Wednesday, May 30, 2018

There's something about Onesimus

In his letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul mentions Tychicus and Onesimus, whom he sent to the Colossians specifically to convey information (and presumably also to deliver the letter). In his letter to Philemon, Paul discusses Onesimus and his abscondence as slave from his master and subsequently contrition, conversion and return. But as casual and friendly as all this may seem, there is something quit suspicious about the whole affair.

Most forms of early Christianity were illegal in the Roman empire (on account of them being "atheistic", that is without idols, and their objections to the obligatory worship of the state and emperor) and Paul would have been very careful with using his friends' real names. When a fugitive slave got caught he was severely punished, and by harboring a runaway, Paul himself was violating Roman law (whilst in prison). Paul would also have been very careful to not openly discuss politics, or refer to certain military events, lest he be taken for a revolutionary rather than a theologian (Acts 21:38).

Escaped slaves were punished severely and Paul would not have sent one half way through the empire carrying a self-incriminating letter.

Paul wrote Colossians and Philemon mere years before the Great Jewish Revolt would culminate into general Titus' destruction of the temple of YHWH, which in turn meant the end of Judaism as it had existed for a millennium. The magnitude of this disaster can not possibly be overstated, but what might help is to imagine that on 9/11 not just the World Trade Center was destroyed but also the heart of Washington DC, and that millions of Americans had been hanged in the streets and the rest deported to Afghanistan.

Paul saw the holocaust of 70 AD coming, and his writings largely dealt with trying to prevent it, namely by hammering on the importance of unarmed resistance and respectful dialogue. The temple was finally destroyed simply because certain Jewish factions (known as Zealots) foolishly decided to raise up arms against the Roman army. The evangelists, who wrote after the destruction, largely dealt with the question of what was to become of the Jewish mission to be a blessing to all people (Genesis 12:3).

It seems unlikely that Paul would invest his precious resources into a note that was both violently incriminating and theologically rather flimsy, and more so that this flimsy letter went viral in the early Christian world. In those days, correspondence was colossal, and it's an enigma why Paul's letter to Philemon became one of the most popular texts in human history.

The obvious answer is that we moderns have this work pegged entirely different from how the original audience viewed it.

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

Was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil bad from the start? Nah... That tree, including its fruits, was as perfect as the rest of Paradise, even 'a delight to the eyes and desiring to make wise'.

But Adam and Eve misapplied the fruits by eating them. Try eating a MacDonald's billboard and you'll get it. Also see Proverbs 3:5.

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

All Scripture is God-breathed?

The story of Jannes and Jambres is not Biblical, but fortunately ALL WRITING is God-breathed and useful for teaching.

All proof is welcome, but not if it's no proof.

To declare that the Bible is the one and only Word of God, folks most often cite 2 Timothy 3:16. There Paul seems to inform Timothy that the Bible is God-breathed, in stark contrast to other writings, which are the mere fumblings of man. What very few of these folks seem to notice is that just eight verses prior, Paul refers to the legend of Jannes and Jambres, which is wildly extra-Biblical (2 Timothy 3:16).

Let's, therefore, have a calm and composed look at the wisdoms dispensed in 2 Timothy 3:15-16:

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Fired up! The noun πυρ (pur) means fire

The noun πυρ (pur) means fire and both these words, as well as English' many "pyro-" words, stem from the widely attested Proto-Indo-European root paewr- meaning fire (and our word "pure" doesn't, in case you were wondering). Up to the age of electricity, all artificial light came from fire, and since light has since deep antiquity represented wisdom, fire represented a means to get it.

In early human cultures, fire sat literally at the center of the tribal community. It literally kept people together and at night guided wayward members back home. A tribe's central fire rendered light and warmth, but also kept wild animals at bay. People prepared their food on fire and burned their wastes in it. Later people even learned to disinfect non-combustible items (combustible and living items were disinfected with water and soap; Numbers 31:23), which aligned fire-purification with water-washing and explains the "baptism with fire" mentioned in Matthew 3:11. Later still, people learned how to extract metals from stone and how to build hotter fires to make ever stronger metals.

The hotter a people could make their fire, the stronger these people could make their tools and weapons. That correlated the quality of a people's wisdom (that is: their practical skills and understanding of science and technology) both with their chances with the forces of nature and their international clout (Daniel 3:19).

The hotness of a fire in turn correlates to energy density, that is: how much energy you can pack into a unit of space, and thus how much work you can generate. This in turn translates to a general principle that also explains human fervor, enthusiasm and powers of persuasion. In our modern age we don't build actual fires anymore, but the nation that can pack the most energy in one device (such as an A-bomb) is still king of the hill. Fortunately for all of us, the Internet has enveloped the world in a lattice of blazing fire and it's becoming increasingly difficult for evil men to vest large amounts of energy in evil things. Mankind's central fire has never been this big and this hot, and never has so much waste and accumulated garbage been so festively consumed.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

The Gospel of John in the original Greek

Always wanted to read the Gospel of John in the original Greek but you don't read Greek? Then check out our groovy free online Interlinear New Testament. The Greek words have their English translations beneath them and come with links to their respective Dictionary articles and explanations of their grammatical forms and functions:

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The curious case of the name Golgotha

Golgotha is the name of the place where Jesus was crucified. The gospels of Matthew, Mark and John mention the name Golgotha, but add that this name means κρανιον τοπος (kranion topos; meaning: place of a skull, Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22, John 19:17). Luke merely mentions that the place was called Skull, using the same wording (Luke 23:33; by some translations interpreted as Calvary). It's obviously very important that the reader realizes that the death of Jesus occurred on The Skull, but what's with that? Every detail of the gospels was carefully chosen and nostalgia was certainly not a concern. It must mean something.

Jesus dies "at the Skull" -- what's with that?

Driven by nostalgia and super-hero worship, early Christian relic-hunters scoured Jerusalem's immediate environs in search for a place that looked like a skull, and Jerusalem's lands being quite cavernous, it didn't take them long to find one. Quite conveniently, the place they identified as the Skull happened to already be enclosed by a Venusian temple from the time of emperor Hadrian. True to form they re-declared it holy, put a fence around it and began to charge admission.

Others believed that the place called Skull was in fact a place of execution or burial, assuming that there would be skulls all over the place. But a place like that would first of all violate Jewish law and would not exist (Numbers 19:16, Deuteronomy 21:23, also see Ezekiel 39:15 and Josephus, Apion.ii-29-30, "not to let anyone lie unburied"), secondly be known by a plural epithet (skulls), and thirdly more likely be known as a place of bones rather than just of skulls. Still, the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was close to where He was crucified (John 19:41), and tombs usually existed in clusters or necropoleis (Matthew 8:28, 27:52). The second century document called Epistula Apostolorum explicitly states that not the place of Jesus' crucifixion but rather the place where he was buried was called Kranion, or Skull (verse 9). But still, there seems to be very little reason to refer to an entire graveyard as Place of the Skull, then or now.

Slightly more critical Bible critics realized that the ratio between the importance of Golgotha in the gospels and the importance of Golgotha in the rest of ancient writings was thoroughly askew. Why would the evangelists emphasize a place that no one else ever mentions? They surely were not tour guides pitching an important landmark for us to visit, because if they had been, they would certainly have also told us where that place precisely was. They don't.

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Why is there love?

Where does a phenomenon like love come from? How does the universe bring forth such a thing? Why is it such a universal thing that seems to work for all people, despite culture or position? The answer may be that the principle of self-similarity that spawned life upon matter and mind upon life, also generated the biological and mental equivalents of the four forces.

Sadly, our crude language fails to make a distinction between certain forms of love. But some older languages do. Probably the most famous poem regarding general love - called agape; which covers general appreciation and respect and is not directed at a certain individual (phileo) and is not celebrated in physical arousal (eros) - is a paragraph once entrusted to a small group of Corinthians, almost two millennia ago, and without having to subscribe to any possible religious validity of the text, we may recognize the amazing parallels between the agape described in 1 Corinthians 13 and the universal force we call gravity.

Gravity is a rather mild force on the individual-particle level. But considered on a larger scale, gravity is the force that literally runs and directs the universe. Every particle is subjected to gravity; the universe looks the way it does because of it. Gravity was the first force to break free from the Grand Unified force. As skillfully described by Kip Thorne in his book Black Holes and Time Warps, gravity was the creative force that brought forth the universe as we know it. Gravity is also the only force capable of getting so strong that all other forces fade away (in black holes). Gravity curves space and forms the very realm in which we live. It causes particles, planets, stars, even entire galaxies to seek common centers. And gravitational fields allow objects to believe that they are accelerating, while in fact they are stationary.

Now look at agape. Agape is the mild and general form of love, probably more accurately translated with 'respect' or 'kindness' and should certainly not be mistaken for the passionate feelings people may feel for a lover. Agape is the gentle baseline that carries the symphony; a foundation upon which all purposeful action is undertaken. What gravity is to the universe, agape is for the human mind; the total play of all minds combined, and that which they make. Culture, in one word. That from which all other things flow. Think about it. Culture the way we know it could not exist if we did not absolutely count on other people to behave in some way like ourselves. People obey the same traffic laws. They speak the same language and count the same currency (the Dollar, the Euro, the Yen; all faces of the same thing).

Agape makes people seek common centers, just like gravity does to the universe. Gravity also allows the universe to keep 'bank accounts of motion.' What is 'motion' in the mental realm? And what is it that moves? A material particle moves relatively to another particle when it absorbs at least one photon of energy. And energy is also the source from which all particles come. The mental equivalent of energy is knowledge in the broadest sense of the word; whatever the mind is acquainted with, no matter how deeply hidden in layers of subconsciousness. Knowledge, or awareness, is also the source - or rather cause - of the mental realm. When two particles exist side by side and only one absorbs a photon, the particles will diverge. When two minds exist 'side by side,' or in some kind of parallel state, and only one absorbs a bit of knowledge, the minds will diverge in their sense of reality. Motion in the mental realm is caused by awareness; 'motion' itself is perhaps the mental activity generally known as contemplation.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018


The name Ζευς (Zeus) belongs to the chief deity of the Greeks, who was known to the Romans as Jupiter. The genitive of Zeus is Dios (Διος), which corresponds to an ancient Proto-Indo-European root that expressed brightness of sky and secondarily clarity of vision. From that root come the familiar words dio and deus, meaning god, divine, meaning godly, and diva, meaning deified (feminine), as well as the name of the Vedic deity Dyaus Pitra (Bright-Sky Father).

Several New Testament names derive either from the name Zeus, or from its parent root and one peculiar adjective: διοπετης (diopetes), which combines διος (dios) and either the verb πετομαι (petomai), meaning to fly, or the verb πιπτω (pipto), meaning to fall. It denotes something both divine and falling or having fallen, and appears to have been used for sacred objects that apparently had come falling out of the sky.

This word is used only once in the New Testament, namely in Acts 19:35, which reads: "the city of the Ephesians is guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of the [or: that being the] διοπετης (diopetes)." Also note the obvious similarities with the qualities of both Jesus (Colossians 1:15, John 3:13 and 6:38), satan (Luke 10:18, Revelation 12:9) and Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12).

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Sunday, May 6, 2018


The name Blastus occurs only once in the Bible. Acts 12:20 tells us how Herod Agrippa I had grown vexed about the people of Tyre and Sidon. What he was so upset about isn't told but the people of Tyre and Sidon were fearing his intervention and managed to entice Herod's chamberlain Blastus to plead for peace. During this meeting Herod met his untimely demise but what became of Blastus, the story doesn't tell.

The name Blastus is the same as the noun βλαστος (blastos), meaning shoot, bud, embryo, germ or even blossom. The phrase ο του βλαστος καιρος literally means "the season of (its) blastos" and denotes Spring.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Why the word Agape does NOT describe a mushy feeling but rather a measurable force

The familiar noun αγαπη (agape) is commonly translated with "love" but it's not that simple, or perhaps simpler than that. Agape does not describe a feeling, and certainly not a mushy feeling. In stead it describes a natural force that is felt in some way or form by every entity in the universe from atoms up to entire societies. Einstein once quipped that gravity is not responsible for people falling in love, but it appears that it might indeed.

In the material universe there are four natural forces. Two of these are small scale and operate only within the atomic nucleus, but the other two are large scale and those are the two forces from which all goings on in the universe derive. These two large scale forces are electromagnetism and gravity.

Electromagnetism is carried by photons and when photons are absorbed by a material particle, this particle obtains private motion, or motion relative to (usually away from) neighboring particles. This is where heat comes from. Heat is the same thing as particles going their own way, and the more energy particles privately absorb, the harder they bounce against their neighboring particles. Heating up a liquid like water causes individual water molecules to go wild, until they eventually get so excited that they jump out of the pool and become steam.

Since the universe is a giant fractal and everything complicated derives from something less complicated which is still essentially the same (this is called self-similarity), the mental equivalent of photonic absorption is getting mentally excited. The mind is constituted by what it knows, which in turn determines what it observes, which in turn determines its level of excitement. Excitement doesn't lead to more knowledge, but knowledge leads to observation, which in turn leads to the excitement of what one already knows. Excitement of what one knows sets one on a path that differs from someone who has not the identical knowledge plus excitement.

The signature autonomy of all living things comes from the private motion obtained by the absorption and conversion of photonic energy. The amount of photonic energy a particle can absorb is effectively limitless, and so is the degree of private excitement and thus the separation from other individuals. Fortunately for all particles and minds alike: absorbing energy increases one's mass and that in turn increases one's gravity.

Gravity is a force that is inherent to the mass of individual particles, and this force drives particles toward each other. On the individual scale, gravity is truly minute, and when a particle is even the least bit excited, its energy of motion totally overwhelms its gravity. But the magic of gravity is that it works collectively, and is in that regard the polar opposite of electromagnetism, which works individually.

In any widely dissipated cloud of particles, all particles go their own way due to their levels of electromagnetic excitement. But all their tiny bits of gravity work together and form a common center. The particles fly all over the place but the final sum of all their movements is a very small resultant movement toward that center. It's like playing roulette, in which nearly half of the throws end on red numbers (particle moves one way; the player wins) and nearly half of the throws end on black numbers (particle moves the other way and is back to where it started; the player loses and is back to where he or she started). But a very small amount of throws ends on the green zero. The little green zero is why the house always wins, and it's also the reason why a huge cloud of excited particles slowly contracts.

When particles interact, and this is what they do in clouds, they emit photonic energy. This energy gets picked up by particles they bounce with, which is why particles in a cloud end up having the same temperature. At the edge of the cloud this energy of motion gets beamed into space. That means that the cloud as a whole cools off. The more the particles move toward their common center, the more they cool off and the more they cool off the more they move toward their common center. If the cloud is big enough, the gravity at the core can become so incredibly strong that atomic nuclei merge. This creates heavier elements and it also turns the previously glowing cloud into a blazing star. If the star is big enough, it can ultimately become a black hole, and that's a special thing all together.

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