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Final Word on James the Just

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

This week we deal with questions on the iconic brother of Jesus

JUST WHO BECAME THE LEADER OF THE EARLY CHURCH AFTER THE CRUCIFIXION? READING THE BOOK OF ACTS, IT’S LIKE IT’S A TOSS-UP BETWEEN PETER AND PAUL AND NOT JAMES THE BROTHER OF JESUS AS YOU SUGGEST.
The truth of the matter is that   the official early church was led neither by Paul nor Simon Peter but by James the Just, the immediate younger brother of Jesus. The top three in the apostolic hierarchy were James, Simon Peter, and John the “Son of Zebedee” in that order. These three were referred to as “The Pillars” (GALATIANS 2:9).  Paul was the so-called Thirteenth Apostle. He was a John-Come-Lately who was unilaterally commissioned into evangelistic duty by Jesus at the say-so of the behind-the-scenes Anunnaki. Although he was at long last welcomed into the fold by James and company, he was never fully embraced as an apostle owing to his unsavoury track record as a persecutor of the church and because of his brand of theology that was at cross-purposes with what James and others preached.  It explains why in 1 CORINTHIANS chapter 9, Paul goes out of his way to set down his bona fides as an apostle with full stripes.  

YOU SAID JESUS WAS SUCCEEDED BY HIS YOUNGER BROTHER JAMES AS THE LEADER OF THE CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT. IS THERE EVIDENCE IN THE BIBLE THAT THAT WAS INDEED THE CASE?
There is ample evidence yes. Let’s start with the testimony of Paul. In  GALATIANS 1:18-19, Paul says when he decided to close ranks with the Christian movement after three years of introspection, the only apostles he met were Peter and James, that is, the top two.  In ACTS 12:17, Simon Peter, after his escape from prison, relays word to some people that “James and the brothers” (that is, the other brothers of Jesus) should be notified of his freedom.  Obviously, the reason it was necessary for James to be informed of Peter’s circumstances was because he was the head of the movement.

In ACTS 21:17-18, Luke relates that when he went to Jerusalem as part of a deputation led by Paul, the person they sought to meet was James. When the meeting was held the following day, “all the elders were present”, incontrovertible evidence that James was the leader of the early church. Perhaps the most persuasive evidence that James was the head of the Christian movement after the crucifixion   can be gleaned from ACTS chapter 15. At a Jerusalem conference (“Jerusalem” here meaning Qumran, as that was one of its nicknames) held in AD 50, at which matters of crucial importance were to be deliberated and codified and where Paul and  all the apostles and elders were present, the concluding speakers were Simon Peter and James. But of the two, it was James who spoke last and pronounced the binding decision. He said, “It is my judgement that …” That doubtless was the voice of the highest authority.

DID JESUS EXPRESSLY APPOINT HIS YOUNGER BROTHER JAMES AS HIS SUCCESSOR? I DON’T SEE THAT IN THE GOSPELS.
True, that is not made plain in the Bible but it is in extra-biblical sources. In the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, for example, saying 12 has the disciples say to Jesus:  “We know that you will leave us. Who is going to be our leader then?” Jesus answers: “No matter where you go, you are to go to James the Just,” meaning that the authority of James was not restricted to Jerusalem but was inclusive of the Diaspora.  A Syriac source titled The Ascents of James, says, “The church in Jerusalem that was established by our Lord was increasing in numbers being ruled uprightly and firmly by James who was made Overseer over it by our Lord”. 

The Clementine Recognitions also has this to say of James: “Wherefore observe the greatest caution that you believe no teacher, unless he brings from Jerusalem the testimonial of James the Lord’s brother, or of whosoever may come after him.” The elevation of Simon Peter at the expense of James was a ploy by the Vatican to undermine the Jesus dynasty and write it into oblivion. The Vatican claims apostolic descent from Simon Peter, who they say was the first Pope. Yet Peter never held any formal office. The first Pope was Britain’s Prince Linus. This fact, ironically, is recorded in the Vatican’s own Apostolic Constitutions. Prince Linus wasn’t even installed by Peter: he was installed by the apostle Paul in 58 AD and this was during Peter’s lifetime.

JESUS DESIGNATED SIMON PETER AS THE ROCK UPON WHICH HE WAS GOING TO BUILD HIS CHURCH, MEANING HIS SUCCESSOR ONCE HE HAD DEPARTED THE EARTHLY SCENE.  HOW DOES THIS SQUARE WITH YOUR ASSERTION THAT HE WAS ACTUALLY SUCCEEDED BY HIS YOUNGER BROTHER JAMES AS THE LEADER OF THE EARLY CHURCH?
The inference that Simon Peter was Jesus’s anointed successor stems from MATTHEW 16:18, which reads, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it”.  The statement, which was uttered by Jesus in AD 32, that is, before the crucifixion, has been taken wholly out of context.  The English translation from the original Greek has also contributed to the distortion. We know Simon Peter was nicknamed “Rocky” by Jesus because of his tough-man demeanour and owing to the fact that he was Jesus’s chief bodyguard in his capacity as the Davidic King. But Peter did have other responsibilities. Not only was he Jesus’s chief spokesman but he was also his lead evangelist being a dynamic and fiery speaker. At Qumran, the Essene headquarters, Peter was in AD 32 put in charge of the ekklesia, meaning “the called-out”, by Jesus, who at the time was third in the Qumran priestly hierarchy.  

The ekklesia were married men (as opposed to celibates, another specific Essene class) from Essene villages who from time to time were called upon to bring along food tithes for the Essene priests.   Since they came from all over, they spent some time at Qumran before they returned to their families. The ekklesia were also known as the Kath holon, meaning “according to the whole ones”. They were whole (holos) because unlike celibates they were married and so were complete. It is the term Kath holon which gives us the English word Catholic, meaning “universal”.

Thus in MATTHEW 16:18, Jesus was simply assigning Peter a new Qumran responsibility and not designating him as his successor. In any case, the nickname Peter, Petros in Greek, means “small stone” or “pebble”. You don’t build a globalwide church on a pebble; you build it on a real rock. As for the statement “the gates of hades will not overpower it”, this was figurative language. The “gates of Hades” were a set of objectionable vices. In the Dead Sea Scrolls’ Community Document, they are also known as the “three nets of Belial”. They were fornication, love of riches, and conduct that served to defile the Qumran sanctuary. In employing the term, all Jesus was saying was that Simon Peter’s assigned ministry would never be corrupted by these kinds of temptation because he was a married man, principled, and content with his standard of living.  

IN MATTHEW 16:19, JESUS HANDED THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN TO SIMON PETER. IN OTHER WORDS, HE TIPPED PETER AS HIS SUCCESSOR AND NOT HIS BROTHER JAMES AS YOU ALLEGE. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN YOURSELF OUT OF THS STARK FACT?
MATTHEW 16:19 reads, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Again this is another passage of the scriptures that has been blown out of proportion, much like MATTHEW 16:18, and upon which the Vatican seized to elevate Simon Peter to a status he did not remotely deserve.   If we are to properly contextualise the statement, it is crucial that we turn to IASIAH 22:22, which reads as follows: “And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David.

He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” This is Enlil, the Anunnaki god of the Jews best-known as Jehovah, talking about Eliakim, the royal chamberlain (an officer who managed the household of a monarch) of King Hezekiah of Judah (who was of the Davidic lineage).  The “keys of the kingdom of heaven” is thus synonymous with the “key of the House of David”. But the key in Isaiah was not promised to the King’s heir: it was promised to a chief of staff of the King’s palatial personnel.

Eliakim was not the King’s heir apparent but his right-hand man. Similarly therefore, what Jesus was saying to Peter was that he was designating him as the right-hand man to his successor – his younger brother James the Just. That’s what Peter actually became post the crucifixion. He was James’s right pillar, whereas John was James’s left pillar. Peter was commissioned by James to minister to Jews in the Diaspora (GALATIANS 2:2). He was given the authority to admit Diaspora Jews (pry them loose from worldly shackles) into the Essene fraternity (codenamed “Heaven”, whereas non-Essenes were said to be “of Earth” or “of the World”) or expel them where they were errant (bind them).  

IF JAMES THE BROTHER OF JESUS TOOK OVER THE LEADERSHIP OF THE EARLY CHURCH AFTER THE DEPARTURE OF JESUS, THEN HOW COME THAT IN THE EARLY CHAPTERS OF ACTS IT IS SIMON PETER WHO WE SEE TAKE CENTRE STAGE AND EXERCISE HEGEMONY INSTEAD OF JAMES?
Simon Peter was initially deliberately promoted by Luke – in his book of Acts – at the expense of James. Now, although Luke is impeccable when it comes to the historical settings of his narratives (places, civic institutions and authorities, etc), he is unabashedly biased in one particular vein – his marginalisation of the role of the family of Jesus in the evolution of the early church. I will give only a few examples though they abound both in his gospel and in Acts. In the gospel, he never mentions a single name of Jesus’s brothers though Mark, his main source, categorically does so. In Acts, he starts by casting Peter as the leader of the church, instead of James; then at some stage, once Paul is introduced, the story becomes a one-way trumpeting of the exploits of Paul. Luke was a fan, physician, and travelling companion of Paul and therefore Paul had to be exalted.  At the first formal meeting of the apostles at Qumran forty days after the crucifixion, Luke mentions all the names of the apostles who were present. But the family of Jesus he simply generalises thus: “… including Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers”. 

When he finally mentions James in the course of his story, he does not introduce him the way he did Paul, for instance. James simply floats into the narrative from without. Of course he does imply James was the leader of the early church as we have seen, but he does not directly state so. Aware that after James was killed he was succeeded by another member of the Jesus family – something he does not wish to make known to his readers for fear that it will put the Jesus dynasty on a pedestal at the expense of Paul – he terminates his story at the time Paul was evangelising in Rome. Scholars have puzzled over the abrupt ending of the book of Acts. The reason is simply that it was a deliberate ploy by Luke: he didn’t want people in the Roman world to get to know that after the death of James in AD 62, his successor was his first cousin Simeon and for the next sixty years or so, members of the Jesus dynasty continued to be at the helm of the Jerusalem church.

HOW DID JAMES DIE AND WHO SUCEEDED HIM AS LEADER OF THE EARLY CHURCH?
Flavius Josephus relates that James was stoned to death in AD 62 at the orders of Annas, the youngest son of the Annas who interrogated Jesus in AD 33. Annas had just been appointed high priest of the Jerusalem Temple by the recently deceased governor of Judea Porcius Festus. What happened was that James, who had been high priest of the Qumran temple for almost 30 years, decided to forcefully take over the Jerusalem temple as well and Annas hit back by seizing him, trying him hurriedly in a kangaroo court setting and having him executed outside the Jerusalem temple in broad daylight before the new governor Albinas arrived. The outraged Essenes, however, sent a vehement protest to Albinas while he was on his way to Jerusalem and the moment he arrived, he had Annas fired after only three months in office. According to Eusebius and Epiphanious, James, who was the most respected Jew of the day, was succeeded by his cousin Simeon, the son of his uncle Cleopas. Simon was in office up to AD 106. Meanwhile, Annas was a marked man: when the Zealots overthrew the Romans in the AD 66 uprising, Annas was one of the first to be put to the sword.  

WHICH ROMAN EMPEROR LAUNCHED A MANHUNT FOR JAMES?
Actually all members of the Jesus dynasty were put on a wanted list by Roman emperors.  For instance, Hegesippus writes that Vespasian commanded that “the family of David to be sought, that no one might be left among the Jews who was of royal stock”. Emperor Domitian was also dead set against the Jesus clan. Hegesippus says he ordered the execution of all the “Desposyni inheritors of Jesus”. In AD 106, Simeon, the cousin of James who was in charge of the Jerusalem church, was crucified by Emperor Trajan.  The apostle John in REVELATION 12:17 cryptically captures the victimisation of Mary Magdalene and her offspring  in these words: “Then the dragon (Rome) was enraged at the woman (Mary Magdalene) and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring (Jesus’s children and the extended family) – those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus”. And of course Jesus Justus, Jesus’s heir, was crucified at Masada during the reign of Vespasian.

YOU SAID THE FAMILIES OF JESUS AND JAMES “CONJOINED”. DID THEY INTERMARRY?
Yes they did. This happened in the mid-second century when Aminadab, a great-grandson of Jesus and Mary Magdalene through their last-born son Joseph, married Eurgen, a great-grand daughter of James and his wife Anna. The conjoined line became known as the Fisher Kings (that is, Enki’s Kings). In the 4th century, a Fisher King married into a family of the Sicambrian Franks of France, spawning a new dynasty known as the Merovingians, who ruled a great swathe of Europe and were reputed to be very popular kings. In the latter-day world, the best-known descendent of the Jesus dynasty was Princess Diana.  But the linear descendant, who has being completely ignored and even vilified thanks to Illuminati intrigue, is 7th Count of Albany, Prince Michael James Alexander Stewart, now 57 years old.

NEXT WEEK: QUESTIONS ON THE “GREAT APOSTLE”

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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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