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Final Word on Apostle Paul

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

HOW DID PAUL COME TO OVERSHADOW  ALL THE OTHER APOSTLES WHEN HE NEVER MET JESUS IN PERSON?
This may strike you as odd but Paul personally knew Jesus  and in fact did spend a great deal more time with Jesus than all the other apostles post the sham crucifixion.  Remember, the Romans were supposed to be under the blindfold that Jesus had died in the crucifixion of  March AD 33. The Romans were indeed taken in as the demise of Jesus  was  even recorded in the annals of Rome,  as he was a  Davidic heir and therefore was of high standing among the Jews. Cornelius Tacitus, a  Roman who was both a historian and senator, documents that, “Christus, from whom their name (of Christians)  is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius.” Hence, if Paul was personally acquainted with Jesus subsequent to the crucifixion, he wasn’t going to promulgate this privillege. Paul was only 16 years old  when Jesus was crucified and assumed by the wider public to have died and if he had openly told the world he had an intimate personal knowledge of Jesus by AD 33, they would have thought he was out of his mind. So the only way he could rationalise his vaunted knowledge of Jesus was to couch his encounter with him in mystical terms. Yet even though to the public his commissioning by  Jesus came across as supernatural,  in pesher it is plain that he met Jesus in the natural.   

WHY WAS PAUL SO VIRULENTLY OPPOSED TO THE EARLY CHURCH?
A lot of hogwash has been said about Paul having never met Jesus even by scholars with PhDs in theology. Like every other Jew of the day, Paul knew about Jesus as a youngster. Paul was born in AD 17 and Jesus as the Davidic heir was a well-known figure at the time. Paul was partly educated at Qumran, the place where Jesus was often found and even taught (he was a rabbi, meaning “teacher”) and to say he never met Jesus is an absurdity. He knew both Jesus and his younger brother James at a  very early age. When he became of age (between ages 12 and 16), Paul joined the Qumran faction known as the Hebrews, the faction that  traditionally had been pro- John the Baptist and which promoted James as the Davidic heir at the expense of  Jesus since Jesus was born in an irregular month for a Davidic heir and was thought to be tacitly cosy with the Roman oppressors.  That’s what he meant when he referred to himself as a “Hebrew of the Hebrews” (PHILIPPIANS 3:5).  Paul also hated the fact that Jesus fancied himself as a Priest-King when his father Joseph was of the tribe  of Judah and not a Levite. When Agrippa I became Rome’s client King of the Jews in AD 37, Paul, who had always been attached to the House of Herod as the Essene order of Benjamin (to which Paul belonged) used to congregate at Agrippa’s home in Jerusalem became the instrument with which Rome persecuted the early church, then known as the Nazarenes or simply the Way. Paul was given authority to arrest any extremist Nazarene anywhere in Palestine. The Nazarenes were headed by James the Just but were actively led by Simon Peter. One of their firebrands, Stephen, was stoned to death by a mob superintended over by Paul in a tactical “coup” whereby the behind-the-scenes Anunnaki wanted to set up Paul as the main propagator in future of  the Jesus saga at the expense of Stephen,  who was already primed to do so.     

JUST HOW EDUCATED WAS THE GREAT APOSTLE PAUL?
He is said to have had the equivalent of two PhDs. He was educated at three schools. The first was Qumran, the Essene headquarters. The second was the School of Hillel in Jerusalem, which was run by the great Jewish rabbi Gamaliel, and where he was contemporaries with the evangelist Luke  and the Annas brothers Theophillus (the sponsor of Luke’s gospel and Acts), Jonathan (the disciple Nathaniel) and Simon.  Gamaliel taught his students not only the tenets of  the Torah and other Old Testament texts but also subjects like classical literature, philosophy, and ethics. Finally, Paul attended  the University of  Tarsus, the Harvard and Oxford of the day. The Greek city  Tarsus, in  today’s south central  Turkey, was the capital of the ancient province of Cilicia and one of the largest trade centres on the Mediterranean coast.  It was in Tarsus that Paul was born, but he was not born a Roman citizen as most scholars would have you believe. A letter dated 23rd  March  59 AD shows that Paul’s Roman citizenship was facilitated by  Seneca, the famous Stoic philosopher who had tutored the schizophrenic Roman  Emperor Nero and who had taken a keen interest in Paul’s version of  Judaism (Paul and Seneca exchanged a great deal of  documented correspondence which can be found in extra-biblical sources).  It is clear from the gospels that Paul was a learned man both religiously and secularly. When he was in Athens, for instance, and debated the Greek philosophers in  a bid to pitch Christianity to them, he copiously  quoted their own savants.  For instance, in ACTS  chapter 17, where he addressed the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, he cited The Phaenomena by the great poet Aratus of Soli not only to demonstrate his erudition but to underline to the Athenians that their religion was tantamount to idolatry (v17). When in v28 he says, “For in Him we live and move and exist”, and in TITUS 1:12 he says, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons,”  he was quoting Epimenides of Knossos (modern-day Crete), a Greek seer and philosopher-poet. In ACTS  17:29, he says, “As even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children’.” Here again, he was quoting Aratus. The expression “Bad company corrupts good morals” in 1 CORINTHIANS 15:33 was lifted straight from Menander, the great Greek playwright.

COULD YOU SHED CLEARER LIGHT ON HOW PAUL MET JESUS SINCE THE VERSION OF EVENTS IN ACTS SOUNDS SORT OF THEATRICAL?
The so-called Damascus event as recorded in various passages of ACTS was not the first time  Paul encountered Jesus. It simply marked the occasion of  his switch of allegiance from the fundamentalist Pharisees (who were ready to kill to enforce and uphold rabbinical Judaism) to  the Jesus movement, the so-called Hellenists who advocated pro-Roman cooperation.  It did not even take place in Damascus: it took place at Qumran, in AD 40, when a conference was held to discuss the Jewish position in relation to Rome. Nor was it supernatural at all:  it was natural through and through. At the Qumran sanctuary, the counterpart to the Jerusalem Temple,  there was a prayer platform which had a half roof. The platform was metaphorically referred to as Heaven. Between noon and 3 pm each day, the half roof was open and therefore it was said “Heaven is open”. Paul arrived at the conference with a view to tear into Jesus. Paul was particularly irate that a statue of the reigning Roman Emperor Caligula had been set up within the Jerusalem Temple and put the blame for such a sacrilege squarely on people like Jesus,  who advocated a passive stance toward Roman rule.  When Paul entered the prayer room, in which the conference was being held, part of the roof had been removed, allowing the sun to shine down to indicate the time and to reveal  the priest who was conducting prayers above. Paul first prostrated himself along with other congregants, averting his eyes to avoid looking too long up into the blazing sun.  Then defying all protocols, he launched into an angry tirade at Jesus,  denouncing him as a “bastard”. Jesus, who  was on the pulpit, calmly asked him to come and sit at the front of the pews.  Then he belted off a sermon in which he not only bemoaned  why Paul was “persecuting” him but  sagely pointed out the error of Paul’s ways. Having listened to Jesus’s persuasive sermon, it dawned on Paul that  he had been blinded by sectarian dogma and immediately disposed himself to make amends,  profusely apologising to Jesus.  Later, Jesus asked Simon Zelotes ( who goes by the code name Ananias in ACTS chapter 9) to instruct Paul as to  why Jesus was indeed Priest-King. Simon Zelotes was at first reluctant to address him, considering his reputation as the foremost afflicter  of the Jesus movement but he at long last relented. Metaphorically, Paul had hitherto been “blind”: now after his enlightenment by Simon Zelotes, he “saw the light of life”, a phrase  that we find in the Dead Sea Scrolls. But it was not until three years later, in AD 43, that Paul was fully converted to the Jesus cause.

OTHER THAN THE DAMASCUS INCIDENT, WHAT EVIDENCE FROM THE BIBLE CAN YOU ADDUCE THAT JESUS DID INTERACT WITH PAUL POST THE CRUCIFIXION?
One is 2 TIMOTHY 2:9. In the passage, Paul, who was under house arrest in Rome at King Agrippa II’s house (whilst awaiting his first trial before Roman governors Felix and Festus) sent a coded message that “The Word of God is no fettered”. “The Word  of God” as we have long demonstrated was the pesher name for Jesus. The message Paul was trying to convey was that Jesus was free: he had not been pounced upon by the Roman authorities, who were looking for him not  as the Jesus who had been crucified but as “Chrestus”, the underground leader of the Christians in Rome.   

AT THE TIME OF HIS CONVERSION, PAUL IS SAID TO HAVE BEEN IN DAMASCUS WITH A MANDATE BY THE HIGH PRIEST TO ARREST CHRISTIANS. WAS DAMASCUS PART OF PALESTINE AT THE TIME?
No: Damascus was part of Syria and the High Priest of the Jerusalem Temple had no jurisdiction in Syria. In fact, his jurisdiction was restricted to Judea only. The Damascus Luke alludes to in ACTS is actually Qumran, the Essene headquarters in the Judean Wilderness. The Dead Sea Scrolls’ Damascus Document makes it plain that Damascus was actually a name the Essenes had earmarked for Qumran in a liberated Israel and therefore used in their coded writings.

WHY, WHEN, AND HOW DID PAUL CHANGE HIS NAME FROM SAUL TO PAUL?
Luke uses the name Saul until ACTS 13:9, when he switches to Paul. People have had the misconception that it was Jesus who renamed Saul as Paul upon his conversion. That’s simply not true. ACTS 13:9 says “Paul, who was also called Paul”, not “Saul, who became known as Paul”. What that means is simply that Paul went by  both names since childhood. It was typical for first century Jews to have an original  Jewish name and a secondary Greek name, e.g. “John, also called Mark” (ACTS 12:12) and  Paul's companion Silas (ACTS 15-18), who was also known as Silvanus (2 CORINTHIANS  1:19). Paul means “a small man”. Certainly, Jesus would never have christened  the apostle who was destined for great things with such a disparaging name. Saul therefore must have been also called by the name Paul from childhood apparently because he was of a slight physical stature.  Luke’s onward reference to him as Paul from ACTS 13:9 was meant to underline the fact that before his conversion, he persecuted the Son of David, Jesus, just as the first Jewish King,  Saul, persecuted Jesus’s genealogical father David before he became king. Upon his conversion, therefore, the name Saul had to be discarded completely since it had a negative historical connotation.  

WHAT WERE THE SPECIFIC ROLES OF PAUL AND SIMON PETER IN WORLD EVANGELISM?
James had decided that both were going to be his evangelistic ambassadors to the Roman world.  But Paul  was to concentrate on ministration to Gentiles, whilst Simon Peter was to devote himself to Jews of the Diaspora.   

WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE THEOLOGY OF JAMES AND THAT OF PAUL? FOR JUDGING FROM GALATIANS AND THE EPISTLE OF JAMES, THE TWO DID NOT EXACTLY GET ALONG.
James’ brand of Christianity was Judeo-Christianity. It was Christianity that was strictly Torah-observant. On the other hand, Paul’s brand of Christianity was a radical one which sought to breakaway from the straitjacket of Judaism, to forge a standalone religion. The Christianity that   is observed today in all of Christendom is all Pauline Christianity.  For example, Paul preached that faith in Jesus alone was sufficient for salvation, whereas James strongly countered that, scoffing that faith had to be accompanied by good and exemplary works; otherwise, it was a dead faith.  Paul’s Christianity elevated Jesus to the status of a God-Man, whereas James’s Christianity received Jesus as a mere mortal but who was larger than life anyway. Because of Paul’s radical theology, there came a time when James had to send deputations  to Asia Minor to try and undo the damage Paul’s theology had wrought. James and others called Paul the “Man of Lies”, a tag that we constantly encounter in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

JUST HOW PRONOUNCED WAS THE TENSION BETWEEEN PAUL AND JAMES AS YOU HINTED IN ONE OF YOUR ARTICLES?
It was a heated one. Paul never exactly accepted James’s authority because he (Paul) was in constant touch with Jesus up until the time he (Paul) he died. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul angrily ticks off the men who came from James to right the “falsehoods” he had preached. He actually cursed them (GALATIANS 1:9) and crudely added: “I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves” (GALATIANS 5:12). He argued that he was commissioned into ministry not by any ordinary man (meaning James) but by “Christ himself”. He publicly denounced Simon Peter, who was wavering between the theology of James and that of Paul, as a hypocrite (GALATIANS 2:11-14).

IF JESUS WAS NOT GOD, WHY DID PAUL GO TO THE EXTENT HE DID IN PROJECTING HIM AS SUCH AND AT THE  RISK OF HIS OWN LIFE?
The Anunnaki (Enlil-Jehovah’s faction) hoodwinked him into doing so. Remember, Paul did not launch into outright evangelism after his conversion. He says he first went to Arabia for three years. It seems it was whilst he was in Arabia that he was indoctrinated by the Anunnaki to propagate a new religion that would project Jesus as God as part of their futuristic agenda to enslave mankind both spiritually and psychologically. In return, the Anunnaki promised him rich afterlife rewards on their planet Nibiru (2 TIMOTHY 7:8), to which they even astral-projected him at one time to demonstrate to him that his labours would indeed not be in vain (2 CORINTHIANS 12:2).     

HOW DID PAUL AND THE OTHER APOSTLES DIE?
Paul was put to the sword by Roman Emperor Nero in AD 64 after serving time at the notorious Mamertine Prison along with Simon Peter (Paul makes reference to his stint here in TIMOTHY 4:21/26 and PHILIPPIANS 1:13). Simon Peter was also crucified upside-down by the same anti-Christian emperor in the same year. Jesus, who was in Rome at the time (using the cover name Chrestus)  actually decided to come out of hiding and hand himself over to the Roman  authorities (who were looking for the ring leader of the Christian movement)  but Simon Peter  urged against the move, insisting he was ready to die in his stead. Simon Zelotes died whilst performing a levitation feat in Rome in the AD 40s.   Of course we know what happened to Judas Iscariot, James the son of Zebedee, and James the Just. Only the apostle John lived to a ripe old age and died a natural death. As for the other apostles, the manner of their deaths as handed down to us is all embellished myth, with no tangible facts whatsoever.

NEXT WEEK: QUESTIONS ON THE PRIESTLY MESSIAH

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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The Era of “The Diplomat”

30th November 2020
FATED “JIHADI” JOHN

Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years

Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.

Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.

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Land Board appointments of party activists is political corruption

30th November 2020

Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.

The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?

Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.

How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court.  It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.

Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.

Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.

Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.

There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards.  The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.

Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.

So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics.  The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.

He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.

Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.

The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.

The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.

Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.

It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.

Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.

The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.

The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.

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