Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dennis muses...

"I am NOTHING without you..."

What would the Churches of God be without the Book of Revelation?

When I was a Pastor in WCG, I asked a Presbyterian Minister what he thought about the Book of Revelation.  He calmly said, "The man had good drugs."

Practically everyone on the planet knows something about the Book of Revelation.  It's blood dripped, vials, trumpets, demons, death and destruction filled pages are a part and parcel of much of our culture.  Every dis-aster ("bad star")  in our world that is of "Biblical proportions" can end up as the final Armageddon event.
"Har-Megiddo" or "valley of Megiddo" is where all the nations of the earth will gather to fight the final battle before Jesus returns.  I worked for a month at "Har-Megiddo" digging through it's history with a shovel and I can tell you, there is no room for all the nations of the earth to meet in that valley.  While beautiful and the gateway between Europe and Asia to Africa, the phrase spoken to me by an Israeli when he showed me the real Mt. Zion , "We Israelis exaggerate," comes to mind.  A few miles to the north in the Caves of Carmel, evidently Neanderthals liked the place as well, 200,000 years ago and  30 feet below Elijah's keister while cowering in the same caves afraid of Jezebel's wrath for his killing off her 450 prophets. Men don't fear other angry religious men, but they do fear an angry pagan woman.

The Churches of God would not survive or have much of a message were it not for the Book of Revelation and its Grandfather, the Book of Daniel.  Revelation is the grease that promotes the fear needed to grow their kind of religious organization.  Nothing generates income faster than "Soon" and "3-5, no more than 10 15 tops."   It is being used today, perhaps, even as a script, by some powers that be to wage war and achieve devious ends by any means possible it seems at times. Humans and sociopaths play such games in high places.  They know the memes that motivate.

The author of Revelation fed off Daniel for inspiration using many of the same characters and for many of the same reasons.  Revelation is full of astrology and astro-theology and the Greek writer was brilliant or demented depending on one's point of view.  Demented types can be brilliant I suppose. If you wish to find a woman clothed with the sun, the moon at her feet and 12 stars in her crown, you can find it on Stellarium in the summer of 69 AD by just looking up. I spare you.  The astrotheological nature of the Bible and many of it's stories and characters drives some readers to livid distraction.

 Daniel was written, not in the 500's BCE but in the 160s BCE to encourage the Jews during the Maccabean Revolt to hang in there until God took the Romans out.  In the same way, Revelation was written to encourage Jewish Christians stuck in the same disaster 200 years later with the same Romans running Jerusalem

Mr Vespasian the Beast              

     Mr. Paul the Front Runner for False Prophet in Revelation                       

Revelation may have been written shortly before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD or shortly after.  Internal evidence concerning the nasty types who were and are and shall be fits the times very well.  In my current view and in that of others, Vespasian was the Beast power hated by the Jewish Christians and the Apostle Paul was the False Prophet that got bounced out of Ephesus for claiming to be an Apostle but was not.  The Jesus of Revelation congratulated the Ephesians for kicking him out.  It may have been this embarrassment that Paul was referring to when he noted that "all Asia had forsaken him."  All Asia is a lot but it never seems to dawn on Paul that it might not be them who were the problem but himself. He asked God to forgive them. Whoever the author of Revelation was, and most do not credit any John of Jesus fame with being the author, did not like the Apostle Paul as a Jewish Christian.  Peter, James and John didn't like the man nor he them according to Paul's view of himself in Galatians, so this should come as no surprise. The Book of James is a direct rebuttal of Paul's book of Roman's but if you spend years in denial over the opposite views each author gives, you can come up with them all speaking the same thing, just differently.

Ellaine Pagels, one the world's leading biblical scholars, has written an excellent book on  "Revelations: Visions, Prophecy and Politics in the Book of Revelation."

Pagels writes about the four big myths surrounding the Book of Revelation that most swallow hook, line and sinker in many, too many, religious organizations.

Here are what she says are four big myths about Revelation::
1. It’s about the end of the world
Anyone who has read the popular “Left Behind” novels or listened to pastors preaching about the “rapture” might see Revelation as a blow-by-blow preview of how the world will end.
Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation was actually describing the way his own world ended.

She says the writer of Revelation may have been called John – the book is sometimes called “Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine” but he was not the disciple who accompanied Jesus. He was a devout Jew and mystic exiled on the island of Patmos, off the coast of  present-day Greece.
“He would have been a very simple man in his clothes and dress,” Pagels says. “He may have gone from church to church preaching his message. He seems more like a traveling preacher or a prophet.”
The author of Revelation had experienced a catastrophe. He wrote his book not long after 60,000 Roman soldiers had stormed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., burned down its great temple and left the city in ruins after putting down an armed Jewish revolt.
For some of the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus, the destruction of Jerusalem was incomprehensible. They had expected Jesus to return “with power” and conquer Rome before inaugurating a new age. But Rome had conquered Jesus’ homeland instead.
The author of Revelation was trying to encourage the followers of Jesus at a time when their world seemed doomed. Think of the Winston Churchill radio broadcasts delivered to the British during the darkest days of World War II.
Revelation was an anti-Roman tract and a piece of war propaganda wrapped in one. The message: God would return and destroy the Romans who had destroyed Jerusalem.
“His primary target is Rome,” Pagels says of the book’s author. “He really is deeply angry and grieved at the Jewish war and what happened to his people.”
2. The numerals 666 stand for the devil
The 1976 horror film “The Omen” scared a lot of folks. It may have scared some theologians, too, who began encountering people whose view of Revelation comes from a Hollywood movie.
The Omen” depicted the birth and rise of the “anti-Christ,” the cunning son of Satanwho would be known by “the mark of the beast,” 666, on his body.
Here’s the passage from Revelation that “The Omen” alluded to: “This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.”
Good movies, though, don’t always make good theology. Most people think 666 stands for an anti-Christ-like figure that will deceive humanity and trigger a final battle between good and evil. Some people think he’s already here.
Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation didn’t really intend 666 as the devil’s digits. He was describing another incarnation of evil: The Roman emperor, Nero.
Mr. 666
The arrogant and demented Nero was particularly despised by the earliest followers of Jesus, including the writer of Revelation. Nero was said to have burned followers of Jesus alive to illuminate his garden.
But the author of Revelation couldn’t safely name Nero, so he used the Jewish numerology system to spell out Nero’s imperial name, Pagels says.
Pagels says that John may have had in mind other meanings for the mark of the beast: the imperial stamp Romans used on official documents, tattoos authorizing people to engage in Roman business, or the images of Roman emperors on stamps and coins.
Since Revelation’s author writes in “the language of dreams and nightmares,” Pagels says it’s easy for outsiders to misconstrue the book’s original meaning.
Still, they take heart from Revelation’s larger message, she writes:
“…Countless people for thousands of years have been able to see their own conflicts, fears, and hopes reflected in his prophecies. And because he speaks from his convictions about divine justice, many readers have found reassurance in his conviction that there is meaning in history – even when he does not say exactly what that meaning is – and that there is hope.”
3. The writer of Revelation was a Christian
The author of Revelation hated Rome, but he also scorned another group – a group of people we would call Christians today, Pagels says.
There’s a common perception that there was a golden age of Christianity, when most Christians agreed on an uncontaminated version of the faith. Yet there was never one agreed-upon Christianity. There were always clashing visions.
Revelation reflects some of those early clashes in the church, Pagels says.
That idea isn’t new territory for Pagels. She won the National Book Award for “The Gnostic Gospels,” a 1979 book that examined a cache of newly discovered “secret” gospels of Jesus. The book, along with other work from Pagels, argues that there were other accounts of Jesus’ life that were suppressed by early church leaders because it didn’t fit with their agenda.

Mr. Claimed to be an Apostle but John and the Ephesians said "No"
The author of Revelation was like an activist crusading for traditional values. In his case, he was a devout Jew who saw Jesus as the messiah. But he didn’t like the message that the apostle Paul and other followers of Jesus were preaching.
This new message insisted that gentiles could become followers of Jesus without adopting the requirements of the Torah. It accepted women leaders, and intermarriage with gentiles, Pagels says.
The new message was a lot like what we call Christianity today.
That was too much for the author of Revelation. At one point, he calls a woman leader in an early church community a “Jezebel.” He calls one of those gentile-accepting churches a “synagogue of Satan.”
John was defending a form of Christianity that would be eclipsed by the Christians he attacked, Pagels says.
“What John of Patmos preached would have looked old-fashioned – and simply wrong to Paul’s converts…,” she writes.
The author of Revelation was a follower of Jesus, but he wasn’t what some people would call a Christian today, Pagels says.
“There’s no indication that he read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or that he read the gospels or Paul’s letters,” she says. “….He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins.”
4. There is only one Book of Revelation
There’s no other book in the Bible quite like Revelation, but there are plenty of books like Revelation that didn’t make it into the Bible, Pagels says.
Early church leaders suppressed an “astonishing” range of books that claimed to be revelations from apostles such as Peter and James. Many of these books were read and treasured by Christians throughout the Roman Empire, she says.
There was even another “Secret Revelation of John.” In this one, Jesus wasn’t a divine warrior, but someone who first appeared to the apostle Paul as a blazing light, then as a child, an old man and, some scholars say, a woman.
So why did the revelation from John of Patmos make it into the Bible, but not the others?
Pagels traces that decision largely to Bishop Athanasius, a pugnacious church leader who championed Revelation about 360 years after the death of Jesus.
Athanasius was so fiery that during his 46 years as bishop he was deposed and exiled five times. He was primarily responsible for shaping the New Testament while excluding books he labeled as hearsay, Pagels says.
Many church leaders opposed including Revelation in the New Testament. Athanasius’s predecessor said the book was “unintelligible, irrational and false.”
Athanasius, though, saw Revelation as a useful political tool. He transformed it into an attack ad against Christians who questioned him.
Rome was no longer the enemy; those who questioned church authority were the anti-Christs in Athanasius’s reading of Revelation, Pagels says.
“Athanasius interprets Revelation’s cosmic war as a vivid picture of his own crusade against heretics and reads John’s visions as a sharp warning to Christian dissidents,” she writes. “God is about to divide the saved from the damned – which now means dividing the ‘orthodox’ from ‘heretics.’ ’’
Centuries later, Revelation still divides people. Pagels calls it the strangest and most controversial book in the Bible.
Even after writing a book about it, Pagels has hardly mastered its meaning.
“The book is the hardest one in the Bible to understand,” Pagels says. “I don’t think anyone completely understands it.”
In the Religion of the Occident  by Martin Larson he concludes his chapter on Revelation with:
"Revelation was the swan-song of Militant Jewish Christianity.  When Jerusalem was destroyed, when Rome waxed greater and more powerful, when the False Prophet  (Paul) gained more and more followers, when the book itself was proved totally false within two years, when it became evident that the Jewish Messiah-Christ would not come, the Hebrew Christians lost their virility and their cult faded under the combined assault of orthodox Judaism and of Gentile Christianity."
Prophecies are not written for too far into the future.  They are written just a little into the future and expected to come to pass in the lives of the writers and readers. It's why the Book of Revelation speaks of "soon" and "things which must SHORTLY come to pass."  The Apostle Paul made that same mistake with his assurances that "we who are alive and remain ..." ended in "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course."  In other words, he was wrong and it finally dawned on him. At least it dawned on him and he didn't go into endless excuse making as we see in a Dave Pack who slaughters Biblical intent at every turn and just makes stuff up making scripture mean what it never meant or ever could mean. 
If the Churches of God, whether United or Living, Restored or Brotherly Lovers ever figure this out, they won't have much more left to say.  Poor Bob Thiel will have to pack his Prophetic bags and go back to work.  Dave Pack will have to offer his half built campus up for outsiders to use as a playground.  The Journal won't have any more endless advertisements for folk to come on over and hear this or that twist on the whole end time theme.  
Making Revelation mean what it never meant and a book for OUR times is a huge mistake theologically and literally.  Believing that the Jesus of the Gospels is the same Christ/Jesus of Revelation is also a huge mistake.  But without the Book of Revelation to be twisted and finagled to mean what a Ron Weinland, Dave Pack, Bob Thiel, Gerald Flurry and others need it to mean, we'd not have all the Witnesses, Watchers, Apostles, Joshuas, Prophets or theological nut cases we now have would we?  And without it, they would have little left to preach it seems. They would be nothing...nothing at all. 


Anonymous said...

For those who think they have the Christian Holy Spirit 'drug', both the Bible books of Daniel and Revelation are a relevant part of what they believe is "The Word of God", rather than what those books really are - colossal mishmashes of widely varying human efforts to influence others in differing ways.

Byker Bob said...

Regardless as to what we think of the Book of Revelation, or who our favorite scholars on that topic might be, there is no question that the pretension of having the key to understanding it was largely the chief implement of our spiritual rape at the hand of Armstrongism. Frankly, the collective of church leaders we now call the Antenicene Fathers debated the validity of that book, with most considering it to be of questionable authenticity. The fact that much of the book is terrifying lends it to leveraging people into doing all manner of unnatural things, if one convinces them that it applies to our times today, and to them personally, and their families.

Most mainstream churches do not dwell on it. Those who believed that they received special, secret, insider information "revealed" to HWA, actually use this lack of preoccupation, among other practices, to invalidate other groups as being out God's loop, and therefore false. However, the lack of fulfillment, now past forty years from 1972, would seem to indicate who, in reality, is actually out of the loop. Error has neither been acknowledged, nor corrected, thus continuing the manipulation.

You are really not going to get yourself in trouble following the overt teachings of Jesus regarding time honored ethics, morality, or loving behavior. You will not be manipulated by believing that your sins have been forgiven as the result of the work of someone walking the face of planet Earth 2,000 years ago. It is only when some con man attempts to artificially create inner feelings of extreme urgency, and to convince you that he alone, and his group, present the only true knowledge, and the only source of safety, that the switch to your mind will be voluntarily turned off, and you become codependent.


Black Ops Mikey said...

But without Revelation the Cult of Herbert Armstrong wouldn't have much of a case to keep the Feasts, since it is pretty much the only place to divine the meaning of the days -- not that there's really strong support to keep them under the New Testament Christianity dispensation.

In fact, the end of Revelation pretty much makes the grand "meaning of the Feasts" rather moot, showing that they will be done away and will not be kept "forever".

[Note to true believers: If God really wanted you to keep the Feasts, wouldn't He have given you a calendar to know exactly when they would be kept?]

Oh, yeah, and even with Revelation there aren't any "eras" of the church -- it's just Armstrongist fiction to "prove" that these are the last times.

DennisCDiehl said...

Nicely put Bob. Revelation is the great derailer of kindness and compassion humans need show each other rather than the revenge and exclusivity of the small and chosen saints of the Book.

For all the chosen there are many more unchosen in the book and that's where the misery and misapplications begin.

Anonymous said...

I've come to look upon the Book of Rev. as "the fifth Gospel." Really. Jesus said He would never forsake his church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Fast forward to 95 AD and all the apostles are dead, except for John and the persecution of the church led many to believe that Jesus had forsaken them and the church would not survive. Opens with Jesus on his throng (See, I'm still here!) and he write a letter to the churches in Asia Minor (I know what is going on!). Then he tells of bad things happening, but end on a high note with the curse lifted and a new heaven and a new earth. The good guys are going to win and we will return to what Adam and Eve had before the fall of man. This, I think is Good news (Gospel). It is good news that Jesus came once and more good news when he comes back. Looking at Rev. as a book to encourage the church gives it a different slant.

Corky said...

Yep, "the revelation" was that Jesus is coming soon, in fact, his return was "at hand" at that time. So quickly was he returning that he was about to catch them unawares. They needed to repent quickly, so quickly that they were to allow all to remain as they were, no time left to convert them (Rev. 22:11).

Well, that didn't pan out, did it?

Anonymous said...

Talk about being incomprehsible... do you ever read your own posts? You need and editor or something.

Is the author of Revelation Jewish, Greek, both, christian, etc? I mean according to Pagels, not you.

Anonymous said...


Byker Bob said...

Well, obviously you did not take Mr. Shelton's typing class there, AC alumnus, or you might know about a little thing called the shift key.

Also, grammar is clearly not your strong suit, as exemplified by "There is a (sic) origin to this book."

But, hey, have a go at it. Hopefully you will share knowledge that you picked up while starting from scratch in the aftermath of the changes and doing your due diligence to clean up the ludicrous errors taught by classic WCG and the ol' perv.


James said...

Anon December 18, 2013 at 1:03 PM

Before you learn us, tell us all if you have a degree in theology.

Tell us if you have a History Degree.

Tell us what, if any education you might have as a qualifier towards higher education.

Anonymous said...

Corky: Comment on the expression, "I am coming soon (Rev 22); might there be a distinction between the term SOON coming and the IMMINENT coming, meaning that it is to be expected at any time? Or the term, the Kingdom of God is near or at hand; might this mean that it was made available to the Jews, but the Jews, for the most part, rejected it? HWA was a poor scholar. But does that mean what he studied was wrong?
Just because his interpretation was wrong, doesn't necessarily mean that what he studied was wrong.

DennisCDiehl said...

Anonymous said...
Talk about being incomprehsible... do you ever read your own posts? You need and editor or something."

That would be "you need AN editor or something..."

DennisCDiehl said...



Anyone, I imagine, can see the basic meaning. It's the specific ones that are more interesting and telling.

Aside from no comments on the actual intent of the article, that being that without the Book of Revelation, the COG's would not have much left to preach at folk, anyone think theologians are way off to think the false Apostle and false prophet of Revelation, may be Paul himself and who the Jewish Christian community was rejecting?

What might the COG's think if it ever dawned on them that Paul would not be their theological friend near as much as James would and that the conflict is evident between them in the New Testament. What if they could not have both and had to pick one? This would more accurately reflect the dilemma between the Jewish Christians under James and the Gentile ones under Paul.

How different fundy churches would be if the Book of Revelation did not make the cut and was not included in the canon as many wished it had not been.

DennisCDiehl said...

anon asks:

"Is the author of Revelation Jewish, Greek, both, christian, etc? I mean according to Pagels, not you."

Pagels notes that the Book of Revelation was written in by a Jewish Christian for Jewish Christians. When she says he was not a Christian, she means as we think of today. He was not a Pauline/Gentile Christian. She also, as many others, notes this was not the John of the Gospels. That is a mere tradition. John, like James and Mary is not an uncommon name and often get confused when used in the NT as well.

Any number of NT books are written in the name of a disciple or apostle but not actually written by that person. I and II Peter, for example are not really written by any Peter of the Gospels. It was written by someone claiming to be Peter which makes it a forgery. Long story. Ephesians and Colosians also were not written by Paul the Apostle for other reasons. Paul's original writings are Romans, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, I Thessalonians, and Philemon. I and II Timothy and Titus are so alike they were probably written by the same author, just not Paul.

One is not going to hear the actual origins of the NT, who really wrote what and why in Church. NT Church is one big assumption that the text is authentically what it claims to be which, in places, it is not.

Anonymous said...

Whoever he was, he was "in the Spirit on the Lords Day". Not much of Sabbath keeper... :)

Anonymous said...

Pagels view and yours is the early church, or what has been considered the early church era, is a scam: Somewhat like HWA view super-sized.

Your sort of gnostic yourself: The self and the divine are identical.

DennisCDiehl said...

Anonymous said...
Whoever he was, he was "in the Spirit on the Lords Day". Not much of Sabbath keeper... :)

I have never been able to get the sense of that. It does seem a simple statement of "I saw a vision about the Day of the Lord," which is , after all, the theme of the Book.

Even if written in the 90's and not the 60's, the church was way too young to have Sabbath/Sunday issues and I find it hard to believe they would use that kind of terminology. You'd think they would say, "I was in vision on the first day of the week..."

As a Jewish Christian writer, no matter who it was, Sunday as a Sabbath would make no sense to the author. Maybe to a Gentile Christian but later I would think and not this guy.

The other possibility was the phrase was redacted into the text to bring it up to speed for the later church in the second century. Such is the case with "Go ye therefore into all the world" etc in Matthew. Jesus had no Gentile mission in mind as Gospel Jesus and thought God would intervene in his lifetime and run the Romans off. These words were probably added later in the game to give the mission of the church credibility.

You see edits in the NT not infrequently. Luke 3:23 says Jesus was about thirty and the son of Josephy (as was supposed)..."
The "as was supposed" was added later to be sure the reader did not think that was true for doctrinal reasons.

Corky said...

Anonymous said...
Corky: Comment on the expression, "I am coming soon (Rev 22); might there be a distinction between the term SOON coming and the IMMINENT coming, meaning that it is to be expected at any time? Or the term, the Kingdom of God is near or at hand; might this mean that it was made available to the Jews, but the Jews, for the most part, rejected it?

NO. The context of the entire NT makes it clear that Jesus' return was imminent at that time and that the writers were living in the last days (Heb. 1:2) etc...

To make "at hand" mean "made available" is making excuses for the NT writers being wrong. Otherwise, "the time is fulfilled" can't make any sense (Mark 1:15).

Byker Bob said...

Dennis, Sunday keeping mainstreamers of today actually have made this verse their own! They reason that the day of Jesus' resurrection is "the Lord's day".

If we read the writings of some of the earliest Antenicene Fathers without unjustifiably placing them in the "Catholic" box, we learn that Sunday keeping had emerged as a trend amongst Christians much earlier than the second century conspiracy theory by which HWA rationalized his own theology. Apparently, a Christian's heart transformation occurred not only in Jewish settings, but was also very functional in broader cultural applications, such as the gentile communities. Sunday keeping Christians were being cruelly martyred, right next to the sabbath keeping ones, not for their legalism, but for their belief in God, and in Jesus Christ.

Certainly, while retaining their own culture and heritage, Jewish Christians of the day would have realized this. Otherwise, Gentile Christians would have been considered ceremonially unclean (as were the Samaritans with whom Jesus interacted, and also used as examples in His own teaching), and therefore unfit for fellowship. Jesus is described in scripture as stating that He came to save the world (not just the Jews). The parable of the banquet has been interpreted as Jews being invited first, and upon their excuse-making, the Gentiles are invited instead. Paul used the phrase, "to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile...."

Elements of the old HWA theology remain in our thinking for a long, long, time, and even creep into our new explanations. All theologians assign greater or lesser weight to specific scriptures. Relative preeminence of these, or emphasis upon them, can totally alter one's perspectives and beliefs. Apocalyptic literature was very popular, especially amongst the Jewish zealots, during the lifespan of Herod's temple. Revelation is unique in that it appears to be Christian apocalyptic literature. HWA would have classified it as Jewish Christian, because in his theology model, that was the only authentic kind of Christian. His explanation poses some serious problems in terms of understanding, if indeed the book is capable of being understood at all.


RSK said...

Sabbatarian authors make it their own too, by a different line of reasoning.
The first undisputed reference to the first day of the week is dated apx 140CE to 180CE. There are some contested references as far back as 70CE.
Revelation's author uses the term "kyriake", an adjective. The same word would later be used for the first day of the week around fifty years later, but as noted, it may have had a different meaning at the end of the first century.

(Yes, I know someone is going to want to post something akin to "BUT I DONT WANT A WORLD WITHOUT GOD STOP TALKING IN THOSE BIG WORDS YOU'RE SCARING MEEEEEE", but I think it bears mention being the only use of that phrase in the Bible.)

Byker Bob said...

Ignatius of Antioch, also known as Theophorus, not only did not keep the sabbath, but also indicated that to indulge in such lawkeeping demonstrated a lack of faith in Jesus Christ. Ignatius was a disciple of John's, and the legend is that he had been one of the little children blessed by Jesus. He was also the third bishop of Antioch, and was martyred for his beliefs.

He is probably one of the disputed sources to which RSK refers, disputed mainly because some of his works have been tampered with, and there is also a body of works spuriously written in his name. No doubt HWA rejected Ignatius as being one of the "conspirators" because he was the first writer to apply the term katholicos (universal) to the church.


DennisCDiehl said...

Byker Bob said...
Dennis, Sunday keeping mainstreamers of today actually have made this verse their own! They reason that the day of Jesus' resurrection is "the Lord's day".

I understand that. I grew up with that understanding. The point would be that the author was a Jewish Christian and would not have thought the least of that phrase being something akin to "Sunday" In my view it would seem the phrase is describing the contents of the rest of the book he is about to write ending in the coming of Messiah etc.

Who would care if he was in vision on Sunday or a Tuesday. On a Friday night we might expect he did have good drugs! lol.

Even a bigger concern to me would be the visions of others who said they "saw" and "heard" are suspect in any case. We only take that seriously because it was so long ago and is in the Bible. We'd not take it seriously under any other circumstances and would suggest rehab.

DennisCDiehl said...

Ultimately, how does one know the person in the Bible quoted to declare the mind of God or what it is all about really said that? Maybe the author of the book said they said it, but how can one know?

"Thus saith the Lord..." comes to mind. Really? How did that happen and did anyone else hear it. In the mouth of two or three witnesses and all that. Even Paul's witnesses to his supposed Damascus road experience were confused in what happened. And it is Luke who tells the story, not any Paul or "witnesses."

There are times in scripture where scriptural citations are attributed to Jesus where it is a mistake. Jesus quotes John 7:38 about if one believes in him rivers of living water shall flow from within him, as says the scripture. What scripture? There is NO such scripture in the OT.

Mark 2:26 says Jesus says David entered the house of God "when Abithar was high priest and ate the loaves of presence. (I Sam 21: 2-7) However the high priest was not Abithar but Ahimelech. Matthew and Luke notice this mistake and leave out the talk of the High Priest. If the reading is accurate, this Jesus is unaware he is quoting a wrong version of the story. Or "Inspired John" is wrong in saying Jesus said this and is just making it up for effect.

In short, one can't know what Adam , Eve, Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, Jeremiah, originally anonymous Gospel writers, Peter, James, John or Paul actually said or what the Jesus they quote said or did.

The muddled and contradictory birth and resurrection stories about Jesus are witness to this problem.

These are books written by men who may or may not be who they say they are. They write to expound their own ideas and were not ashamed to put words in the mouths of others they never said or ever could say.

With forgeries of letters and such written by this or that Apostle rampant in the first and second century, it's all a crap shoot. It's why we have theologians who study such things spending careers trying to sort it out, wheat and chaff.

I would assume that most early "church fathers" were as divergent and perhaps somewhat strange and opinionated as the folk we have around today who also keep churches "on track." Eusebius was known in some circles as "the liar" and Augustine was known for some rather disgusting views and ideas about how it all is.

It's just too bad the Gospels are all written in the 3rd person and no historical Jesus ever wrote a word evidently. The life of Jesus is often explained using the Old Testament and not actually knowing anyting about him it seems at times. Paul certainly never new Gospel Jesus or quotes him so his views are from the hallucinatory Jesus in his head. I don't trust that kind of knowing.

DennisCDiehl said...

1 Corinthians 15:3-8
New International Version (NIV)

3 For what I received (IN VISIONS)I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. (SO CEPHAS WAS NOT OF THE TWELVE) 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born."

This muddled view is how Paul knew Jesus died etc. It was not that he knew it literally happened. He knew it "according to the scriptures" or the Old Testament which he used to weave his own ideas about it all and often misquoted and misapplied.

Here Cephas is not Peter or Peter was not a part of the twelve in Paul's mind. Jesus appeared to a group of 500+ but no details, no who, when where and why. We never hear from one of these folk about what that was all about an no one else records such a thing. Is he making it up? How can we know.

Paul says he, and he was speaking of himself, went to the third heaven but could not report what he saw or heard. Really? Why tell us about it then?

The point being that for many, including Paul, the story of Jesus, from birth to death and meaning is not derived from Jesus but from the scriptures, i.e. the OT. This is not difficult to see when you read the accounts of Jesus birth and death.

DennisCDiehl said...

PS While disconcerting and not what one has always been taught in the Sunday School version of Jesus, Psalm 22 is not a prophecy about Jesus and how he would die in the details. It is THE Psalm that the writer of the NT details went to to flesh out a story he actually knew little about in reality. That's why the story looks like a fulfilment of Ps 22. It is not. It is the source of the details in the story of Jesus death needed to tell the story.

Anonymous said...

A Personal Comment about historical teaching.
When I see the effort of many to justify their beliefs or unbelief I by historical data I recognize that these are futile efforts. I will not go into detail why I think this, but will point out some things about that should be considered before we declare our opinions are stronger than those who have a different view.
One thing is that faith must come before reason. Unless we have something we believe there is no objective in reasoning. If there is an indisputable law, event, or principle there is no need for faith and trying to reason the why such a law, event, or principle exists would be futile.
Another thing is that all history is view from many different perspectives and is a matter of judgment on the part of the historian. The historical records related to the development of Christianity are not documented in the same manner current history is documented where we can rerun the events through technology. There are diversified opinions and what we accept is dependant on faith. The question is what faith.
I submit that faith is built on what we believe and why we believe it. I personally have built a strong belief that the universe has a purpose for its existence and we are an important part of that purpose. This importance is related to the intelligence and power that has generated and supports what we are a part of.
We may not understand this purpose, but the human mind has historically had faith that life had and has the responsibility of reflecting something greater than today’s human development. To me the biblical story reveals the fulfilling of this purpose as well as it can be reveal using human language and experience. It is human failings in producing the right kind of leadership that has distorted the biblical stories. Of course those who accept this faulty leadership can expect the problems we see.

Anonymous said...

Corky 9:41. The term Last Days is used, as I understand it, to mean the time from the Death of Jesus to the second coming. Are we living in the last days? Yes. What about Paul, Peter, James and John? Yes.
Anonymous from Anon. 3:51.

Retired Prof said...

Anon 7:13, what a great definition of the end times! In fact, it works for any beginning and ending points.

Right now we are in the end times of 2013, which began on January 1st and last through December 31st. Only a few days from now, on January 1st, we will enter the end times of 2014. In this way the end of days will last forever.

Anonymous said...

"The Lord's Day"? Might this not refer to Sunday, but a peak into the future to the Day of the Lord when God intervenes? Does the NT refer to Sunday as the first day of the week, rather than "The Lord's Day." Joel uses the term, Day of the Lord often in his short book, referring not to Sunday but to a period of time when God intervenes in the world.