Friday, January 11, 2019

The Torah and Angels

Josephus tells us that the Sadducees were a sect that limited their inspired Canon to only The Torah, the Five Books of Moses.  The New Testament doesn't tell us that directly but it's inferred in how Jesus stayed within the Torah to prove the Resurrection to them in Matthew 22.

In Acts 23:6-9 we get a further elaboration on what the Sadducees believed.
But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, "Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question."  And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.
 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, "We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God."
They didn't believe in the Resurrection, angels or spirits.  Now based on this scene alone Paul only explicitly sides with the Pharisees on the Resurrection, we have to go elsewhere to try and figure out his positions on the other issues. 

What I want to talk about here however is how I've seen a lot of online scholars say this can't be accurate, that a sect which upholds The Torah can't possibly have any grounds to reject the existence of Angels.

The thing is, I as someone who's very unconventional, have flirted with the possibility of rejecting the doctrine of Angels as it's traditionally understood.  I've concluded that many passages both within The Torah and elsewhere we assume to be referring to Angels can potentially be interpreted differently when you remember things like the word "angel" in the Greek and Hebrew being their word for messenger and definitely does refer to human prophets sometimes.  However I feel unable to fully do that because of certain passages, but none of those passages are in The Torah.

If I decided to become a Torah Only person, I would probably reject the doctrine of angels as it's traditionally understood.

First of all I have already decided I believe the Sethite view of Genesis 6.  In fact I talked about this very issue briefly in that post, though I may in the future edit that section out since I now have this post.

Second, the majority of the time the word "Angel" appears in the KJV of the Torah, indeed every time it does so in singular form, it is referring to The Angel of YHWH or The Angel of God, an entity which even many Pharisees (Philo of Alexandria and Trinitarian Christians) view as being a manifestation of YHWH Himself (The Word of YHWH) not a separate Angelic being, the Voice in the Burning Bush is technically called an Angel.

The Seraphim or "fiery serpents" from Numbers I believe originally refereed to a type of serpent or reptilian animal indigenous to the region (I lean towards the Pterodactyl aka Ropen), it is Isaiah alone who places some in the Throne Room of God, and those I think if they are "Angels" are Angels taking the form of that Animal, or appearing like them to Isaiah's three dimensional eyes.

Now I'd like readers to stop for a minute and read the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8.  Now imagine if that story had been recorded from the Eunuch's POV rather then Philip's?  It would very conceivably seems to readers generations later like an encounter with an Angel.

We know that during the time of the Patriarchs of Israel there were people worshiping YHWH in other places, like Salem ruled by Melchizedek or the Kenite Priesthood of Jethro.  So the two "Angels" of Genesis 18-19 could possibly have been Human Prophets that YHWH assigned this task to.

Likewise in Genesis 31:1-2 the "Host of God" could be a camp of believers sent to greet Jacob when he returned to the Land.  In fact if we translated "Malakim" consistently in Genesis 32, it becomes plausible the "messengers" Jacob sent to Esau in verse 3 came from among these "angels".  The Hebrew word for "Host" here isn't the same one used in verses about the "Host of Heaven". It's a word elsewhere translated Camp including when referring to the Camp of Israel in the Wilderness and when the Red Heifer is described as being slain "without the camp".  So this Camp could have been of people from Isaac's household.

Genesis 28:12 is something Jacob saw in a dream and therefore iffy to build literal doctrine on. The point was to show this place as a "Gate of Heaven".

The "Host of Heaven" is simply a term for the stars, and no verse in The Torah can be taken to insinuate the stars are living sentient beings.  The worship of the stars is compared to the worship of Idols, inanimate objects.

That just leaves Genesis 3.  In the KJV of verse 14 Cattle is a mistranslation, Behemah I have come to view as simply the broadest Hebrew word for Animal.  The English grammar of verses 1 and 14 of Genesis 3 leave more room for interpretation, but in the Hebrew it is actually unambiguous that the Nahash/Serpent is a Behemah and a Beast of the Field.  Making it one of the Beasts of the Field created in Genesis 2:18-20.

The Beasts and Fowls created in Genesis 2:19-20 are a separate creation from the animals created before Adam was in Genesis 1.  These must be being who were a bit more sentient since they are, as weird as we may find it, presented as potential helpers for Adam.  Frankly I think the Cherubim (as well as the Seraphim Isaiah saw in the Throne Room) could also be among the creatures created here.

You could define those creatures as Angelic, but they aren't the traditional view of Angels.

The problem is many seek to use that origin for the Serpent against identifying it with the Satan, which identification the Book of Revelation clearly makes.  But I don't view it as a conflict, Satan is never called an Angel, only said to appear as one.

The verses outside the Torah that are the real obstacle to rejecting the traditional view of Angels are Psalm 8 (which implies the Angels existed before Adam), 2 Kings 6:17, Daniel 10 (and perhaps other Daniel material), and then lots of New Testament stuff, but some New Testament Angels I think are OT Saints Resurrected soon after Jesus was in Matthew 27:52-53.

So I still believe Angels exist, but people who limit their Canon to the Torah can easily decide otherwise if they want to.

Though I think it's also plausible that the Sadducees where influenced by the philosophy of Aristotle who could be described as the original Deist as well as the first Materialist, Antigonus of Sokho may have been the key middle man in that transmission.

Some have mistakenly compared the Saduccess to Platonic Philosophy, but that's based on how within Christian denial of the Resurrection comes via allegorizing it away into a Spiritual rather then physical one.  The Sadducees didn't just deny the Resurrection but any notion of an After Life, they were Jewish Materialists.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Did C.S. Lewis believe in Universal Salvation?

The answer is, probably not.  But I'm far from an expert on Lewis as my recent Prince Caspian post makes clear.

What I do know is that he clearly didn't consider George MacDonald a heretic and therefore would not consider belief in Universal Salvation inherently heretical.  And I know that attempts to label Lewis a Calvinist require ignoring The Great Divorce where it's clearly the sinners own Free Will keeping them in Hell.

I don't think the after life works how it's presented in The Great Divorce.  But I consider that cosmology a descent allegory for how I view the New Heaven and New Earth, where there are people outside New Jerusalem, but the Gates are always open.

I read this article attempting to to show how Lewis couldn't possibly be an ally of Universal Salvation, but in so doing strawmans the doctrine.
https://www.equip.org/article/c-s-lewis-hell/
Now, if Emeth had politely asked Aslan to direct him to the Tash part of heaven, and if Aslan had sent him on his way to spend eternity with his god, then critics of Lewis would be justified in accusing him of teaching universal salvation. But that is not at all what happens! As Emeth stands before Aslan, he realizes that Tash and Aslan are not two different names for the same God, but that they are complete opposites. Rather than learn that all religions are the same, Emeth learns that Aslan alone is the true end of his pagan longings. “Beloved,” Aslan explains, “unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.”
Evangelical Universalists, like Robin Parry, Peter Hiett and myself do NOT teach that all religions are equally true.  I don't think all religions lead to God because in my view NO religion leads to God, only Jesus leads to God.  In The New Testament "religion" is the greatest obstacle to finding God.

This article admits that Lewis was open to post-mortem Salvation.  But the thing is Universal Salvation is kind of inevitable once you allow that.

Frankly what I disapprove of about the situation with Emeth is how much Lewis makes it about good works.

So Lewis does not seem like someone who's Soterology was the same as mine, but he doesn't line up perfectly with traditional Calvanism or Arminianism either.

Here is a Universalist Forum discussing Lewis.
https://forum.evangelicaluniversalist.com/t/why-wasnt-c-s-lewis-a-universalist-how-close-did-he-get/1183/12

And indeed here I learned Lewis was of the opinion that Paul taught Universal Salvation but Jesus did not.  Well I've already demonstrated that Jesus and Paul are in fact consistent on this issue.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Polycarp & Ignatius and False Apsotalic Succesions.

Polycarp and Ignatius have come up a lot when I talk about Heresies of Asia Minor and questioning alleged Apostolic Succession from John.  I want to further make clear here that I do not mean to demonize them, they both died Martyrs and for that they will be rewarded regardless of how wrong I feel they were on certain doctrines.

First and foremost, in their own writings they never claim to students of John or to have known him, none of the Authentic Epistles of Igantius or Polycarp make any references to John.  Even the personal letter Ignatius wrote to Polycarp does not mention their alleged important common mentor.  The claim they were students of John came later.  Papias explicitly distinguishes the John he know from the Apostle referring to him as John the Elder.

Ignatius as Bishop of Antioch was also an Apostolic Successor of Peter, but claims Peter personally chose him are a much later tradition.  Unlike Rome, The Bible supports Peter having been in Antioch.  Ignatius was martyred in Rome, so what if he appointed some Bishops of Deacans while he was in Rome and that was the origin of Rome having an alleged Apsotalic Succession from Peter?

I still firmly believe Peter was never in Rome, but I'm not as invested in the Simon Magus conspiracy theory as I once was.  I now desire to explain the origins of these wrong traditions as having more to them then just people lying.  This theory about Ignatius in Rome is one such possibility.

Another has to do with Mark.  The basis for claims of Peter in Rom are tied to claims about the origin of Mark's Gospel being him writing down what Peter Preached.  Papias did not give any clue where Peter preached or Mark wrote, it's later writing writing referencing him that want to read that into Papias.

I disagree with the desire of Eastern Traditions to separate all the Marks of the New Testament.  The John Mark is Acts 12-15 has close connections to Peter and Banabas, so I think he is also both the Cousin of Barnabas and the Marcus referenced in 1 Peter.

Some references to Mark in Paul's Epistle do have Mark with Paul in Rome.  But again if Peter was there at the same time why isn't Paul mentioning him?  Over half the Latin words in the New Testament are in Mark's Gospel, some have even theorized the Gospel of Mark was originally in Latin.  So it could be Mark published his Gospel in Rome based on what Peter had preached in Antioch and Mesopotamia.

BTW I don't think Mark was actually ever in Alexandria, I think that tradition is just as shaky as the ones about Peter in Rome and John in Ephesus.

There is solid evidence the Roman Church was not originally Monarchical, but had many Elders who were all Bishops(Overseers) the Monarchical system emerged over the course of the Second Century probably from the influence of Ignatius.

I think the traditional succession of Bishops of Byzantium between Andrew and the founding of the Constantinople were probably also Bishops in Rome.  Andrew was never associated with Byzantium prior to Constantine, the 2nd Century Acts of Andrew places his Martyrdom in Patras west or Corinth.  Byzantium is mentioned briefly in the Acts of Andrew, but only as a place he stopped at on the way to Thrace, like Paul stopping at Samothrace on the way to Macedon. 

Constantine is known to have taken many people from Rome to Constantinople when he founded it.  The Bishop of Constantinople who was at Nicaea was a native of Calabria in Italy.  Castinus a supposed Bishop of Byzantium from the 3rd Century was also said to have been a Roman Senator.  Meanwhile the supposed second Bishop of Byzantium is Stachys a name also mentioned in Romans 16 as someone in Rome.  And the third is Onesimus who could be the same as the Onesimus of Philemon who we know was also in Rome.

As far as John Son of Zebedee goes, I've been considering the possibly they maybe he was Martyred at the same time his brother was in Acts 12?  The last explicit reference to him is in Acts when identifying James as his Brother, maybe that verse meant to say bother brother were killed then?  For James this is viewed as fulfilling what was prophesied of the Sons of Zebedee in Matthew 20:20-23 and Mark 10:35-40.  Galatians 2 mentions a James, Cephas and John when giving his account of Acts 15, but this isn't referring to the usual big three since we know this James can't be the Son of Zebedee.  I think John Mark could be the John who Paul was referring to here.

So that would make all extra-biblical traditions about either of them traveling to other lands invalid.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

I take Sin very seriously, but I take The Son more seriously

A common accusation against someone like me, who both teaches Universal Salvation and argues for more permissive attitudes towards Sexual Morality, is often that we don't take Sin seriously enough.  How can I justify Paul saying "all have Sinned" if there are so many things I don't think are sinful?

But to me, it's mainstream Christianity that isn't taking real Sin seriously enough when they tend to focus on the same kinds of things the Pharisees focused on.

Jesus said the greatest Commandment is to Love God with all your heart mind body and soul, and the second greatest is to love your neighbor as you Love yourself, and He said those were the whole of The Law.  James and Paul in both Romans & Galatians also repeated that the second greatest commandment is the gist of the Law.  The greatest Sin is failure to Love, and in a way that's what all Sin comes down to.  And I certainly fail to Love God and my neighbor constantly.  I don't need a laundry list of specific action to tell me I'm a Sinner, I just need to look at my own heart.

So I am opposing Sin when I oppose the aspects of Traditional Christianity that lead to justifying Hate.

The epistle known as 1 John in chapter 4 verses 7 and 8 says that God is Love, and that everyone who loves is Born of God and that everyone who Lovesth not Knoweth not God.  Chapter 3:14 says everyone who loveth not his Brother abideth in Death.  This Epistle is not dividing humanity into two categories, but listing two categories into which every human has fallen.  Chapter 4 verse 10 and up clarified we are saved not because We Loved God but because God Loved us and gave his Son as the Atonement for our Sins.

Friday, December 14, 2018

I just spent a Week in the Hospital

Because of a Bowel Obstruction.

I thought about my faith quite a bit, the strength of the my Faiht is even stronger.

I still have healing to so so if anyone want to Pray for me feel go right ahead. 

I want to thank My God and My Lord for helping me thought all of this, and making sure I was in the hand of a killed physician.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Hebrew Textual Variations

I have been a strong supporter of staying strictly Masoretic for the Hebrew text.  And I'm still against any changes that are supported only by the Septuagint.  But I've rethought a few things.

Number one would be differences that do not actually change a single letter, but just the vowel indicators that didn't come into existence till well after New Testament times (and thus can't be included in the Jot and Tittle reference).

This can explain why Acts 15:16 says Man/Mankind(Anthropos) where Amos 9:12 says Edom.  Edom and Adam are spelled the same in Hebrew but pronounced differently.  From that I've wondered if other apparent references to Edom could be the same, like Isaiah 34 which lacks any references to specific Edomite tribal or place names like Teman or Mt Sier.  Ezekiel 35-36 however does refer to Mt Sier.

And it is also merely a difference in vowel indicators that lead one now gone Interlinear Torah website I used to visit to say that Nimrod's name means Rebel in the Masoretic Text but Leopard in the Samaritan Pentateuch.  The spelling is the same, the difference is if it's Marad with an N prefix or Namer with a D suffix.  The Samaritan meaning makes sense in the immediate context of Nimrod being a Hunter.  And contrary to what people who want to vilify Nimrod will tell you "Before The LORD" here is not an expression of hostility in the Hebrew, it's the same phrase of many things done in worship of Yahuah either.  So no Nimrod isn't rebelling against anything here.  So it's interesting then that Jeremiah 13:23 poetically compares Cushites to Leopards.

But that leads me to the subject of variations that would require changing some letters, or more, since the Samaritan Pentateuch has plenty of those.  But it is a received text as well, not some random text found somewhere like the Alexandrian Bibles.

Any Samaritan variation about Mt Gerizim I inherently don't trust, those were motivated by their peculiar reverence for that mountain. And in the case of Deuteronomy 27:4 there are reasons why even non Samaritans might be uncomfortable with with placing the Law on Mt Ebal, the Mountain of the Curse.  But for Christians Paulian Theology explains exactly why that was, meanwhile both Joshua 8:30-33 and Archaeology agree that Mt Ebal is where the Altar was constructed.

Some have suggested the Vulgate supports saying Moreh instead of Moriah in Genesis 22, but that's based on it translating rather then transliterating the name which really fits both names equally, in meaning Moriah is just Moreh made Yah theophoric. 

But for differences that aren't in any way connected to that issue, the possibility that the Samaritan could be closer to the original is worth considering.

First off is the Chrono-Genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11.  The Book of Jubilees agrees with the Samaritan on the Genesis 5 ages but not 11.  The Samaritan matches the Septuagint for Genesis 11 except that it doesn't have an additional Kenen between Arphaxad and Selah (something I think Christian copyists added to the Septuagint) and has different dates for Terah having him die when Abraham is called at 75 therefore lacking a confusion other versions have.  Someday I could make a whole post on just this issue.

Meanwhile in Genesis 10 what reads Dodanim is Rodanim in the Samaritan.  However all texts of 1 Chronicles 1:7 read Rodanim here, and the Septuagint transliteration also begins with an R rather then a D.  Yet the KJV uses Dodanim in 1 Chronicles 1:7 even though there is no Hebrew textual variation there, and the Strongs just claims Rodanim is a scribal error.  I will be doing a post soon (right here) that will mention how the context of what Javan actually refereed to in antiquity fits this name referring to Rhodes better then any identity a spelling that begins with a D leads to.

I've also seen it claimed that the Samaritan Pentateuch agrees with the Septuagint in saying Gog rather then Agag in Numbers 24:7.  Here is a website talking about the issue without firmly taking a side on it.
http://mydigitalseminary.com/gog-or-agag-jesus-or-david/
Now I can add that some have theorized Agag and Gog are basically different forms of the same name.  This is another subject that could become it's own post.  The Samaritans don't revere Ezekiel or any Prophetic books, so there is no reason for them to want to add Gog to a verse he wasn't originally in.

I may update this post to add more examples in the future.  For now these are the ones that have caught my attention.  None of them change any essential doctrine of Scripture, and are more relevant to my interests as a History Nerd.

Update: DSS and the Isaiah Scroll.

I guess I should talk about DSS variants, one I already alluded to above in the case of Deuteronomy 27.  I also talked in my Sethie View post about a DSS variant in the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32) where the Samaritan sides with the Masoretic against the DSS variant.

The Samaritan is of course only relevant to the Torah.  That now dead interlinear website I mentioned above compared Masoretic and Samaritan versions and included DSS variants when there were some, however there were not many from what I recall going over.

The Isaiah Scroll is the only complete book among the DSS manuscripts.  When it comes to talking about how much it agrees with the Masoretic text Wikipedia is the most unbiased discussion of it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaiah_Scroll#Scribal_Profile_and_Textual_Variants

Now at first it may look like the statement that it mostly agrees with the Masoretic might seem contradicted by saying there were 2600 variations.  Isaiah is a big book, you could theoretically fit that many variations into one of the longer chapters.  Most of them are just stuff like different spellings of the same word, or the words being in a different order, in ways that do not effect the meaning at all.

There are other DSS fragments of Isaiah, and when it comes to these variations other DSS Isaiah texts tend to agree with the Masoretic over the Isaiah Scroll.    So it doesn't make much sense to use the Isaiah Scroll to invalidate the Masoretic text, yet people try to sometimes to fit various agendas.

In Isaiah 34:14 the Masoretic Text uses the spelling Lilith but the Isaiah Scroll uses Liliyyoth. I don't know if there are any other DSS manuscripts of Isaiah 34:14 but the Lilith spelling is used in Songs of The Sage (4Q510–511).  The Wikipedia page for Lilith says the Masoretic Spelling is singular and the Isaiah Scroll spelling is plural, but elsewhere ending with a th at all is defined as inherently a feminine plural while the feminine singular is ending with a Heh.  The context of Lilith's reference in 4Q510-511 has everything else listed around Lilith being plural.