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Hellenistically inclined Julian “the Apostate”

Published June 25, 2018 by amaic
Image result for death of herod the great

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“… it is … worth looking at Julian’s political platform, as it is fundamentally intertwined with his program of religious reform. Susanna Elm (2012) summarizes his efforts into three primary categories: “logoi, hiera, and the polis—Greek language and culture, its gods and all things sacred, and the city as the physical locus of Greek culture, government and religion”— and each would be amended by refocusing Roman culture around classical paideia …”.

 Adrian Scaife

 

 

Some comparisons follow between Hadrian, his reign conventionally dated to c. 117-138 AD – but I have re-dated him to the Maccabean era – and Julian ‘the Apostate’, his reign conventionally dated to c. 361-363 AD.

 

From Emperor and Author: The Writings of Julian ‘the Apostate’, p. 307 (edited by Nicholas J. Baker-Brian, Shaun Tougher):

 

What [Jean-Philippe-Rene de] La Bletterie says of Julian as Caesars’ author differs markedly from his earlier characterization of him as emperor at the start of his 1735 biography; there, he represents Julian as as a ruler driven by ‘an uncontrolled passion for glory‘ – one who pursued his policies with ‘a kind of fanaticism‘, and who was not free of ‘the faults which [his] amour propre perceive[d] only in others’. ….

Just what La Bletterie was thinking of, on that last count, can be inferred from his note on the passage in Caesars in which Hadrian is teased as a stargazer who was forever prying into ineffable mysteries (311d). La Bletterie was prompted to remark that much the same could be said of Julian: he and Hadrian were bothfull of zeal for idolatry’, ‘superstitious […] astrologers wanting to know everything, so constantly inquisitive as to be accused of magic‘. And the likeness did not end there: Julian, assuredly, ‘did not have the infamous [homosexual] vices of Hadrian […], but he had almost all his [other] faults and absurdities‘; both of them were ‘fickle, obstinate, and vain of soul’….

 

Moreover, at one point in his comparison of Julian with Hadrian, La Bletterie entertains a possibility which would imply a very hostile view indeed of Julian: ‘they both passed very wise laws and performed many merciful actions; but Hadrian seemed cruel sometimes, and some say that [“l’on dit que”] Julian was only humane out of vanity’. ….

 

http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showthread.php?660191-Julian-the-Apostate-the-most-fascinating-quot-what-if-quot-in-late-Roman-history

“Julian is often compared in character to Marcus Aurelius and Hadrian, indeed he is very much a blend of the two. He combines Hadrian’s philhellenism with Marcus Aurelius’ Stoicism, scholasticism, and militaristic determination”.

 

From Ammianus Marcellinus, p. 309, by Gavin Kelly:

 

“Ammianus …. rejects the comparison chosen by Valentinian’s partisans to Aurelian …. He compares him to Hadrian in his depreciation of the well-dressed, the learned, the wealthy, the noble, the brave, ‘so that he alone should appear to excel in fine abilities‘ (ut solus uideretur bonis artibus eminere, 30.8.10); Julian too had been compared to Hadrian in one of his faults …. His tendency towards timorousness is described …”.

 

From Emperors and Historiography: Collected Essays on the Literature of the Roman …, p. 315, by Daniel den Hengst:

 

“… divination was practiced in an uncontrolled and lawless way affectata varietate, that is to say with overzealous efforts to practice all forms of divinatio. In the necrology Ammianus compares Julian to Hadrian in this respect. By doing so he harks back again to his description of Julian in Antioch, where Julian is characterized in this context as multorum curiosior. …. In this case, Julian may have been plagued by curiositas, but he shared this vice with a great predecessor. ….

 

Like Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’

 

“Antiochus Epiphanes thought nothing was more certain than that he would annihilate the Jewish nation. Julian the Apostate convinced himself that it was already in his power to uproot the Christian religion”.

 

Herman J. Selderhuis (ed.)

 

This is a quote from the book, Psalms 1-72 (p. 14).

 

If Julian ‘the Apostate’ bears comparison, at least to some extent, with the emperor Hadrian:

 

Hadrian and Julian the Apostate

 

https://www.academia.edu/36898732/Hadrian_and_Julian_the_Apostate

 

“… Julian … and Hadrian were bothfull of zeal for idolatry’, ‘superstitious […] astrologers wanting to know everything, so constantly inquisitive as to be accused of magic‘.”

 

then I might expect, also, some useful comparisons of Julian with Hadrian’s alter ego, king Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes, as according to my:

 

Antiochus ‘Epiphanes’ and Emperor Hadrian. Part One: “… a mirror image”

 

https://www.academia.edu/32734925/Antiochus_Epiphanes_and_Emperor_Hadrian._Part_One_a_mirror_image_

 

Antiochus ‘Epiphanes’ and Emperor Hadrian. Part Two: “Hadrian … a second Antiochus”

 

https://www.academia.edu/35538588/Antiochus_Epiphanes_and_Emperor_Hadrian._Part_Two_Hadrian_a_second_Antiochus_

 

Collin Garbarino talks about “an appropriation of the past” – {appropriation being a word I have been much inclined to use for when I consider pagans to have borrowed from the Hebrew scriptures but claimed the material as their own} – by Christian writers of the Maccabean  period (“Resurrecting the martyrs: the role of the Cult of the Saints, A.D. 370-430”, 2010). Though, according to my radical revision of the Maccabees in relation to the Herodian era:

 

A New Timetable for the Nativity of Jesus Christ

 

https://www.academia.edu/36672214/A_New_Timetable_for_the_Nativity_of_Jesus_Christ

 

the Maccabean martyrs at the time of Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ fall right into the period of the Infancy of Jesus Christ.

Garbarino writes (emphasis added):

https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2348&context=gradschool_dissertations

 

This appropriation of the past could even reach back farther than the time of Christ [sic]. During this expansion of the cult of martyrs in the fourth century, bishops began venerating the Maccabeans who died in the Seleucid persecutions of the 160s BC. The various books of Maccabees describe the deaths of faithful Jews at the hands of Seleucid oppressors because of their refusal to abandon the Torah. These stories contain many of the same elements that later characterized Christian martyrologies: trials designed to cause apostasy, tortures and promises given by the magistrate, and a confession of continued faith in God. In light of these commonalities, it is surprising that Christian communities did not adopt these Jewish saints earlier. The earliest extant evidence of Christians honoring the Maccabean martyrs is Gregory of Nazianzus’s Homily 15, On the Maccabees. …. Gregory probably preached this sermon in 362, during the reign of Julian the Apostate. ….

He used the Maccabean situation to criticize in a veiled manner the anti-Christian policies of the emperor. In the sermon, he explicitly says that very few Christian communities honor these martyrs because their deaths predated Christ. …. Gregory, however, found their cult useful for promoting Christianization, and this sermon acts as a turning point for the Maccabees. Martha Vinson writes, “Before this sermon, the Maccabees are merely faces in a crowd of Old Testament exempla … while after it, as the homiletic literature from the last decades from the fourth century attests, they have been singled out from the pack as the sole beneficiaries not only of encomia but of a well-established cult.” …. By the year 400, the Maccabees were being honored as Christian martyrs by preachers around the Mediterranean.

[End of quote]

 

 

Barry Phillips will write in a footnote (p. 129, n. 19) to his article “Antiochus IV, Epiphanes” (Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 29, No. 2, 1910):

 

Dan. 11 st: ” And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” Cf. 8 12 9 27 12 11, 1 Macc. 1 54, 2 Macc. 6 2. Hoffman, Antiochus Epiphanes, p. 80, essays to compare Antiochus and Julian. In so far as the ideas of both were out of harmony with the spirit of the times, there is an apparent similarity between the persecutions of Antiochus and of Julian, far less, however, than the dissimilarity, owing to the fact that whereas Julian sought the extinction of Christianity as an end, Antiochus sought the extinction of Judaism but as a means to an end.

 

Antiochus ‘Epiphanes’ and Julian ‘the Apostate’ are similarly likened to the Antichrist.

For instance, Stephen J. Vicchio tells of Cardinal Newman’s view in Vicchio’s The Legend of the Anti-Christ: A History, p. 314): “Newman goes on in the first advent sermon on the Anti-Christ to argue that some of these historical figures have been Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Julian, “who attempted to overthrow the Church by craft and introduce paganism back again …”.

 

We shall conclude, still on an antichrist type, the “666” of Revelation, with Reginald Rabett’s comment (in GLateinos@; Lateino, p. 138):

 

For exampleIf we were to speak of the Emperor Julian who is proverbially and emphatically styled The Apostate, yet it would be necessary to use the Name – Julian – because it is the Proper Name of this Man; for were we to omit his Name, no one would of a certainty conclude that Julian the Apostate was meant; but probably Antiochus Epiphanès might be intended ….

 

Like Herod ‘the Great’

 

“Julian is also compared with Herod, as wise men whose behaviour is not particularly wise: “Yet is it not all kinde of learning or wisedome which is availeable for the true happinesse of a King or Kingdome (as may appeare in the miserable ends of Herod, and Iulian the Apostate, both in their kindes wise and learned) but wise behavior in a perfect way, that is, Wisdom mixed with Piety, guided by Religion, and sanctified with Grace”.”

 

Hakewill 50

 

If Julian ‘the Apostate’ bears comparison, at least to some extent, with the emperor Hadrian:

 

Hadrian and Julian the Apostate

 

https://www.academia.edu/36898732/Hadrian_and_Julian_the_Apostate

 

then I might expect, also, some useful comparisons of Julian with Hadrian’s other alter egos, (i) king Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes, as according to my:

 

Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ and Julian ‘the Apostate’

 

https://www.academia.edu/36910030/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes_and_Julian_the_Apostate

 

and now, in this article, with (ii) king Herod ‘the Great’, as according to my:

 

Herod and Hadrian

 

https://www.academia.edu/36240747/Herod_and_Hadrian

 

On some certain likenesses between Julian and Herod, Manolis Papoutsakis has written (Vicarious Kingship: A Theme in Syriac Political Theology in Late Antiquity):

 

Accordingly, Julian is identified with Herod the Great a “foreigner and, by implication (cf. Deut 17:15), ausurper” of the Judahite throne: Herod’s disruption of the legitimate line of kings resulted in the adventus of Christ, who came in order to reclaim His Judahite inheritance, that is, the Royal Office (malkutá). In his verses against Julian, Ephrem elaborates upon the Julian/Herod comparison by forcefully reading 2 Thess 2:3 into the cluster consisting of Gen 49:10 a-b and Matthew 2. As a result, Julian, a “Herodian” king who disrupted the dynasty of Constantine, the new David, is appositely presented as a θεομάχος and is implicitly identified with the Antichristfigure par excellence, namely, the Apostate at 2 Thess 2:3 ….

 

In GREGORY NAZIANZEN’S FIRST INVECTIVE AGAINST JULIAN THE EMPEROR, we read: http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/gregory_nazianzen_2_oration4.htm

“Thou persecutor next |39 to Herod, thou traitor next to Judas, except so far as not ending thy life with, a halter, as he did;47 thou murderer of Christ next to Pilate; thou hater of God next to the Jews!”

 

In Jacobus de Voragine’s The Golden Legend: Lives of the Saints, we read this comment regarding Julian and a Herod (this time, though, Herod Antipas):

 

“Then Julian the apostate commanded that [John the Baptist’s] bones should be burnt. …. And like as Herod which beheaded him was punished for his trespass, so Julian the apostate was smitten with divine vengeance of God …”.

 

Julian has been likened, in his death, to “Herod”, “Antiochus”:

https://www.lostplays.org/lpd/Julian_the_Apostate

 

Robert Albott reports that “Iulian the Apostate, at his death cast vp his blood into the ayre, crying Vicisti Galilaee” (3) …. This reluctant acknowledgement that Christianity was to become the dominant religion of the Roman empire is a point frequently related in references to Julian. Henry Burton notes: “And as Iulian the Apostate, pulling the mortall dart out of his bowels, though therein he saw and felt the hand of Divine revenge, yet he vttered his confession thereof with the voyce of blasphemy, Vicisti Galilaee: and so breathed out his blasphemous spirit in a desperat impenitency” (74). Stephen Jerome similarly observes how “as you haue heard the godly praying, or praysing and blessing GOD, speaking graciously, sending out their spirits ioyfully, and dying comfortably: so prophane men dye eyther carelesly and blockishly,” and relates that Julian the Apostate “in his last act of life, from his infected lungs sent out venome against Christ, calling him in dirision, victorious Galilean” (67-68). He also provides some early modern context for how Julian was perceived, citing “the examples of … Herod … Antiochus ….

 

 

Adrian Scaife writes (“Julian the Apostle: The Emperor who “Brought Piety as it Were Back from Exile”.”, pp. 113, 118-119):

 

…. it is still worth looking at Julian’s political platform, as it is fundamentally intertwined with his program of religious reform. Susanna Elm (2012) summarizes his efforts into three primary categories: “logoi, hiera, and the polis—Greek language and culture, its gods and all things sacred, and the city as the physical locus of Greek culture, government and religion”— and each would be amended by refocusing Roman culture around classical paideia (5).

….

The allegories also contributed to a growing theurgical framework in Julian’s new paganism whereby the adherent could create a spiritual connection with the divine (a process that began in To the Cynic Heracleius), imitating the most humanistic aspect of the Christian faith (Athanassiadi 2015, 136). Once again the shadow of Christianity looms: Julian drew from the established practices of a Greek philosophical movement to produce a religious handbook of sorts that offered spiritual advice by way of allegories—a result openly reminiscent of Christian scripture/scriptural interpretation. Meanwhile, the Hymn to King Helios pulled explicitly from Mithraism in anointing the sun-god as the central divine force. But Julian managed to incorporate the traditional pantheon of gods, too, by assigning each of the Hellenic gods an aspect of the larger Mithraic figurehead. In one typical fusion, Julian writes, “Among the intellectual gods, Helios and Zeus have a joint or rather a single sovereignty” (Hymn to King Helios, 136A-B). He continues through the pantheon one-by-one, drawing from the inspiration of Plato, Homer, Hesiod, and others to assign the various parts of the whole that is Helios: Aphrodite accounts for Helios’ creative function; Athena embodies pure intellect; and so on (Hymn to King Helios, 138A ff). The unity of the various traditional gods into the “One” can be seen as a reflection of the Christian model Julian’s uncle first established, but it also embodies the central tenet of Neoplatonism (Athanassiadi 2015, 160). In that sense, Julian simultaneously achieved a complex synthesis of a theurgical Mithraism, the Platonic form, and traditional Hellenic mythology. The emperor’s religious program, responding to unique obstacles of Late Antiquity, accounted for the diverse local mythical legacies that were so important to civic identity and established a divinity embodying the shared Romanitas of a united Hellenic empire. ….

 

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Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ and Julian ‘the Apostate’

Published June 25, 2018 by amaic

 Image result for julian the apostate

 by

Damien F. Mackey

  

 

“Antiochus Epiphanes thought nothing was more certain than that he would annihilate the Jewish nation. Julian the Apostate convinced himself that it was already in his power to uproot the Christian religion”.

 Herman J. Selderhuis (ed.)

 

This is a quote from the book, Psalms 1-72 (p. 14).

 

 

 

If Julian ‘the Apostate’ bears comparison, at least to some extent, with the emperor Hadrian:

 

Hadrian and Julian the Apostate

https://www.academia.edu/36898732/Hadrian_and_Julian_the_Apostate

 

“… Julian … and Hadrian were bothfull of zeal for idolatry’, ‘superstitious […] astrologers wanting to know everything, so constantly inquisitive as to be accused of magic‘.”

 

then I might expect, also, some useful comparisons of Julian with Hadrian’s alter ego, king Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes, as according to my:

Antiochus ‘Epiphanes’ and Emperor Hadrian. Part One: “… a mirror image”

 https://www.academia.edu/32734925/Antiochus_Epiphanes_and_Emperor_Hadrian._Part_One_a_mirror_image_

 

Antiochus ‘Epiphanes’ and Emperor Hadrian. Part Two: “Hadrian … a second Antiochus”

https://www.academia.edu/35538588/Antiochus_Epiphanes_and_Emperor_Hadrian._Part_Two_Hadrian_a_second_Antiochus_

Collin Garbarino talks about “an appropriation of the past” – {appropriation being a word I have been much inclined to use for when I consider pagans to have borrowed from the Hebrew scriptures but claimed the material as their own} – by Christian writers of the Maccabean  period (“Resurrecting the martyrs: the role of the Cult of the Saints, A.D. 370-430”, 2010). Though, according to my radical revision of the Maccabees in relation to the Herodian era:

 

A New Timetable for the Nativity of Jesus Christ

https://www.academia.edu/36672214/A_New_Timetable_for_the_Nativity_of_Jesus_Christ

 

the Maccabean martyrs at the time of Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ fall right into the period of the Infancy of Jesus Christ.

Garbarino writes (emphasis added):

https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2348&context=gradschool_dissertations

 

This appropriation of the past could even reach back farther than the time of Christ [sic]. During this expansion of the cult of martyrs in the fourth century, bishops began venerating the Maccabeans who died in the Seleucid persecutions of the 160s BC. The various books of Maccabees describe the deaths of faithful Jews at the hands of Seleucid oppressors because of their refusal to abandon the Torah. These stories contain many of the same elements that later characterized Christian martyrologies: trials designed to cause apostasy, tortures and promises given by the magistrate, and a confession of continued faith in God. In light of these commonalities, it is surprising that Christian communities did not adopt these Jewish saints earlier. The earliest extant evidence of Christians honoring the Maccabean martyrs is Gregory of Nazianzus’s Homily 15, On the Maccabees. …. Gregory probably preached this sermon in 362, during the reign of Julian the Apostate. …. He used the Maccabean situation to criticize in a veiled manner the anti-Christian policies of the emperor. In the sermon, he explicitly says that very few Christian communities honor these martyrs because their deaths predated Christ. …. Gregory, however, found their cult useful for promoting Christianization, and this sermon acts as a turning point for the Maccabees. Martha Vinson writes, “Before this sermon, the Maccabees are merely faces in a crowd of Old Testament exempla … while after it, as the homiletic literature from the last decades from the fourth century attests, they have been singled out from the pack as the sole beneficiaries not only of encomia but of a well-established cult.” …. By the year 400, the Maccabees were being honored as Christian martyrs by preachers around the Mediterranean.

[End of quote]

 

Barry Phillips will write in a footnote (p. 129, n. 19) to his article “Antiochus IV, Epiphanes” (Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 29, No. 2, 1910):

 

Dan. 11 st: ” And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” Cf. 8 12 9 27 12 11, 1 Macc. 1 54, 2 Macc. 6 2. Hoffman, Antiochus Epiphanes, p. 80, essays to compare Antiochus and Julian. In so far as the ideas of both were out of harmony with the spirit of the times, there is an apparent similarity between the persecutions of Antiochus and of Julian, far less, however, than the dissimilarity, owing to the fact that whereas Julian sought the extinction of Christianity as an end, Antiochus sought the extinction of Judaism but as a means to an end.

 

Antiochus ‘Epiphanes’ and Julian ‘the Apostate’ are similarly likened to the Antichrist.

For instance, Stephen J. Vicchio tells of Cardinal Newman’s view in Vicchio’s The Legend of the Anti-Christ: A History, p. 314): “Newman goes on in the first advent sermon on the Anti-Christ to argue that some of these historical figures have been Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Julian, “who attempted to overthrow the Church by craft and introduce paganism back again …”.

 

We shall conclude, still on an antichrist type, the “666” of Revelation, with Reginald Rabett’s comment (in GLateinos@; Lateinos; or, The only proper and appellative name of the man, p. 138):

 

For exampleIf we were to speak of the Emperor Julian who is proverbially and emphatically styled The Apostate, yet it would be necessary to use the Name – Julian – because it is the Proper Name of this Man; for were we to omit his Name, no one would of a certainty conclude that Julian the Apostate was meant; but probably Antiochus Epiphanès might be intended ….

 

 

Hadrian and Julian the Apostate  

Published June 24, 2018 by amaic

Image result for hadrian

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

  

“… Julian … and Hadrian were bothfull of zeal for idolatry’, ‘superstitious […] astrologers wanting to know everything, so constantly inquisitive as to be accused of magic‘.”

 Emperor and Author

 

 

 

Some comparisons follow between Hadrian, his reign conventionally dated to c. 117-138 AD – but I have re-dated him to the Maccabean era – and Julian ‘the Apostate’, his reign conventionally dated to c. 361-363 AD.

 

From Emperor and Author: The Writings of Julian ‘the Apostate’, p. 307 (edited by Nicholas J. Baker-Brian, Shaun Tougher):

 

What [Jean-Philippe-Rene de] La Bletterie says of Julian as Caesars’ author differs markedly from his earlier characterization of him as emperor at the start of his 1735 biography; there, he represents Julian as as a ruler driven by ‘an uncontrolled passion for glory‘ – one who pursued his policies with ‘a kind of fanaticism‘, and who was not free of ‘the faults which [his] amour propre perceive[d] only in others’. ….

Just what La Bletterie was thinking of, on that last count, can be inferred from his note on the passage in Caesars in which Hadrian is teased as a stargazer who was forever prying into ineffable mysteries (311d). La Bletterie was prompted to remark that much the same could be said of Julian: he and Hadrian were bothfull of zeal for idolatry’, ‘superstitious […] astrologers wanting to know everything, so constantly inquisitive as to be accused of magic‘. And the likeness did not end there: Julian, assuredly, ‘did not have the infamous [homosexual] vices of Hadrian […], but he had almost all his [other] faults and absurdities‘; both of them were ‘fickle, obstinate, and vain of soul’….

 

Moreover, at one point in his comparison of Julian with Hadrian, La Bletterie entertains a possibility which would imply a very hostile view indeed of Julian: ‘they both passed very wise laws and performed many merciful actions; but Hadrian seemed cruel sometimes, and some say that [“l’on dit que”] Julian was only humane out of vanity’. ….

 

http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showthread.php?660191-Julian-the-Apostate-the-most-fascinating-quot-what-if-quot-in-late-Roman-history

“Julian is often compared in character to Marcus Aurelius and Hadrian, indeed he is very much a blend of the two. He combines Hadrian’s philhellenism with Marcus Aurelius’ Stoicism, scholasticism, and militaristic determination”.

 

From Ammianus Marcellinus, p. 309, by Gavin Kelly:

 

“Ammianus …. rejects the comparison chosen by Valentinian’s partisans to Aurelian …. He compares him to Hadrian in his depreciation of the well-dressed, the learned, the wealthy, the noble, the brave, ‘so that he alone should appear to excel in fine abilities‘ (ut solus uideretur bonis artibus eminere, 30.8.10); Julian too had been compared to Hadrian in one of his faults …. His tendency towards timorousness is described …”.

 

From Emperors and Historiography: Collected Essays on the Literature of the Roman …, p. 315, by Daniel den Hengst:

 

“… divination was practiced in an uncontrolled and lawless way affectata varietate, that is to say with overzealous efforts to practice all forms of divinatio. In the necrology Ammianus compares Julian to Hadrian in this respect. By doing so he harks back again to his description of Julian in Antioch, where Julian is characterized in this context as multorum curiosior. …. In this case, Julian may have been plagued by curiositas, but he shared this vice with a great predecessor. ….

 

 

 

A new interpretation of “Hadrian’s Wall”

Published June 22, 2018 by amaic
Image result for hadrian's wall

Horrible Histories: Retracting Romans

 

Part Two:

A new interpretation of “Hadrian’s Wall”

 

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

“Without Clayton’s work, Hadrian’s Wall today would look more like Offa’s Dyke”.

 Mary Beard

 

  

Introduction

 

Neither the Roman Republicans nor some of the early Roman Emperors have fared very well in this present series, and in my multi-part:

 

Famous Roman Republicans beginning to loom as spectral. Part One: Still a Republic at time of Herod ‘the Great’

 

https://www.academia.edu/36333586/Famous_Roman_Republicans_beginning_to_loom_as_spectral._Part_One_Still_a_Republic_at_time_of_Herod_the_Great

 

culminating in:

A New Timetable for the Nativity of Jesus Christ

https://www.academia.edu/36672214/A_New_Timetable_for_the_Nativity_of_Jesus_Christ

in which collection of articles famous Roman Republicans, and at least the emperor Hadrian, are shown to have their origins and proper identities in Hellenistic rulers.

Hadrian himself has been merged with the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’, and with Herod ‘the Great’. Archaeologists, as we have found, have the greatest difficulty in distinguishing the building works of Herod from those of Hadrian.

 

Now, in the following intriguing article, Mary Beard has something reached some unexpected conclusions about the famous, so-called: Hadrian’s Wall:

https://www.the-tls.co.uk/was-hadrians-wall-built-in-the-nineteenth-century/

 

Was Hadrian’s Wall built in the nineteenth century?

I am at a conference this weekend. It’s called From Plunder to Preservation and it’s organised by our Victorian Studies Group. In fact right now I should be at the conference dinner, but I begged off. It was bound, I thought, to be a Bacchanalian affair — and, as I am not drinking, I feared that I would either get irritated at everyone else’s jollity or else too tempted to have a glass myself. So I came home to write a review, which I’ve half finished now.

 

The idea of the conference is to explore the relationship between heritage and empire. There hasn’t been a duff paper so far and there are too many highlights to go through them all. I particularly enjoyed Maya Jasanoff, who raised the issue of how far (or not) we ought to see the human plunder of empire, in the form of slaves, as analogous to the plunder in the form of art works. (In the course of this she talked interestingly about slave trade tourism in Ghana, and the different treatment of the monuments of the slave trade between Ghana and Sierra Leone).

 

On the classical/Greek side, the husband talked about the Anglican cathedral in Khartoum, designed by Robert Weir Schultz, an Arts and Crafts architect who had started his career drawing and recording Byzantine monuments in Greece (the Khartoum church is based on the church of St Demetrius in Thessaloniki). This paper fitted extraordinarily well with Simon Goldhill‘s  on the work of another Arts and Crafts-man, C. R. Ashbee in Jerusalem. Meanwhile Ed Richardson had spoken of the classical presentation of the Crimean War (with warships called things like “Agamemnon”).

 

I looked instead at Roman Britain. The aim of my talk was to knock a nail into the coffin of the fashionable view that Roman British archaeology in the nineteenth century was a handmaiden of empire, that it was practised by classically trained public schoolboys, imbued with the spirit of empire. Archaeology was, in other words, imperialism pursued by other means. For Hadrian’s Wall, read the North West frontier and vice versa.

 

My line is that this is a politically correct, but unthinking, approach to the study of Roman Britain in the nineteenth century. In short, it’s wrong.

 

What exactly is the matter with it?

 

In part, the supposed imperialist character of Romano-British archaeology is based on selective quotation. Of course, you can find a whole range of examples where nineteenth-century archaeologists use comparisons with the British empire, and laid end-to-end these look pretty impressive. But if you read the original material itself, there’s really not that much of it and it’s not the driving force behind the archaeological interpretation. If anything, they are much more aggressively interested in the role of Christianity in the province.

 

More important though is the role of classical texts. There’s a common view that these classically trained archaeologists had somehow inherited an imperialist view of their subject from the classical texts they had read. That would, of course, be possible if those texts really were straightforwardly imperialist in outlook. But in fact Roman writers expressed deep ambivalence about the effects of the empire, and correlated Roman moral decline with the expansion of its imperial territory. More to the point, Tacitus’ Agricola — the key literary text for understanding Roman Britain — is also the text in which that ambivalence is expressed most clearly (this is the “make a desert and call it peace” text). Anyone brought up on the Agricola would be encouraged to take a wry, not an enthusiastic, position on imperialist endeavours.

 

Another factor is the striking mismatch territorially between the British and Roman empire. Until the final dismemberment of the Ottoman empire, there was hardly any overlap between the two (Cyprus, Malta, Gibraltar). This meant that British archaeology was quite unlike its French equivalent, in the French colonies of North Africa — where Roman archaeology really did go hand in hand with imperial expansion. There was no such thing in the nineteenth century as Roman archaeology in the British empire.

 

Except, of course, in Britain itself. Indeed the paradox at the heart of Roman Britain for its nineteenth-century practitioners was just that: the province which had been the most distant in the ancient empire, was the metropolis of the modern. Was Britain centre or periphery?

 

In the course of this I looked at Hadrian’s Wall and its Victorian history. Two men were clearly crucial in its rediscovery (patriotic northerners, and hardly part of the British imperial project). First there was John Collingwood Bruce, who conducted ‘pilgrimages’ to the Wall and wrote the standard guide books. Second was John Clayton, who preserved miles of the central section of the Wall from ‘native” depredation (in fact he bought up a lot of it to keep it safe).

 

The more I read, though, the more I came to realise that Clayton’s interventions were considerably more significant than simply preservation. Over miles and miles, Clayton had his labourers rebuild the Wall and in the process he created for us those all the most impressive sections that tourists now love — several courses of dry stone masonry, topped with turf, scaling windy ridges. Without Clayton’s work, Hadrian’s Wall today would look more like Offa’s Dyke.

 

Another ‘ancient’ monument built by the Victorians then. There’s hardly any that weren’t, it sometimes seems. ….

Theophilus and Philo

Published June 19, 2018 by amaic
Image result for philo judaeus

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

 “To this list, I believe the name of King Agrippa II should be added.

Why he has not been suggested before is a mystery”.

Dr. Werner G. Marx

That the Herodian era of early AD history needs to be radically revised against the context of the (supposedly entirely BC) Maccabean era was the basic thrust of my article:

 

A New Timetable for the Nativity of Jesus Christ

https://www.academia.edu/36672214/A_New_Timetable_for_the_Nativity_of_Jesus_Christ

This revision, that threw out a large slice of what I considered to be Roman Republican pseudo-history – as opposed to the true Roman history given in the books of the Maccabees – must naturally effect also the history of the Jewish priesthood, bringing, as it does, the early Hasmonaeans right into contact with the early Herodians.

 

Luke’s early historical account of Jesus Christ in his Gospel, his ‘Infancy Narrative’ phase, is now to be situated, as I have newly proposed, in the Maccabean era of Judas and his brothers.

 

See also my article:

Judas the Galilean vitally links Maccabean era to Daniel 2’s “rock cut out of a mountain”. Part One: Judas the Galilean links census to Maccabees

https://www.academia.edu/36553726/Judas_the_Galilean_vitally_links_Maccabean_era_to_Daniel_2s_rock_cut_out_of_a_mountain_._Part_One_Judas_the_Galilean_links_census_to_Maccabees

 

With this background in mind, for whom was Luke the Evangelist writing?

Who was Luke 1:3’s “Most Excellent Theophilus?

 

Some have suggested, most plausibly, that “Theophilus” was a high priest of that very name, a son of Annas. I especially like this version of that particular identification:

http://ltdahn-stluke.blogspot.com/2006/11/identifying-theophilus.html

 

Identifying Theophilus

 

December 10, 2006

 

Luke 1.1-4

Luke addresses his two-part story to a man named Theophilus. This name was relatively common among both Greeks and Jews in the first century. Because the title preceeding his name resembles those of other Roman officials’ named in Luke’s writings (Acts 23.26; 24.3; 26.25), “most excellent Theophilus” is generally assumed to have been a Roman official.

Consider this: Luke’s Theophilus was the high priest of 37-41 A.D.. Some clues supporting this notion follow.

Josephus, a Jewish historian from the first century, catalogued the high priests of the second temple period (Wm. Whiston’s editorial note in his translation of Josephus, War, n.635). Among them are Annas (8-15 A.D.); his five sons: Eleazar, Mattatthias, Annanas, Jonathan, and Theophilus (37-41 A.D.); his son-in-law (brother-in-law to Theophilus) Caiaphas (the high priest during Jesus’ life); and his grandson (son of Theophilus) Matthias (65 A.D., the second-from-the-last high priest before the fall of the temple). An archaeological fact, this same Theophilus had a granddaughter named Yohannana, or Johanna (engraved on an ossuary, a bone box). Several of those named above are mentioned, whether overtly or by implication, in Luke-Acts. Among NT writers, only Luke mentions or alludes to Theophilus, Johanna, and Matthias. Annas is only elsewhere mentioned by John (18.13,24).

Johanna is mentioned in Luke 8.3 and 24.10. In fact, she holds a position shared by no other in Luke’s writings: the key eyewitness in the climactic resurrection story. Luke makes certain his reader(s) recognizes Johanna’s important eyewitness testimony by using a rhetorical device called a chiasmus. (A chiasmus is a rhetorical tool commonly used by ancient writers, and Hebrews especially. Sometimes there is a center-point for emphasis; other times it is used as a memory device, and there is no center point: for example, Matthew 6.24; 7.16-20.) Johanna is at the center (designated by the letter F) of Luke’s chiasmus, a position normally reserved for key data:

 

A They remembered his words (rhematon).

B Having returned from the tomb, they reported all these things (tauta panta)

C to the Eleven

D and to all the rest/others (loipois).

E Now there were Mary Magdalene

F and Johanna

E’ and Mary the mother of James

D’ and the others (loipai) with them.

C’ They were telling the Apostles

B’ these things (tauta).

A’ But these words (rhemata tauta) seemed nonsense to them, and they did not believe them.

 

This construction is no accident. Because of her place at this crucial point in his story, Luke must have assumed that Johanna was an important eyewitness to his intial reader, Theophilus. Archaeologically verifiable, she was Theophilus’ granddaughter.

For these reasons, and others which shall surface in time, it is safe to conclude that Luke’s Theophilus was the high priest of 37-41 A.D., the son of Annas the high preist, the brother-in-law of Caiaphas, the grandfather of Johanna, and the father of one of the last high priests, Matthias.

Luke writes to Theophilus: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me…to write an orderly account…that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed” (Luke 1.1-4). Theophilus was “informed” by his granddaughter Johanna, an “eyewitness…from the beginning”. Apparently he was skeptical of her testimony. Luke therefore sought to confirm it, that Theophilus might come to believe it. This is why Luke wrote his Gospel.

Read Luke’s prologue as a declaration of certitude and confidence pitched to a skeptic. Imagine how you might articulate the story of Jesus to those informed yet unbelieving. Consider why, or if, it is significant that Theophilus is identified, or identifiable. Would such an identification change your present understanding of Luke’s Gospel?

=====

Some relevant details involving Acts:

 

 

Theophilus’ son Matthias was the high priest in 65 A.D.. Phinneas followed him as the last high priest before the fall of Jerusalem. The priesthood was extremely corrupt in the first century. The Romans often appointed whomever they desired in official positions, such as high priest. Phinneas was chosen to be high priest by the casting of lots (Josephus, War 4.3.6 [147-8]; 4.3.7-8 [153-6]). While there is no evidence that Matthias was likewise chosen, it is ironic that Luke in Acts 1.21-26 briefly mentions the Eleven’s selection of a man named Matthias via the casting of lots. This is not to say that Luke considers the newly selected apostle to be Theophilus’ son. Rather, Luke shows that this new Jesus-movement is God-ordained, for in Acts they prayed to God and asked for his intervention – a detail lacking in Rome’s selection process. Here, Luke is demonstrating the corruption of the priesthood and promoting the Jesus-movement to the high priest, Theophilus.

In Acts 4.6, Luke writes, “[gathered were] Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John[athan] and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family.” Alexander aside and otherwise unknown (even in Josephus’ list), everyone mentioned here is a member of Theophilus’ family. The priesthood was seeking to condemn Peter and John for their healing of the lame man at the gate Beautiful (3.1-26), asking by what authority they performed this miracle (4.7). Peter’s answer silences the high priestly assembly (4.13-17). Unable to find fault in the actions of Peter and John, the authorities release them with a mild warning (4.18-21). Here is another example of the priesthood’s inferiority contrasted with to the work of God through the apostles’ ministry. The apostles are victorious, the priesthood defeated. Theophilus would have taken notice here, no doubt recalling the story, received either through family tradition or as himself an eyewitness present in the events of Acts 4.

Luke makes much of Paul’s persecution-mission as having been [sanctioned] by the priesthood (Acts 9.1-2,14; 22.5; 26.12). Yet, Paul was converted to the cause which he persecuted. Again, here Luke demonstrates the corruption of the priesthood in contrast to God’s victorious campaign through the apostles. What better way to make an example of this than by telling of Paul’s conversion from the priesthood’s cause to this new Jesus-movement, and in great detail, taking up more than half of Luke’s story in Acts.

[End of quote]

 

Dr. Werner Marx, however, is convinced that Herod Agrippa II fits as Luke’s Theophilus:

https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/eq/1980-1_017.pdf

 

A New Theophilus

….

 

Dr. Marx, formerly Principal of the Moravian Bible Institute in Nicaragua,

presents an exciting new suggestion about the identity of the “most excellent

Theophilus” for whom Luke composed his twofold history.

 

An interviewer asked Saul Bellow, the Nobel Prize winner, “How much are you conscious of the reader when you write?”

“I have in mind”, he said, “another human being who will understand me ….”

 

When Luke wrote his Gospel and Acts he also had one person in mind. He wrote for Theophilus. The question of who Theophilus was has intrigued students of the Bible for nineteen hundred years. Moreover, we now know that to understand any piece of literature we must know the readership for whom it is intended. A paragraph taken from a technical journal can be easily differentiated from that of a literary magazine. So too, the kind of person for whom he wrote would influence Luke’s choice of words, his selection of subject matter and even the turn of his sentences.

 

The dedication to Theophilus in Luke’s two prefaces must not be confused with the dedication of a present-day book. His was not a gesture of gratitude, the recognition of some family or ideological kinship. Nor is it like the prefaces written by Horace, Vergil, Cicero or Josephus who dedicated their works to a famous patron expecting him to underwrite the cost of publication. A shadow hung over the author always reminding him to avoid anything that might seem offensive to his patron.

 

Luke’s preface, on the other hand, does not betray even remotely such a mercenary intention. His was a far more profound purpose. …. Howard Marshall, reviewing New Testament literature says, “The central theme in the writings of Luke is that Jesus offers salvation to men. …”.

As he writes, the image of Theophilus is ever before him. To win this man to a real faith in Christ is his primary objective …. Theophilus was a real person. The name was a very common one. It means “Friend of God.” Some writers interpret the Preface to mean, “This book is written for every reader who is a friend of God.” …. However, this Theophilus is addressed as κράτιστε Θεόφιλε (Luke 1: 4) and fellow Christians in those days never addressed each other as “Your Excellency” – κράτιστε. It was the correct way to address Roman officials such as Felix and Festus (Acts 24: 3; 26: 25), but a Christian official would have been called “Brother.” ….

 

Who might this “Excellency” have been? A very important authority in the Roman government had shown an interest in the Gospel. Persecutions were becoming more frequent. Regular citizens called Christians “atheists” because they did not reverence the images. They were “divisive” and “anti-social.” …. But if this man Theophilus (his real name probably protected by this pseudonym) could be convinced of the rightness of the Christian faith, his influence would help immensely in the furtherance of the message of salvation, and in the alleviation of suffering due to persecution. For his sake Luke says he has researched the life of Christ. He has personally interviewed eye-witnesses and read all available manuscripts. All this so that His Honour Theophilus may be convinced of the authenticity of what Jesus taught and did.

 

Since earliest times until the present seven names have been suggested in trying to identify Theophilus. Without using a definite name others have thought that this person must have been a Roman official, a resident of Rome, someone from Alexandria, or someone from Syrian Antioch. The seven names are:

 

  1. Theophilus, brother-in-law to Caiaphas, was high priest A.D. 37-41. ….
  2. Theophilus, an official in Athens, convicted of perjury by the Areopagus. He had no known Christian connections. …. However, because of a tradition which says Luke wrote his history in Achaea and Boeotia, it is thought that this man may be Theophilus. ….
  3. Theophilus of Antioch was a wealthy and distinguished Christian who converted a large hall in his home into a church. He is mentioned in the Clementine …. Recognitions (10.71), and is favoured by many because the anti-Marcionite Prologue to the Third Gospel (c. A.D. 170) states that Luke came from Antioch. ….
  4. Again, Luke could have given Sergius Paulus, proconsul of Cyprus, the name Theophilus as a pseudonym (Acts 13: 7-12).
  5. Lucius Junius Annaeus Gallio. This brother of Seneca was perhaps the most eminent Roman that Paul met (Acts 18: 12-17).
  6. B. H. Streeter nominates Titus Flavius Clemens, heir-presumptive of the Emperor Domitian, even though he does not appear in the pages of our New

Testament. He is roughly a contemporary of Luke and the fact that he may have been executed because of his interest in Christianity (his wife, Domitilla, was a baptized Christian) makes Streeter’s suggestion attractive. ….

  1. Philo Judaeus. J. A. Bengel, following Bar Bahlul’s arguments that Theophilus was an Alexandrian, believes that Philo was Theophilus. His Hebrew name was Yedidyāh, the equivalent of Theophilus. ….
  2. To this list, I believe the name of King Agrippa II should be added. Why he has not been suggested before is a mystery. Possibly it may be because so many have sterotyped him as a rascal or, at best, an inconsequential princeling.

 

He deserves a much better evaluation. Of all the Herods he was the best. …. But because of the “negative press” that Agrippa Il has received, it is necessary to remind the reader in some detail of the positive and excellent qualities this king had.

 

  1. HISTORICAL SUPPORT

 

Agrippa Il qualifies as an official in good standing with Rome. The Herods were always loyal to Rome and Agrippa I’s son, called Marcus Julius Agrippa, grew up a member of Caesar’s family. Neither Moses in the Pharaoh’s household nor Daniel in Babylon had better opportunities for a first-class education.

 

Nor was Agrippa ashamed of his Jewish background. At the early age of seventeen, soon after his father’s death and still sharing the intimacy of Claudius’s family, he was able to influence the Emperor in favour of the people of Jerusalem in a delicate matter which had to do with the priestly vestments. The Jews were pitted against the Governor of Syria and the Procurator of Judea, but Claudius ruled in favor of Agrippa and the Jews. ….

 

Agrippa was made King of Chalcis at the age of twenty-three. …. Three years later he was given the territory of his uncle Philip: Trachonitis, Batanaea, Gaulanitis … Abilene (the tetrarchy of Lysanias) and the tetrarchy of Varus. Soon thereafter Nero became Emperor and added four toparchies (townships) to Agrippa II’s domains. One of these, Julias, in Perea, consisted of the city and fourteen surrounding villages … undoubtedly some of those visited by Jesus and his disciples.

 

In addition, ever since his twenty-first year, this young prince was put in charge of the high-priestly vestments in Jerusalem. He appointed the high priest and he was treasurer of the temple. …. No position among the Jews of that time ranked higher.

 

Perhaps nothing shows more how successful a ruler Agrippa Il was than to compare his rule with that of his neighbours to the south who sought to administer Judea. Agrippa governed a scattered territory made up of mixed races but he maintained unbroken control for fifty-one years, while Judea was racked by strife. Procurators came and went until the Jewish state ceased to exist in A.D. 70. By contrast Agrippa II’s holdings grew after that date.

 

A good measure of Agrippa’s imperial stature is to study his speech when he (temporarily at least) dissuaded the Jews from rising up against the Romans. He was returning from a visit to Alexandria when a delegation of chief priests, the Sanhedrin, and high ranking citizens went as far as Jamnia to welcome him and to inform him that great numbers in Jerusalem were at the point of open rebellion, because of the atrocities committed by Procurator Gessius Florus. …. Agrippa hurried to Jerusalem, called together the populace and delivered a speech which for rhetoric and logic is one of the best antiquity has preserved for us …. Agrippa II’s breadth of knowledge of contemporary history and of the organization of the far-flung Roman Empire shows that he was no petty courtesan but a true ruler. That he was able to conjure up such a speech on so short notice shows why this man was respected in Alexandria, in Antioch and in Rome as well as in Jerusalem.

….

 

Much more could be cited from Josephus and from the Talmudic literature ….

….

Thus Agrippa II qualified in a historical sense as the “Most Excellent” in Luke’s Prologue. We now turn to the internal evidence in Luke’s writings which also supports this identification. ….

 

  1. INTERNAL SUPPORT

 

At the very beginning of Paul’s career, the Holy Spirit had promised that he would witness before kings (Acts 9: 15). Sixteen chapters later in A.D. 61 Paul was a prisoner in Caesarea. He had appealed to Caesar to avoid being remanded to Jerusalem. Quite unexpectedly King Agrippa came to town to welcome the new procurator, Festus, to Judea. And equally unexpectedly Paul was given the opportunity of explaining his case before the king (Acts 25: 23-27). This was Paul’s greatest opportunity. Agrippa’s influence extended far beyond the boundaries of his own kingdom. He was well known in Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Rome.

 

All government authorities were aware that he was an adviser of emperors-of Claudius, Nero, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian in turn. For Paul at this moment, and for Luke years later, to persuade Agrippa of the truth of the gospel and of the benevolent nature of the Christian movement, was of supreme tactical importance.

 

For the uninitiated, Luke’s repetition of Paul’s conversion story in Acts 26 is hard to understand. After recounting the event itself (Acts 9: 13·25), Paul again speaks of it on the steps of the Temple (Acts 22: 1·21) and then one more time before Procurator Felix (Acts 24: 11·21). Another recapitulation (Acts 26: 2·23), especially since it has already been decided that Paul is to go to Rome, seems excessive.

 

A satisfactory answer to this problem could be that Agrippa II is Theophilus. All of Luke’s writing seems to be leading up to this final, most dramatic and most eloquent moment in the lives of both men. King Agrippa enters the Judgement Hall in Caesarea together with his sister Bernice and Procurator Festus in the midst of a great display of pageantry, followed by military commanders and lastly by the notables among the civic population. …. Agrippa, in keeping with his eminence, takes charge of the proceedings and Paul speaks as if he alone were in the presence of the King.

 

It is conceivable that years later, as Agrippa read these words at the end of the second volume dedicated to him, he was strongly reminded of that moment of truth when he had said, “A little more, and your arguments would make a Christian of me!” (Acts 28: 28-Jerusalem Bible). …. A Jewish writer on the New Testament says:

 

The idea is, “thou persuadest me a little (or in some degree) to become a Christian,” i.e. I begin to feel the force of your persuasive arguments, and if I hear you any longer, I do not know what the effect may be. This is neither sportively nor bitterly ironical, but complimentary and courtly, no doubt expressing a sincere admiration of Paul’s eloquence and logic. . . but not a genuine conviction of the truth of Christianity, as may be gathered from the later history of this man ….

 

  1. The first piece of evidence that King Agrippa II very likely is Theophilus rests, then, upon my explanation of why Paul’s conversion story is repeated in Acts 26.

The weightiness of this chapter has puzzled many commentators. But if Agrippa II is  Theophilus, then this Apologia pro Vila Sua of Paul comes as the climax and capstone of Luke’s literary work. …. All of the Gospel and all of Acts were written to supply that “little more or much more” that was necessary to make of the king a convert to christianity. Chapter 26 is for Agrippa a grand refrain, reminding him and bringing him back to this Moment of Decision. ….

Part Two: What about Philo Judaeus of Alexandria?

 

“It appears that Philo and his brother Alexander the Alabarch were not only high ranking Princes of the Hasmonean/Herodian dynasty … but Roman magistrates working as Alexandrian customs agents and ambassadors to the Judeo/Claudian Imperial Family of Rome … and intermarried with the family of King Herod Agrippa …”.

Dugan King

 

Can the potential best candidates for Luke’s “Theophilus” considered in Part One of this series (https://www.academia.edu/36855684/_Most_Excellent_Theophilus_) perhaps be merged together through the agency of yet a third important character, Philo Judaeus – he having possible Hasmonaean and Herodian family connections?

 

Dugan King, contributing to the Bible Hermeneutics site, has written the following intriguing comment arguing for Philo Judaeus as the biblical “Theophilus”:

https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/4058/is-lukes-theophilus-an-actual-person-or-an-allegorical-person

 

I have been doing research in theological history and philosophy of the first century and stumbled across another strong theory as to whom Luke may have been addressing as Theophilus. I believe it could have been the full name of Philo Judaeus of Alexandria also known as Jedidiah HaCohen. Jedidiah was Philo’s Hebrew name … meaning friend or beloved of God … and this hints at the possibility that Philo was a shortened version of Theophilus … having the same meaning. Combine this with the fact that Philo was the greatest religious philosopher of the first century … perhaps the Great Teacher mentioned in the writings of the Essenes … for it was clearly the eclectic teaching and exegesis of Philo and his “Logos” that laid the spiritual foundation upon which Christianity, Gnosticism, Rabbinical Judaism, Islam, Theosophy and Hermeticism are outgrowths. Philo’s teachings created the various streams of religious philosophy that have rained down upon civilization with such force as to replace pagan polytheism with Abraham’s monotheism all across the world. Jesus taught the Logos … the Word of God … and declared it to be “The First Begotten Son of God” … an idea originating with Philo [sic] and stated with such eloquent force that the Roman Emperors had to quit fighting it and embrace it in order to get their grip on it and change it from within … so as to make it more conducive to Roman Imperial designs.

 

I have also discovered hundreds of allegorical clues hidden in the works of Philo that suggest he had a very close relationship with Jesus or Yeshua of the Nazarenes … who very likely grew up in Alexandria during his flight from Herod. Because Philo was a Roman magistrate … he was not able to come forward with what he knew about the early life of the historical Jesus without drawing Imperial attention to himself … but the Life of Jesus is mirrored and traced throughout Philo’s writings … especially in his theology and focus on the Essenes. It appears to me very likely that … Philo [was] descended from the last Hasmonean Princess of Judea … King Herod’s captive bride … Queen Mary or Mariamne I.

 

It appears that Philo and his brother Alexander the Alabarch were not only high ranking Princes of the Hasmonean/Herodian dynasty … but Roman magistrates working as Alexandrian customs agents and ambassadors to the Judeo/Claudian Imperial Family of Rome … and intermarried with the family of King Herod Agrippa … also a descendent of Queen Mary/Mariamne I … the captive bride murdered by Herod.

 

We can see Philo’s teachings in the Book of Hebrews … in the writings of Luke, in the first paragraph of John’s Gospel and in Macabbees IV.

 

If Luke was addressing Philo Judaeus as Theophilus … or perhaps Jedidiah … then it means that Luke was writing prior to the time of Philo’s death … possibly around 50 A.D.

 

The works of Philo Judaeus and Flavius Josephus are important supplements to the New Testament ….

….

Combine this knowledge with the archeological discoveries of the past 300 years … and artifacts such as the shroud of Turin … it leaves no doubt that Jesus … Yeshua the Nazarene … was and is a historical figure who impacted the world in many ways … a spiritual/intellectual/philosophical tour de force with the One God of Abraham at the summit. Exactly what Philo intended.

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Joseph (Apostle) Barnabas and Joseph of Armathea

Published June 14, 2018 by amaic
Image result for apostle barnabas

 by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“[Barnabas] was a good man – that is: he was upright, honest, honourable, without unjudged sin in his life. God Himself is described by the Lord Jesus as good (using exactly the same Greek word), and for a man to be described in the Scriptures as good is a very great honour- the only other person in the New Testament given this designation, I believe, besides Barnabas, is Joseph of Arimathea”.

 Derek Cooper

  

 

Leading up to the feast-day, yesterday (11 June, 2018), of the missionary Apostle Barnabas of the Book of Acts, I was musing to myself who otherwise, in the various Gospels, might Barnabas have been.

 

With the buzz-words/phrases good (Acts 11:24: “For he was a good man”) and selling one’s property (he “sold a field he owned, brought the money, and turned it over to the apostles” (4:36-37) in mind, I thought of “the rich young man [or ruler]” of the Synoptic Gospels.

 

Good: ‘Why do you call me good?’ (Mark 10:18) and

selling one’s property: “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me’.” (v. 21).

 

Soon I found this brilliant article on the Internet written by Harry Whittaker:

http://www.christadelphianbooks.org/haw/sitg/sitgb52.html

in which the author asks (and answers) the question of vital interest to me:

  1. Was the Rich Young Ruler Barnabas?

When Jesus spoke of the difficulty for the rich to find a place in the kingdom of God, his disciples, utterly astonished, asked: “Who then can be saved?” As they saw it, if a man with all the advantages of ease and comfort could not prove himself worthy of everlasting life, what dope was there for those beset with all the cares of a life of toil and anxiety? And was not material prosperity the outward sign of God’s blessing? So surely the scales were loaded in favour of the rich.

 

Jesus answered: “With men it is impossible (that the rich should be saved), but not with God: for with God all things are possible”-which surely means that God has the power to save even the rich whose wealth is actually such a big spiritual handicap.

 

Honesty

But this rich man had chosen to go away from Jesus, and so this saying that God has the power to save even the rich was left hanging in mid-air, so to speak-unless He proceeded to do just that with this earnest young man who said: ‘No, you are asking too much, Jesus. I cannot do what you require of me.’ In this fact, then, there is surely good presumptive evidence that ultimately God did save this rich man, in vindication of Christ’s assertion that God can save even a rich man in love with his riches.

The ominous saying with which this incident concluded is also worth pondering here: “many that are first shall be last; and the last first.” The first phrase was a palpable warning to the privileged twelve, the one of whom (Mk.14 :10 RVm.) was to become last of all. But who was the last one who was to be given a place among the first?

It is to be noted that, whatever else, this would-be disciple did not lack honesty. Unlike so many of Christ’s more recent disciples, he did not somehow manage to persuade himself that “Sell all that thou hast and distribute to the poor” really meant something else less exacting and a great deal easier of achievement. When a man is frank and honest regarding the demands of Christ there is hope for him, even though his response be inadequate. But when he succeeds in throwing dust in his own eyes so as to persuade himself that he is fulfilling the Lord’s commands, when really he is doing nothing of the sort, he is in dire spiritual danger.

 

 

A Levite

It makes an intriguing study in circumstantial evidence to bring together the various lines of argument which support, without completely proving the conclusion that this young man was Barnabas, who later became Paul’s companion in travel.

First, it is possible to go a long way towards establishing that this rich ruler was a Levite (as, of course, Barnabas was; Acts 4:36).

Many readers of the gospels have mused over the fact that Jesus quoted to his enquirer the second half of the Decalogue-those commandments which have to do with duty to one’s neighbour. Why did he not quote the others (more important, surely) which concern a man’s duty to God? But if indeed this enquirer were a Levite, then by virtue of his calling, the first half of the Decalogue would find fulfilment almost as a matter of course.

It is also worth noting perhaps —though not too much stress should be put on this-that apparently it was when Jesus was near to Jericho that the rich young ruler came to him; and at that time, as the parable of the Good Samaritan shows, Jericho was a Levitical city.

Much more emphatic is the fact that apparently Jesus did not require of other disciples that they “sell all, and give to the poor, and come and follow him.” Once again, if the man were a Levite, all is clear, for “Lev! hath no portion nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his inheritance ” (Dt.10 :9). Thus a Levite with a large estate was a contradiction in terms, and when Jesus bade him be rid of this wealth, he was merely calling him back to loyalty to other precepts in the Law of Moses.

Barnabas, it is interesting to observe, was a Levite of Cyprus. So apparently the letter of the Law was observed by his owning no property in Israel. The “inheritance” Moses wrote about was, of course, in the land of Promise. So that estate in Cyprus was a neat circumvention of the spirit of the Mosaic covenant, and now Jesus bade him recognize it as such.

Jesus went on to quote also from Moses’ great prophecy concerning the tribe of Levi: “There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time …” In spirit, and also in detail, this is very much like Deuteronomy 33 :8,9: “And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim (‘ If thou wouldst be perfect. . .’) and thy Urim be with thy holy one . . . who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children .. .”

Even more impressive is the Lord’s demand that this earnest seeker sell all and come and follow him, for this is exactly what the Law prescribed when a Levite wished to give himself to full-time service of the sanctuary (Dt. 18 :6-8). There must be first “the sale of his patrimony,” and the devotion of the proceeds to the sanctuary. Instead of the temple Jesus substituted his own poor disciples, the new temple of God. But this was to be done only if the Levite came “with all the desire of his mind.”

Perhaps also there is special significance in the fact that when Jesus quoted the Commandments he put one of them in the form: “Defraud not” (Mk.10 :19), as though with reference to the commandment forbidding the withholding of the wages due to a poor employee (Dt.24 :14,15). But it could refer to the dutiful devotion of one’s resources to the honour of God, a responsibility specially incumbent on a Levite who rejoiced in excessive wealth.

More specific identification?

It is now possible to explore further and find clues suggesting identification of this rich Levite with Barnabas, who when he came to prominence in the early church is mentioned as selling an estate and putting the proceeds into the common fund for the benefit of the poor brethren – which is precisely what Jesus had told the rich young man to do (Acts.4 :36). The Greek word used to describe the estate Barnabas disposed of is the same as was used by Jesus (Mk. 10:29).

And apparently it was then that Joseph was given his new name Barnabas, “the son of exhortation,” that is, the man who did what he was exhorted to do. The rich young man was also a “ruler,” that is, a member of the Sanhedrin. There is fair evidence that Saul of Tarsus also was a member of the Jewish Council Here, then, is a likely explanation of the singular fact in Acts 11:25 that it was Barnabas who went off to Tarsus specially to find Saul at a time when Gentiles were being added to the church at Antioch. These two remarkable men had apparently been colleagues in the Sanhedrin (see “Acts”, by H.A.W., ch. 34).

The same passage describes Barnabas as “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (11:24). The linking of the last two phrases suggests a special gift of faith through the leading of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor.12:9). Then was it through God’s power and guidance that Barnabas was brought to his great act of renunciation of considerable wealth? This link[s] excellently with Christ’s comment on the rich young ruler: “With men this impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” The extreme rarity of the same kind of decision in these days makes it more evident than ever that Barnabas’ act of faith was a gift from God.

A further detail about Barnabas now takes on clearer meaning. The first missionary journey began from the instruction: “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13:2). That perfect tense prompts the enquiry: At what earlier time had these two been called by Christ? The call of Saul was, of course, on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9:15). But when had Barnabas been called? The answer to this enquiry is either that the call of the rich young ruler is what is referred to, or else there has to be an assumption that there was some other direct call of Christ which neither Gospels nor Acts mention at all.

Is there also some special significance in the fact that it is only Mark’s record about the rich young ruler which tells that “Jesus, looking on him, loved him”? John Mark was “sister’s son to Barnabas” (Col.4:10).

O.T. anticipations?

Two unexpected hints from the Old Testament remain to be added to this accumulation of circumstantial evidence. Mark 10:22 has this: “And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved.” The Septuagint Version of Isaiah 57:17,18 is most remarkable: “On account of sin for a little while I grieved him, and smote him (with a hard demand); and he was grieved, and went on sorrowful in his ways. I have seen his ways, and healed him, and comforted him, and gave him true comfort (paraklesis: son of exhortation): peace upon peace to them that are far off and to them that are nigh (Barnabas’ preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles as well as to Jews).”

Again, the words: “With God all things are possible” (Mk.10 :27), are usually assumed to be an allusion to Genesis 18 :14; but more likely the reference seems to be to Psalm 62:11: “Power belongeth unto God.” The context here is rather impressive: “Surely men of low degree (the apostles) are vanity, and men of high degree (this wealthy ruler) are a lie … if riches increase set not your heart upon them. God hath spoken once, twice have I heard this (the first and the second call of Barnabas).”

These Old Testament resemblances are certainly very remarkable. Are they to be written off as coincidences or interpreted as the fruits of inspiration? If the latter, they add evidence of an exceptional kind to the identification proposed here.

The conclusion drawn from a study of this kind varies with the individual. Points of evidence which are nearly decisive for one are of negligible value to another. But it is surely remarkable that in such very brief records concerning two men so many points of resemblance or connection can be traced.

 

 

 

 

Interlude:

Epistle of Barnabas and Gospel of Matthew

 

 

 

“The connection between Barnabas 4:14 and Matthew is, indeed, striking”.

 

Jimmy Akin

 

 

 

The Epistle of Barnabas was not included in the list of the canonical books of Scripture. Despite that, it was well regarded by some Church Fathers as we read in New World Encylopedia’s “Epistle of Barnabas”: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Epistle_of_Barnabas

 

The Epistle of Barnabas, also known as Pseudo-Barnabas, is a Christian work of the late first or early second century, written to dissuade its readers from being influenced by Christian Judaism or even to consider the Jews as sharing in God’s covenant. It was written in Greek and currently contains 21 brief chapters, preserved complete in the fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus where it appears at the end of the New Testament.

 

The epistle goes farther in its anti-Jewish stance than earlier Christian works, by arguing that God’s covenant with Abraham and Moses was never established with the Jewish people as a whole, due to their sins. It was ultimately omitted from the New Testament canon, although and it was cited by several early Church Fathers as having scriptural authority. Today, it is included in most collections of the Apostolic Fathers.

 

History

 

In the early church, the Epistle of Barnabas was read in some churches and several of the Church Fathers accepted it as scripture. Toward the end of the second century Clement of Alexandria cited the Epistle as authoritative, as did Origen. By the beginning of the fourth century, however, the “Letter of Barnabas” was in the process of being rejected from the books of the emerging Christian canon. By the time of Eusebius (c. 325), the canon was fairly well established, though not yet formalized, and Barnabas was not included in the lists of canonical books. Eusebius considered it as “spurious” (H.E. iii.25.4) and rejected it. The first complete list of New Testament scriptures, by Athanasius of Alexandria (367 C.E.), also omitted Barnabas. It also failed to make the authorized list of the Third Synod of Carthage in 397.[1] Thus, the epistle ultimately disappeared from the scriptural canon.

….

However, its place, along with the Shepherd of Hermas, at the end of the Codex Sinaiticus (330-350 C.E.) shows that the Epistle of Barnabas was highly regarded in some Christian communities. Saint Jerome considered the letter “valuable for the edification of the church,” but stipulated that it was “reckoned among the apocryphal writings.” In the West the letter stands beside the Epistle of James in several Latin manuscripts of the New Testament. In the East, a list maintained by the ninth-century patriarch of Jerusalem mentions the epistle in a list of books that are antilegomena—”disputed”—along with the Revelation of John, the Revelation of Peter and the Gospel of the Hebrews. In this way, the letter found its way into the category in which it now stands, useful for study by Christians, but not scripture. The epistle was lost until the early nineteenth century. It has since come to be included in the modern collections of the Apostolic Fathers. ….

 

 

It cites, in fact, the Gospel of St. Matthew as Scripture (ch. 4:14)”, according to New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02299a.htm

 

From the dogmatic point of view the chief importance of the epistle is in its relation to the history of the Canon of the Scriptures. It cites, in fact, the Gospel of St. Matthew as Scripture (ch. 4:14), and even recognizes as in the Canon of the Sacred Books (gegraptai), along with the collection of Jewish writings, a collection of Christian ones (ch. v, 2), the contents of which, however, cannot be determined. The author regards several apocryphal books as belonging to the Old Testament–probably IV Esdras (ch. xii, l) and without doubt Henoch (ch. iv, 3; xvi, 5). In his Christology, his soteriology and his doctrine concerning justification the author develops the ideas of Paul with originality. It has been wrongly said that he regards the pre-existent Christ as only a spirit in the image of God. Without explicitly asserting the consubstantiality and the true sonship, he evidently acknowledges the Divine nature of Christ from before the Creation. The eschatological descriptions are decidedly moderate. He is a millenarian, but in speaking of the Judgment to come he simply expresses a vague belief that the end is approaching.

….

 

Jimmy Akin (http://jimmyakin.com/2017/02/the-epistle-of-barnabas-and-the-gospel-of-matthew.html) has more to say about the interconnection between:

 

The Epistle of Barnabas and the Gospel of Matthew

 

In its entry on the (apocryphal) Epistle of Barnabas, the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary states:

 

Although Barnabas 4:14 appears to quote Matt 22:14, it must remain an open question whether the Barnabas circle knew written gospels. Based on Koester’s analysis (1957:125–27, 157), it appears more likely that Barnabas stood in the living oral tradition used by the written gospels (Treat, J. C. (1992). Barnabas, Epistle of. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 1, p. 614). New York: Doubleday).

 

The connection between Barnabas 4:14 and Matthew is, indeed, striking. Barnabas 4:14 states:

 

Moreover, consider this as well, my brothers: when you see that after such extraordinary signs and wonders were done in Israel, even then they were abandoned, let us be on guard lest we should be found to be, as it is written, “many called, but few chosen.” (Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers: Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed., p. 283). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.)

 

If the last bit of this is a quotation from one of the Gospels, it can only be from Matthew 22:14, for this verse has no parallels in the other Gospels.

 

However, the idea that Barnabas is borrowing this from oral tradition is extremely implausible. The author introduces the quotation with the formula “as it is written”–not “as it is said.” This not only implies he is using a written source but also that he regarded it as scripture, for “it is written” is a standard formula for introducing scripture quotations.

The probability is thus that Barnabas was quoting Matthew’s Gospel, and that would let us establish a terminus ad quem (roughly, a latest possible date) for Matthew if we could establish when Barnabas was written.

 

It was clearly written after the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70, for Barnabas 16:3-5 refers to that event:

 

(3) Furthermore, again he says: “Behold, those who tore down this temple will build it themselves.” (4) This is happening now. For because they went to war, it was torn down by their enemies, and now the very servants of their enemies will re-build it. (5) Again, it was revealed that the city and the temple and the people of Israel were destined to be handed over. For the Scripture says: “And it will happen in the last days that the Lord will hand over the sheep of the pasture and the sheepfold and their watchtower to destruction.” And it happened just as the Lord said.

 

Precisely how long afterwards Barnabas was written is not clear, but it is certainly early. In fact, it is likely the first surviving piece of Christian literature written after the destruction of the temple. In The Fathers Know Best, I date it to around A.D. 75.

 

The fact that Barnabas records the destruction of the temple as a past fact (“And it happened just as the Lord said”) but Matthew presents it only as a future fact, with no notice of the prophecy’s fulfillment, suggests Matthew was written before 70.

 

[End of quotes]

 

Akin’s “Matthew was written before 70” accords very well with Fr. Jean Carmignac’s estimation of “… Matthew around 50 …”. See e.g. my:

 

Fr Jean Carmignac dates Gospels early

 

https://www.academia.edu/30807628/Fr_Jean_Carmignac_dates_Gospels_early

 

and it also accords with John A. T. Robinson’s view that the entire New Testament was written before the Fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD (Redating the New Testament).

 

I fully accept the Rev. Robinson’s reasoning that: “If the new testament books were written after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, why is such a significant event not mentioned?”

 

Barnabas (rich young man) also Matthew?

 

 

This, I suggest, was the happy outcome of the “rich young man” – fully committed discipleship.

 

 

More buzz-words

 

Serving as an aid to connecting the “rich young man” of the Synoptic Gospels with the apostle Barnabas in Part One of this series were what I called certain “buzz-words/phrases”, such as good and selling of one’s property.

For Barnabas is called a good man, and he sells his property to assist the apostles.

Joseph, the original name of Barnabas, will become another buzz-word in Part Three, in which Barnabas will be (albeit tentatively) connected with Joseph of Arimathea, also called good.

 

One could add the further buzz-word of rich, relevant to the young man, the apostle Barnabas, and Joseph of Arimathea.

 

Other buzz-words/phrases can now be included, as we ponder whether or not our composite rich young man-Barnabas-Joseph of Arimathea might also be Matthew. In Part Two (a) I had, with this possibility in mind, noted that the non-canonical Epistle of Barnabas had certain likenesses to the Gospel of Matthew, that, for instance: The connection between Barnabas 4:14 and Matthew is, indeed, striking” (Jimmy Akin).

 

Now, a most significant buzz-word which may well link the rich young man to the apostle Matthew is to be found in Jesus’s looking intently with love in each case.

Fr. Carroll Stuhlmueller (CP), writing for The Jerome Biblical Commentary, explains the Greek word used in the case of Levi, or Matthew (article, “The Gospel According to Luke”, 44:61): “At once Jesus turns away from everything else and peers intently (theaomai) at Levi, detecting his noble and genuine compunction”.

Presumably, somewhat earlier, Jesus had gazed lovingly on the rich young man, who, at that stage, was not yet prepared for wholehearted discipleship (Mark 10:21-22): “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me’. Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions”.

 

There is also, in the case of Levi, a return to the buzz-phrase, selling of one’s property – for Levi, as we are told, “left everything”.

Fr. Carroll Stuhlmueller again (loc. cit.):

 

…. Levi. Usually considered to be the same as the apostle Matthew …. Lk alone states that Levi “left everything” behind to follow Jesus. This addition, along with the word “rising”, is expressed by an aor. participle, indicating the continual and ready disposition of discipleship …. The income Levi renounced must have been large, if he was able to spread a banquet for the many invited guests.

 

This, I suggest, was the happy outcome of the “rich young man” – fully committed discipleship.

 

A connection now between Barnabas and the apostle Matthew would account for why Barnabas is called an “apostle”, despite arguments such as the following by David Huffstutler:

http://religiousaffections.org/articles/was-barnabas-an-apostle/

 

Was Barnabas an apostle? This question is important because it is related to the larger question of whether or not apostles exist today. If the NT gave a pattern of apostles being added to the original Twelve (and Paul), could there be apostles today?

 

I explained in previous posts that the Twelve and Paul had a unique apostleship that singled them out from others that were called apostles in Scripture. In this post (and more to come), I will examine who else was called an apostle in the NT and the meaning of the term apostle as it applied to these individuals.

In Acts 14:4, Luke refers to “the apostles” who, in context, are Paul and Barnabas (cf. Acts 13:50). Ten verses later, Luke is more explicit and refers to “the apostles Barnabas and Paul” (Acts 14:14). Barnabas was clearly an apostle. But in what sense? Was he an apostle like the Twelve? Was he an apostle to the Gentiles in the same sense as Paul? Could the term apostle mean something else in this context?

 

Part of the difficulty in explaining Barnabas as an apostle lies in the fact that Paul, too, is called an apostle in Acts 14:4, 14. If Paul was an apostle in much the same way as the original Twelve, to call Barnabas an apostle alongside Paul seems to color Barnabas with the same apostolic hue as Paul. But this reasoning does not necessarily follow.

 

Luke typically describes Barnabas as an individual who was distinct from the twelve apostles (Acts 4:36; 9:27; 15:2, 22). These verses and others demonstrate that Luke consistently used the term apostle to refer to the Twelve.1 Luke’s use of the term apostle with reference to others such as Barnabas and Paul is exceptional.2 This is not to say that Paul was not an apostle, but it is to say that whether Paul, Barnabas, or anyone else, Luke did not typically call these men apostles. More likely, Luke used a more generic use of the term apostle, albeit with reference to two notable individuals. One scholar refers to Acts 14:4, 14 and explains this use of apostle as follows: “In this broad usage, then, an apostle was a first-century evangelist who bore witness to the resurrection of Christ, an itinerant missionary sent by Him to make disciples of all nations.”3 Barnabas was an apostle in the sense that he was sent to proclaim the gospel with Paul (cf. Acts 13:1–3).4

 

In short, Luke described Barnabas as someone distinct from the Twelve. He was sent with Paul to proclaim the gospel, and in this sense, he was an apostle. He cannot be used an example of someone who received an apostleship that was the same as the Twelve or Paul and thus be used as precedent for anyone to claim a similar apostleship today.

 

[End of quote]

 

It is tentatively suggested here, however, that Barnabas may have been a fully-fledged apostle, one of the actual Twelve, namely, Levi-Matthew.

 

But I now need to account for the multiplicity of names for my much filled-out, and un-named, “rich young man”.

Initially I would like to recall that biblical characters at this time may have had more than one name, for example a Hebrew and a pagan name.

I had suggested that, in the case of John the Baptist, he may also have been known as Theudas:

 

Gamaliel’s ‘Theudas’ as John the Baptist

 

https://www.academia.edu/36424851/Gamaliels_Theudas_as_John_the_Baptist

In this series, the rich young man will have accumulated, by Part Three, the following names:

 

Joseph;

Barnabas;

Levi;

Matthew.

 

Whilst, obviously, it is not ideal having so many names with which to cope, Barnabas and Levi can be considered as kind of nick-names, because we know that that was so of Barnabas, and our composite character, being a Levite, might have, for that reason, been called “Levi” – who, as we read from Fr. Stuhlmueller, is considered to have been Matthew anyway.

 

If Peter could likewise have been named Simon and Cephas, three names, then it is not unreasonable that Matthew had also carried the name Joseph (plus nick-names).

 

 

Barnabas also as Joseph of Arimathea

 

 

“God Himself is described by the Lord Jesus as good (using exactly the same Greek word), and for a man to be described in the Scriptures as good is a very great honour- the only other person in the New Testament given this designation, I believe, besides Barnabas, is Joseph of Arimathea”.

 

Derek Cooper

 

Whilst Derek Cooper does not specifically conclude here that Barnabas, originally named Joseph (Acts 4:36): “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas …”, was Joseph of Arimathea, the thought has crossed my mind.

 

Here is Cooper’s useful account of “Barnabas” and his character:

http://biblecentre.org/content.php?mode=7&item=346

 

I want us to consider Barnabas this afternoon. There is, of course, a lot that could be said about Barnabas and what we talk about this afternoon has to be selective. I have chosen 6 aspects of Barnabas and his character, so I will split this talk into 6 main sections.

 

But first of all, we’ll just start with brief basic introductory details. Barnabas’s real name was Joseph; Barnabas was a nickname- we will talk about that in a minute. Barnabas was Jewish by race, in fact he was a Levite, he came from the island of Cyprus, though he seems to be living in Jerusalem at the time when we first read of him. We know nothing of his family except that he had a sister, she had a son- who was therefore Barnabas’s nephew- and he was called John Mark [Col 4:10].

 

Acts 4:34-37

 

“Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it , and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

 

We first come across Barnabas during those exciting early days of the church. Not long after the Lord Jesus died and rose again from the dead, and the disciples were empowered on the Day of Pentecost- perhaps Barnabas was there on that day- for a time after that there was this period of sharing. The rich sold possessions to support the poor, and here we find Barnabas mentioned as selling a field, and giving the money to the apostles for the distribution. He wasn’t alone in this generosity; he was one of many that did this. Now, this is not a point I want to major on this afternoon, but we SHOULD note his example of generosity to the Lord and his people.

 

Barnabas- the Son of Encouragement

 

As we said, his real name was Joseph. Barnabas was his nickname. The apostles noted him, and he had so impressed them that they gave him the nickname of Barnabas. Barnabas is, I suppose, a Hebrew word, but because the reason for the apostles giving him this name was important, the Holy Spirit saw fit to translate it- the meaning of the name Barnabas is added in Scripture. Different English translations give a different emphasis- I have seen “Son of Consolation”, “Son of Encouragement”, “Son of Exhortation”, “Son of Comfort”. The Greek word translated “consolation”, “encouragement”, “exhortation”, “comfort” means literally “a calling alongside to help”, and these different emphases are all contained within the word.

 

The Word used for the Holy Spirit as a Comforter [parakletos] comes from the same stem- in fact, it is virtually the same word.

 

 

1. Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement

 

We will take Barnabas as the Son of Encouragement [and this is my 1st section: Barnabas- the son of encouragement]. In order for him to be given a name like this by the apostles and a name that stuck, he really must have impressed them by the encouragement and help that he gave, and he must have impressed them over a period of time. He must have spent some time with the apostles, actively encouraging the believers.

 

It is perhaps easy to forget that the events recorded in the first few chapters of the Acts are events that happened within a very short time of the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus.

 

The believers in Jerusalem had had traumatic times, to say that they had had their discouragements is to put it mildly. Their world was turned upside-down – in fact, a disaster (it seemed) at that Passover time when their Lord and Master, the one they were expecting to be their king, and presumably therefore that they were trusting to lead them to the defeat of the Romans and recovery of the kingdom- HE had been taken and executed by the joining together of the religious and political rulers, normally enemies, but joining together in opposition to God. Then, even after they realized the wonderful truth that the Lord Jesus had risen from the dead, they still lived in fear of the hostile authorities. But they had a man of encouragement among them.

 

How valuable that is. Someone to turn their thoughts away from the difficulties and problems of the way, and point them to the Lord himself- to remind them of who He is, the greatness of His person, and what He has done, and to point them also to the blessing of their relationship with Him. Barnabas was such a man. And he had clearly been encouraging them for sufficient time and with sufficient power that the apostles themselves could call him “son of encouragement”.

 

As we look at Barnabas further we will see examples of his providing encouragement to others.

 

Let’s think about today for a moment. In many ways, THESE are discouraging times for believers. The church is fragmented, and seems to be fragmenting further, the attention of unbelievers is towards things of this life, their work perhaps, or more often towards being entertained, interest in Christianity in this country seems to be at an all time low, gospel work (including with children) seems to be getting harder. There is much to discourage. In days of discouragement, we need follow the example of Barnabas, we need to encourage one another with an encouragement that is centred on the Lord- the one who is coming soon to take us to be with Him.

 

2. Barnabas- the risk taker

 

We read of him next in Acts 9 in connection with Saul. Saul was a highly educated, strict and very zealous Pharisee with a certainty of the rightness of his beliefs. He was absolutely sure that the new Christian religion was completely wrong, those who followed this teacher called Jesus were following a false Messiah. They were abandoning the faith of their fathers, were heretics and should be eliminated. And being a man of action, Saul decided to deal with the problem himself. He participated in the murder of Stephen in Acts chapter 7, then got together a band of like-minded thugs and attacked the Christians with the full force of his misplaced zeal. He “made havoc of the church” (Acts 8:3). Saul seems to have been based at Jerusalem and many of the Jerusalem Christians fled, taking the word of God with them- so helping the spread of the truth, of course.

 

I can only conclude that Saul considered that he had made such a good job of dealing with Jerusalem Christians that he would spread his net wider … Damascus, it was quite a long way and it was outside of Israel. …. Anyway, Damascus it was, and so he obtained letters from the chief priests to the synagogues in Damascus so that they might know that he had official backing in dealing with this error in the harshest possible way.

 

We all know, of course, the way that the Lord Jesus spoke to him on the Damascus road and temporarily blinded him. We know of Ananias’s reluctance to go and see Saul when God told him to- because Saul’s reputation had preceded him. We know also that Saul was truly saved and, it would seem, after witnessing in Damascus, spending time in Arabia, returning to Damascus, Saul then went to Jerusalem . Of course, his one wish was to find the believers. The trouble was that is exactly what they thought he would try to do.

 

Acts 9:26-28

 

“And when Saul was come to Jerusalem , he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.”

 

It is easy to imagine. The Jerusalem believers hear that Saul, the one who had caused such havoc among them, who had caused them so much suffering, they hear that he is back in town, and is claiming now to be one of THEM. They just did not believe him.

 

No, there is no way that any of us want to meet him. There is no way we are going to let him discover who we all are, and where we meet together. He may SAY that he is a believer, but how do we know that it is not a trick.

 

The scriptures say that they did not believe that he was converted; they did not believe that he was saved. The assembly leaders, the apostles and James the Lord’s brother- they all, it would seem, reacted in the same way- they did not believe that Saul was saved, and they were not prepared to risk their lives in checking it out. It was much safer to keep him at arm’s length.

 

It is to Barnabas’s enormous credit that he wasn’t willing to let this situation go on. He was willing to go and meet a man who had been an enemy of Christ, a hater of believers, who had probably killed or imprisoned many of his, Barnabas’s, family and friends, who had disturbed the whole lifestyle of the assembly. How did he know that Saul’s claim wasn’t just part of a trap? How did he know that Saul and his mob wouldn’t take him and kill him? I think it unlikely that he had different information about Saul than Peter and the rest had, but HE would take the risk. He was willing to go to Saul, put aside his prejudices and find out where he really stood at that time. And he was willing to be convinced. His mind wasn’t closed.

 

He had so much of a heart for other believers that he wanted them all to be one, to be united, to be together. He may have perceived that if Saul were truly converted then with all the energy and zeal that he showed, there was a real danger (if he were not accepted) of there becoming, in practice, 2 separate fellowships. We know, of course, that the church has since then fragmented, but we see Barnabas here right near the beginning taking very real risks, he is prepared to face real personal danger, danger that others with greater status and authority than he had weren’t willing to face, he would do this in order to bring Saul in and so maintain the unity of God’s people.

 

I would like to make an application from this. We know that sometimes, sadly, it is necessary for there to be separation from other believers. God’s word is very clear about that. But let’s make sure that we separate from others only when it is scripturally essential, and that we have an ATTITUDE that is similar to Barnabas’s here, an attitude that does all it possibly can (scripturally) to maintain the unity of God’s people. Although in Barnabas and Saul’s case it was an issue of drawing another believer in (rather than of separation) the general principle is the same.

 

3. Barnabas – the one to be trusted

 

Let’s move on a little while. Saul has gone from Jerusalem , and as Christian believers moved around and witnessed for the Lord, so the church grew – the scriptures mention that to begin with they were witnessing to their fellow Jews only. But at Antioch, a place now in southern Turkey – a big city near to the Syrian border – the believers began witnessing to Greeks.

 

Acts 11:19-24

 

“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.”

 

Many of the Greeks were turning to the Lord. The assembly at Jerusalem heard about it. Now, what were they to make of it? The Jews knew that they were a special people. They knew that God has specially chosen them, and they had become proud of their status- they had some difficulty in realizing that God could accept people from other nations too – on the simple basis of faith.

 

Peter himself clearly HAD had problems with this. But he had learnt from the incident with Cornelius in chapter 10 and the vision that God had given him just before the visitors sent by Cornelius came to the door- he had learnt that God was no respecter of persons, and that people from any nation were acceptable to Him. But there were many at Jerusalem who had real difficulty with this. I can imagine that the Jerusalem Christians felt that the news from Antioch was exciting, but it was also somewhat alarming. How should they react – was the Lord really saving Gentiles in great numbers? If so, what sort of guidance should they give them?

 

The issue was crucially important, so the leaders of the assembly at Jerusalem chose someone to investigate, someone they could as a group trust. Of all those believers in Jerusalem … they chose Barnabas.

 

This speaks volumes for Barnabas, doesn’t it?

 

Clearly his beliefs were in accord with theirs – he believed what they believed, or they wouldn’t have chosen him. Later incidents show the real concerns that were felt by the Jerusalem believers about Gentiles being added to the assembly and I am sure that Barnabas would have shared these concerns, or they wouldn’t have chosen him for this sensitive role. Clearly he was a man that they as a group could trust. They knew that he would make a thorough and objective assessment of the situation, that he would not distort the facts to suit his preconceived notions, they knew he would not tell only half the story.

 

Barnabas went to Antioch and Barnabas listened, and Barnabas was willing to be persuaded. The natural tendency of the Jews was to be opposed to contact with Gentile dogs, but Barnabas listened, weighed up the evidence before the Lord (no doubt) and was persuaded. And I want us to think about this. Sadly, as we all know, difficulties arise among believers today, and sometimes there are matters that need to be looked into. Are the rumours about a particular situation true? Are the stories about a particular person correct? We should be ready to approach such situations willing to observe, willing to listen to all sides, willing to put aside OUR prejudices and to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

 

Of course generally speaking, being consistent is a very good thing, but it is not a very good thing if it makes me stubborn and unwilling to really listen to another’s understanding and to consider issues openly before the Lord – being ready to have a change of mind if necessary. I am sure that none of us likes to be wrong, none of us likes to be seen to be wrong, and it is easy to get entrenched in a position. Is it possible that sometimes we don’t want to admit that maybe we got it wrong, just maybe we aren’t actually as right as we would like to appear.

 

If it is necessary to look at a difficult situation let’s make sure that we base our opinion on the situation, not on our preconceived notions or what we hear from others. Sometimes what we are told can be simply wrong, sometimes it is distorted because it is based on selected facts. Let’s be honest about difficult situations, let’s look for and give as COMPLETE a picture as we can, not a distorted view.

 

Barnabas stayed at Antioch for some time, saw what was happening, investigated thoroughly, was delighted to see what the Lord was doing, and he encouraged these new believers to cling to the Lord.

 

He was able and willing to put aside his prejudices- which other Jewish Christians found so difficult (as we see later on- in Acts 15, for example).

 

4. Barnabas – recognising and encouraging potential in others

 

Acts 11:25-26

 

“Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

 

We’ve thought of

 

  • Barnabas- the Son of Encouragement
  • Barnabas- the risk taker
  • Barnabas- the one to be trusted

 

In verse 25 we see another quality in him. He recognized and encouraged the potential of others. He had introduced Saul to the suspicious believers at Jerusalem, he had watched him and he assessed him, and he realized that here was a man with enormous potential in service for the Lord. And it was Barnabas who takes the trouble to go and search for him, so that he could be used to the full.

 

It is important, isn’t it, that we have a recognition of our gifts and make sure that we use them. Surely, it is not honouring to Christ for any of us to be so humble that we are unwilling to recognize gift in ourselves – that is a false humility – the Lord has given to all as he wishes, though sometimes we may need a Barnabas to encourage us and to point the way forward, and so help the use of our gifts.

Barnabas did this for Saul. Saul had gone back to Tarsus, he had returned to his home town. Perhaps he had gone home specifically to witness to his own family and old friends, but now Barnabas could see a need and he recognized the man who could fill it. He personally went to find him and brought him back to Antioch. Back at Antioch they met for a year with the assembly and used their teaching gifts for the benefit of those who met there.

 

We see once again, in verse 30, that Barnabas becomes a trusted representative of the assembly – this goes back to our last point. Although not FROM Antioch – really only visitors to the city, he and Saul are so trusted that they are chosen by the saints at Antioch to send economic relief to the assemblies in Judea.

 

Let’s move on to chapter 13.

 

Acts 13:1-3

 

“Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”

 

As these brothers served the Lord and fasted the Holy Spirit spoke to them. Here I just want to briefly note 2 things in passing. Firstly, that they were getting on with their business for the Lord when he speaks to them. And secondly, that they were so in touch with the Lord that he COULD speak to them. If we feel that the Lord doesn’t speak to us as much as we would like, perhaps we should consider the example of these men here at Antioch.

 

Barnabas- handing over responsibility

 

Here in chapter 13 the Holy Spirit sets aside Barnabas and Saul for his work, and they begin their missionary journey. I don’t intend talking much about their journey together, but I want us to notice this:

 

Acts 13: 2, 7, 13, 43

 

“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”

 

“Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.”

 

“Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.”

 

“Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.”

 

It is “Barnabas and Saul” who are set aside for this work. It is “Barnabas and Saul” who visit Sergius Paulus the ruler at Paphos on Cyprus , but after that the scriptural record changes- we no longer read of “Barnabas and Saul”, we read of “Paul and Barnabas”.

 

Saul becomes Paul, but not only does Saul have a name change, the missionaries have a change of leadership. Barnabas was no longer the main character, he handed over to Paul.

 

And so this is my 5th section:

 

5. Barnabas – handing over responsibility

 

We have already talked about the way he could see potential in young Saul, now he sees this potential come to fruition- he could see the way that the Lord was using Paul- and he, Barnabas, takes the back seat. I am sure that there was no resentment there at all. I am sure that he encouraged Paul to take the leadership. The Son of Encouragement was again practically encouraging the younger man to fulfill his potential for the Lord.

 

An obvious, but important, lesson for us to always bear in mind as we work for the Lord is this- that it IS work for the Lord. It should never be an ego trip for ourselves. We are not here to make a name for ourselves – even in the good things we do – it’s the Lord’s work, to be done for his glory.

 

We come on now to a couple of serious mistakes that he made, and this is my sixth section:

 

6. Barnabas – his mistakes

 

Acts 15:36-40

 

“And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.”

 

The first concerned his nephew, John Mark. Mark had accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journey, but had left them early on and returned to Jerusalem. Some time after the journey was finished, and Paul and Barnabas had returned to Antioch, Paul suggested that they re-visit those places that they had been to on their journey. Barnabas was keen to take Mark along. In fact, the scriptures say that “he was determined to” do so. Paul thought it unwise because of his previous experiences with Mark. Neither was willing to give way, and Barnabas left the work in Antioch and went off with Mark to Cyprus. We read no more of him in the Acts or of his activities.

 

No doubt Barnabas thought that although Mark had made a serious mistake when he deserted them at Perga, he had matured and could be trusted this time. I’m sure that he believed that the proposed visits would be good for Mark and his spiritual development- I am sure that he wanted to encourage the lad.

 

One of the saddest things about this is that Barnabas was not willing to give way on this. It is difficult to see how they could have gone ahead through the difficult and dangerous situations that would face them, with someone that Paul was not comfortable working with. And there comes through here, even in someone like Barnabas who showed such discretion and wisdom at other times, there comes through a stubbornness which was damaging to his effectiveness in the Lord’s work. The Lord’s work continued, of course – Silas was chosen to accompany Paul, but Barnabas missed out. A stubbornness, an unwillingness to give way to others on non – fundamental matters is sadly a very common characteristic, not only in the world, but among believers too.

 

 

Gal 2:11-14

 

“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”

 

The second mistake of Barnabas that we read about has a sort of opposite character to the first. In this case he gave way on something that WAS fundamental.

 

Many Jewish believers had problems giving up their ingrained Jewish view of Gentiles, even Gentile believers. We mentioned before that the Lord had given Peter a lesson on this just before he visited Cornelius, and Peter had come to understand that Jews and Gentiles were one in Christ, that Gentiles were not unclean. So when Peter left Jerusalem and visited Gentile believers in Antioch he had no problem eating with them and treating them as equals.

 

But when some other Jews came from Jerusalem, Jews who didn’t have the same understanding that Peter had, when they came, rather than resisting their views and standing up to them, Peter stopped eating with the Gentile believers and withdrew from close contact with them. Paul writes to the Galatians that “even Barnabas” (as though he’s surprised by it), even Barnabas went along with Peter in this hypocrisy.

 

Here the issue WAS fundamental – and on this point Barnabas gave way. Paul when he realized what was happening publicly rebuked Peter. As we have just seen, when discussing taking John Mark with them Barnabas refused to give way on something non – fundamental, but here he does give way – but on something that was fundamental.

 

The issue of agreeing together with other believers is one of the most difficult we face. When should I insist on what I believe to be right, and when should I give way to others who believe something different to be right? Most of the disagreements and divisions among Christians have something of this in them.

 

The question of making a stand on some issues and giving way on others is a difficult one and requires much prayer. To a large extent it is a question of correctly judging what is fundamental and what isn’t, and that can only be done quietly before the Lord with His word.

 

I’ve got another scripture to mention.

 

1 Cor 9:5-6

 

“Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?”

 

I find it interesting that Paul should mention Barnabas here. There is no evidence from scripture that Barnabas had been anywhere near Corinth. Paul and Barnabas’s missionary journey that they made together was to areas of what is now Turkey. Corinth was in Greece. Paul’s first visit to Corinth was during his second journey, made with Silas. Paul’s Corinthian letter was written some time after that. Why does he mention Barnabas? Presumably the Corinthians believers had heard of Barnabas, they knew about him, or the passing reference to Barnabas wouldn’t have made much sense to them. How did they know of Barnabas? In spite of their big “bustup”, at the very least I assume that Paul must have talked positively about Barnabas when he was at Corinth, and told the Corinthians of the work that they had done together.

 

Bit I’d like to take this a bit further. The mention is of him and Barnabas both being people who worked for their living while serving the Lord. It’s written as though this was the way that Barnabas CONTINUED to serve the Lord, even though no longer with Paul.

 

So, it seems likely to me that Barnabas and Paul were still in contact, with Barnabas continuing his service for the Lord – in Cyprus or elsewhere. I find it difficult to believe that they did not sort out their difficulties together – but apart from speculating from this scripture, there is no evidence that they did.

 

I would just like to take the opportunity to remind ourselves of the main points I have been making from the life of Barnabas.

 

  • Firstly, Barnabas was the son of encouragement who encouraged the believers during very difficult times, a very valuable service.

 

  • We then saw that he was willing to risk his life to bring Saul to the frightened assembly in Jerusalem- something no-one else was willing to do; he did it to bring believers together.

 

  • Thirdly we noted Barnabas as one who could be trusted by the saints- particularly to investigate the difficult and sensitive issue of the bringing of Gentiles into the church.

 

  • Then we noticed how Barnabas recognized and encouraged the potential in others- he saw a need in Antioch , he had seen Saul’s gifts and he went many miles to get Saul so that he could do a work in Antioch for the Lord for the benefit of the saints there.

 

  • Fifthly, and following on from there, we see how on their missionary journey together Barnabas soon takes the back seat and allows (I’m sure encourages) Paul to take on the leadership.

 

  • We then looked at a couple of mistakes that Barnabas made- firstly he tried to insist on his way when he shouldn’t have done, but gave way on a fundamental issue on another occasion.

 

In spite of these mistakes, there is so much that is positive in Barnabas that we would do well to think about and emulate.

 

Here’s a scripture that gives us a clue to his effectiveness for the Lord:

 

Acts 11:24

 

“For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith”

 

He was a good man- that is: he was upright, honest, honourable, without unjudged sin in his life. God Himself is described by the Lord Jesus as good (using exactly the same Greek word), and for a man to be described in the Scriptures as good is a very great honour- the only other person in the New Testament given this designation, I believe, besides Barnabas, is Joseph of Arimathea.

 

….

 

Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. He was full of faith. He had a real day to day practical dependence on the Lord whom he knew he could trust. He was full of faith – he could and did lean on the Lord.

 

 

 

Israel and Sparta

Published June 8, 2018 by amaic
Image result for spartans

 by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“King Arius [Areus] of Sparta to Onias the High Priest, greetings. We have found a document about the Spartans and the Jews indicating that we are related and that both of our nations are descended from Abraham”.

 I Maccabees 12:20-21

 

 

 

According to this famous letter sent by king Arius of the Spartans to the Jewish High Priest, Onias, as recorded in the First Book of Maccabees, the Spartans, likewise, were of the stock of the great Hebrew patriarch Abraham.

This information has caused scholars to search avidly for a connection between the two nations.

 

Amongst the conclusions at which scholars arrive, the Spartans arose from Abraham’s wife Keturah, or they were from the sea-faring tribe of Dan, or from the warrior tribe of Gad.

Or, according to Steve Collins (and others), the Spartans were of the fierce tribe of Simeon (“The Missing Simeonites”): https://stevenmcollins.com/articles/the-missing-simeonites/

 

The Spartans themselves declared that they were a fellow tribe of the Jews and corresponded with an ancient Jewish High Priest about their relationship. The book of I Maccabees14:16-23 records this correspondence, which includes this statement:

 

“And this is the copy of the letter which the Spartans sent: The Chief magistrates and the city of the Spartans send greeting to Simon, the chief priest, and to the elders and the priests and the rest of the Jewish people, our kinsmen.” (Emphasis added.)

 

Notice the Spartans called the Jews “our kinsmen.” The Spartans did not proclaim themselves to be Jews, but rather that they were “kinsmen” to the Jews (i.e. members of one of the other tribes of Israel). That the Spartans acknowledged a common ancestry with the Jews of the tribe of Judah gives powerful weight to the assertion that they were Israelites who migrated to Greece instead of the Promised Land. The Spartan culture is most like that of the tribe of Simeon, most of which apparently left the Israelite encampment in the Wilderness after a Simeon prince was executed by a Levite.

 

There is a third group of wanderers in ancient history which manifested a Simeonite/ Israelite ancestry, but this column is now long enough. The story of another band of Simeonites who struck out on their own in the world will be told in a future column. ….

 

[End of quote]

Coin depicting King Areus I of Sparta

 

 

Collins will also tell of these interesting points by Professor Jones:

 

…. The Book, Sparta, by A.H.M. Jones, a Professor of Ancient History at Cambridge University, noted several things about Sparta. He states the Spartans worshipped a “great law-giver” who had given them their laws in the “dim past” (page 5 of his book). This law-giver may have been Moses.

 

Professor Jones also noted the Spartans celebrated “the new moons” and the “seventh day” of the month” (page 13). Observing new moons was an Israelite calendar custom, and their observance of “a seventh day” could originate with the Sabbath celebration. Prof. Jones also notes, as do other authorities, that the Spartans were known for being “ruthless” in war and times of crisis. This sounds exactly like the Simeonite nature, which was given to impulsive cruelty, as the Bible confirms.

 

Interestingly, Prof. Jones writes that the Spartans were themselves divided into several “tribes” which constituted distinct military formations within the Spartan army (pages 31-32).

 

At the Jewish site: https://www.mayimachronim.com/when-jews-and-greeks-were-brothers-the-untold-story-of-chanukah/ which gives the article, “When Jews and Greeks Were Brothers: The Untold Story of Chanukah”, the question is asked: “Incredibly, the Spartan king suggests that the Spartans are descendants of Abraham, too! Where does this bizarre belief come from?” It proceeds from there to consider various possibilities, noting Hebrew and Spartan similarities:

 

Greek Sons of Abraham

 

Sometime in the 2nd century BCE lived a Greek historian and sage named Cleodemus, sometimes referred to as Cleodemus the Prophet. He also went by the name Malchus which, because of its Semitic origins, makes some scholars believe he could have been Jewish. Cleodemus wrote an entire history of the Jewish people in Greek. While this text appears to have been lost, it is cited by others, including Josephus (Antiquities, i. 15).

 

Cleodemus commented on Abraham’s marriage to Keturah (typically identified with Hagar), and their children. This is recorded in Genesis 25, which begins:

 

And Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bore him Zimran, and Yokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuach. And Yokshan begot Sheva and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Ashurim, and Letushim, and Leumim. And the sons of Midian were Ephah, and Epher, and Chanokh, and Avidah, and Elda’ah. All these were the children of Keturah. And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac, while to the sons of the concubines that Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and he sent them away from Isaac, while he was still alive, to the east country.

 

Abraham had six children with Keturah, from which came at least seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren which the Torah names explicitly. The Torah then makes it clear that Abraham gave everything that he had to Isaac—including the Covenant with God and the land of Israel—while the others received gifts and were sent away from the Holy Land.

 

Cleodemus suggests that Epher (or another child named Yaphran), the great-grandson of Abraham, migrated to Africa—which is where the term “Africa” comes from! (This is particularly interesting because Epher was the son of Midian, and Tziporah the wife of Moses was a Midianite, and is described as a Cushite, or African/Ethiopian.) Cleodemus states that Epher, Yaphran, and Ashurim assisted the Greek hero Hercules in one of his battles. Following this, Hercules married one of their daughters—a great granddaughter of Abraham—and had a son with her. This son was Diodorus, one of the legendary founders of Sparta!

 

It appears that the Spartan king Areus was aware of this possible historical connection, and accepted it as fact. This connection may explain why the Spartans were so similar to ancient Israelites. (Others have suggested that because the Israelite tribe of Shimon—known for being fierce warriors—did not receive a set portion in the Holy Land, many of them moved elsewhere and ended up in Sparta, or ended up in Sparta after being expelled from Israel by the Assyrians alongside the other lost tribes.) In his book Sparta, renowned historian Hugo Jones writes that the Spartans held in the highest regard a certain ancient law-giver, much like Moses the law-giver of Israel.

 

Mackey’s comment: For more on this “certain ancient law-giver [Lycurgus], much like Moses the law-giver of Israel”, see my article:

 

Moses and Lycurgus

 

https://www.academia.edu/27900244/Moses_and_Lycurgus

 

The article continues:

 

The Spartans celebrated new moons (Rosh Chodesh), and unlike their Greek counterparts, even a seventh day of rest! Of course, the Spartans themselves were very different from other Greeks, particularly those in Athens, whom Sparta often battled. The Spartan form of government was different, too, not an Athenian-style democracy but a monarchy that governed alongside a “council of elders”, much like Israel’s king and Sanhedrin.

 

Perhaps most similarly, the Spartans were known for their “stoic” way of life. The later Greek school of stoicism was modeled on the ancient way of the Spartans. This meant living simply and modestly, being happy with what one has, and most importantly, putting mind above body, and logic above emotion. This almost sounds like something out of Pirkei Avot, and is a teaching echoed across Jewish texts both ancient and modern. In fact, when Josephus tried to explain who the rabbis were to his Roman audience, he said that they were Jewish stoic philosophers!

 

Bust of Zeno of Citium (c. 334-262 BCE), founder of the Athenian school of Stoicism. Zeno taught that God permeates the whole universe, and knowledge of God requires goodness, fortitude, logic, and living a life of Virtue.

 

Gideon and Leonidas

 

Undoubtedly, the most famous story of the Spartans is the Battle of Thermopylae.

 

Mackey’s comment: For my Jewish version of the real “Thermopylae”, the Battle that changed the world, see my series:

 

Thermopylae changed nothing. Part One: Introductory

 

https://www.academia.edu/34746412/Thermopylae_changed_nothing._Part_One_Introductory

 

https://www.academia.edu/34746837/Thermopylae_changed_nothing._Part_Two_Unsatisfactory_Foundations

 

https://www.academia.edu/34747621/Thermopylae_changed_nothing._Part_Three_Based_on_the_Book_of_Judith_Drama

 

The article continues, adding the further biblical elements of Gideon and his 300, Mordecai from the Book of Esther, and the Maccabees:

 

Around 480 BCE, the Persian emperor Xerxes invaded Greece with a massive force. Xerxes first sent messengers to the Greek city-states to offer peaceful surrender. According to the historian Herodotus, Sparta’s king Leonidas told the messenger: “A slave’s life is all you understand, you know nothing of freedom. For if you did, you would have encouraged us to fight on, not only with our spear, but with everything we have.” Spoken like a true Maccabee.

The messenger then told Leonidas and his men to bow down, to which Leonidas, like his historical contemporary Mordechai, said: “We bow down before no man.” Later, when the Persian boasted that his empire was the wealthiest in the world, with gold reserves the likes of which Leonidas could only dream of, Leonidas replied: “Ares is lord. Greece has no fear of gold.”

 

This statement almost makes Leonidas seem like a monotheist. Indeed, the Spartans worshiped Ares—the god of war—above all others. Interestingly, the Torah commonly describes Hashem in similar military terms, like a great warrior riding a merkavah or chariot, as a “God of Legions” (Hashem Tzva’ot), and even as a “Man of War” (Ish Milchamah, see Exodus 15:3). Of course, the Spartans had their abominable statues and idols, which is perhaps the greatest distinction (and a critical one) between them and ancient Israel.

 

‘Gideon choosing his men’ by Gustav Doré. God told Gideon to choose worthy soldiers based on the way they drank from a spring. Those that went on their knees and bent over to drink were disqualified. Those three hundred who modestly took cupfuls to their mouth were selected. (Judges 7:5-7)

 

King Leonidas went on to assemble just three hundred brave men to face off against the massive Persian invasion. Although they ultimately lost, the Spartans fought valiantly, inspired their fellow Greeks, and did enough damage to hamper Persian victory. This story of three hundred, too, has a Biblical parallel. The Book of Judges records a nearly-identical narrative, with the judge Gideon assembling three hundred brave men and miraculously defeating a massive foreign invasion.

 

Which came first? The earliest complete Greek mythological texts date back only to the 3rd century BCE. By then, the Tanakh had long been completed, and in that same century was first translated into the Greek Septuagint. It isn’t hard to imagine Greek scholars and historians of the 3rd century getting their hands on the first Greek copies of Tanakh and incorporating those narratives into their own. In fact, the Greek-Jewish philosopher Aristobulus of Alexandria (181-124 BCE) admitted that all of Greek wisdom comes from earlier Jewish sources. The later Greek philosopher Numenius of Apamea said it best: “What is Plato but Moses speaking Greek?”

 

Mackey’s comment: Hooray! At last a right perspective – the pagan Greek story influenced by the Jewish one, and not the other way around as is usually suggested.

The article continues:

 

Yafet and Iapetus

 

The similarities between Greek myth and more ancient Jewish texts are uncanny. Hercules was a mighty warrior whose first task (of twelve) was to slay a lion, like the mighty Shimshon who first slays a lion in Judges. Deucalion survives a great flood that engulfs the whole world as punishment from an angry Zeus. Like Noah before him, Deucalion has a wife and three sons, and like Noah, Deucalion is associated with wine-making (the root of his name, deukos). Pandora’s curiosity brings about evil just like Eve’s, while Asclepius carries a healing serpent-staff like Moses. Aristophanes even taught that Zeus first made man as male and female in one body, and later split them in half, just as the Torah and Talmud do.

 

Roman mosaic of Hercules and the Nemean Lion, and a Roman fresco of Samson and the lion, from the same time period.

 

In Jewish tradition, the Greeks come from the Biblical Yavan, son of Yafet (or Yefet or Japheth), son of Noah (Genesis 10:2). Yavan is the same as the Greek Ion (or Iawones), one of the Greek gods, and Ionia, referring to one of its most important regions, and the dialect of the great Greek poets Homer and Hesiod, as well as the scholars Herodotus and Hippocrates. Meanwhile, the Greeks worshipped Iapetus (same as Yafet) as a major god. Iapetus was the father of Prometheus, the god who supposedly fashioned man from the mud of the earth. So, not surprisingly, the Biblical Yavan and Yafet are firmly in the Greek tradition as well.

 

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On Chanukah, we celebrate the Jewish victory over the Seleucids. Not of the Greeks as a whole, but of a relatively small faction of Syrian Greeks, far from the Greek heartland which always enjoyed a good relationship with Israel, starting with Alexander the Great and through to the Spartans and Maccabees.