I Am The Way

The way is narrow

The way, not a way… this is what the Apostle John quoted Jesus as saying in John 14: 6.

As anyone who has read any of my fiction series will know, I spent a great deal of time in the gospel of John. It is the setting for the first of the books in the series, but not the only source of information about the 1st century AD. To be honest, the whole New Testament, and some of the Old Testament gave clues as to the life of the people.

So, before writing another book on life on oxygen, or introducing you to two young boys from the 600 BCs, I thought I would have a reprise of ‘the Way.’

The Apostolic Age

The 1st century AD is now classified as ‘the Apostolic age’ for rather obvious reasons. The apostles were at work fulfilling the commission Jesus gave them. However, littered through that 1st century are deaths and martyrdoms as well as the spreading of the gospel.

I have read many scholarly articles which attempt to explain the miracles, the healings, the life and the work of Jesus Christ. However, this is all from the point of ‘us’ looking back with the eyes of the century we live in, and the understanding and culture we inhabit.

Let’s have a look at the times through the writings of the Apostles.

The Way

The book of Acts mentions ‘the Way’ as an established fact. The Apostle Paul, in the days he was Saul, the terrorist of the followers of Christ, hated them with the zeal he would later have for spreading the gospel.

“Saul kept breathing out threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues of Damascus. The letters authorized Saul, if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, to bring them bound to Jerusalem.”
Acts 9: 1, 2 ESV

So the early believers were either calling themselves ‘the Way’ or were known by others as followers of the Way.

Why?

The Way they lived?

I remember when my children were young I would take them to church on a Sunday morning. After services we would come home and I would catch up with my household chores. (I was a working lone parent.)

washing a car, not a Sabbath choreNo doubt there would be washing to do, as well as cooking, planning for the week’s meals and fixing things, perhaps washing the car. These were chores that did not fit into the day of a working mother.

The early Christians however, were Sabbath keepers. All their chores, which did not include washing cars <smile> were completed by sunset on the Friday evening and the Sabbath was observed until sunset on Saturday.

“The Book of Acts reports that the early followers continued daily Temple attendance and traditional Jewish home prayer. Other passages in the New Testament gospels reflect a similar observance of traditional Jewish piety such as fasting, reverence for the Torah and observance of Jewish holy days.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_the_1st_century  under the section Beliefs and Practices.

 

The rest of the week

To live by the ‘two great commandments’ Jesus cited, meant they kept the ‘ten.’ What they believed governed their lives. And, because most would not break the 1st commandment, many were martyred.

In the words of a reader who reviewed the books of the Apostle John Series…

”Like me, you might be struck by the contrast between the early church and our current mode of religious worship. I can’t help but think we’ve lost much in the way of hope, faith, and love over the past two thousand years.”
https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/series-overview/grow-in-grace/

(You will not find any of this man’s reviews on the Amazon site… for some strange, unknown reason they fell afoul of Amazon’s algorithms and this was one of many that were deleted.)

Christianity is the way we live, just as ‘church’ is the people, not the building. In this increasingly busy world it is difficult to hold fast to the simple faith of the early Christians.

Although the way is narrow, often difficult to see much less keep plodding on, it is not impossible though,

God bless

Susan

After Three Days

After three days he will rise

Jesus said, “The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”

But there are not three days – 24-hour periods – between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. This was something my fellow Bible College students and I asked every year when this study came up.

One lecturer said, “Jesus was speaking metaphorically.”

I dismissed this because that meant I would have to distrust everything that Jesus said.

Another time, a lecturer said, “They counted night and day as full days.”

Okay… Friday night in the tomb. Saturday day in the tomb, Saturday night in the tomb.

How does this square with the Bible?

God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” There was an evening, and there was a morning: one day.
Genesis 1:5  CSB – Holman Publishers

(More at this blog post )

There was an evening and a morning – one day, for seven days.
To count it the way the lecturer said would have made creation week fourteen days long.

~~~~~~~

Aside: One helpful instruction we were given as Bible College students was, “If you don’t understand something, put it on the ‘back burner’ – the answer might come up in a future lesson.

That one never did, not at Bible college, so remained on the back burner for a great many years.

Sometimes scripture can seem confusing

I had to do a great deal of study as well as research when writing the Apostle John Series of novels. (Much of that I share with my VIP Readers.)

A little bit of that research can relate to this subject.

  • Why did Jesus have Passover the night before the temple sacrifice?

The original instruction from God was that it was a ‘domestic’ sacrifice.

The killing and cooking of the lamb was as the fourteenth started. (Just after sunset when the Israelite day started – so it was on the evening of the 13th as we would count it.)

  • Why did the Passover change from home to temple and on a different day?

When in exile in Babylon the Jews could not keep the Passover on the correct day. They believed it could only be done at the start of the fourteenth day (evening of the 13th) if they were in their own land. Therefore, they kept it the next evening.

The first record of Passover being a temple sacrifice I found was that of King Hezekiah (Chronicles 30: 1-5) These changes were instigated by King Hezekiah in his zeal to abolish idolatry in the land, and restore the worship of God.

    • In the time of Jesus, some were keeping a domestic sacrifice, as Jesus and the disciples did, and others kept a temple sacrifice, as the Pharisees did.

So Jesus and the disciples kept the Biblical Passover, not a supper before His crucifixion to say ‘goodbye.’
And He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before My suffering.”
Luke 22: 15 Berean Study Bible

I have many thick books of information on all of this, but that is not for here. I share what is above in order to show the main points about Passover.

After three days

Many years ago, someone pointed out to me that in the week after the crucifixion there were two Sabbaths.

The gospel of John holds the clue.

It was the day of Preparation, and the next day was a High Sabbath. In order that the bodies would not remain on the cross during the Sabbath, the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies removed.
John 19: 31 Berean Study Bible

High holy days

A ‘high’ Sabbath was one of the seven annual holy days. The one following the Passover, which started after sunset on the 14th, making it the start of the 15th was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. (A holy day.)
High Sabbaths

According to a list of Passover days going back over the centuries, Passover that year was on a Wednesday.

This fits the three days and three nights, and Jesus would have risen just after sunset as the weekly Sabbath ended.

Jesus said of the religious authorities of His day…

You have disregarded the commandment of God to keep the tradition of men.”

He went on to say, “You neatly set aside the commandment of God to maintain your own tradition.
Mark 7: 8, 9 Berean Study Bible

Are our observances of Easter ‘keeping traditions of men?’

Something to think about.

Susan

The First Passover

A lamb was chosen for the Passover

After the nine plagues, the first Passover protected the Hebrew slaves (Israelites) from the tenth plague and enabled them to leave Egypt.

At this time of year it is good to look back and see what it meant.

“Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.’” Enduring Word Commentary. (Highlighting mine.)

As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, the ‘day’ began after the sunset on what we would call the day before. (Calendar and Confusion) So, the fourteenth day began after sunset on the thirteenth. Twilight is that period between the end of one day and start of another when the sun has gone down but light continues. (Hebrew term ‘ben ha arbayim’ and this is different from ‘erev’ meaning evening.)

The Israelites were in their homes scattered throughout Goshen and they followed the instructions relayed to them by Moses.

Goshen where the first Passover was kept

Goshen was a pastoral region in Lower Egypt, occupied by the Israelites before the Exodus.

Passover Instructions

‘And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire; its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover.’ Enduring Word (Highlighting mine.)

I have seen this word ‘haste’ in Exodus 12: 11 translated as ‘trepidation.’ This made more sense to me, so I looked up a Hebrew concordance. Trepidation is indeed one of the possible words from this Hebrew word.

Transliterated Word

TDNT Entry

Chippazown

TWOT – 708a

Phonetic Spelling

Parts of Speech

khip-paw-zone’ 

Noun Masculine

  1. hurriedly, in haste, trepidation, hurried flight

I favour ‘trepidation’ because God’s command was not to leave their homes until daybreak.

“And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.”
Exodus 12:22 NKJV
(bolding mine.)

If they had gone out, they would have left the protection of the blood on the doors of their homes. As they were eating, or clearing up according to the instructions to burn all that had not been eaten, they would have heard the cries of the Egyptians.
It must have been a frightening time, not knowing what was happening outside their homes.

Dictionary.com defines trepidation as … ‘tremulous fear, alarm, or agitation; perturbation.”

‘Morning’ in Hebrew is ‘boqer’, which is translated     day/early/morning/morrow. The Hebrew day did not start at midnight as came in with the calendar changes. Covered in Calendar and Confusion

Why have I written about the first Passover?

Because we are on the lead-up to the annual commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the true Passover Lamb.

It is good to look back to the root, or beginning, in order to understand the present more fully.

Passover, blood on doorposts and lintel

Sharing my musings,

Susan

The Historical Jesus

The land of the historical Jesus

One of the newsletters I subscribe to is trying to sell me a tour of Israel to search for the historical Jesus. But as the newsletter itself says, the gospels are full of accounts of His life and deeds. That is not historical?

In what way would attempting to retrace His steps, visit the places He travelled, taught, and worked miracles, help me find the historical Jesus?

Just thinking.

About the historical Jesus

He was crucified in 30 or 31 AD, depending on what ‘school’ of reasoning you follow. The temple where He taught… and confronted the Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees, was destroyed by the Roman emperor commonly known as Titus. That was in 70 AD

How much is left of that first century world in which Jesus lived? Not much I would think.

  • The church (followers of Christ) fled before the fall of Jerusalem.
  • The Apostle James, brother of John, was martyred in 44 AD.
  • The other Apostles fulfilled their commission and took the gospel of the Kingdom of God ‘into all the world’.
  • Legend has it that all, except the apostle John, were martyred.

(I have several gigabytes of research about the 1st century AD in folders on my computer.)

So what remains of the country that Jesus grew up in, walked around and taught about the Kingdom of God?

In the two centuries since He walked the land, how many wars have there been?
(Rhetorical ).

All that remains of the temple has gone. All, that is, except the Western – or Wailing – wall. Some believe that it is a remnant of ‘Herod’s Temple’, while others say it was part of the Roman fortress and point out that Jesus said ‘not one stone’. If the ‘wailing wall’ is part of the temple something doesn’t fit.

Destruction of the temple

He prophesied it would be destroyed, recorded in Mark 13…

After his teachings in the previous chapter, all set in the Temple courts, Jesus finishes his teaching in the Temple for the day and leaves. On his way out of the Temple an unnamed disciple remarks how great the Temple (Herod’s Temple) is. The buildings might have reached up to 150 feet (45.72 m) in height and they were adorned with gold, silver and other precious items.

“‘Do you see all these great buildings?’ replied Jesus. ’Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_13

Well, I am sure the tour will be interesting. But all I need to know about Jesus is in the Word of God. I will rely on that.

In the Apostle John Series when Jesus is quoted, it is taken from the Bible.

What would the ‘historical Jesus’ think?

If Jesus was to walk through Jerusalem today would He not be horrified by what people revere? I think so, you might not.

I wonder what He would think of the instrument of His death being revered.

graven image
Cross

In answer to my opening statement… I remain puzzled about how people can ‘find’ the historical Jesus, two centuries and many changes later.

But I do have a question… is it not more important to know the risen Jesus, the Saviour, than ‘fossick’ around in the past.

Just some thoughts,

Susan

Christmas through the ages

Christmas and Mithraiism

When I was a young child in Scotland, Christmas was not celebrated. My mother, by then a lone parent, went to her work in a textile factory for her usual twelve hour shift. Remembering back, I looked it up to see if my memory was correct. Yes, it was. Christmas did not become a public holiday until 1958.

“A 1640 Act of the Parliament of Scotland made the celebration of “Yule vacations” illegal. England, under Oliver Cromwell, also imposed a ban on Christmas at around the same time. Despite the repealing of the Act in 1686, the suppression of Christmas in Scotland effectively lasted for 400 years, with December 25 only becoming a public holiday in 1958.”
Several sites record this, including https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/christmas-and-new-year-traditions-in-scotland-1-3226062

Yule, Christmas past
Yule, Christmas past

Christmas in the new American colony

An early law book of the Massachusetts Bay Colony reads as follows:

“For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God and offence of others, it is therefore ordered by this Court and the authority thereof, that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon such accountants as aforesaid, every person so offending shall pay of every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county.”

They also felt that due to the holiday’s loose pagan origins, celebrating it would constitute idolatry. A common sentiment among the leaders of the time was that such feast days detracted from their core beliefs.

A look at the history of Christmas

Bilble, open

The Bible records the birth of Christ but never any annual celebration not even after His death as Saviour.


So, looking to history – when was the first recorded celebration of Christmas?

The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December.

Ah, Emperor Constantine.

Was he indeed the ‘first Christian Roman Emperor? Or was he merely trying to unite his vast empire with its many religious beliefs?

Roman beliefs

Emperor Constantine merged the cult of Mithra with that of Christianity, a ‘cult’ that was developing rapidly.

He declared himself a Christian but at the same time maintained his ties to the Mithra cult. He retained the title “Pontifus Maximus” the high priest. On his coins were inscribed: “Sol Invicto comiti” which means, commited to the invincible sun.

Interesting.

Mithra, the slaying of the bull

Christmas in the 19th Century

With the appearance of the Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church, a revival in the traditional rituals and religious observances associated with Christmastide occurred. This ushered in “the development of richer and more symbolic forms of worship, the building of neo-Gothic churches, and the revival and increasing centrality of the keeping of Christmas itself as a Christian festival” as well as “special charities for the poor” in addition to “special services and musical events”.
Historian Ronald Hutton believes that the current state of observance of Christmas is largely the result of a mid-Victorian revival of the holiday, spearheaded by Charles Dickens, who “linked worship and feasting, within a context of social reconciliation”.

Dickens was not the first author to celebrate Christmastide in literature, but it was he who superimposed his humanitarian vision of the holiday upon the public, an idea that has been termed as Dickens’ “Carol Philosophy.”

Modern celebrations of Christmas include more commercial activity in comparison with those of the past.

Christmas in the U.S.

Historian Stephen Nissenbaum contends that the modern celebration in the United States was developed in New York State from defunct and imagined Dutch and English traditions in order to refocus the holiday from one where groups of young men went from house to house demanding alcohol and food into one centered on the happiness of children. He notes that there was a deliberate effort to prevent children from becoming greedy in response.
Christmas was not proclaimed a holiday by the United States Congress until 1870.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_controversies

There is a lot more I could write but this post is long enough…
Christmas is an invention of men, not a Biblical fact.
I suppose that is justification for the rampant commercialism of Christmas today. In saying this I also have to say there are many people who celebrate the 25th December as the birth of Christ.
I do not, but respect your right to keep this date as a celebration. Allow me the same right… to NOT celebrate what I see as a pagan holiday.

Whatever you do, be safe. Statistics for this time of year are depressing… suicides, accidents, and family fights, to name but a few.

God bless you and keep you safe,

Susan

P.S. The header image is a mithraeum (a temple-cave dedicated to Mithras) found in the German city of Saarbrücken.

Saturnalia synchronized

Temple of Saturn, Rome

What do I mean ‘Saturnalia synchronized?’ 
Well, at this time of year the custom of Christmas is loosely based on the ancient festival of Saturnalia. I discovered a great deal about this pagan Roman festival when researching the background for one of the books in the Apostle John Series. So, let’s build from the Roman celebration of Saturnalia and go from there

Roman Saturnalia

Originally celebrated on December 17, Saturnalia was extended first to three and eventually to seven days and ended on December 23.

  • All work and business was suspended.
  • Slaves were given temporary freedom to say and do what they liked
  • Certain moral restrictions were eased.
  • A mock king was chosen (Saturnalicius princeps); the seasonal greeting io Saturnalia was heard everywhere.
  • The cult statue of Saturn himself, traditionally bound at the feet with woolen bands, was untied, presumably to come out and join the fun.

Sounds remarkably like what I remember hearing in school history lessons. The medieval ‘Lord of Misrule,’ so I looked that up too.

Saturnalia, and lord of misrule
Engraving :The Illustrated London News :Scanned by Terry-Lynn Johnson, Lakehead University. This image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose

In England, the Lord of Misrule – known in Scotland as the Abbot of Unreason was an officer appointed by lot during Christmastide to preside over the Feast of Fools.

The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant appointed to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying.

Sounds like Saturnalicius princeps revisited.

Saturnalia to Christmas tree

One of the earliest stories relating back to a tree for Christmas is about Saint Boniface. In 722, he encountered some pagans who were about to sacrifice a child at the base of a huge oak tree. He cut down the tree to prevent the sacrifice and a Fir tree grew up at the base of the oak. He then told everyone that this lovely evergreen, with its branches pointing to heaven, was a holy tree – the tree of the Christ child, and a symbol of His promise of eternal life.

Next step… In the 1840s and 50s, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert popularized the Christmas tree in England. Prince Albert decorated a tree and ever since that time, the English, because of their love for their Queen, copied her Christmas customs including the Christmas tree and ornaments.

Next addition to Saturnalia

Over many centuries and through many cultures the fantasy of Santa Claus (in various names) has evolved and become part of the Christmas tradition.

It began with St. Nicholas, a fourth-century Catholic bishop of Myra, (Roman province of Asia Minor, now Turkey) His parents died when Nicholas was a young man, leaving him with a healthy inheritance.

Santa at nativity
Santa Claus was never at the manger

Legend of Saint Nicholas

Determined to devote his inheritance to works of charity, Nicholas discovered a destitute father who had three daughters. It was impossible to find husbands for them because of their poverty.

To save the father from giving his daughters over to human trafficking, Nicholas provided bags of gold for each of the daughters. Using the gold as a dowry, each of the girls were married in due time. This inspiring story resulted in Nicholas being recognized as an example of generosity for all people, young and old.

And on it went...

Devotion to Nicholas spread from the Middle East into Greece and Russia, where he is still recognized as the patron saint.
In time, Nicholas began to be honored also in Europe, and then in England where 400 churches were dedicated in his honor in the later Middle Ages.

Following the Reformation, Protestants abolished the veneration and traditions associated with saints. Only the Dutch Protestants preserved the ancient tradition of a visit from St. Nicholas on Dec. 6. They referred to St. Nicholas as Sinter Klaas.
Newspaper article

'Chinese whispers'

In that game, the phrase at the end is different from the one at the start. Likewise with Saturnalia’s synchronizations.

Saturnalia was a festival honoring the pagan Roman god Saturn. Like many other ‘festivals’ over the years it was ‘Christianized.’ However, there is nothing Christian about Saturnalia, nor any of the additions which were absorbed, or synchronized into the pagan celebration.

More musings,

Susan

Cooking now, then and way before then.

cooking, assembling spices

Cooking is now quite a challenge for me. Oxygen and flames don’t mix. This means being organized. Assemble everything beforehand, turn off the oxygen and light the gas. That is what I was doing earlier this week, a bit miffed that I could no longer multi-task and continue my preparations while the gas burner was lit.

As I was working, I was thinking.

Cooking a curry

Now – I buy ground spices. (I used to have a small grinder, but now I buy the spices.)

Then – In my mother’s day, I don’t remember eating a curry, but if curry flavoring was needed, this is what was on option.

Way before then – I doubt the Biblical cooks made curries, but they certainly made spicy meals. 

spices for cooking curry

They would have had to walk to the market, buy what they wanted, bring it home and grind it… probably with a hand mill. Spices were expensive so only a small quantity at a time would be bought.

Cooking Then

Growing up in the cold climate of Scotland, my meals as a child were starchy. Bread, bread rolls (they were a treat) and potato soup. (It was made with root vegetables, primarily potatoes.)

(Now, if I am able to keep the oxygen off, there are a lot more options.)

Cooking way before then

I did a great deal of research about this so that my books were as accurate as possible. Primarily, people of the New Testament ate vegetables, usually cooked in a stew, and often flavored with spices.

Most people probably ate meat only a few times a year, generally when animals were slaughtered for religious sacrifices, weddings or other special family celebrations or visits.

(In Hold the Faith, the celebratory meal after Benjamin’s baptism was chicken. What was left over was added to the next day’s vegetable stew.)

Cleaning and preparing the vegetables.

They were washed, but homes back then did not have indoor taps. Water had to be fetched from a well, so people would have been ‘water-wise.’

When vegetables were cleaned, they were cut, or chopped and put in a clay pot. Meals were generally cooked in clay pots in either clay ovens, or ovens made from earth. The most common way of cooking food was by boiling.

ancient cooking pot

Cooking was time consuming

Bread was a staple food.

It took possibly 2-3 hours of hard labor every day to make enough to feed a family with five. (In Hold the Faith there were six adults living in the home.)

Once the dough was made, it was cooked in different ways. One way was to cook it on the hot stones of a cooking fire.  Then there was the ‘jar’ oven.’ This was a huge clay pot that was smaller at the opening in the top; a fire was started on the inside to get it hot, and the dough was put against the outer part to cook. The pit-oven was a pottery lined hole in the ground that was heated with a fire that was put aside, and the dough was baked on top of the hot clay.

cooking bread in jar oven

Cooking now

So, by the time I pondered all of this, I realized how blessed I am. I have a gas cooker, a refrigerator and a freezer. I also have a microwave.

All of these, plus a telephone (even a land-line one) would have been very useful to warn of unexpected guests being brought home. (Again, as happened in Hold the Faith, and other books in the series.)

More musings

Susan

Hold the Faith is the first in a series of five Christian, historical fiction novels. They are set in the late 1st century AD and are followed by four novellas, (only three finished.) The novellas follow the lives of some of the ‘side’ characters.

I am asking people to buy, or recommend these books as I am currently fundraising for a Portable Oxygen Concentrator. Please ignore the Amazon review status. Many of my reviews have fallen victim to the unknown bot that Amazon uses to remove what they consider reviews from friends, family, or purchased reviews. Some people who have told me their reviews have been removed, I have never met, nor am I likely to meet them. Still, I think even Amazon does not know how this algorithm of theirs works.

Link to the fund-raising page, so that you may read about my current setup and my goal.

Thank you.

Fund-raising page for POC

Mention Jesus’ birth and people think Christmas

Old Testament scroll,

However, Jesus’ birth  is not what I want to ‘talk’ about in this post. A Biblical newsletter I have subscribed to since first researching the background of the Apostle John Series poses some questions. The following are some…

  1. Was Jesus conceived by Mary and someone other than her husband Joseph or the Holy Spirit?
  2. Could a Roman soldier have been involved?
  3. What were the cultural norms of the time about pregnancies out of wedlock?

Mary was a betrothed wife. That meant she had accepted Joseph as a husband, probably drunk from a betrothal cup (since that was the custom). Then he would have gone home to ‘prepare a place’ while she remained with her family. No sexual contact happened between the betrothed couple before the husband until he returned to claim her – usually a year later, but this could vary depending upon circumstances. Once the betrothal had taken place they were legally married, and it could only be dissolved by divorce. This could have been what Joseph considered when the news of Mary’s pregnancy came to him.

And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. Matt1: 19 ESV

‘Just’ in some versions is translated ‘righteous.’

Perhaps, though, ‘just’ is appropriate too, because he could have publicly broken off the marriage on the ground of the apparent guilt. The consequences were ‘dire.’

“then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”
Deuteronomy 22: 21 ESV

However, Joseph ‘being unwilling to put her to shame’ had the option of a “writ of divorcement,” which did not necessarily specify the ground of repudiation, except in vague language implying disagreement.

This answers questions number 1 and 3, what about number 2?

Jesus' birth was the result of an ‘affair’ with a Roman soldier?

That is what it could seem to imply. However, the Bible has a different answer…

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Luke 1: 26 – 30 ESV (Bolding mine.)

Does this sound like a woman who would have an affair with a Roman soldier?

God had chosen the one to give birth to His Son.

Since His Son would be the Messiah, God would not have chosen a ‘vessel’ that was not pure.

If you think that is a ‘fantasy’ and God did not ‘father’ Jesus – consider how many miracles he performed. There are also a long list of prophecies fulfilled – between 300 and 400 according to some sites. A clear list can be found at  
https://www.simplybible.com/f986-prophecies-fulfilled-by-christ.htm

Or, does the reference to a Roman soldier suggest she might have been raped?

In Biblical times women were veiled

 

Again, looking at the culture of the times, young women of good families did not go out unaccompanied. After a woman’s betrothal she was veiled.

Mary was of the house of David, the purity of the ‘line’ was important to God as well as to David’s descendants.

I prefer to believe the Bible on the subject of Jesus’ birth.

Traditional portrayal of Jesus' birth

traditional portrayal of Jesus' birth
Can you see the simple error?

Clue: Related to the custom of the day.

You can leave a comment below.

Have a safe week <smile>

Susan

Alpha and Omega

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and was and is to come—the Almighty.
Revelation 1: 8 Berean Study Bible

Some translations leave out the definite article before ‘Alpha and Omega.’

What is the Alpha and Omega?

Alpha and Omega, Greek letters

: Alpha (Α) and omega (Ω) are the first and last letters, respectively, of the classical (Ionic) Greek alphabet. Thus, twice when the phrase “I am the alpha and the omega” appears it is further clarified with the additional phrase, “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 21:6, 22:13). The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet were used because the book of Revelation is in the New Testament, which was originally written in Greek.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_and_Omega

What does Christ mean, the Alpha and Omega?

Sometimes when a person hears something over the course of time, it is merely words that have always been known. Alpha and Omega – the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, but why did Christ say He was?

Is it possible He meant He was at the beginning of the Book and the end of the Book – the beginning of time and the end of time?

Let’s check.

Sometimes when a person hears something many times over the course of time, it is merely words that have always been known. Alpha and Omega – the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, but why did Christ say that?

Is it possible He meant He was at the beginning of the Book and the end of the Book – the beginning of time and the end of time?

Genesis
Revelation, the end

The gospel of John might have a clue there…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
John 1: 1 – 3

I was surprised to find there is some debate about what this means. Years ago when I was in Bible College it was taught that Jesus Christ was the Word of God,

I saw a short YouTube video (not linked) where two Biblical scholars were discussing this ‘controversial’ section. The concluded it was a choice of the translators to use a capital for Word.

That view does not make sense of John 1: 1
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Let’s look at Genesis – the Alpha

“In the beginning God, created the heavens and the earth”
Genesis 1:1

 

The word used for God in Genesis 1:1 is “Elohim,” which is a form of the word “El.” In the context of Genesis 1:1, there can certainly be no doubt as to who is doing the creating. In the Hebrew language the “im” ending imputes plurality. Therefore, “Elohim” is the plural from of the word “El.”
Chuck Missler: from his book ‘The Creator Beyond Time and Space.

The plural aspect continues…

“And God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'”
Genesis 1:26, (Jewish Publication Society version, 1917)

The Alpha – the One who became Jesus Christ

Remember John 1: 1 -3 ?

That nails it for me. The Word of God, before he was born as a human being, was with God.

In fact, when researching for Hold the Faith I spent a great deal of time studying these first verses of the gospel of John.

Does God change His mind?

How could we trust Him if He did? We would never know where we stood.

God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?
Numbers 23: 19

And another

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Hebrews 13: 8

Conclusion

When Christ, at the end of the Book, says He is the Alpha – He was/is at the beginning of the Book.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ…
Revelation 1: 1…

The Omega

Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Revelation 22: 12

At the end of the Book, Christ repeats…

I am the Alpha and Omega

In fact, he is all the way through the Bible.

Found on YouTube…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KW1elxCB69A

A praise song.

Sharing,

Susan

P.S. – Don’t forget ‘No Evil Shall Befall You is only .99c US during the pre-release period, Which ends on the 1st of August. 

Read about it here https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/no-evil-shall-befall-you

Or buy it on pre-release here  https://www.amazon.com/No-Evil-Shall-Befall-You-ebook/dp/B07FVL99FJ

Also, on the first of August, the first novella, After the Thirty Days will be free for one day. 

These novellas are ‘the Jewish side.’ Another, the final in the series of novellas is coming later this year.

Nephilim – Angels or Men

Nephilim were as giants

There is a current ‘fascination’ on the subject of the Nephilim. I base this statement on the number of popular books on the subject to be found on Amazon… a couple even with the ‘bestseller’ tag. But does it mean they are telling the truth? I guess it depends on what you see as the truth. In this week’s blog I want to explore the subject of Nephilim from the Bible point of view.

Bible references on Nephilim

Pre-flood
Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.
Genesis 6: 1, 2 NKJV

Post-flood
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
Numbers 13: 30 – 33 NKJV

Grasshopper in the sight of the Nephilim

The identity of the Nephilim and the sons of God is debated in Christian circles. Many say the Nephilim are fallen angels, some say that they are men. Others suggest that the Nephilim were aliens.

(The latter has quite a large following also.)

 

Nephilim, fallen angel?

 

Currently, the most popular thoughts  seem to be that they are fallen angels who chose ‘daughters of men’ and had children with them.

Interesting, but fantasy, surely.

Why… read on.

On the Nephilim

In the beginning God created everything after its own kind.

God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1: 25

There are twelve other verses about ‘after its own kind’ here …

https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/According-To-Its-Kind

On Angels

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”
(Job 38:4-7).

(Morning stars – generally interpreted as angels.)
Since according to that verse angels already existed and God created them before Genesis 1, it is reasonable to assume that they too were created ‘after their kind.’

With the benefit of modern science and technology mankind can crossbreed species. However, in creation I have not read of one species interbreeding with another. Not even mermaids. They are not real; there is no conclusive scientific evidence that proves their existence in real life. Mermaids are mythical creatures that have been a part of folklore and legends for thousands of years. (According to Reference.com)

Is it possible the Nephilim, being fallen, could breed with women?

Human beings were created ‘after their kind’ – angels ‘after their kind’ – which was spirtual. Even ‘fallen’ angels are still spiritual.

Answers in the New Testament

What higher authority is there but Christ? When answering a question on a different subject, He said this…

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.
Matthew 22: 30 NKJV

On Sons of God

The Apostle John recorded…

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
1 John 3: 1, 2

The phrase “sons of God” is found eleven times in the King James Version: twice in Genesis, three times in Job, and six times in the New Testament. Other than its usage in Job, (where it possibly refers to angels) the term ‘sons of God’ refers to those who follow after God and keep His Word.

Bible. One book, many stories

Although we use our imaginations, and sometimes have ‘fun’ doing it, there are many things we cannot know. For some things we must wait for the truth in the ‘hereafter.’

Thinking again,

Susan