The Angst Caused by a Comma…

April 25th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

If  you’re Catholic you were brought up to believe the Trinity is as part and parcel to christianity as Jesus is to the cross.  Most other denominations also hold the Trinity as part of the core  pillars of  faith. But was it always so?

The only relevant passage in the current edition of the Bible is 1 John 5:7-8 which reads in the King James Edition:

7For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

8And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

Sounds pretty cut and dried. Sort of.

First issue is this isn’t a Jesus quote, and not a burning-bush quote. This is a doctrinal commentary by the author of 1-John, presumably the Apostle John.  You’d think that if the Trinity concept was key to Christianity, Jesus would have said so, clearly, and distinctly.  None of the other patriarchs make clear and direct reference (Abraham? Silent. Moses? Silent…)

Secondly, the KJV is the authoritative English translation coming to us in the 1600s, translated from the Greek texts. Only, it doesnt appear in the Greek texts until the 1500s. Ouch. Not there. Never was. Big ouch. The inclusion of this passage in the 1500s caused quite a controversy (the Comma Johanneum) – surely heads were broken and families destroyed over this slight-of-hand.

There are raging debates today whether or not this passage did or did-not exist in some Latin variants prior to the 1500s.

Overall, it seems like pretty weak documentation for a fundamental cornerstone of a christian’s view of the nature of the “god-head”. No serious direct references to the concept exists prior to Jesus, Jesus himself doesnt talk about the new three-party system, and the only passage that seems to support the three-party system has fundamental credibility issues.

Politics 101.

Some of the Apostles were downright jerks…

April 18th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

In the apocryphal tales of the Apostles, they often did cruel and nasty things to their “enemies”. Maybe they were just bad-asses? For example Phillip tortures a challenging rabbi by having him buried alive:

Looking towards the heavens, Phillip cried out in Hebrew “Zabarthan, sabathabat, bramanouch” at his command the earth split open taking Ananias in to his knees.

Trapped in the earth up to his knees Ananias sarcastically announced “This is really magic that the earth split when you commanded it so in Hebrew. So there are hooks pulling at my legs to make me believe, but I will not, because this is witchcraft!”

Phillip sat down, crossed his legs, rested his chin on his hands, sighed “Ok, take him to the middle” The ground rumbled and Ananias sunk lower. Unfazed, Ananias said “One foot is cold, one is hot, but still I will not be persuaded by sorcery”

The 500 men, still blind, started to throw rocks in Anaias’ direction hoping to stone him. Phillip called for them to stop, “This is for your salvation, if he repents, I will bring him up, if not, then he will be swallowed into the deep” He spread out his hands to the blinded men, “Let it be!” and the men began to regain their sight. They calmed from their panic and gave praises of thanks.

“Ananias,” Phillip continued “believe now with a pure heart that Jesus is Lord, and you will be saved like these men.” Ananias spit to the ground and laughed at Phillip.

“So it is. Take him to the neck now” The ground rumbled at Phillip’s command and swallowed him so that only his head was above the ground. The afternoon labored on, Ananias remaining defiant, and Phillip speaking with the crowd.

Acts of Phillip

Or Peter… a man asks why he hasn’t cured his daughter, who is stricken with illness. Peter answers the man ‘oh not a problem –  just watch’, and he cures Petrollina. Everyone’s amazed. Then,

[…] Peter said to his daughter ” Go unto thy place, and lay thee down and be again in thine infirmity, for this is expedient for me and for thee“. And the maiden went back and lay down in her place and was as beforetime :  and the whole multitude wept, and entreated Peter to make her whole.

Acts of Peter

Or the Apostles Jude & Thaddeus, who are on trial for humiliating the local pagans allows venomous snakes to eat at his enemies for a couple days

The priests performed exquisite trickery, and the apostles responded with equally powerful miracles. The climax of the trial was a cloak filled with poisonous snakes forced upon the Apostles. Naturally, the serpents that did not bite the Apostles, but when placed on the priests the serpents bit and tore at them. The apostles would not permit the serpent’s venom to kill the priests, but permitted the pain to last three days.

The Golden Legend: Apostles Thaddeus and Jude

 

Something I Noticed In The New Testament…

April 17th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

There are a lot of twins, and sometimes is plain obvious. For example, the name  “Thomas” means literally “‘twin’. Thomas didn’t arrive with anyone else, so we would assume that he looked remarkably like Jesus, and got the nick-name ‘Twin’. But, he wasn’t the only Apostle  referred to in such a way.

According to “The Golden Legend” (the ‘definitive’ reference book of the saints – written in the 1200’s) Judas looked much like Jesus. As did James the Less (who is also said to be a blood-brother of Jesus). Oh, and Barnabas too. All of them were  said to look exactly like Jesus. Why so many ‘twins’ ?

See http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/goldenlegend/

We get some hints of twins in the gospels. Apparently Judas had to identify which person was Jesus so that the correct person was arrested.

When Jesus hung on the cross, there was a man next to him, “Barrabas”. Barabbas’ name means literally “Son of the Father”, which was a title for Jesus. More interestingly, according to Mark 15:7, he was imprisoned because he was an instigator in a recent uprising. So was Jesus. Is it coincidental that two men crucified on the same day, for the same offense, with the same title “Son of the Father” ? Later, Paul picks up a fellow pilgrim Barnabas who becomes an Apostle. Is this again a name-play (‘Barnabas’ and ‘Barrabas’ essentially are the same linguistic roots)?

Its not just Jesus and ‘twins’. We all know “Peter” is the nickname for “Simon”. According to Eusebius writing in the early 3oo’s, who recounts the tales told by Leo and Marcellus (contemporaries of Peter) we learn that soon after the New Testament events wrap up, Peter is in Jerusalem. A sorcerer is stealing the show from  the Apostles – he’s whipping up storms, raising the dead and so-on, on their turf. Peter’s not be upstaged, so he confronts the sorcerer – who coincidentally is named ‘Simon’. Simon-Peter relentlessly lays into Simon-the-Sorcerer.

 See http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2501.htm

Simon the Sorcerer takes off for Rome, and quickly makes friends with Nero. To impress Nero, the Sorcerer requests to be beheaded. Eusebius tells us he pulled off some whimsical slight-of-hand substituting a ram for his head, and the soldiers were none the wiser. Nero is blown away. Shortly thereafter, Peter arrives in Rome, and again confronts Simon. This time its on a grand scale, in front of the emporer. It turns from wit to fisticuffs. They literally do battle in the air – a 1st century version of the Matrix.  Simon on  Simon. Angels and Demons, full-on Dan Brown style!

In the end, Simon-Peter gets beheaded, and doesn’t resurrect. He was buried in a small knoll that becomes the Vatican.

On a broader scale, the Koran relates that the Crucifixion was a fiction stating that it was a twin that was crucified.

 …They said, “We killed the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of God.” They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but the likeness of him was put on another man (and they killed that man)…  (Qur’an, 4:157)

Oddly,  the “Barabbas” name comes up again in Islam which holds up the “Gospel of Barrabas” as a prophecy of Mohammed.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barabbas

Alot to think about…