I beleive the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated, copied, and interpreted correctly. In the course of my studies of the Bible, I've discovered that it has a long and convoluted history. So, these are my discoveries and my musings of Christian history and doctrines.

Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Tips to Help in Understanding Biblical Imagery

Before diving headfirst into the meaning of Biblical symbols, in this case the cherubim and flaming sword, and other symbols used in the Adam and Eve story, I thought it might be useful to forth some ideas that I think are essential in helping to understanding Biblical symbols.

In the footnotes of The Lost Language of Symbolism, Gaskill quotes from a book called Dictionary of Biblical Imagery:

"Bible dictionaries and commentaries commonly err in … [that] some resources channel all their energies into uncovering the original context of an image, making sure that we get the literal picture but never asking what the feelings or meanings are elicited by the image. Images call for interpretation, and to leave biblical imagery uninterpreted is a great waste. The images of the Bible exist to tell us something about the godly life, something they will not do if they are allowed to remain as physical phenomena only. In short, a common failing of commentaries and dictionaries is that they do not adequately speak to the issue of significance (what an image signifies by way of meaning)." (1)

In another footnote, Gaskill quotes another scholar as writing:
"The significance of a symbol is based upon the literal or actual nature and characteristics of that which is being used as a symbol. A symbol is meant to represent something essentially different from itself. The link between that which is used as a symbol and that which is symbolized is the characteristic common to both." (2)
1. Ryken, Wilhoit, and Longman. Dictionnary of Biblical Imagery (Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove, Ill., 1998), p. xiv-xv.
2. Conner, kevin J.. Interpreting the Symbols and Types (City Bible Publishing: Portland, Ore, 1992), p.13.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Garden of Eden Symbolism - The East. Part 2.

Doing a word search in my computerized scriptures program, I verified that east is the direction used most in the scriptures. According to Alonzo L. Gaskill, east represented God, "If something came from the east it was representative of the idea that it was of God, sent by God, or godly in nature. Both blessings and punishments were believed to have been sent from the east (i.e., from God). People from the east were often respected for their wisdom and perceived as being messengers from God." (1)

One thing in which I disagree with Dr. Gaskill is that he claims that Adam and Eve moved east after being expelled from the garden of Eden, and consequently their fall into mortality was a movement toward God. Where does Genesis say that? All Genesis says is that "God sent him forth from the garden" and "drove out the man" (2), but it doesn't say in what direction. Not east. Not west. Not south. Not north. It just doesn't say. All it says is that they were expelled.

Genesis does say that God placed the cherubim and flaming sword at the east end of the garden "to guard" or PREVENT THEM from partaking of the Tree of Life, which means they were PREVENTED FROM GOING EAST towards God. What's the tree of life? Who said "I am the light and the life of the world."?(3). The flaming sword is BETWEEN God and man. If the flaming sword is on the east end (in front of God, or in God's presence) and I walk in an eastward direction towards God the flaming sword is going to be in the way. I am going bump into that flaming sword that is set there in the east (in front of and before God's presence), which is set there to prevent me from going further east and from entering into God's presence; I am going to get burned and chopped up into mince meat. Somebody give this guy a compass. Where does it say that they were moving towards the flaming sword? It doesn't say that anywhere.

On the other hand, what is the meaning of west? If I face west, my back is to the east. Have you ever heard the phrase "He turned his back on me"? Does it not mean that somebody has ignored you, set at naught your counsel, or avoided you? And isn't that what Adam and Eve did when they partook of the forbidden fruit, ignored God's counsel to not partake of it? If east is the presence of God, then going west would mean going away from God's presence. Isn't that what happened when they were expelled from the Garden? They were being driven AWAY from His presence. Can you and I enter into God's presence any time we feel like it? No.

Not surprisingly, scholars noticed that references regarding the west are bad and undesirable, including sorrow, chaos, death, evil, dark, etc...(4) Note that God said to Adam "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; and in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life." And to Eve He said, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception, in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children..." If they are heading east as Gaskill claims then why are they experiencing conditions associated with the west? It is because they are in the west, and heading west, away from God's presence, with their back towards Him, symbolically speaking of course.

(West) Adam ---------- Flaming Sword (East) --- God

1. Gaskill, Alonso L., The Lost Language of Symbolism (Deseret Book: Salt Lake City, Utah), p. 150.

2. Genesis 3:23-24, King James Version

3. 3 Nephi 9:18, The Book of Mormon

4. The Lost Language of Symbolism, p. 166.

5. Genesis 3:16-17, KJV

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Garden of Eden Symbolism - The East. Part 1

The creation story in the book of Genesis states that "...the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed." (1) One day the thought came to me "East of what? On a round globe, of which the Earth is, without some point of reference, east could be anywhere." Then we read in the account of the creation that after Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, they were sent out of the Garden of Eden.

"Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
So He drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."(2)
I thought "Why does God only guard the east end of the garden? If Adam wanted to, couldn't he circle back and come back in through the north, south or the west ends? Obviously, he couldn't if there were other barriers to prevent him from doing so, but the only barrier mentioned is the Cherubim and the flaming sword." Because of the ambiguous nature of these verses, I have come to the conclusion that the account is symbolic in nature, even if it really did happen. Rabbi's have long held that though the lives of the great patriarchs were real and really did occur, at the same time their lives were symbolic and prophetic in and of themselves. I remember hearing a Rabbi say that the stories of the Old Testament are more than quaint little stories - there is more information there that doesn't meet the eye. If the account of Adam and Eve is a parable or an allegory of sorts in addition to actually having had occurred, then it would be imperative to understand what meaning the people of that culture placed on the individual components of the parable.

A good place to start would be the whole concept of "East". The following definition concerning the east is found in Sir William Smith's Bible Dictionary:

"East. The Hebrew term kedem properly means that which is before or in front of a person, and was applied to the east from the custom of turning that direction when describing the points of the compass, before, behind, the right and the left representing respectively east, west, south and north. Job 23:8,9." (3)
If Smith is correct concerning the meaning of the term "east" and we apply it to the previously quoted verses, then we should understand that a garden was planted before God's face. Sending Adam towards the west would be synonymous with Adam being sent out of God's presence.

Justin Martyr (Apologist and martyr. Died circa 165 A.D.) writes in his letter entitled Dialogue with a Jew about how the scriptures are full of signs and symbols. Justin discusses several names by which God is known by in the Old Testament. He quotes an unspecified source as saying "His name is the East." (4) The translator or editor of Justin's work references the scripture Zechariah 6:12 which actually reads "...whose name is The BRANCH;..." in 5 different Old Testament translations that I've read.

I did a word search for the phrase "His name is the East" and also the words "name" and "east" together on the computer, but found no references anywhere in the Bible. Either Justin misquoted Zechariah or he is quoting a source that is not in our current Bible or there is a linguistic, cultural, or kabbalistic connection between the words "branch" and "east" that I am not aware of. In fact, our current King James version of the old testament comes from the Masoretic text and Justin accuses the Jews of leaving many things out of that particular translation when they translated the Old testament into Greek. He apparently was using the Septuagint. It is also quite possible that he is quoting a source that we do not have available to us today.

1. Genesis 2:8, King James Version

2. Genesis 3:23-24, KJV

3. Smith, William, Sir, 1813-1893. A Dictionary of the Bible (
Thomas Nelson Publishers: London, England), p. 154.
4. Dialog With Trypho, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Roberts, Alexander, D.D., and Donaldson, James, LL.D. (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.: Grand Rapids Michigan), Vol 1, p. 252.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Women Speaking In the Ancient Church, Part 2

Perhaps the answer to that last question can be answered by understanding what a prophet is or how does one prophesy? According to Sir William Smith's Bible Dictionary, the term prophet signifies this:

"The ordinary Hebrew word for prophet is nabi, derived from a verb signifying 'to bubble forth' like a fountain; hence the word means one who announces or pours forth the declarations of God. The English word comes from the Greek prophetes, which signifies in classical Greek one who speaks for another, specially one who speaks for a god, and so interprets his will to man; hence it's essential meaning is 'an interpreter'. The use of the word in the modern sense as 'one who predicts' is post classical… 'Prophesy comprehends three things: singing by the dictates of the Spirit; and understanding and explaining the mysterious, hidden sense of Scripture by an immediate illumination and motion of the Spirit.'…" (1)
So, by definition, to prophesy in church is to speak in church - or anywhere for that matter. There are numerous accounts in the Bible where women prophets actually spoke out loud. Consider Miriam, the sister of Aaron (Exodus), Deborah in Judges 4, Huldah in 2 Kgs. 22 and 2 Chr. 34, Noadiah in Nehemiah 6:14, Anna in Luke 2, the four daughters of Phillip in Acts 21. Moreover, Peter quotes Joel's prophesies (with some minor variations) regarding the last days:
"…I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:" (2)
I also noticed that in 1 Corinthians 14:5 it says:
"I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying."
Note that Paul says "ye all". Was he writing to an audience of all males or to mixed company? The New Revised Standard Bible replaces the pronoun "he" in verse 5 (King James version) with the genderless term "one". The New Jerusalem Bible uses the terms "those", "you", and "they" (3). I don't speak Greek, but I strongly suspect that the pronoun used in the Greek manuscript and translated into the King James Bible as "he" is actually a pronoun that implies both male and female.

Regarding 14:34, Bart writes:

"It has often been noted that the passage in chapter 14 also appears intrusive in it's own literary context: Both before and after his instructions for women to keep silent, Paul is speaking not about women in church, but about prophets in church. When the verses on women are removed, the passage flows neatly without a break. This too suggests that these verses were inserted into the passage later. Moreover, it is striking that the verses in question appear in different locations in some of our surviving manuscripts of Paul's letters as if they had originally appeared as a marginal note (drawn from the teaching of the forged letter of 1 Timothy?) and inserted as judged appropriate in different parts of the chapter. On these grounds, a number of scholars have concluded that Paul's instructions for women to be silent in 1 Corinthians may not be from Paul, just as the letter to Timothy is not from Paul." (4)
And so, once again we see that someone has inserted their own ideas, opinions, philosophies, etc., into the scriptures, and that it was propagated through time by scribe after scribe until it has been accepted as Gospel truth by many who are ignorant and uneducated regarding the origins of the scriptures and the errors of those copying the scriptures.

1. Smith, Sir William, L.L.D.. Smith's Bible Dictionary, revised and edited by F.N. and M.A. Peloubet (Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville, Tennessee, 1986), p534-535.

2. Acts 2:17-18, KJV.

3. The Complete Parallel Bible (Oxford University Press: Oxford, New York, 1993).

4. Ehrman, Bart D.. The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew (Oxford University Press: Oxford, New York, 2003), p38.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Women Speaking In the Ancient Church, Part 1

Women in the ancient Christian church. Were they allow to speak or not?

Lately, I have been reading in the book The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew by Bart D. Ehrman of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In one chapter he discusses the forgery entitled The Acts of Paul and Thecla. We know it is a forgery because according to Tertullian, a North African Christian writer who lived about the late 2nd and early 3rd century A.D., the forger was caught and confessed to having wrote it. (1)

In that chapter, Bart delves into a discussion regarding the rights and privileges of women in the early Christian church and made some points that I thought were rather interesting. He points out that the apostle Paul writes:

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law." (2)

"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." (3)
With regards to Timothy, Bart writes that many scholars are of the opinion that Paul did not write it because "it's vocabulary, writing style, theological modes of expression, and presupposed historical situation all differ significantly from what can be found in Paul's authentic letters." (4)

But what about 1 Corinthians 14? In chapter 11, Paul writes:
"But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven." (5)
So, as Bart sees it, and I agree, according to this verse it is okay for women to pray and prophesy, as long as their heads are covered. But how do you do that in silence? Did the apostle Paul contradict himself, or is there another explanation?

1. Tertullian, On Baptism, Chapter 17.

2. 1 Corinthians 14:34, King James Version (KJV).

3. 1 Timothy 2:12-14, KJV.

4. Ehrman, Bart D.. The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew (Oxford University Press: Oxford, New York, 2003), p38.

5. 1 Corinthians 11:5, KJV.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The 12 Patriarchs and 3 Degrees of Glory

Something else that I found interesting in reading the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is a description of three separate heavens found in the The Testament of Levi. The lowest heaven is reserved for the wicked and is the darkest. Each heaven increases in it's level of brightness. The highest heaven is reserved for God.

8. Then there fell upon me a sleep, and I beheld a high mountain, and I was upon it.
9. And behold the heavens were opened and an angel of God said to me, Levi enter.
10. And I entered from the first heaven, and I saw there a great sea hanging.

11. And further I saw a second heaven far brighter and more brilliant, for there was a boundless light also therein.

12. And I said to the angel, Why Is this so? And the angel said to me, Marvel not at this, for thou shalt see another heaven more brilliant and incomparable.

13. And when thou hast ascended thither, Thou shalt stand near the Lord, And shalt be His minister, And shalt declare His mysteries to men, And shall proclaim concerning Him that shall redeem Israel.

14. And by thee and Judah shall the Lord appear among men saving every race of men.

15. And from the Lord's portion shall be thy life, And He shall be thy field and vineyard, And fruits, gold, and silver.

16. Hear, therefore, regarding the heavens which have been shown to thee.

17. The lowest is for this cause gloomy unto thee, in that it beholds all the unrighteous deeds of men.

18. And it has fire, snow, and ice made ready for the day of judgement, in the righteous judgement of God; for in it are all the spirits of the retributions for vengeance on men.

19. And in the second are the hosts of the armies which are ordained for the day of judgement, to work vengeance on the spirits of deceit and of Beliar.

20. And above them are the holy ones.

21. And in the highest of all dwelleth the Great Glory, far above all holiness.

22. In [the heaven next to] it are the archangels, who minister and make propitiation to the Lord for all the sins of ignorance of the righteous;

23. Offering to the Lord a sweet- smelling savour, a reasonable and a bloodless offering.

24. And [in the heaven below this] are the angels who bear answers to the angels of the presence of the Lord.

25. And in the heaven next to this are thrones and dominions, in which always they offer praise to God.(1)
Compare this to the apostle Paul’s description of the resurrection in 1st Corinthians 15:40-42, and Doctrine and Covenants, Section 76. Regardless of whether or not this was written in the 2nd century B.C. or redacted in the 2nd century A.D., it is apparent that the early Christians had a very different view of heaven than the "Orthodox" or Protestant churches have nowadays.

I also noticed that Levi starts out by saying that "I beheld a high mountain, and I was upon it." The very first thing I thought of was the vision of Nephi. Nephi writes:

"… I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceeding high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot."
Is this similarity in writing style a coincidence? Did Joseph Smith copy all this? Did he even know the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs even existed?

1. Levi 1:20-25, The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, The Forgotten Books of Eden (Alpha House, Inc.: Newfoundland, 1927), p. 227.
1 Nephi 11:1, The Book of Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Salt Lake City, Utah, 1979), p.17.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Lost City of Atlantis or Nephites and Jaradites?

Well, I just finished watching Investigative History on the History Channel tonight. It was about the searchings of several scholars for the lost city of Atlantis. Some of the interesting points were the Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula. They showed statues of elephants, and stone carvings of bearded men. The local natives can’t grow beards. Something else was mentioned regarding mitochondrial(?) DNA research. It was briefly mentioned that there was a connection between various groups of native Americans to a small group in the middle east. Also, they mentioned that a city was recently discovered about 2,000 feet beneath the ocean just west of Cuba.

The Lost City of Atlantis? Somebody needs to give these people a Book of Mormon.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Part 5

Talk about mixups. Here is a modern day mixup. The book entitled the Forgotten Books of Eden claims that it's version of the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs is taken from the book The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament by R. H. Charles. The web site www.earlychristianwritings.com claims that it's version is from the same book written by R.H. Charles. Yet as you can see, there are some very significant differences between the Forgotten Books version and the web site version.

The Forgotten books of Eden, an extract from the Testament of Benjamin:

"And there shall arise in the latter days one beloved of the Lord, of the tribe of Judah and Levi, a doer of His good pleasure in his mouth, with new knowledge enlightening the Gentiles. Until the consummation of the age shall he be in the synagogues of the Gentiles, and among their rulers, as a strain of music in the mouth of all."
www.earlychristianwritings.com, the same extract from the Testament of Benjamin:
"And there shall rise up from my seed in the latter times one] beloved of the Lord, [hearing upon the earth His voice] and a doer of the good pleasure of His will, [enlightening with new knowledge all the Gentiles, even the light of knowledge, bursting in upon Israel for salvation and tearing away from them like a wolf, and giving to the synagogue of the Gentiles. Until the consummation of the age shall he be in the synagogues of the Gentiles, and among their rulers, as a strain of music in the mouth of all."

One says a prophet will rise up from the seed of Benjamin, and another from Judah and Levi. From the same book translated by the same author? I don’t think so. And what’s this business about a wolf?

If people can’t even copy text correctly in the 21st century, what makes any one think that text was EVER copied correctly throughout the rest of the Earth’s history?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Part 4

And yet, the saga continues.

Roberts and Donaldson say that only four manuscripts exist in Greek today. One is at the University Library of Cambridge, another at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, another at the Vatican Library at Rome, and last of all, one exists on the island of Patmos. They say that there is a considerable amount of differences between the manuscript at the University Library of Cambridge and the one at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, the latter of which has a large amount of text missing in places, in some cases entire chapters.

The Greek text of the Patriarchs was printed in 1698 by someone called Grabe, which was supposedly made from the document at the University Library of Cambridge, but it was actually made from an "very" inaccurate transcript of it. In a subsequent printing of the Patriarchs, some of the text was properly corrected. Then at some point in time, Bishop Robert Grosseteste's Latin version, which is supposed to be a very accurate translation, was altered to match Grabe's incorrect rendering of the Patriarchs. Another person by the name of Fabricus printed a version in 1714 which was basically a knockoff of the Grabe version. Fabricus made a second edition in 1722 that was less accurate than his own first version. Last of all, Roberts made a modern translation of the manuscript sometime after 1869, including with it a statement regarding all the differences of the aforementioned publications.

Geez. I know I sometimes make mistakes when I copy text, but entire chapters? Really now. And then to alter an accurate Latin version to match an incorrect Greek version. Is that craziness or what? Is it any wonder that scholars are amazed that so many documents have lasted as long as the have? All this reminds me of reading something similar to a mystery novel.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Part 3

In reading Roberts and Donaldson's introduction to their modern English translation of the Patriarchs, it turns out that the version of the Twelve Patriarchs discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls is not the only version in existence. Scholars know that at least some Christians used it because it is thought that Tertullian quoted (1) from it and Origen (2) mentions it specifically by name. That is why some think that it was written before the end of the 2nd century A.D.. After that, however, not much is known or mentioned about it. It just seems to have disappeared off the radar. There are some suspected references to it as late as the 500's A.D., but it is not known with absolute certainty.

Then in the 13th century, over 1,000 years after Origen's days, the book mysteriously resurfaces in Greece. Roberts and Donaldson quote an obscure document that states that a man by the name of Master John de Basingstokes, Archdeacon of Leicester, talked to another man by the name of Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, and told the Bishop of some discoveries he made while on a visit to Greece. John says:

"that when he was studying at Athens he had seen and heard from learned Greek doctors certain things unknown to the Latins. Among these he found the Testaments of the XII. Patriarchs, that is to say, of the sons of Jacob. Now it is plain that these really form part of the sacred volume, but have been long hidden through the jealousy of the Jews, on account of the evident prophecies about Christ which are clearly seen in them." (3)

Roberts and Donaldson then quote some Matthew Paris as writing:
"At this same time, Robert, Bishop of Lincoln, a man most deeply versed in Latin and Greek, accurately translated the Testaments of the XII. Patriarchs from Greek into Latin. These had been for a long time unknown and hidden through the jealousy of the Jews, on account of the prophecies of the Saviour contained in them. The Greeks, however, the most unwearied investigators of all writings, were the first to come to a knowledge of this document, and translated it from Hebrew into Greek, and have kept it to themselves till our times. And neither in the time of the blessed Jerome nor of any other holy interpreter could the Christians gain an acquaintance with it, through the malice of the ancient Jews. This glorious treatise, then, the aforesaid bishop (with the help of Master Nicolaus, a Greek, and a clerk of the Abbey of St. Alban's) translated fully and clearly, and word for word, from Greek into Latin, to the strengthening of the Christian faith, and to the greater confusion of the Jews." (4)

This information raises some questions in my mind.
1. If Christians in the earlier second century A.D. actually were the ones who wrote or doctored up The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, then why were the non-Christian Jews in possession of it all those centuries? Shouldn't the Christians have been in possession of it and not the non-believing Jews?

2. If the non-believing Jews were so afraid of letting people know about it, why did they preserve it for so long? Wouldn't they have destroyed it if they didn't want anybody to know about the prophesies of Christ in the document? Or why didn't they remove the material in question?

3. How did these learned Greek doctors come into possession of it? Why didn't they share it with the rest of the Christian community?

4. What were the other "certain things unknown to the Latins" among which existed with the Patriarchs book?

1. Adv. Marcionem, v. I; Scorpiace, 13; cf. Benj. 11.

2. Hom. in Josuam, xv. 6; cf. Reub. 2, 3.

3. Historia Anglorum, a.d. 1252, p. 1112
, ed. London, 1571.
4. Historia Anglorum, a.d. 1242, p. 801.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Part 2

The plot thickens.

Because the document makes reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in several places, it is thought that the Testaments had to have been written AFTER the Roman general Titus destroyed the temple around 70 A.D.. As I mentioned earlier, it is also thought that St. Paul referred often to the Patriarchs book, yet, it is believed by some that Paul was killed in Rome by the hand of Nero around 62 A.D., which, obviously, was BEFORE the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. What is wrong with this picture? Maybe Paul used a version that wasn't re-edited by Christians to include the prophesies.

These so called experts say that because no other documents similar to the Patriarch's book in it's manner of prophesying of Christ are known to have existed BEFORE Christ, then the Patriarchs book had to have been written AFTER the birth of Christ.
That's like saying that bacteria didn't exist prior to the time they were first seen in a microscope. Where is the logic in that? How do they know that the destruction of the temple, the appearance of a star, and other Christological information wasn't in, say, The Book of Gad the Seer, or The Book of Nathan the Prophet, or The Prophecy of Ahijah, or The Visions of Iddo the Seer, or The Book of Shemaiah, or the The Book of Jehu (see my previous blogs about these books), or perhaps in some other book the modern world has never seen, or even heard of for that matter? Fact of the matter is, reference is made to the writings of Enoch in the Patriarchs book no less than 5 times. The Book of Enoch isn't in our Bible.

Excuse me, but I am going to get on my soapbox here. I don't care if these people have PhDs behind their name, all that proves is that they can read, write and take tests. I used to have a friend who would laugh because rocket scientists from the Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena would come into to her bank and they were totally incapable of filling out a simple loan application by themselves. That's right. People with PhDs in physics who couldn't fill out a loan application. Just because a person has a degree in ancient studies doesn't mean that they have common sense. But geez, they sure act like they are the last word of God on earth, sometimes.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Part 1

The other day I wrote that there was a book called The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs that was discovered amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls. This book claims to be the biographies of the twelve sons of Jacob in which each of the twelve tell their life stories, talking freely about their sins as well as their virtues and giving advice to their families before dying.

In reading it, I found a lot of prophesies concerning Jesus Christ. These testaments were not written in the typical style characteristic of the Old Testament as we know it with all it's symbols, cryptic visions, and poetic style. Instead it is very blunt, frank, plain and to the point. The ethical teachings of this document are of a much higher and nobler spiritual state than is characteristic of the Old Testament and is very similar in many aspects to Christ's teachings. Some scholars write that some of the sermon on the mount uses phrases from these Testaments. It has also been written that "St. Paul appears to have borrowed so freely that it seems as though he must have carried a copy of the Testaments with him on his travels." (1)

In doing some research on the subject, I found out that this book is actually a "pseudepigrapha" meaning that the real author or authors is unknown. Because of it's Christian content, much controversy surrounds it as some authors can't accept the fact anyone would write so plainly about Christ before His birth. So scholars argue that it is a redaction (edited document) by Christians of an older, and unknown Jewish document from the 2nd century B.C., while others argue that that it is a Christian document integrating earlier Jewish material and place it's composition in the 2nd century A.D.

Because it is difficult to remove these Christian passages without disturbing the continuity of the text, it is ASS-U-ME-d by some that it was a very thorough Christian editing job (Marinus de Jonge). So tightly integrated is the Christian text with the overall document, that the scholars find it difficult, if next to impossible, to determine what the contents of the supposed original document exactly were.

1. The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, The Forgotten Books of Eden (Alpha House, Inc.: Newfoundland, 1927), p. 220.