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Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:1-7 – A Firstborn’s Birth In Bethlehem

Luke 2:1-7 – A Firstborn’s Birth In Bethlehem

LK2:1 Now it occurred in those days[1] that a decree[2] was sent out from Caesar Augustus[3] to register[4] all the inhabitants of the land.[5] LK2:2 This was the first census during the time Quirinius[6] was governor of Syria. LK2:3 So everyone traveled to register in their individual towns. LK2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee and the village of Nazareth to Judea and David’s village called Bethlehem.[7] LK2:5 Because his family was of David’s genealogy he registered there with his pregnant fiancée[8] Mary. LK2:6 And it came about while they were there it became the time for her to give birth. LK2:7 She gave birth to a son – her firstborn[9] – and then she wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them at the inn.[10]


[1] In those days: About 10 AD.

[2] Decree: The Greek is DOGMA.

[3] Caesar Augustus: The Roman Emperor died in 15 AD.

[4] Register: Or, taxed, census, registration.

[5] All the inhabitants of the land: The word may refer only to Judea.

Vespasianus01 pushkin edit.png

Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus, 9th Emperor of the Roman Empire

[6] Quirinius: His full name is Publius Sulpicius Quirinius. Tacitus the Roman historian mentions him: “[Quirinius] sprang from the municipality of Lanuvium – had no connection; but as an intrepid soldier and an active servant he won a consulate under the deified Augustus, and, a little later, by capturing the Homonadensian strongholds beyond the Cilician frontier, earned the insignia of triumph,… adviser to Gaius Caesar during his command in Armenia.” [The Annals, III, XLVIII)] He died 21 AD. Josephus mentions him: “Quirinius, a Roman senator who had proceeded through all the magistracies to the consulship and a man who was extremely distinguished in other respects, arrived in Syria, dispatched by Caesar to be governor of the nation and to make an assessment of their property. Coponius, a man of equestrian rank, was sent along with him to rule over the Jews with full authority.” Josephus mentions that he ordered a taxation which may have caused the need for the census. This led to a Jewish revolt. [Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 1, 2, 3, 4 [i, 1]] For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Acts 5:37. Another commentary states: “Quirinius stood in exactly the same relation to Varus, the governor of Syria, as at a later time Vespasian did to Mucianus. Vespasian conducted the war in Palestine while Mucianus was governor of Syria; and Vespasian was legatus Augusti, holding precisely the same title and technical rank as Mucianus.” [The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge 1957, Vol. IX, pp. 375, 376] This and other histories and archaeological discovers proves the existence of such a person.

[7] Bethlehem: For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Matthew 2:6. [Micah 5:2]

[8] Fiancée: Or, espoused wife, betrothed, engaged, having been given in marriage. The state of engagement made Mary his woman or wife. Though they were not married by the Jewish ritual of the wedding feast, there was no legal condemnation under the Law of Moses.

[9] Firstborn: Or, her first child. The Greek is PROTOTOKON, the first born of a woman. Thus, inferring she had other children. [Matthew 1:25]

[10] Inn: Or, lodging house. This may have been a guestroom, however it may have been a caravanary – a place where those on the trade routes stopped for over night rest. Surely it was primitive and one thing dominated the sense – the odour of animals.

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File:Daphni.jpg

A mosaic from Daphni Monastery in Greece (ca. 1100), showing the midwives bathing the new-born Christ. Originally uploaded to English Wikipedia by User:Ghirlandajo.

Additional notes:

About the birth of Christ there are different opinions, but all historians agree Jeshua son of Josef and Miriam (Joseph and Mary) was born before the beginning of the contemporary time calendar system. We take it he was born on October 17, 4BCE.
All has to be taken in account: cleaning of the stalls, having the sheep out in the fields, position of the stars and lunar circle with the amount of falling stars and special notated events in the air, plus the census and the people in charge at the time, as well as the killing of the babies.

Please do find additional reading:

  1. Astronomical and Historical Evidence for Dating the Nativity in 2 BC
    By Nollet, James A.
    Academic journal article from Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Vol. 64, No. 4
    Article details
    It is commonly accepted that Jesus Christ was born either before 4 BC (working from references in Matthew, Flavius Josephus) or after AD 6 (working from information in Luke). However, Flavius Josephus’s dates are unreliable and sometimes argue against themselves. Astronomically, the eclipse of March 13, 4 BC, is highly unlikely to have been the eclipse which Josephus states heralded the death of King Herod, who, therefore, did not die in 4 BC; neither did Herod die in 3 BC or 2 BC, since there were no lunar eclipses visible in Judea in those years. However, 1 BC had two eclipses; either of these, more likely the latter, was the eclipse which just preceded Herod’s death. Herod, therefore, died either in 1 BC or AD 1, and Jesus, therefore, was born either from 3 BC to 1 BC, or from 2 BC to AD 1. The Quirinius census of Luke’s gospel was not the Quirinius census of AD 6, but rather the Pater Patriae census in 2 BC. Jesus was probably born then in 2 BC. This date is consistent with the records of Matthew, Luke, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Eusebius.
    When I attended Catholic parochial schools, the nuns taught us that Jesus was born “in the Year 0.” (1) Today, it is generally taught that Jesus was born during or before 4 BC. But there is no actual record of this date. This supposition rests solely on Flavius Josephus’s passing remark that a lunar eclipse occurred shortly before King Herod died, and we know there was an eclipse visible in Jerusalem on March 13,4 BC. Since we know from the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus was up to two years old or younger when Herod died, this means Jesus could have been born as early as 6 BC. This date, however, seems to clash with the Nativity account in Luke, which says that the Nativity occurred during a census conducted by the Roman Governor of Syria Quirinius, who we know conducted a census of Judea in AD 6. This article proposes that the likeliest date of the Nativity was not 4 BC, but instead about 1 BC. This is also the year when Herod actually died, and it reconciles the apparent discrepancy of dates in the Nativity accounts of Matthew and Luke.
    There are actually many estimates for the year of the birth of Jesus. Some of the earliest include the placement of the birth of Jesus in the 44th year of the reign of Emperor Augustus, about 3-2 BC by Irenaeus in AD 180. (2) In AD 194, Clement of Alexandria estimated that Jesus was born 194 years before the death of the emperor Commodus who died on the last day of AD 192; therefore Jesus was born around 2 BC. (3) Early in the fourth century, Eusebius wrote that Jesus was born in the 42nd year of the reign of Augustus, and in the 28th year after the death of Cleopatra. (4) Leaving aside the issue of inclusive or exclusive counting, that places the birth of Jesus at around 2 BC. The Gospel of Luke states that there was a “universal census” of the entire Roman world shortly before Jesus was born, when P. Sulpicius Quirinius was governor of Syria. Quirinius was governor twice, in 3 BC and in AD 6. (5) However, we generally and popularly suppose that Luke was referring to the latter term, because that was the year in which a local census for taxation purposes occurred; this would mean that Luke exaggerated when he spoke about a census of the whole (Roman) world.
    According to Josephus, Augustus sent Quirinius to be governor of Syria at the same time that he sent Coponius to be the first procurator of Judea, (6) stating also that this census occurred in the 37th year “after Caesar’s victory over Antony at Actium” (31 BC) (7) which, counting inclusively, brings us to AD 6. However, we will see that Josephus was wrong on many of his dates. Therefore, as a working hypothesis, I regard it as possible that Josephus got his fact wrong about Coponius, confusing Quirinius’s first term as governor with his second term. If so, most of the discrepancy between the dates of the Nativity which exists between Luke and Matthew …
    Read the full-text article

    Eusebius of Caesarea.jpg

    Eusebius of Caesarea Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist

  2. The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith: The Incarnational Narrative as History
  3. Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity
  4. Nativity Allusions–Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary, 1986
  5. Christmas and Arbitrary choice for 25 December
    The choice of 25 December is considered arbitrary and not based on evidence provided in the New Testament, the Christian text dealing with the life of Christ. Many theories have been put forward for the choice of the 25 December as Christ’s Nativity, but that it fell during Roman Saturnalia is now largely dismissed. It appears to have been fixed in relation to Epiphany (6 January), counting backward twelve days (now the twelve days of Christmas) or thirteen nights by the lunar calendar. It also falls three days after the winter solstice, a date when a number of pagan gods underwent resurrection after the shortest day of the year. This includes Sol Invictus of the Roman state religion during pagan times, a cult associated with the deification of the emperor. Whatever the explanation, it is evident that the early Christian Fathers, in their struggle for political and psychological supremacy, turned the interpretatio romana (the process of romanizing foreign gods) on its ear by expropriating a number of pagan symbols and observances and providing them with new Christian meanings. For this reason, Christmas and especially the foods associated with it represent a fusion of diverse pagan strands varying widely in emphasis from one country to the next. The celebration of Yule in Scandinavia has become one of the most distinctive aspects of the holiday as observed in northern Europe. The tradition of St. Nicholas of Myra in the Netherlands and the Franciscan cult of the Bambino Gesu in Italy are examples of the many forms these fusions have taken. All are expressed symbolically in food.
  6. Christmas [Christ’s Mass], in the Christian calendar

    The observance probably does not date earlier than AD 200 and did not become widespread until the 4th cent. The date was undoubtedly chosen for its nearness to Epiphany, which, in the East, originally included a commemoration of the nativity. The date of Christmas coincides closely with the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere, a time of rejoicing among many ancient cultures. Christmas, as the great popular festival of Western Europe, dates from the Middle Ages. In England after the Reformation the observance became a point of contention between Anglicans and other Protestants, and the celebration of Christmas was suppressed in Scotland and in much of New England until the 19th cent.

    In the mid 19th cent. Christmas began to acquire its associations with an increasingly secularized holiday of gift-giving and good cheer, a view that was popularized in works such as Clement Clarke Moore‘s poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (1823) and Charles Dickens’s story A Christmas Carol (1843). Christmas cards first appeared c.1846. The current concept of a jolly Santa Claus was first made popular in New York in the 19th cent. (see Nicholas, Saint).

    The Yule Log [Yule, from O.E.,=Christmas], the boar’s head, the goose (in America the turkey), decoration with holly, hawthorn, wreaths, mistletoe, and the singing of carols by waifs (Christmas serenaders) are all typically English (see carol). Gifts at Christmas are also English; elsewhere they are given at other times, e.g., at Epiphany in Spain. The Christmas tree was a tradition from the Middle Ages in Germany. The crib (crèche) with the scene at Bethlehem was popularized by the Franciscans. The midnight service on Christmas Eve is a popular religious observance in the Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches.

  7. Observance of Christmas in early British North America
    The observance of Christmas in early British North America derived from practices familiar in England, where 25 December was celebrated with a good deal of bawdy revelry. Due to this association, as well as the lack of any biblical sanction for that date, observance of Christmas was opposed by Puritans in England and was banned in the Massachusetts Bay Colony between 1659 and 1681.
    In the nineteenth century, Christmas became domesticated, with a shift toward a nuclear family experience of gift giving around a Christmas tree. The tree was popularized by immigrants from Germany, where it had become prominent earlier in the century. Christmas became the principal sales holiday of the year, presided over by Santa Claus, a figure compounded from myth, religious history, and the need for a congenial symbol for the new attitude toward the holiday. He was introduced and promoted by popular literature and illustration, from Clement Moore‘s “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” (1823) to Thomas Nast’s cartoons of the portly character. Charles Dickens toured America in 1867 reading from his enormously popular “A Christmas Carol,” which further reinforced the notions that were crystallizing about how Christmas should be celebrated.

    Charles Dickens-A Christmas Carol-Title page-First edition 1843.jpg

    A Christmas Carol, a early Victorian era Britain novella by English author Charles Dickens, first published by Chapman & Hall on 19 December 1843. One of the greatest influences in rejuvenating the old Christmas traditions of England but, while it brings to the reader images of light, joy, warmth and life, it also brings strong and unforgettable images of darkness, despair, coldness, sadness and death.

  8. Christmas, Saturnalia and the birth of Jesus
  9. God’s Special Gift
  10. Birth of Christ – articles
  11. A season of gifts
  12. Thanksgivukkah and Advent
  13. Christmas customs – Are They Christian?
  14. Jesus begotten Son of God #1 Christmas and Christians
  15. Jesus begotten Son of God #2 Christmas and pagan rites
  16. Irminsul, dies natalis solis invicti, birthday of light, Christmas and Saturnalia
  17. The nativity story
  18. Religious Practices around the world
  19. Idolatry or idol worship
  20. Focus on outward appearances
  21. Speedy Christmas!
  22. Christmas trees
  23. Merry Christmas with the King of Kings
  24. What do you want for Christmas
  25. Ember and light the ransomed of Jehovah
  26. Sancta Claus is not God
  27. Wishing lanterns and Christmas
  28. ‘Tis The Season To Be Cranky: Religious Right Gears Up New Round Of ‘War On Christmas’ Claims
  29. The atheist’s Thanksgiving dilemma  Whom to thank when there’s no recipient?
  30. Pagan Roots? 5 Surprising Facts About Christmas
  31. Nativity scene of the birth of the Bill of Rights
  32. Mocking, Agitation and Religious Persecution
  33. History of Christianity
  34. The imaginational war against Christmas
  35. Being Religious and Spiritual 8 Spiritual, Mystic and not or well religious

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  • Merry Christmas From Real Media (thisisrealmedia.com)
    So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
  • Have yourselve a Merry Christmas (prhayz.com)
    Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife who was with child.  So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
  • Practical Details (loveunderstandserve.wordpress.com)
    Jesus was born at the time of a census called for throughout the Roman Empire. In order to expedite the data collection, the different Israelite tribes were require to assemble in their ancestral hometowns. For Joseph, this was the town of Bethlehem, where his great- (x24) grandfather David was born. This census was most probably being conducted in anticipation of a tax increase and for the purpose of enforcing military service.
  • Did a Census Really Bring Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem? (gospelbondservant.com)
    The census or enrollment, which, according to Luke 2:1, was the occasion of the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, is connected with a decree of Augustus embracing the Greek-Roman world. This decree must have been carried out in Palestine by Herod and probably in accordance with the Jewish method–each going to his own city–rather than the Roman.

    While Josephus does not mention the Herodian census, Luke carefully distinguishes the census at the time of Jesus’ birth as “first,” (i.e. first in a series of enrollments connected either with Quirinius or with the imperial policy inaugurated by the decree of Augustus).

    The geographical work of [Herod] Agrippa, together with the interest of the emperor in the organization and finances of the empire and the attention which he gave to the provinces are indirectly corroborative of Luke’s statement. Augustus himself conducted a census in Italy in and in Gaul in 727/27* [see Roman dating system, ‘AUC‘] and had a census taken in other provinces. For Egypt there is evidence of a regular periodic census every 14 years extending back to 773/20 and it is not improbable that this procedure was introduced by Augustus.

    The time of the decree is stated only in general terms by Luke, and it may have been as early as 727/27 or later in 746-8, its execution in different provinces and subject kingdoms being carried out at different times. Luke dates the census in the kingdom of Herod specifically by connecting it with the administrative functions of Quirinius in Syria. But as P. Quintilius Varus was the legate of Syria just before and after the death of Herod from 748/6-750/4 and his predecessor was C. Sentius Saturninus from 745/9-748/6 there seems to be no place for Quirinius during the closing years of Herod’s reign.

    Tertullian indeed speaks of Saturninus as legate at the time of Jesus’ birth. It is possible that the connection of the census with Quirinius may be due to his having brought to completion what was begun by one of his predecessors; or Quirinius may have been commissioned especially by the emperor to conduct a census in Syria.

  • Nazareth to Bethlehem (toddthehiker.wordpress.com)
    More than 700 years before the birth of Christ the prophet Micah foretold the place of the Messiah’s birth, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”  (Micah 5:2)  The reason Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem in the first place was because of the decree from Caesar Augustus, someone who did not even acknowledge the God of the Israelites.  If not for his decree there would have been no reason for a poor carpenter from Nazareth and his pregnant betrothed to make the difficult trip to Bethlehem.  When you stop to consider the events that took place to ensure the fulfillment of this prophesy you realize just how incredible they are, and perhaps you can begin to understand the sovereignty of God.
  • The Nativity explained: The Census (christiantoday.com)
    A counting of peoples across the Roman Empire, requiring that all people return to the lands of their origin. In Joseph’s case, that was Bethlehem, the city of David.
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    it isn’t as though Rome only had one census that came round every so often. There were tax censuses, designed to give an idea of exactly how much money the government could bring in, but there were also allegiance censuses, where rather than merely counting everyone, people were gathered up and encouraged to swear a pledge of allegiance to Caesar in Rome.
  • The Star of Bethlehem explained? (must read) (religionstudent.wordpress.com)
    The Star of Bethlehem plays a significant role in the nativity story.  Most Christians accept this as part of tradition, while the phenomena is criticized by those who are less likely to buy in to the story.  However, could it be that the Star of Bethlehem isn’t just part of a story?  Could the famous star actually have existed at the time of Jesus? According to “Biblica The Bible Atlas: A Social and Historical Journey through the Lands of the Bible” it may have actually existed.

    First, to support Biblica’s claim, we must first look at the birth of Jesus.  By exploring the two accounts of the Birth of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew.  Matthew makes the claim that Jesus was born in the time of King Herod (the man who later plans to kill the newborn).  Luke does not only make mention of King Herod, but the author also makes mention of Jesus being born during the time of Augustus Caesar and Quirinius the governor of Syria.  Luke’s account, however, is controversial.  Augustus ruled from 27 BCE to 14 CE and Quirinius governed Syria from 6-7 CE.  The problem comes with Herod who ruled from 37-4 BCE.  This historical fact means that Luke’s mention of Quirinius is inaccurate and should be disregarded (although historical accuracy is not the focus of Luke’s Gospel).

  • Was There Really a Census at the Time? (nostopministries.wordpress.com)
    Luke’s precise language emphasizes a particular census, as if to contrast it with similar ones. In fact, another census did occur ten years later, which Luke refers to in Acts 5:37. The author’s additional information concerning Qurinius’s governorship (Luke 2:2), which is unnecessary for the narrative, reveals a familiarity with the recent past. Luke knew his audience would need clarification between similar events, so he gave them the details necessary to understand the date he meant.The emperor at the time of Jesus’s birth, Caesar Augustus, kept count of the population throughout his empire for taxation purposes. Israel would have been no exception. Even if we have no other accounts of the census taken during that time (which is no proof that the event didn’t happen given the sparse records available), the event seems likely from what we do know of the Roman Empire.

    Quirinius may, in fact, have governed Syria at the time and also ten years later. However, the original Greek suggests another possible reading. Luke’s statement may imply that King Herod performed a Jewish style census (counted according to the historic location of the tribes and clans) to keep the peace. Thus, the command of Caesar was notreally carried out in the Roman method (counted by where the person was born) until ten years later when Qurinius was governor and Herod had died.

  • The Nativity According to Luke | David’s Commonplace Book
    Linus quotes from the Gospel according to Luke. There are two accounts of Jesus’s birth in the New Testament, the account that Luke gives and the account that Matthew gives. Mark ignores the question of Jesus’s birth entirely, preferring to begin with Jesus’s public ministry while John actually begins his account before the nativity and moves from there to Jesus’ career.
  • What Luke Actually Wrote (str.typepad.com)
    The gist of the problem is that Luke claims that the first tax when Quirinius was governor of Syria was at the time of Jesus’ birth – around 4-2 B.C. The Jewish historian Josephus, however, records that the first tax under Quirinius’ administration was in 6 A.D., after Jesus’ birth. There’s no reconciling these reports, unless we actually look back at what Luke wrote and at some historical data.
  • Was Jesus really born? – Virendra Parekh (bharatabharati.wordpress.com)
    “Let me tell you at the outset that Jesus is no mythological mumbo-jumbo like your Rama and Krishna, and even Buddha. On the contrary, he was a solid historical figure whose miracles were witnessed and vouchsafed by many contemporary people,” said a Jesuit missionary to Sita Ram Goel. Let us have a closer look at this ‘solid historical figure’.

    Historicity of Jesus as described in Gospels has been one of the principal dogmas of all Christian denominations. Now, as Ram Swarup used to say, historicity by itself does not mean much. You and I are historical persons, but that fact by itself does not confer greatness or any other virtue on us. However, when historicity of the founder is touted as a point of superiority, we are inclined to examine it a little more closely.
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    Sita Ram Goel has pointed out that word “Christian” does not appear in the Christian literature itself before 140 AD. On the other hand, anti-Christian polemics which appears for the first time around 160 AD, starts by questioning the existence of a character called Jesus Christ.

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Election of the Apostle Matthias

Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias were the two candidates suggested as possible replacements for Judas Iscariot as an apostle. The lot fell to Matthias. Even though Justus was not chosen, his being considered for the office shows he was a mature disciple of Jesus Christ.—Ac 1:23-26.

(Mat·thi′as) [probably a shortened form of the Heb. Mattithiah, meaning “Gift of Jehovah”].

Judas Hangs Himself

Judas Hangs Himself (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The disciple selected by lot to replace Judas Iscariot as an apostle. After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, Peter, noting that not only had the psalmist David foretold Judas’ deflection (Ps 41:9) but David had also written (Ps 109:8) “his office of oversight let someone else take,” proposed to the approximately 120 disciples gathered together that the vacancy of office be filled. Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias were put up for selection; after prayer, lots were cast, and Matthias was chosen. Occurring just a few days prior to the outpouring of holy spirit, this is the last instance reported in the Bible of the lots being resorted to in determining Jehovah’s choice in a matter.—Ac 1:15-26.

According to Peter’s words (Ac 1:21, 22), Matthias had been a follower of Christ throughout Jesus’ three-and-a-half-year ministry, had been closely associated with the apostles, and was quite likely one of the 70 disciples or evangelists whom Jesus sent out to preach. (Lu 10:1) After his selection, he was “reckoned along with the eleven apostles” by the congregation (Ac 1:26), and when the book of Acts immediately thereafter speaks of “the apostles” or “the twelve,” Matthias was included.—Ac 2:37, 43; 4:33, 36; 5:12, 29; 6:2, 6; 8:1, 14; 9:27; see PAUL.

– it-2 pp. 354-355

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Though having strong conviction and proofs as to his own apostleship, Paul never included himself among “the twelve.” Prior to Pentecost, as a result of Peter’s Scriptural exhortation, the Christian assembly had sought a replacement for unfaithful Judas Iscariot. Two disciples were selected as candidates, perhaps by vote of the male members of the assembly (Peter having addressed himself to the “Men, brothers”; Ac 1:16). Then they prayed to Jehovah God (compare Ac 1:24 with 1Sa 16:7; Ac 15:7, 8) that He should designate which of the two he had chosen to replace the unfaithful apostle. Following their prayer, they cast lots and “the lot fell upon Matthias.”—Ac 1:15-26; compare Pr 16:33.

There is no reason to doubt that Matthias was God’s own choice. True, once converted, Paul became very prominent and his labors exceeded those of all the other apostles. (1Co 15:9, 10) Yet there is nothing to show that Paul was personally predestinated to an apostleship so that God, in effect, refrained from acting on the prayer of the Christian assembly, held open the place vacated by Judas until Paul’s conversion, and thus made the appointment of Matthias merely an arbitrary action of the Christian assembly. On the contrary, there is sound evidence that Matthias was a divinely appointed replacement.

English: Saint Matthias, who replaced Judas Is...

Saint Matthias, who replaced Judas Iscariot as apostle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At Pentecost the outpouring of holy spirit gave the apostles unique powers; they are the only ones shown to have been able to lay hands on newly baptized ones and communicate to them miraculous gifts of the spirit. (See Apostle [Miraculous powers].) If Matthias were not in reality God’s choice, his inability to do this would have been apparent to all. The record shows this was not the case. Luke, the writer of Acts, was Paul’s traveling companion and associate during certain missions, and the book of Acts therefore undoubtedly reflects and coincides with Paul’s own view of matters. That book refers to “the twelve” as appointing the seven men who were to handle the matter of the food distribution problem. This was after Pentecost of 33 C.E. but before Paul’s conversion. Hence Matthias is here acknowledged as one of “the twelve,” and he shared with the other apostles in laying hands on the seven designates.—Ac 6:1-6.

Whose name then appears among those on the “twelve foundation stones” of the New Jerusalem of John’s vision—Matthias’ or Paul’s? (Re 21:2, 14) One line of reasoning would make it appear that Paul is the more likely one. He contributed so much to the Christian congregation by his ministry and particularly by his writing a large portion of the Christian Greek Scriptures (14 letters being attributed to him). In these respects Paul ‘outshone’ Matthias, who receives no further direct mention after Acts chapter 1.

– it-2 pp. 585-590

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Who replaced Judas Iscariot as a twelfth apostle?

Because of the defection of Judas Iscariot, who died unfaithful, there were only 11 apostles remaining, and during the 40 days from Jesus’ resurrection until his ascension to heaven he made no appointment of a replacement. Sometime during the ten days between Jesus’ ascension and the day of Pentecost it was viewed as necessary that another be selected to fill the vacancy left by Judas, not simply on the basis of his death but, rather, on the basis of his wicked defection, as the Scriptures quoted by Peter indicate. (Ac 1:15-22; Ps 69:25; 109:8; compare Re 3:11.) Thus, by contrast, when the faithful apostle James was put to death, there is no record of any concern to appoint anyone to succeed him in his position of apostle.—Ac 12:2.

It is evident from Peter’s statements that it was then considered that any individual filling the position of an apostle of Jesus Christ must have the qualifications of having been personally conversant with him, having been an eyewitness of his works, his miracles, and particularly his resurrection. In view of this it can be seen that any apostolic succession would in course of time become an impossibility, unless there were divine action to supply these requirements in each individual case. At that particular time before Pentecost, however, there were men meeting these requirements, and two were put forth as suitable for replacing unfaithful Judas. Doubtless having in mind Proverbs 16:33, lots were cast, and Matthias was selected and was thereafter “reckoned along with the eleven apostles.” (Ac 1:23-26) He is thus included among “the twelve” who settled the problem concerning the Greek-speaking disciples (Ac 6:1, 2), and evidently Paul includes him in referring to “the twelve” when speaking of Jesus’ postresurrection appearances at 1 Corinthians 15:4-8. Thus, when Pentecost arrived, there were 12 apostolic foundations on which the spiritual Israel then formed could rest.

The Boppard Room:  Pashal Candle Holder: Saint...

The Boppard Room: Pashal Candle Holder: Saint Matthias (Photo credit: peterjr1961)

Congregational Apostleships.

Matthias was not a mere apostle of the Jerusalem congregation, any more than the remaining 11 apostles were. His case is different from that of the Levite Joseph Barnabas who became an apostle of the congregation of Antioch, Syria. (Ac 13:1-4; 14:4, 14; 1Co 9:4-6) Other men also are referred to as “apostles of congregations” in the sense that they were sent forth by such congregations to represent them. (2Co 8:23) And, in writing to the Philippians, Paul speaks of Epaphroditus as “your envoy [a·po′sto·lon] and private servant for my need.” (Php 2:25) The apostleship of these men was clearly not by virtue of any apostolic succession, nor did they form part of “the twelve” as did Matthias.

The correct understanding of the wider application of the term “apostle” can help to clear away any apparent discrepancy between Acts 9:26, 27 and Galatians 1:17-19, when applied to the same occasion. The first account states that Paul, on arriving in Jerusalem, was led “to the apostles” by Barnabas. In the account in Galatians, however, Paul states that he visited with Peter and adds: “But I saw no one else of the apostles, only James the brother of the Lord.” James (not the original apostle James the son of Zebedee nor James the son of Alphaeus, but the half brother of Jesus) was evidently viewed as an “apostle” in the wider sense, namely, as “one sent forth” by the Jerusalem congregation. This would allow for the Acts account to use the title in the plural in saying that Paul was led “to the apostles” (that is, Peter and James).—Compare 1Co 15:5-7; Ga 2:9.

– it-1 pp. 127-130

The Election of Saint Matthias

The Election of Saint Matthias (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

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15 Now during these days Peter rose up in the midst of the brothers and said (the crowd* of persons was all together about one hundred and twenty): 16 “Men, brothers, it was necessary for the scripture to be fulfilled,+ which the holy spirit+ spoke beforehand by David’s mouth about Judas,+ who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus,+ 17 because he had been numbered among us+ and he obtained a share in this ministry.+ 18 (This very man, therefore, purchased+ a field with the wages for unrighteousness,+ and pitching head foremost*+ he noisily burst in his midst and all his intestines were poured out. 19 It also became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that that field was called in their language A·kel′da·ma, that is, Field of Blood.)
20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his lodging place become desolate, and let there be no dweller in it,’+ and, ‘His office of oversight* let someone else take.’+ 21 It is therefore necessary that of the men that assembled with us during all the time in which the Lord Jesus went in and out* among us,+ 22 starting with his baptism by John+ and until the day he was received up from us,+ one of these men should become a witness with us of his resurrection.”+

23 So they put up two, Joseph called Bar′sab·bas, who was surnamed Justus, and Mat·thi′as. 24 And they prayed and said: “You, O Jehovah,* who know the hearts of all,+ designate which one of these two men you have chosen, 25 to take the place of this ministry and apostleship,+ from which Judas deviated to go to his own place.” 26 So they cast lots+ over them, and the lot fell upon Mat·thi′as; and he was reckoned along with the eleven+ apostles.

+

Proverbs 16:33

33 Into the lap the lot is cast down,+ but every decision by it is from Jehovah.+

Proverbs 18:18

18 The lot puts even contentions to rest,+ and it separates even the mighty from one another.+

+

Act 6:2:

2 So the twelve called the multitude of the disciples to them and said: “It is not pleasing for us to leave the word of God to distribute [food]* to tables.+ 3 So, brothers, search out+ for yourselves seven certified men from among YOU, full of spirit and wisdom,+ that we may appoint them over this necessary business; 4 but we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”+ 5 And the thing spoken was pleasing to the whole multitude, and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith and holy spirit,+ and Philip+ and Proch′o·rus and Ni·ca′nor and Ti′mon and Par′me·nas and Nic·o·la′us, a proselyte of Antioch; 6 and they placed them before the apostles, and, after having prayed, these laid their hands+ upon them.

Acts 9:26, 27:

26 On arriving in Jerusalem+ he made efforts to join himself to the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe he was a disciple. 27 So Bar′na·bas came to his aid+ and led him to the apostles, and he told them in detail how on the road he had seen the Lord+ and that he had spoken to him,+ and how in Damascus+ he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus.

***

*

 

v 23: Joseph, also called Barsabbas (perhaps a family name or merely an additional name) and surnamed Justus, was a witness of the work, miracles, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
A Levite surnamed Barnabas and a native of Cyprus. (Ac 4:36, 37) He was a close associate of the apostle Paul.—See Barnabas.

v 24: Jehovah: “Jehovah.” Heb., יהוה (YHWH or JHVH):

There is evidence that Jesus’ disciples used the Tetragrammaton in their writings. In his work De viris inlustribus [Concerning Illustrious Men], chapter III, Jerome, in the fourth century, wrote the following: “Matthew, who is also Levi, and who from a publican came to be an apostle, first of all composed a Gospel of Christ in Judaea in the Hebrew language and characters for the benefit of those of the circumcision who had believed. Who translated it after that in Greek is not sufficiently ascertained. Moreover, the Hebrew itself is preserved to this day in the library at Caesarea, which the martyr Pamphilus so diligently collected. I also was allowed by the Nazarenes who use this volume in the Syrian city of Beroea to copy it.” (Translation from the Latin text edited by E. C. Richardson and published in the series “Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur,” Vol. 14, Leipzig, 1896, pp. 8, 9.)

Matthew made more than a hundred quotations from the inspired Hebrew Scriptures. Where these quotations included the divine name he would have been obliged faithfully to include the Tetragrammaton in his Hebrew Gospel account. When the Gospel of Matthew was translated into Greek, the Tetragrammaton was left untranslated within the Greek text according to the practice of that time.

Not only Matthew but all the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures quoted verses from the Hebrew text or from the Septuagint where the divine name appears. For example, in Peter’s speech in Ac 3:22 a quotation is made from De 18:15 where the Tetragrammaton appears in a papyrus fragment of the Septuagint dated to the first century B.C.E. (See App 1C §1.) As a follower of Christ, Peter used God’s name, Jehovah. When Peter’s speech was put on record the Tetragrammaton was here used according to the practice during the first century B.C.E. and the first century C.E.

Sometime during the second or third century C.E. the scribes removed the Tetragrammaton from both the Septuagint and the Christian Greek Scriptures and replaced it with Ky′ri·os, “Lord” or The·os′, “God.”

v 24: who know the hearts of all:

(1 Samuel 16:7): 7 But Jehovah said to Samuel: “Do not look at his appearance and at the height of his stature,+ for I have rejected him. For not the way man sees [is the way God sees],*+ because mere man sees what appears to the eyes;*+ but as for Jehovah, he sees what the heart+ is.”*
(1 Chronicles 28:9): 9 “And you, Sol′o·mon my son, know+ the God of your father and serve+ him with a complete heart+ and with a delightful soul;+ for all hearts Jehovah is searching,+ and every inclination of the thoughts he is discerning.+ If you search for him, he will let himself be found by you;+ but if you leave him,+ he will cast you off forever.+

(Jeremiah 11:20): 20 But Jehovah of armies is judging with righteousness;+ he is examining the kidneys* and the heart.+ O may I see your vengeance on them, for it is to you that I have revealed my case at law.+

(Acts 15:8): 8 and God, who knows the heart,+ bore witness by giving them the holy spirit,+ just as he did to us also.

(1 Kings 8:391 Chronicles 28:92 Chronicles 16:9Psalm 7:9Proverbs 24:12; Jeremiah 17:10)

v 25: apostleship: (John 6:70): 70 Jesus answered them: “I chose YOU twelve,+ did I not? Yet one of YOU is a slanderer.”*+

v 26: they cast lots: (Proverbs 16:33): (Proverbs 16:33): 33 Into the lap the lot is cast down,+ but every decision by it is from Jehovah.+

with the eleven+ apostles: (Matthew 28:16):  16 However, the eleven disciples went into Gal′i·lee+ to the mountain where Jesus had arranged for them,

+ by the lot / drawing lots: (Numbers 26:55; Joshua 18:10; Proverbs 18:18)

+

Compare:

The Acts Of The Sent Ones Chapter 1

Hebraic Roots Bible Book of The Acts of the Apostles Chapter 1

Nazarene Acts of the Apostles Chapter 1 v23-26 Choice of Matthias

Dutch version/ Nederlandse versie: Verkiezing van Matthias

Afrikaans: Matti′as is gekies als een van “die twaalf

Deutsch: Da warfen sie Lose und das Los fiel auf Matthias

Français: Élection de Matthias

++

Please also do find:

+++

  • Commemoration of the Apostle Matthias, Martyred in Colchis, and Apostolic Succession (georgianorthodoxchurch.wordpress.com)
    there is evidence that the Apostle Matthias was martyred in Colchis  (the ancient name for Georgia’s Black Sea regions) and buried in Gonio, near Batumi.
    +
    The elevation of Matthias from the Seventy to the Twelve Apostles is interesting, as it is one of the first written accounts of Apostolic Succession
  • *Apostolic* (motivation1000.wordpress.com)
    Furthermore, for a person to profess to be a Christian (one who is like Christ) and do not obey God’s word in the bible is to make that person a hypocrite – hence, a hypocrites teachings is hypocrisy. In a narrower since, Doctrine is Teachings, and Teachings is Doctrine! Every movement has a doctrine, every religion has a doctrine, the Christian’s doctrine is the Holy Bible (God’s words passed on to His people by the Prophets and Apostles of the bible.
  • Acts 1 (sisterspray4me.com)
    23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they all prayed, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen 25 as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven.
  • Acts 14-15 (whatshotn.wordpress.com)
    When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
  • Wait Upon The Lord (rootstothestream.net)
    Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
    +
    Consider if there are any aspects of your life that may be best served with simply waiting on the direction of the Lord.
  • Intro to the Book of Acts and the choosing of Judas’ replacement (sundayschoolbiblestudy.wordpress.com)
    Luke gives us a brief introduction and then summarizes the 40 days after His death and resurrection when Jesus prepares the Apostles for ministry. He instructs them to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit (see The Holy Spirit and the Day of Pentecost).
  • Acts of the Apostles 4.32-5.11
    Thus far in the Acts of the Apostles the narrative has primarily been concerned with the formation of the Messianic community that would eventually become known as the Christian Church and the opposition to this community by the Jewish leaders and some of the Jewish people.
  • Acts 6:2-4…”So the Twelve gathered all the disciples
    New Testament model, and biblical clarity in the deacons’ role and function is invaluable for promoting peace and unity in our congregations.

  • It is the spirit of your Father that speaks by you
    Paul knew well the importance of God’s holy spirit when it comes to speaking the truth. He even entreated the congregation in Ephesus to make supplication for him that “ability to speak” might be given him. (Eph. 6:18-20)
  • The Greatness of the Apostle Paul / Die Größe des Apostels Paulus
    Among people critical of Christianity, the apostle Paul has a pretty bad press. Whilst quite a few of them recognize that Jesus had an exceptionally high ethic (at least for his time), Paul is generally regarded as a villain having sort of corrupted the message of his master.
    +Während nicht wenige von ihnen anerkennen, dass Jesus eine außenordentlich hohe Ethik (zumindest für seine Zeit) hatte, wird generell Paulus als einen Bösewicht angesehen, der irgendwie die Botschaft seines Meisters verdorben hat.

Politics and power first priority #2

The early days of Christianity

2.2.2. Politics and power first priority #2

Between ‘first-born’[1] indicating being the first one of the New Covenant period, the first born of the New Creation which was pre-eminent for the followers of the Messiah[2] , the New Adam opening the gateway for the new people of God, became under fire because certain people started to believe that Jesus was the first person born, even before Adam, the first man was created. This idea entered in the second period of the 2nd century and developed further in the 3rd century with Clement of Alexandria [c. 150- c. 214 CE] who used the term “protoktistos” in his Stromata[3] but later on calls Jesus “protoktistos”, [first-created][4] Clement uses the term first-created, as though it was first-born, to Clement and others, the two meant the same thing and were interchangeable and in fact, if we look at Clements same work [Stromata] just a little later on in chapter 14, page 465, we come across the expression, “tes sophias tes protoktistou tw thew”, which means, “Wisdom, which was the first of the creation of God”, here we clearly see the [genitive] “protoktistou” [of the creation]! Clement repeatedly identifies the Word with the Wisdom of God, and yet he refers to Wisdom as the first created of God; while in one passage he attaches the epithet “First-created,” and in another “First-begotten,” to the Word.

To the church fathers [pre-Nicene] the terms “prototokos” and “protoktistos” were naturally synonymous and interchangeable terms, they treat both equally and with the same meaning!

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea.

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a partnership formed (harmonia, syymphonia) wich became one of the foundations of the Christian Empire.[5] Because the religious peace of the East was threatened the Roman Emperor Constantine I convoked (325) the first ecumenical council (see Nicaea, First Council of Nicaea) to solve the problems raised by Arianism. Arianism as the theological view that Jesus was divine, but was created by and is lesser than God the Father, was officially condemned as incorrect by the Council of Nicaea in 325, which gave its seal of authority to the established trinitarian view. The Nicene Creed was formed and taken up in catechisms that require students to memorize the Nicene Creed. The Greek term homoousios [consubstantial, of the same substance] used by the council to define the Son’s relationship to the Father was not universally popular: it had been used before by the heretic Sabellius. Some, like Marcellus of Ancyra the Galatian churchman, the most violent opponent of Arianism in Asia Minor, developed the theory that the Trinity was the result of emanations from God that would ultimately revert to God in the final judgement. In attacking Arianism, lapsed into Sabellianism (Sabellius). The voices of orthodoxy, however, were not silent. In the West St. Hilary of Poitiers and in the East St. Basil the Great ( c.330–379, Greek prelate, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Doctor of the Church and one of the Four Fathers of the Greek Church with the Cappadocian theologian St. Gregory Nazianzen ( c.330–390) and St. Gregory of Nyssa ( d. 394?) continued to defend and interpret the Nicene formula. By 364 the West had a Catholic emperor in Valentinian I, and when the Catholic Theodosius I(346?–395, Roman emperor of the East (379–95) and emperor of the West (394–95), son of Theodosius, the general of Valentinian I) became emperor of the East (379), Arianism was outlawed.

St. Gregory of Nyssa (eastern ortodox icon)

St. Gregory of Nyssa (eastern ortodox icon) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second ecumenical council was convoked to reaffirm the Nicene formula (Constantinople, First Council of 381, second ecumenical council). It was convened by Theodosius I, then emperor of the East and a recent convert, to confirm the victory over Arianism. Arianism within the empire seems to have expired at once. However, Ulfilas or Wulfila [Gothic,=little wolf], (c.311–383, Gothic bishop, translator of the Bible into Gothic) was converted to Christianity at Constantinople and was consecrated bishop (341) by the Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia and carried (c.340) Homoean Arianism to the Goths living in what is now Hungary and the NW Balkan Peninsula with such success that the Visigoths and other Germanic tribes became staunch Arians. Arianism was thus carried over Western Europe and into Africa. The Vandals remained Arians until their defeat by Belisarius (c.534). Among the Lombards the efforts of Pope St. Gregory I and the Lombard queen were successful, and Arianism finally disappeared (c.650) there. In Burgundy the Catholic Franks broke up Arianism by conquest in the 6th cent. In Spain, where the conquering Visigoths were Arians, Catholicism was not established until the mid-6th cent. (by Recared), and Arian ideas survived for at least another century. Arianism brought many results — the ecumenical council, the Catholic Christological system, and even Nestorianism, and, by reaction, Monophysitism. Nestorianism on the one hand saying Jesus was to be two distinct persons, and Monophystium on the other, closely and inseparably uniteophysitism [Gr.,=belief in one nature], a heresy of the 5th and 6th cent., which grew out of a reaction against Nestorianism. It was anticipated by Apollinarianism and was continuous with the principles of Eutyches, whose doctrine had been rejected in 451 at Chalcedon (see Chalcedon, Council of ) fourth ecumenical council. [6]

The emperor Constantine completed what Paul had begun to some —a world hostile to the faith in which Jesus had lived and died. The Council of Nice in 325 determined that Church and Synagogue should have nothing in common, and that whatever smacked of the unity of God and of the freedom of man, or offered a Jewish aspect of worship, must be eliminated from Catholic Christendom.

The transfer of the seat of power from Rome to Constantinople, and the founding of the East Roman empire under Constantine I. gave to Asia Minor, and especially to Constantinople, a commanding importance in the history of the Church for several centuries. The seven oecumenical Councils from 325 to 787 were all held in that city or its neighborhood, and the doctrinal controversies on the Trinity and the person of Christ were carried on chiefly in Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt.


[1] “who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;” (Colossians 1:15 ASV)

[2]The Greek for firstborn is proto with tikto: firstborn. The Greek for first created would be proto with ktizo: first created. Paul did not use the second but the first. Second, the biblical use of the word “firstborn” is most interesting. It can mean the first born child in a family (Luke 2:7), but it can also mean “pre-eminence.” In Psalm 89:20, 27 it says, “I have found David My servant; with My holy oil I have anointed him…I also shall make him My first-born” (NASB). As you can see, David, who was the last one born in his family was called the firstborn by God. This is a title of preeminence here.” CARM(Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry)

[3] Book, 5 chapter 6, section 35, and book 5, chapter 14, section 89

[4] Stromata in ANF 2, chapter 6, page 452

[5] June, 325. (First Council of Nicaea) plus fourteen councils, held between 341 and 360

[6] H. M. Gwatkin, Studies of Arianism (2d ed. 1900); J. H. Newman, The Arians of the Fourth Century (1933, repr. 1968); J. Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (1971).

W. H. Frend, The Rise of the Monophysite Movement (1972); J. Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (1971) and The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (1974).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia® Copyright © 2007, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

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Previous: Politics and power first priority #1

Next: Politics and power first priority #3

Dutch version / Nederlandse versie:  Politiek en macht eerste prioriteit #2

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  • The Top Ten Most Important Church Councils (catholicexchange.com)
    To be deep into history, John Henry Newman wrote, is to cease to be a Protestant. Put another way, to be deep into history is to become stronger in the Catholic faith—something we are all called to do in this Year of Faith.
    +
    one key to understanding the orthodox teachings of these councils is heresy. The councils, especially the earliest ones, were essentially anti-heresy conventions, called to sort the wheat of dogma from the chaff of heresy.
    +
    In all, there were 21 ecumenical councils.
  • From Lofty Words to Faithful Action (lifegivingwater.wordpress.com)
    Arius believed that people were putting too much emphasis on the Jesus’ divinity that they were forgetting his humanity. After all, does it not say in John 3:16 that Jesus was God’s only begotten son, explicitly stating that Jesus was brought into existence by the Father?  Yet, Alexander felt that to emphasize Christ’s humanity was to strip Christ of his divinity and to make him less than fully divine.

Hellenistic influences

The early days of Christianity

2.1. Hellenistic influences

An ingenious and learned school, formed at Alexandria, had contrived, by a system of allegorical interpretation, to infuse Platonism into the Old Testament, the school at Jerusalem had been growing increasingly rigid, and interdicted any such daring exegesis.

In the first centuries of our current calendar the influence of the Greek culture in the Roman Realm was still noticeable and guarded Greece its cultural inheritance one of the most important universities of the Roman Realm which stood in Athens.

At the Athenian schools also Christians, like Prohæresios, the sophist, were found under its members.

Sophists (sophistēs, meaning “wise-ist, one who does wisdom,” and σοφός, sophós means “wise man”) were a category of traveling teachers who specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric for the purpose of teaching arete — excellence, or virtue — predominantly to young statesmen and nobility. As itinerant intellectuals they taught courses in various subjects, speculated about the nature of language and culture and employed rhetoric to achieve their purposes, generally to persuade or convince others which could be of good use for the youngsters to be able to have their say in the official meetings or ekklèsia (Ecclesia)

Many sophists’ questioned the existence and roles of traditional deities and investigated into the nature of the heavens and the earth, which prompted a popular reaction against them. The attacks of some of their followers against Socrates prompted a vigorous condemnation from his followers, including Plato the most famous student of Socrates, and Xenophon. The sophists became considered greedy instructors who used rhetorical sleight-of-hand and ambiguities of language in order to deceive, or to support fallacious reasoning. according to some the sophist was not concerned with truth and justice, but instead looked for power.

File:PopesixtusII.jpg

The martyrdom of Saint (Pope) Sixtus II and his deacons. Martyre de saint Sixte II et de ses diacres. Cote: Français 185 , Fol. 96v . Vies de saints, France, Paris – 14th century. – Richard de Montbaston et collaborateurs

Sixtus II, or Xystos, who suffered martyrdom in Rome about 258 C.T., also may have studied in Athens and is called “the son of an Athenian philosopher”. But the most noted men who frequented the schools here were Basil from Kæsareia, and Gregory from Nazianzos, about the middle of the fourth century. These schools of philosophy kept paganism alive for four centuries, but by the fifth century the ancient religion of Elevsis and Athens had practically succumbed. In the Council of Nikæa there was present a bishop from Athens. In 529 the schools of philosophy were closed. From that date Christianity had no rival in Athens.[1]

Jesus clearly taught that Jehovah is “the only true God” and that the human soul is mortal. (John 17:3; Matthew 10:28) Yet, with the death of the apostles and the weakening of the organizational structure, such clear teachings were corrupted as pagan doctrines infiltrated Christianity.

A key factor was the subtle influence of Greek philosophy. Explains The New Encyclopædia Britannica: “From the middle of the 2nd century AD Christians who had some training in Greek philosophy began to feel the need to express their faith in its terms, both for their own intellectual satisfaction and in order to convert educated pagans.” Once philosophically minded persons became Christians, it did not take long for Greek philosophy and “Christianity” to become inseparably linked.
As a result of this union, pagan doctrines such as the Trinity and the immortality of the soul seeped into tainted Christianity. These teachings, however, go back much farther than the Greek philosophers. The Greeks actually acquired them from older cultures, for there is evidence of such teachings in ancient Egyptian and Babylonian religions. As pagan doctrines continued to infiltrate Christianity, other Scriptural teachings were also distorted or abandoned.

File:HermesTrismegistusCauc.jpg

Hermes Trismegistus

The question how the Son was related to the Father (Himself acknowledged on all hands to be the one Supreme Deity), gave rise, between the years 60 and 200 C.T. to a number of Theosophic systems, called generally Gnosticism, and having for their authors Basilides, Valentinus, apologist and ascetic Tatian the Syrian or the Assyrian , writer of the Diatessaron (a  prominent Gospel harmony) and other Greek speculators.[2] According to some, it was through Gnosticism that pagan influences slipped into Christian worship. Gnosticism, they assert, served somewhat as a bridge between paganism and Christianity.[3] The Gnostic systems revealed more theosophy than theology and in the Jewish Kabbala is found a theosophy mixed with various forms of magic and occultism. The Kabbalah, which includes the tracts named Sefer Yetzirah, The Zohar, Pardes Rimonim, and Eitz Chaim, seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realisation.
The Hellenistic main source is the Corpus Hermeticum or the Hermetic Corpus, a collection of texts attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, which became again of importance in the New Age. Therein astrology and other occult sciences and spiritual renewal are addressed. Trismegistus may be a representation of the syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.

Alexandria was full of Jews, the literary as well as commercial centre of the East, and the connecting link between the East and the West. There the largest libraries were collected; there the Jewish mind came into close contact with the Greek, and the religion of Moses with the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. There Philo wrote, while Christ taught in Jerusalem and Galilee, and his works were destined to exert a great influence on Christian exegesis through the Alexandrian fathers.

During the fourth century Egypt was going to give to the church the Arian heresy, the Athanasian orthodoxy, and the monastic piety of St. Antony and St. Pachomius, which spread with irresistible force over Christendom.

The theological literature of Egypt was chiefly Greek. Most of the early manuscripts of the Greek Scriptures — including probably the invaluable Sinaitic and Vatican MSS. — were written in Alexandria. But already in the second century the Scriptures were translated into the vernacular language, in three different dialects. What remains of these versions is of considerable weight in ascertaining the earliest text of the Greek Testament.

To the Jews, that were the mostly receptive for Hellenic influences, belonged the priests. For many of them meant the accepting of the Hellenism a manner to have Judaism going with its time.

While many Jews accepted the Hellenism, a new group calling themselves Hasidim or Chassidim — devout people (literally “loving kindness”, diverted of the Hebrew חסידות (chassidoet), meaning “piety”) — encouraged people to keep stricter obedience to the Law of Moses. The first group of Hasidim, also called the Assideans or Hasideans (the Anglicized form, derived through the Greek asidaioi, of the Hebrew Hasidim, “the pious”, men endowed with grace (Psalm 39:5; 148:14)), were an ancient Jewish sect that developed between 300 B.C.E. and 175 B.C.E. They were the most rigid adherents of Judaism in contradistinction to those Jews who were beginning to be affected by Hellenistic influences. The Hasidim led the resistance to the Hellenizing campaign of Antiochus IV of Syria, and they figured largely in the early phases of the revolt of the Maccabees or Machabees, Jewish family of the 2d and 1st cent. B.C.E. that brought about a restoration of Jewish political and religious life. They are also called Hasmoneans or Asmoneans after their ancestor, Hashmon. Their ritual strictness has caused some to see them as forerunners of the Pharisees. Throughout the Talmudic period numerous figures were referred to as Hasidim. [4]

The Hellenization of the Jews in the pre-Hasmonean period was not universally resisted. Generally, the Jews accepted foreign rule when they were only required to pay tribute, and otherwise allowed to govern themselves internally. Nevertheless, Jews were divided between those favoring Hellenization and those opposing it, and were divided over allegiance to the Ptolemies or Seleucids. When the High Priest Simon II died in 175 BCE, conflict broke out between supporters of his son Onias III (who opposed Hellenization, and favored the Ptolemies) and his son Jason (who favored Hellenization, and favored the Seleucids). A period of political intrigue followed, with priests such as Menelaus bribing the king to win the High Priesthood, and accusations of murder of competing contenders for the title. The result was a brief civil war. The Tobiads, a philo-Hellenistic party, succeeded in placing Jason into the powerful position of High Priest. He established an arena for public games close by the Temple. (Ginzberg, Lewis. “The Tobiads and Oniads.”. Retrieved 2007-01-23. Jewish Encyclopedia.) Author Lee I. Levine notes, “The ‘piece de resistance’ of Judaean Hellenization, and the most dramatic of all these developments, occurred in 175 BCE, when the high priest Jason converted Jerusalem into a Greek polis replete with gymnasium and ephebeion (2 Maccabees 4). Whether this step represents the culmination of a 150-year process of Hellenization within Jerusalem in general, or whether it was only the initiative of a small coterie of Jerusalem priests with no wider ramifications, has been debated for decades.” (Levine, Lee I. Judaism and Hellenism in antiquity: conflict or confluence? Hendrickson Publishers, 1998. pp. 38–45. Via “The Impact of Greek Culture on Normative Judaism.”)

The ordinary people were disgusted by the Hellenised priests and chose more and more party for the Chassidim. There broke a period of martyrdom when Jews in the whole country were forced to go along or to settle with pagan happenings and offerings or to die.[5]

A gold multiple of “Unconquered Constantine” with Sol Invictus, struck in 313. The use of Sol’s image appealed to both the educated citizens of Gaul, who would recognize in it Apollo’s patronage of Augustus and the arts; and to Christians, who found solar monotheism less objectionable than the traditional pagan pantheon

Constantine (C., Flavius Valerius Constantinus) was during the decline period of the Roman Realm the Big Emperor (306–337 C. T.) and tried to merge Christianity with particular pagan customs and doctrines. He undertook the first steps to make this merger religion as the official state religion. Accordingly Greece became a part of Christendom. He moved the capital of the realm of Rome to Byzantium, which he named in honour of himself Constantinople.

In 321 C. T. Constantine ordained that the Sunday (Lat.: dies Solis, an old title that was connected with astrology and sun worshipping, not Sabbatum [Sabbath] or dies Domini [day of the Lord]) would be a day of rest for everybody, except for the farmers. Constantine moreover placed Sunday under the protection of the State. Constantine speaks not of the day of the Lord, but of the everlasting day of the sun as the believers in Mithras also observed Sunday as well as Christmas.

The winged sun was an ancient (3rd millennium BC) symbol of Horus, later identified with Ra

Belief in the old polytheism had been shaken; in more stolid natures, as Roman Emperor Diocletian, it showed its strength only in the form of superstition, magic, and divination. Probably many of the more noble-minded recognized the truth contained in Judaism and Christianity, but believed that they could appropriate it without being obliged on that account to renounce the beauty of other worships. Such a man was the Emperor Alexander Severus; another thus minded was Aurelian, whose opinions were confirmed by Christians like Paul of Samosata. Not only Gnostics and other heretics, but Christians who considered themselves faithful, held in a measure to the worship of the sun. Constantine cherished this mistaken belief.[6]


[1] Christian Athens, Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[2] Arianism., Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[3] Notion and characteristics, Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[4] In the 18th Century Eastern Europethis movement would be taken up again for the third time by Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer (1698-1760) also known asIsrael Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic Judaism.

[5] S. Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (1962); S. G. Kramer, God and Man in the Sefer Hasidim (1966); A. L. Lowenkopf, The Hasidim (1973).

[6] The original Catholic Encyclopedia

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Some Jews are known to have engaged in non-surgical foreskin restoration in order to join the dominant cultural practice of socializing naked in the gymnasium, where their circumcisionwould have been a social stigma.

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Previous: The early days of Christianity 1.2. Considered as a danger 1.2.2. Minimizing the power of God’s Force the Holy Spirit

Next: The early days of Christianity 2.2.1. Politics and power first priority

  • contemplative political philosophy (acourseaboutnothing.wordpress.com)
    Contemplation has always been at the heart of liberal education.  Contemplation was known as practice, the practice of political philosophy.  All who had intimations of Socrates’ presence and purpose knew it.  Contemplation was (and is) an activity of mind-body.  Athletics (what the Greeks called gymnastics) was no less education than music and the performing arts.  Together these formed an organic whole in the image of a human creature.
  • Local Deities? Mystery Cults and Osiris and Isis. Soul and Spirit. (jamesbradfordpate.wordpress.com)
    Koester says that “The old Greek religion was a religion of city gods”, in which gods were the patrons of cities.  He says on pages 164-165 that “None of these cults would ever claim to be a world religion since the belief that deities were bound to particular holy places was still very much alive.”  But Koester narrates that people moved around and economics, politics, and science became increasingly universal, and so people were becoming dissatisfied with local deities.
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    In Christianity, Jesus dies and rises again, whereas it is not said in the myth of Osiris that Osiris was resurrected, but Osiris after his death goes to the realm of the dead to rule, while his son takes charge of this world.
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    Koester makes interesting points about the goddess Isis.  For one, he says that the woman in Revelation 12 resembles Isis, which stood out to me, as one who was raised in a denomination that tried to disassociate from the “pagan” elements of the “world’s” Christianity.  Second, according to Koester on page 189, Isis in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses 11.5.1-3 is treated as the “one and only god” and “ruler of the the universe” (Koester’s words).  As I look at the passage itself, there seems to be therein an acknowledgement that other gods exist, but there’s also an affirmation that Isis is “The single form that fuses all gods and goddesses” (the passage’s words).
  • Baptism of Pagan Practices (bythepen.me)
    Mount Carmel was previously a pagan site. In the Old Testament, we see that it was there that Yahwhey and Elijah took on Jezebel and the priests of Baal. Anti-Catholic conspiracy theorists eat this up, of course, but in reality, history has unfolded with Our Lord as the victor. This is just one of the several instances where that ancient serpent has been “crushed by the heel of Our Lady” – one of Christ’s most powerful tools.
    +
    there were bound to have been some parallels of Christian truth among pre-Christian beliefs and rituals. The early Christians were well aware of this and sometimes used it to their advantage in order to convert the pagans. In fact, St. Paul does this very thing in the Acts of the Apostles. I think of Paul as the father of the interpolation tactic described there. Unlike the Twelve, he was well educated in Hellenistic as well as Jewish law and religion, which is why I believe Christ chose him with a special purpose as “Apostle to the Gentiles”. He was a huckleberry who knew his stuff and how to use it to reach them.
  • Ancient Hellenistic Harbor Discovered in Acre, Israel – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
    An ancient harbor where warships may have docked 2,300 years ago has been discovered by archaeologists in the Israeli port city of Acre.The harbor, the largest and most important found in Israel from the Hellenistic period, was uncovered during archaeological excavations carried out as part of a seawall conservation project, the Israel Antiquities Authority said today. Among the finds were large mooring stones incorporated in the quay and used to secure sailing vessels, the IAA said.
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    The excavation will continue in those sections of the harbor that extend in the direction of the sea, the IAA said. The archaeologists will try to clarify if there is a connection between the destruction of the harbor and the Hasmonean uprising in 167 B.C., the destruction wrought by Ptolemy in 312 B.C. or some other event.
  • We owe a cock to Asclepius (ins2ition.wordpress.com)
    SO were the final, last Words said by Socrates.
    No one could help by then, Even Hippocrates.
    if YOU’VE said it once you’ve said One thousand times.
    I Don’t only say it because that line rhymes.
  • Live as the world wishes you to and accept all events: Stoic Philosophy (by Devin) (lvv4ublyth.wordpress.com)
    Stoicism was founded in Athens by Zeno in early 3rd century, it was originally taught by him at the Stoa Poikile. Another famous stoic is Marcus Aurelius, a famous roman emperor. The discipline of Stoicism teaches self-control as a means of defeating destructive emotions, which they believed were caused by errors in judgment and would not be felt by a true sage. Stoicism became the foremost philosophy among the leaders of Hellenistic and Roman society.
  • Pherecydes of Leros [Pherecydes of Athens] (vonfaustus.blogspot.com)
    Dionysus leading the Horae.
    [Day of Saturn + Hour of Mercury]
    Hermes I call, whom Fate decrees to dwell in the dire path which leads to deepest hell
    O Bacchic [Bakkheios] Hermes, progeny divine of Dionysius [Dionysos], parent of the vine,
    And of celestial Venus [Aphrodite] Paphian queen, dark eye-lash’d Goddess of a lovely mien:

Raising digression

The early days of Christianity

1.2.       Considered as a danger

1.2.3.                    Raising digression

Christianity reached proconsular Africa in the second, perhaps already at the close of the first century. There was constant intercourse with Italy. It spread very rapidly over the fertile fields and burning sands of Mauritania and Numidia. Cyprian could assemble in 258 a synod of eighty-seven bishops, and in 308 the schismatical Donatists held a council of two hundred and seventy bishops at Carthage. The dioceses, of course, were small in those days.

File:Great Isaiah Scroll Ch53.jpg

Portion of a photographic reproduction of the Great Isaiah Scroll, the best preserved of the biblical scrolls found at Qumran. It contains the entire Book of Isaiah in Hebrew, apart from some small damaged parts. This manuscript was probably written by a scribe of the Jewish sect of the Essenes around the second century BC. It is therefore over a 1000 years older than the oldest Masoretic manuscripts.
This picture shows all of Isaiah 53 (and is mostly identical to the Masoretic version).

The oldest Latin translation of the Bible, miscalled “Itala” (the basis of Jerome’s “Vulgata”), was made probably in Africa and for Africa, not in Rome and for Rome, where at that time the Greek language prevailed among Christians. Latin theology, too, was not born in Rome, but in Carthage. Tertullian (Tertullianius) is its father. Minutius Felix, Arnobius, and Cyprian bear witness to the activity and prosperity of African Christianity and theology in the third century. It reached its highest perfection during the first quarter of the fifth century in the intellect and burning heart of St. Augustin, but soon after his death (430) it was buried first beneath the Vandal barbarism, and in the seventh century by the Mohammedan conquest. Yet his writings led Christian thought in the Latin Church throughout the dark ages, stimulated the Reformers, and became a vital force for many today.

From the second half of the first century C. T. the going astray increased and apostasy entered however the municipalities and many were influenced through it. So-called Christians got integrated with the nations of the world and could not distinguish themselves of the world. After the so-called conversion of Constantine in the fourth century the heathen streamed in large numbers to the form of Christianity that then led the dominant tone. With which consequence? The book Early Christianity and Paganism declares: “The relatively small group really serious religiously went lost in the large mass so-called Christians.” How true were to be Paul’s words! It was as if Christianity were swallowed by pagan decay. And nowhere this rot was clearer noticeable than in the celebration of holidays.

The first fifteen bishops of Christianity were circumcised Jews, they observed the Law and were rather unfriendly to heathenism[1], while they held friendly intercourse with the leaders of the synagogue[2]. Many a halakic and haggadic discussion are recorded in the Talmud as having taken place between the Christians and the Rabbis[3]. Probably the Christian Congregation, or Church of the Saints, did not distinguish itself in outward form from the “Ḳehala Ḳaddisha”[4] at Jerusalem, under which name the Essene community, to which John the Baptist seems to have belonged, survived the downfall of the Temple[5].

Between the ethical and the apocalyptic teachings of the Gospels and the Epistles and the teachings of the Essenes of the time, as given in Philo, in Hippolytus, and in the Ethiopic and Slavonic Books of Enoch, as well as in the rabbinic literature, the resemblance is such that the influence of the latter upon the former can scarcely be denied. Nevertheless, the attitude of Jesus and his disciples is altogether anti-Essene, a denunciation and disavowal of Essene rigor and asceticism; but, singularly enough, while the Roman war appealed to men of action such as the Zealots, men of a more peaceful and visionary nature, who had previously become Essenes, were more and more attracted by Christianity, and thereby gave the Church its otherworldly character; while Judaism took a more practical and worldly view of things, and allowed Essenism to live only in tradition and secret lore (see Clementina; Ebionites; Gnosticism).[6] The Essenes broke not with the official priesthood, took no part at religious services and offerings in the temple, but otherwise held themselves strict at the Law. As the Pharisees, with who they in many respects shown some similarity, they fell prey to Hellenic influences and went to believe in an immortal soul.

The apostles were aware that the Gospel must be preached to all nations, and then the consummation shall come, and therefore they expressed their hope people would continue to study the Word of God and evangelise.


[1] “Historia Sacra,” Sulpicius Severus, ii. 31; Eusebius, “Hist. Eccl.” iv. 5; compare Matt. xv. 26)

[2] see Grätz, “Gesch. der Juden,” iv. 373 et seq.; and Ebionites, Minim, and Nazarenes

[4] Meshullam formed a society called “Ḳehala Ḳaddisha” (the Holy Community), because its members devoted one-third of the day to the study of the Torah, one-third to prayer, and the remaining third to work (Yer. Ma’as. Sheni 53d; Eccl. R. ix. 9).
Read more: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=758&letter=S#ixzz15AWdlkt6

[5] Ber. 9b; compare Eccl. R. ix. 9: ‘Edah Ḳedoshah

  • 7 Christological heresies that you should know about… (patheos.com)
    Ebionism teaches that Jesus is just a man and not divine. The Ebionites were Jewish Christians in the early church. The Ebionites rejected the virgin birth, regarding Jesus as a man normally born of Joseph and Mary; they held he was the predestined Messiah, and in this capacity he would return to reign on earth. There are plenty of “Ebionites” around today. Everybody who says Jesus was just a good man or one prophet or holy man or good religious teacher among many.
  • BONUS: An Introduction to Colossians (kingdomnewtestament.wordpress.com)
    We know that by the second century AD there was a Christian philosophy in place in many churches that accepted a dualistic worldview.  A Gnostic thought the world was composed of two parts: the evil and degrading physical layer of life, and the pure and edifying spiritual aspects of life.
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    Consider how Gnosticism would affect beliefs and ethics.  They did not believe that Jesus was physical.  Jesus did not die a physical death on a cross, it only seemed that way.  Our greatest mission is to escape this physical world, not redeem it.  There were also two opposing views on how to deal with this physical body we live in: 1) deny your flesh and beat it into submission to your superior spiritual willpower, and 2) indulge your flesh and satisfy your physical desires wantonly showing that you have the spiritual strength within your pure soul to wallow in the mire of life and not be affected adversely by your physical behaviors. If an early form of Gnosticism was present in Colossae, the details of the letter suggest it was of the ascetic variety.
  • Ancient Heresies and Why They Still Matter (steakandabible.com)
    Johnson said “Gnosticism is an attempt to blend pagan philosophy with Christianity.” “This heresy is so diverse and so complex that it is notoriously difficult to define,” but “the central idea” is that “Gnostics believe that the key to saving truth lies in a hidden knowledge that goes beyond what is revealed in Scripture.” Salvation requires “possessing the secret knowledge.”
  • A Prayer for Sunday (Irenaeus of Lyon) (marccortez.com)
    Irenaeus of Lyons, who died sometime around AD 202. One of the most important early theologians of the Christian church, Irenaeus is best known for his Against Heresies, a lengthy refutation of gnosticism, which was one of the major challenges to orthodox Christianity at the time.
  • There’s no 3rd chance. (revessie.com)
    Peter was trying to tell us that there were false doctrines already circulating. Imagine the level that we are at now.There was a man named Cerinthus who believed in heresy so much that even John ran away from a Bath House when he saw him in there and told people to run also. This is how bad this man was. He was a mystical believer. He allegedly began the Millennial heresy. Watch what you believe in.
  • Noisy Worship versus the Discipline of Silence (kiwianglo.wordpress.com)
    A suspicion of silence took root in the second and third centuries, when bishops penned diatribes against the so-called gnostikoi, Christians who claimed that God was most fully known as unknowable, and so therefore in silence. To be branded a gnostic was to be cast out of the fold. Then, in the fourth century, came the conversion of Constantine. The church aligned itself to secular power and now what you thought was of political importance too. Thereafter, western rites included creeds to be audibly confessed. They policed who was in and who out.

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