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Final Word on the Canon

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

This week we address questions on the Bible as a text

IS IT TRUE THAT THE KING JAMES VERSION OF THE BIBLE IS THE OLDEST BIBLE? AND WHY IS IT CALLED KING JAMES FOR THAT MATTER?
No it is not true. The oldest Bible (that is, a complement  of  New and Old Testament books) is  the Codex Sinaiticus. Although it was discovered in 1844, by a German theologian known as Dr  Constantin von Tischendorf, at St. Catherine Monastery at Mount Sinai (hence the name Sinaiticus), it is dated to between 330 and 380 AD. The King James Version is simply one of the earliest translations of the Bible from  its Greek and Hebrew versions. The translation took place over 7 years from 1604 to 1611. The King James Version  wasn’t even the earliest translation of the complete Bible into English: that distinction belongs to William Tyndale, who completed his translation in 1523.

The King James Bible is so-called because it was authorised by King James I of England and Ireland who ruled  from 1603 to 1625.  It became the most popular Bible of the day because it was the first English Bible to have a royal seal of approval and was “appointed to be read in  churches”.
 

YOU MENTIONED THE CODEX SINAITICUS AS THE EARLIEST BIBLE. COULD YOU PLEASE SAY MORE ABOUT IT?
I actually received quite a number of questions on the Codex Sinaiticus.  The Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in 1844 but is believed to have been written in the 4th century AD. It originally comprised of  1460 pages but today it occurs only in portions, altogether constituting only half of the original. These separate portions are dispersed among four institutions only, namely St Catherine's Monastery in Israel, the British Library in England, Leipzig University Library in German, and the National Library of Russia in St Petersburg.

The British library houses the largest portion at 694  pages, which includes the entire New Testament corpus. The Codex Sinaiticus was written on parchment (animal skins) in Greek. It contained all the canonical books of the Bible (the familiar 66) plus some apocryphal books such as Tobit, Judith, Syrach, the Odes of  Solomon and Wisdom of  Maccabees in the Old Testament, and the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas in the New Testament.  The Codex Vaticanus was first displayed in the British Museum in 1933 as the oldest Bible in the world and triggered an avalanche of  visitors which is yet to be surpassed in the history  of the museum.
 
IN WHAT WAYS DOES THE CODEX SINAITICUS DIFFER FROM THE BIBLE OF OUR DAY?
There are marked differences other than the number and nature of the books it carries. I’ll cite these only with respect to the New Testament. The modern-day New Testament has 14,800 editorial alterations on the Codex Sinaiticus. The Codex Sinaiticus itself has been tampered with multiple times. Ultraviolet tests conducted on the Sinaiticus found that passages in it had been altered by at least 9 editors over a period of time. There are no resurrection appearances in the Sinaiticus.  The Gospel of Mark in the Sinaiticus ends at MARK 16:8. The Sinaiticus has no genealogy, virgin births, or King Herod’s mass murders of infants. The “raising of Lazarus”  incident is much more truthfully  related in the Sinaiticus: it has none of the supernatural trappings of  the modern-day New Testament.   

The Gospel of Luke is 10,000 words longer than our familiar gospel, meaning these were inserted into the gospel post-fourth century AD. However, we must not rush to the conclusion that just because the contents  of our modern-day Bible differ in some respects  from the Sinaiticus, it contains spurious information. Even the original gospel texts of the first century were not uniform through and through. They were  subjected to editing and redactions over time. The biblical texts were written by ordinary men like you and I and so it would be   a stretch to expect them to be entirely without flaw. Moreover, over the centuries, there have been new discoveries of texts about Jesus and these had to be taken into account too, not simply rubbished as “uninspired”. 

Note that even the Catholic papacy, the people who gave us the Bible, were not in one accord over the veracity of the Bible owing to the erratic way in which it evolved. In 1587, Pope Sixtus V (1585-90) commissioned the compilation of what he called “our own account”. He devoted 18 months of his early papal days to writing  a new Bible. Pope Clement XIII (1758-69) ordered the destruction of all volumes of a new Bible that had been published in 1759 because it was a comedy of errors. Pope Leo X (1513-1521) was so confused about the disparate accounts  of the Jesus saga that he called him a “fable”.

WAS THE BIBLE INDEED INSPIRED BY GOD?
Yes it  was. The “God” who inspired it were the Anunnaki, the Alien masqueraders.  The Anunnaki have inspired all religious canons of every major faith. The real God, the First Source  who created you and me at the level of the spirit-soul,  never inspired a single religion. Real religion is strictly between two beings – your higher self (the spirit-soul)  and the First Source.  Jesus encapsulated this point when he said, “ The Kingdom of Heaven is within you”.

WHO WROTE THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT?
It  cannot be said with absolute certainty as to exactly who wrote the books of the New Testament. Some books do not carry the names of their writers. The four gospels and the epistle to the Hebrews, for instance, do not specify who their writers were.  Even where the names are stated, there is still the lingering question as to whether it is the name of the person we have in mind or others simply wrote in his name. But there are some books where the odds that the named writer did actually write them are very high. There is little doubt,  for instance, that Luke and Acts were written by the Greek doctor Luke.

The apostle Paul almost certainly  wrote all the epistles that bear his name, although in some cases he used ghost writers. A persuasive argument can be made that the apostles John and Simon Peter wrote the gospels and epistles that carry their names. The apostle John also wrote Revelation. Two of Jesus’s brothers, James the Just and Jude, no doubt  wrote the two epistles respectively that carry their names.

Matthew, however, was not the writer: he was the sponsor. A member of Jesus’s 12–man party, Matthew, also known as Levi, was the fourth-born son of Annas, who interrogated Jesus prior to the crucifixion. He was high priest of the Jerusalem temple from ad 42-43. Mark is said to have been written by  the apostle Bartholomew, whose real name was John Marcus.    

WHY ARE THERE ONLY FOUR GOSPELS?
It was a deliberate decision by the Nicene Council of AD 325, which collated the Bible as it has been handed down to us. It was all based on sun symbolism. The Illuminati of the day, who included the so-called church fathers such as Origen and Eusebius,   desired that their elected make-believe “Sun-God” Jesus (their real Saviour Sun God was the Anunnaki god Utu-Shamash, also known as Apollo) reflect as close as possible the solar mythos. 

The orb of day we call the sun (or God’s Sun/Son) goes through four seasons in the course of a year. Its life, figuratively speaking, runs its course in one, four-season year. As such, the life history of Jesus, God’s Son/Sun, had to be told through no more than four gospels to accord with four seasons.  We see therefore that the choice of the number of the gospels was not objective: it was meant to sync with the real religion of occultists, that of astrotheology.   

THERE ARE SO  MANY VERSIONS OF THE BIBLE. WHICH ONE DO YOU USE AND WHICH YOU CAN THEREFORE RECOMMEND?
It is the Interlinear Bible. To me there could never be a better Bible. The Interlineal Bible shows scripture  in English and its original languages of Greek and Hebrew. You can order it from Amazon.com at $30 here:  HYPERLINK "http://www.amazon.com/The-Interlinear-Bible-Hebrew-Greek-English-English/dp/1565639774" http://www.amazon.com/The-Interlinear-Bible-Hebrew-Greek-English-English/dp/1565639774.  

ARE THERE ANY INSTANCES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT OF REFERENCES TO APOCRYPHAL SOURCES?
There is yes. This is particularly the case with the book of Jude. Jude references the book of Enoch in verses  1:6 when he says, “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling, these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day” and in verses  14-15 when he says, “ Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones  to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’”

The book of Enoch talks a great deal about the saga of the Anunnaki and if Jude quotes Enoch then it is reasonable to assume that the apostles were very much aware  of who the Old Testament gods really were. In Verse  9, Jude writes thus: “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the Devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!” This is a direct quotation from another apocryphal book known as The Assumption of Moses. It is ironic that the clergy of our day treats apocryphal sources as taboo when the apostles themselves liberally quoted from them.

I’M GIVEN TO UNDERSTAND THAT UNTIL THE 16TH CENTURY THE CATHOLIC PAPACY FORBADE READING THE BIBLE IN PUBLIC. HOW TRUE IS THAT?
That was not exactly the case. The papacy forbade two things – the use of the Bible in any language other than Latin and the reading of the Bible by ordinary people (non-priests) in public without prior permission from the “authorities”.  The Latin Bible was called the Vulgate (first printed on the newly invented press in 1456). It was a translation from the original Hebrew and Greek by Jerome in the 4th century. The first translation of the complete Bible into a language other than Latin was done by Martin Luther, the spearhead of the Reformation,  in 1522. This was a German version. It was the German version of the Bible that popularised the German language.

OF THE FOUR GOSPELS, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU RECOMMEND AS FOREMOST IN ACCURACY?
It is the Gospel of Luke. Luke was a doctor (COLOSSIANS 4:14) and therefore his approach was scientific to a more or lesser degree. The gospel of John is elaborate but it’s  too emotional. Mark is too hurried, brief, and therefore insubstantial though it was the first gospel to be written (Luke and Matthew substantially drew from it). Matthew is kind of  fantastical as  virtually everything Jesus did and said is cross-referenced to what was said and written in the Old Testament at least 400 years back.

Luke, on the other hand, is very sober-minded. He relates his chronicles of Jesus in a historical context so that those who wished to check the facts could do so. In both the gospel and Acts, Luke mentions more than 14 prominent historical figures. A prominent archeologist carefully examined Luke’s references to 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands without finding a single mistake!

IN ONE OF YOUR ARTICLES, YOU EXTOLLED THE ACCURACY OF THE EVANGELIST LUKE. BUT IF HE WAS THAT ACCURATE,  WHY DID HE COMMIT SUCH A SPECTACULAR BOOB IN LUKE 2:1-2?
In LUKE 2:1-2, Luke writes that every Jew living in any place had to return to  their place of origin for the census ordered by Augustus Caesar through Quirinius governor of Syria, who had jurisdiction over Palestine. Scholars  have scoffed at Luke for the implausibility of such a state of affairs.

They say he was, “fanciful … You will never do a census like that! It will upset the whole economical (merchant) system in the area by having the whole population move back to their place of origin just to be counted …  That’s  just plain fantasy … It must be only a story, without any historical truth behind it.” Well, these same scholars were stomped for words when an edict from C Vibius Maximus, the Roman procurator of Egypt, was discovered which was dated AD 104.

It read: “The enrollment (census) by household being at hand, it is necessary to notify all who for any cause soever are outside their nomes (administrative divisions of Egypt) to return to their domestic hearths, that they may also accomplish the customary dispensation of enrollment and continue steadfastly in the husbandry that belongs to them.” It turns out the practice of people trekking back to their birthplaces for a census was a common if not standard practice in antiquity. St. Luke was incredibly accurate as usual.

IN LUKE 3:1-2, LUKE MAKES MENTION OF ONE LYSANIAS WHO WAS TETRARCH OF ABILENE DURING THE 15TH YEAR OF TIBERIUS CAESAR. IN MY CLASS, HOWEVER, OUR LECTURER TAUGHT US THAT LUKE WAS WRONG AS LYSANIAS HAD BEEN DEAD 50 YEARS EARLIER.
Your lecturer ought to do more research. True, there was a Lysanias, ruler (not tetrarch) of  Abilene (also known as Chalcis)  who was executed at the orders of Mark Anthony, one of the three then joint rulers of the Roman Empire,  in 34 BC. However, there was another Lysanias who was tetrarch of Abilene, or Abila, a small realm on the slopes of Mount Hermon near Damascus during the reign of Tiberius (Roman Emperor from AD 14-37).

This fact is borne out by an inscription found on a temple of the time of Tiberius which read: “For the salvation of the August Lords (a joint title of  Tiberius, the son of Caesar Augustus, and his mother Livia, the widow of Augustus) and of all their household, Nymphaeus, freedman of Eagle Lysanias tetrarch established this street and other things.”  The 15th year of Tiberius was AD 29 and Livia died in AD 29. Thus Lysanias must have become tetrarch of Abilene long before AD 29. Luke once again is spot-on. I love Dr Luke!

NEXT WEEK: QUESTIONS ON THE JESUS OF THE STARS

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Hell Up in Judea

24th August 2021

A case can be made, General Atiku, that history’s most infamous Roman is Pontius Pilate. It was Pilate who condemned Jesus, the  “Son of God”, to the most cruel, most barbaric,  and most excruciating of deaths – crucifixion –  and cowardly at that as the gospels attest for us.  

Yet the exact circumstances under which the crucifixion took place and what followed thereafter far from jells with what is familiarly known. The fact of the matter was that there was a lot of political wheeling and dealing and boldfaced corruption on the part both of the Jewish authorities and the Roman establishment in the person of Pontius Pilate.  In this piece, we attempt, General, to present a fuller photo of Pilate as the centre of the whole machination.

Pilate’s historicity, General, is not in doubt. In 1961, an Italian archeologist unearthed a limestone block at Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, which as of 6 AD was the Roman seat of government as well as the military headquarters.  The block bore the inscription, “Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea, has dedicated this Temple to the divine Augusti” (that is, then Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar and his wife Livia).

Pilate also gets varying degrees of mention in the works of Roman senator and historian Cornelius Tacitus (56-117 AD); the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher and chronicler Philo of Alexandria (25 BC to 50 AD); and the legendary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD).

Although his year of death (37 AD) is documented, his year of birth is a matter of conjecture, General. He came from the Pontii tribe (hence the name Pontius), a tough, warlike people. The Pontii tribe was of the equestrian class, the second-tier in the Roman caste system. Originally, the equestrians were those Romans with ample pocket power to bribe their way to knightly ranks in the Roman army. Pilate was born to Marcus Pontius, who had distinguished himself as a general in Rome’s military campaigns.

Following one of his particularly sterling military exploits, Marcus was awarded with the Pilum (javelin), a Roman decoration of honour for heroic military service.  To commemorate this medal of valour, the family took the name Pilati, rendered Pilate in English and Pilatus in Latin.

The son, Lucius Pontius Pilate, also distinguished himself as a soldier in the German campaigns of Germanicus, a prominent general of the early Roman Empire. Thanks to his scintillating military profile coupled with   strategic connections in the hierarchies of the Roman government, Pilate was able to wend his way into the heart of Claudia, the granddaughter of Caesar Augustus, the founder of the Roman Empire and ruler from 27 BC to 14 AD.

Claudia’s mother was Julia the Elder, who was also the biological mother of the apostles John and James. When Claudia was about 13 years of age, Julia sent her to Rome to be reared in the courts of Emperor Tiberius Caesar, to whom Julia was once married from 11 BC to 6 BC.

Although Tiberius was not the biological father of Claudius, General, he gladly acquiesced to being her foster father in deference to the memory of her late grandfather Caesar Augustus.
Pilate arrived in Rome when Claudia was sixteen years of age. In AD 26, the two tied the knot. Needless to say, it was a marriage based not on love as such but on political opportunism.

ASSIGNMENT JUDEA

The high-placed connection who facilitated Pontius Pilate’s smooth landing into the inner sanctums of Rome’s royalty and put him on a pedestal that saw him take pride of place in the cosmic gallery of rogues was Aelius Sejanus. Like Pilate, Sejanus came from the subordinate equestrian class, who would never be eligible for a seat in the Senate, the legislative council of ancient Rome.

Sejanus, however, had over time become Emperor Tiberius’ most trusted lieutenant and to the point where he was the de facto prime minister.  He had been commander of the Praetorian Guard, the elite Special Forces unit created by Augustus Caesar as a personal security force, which developed under Sejanus’ command into the most significant presence in Rome.

In AD 26, the emperor was not even based in Rome: he had confined himself to the 10.4 km2 island of Capri, about 264 km from Rome, and left control of Rome and the government of the Roman Empire to Sejanus. It was Sejanus who recommended the appointment of Pilate as prefect, or governor/procurator of Judea. The appointment was pronounced right on the occasion of Pilate’s nuptials with Claudius.

Philo records that when the bridal party emerged from the temple where the marriage ceremony was celebrated and Pilate started to follow the bride into the imperial litter, Tiberius, who was one of the twelve witnesses required to attend the ceremony, held him back and handed him a document. It was the wedding present – the governorship of far-flung Judea – with orders to proceed at once to Caesarea Maritima to take over the office made vacant by the recall of Valerius Gratus.

Pilate was notified by Sejanus that a ship was in fact waiting upon him to transport him to Palestine right away. The only disadvantageous aspect about the assignment was that Pilate was to leave the shores of Rome alone, without the pleasure of spending a first night in the arms of his newly wedded wife: by imperial decree, the wives of governors were not allowed to accompany them in their jurisdictions. Pilate, however, was a royal by marriage and so this prohibition was waived. By special permission granted by His Imperial Majesty Tiberius Caesar, Claudia soon joined her husband in Judea. The wily Pilate had calculated well when he married into royalty.

A SADISTIC ADMINISTRATOR

The Judean perch was not prestigious though, General. The prefects of Judea were not of high social status. At least one – Felix, referenced by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles – was an ex-slave, which says a great deal on the low regard in which the province was held by Rome.

Pilate was only secondarily sent to Judea on account of having married into royalty: his posting to the volatile province stemmed, primarily, from his being of a inferior social pedigree. Be that as it may, Pilate relished the posting in that it gave him the chance to exercise power, absolute power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and in Pilate was the archetypal example, General.

Pilate’s brief was simple: to collect taxes, maintain law and order, maintain infrastructure, and keep the population subdued. Although he was born lowly, he positively had the power of life and death over his Jewish subjects. Let us, General, listen to Josephus in his allusion to Coponius, Judea’s first Roman governor and who like Pilate was from the same subservient social class: “And now Archelaus’ part of Judea was reduced into a province and Coponius, one of the equestrian order among the Romans, was sent as procurator, having the power of life and death put into his hands by Caesar.”

Pilate, General, was callous to a point of being sadistic. He was scarcely the scrupling judge with the rare soft spot that we encounter in the gospels. Philo charges him with “corruptibility, violence, robberies, ill-treatment of the people, grievances, continuous executions without even the form of a trial, endless and intolerable cruelties”.

He further declares him to be a “savage, inflexible, and arbitrary ruler” who was of a “stubborn and harsh quality” and “could not bring himself to do anything that might cause pleasure to the Jews”. The essentially humane character of the Pilate who presided over the trial of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels may not be wholly fictitious but is highly embellished, General.

Why did Pilate have such a pathological hatred of the Jews, General? Sejanus had more to do with it than the spontaneous leanings of his own nature. According to Philo, Sejanus hated the Jews like the plague and wished “to do away with the nation” – to exterminate it. In AD 19, for instance, he forced the Jews in Rome to burn their religious vestments and expelled them from the city without much ado.

For as long as Sejanus was in power, General, Pilate could do pretty much as he pleased. He didn’t have to worry about compromising reportage reaching the emperor as everything went through the implacably anti-Jewish Sejanus. Sejanus was unrivalled in power: golden statues of the general were being put up in Rome, the Senate had voted his birthday a public holiday, public prayers were offered on behalf of Tiberius and Sejanus, and in AD 31 Sejanus was named as Consul jointly with Tiberius.

The Judea posting also gave Pilate a golden opportunity to make money – lots of it. The governors of the Roman provinces were invariably rapacious, greedy, and incompetent: this we learn not only from Jewish historians of the day but from contemporary Roman writers as well such as Tacitus and Juvenal.

As long as the money skimmed from the provinces was not overly excessive, governors were allowed a free hand. It is said of Emperor Tiberius that, “Once he ordered a governor to reverse a steep rise in taxes saying, ‘I want my sheep shorn, not skinned’!” For those governors, such as Pilate, who had support from the very acmes of Roman power, General, they were practically a law unto themselves.

PILATE’S WINGS ARE CLIPPED

Pontius Pilate, General, was untrained in political office. Furthermore, he was a sycophant to the core who was prepared to go to any length in a bid to curry favour with and prove his loyalty to the powers that be in Rome.    Both these attributes gave rise to a series of blunders that brought him the intense hatred of the Jews.

The first abomination he committed in the eyes of the Jews, General, was to set up a temple dedicated to Emperor Tiberius, which he called the Tiberieum, making him the only known Roman official to have built a temple to a living emperor.  True, Roman emperors were worshipped, but Tiberius was the one exception. According to the Roman scholar and historian Suetonius, Tiberius did not allow the consecration of temples to himself. Pilate’s act therefore, General, was an overkill: it was not appreciated at all.

Throughout his tenure, General, Pilate had a series of run-ins with the Jews, some of which entailed a lot of bloodshed and one of which sparked an insurrection that paved the way to Calvary. Then it all began to unravel, General. On October 18 AD 31, his patron Sejanus was summoned to the office of Emperor Tiberius and an angry denunciation was read out to him. It is not clear, General, what caused Sejanus’ fall from the emperor’s good graces but circumstantial evidence points to the perceived threat to the emperor’s power.

As the ancient historian Cassius Dio puts it, “Sejanus was so great a person by reason both of his excessive haughtiness and of his vast power that to put it briefly, he himself seemed to be the emperor and Tiberius a kind of island potentate, inasmuch as the latter spent his time on the island of Capri.”  Sejanus, hitherto the most powerful man in Rome, General, was thrown into a dungeon.

That same evening, he was summarily condemned to death, extracted from his cell, hung, and had his body given over to a crowd that tore it to pieces in a frenzy of manic excitement. His three children were all executed over the following months and his wife, Tiberius’ own daughter, committed suicide.  The people further celebrated his downfall by pulling his statues over.  Meanwhile, General, Tiberius began pursuing all those who could have been involved in the “plots” of Sejanus.

In Judea, Pilate, a Sejanus appointee, must have been badly shaken, General. Were his friends and family under suspicion? Would he be purged like others? Imperial attitudes to the Jewish race seemed to have changed now with the riddance of Sejanus. Tiberius made sure this was the case by appointing a new governor for Syria (who went by the title Legate and to whom Pilate was obligated to report).

The governor, Lucius Pomponius Flaccus, arrived in Rome in AD 32. Philo records that Tiberius now “charged his procurators in every place to which they were appointed to speak comfortably to the members of our nation in the different cities, assuring them that the penal measures did not extend to all but only to the guilty who were few, and to disturb none of the established customs but even to regard them as a trust committed to their care, the people as naturally peaceable and the institution as an influence promoting orderly conduct.”

So Pilate, General, had lost his supporters at the top, his new boss was on his doorstep, and there had been a change of policy regarding the very people he was in charge of. Surely, he would have to watch his step. The fact of the matter, however, General, was that he hardly did so.  In November 32 AD, for instance, he provoked a mini-uprising by the Zealots led by Judas Iscariot, Theudas Barabbas, and Simon Zelotes. It was this revolt, General, that culminated in those three “crosses” of Calvary that are indelibly etched on the mind of every Christian.

NEXT WEEK: ZEALOT REVOLT AGAINST PILATE

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Hustle & Muscle

24th August 2021

Until as recently as the 1980s a career often meant a job for life within a single company or organisation. Phrases such as ‘climbing the corporate ladder’, ‘the glass ceiling’, ‘wage slave’ & ‘the rat race’ were thrown about, the analogies making clear that a career path was a toxic mix of a war of attrition, indentured drudgery and a Sisyphean treadmill.

In all cases you fought, grafted or plodded on till you reached retirement age, at which point you could expect a small leaving party, the promise of a pension and, oddly, a gift of either a clock or watch. The irony of being rewarded with a timepiece on the very day you could expect to no longer be a workday prisoner was apparently lost on management – the hands of time were destined to follow you to the grave!

Retirement was the goal at the end of the long, corporate journey, time on your hands – verifiable by your gifted time keeping device – to spend time working in the garden, playing with the grandchildren, enjoying a holiday or two and generally killing time till time killed you.

For some, retirement could be literally short-lived. The retirement age, and accompanying pension, was predicated on the old adage of three scores years and ten being the average life expectancy of man. As the twentieth century progressed and healthcare became more sophisticated, that former mean average was extended but that in itself then brought with it the double-edged sword of dementia. The longer people lived, the more widespread dementia became – one more life lottery which some won, some lost and doctors were seemingly unable to predict who would succumb and who would survive.

However, much research has been carried out on the causes of this crippling and cruel disease and the latest findings indicate that one of its root causes may lie in the former workplace – what your job entailed and how stimulating or otherwise it was. It transpires that having an interesting job in your forties could lessen the risk of getting dementia in old age, the mental stimulation possibly staving off the onslaught of the condition by around 18 months.

Academics examined more than 100,000 participants and tracked them for nearly two decades. They spotted a third fewer cases of dementia among people who had engaging jobs which involved demanding tasks and more control — such as government officers, directors, physicians, dentists and solicitors, compared to adults in ‘passive’ roles — such as supermarket cashiers, vehicle drivers and machine operators. And those who found their own work interesting also had lower levels of proteins in their blood that have been linked with dementia.

The study was carried out by researchers from University College London, the University of Helsinki and Johns Hopkins University studying the cognitive stimulation and dementia risk in 107,896 volunteers, who were regularly quizzed about their job.  The volunteers — who had an average age of around 45 — were tracked for between 14 and 40 years.  Jobs were classed as cognitively stimulating if they included demanding tasks and came with high job control. Non-stimulating ‘passive’ occupations included those with low demands and little decision-making power.

4.8 cases of dementia per 10,000 person years occurred among those with interesting careers, equating to 0.8 per cent of the group. In contrast, there were 7.3 cases per 10,000 person years among those with repetitive jobs (1.2 per cent). Among people with jobs that were in the middle of these two categories, there were 6.8 cases per 10,000 person years (1.12 per cent).

The link between how interesting a person’s work was and rates of dementia did not change for different genders or ages.Lead researcher Professor Mika Kivimaki, from UCL, said: ‘Our findings support the hypothesis that mental stimulation in adulthood may postpone the onset of dementia. The levels of dementia at age 80 seen in people who experienced high levels of mental stimulation was observed at age 78.3 in those who had experienced low mental stimulation. This suggests the average delay in disease onset is about one and half years, but there is probably considerable variation in the effect between people.’

The study, published this week in the British Medical Journal, also looked at protein levels in the blood among another group of volunteers. These proteins are thought to stop the brain forming new connections, increasing the risk of dementia. People with interesting jobs had lower levels of three proteins considered to be tell-tale signs of the condition.

Scientists said it provided ‘possible clues’ for the underlying biological mechanisms at play. The researchers noted the study was only observational, meaning it cannot establish cause and that other factors could be at play. However, they insisted it was large and well-designed, so the findings can be applied to different populations.

To me, there is a further implication in that it might be fair to expect that those in professions such as law, medicine and science might reasonably be expected to have a higher IQ than those in blue collar roles. This could indicate that mental capacity also plays a part in dementia onset but that’s a personal conclusion and not one reached by the study.

And for those stuck in dull jobs through force of circumstance, all is not lost since in today’s work culture, the stimulating side-hustle is fast becoming the norm as work becomes not just a means of financial survival but a life-enhancing opportunity , just as in the old adage of ‘Find a job you enjoy and you’ll never work another day in your life’!

Dementia is a global concern but ironically it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age and is the second biggest killer in the UK behind heart disease, according to the UK Office for National Statistics. So here’s a serious suggestion to save you from an early grave and loss of competencies – work hard, play hard and where possible, combine the two!

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The Lord Ties The Knot

18th August 2021
JUDAS

… as Judas Iscariot takes strong exception

The gospels which were excluded from the official canon, the New Testament, at the Council of Nicaea are known as the Apocrypha. One of these Apocryphal works, General Atiku, is the gospel of Phillip.  In this gospel, the intimate relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is openly discussed thus:

“And the companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene. But Christ loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on the mouth.  The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said unto him, why do you love her more than all of us? The Saviour answered and said to them, why do   I not love you like her? … Great is the mystery of marriage, for without it the world would never have existed. Now, the existence of the world depends on man, and the existence of man on marriage.”

It is clear from the above statement, General, that Jesus held marriage in high regard because he himself was part and parcel of it.  The disciples (that is, most of them) were offended not because he and Mary were an item but because they simply did not approve of her as she was a Gentile and a commoner.

Otherwise, the kissing was not offensive at all: it was a customary expression of mutual affection between the sacred bride and groom. This we gather from the prototypically romantic Old Testament text known as The Song of Solomon, which opens with the words, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.”  As the Davidic groom, Jesus was therefore entitled to kiss Mary Magdalene as his bride.

THE FIRST MARRIAGE

In September AD 30, General Atiku, Jesus and Mary Magdalene had their First Marriage ceremony. Jesus had turned 36 in that year, the appropriate marriage age for a Davidic heir, and September was the holiest month in the Jewish calendar.  Having been born irregularly himself (in the wrong month of the year because of his father Joseph’s intransigence), Jesus was determined that he himself follow the law to the letter so that his child would not suffer the same indignities as he did. The First Marriage is captured in LUKE 7:35-50.

The marriage took place at the home of Simon the Pharisee. This, General, was another name for Simon Zelotes, the stepfather of Mary Magdalene. Although Mary Magdalene is not directly named, she is described as a “sinner”. This was another term for Gentiles, as in the eyes of the Jewish God, they were unregenerate and therefore hopeless sinners.  Mary Magdalene, whose mother Helena-Salome was of Syrian origin (Syro-Phoenicia to be specific), was a Gentile.

On the occasion, Mary Magdalene performed three acts on Jesus as set out in LUKE 7:38. She wept; kissed his feet; and anointed him with ointment. This is what a bride was supposed to do to her groom as clearly evinced in The Song of Solomon, a series of love poems concerning a spouse and her husband the King.

Of the three rites, perhaps it is the weeping that require elucidation, General. This was at once symbolic and sentimental.  The First Marriage was simply a ceremony: the moment the ceremony was over, the husband and wife separated, that is, they lived apart until the month of December, when they came together under one roof.  This was in accord with Essene stipulations for dynastic marriages, that is, those of the Davidic Messiah and the priestly Messiah.

Prior to the First Marriage, the bride was known as an Almah, meaning a betrothed Virgin. After the First Marriage ceremony, the Almah was demoted to a Sister. This was because the ensuing three-month separation meant husband and wife would not indulge in sexual activity and so the wife was as good as a sister to her husband. The imagery of Sister also being a wife is seen in 1 CORINTHIANS 9:5, where the apostle Paul refers to his wife as Sister. In ACTS 23:16, Paul’s wife is again referred to as his Sister.

Now, when the Almah became a Sister, General, she was metaphorically called a Widow, because she was being separated  from her newly wedded husband. As such, she was expected to symbolically weep on account of this separation. That explains why Mary Magdalene had to weep at her first wedding. It is a pity, General, that most Christians and their clergy miss the real story so wrongly indoctrinated are they.

In December AD 30, Jesus moved in with Mary Magdalene to consummate the marriage. It was hoped that Mary would fall pregnant so that in March the following year, a Second (and final) Marriage ceremony would be held.  Sadly, conception did not take place. According to Essene dynastic procreational rules, the couple had to separate again. They would reunite in December AD 31 for another try at conception.

The reason they separated was because for a dynastic heir, marriage was purely for procreation and not for recreational sex. But even that year, General, Mary did not fall pregnant, necessitating another year-long separation. What that meant was that Mary would be given one more last chance – in December AD 32, by which time Jesus would have been 38.  If she did not conceive this time around, the marriage would come to an end through a legal divorce and Jesus would be free to seek a new spouse.

THE FINAL MARRIAGE

In December 32, Mary Magdalene, General, finally conceived. When Jesus was crucified therefore in April 33 AD, his wife was three months pregnant. By this time, the Second Marriage ceremony, the final one, had already taken place, this being in March. The Second Marriage is cursorily related in MATTHEW 26:6-13; MARK 14:3-9; and JOHN 12:1-8.The John version reads as follows:

“Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany, where was Lazarus, who had died, whom he raised out of the dead; they made, therefore, to him a supper there, and Martha was ministering, and Lazarus was one of those reclining together (at meat) with him; Mary, therefore, having taken a pound of ointment of spikenard, of great price, anointed the feet of Jesus and did wipe with her hair his feet, and the house was filled from the fragrance of the ointment.

Therefore said one of his disciples – Judas Iscariot, of Simon, who was about to deliver him up – ‘Therefore was not this ointment sold for three hundred denaries, and given to the poor?’ and he said this, not because he was caring for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and what things were put in he was carrying. Jesus, therefore, said, ‘Suffer her; for the day of my embalming she has kept it, for the poor you have always with yourselves, and me you have not always.’”

This story (also see JOHN 11:1-44) centres on four people primarily, General. They are Jesus; Lazarus; Mary; and Martha. “Mary” was actually Mary Magdalene.  “Martha” was a titular name for her mother, Helena-Salome.  In the Lazarus story, the two ladies are referred to as “sisters”. This denotes conventual sisters, like the Catholics refer to conventual nuns, and not sisters by blood. Helena-Salome actually headed a nunnery. By the same token, the reference to Lazarus as “brother” has a connotation akin to what Pentecostals refer to as “Brother in Christ”.

Thus, the story revolves around Jesus the groom; his bride Mary Magdalene; his father-in-law Simon Zelotes; and his mother-in-law Helena-Salome. This is a family affair folks, which provides strong hints as to the exact relationship between Jesus and Mary. The raising from the dead of a man called Lazarus, sadly, was not a miracle at all:  it was a ceremonial restoration from excommunication back to the Essene governing council, which comprised of Jesus and his so-called 12 disciples.

The “Lazarus” who was thus restored was actually Simon Zelotes, at the time the most “beloved” by Jesus of the entire apostolic band, who had been demoted under circumstances relating to a Zealot uprising against Pontius Pilate.  More will be said on the subject at a later stage.

The anointing of Jesus by Mary with “spikenard”, General, harps back to ancient married rituals as patently demonstrated in The Song of Solomon. This was the second time Mary had anointed Jesus, first at the First Marriage in September AD 30 AD and now at the Second Marriage in March 32 AD. On both occasions, Mary anointed Jesus whilst he sat at table.

In SONG OF SOLOMON 1:12, the bride says, “While the King sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof”.  The anointing in the gospels was therefore an allusion to the ancient rite whereby a royal bride prepared her groom’s table. Only as the wife of Jesus and as a priestess in her own right could Mary Magdalene have anointed both the feet and head of Jesus.

The anointing in effect had two purposes: first, to seal the marriage, and second, to officially announce to the Jewish nation that Jesus was the Davidic Messiah (and not his younger brother James, who had been so promoted by John the Baptist).  It all harped back to the tradition in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, where Kings or Pharaohs were anointed for office (in their case with crocodile fat) by their half-sister brides.

The King’s bride actually kept the anointment substance for use for one more time – when the King died. You can now understand, General, why Jesus said “the day of my embalming she has kept it” in reference to his anointing by Mary Magdalene and why the first person to feature at the tomb of Jesus was none other than Mary Magdalene!

Three passages in the Lazarus story     (in JOHN11: 1-44) are particularly telling.  They are Verses 20, 28, and 29. They read as follows: “When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house … After Martha said this, she went back and called her sister Mary privately. ‘The Master is here,’ she told her, ‘and is asking for you.’ When Mary heard this, she got up and hurried out to meet him.”  The reason Mary (Magdalene) first kept her place before proceeding to meet Jesus, General, is not supplied in the Johannine gospel.

However, the Apocryphal document which has come to be known as The Secret Gospel of Mark sheds more light, General.  It explains that on the first occasion, Mary did come out to meet Jesus along with her mother Martha (Helena-Salome) but upon being rebuked by the disciples of Jesus, she repaired back to the house. Why was she lashed out at, General? Because according to the Essene matrimonial code, she was not permitted to come out of her own accord and greet her husband: she was to wait until he had given her express permission to emerge.

There is yet another element in the conduct of Mary Magdalene that has parallels with Solomon’s queen, General. In the back-and-forth romantic dialogue between the couple, the queen is referred to as a “Shulamite” (SONG OF SOLOMON 6:13). The Shulamites were from the Syrian border town of  Solam and we have already seen that Mary’s first foster father, Syro the Jairus, was a Syrian, as was her mother Helena-Salome.

JUDAS DENOUNCES THE MARRIAGE

The marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalene was vehemently opposed by most of his so-called disciples. The most vociferous on this position, General, was Judas Iscariot. The writer of the John gospel characterises Judas as a “thief” who used to pilfer alms money but that is a smear.  The gospels were written post-eventual and therefore Judas’ name was already in ignominy.

His detractors therefore had a field day at sullying his character. Yet prior to the betrayal, Judas Iscariot, General, was one of the most respected figures among the Essene community. At the time of Jesus’ marriage, Judas was the second-highest ranking Essene after Simon Zelotes (that is the meaning of “Judas of Simon” in the passage quoted above, meaning “Judas the deputy of Simon”): Jesus was third, although politically he was the seniormost.

Judas opposed the marriage on grounds, primarily, that Mary Magdalene was not only a Gentile but a commoner. Judas had the right to pronounce on Jesus’ marriage because it was he who was in charge of the Essene’s order of Dan, to which Mary Magdalene belonged prior to her marriage to Jesus and therefore had the right whether to release her for marriage or retain her in the convent. Judas would rather the spikenard (the most expensive fragrance of the day, the reason it was only used by queens) was sold and the money generated donated to the Essene kitty (“the poor” was another name for Essenes: when Jesus in the Beatitudes said “blessed are the poor”, he was not referring to you and me: he meant the Essenes).

Sadly General, as high-standing as he was, Judas had no right of veto over the marriage of a Davidic heir: only Simon Zelotes had by virtue of his position as the Essene’s Pope. Simon Zelotes was Mary Magdalene’s step-father and there was no way he was going to stand in the way of the marriage of his own daughter. Moreover, Jesus had already begun to fancy himself as Priest-King.

As far as he was concerned therefore, he was at once the Davidic Messiah and the Priestly Messiah – the Melchizedek. Thus even if Simon Zelotes had perchance objected to the marriage, Jesus would have gone ahead with it anyway. It was Jesus’ highly unpopular appropriated role as the Melchizedek, General, that set him on the path to Calvary.

NEXT WEEK: A NEW GOVERNOR COMES TO TOWN

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