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 with, 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 corrected by later Assyrians 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 from 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 directly (same with Cilicia as a whole), the few times it seems like Acts is about to go there it then skips forward.

NT Tarsus is only relevant for being the hometown of Saul later known as Paul.  Before he's ever mentioned by name he's probably one of the Cilicians refereed to in Acts 6.

We know from Extra Biblical sources that Tarsus of Cilicia was a 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 journeys, most famously his ship wreck on Malta.

Tarshish was a grandson of Japheth, but the name is also duplicated as a Benjamite in 1 Chronicles 7:10.  I think it's possible the Chronicler is more using this name as a stand in for a Benjamite clan that would in the future live in Cilicia, possibly as a result of the slave trade alluded to in Joel 3.

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 brought 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 Gospels have Jesus say this at different times in different places.  The basis for the Q Hypothesis 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 Galilee 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 interests 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 without much concern for the implications of what that means.

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

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 following 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.

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 population in Pre-Islamci Arabia and was an important stop on the trade routes.  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.

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 often I see people argue simply that a Man and Woman becoming "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 statement 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 made 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, that 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 that in a sense 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

Why I say 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 (in my opinion wrong) ideas of what Salvation even is as it was 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 of 553.

My position on the creation of Souls is currently Traducianism, which is a rare example of me agreeing with Augustine of Hippo, but before Augustine it was Tertulian's view but I don't always agree with him either.

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 primarily 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 a 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 the Iconophiles 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.