Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Jesus: Philosopher and Apologist

Article ID: DJ700

By: Douglas Groothuis

This article first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume 25, number 2 (2002). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org
Contrary to the views of critics, Jesus Christ was a brilliant thinker, who used logical arguments to refute His critics and establish the truth of His views. When Jesus praised the faith of children, He was encouraging humility as a virtue, not irrational religious trust or a blind leap of faith in the dark. Jesus deftly employed a variety of reasoning strategies in His debates on various topics. These include escaping the horns of a dilemma, a fortiori arguments, appeals to evidence, and reductio ad absurdum arguments. Jesus’ use of persuasive arguments demonstrates that He was both a philosopher and an apologist who rationally defended His worldview in discussions with some of the best thinkers of His day. This intellectual approach does not detract from His divine authority but enhances it. Jesus’ high estimation of rationality and His own application of arguments indicates that Christianity is not an anti-intellectual faith. Followers of Jesus today, therefore, should emulate His intellectual zeal, using the same kinds or arguments He Himself used. Jesus’ argumentative strategies have applications to four contemporary debates: the relationship between God and morality, the reliability of the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus, and ethical relativism.
I had to face the question of whether Jesus was a philosopher and apologist head-on when I was asked to write a book on Jesus for the Wadsworth Philosophers Series. I already knew that Jesus articulated a developed worldview and reasoned brilliantly with His opponents. As I studied the subject carefully, however, I came to appreciate Jesus, the philosopher, more than ever. When Jesus defended the crucial claims of Christianity — He was its founder, after all — He was engaging in apologetics, often with the best minds of first-century Judaism.
Some Christians may be reluctant to label Jesus as a philosopher or apologist because they worry that such a reference may demean the Lord of the universe. One well-known Christian philosopher told me that emphasizing Jesus’ reasoning abilities could take away from Jesus as a revelator, a source of supernatural knowledge. I respect his concern but disagree for the following reasons.
Jesus was the incarnation of the Logos — whom theologians call the second person of the Trinity. As Christian philosopher and theologian Carl Henry and others have emphasized, the apostle John used the term logos to personalize the Greek view of the wisdom, logic, and rationality of the universe.1 Our English translations say, “In the beginning was the Word [Logos]” (John 1:1).2 Jesus embodies the rational communication (Word) of God’s truth. He is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). We should expect that God Incarnate would be a wise and reasonable person, however much He may cut against the grain of human presumption, pride, and prevarication. Jesus, moreover, was both divine and human. As a human, Jesus reasoned with other human beings. He did not run from a good argument on theology or ethics but engaged His hearers brilliantly.
Jesus was not a philosopher in the sense of trying to build a philosophical system from the finite human mind. He appealed to God’s previous revelation in the Hebrew Scriptures (Matt. 5:17–19; John 10:31) and issued authoritative revelations of His own as God Incarnate. On the other hand, Jesus reasoned carefully about the things that matter most — a handy definition of philosophy. His teachings, in fact, cover the basic topics of philosophy.3 As an apologist for God’s truth, He defended the truth of the Hebrew Scriptures as well as His own teachings and actions.
When we inspect Jesus’ mind in action in several familiar stories from the Gospels, we see that His thinking was sharp, clear, and cogent. Not only should we believe what He taught because He is our divine Master, but through hard work, prayer, and reliance on the Holy Spirit, we should also strive to emulate His intellectual virtues because we are called to walk as He walked (1 John 2:6).
Presenting Jesus as a worthy thinker can be a powerful apologetic tool to unbelievers who wrongly assume that Christian belief is a matter of blind faith or irrational belief. If the founder of Christianity is a great thinker, His followers should never demean the human mind (Matt. 22:37–39; Rom. 12:1–2). In addition, Jesus’ strategies in argument can serve as a model for our own apologetic defense of the truth and rationality of Christianity, which I will discuss.
Jesus engaged in extensive disputes, some quite heated, mostly with the Jewish intellectual leaders of His day. He did not hesitate to call into account popular opinion if it was wrong. He spoke often and passionately about the value of truth and the dangers of error, and He articulated arguments to support truth and oppose error.4
Jesus’ use of logic had a particular flavor to it, notes philosopher Dallas Willard:
Jesus’ aim in utilizing logic is not to win battles, but to achieve understanding or insight in his hearers…He presents matters in such a way that those who wish to know can find their way to, can come to, the appropriate conclusion as something they have discovered — whether or not it is something they particularly care for.5
Willard also argues that a concern for logic requires not only certain intellectual skills but also certain character commitments regarding the importance of logic and the value of truth in one’s life. A thoughtful person will esteem logic and argument through focused concentration, reasoned dialogue, and a willingness to follow the truth wherever it may lead. This mental orientation places demands on the moral life. Besides resolution, tenacity, and courage, one must shun hypocrisy (defending oneself against facts and logic for ulterior motives) and superficiality (adopting opinions with a glib disregard for their logical support). Willard takes Jesus to be the supreme model, as does Christian philosopher James Sire.6
Atheist philosopher Michael Martin, in contrast, alleges that the Jesus of the Gospels (the reliability of which he disputes) “does not exemplify important intellectual virtues. Both his words and his actions seem to indicate that he does not value reason and learning.” Jesus based “his entire ministry on faith.”7 Martin interprets Jesus’ statement about the need to become like children to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3) as praising uncritical belief. Martin also charges that when Jesus gave any reason to accept His teaching, it was either that the kingdom was at hand or that those who believed would go to heaven but those who did not believe would go to hell; supposedly, “no rational justification was ever given for these claims.”8 According to Martin, for Jesus, unreasoning faith was good; rational demonstration and criticism were wrong.
These charges against the claim that Jesus was a philosopher who valued reasoning and held a well-developed worldview are incriminating. The same Jesus who valued children, however, also said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37; emphasis added).
Jesus praised children for the same reasons that we customarily praise them. We don’t view children as models because they are irrational or immature, but because they are innocent and wholehearted in their love, devotion, and enthusiasm for life. Children are also esteemed because they can be sincerely humble, having not learned the pretensions of the adult world. The story in Matthew 18 has just this favorable view of children in mind. Jesus is asked by His disciples, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” After calling a child and having him stand among them, Jesus replies:
I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. (Matt. 18:3–5)
The meaning of “become like little children” is not “become uncritical and unthinking” (as Martin claims), but instead “become humble.” Jesus spoke much of humility, as do the Hebrew Scriptures. He never associated humility with stupidity, ignorance, or gullibility.9 Jesus did thank God for revealing the Gospel to the humble and not to the supposedly wise and understanding. This, however, does not imply that intelligence is a detriment to believing Jesus’ message but that many of the religious leaders of the day could not grasp it, largely because it challenged their intellectual pride (see Matt. 11:25–26).
Martin also charges that the only reasons Jesus gave to support His teaching are that the kingdom of God is at hand and that those who fail to believe will fail to receive the heavenly benefits accorded to those with faith.10 Is this true?
First, Jesus often spoke about the kingdom of God while using it as a justification for some of His teaching and preaching (Matt. 4:17). Jesus was admonishing people to reorient their lives spiritually and morally because God was breaking into history in an unparalleled and dramatic fashion. This is not necessarily an irrational or unfounded claim if (1) God was acting in this manner in Jesus’ day and (2) one can find evidence for the emergence of the kingdom, chiefly through the actions of Jesus himself.
The Gospels present the kingdom as uniquely present in the teaching and actions of Jesus who Himself claimed that “if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12:28). Since His audience saw Him driving out demons with singular authority, Jesus was giving them good reason to believe His claims. He was not merely making assertions or ungrounded threats while expecting compliance in a childish or cowardly way.
Second, Jesus’ use of the concept of God’s judgment or reward did not supercede or replace His use of arguments. His normal argument form was not the following: “If you believe what I say, you will be rewarded. If you don’t believe what I say, you will lose that reward. Therefore, believe what I say.” When Jesus issued warnings and made promises relating one’s conduct in this life to the afterlife (see John 3:16–18), He spoke more as a prophet than a philosopher. Whether Jesus’ words in this matter are trustworthy depends on His moral and spiritual authority, not on His specific arguments at every point. If we have reason to deem Him authoritative (as we do), however, we may rationally believe these pronouncements, just as we believe various other authorities whom we deem trustworthy on the basis of their credentials and track record.11
We need to consult the Gospels to determine whether or not Jesus prized well-developed critical thinking. Several examples illustrate Jesus’ ability to escape from the horns of a dilemma when challenged. We will look at one.12
Matthew recorded a tricky situation for Jesus. The Sadducees had tried to corner Jesus on a question about the afterlife. Unlike the Pharisees, they did not believe in life after death, nor in angels or spirits (although they were theists), and they granted special authority to only the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. The Sadducees reminded Jesus of Moses’ command “that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him.” Then they proposed a scenario in which the same woman is progressively married to and widowed by seven brothers, none of whom sire any children by her. The woman subsequently dies. “Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” they asked Jesus pointedly (Matt. 22:23–28).
Their argument is quite clever. The Sadducees know that Jesus revered the law of Moses, as they did. They also knew that Jesus, unlike themselves, taught that there will be a resurrection of the dead. They thought that these two beliefs are logically at odds with each other; they cannot both be true. The woman cannot be married to all seven at the resurrection (Mosaic law did not allow for many husbands), nor is there any reason why she should be married to any one out of the seven (thus honoring monogamy). They figured, therefore, that Jesus must either stand against Moses or deny the afterlife in order to remain free from contradiction. They were presenting this scenario as a logical dilemma: either A (Moses’ authority) or B (the afterlife).
Martin and others have asserted that Jesus praised uncritical faith.13 If these charges were correct, one might expect Jesus (1) to dodge the question with a pious and unrelated utterance, (2) to threaten hell for those who dare question his authority, or (3) simply to accept both logically incompatible propositions with no hesitation or shame. Instead, Jesus forthrightly said the Sadducees were in error because they failed to know the Scripture and the power of God:
At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead — have you not read what God said to you, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is not the God of the dead but of the living. (Matt. 22:30–32)
Jesus’ response has an astuteness that may not be immediately obvious. First, He challenged their assumption that belief in the resurrection means that one is committed to believing that all of our premortem institutions will be retained in the postmortem, resurrected world. None of the Hebrew Scriptures teaches this, and Jesus did not believe it. The dilemma thus dissolves. It is a false dilemma because Jesus stated a third option: There is no married state at the resurrection.
Second, as part of His response to their logical trap, Jesus compared the resurrected state of men and women to that of the angels, thus challenging the Sadducees’ disbelief in angels. (Although the Sadducees did not believe in angels, they knew that their fellow Jews, who did believe in angels, thought that angels did not marry or procreate.)
Third, Jesus cited a text from the Sadducees’ own esteemed Scriptures (Exod. 3:6), where God declared to Moses from the burning bush that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus could have cited a variety of texts from writings outside the first five books of the Bible to support the resurrection, such as the prophets (Dan. 12:2) or Job (19:25–27), but instead He deftly argued from their own trusted sources, which He also endorsed (Matt. 5:17–20; John 10:35).
Fourth, Jesus capitalized on the verb tense of the verse He quoted. God is (present tense) the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all of whom had already died at the time God had uttered this statement to Moses. God did not cease to be their God at their earthly demise. God did not say, “I was their God” (past tense). God is the God of the living, which includes even the “dead” patriarchs. Matthew added, “When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching,” for Jesus had “silenced the Sadducees” (Matt. 22:33–34).
The skill of logically escaping the horns of a dilemma is applicable to many apologetic challenges. Consider one of them; philosophers often argue that making God the source of morality results in a hopeless dilemma. If morality is based on God’s will, they claim, God could will anything — including murder, rape, and blasphemy — and it would be good. This view is absurd. If, on the other hand, we make moral standards separate from God’s will, then God loses His moral supremacy because God ends up “under” these impersonal, objective, and absolute moral standards. The dilemma, then, is this: Either (A) morality is arbitrary or (B) God is not supreme. Since both are unacceptable to Christianity, Christianity is refuted.
One can escape the horns of this dilemma by showing that it is a false dilemma. The source of morality is not God’s will separated from God’s eternally perfect character; rather, divine commands issue from God’s intrinsic being. Since God’s character is unchangingly good, God cannot alter moral standards because He cannot deny Himself (Mal. 3:6; James 1:17). Furthermore, since God is the Creator of the world and of humans, God knows what is best for humans to flourish. His instructions for us are for our blessing as well as God’s own glory (Matt. 5:1-16; Col. 3:17).14 The dilemma dissolves.
Jesus was fond of what are called a fortiori (Latin: “from the stronger”) arguments, which often appear in pithy but persuasive forms in the Gospels.15 We use them often in everyday arguments. These arguments have the following form:
1. The truth of idea A is accepted.
2. Support for the truth of idea B (which is relevantly similar to idea A) is even stronger than that of idea A.
3. Therefore, if the truth of idea A must be accepted, then so must the truth of idea B be accepted.
Consider Jesus’ argument against the Pharisees concerning the rightness of His performing a healing miracle on the Sabbath:
I did one miracle [on the Sabbath], and you are all astonished. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment. (John 7:21–24)
Jesus’ argument can be laid out simply:
1. The Pharisees endorse circumcision, even when it is done on the Sabbath, the day of rest from work. (Circumcision was performed eight days after the birth of a male, which sometimes fell on the seventh day of the week, the Sabbath.) This does not violate the Sabbath laws, because it is an act of goodness.
2. Healing the whole person is even more important and beneficial than circumcision, which affects only one aspect of the male.
3. Therefore, if circumcision on the Sabbath is not a violation of the Sabbath, neither is Jesus’ healing of a person on the Sabbath.
Jesus’ concluding comment, “Stop judging by appearances, and make a right judgment,” was a rebuke to their illogical inconsistency while applying their own moral and religious principles.
Jesus argued in a similar form in several other conversations regarding the meaning of the Sabbath. After He healed a crippled woman on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler became indignant and said, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath!” Jesus reminded him that one may lawfully untie one’s ox or donkey on the Sabbath and lead it to water. “Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” Jesus’ argument looks like this:
1. The Jews lawfully release animals from their confinement on the Sabbath out of concern for the animals’ well-being.
2. A woman’s well-being (deliverance from a chronic, debilitating illness) is far more important than watering an animal.
3. Therefore, if watering an animal on the Sabbath is not a Sabbath violation, then Jesus’ healing of the woman on the Sabbath is not a violation of the Sabbath.
Luke recorded that when Jesus “said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing” (Luke 13:17, see 13:10–17).
A wise apologist will make good and repeated use of a fortiori arguments. Here is an example from comparative religion. Many reject the Gospels because they are ancient documents that are supposedly historically unreliable. Many of these same people, however, trust ancient Buddhist and other Eastern religious documents. Besides giving good reasons to trust the Gospels, we can use the following a fortiori argument concerning their trust in Eastern texts. The Buddhist scriptures were not written down until about 500 years after the life of the Buddha (563–483 b.c.). Buddhist scholar Edward Conze notes that while Christianity can distinguish its “initial tradition embodied in the ‘New Testament’” from a “continuing tradition” consisting of reflections of the church fathers and councils, “Buddhists possess nothing that corresponds to the ‘New Testament.’ The ‘continuing tradition’ is all that is clearly attested.”16 If people trust ancient and poorly attested Buddhist documents, how much more should they trust the Gospels, which are far more firmly rooted in verifiable history?17 The apologist then hopes that those who read the Gospels as historically reliable will discover their incompatibility with, and superiority to, Buddhist teachings.
Despite the frequent portrayal of Jesus as a mystical figure who called people to adopt an uncritical faith, He frequently appealed to evidence to confirm His claims. John the Baptist, who was languishing in prison after challenging Herod, sent messengers to ask Jesus the question: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matt. 11:3). This may seem an odd question from a man the Gospels present as the prophetic forerunner of Jesus and as the one who had proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah. Jesus, however, did not rebuke John’s question. He did not say, “You must have faith; suppress your doubts.” Nor did He scold, “If you don’t believe, you’ll go to hell and miss heaven.” Instead, Jesus recounted the distinctive features of His ministry:
Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me. (Matt. 11:4–6; see also Luke 7:22)
Jesus’ works of healing and teaching are meant to serve as positive evidence of His messianic identity, because they fulfill the messianic predictions of the Hebrew Scriptures.18 What Jesus claimed is this:
1. If one does certain kinds of actions (the acts cited above), then one is the Messiah.
2. I am doing those kinds of actions.
3. Therefore, I am the Messiah.
This logical sequence is called a modus ponens (way of affirmation) form of argument and it is a handy tool of thought: If P, then Q; P, therefore, Q. The argument appeals to empirical claims — Jesus’ mighty works — as its factual basis. The acts Jesus cited point out His crucial apologetic credentials as the Messiah, “the one who was to come.”
On another occasion, Jesus again healed on the Sabbath and the religious leaders again challenged Him for breaking the sacred day by working. He responded, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” Jesus’ disputants viewed His statement as blasphemy because “not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:17–18). Ancient Jews sometimes referred to God as Father, but not with the possessive “my Father” since they thought this suggested too close of a relationship between the Creator and the creature.
Instead of denying this conclusion, Jesus made six other statements that reinforce their conclusion that He was, in fact, “making himself equal with God:”
1. He acts in the same manner as the Father by giving life to the dead (John 5:19–21).
2. He judges as a representative of the Father and with His authority (5:22, 27).
3. If He is not honored, God the Father is not honored (5:23).
4. The one who believes in Jesus believes also in God (5:24–25).
5. Like God (see Deut. 30:19–20), He has life in Himself (5:26).
6. He is in complete agreement with the Father, whom He perfectly pleased — a claim no Jew in the Hebrew Scriptures ever made (5:30).
Jesus, however, did not leave the matter only with His assertions. He moved to apologetics by appealing to evidence to which His hearers would have had access:
1. John the Baptist, a respected prophet, testified to Jesus’ identity (John 5:31–35).
2. Jesus’ miraculous works also testified to His identity (5:36).
3. The Father testified to Jesus’ identity (5:37).
4. The Scriptures likewise testified to His identity (5:39).
5. Moses testified to who Jesus is (5:46).
Jesus reasoned with His intellectual opponents and did not shrink from issuing evidence for His claims.19 He did not simply make statements, threaten punishments to those who disagreed, or attack His adversaries as unspiritual. He highly valued argument and evidence.
Christian apologetics marshals many kinds of evidence in the rational defense of Christian truth. We need not believe the gospel through blind faith. In denying these facts, however, Robert Millet, formerly dean of religious education at Brigham Young University, has defended Mormon claims, despite their admitted lack of evidence, by saying that “Christian faith is dependent upon acceptance of a divine miracle that took place on Easter morning, for which there is no evidence.”20 He argues, therefore, if Christian belief in the Resurrection is without evidence, but is acceptable, then the Mormon “leap of faith” is justified, too.
This is an a fortiori argument; but it is false that there is no evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus’ teaching, as well as the history of apologetics, argues against this kind of fideism (faith against or without objective evidence) that Millet wrongly associates with Christianity and rightly associates with Mormonism. The apostle Paul himself cited the many witnesses who saw the resurrected Christ, some of whom were still living at the time he wrote (1 Cor. 15:5–8). Contemporary philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig has written widely on the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. He also publicly debates those who deny this truth. The evidence includes the general historical reliability of the Gospels, as well as the specific and well-attested individual facts of the empty tomb, the many appearances of Jesus to various people at different times, and the apostles’ proclamation of the Resurrection despite the fact that it went against what they themselves had expected of the Messiah. Other explanations for belief in the Resurrection, such as it being a hallucination or a myth created later, simply do not fit the facts.21 Since belief in Jesus’ resurrection should be, and is, based on historical evidence, Millet’s argument that key Mormon doctrines require no evidence is refuted.22
Philosophers and other debaters use reductio ad absurdum arguments. The term means “reduction to absurdity.” When successful, they are a powerful refutation of an illogical position. The argument takes one or more ideas and demonstrates that they lead to an absurd or contradictory conclusion. This proves that the original ideas must be false. For such an argument to work, the logical relationship between the terms must hold and the supposed absurdity must truly be absurd. Consider Jesus’ apologetic use of reductio ad absurdum in defending His identity as the Messiah.
Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” The reply was, “The son of David.” Jesus responded, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’” By quoting Psalm 110:1, Jesus appealed to a source that the Pharisees accepted. He concluded with the question: “If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” which, as Matthew recorded, silenced the audience (see Matt. 22:41–46). The argument can be stated as follows:
1. If the Christ is merely the human descendent of David, David could not have called him “Lord.”
2. David did call the Christ “Lord” in Psalm 110:1.
3. To believe Christ was David’s Lord and merely his human descendent (who could not be his Lord) is absurd.
4. Christ, therefore, is not merely the human descendent of David.
Jesus’ point was not to deny the Christ’s ancestral connection to David, since Jesus Himself is called “the Son of David” in the Gospels (Matt. 1:1), and Jesus accepted the title without objection (Matt. 20:30–31). Jesus rather showed that the Christ is not merely the Son of David. Christ is also Lord and was so at the time of David. By using this reductio ad absurdum argument, Jesus expanded His audience’s understanding of who the Christ is and that He himself is the Christ.23
Jesus employed another reductio ad absurdum when the Pharisees attempted to discredit His reputation as an exorcist by charging Him with driving out demons by the agency of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. In other words, Jesus’ reputation as a holy wonderworker was undeserved. What seemed to be godly miracles really issued from a demonic being. In response to this charge, Jesus took their premise and derived an absurdity:
Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? (Matt. 12:25–27)
We can put it this way, step-by-step:
1. If Satan were divided against himself, his kingdom would be ruined.
2. Satan’s kingdom, however, is not ruined (since demonic activity continues). To think otherwise is absurd.
3. Therefore, (a) Satan does not drive out Satan.
4. Therefore, (b) Jesus cannot free people from Satan by satanic power.
The Pharisees also practiced exorcism, moreover, and if Jesus cast out demons by Satan, then the Pharisees must grant that they too might be driving out demons by Satan (Matt. 12:27). The Pharisees themselves, however, must reject this accusation as absurd. Jesus, therefore, cannot be accused of exercising satanic power through His exorcisms. Jesus marshaled two powerful reductio arguments in just a few sentences.
Reductio ad absurdum arguments are powerful tools for defending Christian truth. Those who claim that morality is entirely relative to the individual think this view defends tolerance, avoids dogmatism, and is preferable to the Christian belief in moral absolutes. The statement, however, that (1) “all morality is relative” logically implies that (2) anyone’s belief is right if it is right for them and that there is no higher standard to which one is accountable. Relativism, however, leads to many absurd conclusions such as: (3) Osama bin Laden’s morality is right for him, so we should not judge it, and (4) Nazi morality is right for the Nazis, therefore, we should not judge it. In other words, moral relativism is reduced to moral nihilism, but moral nihilism is absurd and is, therefore, false. By contrast, Christian morality is far more compelling.
This brief article does not do justice to the wealth of Jesus’ philosophical and apologetic arguments across a wide variety of important issues. Our sampling of Jesus’ reasoning, however, brings into serious question the indictment that Jesus praised uncritical faith over rational arguments and that He had no truck with logical consistency. On the contrary, Jesus never demeaned the proper and rigorous functioning of our God-given minds. His teaching appealed to the whole person: the imagination (parables), the will, and reasoning abilities.
For all their honesty in reporting the foibles of the disciples, the Gospel writers never narrated a situation in which Jesus was intellectually stymied or bettered in an argument; neither did Jesus ever encourage an irrational or ill-informed faith on the part of His disciples. With Jesus as our example and Lord, the Holy Scriptures as our foundation (2 Tim. 3:15–17), and the Holy Spirit as our Teacher (John 16:12–15), we should gladly take up the biblical challenge to outthink the world for Christ and His kingdom (2 Cor. 10:3–5).
1. See Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1979), 3:164–247.
2. All Bible quotations are from the New International Version.
3. See Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2002), chaps. 4–7.
4. See John Stott, Christ the Controversialist (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1970), 18.
5. Dallas Willard, “Jesus, the Logician,” Christian Scholars Review 28, 4 (1999): 607.
6. James Sire, Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 203.
7. Michael Martin, The Case against Christianity (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), 167.
8. Ibid.
9. See Matt. 23:1–12; Luke 14:1–14; 18:9–14.
10. Martin, 167.
11. On the claims and credentials of Jesus, see Douglas Groothuis, Jesus in an Age of Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1996; Wipf and Stock reprint, 2002), especially chaps. 13–14.
12. Another example of Jesus escaping the horns of a dilemma is found in Matt. 22:15–22. See Groothuis, On Jesus, 26–27.
13. See Groothuis, On Jesus, chaps. 1 and 3.
14. See James Hanick and Gary Mar, “What Euthyphro Couldn’t Have Said,” Faith and Philosophy 4, 3 (1987): 241–61.
15. See, for example, Luke 11:11–12; 12:4–5; 6–7; 24; 27–28; 54–56; 13:14–16; 14:1–6; 18:1–8.
16. “Introduction,” in Buddhist Scriptures, ed. Edward Conze (New York: Penguin Books, 1959), 11–12.
17. The Buddhist texts are so far removed from the time of the Buddha and so riddled with myths that, outside of giving the teaching of the Four Noble Truths, they are likely not trustworthy at all.
18. See Isa. 26:19; 29:18–19; 35:4–6; 61:1–2.
19. See Sire, 191–92.
20. Quoted in Lawrence Wright, “Lives of the Saints,” The New Yorker, 21 January 2002, 51.
21. See Paul Copan and Ronald Tacelli, eds., Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment: A Debate between William Lane Craig and Gerd L├╝deman (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000).
22. For a revealing history of Mormonism, see Richard Abanes, One Nation under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002).
23. See also Acts 2:29–36; 13:39; Heb. 1:5–13.

Jesus Christ "divided all human history into two, into "B.C." and "A.D.""

Philosophy of Jesus, The

Kreeft, Peter

Amazingly, no one ever seems to have looked at Jesus as a philosopher, or his teaching as philosophy. Yet no one in history has ever had a more radically new philosophy, or made more of a difference to philosophy, than Jesus. He divided all human history into two, into "B.C." and "A.D."; and the history of philosophy is crucial to human history, since philosophy is crucial to man; so how could He not also divide philosophy?

Philosophy of Jesus, The


Taken from: http://www.staugustine.net/our-books/books/the-philosophy-of-jesus/

Monday, May 27, 2013

Amazing Star Map of Senenmut (King Solomon)

Taken from http://www.greatdreams.com/astrology/creation_marks_time_slowly.htm

Taken from http://www.greatdreams.com/astrology/creation_marks_time_slowly.htm


The Mystery About the Senmut Star Map Senmut

presents an entire celestial system for the first time

Ancient star knowledge included astronomy, astrology, and chronometry, and in the past it was an especially important subject in knowledge. A characteristic Egyptian version of this celestial knowledge was in use long before a specific expressed Babylonian astrology was taken up openly in Egypt.

In the Karnak/Thebes temple already at an early stage, an observatory was placed on top of the sanctuary of Khonsu, the Moon god-son. And from most ancient times astronomical lines of sight were used in planning the axes of the temples.

The great number of Senmut's many posts - in addition to being the administrator of the Egyptian calendar - was reasonable; for instance, the secretary of Pharaoh Amenhotep II was the chief-astronomer at the Karnak (Thebes) Temple and also a surveyor as well as the inventor of the world's first public book-keeping.

The oldest astronomical traditions in Egypt are scarce and merely a few drawings of constellations. They show in particular Sirius - and the Great Bear, called khepesch (or sometimes meskhetiu) formed as a leg of an ox. Fragments have been found showing the 36 decan-constellations (earliest findings from 2300 BC) marking the Egyptians' division in 36 sections of the ecliptic (the apparent course of the sun).

However, in the second and latest tomb of Senmut (in Thebes: no. TT353) the presentation was far better than by fragments, because the ceiling of the main chamber is adorned with a detailed astronomical and astro-mythological, complete star map, which for the first time presents an entire celestial system. This impressive map was both a landmark and an invention in Egyptian astronomy. And at all, they are the oldest collected, complete astronomical images.

This unfinished and never used, secret tomb of Senmut was discovered in 1925 and dated to between 1500-1470 BC. The dating will be further elaborated and it will appear that in 1493 BC the construction of the tomb ended abruptly.

It is peculiar that Senmut, whom many researchers presume was of a middle-class descent, has equipped his tomb in this special way not even a Pharaoh had been up to.

Thus the tomb contained a special astronomical equipment, not only the oldest known in Egypt, but still for the next almost 300 years also the only example of such an elaborated, complete star map. It is a fact that after Senmut a few star maps have been found, and normally only with the Pharaohs. But later on, in the tomb of Seti I 1200 BC, such a regular, astronomical and astro-mythological celestial arrangement of stars was found again. And after this there is one with Ramses II, however not so elaborated.

What kind of a man was Senmut, when he could compete on equal terms - even surpass the pharaohs in this for that time so important area? All traces and inscriptions show that although Senmut, besides having a deep knowledge about the stars, was the country's greatest man after Hatshepsut, and although he was backed up by a strong party, he mysteriously fell in disgrace all of a sudden and disappeared completely. Therefore, Senmut never took this tomb into use, and there are obvious traces showing that the work was interrupted suddenly. Materials from the Senmut tomb show dates made by the workers. The latest dates are from the interruption, which contribute to pinpoint the time when he disappeared.

(The above text is reproduced with permission, - source: Ove von Spaeth's work, "The Enigmatic Son of Pharaoh's Daughter").

Below: The World-axis stretching from the Canopus Star via the Sirius Star up to Vega in the constellation Lyra, the sky's three most bright stars and they appear on a perfect, straight line. To compare with the Senmut map's axis - a cosmic factor thus resembling the obelisk symbolism presented in the Egyptian creation myth.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Jesus Christ at the Centre of History


"Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed."

Consider a few passages by John Paul II and one by Guardini:

Passage 1 -- by Blessed John Paul II From ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA §20. "A significant consequence of the eschatological tension inherent in the Eucharist is also the fact that it spurs us on our journey through history and plants a seed of living hope in our daily commitment to the work before us."

Passage 2 - by Blessed John Paul II, MANE NOBISCUM DOMINE §6 "Jesus Christ stands at the centre not just of the history of the Church, but also the history of humanity. In him, all things are drawn together. How could we forget the enthusiasm with which the Second Vatican Council, quoting Pope Paul VI, proclaimed that Christ is “the goal of human history, the focal point of the desires of history and civilization, the centre of mankind, the joy of all hearts, and the fulfilment of all aspirations”?(Gaudium et spes 45) The Council's teaching gave added depth to our understanding of the nature of the Church, and gave believers a clearer insight not only into the mysteries of faith but also into earthly realities, seen in the light of Christ. In the Incarnate Word, both the mystery of God and the mystery of man are revealed.(GS 24) In him, humanity finds redemption and fulfilment."

Passage 3 - by Romano Guardini, from The rosary of Our Lady

"When the Lord lifted himself from the earth, there began the wait 'until He comes.' Ever since Christ's Ascension, on earth there has been a single confident expectation; and faith means to persevere in expectation. For him who has no faith, events take place as though their meaning lay in themselves. The ordinary and the exceptional, the high and the low, the frightful and the beautiful -- everything that makes history -- all are regarded as if each was by itself and there was nothing besides. In truth, the Lord's departure was like the striking of a mighty chord that is now suspended in the air waiting to float away and come to rest. But only with Christ's return will all things be fulfilled."

What Guardini's passage helps me to better understand is the oft asserted remark by John Paul II that Christ is at the center of history. This could be taken to mean that Christ enters history as a point on a time line -- there is life before Christ and life after Christ. Events prior provide signs and point to his coming; and events after refer back to his life and take their rise from the new possibilities he established through his teaching, death and resurrection. Or in addition, Christ is at the center of history insofar as every field of meaning, and therefore any action can be related to the life of Christ. These are no doubt true. But Guardini locates the "center of history" through "expectation." We stand between his coming many years ago in the town of Bethlehem and his coming again at the end of time. So the center of history is to be found, not by looking on a time grid, nor by finding an abstract point of reference, but concretely, existentially, simply by looking up, once and a while, to ponder Christ's Ascension into Heaven. And then perhaps looking down on the ground at cemeteries of old wherein many lie sleeping, waiting to wake at the sound of the trumpet. We can then hear the mighty chord "now suspended in the air." Then the high and low, the ordinary and the exceptional, the frightful and the beautiful, all vibrate in attunement to that mighty chord of dying and rising, and truth triumphs at last. And we can just quietly hum an alleluia or two. Or better yet exclaim with the apostle -- "to me, to live is Jesus, and to die is gain."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Haman and Croesus Parallels


More Teachings With Opposite Meanings

The Book of Genesis records events that are the oldest in the Holy Scriptures. These early teachings and examples can have meaning for us today. In one section of Genesis, we have early narratives that use a single word in the context of two prophecies, but the intended sign in one prophecy of that same word is the exact opposite from that in the other sign. This is to instruct us that we must use an extra amount of caution in giving God’s answer in interpreting signs. Of course, if we have the spirit of God in us, as did Joseph the son of Jacob (and given the unique authority to reveal the meaning of signs), then we can make the correct interpretation. Look at Genesis 40:823.

"And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you. And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me; And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes: And Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.

"And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days: Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler. But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.

"When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head: And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head. And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days: Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee. And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler [exalting his head with a crown] and of the chief baker among his servants. And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand: But he hanged the chief baker [the rope around his neck lifted up his head]: as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him."

Such puzzles and play on words were used quite often in ancient times. And, as I have shown, they are even used in the Bible as signs and prophecies. One must be profoundly careful in interpreting them. In the secular world, most of us remember the prophetic oracle that was given to King Croesus of Lydia in Asia Minor when he wanted divine knowledge if he would win the war against the Persians that he was evoking. The famous oracle at Delphi stated that if he set out against the Persians he would destroy a great empire.

Croesus, of course, interpreted the prophetic oracle in his own favor. But alas, the prophecy came true. The "great empire" that would be destroyed was that of Croesus himself and his Lydians. It is well known that the oracles that were given to the ancients (before such readings became unpopular by the first century) could almost always be interpreted in a positive or a negative sense and seldom did they ever prove wrong (that is, if the priests were expert and clever in manipulating the words).

There are such prophecies or situations even in the Holy Scriptures. Note the incident involving Haman and Mordecai mentioned in the Book of Esther. Haman hated Mordecai. Indeed, Haman had constructed a gallows for Mordecai, but the Persian king (whose queen was Esther) wanted to honor Mordecai unbeknown to Haman.

"And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? There is nothing done for him. And the king said, Who is in the court? And the king’s servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in. So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?

"And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, Let the royal apparel be brought which the king usethto wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withalwhom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour. Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king’s gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken.

"Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour. And Mordecai came again to the king’s gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered. And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him…. And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified" (excerpts from Esther chapters 6 & 7).

This true story is again pertinent to our study of interpreting signs or any biblical circumstance. Haman made a big mistake in his interpretation. This event is recorded by God to show that we must learn to be careful in what we might hastily assume to be proper.


Taken from: http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d980210.htm

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Origin of Spartans According to Steve Collins


By Steven M. Collins

In the book of Numbers, we find that the Israelites under Moses undertook a first and second census of the tribes of Israel while they were in the Wilderness. The results of those enumerations of the tribes of Israel reveal some surprising results. This column will attempt to at least partially explain what seems to be some incomprehensible results.
The first census is listed in Numbers Chapter One. In Numbers 1:1-3 and verse 18, we see that the census tallied the number of males "twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel." Therefore, we should keep in mind that the l entire population of Israel's tribes in the Wilderness consisted of far more than the tally in Numbers 1. As a guideline, one would ordinarily double the numbers to allow for one wife per man of military age. Given the polygamous culture at that time, some of the men may have had a number of wives. It is difficult to make an estimate of the number of children, but we should keep in mind that large families were very common at that time. Numbers 1:46 records that 603, 550 adult males were numbered in the census. Based on some of the above rough methods of estimating the number of the entire nation of Israel at that time, we can see that the Israelites can be conservatively estimated to be body of approximately 3,000,000 people. For American readers, that number would equal the approximate population of Oregon. The actual number of Israelites was likely higher as the tribe of Levi wasn't included in this census, nor were the people of the "mixed multitude" which accompanied the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 12:38).

Listed below are the populations of adult males per tribe, given in the order listed in Numbers 1.


Modern readers will notice that the tribe of Judah was, at that time, the largest tribe. The three smallest tribal figures are the three tribes which descended from Jacob and Rachel: Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin. However, when the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh are totaled together, they numbered 72,700, showing the actual total of Israelites descended from Joseph constituted the second largest grouping in Israel. Notice that the tribe of Simeon was the third largest tribe in this census, taken approximately 1450 B.C.
Now, let's examine the census taken approximately 40 years later in 1410 B.C. (if the dates on the chapter headings in my book are accurate). For purposes of comparison, listed below are the totals from each census and the change in the total of adult males in each tribe. The second census is listed in Numbers 26. Numbers 26:2 confirms that it is the sum of males "twenty years old an upward...all that are able to go to war in Israel," so each census was conducted with the same criteria.

TRIBE1st Census2nd CensusChange

The national totals indicate the number of Israelites enumerated under Moses had dropped very slightly, but the tribal totals reveal something very different had transpired. The most evident change is that over half the tribe of Simeon inexplicably "disappeared" from the census totals. What happened? Simeon, the third largest tribe in Israel in the first census, had plummeted to be the smallest tribe of all in the second census! Another anomaly leaps out at the reader.
The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh shared the birthright blessing of the Abrahamic covenant, which included being blessed with large population growth. Manasseh had, indeed, risen dramatically in population, going from 32,200 to 52,700, a gain of 20,500 people, by far the largest increase in any tribe. However, its brother tribe which shared this birthright blessing, Ephraim, dropped 8,000 people to join Simeon at the bottom of the population totals of the tribes in Israel. Even the tribe of Benjamin outnumbered the Ephraimites at that time. Judah was still the largest tribe, but Manasseh's explosive growth resulted in the tribe of Joseph being the largest tribe if Manasseh and Ephraim were added together. As many readers might observe, something "doesn't add up" in these figures. As commentator Paul Harvey says here in America, let's examine what happened to determine "the rest of the story."
I believe the key to what happened in Numbers 26 is found in the previous chapter. In Numbers 25, we learn that Phineas, a Levite, executed "a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites" (verses 7-14). Phineas leaped to execute this Simeonite prince for his audacity in rebelling against God by taking a Midianite woman into his tent at a time when god was punishing Israel for such deeds. Indeed, God sent a plague among the Israelites which killed 24,000 people, and that plague was stayed by the action of Phineas.
The Bible does not record which tribes suffered the most from that plague. Even if one assumes the Simeonites bore the brunt of this plague, it does not begin to account for the drop in population of approximately 56,000 males of 20 years and older among the tribes which lost population between the two censuses. Also, Numbers 25:9 records that 24,000 people died in the plague, it does not state that all those slain were "males 20 years of age and older." This indicates that 24,000 men, women and children of all ages died in the plague, and that perhaps 6,000 of that total were males 20 years and older. Where did the rest go?
It is my belief that after the execution by a Simeonite prince by a Levitical priest, there was a great dissension in the camp of Israel. We know from the accounts in the Torah of their wanderings in the Wilderness that the Israelites were very prone to revolting against Moses over various provocations. We know from Genesis 34:25 that Simeon and Levi were the two most impulsive sons of Jacob, the two most likely to settle a matter "by the sword." To put it in modern American terms, they were the kind who "shot first and asked questions later." Genesis 49:5-7 prophesies that impulsive wrathfulness leading to violence would characterize both Simeonites and Levites through all the millennia up to and including the "latter days."
In the episode of Phineas the Levite unilaterally executing a Simeonite priest, the two most violent tribes were likely at loggerhead, and a civil war among the tribes was not improbable. God usefully directed the Levites' propensity to violence into becoming a tribe of butchers, killing, cutting up and sacrificing innumerable animals under the system of animal sacrifices established in ancient Israel. Simeon had no such outlet.
I believe a logical explanation for the sudden drop in several tribes' population is that most of the tribe of Simeon and varying contingents of the other tribes literally "walked out" of the camp and left the main body of Israelites to strike out on their own. The huge drop in the number of Simeonites indicates that the Simeonites led this partial "exodus" from the Israelite camp. The Simeonites were impulsive and the execution of one of their chieftans (however just) could easily have provoked such an action.
The census figures indicate that the tribes of Ephraim and Napthali contributed most of the remaining Israelites who accompanied most of the tribe of Simeon as it left the Israelite encampment. The census data indicates that the entire tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Issachar and Benjamin stayed with Moses as their second census totals reflect normal demographic growth.
Would God or Moses have allowed so large a mass of Israelite to leave the camp? I think the answer is yes. Indeed, they may have encouraged it as a way to end the dissension in the camp. There was no commandment of God that forbid any Israelites to leave the camp in the Wilderness, so the only penalty that exiting Israelites would bear would be that their children would not enter the Promised land with the children of those who stayed. Remember that every adult (except Caleb and Joshua) were under a death sentence in the Wilderness. For their rebellion, they would wander till the entire generation who refused to go into the Promised Land at first was dead! Under such circumstances, many could have thought: "If my choice is stay and die in this desert or leave and trust to my wits and sword to make a living, I'll choose the second option."
The tribe of Simeon, naturally impulsive, would likely have led such a mini-exodus. The fact that Manasseh grew greatly between the censuses and that Ephraim dropped dramatically argues that this can only be explained if a large number of Ephraimites left the camp. Both tribes were the birthright tribes, and they shared the same promises. If no one had left the camp, the population figures of Ephraim and Mansseh should have reflected the same growth.
If we limit our number of exiting Israelites to only those tribes who had net reductions in their tribal totals, we have about 50,000 males above age twenty and all their wives and children (perhaps 200,000 people). The tribes whose populations stayed static indicates that some of the natural growth of those tribes was deleted from the census because contingents of their tribes also joined the exodus. The total of those leaving the camp may have been larger than 200,000. If such an event occurred, there would have been a powerful stimulus to conduct the second census to "see who we have left." Indeed, Numbers 26:1-2 shows that right after the events described above, God told Moses to take a census of all the tribes.
Where did the departing Israelite go? There are three groups of people exhibiting Israelite characteristics which surfaced in the world outside of the Promised Land. One group was the Sea Peoples who raided and settled throughout the Mediterranean World while most of Israel lived in Israel during the time of the book of Judges. Both Yair Davidy and I have commented in our books about the Israelite nature of some of the identifiable tribes in the Sea Peoples. However, it could be also noted that some of the Sea Peoples were Israelites who sailed from the the promised Land to seek new homelands as colonists or to escape the various invasions of oppressors which are enumerated in the book of Judges.
There is a second group, famous in the ancient world, which exhibited the traits of the tribe of Simeon and which acknowledged a tribal tie to the Israelites. That group was the Spartans of ancient Greece. The Spartans were known to be descended from a people non-native to Greece who arrived there in ancient times. The Spartans were famous as being the most martial of the Greek city-states. It was the Spartan King Leonidas with 300 elite bodyguards who held back the army of the Persian Empire at the battle of Thermopalyae. They had a rigorous, martial community which was very different from the rest of the Greek city-states. The tribe of Simeon would be expected to "live by the sword" and be a martial community wherever they settled. However, there is more evidence than that.
The Book, Sparta, by A.H.M. Jones, a Professor of Ancient History at Cambridge University, noted several things about Sparta. He states the Spartans worshipped a "great law-giver" who had given them their laws in the "dim past" (page 5 of his book). This law-giver may have been Moses.
Professor Jones also noted the Spartans celebrated "the new moons" and the "seventh day" of the month" (page 13). Observing new moons was an Israelite calendar custom, and their observance of "a seventh day" could originate with the Sabbath celebration. Prof. Jones also notes, as do other authorities, that the Spartans were known for being "ruthless" in war and times of crisis. This sounds exactly like the Simeonite nature, which was given to impulsive cruelty, as the Bible confirms.
Interestingly, Prof. Jones writes that the Spartans were themselves divided into several "tribes" which constituted distinct military formations within the Spartan army (pages 31-32). If the Spartans were descended from Simeonites and several other Israelite tribes who left the rest of their tribesmen just prior to the census of Numbers 26, it would make sense that they would be allied together as distinct tribes even in a new homeland like Sparta. The Spartans also founded a colony in Italy called "Tara" (pages 11 and 33). The name "Terah" is a Semitic/Israelite name as Terah was the father of Abraham (Genesis 11).
Also, I make the case in my book, The "Lost" Ten Tribes of Israel...Found!, that Carthage was founded by Semites from Israel, Tyre and Sidon who continued the Semitic/Hebrew language of the Israelites as well as the Baal worship that Israel, Tyre and Sidon shared. Carthage and the Greeks were historically enemies, but Sparta exhibited a community of interest with Carthage. When Carthage's army was not fighting well against the Roman legions, it was a Spartan named Xanthippus who traveled to Carthage to reorganize and drill the Carthaginian army to fight Rome. Who better than a Spartan to teach military tactics? This event is recorded on page 14 of a book, Hannibal's War With Rome, by Terrence Wise and Mark Healy.
I have saved the greatest proof to the last, however. The Spartans themselves declared that they were a fellow tribe of the Jews and corresponded with an ancient Jewish High Priest about their relationship. The book of I Maccabees14:16-23 records this correspondence, which includes this statement:
"And this is the copy of the letter which the Spartans
sent: The Chief magistrates and the city of the Spartans
send greeting to Simon, the chief priest, and to the elders
and the priests and the rest of the Jewish people, our
kinsmen." (Emphasis added.)
Notice the Spartans called the Jews "our kinsmen." The Spartans did not proclaim themselves to be Jews, but rather that they were "kinsmen" to the Jews (i.e. members of one of the other tribes of Israel). That the Spartans acknowledged a common ancestry with the Jews of the tribe of Judah gives powerful weight to the assertion that they were Israelites who migrated to Greece instead of the Promised Land. The Spartan culture is most like that of the tribe of Simeon, most of which apparently left the Israelite encampment in the Wilderness after a Simeon prince was executed by a Levite.
There is a third group of wanderers in ancient history which manifested a Simeonite/Israelite ancestry, but this column is now long enough. The story of another band of Simeonites who struck out on their own in the world will be told in a future column.

Shalom and Greetings to all,

Steve Collins

Taken from: http://stevenmcollins.com/html/simeon.html

Oedipus and Akhnaton

Publishing details
Author:Immanuel Velikovsky
Title:Oedipus and Akhnaton
Subtitle:Myth and History
Publ. date:1960
PublisherDoubleday and Company
ISBNISBN 0-385-00529-6
LIC No:n/a
Dedicated to:Horace M. Kallen
Books by Velikovsky

Oedipus and Akhnaton (1960) is Velikovsky's fourth book, and second in the series following Ages in Chaos. Velikovsky explains that he:
"... read Freud's last book, Moses and Monotheism, and was prompted to read more about Akhnaton, the real hero of that book. Soon I was struck by some close parallels between this Egyptian king and the legendary Oedipus. A few months later I found myself in the libraries of the New World, among many large volumes containing the records of excavations in Thebes and el-Amarna. This study carried me into the larger field of Egyptian history and to the concept of Ages in Chaos - a reconstruction of twelve hundred years of ancient history, twelve years of toil. [..]"
"... it properly follows Ages in Chaos, Volume 1, which covered the time from the great upheaval that closed the Middle Kingdom in Egypt to the time of Pharaoh Akhnaton. The present short book tells his story and that of the tragic events at the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty. In its wake, another volume of Ages in Chaos, too long postponed, will be concluded, bringing my historical reconstruction to the advent of Alexander."[1]

Book contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword
  • Illustrations
Part 1
  • The Legend
  • The Sphinx
  • The Seven-Gated Thebes and The Hundred-Gated Thebes
  • Amenhotep III and Tiy
  • A Stranger on the Throne
  • "King Living in Truth"
  • The City of the Sun
  • The Queen's Brother
  • The King's Mother and Wife
  • Incest
  • Nefretete
  • The King Deposed
  • The Blind Seer
  • The Blind King
Part 2
  • "A Ghastly Sight of Shame"
  • "Crowned with Every Rite"
  • "A Tomb-Pit in the Rock"
  • "Only One Sister O'er His Bier"
  • Tiy's End
  • "This Was Oedipus"
  • King Ay and a "Tumult of Hatred"
  • The Curse
  • Trails Over the Sea
  • The Seer of Our Time
  • End


  1. Immanuel Velikovsky, Oedipus and Akhnaton, 1960, Doubleday & Company, ISBN: 0-385-00529-6


Taken from: http://www.velikovsky.info/Oedipus_and_Akhnaton