Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Mono Mia

Three times in the Pastoral Epistles Paul makes a comment about Overseers (Bishops) and Deacons being the "Husband of One Wife", or in some more literal translations "of one wife a husband".  1 Timothy 3:2-12 and Titus 1:6.

When Protestants are attacking the Catholic Priestly Celibacy doctrine they quote these verses as if no less then one is the point.  But then when trying to claim the Bible teaches strict Monogamy will argue the point is no more then one.  Either of those applications would be a lot more plausible to me if the Greek word used was Mono, but instead the word used is Mia.

The Oriental Orthodox Church (which includes the Coptic,Nubian, Ethiopian and Armenian Churches) is commonly accused of Monophysitism (believing Jesus had only one nature, usual Divine rather then Human) by Chalcedonians.  They however insist that they are instead Miaphysite because they believe Christ's Divine and Human natures are United.

They take this use of Mia and Physis from a quote of Cyril of Alexandria, but Cyril is also revered as a Saint by Chalcedonians who insist what Cyril said in that quote is perfectly compatible with the Chalcedonian Definition.  The Chalcedonian Definition itself is not really why the Oriental Orthodox reject Chalcedon, but rather Chalcedon's condemnation of Dioscorus.  I don't want to get into all that here, the point is the Greek word Mia while often translated "one" can refer to something there is more then one of.

I think the point in these three quotes in the Pastoral Epistles was the Unity between Husband and Wife.  But my point is that phrasing was never meant to rule out being untied with more then one wife.  BTW the Husband and Wife being One Flesh verses also use Mia.

Many people (Muslims, Unitarians, Modalists, JWs, some Jews and even Secularists) accuse Nicene Trinitarian Christianity of not being truly Monotheist.  And we typically feel compelled to defend the applicability of the term Monotheism to us.  But I have recently been asking, why?  Monotheism and Monotheist are NOT Biblical terms.

I've looked at every New Testament verse that says "One God" or that "God is One", or "One Lord" or "Lord is One".  And likewise none of them use Mono either but instead Heis.

Mono is used in the New Testament, in the KJV it partly because of context tends to get translated "Alone" or "Only" instead of simply One.  While it is used close to Theos in the text sometimes it's never directly used of how many of Theos there is or that we worship.

According to the Strongs Concordance, Mia is the "irregular feminine" form of Heis.  Now it's easy to guess why Paul used a feminine form when referring to wives.  But why did Cyril use a feminine form when referring to the Divine and Human natures of Christ?  Is it simply that Miaphysite rolls off the tong as a name for your Christology better then Heisphysite?  Or maybe it's because Cyril said this while he was engaging in the Theotokos controversy and wanted to stress that it was in the Womb of a Woman that Deity and Humanity were United?

Or perhaps Cyril had some awareness of what I talked about in The God of The Bible is both Masculine and Feminine?

So this Trinitarian Christian feels prepared to suggest that maybe we should stop clinging to the title of Monotheist and instead claim we are Miatheists, we believe True God is Three Persons who are United in One Being (and arguably of the same Substance).


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Who are the "Many"?

The Greek word "Polus" is translated a lot of different ways in English Translations of the New Testament (even the same translation never translates it the same every time), but perhaps the most important uses of the word are certain key passages where the KJV and most others it seems render it "many".  I don't know if every "many" in English Bibles is this word, but I have verified it is for each verse that I shall single out below.

The way we use "many" in modern 21st Century English means a large number, but presumably you would never use it if you actually meant 100% of the what you're referring to, and not even necessarily the majority.

And that is why Calvanists will use the Last Supper quote from Matthew 26:28 and Mark 14:24 to try and support limited Atonement.
"For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
Of course it used to be Calvinists admitted they had no direct Biblical support for Limited Atonement, that it was just based on "logical" deductions form other allegedly Biblical conclusions.  Another verse in Matthew using the same word for "many" they might cite is 20:28.

The problem is the the Greek word isn't used the way we in modern English speakers usually use "many".

First, in particularly the verses where it's translated "many" the word has the Greek Definite Article before it, which sometimes English translations acknowledge by putting a "the" first but the KJV usually doesn't.  However that alone proves little because Greek and Hebrew use the definite article in a lot of places it wouldn't be appropriate to do so in English.

The real issue is that "Polus" is the root of the word "Polity", a more accurate translation of the word when used in these kinds of context would be "the Population" or "the Populous".  And some Biblical uses of the word where it gets translated "many" demonstrate this.  Like in Romans 5 where "many" is clearly used interchangeably with "all".

But to provide context for Matthew is that twice earlier in the Gospel Jesus said "For many are called, but few are chosen", in 20:16 and 22:14.  The latter is as the final point of the Parable of the Wedding Feast which starts at the beginning of chapter 22.  There is some disagreement on who exactly the "few" are in that parable, but there is no dispute that the "many" called is clearly absolutely everyone, even generally in Calvinist commentaries of that parable just to them it's somehow still only the Chosen who are saved.  I like Peter Hiett's sermon on the parable in question.

I'm not even gonna bother to repeat the usual verses I cite to refute Limited Atonement, just follow my Calvanism tag and you'll find them quotes a lot.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Tarshish is Tarsus of Cilicia.

It has long been popular to argue for more exotic or distant identifications for Tarshish, including by myself in the past.  But Josephus said Tarshish was Tarsus, and this modern article backs up that identification convincingly.

Tarshish (Josephus' Tarsus Reconsidered)

There is one detail in that I can't agree, and that's arguing for a late dating of Genesis based on pre Esarhaddon Assyrian Inscriptions rendering Tarsus was Tarzi.  It could be Tarzi was a mistaken Assyrian form correction by later Assyrian who knew more directly what they called themselves, or the Tarzi inscriptions could be scribal errors.  There is no need to question the reliability of Genesis over this.

Identifying Tarshish with Tarsus also best fits the thesis of this post of mine form last year, (though in said post I also considered a Cretan identification).

Those are all very technical and scholarly reasons for that identification.  What I want to speculate on now is how it could theologically serve the Meta Narrative of The Bible to connect Old Testament Tarshish to New Testament Tarsus.

Like OT Tarshish it's never a location the narrative visits (same with Cilicia as a whole), the few times it seems like Acts is about to visit there it then skips forward.

NT Tarsus is only relevant for being the hometown of Paul. 

We know from Extra Biblical sources that Tarsus of Cilicia was port city associated with sea trade and thus with ships, but Biblcially the New Testament never directly mentions that.  However Paul does spend a lot of time on ships, some travel by ship was a part of all four missionary journey, most famously his ship wreck on Malta.

Tarshish was a grandson of Japheth, but the name is also duplicate as a Benjamite in 1 Chronicles 7:10.  Paul who was a Benjamite can be viewed as playing a role in how the Genesis 9 eschatological relationship between Japheth and Shem was fulfilled.

A number of Prophecies also speak of Ships of Tarshish playing a role in how exiled Israelites are brough back to the promised land.  In some views that too is arguably fulfilled partly by the work of Paul.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem

Matthew 24:37-39 and Luke 13:34-35 are an interesting saying of Jesus.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!
 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
First I want to address what might be an alleged contradiction in that these two Gospel have Jesus say this at different times in different places.  The basis for the Q Hypothosis are saying of Jesus that appear in Matthew and Luke but not Mark, where often the context is different.

It's actually normal that Jesus would have repeated himself.  This quote Jesus says earlier in Galiee according to Luke but later in Jerusalem in Matthew.  Naturally those in Jerusalem aren't guaranteed to have heard what he said in Galilee.

Now what really interest me is how this passage implies at least His Prexistence and probably His Divinity and yet it is overlooked when that issue is discussed.  Generally John's Gospel is where the theology of who Jesus is is gone into, while the Synoptics seem to just settle for making Him the Son of God.

But this quote is about Jesus reminiscing what He's been doing, it pretty much only makes sense if He's claiming to be YHWH.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Maybe "Medina" wasn't where we think it was either?

In my post on possible Nestorian origins for Islam I diverged a bit to discus the theory that "Mecca" was originally Petra, or some other location closer to the Israel.  I've noticed none of those get into the issue of Medina's role in the story much.

Madinah as it is in Arabic is said to be mentioned by name in the Qurran four times, Surah 9: 101, 120; 33: 60; 63: 8.  And in all for of them the name mentioned is Madinah not Yathrib.  Which is significant because Madinah is actually the Arabic word for City (the traditional Islamic narrative is that Muhmmad changed the name of Yathrib to Madinat Rasul Allah, The City of the Messenger of Allah).  I looked at all four verses and in each one simply translating Madinah as "The City" still allows the verse to make sense. 

I also mentioned in that prior post Sebeos being the oldest historical reference to Muhammad we have.  And looking at that account again I noticed something interesting.
Twelve peoples representing all the tribes of the Jews assembled at the city of Edessa. When they saw that the Persian troops had departed leaving the city in peace, they closed the gates and fortified themselves. They refused entry to troops of the Roman lordship. Thus Heraclius, emperor of the Byzantines, gave the order to besiege it. When the Jews realized that they could not militarily resist him, they promised to make peace. Opening the city gates, they went before him, and Heraclius ordered that they should go and stay in their own place. So they departed, taking the road through the desert to Tachkastan Arabia to the sons of Ishmael. The Jews called the Arabs to their aid and familiarized them with the relationship they had through the books of the Old Testament. Although the Arabs were convinced of their close relationship, they were unable to get a consensus from their multitude, for they were divided from each other by religion. In that period a certain one of them, a man of the sons of Ishmael named Mahmed, became prominent. A sermon about the Way of Truth, supposedly at God’s command, was revealed to them, and Mahmed taught them to recognize the God of Abraham, especially since he was informed and knowledgeable about Mosaic history. Because the command had come from on High, he ordered them all to assemble together and to unite in faith. Abandoning the reverence of vain things, they turned toward the living God, who had appeared to their father–Abraham. Mahmed legislated that they were not to eat carrion, not to drink wine, not to speak falsehoods, and not to commit adultery. He said: “God promised that country to Abraham and to his son after him, for eternity. And what had been promised was fulfilled during that time when God loved Israel. Now, however, you are the sons of Abraham, and God shall fulfill the promise made to Abraham and his son on you. Only love the God of Abraham, and go and take the country which God gave to your father Abraham. No one can successfully resist you in war, since God is with you."
Scholars see this event as correlating to the event traditional Islamic history knows as the second pledge at al-Aqabah.   Except the destination of this joint campaign is the Biblical Holy Land under Roman rule not Mecca, which I feel is consistent with the original "Mecca" being Petra.  In this context, the city where this alliance was made I doubt is actually as far south as Yathrib.

What "Arabia" meant in antiquity was often a little broader then we'd define it today.  Damascus was considered part of Arabia, in Galatians Paul seems to refer to his time in Damascus as being in Arabia, he also implied the city was under the control of Aretas at the time.  Damascus is the city that wound up becoming the civil capital of the Umayyad Caliphate.

But another interesting candidate is Tayma/Tema, an Ishmaelite city that is known to have had a major Jewish popular in Pre-Islamci Arabia.  And yet seems missing from the traditional history of Muhammad and the Rashidun Caliphate.   It is arguably just as close to Khhyabar as Yathrib is but in the opposite direction.  And one of the first places Muhammad sought to conquer after establishing his rule of Medina was Dumah, a location much closer to Tema then it is Medina.

Update: Apparently the name of Yathrib is in Surah 33:13.  Which is probably the same name Ptolemy refereed to as Iathrippa.

I think the name of Yathrib might come from Jetur a son of Ishmael.  In the past I'd gone along with Jetur being the Iturians, but I now see Yathrib as much closer, but the idea of both being connected isn't impossible.  Yathrib seems to have been founded by people who migrated there from further north falling the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar.

Upon a closer reading of Surah 33, it's not impossible that Yathrib was being mentioned as a name of a city or tribe that's part of Muhammad "confederacy" (Confederates is the name of the Surah) but not necessarily his base of operations.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Saying "One Flesh" does not rule out Polygamy.

I went pretty in depth on Anti-Polygamy arguments awhile ago.

What really annoys me though is how I often I see people argue simply that a Man and Woman become "One Flesh" when they are united (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5-6, Mark 10:8 and Ephesians 5:31) in marriage somehow proves only Monogamy is valid.  It boggles my mind how people think this one comment rules out Polygamy. 

They are operating under an assumption that you can only legitimately become "One Flesh" with one other person, even though nothing in Scripture says that.

In fact the New Testament actually teaches that the Entire Church is supposed to be One Flesh, we are The Body of Christ because we are the Bride of Christ and thus One Flesh with Christ.

Paul even directly connects these ideas in 1 Corinthians 6:15-16, where he argues that the reason Believers shouldn't have sex with prostitutes is because the members of Christ shouldn't become "One Flesh" with the Members of a Harlot.

People keep misunderstanding what Jesus said about marriage and the Resurrection in his response to the Sadducees in Matthew 22, he's not saying there will be no more sex or marriage, they would undermine it being a return to Genesis 2.  When that time comes there will be only one Marriage that matters, we will all be married to each other in Christ.

So yes I am arguing the Church should view itself as a giant Polyamorous group marriage.

The context of what Jesus said was about condemning divorce (meaning He was willing to directly condemn something Moses allowed if He wanted to) and so would include a Husband with two wives wanting to divorce one because he decided to be Monogamous, if the relationships were consummated he was one flesh with each of them.

Monday, November 4, 2019

I believe in Universal Salvation NOT Apocatastasis

The problem with the term Apocatastasis is that as it was used during Church controversies of the era of the Ecumenical Councils it became as strongly tied to wrong ideas of what Salvation mean as it was to to being about who gets Saved.

Especially when tied to Origen it is about a Platonic Notion of the Pre-Existence of Souls, and that our "Salvation" is that we eventually become one with God losing our individuality, like the After Life presented in Star Wars, becoming one with the living Force.  It was this heresy condemned by the 543 Synod of Constantinople and addressed by the 15 Anathemas often linked to Constantinople II in 553.

Now I don't disagree with Origen because Councils condemned him, I don't care what they do, I firmly disagree with Constantinople II's condemnation of The Three Chapters and Ephesus's condemnation of Nestorius.  I do agree with the Chalecondian Definition on how the Divine and Human natures of Christ relate, but what those men taught is not sufficiently different enough to be heretical, same with the Miaphysites who disagreed in the opposite direction, only Eutyches was guilty of Monopysitism.

I've read all 15 Anathemas and nothing comes close to being like what I believe.  Anathema 14 is addressing this wrong idea of what Salvation is, not who gets Saved.

I don't know how many Councils can be said to have addressed "Apocatastasis" in some fashion, but the only one to explicitly affirm Endless Torment and Anthamatize any who disagree with Endless Torment is the 754 Iconoclast council that was later overturned and repudiated by Nicaea II the Seventh and final Ecumenical Council, the same council that made of point of declaring Gregory of Nyssa the Father of the Fathers, someone who unambiguously taught Universal Salvation.
"(18) If anyone denies the resurrection of the dead, and the judgment, and the condign retribution to everyone, endless torment and endless bliss, etc."
Robin Parry makes the argument that Endless Torment and Annihilationism make God the ultimate iconoclast, destroying his own Image.

None of this changes that I can't approve of Iconophilia either.

I believe in Universal Salvation because I believe in a literal Bodily Resurrection of the Dead for EVERY person who ever has or ever will die.

So still much of what separates me from other Universalists of either the Evangelical or Orthodox variety is that I have no desire to claim affinity with Origen, I prefer to claim affinity with Gregory of Nyssa and the "Nestorians" and Gerrard Winstanly.