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 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 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 Archeology agree 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 Samaritans could be closer to the original is worth considering.

First off if the Chrono-Genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11.  The Book of Jubilees agrees with the Samaritan on the Genesis 5 dates 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) 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 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 an website talking about the issue without firmly taking a side on it.
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.

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 more relevant to my interests as a History Nerd.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Do Paul and James Disagree?

When it comes to accusing The New Testament of being ideologically inconsistent with itself, the big factor is suggesting an inherent conflict between The Epistle of James, and what Paul taught particularly in Romans and Galatians.  With how most Christian try to reconcile this being bogged down by which presumed position they take.

First off I think Paul's Soterolgoy is misunderstood as I explain in The Free Gift of Grace.  Justification and Salvation are not the same thing, in Ephesians Paul says we are Saved by Grace through Faith with the Faith being the Faith of Jesus.

Among skeptics and Anti-Paul cults this accusation goes beyond just saying they don't agree, but saying James wrote this Epistle specifically against Paul.  Thing is a lot is missing if that was the plan.  James never brings up the issue of Circumcision even once. Nor does his discussion of the Law of Moses actually make it binding in the minutia, since in Chapter 2 Verse 8 like Paul and Jesus he makes the point that you're doing fine as long as you "Love they Neighbor as you love thyself".  James also agrees with Paul that no one is without Sin.  He also never names Paul in it, which if it was directed against a single notable heretic is what I'd expect.

Paul and James are stressing different things because they are dealing with different issues.  But Paul still stressed the value of good works.  And James clarified what good works he cared about in Chapter 1 verses 26 and 27 which were not the Laws the Hebrew Roots movement cares about.

It is often alleged that Paul himself refers to being in conflict with James.  The problem is three out of 4 times the name James appears in 1 Corinthians and Galatians Paul is clearly referring to him positively and stresses their agreement, and Acts is the same, no evidence of conflict between Paul and any James exists in that book.  It's only because of what Paul said we even know Jesus Brothers including James specifically became Apostles, the Gospels alone at face value imply they were never believers.

But Galatians 2:12 then refers to the Legalists as "certain came from James".

First of all the grammar in the Greek is not so explicitly implying people sent by an individual, so even if the same James refers to so positively a few verses earlier is the James meant, they people's actions may not accurately reflect the will of that James.  It says there came certain people, and they are in some way "from James".

But here is a fact about the name James people overlook when discussing this issue, that name doesn't actually exit in the Greek at all, it's just the name Jacob.

Every time you see Jacob rather then James in the KJV, it's verses where the Greek spelling just stops at the B, no additional suffix to help clarify grammar.  Most of those are references to the Jacob of Genesis.  But it was also the name of Joseph the husband of Mary's father/ancestor according to Matthew's genealogy which perhaps contextualizes him giving that name to his first biological son (Jesus name was given by the Angel).

Every time it appears with any additional letters at the end the KJV makes it James.  And it seems in Galatians 2:12 that suffix is the basis for the word "from" in the translation.

So it could be the IakObou of Galatians 2:12 is not any contemporary Jacob, but Paul's way of referring to those who want to keep the Faith as Nationalist/Ethno-Centric as possible.  Who's successors today are British Israelism and Two-House Theology.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Egyptian Heresy of Eternal Damnation

Augustine of Hippo and other Latin Writers of his time are usually given as being the chief popularizers of Endless Torment (Augustine admitted in his writing that the majority believed in Universal Salvation).  But the key to pretty much all of Augustine beliefs, (at least the ones I think he was wrong on, which are a lot of them), was his preference for an Allegorical Non-Literal interpretation of Scripture and willingness to borrow from Platonic Philosophy.

In the Greek speaking Church those two things were primarily characteristic of the Alexandrian School.  And indeed Augustine was known to have communicated with Cyril of Alexandria, and Cyril also taught Endless Torment.
And so ought we to reckon for ourselves; for to endure patiently, and maintain the conflict with courage, brings with it great reward, and is highly desirable, and wins for us the blessings bestowed by God: while to refuse to suffer death in the flesh for the love of Christ, brings upon us lasting, or rather never-ending punishment. For the wrath of man reaches at most to the body, and the death of the flesh is the utmost that they can contrive against us: but when God punishes, the loss reaches not to the flesh alone;----how could it?----but the wretched soul also is cast alone; with it into torments. Let our lot therefore rather be the honoured death; for it makes us mount up to the commencement of an eternal life, to which of necessity are attached those blessings also which come from the divine bounty: and let us flee from and despise a life of shame; a life accursed, and of short duration, and which leads down to bitter and everlasting torment.
From his Commentary on Luke Sermon 87.  In fact in Cyril's correspondences with Augustine he expressed concern about Augustine's proto-purgatory doctrine because of the implication that some people punished will be let out eventually, but Augustine clarified that option is only open to the Baptized.

Sometimes Cyril has been cited as a supporter of Universal Salvation, but that is based on is his reference to the Harrowing of Hell, which plenty enemies of Universal Salvation do still believe in.

Don't forget that the text of the Apocalypse of Peter that removes the reference to the eventual Salvation of all Sinners is the one found in Egypt.  I have argued that that scene was in the original version.

Alexandrians who were okay with Universal Salvation like Clement, Origen and maybe Athanasius were okay with it in-spite of their Alexandrianism not because of it.  With Cyril we see there were counter examples among the Alexandrians, but I can't find any counter examples among the highly Literalist Antiochene School.  Even the Cappadocians' support of Universal Salvation seems to reflect closer affinity to Antioch then Alexandria, Cappadocia was not far from Nisibis and Edessa were offshoots of the School of Antioch existed during their lifetime, and Basil had been Bishop of Caesarea, another related school.  Gregory was also critical of Origen on some issues.

It was the Alexandrian acceptance of Plato that opened the door for the endless punishment doctrine taught in The Republic to creep into the Church.  That Eternal Torment seemingly took the longest of any Platonic ideas to catch on in the Alexandrian Church is all the more evidence of how Unbiblical it was.

Plato's later dialogues like Republic, Timaeus and Laws are thought to be heavily influenced by the Pythagoreans, Pythagoras was said to have spent some time in Egypt.  Plato also presents his family as passing down knowledge Solon learned in Egypt.  Clement of Alexandria himself claims Pythagoras and Plato got many of their teachings from the Egyptians.

The Ancient Egyptians believed the Hearts of the Impure were devoured by the monster Ammit condemning them to eternal restlessness.

The Bible itself gives good reason to trust Antioch over Egypt when it comes to Church History.  Acts strangely doesn't record an Apostolic Church being set up in Egypt at all, but Antioch is where Believers were first called Christians, and where Paul started most of his missions, and we know Peter was there for a time thanks to Galatians.

Many will accuse Universal Salvation of being something taught to appease the world, but to me it looks like the secular world, even specifically the politically and socially liberal world, doesn't actually object to hell that much.  The Horror Genre is now unwilling to settle for just death, they have to literally depict people going to Hell, like Drag Me To Hell, or American Horror Story The Coven.  I watch a lot of YouTube Video Essays about popular culture from fellow SJWs, (Like Renegade Cut's Little Shop of Horrors video) and they're often obsessed with wanting actions to have consequences, ya know like the Hindu concept of Karma.  And some fans of The Last Jedi think Kylo Ren is beyond redemption.

What they find offensive about specifically Evangelical Christianity is the notion that Belief is the sole or primary determining factor. That it might be possible for a believer to lose Salvation, but impossible for someone who never believed no matter how nice they were to avoid Hell.  And these Christians sadly think that idea is how to separate Biblical Hell from the Egyptian concept of Ammit.

My old Second Resurrection post wasn't directly about Universal Salvation at all, simply arguing that there may even be some Unbelievers who aren't cast into the Lake of Fire to start with.  But since then my views have shifted a bit on the Lake of Fire.  Now I like to stress how backsliden believers will have it worse on the day of Judgment then those who never Believed based on passages like Luke 12.

But what's really controversial is that I'm even contemplating the possibility that after death/resurrection punishment is only for Believers. Jesus paid the full price of Sin, which was death, but those who enter a covenant relationship with Him take on certain responsibilities in addition to the benefits of that decision.  I'm not willing to state this definitively yet, but I see reasons to suspect it could be the case.

Which opens the possibly that some Nazis won't qualify at all, we can debate Hitler himself endlessly but some Nazis certainly hated Christianity, and wanted people to think Hitler was with them on that hence the dubious quotes in Table Talk.  And nothing is more offensive to the Left right now then suggesting Nazis could get off scottfree.  Oh and pretty much none of Japan's war criminals were Christians.

But I suppose they'll still find that preferable to the typical Christian view that whether or not Hitler gets into Heaven the Six Million Jews and Romani he killed certainly won't.

Why include that rant in a post mainly about associating the mainstream doctrine of Hell with Egypt?  Because lots of Conservative Christians see Egypt in The Bible as often representing The World.  Hence why Chad Schafer's book is doing so well.  So I'm showing that endless torment and/or annihilation is the doctrine of the Egyptian World.

Friday, November 30, 2018

John 1:3 refutes Arianism regardless of John 1:1

Even if you can justify an "a god" translation of John 1:1, John 1:3 says The Word created everything that was created, therefore The Word can't be a created being.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
That's the KJV translation.

I've been looking into the Coptic texts of the Gospel attributed to John for various reasons.  And I've found JWs will use Coptic Texts of John 1:1 to support their translation of that verse.  But the same Coptic have the same implication in John 1:3.
Everything came into being through him, and without him nothing came into being. That which came into being

Even the JWs own translation doesn't solve this implication of John 1:3.
 All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.

When discussing the Nicene Creed it's often made out as if in that Creed only the word Homousias makes Arianism incompatible with it.  (Of course that word only conflicts with Arianism in an Ancient Greek Platonic conception of what Divine Substance meant, to us every Son is made of the Substance of their parents.)  In fact full Proper Arianism is incompatible with the Creed simply from saying "begotten, not made", Arius and JWs see Jesus as a Created Being.

Now Semi-Arianism may accept the "begotten, not made" part, but some Semi-Arians were fine with Homousias as well.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Basil of Caesarea and Universal Salvation

The link to come up on a google search for "St Basil Universal Salvation" is unfortunately this link.

You see the writing of Basil quoted here is one often viewed as inauthentic, or if authentic in origin one that has been highly altered.  Here is the quote in question.
St. Basil of Caesarea ca. 330-379
In one place the Lord declares that “these shall go to eternal punishment” (Mt. 25:46), and in another place He sends some “to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt. 25:41); and speaks elsewhere of the fire of gehenna, specifying that it is a place “where their worm dies not, and the fire is not extinguished” (Mk. 9:44-49) and even of old and through the Prophet it was foretold of some that “their worm will not die, nor will their fire be extinguished” (Isa. 66:24). Although these and the like declarations are to be found in numerous places of divinely inspired Scripture, it is one of the artifices of the devil, that many forgetting these and other such statements and utterances of the Lord, ascribe an end to punishment, so that they can sin the more boldly. If, however, there were going to be and end of eternal punishment, there would likewise be and end to eternal life. If we cannot conceive of an end to that life, how are we to suppose there will be and end to eternal punishment? The qualification of “eternal” is ascribed equally to both of them. “For these are going,” He says, “into eternal punishment; the just, however, into eternal life.” (Mt. 25:46) If we profess these things we must recognize that the “he shall be flogged with many stripes” and the “he shall be flogged with few stripes” refer not to an end but to a distinction of punishment. (Rules Briefly Treated 267)
The inconsistency between this very quote and Basil generally taught is addressed by this link.
Starting on page 132. Though it was much earlier in the PDF that it first went into detail on how Basil defined Aionios ("Eternal" the above cited passages from Matthew).  This source offers a meaning for Aionios I hadn't heard yet, "World to Come" though I would render "Age to come".

I don't care what the "Early Church Fathers' said as much as most of my allies on Universal Salvation do.  But I also care about correcting misinformation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What was the error of the Nicolaitans?

Was not named after a man called Nicolas.  The Nicolas of Acts 6 is mentioned in a positive context.  We don't need to go outside scripture to determine what this doctrine was, it's deduced from the etymology of the name.

Nico-, combinatory form of nīke, means "victory" in Greek, and laos means "people", or more specifically, "the laity"; hence, the word may be taken to mean "lay conquerors" or "conquerors of the lay people".

The fact that this error is mentioned in only two messages doesn't necessarily mean it's relevant to only those two.  Only Ephesus is specifically commended for rejecting it and only Pergamos is specifically criticized for having some who fully hold it.  It might be possible others Churches had a more in-between version of it.  It also seems like it may not have originated in either of these cities.

That's been my position in the past, but I'm prepared to change my mind if new information comes to my attention.

A lot of confusion about this issue comes from thinking it's the same thing as the doctrine of Balaam also mentioned in the message to Pergamos.  In the message to Pergamos Jesus talks about them following the error of Balaam (Pornea/Whoredom and eating food sacrificed to Idols), then says they also have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolatians.

This is why the opinions of the "Early Church Fathers" are not very credible on the issues, because right from the first of them to bring up the subject, Ireneaus, they are being treated as if it's the same.  This is a mistake I myself have made talking about the issue in the past, so it's understandable.

It's not till the Seventh Century people start saying the Nicolatians' error was that Nicolas let other men lay with his wife.  When Clement mentions this story he's referring to it as a positive.

However what if there is a third Church in Revelation directly relevant to issue?

The second through sixth Churches in Revelation 2&3 are addressed as "The Church in _____".  But the first is addressed as the "Church of Ephesus" and the last as the "Church of the Laodiceans".

The city of Laodicea was named after a Seleucid queen Laodice.  The Greek roots of the name are Laos (people or laity) and Dike meaning either Justice of Vengeance depending on who you ask.  Notice how if you replace only one letter you get the same roots as Nicolatians.

Early Church Tradition says the first two Bishops of Laodicea were people named in Colossians 4:15-17, (one of them being a woman, Nympha, interesting), they could well have been before the major problems Revelation deals with emerged.  The third known Bishop of Laodicea was Diotrephes, a man very very negatively int he Epistle known as Third John, in fact he's been interpreted as being the first Monarchical Church Bishop.

And thus this all further backs up the premise of my Heresies of Asia Minor post, as well as The Gospel of The Beloved Disciple.

However the "victory over the people" meaning could also apply to Legalists, people who's issue was the polar opposite of the error of Balaam.  Which could justify equating them with Cerinthus or the Ebonites.