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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

….

 

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.

 

 

Hannah widow-martyr, St. Sophia and Hadrian

Published June 5, 2018 by amaic
Saint Sophia and daughters: Faith, Hope and Love by GalleryZograf

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

“An official named Antiochus denounced them to the emperor Hadrian … who ordered that they be brought to Rome. Realizing that they would be taken before the emperor, the holy virgins prayed fervently to the Lord Jesus Christ, asking that He give them the strength not to fear torture and death. When the holy virgins and their mother came before the emperor, everyone present was amazed at their composure. They looked as though they had been brought to some happy festival, rather than to torture”.

This story bears remarkable parallels to that of the widow-martyr, Hannah, in 2 Maccabees, especially in my revised context according to which Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ was Hadrian:

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_

 

and:

 

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_

 

For one, an “Antiochus” denounces the mother and her daughters to the emperor Hadrian.

In 2 Maccabees 7 it is Antiochus ‘Epiphanes’ who tortures the victims, but who is named in Jewish legends, “Hadrian”.

 

In the Christian tale the mother has only daughters.

In the Maccabean account the mother has only sons.

 

St. Sophia is, as Hannah is (according to Jewish tradition), a widow.

 

In both tales the children remain composed even whilst being tortured.

 

In both tales the pious mother, who encourages her children, outlives them all, but soon dies (St. Sophia 3 days later).

 

Here is my account of the Jewish widow-martyr, according to my revised history, with the Herodian and Maccabean ages now contemporary, and Hannah tentatively suggested as the New Testament widow, Anna the prophetess:

 

A New Timetable for the Nativity of Jesus Christ

 

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

 

Anna was a widow – and, appropriately, the woman-martyr in Maccabees has no husband with her but only sons. Soon we shall read that she was, according to rabbinic tradition, “a widow”.

And she was indeed very wise and prophetic, as would befit an Anna the prophetess.

Moreover, Anna had had the inestimable privilege of witnessing the future hope of Israel and she accordingly “gave thanks to God and spoke about the Child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).

If Anna were also the woman of Maccabees, then her experience of meeting the Holy Family would have greatly fortified her in her worthy task of urging her seven sons not to apostatise. Her hope had become their hope.

And so the youngest of the sons can hopefully proclaim to the king (2 Maccabees 7:32-35):

 

‘It is true that our living Lord is angry with us and is making us suffer because of our sins, in order to correct and discipline us. But this will last only a short while, for we are still his servants, and he will forgive us. But you are the cruelest and most disgusting thing that ever lived. So don’t fool yourself with illusions of greatness while you punish God’s people. There is no way for you to escape punishment at the hands of the almighty and all-seeing God’.

 

The wise mother also manages to ‘shatter the theory of evolution’ with her ex nihilo remark (7:28): ‘God did not make them out of existing things’: http://www.usccb.org/bible/2mc/7 “that is, all things were made solely by God’s omnipotent will and creative word; cf. Heb 11:3. This statement has often been taken as a basis for “creation out of nothing” (Latin creatio ex nihilo)”.

 

Hannah’s (Anna’s) martyrdom, along with her seven sons, we estimate to have occurred very soon after the Presentation. The Holy Family was now safe from “the king”, in Egypt.

Now, a traditional Jewish interpretation of this dramatic account of martyrdom may have great import for our revised Maccabean-Herodian history and for the ‘shaving off’ of Romans.

Very early in this article we followed up our question about the relationship of Antiochus to Herod with: And who is Caesar Augustus?

… whilst Antiochus ‘Epiphanes’ was the king present during the martyrdom of the woman and her seven sons, there are accounts in the Jewish Talmud and Midrash according to which the king in the story was “Caesar” (e.g. Talmud, Gittin 57b and Midrash Eicha Rabba 1:50). Even more shockingly (in standard historical terms) the cruel king overseeing the martyrdom is sometimes named “Hadrian”. Stephen D. Moore, in The Bible in Theory: Critical and Postcritical Essays, p. 196, when discussing the famous incident in the Maccabees of the mother and her seven martyred sons, adds this intriguing footnote (51) according to which Antiochus was replaced in rabbinic tradition by Hadrian:

 

Nameless in 4 Maccabees, the mother is dubbed … Hannah … in the rabbinic tradition …. The tyrant in the rabbinic versions, however, is not Antiochus Epiphanes but Hadrian: “Hadrian came and seized upon a widow …” (S. Eliyahu Rab. 30); “In the days of the shemad [the Hadrianic persecutions]…” (Pesiq. R. 43). ….

 

As said, this is ‘shocking’ in a conventional context which would have Antiochus (c. 170 BC) separated in time from the reign of the emperor Hadrian (c. 117-138 AD) by some three centuries. But it accords perfectly with the descriptions of Hadrian as “a second Antiochus” and “a mirror-image of Antiochus”.

[End of quote]

 

Now, here is the story of the Christian saint and her daughters – all so marvellously named:

https://oca.org/saints/lives/2012/09/17/102641-martyr-love-with-her-mother-and-sisters-at-rome

 

Martyr Love with her mother and sisters at Rome

 

The Holy Martyrs Saint Sophia and her Daughters Faith, Hope and Love were born in Italy. Their mother was a pious Christian widow who named her daughters for the three Christian virtues. Faith was twelve, Hope was ten, and Love was nine. Saint Sophia raised them in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Sophia and her daughters did not hide their faith in Christ, but openly confessed it before everyone.

An official named Antiochus denounced them to the emperor Hadrian … who ordered that they be brought to Rome. Realizing that they would be taken before the emperor, the holy virgins prayed fervently to the Lord Jesus Christ, asking that He give them the strength not to fear torture and death. When the holy virgins and their mother came before the emperor, everyone present was amazed at their composure. They looked as though they had been brought to some happy festival, rather than to torture. Summoning each of the sisters in turn, Hadrian urged them to offer sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. The young girls remained unyielding.

Then the emperor ordered them to be tortured. They burned the holy virgins over an iron grating, then threw them into a red-hot oven, and finally into a cauldron with boiling tar, but the Lord preserved them.

The youngest child, Love, was tied to a wheel and they beat her with rods until her body was covered all over with bloody welts. After undergoing unspeakable torments, the holy virgins glorified their Heavenly Bridegroom and remained steadfast in the Faith.

They subjected Saint Sophia to another grievous torture: the mother was forced to watch the suffering of her daughters. She displayed adamant courage, and urged her daughters to endure their torments for the sake of the Heavenly Bridegroom. All three maidens were beheaded, and joyfully bent their necks beneath the sword.

In order to intensify Saint Sophia’s inner suffering, the emperor permitted her to take the bodies of her daughters. She placed their remains in coffins and loaded them on a wagon. She drove beyond the city limits and reverently buried them on a high hill. Saint Sophia sat there by the graves of her daughters for three days, and finally she gave up her soul to the Lord. Even though she did not suffer for Christ in the flesh, she was not deprived of a martyr’s crown. Instead, she suffered in her heart. Believers buried her body there beside her daughters.

The relics of the holy martyrs have rested at El’zasa, in the church of Esho since the year 777.

 

Ezra and ‘Uzair

Published May 30, 2018 by amaic

Story of Prophet Uzair/Ezra a.s

Ezra ‘Father of the Jews’

dying the death of Razis

 

Part Three:

Appropriated as ‘Uzair of the Koran (Qur’an)

 

 

 

“… if the equation ‘Uzair = Ezra be valid, and there seems no reason to gainsay it, then Mohammed had either been misinformed, or had purposely invented this queer dogma”.

 J. Walker

 

 

This is the opinion of J. Walker, as expressed in his article “Who is ‘Uzair?”:

http://www.answering-islam.org/Books/MW/uzair.htm

Though I have been at pains to show in articles that the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) was not a real flesh-and-blood historical person – but a biblical composite.

And the same is probably true of this ‘Uzair of the Koran.

 

Walker writes:

 

A Koranic passage which has bewildered many students, is that anent … the name of ‘Uzair. It is the sole reference … in the Koran to a personage whose identity is by no means certain, but is usually equated with that of the biblical Ezra. The Sura (IX) in which it is found is of the late Medina period, and the verse in question (30) reads: “The Jews say ‘Uzair (Ezra?) is God’s son: and the Christians say, the Messiah is God’s son… How are they misguided!”

 

The interpretation of this may be taken in the expanded form found in Damir (Hayat al-Hayawan, trans. Jayakar, Vol. I. 553), as follows:-

 

“When ‘Uzair claimed that God had sent him to the Jews to renew the Pentateuch they disbelieved saying, ‘God has not placed the Pentateuch in the memory of anyone after its being lost, unless he is His son,’ so they called him, ‘Uzair ibn Allah.”

 

The difficulty that presents itself is the fact that no historical evidence can be adduced to prove that any Jewish sect, however heterodox, ever subscribed to such a tenet. What grounds were there for the accusation? Was it a figment of Mohammed’s [sic] own imagination? Rodwell frankly believes it was. Goldziher accepts it as “a malevolent metaphor for the great respect which was paid by the Jews to the memory of Ezra as the restorer of the Law and from which Ezra legends of apocryphal literature (II. Esdra, XXXIV, 37-49) originated ….” But we are inclined to inquire, if it were “a malevolent metaphor,” on whose side was the malevolence? Whence originated such an accusation? It is not probable that the Prophet uttered an indictment of this nature in a city like Medina where Jews abounded, without some foundation.

 

The Jewish post-biblical writings do not seem to yield any possible solution for this erroneous statement. The quotation from the Talmud (Sanhedrim, 21, 2) given by Geiger … to the effect that Ezra would have been worthy of receiving the Law had Moses not preceded him, does not assist us in unraveling the puzzle. Lidzbarski … favors the possibility of a Jewish sect in Arabia venerating Ezra to such a degree as to deify him; thus casting shame on their orthodox brethren.

 

All these views are held on the supposition that the text of the Koranic passage is reliable. Emendations, of course, on the other hand, have been proposed, but it always seems a precarious operation to have resort to conjectural alteration in order to elucidate a troublesome text. There are two such textual emendations which have been proposed and which are worthy of mention because of their ingenuity. The first is by Casanova … who reads ‘Uzail instead of ‘Uzair, and equates with ‘Azael, who, according to the Jewish Hagada, is the leader of the “sons of God” of Genesis VI:2, 4. The second is by J. Finkel … who alters the diacritic points, substitutes z for r, and reads Aziz – “king” or “potentate”. This emended text he connects with the verse in the Psalms (2:7): “The Lord said unto me, thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee.”

 

In spite of such conjectures, however, Horovitz (op. cit. 167), considers that there is no reason to doubt the equation ‘Uzair = Ezra. He himself in this treatment of the subject (op. cit. 127-128) suggests in conclusion that, “it is very probable that Mohammed received his information from a Jewish or Judeo-Christian sect who revered Ezra in similar manner as certain sects did Melchisdek (See Epiphan. Haeres, LV, 1-9)”.

 

To conclude, if the equation ‘Uzair = Ezra be valid, and there seems no reason to gainsay it, then Mohammed had either been misinformed, or had purposely invented this queer dogma. Certainly among the Jews, Ezra the Scribe, the second Moses, as leader of the men of the Great Synagogue played a most important part in the editing of the Jewish Scriptures and the re-establishment of Judaism in Zion after the Captivity, but so far as is known, no Jewish sect ever held such an extreme doctrine as is herein imputed to them by Mohammed. If the idea did not germinate in Mohammed’s own mind, and since it is quite alien to Judaism, it is obviously a slanderous accusation made against the Jews by their protagonists. I would suggest therefore that perhaps the libelers were none other than their old enemies the Samaritans, who hated Ezra above all because he changed the sacred Law and its holy script. We do not readily associate the Samaritans with matters Islamic but in a very able article (in the Encyclopedia of Islam on the Samaritans) Dr. Gaster has demonstrated that Mohammed seems to have made several borrowing from Samaritan sources. May not this be another?

 

Let us look at the question through Samaritan eyes. Ezra had acted presumptuously. He had changed the old divine alphabetic character of the holy Books of the Law – a character still used and revered to this day by the rapidly dwindling Samaritan community – for the mercantile Aramaic script. He had acted in a dictatorial manner as if he were God Himself, or the very Son of God. The Samaritans, thoroughly shocked, accused the Jews of following Ezra … and accepting his new edition of the sacred text. They not only accused the Jews of altering the sacred scriptures. Dr. Gaster (in his Schweich Lectures on the Samaritans) indeed proposes to find in this the origin of Mohammed’s conception of the Tahrif, or the doctrine of the corruption of the Holy Bible by the People of the Book. For example, in Sura IV, 48: “Among the Jews are those who displace the words of the Scriptures.” If Dr. Gaster’s suggestion be correct, then Mohammed had found an ally against the Jews in the Samaritans. And if he found the accusations of the latter a useful weapon against the former in one instance, might he not do likewise in another instance, and that especially in the case of a personality like Ezra, whose name was the subject of controversy between the Jews and the Samaritans? Mohammed we know may have acquired his information from the Samaritans during his journeying to Syria, but on the other hand there might have been Samaritan off-shoots in Arabia, although no trace of such is discoverable in the historical records, unless a vestige be found in the feud of Sumair between the two Jewish tribes of Medina. That is highly problematical, and need not be stressed. But it is not at all unlikely that the source of Mohammed’s indictment of the Jews is to be found amongst the Samaritans or amongst Arab tribesmen of Samaritan strain. If we found in Samaritan literature the opposite belief that Ezra (or Uzair) was the son of Satan, we would be well-nigh sure of having settled the matter. Unfortunately, access to Samaritan records is not possible at the moment for the present writer, and the argument from silence is not of substantial value. ….

 

 

Roman anomalies associated with Francesco Petrarch

Published May 1, 2018 by amaic
Image result for petrarch and rome

Famous Roman Republicans

beginning to loom as spectral

 

 

Part Five:

Roman anomalies associated with Francesco Petrarch

 

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

“Apollo was rumoured to have been an astrologer, the devil, and the god of the Saracens! Plato was considered to have been a doctor, Cicero a knight and a troubadour, Virgil a mage who blocked the crater of the Vesuvius, etc”.

 

Could some of the following, at least, be true?

(I do not necessarily accept the dates given below):

http://chronologia.org/en/seven/1N07-EN-410-445.pdf

 

…. How Petrarch created the legend of the

glory of Italian Rome out of nothing

 

…. In 1974 the world celebrated 600 years since the death of Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374), the first prominent writer of the Middle Ages who, according to Leonardo Bruni, “had been the first who… could understand and bring into light the ancient elegance of the style that had been forlorn and forgotten before” ([927]).

 

The actual persona of Petrarch is nowadays perceived as mysterious, vague and largely unclear, and reality often becomes rather obfuscated. But we are talking about the events of the XIV century here! The true dating of the texts ascribed to Petrarch often remains thoroughly unclear.

Already an eminent poet, Petrarch entered the second period of his life – the period of wandering. In the alleged year of 1333 he travelled around France, Flanders and Germany. “During his European travels, Petrarch became directly acquainted with scientists, searching the libraries of various monasteries trying to find forgotten ancient manuscripts and studying the monuments to the past glory of Rome” ([644], page 59). Nowadays it is assumed that Petrarch became one of the first and most vehement advocates of the “ancient” authors who, as we are beginning to understand, were either his contemporaries, or preceded him by 100-200 years at the most.

 

Mackey’s comment: Or, some of these were – as according to this present series – fictitious, and based on real characters of the Hellenistic era.

The article continues:

 

In 1337 he visited the Italian Rome for the first time ([644], page 59).What did he see there? Petrarch writes (if these are indeed his real letters, and not the result of subsequent editing),“Rome seemed even greater to me than I could have imagined – especially the greatness of her ruins” ([644]).Rome in particular and XIV century Italy in general had met Petrarch with an utter chaos of legends, from which the poet had selected the ones he considered to fit his a priori opinion of “the greatness of Italian Rome.” Apparently, Petrarch had been among those who initiated the legend of “the great ancient Italian Rome” without any solid basis. A significant amount of real mediaeval evidence of the correct history of Italy in the Middle Ages was rejected as “erroneous.” It would be of the utmost interest to study these “mediaeval anachronisms” considered preposterous nowadays, if only briefly.

According to mediaeval legends, “Anthenor’s sepulchre” was located in Padua ([644]). In Milan, the statue of Hercules was worshipped. The inhabitants of Pisa claimed their town to have been founded by Pelopsus. The Venetians claimed Venice to have been built of the stones of the destroyed Troy! Achilles was supposed to have ruled in Abruzza, Diomedes in Apulia, Agamemnon in Sicily, Euandres in Piemont, Hercules in Calabria. Apollo was rumoured to have been an astrologer, the devil, and the god of the Saracens!

Plato was considered to have been a doctor, Cicero a knight and a troubadour, Virgil a mage who blocked the crater of the Vesuvius, etc.

All of this is supposed to have taken place in the XIV century or even later! This chaos of information obviously irritated Petrarch, who had come to Rome already having an a priori concept of the “antiquity” of the Italian Rome. It is noteworthy that Petrarch left

us no proof of the “antiquity of Rome” that he postulates. On the contrary, his letters – if they are indeed his real letters, and not later edited copies – paint an altogether different picture. Roughly speaking, it is as follows: Petrarch is convinced that there should be many “great buildings of ancient times” in Rome. He really finds none of those. He is confused and writes this about it:

Where are the thermae of Diocletian and Caracallus? Where is the Timbrium of Marius, the Septizonium and the thermae of Severus? Where is the forum of Augustus and the temple of Mars the Avenger?

 

Mackey’s comment: These various, supposedly Republican Roman, characters, Marius, Cicero, Augustus, are (tentatively) given Hellenistic real identities in this series.

The article continues:

 

Where are the holy places of Jupiter the Thunder-Bearer on the Capitol and Apollo on the Palatine? Where is the portico of Apollo and the basilica of Caius and Lucius, where is the portico of Libya and the theatre of Marcellus? Where are the temple of Hercules and the Muses built by Marius Philip, and the temple of Diana built by Lucius Cornifacius? Where is the temple of the Free Arts of Avinius Pollio, where is the theatre of Balbus, the Amphitheatre of Statilius Taurus? Where are the numerous constructions erected by Agrippa, of which only the Pantheon remains? Where are the splendorous palaces of the emperors? One finds everything in the books; when one tries to find them in the city, one

discovers that they either disappeared [sic!] or that only the vaguest of their traces remain”. ([644])

These countless inquiries of “where” this or the other object might be, especially the final phrase, are amazing. They indicate clearly that Petrarch came to the Italian Rome with an a priori certainty that the great Rome as described in the old books is the Italian Rome. As we are now beginning to understand, these books most probably were referring to the Rome on the Bosporus. However, in the early XIV century or even later, it was ordered to assume that the ancient manuscripts referred to the Italian Rome. Petrarch had to find “field traces” of the “great Roman past” in Italy; he searched vigorously, found nothing, and was nervous about this fact.

However, the letters attributed to Petrarch contain traces of a Roman history that differs considerably from the history we are taught nowadays. For instance, Petrarch insists that the pyramid that is now considered to be “the Pyramid of Cestius” is really the sepulchre

of Remus ….

The real parochial Italian Rome of the XIV century surprised the poet greatly, since it strangely failed to concur with his a priori impressions based on the interpretation of the ancient texts which he considered correct. This most probably means that he had rejected

other evidence contradicting this “novel” opinion. The gigantic Coliseum, for instance, proved to be the castle and the fortress of a mediaeval feudal clan, and the same fate befell such “ancient” constructions as the mausoleum of Adrian, the theatre of Marcellus, the arch of Septimius Severus, etc. Plainly speaking, all of the “ancient” buildings turned out to be mediaeval. This presents no contradiction to us; however, for Petrarch, who apparently already perceived Rome through the distorting prism of the erroneous chronology, this must have been extremely odd.

Apparently, we have thus managed to pick out the moment in the Middle Ages when the creation of the consensual erroneous version of the history of Italian Rome began. This couldn’t have preceded the first half of the XIV century – although we should add that it is possible that all of these events occurred significantly later, namely, in the XVI-XVII century.

According to Jan Parandowski, “Petrarch’s arrival marks a new era in the assessment of the state of the great city’s decline. Petrarch had been the first person of the new era whose eyes filled with tears at the very sight of the destroyed columns, and at the very memory of the forgotten names” ([644]). Having wiped off the tears, Petrarch became quite industrious in what concerned the creation of the “true history” of the Italian Rome. He searched for statues, collected Roman medals, and tried to recreate the topography of Rome. Most of Petrarch’s energy was however directed at finding and commenting on the oeuvres of the “ancient” authors. The list of books that he allegedly owned survived until our days, the list that he compiled himself in the alleged year of 1336 a.d., on the last page of the Latin codex that is now kept in the National Library of Paris. Whether or not Petrarch had been in the possession of the original works of the authors, remains unknown. The following names are mentioned in the list:

Horace, Ovid, Catullus, Propercius, Tibullus, Percius, Juvenal, Claudian, Ovid, the comedians Plautus and Terentius; the historians Titus Livy, Sallustius, Suetonius, Florus, Eutropius, Justin, Orosius, Valerius Maximus; the orators and philosophers Quintillian, Varro, Pliny, Apuleius, Aulus Gellius, Macrobius, Vitruvius, Marcian Capella, Pomponius Mela, Cassiodorus, Boetius. As well, the names of a large number of holy fathers are listed.

We ask the following questions:

Can we trust in Petrarch’s ownership of these volumes?

How was the list dated?

Did Petrarch actually hold any of the oeuvres written by the abovementioned authors in his hands, or did he just collect the names?

Do we interpret Petrarch’s statements correctly nowadays? After all, they reach us via a filter of the Scaligerian editors of the XVI-XVII century. We perceive them through the glass of a distorted chronology. Petrarch’s letters are to be studied again, if they really are his and haven’t been written or edited on his behalf a great while later. One also has to emphasize that Petrarch didn’t specifically occupy himself with the dating of the texts he found. He was looking for the “works of the ancients” – apparently without questioning whether they preceded him by a hundred years, two hundred, or a thousand. Let’s not forget that a hundred years, let alone three hundred, is a long period of time.

With the growth of his income, Petrarch founded a special workshop with scribes and secretaries, which he often mentions in his letters. Everyone knew about his infatuation with collecting old books. He mentions it in every letter he writes to his every friend. “If you really value me, do as I tell you: find educated and trustworthy people, and let them rake through the bookcases of every scientist there is, clerical as well as secular” ([644]). He pays for the findings bounteously. And they keep coming to him from all directions. He makes some important discoveries himself – thus, in the alleged year of 1333 he finds two previously unknown speeches of Cicero’s in Liège, and in 1334, Cicero’s letters to Atticus, Quintus and Brutus in Verona ([927], [644]). Let us remind the reader that according to the mediaeval legends, Cicero was a knight and a troubadour, q.v. above.

“Petrarch had reasons for considering himself to be responsible for the revival of interest in the philosophical works and essays of the great Roman orator” ([927], pages 87-88). Petrarch wrote: “as soon as I see a monastery, I head that way in hope of finding some work by Cicero.” The history of how he “discovered” the Cicero’s lost tractate titled De Gloria is very odd indeed. Its existence became known from a letter to Atticus that is attributed to Cicero. Petrarch claimed that he had allegedly discovered this priceless manuscript, but gave it to his old friend Convenevola. Who

is supposed to have lost it.

Nowadays Petrarch’s endeavours are usually written about with great pathos:

“It had really been the first one of those glorious expeditions rich in discoveries that shall be undertaken by the humanists of the generations to follow, who have journeyed like Columbus… in their search for parchments gobbled by numerous rats” ([644]). Cicero’s letters were allegedly discovered by Petrarch in the Chapter Library of Verona, where no-one had been aware of their existence. For some reason, the original was soon lost by Petrarch, and he demonstrated a copy instead.

  1. I. Chlodowsky wrote that:

“Petrarch proved a naturally born philologist. He had been the first to study the oeuvres of the ancient Roman poets, comparing different copies and using data provided by the neighbouring historical sciences… It had been Petrarch the philologer who had destroyed the mediaeval legend of Virgil the mage and sorcerer, and accused the author of the Aeneid of a number of anachronisms; he had deprived Seneca of several works that were ascribed to him in the Middle Ages, and proved the apocryphal character of Caesar’s and Nero’s letters, which had a great political meaning in the middle of the XIV century since it gave authority to the Empire’s claims for Austria”. ([927], pp. 88-89).

This is where the really important motives become clear to us – the ones that Petrarch may have been truly guided by in his “archaeological endeavours.” These motives were political, as we have just explained. We have ourselves been witness to countless examples in contemporary history when “science” was used as basis for one political claim or another. This makes chronology largely irrelevant. However, today when the characters of that epoch have long left the stage, we must return to the issue of just how “preposterous” the letters of Caesar and Nero were, and what was “wrong” in the mediaeval legends of Virgil.

The poet’s attitude to the ancient documents was far from critical analysis. Petrarch’s declarations of “antiquity” may have been made for meeting the conditions of some political order of the Reformation epoch in Western Europe (the XVI-XVII century). The order had been made to create a dichotomy between “barbaric contemporaneity” and “beauteous antiquity”. See Chron6 for details. At any rate, one clearly sees that either Petrarch or someone else acting on his behalf was creating the mythical world of antiquity without bothering about the exact epoch when Cicero’s speeches were written, and whether it had preceded that of Petrach by 200 years, or 1400. It is possible that all of this activity really took place in the XVI-XVII century and not the XIV, during the Reformation in the Western Europe, and had archly been shifted into the XIV century and ascribed to Petrarch so that it would gain the “authority of antiquity.” The reality of the XVI-XVII century, which Petrarch cites as the antithesis of “ancient civilization,” was later baptized “feudal barbarism.” ….

 

Solomon and Charlemagne. Part Four: Carolingians a “new Israel”

Published April 27, 2018 by amaic
Image result for charlemagne

 

 by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“Therefore, once Charlemagne received the imperial title, the concept of the Franks

as the “new Israel,” already circulating at court, began to intensify”.

 Constance B. Bouchard

 

 

 

So much of French regal history, Merovingian and Carolingian, smacks of the Bible.

King Chlodomer, for instance, smacks of the Elamite king, Chedorlaomer (Genesis 14:1):

 

Chedorlaomer and Chlodomer

 

https://www.academia.edu/36500160/Chedorlaomer_and_Chlodomer?campaign=upload_email

 

Whilst King Chilperic I has been likened to ‘Herod’:

 

King Chilperic I a ‘Nero and Herod’

 

https://www.academia.edu/36461050/King_Chilperic_I_a_Nero_and_Herod

 

and, again, to the wicked Old Testament king, Ahab: “Gregory, who as bishop of Tours had confrontations with Chilperic and Fredegund, implicitly likens himself in books 5 and 6 to Elijah prophesying against Ahab and Jezebel …”. (Zachary S. Schiffman, The Birth of the Past, p. 123).

 

Along similar lines we find:

 

Queen Brunhild [as] the ‘second Jezebel’

 

https://www.academia.edu/35178294/Queen_Brunhild_the_second_Jezebel

 

And, in a supposedly later era, there is this classic:

 

Isabella of France, ‘iron virago’, ‘Jezebel’

 

https://www.academia.edu/35177416/Isabella_of_France_iron_virago_Jezebel_

 

To name just a few.

 

Perhaps even more apparent are the striking Davidic and Solomonic likenesses of the Carolingian kings. See e.g. my:

 

Solomon and Charlemagne. Part One: Life of Charlemagne

 

https://www.academia.edu/32815340/Solomon_and_Charlemagne._Part_One_Life_of_Charlemagne

 

“Emperor Charlemagne’s life bears some uncanny likenesses to
that of the ancient King Solomon of Israel and his family”.

 

and:

 

Solomon and Charlemagne. Part Two: Archaeology of Charlemagne

 

https://www.academia.edu/32815459/Solomon_and_Charlemagne._Part_Two_Archaeology_of_Charlemagne

 

“For AD history to be fully convincing and to be made to rest on firm foundations, it will need to undergo a rigorous revision similar to the one that scholars have been undertaking for BC history, with the application of a revised stratigraphy. There may be some indications that the history of Charlemagne is yet far from having been established on such firm stratigraphical foundations”.

 

No wonder that conspiracy theorists and authors, such as Dan Brown, have had so much fun with the Merovingians and Carolingians!

To give just one intriguing example of this sort of thing, we read at:

http://www.conspiracyschool.com/carolingian-empire

 

The Carolingians were partly of Merovingian descent, but more importantly, they represented the union of the once divided lineage of the several families responsible for the formation of Mithraism, mainly, the House of Herod, of Commagene, the Julio-Claudian Emperors of Rome, and the Priest-Kings of Emesa. This lineage had survived in two branches. Julia, the heiress of the Edomite royal bloodline, was the daughter of Herod Phollio King of Chalcis, whose grandfather was Herod the Great, and whose mother was the daughter of Salome. Julia married Tigranes King of Armenia, the son of Alexander of Judea. Their son Alexander married Iotape of Commagene, the daughter of Antiochus IV, from whom was descended St. Arnulf, was a Frankish noble who had great influence in the Merovingian kingdoms as Bishop of Metz, and who was later canonized as a saint, and who lived from 582 to 640 AD.[2]

 

Always tracing it all back to biblical kings.

I find it most interesting that there is a connection made here between an Antiochus IV and the biblical king Herod the Great, since, recently, I have actually made so bold as to identify the latter, Herod, as Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ of the Maccabean era:

 

Jesus Christ born in Maccabean era

 

https://www.academia.edu/36472536/Jesus_Christ_born_in_Maccabean_era

 

And I suspect that the “Antiochus IV” named in the above quote is simply, as I have written:

 

Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ Doubled

 

https://www.academia.edu/32784704/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes_Doubled

 

 

Anyway, Constance B. Bouchard has, in “Images of the Merovingians and Carolingians”, provided extra support for the Israel-like-ness of the enigmatic Carolingians and Charlemagne:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1478-0542.2006.00315.x

 

Although historians do not denigrate the quite real Carolingian achievements, they are now analyzing the many models, from the kings of ancient Israel to the Caesars, to which the emperors were compared by their publicists.

….

The Carolingians themselves appear to have been very sensitive to the possibility that they would be considered rulers who enjoyed divine favor only at the pleasure of the pope. Therefore, once Charlemagne received the imperial title, the concept of the Franks as the “new Israel,” already circulating at court, began to intensify. The choice of the ancient Hebrew kings provided a model which would not be based on a connection to the papacy.42 The kings of Israel had stood halfway between their people and God, without needing the mediation of priests and certainly not of popes. As the new David and the new Solomon, Charlemagne and his heir could take on a similar position: one that required great responsibility, certainly, but one in which no one stood between them and God.

 

Not surprisingly, too, we find books and articles with titles like “The Franks as the New Israel? Education for an Identity from Pippin to Charlemagne,” by M. Garrison (in Hen and Innes (eds.), Uses of the Past).

Chedorlaomer and Chlodomer

Published April 25, 2018 by amaic

 

Image result for the five foolish kings

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“… Chlodomer shared in the fourfold partition of his father’s kingdom in 511 …”.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

 

The name of the supposed C6th AD Frankish king, Chlodomer (Clodomir or Clodomer, c. 495 – 524 AD), immediately hit me – on first hearing of it (only recently) – as being almost identical to the biblical name, Chedorlaomer.

 

And the belief that the kingdom which Chlodomer “shared” involved, as in the above quote, a “fourfold partition”, has not done anything to diminish this first impression.

For Chedorlaomer, too, was part of a fourfold coalition of kings (Genesis 14:1-11):

 

At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazezon Tamar.

Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away.

 

Dr. John Osgood was able, from this historically detailed text, to begin to determine a solid foundation for the archaeology of Abram (later Abraham). See my article:

 

Better archaeological model for Abraham

https://www.academia.edu/31214563/Better_archaeological_model_for_Abraham

 

Chlodomer, like Chedorlaomer, attacked in an easterly direction, with the assistance of three other kings (Chlotar I, Childebert I and Theodoric I):

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Chlodomer

 

…. In 523, with his two full brothers, Chlotar I and Childebert I, as allies, he attacked his eastern neighbours, the Burgundians; their king, Sigismund, was captured and put to death together with his family. In the following year, Chlodomer resumed the attack, this time with his half-brother, Theodoric I ….

 

But it was Chlodomer who, like Chedorlaomer (“For twelve years they had been subject to Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled”), appears to have been the leading king of the four-man coalition (Britannica, emphasis added):

 

The eldest son of Clovis I by Clotilda, Chlodomer shared in the fourfold partition of his father’s kingdom in 511, receiving lands in western and central France; his was the only one of the four kingdoms to form a single geographical unit on both sides of the Loire River.