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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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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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