Friday, September 16, 2016

Abraham the instigator; the first of a lot of things

International trade arose from curiosity

When the beginning of global trade is discussed, scholars commonly emphasize the exchange of goods and violence, and neglect to mention that the exchange of ideas, skills and knowledge (and even DNA) did most of the shaping of humanity's early cultural world.

Various crafts emerged simultaneously all over the Eurasian landmass, which nowadays is admitted to be caused by a huge prehistoric network of blather. Sensational history telling has us believe that the people of the old world were continuously at war with each other, but that is as illogical as far from the truth.

Fighting is a supremely inefficient means to get by, and population densities were so low that very little competition resulted in very little friction and very little wars. Even in today's overcrowded day and age, most violent conflicts happen on TV and not outdoors.

It takes some getting used to but Biblical time is not the same as historical time. It's rather a schedule in complexity, somewhat similar to the "four years" of high school which actually takes you six years of historical time to complete. Hence, when we discuss Biblical history, the word "first" marks a level of complexity not a particular point in time.

As such, Abraham is the "first" character in the Bible who properly itinerates and even circulates (and read our article on the name Hebrew for a look at the typical inquisitive nature of Abraham's journey), the first to be rich (in cattle and precious metals; Genesis 13:2), the first to compete and to establish a peaceful economic pact (with Lot; 13:6-12), the first to view the entire world as his oyster (13:14-15) and to whom the sky was the limit (15:5).

Abraham was the first to pay property tax, namely 10% (to Melchizedek; Genesis 14:20), and this was adopted into Israel's national policy (Genesis 28:22, Numbers 18:26, Hebrews 7:5). The first time the Bible speaks of a commercial purchase is in Genesis 17, where circumcision is instituted as sign of the great covenant, and YHWH orders Abraham to include the men he had acquired via purchase (miqna, which is related to the name Cain).

The first monetary transaction occurs as restitution for Sarah's disgrace by Abimelech (Genesis 20:16; because Abraham was also the first to pimp off his wife, twice: Genesis 20 and 12:11-20).
A first century Shekel

The first actual purchase with money described in the Bible is Abraham's flamboyantly negotiated acquisition of the cave of Machpelah from Ephron, son of Zohar of Heth. Abraham wanted that cave and wanted to pay for it in order to properly burry Sarah (Genesis 23). He paid 400 shekels for it (23:16), according to the "passing of trade" ('aber lasahar, from the same root as the name Hebrew).

The shekel probably started out as a standard weight (proper monetary coinage was probably invented by the Lydians in the 8th century BC), although it's a mystery how this standard was obtained or maintained. Still, a commercial standard based on the common usage of a unit of wealth demonstrates an advanced level of social sophistication.

Abraham the camel man

A somewhat more hairy unit of wealth was the camel, but where the English word "camel" is solely reserved for that humped beast of burden, the Hebrew cognate gamal, meaning camel, comes from the identical verb gamal, which means to trade or invest. In other words: the Hebrew noun gamal does not denote a specific biological genus, it describes a particular economic function, namely that of investing and long-distance trading.

The unit of long distance trade
The camel too gets its Biblical introduction in the Abraham cycle, namely when the Egyptian Pharaoh reimburses Abram for the Sarai incident with sheep, cattle, donkeys, servants and camels (12:16).

The next time Abraham's proverbial camels are mentioned is when Abraham sends his chief of staff (probably Eliezer) north to his family's land with "ten" camels and the whole of Abraham's wealth in his hand (24:10), in order to obtain a wife for Isaac (and note the emphasis on the personal freedom upon which all trade is based: 24:5-8).

The first time the verb gamal is used, surprisingly enough, is in the statement, "The child grew and was weaned (or more literally: invested in during its startup period), and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned" (21:8).

Since the name Isaac means joy or fun, this statement also explains that the result of international trade is play, leisure and entertainment.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fun with Abraham and Zarathustra

Very few modern commentators will deny that the story of Jesus was told in such a way that besides convey absolute truth, it also responded to the hippest beliefs in the Greco-Roman world.

For instance, the signature Christian phrases "Savior of the World," "King of Kings" and even "Son of God" were not coined by Paul as is commonly thought, but came straight out of the Roman Imperial cult, and see our article on the name Homer for a lengthy look at Greek legacy in the New Testament.

Though doubtlessly conveyed from a very ancient past, the story of Abraham was written in its present form during the Babylonian exile and at that time, Babylon was wholly Zarathustrian in precisely the same way that the world in Jesus' time was totally Greco-Roman.

The Hebrew Old Testament is as much as response to its Babylonian world as the Greek New Testament was to its Greco-Roman world
Zarathustrianism, brilliant in its own right, was an intermediate phase between natural polytheism and the monotheism nowadays commonly ascribed to Abraham, and the story of Abraham from Ur (which means Light or Wisdom) of the Chaldeans (an ethnically diverse learned class of Babylon, comparable to the Levites of Israel) most probably came about as both a respectful review of Zarathustrianism and a formal objection to some of its tenets.

It's not clear to which extend the literary Zarathustra represents an actual historical individual, but it's altogether quite probable that the function of the literary character of Zarathustra in the Avesta marks a level of complexity, just like Abraham in the Torah, namely the level associated with an unrestricted global currency of ideas. As we made clear in our article on the name Abraham, the world-wide exchange of ideas pretty much began with the domestication of the camel, which explains why the camel is so important in the Abraham cycle.

In the name Zarathustra

Zarathustra, the celebrated
inventor of monotheism
It's not wholly clear what the name Zarathustra means but scholars generally agree that it consists of two parts and that the second part means camel. In other words: Like Abraham, Zarathustra too reflects international exchange.

The first part of the name Zarathustra is the mystery bit; we don't even know for sure whether it's "Zarath-" or "Zara-", which means that the second part is either ushtra, meaning camel, or thushtra, which, we can't help notice, has some phonetic similarity to the name Terah, which belongs to Abraham's father but which doesn't seem to mean much in Hebrew.

But Abram and his family were natives of Chaldea and their names may in fact be not Semitic but Indo-European and transliterated into Hebrew in such a way that they seem Semitic (something similar was done to Levite names such as Moses and Aaron, which were most probably originally Egyptian names, made to look Semitic).

The Greeks appear to have thought that the first part of the name Zarathusthra was "Zara-" because they transliterated it as Zoroaster (zoro aster = Gold Star, the second part being similar to the name Esther, also Persian). Whatever the "Zarath-" or "Zara-" part of the name Zarathustra might have meant, it bears an uncanny resemblance to the name Sarah, belonging to Abraham's wife and half sister. Some scholars even believe that the first part of the name Zarathustra contains a Vedic element har, which immediately brings to mind the name of Abraham's brother Haran (the -an part being a very common Hebrew formative extension).

Perhaps the Hebrew authors were bound by historical events and names and all these similarities are coincidences, but probably more likely is that the Hebrew authors reflected the real past of mankind in forms they chose freely. More attractive still is the possibility that these names reflect concepts that stem from very deep antiquity, when language was being formed by the same forces that formed the rest of humanity.

The kinship of Abraham and Zoroastrianism is nevertheless clearly and respectfully demonstrated by Matthew, in whose nativity account the infant Christ was tracked down via the cosmology of Zoroastrian priests long before anybody else had any idea what was going on (Matthew 2:1).

Happy days are here again

The primary symbol of Zarathustrianism is the Faravahar, the famous winged disk that still dominates the symbology of modern Iran. It is thought to depict a fravashi, a person's private spirit, perhaps not unlike the personal angel recognized by the New Testament authors (Matthew 18:10, Acts 12:15).

The Faravahar depicting a depicting a fravashi

It's unclear what the word fravashi precisely means but it's generally considered to derive from the element var-, which may mean to choose (so that fravashi means He Who Chooses), or to cover (so, He Who Covers). That's again significant because (1) the name Lot means precisely that: Covering, and (2) the ab-part of the name Abram means father, which in turn may stem from a verb that means to chose, or rather "having the statutory right to chose".

The Bible also obviously recognizes personal angels of whole nations (Exodus 23:23, Daniel 10:20) and although the origin of the Faravahar is formally obscure, it may very well represent the spirit of free global exchange; the fravashi of Abraham, so to speak.

The meaning and etymology of the name Abraham are obscure and much debated, but one possibility is that is contains the element 'abar, meaning to use wings or feathers (in order to protect), from the majestic root 'br, meaning to be strong or firm. This verb is also the root of the divine name Abir (the Mighty One; Genesis 49:24).

The Faravahar is commonly depicted with a little man sitting in the disk. This is thought to be Asshur, the chief deity of Assyria. It's not clear what idea the divine name Asshur may originally have reflected, but in Hebrew it is nearly identical to the name Asher (son of Jacob with Zilpah, and thus great-grandson of Abraham) and means to go straight (just) or to be happy, as in the statement be'asheri kay asheruny: in my happiness they'll deem me happy (Genesis 30:13). Abraham's son-of-the-promise was named Isaac, meaning joy, which clearly reflects the same or a similar sentiment.

Both Asshur and Isaac possibly reflect the insight that comedy is a very safe vault to store wisdom in. Had the wisdom of the Hebrews been stored in any other medium than the riveting stories of Abraham, Moses and David, but, say in mathematical symbology or long lists of statements, it would have not survived. In that sense the Ark of the Covenant is as important as the Covenant itself.

Fun with the name Abraham

Abraham, the father of all believers
 (Galatians 3:29)

The etymology of the name Abraham is an admitted enigma; the Jewish Encyclopedia even laments that "the form 'Abraham' yields no sense in Hebrew," which is a bit curt and if anything demonstrative of a failing imagination. But it's true that no degree of imaginativeness can render the name Abraham the meaning of Father Of Many Nations.

When the Lord changed Abram's name to Abraham (by apparently inserting the letter he before the final mem) He said, "For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations" ('ab hamon goyim; "father of a multitude of nations" -- Genesis 17:4-5) and for millennia people have concluded that Abraham must mean Father Of A Multitude.

In recent times we've recognized that this is nonsense. When we name our dog Charlie because that seems a good idea at the time, it's by no means insinuated that Charlie means "good idea at the time." The name Abraham isn't remotely similar to the phrase 'ab hamon goyim.

The 'ab- part of our name Abraham is traditionally thought to correspond to the Hebrew word 'ab (meaning "father" as used in our phrase 'ab hamon goyim), but that too is without any base. The original name Abram could indeed be construed to be 'ab plus rum and translated with Father of Elevation, but if the new name Abraham starts with 'ab, we're left with rhm, which doesn't occur elsewhere in the Bible.

This means either that Abraham is the father of something that nobody in the Bible ever mentions, or that rhm isn't a Hebrew word. The latter option is much more probable, and strongly suggests that the first part of the name Abraham is not Hebrew either, and certainly not 'ab, meaning father.

The second word of our phrase 'ab hamon goyim is the noun hamonwhich does not express simply a large number of people or nations, but the rain-like noise that emerges from a unified but seething throng. The third word is the plural of goymeaning nation, tribe or any culturally distinct entity.

The phrase 'ab hamon goyim positively does not mean that Abraham would be the biological ancestor of the horde of conflicting political nations we recognize today, but rather the bee-busy mentality from which all global exchange stems. Both the words 'ab and hamon demonstrate not a multifariousness but a unitedness, and the whole phrase much rather reflects convergence and unification than expansion and divergence. The phrase 'ab hamon goyim should be understood as a sanctified (that is natural and organic) alternative to the rejected (that is artificial and mechanic) tower of Babel.

Abraham is not a border-maker; he is a border-breaker, the embodiment of the second law of thermodynamics, the world-wide free exchange of knowledge and skills. His patriarchy is one of consilience; in him are summed up the peacemakers of which Jesus said they would be called Sons Of God (Matthew 5:9).

Read our article on the familiar Hebrew word shalom for a look at the actual, fundamental meaning of the often misunderstood Biblical concept of peace. Abraham was famously considered righteous and he met the King of Righteousness (Melchizedek) at Salem (from the same root as shalom, which is no coincidence; Genesis 14:18).

More fun with the name Abraham

As stated above, the original name Abram could be construed as purely Semitic and consist of 'ab, meaning father, and rum meaning elevation. But Abram originated in Chaldea, and although Chaldea was Semitic, it was situated on the border with the Indo-European realm: Persia, where Zoroastrianism came from. The root rum was widely attested of all over the Semitic language area, and there is some indication that it was used in Persia as well. The 'ab-part may therefore be Zoroastrian as well and since Abram was called Hebrew, which literally denotes someone who wades through and arrives on the dry side, what readily jumps to mind is the word Abas.

Abas is the Avestan word for "the waters" which in Zoroasterianism clearly corresponds to the Torahic waters of the first three days of creation. This word Abas comes from a proto-Indo-Iranian stem ap- meaning water, and the name Abram, all together, might have been designed to specifically remind of the two, later three, great water walks of the Bible:

  • The Spirit of God hovering over the prime ordeal waters (Genesis 1:2), 
  • Noah and company floating on the great flood (Genesis 7:17), 
  • Jesus' walk on water (as obvious fulfillment of the previous two; Matthew 14:25).

The name Abraham, therefore, may be not merely an extended version of Abram, but rather a completely different name, a semi-similar sounding Semitic answer to an Indo-European original, as different as Bart and Burt (Bart is Aramaic, short for Bartholomew, means Son Of Talmai; Burt is the old English word "beorht" meaning bright and is related to Robert).

Still, in all its mystery, the name Abraham clearly contains a marvelous wink to the Hebrew sensitivity for word play. As noted above, to a creative audience, the first part of the name Abraham could be construed to be similar to Abir, meaning "strength" and the final bit could be taken for the personal pronoun ham, meaning "their".

In Genesis 17:4-5 God says (liberally paraphrased): "My covenant (beritis with you, and you will manifest international exchange. No longer will you manifest Self-Enrichment, but you will be Their Strength; because I have made you the manifestation of international exchange."

Also noted above, the literal difference between the names Abram and Abraham is the insertion of the letter he in between the R and the M. This same letter occurs twice in the Lord's personal Name, YHWH, as if the Lord poured His own Spirit into the heart of Abram when He made him Abraham.

But it gets better.

The first letter of the name Abraham is the 'aleph, which sometimes serves as a mere cosmetic addition to a word without essentially changing it. The final letter of our name is the mem, which at the end of a word also often serves to mark a grammatical construction without essentially altering the meaning.

When we drop the 'aleph at the beginning and the mem at the end, what's left is the root brh, from whence comes the noun berit, meaning covenant.

In other words: the meaning of the name Abraham is generally listed to be obscure, but that's not because we have no ideas. Rather the opposite...

Friday, August 26, 2016

Why I believe in God

Our good friend Neil Degrasse Tyson,
always charming, not always without fallacy
Once upon a time, people believed that the earth was flat, and although enlightened moderns now heartily laugh at that idea, many embrace with equal ignorance the idea that the universe is a sphere. It isn't, of course.

It takes some getting used to, but the universe has four dimensions.

According to the accepted scientific model, it started out as a very small dot but then expanded. That's often thought of as something exploding, but that's really not what's going on.

The universe has no outside, so it can't get any bigger, and in stead of exploding, the universe is imploding.

On the grapevine

Imagine being duct-taped to the ceiling of an elevator shaft, and the carriage is parked all the way up, an inch from your nose. Now imagine that the carriage starts to move down and away from you.

You'll see the top of the carriage getting smaller and smaller, while the outside of the elevator shaft isn't changing. You'll see space being formed between you and the top of the carriage, but you don't see the shaft getting any wider.

Here's the crux: when you look at a star, you are looking down a long shaft to the top of an elevator carriage (the star).

Please let that sink it: a star does not simply sit in flat space, it curves space so that you are looking down a long chute, and the star sits at the bottom of that chute.

When there are two stars relatively close together, space will be curved in a bit of a fork. The two stars will have a joined main chute but each star will sit at the bottom of their own end, kind of like a tree branch that branches in two at the end.

Light from a star travels up its chute into open space, precisely like the juices within a tree branch do.

Stars that run out of nuclear fuel collapse under their own gravity and form a black hole (as it's romantically called).

Black holes sit at the bottom of enormous chutes but you can't see them because they radiate no light. They are surrounded by a so-called event horizon that does allow energy to travel from space into the hole but not the other way around (Hawking Radiation, in case you're wondering, doesn't violate the horizon).

All this energy stacks up at the singularity at the heart of the black hole, and because of relativity, time inside the black hole stands still relative to the rest of the universe. That means that any hypothetical observer inside the black hole would see the rest of the universe unfold in the blink of an eye. Or in other words: all about the universe outside the black hole is instantaneously projected upon the black hole's central singularity like a slide on a screen.

Galaxies of black holes are precisely like clusters of grapes, with pits that contain all the genetic information of the entire vine. And the blossoms from which grapes grow are precisely like stars. We can't judge what the outside of space looks, but inside it looks precisely like the inside of a grapevine.

"Let me sing now for my well-Beloved, a song of my Beloved concerning His vineyard..." ( Isaiah 5:1)
Ian C Whitworth photography
People have long wondered why life produces the shapes it does. In less enlightened times people thought that it all happened by blind accident and that we might as well have evolved into bricks. Now, with the help of science, we can understand that life evolves toward a kind of biological equivalent of maximum entropy.

Life does not evolve as away from an explosion, it grows towards an attractor. It tries to imitate what brought it forth in the same sense in which a roulette ball "tries" to roll off the ledge and onto the spinning number crown below. Simply because that takes less energy.

Once upon a time

When people talk about the evolution of the universe beginning with the Big Bang, they usually take you back in time, from the universe's present size to when it was smaller, and smaller and smaller, until you finally end up in the singularity from which everything came.

But looking at the change of the size of something is only interesting when something is added to that something; when it actually grows (like money on a bank account). The universe isn't growing in that sense; it doesn't get bigger because something gets added.

All the energy that is now part of the universe has been part of the universe since the beginning. Going back in time has no influence on the amount of energy you see, and even when you hit the singularity, all the energy is still there and isn't going to just disappear.

There you have it: the universe is shaped like a condom

I'm pretty sure that my audience consists largely of theists, which is why I'd like to stress that my objections against the Hot Big Bang Inflation Model aren't religious. My covenant is with the truth and my objective mind sees a universe of only phase transitions and no spontaneous generation. If on our trek back in time all energy compacts into a point of such unimaginable qualities, a point of such rage and withdrawal that nothing (including space and time) can exist, and then, somehow stops being just that, it should transform into something and not simply vanish into the howling absence of anything.

The universe today is as far removed from zipping spontaneously out of existence as when we would go back in time, and the whole trek back is a mere smoke screen. Packing all energy in one point doesn't make the universe more likely to disappear. To a universe in which energy conservation is a primary law, "nothing" is a very big word, and I dare say that the myth of spontaneous generation is right up there with alchemy, the ethereal universe and the Trinitarian dogma.

The hypothesis that the universe expands can be readily verified with a big telescope. But the notion that the universe came into existence out of nothing is blasphemy against common sense.

Sure, gravity is negative energy while the strongelectroweak force is positive and that neatly cancels things out, but then in reverse: why would "nothing" spontaneously beget an enormous amount of energy? Why that, and in that specific form? People worry about intelligent design, but I would like to know where the rawest of raw material came from, and what determined what its many baffling and precisely calibrated qualities would be and what it could be turned into and how and why.

Or in the hallowed words of Stephen Hawking:

"What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? Why does the universe go through all the bother of existing?"

Chicken or egg?

Time is a tricky thing, and up until Einstein people figured that the whole of the universe sat within time like an island in a river.

But since Einstein we know that within the universe there exist situations at which time stops (namely inside the extreme gravity fields of black holes, whilst traveling at the speed of light, whilst waiting for one's beer to be served), which means that time sits within the universe in stead of the other way around.

The universe is the river and time is the island. The universe did not start at some point in time; time started at some point in the universe.

Time, essentially, has to do with data preservation. Without it, you can't have a past, present and future. To preserve data, you need particles that follow certain rules and that in some way relate to each other, and since particles arose within the universe, time did too. But not all causality is a function of time, or else time itself could not arise "for some reason" within the universe, and the universe could not even have started from whatever preceded it.

In other words: only when the universe produced particles that could bind into atoms (that's called matter-radiation decoupling), time and space as we know it commenced. Prior to that there was a kind of proto-causality during which the universe was not transparent and had no events going on inside of it.

If anything, that process reminds me not of spontaneous generation but of sexual progeneration. That, you see, happens all the time, all over the place, and according to the same very precise and fundamental principle:

Parturition is a fundamental principle of creation
(and Biblical too: think Exodus out of Egypt)

There are two main lessons to be learned from all this. First: the biggest tree may start out as the smallest seed, but that smallest seed has always contained the whole and complete genetic information to bring about the mature tree entirely. Size, you see, doesn't matter; what matters is the seed-part (Matthew 13:31-32, 17:20).

To seeds, its the information that matters. It must be complete or else it doesn't work, and when it works, the information doesn't change, grow or evolve. All that evolves or grows is the situation in which that information happens to be. It's the result of the information that changes over time, not the information itself. The information contains the change, just like the universe contains time. Not the other way around.

Secondly, everything that has a parent begins its life with its own future adult form fully represented within, and that adult form must closely resemble the parent. What I'm saying is that the Creator is not only the cause of the universe (what everybody is always so hung up about), He is much more significantly the spitting image of what the universe must eventually turn into.

We are not accidentally evolving away from bacteria, we are deliberately growing toward divinity. That means that relatively novel biological principles, such as sexual reproduction, should be expected to closer resemble both the evolutionary attractor and the creative principle.

The implied duality, in which one precedes the other, does not exist; the chicken is the egg
We are persons because our Parent is. We are  conscious and concerned because He is conscious and concerned. Consciousness -- and particularly social consciousness, or rather the consciousness of society as a collective entity -- is not some accidental icing on the cake of the material universe but rather the fruit that the tree was programmed to bring forth from since before it was a seed.

I would bet that there are levels of primitivity beyond the Grand Unification, and that the energetic singularity from which the universe is proposed to have sprang will be shown to have arisen out of the confluence of countless parental agents. I bet that the singularity came about out of a structure that closely resembles our black-hole filled universe.

I bet that some day, personal and social consciousness will be shown to be like gravity in that it arises as the culmination of the countless proto-consciousnesses of all separate cells of one's body. And that these in turn derive from a fundamental quality of atoms. (My God, I never thought I would sound like Deepak, but there it is.)

Decades before gravity waves were shown to exist, Abarim Publications made the prediction that rotating black holes make a Chladni pattern of gravity waves, that acts as the null of the universe. Atoms would want to settle according to that null, and hence form DNA, after the Word of God that has existed from before the beginning.

That Word of which the ancients spoke is living information, and He exists in the realm in which our Parent exists, before there is anywhere else to exist -- so do the math (John 1). He existed before all thing, He is the image of our Parent, and in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1:15-17).

I personally love watching interviews with eloquent and intelligent Atheists, because the competition never ceases to inspire me. But all the time I hear people like Neil Degrasse Tyson, Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins say that Atheism isn't dogma and that they would gladly believe in something that would make more sense. Well, I am not dogmatic either and I would surely be an Atheist if this chicken model wouldn't be much more consistent and plenary. And more fun too.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Why evil is not the opposite of good (as per Zarathustra)

It doesn't happen often but on occasion I get mildly peeved by the ease with which even reasonably well-informed folks violate the most basic tenets of Biblical theology. One of these is the issue of polarity, or in simpler terms: of good and evil.

The root of good & evil

Much of the Old Testament was compiled and redacted from very old sources and traditions during the Babylonian exile. That means that the Old Testament is as much a respectful commentary on the reigning theology of Babylon as the gospels are of the dominant Greco-Roman schools of thought (the New Testament authors reviewed Greek Homerian and Stoic notions with reserved favor but treated the Romans like bananas).

The Old Testament emerged from a basin of Zarathustrianism (or Zoroastrianism), and Zarathustra (or Zoroaster) is the celebrated inventor of monotheism.

That is to say: Zarathustra overthrew indigenous pantheism in favor of a system that involved one sole supreme deity who was still aided and thwarted by a lot of forces, spirits and demons. One very important idea of Zarathustra, which has managed to pervade popular understanding of reality, is that the cosmos is the stage upon which forces of good battle forces of evil in an eternal struggle. To Zarathustra, these forces were polar opposites and approximately of equal strength.

Zarathustra promoted the still hugely popular bi-polar reality model of good versus evil

Zarathustra's idea's were certainly brilliant, but his idea of the eternal battle between good and evil was one hundred percent at odds with the Hebrew idea of how things worked. Zarathustra thought he lived in a bi-polar reality, but the Hebrews were pretty sure that reality was mono-polar. Particularly the prophet Isaiah had very little patience with the bi-polar reality model of his northern neighbors, as he roared:

I AM YAHWEH! And there is no other! Besides Me there is no god! I will equip you, even though you don't know Me, so that folks may know from dawn to dusk that there is no one beside Me. 
I am Yahweh, and there is no other. The One forming light and creating darkness; causing good (Hebr: tob) and creating evil (Hebr: ra'). I am Yahweh, who does all these things (Isaiah 45:5-6).

Satan (and here we go) is a created creature who lives within the same created universe as we do, and he has to obey the same natural laws of God, whether he likes to or not. And he can only get to people who fail to align themselves with the laws of nature, who are like the weak and ailing of a herd upon which predators focus.

Satan has no grip on 'healthy' people who follow God's law to the last minute detail (if that were possible). Satan can only try people the way an engineer test-runs an engine, and can only apply negative effects when the people fail in their designed function.

Darkness and light relate relate in a journey, not a battle

We are on a journey. We came from somewhere and we're going somewhere. The Creator made creation with a specific end-result in mind, and when folks dart off into literally a dead end, God issues a correction. This correction is understandably experienced as a negative to the correctee, but the unforeseen alternative is infinitely worse.

When the Lord's angel stood in front of Balaam, He became satan to him (in the sense that God was performing satan's function of opposing, not in the sense that the two are the same one - Numbers 22:22) and when Saul needed a swift kick in the head, God sent him an evil spirit (1 Samuel 16:14).

Similarly, the Mosaic Law was not issued as a code of conduct that had to be followed, but rather an explanation of why the doodoo was hitting the fan. Contrary to popular belief, the Law was not something that had to be kept, but rather something that had to be transcended.

The Law is like a blue print that builders need to finish their building. When the building is finished, the blueprint has become obsolete because it's now manifested in the building. Likewise when the Law states "you will not kill" it states that at some point in the future (a) we won't be doing any killing, and (b) this rule has become obsolete by fulfillment.

The purpose of the Law was to point out failure (Romans 7:7), which was also the job of satan (namely that of public accuser or prosecutor). Jesus obviously fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17), and with that He put both satan and the Law out of a job.

painting by Les Bryant

Just read Creation!

But even to people who lack the Scriptural versatility of a six year old, simply looking at creation will tell the observer that we're living in a mono-polar reality and not a bi-polar one.

Darkness is not the opposite of light but the absence of it, and the difference is not subtle. 

Darkness is the absence of light, not the presence of something else. When we switch on the light in a dark room, nothing leaves and nothing is replaced.

Light is substantial and consists of energy. Darkness is not substantial, and it doesn't consists of anything. Darkness is emptiness. It can not be made to go away; it can only be filled and only by light. Light can fill darkness but darkness can not fill light.

Light has a source. Darkness has no source. Light can carry information. Darkness can't. Light travels and can go into a certain direction. Darkness doesn't consist of anything and can not travel. Light consists of colors. Darkness has no shades.

Light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. It consists of unpolarized energy and as such is the source of all matter in the universe. Hence it existed before all things and since electromagnetism holds electrons to atomic nuclei and atoms together in molecules, it literally holds all things together (John 8:12, Colossians 1:16-17).

Light is the engine behind all chemical and most physical processes, including life. At light speed, time freezes and all distances become zero, which means that the speed of light is not a speed (there are no seconds or meters at light speed) but rather the edge of the universe!

Darkness is the absence of light, not the opposite of it, just like ignorance is the absence of wisdom, and not the presence of something else. To build something, one needs knowledge. To tear something down, one needs no knowledge. To love someone, one needs to know someone. It takes no knowledge to hate someone.

Evil is ONLY the absence of good, and good is the ultimate objective of the universe and the ultimate destination of everything in it: a finished building, a completed knowledge, and a perfected love.

Be excellent in what is good, have no idea about evil (Romans 16:19).

Friday, August 5, 2016

The pyramids, the Ark and the case for cold fusion

Perhaps I've been an engineer too long, or perhaps not long enough, but when I look at the description of the Temple of YHWH built by Solomon and the Phoenicians, I see a device of some sort (and read our article on the Menorah for a look at the Menorah as machine).

It is of course miraculously daft to forward the idea that the ancient Hebrews had high technology, if it weren't for guys like Christopher Dunn who proposed the same about the pyramids of Giza. More specifically, Dunn proposes that the pyramids are simple too accurately built to have served solely as burial tombs.

Accuracy such as employed at Giza is only required when volatile processes need to be contained and controlled. The pyramids would have looked indistinguishably similar if they had been built with far less precision, and hence during far less man hours of labor and planning, and hence for a fraction of the cost.

Had the pyramids been tombs or even any other kind of monument, they would have been riddled with texts and recognizable imagery. But now that they are sterile and barren, it seems warranted to conclude that they were not monuments at all:

Dunn proposes that the pyramids were meant to be power plants, but stops there. As an engineer, he feels that he should only take measurements and discuss possible applications, but refrain from guessing how the pyramids would fit into Egypt's society at large, and how they would have served this society. Here at Abarim Publications we're engineers too, but in stead of looking at the pyramids, we look at the Bible, and as such have a lot more to go on.

Engineering the Bible

A defining characteristic of the Bible that is often swept under the rug of formal religion is that the Bible speaks of one God for everybody, which can not be represented by anything stationary, and which desires to be known by men. The God of Israel is not to be approached via esoteric rituals and stubborn entreaty but via respectful curiosity and inquisition; not through blind obedience but through learning. The Lord is to be worshiped in truth, and His works and therefore His character can be learned about by studying nature (Romans 1:20). In other words: Yahwism is much more like science in the modern sense of the word than like religion.

The burning of the library at Alexandria in 391 AD
Most people agree that thanks largely to the Romans, the culminated knowledge of the ancient world was destroyed, but when people think of ancient knowledge, they mostly think of flowery philosophies and artsy fartsy stuff. But no, over the last few decades, archeology has unearthed enough evidence to support the hypothesis that the ancients had developped technologies that we simply can't imagine.

We obviously should diligently guard our natural tendency to couple our enthusiasm with our own ability to imagine things, and come up with far-fetched fiction that the ancients might have been able to make reality: time-travel, interstellar travel, you name it, or rather: please don't. That same approach has damaged the field of theology at large almost beyond reasonable repair, and it serves no purpose other than to distort and destroy.

Humanity has lost knowledge; Graham Hancock even calls us a species with amnesia, but perhaps our amnesia is not total. Throughout time there has been a tradition of believing that somehow certain elements could be turned into other elements. That process (or technology) was called Alchemy, and had to do with a device known as the Philosopher's Stone. The wisest people of modern times up until Isaac Newton have been searching for it. Where did we get that belief? Did we really make it up, or do we somehow collectively "remember" that it's bloody well doable; we've just forgotten how!

Alchemy and Fusion

Good news: modern scientists have figured out how to do it, and now it's called Fusion (in stead of Alchemy). You witness fusion every day because sunlight is a result of fusion. In the core of the sun, every four hydrogen atoms are mushed together to make one helium atom, and this is how:

A hydrogen atom consists of (1) one proton (that's the atom's nucleus), (2) one electron zipping around the nucleus, and (3) a force field that holds the electron tied to the nucleus.

The Alchemist, in Search of the Philosopher's Stone
Joseph Wright
During fusion, of two hydrogen atoms, the electron gets hammered into the proton, to produce two neutrons, which then get hammered together with the other two hydrogen atoms.

The result is one helium atom which consists of (1) two protons and two neutrons, forming the atom's core, (2) two free electrons zipping around the nucleus, and (3) two force fields to hold the two electrons tied to the nucleus.

The difference between four hydrogen atoms and one helium atom is two force fields. You needed four force fields to keep four hydrogen atoms together, but you only need two for one helium atom.

The two force fields that are no longer needed, wiggle their way out of the sun and become the sunlight that we see.

The bad news: this kind of fusion goes against the laws of thermodynamics, and it takes colossal amounts of energy to get it going in the first place. Hydrogen atoms don't want to get mushed together to form neutrons, and they certainly don't want to huddle up with two more to form one helium atom. In order to perform atomic fusion, you need a monstrous amount of energy and no scruples against doing something to atoms that they themselves don't want to do.

Once you got four hydrogen atoms hammered together, they won't be able to break loose again, unless they somehow acquire energy equal to two little force fields they lost. You can even continue hammering atoms together to form heavier atoms (1 hydrogen atom + one helium atom = one lithium atom + 1 free force field) and distract more and more energy. When you reach iron (26 protons, neutrons, electrons and force fields), the game is up because in order to make heavier elements (like copper, which is number 27) you would have to insert energy in stead of getting it out of the deal.

Elements heavier than iron are produced in events called super novae, and if you can manage to break these heavier elements apart into lighter elements, you would win energy. That process is called Fission, and it's the operating principle of atomic bombs and nuclear power plants.

In other words: alchemy is perfectly possible, but the way we have it today it requires an initial investment of energy that makes the whole thing expensive, cumbersome and dangerous. The Philosopher's Stone we managed to build is too large to be of any use. There's barely enough food in the world to feed the beast.

Stone cold fusion

The original Philosopher's Stone was the size of a poodle. It's working principle was a mysterious process that in our day and age is colloquially known as Cold Fusion, which is a process which the scientific world generally deems impossible. But is it?

In 1989, Fleischmann and Pons famously reported excess energy emanating from an installation that involved so-called "heavy water". Their findings caused an enormous riot, not because it might have worked but because if it had worked it would have engaged a hitherto unknown natural principle. And much worse: this principle promised unlimited and freely available energy for all.

Fleischmann and Pons' nifty Cold Fusion wasn't disproved (beyond the observation that our presently know laws of physics don't support it), it was yelled off the table by hysteric, and may we add: heavily funded, Hot Fusion researchers and their oily backers.

Here at Abarim Publications we are neither physicists nor heavily funded, so our scope grows misty in that direction. But in the direction we are skilled to look (namely Biblical Scriptures), things look suspiciously bright for the cold fusion camp.

On the font-page of our main website, we've already suggested that under specific circumstances, atoms can be persuaded to cluster together to form molecules the size and complexity of DNA. Now we'd like to postulate that cold fusion is possible when atoms are somehow "persuaded" to huddle together into heavier elements and voluntarily release their energy. We don't have complicated mathematics to back all this up, but we do have compelling textual evidence.

The pyramids of Giza are mysterious for more than one reason, and one of these is that no mention exists anywhere in the substantial Egyptian records about them being built. It appears therefore that the pyramids outdate Egypt's recorded history (several other hypothesis point at the same conclusions, but these escape the scope of this article).

If we deem the obsession of our own recent ancestors with alchemy, a mere interest in something that would be nice if it worked is simply not potent enough to explain it. Something similar could be said about the obsession of the ancient Egyptians with the sun. What was it about the sun that was so compelling that it outshone all other elements and tributaries of life and being alive, and became the prime object of national obsession? The usual explanations of religious fervor simply don't cut it (and never have, if you ask me), and I'm sure that both the obsession with the sun and that with transmutation of elements came from the same source: the lost knowledge of cold fusion.

Water, water everywhere

One of the reasons why some researchers believe that at least the sphinx of Giza is a lot older than is generally supposed comes from the patterns of erosion on the statue itself and the basin it sits in.

Robert M. Schock, a geologist at Boston University concluded that these patterns came from centuries of accumulative water damage. Rainfall substantial enough to have caused this did not occur in Egypt after about 4000 BC, and we know that from archaeological and geological examinations of the environment there.

 But what is the water that damaged the sphinx and made the dessert bloom wasn't caused by rainfall in the conventional sense?

These days it's common knowledge that the designs and functions of the tabernacle, which Moses built from heavenly patterns that he was shown on the mountain (Exodus 25:9, 25:40, Numbers 8:4, Hebrews 8:5), and the Ark of the Covenant were to some extend also known in Egypt.

The function of the Ark was (1) to be a receptacle for the Law, and (2) to be a seat for the Lord and a place where man could meet Him. What strikes about the Ark is that it somehow was associated with a pillar of smoke and fire, known as the Shekinah. Perhaps I've been an engineer too long, or not long enough, but when I hear of fire and smoke I automatically think in terms of energy and fuel.

I don't want to sound disrespectful or un-spiritual, but if the Lord forms a column of smoke and fire, He essentially brings things together that produce the effect. Better yet: if the Lord wants us to observe creation in order to know Him better, He would stay very far away from so-called super-natural events, that is: events brought about by reasons other than natural laws, known or not.

In still other words: if the Lord wants to be known by the things He's made, He wants us to think about the Shekinah in terms of physics and chemistry, and not stay away from investigating it because it would be too holy. The pillar was observable, so the principles that brought it about are observable too.

An artist's rendering of the Shekinah

The pillar of smoke and fire represented the presence of the Lord, and showed up directly after Israel's departure from Egypt (Exodus 13). This happened before the Law was received (Exodus 19), which happened before the Ark was constructed (Exodus 25). The Ark was deposited in the tabernacle and the tabernacle became the temple. When the Ark was placed into the temple's Holy of Holies, the glory of the Lord returned and the place was filled with so much smoke that the priests had to get out of the building (2 Chronicles 5:13-14). To me that looks like someone pushed the on-button.

A natural process always consists of things going in, things being done, and things coming out. We know that the "things going in" consisted of enormous amounts of animals and vegetation, but it's not clear if these were actual organisms or rather another way of saying "food for humans" (1 Kings 8:63-64). What the "things being done" were precisely isn't clear, but it had to do with fire coming from heaven (2 Chronicles 7:1). What the "things coming out" were is even more obscure. Apart from it being a great blessing, we have no idea what the temple did apart from being spectacular.

Another instance of fire coming down from heaven and consuming a bull, happened when the prophet Elijah taunted the priests of Baal (1 Kings 18). Now note that the Giza complex was a lot larger than Solomon's temple complex, and that Elijah's altar was a lot smaller than the temple. It is as if these accounts also indicate that whatever it was, we were already forgetting about it. Another key to what was going on, however, is that Elijah battled the Baal priests in the middle of a period of drought (1 Kings 17:1). Immediately after Elijah's victory over the Baal priests, which consisted of the Lord sending fire from heaven, the rains came (1 Kings 18:41-46).

Streams of Living Water

The temple was destroyed by the Babylonians but several visionaries saw a time in which it would be built again, and in a way that would exceed its former glory. The prophet Ezekiel saw a vision of the new temple, and noted among other things that water flowed from it (Ezekiel 47:8).

Likewise the prophet Zechariah foresaw a time at which "living" water would flow from Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:8). John the Revelator even went so far as to speak of the River of Life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, with the Tree of Life on its either shore, yielding fruits of every kind and leaves to heal the nations (Revelation 22:1-2).

But in John's world there are no temples in the conventional sense (Revelation 21:22). The River of Life comes from a Living Temple, namely from a collective of people that are united into one mind and without being coerced (John 7:38, 1 Peter 2:5; the "things going in" being the blood and body of the Lamb).

Throughout the ages, political leaders have tried to pummel their realms into shape by force, and the sun has spectacularly persisted as preferred emblem to those endeavors. The Romans worshiped Sol Invictus, the invisible sun, and modern Christianity is unfortunately much more based on the Solar cult than on the Bible (read for more details our article on the name Nazarene).

Obedience to God is perpendicularly opposite to obedience to formal doctrine and clerical structures. Obedience to God equals freedom of the individual (of course within certain restrictions such as don't kill, don't steel, et cetera), and freedom of the individual is a nightmare to any totalitarian leader. Josephus wrote that during any of the three week-long Judaic feasts, three million people would converge onto Jerusalem. Then realize that the entire Roman empire contained 300 million people -- meaning that three times a year, one percent of the population would abandon positions of servitude and production to go party in the homeland -- and you can figure out why Rome's battle with the Jews was about more than religious bickering.

The final conclusion of all this (and where's my drum roll?) is that totalitarian coercion is the social equivalent of Hot Fusion -- and don't delude yourself into believing that we're presently living in a democracy, because we're not. The social equivalent of Cold Fusion is, well, whatever it is that makes the Body of Christ tick -- and don't delude yourself again; most churches today are wholly similar to the congregations devoted to Baal in Elijah's days. Enthusiasm, fervor and even certainty and faith are no signs of being right, see 1 Kings 18:28-29. Instead, no effect is a sure sign of being wrong.

The Body of Christ consists of people that are measurably different from the majority of humans, and can certainly be found not only within Christianity. From what we can learn from nuclear physics, these people are typically not focused on personal gain of any kind. That means that most of them are neither rich nor famous, and probably not very popular either. They are not organized in any formal way, there are no symbols or emblems nor mailing lists or membership cards and there are no leaders and bosses. They probably don't have many friends, but they are connected to humanity in a way that defies further explanation. You'll know it when you are one, and you won't ever be able to comprehend it when you are not.

But, don't be dismayed. In stead watch this riveting little documentary on cold fusion:

Or this one, which is more up to date but slightly more technical and a bit more angry:

Friday, July 22, 2016

Hanging out at the Abarim Publications campus

Our friends love to hang out at the Abarim Publications campus

The other day my evening was pleasantly graced by the arrival of two friends, who had separately found their way to the Abarim Publications headquarters, unbetwixt of the other's being there. My two friends know each other but they don't like each other all that wholeheartedly.

Friend A is preciously sweet but not too clever, whereas Friend B is not the dullest knife in the drawer but also not very friendly at times. We ended up sitting side by side on the porch, with me in the middle.

"Why do spiders do that?" said Friend A, pointing at a spider's web (I'm honestly not making this up).
"To catch flies with," I said, while to the left of me Friend B hardly suppressed a derogatory guffaw.
"It's beautiful, though, isn't it?" I said to Friend A, who was slowly developing an expression of full-spectral disappointment. "You should see it in the early morning when the dew still sticks to it. We all have to eat, but spiders break out the good china, so to speak."

Friend A took a sip from her tea, then let her eyes wander up to the stars. Soon she had forgotten about the spiders and remarked how beautiful the stars looked.

"They are the biggest things you have ever seen," I said. "Each of them is bigger than the whole earth."
  "Really?" said Friend A but in a tone that suggested I hadn't convinced her at all. To the left of me Friend B took a deep breath but before she could say something I turned to her and said: "Many people don't realize that a star is really only the visible part of a much larger entity. The other part is...?"

Friend B gave no reply.

"And many people believe that the universe is a large sphere, which is precisely the same as thinking that the earth is flat. Because the shape of the universe resembles most a...?"

Friend B again gave no reply and turned her gaze towards the indistinct darkness ahead of us, and I quietly hoped I had been able to illustrate that no matter how smart one is, there are always people smarter, while there is no supersession in the niceness department.

After a few minutes of quiet contemplation, Friend A wanted to know if I had seen clips of an anti-West demonstration that had erupted in some place somewhere earlier that day, and augmented her inquiry by saying, "Why do they hate us so much?"

Apparently, Friend B wasn't yet ready to form a response, so I said, "It's awful to be hated, isn't it?"
"But why?" said Friend A.

And I said, "Maybe they think we took something from them. And gave them crap in return. Or maybe bad people are stirring up folks who aren't mature enough to make up their own mind, and claim their own rightful piece of the pie."

Before Friend A could say something or I could add something, Friend B jumped up and screamed, "Spiders make webs because Jesus told them so! And stars are big because they sing Jesus' praises! And evildoers hate us because THEY DON'T KNOW JESUS!!!" And off she ran, leaving me with Friend A in a world to be inherited by children.

After a while of silence, Friend A said slowly, "Sometimes it's easier to love your enemies than to love your friends."

And I said "Amen", even though that's not my custom.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The top 10 of Hebrew words for love

Love, as all poets will attest, is a tricky thing.

Particularly since we moderns mostly consider love a feeling, and feelings tend to go all over the place, from eternally hot to stone cold the very next moment.

The matter of the nature of love is important to theophiles because since God is love (1 John 4:8), the very nature of the Creator is under scrutiny when love is considered.

Is God a feeling? Does God give you butterflies? Does God make you say YUMMMMMMM when your wet tongue slithers across the frozen swirls of a vanilla cone? Here at Abarim Publications, we think not.

The Hebrews figured that the "heart is the most deceitful thing" (Jeremiah 17:9) and appear to have viewed love as an action irrespective of emotions. That's not to say that the Hebrews didn't have the same feelings we do when we "love", "fall in love" or "make love", it just means that whenever you see the word "love" in the Bible, you're probably looking at the wrong word.

It's overly reported that Greek has several words for love, but Hebrew, as usual, has Greek beat by a landslide. Here are our roughly ten top picks for Hebrew words having to do with love (and follow the links to our online Hebrew dictionary for a closer look at these words):


The verb אהב ('aheb) is usually translated with to love, but it rather means to be attracted to or to be attached to, and that in a rather mechanical way (like a magnet to a nail).

It's used to describe a parent's attachment to a child, but not the other way around (as kids tend to dart off). This kind of magnetic attraction may obviously exist between a man and a woman, but this verb can also used to describe what impels someone to rape someone else (Genesis 34:3, 2 Samuel 13:1).

The obvious antithesis of this verb is שנא (sane'), which means to hate and which is identical to the verb that means to sleep. Sleeping in the Bible is often used in the sense of being inattentive or aloof (Matthew 26:40), which suggests that our verb אהב ('aheb) primarily has to do with being attentive and intimate.


The verb חסד (hasad) is the reason why we see curious words like "loving kindness" or "faithful love" in the Bible.

It appears to have originated as a word that expressed a kind of economic and emotional loyalty among relatives or friends or neighbors, but it appears to have moved into legal jargon as the verb that describes a formal contract or covenant.

But where in our world the word contract brings to mind a being bound by a law that when broken will land you in jail, the Hebrew word חסד (hasad)  has primarily to do with human decency and allegiance.


The verb רחם (raham) expresses a kind of devotional love that usually goes one way: from a caregiver to the receiver of this care.

It's often used to describe a parent's devotion to a child, and subsequently also God's devotion to mankind.

The verb ידע (yada') means to know, but it's also used to mean to make love ("and Adam knew his wife and she conceived..." Genesis 4:1).

Bernini's Ecstasy of Saint Teresa
This is commonly explained by suggesting that men don't know what a woman looks like until the wedding night, but that's most certainly prudish nonsense. Isaac and Rebekah were "having fun" (the verb is צחק, shahaq) to such an extend that Abimelech could deduce from afar that they were husband and wife (Genesis 26:8-9).

In a gregarian society, where animals freely mate and sexual "revolutions" haven't happened yet, the sexual side of life is openly acknowledged by everybody. In stead, the ancients appear to have understood that worship and sexual ecstasy are dealt with by the very same regions of our brains.

In other words: to the brain it makes no difference whether we make love to our spouse of to the Lord.

Via the act of copulation, life is passed on to the next generation and many commentators have noted that copulation is an utterly holy act.

It's part of a indivisible package that also contains a lifelong commitment to spouse and offspring, and it's no literary mystery why in the Bible the relationship of God and man is so often metaphorized as a marriage.

Since a marriage is consummated when the husband inserts his member into the woman's facilities, the appearing of the "כבד (kabed) of the Lord" into the tabernacle is laden with sexual phraseology.

The derivatives of the verb דוד (dawadhence the name David) are commonly translated with 'beloved'. But most fundamentally these words probably have to do with a slow, caressing movement or else the act of containing something precious.

Our verb seems etymologically akin the verb ידד (yadad), which also means to love, and which in turn appears to be kindred to the word דד (dad), meaning nipple or breast.

This latter word clearly expresses the whole spectrum of the verb  דוד (dawad) as one's ample breasts can be both a target to a calid husband, and the body part that contains nutrients for a baby.

Here at Abarim Publications we roguishly surmise that the verb ידד (yadad) may just as much have reminded a Hebrew audience of the word דד (dad), meaning nipple as of the word יד (yad), meaning hand.

Obviously, the hand would be instrumental to the male contribution to afore insinuated fondling, is expected to move with tenderness and is evenly amply equipped to contain something.

It should be noted that where in English similarities like this have no real value, in Hebrew they are among the most fundamental principles of ancient information technology.

The best part of all this is that the verb that describes the act of throwing hands in the air out of a celebration of joy is ידה (yada), which is commonly translated with to praise.

This verb in turn lies at the base of the name Judah, and thus the ethnonym Jew.

Ergo: the Jews are not only the Praisers, they are also the Ecstatic Lovers, as well as the Breast with which God fed humanity in its infancy (Genesis 12:3, Hebrews 5:12-15, 1 Peter 2:2).

Friday, July 8, 2016

How historical are the gospels, really?

This is not what things looked like in Jesus' time
Contrary to popular belief, imperial Christianity or "Christianity-as-we-know-it", didn't start with Jesus, or with Paul, but with Roman emperor Constantine in the fourth century. For its first three centuries, the original Jesus movement was a Jewish sect that lowered the bar to join so drastically (by for instance no longer demanding circumcision) that pagans could join with relative ease. And thus they did and did so in droves, because even though the Jesus movement was illegal, it was also irresistibly attractive.

Here at Abarim Publications we like to believe that the original movement indeed began in a certain historical Jewish individual, but the literary genre that would feature Him sought mostly to provide commentary on the times via His highly allegorical biography. The earlier writers (Mark, Paul and doubtlessly many we've never heard of) couldn't simply state that the Romans sucked and why, because they would have swiftly executed them. In stead, they disguised their more controversial ideas in The Adventures of Jesus. Take the story of the demoniac called Legion, for instance; that's pretty blatant.

This is what things looked like in Jesus' time

By the time these authors wrote, the Romans would have considered their works silly laments over some dude who got himself killed decades earlier, as one of tens of thousands of insignificant natives who had been terminated in order to preserve the hallowed peace. To their intended audiences, however, these stories were about a whole lot more. A Roman censor might have snickered over the absurd but harmless report that long ago a Roman governor had publicly released a known terrorist called Barabbas, but the gospel's target audience understood this story's subtle details. Likewise Paul's plea to have a runaway slave named Onesimus forgiven would have been considered absurd but relatively harmless to any Roman snoop, but to the real Philemon the real Onesimus meant quite something else.

Jesus was a Jew, but His movement was not simply a continuation of Jewish thought. After the time of the latest Jewish prophets, Judaism began to be permeated by Greek thought to such a degree that the Galilee of Jesus was no longer Jewish but rather Greco-Jewish. When the Romans conquered Judea, they disposed the Jewish king as well as the incumbent high priest and installed a political elite which was more to their liking. That made Galilee a Greek-Hebrew hybrid in the cultural sense and a Roman-Jewish hybrid in the political sense. All this gave understandable rise to a movement that demanded the utter purification of Hebrew religion, which included the return of a rightful Jewish king, a.k.a. messiah or christus in Greek.

The Siege of Masada meant
the end of the Sicarii
Jesus appears to have largely sought to avoid these people (John 6:15) and their movement quickly fractured into a spectrum of vastly differing sentiments. So-called Zealots were militant brutes, who managed to spawn an even worse offshoot called the Sicarii. These guys were sly assassins who killed anonymously and did nothing but evoke Roman wrath and bloody retaliation upon innocents. Our friends the authors appear to have represented these two groups in Jesus' disciples Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot.

Then there were Essenes, who solved the problem by completely separating themselves from main society and teaching righteousness to whatever audience would come to them in the desert -- the character of John the Baptist obviously resembles these. As told, this movement was beheaded by the Roman-Jewish government (Mark 6:17) but respectfully surpassed in virtue and effect by the Jesus movement (Matthew 11:11).

Meanwhile the Romans suffered their own share of attacks, both from without and within. Around the same time that Jesus was born in Judea (give or take a few years), a federation of Germanian tribes tore three whole Roman legions to shreds at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest.

The Battle of Teutoburg Forest meant
the end of Roman legions XVII, XVIII and XIX
At that same time, the Illyrians (in present Bosnia) staged their revolt and kept the Roman army busy for three excruciating years.

The Germanians got away with it but the Illyrians were wholly destroyed. At that same time Judea was made a Roman province, and while some insisted on an Illyrian-like armed revolt, most realized that a respectful dialogue with the oppressor would be much more fruitful.

 "Knock and the door will open," said Jesus, and with that He almost certainly referred to the great doors of the temple of Janus Quirinus in Rome. At peace time these doors were shut with great imperial fanfare. At war time, they would open, and horror upon horror would flood the land.

But the most vicious attacks on Rome came from within. When Julius Caesar had pronounced himself dictator for life (half a century before Jesus' birth), dozens of disgruntled senators clubbed up under the epithet The Liberators (namely Rome from tyranny).

And one late winter day, these Liberators proceeded to assassinate old Julius, hoping that this would bring the Republic back. Unfortunately, all it did was infuriate Ocativan, who chased and killed the last of the Liberators at the Battle of Philippi and pronounced in rapid succession (1) himself as the adopted son of Julius (well, it said so in Julius' will), (2) the Republic dead, (3) but resurrected as divine Empire, (4) of which he would be the first Emperor, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, (5) which meant that he was also the Savior of the World, (6) which meant that Julius had to be divine, and (7) which meant that Octavian was the Son of God.
The doors of the Temple of Quirinus
Matthew 7:6-8

All that he glazed by giving himself the name Augustus, from the Latin verb augeo meaning to increase, enlarge or magnify, and the derived noun augustus, meaning majestic or magnificent one.

The Liberators had bitten the military dust precisely like the Illyrians would three decades later, and became the thinking man's example of how not to do it. But the internal Roman liberation movement kept going strong. One native Italian people in particular felt they had a bone to pick with their domineering Latin neighbors, whose wretched village of Rome had now so gloriously taken over the world. These people were called the Samnites and although they had resisted Roman rule longer than anybody else on the peninsula, they too had grudgingly yielded.

One particular Samnite family was that of the Pontii. In the 4th century BC, commander Gaius Pontius had beaten the Romans silly at the Battle of the Caudine Forks. Early in the last century BC, the defender of the plebs (lower class) and military commander Pontius Telesinus had fought Roman general Sulla, whose tyrannical actions set the collapse of the Republic in motion. Some decades later, Lucius Pontius Aquila, a tribune likewise of the plebs, so managed to vex Julius Caesar that the latter famously began using the former's name as cuss word. But Pontius Aquila did more than vex Julius, as he soon joined the Liberators and became one of Caesar's assassins. By the time of Jesus, the name Pontius had the same regicidal ring to it as the names Booth and Oswald do in ours.

The Liberator denarius showing a pileus, a "freedom hat", which was the symbol of a freed slave. Such a freed slave was known as a pilleatus, which is often assumed to be the root of the name Pilate. 

When Jesus was in His mid-twenties, a perky Pontius Pilate stepped from the Samninte Liberator stage of Rome onto Judean soil, and stayed on for an unusually long ten years. We have two main sources of information on this man: Roman and Judaic. Even decades after he was deposed, Roman historians bore Pontius Pilate a measure of ill will that barely fits a man of his modest stature, and easily makes an unbiased reader suspect that he did something entirely disagreeable. The gospel writers, on the other hand, spoke remarkably well of Pilate.

The Judea in which Jesus was born, and in which He preached, was tried, executed and commemorated was not a country sparsely populated with complacent peasants but rather a land where the most intimate of human considerations were expressed in the most potent of people movements. There were no two clearly established fronts, no obvious good-guys and bad-guys, but two fractured mirrors facing. Tensions raged like bundled snakes and shared anger yielded brittle alliances between the most unlikely of candidates.

And at the very heart of that, a Samnite Liberator who was clipped of his balls met a courageous genius with no will to fight. Pilate pronounced Jesus innocent, because the Samnite liberator understood perfectly the position of the Judaic liberator: to render upon Caesar what belonged to Caesar, and to thus set captives free (Luke 4:18).
Vespasian, a.k.a. the Muleteer:
"The emperor comes out of Galilee"

Three decades later, the revolt broke out. Emperor Nero, who until then had entertained Paul, sent general Vespasian and his son Titus to sort things out.

Quickly after Nero's death, Vespasian returned to Rome as the new emperor, tickled pink by the legend that the new emperor of the world would come from Galilee.

Meanwhile Titus attacked Jerusalem and destroyed it and its temple. And as his father's nickname had been Mulio, was Titus not the Colt, needed of the Lord?

Thousands upon thousands of Jews were crucified and the rest was deported. What was left of the city was declared off limits. Judaism was robbed of its central temple and its sacred city, and without its heart it spiraled into an unprecedented crisis and onto its near-certain demise.

What saved Judaism and the unsurpassed wisdom it had collected over the centuries, was expressed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, which told of a resurrected Temple and a heavenly kingdom.

So how historical are the gospels, really? During the last few decades, archaeology and Scripture Theory have unearthed vast amounts of data in which a certain grave's cover stone slowly dissolves. The ever so vague outline of what lies beneath points at a literary effort vastly surpassing the traditional interpretations of the New Testament.

Here and there the hopeful few think they can actually peek through pin holes and peer into the howling hollow of history but the honest answer to our question is a rather sheepish look and the calm confession: "we got no clue how deep this goes, but hey, stay tuned for more".

Don't know yet, but stay tuned

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...