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Born then Reborn

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

Jesus was biologically born in 7 BC and symbolically reborn in 6 AD   

The gospel of Luke is my favourite by a long shot. This is because it is very historically accurate and the least theological of the four gospels. Luke was more interested in telling history than promoting a faith we today call Christianity or making a case that Jesus was God incarnate. He had his political biases but his is the most credible of the Jesus chronicles.


Luke is the author of two New Testament books, the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. He is the only Gentile, that is, non-Jew, on the roll of New Testament writers: he was of Greek stock and was domiciled in Antioch, Syria, the third largest city in the Roman empire after Rome and Alexandria.  His career, however, was not that of a scribe: he was a medical doctor.

This is evident both from the testimony of Paul and intimations in his (Luke) own writings. For instance, he names diseases in the manner of a medical buff rather than simply attribute them to “demon possession”. Luke was not only Paul’s travelling companion but he was also his personal doctor. We learn this from his own work, Acts,  and from the epistles such as 1 COLOSSIANS 4:14, where Paul says, “Our Dear friend Luke the Doctor and Demas send greetings”.


In penning his gospel, Luke did painstaking research and dared those who might criticise him by naming scores of people – both famous and ordinary – and several places. Now, if you relate your story in the wider context of global history and you even furnish names, you are in trouble if you are telling a lie. This gesture on Luke’s part is persuasive enough evidence that  what he set down was indeed true: you don’t set booby traps for yourself if all you are doing is spinning a yarn.


This is how Luke introduces his gospel to underscore the fact that it was very well-informed: “1Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught (LUKE 1:1-4).”


From the above preamble, we learn three more things beside the fact of the meticulous research. First, there were numerous stories  that had been written about Jesus and were in circulation at the time Luke wrote his gospel. Most of these have either been lost or form part of what we call the apocryphal – the accounts about Jesus that were excluded from the New Testament canon at the 325 AD Nicene Council, where the New Testament was collated. Second, part of the data that informed Luke’s gospel was provided him by people who knew Jesus personally.

These may have included the apostles themselves as well as the family members of Jesus, particularly his mother,  brothers, and sisters. Thirdly, Luke wrote his two books at the bidding of or in deference to a venerable man known as Theophilus, who features in the opening statements of  both the gospel and Acts. 

 
Who was Theophillus? It is important that we make his acquaintance for then we will be in position to put a approximate timeframe  to Luke’s embarkation on  his literary projects. In any case, it is Theophillus we owe a debt of gratitude for Luke’s two seminal books: without him, there would never have been a gospel of Luke and an Acts of the Apostles, in consequence of which we would be greatly diminished in our understanding of the Jesus saga.      

THE PRO-CHRISTIAN HIGH PRIEST
Luke addresses Theophillus as “Most Excellent”. There are only two other personages who are addressed likewise in the entire New Testament corpus. They were Roman governors in charge of Judea, namely Felix (ACTS 23:26) and Festus (ACTS 26:25). Inevitably therefore, Theophilus must have been a high-ranking political figure.

In gospel times, there was only one well-known VIP who went by the name Theophilus. This was Theophilus ben Annas, the son of the infamous Annas who presided over the trial of Jesus. He was High Priest from 37 to 41 AD. High Priests were appointed by the reigning King, himself an appointee of Rome.   


The argument that this was the Theophilus Luke reverenced in his gospel is more than persuasive. First, this Theophilus was not a total stranger to Luke. As youngsters, the two were classmates under the tutelage of the great Jewish teacher Gamaliel. Theophilus, his two brothers Jonathan and Simon, and the apostle Paul were contemporaries at Gamaliel’s academy.

It makes sense, therefore, that if Theophilus wanted an authoritative brief on the life and times of Jesus, the name that immediately came to mind was Luke, who was not only a member of the Jesus movement but was a constant companion of Paul, the most famous propagator of the Christ message.


Luke is also the only one of the four evangelists to have mentioned the names Theophilus and Joanna. Joanna, the wife of Chuza, who was the chief steward of Galilean King Herod Antipas. Joanna is mentioned in LUKE 8:3 and 24:10.

She was one of the women who financially supported the labours of Jesus and one of the female witnesses to the resurrection. Now, according to an archaeological find, Theophilus had a granddaughter called Joanna, which explains why she was married to Herod Antipas’ Chancellor of the Exchequer:  high society typically marries into high society. 

When in his prelude  Luke says to Theophilus that “you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught”, he must have been referring to Joanna, one of the “eyewitnesses and servants of the word”  who obviously must have  related the story of Jesus to her grandfather.


In the gospel, Luke addresses Theophilus as “Most Excellent”. In Acts, however, he simply addresses him as “O Theophillus”. What this implies is that by the time he wrote or concluded Acts, Theophilus was no longer High Priest.  Why did Theophillus commission Luke to do a story on the Jesus epic? The most plausible reason is that he was persuaded by his granddaughter Joanna, with a view to alter his perception of the Jesus movement.

In a political climate where the Herodians were so antagonistic toward Christians (Stephen had been killed for instance), it was necessary to disabuse the High Priest of certain distortions about it. Indeed of the Annas priestly dynasty, Theophilus turned out to be the most sympathetic to Christians. Three years after he  was removed from power, James the son of Zebedee was executed at the orders of King Herod Agrippa I.  


With such a political backdrop, we can now confidently date the writing of the gospel of Luke. This was between AD 41 and 44. In fact, by AD 60, all the gospels had been written. What we have today are not originals but subsequent editions, which were revised by the authors themselves and over time embellished by editors with sectarian agendas.  

TWO BIRTHDAYS OF JESUS
We have already asserted, from what we glean from the pesher of the Dead Sea Scrolls, that Jesus was born in 7 BC. Does the Bible agree with this date or otherwise?


The biblical clues on Jesus’ birth date are furnished by Matthew and Luke. We will begin with Matthew. Matthew indicates that Herod the Great was alive when  Jesus was born. Herod died in 4 BC, meaning Jesus could not have been born later than this date.  Luke’s assertion, however, remains a moot point. Scholars actually continue to pan  him for his timeframe, charging that he was grossly mistaken as he was more than ten years off the mark. Well, I beg to differ.

When it comes to the timing of events, Luke is infallible. Scholars are a swell-headed lot who think they  know it all when they actually do not. So what has made scholars cast cynical aspersions at Luke in relation to the birth date of Jesus?


Luke situates the birth of Jesus in the year Quirinius was governor of Syria and when there was a census “throughout the Roman world” as decreed by Emperor Augustus (LUKE 2:1-3). Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria in AD 6.

In that year,  Archelaus, the Herodian ruler of Judea, Samaria, and Idumea was deposed by Augustus and his three territories came under direct Roman rule, with a Roman prefect, also called procurator, mandated to take charge of them. At the same time, the three territories, now known as Iudaea,  were made subordinate to the legate of Syria, who was also referred to as governor.

The first such legate was Publius Sulpicius Quirinius, an iconic and decorated  Roman general. Since Iudaea was now under direct Roman administration, Quirinius was instructed by Emperor Augustus to conduct a census in the region for purposes of taxation.  Being the first one of its kind in Palestine, the census sparked a Zealot  uprising led by Judas the Galilean (ACTS 5:7).   


In AD 6, Herod the Great had been dead for nine years and it is such a scenario that makes scholars sneer at Luke. This is unfortunate because as always Luke was correct. How do we know? The answer is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which few scholars have bothered to read and decipher.


In March AD 6, Jesus turned 12. At this age, he had to undergo a ceremony known as Bar Mitzvah, a coming-of-age ritual. Whilst mainstream Jewry celebrated Bar Mitzvah at age 13 for a boy and with hardly any fanfare, the Essenes did so at age 12 and with an elaborate ceremony particularly for a dynastic child. The Essenes regarded Bar Mitzvah as a symbolic rebirth. At the ceremony, therefore, they reenacted the actual birth of the person  concerned.  

To the Essenes, Bar Mitzvah was more important than even the biological birth date because at age 12 the person was conferred a grade in the Essene hierarchy – 18, the lowest grade. Thus the birth Luke alludes to in his gospel is not the year Jesus was actually born: it is the year he was re-born, when he was initiated into the Essene hierarchy. Calculating backwards from AD 6 to the 12th year gives us the year 7 BC as the birth date of Jesus (there was no year 0)!


By highlighting the Bar Mitzvah date of Jesus instead of his actual birth date, Luke was signalling two things to discerning readers – that  Jesus was an Essene and that  he became the legitimate heir to the Davidic throne in  AD 6. Exactly how did the latter  come about?  

JAMES INAUGURATES AD ERA
The acronym BC means “Before Christ”. How then could Jesus have been born in 7 BC, before he was actually born? The official explanation is that one Roman monk called  Dionysius Exiguus erred in his calculations done in the year 526 AD. He first dated Jesus’ birth as 753 years after the founding of Rome. The birth date was designated AD 1, with AD  being a Latin acronym for “Anno Domini”, meaning “In the Year of our Lord”.  In due course,  however, it transpired Dionysius  had made a mistake as Jesus was actually born between 746 to 749 years after the founding of Rome as we now know, meaning Jesus’ birth date now relocated into the BC era.  


The “official” version, however, is not true as is often and typically the case. The demarcation between the BC era and the new, AD dispensation was determined at Qumran, by the Essenes. What happened was that when the powers-that-be, the Temple priesthood led by then High Priest  Simon Boethus, refused to recognise Jesus as the Davidic heir as he was technically born of fornication and at the wrong time for a dynastic heir (March instead of September), Joseph was now under obligation to produce a “bona fide heir”. According to the Essenes’ procreational rules, Joseph had to embark on this assignment six years after the birth of Jesus.   Joseph paid due heed and his second-born son James was  born when Jesus was  seven years old.


In the year James was born, the High Priest was a son of Boethus, Joazar, and as per the Boethusian stance James was eagerly embraced as the Davidic messiah  as not only was he born  in strict adherence to dynastic procreational rules but he was born in the holy month of September. It was with the birth of James that the Essenes inaugurated a new world order and therefore designated his birth year as Year 1, what we now call AD 1. Since Jesus had now been sidelined, his birth date was referred to as “7 years before the beginning of the new era”, or 7 BC as we refer to it today.    


Yet Jesus was not to be marginalised forever. In AD 6, when he turned 12, there was a change of the guard at the helm of the priesthood. The new High Priest de-recognised James as the Davidic heir and reinstated Jesus. The name of the High Priest was Annas ben Seth. How and why did this state of affairs came about?


NEXT WEEK: WHO WERE THE MAGIANS?
 

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Appendicitis: Recognising the Signs

29th March 2022

Many a times I get clients casually walking into my room and requesting to be checked for “appendix”.  Few questions down the line, it is clear they are unaware of where the appendix is or what to expect when one does have it (appendicitis). Jokingly (or maybe not) I would tell them they would possibly not be having appendicitis and laughing as hard as they are doing. On the other hand, I would be impressed that at least they know and acknowledge that appendicitis is a serious thing that they should be worried about.

So, what is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix; a thin, finger-like pouch attached to the large intestine on the lower right side of the abdomen. Often the inflammation can be as a result of blockage either by the faecal matter, a foreign body, infection, trauma or a tumour. Appendicitis is generally acute, with symptoms coming on over the course of a day and becoming severe rapidly. Chronic appendicitis can also occur, though rarely. In chronic cases, symptoms are less severe and can last for days, weeks, or even months. 

Acute appendicitis is a medical emergency that almost always ends up in the operating theatre. Though the appendix is locally referred to as “lela la sukiri”, no one knows its exact role and it definitely does not have anything to do with sugar metabolism. Appendicitis can strike at any age, but it is mostly common from the teen years to the 30s.

Signs to look out for

If you have any of the following symptoms, go and see a Doctor immediately! Timely diagnosis and treatment are vital in acute appendicitis;

Sudden pain that starts around the navel and shifts to the lower right abdomen within hours

The pain becomes constant and increases in severity (or comes back despite painkillers)

The pain worsens on coughing, sneezing, laughing, walking or deep breaths

Loss of appetite

Nausea and vomiting

Fever

Constipation or diarrhoea

Abdominal bloating/fullness

Diagnosis

The doctor often asks questions regarding the symptoms and the patient’s medical history. This will be followed up by a physical examination in which the Doctor presses on the abdomen to check for any tenderness, and the location of the pain. With acute appendicitis, pressing on and letting go of the right lower abdomen usually elicits an excruciatingly unbearable pain. Several tests may be ordered to determine especially the severity of the illness and to rule out other causes of abdominal pain. The tests may conditions include: blood tests, a pregnancy test, urinalysis, abdominal  “How do ultrasound scans work?” ultrasound (scan), CT scan or MRI Scan.

Treatment

The gold standard treatment of acute appendicitis is surgical removal of the appendix known as appendectomy. Luckily, a person can live just fine without an appendix! Surgical options include laparoscopy or open surgery and the type will be decided on by the Surgeon after assessing the patient’s condition. Painkillers and antibiotics are also given intravenously usually before, during and after the surgery.

Complications

Appendicitis can cause serious complications such as;

Appendicular mass/abscessIf the appendix is inflamed or bursts, one may develop a pocket of pus around it known as an abscess. In most cases, the abscess will be treated with antibiotics and drained first by placing a tube through one’s abdominal wall into the abscess. The tube may be left in place for a few hours or days while the infection is clearing up but ultimately one would still have surgery to remove the appendix.

Peritonitis – without treatment, the appendix can rupture/burst. The risk of this rises 48–72 hours after symptoms start. A ruptured appendix spreads the infection throughout the abdomen (peritonitis). This is life threatening and requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean the abdominal cavity.

Death – The complications of appendicitis (and appendectomy) can be life threatening, only if the diagnosis has been missed and no proper treatment has been given on time. This is rare though with the evolved medical care.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email  HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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A degree of common sense

7th February 2022

Here’s a news item from last month you may have missed. In December 2021 the University of Staffordshire announced it would be offered a degree course in pantomime! Yes, that’s right, a degree in popular festive entertainment, the Christmas panto.

We used to have one here, put on by the Capitol Players, though it seems to have fallen away in recent times, but the spectacle is still alive and well in the UK, both in local ad-dram (amateur dramatic ) societies and on the London stage and most of the major cities, these latter productions usually featuring at least one big-draw name from the world of show business with ticket prices commensurate with the star’s salary.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the pantomime format, it consists of a raucous mixture of songs and comedy all based around a well-known fairy or folk tale. Aladdin and His Magic Lamp, Cinderella, Jack & The Beanstalk & Dick Whittington are perennial favourites but any well-known tall tale goes. There is no set script, unlike a play, and storyline is just a peg to hang a coat of contemporary, often bawdy, gags on, in what should be a rollicking production of cross dressing – there has to be at least one pantomime dame, played by a man and always a figure of fun, and a Principal Boy, ostensibly the male lead, yet played by an attractive young woman.

As an art form it can trace its roots back to 16th century Italy and the Commedia Del’Arte which used a mélange of music, dance, acrobatics along with a cast of comic stock characters so it has a long and proud theatrical tradition but you have to wonder, does that really qualify it as a suitable subject for a university? Further, what use might any degree be that can be acquired in a single year? And last but not least, how much standing does any degree have which comes from a jumped-up polytechnic, granted university status along with many of its ilk back in 1992, for reasons best known to the government of the time? Even more worrying are the stated aims of the course.

Staffordshire University claims it is a world first and the masters course is aimed at people working inside as well as outside the industry. Students on the course, due to start in September 2022, will get practical training in the art form as well as research the discipline.

“We want to see how far we can take this,” Associate Professor of Acting and Directing Robert Marsden said. The role of pantomime in the 21st Century was also going to be examined, he said, “particularly post Me Too and Black Lives Matter”. Questions including “how do we address the gender issues, how do we tell the story of Aladdin in 2021, how do we get that balance of male/female roles?” will be asked, Prof Marsden added.

Eek! Sounds like Prof. Marsden wants to rob it of both its history and its comedic aspects – well, good luck with that! Of course that isn’t the only bizarre, obscure and frankly time and money-wasting degree course available. Staying with the performing arts there’s Contemporary Circus and Physical Performance at Bath Spa University. Sounds like fun but why on earth would a circus performer need a university degree?

Or how about a Surf Science and Technology degree at Cornwall College (part of the University of Plymouth). Where the one thing you don’t learn is….how to surf!

Then there is a  degree in Floral Design at University Centre Myerscough. No, I hadn’t heard of it either – turns out it’s a college of further education in Preston, a town that in my experience fits the old joke of ‘I went there once…..It was closed’ to a ‘T’!

Another handy (pun intended) art is that of Hand Embroidery BA (Hons), offered at the University for the Creative Arts. Or you could waste away sorry, while away, your time on a course in Animal Behaviour and Psychology. This degree at the University of Chester teaches you about the way animals think and feel. Cockroaches have personalities according to the subject specs– you couldn’t make it up.

Happily all these educational institutes may have to look to their laurels and try to justify their very existence in the near future. In plans announced this week, universities could face fines of up to £500,000 (P750m), be stripped of their right to take student loans or effectively shut down if they cannot get 60 per cent of students into a professional job under a crackdown on ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses. Further, at least 80 per cent of students should not drop out after the first year, and 75 per cent should graduate.

The rules, published by the Office for Students (OfS), aim to eliminate ‘low-quality’ courses by setting new standards & requiring courses to improve their rating in the TEF, the official universities ratings system. Universities not meeting the new standards will not be able to charge full annual fees of £9,250. Unconventional courses that could fall victim to the new rules could include the University of Sunderland’s BA in Fashion Journalism, where students learn essential’ skills such as catwalk reporting and the history of Chanel.  They have only a 40 per cent chance of entering highly skilled work 15 months after leaving.

At University College Birmingham, BSC Bakery and Patisserie Technology students – who learn how to ‘make artisan bread’ – have a 15 per cent chance of a professional job within 15 months. Universities minister Michelle Donelan welcomed the move, saying ‘When students go to university, they do so in the pursuit of a life-changing education, one which helps pave their path towards a highly skilled career. Any university that fails to match this ambition must be held to account.’

OfS found that at 25 universities, fewer than half of students find professional work within 15 months.  Business and management courses at the University of Bedfordshire (14.8 per cent) were among the least likely to lead to graduate-level jobs.  Asked to comment, the University of Sunderland said it always looked ‘to find ways to improve outcomes’; University College Birmingham said data on graduates and definition of ‘professional work’ was limited. I’ll bet it is! As the saying goes, ’what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over’. What a pantomime!

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Why regular health checks are important!

7th February 2022

With the world still reeling from the negative impact of the Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), and the latest Omicron variant (which is responsible for the ongoing global forth wave) on everyone’s lips, we should not forget and neglect other aspects of our health.

While anyone can get infected with corona virus and become seriously ill or die at any age, studies continue to show that people aged 60 years and above, and those with underlying medical conditions like hypertension, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity, cancers, or mental illness are at a higher risk of developing serious illness or dying from covid-19.

It is a good habit to visit a doctor regularly, even if you feel healthy. Regular health checks can help identify any early signs of health issues or assess your risk of future illness hence prompting one to take charge and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and other non-communicable diseases (even communicable) can often be picked up in their early stages, when chances for effective treatment are high.

During a health check, your doctor will take a thorough history from you regarding your medical history, your family’s history of disease, your social life and habits, including your diet, physical activity, alcohol use, smoking and drug intake. S/he will examine you including measuring your weight, blood pressure, feeling your body organs and listening to your heart and lungs amongst the rest. Depending on the assessment, your doctor will notify you how often you need to have a health check. If you have a high risk of a particular health condition, your doctor may recommend more frequent health checks from an early age.

Diet – a healthy diet improves one’s general health and wellbeing. It is recommended that we have at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. Physical activity – regular physical activity has significant health benefits on one’s body, mind & soul. It contributes to preventing and managing non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhances thinking, learning, and judgment skills and improves overall well-being. According to the world health organisation (WHO), people who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active. Aim for 30 minutes to an hour of moderate physical activity at least four days in a week. Examples of moderate physical activity include brisk walking, gentle swimming and social tennis.

Weight – maintaining a healthy weight range helps in preventing long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. It is also vital for one’s mental wellbeing and keeping up with normal activities of daily living. Ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference annually. If you are at a higher risk, you should have your weight checked more frequently and a stern management plan in place.

Alcohol – as per WHO reports, alcohol consumption contributes to 3 million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people. Healthy drinking entails taking no more than two standard drinks per drinking day with at least two alcohol-free days in a week.

Smoking –Nicotine contained in tobacco is highly addictive and tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, many different types of cancer, and many other debilitating health conditions. Every year, at least a whopping 8 million people succumb from tobacco use worldwide. Tobacco can also be deadly for non-smokers through second-hand smoke exposure. It is not ‘fashionable’ if it is going to cost you and your loved ones lives! If you are currently smoking, talk to your doctor and get help in quitting as soon as possible to reduce the harm.

Blood pressure: Hypertension is a serious medical condition and can increase the risk of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases. It is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with upwards of 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women – over a billion people – having the condition. Have your blood pressure checked annually if it is normal, you are aged under 40 and there is no family history of hypertension. You might need to have it checked more frequently if you are over 40, your blood pressure is on the high side, or you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack. Your doctor will be there to guide you.

Dental care – eating a low-sugar diet and cleaning and flossing the teeth regularly can reduce one’s risk of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. Visit a dentist every six months for a dental examination and professional cleaning, or more frequently as per your dentist’s advice.
Blood tests – annual to five-yearly blood tests may be done to further assess or confirm risk of disease. These may include blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, kidney function, liver function, tumour markers, among other things. They may be done frequently if there is already an existing medical condition.

Cancer screening – various screening techniques can be done to detect different cancers in their early or pre-cancer stages. These include; skin inspections for any suspicious moles/spots, two-yearly mammograms for those at risk of developing breast cancer, Pap smear or the new Cervical Screening Test (CST) every five years, stool tests and colonoscopy (every five years) for those at most risk of bowel cancer, prostate cancer screening for those at risk (over 45 years of age, family history of cancers etc.). Discuss appropriate tests with your doctor.

Vaccinations – You should discuss with your doctor about the necessary routine immunisation, in particular; the Covid-19 vaccines, an annual flu shot, a five-yearly pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had one or you are immunocompromised and any other boosters that you might need.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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