4th Century Commentary on the Gospels

New out this week — first publication of the english translation — the gospels in 4th century CE were taught as allegory not history.

In 2012, Lukas Dorfbauer from the University of Salzburg, identified a manuscript in Cologne Cathedral Library as a copy of the Commentary on the Gospels by Fortunatianus, bishop of Aquileia in the middle of the fourth century.

This discovery enabled him to identify further witnesses to the commentary and works dependent on it. Dorfbauer’s critical edition, to be published in the CSEL – Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum — series in 2017, makes this work available to scholarship for the first time in over a millennium.

The discovery of a new work from late antiquity is always a landmark in the history of research. This extensive commentary shines new light on fourth-century biblical interpretation and the exegetical practices and literary work of an African bishop ministering in north Italy in this period. What is more, it appears to be dependent on works by Origen and Victorinus of Poetovio which are no longer preserved.

In order to make this important work available to a wider audience, Dr H.A.G. Houghton, University of Birmingham, UK has prepared an English translation and introduction in conjunction with the COMPAUL project on the earliest commentaries on the New Testament as sources for the biblical text.

You can download it here https://www.degruyter.com/viewbooktoc/product/469498

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over–Killing Jesus — when facts aren’t sacred

It’s Easter, so we get the Christian themed, or is it theme–park viewing on TV. What do UK viewers get to see: In the Footsteps of St Peter, The Ark and Killing Jesus.

On Good Friday, David Suchet swaps suave Poirot dress, for flat cap, shirt sleeves and sleeveless jumper and sets off with a sketch book, to personally record the scenes that he thinks Peter saw, on his journey from the shores of Galilee to Rome. The BBC isn’t anticipating much audience interest, it’s on just after breakfast.

KILLING JESUS CAST

The Ark, written by the man who gave us Eastenders, offers Maundy Thursday viewers a simplistic look at the story that says “Man displeases God, God will punish Man”. Of course as we know, God’s bizarre behaviour in this respect made no difference to Man.

The most spectacular piece of nonsense has to be Palm Sunday’s offering, Killing Jesus. After the Exodus casting fiasco, Ridley Scott obviously decided to give us a real authentic feel of the desert. Too much sand, I’m afraid. He should have given Jerusalem a brush up, not gone for the spaghetti western look.

The acting is hammy. The bad guys’ canned expressions looked as if they wouldn’t last the scene; the ruthless cavalry leader’s face resembled a defeated lawyer who’d lost his case to the local attorney — and why was Pontius Pilate residing in Jerusalem anyway, he was based in Caesarea?

If something were to show that the Bible stories are allegorical, then Killing Jesus can’t be bettered. We did ‘crowds’ in the Moses blog, but they somehow made it up another mountain, in spite of all those odds. Then we see every one of the potential killers putting down their stones, with so little persuasion. A modern–day, born–again, Christian killer would show a lone weakling like Jesus they were made of much sterner stuff. In the end we see all that impossible action from Gethsemane to Calvary — between dawn when the cock crowed, and mid–afternoon, when the hero of our allegorical story died — that really is suspension of disbelief.

Simplified, unrealistic, melodramatic: Killing Jesus once more shows us that you should never let fact stand in the way of a good story. Those with the eyes to see know it could never really be real.

Difference between Catholicism and Christianity

I faced a request for an explanation today. As I had researched the topic for 15 years and had written a 516 page book about it. This is what I had to say.

Bascially: Pythagoras brought a religion from Egypt that enabled those with the time, to study the science, mathematics and philosophical teachings. It gave an earthly shortcut to acquiring spiritual knowledge, known as Gnosis. With it came less attachment to temporal things. There was probably a hidden history too, that was kept secret within the teachings of the inner core, hence they were called the Mysteries.

The inner core was learned after years of study, by those with the time to devote to it; after which they were initiated and anointed. The outer aspects were open to all — unlike Judaism that you inherited from your mother — and taught to help people live a kinder and more generous life. There was a common theme of allegorical stories within all of the Mystery religions, that incorporated local myth and legend.

Now what happened 500 years later was that two Jewish versions of this Mystery religion were formed in Hellenised regions: one in Alexandria and one in Judea. The local myth and legend incorporated in both places was based on the Torah. In Alexandria, the Mystery was of Moses; in the ‘promised’ land of Judea, they naturally chose Joshua, whom we know through translation — Greek, Latin, English — as Jesus.

When 1st century unrest was rife in Judea, the better–off and educated fled Jerusalem and settled in Hellenised Galilee. Many of the uneducated stayed where the work was, in Jerusalem, and in 70 CE were taken as slaves to Rome.

These slaves unfortunately had had no education and lost their priests, who had settled in Galilee and other places. They naturally clung together and to their religions, but made the mistake of taking the story of Joshua/Jesus as literal truth.

With Emperors needing to keep control in Rome and religions opposing them by rioting or demanding intellectual freedom, the new literal Christianity had much appeal. True Gnostic Christians thrived elsewhere, but by the end of the fourth century, Emperor Theodosius gave Roman Christianity it’s big leg up and made it the state religion.

But there was still opposition from true Christians elsewhere. By the time of the Fifth Ecumenical Council, 545 CE Emperor Justinian imprisoned the Pope and made reincarnation illegal, such was the interference in the Church.

Of course Celtic Christians continued to teach the Pelagian Gnostic version of Christianity and opposed the Roman Emperor and Church. King Cyngen was a direct descendent of Magnus Maximus, Emperor of the western Roman empire, who had left Britain for Rome in 383 CE. In the late ninth century Cyngen arrived in Rome with an entourage, including his daughter, who was an abbess. He laid claim to the imperial throne and was killed; his daughter laid claim to the papacy and the story lives on, in fragments, as the story of an unknown Pope Joan.

Every time the original teachings raised their head above the parapet, we had various responses to suppress them. But the printing–press moved the story on — people read the Bible. The Roman Church never taught from the Bible, there were too many anomalies. Only those ordained were allowed to read it. It always taught the sacraments and the works of Jesus. Even today, Catholic children in Europe, know just a few of the Bible stories, which are taught as myth.

Protestant Christianity took hold first as a protest by Luther, Calvin and others at the corruptness of the Roman Church. Henry VIII was originally opposed to the Reformation, hence Pope Leo X making him Defender of the Faith. Though when he saw it expedient, he soon joined the protesters.

Today Catholicism is like the curate’s egg — it has it’s good spiritual parts. Protestant–based Christianity mostly takes the New Testament as literal truth; lacks the spiritual basis, and the extreme versions can be dangerous and far–removed from what the ancient Pythagoreans taught in 650 BCE “Do not to your neighbour what you would take ill from him.” ~ Pittarcus.

Moses and the long, long journey out of Egypt

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This is what 10,000 stationary refugees look like. It took four days for these Syrian refugees to cross the border into Iraq. Thanks to the UN, for this picture taken on August 19, 2013. It made me wonder about how long it took Moses to get out of Egypt. A reader sent me some calculations.

Numbers 1:46 tells us that exactly 603,550 men aged 20 and up accompanied Moses out of Egypt. Males in populations represent 51% and women 49%, so that gives 544,378 women of the same age. So we have 1,147,928 men and women over 19, suppose there are as many below that age, then Moses has 2,295,857 people to take with him. The population of Egypt at that time is estimated at 3.5 to 4 million Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times. Moses takes more than half of the population with him, so we are told.

So next we have to look at how fast such a crowd can shift. We’ll have to assume that those walking will include small children and the elderly, so a 5–6 year old walking at 0.84 m/s, seems reasonable, but if they needed a rest every hour, then walking for four hours a day, if they are all fit, is probably the most they could achieve. That’s a very optimistic 12 km in a day.

The dynamics of group spacing when walking, shows us that people walk in a V–shaped line in a group made of friends and family. So that they can see one another, the middle one will be at the point of the V, 1m behind in a group of five. A group of ten would be 2m deep and there would be at least a 2m space behind them, before the next group started. For 2,000,000 people to walk past a border point in groups of ten, they would form a line 800 km long, that’s from Aswan to Cairo, and it would take them 67 days to all pass that one border point to leave Egypt.

Pharoah’s army is unlikely to be in hot pursuit of such a slow moving population. It isn’t the crawling mass of people that would make them in no rush. It is because there is no need; the whole forty year journey to Canaan was through Egyptian occupied land. Makes you wonder how Moses brought off this amazing feat, especially as God wasn’t always on his side. He didn’t just need manna from heaven, what about shovels for the latrines?

50 fascinating facts about the Great Pyramid

50 fascinating facts about the Great Pyramid

The Great Pyramid is the largest of the three pyramids at Giza; it is the last remaining of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Constructed using stone hammers and ropes, or unknown technology? I don’t think so, check out the facts, then you decide.
Just launched on Amazon Kindle £1.99 UK, €2.60 Europe, $2.99 USA.

Christians Still Have a Long Way to Go

‘Death is a stripping away of all that is not you – the secret of life is to ‘die before you die’ … and find that there is no death.’ Eckhart Tolle

The message of the New Testament, is to love your neighbour. Not new, it was at least as old as the Seven Sages of Greece, as I mentioned in 50 Fascinating Facts About Jesus.
600 BCE, Pittacus: “Do not to your neighbour what you would take ill from him.”

If you understood that message well, the next stage of the original Mystery of Joshua, taught you to die to your physical existence, so that that you were born again, were anointed and became Christ. This spiritual message was the hardest to learn.

You have to learn to die, before you can really come alive. Not a lot of Christians seem to understand that.

It’s all about Ishtar

*Aeusos or Ushas is believed to have been the Goddess of dawn. This Goddess is so important that her name has several applications usually relating to the sun; the stars, especially Venus; hearth fires; and a class of Gods that ‘shine with a golden light’.

In many countries this Goddess is celebrated with a festival in March, usually on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.

In English the festival is known as Easter, the way you pronounce the Anatolian version of the goddess’s name, Ishtar.

Many European countries have traditions involving eggs. In most, they are hard–boiled and painted hens’ eggs, not chocolate ones. A good source of these old traditions is the Weistumer of the german speaking countries. These local bylaws indicated that the giving and painting of eggs was a pagan practice that earned disapproval. Later records indicate that the eggs were blessed in the church.

It seems clear that if you can’t eliminate pagan practice, the Christian Church had learned that you might as well make it your own.