Darius the Mede and Cyrus

Published September 11, 2019 by amaic
Darius I (Civ5)

“Darius the Mede took

over the kingdom”

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

The Book of Daniel presents historians with difficulties regarding both the Neo-Babylonian and the Medo-Persian successions. An unknown king “Belshazzar”, given as the son

(and presumably successor) of “Nebuchednezzar”, is slain, and his kingdom then passes into the hands of a likewise unknown monarch who is called “Darius the Mede”.

 

 

 

King Belshazzar

 

 

The many ‘historical inaccuracies’ that critics claim to find in the Book of Daniel are, as I have previously argued, not faults of ignorance on the part of Daniel (or whichever author[s]), but the limitations imposed upon historical knowledge by a one-dimensional conventional history.

See e.g. my”

“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel

https://www.academia.edu/35847164/_Nebuchednezzar_of_the_Book_of_Daniel

According to this revision, King Nabonidus, the penultimate king of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty – who in so many ways fits the description of the “Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel (as critics have noted) – is an alter ego of the mighty Chaldean king Nebuchednezzar II.

Already this new vision of history manages to establish that:

 

  • there was an historical king like Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”;
  • and he, just like “Nebuchednezzar”, had a notable son named Belshazzar;

 

Now, given my equation, Nebuchednezzar = Nabonidus, I was gratified to learn of documentary evidence attesting to some apparent mad or erratic behaviour on the part of king Nebuchednezzar II, to complement the well-attested “Madness of Nabonidus”.

I have also concluded – based on a strikingly parallel situation – that Evil-Merodach, son and successor of Nebuchednezzar II, was Belshazzar. I reproduce that information here (with ref. to British Museum tablet No. BM 34113 (sp 213), published by A. K. Grayson in 1975):

 

Read lines 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, and Mas referring to strange behavior by Nebuchadnezzar, which has been brought to the attention of Evilmerodach by state officials. Life had lost all value to Nebuchadnezzar, who gave contradictory orders, refused to accept the counsel of his courtiers, showed love neither to son nor daughter, neglected his family, and no longer performed his duties as head of state with regard to the Babylonian state religion and its principal temple. Line 5, then, can refer to officials who, bewildered by the king’s behavior, counseled Evilmerodach to assume responsibility for affairs of state so long as his father was unable to carry out his duties. Lines 6 and on would then be a description of Nebuchadnezzar’s behavior as described to Evilmerodach. Since Nebuchadnezzar later recovered (Dan. 4:36), the counsel of the king’s courtiers to Evil-merodach may later have been considered “bad” (line 5), though at the time it seemed the best way out of a national crisis.

 

Since Daniel records that Nebuchadnezzar was “driven from men” (Dan. 4:33) but later reinstated as king by his officials (verse 36), Evilmerodach, Nebuchadnezzar’s eldest son, may have served as regent during his father’s incapacity. Official records, however, show Nebuchadnezzar as king during his lifetime.

 

Comment: Now this is the very same situation that we have found with King Nabonidus’ acting strangely, and defying the prognosticators, whilst the rule at Babylon – though not the kingship – lay in the hands of his eldest son, Belshazzar.

 

The inevitable (for me) conclusion now is that:

Evil-merodach is Belshazzar!

 

 

 

Again, this new vision of history manages to establish that

 

  • Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchednezzar II/Nabonidus, was in fact a king.

 

Hence, a solution to the first conundrum referred to at the beginning of this article: An unknown king “Belshazzar”, given as the son (and presumably successor) of “Nebuchednezzar” ….

 

Moreover, I am confident that this new vision of history will enable for the true identification of that most enigmatic of biblical characters, “Darius the Mede”.

 

 

Medo-Persia

 

The Who, When, How, and Why of “Darius the Mede” of the Book of Daniel.

 

  

 

Having now established (I think) King Nabonidus’s son, Belshazzar, as the “King Belshazzar” of the Book of Daniel, then it ought to become self-evident – for those who know the basic facts about the historical Belshazzar – which Medo-Persian king succeeded him.

To put it in the words of the three young men when confronted by an irate “Nebuchednezzar” (Daniel 3:16): ‘Your question hardly requires an answer …’.

 

King Belshazzar was succeeded by King Cyrus.

 

According to (http://www.biblehistory.net/newsletter/belshazzar_darius_mede.htm):

 

King Cyrus of Persia also refers to  Belshazzar when he conquered Babylon in his writings:
       “A coward was put in charge as the king of this country . . . With evil intents he did away with the regular offerings to the gods  . . .  and desecrated the worship of the king of his gods, Marduk.” BM90920
      Cyrus’s statement that Belshazzar desecrated the worship of his god Marduk matches very closely to the story in the book of Daniel. Although it wasn’t Marduk whose handwriting appeared on the wall, but the one true God of Israel.
      According to the Bible, Belshazzar was holding a feast at the time the city of Babylon was run over by the Medes and Persians.
      The fall of Babylon as recorded by the ancient historians Herodotus, Berosus and Xenophon verifies this:
 

“Cyrus then dug a trench and diverted the flow of the Euphrates river into the new channel which led to an existing swamp. The level of the river then dropped to such a level that it became like a stream. His army was then able to take the city by marching through the shallow waters  . . .  The Babylonians at the time were celebrating intensely at a feast to one of their gods and they were taken totally by surprise.”

 

[End of quotes]

 

 

Unfortunately, some of these semi-historical ancient texts seem, at times, to mix up Nabonidus and Belshazzar.

 

The Book of Daniel identifies this same Medo-Persian king as “Darius the Mede” (5:30-31):

 

… at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.

That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.

 

Daniel 9:1 adds a little more biographical information about this new king:

 

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans ….

 

 

There are some historians who have come to the conclusion that the “Darius the Mede”

of the Book of Daniel is likely to have been King Cyrus “the Great” himself.

 

 

 

  1. J. Wiseman

 

“Donald John Wiseman OBE FBA FSA (25 October 1918 – 2 February 2010)[1] was a biblical scholar, archaeologist and Assyriologist. He was Professor of Assyriology at the University of London from 1961 to 1982”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Wiseman

Donald was the son of P. J. Wiseman, whose brilliant archaeologically-based insights into the structure of the Book of Genesis (the toledôt “family histories”) I have found most illuminating. See e.g. my P. J. Wiseman-inspired series:

 

Toledôt of Genesis

 

commencing with:

 

https://www.academia.edu/28730863/Toled%C3%B4t_of_Genesis_Introductory

 

  1. J. Wiseman advanced his “Darius the Mede” as Cyrus theory back in 1957, in his article, “Some Historical Problems in the Book of Daniel

see: http://www.thedivineconspiracy.org/Z3205D.pdf  There he wrote:

 

The basis of the hypothesis is that Daniel 6:28 can be translated ‘Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even (namely, or i.e.) the reign of Cyrus the Persian.’ Such a use of the appositional or explicative Hebrew waw construction has long been recognized in Chronicles 5:26 (‘So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria even the spirit of Tiglath–pileser king of Assyria’) and elsewhere.

[End of quote]

 

We know that “Pul” was the same person as Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria.

Correct translations of this verse, like the New King James Version, in this case, phrase it as “the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, that is, Tiglath–Pileser king of Assyria”.

 

William H. Shea

 

Dr. William H. Shea, retired associate director of the Biblical Research Institute, has written a book on this subject (Daniel), as well as his 1982 up-dated article specifically on the identification of “Darius the Mede”:

https://www.andrews.edu/library/car/cardigital/Periodicals/AUSS/1982-3/1982-3-04.pdf

 

Although Shea gives some reasons in favour of “Darius the Mede” as Cyrus, his conclusion is ultimately that: “…this theory makes the dated references to these two kings in Daniel appear to be quite haphazard in arrangement, since it provides no explanation why Daniel would refer back from the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia (10:1), to the first year of Darius the Mede who was king over the realm of the Chaldeans (11:1)”.

 

George R. Law

 

His published version of a 2010 dissertation, written on our very subject, is a fully comprehensive treatment of the issues involved – a must read in fact. And Law comes out firmly on the side of “Darius the Mede” as Cyrus. We read this useful summary of the book at: http://www.readyscribepress.com/home_files/DariustheMede.html

 

Identification of Darius the Mede

 

Identifying Darius the Mede has been a problem because of the lack of a direct correlation between the names in the ancient records of Babylonian kings and the record of the Hebrew Scriptures. Certainly, the prophet Daniel knew the Babylonian King whom he stylized as “Darius the Mede,” even if modern readers are uncertain, since this King Darius cast him into a den of lions.

In his book, Identifying Darius the Mede, George Law offers a scientific method which examines the data from the original sources concerning six potential candidates who might be identified as Darius the Mede: Astyages, Cambyses II, Cyaxeres (II), Cyrus the Great, Darius I (the Persian), and Gubaru (Gobryas). Law’s scientific method disqualifies most of these potential candidates and leaves only Cyrus the Great and Gubaru for further consideration.

In his extended consideration of Gubaru, a governor of Babylon, Law offers the following evidence explaining why Gubaru cannot be identified as Darius the Mede. In the original sources, there is no evidence of the following:

 

1)      Gubaru being called “king” in Babylon in 538-536 BC

2)      Gubaru being governor of Babylon from 538-536 BC

3)      a district called “Babylon and the Region across the River” existing in 538-536 BC

4)      a new governor (administration) being established in Babylon in 538-536 BC

5)      Darius the Mede acting as a vassal king.

 

On the other hand, Law considers how the evidence concerning Cyrus the Great does fit Daniel’s description of Darius the Mede.

 

[End of quote]

 

 

 

Was Daniel twice in the den of lions? Once under “Darius the Mede” and once under Cyrus?

No, not if – as according to this series – Darius the Mede was King Cyrus.

 

 

Toledôt Assistance

 

Sometimes the sacred Scriptures present us with two or more versions of the same incident, but written by different authors and hence from a different perspective. Because of seeming contradictions between (or amongst) these texts, arising as they do from different sources, critics can pounce on these as examples of biblical contradiction and error.

One such situation that I looked at were the two very similar – though in some ways quite different – accounts of Abram’s wife, Sarai, and Abraham’s wife, Sarah, being abducted by “Pharaoh” (in the case of Sarai), and by “Abimelech” (in the case of Sarah):

 

Toledôt Explains Abram’s Pharaoh

https://www.academia.edu/26239534/Toled%C3%B4t_Explains_Abrams_Pharaoh

These tales I concluded, with the benefit of P. J. Wiseman’s illuminating toledôt theory, were recording the one and same incident:

 

From the now well-known theory of toledôt (or Toledoth, a Hebrew feminine plural), we might be surprised to learn that so great a Patriarch as Abram (later Abraham), did not sign off the record of his own history (as did e.g. Adam, Noah, and Jacob). No, Abram’s story was recorded instead by his two chief sons, Ishmael and Isaac.

“These are the generations of Ishmael …” (Genesis 25:12).

“These are the generations of Isaac …” (Genesis 25:19).

 So, there were two hands at work in this particular narrative, and this fact explains the otherwise strange repetition of several famous incidents recorded in the narrative. And it is in the second telling of the incident of the abduction of Abram’s wife, Sarai (later Sarah), that we get the name of the ruler who, in the first telling of it is called simply

“Pharaoh”. He is “Abimelech” (20:2).

[End of quote]

 

Whilst the Egyptianised Ishmael (or his family) was recounting the story from the perspective of Egypt; Isaac (or his kin) gave the story from a Palestinian perspective.

Archaeologically we have learned that Egypt had, at this time, most appropriately, flowed over into southern Canaan.

 

And so with Daniel and the two accounts of his ordeal in the den of lions (Daniel 6 and Bel and the Dragon), it now follows that – given our identification of “Darius the Mede” with Cyrus – that only the one incident is being referred to, but presumably related by different authors. Hence, as with the case of the abduction of Sarah, it can read as if referring to two separate incidents. This, whilst being possible, is highly unlikely given Daniel’s advanced age at this time.

Let us consider the points of comparison:

 

The scene is Babylon (4:30; Bel v. 3).

In both cases, Daniel is on very good terms with a Medo-Persian king (6:3; Bel v. 2).

The people conspire against Daniel (and the king) on religious grounds (6:4-5; Bel vv. 28-29).

The king, under extreme pressure was distressed (6:14; Bel v. 30).

The fate was a den of lions (6:7, 16; Bel v. 31).

The king comes to the den to see what fate has befallen Daniel (6:19; Bel v. 40).

Daniel has been miraculously delivered (6:21; Bel v. 40).

The king rejoices, praises Daniel’s God (6:23; Bel v. 41).

Daniel is lifted out of the den (6:23; Bel v. 42).

His accusers are thrown into the den and are instantly devoured (6:24; Bel v. 42).

 

Perhaps the biggest apparent difference between the two narrations is the length of time that Daniel was in the den. Bel v. 31 is explicit. It was six days: “Who cast him into the lions’ den: where he was six days”. Daniel 6:19, on the other hand, gives: “At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den”.

However, that does not mean that Daniel was lifted out from the den that next day.

Daniel 6 may be telescoping events here.

 

The “Chiasmus” Guide

 

In the “Abram’s Pharaoh” article (above), chiastic parallelism also came to the aid of my theory that Abram’s “Pharaoh” was the same as “Abimelech”. A reader – one albeit critical of some of what I had been writing – had e-mailed to show that “Pharaoh” and “Abimelech” actually dovetailed chiastically. Thus he wrote: “Note how B. 1 and B’. 1’ merge beautifully with “Pharaoh” in B. 1 reflecting “Abimelech” in B’. 1’.”

Not that a chiastic parallelism of names necessarily means that the same person must be intended. Bern Sadler has, in his magnificent deciphering of the Gospel of Matthew: http://www.structureofmatthew.com/The%20Structure%20of%20Matthew.pdf

has drawn such a parallel between the name “Jacob” (Matthew 1:2) and “James” (Matthew 4:21). Most interestingly, “James” is the English form of the Hebrew name “Jacob” (Yaʻaqov).

 

Now, James B. Jordan has in The Handwriting on the Wall, on p. 314, shown a similar chiastic convergence of “Darius the Mede” (5:31) (his A.) and ‘Cyrus” (6:18b) (his A’).

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Biblical heroines confusingly re-emerging in AD ‘Herstory’

Published September 11, 2019 by amaic

QSW-Queen-Sheba | SHEVA.com

 by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“Researchers have pointed to the similarities and differences between the

two great Beta Israel legends mirrored in Ethiopian Christian history,

of the Queen of Sheba and Queen Judith …”.

 Shalva Weil

The entirely legendary (supposedly c. 900 AD) Queen of Ethiopia, Gudit (Yodit), or Judith, appears to be a composite of some of the greatest amongst Old Testament women: namely, the Queen of Sheba; Judith; and Esther.

For the similarities with the biblical Judith, of the same name, see e.g. my article:

Judith the Simeonite and Judith the Semienite

https://www.academia.edu/24416713/Judith_the_Simeonite_and_Judith_the_Semienite

with further biblical extensions noted in:

Judith the Simeonite and Judith the Semienite. Part Two: So many Old Testament names!

 

https://www.academia.edu/35236672/Judith_the_Simeonite_and_Judith_the_Semienite._Part_Two_So_many_Old_Testament_names_

But apparently this Gudit also had the name “Esther” (or “Esato”).

Shalva Weil tells of it in her article:

http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/ethiopian-jewish-women

Ethiopian Jewish Women

….

Interestingly, the greatest legend in Beta Israel annals, after the famous meeting between Queen Sheba and King Solomon, revolves around a woman, Queen Judith, variously known as Yodit, Gudit … Esther, Esato (=fire), Ga’wa and Tirda Gabaz. The Scottish explorer James Bruce, in his Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile, describes how the beautiful queen Judith, queen [sic] of the Beta Israel, single-handedly overthrew Christianity [sic] and eliminated most of the Solomonic royal dynasty [sic] based at Aksum.

 

My comment: The kingdom of “Aksum” that figures in both the fictitious history of Gudit and also of Mohammed, seems to be replaceable in each case with the ancient kingdom of Assyria.

Assyria is, of course, fully relevant to the Book of Judith drama.

 

In its place, she established a Jewish dynasty, which ruled for several generations (Bruce 1790: 451–453).

 

My comment: That is because the fictitious Gudit is based on a real “Jewish” person, namely, Judith of Bethulia.

 

Researchers have pointed to the similarities and differences between the two great Beta Israel legends mirrored in Ethiopian Christian history, of the Queen of Sheba and Queen Judith (Kaplan 1992). Both women were perceived to be extremely powerful royal figures. Both were depicted as converts to Judaism. Both led the Jews against the evil Christians; both were considered to be victorious. However, while according to the Ethiopian text Kebra Negest, the Queen of Sheba established the Solomonic dynasty by having relations with King Solomon against her will, Queen Judith is depicted as the one who destroyed that same lineage. According to Salamon: “The Jewish woman leader in Ethiopia [sic] may symbolize… the potential for power castration of the dominant group at the hands of the minority” (1999:127 fn.10). ….

 

My comment: All great fiction!

Our Lady of Fatima and Queen Esther

Published September 10, 2019 by amaic

“As Pope John Paul II said when he made the Consecration in 1984,

‘Fatima is more important now than it was in 1917’.

Fr. Apostoli added his own insights, “It’s even more important now [2014]

than when [John Paul II] said that in 1984”.”

At Fr. West’s Catholic Blog (February 21, 2013) we read about:

http://frwest.blogspot.com/2013/02/queen-esther-and-our-lady-of-fatima.html

 

 

Queen Esther and Our Lady of Fatima –

Homily for Thursday of the First Week of Lent

 

Queen Esther had been chosen Queen after King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) dismissed his wife Queen Vashti for not coming to him when she was summoned.

 

Now Queen Esther is in anguish because Haman, the wicked aide … has convinced the King to issue an order to kill all the Jews in his Empire. Haman did this because Mordecai, Esther’s cousin who raised her as a daughter, would not bow down and prostrate himself as Haman passed as the King had ordered. The King is unaware that Esther his wife is Jewish.

 

The date set for destruction was the 13th of the month of Adar which corresponds to either our month of February. It is also the very day that the Maccabees liberated Israel after a four-year battle with the Seleucid Empire.

Sister Lucia to whom Our Lady of Fatima appeared died on this date. Our Lady of Fatima’s first appearance to the three shepherd children was May 13, 1917.  Her last appearance was October 13, 1917. On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II survived an assassination attempt. He credits Our Lady of Fatima with saving his life.

 

Queen Esther clothed herself in sackcloth and ashes.  She fasted from food and water for three days and asks the Jews to do the same.  After the three days, she approached the King without being summoned.  She did this even though she was aware that the King could have sentenced her to death for doing so.

 

When the Queen enters into the King’s presence he extends his scepter thus sparing her life. He was so impressed by her courage and beauty that he promised her up to half of his kingdom. Instead, she invites him to two banquets and invites Haman – the man responsible for the order of the genocide of her people. At the second banquet she pleads for her life and the life of her people.  The King is horrified by what Haman has done and orders him to be hung on the same gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.  Persian law did not permit the King to reverse his decree, but he issued another decree that the Jews could defend themselves.  Instead of being destroyed, the Jewish people were saved and defeated their enemies in battle. The Jews celebrate this triumph each year as their Feast of Purim.  It doesn’t always fall on the same day.  In 2013, the Feast falls on February 24th.

 

Many see Queen Esther as a type of Mary and the Book of Esther as a type of the Apocalypse. A figure type is a person, place, thing or event foreshadowing a New Testament archetype (a perfect model or type). The New Testament archetype is always greater than its Old Testament figure type. For example, Jonah’s time in the belly of the great fish is a type of Jesus in the tomb. Moses is a type of Jesus.

 

The Jewish people were saved through the intercession of Queen Esther, so Mary intercedes for her people today.  The Apocalypse foretells a great persecution of Christians … but the Book of Revelation speak[s] about the Ark of the Covenant appearing in the sky and the Woman crushing the head of the dragon. (Revelation 12)

 

When the Blessed Mother appeared at Fatima she wore the Star of Esther. In the Old Testament of the Hebrew text, her name was Hádássah – meaning myrtle, a white, five-pointed, star-shaped flower. ….

Like Esther, Mary came at Fatima to spare her children from destruction. She asked people to repent of sin, pray the rosary, go to confession, and receive the Eucharist worthily. On July 13, 1917, Our Lady said to the child Lucia: “…I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be annihilated. … In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and an era of peace will be granted to the world.”

 

Had her requests been heeded the world would have been spared the horrors of World War II in which over 50 million people died and countless other wars and persecutions provoked by Communists throughout the world. In 1920, Russia was also the first country to legalize abortion. In 1913, Communist leader Vladimir Lenin demanded “the unconditional annulment of all laws against abortions or against the distribution of medical literature on contraceptive measures.”

 

Great evils threaten our world. Sin increases. So many hearts are hardened. We need to call on Our Lady in prayer.  Heed her requests at Fatima and Lourdes. Do penance, do the Five First Saturday devotion by going to confession, receiving the Eucharist, praying the rosary and meditating 15 minutes on the mysteries for five first Saturdays of the month in a row.

 

Queen Esther asked her people to … pray and do penance with her. We must listen to the Blessed Mother today and ask her to intercede with her Son that he might spare us, our nation and our world.

 

 

Books of Daniel and Esther

Published September 9, 2019 by amaic

 

“Daniel was renamed Belteshazzar, and his 3 friends were also given Babylonian names. Hadassah was given the name Esther, a name by which most people remember her, and by which her book is known. Having both been taken into the palace of the king, they were supplied with what they will need to fulfill their role in the palace”.

 Gretchen S.

 

“Luke” has blogged (April 4, 2014):

http://lukedockery.com/2014/04/04/links-between-daniel-and-esther-2/

 

The Book of Daniel has been one of my favorite biblical books for a while now, and I’ve always enjoyed the Book of Esther as well. A while back, I heard a lesson on Esther which got me to thinking about the striking similarities between the two:

 

Faithful Living in a Hostile Environment

 

Many of the following similarities can be traced to the overriding similarity in the setting of both books. The Book of Daniel follows the lives of Daniel and his three friends as they live godly lives during a time of captivity in Babylon, working in conjunction with powerful kings (first Nebuchadnezzar, then Belshazzar, then Darius).

The Book of Esther focuses on the lives of Esther and Mordecai as they live in Susa under the reign of Ahasuerus/Xerxes.

 

Emphasis on the Physical Beauty of Young People

 

Daniel 1.3-6 mentions that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were chosen for the king’s service because they were, among other things, “without blemish, of good appearance.” They were taken aside and were to be given special training and a special diet to prepare them to assist the king.

Similarly, Esther was chosen as part of the harem of Ahasuerus based on her great beauty (Esther 2.3, 8) and was similarly treated with a special diet and also given cosmetic treatment (vv. 9-12).

 

The Changing of Names

 

Daniel 1.7 is clear that Daniel and his friends are given new names in Babylon (Daniel becomes Belteshazzar, Hananiah is called Shadrach, Mishael is now Meshach, and Azariah is called Abednego) which seems to be an attempt to change the identity and allegiances of the young men. Allusions to Yahweh, the God of the Israelites, were removed from their names and were replaced with references to false Babylonian gods.

The Book of Esther is not as explicit, but Esther 2.7 mentions that Mordecai was “bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther….” Hadassah is a Hebrew name, which indicates that her name must have been changed to Esther at some point while she was under Persian influence and authority.

 

Accusations Against God’s People

 

In both Daniel and Esther, we have the theme of wicked men bringing accusations against God’s people. In Daniel, political officials who are jealous of the level of authority that Daniel has achieved under Darius realize that the only way they can get him in trouble is to outlaw his devotion to Jehovah, and they then inform Darius that he has violated the law by continuing to pray to his God (Daniel 6.1-14).

In Esther 3, Haman’s rage over Mordecai’s refusal to bow before him leads him to propose a scheme to Ahasueras to eradicate the Hebrew people (Also, this incident could be compared to the refusal of Shadrach, Mishael, and Azariah to bow to King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image in Daniel 3).

 

God’s Ability to Save in Difficult Situations

 

In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Mishael, and Azariah are confident that God has the ability to rescue them from the fiery furnace. Later, in Daniel 6, Daniel seems to be unfazed by his punishment of being thrown in the lion’s den.

When Mordecai learns of Haman’s plan to wipe out the Jewish people, he reflects a similar attitude, telling Esther that the Jews will be delivered one way or another (Esther 4.13-14).*

 

Stubborn, Determined Faith

 

One awesome theme of both books is the portrayal of determined, defiant faith from the characters. Shadrach, Meschach, Abednego, and Esther all realize the possibility of dying for their actions, but are determined to remain faithful regardless. Their declarations of stubborn faith in Daniel 3.16-18 and Esther 4.16 are among my favorite passages in Scripture.

Promotion of God’s People to Places of High Authority

 

A final related theme of both Daniel and Esther is the way that God leads his faithful followers to places of high authority in their respective foreign lands. Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego (Daniel 1.20, 2.46-49, 3.30, 5.29, 6.1-4, 6.25) all find favor in the sight of their superiors and are elevated to positions of high authority.

Similarly, Esther and Mordecai (Esther 2.1-18, 5.1-8, 6.10-11, 10.2-3) are appreciated by their superiors and granted power and authority as well.

 

Conclusion

 

These are just some of the similarities that struck me between the two books; I’m sure there are more that could be listed. As I mentioned above, I think a lot of the similarities stem from the overall similarity in setting, as we have the stories of people trying to be faithful to God in a surrounding culture which doesn’t always support that lifestyle. In that sense, I think the books of Daniel and Esther are incredibly relevant to Christians today as we strive to live as “sojourners and exiles” in our world (1 Peter 2.11).

*Much has been made of the fact that Esther is the only biblical book which does not explicitly mention God. While this is interesting, I don’t think it is particularly significant, as the idea of God providentially caring for His people is as central to the Book of Esther as it is to the Book of Daniel.

 

 

Similarly, Gretchen S. has written:

http://www.oocities.org/~alyza/Jewish/Daniel.html

 

The Similarities Between the Books of Daniel and Esther

The books of Daniel and Esther have much in common. These commonalities include the overall genre of the successful courtier, the slander of a Jew (or all Jews), the triumph of the main character, and other parallels between the texts. This is not to say that the stories are wholly the same, only that they share much in common. The common themes in Daniel and Esther can tell a great deal about the Jewish people of the time. The timelessness of the two books indicates that the themes continue to have relevance for the Jewish people.

 

The stories start similarly for the two main characters. Daniel was taken into the court of the Babylonian king, with a number of other Judean youths. “Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief officer, to bring some Israelites of royal descent and of the nobility–youths without blemish, handsome, proficient in all wisdom, knowledgeable and intelligent, and capable of serving in the royal palace” (Daniel 1:3-4).1 They were to be groomed to be advisors to the king. A similar thing happened to the Jewess, Hadassah, who was taken into the palace of King Ahasuerus along with other virgins of his kingdom as a candidate to be his new wife (Esther 2). Both were renamed with non-Jewish names. Daniel was renamed Belteshazzar, and his 3 friends were also given Babylonian names. Hadassah was given the name Esther, a name by which most people remember her, and by which her book is known.

 

Having both been taken into the palace of the king, they were supplied with what they will need to fulfill their role in the palace. For Daniel and his three friends, this meant food, training in Aramaic, and writing. “Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food or the wine he drank, so he sought permission of the chief officer not to defile himself, and God disposed the chief officer to be kind and compassionate toward Daniel.” (Daniel 1:8-9). Esther, though she did not ask for anything, was given the perfume, make-up, and beauty treatments needed for her role by the eunuch in charge (Esther 2:8-9 and 2:15). Daniel’s resistance was an active one, while Esther’s was one of passivity. She did not ask for anything with which to beautify herself; it had to be given to her by the chief eunuch. Even though they resisted in their own ways, they both found favor in the eyes of those who are charged to making them ready (Daniel 1:9 and Esther 2:8).

 

Having been well prepared, both Daniel and his three companions, and Esther, were taken into the presence of their respective kings. “Whenever the king put a question to them requiring wisdom and understanding, he found them to be ten times better than all the magicians and exorcists throughout his realm.” (Daniel 1:20). “The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she won his grace and favor more than all the virgins. So he set a royal diadem on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” (Esther 2:17). All of them found favor in the eyes of the kings involved. They, like Joseph before them, became successful courtiers.

 

Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, became involved in the politics of the court just as Daniel did, when he saved the king from a plot against his life by Bigthan and Teresh (Esther 2:21-23). Daniel was called in to interpret a dream, and in doing so not only helped the king, he also saved the lives of his three companions and himself as chapter 2 of Daniel discusses. Daniel was well rewarded for his dream interpretation: “The king then elevated Daniel and gave him very many gifts, and made him governor of the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect of all the wise men of Babylon.” (Daniel 2:48). While Mordecai was not rewarded immediately, the king did eventually reward him. Haman … in Esther 6:7-9, advised the king: “For the man whom the king desires to honor, let royal garb which the king has worn be brought, and a horse on which the king has ridden and on whose head a royal diadem has been set; and let the attire and the horse be put in the charge of one of the king’s noble courtiers. And let the man whom the king desires to honor be attired and paraded on the horse through the city square, while they proclaim before him: This is what is done for the man whom the king desires to honor!” Haman himself, who had planned on having Mordecai impaled, instead had to lead Mordecai around on the king’s horse dressed in royal clothing. Similarly, Daniel was arrayed in clothing of the royal purple in Daniel 5:22. “Then, at Belshazzar’s command, they clothed Daniel in purple, placed a golden chain on his neck, and proclaimed that he should rule as one of three in the kingdom.

 

“The Book of Daniel describes an episode of slander against the Jews in general, and later, Daniel in particular. Chapter three of Daniel tells about the statue of Nebuchadnezzar and the law that was made requiring all the people of Babylon to bow down and worship the statue. Those who did not do so, were to be thrown in a fiery furnace. “Seizing the occasion, certain Chaldeans came forward to slander the Jews” (Daniel 3:8). Though their goal was to take power away from Daniel’s three companions, as verse 3:12 makes clear, they had slandered all of the Jews. Later, in Daniel 6:6-18, other men sought to slander and entrap Daniel himself. A law–made this time by Darius at the instigation of the men–made it illegal to bow down to anyone but Darius for thirty days. The men asked for this law to be made to entrap Daniel, who they knew prayed to G-d three times a day, bowing down to Him.

They also knew that a law, once written by Darius, could not be revoked. Similarly, “When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel or bow low to him, Haman was filled with rage. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone; having been told who Mordecai’s people were, Haman plotted to do away with all the Jews, Mordecai’s people, throughout the kingdom of Ahasuerus.” (Esther 3:5-6). This is similar to the two cases in Daniel, where both Daniel and his three companions refused to bow down to kings or statues of kings and worship them. Granted, Haman (hiss) was not asking to be worshiped, but he was asking Mordecai to bow down to him. Haman approached the king, saying (Esther 3:8) “There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other peoples in all the provinces of your realm, whose laws are different from those of any other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; and it is not in Your Majesty’s interest to tolerate them.” Haman thus convinced Ahasuerus to write a law that will allow for the massacre of all Jews in the kingdom on a day selected by lots; again, this law cannot be revoked by the king.

 

Those people who are threatened were saved miraculously in all three cases. An angel rescued Hannaniah, Mishial, and Azuria from the fiery furnace. Another angel closed up the lions’ mouths, saving Daniel. Both of these stories in Daniel end with the instigators, those trying to kill the heroes, themselves being killed or executed. The heros are elevated. Esther’s story has the instigator, Haman … executed, on the very same stakes on which he had planned to impale Mordecai.. The survival of the Jews of Persia in the story of Esther was a bit more complex, but nonetheless, it had a miraculous element about it. Esther put her own life in jeopardy to save the lives of her people. She found favor in the eyes of her king who, though unable to rescind the law, wrote another law allowing the Jews to defend themselves. Miraculously, no Jewish lives were lost, while those who wanted to annihilate them were all killed.

 

After the incident with Daniel’s three friends, Nebuchadnezzer made a proclamation: “King Nebuchadnezzar to all people and nations of every language that inhabit the whole earth: May your well-being abound! The signs and wonders that the Most High G-d has worked for me I am pleased to relate. How great are His signs; how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion endures throughout the generations.” (Daniel 3:31-33) Similarly, a proclamation was made in the book of Esther. This proclamation, like the whole book of Esther, made no mention of G-d. Esther 8:9 says, “So the king’s scribes were summoned at that time, on the twenty-third day of the third month, that is, the month of Sivan; and letters were written, at Mordecai’s dictation, to the Jews and to the satraps, the governors and the officials of the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia: to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, and to the Jews in their own script and language…” This proclamation gave all of the Jews permission to defend themselves.

 

Both the proclamation in Daniel and the one in Esther went out to all nations and all tongues under the rule of the respective kings. ….

 

Prophet Daniel and ‘Plato’

Published September 9, 2019 by amaic

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

The view of certain of the Fathers of the Church, that much of Greek philosophy was borrowed from the Hebrews, has led me – with the benefit of a revised history – to be able

to propose that sages who are traditionally regarded as Ionian and mainland Greek

(and Italian) philosophers may have been, in their original guise, Hebrews (Israelites, Jews).

  

 

Introduction

 

From the details given in the Book of Daniel it may be argued that Daniel’s floruit as the governor of Babylon extended from the early reign of Nebuchednezzar II until the early reign of Cyrus. In conventional terms, this would be, in round figures, from 600 BC to 540 BC – approximately 60 years. King “Nebuchednezzar”, in awe of Daniel’s wisdom after the Jewish sage had recalled and interpreted the king’s dream, had made Daniel the ruler of Babylon (Daniel 2:48): “Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men”. V. 21: “And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus”.

The last date that the Book of Daniel gives us for its hero is the third year of King Cyrus (10:1): “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision”.

 

 

 

Considering Daniel’s significance to Babylon and Medo-Persia, it should be possible to find in the Neo-Babylonian records a governor of Babylon of long duration, who had continued until the early reign of Cyrus. Such, at least, is my view.

Less optimistic about the possibility of finding any such sort of account of Daniel (Belteshazzar) in the historical records , however, is Robert D. Wilson (Studies in the Book of Daniel, Vol. 2) http://www.biblicalresearch.info/page9d.html

 

Was Daniel An Historical Character?

 

There are those who doubt the historicity of Daniel upon the grounds that his name does not appear in the records of the period of the exile. One noted critic stated the case thus: “It is natural that we should turn to the monuments and inscriptions of the Babylonian, Persian, and Median Empires to see if any message can be found of so prominent a ruler, but hitherto neither his name has been discovered, nor the faintest trace of his existence.”

 

Dr. Wilson discusses this phase of the question thoroughly, looking at the various types of inscriptions that have come to us and showing that it is most unreasonable to base an argument upon the kind of data that we have, especially upon the lack of evidence. After setting forth the case in an impartial manner and discussing pro and con every possibility, Dr. Wilson draws this conclusion:

 

“Inasmuch, then, as these inscriptions mention no one filling any of the positions, or performing any of the functions or doing any of the deeds, which the book of Daniel ascribes to its hero Belteshazzar; how can anyone expect to find in them any mention of Daniel, in either its Hebrew or its Babylonian form? And is it fair, in view of what the monuments of all kinds make known to us, to use the fact that they do not mention Daniel at all as an argument against his existence?

 

“What about the numerous governors, judges, generals, priests, wise men writers, sculptors, architects, and all kinds of famous men, who must have lived during that long period? Who planned and supervised the building of the magnificent canals, and walls, and palaces, and temples of Babylon? Who led the armies, and held in subjection and governed the provinces and adjudged cases in the high courts of justice, and sat in the king’s council? Who were the mothers and wives and queenly daughters of the monarchs who sat upon the thrones of those mighty empires? Had the kings no friends no favorites, no adulatory poets or historians, no servile prophets, no sycophantic priests, no obsequious courtiers, who were deemed worthy to have their names inscribed upon these memorials of royal pride and victory; that we should expect to find there the name of Daniel, a Hebrew captive, a citizen of an annihilated city, a member of a despised and conquered nation, a stranger living on the bounty of the king, an alien, a slave, whose very education was the gift of his master and his elevation dependent on his grace? Let him believe who can. As for me, were the documents multiplied tenfold, I would not expect to find in them any reference to this humble subject of imperious kings.”

[End of quotes]

 

Let us not give up so easily.

 

A Possible Candidate for Daniel

 

If my recent revision of Neo-Babylonian history is correct, then this should affect somewhat – but also assist, hopefully – the search for the historical Daniel. Given my argument that some of the Neo-Babylonian kings have been duplicated, and perhaps even triplicated:

 

Aligning Neo-Babylonia with Book of Daniel. Part Two: Merging late neo-Assyrians with Chaldeans

 

https://www.academia.edu/38330399/Aligning_Neo-Babylonia_with_Book_of_Daniel._Part_Two_Merging_late_neo-Assyrians_with_Chaldeans

 

this series being supplemented by another article:

 

“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel

 

https://www.academia.edu/35847164/_Nebuchednezzar_of_the_Book_of_Daniel

 

then one might expect the potential 60 years of floruit for Daniel as governor of Babylon to be somewhat reducible.

Whilst there may not be any known governor of Babylon from the early reign of Nebuchednezzar II until the first few years of Cyrus – as I’d anticipate from the Book of Daniel that there should be – with my new identification of Nebuchednezzar II (and Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”) with King Nabonidus, then such an official comes right into view.

He is Nabu-ahhe-bullit, who was governor of Babylon from at least Nabonidus’s 8th year until the 3rd year of Cyrus. Thus we read in the following article

(http://disc.yourwebapps.com/discussion.cgi?id=177754;article=15087;

 

From the contemporary cuneiform contract tablets, we know that Terike-sarrutsu was the governor (shakin mati) of Babylonia in Year 1 Nabunaid [Nabonidus] (555/4 BC).

Nabu-ahhe-bullit succeeded him as office holder by Year 8 Nabunaid (548/7 BC). This man remained in office down to Year 3 Cyrus but became a subordinate of the governor Gubaru, the appointee of Cyrus, when Babylon was captured by the army of Cyrus in 539 BC. He is not to be confused with Ugbaru.

[End of quote]

 

Rather than Daniel’s having at this stage become “a subordinate” of Gubaru’s, though, he may have departed (one way or another) from the political scene.

By now Daniel would have been in his 60’s or 70’s.

This is how I would tentatively reconstruct the chronology of his governorship:

 

Daniel, as Nabu-ahhe-bullit, had been appointed governor of Babylon close to the third year of Nebuchednezzar II (= Nabonidus), who reigned for 43 years. That is a service of four decades.

He continued on through the 2-3 years of Belshazzar, son of Nabonidus, envisaging himself in Susa (Daniel 8:1-2): “In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam …”.

He was still in Babylon in the 1st year of Cyrus, but then moved to Susa, Cyrus’s capital, and served the king until his 3rd year.

 

The Name

 

It is thought that the Babylonian name that “Nebuchednezzar” gave to Daniel, Belteshazzar, is not actually a Bel name, as definitely is Belshazzar (Bel-sarra-usur), “Baal protect the King”.

That Belteshazzar is more of a balatu (“life”) type of name.

Correspondingly, we read at (http://biblehub.com/commentaries/expositors/daniel/): “Thus the name Belteshazzar seems to be connected in the writer’s mind with Bel [sic], the favourite deity of Nebuchadrezzar; but it can only mean Balatu-utsur , “his life protect,” which looks like a mutilation”.

That does not mean that the name given to Daniel would have lacked reference to a deity. For “Nebuchednezzar” specifically said (Daniel 4:8): “Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)”. From this it might be expected that Daniel was given the name of the god whose name was held likewise by the king (Nebuchednezzar/Nabonidus): namely, Nabu.

Appropriately, in the name of the long-lived governor of Babylon, Nabu-ahhe-bullit, we have both the Nabu element and the balatu-like element in bullit. This element, bullit, at least, is an appropriate one for the first part of the name, Belte-shazzar.

However, there is also the Nabu-ahhe-bullit like name, Nabubullitsu (e.g. in Sir W. Budge’s Babylonian Life and History, Index, p. 159), that comes yet closer to Belteshazzar, which is, after all, a foreign transliteration of an originally Babylonian name.

 

Finally, now with my revised Neo-Babylonian history, we have virtually a perfectly matching chronology for Daniel and his proposed alter ego, Nabu-ahhe-bullit.

 

* * * * *

 

There are various articles written according to which Plato’s views were based upon, now Babylonian, now Egyptian concepts. There is, for instance: “On the Babylonian Origin of Plato’s Nuptial Number”, by George A. Barton, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 29 (1908), pp. 210-219. On p. 210, the author goes so far as to write: “The passage in which Plato introduces this mystic number is said to be the most difficult passage in his writings”.

Gary Geck, however, regards the land of Egypt as the place of primary inspiration for Plato (http://brightmorningstar.blog.com/2013/08/08/platos-ideal-state-based-on-egypt/):

 

Put yourself into Plato’s shoes in the 4th Century BCE [sic]. What was the paragon of political perfection? Egypt of course, which was ancient even to Plato. Egypt was ruled by philosopher kings of a sort. The priest-class was said to have had tremendous influence over the Pharaohs. Who was the Pharaoh, but the highest of the philosopher/priests (a god even perhaps to them). It is my belief that Plato’s ideal state was based on Egypt. Several times during the Platonic works, references to Egypt are made and all paint the ancient kingdom in the light of a wise and mature state. As he writes in the Timaeus from the Egyptian perspective, “You Hellenes are ever children”. Keep in mind that Egypt had been around for thousands when Plato was writing this. A remarkable feat for any culture. And even more remarkable was the fact that Egypt remained conservative and traditional throughout this time. Egypt was the place to go for learning and spiritual initiation. Plato must have believed that Egypt’s longevity was because of their love of wisdom (Greek: philosophos). Alexander the Great choose Egypt as the location for Alexandria for good reason. Plato was said to have visited Egypt seeking knowledge [McEvoy, James (1984). “Plato and The Wisdom of Egypt” Irish Philosophical Journal (Belfast: Dept. of Scholastic Philosophy, Queen’s University of Belfast)] and then returned to Athens many years before writing the Republic. ….

[End of quote]

 

Or was the influence upon Plato and the Greeks, instead, a Persian (Magian)/Babylonian mix? (http://www.gnosticmedia.com/will-durant-the-story-of-philosophy-plato/):

 

I found an interesting article about Plato on David Livingstone’s site while reading about the roots of alchemy for something that came up in the comments section of your latest show. The part I found particularly intriguing was this tidbit: “The subject of Persian or Babylonian influences had been a contentious one in the earlier part of the twentieth century. The subject currently continues to receive attention from several leading scholars, including Walter Burkert, and M. L. West. On the whole, however, the idea has yet to penetrate into mainstream circles, because of a xenophobia which insists on the unique “genius” of the Greeks. The most detailed examination of the matter had been conducted by the greatest of the last century’s scholars, Franz Cumont. His work, Les Mages Hellenisees, or the Hellenized Magi, a compendium of ancient sources on the subject, has received little attention in the English world, due to the fact that it has not been translated. This continues to mar criticism of his theories, as most critics have not read the brunt of his work. Scholars have usually dismissed the possibility of Persian influence in Greece, because of the lack of similarity between Zoroastrian and Greek ideas. However, what these scholars have failed to see, as Cumont has pointed out, is that those Magi the Greeks came into contact with were not orthodox, but heretics. The only way to reconstruct their doctrines is by accumulating the numerous remnants of comments about them in the ancient sources. By reconstructing these pieces, we find that Magian doctrines are far removed from, or even inimical, to orthodox Zoroastrian ones. Cumont discovered that these Magi practiced a combination of harsh dualism with elements of Babylonian astrology and magic, which composed a Zoroastrian heresy known as Zurvanism. It is in this strange recomposition of ideas that we find the first elements that characterized Greek philosophy.

[End of quote]

 

‘Plato’ was almost certainly a non-historical ‘composite’, like Buddha and Mohammed were, and based on various biblical (and perhaps other) characters. but I think that a ‘cosmopolitan’ also well fits ‘him’. Continuing with the last quoted article above, we find the author now arguing for “a Jewish influence”, with reference to Daniel himself:

 

Another component which Cumont failed to identify though, was that of Jewish influence. The Magi cult of astrology and magic emerged in Babylon in the sixth century, precisely that era during which a great and prominent part of the Jewish population was there in exile. We cannot ascertain who was responsible for the introduction of these ideas, but the Bible itself identifies Daniel with one of the “wisemen”. Whatever the case may be, these ideas do appear in a recognizable Magian form initially among the Essenes, and more particularly in Merkabah mysticism, which scholars identify as the beginnings of the Kabbalah. There is little to examine the character of Jewish literature prior to the third century BC. Before that, it is in Greece where we find the elaboration of these ideas.” “Plato the Kabbalist” http://www.thedyinggod.com/node/105

[End of quote]

 

Let us consider some possible Danielic and other Hebrew influences upon what are now regarded as the writings of Plato. What follows (see Part Three) will be basically in line with previous articles of mine such as:

 

Re-Orienting to Zion the History of Ancient Philosophy

 

https://www.academia.edu/4105845/Re-Orienting_to_Zion_the_History_of_Ancient_Philosophy

 

 

Hebrew Bible as an Inspiration for Ancient Greek Philosophy

 

https://www.academia.edu/40215843/Hebrew_Bible_as_an_Inspiration_for_Ancient_Greek_Philosophy

 

 

 

Plato and Hebrew Wisdom

 

 

The writings of “Plato”, whoever he may have been, were undoubtedly influenced by Hebrew wisdom. Here we consider some likenesses to the Book of Job, for instance, before passing on to the Book of Daniel.

 

 

 

Introduction

 

To presume to translocate so-called ‘Greek’ philosophy, to Babylonia, or to Egypt, or to Palestine, are moves that are probably not going to go down well with many. A reader immediately responded to an early effort of mine along these lines (e-mail of 25 March 2010):

 

…. I have not had much of an introduction before to your other theses on the identities of various historical personages. I must admit to being somewhat sceptical of the Plato theory. I think you would need more than a few parallelisms to make such a case. I think the historical evidence would be in favor of the fact that Plato and Aristotle were living breathing Greeks, the latter being Alexander’s tutor in Macedonia ….

 

In an article written at this time I had supported:

 

(i) St. Clement of Alexandria’s view that Plato’s writings took their inspiration from the Hebrew Moses, and

(ii) St. Ambrose’s belief that Plato had learned from the prophet Jeremiah in Egypt; a belief that was initially taken up by St. Augustine, who added that

(iii) Greek philosophy generally derived from the Jewish Scriptures.

 

And, though St. Augustine later retracted his acceptance of St. Ambrose’s view, realising that it was chronologically impossible for Jeremiah (c. 600 BC) to have met Plato anywhere, considering the c. 400 BC date customarily assigned to Plato, I had, on the other hand, looked to turn this around by challenging the conventional dates, and by proposing an identification of ‘Plato’ as (in part) Baruch, a Jew, the young priest-scribe contemporaneous with Jeremiah. This reconstruction – which I have not been able properly to develop – would have, if it had proved legitimate, enabled me to take the testimony of the Fathers a positive step further. From the Book of Jeremiah we learned that Jeremiah and Baruch went together to Egypt.

‘Plato’ – a ‘composite’ character, anyway, according to my estimation – may have both Daniel and Baruch likenesses. Baruch, after all, is sometimes considered to have been another great sage of antiquity, Zoroaster.

 

Later I learned that St. Justin Martyr had, even earlier than the above-mentioned Church Fathers, espoused this view of the Greek philosophers borrowing from the biblical Hebrews. And Justin Martyr too, had, like Plato, written an Apology, in Justin’s case also apparently (like Plato) in regard to a martyrdom.

Thus we read (http://beityahuwah.blogspot.com/2005/08/plato-stole-his-ideas-from-):

 

Plato Stole his ideas from Moses: True or False ….

 

The belief that the philosophers of Greece, including Plato and Aristotle, plagiarized certain of their teaching from Moses and the Hebrew prophets is an argument used by Christian Apologists of Gentile background who lived in the first four centuries of Christians. Three key figures who presented this thesis are Justin Martyr “The most important second­ century apologist” {50. Grant 1973}, Titus Flavius Clemens known as Clement of Alexandria “the illustrious head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria at the close of the second century, was originally a pagan philosopher” (11, Robert 1857) and is renowned as being possibly the teacher of Origen. He was born either in Alexandria or Athens {Epiphs Haer, xxii.6}. Our final giant who supports this thesis is Eusebius of Caesarea known as the father of Church history. Each of these in their defense of the Christian faith presented some form of the thesis that the philosophers of Greece learned from the prophets of Israel. Our interest in this paper is on the arguments of the earliest of these writers, Justin Martyr. He represents the position of Christian apology in the middle of the second century, as opposed to the later Clement of Alexandria and the even later Eusebius of Caesarea.

In light of the stature and the credibility of these three Church Fathers even if the idea that Plato learned from Moses seems far fetched we would do well to take a closer look at the argument and the evidence presented by such men of stature. Justin was a philosopher who came from a pagan background. He issued from Shechem in Palestine. He was a marvelous scholar in his own right well read and well qualified to make informed judgments in the arena of philosophy.

Our purpose is to briefly look at the theses presented by Justin Martyr and to try to discern the plausibility of the thesis.

Justin Martyr and the line Plato took from Moses.

Justin Martyr was a prolific second century Apologist. He was born in Flavia Neapolis (Shechem) in Samaria. Well known for the local Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim and a temple built by Hadrian to Zeus Hypsistos. He later passed through Stoicism and the way of Aristotle’s disciples the Peripatetics and was rejected as unqualified to study Pythagoreanism and finally he met a Platonist with whom he advanced in his studies. To him the goal of Platonism was “the vision of God”. One day he met a Christian on the beach and was converted to the faith. He did not become a priest or bishop but took to teaching and defending the faith.

 

Text

He wrote many works and many more bear his name. However modern scholarship has judged that of the many works that bear his name only three are considered genuine. These are 2 Apologies and the Dialogue with the Jew Trypho. They are preserved in one manuscript of the year 1364 (Cod Par, gr. 450).

 

Language

Justin wrote in Greek, and right in the middle of the period of philosophy called Middle Platonism. The book in which he outlines his thesis that Moses and the prophets were a source for the Greek Philosophers is his first Apology. It is dated to 155-157 BC and was addressed to “The Emperor Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antonius Pius Caesar Augustus, and the sons Verissimus, philosopher, philosopher, and Lucius” Grant (52, 1973).

 

Context

Grant (1973) believes the reason which triggered the Apology was the martyrdom of Polycarp in 156 AD and the injustice of it during the bishopric of Anicetus. Even as this martyrdom and its report may have spurred Justin on to write so it had been that it was on seeing the fortitude of the Christian martyrs which had disposed him favorably towards the faith (Ap 2.12.1). ….

In the Apology 1 Justin gives the reason for his writing

“I, Justin, the son of Priscus and grandson of Bacchius, natives of Flavia Neapolis in Palestine, present this address and petition on behalf of those of all nations who are unjustly hated and wantonly abused; my self being one of them” (Apology 1 chap).

The Apology 1 is divided into 60 chapters. The translation we are using is that of the Ante Nicene Fathers and can be seen at www.ccel.org The topics covered are many. He starts in chapter 2 by demanding justice, he requires that before the Christians are condemned they should be given a fair trial to see if they have committed any crimes or not. They should not be condemned merely for being Christian. He covers many subjects including: the accusation Christians were Atheists, faith in God; the Kingdom of Christ; God’s service; demonic teachings; Christ’s teachings and heathen analogies to it; non Christian worship; magic; exposing children, the Hebrew prophets and their prophecies about Christ, types of prophetic words from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This brings us to about chapter 38. At this point Justin begins to cover the issue of determinism and free will. He argues that although the future was prophesied it does not mean every thing is determined according to fate and man has no responsibility for he has no choice. Rather he points to Moses revealing God’s choice to Adam “Behold before thy face are good and evil: choose the good”. (Apol 1 44) And he quotes lsaiah’s appeal to Israel to wash and be clean and the consequences of doing so or not doing so. The consequences of disobedience are that the sword would devour Israel. Justin picks up on the statement regarding the sword and argues that it is not a literal sword which is referred to but “the sword of God is a fire, of which those who choose to do wickedly will become the fuel” (Apol 1 44). Justin having appealed to Moses and Isaiah as a warning to the Roman rulers now appeals to one with whom they are more familiar, Plato the philosopher, to support his case that man is free to choose good or evil. It is here that Justin makes a most interesting and intriguing statement rallying Plato to the side of Moses and Isaiah, in the eyes of the sons of the Emperor whom he calls philosophers.

And so, too, Plato, when he says, “The blame is his who chooses, and God is blameless” took this from the prophet Moses and uttered it.

For Moses is more ancient than all the Greek writers. And whatever both philosophers and poets have said concerning the immortality of the soul, or punishments after death, or contemplation of things heavenly, or doctrines of the like kind, they have received such suggestions from the prophets as have enabled them to understand and interpret these things. And hence there seem to be seeds of truth among all men; but they are charged with not accurately understanding [the truth] when they assert contradictories.

….

He appears to be making the claim that Plato who has “exerted a greater influence over human thought than any other individual with the possible exception of Aristotle” (Demos, 1927.vi} was dependent for his understanding of freewill and responsibility on Moses. The saying “the blame is his who chooses, and God is blameless (Aitia helomenou Theos d’ anaios) {Joann. Mdcccxlii,224}” was taken from Moses by Plato and uttered it {eipe}”.

[End of quote]

 

I shall continue with this commentary later in this article, when I come to discuss one of Plato’s famous Myths.

 

Plato and Likely Borrowings

from the Book of Job

 

There can be a similarity in thought between Plato and the Jewish sages, but not always a similarity in tone. Compared with the intense atmosphere of the drama of the Book of Job, for instance, Plato’s Republic, and his other dialogues, such as the Protagoras, brilliant as they are, come across sometimes as a bit like a gentlemen’s discussion over a glass of port.

  1. Guthrie may have captured something of this general tone in his Introduction to Plato. Protagoras and Meno (Penguin, 1968), when he wrote (p. 20):

 

… a feature of the conversation which cannot fail to strike a reader is its unbroken urbanity and good temper. The keynote is courtesy and forbearance, though these are not always forthcoming without a struggle. Socrates is constantly on the alert for the signs of displeasure on the part of Protagoras, and when he detects them, is careful not to press his point, and the dialogue ends with mutual expressions of esteem. ….

 

[End of quote]

 

Compare this gentlemanly tone with e.g. Job’s ‘How long will you torment me, and break me in pieces with words? These ten times you have cast reproach upon me; are you not ashamed to wrong me?’ (19:1-3), and Eliphaz’s accusations of the holy man: ‘Is not your wickedness great? There is no end to your iniquities [which supposed types of injustice on the part of Job Eliphaz then proceeds to itemise]’ (22:5).

 

In Plato’s dialogues, by contrast, we get pages and pages of the following sort of amicable discussion taken from the Republic (Bk. 2, 368-369):

 

[Socrates] ‘Justice can be a characteristic of an individual or of a community, can it not?’

[Adeimantus] ‘Yes’.

[Socrates] ‘And a community is larger than an individual?’

[Adeimantus] ‘It is”.

[Socrates] ‘We may therefore find that the amount of justice in the larger entity is greater, and so easier to recognize. I accordingly propose that we start our enquiry …’.

[Adeimantus] ‘That seems a good idea’, he agreed.

….

 

Though Protagoras is a famous Sophist, whose maxim “Man is the measure of all things, of those that are that they are, and of those that are not that they are not” (Plato’s Theaetetus 152), I have often quoted in a philosophical context {– and also in}:

 

The Futile Aspiration to Make ‘Man the Measure of All Things’

 

https://www.academia.edu/8494268/The_Futile_Aspiration_to_Make_Man_the_Measure_of_All_Things_

 

this Protagoras, however, may actually be based upon – according to my new estimation of things – the elderly Eliphaz of the Book of Job. Whilst Eliphaz was by no means a Sophist along the Greek lines, he was, like Protagoras with Socrates, largely opposed to his opponent’s point of view.

And so, whilst the God-fearing Eliphaz would never have uttered anything so radical or atheistic as “man is the measure of all things”, he was however opposed to the very Job who had, in his discussion of wisdom, spoken of God as ‘apportioning out by measure’ all the things that He had created (Job 28:12, 13, 25).

Now, whilst Protagoras would be but a pale ghost of the biblical Eliphaz, some of the original (as I suspect) lustre does still manage to shine through – as with Protagoras’s claim that knowledge or wisdom was the highest thing in life (Protagoras 352C, D) (cf. Eliphaz in Job 22:1-2). And Guthrie adds that Protagoras “would repudiate as scornfully as Socrates the almost bestial type of hedonism advocated by Callicles, who says that what nature means by fair and right is for the strong man to let his desires grow as big as possible and have the means of everlastingly satisfying them” (op. cit., p. 22).

Eliphaz was later re-invented (I think) as Protagoras the Sophist from Abdera, as a perfect foil to Socrates (with Job’s other friends also perhaps emerging in the Greek versions re-cast as Sophists). Protagoras stated that, somewhat like Eliphaz, he was old enough to be the father of any of them. “Indeed I am getting on in life now – so far as age goes I might be the father of any one of you …” (Protagoras 317 C). That Eliphaz was old is indicated by the fact that he was the first to address Job and that he also referred to men older than Job’s father (Job 15:10). Now, just as Fr. R. MacKenzie (S.J.) in his commentary on “Job”, in The Jerome Biblical Commentary, tells of Eliphaz’s esteem for, and courtesy towards, Job (31:23):

 

Eliphaz is presumably the oldest of the three and therefore the wisest; he is certainly the most courteous and the most eloquent. He has a genuine esteem for Job and is deeply sorry for him. He knows the advice to give him, the wisdom that lays down what he must do to receive relief from his sufferings.

[End of quote],

 

so does Guthrie, reciprocally (I suggest), say: “Protagoras – whom [Socrates] regards with genuine admiration and liking” (op. cit., p. 22).

But, again, just as the righteous Job had scandalised his three friends by his levity, according to St. Thomas Aquinas (“Literal Exposition on Job”, 42:1-10), “And here one should consider that Elihu had sinned out of inexperience whereas Job had sinned out of levity, and so neither of them had sinned gravely”, so does Guthrie use this very same word, “levity”, in the context of an apparent flaw in the character of Socrates (ibid., p. 18):

 

There is one feature of the Protagoras which cannot fail to puzzle, if not exasperate, a reader: the behaviour of Socrates. At times he treats the discussion with such levity, and at other times with such unscrupulousness, that Wilamowitz felt bound to conclude that the dialogue could only have been written in his lifetime. This, he wrote, is the human being whom Plato knew; only after he had suffered a martyr’s death did the need assert itself to idealize his character.

[End of quote]

 

Job’s tendency towards levity had apparently survived right down into the Greek era. Admittedly, the Greek version does get much nastier in the case of Thrasymachus, and even more so with Callicles in the Gorgias, but in the Republic at least it never rises to the dramatic pitch of Job’s dialogues with his three friends. Here is that least friendly of the debaters, Thrasymachus, at his nastiest (Republic, Bk. I, 341):

 

[Socrates] Well, said I, ‘so you think I’m malicious, do you Thrasymachus?’

[Thrasymachus] ‘I certainly do’.

[Socrates] ‘You think my questions were deliberately framed to distort your argument?’

[Thrasymachus] ‘I know perfectly well they were. But they won’t get you anywhere; you can’t fool me, and if you don’t you won’t be able to crush me in argument’.

[Socrates] ‘My dear chap, I wouldn’t dream of trying’, I said ….

 

Socrates and Plato are similarly (like the Sophists) watered down entities by comparison with the Middle Eastern originals. Such is how the Hebrew Scriptures end up when filtered through the Greeks, [and, in the case of Plato, perhaps through the Babylonians before the Greeks, hence a double filtering]. Even then, it is doubtful whether the finely filtered version of Plato that we now have could have been written by pagan Greeks. At least some of it seems to belong clearly to the Christian era, e.g. “The just man … will be scourged, tortured, and imprisoned … and after enduring every humiliation he will be crucified” (Republic, Bk. 2, 362).

 

I submit that this statement would not likely have been written prior to the Gospels.

 

“Plato and Porphyry each made certain statements which might have brought them both to become Christians if they had exchanged them with one another”, wrote St. Augustine (City of God, XXII, 27).

What is clear is that the writings of Plato, as we now have them, had reached an impressive level of excellence and unparalleled literary sophistication.

Thus we read in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Macmillan and Free Press, 1967, V. 6), article “Plato” (p. 332):

 

Plato As a Writer

 

Greek prose reached its highest peak in the writings of Plato. His flexibility, his rich vocabulary, his easy colloquialism, and his high rhetoric, his humor, irony, pathos, gravity, bluntness, delicacy and occasional ferocity, his mastery of metaphor, simile and myth, his swift delineation of character – his combination of these and other qualities put him beyond rivalry. …

[End of quote]

 

Much may be owed here, however, to the Hebrew books, such as Job, which appears to have exerted a heavy influence upon Greek literature. See e.g. my article:

 

Similarities to The Odyssey of the Books of Job and Tobit

 

https://www.academia.edu/8914220/Similarities_to_The_Odyssey_of_the_Books_of_Job_and_Tobit

 

 

 

 

Plato and Images From Daniel

 

 

 

Could the mysterious name, “Plato” – he probably being a ‘composite’ character –

be actually derived from the first element (Belte-) in the prophet Daniel’s Babylonian name, Belteshazzar? 

 

It is inconceivable, I would suggest – and certainly Justin Martyr seems to have been of this opinion – that it was a pagan Greek who was the first to argue strongly for the immortality of the soul, as is sometimes accredited to Plato’s Socrates.

Or to have been the first one to have discovered the four cardinal virtues.

 

As noted earlier in this article, Daniel’s given name, Belteshazzar, is of course “a foreign transliteration of an originally Babylonian name”. That Babylonian name, as I suggested there, may have been Nabu-ahhe-bullit, the name of the governor of Babylon, which Daniel was.

 

What I intend to do primarily in this article is to take some of the most picturesque and famous images from the Book of Daniel, and see if we can find an echo of these in the life and writings of Plato. I refer to such images as King Nebuchednezzar’s Statue of Four Diverse Metals representing kingdoms (Daniel 2); King Belshazzar and the ‘Writing on the Wall’ (Daniel 5); and Daniel’s Vision of the Four Beasts (Daniel 7).

Let us now try to re-locate ‘Plato’ to what may well have been his proper Near Ancient Eastern environment, as Belteshazzar, in Babylonia.

 

Plato’s Usage of Key Images

from the Book of Daniel

 

‘Plato’ Derived from a Babylonian Name

 

Though ‘Plato’ is generally considered to have been the real name of the great philosopher, historian Julia Annas, who entirely accepts this, tells however of a “surprisingly substantial minor tradition” that (and this is more in accordance with our own view) “‘Plato’ was a nickname which stuck”.

Thus she writes (Plato. A Very Short Introduction, Oxford, 2003, pp. 12-13):

 

Name or nickname?

 

Plato’s name was probably Plato. The ‘probably’ may surprise you; how can there be any doubt? Plato’s writings have come down to us firmly under that name. But within the ancient biographical tradition there is a surprisingly substantial minor tradition according to which ‘Plato’ was a nickname which stuck, while the philosopher’s real name was Aristocles. This is credible; Plato’s paternal grandfather was called Aristocles, and it was a common practice to call the eldest son after the father’s father. We have, however, no independent evidence that Plato was the eldest son. And ‘Plato’ does not appear to be a nickname; it turns up frequently in the period. Further, the explanations we find for it as a nickname are unconvincing. Because ‘Plato’ suggests platus, ‘broad’, we find the suggestion that Plato had been a wrestler known for his broad shoulders, or a writer known for his broad range of styles! Clearly this is just guessing, and we would be wise not to conclude that Plato changed his name or had it changed by others. But then what do we make of the Aristocles stories? We don’t know, and can’t tell. And this is frustrating. A change of name is an important fact about a person, but this ‘fact’ slips through our fingers.

Our ancient sources about Plato often put us into this position. There are plenty of stories in the ancient biographies of Plato, and frequently they would, if we could rely on them, give us interesting information about Plato as a person. But they nearly always dissolve at a touch.

[End of quote]

 

This is quite telling. One so often finds that the textbook historians have to conclude on a disappointing note like she does, because, owing to their pursuit of someone in the wrong era, or in the wrong country, they end up chasing ghosts through mists; exactly as this writer describes it here, “they … dissolve at a touch”. I claim instead, through a revision that corrects dates and finds the ‘other halves’ of historical people, to be rendering full-blooded characters, with substantial (auto)-biographical information; people who produce deeds and writings of zeal and passion.

The name ‘Plato’ did, I suggest, come about by the philosopher’s having his name “changed by others”, as the writer has said above, but which she rejects as an option. Here, I believe, is the original historical account of it: it is the beginning of the Babylonian Captivity.

 

(Daniel 1:3-7):

Then the king [Nebuchednezzar] commanded his palace master Ashpenaz to bring some of the Israelites of the royal family and of the nobility, young men without physical defect and handsome, versed in every branch of wisdom, endowed with knowledge and insight, and competent to serve in the king’s palace; they were to be taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of food and wine. They were to be educated for three years, so that at the end of that time they could be stationed in the king’s court. Among them were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah [not of the tribe of Judah as the NRSV has it but] of the sons of Judah. The palace master gave them other names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.

 

These were, I believe, real historical people. And I have identified Daniel as the long-serving governor of Babylon: Nabu-ahhe-bullit.

Professor William Shea claims also to have identified Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Daniel’s friends, in ‘a five sided clay prism found in Babylon and now housed in the Istanbul museum. It gives a list of men and their titles. Three men listed on the prism have pronunciations which Shea thinks are very similar to the names of Daniel’s three friends. (http://www.biblehistory.net/newsletter/meshach_shadrach_abed-nego.htm).

No doubt this is a sincere attempt on the part of Shea.

However, I find myself generally in agreement with a sceptic’s refutation of it at: http://www.theskepticalreview.com/tsrmag/012more.html

 

This biblical era is in fact extremely well attested historically – against the constant assertions that the Bible is not historical – by the abundance of seals and inscriptions naming many of the characters who appear in the Book of Jeremiah; not least of which being a seal of ‘Baruch son of Neriah’ (cf. Jeremiah 36:11; Baruch 1:1).

The name Plato, I have suggested, was taken from one element in Daniel’s given name, Belteshazzar. We might expect now that there was at least a double filtering of the original Daniel, from firstly the Semitic (Hebrew or Aramaïc) recording of him through Mesopotamia (Babylon), then, secondly, from Mesopotamia through Greece. And we could possibly add a further one, from pagan Greece to Greece of the early Christian era. So, while we could no longer expect the now highly processed and much refined Plato to be a dazzling reflection of Daniel, we might still, nonetheless, expect to find a discernible echo of this Daniel in Plato.

 

From the above scriptural text of Daniel 1 we learn that the young Jew and his confrères were either of the royal line, or aristocratic (possibly how Plato’s other name, Aristocles, and that of his father, Ariston, arose). The young men comprised a highly educated, skilled and wise élite. And their experience would now be vastly augmented in their new culture, with a different language and mythology, in the intense atmosphere of a tyrant king’s court.

{No wonder that the Republic of Plato is filled with discussions of tyranny and tyrant kings! (E.g. Book 8, § 8 and Book 9, § 9)}.

Note the emphasis, too, on education, which is also a major feature of the Republic; especially in the context of the Book of Daniel, as education for effective rulership, for competency in the king’s court – i.e., the education of the philosopher statesman.

It has been said that Plato may have had kings David and Solomon in mind when writing about ‘the Philosopher King’. More chronologically proximate, though, would be this incident of the brilliant young Daniel and his friends being educated towards governorship, to which Daniel managed fully to attain.

Who better than Daniel, anyway, would have qualified for Plato’s philosopher-statesman!

Here is the account of his marvellous statesman-like ability in Daniel 6:3-4:

 

Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

 

IMAGE ONE: NEBUCHEDNEZZAR’S STATUE

OF VARIOUS METALS (Daniel 2)

 

Daniel was, like Joseph in Egypt, an interpreter of dreams (another Platonic feature). But, whereas the seemingly benign ‘Pharaoh’ had actually told Joseph of what his dreams had consisted, King “Nebuchednezzar” had demanded that his wise men both recall the Dream and then interpret it: a seemingly impossible task, and one well beyond the powers of the Chaldean sages. But Daniel was up to it (Daniel 2:31-33):

 

‘You were looking, O king, and lo! there was a great statue, its brilliance extraordinary; it was standing before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of that statue was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. …’.

 

Such was the Dream. Daniel then interpreted it for the king as representing successive kingdoms, with Nebuchednezzar’s present Chaldean kingdom being the head of gold.

Similarly Plato, but in far less dramatic circumstances once again, proposes this very same sequence of metals; but he applies them to classes of men, not kingdoms. Plato does not actually call this a Dream, but “a fairy story like those the poets tell about”. Here is how it goes (Republic, Bk. 3, 415):

 

‘You are, all of you in this land, brothers. But when God fashioned you, he added gold in the composition of those of you who are qualified to be Rulers (which is why their prestige is the greatest); he put silver in the Auxiliaries, and iron and bronze in the farmers and the rest. Now since you are all of the same stock, though children will commonly resemble their parents, occasionally a silver child will be born of golden parents, or a golden child of silver parents, and so on. Therefore the first and most important of God’s commandments to the Rulers is that they must exercise the function as Guardians with particular care in watching the mixture of metals in the characters of their children. If one of their own children has bronze or iron in its make-up, they must harden their hearts, and degrade it to the ranks of the industrial and agricultural class where it properly belongs: similarly, if a child of this class is born with gold or silver in its nature, they will promote it appropriately to be a Guardian or an Auxiliary. For they know that there is a prophecy that the State will be ruined when it has Guardians of silver or bronze’.

[End of quote]

 

Surely King Nebuchednezzar himself was being entirely Platonic in his command for the selection of the ‘golden boys’ of Israelite youth for education towards their holding a position in the king’s court! Similarly, too (cf. use of “promote” and “degrade” in Plato above), Nebuchednezzar “honoured those he wanted to honour, and degraded those he wanted to degrade” (Daniel 5:19).

Perhaps Plato derived the classes of descending order of metal refinement from an interpretation of Nebuchednezzar’s statue that would suggest that the lower down the statue one goes, the less superior the kingdom. But what is sometimes translated as “inferior” may not necessarily be the correct interpretation, given for instance the might of the later Persian Empire. So perhaps the Dream should be interpreted as meaning, not inferior, but lower down on the statue, and thus pertaining to chronology. This would be a tactful way to explain it to King Nebuchednezzar, at least, who would assuredly not want to have heard that any subsequent kingdom might turn out to be superior to his own. But note the “prophecy” in Plato above (Nebuchednezzar’s Dream entailed a prophecy of future history) that “the State” – currently the golden head – can “be ruined” by the “silver” and “bronze” entities.

Daniel, but also Plato according to his biography, had contact with a succession of powerful kings. These they tried to influence for good, with greater or lesser success.

Daniel’s kings, real historical characters, belonged to the successive Chaldean, Median and Persian empires that featured as metals (yet to be conclusively identified, I think) in Nebuchednezzar’s statue.

Plato’s kings were, typically in relation to the Greeks, situated further westwards on the Mediterranean, in Sicily. Arguments might be advanced for Plato’s kings, Dionysius I and II, and the chief minister, Dion, to represent either the Judean or the Mesopotamian rulers (Dion being an official) of Daniel’s era. Their similarity of names could perhaps suggest the Judean succession of similar names: Jehoiakim and his son, Jehoiachin, and the relative Zedekiah (= Jehozedek). But it might be rather hard to identify amongst these Chaldeans Plato’s Dion, who quite enthusiastically, apparently, embraced Plato’s blueprint for rulership, and who, according to Guthrie, “invited [Plato] to come and train Dionysus II … as a philosopher-statesman” (op. cit., p. 16).

Or the Platonic succession of rulers could represent Nebuchednezzar and Belshazzar, with perhaps Darius the Mede included. For example, Dionysius I, from whom Plato “learned something of tyranny at first hand”, might well stand for Nebuchednezzar, “an unjust king, the most wicked in all the world” (Daniel 3:32). The brother-in-law, Dion, may have been a Median king, such as Darius the Mede, with whose nation the Chaldean line had intermarried. Darius, like Dion, was favourable to Daniel. Dionysius II, of whom Plato completely despaired, could then be Belshazzar of the ‘Writing on the Wall’ notoriety, whom Daniel took to task for not learning from his father’s mistakes.

 

What’s in a Name?

 

So far, I have historically identified Daniel in Babylon as the long-ruling governor of that city, Nabu-ahhe-bullit, with Daniel’s Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, having been derived, in part, from the bullit element in that name.

And, taking that first element of Belteshazzar, Belte-, I have suggested that this might be from where was derived the mysterious name (likely a given name) of “Plato”.

And I am in the process of showing that some of the key images of Plato’s dialogues are reminiscent of some of the most famous incidents in the Book of Daniel.

Daniel’s given name, Belteshazzar, which is not in fact a Bel- name, appears to me to be a very poor foreign reconstruction of an original Babylonian name. Just like in the case of St. Paul’s Jannes and Mambres, in which it is very hard to discern the original Egyptian names.

 

 

IMAGE TWO: KING BELSHAZZAR AND

THE WRITING ON THE WALL (Daniel 5)

 

The Chaldean rulers of Babylon, as they are presented in the Book of Daniel, are a most interesting psychological study. The autocratic and tyrannical Nebuchednezzar eventually goes mad (4:28-33), but later returns to his senses and is said to have exalted the Most High God (vv. 34-37). His son, Belshazzar, however, is a ne’er do well from beginning to end, whom Daniel reprimands for his stubbornness and pride.

 

Plato’s Meno

 

It seems to me that the evil Chaldean king, Belshazzar, might find an echo in the person of Meno, in Plato’s Meno. He is not a king there, but a man of some power, nonetheless, a friend of the ruling family of Thessaly, and he has connections interestingly with the king of Persia (read Media?).

Guthrie tells of Meno as follows (Introduction to Plato. Protagoras and Meno, Penguin, 1968, pp. 101-102):

 

… The character of Meno, as a wealthy, handsome and imperious young aristocrat, visiting Athens from his native Thessaly, is well brought out in the dialogue itself. He is a friend of Aristippus, the head of the Aleuadae who were the ruling family in Thessaly, and his own family are xenoi (hereditary guest-friends) of the Persian king, a tie which must have dated from the time of Xerxes, who made use of Thessalian hospitality on his expedition against Greece. He knows the famous Sophist and rhetorician Gorgias, who had stayed at Larissa in Thessaly as well as meeting him in Athens. From Gorgias he has acquired a taste for the intellectual questions of the day, as seen through the eyes of the Sophists, whose trick question about the impossibility of knowledge comes readily to his lips.

Xenophon tells of his career as one of the Greek mercenaries of Cyrus and gives him a bad character, describing him as greedy, power-loving, and incapable of understanding the meaning of friendship. This account is probably prejudiced by Xenophon’s admiration for the Greek leader Clearchus, a grim and hardly likeable character, whose rival and personal enemy Meno was. There were rumours that Meno entered into treacherous relations with the Great King [of Persia], but he appears to have been finally put to death by him after the failure of the expedition, though possibly later than his fellow-prisoners.

 

[End of quote]

 

‘Bad character’, ‘greedy’, ‘power-loving’ ‘unloyal friend’, ‘connected with a Persian (Median) king’, but then ‘slain and replaced by the king of the Persians (Medes)’, all of this fits King Belshazzar and his replacement by Darius the Mede (Daniel 5:30-31). Belshazzar’s greed and his love of power and flattery is clearly manifest in this description of his great feast, one of the most celebrated feasts in history and in the Old Testament (Daniel 5:1-4):

 

King Belshazzar made a great festival for a thousand of his lords, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand.

Under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar commanded that they bring in the vessels of gold and silver that his father Nebuchednezzar had taken out of the Temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his lords, his wives, his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the vessels of gold and silver that had been taken out of the Temple, the House of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

 

Obviously Meno could not match this sort of opulence and grandeur; but Socrates does say of him – and this is immediately before Socrates begins to write in the sand: “I see that you have a large number of retainers here” (Meno, 82).

We can gain some impression of King Belshazzar’s treacherous nature from Daniel’s pointed address to him (vv. 18-23):

 

‘O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchednezzar kingship, greatness, glory, and majesty. And because of the greatness that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. He killed those he wanted to kill, kept alive those he wanted to keep alive, honoured those he wanted to honour, and degraded those he wanted to degrade. But when his heart was lifted up his spirit was hardened so that he acted proudly, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and his glory was stripped from him. He was driven from human society, and his mind was made like that of an animal. His dwelling was with the wild asses, he was fed grass like an oxen, and his body was bathed with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals, and sets over it whomever He will. And you, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this! You have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven! The vessels of his Temple have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them. You have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know; but the God in whose power is your very breath, and to whom belong all your ways, you have not honoured.

 

Daniel would on this occasion have had the full attention of the whole company since these words of his were spoken just after King Belshazzar and his court had witnessed the terrifying apparition of the ‘Writing on the Wall’ whilst in the midst of their blasphemous celebration. Here is the description of it. And does it have a resonance anywhere in Plato? (vv. 5-9):

 

[As they were drinking the wine and praising their gods]:

Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the wall of the royal palace next to the lampstand. The king was watching the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s face turned pale, and his thoughts terrified him. His limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. The king cried aloud to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the diviners; and the king said to the wise men of Babylon, ‘Whoever can read this writing and tell me its interpretation shall be clothed in purple, have a chain of gold around his neck, and rank third in the kingdom’. Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king the interpretation. Then King Belshazzar became greatly terrified and his face turned pale, and his lords were perplexed.

 

This fascinating life and death encounter I think may have inspired the whole drama of the (albeit pale by comparison) Meno.

Instead of the miraculous ‘Writing on the Wall’ of the Chaldean king’s palace, though, we get Socrates writing in the sand. Instead of the words that name weights and measures indicating the overthrow of a great kingdom, we get a detailed lesson in geometry. Instead of the stunned and terrified Chaldean king, we get Meno, who tends to be similarly passive in the face of the Socratic lesson. Instead of the exile, Daniel, we get Meno’s slave boy seemingly providing a confirmation of the matter, under the skilful prompting of Socrates.

Daniel enters the palace’s banquetting hall preceded by his reputation, though now somewhat faded from memory (as in the case of Joseph with the Oppressor Pharaoh). And Meno is aware of the legendary reputation of Socrates.

Let us compare the two accounts, taking firstly the biblical one (vv. 10-16):

 

The queen, when she heard the discussion of the king and his lords, came into the banquetting hall. The queen said, ‘O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts terrify you or your face grow pale. There is a man in your kingdom who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father he was found to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchednezzar, made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners, because an excellent spirit, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.

Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king said to Daniel, ‘So you are Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard of you that a spirit of the gods is in you, and that enlightenment, understanding, and excellent wisdom are found in you. Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me to read this writing and tell me its interpretation, but they were not able to give the interpretation of the matter. But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you are able to read the writing and tell me its interpretation, you shall be clothed in purple, have a chain of gold around your neck, and rank third in the kingdom’.

 

Now Meno, supposedly focussing on the subject of virtue, tells of what he knows of Socrates’ enigmatic reputation, and it, too, like Daniel’s, has connection with “magic” (see quote above and 4:9), and Meno himself feels numb and weak, just like Belshazzar, so lacking in virtue (or “moral goodness” as in quote below) (Meno, 80):

 

Meno. Socrates, even before I met you they told me that in plain truth you are a perplexed man yourself and reduce others to perplexity. At this moment I feel that you are exercising magic and witchcraft upon me and positively laying me under your spell until I am just a mass of helplessness. If I may be flippant, I think that not only in outward appearance but in other respects as well you are exactly like the flat sting-ray that one meets in the sea. Whenever anyone comes into contact with it, it numbs him, and that is the sort of thing that you seem to be doing to me now. My mind and my lips are literally numb, and I have nothing to reply to you. Yet I have spoken about virtue hundreds of times, held forth often on the subject in front of large audiences, and very well too, or so I thought. Now I can’t even say what it is. In my opinion you are well advised not to leave Athens and live abroad. If you behave like this as a foreigner in another country, you would most likely be arrested as a wizard.

 

Socrates. You’re a real rascal, Meno.

 

On the occasion of Socrates’ writing in the sand, which I think must have originated from the ‘Writing on the Wall’ in the Book of Daniel, we have as the audience, Meno (whom I am equating with King Belshazzar), and his “large number of retainers” (Belshazzar’s large court), and the writing about to be effected due to a query from Meno. And, in a sense to interpret it, we get, not Daniel a former exiled slave, but Meno’s own slave boy, a foreigner (like Daniel) who however speaks the native language (like Daniel). The issue has become the immortality of the soul and whether it pre-exists the body, as manifest in someone’s being able to recall knowledge. Socrates will attempt to demonstrate this supposed pre-knowledge using the young slave boy – but perhaps this, too, is built upon Daniel’s God-given ability to arrive at entirely new knowledge without any human instruction (as in the case of his recalling Nebuchednezzar’s Dream).

Anyway, here is the dialogue (ibid.):

 

Meno. …. If in any way you can make clear to me that what you say is true, please do.

Socrates. It isn’t an easy thing, but still I should like to do what I can since you ask me. I see you have a large number of retainers here. Call one of them, anyone you like, and I will use him to demonstrate it to you.

Meno. Certainly. (To a slave-boy). Come here.

Socrates. He is a Greek and speaks our language?

Meno. Indeed yes – born and bred in the house.

Socrates. Listen carefully then, and see whether it seems to you that he is learning from me or simply being reminded.

Meno. I will.

Socrates. Now boy, you know that a square is a figure like this?

(Socrates begins to draw figures in the sand at his feet. He points to the square ABCD)

Boy. Yes.

Socrates. It has all these four sides equal?

Boy. Yes.

Socrates. And these lines which go though the middle of it are also equal? (The lines EF, GH).

Boy. Yes.

….

 

And so on.

 

Such apparently is how the life and death biblical account becomes gentlemanly and tamed, and indeed trivialised, in the Greek version! Daniel is not a passive slave, like the boy, supposedly recalling pre-existent knowledge, but a Jewish wise man, a sure Oracle to kings under the inspiration of the holy Spirit of God.

The ‘Writing on the Wall’ contains, like Socrates’ writing in the sand, division, and measure, but adds weighing. There is nothing Protagorean or Sophistic here. God, not man, is indeed the measure of kings and kingdoms according to the biblical account (vv. 24-28):

 

‘So from [God’s] presence the hand was sent and this writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; Tekel, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; and Peres [the singular of Parsin], your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and the Persians’.

 

Russian Orthodox priest Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov has likewise, in his Internet article, “The Sovereignty of God”, made a Platonic connection with this very biblical incident (http://frsergei.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/the-sovereignty-of-god):

 

….

The yearning for Goodness has been with us through the recorded history of humanity. In the words of Plato, Good, “is that which every soul pursues and for the sake of which it does all that it does …”. (Republic 505 …). Men have been striving to do what is good, and not always selfishly what is good for them. Every new philosophy tried to market itself by appealing to some universal good to be achieved. And yet the result of all our intense labors has horrified us in the twentieth century, and the twenty-first one is up to no good start. Good appears to be other than sovereign in our hearts. And if not there, can it find refuge anywhere in a godless world?

Murdoch writes that “the chief enemy of excellence in morality … is personal fantasy: the tissue of self-aggrandizing and consoling wishes and dreams, which prevents one from seeing what is there outside one” …. This personal fantasy, or in patristic terms, logos fantastikon, also and perhaps most importantly, prevents one from seeing what is there inside one. And if we humble ourselves enough to see our true state, then would we not cry out with Apostle Paul: “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24 NRSV) If Good is merely a concept, a creation of the human mind, then there can be no hope. If man is the measure of all things, then “mene, mene, tekel u-parsin” (Dan. 5:25).

 

One thinks that King Belshazzar, who was apparently incapable of humbling himself to recognise his true state, as Daniel had said of him, ‘You have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven!’, would have been perfectly at home therefore with man, and not God, as the measure. Hence, when he was weighed, he was found wanting.

Now, could the very name Meno have arisen from the Mene, ‘God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end’? Certainly Fr. L. Hartman (C.SS.R), commenting on “Daniel” for The Jerome Biblical Commentary (26:22), connects the Mene (or half of it) to King Belshazzar (on whom I think this Meno was based):

 

…. Daniel must first say what words were written on the wall; evidently no one else could even decipher the script. His interpretation involves a play on words that is possible only in a purely consonantal script, such as Hebrew or Aramaic. The three words that were written in the consonantal script would be mn’, tql, and prs, which could be read, as Daniel apparently first read them, menê’, teqal, and peres – i.e., as three monetary values, the mina (equivalent at different times to 50 or 60 shekels, and mentioned in Lk 19:12-25), the shekel (the basic unit of weight), and the half-mina. Daniel, however, “interpreted” the writing by reading the three words as verbs, mena’, “he counted”, teqal, “he weighed”, and peras, “he divided”, with God understood as the subject and Belshazzar and his kingdom understood as the object. Thus, God has “numbered” the days of Belshazzar’s reign. (Things that can be counted are few in number). God has “weighed” the king in the balance of justice and found him lacking in moral goodness. (The idea of the “scales” of justice, which goes back to an old Egyptian concept, is met with elsewhere in the OT: Jb 31:6; Ps 62:10; Prv 16:11, etc.). God has “divided” Belshazzar’s kingdom among the Medes and the Persians. For good measure, there is an additional pun on the last of the three words, prs, which is also read as pãras, “Persia”, “Persians”.

Fr. Hartman continues speculatively, and he concludes by equating King Belshazzar to the half-mina:

An older form of the conundrum may also have connected the word mãday, “Media”, “Medes”, with the root mdd, “measure”. The conundrum seems to have existed in an older form, independently of its present context. The statement that Belshazzar’s “kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians” does not fit well with the statement at the end of the story, according to which Belshazzar’s whole kingdom was handed over to the Medes, with no mention of the Persians. Ginsberg even opines that the conundrum was originally applied to the only three Babylonian kings who were known to the Jews of the Hellenistic period: the mina would stand for the great Nebuchadnezzar, the shekel for the insignificant Evil-merodach, and the half-mina for Belshazzar.

 

According to my revision of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty, Evil-merodach was Belshazzar.

 

A Beastly Comparison

 

IMAGE THREE: THE FOUR BEASTS – THE LION MAN (Daniel 7)

 

The scribal Daniel tells of the Dream (his own) that he wrote down (Daniel 7:1-4):

 

In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as he lay in bed. Then he wrote down the dream: I, Daniel, saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, and four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then, as I watched, its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a human being. ….

 

Needless to say these “four great beasts” are up to no good.

Now Plato seems to have absorbed this lion-man image and located it in his ‘imperfect societies’ (Republic, Bk. 9, 588):

 

‘Let us show him what his assertion really implies, by comparing the human personality to one of those composite beasts in the old myths, Chimaera and Scylla and Cerberus and all the rest’.

‘I know the stories’.

‘Imagine a very complicated, many-headed sort of beast, with heads of wild and tame animals all around it, which it can produce and change at will’.

‘Quite a feat of modelling’, he replied; ‘but fortunately it’s easier to imagine than it would be to make’.

‘Imagine next a lion, and next a man. And let the many-headed creature be by far the largest, and the lion the next largest’.

‘That’s rather easier to imagine’.

….

 

Ezekiel, whose vision also, like Daniel’s, was preceded by a great rush of wind, or whirlwind, opens with (Ezekiel 1:5, 10):

 

… four living creatures. This was their appearance: they were of human form. …. As for the appearance of their faces: they four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion, on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle; such were their faces. ….

 

Here is that lion-man (‘leonine’ man) combination again, plus the eagle.

Sts. Paul, Justin Martyr, Augustine

Published September 2, 2019 by amaic

justin-martyr2

Saints Paul and Augustine

 

Part Three (i):

Paul and Justin Martyr

  

 

“When [Justin] contrasts the life that they led in paganism with their Christian life (I Apol., xiv), he expresses the same feeling of deliverance and exaltation as did

St. Paul (1 Corinthians 6:11)”.

 newadvent.org

 

 

 

James A. Kelhoffer has recognised certain similarities between the thinking of Sts. Paul and Justin, in “The Apostle Paul and Justin Martyr on the Miraculous: A Comparison of Appeals to Authority”: http://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:385562/FULLTEXT01.pdf

At the very beginning of this article, he writes:

 

THE SUBJECT OF MIRACLES has too often been ignored or overlooked in scholarly discussions of early Christian ity.1 This article focuses on the writings of Paul and Justin Martyr, in part because these authors exemplify points of both continuity and development from the writings of the NT to the early patristic literature.2 Although these authors employ different genres,3 there is no reason to suspect that either author’s choice(s) of genre has necessarily limited what he wished to write concerning the miraculous. Part of what is to be offered here is a subtle argument that Paul and Justin did, in fact, have true, then, whether explicitly or implicitly, it is an oversimplification to interpret Paul solely as a herald of the word of the gospel, or Justin only as a rationally-minded apologist.

 

The analysis to follow builds upon a seminal essay by Paul Achtemeier,5 as well as more recent analyses by Ramsay MacMullen,6 Bernd Kollmann,7 Stefan Schreiber,8 and others,9

and focuses on three questions: In what ways do Paul and Justin Martyr refer to miraculous phenomena? What common assumptions do these authors hold about the performing of miracles, especially with regard to appeals to authority? To what ends, or with what goals, do Paul and Justin refer, usually in passing, to the miraculous? ….

[End of quote]

 

Some further comparisons can be found in Thomas V. Mirus’ article, “Church Fathers: St. Justin Martyr”: https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?id=645

 

The Dialogue, by far Justin’s longest work, can be divided roughly into three parts. In the first, Justin shows the temporary and symbolic nature of the old Law. In the second, he shows how adoration of Christ as God is consistent with monotheism. In the third, he proves that Christians, not Jews, are the new Israel and the recipients of the promises of God’s covenant.

Some of the points touched on again and again throughout the Dialogue are as follows: Justin contrasts physical circumcision (which he says was to set the Jews apart for suffering!) with circumcision of the heart, which is an attribute of Christians. He finds in the Jewish prophecies two advents of Christ, the first dishonorable and the second glorious, and points out symbolism of the Cross in the Old Testament. He echoes the teaching of St. Paul that the Jewish Law was given as a burden because of the hardness of hearts. He finds many names given to the Son of God in the Old Testament: Angel, Wisdom, Day, East, Sword, Stone, Rod, Jacob, Israel.

Justin gives a detailed exegesis of Psalm 22 (“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”), showing how it applies to Christ and why Christ quoted it on the Cross.

As St. Paul parallels Christ with Adam, St. Justin parallels Mary with Eve (according to Quasten he is the first Christian writer to do so):

 

[Christ] became man by the Virgin, in order that the disobedience which proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. For Eve, who was a virgin and undefiled, having conceived the word of the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her: wherefore also the Holy Thing begotten of her is the Son of God; and she replied, ‘Be it unto me according to thy word.’

[End of quotes]

 

And Robert M. Haddad tells of this, in “The Appropriateness of the Apologetical Arguments of Justin Martyr”:

https://researchbank.acu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=46&ved=2ahUKEwjCrb_p3bDkAhUMUI8KHTgEBkI4

 

Ever since Apostolic times, Apologetics has been a part of the life and mission of the Church. LukeActs was an attempt to provide an apologia to whoever Theophilus might have been. …. We read in Acts 28:23 how St. Paul, while in Rome, received people “… at his lodgings in great numbers. From morning until evening he explained the matter to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from thee prophets”. Justin inherited this spirit, at a time when those who knew the apostles were now advanced in years and new men with new thoughts needed to rise to engage with a Graeco-Roman world both more aware of and hostile towards Christianity. ….

 

Finally, Cullen I. K. Story, writing of “The Cross as Ultimate in the Writings of Justin Martyr, has this to say (Introduction, p. 18):

 

While it is true that his seaside friend had led Justin to know God, the Ultimate Reality, still that merely marked the beginning of Justin’s Christian experience. From his extensive works it is clear that in a way similar to the apostle Paul (Gal. 2:19-20; 6:14; I Cor. I :23-24; 2:2) Justin found life and its meaning to be centered in the crucifixion of Jesus. Biblical tradition, he affirmed, not only points to the ultimate truth that Gad is, but to the Cross as the ultimate truth that Gad becomes, i.e., the tradition points to a crucified Christ. ….

 

 

Part Three (ii):

Justin Martyr and Saint Augustine

 

 

 

 

“As St. Justin Martyr notes, free will has to exist for God’s rewards and punishments

 

to be Just. St. Augustine reaffirms this, and applies this principle, explaining that

 

those actions done to us that we do not will, cannot be imputed to us as sins”.

 

 

 

 

 

Sts. Justin and Augustine are commonly compared and contrasted.

 

For example, there is John Mark Reynolds’ “Justin Martyr: Not Just Dead, Just Not Augustine”:

 

https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/09/justin-martyr-not-just-dead-just-not-augustine

 

 

 

… Justin lacks Augustine’s rhetorical skill, but this can be a benefit. Augustine has left us countless memorable passages, but Justin provided the framework for arguments that Augustine will flesh out. Augustine’s rhetoric is from a very particular period of time, while Justin writes with a spare style that is never beautiful, but is always clear. Oddly, he is sometimes less dated than Augustine. ….

 

[End of quote]

 

 

 

Michael M. Christensen will trace the doctrine of “Original Sin from Justin Martyr to Augustine”:

 

https://www.academia.edu/7832147/Original_Sin_from_Justin_Martyr_to_Augustine

 

 

 

In an article, “Justin Martyr: Convert from Heathendom”, at:

 

http://www.reformedspokane.org/Doctrine_pages/Doctrine_Intro/Portraits%20of%20Faithful%20Saints/Portraits02.html we read:

 

 

 

Justin understood, after his conversion, that these questions and this deep unsatisfied longing for something he knew not what, was the work of Christ in his soul. It is doubtful that God ever brings anyone to salvation and the knowledge of Christ without creating in him a deep longing, an unsatisfied thirst, a hunger for something which one does not have. Augustine, three centuries later, put it this way in his Confessions: “My soul can find no rest until it rest in Thee.” This longing, finally, is born out of the knowledge of sin and the hopelessness and emptiness of one’s life brought about by the hopelessness of sin. Salvation is by faith in Christ; but only the empty sinner needs Christ; only the thirsty sinner drinks at The Fountain of Living Waters; only the hungry sinner eats The Bread of Life; only the laboring and heavy laden come to Christ to find rest for their souls. It is the general rule of the Holy Spirit to bring to faith in Christ by sovereignly showing the sinner the need for Christ.

 

 

 

That Justin had this deep longing is not strange. That it was a part of his life for ever so many years before peace came is a remarkable providence of God.

 

[End of quote]

 

 

 

Finally, in an article entitled “Luther and Calvin v. Augustine and Justin Martyr on Free Will”:

 

https://www.nationstates.net/page=dispatch/id=639810

 

the following “Conclusion” is reached:

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

 

 

Admittedly, free will is a bit of a mystery. We don’t fully grasp what it is, or how it works. It puzzles theists and atheists alike. But we can be sure that it exists, in part because it is necessary for God’s Justice, and in part because we cannot coherently speak of it not existing (any more than we can coherently speak of a self-caused universe arising without God).

 

 

 

As St. Justin Martyr notes, free will has to exist for God’s rewards and punishments to be Just. St. Augustine reaffirms this, and applies this principle, explaining that those actions done to us that we do not will, cannot be imputed to us as sins. What matters is not what happens to us, but what we will. Thus, it is wrong to condemn the virgins of Rome as fornicators when they were raped. It would be infinitely more wrong to send them to Hell for being raped.

 

 

 

All of this, in addition to being logically necessary, is self-evident. That is, each of us experiences free will, even if we choose to deny it. It’s for this reason that even those, like Luther or Calvin, who set out to deny free will (at least as pertains to issues tied to salvation) cannot help but speak as if it exists. Because it does. And we can observe it does.

 

 

Amenhotep son of Hapu known as “Amenophis son of Paapis”

Published August 30, 2019 by amaic

Amenhotep son of Hapu had rôle like Senenmut

Part Four:

Amenhotep son of Hapu known as “Amenophis son of Paapis”

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

“In the view of some scholars, Manetho was using Osarsiph to allude not to Moses,

but to Akhenaton, and the lepers were symbolic of Akhenaton’s ill-regarded revolution;

in Egyptian (and Greek) literature, plague and illness were a common metaphor

for rebellion, anarchy and the havoc wreaked by foreign invaders”.

Yaakov Shavit

 

 

The era of Manetho’s “Osarsiph” and “Amenophis son of Paapis” has nothing whatsoever to do with Moses and the Exodus which preceded the former era by at least half a millennium.

 

Josephus, following Manetho, introduces this “Amenophis … son of Paapis”.

I have taken the quotation from Russell Gmirkin’s Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus …, p. 197:

 

Josephus, Apion I, 232-33

 

(232) Thus, after admitting that all those years had elapsed since our forefathers left Egypt, he now interpolates this fictitious [sic] Amenophis. This king, he states, wishing to be granted, like Or, one of his predecessors on the throne, a vision of the gods, communicated his desire to his namesake, Amenophis, son of Paapis, whose wisdom and knowledge of the future were regarded as divinity. (233) This namesake replied that he would be able to see the gods if he purged the entire country of lepers and other polluted persons.

 

Russell Gmirkin then proceeds to tell of Donald Redford’s interpretation of this incident, according to which “Amenophis, son of Paapis” was none other than Amenhotep son of Hapu, high official to pharaoh Amenhotep III (p. 198):

 

Redford argued that the episode actually pertained to Amenophis [Amenhotep] III and Amenophis IV of Dynasty XVIIII. … Redford argued that the prophet “Amenophis, Paapis’ son”, referred to Amenophis son of Haapi [Amenhotep son of Hapu], scribe of Amenophis III …. Additionally, Redford noted that Or is simply Horus, and pointed out that Manetho listed listed “Oruus” as a Dynasty XVIII ruler immediately following Amenophis II. Redford asserted that Horus was part of the throne-name of Amenophis III. For these various reasons Redford found identification of Or with Amenophis III plausible.

 

The author then proceeds to tell how Redford connected the priest Osarsiph [“Osarseph”] with Akhnaton: “Redford’s central argument was that the sacrilegious legislation and acts of the heretic Osarseph … reflected the theological reforms of Amenophis IV (Akhenaten) who promoted the monotheistic [sic] religion of the sun disk Aten”.

 

That same view finds further expression in Yaakov Shavit’s article, “From One God to Sun God”: https://www.haaretz.com/1.5289498

 

Others believe that Akhenaton is none other than the Egyptian priest Osarsiph in Josephus’s account, “Against Apion,” which draws on the history of Egypt written in Greek by the Egyptian priest Manetho in the third century B.C.E.

 

According to the version in “Against Apion,” Osarsiph was an Egyptian priest from Heliopolis, who joined the masses of Egyptians afflicted with leprosy and other ailments who rebelled after being forced to do hard labor. He offered them a new religious doctrine, fought against Egypt in league with the descendants of Hyksos (who had built Jerusalem after being expelled from Egypt years before), introduced a reign of terror, burned temples and slaughtered priests. In the view of some scholars, Manetho was using Osarsiph to allude not to Moses, but to Akhenaton, and the lepers were symbolic of Akhenaton’s ill-regarded revolution; in Egyptian (and Greek) literature, plague and illness were a common metaphor for rebellion, anarchy and the havoc wreaked by foreign invaders.

 

Manetho’s writings, which made use of the traditions directed against the “heretic” Egyptian king and his revolution, came to be read as referring to Moses, Jews and Judaism, and greatly influenced successive generations. In his “Life of Moses,” Philo notes the wide dissemination of anti-Mosaic literature, when he describes the numerous writings that were intended to spread slander about Moses.