d century AD?), -- which you can find in: Reardon, B. P.. Collected Ancient Greek Novels . (1989), pg. 752- 4
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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A powerful spell
Some Pagan miracles stories give not just the facts but also an explanation of what the facts meant to the ancients. Here are two ancient stories in which a miracle worked heals a cripple, who then picks up his bed and walks away. Lucian explains: the element of picking up the litter proved how strong the spell was—and how potent the magician.

"Invalid for 38 years" and "mortal anguish" and "brought back to life" prove how sick the victim was.
Each magic-worker cures with a magic spell.

jesus_icon.jpgThe godman Jesus uses magic words to cure a paralytic -- who picks up his bed and walks away.

RamGod.gifA Chaldean miracle worker uses magic words to cure a paralytic -- who picks up his bed and walks away.

1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews.

2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.

3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie--the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.

5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.

6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"

7 "Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me."

8 Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk."

9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

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I was still a young lad, about fourteen years old, when someone came and told my father that Midas the vine-dresser, ordinarily a strong and industrious servant, had beenbitten by a viper toward midday and was lying down, with his leg already in a state of mortification. While he was tying up the runners and twining them about the poles, the creature had crawled up and bitten him on the great toe; then it had quickly gone down again into its hole, and he was groaning inmortal anguish.

"As this report was being made, we saw Midas himself beingbrought up on a litter by his fellow slaves, all swollen and livid, with a clammy skin and but little breath left in him. Naturally my father was distressed, but a friend who was there said to him: "Cheer up: I will at once go and get you a Babylonian, one of the so-called Chaldeans, who will cure the fellow."

Not to make a long story of it, the Babylonian came andbrought Midas back to life, driving the poison out of his body by a spell, and also binding upon his foot a fragment which he broke from the tombstone of a dead

"Perhaps this is nothing out of the common : although Midas himself picked up the litter on which he had been carried and went of to the farm, so potent was the spell and the fragment of the tombstone.

Gospel of John, 5.1- 9

Lucian, Lover of Lies, Chapter 12 (2d century AD), -- which you can find in: Henderson, Jeffrey. Lucian III (1921/ 2004), pg. 321

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Pausanias describes the birth of the God Attis:

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daughter of the river Sangarius, they say, took of the fruit and laid it in her bosom, when it at once disappeared, but she was with child. A boy was born, and exposed, but was tended by a he-goat.[Pausanias, Description of Greece 7.17.9-11]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

What the early Christians thought

The second century Church Father Origen says of the Jesus' virgin birth,

He lists a number of Pagan Gods born of virgins: DanaeMelanippeAuge andAntiope. The stories about these Gods are "ancient," says Origin, but unlike the story of Jesus' virgin birth, only fables. [Origin, Against Celsus 1, 37]

"We [Christians] are not the only persons who have recourse to miraculous narratives of this kind."[Origin, Against Celsus 1, 37]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

The second century Christian Justin Martyr says of Jesus,

"He was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you believe of Perseus." [Justin Martyr, First Apology, 22]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Why did these virgin born Gods come before Jesus? Justin knew the answer—devils.

"The devils...craftily feigned that Minerva was the daughter of Jupiter not by sexual union." [Justin Martyr, First Apology, 64]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

POCM is about history, not ethics. Jesus' miraculous conception was not new and unique—that's important for the historical truth, or not, of gospel claims.

Other people take the point farther, and ask: "Can we morally say: "Ours is history, yours is a lie"?

Here's how Mrs. Crossan's little boy Johnny puts it:

Augustus came from a miraculous conception by the divine and human conjunction of [the God] Apolloand [his motherAtia. How does the historian respond to that story? Are there any who take it literally?... That divergence raises an ethical problem for me. Either all such divine conceptions, from Alexander to Augusts and from the Christ to the Buddha, should be accepted literally and miraculously or all of them should be accepted metaphorically and theologically. It is not morally acceptable to say...our story is truth but yours is myth; ours is history but yours is a lie. It is even less morally acceptable to say that indirectly and covertly by manufacturing defensive or protective strategies that apply only to one's own story.

John Crosssan, The Birth of Christianity, 1998, pg 28 - 29.


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Reasons preview

mac2.jpgmac1.jpgSo, did Christianity copy the virgin birth from Mithras? Or Isis? Or anyone? There were, after all, quite a few virgin birth stories available as sources.

No, Christianity didn't get it's virgin birth myth by having "Matthew" and "Luke" copy some other God's story fact by fact. That's not how ancient religions got their myths. We've seen how they did it. They absorbed the religious ideas of the time, and made up their own myth "facts" to fit those ideas in with the rest of their myth.

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Alexander of Abnoteichus, the flim flam man who invented the God Glycon, didn't borrow the idea of a prophecy on a buried bronze tablet when he made up his Glycon myth. But he did borrow the general idea of prophesy. He made up his own prophesy, and put it on bronze tablets, because that fit the other circumstances of his Glycon scheme. 

a_great.jpgWhoever made up the story of Alexander the Great getting his godness from a divine snake didn't copy the "fact" of an impregnating snake having a go at the king's wife. They used the general notion of passing along godness, and a local reverence for divine snakes, and made up facts to fit those ideas in with the other circumstances of Alexander's story. 

romulusCigarWee.jpgplatonism_founder_with_b_ball_r1_c1.jpgDitto whoever made up the virgin birth of Romulus. And the virgin birth of Perseus. And the virgin birth of Danae. And the virgin birth of Melanippe. And the virgin birth of Auge. And the virgin birth of Antiope. And the virgin birth of Plato.

Why the mess?POCM 2009

POCM_05.jpg

 

madonna_with_child.jpgcowstatue.gifSo divinity was a sort of material thing, which if you found it on Earth, you right away figured it had to have physically moved from there to here—God coming down on a cloud, say, or Zeus having sex with a mortal woman (the point not the rowdiness of the God but the transmission of His divinity), or a divine lightning bolt, with Apisin it, zapping a cow and making it, when you read Herodotus [3.28], Fully God andFully Cow. Silly myth, till you see it's also our myth.

Now this Apis, or Epaphus, is the calf of a cow which is never afterwards able to bear young. The Egyptians say that fire comes down from heaven upon the cow, which thereupon conceives Apis.The calf which is so called has the following marks:- He is black, with a square spot of white upon his forehead, and on his back the figure of an eagle; the hairs in his tail are double, and there is a beetle upon his tongue.
[Herodotus 3.28]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

As you'll see in the blue boxes, the ancients had lots of stories about Gods and divine men being on earth. And most of those stories included an explanation about how the divinity got to earth.

if you look at "Matthew" and "Luke's" birth stories again, you'll see they're

That
Here are a few examples of ancient Gods, emperors and wise men with divine fathers and mortal mothers:

Alexander the Great
Alexander (he died in 332 BC, but no one knew. It took a long time for folks to realize what year it was. This just goes to show how much smarter we are than the ancients) was the son of the king's wife Olympias, and the God Zeus Ammon,conceived by a thunderbolt. >>

(Kind of reminds you of Herodotus and Apis, huh? Funny, you never hear believing scholars bloviate on how the stories of Apis' and Alexander's births developed independently. I wonder why that is.)

a_great.jpg
Mr. A. Great

Maybe. There was also this story about Al's mom and a divine snake.

>>


Plutarch even goes on to give a third version of Alexander's divine parentage—I won't bother you with that one. You're welcome.

[2] ... It is said that his father Philip fell in love withOlympias, Alexander's mother, at the time when they were both initiated into the mysteries at Samothrace.. . . On the night before the marriage was consummated, the bride dreamed that there was a crash of thunder, that her womb was struck by a thunderbolt, and that there followed a blinding flash from which a great sheet of flame blazed up and spread far and wide before it finally died away. . . .[The soothsayer] Aristander of Telmessus . . . declared that the woman must be pregnant. . . At another time a serpent was seen stretched out at Olympias' side as she slept, and it was this more than anything else, we are told, which weakened Philip's passion and cooled his affection for her, so that from that time on he seldom came to sleep with her. The reason for this may either have been that he was afraid she would cast some evil spell or charm upon him or else that he recoiled from her embrace because he believed that she was the consort of some higher being.

The point of all this was clear to the ancients—
Alexander was the son of God
. >>

[3] ... According to Eratosthenes, Olympias, when she sent Alexander on his way to lead his great expedition to the East, confided to him and to him alone the secret of his conception and urged him to show himself worthy of his divine parentage. . . 
[Plutarch, Life of Alexander, Chapters 2 - 3]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

In the ancient world, great men were often understood to be born of mortal women and divine fathers. Sheesh. I mean, really. Have you ever noticed how stupid other people's myths are? Until you notice this is our myth too.

Rome's founder, Romulus, was the Son of the God Mars, and Rea Sivia, a mortalVestal virgin

 

Adding crime to crime, he murdered his brother's sons and made the daughter, Rea Silvia, a Vestal virgin; thus, under the presence of honoring her, depriving her of all hopes of issue.

[1.4] But the Fates had, I believe, already decreed the origin of this great city and the foundation of the mightiest empire under heaven. The Vestal was forcibly violated and gave birth to twins. She namedMars as their father, either because she really believed it, or because the fault might appear less heinous if a deity were the cause of it.
[ Livy, History 1.3 - 4]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

romulus.jpg

Romulus was 'hailed a god, son of god', 
to whom the Romans prayed
for grace     >>

Then, when a few men gave the lead, they all decided that Romulus should be hailed a god, son of a god, king, and father of the Roman state. And in prayers they begged his grace, beseeching him to be favorable and propitious towards them and ever to protect his descendants. 
[Livy, History 1.16]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

In the ancient world, great men were often understood to be born of mortal women and divine fathers. Sheesh. I mean, really. Have you ever noticed how stupid other people's myths are? Un till you notice this is our myth too.

The first Roman emperor Augustus (62 BC - 14 AD), was the son of the God Apollo, conceived by a holy-snake.

augustus.jpg

When Atia had come in the middle of the night to the solemn service of Apollo, she had her litter set down in the temple and fell asleep, while the rest of the matrons also slept. On a sudden a serpent glided up to her and shortly went away. When she awoke, she purified herself, as if after the embraces of her husband, and at once there appeared on her body a mark in colors like a serpent, and she could never get rid of it; so that presently she ceased ever to go to the public baths. In the tenth month after thatAugustus was born and was therefore regarded as the son of Apollo
[Suetonius, Life of the Deified Augustus, Chapter 94]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

In the ancient world, great men were often understood to be born of mortal women and divine fathers. Sheesh. I mean, really. Have you ever noticed how stupid other people's myths are? Un till you notice this is our myth too.

Publius Cornelius Scipio 'Africanus', The Elder (236 - 184 BC)

scipio.gif

"From the sun rising above the marshes of Maeotia 
There is no one who may be equal in deeds.
If is it right for anyone to rise into the regions of the gods, 
For me alone the greatest gate of heaven stands open."

Epitaph of Scipio Africanus - Q. Ennius

 

It is recorded that the mother of Scipio Africanus, the elder, had the same experience as Olympias, Philip the Great's wife and Alexander the Great's mother,... his mother had long been believed sterileand that Publius Scipio, her husband, had despaired of having children. Then, while her husband was away and she was sleeping on her own, a hugesnake was seen beside her, in her room and in her bed; when those who saw this snake shouted out in terror, it vanished and could not be found. Scipio consulted the harupices about this and they held a sacrifice and gave a response that children would be born. Not long after the sighting of the snake, the woman began to show all signs of being pregnant;in the tenth month, she gave birth to this Publius Africanus, the man who defeated Hannibal and the Carthaginians in the Second Punic War. But it is much more because of his achievements than because of that prodigy that he also <i.e., as well as Alexander> is thought to be a man of godlike quality.
[Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights VI. 1.1-6, 2d century AD]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

In the ancient world, great men were often understood to be born of mortal women and divine fathers. Sheesh. I mean, really. Have you ever noticed how stupid other people's myths are? Un till you notice this is our myth too.

The godman Dionysus was the Son of Zeus and the mortal Semele.

 

I am Dionysus, the son of Zeus,
come back to Thebes, this land where I was born.
My mother was [the king] Cadmus' daughter, Semele by name,
midwifed by fire, delivered by the lightning's blast.
And here I stand, a god incognito, disguised as a man.
[Euripides, The Bacchae, v 1 - 5 (5th century BC),—which you can find in: Meyer, Marvin W.. The Ancient Mysteries; A Sourcebook of Sacred Texts (1987), pg. 67]

And Semele, daughter of Cadmus' was joined with him [Zeus] in love and bore him a splendid son, joyous Dionysus,--a mortal woman an immortal son. And now they both are gods.
[Hesiod, Theogony 940, c. 8th century BC]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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A similarity the early Christians recognized, and explained away as "demonic imitation"—copied by the earlier Pagans from the later Christians, magically, backwards in time.

The devils, accordingly, when they heard these prophetic words, said that Bacchus was the son of Jupiter...and they taught that, having been torn in pieces, He ascended into heaven.
[ Justin Martyr, First Apology, 54]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

 



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Child of the Holy Spiritbullett_gargoyle28x30_faceleft.gif
isis_mysteries_water_purification_r1_c1.jpg

 

 

 

tiny.gifFor some have thought fit ...to relate as a possible thing that Plato was the son of Amphictione, Ariston being prevented from having marital intercourse with his wife until she had given birth to him with whom she was pregnant by Apollo. And yet these are veritable fables, which have led to the invention of such stories concerning a man whom they regarded as possessing greater wisdom and power than the multitude, and as having received the beginning of his corporeal substance from better and diviner elementsthan others, because they thought that this was appropriate to persons who were too great to be human beings
Origen, Against Celsus, Book 1, Chapter 37

h_borrowing.jpg

Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 1
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit…


Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1
34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

Like the ancients, we moderns see miracles as evidences of some magic being. In the gospel stories of Jesus' birth what we moderns notice is the miracle of the virgin birth. A miracle. God at work. A miracle proving Jesus is special.

Another SPFYMLMFor the ancients the miracle-as-evidence-of-a-God was only part of the story of Jesus' birth. The other part, the part the ancients noticed but we don't, shows Jesus being given His God-ness by another God-being. In our gospels the Holy Spirit brings divinity from heaven, down to Earth, and into Jesus—into the godman. It wasn't the mere fact that a miracle happened that made Jesus special, it was the "facts" in the miracle, the passing along of the Godness. That's an ancient Pagan idea, laid out by our gospel authors in ancient Pagan terms.azclaypeeis.jpg

This ain't rocket science. The way the ancients figured it, to have a god-man on Earth, a story needed two things. 1. A source for His Godness, and 2. A source for His humanity.

Ancient books are chock a block with stories of divine men. Over and over those stories include details showing exactly these two details. Where'd the divinity come from? A God. Where'd His humanity come from? A woman. Just as the fact of a miracle is evidence that a God is at work, the-divinity-came-from-a God facts in these stories were evidence that the godman was different from a regular human.

Is this just Greg bloviating, making it up as I goes along? No, it's not. Here's a riff from a third century Christian church father, a guy named Origen, writing about Jesus' divine birth, trying to explain away how come it's so similar to all the other divine births.origen_r1_c1.jpg

Origin warms up by mentioning thevirgin birth of Plato.    >>

All these Pagan divine births are invented stories, says Origen, made up to show why wise and powerful men are greater than other people.    >>

 

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For some have thought fit, not in regard to ancient and heroic narratives, but in regard to events of very recent occurrence, to relate as a possible thing thatPlato was the son of Amphictione, Ariston beingprevented from having marital intercourse with his wife until she had given birth to him with whom she was pregnant by Apollo. And yet these are veritable fables, which have led to the invention of suchstories concerning a man whom they regarded aspossessing greater wisdom and power than the multitude, and as having received the beginning of his corporeal substance from better and diviner elements than othersbecause they thought that this was appropriate to persons who were too great to be human beings.

Origen, Against Celsus, Book 1, Chapter 37
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

You got that? When ancient people wanted to make someone out to be more than a normal person, they invented "facts" for the story that showed how He received His divinity from someone or something. We know that because the ancients said so themselves.

Exactly the same, only different.Was every Pagan God's birth-story a virgin birth story? Nope. Not even a little bit. A few godmen did have divine fathers and mortal virgin mothers; Romulus was one.Perseus another. Danae, Melanippe, Auge and Antiope were others still. [See the blue boxes below for the ancient evidence.] But in general the mother's virginity wasn't necessary to the where'd He get His humanity purpose of the myth. More often birth myths included just a God as father and a (non-virgin) mortal woman mother—just the bare facts that had to be in there to give a god-man his two must-have parts.

mothersOfGod.jpgSometimes divinity passed to the godman, through his mortal mother, in other ways. Apis' divinity was zapped down into his mother in a lightening bolt, turning a normal cow into the holy and sacred mother of the God-cow. Glycon the snake-god was placed on Earth directly, by the God Apollo. Mr. Alexander T. Great was born after his mother, in a part of the world where snakes were worshiped, was impregnated by a divine snake. Mithras divinity came to Him when His father in heaven, um…er…spilled his seed on a rock, if you catch my drift.

In every story the circumstantial facts were different. In every story the fundamental fact was the same: theGodman got His divinity from a God-being, and His humanity from a mortal woman.

Now let's look again at the gospel stories about Jesus' birth. These are the only two accounts of Jesus' birth in our New Testament.

"Matthew" (whoever he was, whenever he wrote) says they agency of Mary's pregnancy is the divine Holy Spirit. This regulation English translation captures the meaning.    >>

The Greek original is clearer. Mary was found "en gastri echousa ek pneumatos agiou" ," εν γαστρι εχουσα εκ πνευματος ’αγιου" —literally, Mary was found "in her belly having from the holy spirit."

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit…

Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 1

 

Angel-04.gif"Luke" (whoever he was, whenever he wrote) gives us a word for word account of Mary's palaver with anangel. from which we learn Mary will get pregnant when the Holy Spirit "overshadows" her.

 

34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

The Greek word, episkiazw, επισκιαζω, literally "to throw a shadow on," seems an odd choice, until you pick up your bible dictionary and learn: "Used of the Holy Spirit exerting creative energy upon the womb of the virgin Mary and impregnating it—a use of the word which seems to have been drawn from the familiar Old Testament idea of a cloud as symbolizing the immediate presence and power of God."

"Matthew" and "Luke" (whoever they were, whenever they wrote) were each careful to show Jesus getting his divine nature from the Holy Spirit of God. That is an utterly Pagan idea, right there in the sacred pages of our holy bible.

The godman's two parts
It has come to my attention that not everyone immediately believes everything I write here a POCM. In case you think I'm making up the God-bit-from-heaven-human-bit-from-mortal-woman business, here's Ovid telling the story of the Godman Hercules.

hercules2.jpg

God bit from Zeus, mortal bit from mortal Mom.    >>

QED

Scorn not those flames! He who has conquered all things shall conquer these fires which you see; I nor shall he feel Vulcan's power save in the part his Mother gave him. Immortal is the part which he took from me, and that is safe and beyond the power of death, which no flame can destroy. And when this is done with earth I shall receive him on the heavenly shores....

...whatever the flames could destroy, Mulciber had now consumed, and no shape of Hercules that could be recognized remained, nor was there anything left which his mother gave. He kept traces only of his father....

Ovid, Metamorphosis, Book 9 (8 AD), -- which you can find in: Miller, Frank Justus. Ovid Metamorphoses (1916), pg. 22
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

c741.jpgThe Virgin birth of Christ
Are we done? Literalists and apologists won't think so.

Literalist Christians are highly attached to the virgin part of the Jesus' birth story, though I've never heard a convincing reasoned explanation why. I myself think the attachment is emotional. This is the sweetest, preciousest part of the story, the first part believers hear as children.

Apologists have a nasb.jpgpractical use for the virgin aspect of the virgin birth. Apologetics. If you don't know enough about ancient religion to see the godman-being-passed-His-divinity part of the story, or if you don't know the ancients were highly prone to miracle stories, or if you don't care, then what you see in the gospel stories of Jesus' birth is a unique Christian miracle. A sign of God. Different in some detail or another from the Romulus magic God-mortal birth, different in some detail or another from the Perseus magic God-mortal birth, different in some detail or another from the Alexander magic God-mortal birth, different in some detail or another from the Apis magic God-mortal births. Jesus' virgin magic God-mortal birth becomes an apologetic tool.

Anyway, the virgin part of Jesus' birth myth is important to lots of nice people, so let's talk about it some.

mary-and-baby.jpgSo where does the virgin part of Jesus' birth come from? From another part of the Christian myth. I'll be quick, since this is standard New Testament scholarship stuff you can find in other places. [Vaction Bible School is not one of them.]

Early Christians believed Jesus was the Jewish messiah. Not a big deal. Lots of Jews back then believed this fellow or that one was the messiah. What the Christians also believed was that their own particular messiah fellow was also divine. And as we've seen ancient people thought divine godmen had special births, and fulfilled prophesies. So the early Christians went went flipping through the Jewish scriptures looking for the prophesies their godman messiah fulfilled. The Old Testament book they lit on hardest was the one about the prophet Isaiah, and the prophesies he supposedly prophesied. One of which included this.    >>

 

godman.jpg13 Then Isaiah said, "Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 15 He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right.

Old Testament, Isaiah, Chapter 7
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

girl_w_book.gifMaybe. I mean, maybe Isaiah's sentence included the word "virgin," but maybe it didn't. Pointy headed people argue. The didn't crowd point out that away back in the BCs the original Hebrew word was "almah." Almah meant young girl. But in the third century BC the Jewish Hebrew scripture got translated into Jewish Greek scripture, and written down and passed around in Greek, in a book called the Septuagint—named after the Simon and Ellie Septuagint Foundation, which funded the research, I think.

Anyway, the fellows who moved Isaiah's Hebrew "almah" over to the Septuagint picked the Greek word "parthenos," παρθενος, which Greek speakers used for both "virgin" and for "young woman," or "maiden" —the thing being, they didn't see much difference, what with them being patriarchal primitives and all, without the benefit of modern misogynist feminism to convince them there should be a difference between "virgin" and "young girl."

 

So maybe, say fancy schmancy New Testament scholars, Isaiah's virgin will give birth prophesy is really just a young woman will give birth prophecy whose translation "Matthew" and "Luke misunderstood. Boy doesn't that put you to sleep.

From POCM's point of view, it doesn't matter. What matters is "Matthew" and "Luke" apparently thought IsaiahMark.jpg meant virgin, and they wrote it up that way. That's where Christianity's virgin birth mythology comes from. Jesus virgin birth wasn't an event that got reported. It started out as a doctrine, a theology: Jesus was the messiah. More than that, Jesus was a divine godman messiah. The sort of godman who fulfilled prophesies. Jewish scriptural prophesies. And look here, I was flipping through the scriptures and I came across this one about a virgin giving birth to a fellow named Immanuel. That must mean Jesus. Jesus' mother must have been a virgin. So that's how "Matthew" and "Luke" (whoever they were, whenever they wrote) wrote it up.



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Book 2, Chapter 54. 
After this, forsooth, the Jew of Celsus, to keep up the character assigned to the Jew from the beginning, in his address to those of his countrymen who had become believers, says: "By what, then, were you induced (to become his followers)? Was it because he foretold that after his death he would rise again?"

Book 2, Chapter 55. 
The Jew continues his address to those of his countrymen who are converts, as follows: "Come now, let us grant to you that the prediction was actually uttered. Yet how many others are there who practise such juggling tricks, in order to deceive their simple hearers, and who make gain by their deception?--as was the case, they say, with Zamolxis in Scythia, the slave of Pythagoras; and with Pythagoras himself in Italy; and with Rhampsinitus in Egypt (the latter of whom, they say, played at dice with Demeter in Hades, and returned to the upper world with a golden napkin which he had received from her as a gift); and also with Orpheus among the Odrysians, and Protesilaus in Thessaly, and Hercules at Cape Taenarus, and Theseus.

But the question is, whether any one who was really dead ever rose with a veritable body. Or do you imagine the statements of others not only to be myths, but to have the appearance of such, while you have discovered a becoming and credible termination to your drama in the voice from the cross, when he breathed his last, and in the earthquake and the darkness? That while alive he was of no assistance to himself, but that when dead he rose again, and showed the Marks of his punishment, and how his hands were pierced with nails: who beheld this? A half-frantic woman, as you state, and some other one, perhaps, of those who were engaged in the same system of delusion, who had either dreamed so, owing to a peculiar state of mind, or under the influence of a wandering imagination bad formed to himself an appearance according to his own wishes, which has been the case with numberless individuals; or, which is most probable, one who desired to impress others with this portent, and by such a falsehood to furnish an occasion to impostors like himself."

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Book 2, Chapter 56. [ORIGIEN REPLIES -- CONFIRMING THE PRESENCE, AND CURRENCY-- OF THE MYTHS]
But since the Jew says that these histories of the alleged descent of heroes to Hades, and of their return thence, are juggling impositions, maintaining that these heroes disappeared for a certain time, and secretly withdrew themselves from the sight of all men, and gave themselves out afterwards as having returned from Hades,--for such is the meaning which his words seem to convey respecting the Odrysian Orpheus, and the Thessalian Protesilaus, and the Taenarian Hercules, and Theseus also,--let us endeavour to show that the account of Jesus being raised from the dead cannot possibly be compared to these. For each one of the heroes respectively mentioned might, had he wished, have secretly withdrawn himself from the sight of men, and returned again, if so determined, to those whom he had left; but seeing that Jesus was crucified before all the Jews, and His body slain in the presence of His nation, how can they bring themselves to say that He practised a similar deception with those heroes who are related to have gone down to Hades, and to have returned thence?

Origen, Against Celsus, 2.54- 5
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

"Everyone knows how I loved their mother, my wife of blessed memory; I made it plain by what I did for her not only while she was alive but even when she died, for I burned on the pyre with her all the ornaments and the clothing that she liked while she lived. On the seventh day after her death I was lying here on the couch, just as I am now, consoling my grief; for I was peacefully reading Plato's book about the soul. While I was thus engaged, Demaenete herself in person came in upon me and sat down beside me, just as Eucratides here is sitting now " --- with a gesture toward the younger of his sons, who at once shuddered in a very boyish way; he had already been pale for some time over the story.

"When I saw her," Eucrates continued, "I [page 363] caught her in my arms with a cry of grief and began to weep. She would not permit me to cry, however. but began to find fault with me because, although I had given her everything else, I had not burned one of her gilt sandals, which, she said, was under the chest, where it had been thrown aside. That was why we did not find it and burned only the one. We were continuing our conversation when a cursed toy dog that was under the couch, a Maltese, barked, and she vanished at his barking. The sandal, however, was found under the chest and was burned afterwards.

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''Is it right, Tychiades, to doubt these apparitions any longer, when they are distinctly seen and a matter of daily occurrence?"

"No, by Heaven," I said: "those who doubt and are so disrespectful toward truth deserve to be spanked like children, with a gilt sandal! "

Lucian, Lover of Lies, Chapter 26 (2d century AD), -- which you can find in: Henderson, Jeffrey. Lucian III Loeb 130, (1921/ 2004), pg. 361-3
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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"We are only trying to persuade this man of adamant," said Eucrates, pointing at me, "to believe that spirits and phantoms exist, and that souls of dead men go about above ground and appear to whomsoever they will." I flushed and lowered my eyes out of reverence for Arignotus.

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" Perhaps, Eucrates," he said, "Tychiades means that only the ghosts of those who died by violence walk, for example, if a man hanged himself, or had his head cut off, or was crucified, or departed life in some similar way ; and that those of men who died a natural detail do not. If that is what he means, we cannot altogether reject what he says."

"No, by Heaven," replied Deinomachus, " he thinks that such things do not exist at all and are not seen in bodily form."

"What is that you say ? " said Arignotus, with a sour look at me. "Do you think that none of these things happen, although everybody, I may say, sees them? "

Lucian, Lover of Lies, Chapter 26 (2d century AD), -- which you can find in: Henderson, Jeffrey. Lucian III Loeb 130, (1921/ 2004), pg. 367
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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16 And I said: "Do not pressure me to break my solemn undertaking to the dead. We have not left her region until we reach another shore. Have you not heard that she died at sea? Then I am still sailing over Leukippe's [page 241] grave. Perhaps her ghost is circling about the ship even now. They say that souls who die in the sea never descend to Hades but wander over the water. And is this an appropriate place to consummate any marriage? Our wedding night on choppy waves? Our first time on a rocking boat? Surely you want our bridal bed to stay in one place?"

Achilles Tatius, Leucippe and Clitophon, 5.16 (2d century AD), -- which you can find in: Reardon, B. P. Collected Ancient Greek Novels . (1989), pg. 240- 41
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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And now he cries out repeatedly 'You set free a convict sentenced to death.'

What death? What conviction? Tell me the grounds for his death sentence.

'He has been judged guilty of murder,' he says.

He has committed murder then? Tell me who it was. The woman whom he killed and who you said had been murdered you see here alive. You would not be so foolhardy as still to accuse the same man of her murder. For this is not a ghost of the girl;Aidoneus has not sent the murdered woman to haunt you.

Achilles Tatius, Leucippe and Clitophon, 8.9 (2d century AD), -- which you can find in: Reardon, B. P. Collected Ancient Greek Novels . (1989), pg. 277
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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Now at this point she was alone, while Perilaus was still carousing with his friends. She made an excuse that the tension had made her thirsty and ordered one of the servants to bring her water to drink. And when a cup was brought, she took it while no one was in the chamber with her, threw in the poison, and wept.

"Habrocomes, my darling,"she cried, "as you see I am discharging my promises and am on my way to you; it is a sad road, but an inevitable one; welcome me gladly and make my life with you in the other world a happy one." With this she drank the drug and immediately fell into a deep sleep; she collapsed to the ground, and the drug took its full effect.

[Chapter 7] When Perilaus came in and immediately saw Anthia lying there, he was dumbfounded and cried out, and there was a great deal of commotion in the household: they felt a welter of emotions-grief, fear, and terror. Some pitied the girl who had apparently died; others shared Perilaus's grief; while all mourned the tragedy. Perilaus tore his clothes and fell on the body

"My poor dear girl," he exclaimed, "you have deserted your lover before your marriage, after only a few days as the promised bride of Perilaus. What kind of bridal suite will I take you to-the tomb! Happy Habrocomes, whoever he was; a fortunate man, indeed, to receive such gifts from his beloved!" Perilaus lamented in this fashion, fondly embracing her body all over and clinging to her hands and feet.

"Poor bride," he exclaimed, "and still more unhappy wife." He laid her out in all her finery and surrounded her with a great quantity of gold. And no longer able to bear the sight, when day came he put Anthia on a bier (she was still lying insensible) and took her to the tombs near the city. And there he laid her in a vault, after slaughtering a great number of victims and burning a great deal of clothing and other finery.

[Chapter 8] When he had carried out the accustomed rites, he was taken back to the city by his household. But Anthia, left in the tomb, recovered her senses, realized that the poison was not fatal, and moaned and wept.

"The poison has played me false!" she exclaimed. "It has barred the way of happiness back to Habrocomes. My misery is total; I have been cheated, even of my own wish to die. But by remaining in the tomb I can still do the poison's work by starving to death. No one would take me from here, nor could I look upon the sun nor will I go to the light." With this she strengthened her resolve and steadfastly waited for death. [page I52]

Meanwhile some pirates had found out that a girl had been given a sumptuous burial and that a great store of woman's finery was buried with her, and a great horde of gold and silver. After nightfall they came to the tomb, burst open the doors, came in and took away the finery, and saw that Anthia was still alive. They thought that this too would turn out very profitable for them, raised her up, and wanted to take her. But she rolled at their feet and kept pleading with them.

"Whoever you are, take away all this finery; take all there is and everything that is buried with me, but spare my body. I am a sacrifice to two Gods, Love and Death. Leave me to devote myself to them in peace. By the Gods of your own country, do not expose me to the daylight, when my misfortunes deserve night and darkness." So she pleaded, but she could not persuade the pirates: they brought her out of the tomb, took her down to the sea, put her into their skiff, and brought her to Alexandria. And they looked after her on the ship and tried to console her. But she took to moping once more over her dreadful misfortunes, as she wept and wailed.

Xenophon of Ephesus, An Ephesian Tale, 3.6 -8 (2d or 3d century AD) —which you can find in: Reardon, B. P. Collected Ancient Greek Novels . (1989), pg. 151-2
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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But after all, I will tell you I saw him do in the house of Glaucias, son of Alexicles.

"Immediately after Glaucias' father died and he acquired the property, he fell in love with Chrysis, the wife of Demeas. I was in his employ as his tutor in philosophy, and if that Iove-affair had not kept him too busy, he would have known all the teachings of the Peripatetic school, for even at eighteen he was solving fallacies and had completed the course of lectures on natural philosophy.

"At his wit's end, however, with his love-affair, he told me the whole story; and as was natural, since I was his tutor, I brought him that Hyperborean magician at a fee of four minas down (it was necessary to pay something in advance towards the cost of the victims) and sixteen if he should obtain Chrysis.

The man waited for the moon to wax, as it is then, for the most part, that such rites are performed; and after digging a pit in an open court of the house, at about midnighthe first summoned up for us Alexicles, Glaucias' father, who had died seven months before. The old gentleman was indignant over the love-affair and flew into a passion, but at length he permitted him to go on with it after all.

Lucian, Lover of Lies, Chapter 14 (2d century AD), -- which you can find in: Henderson, Jeffrey. Lucian III (1921/ 2004), pg. 341
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

photios.jpgTHE WONDERS BEYOND THULE Photius's Summary (Bibliotheca 166)
After the misfortune that befell her home, Dercyllis, he learned, was taken with her brother to Rhodes. From there she wandered to Crete, then among the Tyrrhenians and the people called the Cimmerians. While among these people, he learned, she saw Hades and learned much about it, making use of her personal maidservant Myrto as her informant; Myrto had died long ago and returned from the dead to instruct her mistress.

Photios, Bibliotheca, 166 (9tt century AD), -- which you can find in: Reardon, B. P.. Collected Ancient Greek Novels . (1989), pg. 778
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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While they were delayed at sea for some days and as many nights, the girl gave birth in the ninth month. But the placenta failed to be discharged, her blood clotted, her breathing became constricted, and she suddenly died. …After the coffin had been made, he adorned it with royal accoutrements, placed the girl in the coffin, and…

Weeping bitterly, he ordered that the coffin be thrown into the sea. Three days later waves cast up the coffin. It came to rest on the shoreline of Ephesus, not far from the estate of a doctor… the doctor eagerly opened it, and, seeing a very beautiful girl adorned with royal ornaments and lying in a state of apparent death…ordered that a pyre be constructed immediately.

THE STORY OF APOLLONIUS KING OF TYRE

But while the pyre was being carefully and expertly constructed and assembled, a medical student of youthful appearance but mature judgment arrived. When hesaw the corpse of the beautiful girl being placed on the pyre, he looked at his teacher and said, "What is the cause of this recent unexplained death?"

The teacher said: "Your arrival is timely; the situation requires your presence.Take a jar of unguent and pour it over the body of the girl to satisfy the last rites."

The young man took a jar of unguent, went to the girl's bier, pulled aside the clothing from the upper part of her body, poured out the unguent, ran his suspicious hands over all her limbs, and detected quiescent warmth in her chest cavity. The young man was astounded to realize that the girl was only apparently dead. He touched her veins to check for signs of movement and closely examined her nostrils for signs of breathing; he put his lips to her lips, and, detecting signs of life in the form of slight breathing that, as it were, was struggling against false death, he said, "Apply heat at four points." When he had had this done, he began to massage her lightly, and the blood that had coagulated began to flow because of the anointing.'"When the young man saw this, he ran to his teacher and said: "Doctor, the girl you think is dead is alive.To convince you, I will clear up her obstructed breathing."

With some assistance he took the girl to his bedroom, placed her on his bed, opened her clothing, warmed oil, moistened a woolen compress with it, and placed the compress on the upper part of the girl's body. Her blood, which had congealed because of severe cold, began to flow once heat was applied, and her previously obstructed breathing began to infiltrate to her innermost organs. With the clearing up of her veins, the girl opened her eyes, recovered her breath, and said in a soft, indistinct voice, "Please, doctor, do not touch me in any way other than it is proper to touch the wife of a king and the daughter of a king."

Apollonius King of Tyre, Ch 25 - 7 (3d century AD?), -- which you can find in: Reardon, B. P.. Collected Ancient Greek Novels . (1989), pg. 752- 4


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The empty tomb of Cleomedes

In 495 BC Cleomedes entered the holy sanctuary of the Goddess Athena, hid in a chest. When the Astypalaeans opened the chest ... it was empty! Cleomedes had become immortal.

 

 

 

 

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[6.9.6] At the Festival previous to this it is said that Cleomedes of Astypalaea killed Iccus of Epidaurus during a boxing-match. On being convicted by the umpires of foul play and being deprived of the prize he became mad through grief and returned to Astypalaea. Attacking a school there of about sixty children he pulled down the pillar which held up the roof.

[6.9.7] This fell upon the children, and Cleomedes, pelted with stones by the citizens, took refuge in the sanctuary of Athena. He entered a chest standing in the sanctuary and drew down the lid.The Astypalaeans toiled in vain in their attempts to open the chest. At last, however, they broke open the boards of the chest, but found no Cleomedes, either alive or dead.]So they sent envoys to Delphi to ask what had happened to Cleomedes.

[6.9.8] The response given by the Pythian priestess was, they say, as follows:–
Last of heroes is Cleomedes of Astypalaea;
Honor him with sacrifices as being no longer a mortal.
So from this time have the Astypalaeans paid honors to Cleomedes as to a hero.

Pausanias, Description of Greece, 6.9.6 (second century AD), -- which you can find in: Jones, W.H.S. Pausanias, Description of Greece, III; Books 6-8.21 (1933)
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

The similarity of the Cleomedes' myth, and Jesus' was apparent to the ancients.

Celsus, however, shows that he has read a good many Grecian histories, when he quotes further what is told of Cleomedes of Astypalaea, "who," he relates, "entered into an ark, and although shut up within it, was not found therein, but through some arrangement of the divinity, flew out, when certain persons had cut open the ark in order to apprehend him."

Christian apologist Origen doesn't deny the miracle happened, but like 19th century Christian apologists, he rationalizes it.

[origen answers] …. or we shall say that some demoniac power,casting a glamour over the eyes, produced, in the case of the Astypalaean, a result like that which is produced by the performers of juggling tricks, while Celsus thinks that with respect to him he has spoken like an oracle, when he said that "by some divine arrangement he flew away from the ark."

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Origen, Against Celsus, 3.33
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Hercules

I admit it's a bit hard for me to take Hercules seriously, Him being a comic hero from my yout' and all. The ancients though did take Him seriously. Ovid describes     >>

The godman Hercules died. His body was purified in a fire—the mortal part burned away, leaving just the immortal God part.

Then His God part ascended to heaven where he became a full fledged God.

 

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hercules3.jpgScorn not those flames!He who has conquered all things shall conquer these fires which you see;nor shall he feel Vulcan's power save in the part his Mother gave him. Immortal is the part which he took from me, and that is safe and beyond the power of death, which no flame can destroy. And when this is done with earth I shall receive him on the heavenly shores,and I trust that this act of mine will be pleasing to all the Gods. But if there is anyone, if there is anyone, I say, who is going to be sorry that Hercules is made a god, why then, he will begrudge the prize, but he will at least know that it was given deservedly, and will be forced to approve the deed."

....Meanwhile, whatever the flames could destroy, Mulciber had now consumed, and no shape of Hercules that could be recognized remained, nor was there anything left which his mother gave. He kept traces only of his father; and as a serpent, its old age sloughed off with its skin, revels in fresh life, and shines resplendent in its [page 23] bright new scales; so when the Tirynthian put off his mortal frame, he gained new vigor in his better part, began to seem of more heroic size, and to become awful in his godlike dignity. Him the Almighty Father sped through the hollow clouds with his team of four, and set him amid the glittering stars.

 

herculesComic.jpg

 

Hercules ascended to Heaven through the clouds.    >>

....Meanwhile, whatever the flames could destroy, Mulciber had now consumed, and no shape of Hercules that could be recognized remained, nor was there anything left which his mother gave. He kept traces only of his father; and as a serpent, its old age sloughed off with its skin, revels in fresh life, and shines resplendent in its [page 23] bright new scales; so when the Tirynthian put off his mortal frame, he gained new vigor in his better part, began to seem of more heroic size, and to become awful in his godlike dignity. Him the Almighty Father sped through the hollow clouds with his team of four, and set him amid the glittering stars.

Ovid, Metamorphosis, Book 9 (8 AD), -- which you can find in: Miller, Frank Justus. Ovid Metamorphoses (1916), pg. 22-4

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Have you ever heard a more ridiculous myth? Yes you have.

 

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I'm still working on this page

 

So far I'm just pasting in relevant passages. I'll get back and organize it and write it up later.

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6.13 "I cannot at the moment," replied the old woman. "I have certain rites for the dead to perform that can be performed only at night....

 

Magic words raise a man from the dead    >>

 

6.14 ... Supposing herself now secure against any intrusion or observation, the old woman began by digging a pit, to one side of which she lit a fire. After positioning her son's body between the two, she took an earthenware bowl from a tripod that stood beside her and poured a libation of honey into the pit, likewise of milk from a second bowl, and lastly of [page 486] wine from a third. Then she took a cake made out of fine wheat flour and shaped into the effigy of a man, crowned it with bay and fennel, and flung it into the pit. Finally she picked up a sword and, in an access of feverish ecstasy, invoked the moon by a series of grotesque and outlandish names, then drew the blade across her arm. She wiped the bloodonto a sprig of bay and flicked it into the fire. There followed a number of other bizarre actions, after which she knelt over the dead body of her son and whispered certain incantations into his ear, until she woke the dead man and compelled him by her magic arts to stand upright.

 

Magic words raise a man from the dead    >>

.... the old woman had now begun to question the corpse in a somewhat louder voice. What she wanted to know was whether the corpse's brother, her one surviving son, would live to return home. The dead man made no reply, merely nodded his head in a way that left some doubt as to whether his mother could expect her wishes to be fulfilled or not. Then he suddenly collapsed and fell flat on his face. The old woman rolled the body over onto its backand persisted with her questions. Employing apparently more powerful spells of compulsion this time, she repeated her string of incantations into his ears, and, leaping, sword in hand, from fire to pit, from pit to fire, she succeeded in waking the dead man a second time and, once he was on his feet, began to put the same questions to him as before, forcing him to use speech as well as nods of the head to make his prophecy unambiguous.

Heliodoros, An Ethiopian Story (Aithiopika), 6.3- 4 (3d century AD?), -- which you can find in: Reardon, B. P.. Collected Ancient Greek Novels . (1989), pg. 185- 6
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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Asclepius healed the sick and raised the dead.

"Asclepius was the son of Apollo [a god] and Coronis [a mortal woman—is the pattern sinking in here?]...he healed many sickwhose lives had been despaired of, and... he brought back to life many who had died."

[Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History, 4.7.1.1- 2; Loeb 303]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Asclepius raised at least six dead men:

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"I found [in writing this history] some who are reported to have beenraised by him [Asclepius] , to wit, Capaneus and Lycurgus, asStesichorus [645- 555 BC] says... Hippolytus, as the author of the Naupactica reports[6th century BC], Tyndareus, as Panyasis [c. 500 BC] says; Hymnaneus, as the Orphics report; and Glaucus...as Melasogoras [5th century BC] relates."

Apollodorus, The Library, 3.1.3- 3; Loeb

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

and

"When Hippolytus was killed,...Asclepius raised him from the dead." [Pausanias, Corinth, Description of Greece, 1.27.5]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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The last-named author [Theopompus, 4th century BC] says thataccording to the Magi men will live in a future life [anabiosesthi = αναβιωσεσθαι = to come to life again, to return to life (see eg Liddell Scott)] and be immortal, and that the world will endure through their invocations. This is again confirmed by Eudemus of Rhodes [4th century BC].

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, 1.9 (3d century AD), -- which you can find in: Hicks, R. D. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers Loeb 184, (1925/ 1972), pg. 11
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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93. Before arriving at the Ister, the first people whom he subdued were the Getae, who believe in their immortality. ….

94. The belief of the Getae in respect of immortality is the following. They think that they do not really die, but that when they depart this life they go to Zalmoxis...

95. …. While he was acting in this way, and holding this kind of discourse, he was constructing an apartment underground, into which, when it was completed, he withdrew, vanishing suddenly from the eyes of the Thracians, who greatly regretted his loss, and mourned over him as one dead. He meanwhile abode in his secret chamber three full years, after which he came forth from his concealment, and showed himself once more to his countrymen, who were thus brought to believe in the truth of what he had taught them. Such is the account of the Greeks.

 

 

Herodotus, The Persian Wars, 4.93- 6 (c 440 BC), -- which you can find in: Godolpin, Francis. The Greek Historians (1942), pg. 259- 60
Or in Loeb's Herodotus
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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Ch 26: "What is there surprising in that?" said Antigonus : "I know a man who came to life more than twenty days after his burial, having attended the fellow both before his death and after he came to life."

Lucian, Lover of Lies, Chapter 26 (2d century AD), -- which you can find in: Henderson, Jeffrey. Lucian III Loeb 130, (1921/ 2004), pg. 361
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

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"I myself was formerly more incredulous than you in regard to such things, for I thought it in no way possible that they could happen; but when first I saw the foreign stranger fly—he came from the land of the Hyperboreans, he said— I believed and was conquered after long resistance. What was I to do when I saw him soar through the air in broad daylight and walk on the water and go through fire slowly on foot?"

"Did you see that?" said I — "the Hyperborean flying, or stepping on the water?"

"Certainly," said he, "with brogues on his feet such as people of that country commonly wear. As for the trivial [page 341] feats, what is the use of telling all that he performed, sending Cupids after people, bringing up supernatural beings, calling mouldy corpses to life (anakalwn ανακαλων), making Hecate herself appear in plain sight, and pulling down the moon ?

Lucian, Lover of Lies, Chapter 13 (2d century AD), -- which you can find in: Henderson, Jeffrey. Lucian III Loeb 130, (1921/ 2004), pg. 341
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.



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Raised from the dead—an old Pagan ideabullett_gargoyle28x30_faceleft.gif
jesus4.gifisis_mysteries_water_purification_r1_c1.jpg

 

After nightfall they came to the tomb, burst open the doors, came in and took away the finery, and saw that Anthia was still alive.
Xenophon of Ephesus, An Ephesian Tale

We opened the tomb and found the corpse alive.
Chariton, Chereas and Callirhoe, 3.4 , 1st century AD?

 

Another SPFYMLMcaesar1.gif

Julius Caesar, Emperor of Rome, becomes a God
This is another deal where ancient ideas were so strange it's hard for us to believe people were serious about this nonsense. But they were.

In 44BC right after Julius Caesar was murdered, his body was carried to the Roman forum so everyone could have a look see. A crowd gathered. Some guy named Anthony gave a little talk in which he said Caesar was divine.One thing lead to another and by and by Rome had this thing called the Imperial Cult. First Julius then other dead Caesars were voted by the Roman senate to be divine. Somebody built temples to them, where people actually worshiped and prayed to the dead guy who was now a God living in Heaven.

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In ancient Rome, after they died, important people were raised up to Heaven where they changed from normal person to God. I'm tryin' to think....have I heard anything like that before.

 

Ovid wrote it all up in a famous poem book called Metamorphoses. Because I am not a sissy I do not normally read poem books, but for you I've excerpted the Julius Caesar apotheosis bit of Book 15 of the Metamorphosis. You are welcome. The original lines were written in latin dactylic hexameter.star.gif The lines in the translation are not. I find this sullies not a jot my reading them enjoyment.

Metamorphosis came out in 8 AD (though people at the time didn't know that).

star.gif Dactylic hexameter notwith-standing, Ovid's friends agreed, he was a good egg.

Caesar is a God.    >>

[page 417] ... Caesar is God in his own city. Him, illustrious In war and peace, not so much his wars triumphantly achieved, his civic deeds accomplished and his glory quickly won, changed to a new heavenly body, a flaming star; but still more his offspring deified him.

Not only is Caesar is a God, he's the father of our current Emperor.    >>

Sometimes ancient writers like Ovid come across as pathetic groveling suck ups. Because they were. They had to be. On account of how ancient culture put power in the hands of a few rich guys and all. Although this is disgustingly un-American, I have learned to get over it, and accept them as people of their time and place.

Anyway, the point Ovid is building to is, Julius Caesar is especially swell because he is the father of our current emperor, Augustus Caesar.

For there is no work among [page 419] all Caesar's achievements greater than this, that he became the father of this our Emperor.....With him as ruler of the world, you have indeed, O heavenly ones, showered rich blessings upon the human race! So then, that his son might not be born of mortal seed, Caesar must needs be made a god.

The Gods knew the coup plotters were, um, 
plotting to murder Caesar.    >>

caesarCoupPlotters.jpgWhen the golden mother of Aeneas saw ....that an armed conspiracy was forming, she paled with fear and cried to all the Gods as she met them in turn: "....Look! do you not see that impious daggers are being whetted? Ward them off, I pray, prevent this crime and let not Vesta's fires be extinguished by her high-priest's blood ! "[page 421]

But even the Gods are powerless to, um, 
overpower fate..    >>

The anxious goddess cried these complaints throughout the sky, but all in vain. The Gods were moved indeed ; and although they were not able to break the iron decrees of the ancient sisters[fate] ,

jesusDarkness.jpgBut the Gods did send signs, aka "portents", of the great man's death. Stuff like 
the sun getting dark
dead folks up an walking around
earthquakes.

 

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still they gave no uncertain portents of the woe that was at hand. They say that the clashing of arms amid the dark storm-cloudsand fear-inspiring trumpets and horns heard in the skyforewarned men of the crime ; alsothe darkened face of the sun shone with lurid lightupon the troubled lands. Often firebrandswere seen to flash amidst the stars; often drops of blood fell down from the clouds ; the morning-star was of dusky hue and his face was blotched with dark red spots, and Luna's chariot was stained with blood. In a thousand places the Stygian owl gave forth his mournful warnings ; in a thousand places ivory statues dripped tears, and in the sacred groves wailing notes and threatening words were heard. No victim sufficed for expiation; the liver warnedthat portentous struggles were at hand and its lobe was found cleft amidst the entrails. In the marketplace and around men's houses and the temples of the Gods dogs howled by night, the shades of the silent dead walked abroad and the city was shaken withearthquakes.

Caesar got stabbed anyway.    >>

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Yet even so, the warnings of the Gods were unable to check the plots of men and the advancing fates. Naked swords were brought into the sacred curia; for no place in the whole city would do for this crime, this dreadful deed of blood, save only that.

After which God the Father up in Heaven said Caesar would be raised up to heaven, and be worshiped on Earth.    >>

h852.jpg... Then thus the Father spoke: ".... This son of thine, goddess of Cythera, for whom thou grievest, has fulfilled his allotted time, and his years are finished which he owed to earth. That as a God he may enter heaven and have his place in temples on the earth, thou shalt accomplish, thou and his son.

Ovid was able to quote God the Father word for word, including a number of His prophecies.    >>

(You will be amazed to learn, all these prophecies actually came true!)

 

 

augustus.jpgHe as successor to the name shall bear alone the burden placed on him, and, as the most valiant avenger of his father's murder, heshall have us as ally for his wars. Under his command the conquered walls of leaguered Mutina shallsue for peace ; Pharsalia shall feel his power; Emathian Philippishall reek again with blood; and he of the great name shall be overcome on Sicilian waters. A Roman general's Egyptian mistress, who did not well to rely upon the union, shall fall before him, and in vain shall she have threatened that our Capitol shallbow to her Canopus. But why should I recall barbaric lands to you and nations lying on either ocean-shore? Nay, whatsoever habitable land the earth contains shall be his, and the sea also shall come beneath his sway ! [page 425]

"When peace has been bestowed upon all lands he shall turn his mind to the rights of citizens, and as a most righteous jurist promote the laws. By his own good example shall he direct the ways of men, and, looking forward to future time and coming generations, he shall bid the son: born of his chaste wife, to bear his name and the burden of his cares;

 

Blah, blah heaven. Blah blah soul.

 

 

and not till after he as an old mail shall have equaled Nestor's years shall he attain the heavenly seats and his related stars. Meanwhile do thou catch up this a soul from the slain body and make him a star in order that ever it may be the divine Julius who looks forth upon our Capitol and Forum from his lofty temple."

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Caesar's soul ascended to heaven.     >>

Scarce had he spoken when fostering Venus took her place within the senate-house, unseen of all, caught up the passing soul of her Caesar from his body, and not suffering it to vanish into air, she miracleStar2.jpgbore it towards the stars of heaven. And as she bore it she felt it glow and burn, and released it from her bosom. Higher than the moon it mounted up and, leaving behind it a fiery train, gleamed as a star.

JesusRays2.jpgAnd when the current Emperor, who is a swell guy, eventually dies —which I really hope will be a long long time from now — he too will ascend to heaven and become a God.

caesar-augustus1.jpgAnd now, beholding the good deeds of his son, he confesses that they are greater than his own, and rejoices to be surpassed by him..../far distant be that day and later than our own time when Augustus, abandoning the world he rules, shall mount to heaven and there, removed from our presence, listen to our prayers!

Ovid, Metamorphosis, Book 15 (8 AD), -- which you can find in: Miller, Frank Justus. Ovid Metamorphoses (1916), pg. 417 ff

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

ojo.gif
In the century before our gospels were written Rome developed a theology of great men who died and rose up to heaven where they became Gods.

No surprise
Those people who, like yourself, are highly smart will not be surprised by the Caesar is God business. Ancient culture had a wide tradition of dead people coming back to life. Examples follow

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Theron confessed. He began his story. "I saw riches being enclosed in the tomb and assembled a gang of robbers. We opened the tomb and found the corpse alive. We carried everything away and put it in our cutter. We sailed to Miletus, sold the woman alone, and then started to take everything else to Crete; but we were driven out into the Ionian Sea by winds, and you have seen what happened to us." He told the whole story but failed to mention one thing the name of the man who had bought Callirhoe.

Chariton, Chereas and Callirhoe, 3.4 (1st century AD?), -- which you can find in: Reardon, B. P. Collected Ancient Greek Novels . (1989), pg. 57
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Glycon

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Although Glycon and his prophet Alexander had other powers too. Stuff like healing the sick andraising the dead. >>

[Chapter 24] By now he was even sending men abroad to create rumors in the different nations in regard to the oracle and to say that he made predictions, discovered fugitive slaves, detected thieves and robbers, caused treasures to be dug up, healed the sick, and in some cases had actually raised the dead.

Lucian, Alexander the False Prophet, Chapter 24 (2d Century AD), -- which you can find in: Harmon, A. M. Lucian Volume IV (Loeb #162) (1953 / 1999), pg. 206- 7
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Apollonius of Tyana

jesus_icon.jpgThe 1st century AD godman Jesus uses magic words to raise a girl from death—she was only asleep

appolonius_inset.jpgThe 1st century AD godman 
Apollonius of Tyana uses magic words to raise a girl from death—she was only asleep

While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?” Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don't be afraid; just believe.”

He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was.He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" ). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old).
Gospel of Mark, 5.21- 42]

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girl had died just in the hour of her marriage, and the bridegroom was following her bier lamenting as was natural his marriage left unfulfilled, and the whole of Rome was mourning with him, for the maiden belonged to a consular family. Apollonius then witnessing their grief, said : "Put down the bier, for I will stay the tears that you are shedding for this maiden." And withal he asked what was her name. The crowd accordingly thought that he was about to deliver such an oration as is commonly delivered as much to grace the funeral as to stir up lamentation ; but he did nothing of the kind, but merely touching her and whispering in secret some spell over her, at once woke up the maiden from her seeming death ; and the girl spoke out loud, and returned to her father's house,just as Alcestis did when she was brought back to life by Hercules. 
[Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, 4.45 (217 AD),—which you can find in: Conybeare, F. C. Philostratus I: The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Books I - V (Loeb Classical Library #16)(2000), pg. 457- 9]



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Dying and rising Gods, remnant of the Mythic Jesus theorybullett_gargoyle28x30_faceleft.gif
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You can't read much about Christianity and Paganism without coming across Dying and Rising Gods. The theory goes like this: 
bullet_gargoyle_w40_h30.gif Ancient religions often centered on a "Dying and Rising God". 
bullet_gargoyle_w40_h30.gif Jesus was a Dying and Rising God—Jesus was just as mythical as all the other silly phony Pagan Gods.

The history of Dying and Rising Gods scholarship
Back in the old days (the late 1800s and early 1900s), drgs was part of a grand scholarly theory that saw Jesus as entirely mythical. There was never a real man named Jesus. The stories about Jesus were myths copied directly from stories about Adonis, Tammuz and other middle eastern Gods.

Even then the mythic Jesus theory had a long history, dating back to Charles Dupuis (1742- 1809) and Constantin Volney (1757- 1820), through Bruno Bauer,

 

If you read much about Paganism and Christianity, you hear a lot about dying and rising Gods.

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Dying and rising God scholarship got going back in the late 1800s, as part of a wider movement

 

 

when a guy named James Frazer came out with a book called b_the_golden_bough.jpgThe Golden Bough Studies in Magic and Religion , which pointed out that in the ancient near east Gods like OsirisTammuz and the early middle eastern version of Adonis, had all died and been resurrected.

(Sir Jimmy had such a good time writing this thing that decades later he was still putting out updated versions; one is thirteen volumes long. If you're buying a used copy be careful—it's hard not to get the various version and volume numbers confused.)

Frazer's idea was that all the way back to the third millennium BC, ancient middle eastern cultures had a"dying and rising God" cookie cutter they used to bake up new Gods, especially "vegetation Gods" that died and rejuvenated with the food growing seasons.

Now, it's just the next paragraph and you've already cottoned to the same idea everyone else did when they read the Golden Boughmaybe that well known ancient middle eastern God Jesus was just cut cookie number forty seven. You won't be surprised to learn that not everyone was happy to hear Frazer's theory, and that ever since people have been arguing if Jimmy had things straight.

Did Jimmy have things straight? Do much reading and you're bound to come across how modern scholarship has thrown over the tired old idea of "dying and rising Gods." Must we, sigh apologists, go on about these tired old theories—scholars don't believe them, why should you?



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Christians share a sacred meal with their God—Pagans did it firstbullett_gargoyle28x30_faceleft.gif
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I sit with Gods at their celestial feast."
[Virgil, Aneid, Book 1, line 76]

Was Christianity new?  Was Christianity unique? Let's talk about the venerable Pagan sacrament of the sacred meal shared with the Gods.

I guess you know about the Christian Eucharist, right?—the Lord's Supper. It commemorates the supper Jesus had with his disciples the night before the Romans nabbed Him and dragged him off, eventually to be crucified. Right? Christians still reenact that meal with Jesus, the meal with the God Jesus. You know this. Some Christians believe the meal is the body and blood of Jesus.

What you maybe didn't know is that Mithras' faithful celebrated a sacred meal with their God. So did followers of Adonis, Attis, Osiris, and other Pagan Gods of the Mystery Religions. New members of the Mysteries of Isis and Osiris completed their initiation with a sacramental meal.

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I'm still working on this page

"Still working" means I'm months away from getting back to this page. Meanwhile I thought you'd like to know that ancient religion included the idea of eating the flesh of sacrificed human type people. Here's a bit from Leucippe & Clitophon, a Greek novel written in the 2d century AD.

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Leucippe is kidnapped. Here she's dragged to a Pagan altar, sprinkled with wine, sacrificed (killed) and as part of the gruesome sacred ritual, her body is eaten. (The shock value was part of the fun. In this type of novel I mean. In real life it would still be gruesome.)

In everyday ancient pagan and Jewish worship living animals were sacrificed and eaten. The practice had died out, but at least theoretically people could also be sacrificed. In novels like this they often were. In our sacred bible (Genesis chapter 22) Isaac had been ready to sacrifice Jacob. The idea of human sacrifice was part of ancient culture. And so, as you see here, the logic of eating sacrificed people was also part of ancient culture.

 

...they had an improvised altar made of mud and a coffin near it. Then two of them led up the girl, her hands tied behind her back. I could not see who they were, as they were in full armour, but I recognized her as Leucippe. First theypoured libations over her head and led her round the altar while, to the accompaniment of a flute, a priest chanted what seemed to be an Egyptian hymn ; this at least was indicated by the movements of his lips and the contortions of his features. Then, at a concerted sign, all retired to some distance from the altar ; one of the two young attendants laid her down on her back, and strapped her so by means of pegs fixed in the ground, just as the statuaries represent Marsyas fixed to the tree ;sacrifice.jpg then he took a sword and plunging it in about the region of the heart, drew it down to the lower part of the belly, opening up her body; the bowels gushed outand these they drew forth in their hands and placed upon the altar ; and when they were roasted, the whole body of them cut them up into small pieces, divided them into shares and ate them.

S. Gaselee, translator, Achilles Tatius, Leucippe & Clitophon, Book 3, Ch 15. 2d century AD. Loeb Classical Library 1917, page 165-7
[Current Loeb is red; I'm not sure why. The 1917 edition is green and in Greek.]
Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Don't worry about Leucippe, by the way. Later on she rises from the dead. That also happened a lot in ancient novels. But you already knew that, right? 'Cause they told you in church.

 

 

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Here's how the Catholic Encyclopedia describes the Pagan Eucharists of the Mystery Religions

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"[There was usually the meal of mystic foods—
grains of all sorts at Eleusis,
bread and water in the cult of Mithra,
wine (Dionysus), 
milk and honey (Attis),
raw bull's flesh in the Orphic Dionysus-Zagreus cult."

[The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI, Paganism]

Christians share a sacred meal with their God—Pagans did it first

The Romans' Lectisternia
It wasn't just the mystery religions whose believers ate sacred meals in communion with the God. The notion that worshipers eating together would be joined by their God was widely diffused throughout the ancient world hundreds of years before Jesus. In Rome the rite even had its own name, "lectisternia."

A lectisternia was a sacred meal in which an icon of the God was actually brought to the table with the celebrants. In Rome the whole Senate celebrated a sacred meal, with a statue of Jupiter lying on a cushion, and the two goddesses Juno and Minerva in chairs beside him.

Yes, it does sound ridiculous. But it wasn't to the ancients, and in fact the rite was common to many ancient Gods. The Christian apologist Arnobius describes the process:read_ancients_rollover_not_over.gif

 

"The lectisternium of Ceres will be on the next Ides, for the godshave couches; and that they may be able to lie on softer cushions, the pillows are shaken up when they have been pressed down."
[Amobius, Against the Heathen, Book 7.32]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Aelius Aristides wrote about a Pagan Eucharist in which the faithful of Serapis summoned the God to a sacred meal, where they

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"[set] him at their head as guest and diner."
[Aelius Aristides, Oration 8.54, 2d century AD]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Dating lectisternia
The Roman ritual, copied from the earlier Greek theoxenia, was first described in Rome by the Sibylline Books in B.C. 399.

From the start of the third century B.C. the banquet was regularly given to the three Capitoline divinities, Jupiter, Juno and Minerva on November 13th. During the Empire, the date changed to September13th.

Which Gods?
Devotees of Hercules celebrated sacred meals this way, as did those of:

bullet_gargoyle_w40_h30.gifJupiter
bullet_gargoyle_w40_h30.gifJuno
bullet_gargoyle_w40_h30.gifMinerva
bullet_gargoyle_w40_h30.gifVolcanus
bullet_gargoyle_w40_h30.gifApollo
bullet_gargoyle_w40_h30.gifVenus

bullet_gargoyle_w40_h30.gifVesta
bullet_gargoyle_w40_h30.gifCeres