Monday, December 16, 2019

Which Some Deny

Continuing in the recent series about the seamless message of first century fulfillment throughout the New Testament scriptures (here and here), I have gathered a few quotes from Dale Allison Jr’s excellent study, The End of the Ages Has Come: An Early Interpretation of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. In it, Allison devotes scholarly attention to chunks of overlooked and obscure passages of Scripture to see how they relate to the topic at hand. 

In his chapter on Matthew, he makes some remarkable comments which I think are both profound and questionable in relation to Matthew 27:51b-53. Those verses are:
And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (ESV)
Before I quote Allison in detail, I want to point out that the context in which he makes his remarks has to do with an evaluation made by Donald P. Senior, in his published monograph, The Passion According to Matthew: A Redactional Study, as it relates to the resurrection of “holy ones.” Allison points out the following:
Senior’s evaluation of the background of Matt. 27:51b-53 also invites criticism. His claim that our passage depends primarily upon Ezekial 37…is questionable. …Despite the parallel between Ezek. 37:12 and Matt. 27:52, there is another Scripture that lays claim to bear directly on our text: Zech 14:4-5.1 The affinity between the two passages has probably gone largely unnoticed because, in the Christian tradition, Zech 14:4-5 has not been interpreted as an account of the resurrection. The north panel of the Dura-Europos synagogue (mid-third century A.D.), however, provides evidence that the passage was so understood within ancient Judaism. Although many scholars have looked primarily to Ezekiel 37 for the interpretation of the panel, there can be little doubt that Zech 14:4-5 is also reflected. In the section which portrays the resurrection of the dead, the Mount of Olives (indicated by the two olive trees on the top of the mountain) has been split in two—precisely the event prophesied in Zech 14:4—and the revived dead are emerging from the crack. The fallen building on the slopes of the mountain probably symbolizes an earthquake (Zech 14:4), and those resurrected are in all likelihood here identified with the “holy ones” of Zech 14:5. Such an interpretation gains some support by (1) the Targum on Zech 14:3-5: the passage is introduced with God blowing the trumpet ten times to announce the resurrection of the dead; (2) the Targum on the Song of Songs (8:5): “When the dead rise, the Mount of Olives will be cleft, and all Israel’s dead will come up out of it, also the righteous who have died in captivity; they will come by way of a subterranean passages and will emerge from beneath the Mount of Olives”; and (3) later rabbinic uses of Zech 14:5: the “holy ones” of Zechariah are more than once identified not with the angels but with the ancient saints, specifically the prophets (for example, Midr. Rabbah on Song of Songs 4.11.1; on Ruth 2; and on Eccles. 1.11.1; cf Ign. Magn 9). The passage from the Targum on the Song of Songs (2) clearly represents an interpretation of Zech 14:4-5 and is the perfect literary parallel to the panel at Dura. It appears, therefore, that Zech. 14:4-5 was understood in some Jewish circles to be a prophecy of the resurrection.  
Once Zech 14:4-5 is read as a prophecy of the resurrection, its relation to Matt. 27:51b-53 becomes manifest. In both texts (1) a resurrection of the dead takes place immediately outside of Jerusalem…; (2) there is an earthquake; (3) the very schizo is used in the passive, in connection with a mountain (Zechariah) or rocks (Matthew); and (4) the resurrected ones are called hoi hagioi.2 These parallels are sufficient to permit the conclusion that Matt. 27:51b-53 is based in part on Zech 14:4-5 and not, as Senior holds, solely upon Ezekiel 37.3

A few paragraphs later, Allison makes a few striking remarks about the relationship between these passages and Matthew 25:31-46. He continues:

...Matthew has apparently supplied the following introduction to the parable of the sheep and goats in 25:31-46: "'When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him [kai pantes hoi aggeloi met auto]...'" As others have observed, the Greek [in brackets] strongly recalls Zech 14:5 LXX: kai pantes hoi ago met auto. Now, if Matt. 25:31 is indeed a redactional composition based on Zech 14:5, the exegete is faced by two riddles. First, while hoi hagioi of Zech. 14:5 are the angels (hoi aggeloi) in Matt. 25:31, they are the resurrected saints (ton hagion) in Matt. 27:52-53. Second, while Matt. 25:31 sets the fulfillment of Zech. 14:5 in the future ("'When the Son of man comes..."), Matt. 27:53 narrates the realization of Zechariah's vision. One is thus confronted by two rival interpretations of Zech. 14:5. If it is unlikely that both came from the same hand, then since Matt. 25:31 is probably redactional, 27:52-53 probably is not.4 

Here is my takeaway from these insights: 

1) There are no actual "riddles" which the exegete is faced with if Jesus actually raised the holy ones from the "dead ones" in Sheol/Hades.

2) "Angels" and "holy ones" only appear to be conceptually different because Christian traditions have largely neglected serious study of the relationship between the two. As far as the unseen realm of this world is concerned, modern exegetes still have much to learn as they do to unlearn. 

3) Matthew 27:53 narrates the realization of Zechariah's vision because God raised Jesus up along with the righteous dead who were in Sheol/Hades.

4) Matthew 25:31ff is not--I REPEAT, NOT--about the end of the world, or the end of time, or the so-called "second coming" of Jesus where, allegedly, he returns to earth bodily. Matthew 25:31ff most naturally fits within a first century context of fulfillment.  

5) The event narrated in Matt. 27:53 is significant because that was evidence that Jesus is the guarantor of all who would be raised up to eternal life with God thereafter. That was the very first time in human history where human beings were raised up to the presence of God. Previously, they had all been in Sheol/Hades, awaiting final judgment about their eternal destination. God then vindicated his Son by raising him out of the dead-ones. Jesus also led a whole host of captives with him to heaven, to rule and reign in the resurrection. Not everyone was raised with Jesus at the time of his resurrection from the dead-ones. The wicked remained until their final judgment in AD70. 

6) Matthew 25:31ff is about the final judgment of all the dead-ones in Sheol/Hades in AD70. According to Matt. 27:53, although many bodies of those who had died were brought back to life, that was only the beginning. There is no remark about the wicked, evil, treacherous dead-ones being raised back to life. Such were still awaiting final judgment in AD70. Matthew 25:31ff is about that judgment, where the saints who were raised with Jesus (around AD30) would come in final judgment upon Israel.

7) Numerous theologians (and scholars) throughout history have noted that Zech. 14:4-5 referred to events which received their fulfillment in the first century. Notable among the Church Fathers is Theodore, bishop of Cyrus (423-457 AD), who connected Zech. 14:4-5 with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. These types of symbolic connections did not go unnoticed among the Church Fathers, as I have shown in a separate series

8) Perhaps most intriguing find within all of this is the little, tiny cross-reference of Ignatius of Antioch which Allison made in passing. To be exact, Allison referenced Ignatius' Letter to the Magnesians, chapter nine.5 In that particular chapter, Ignatius exhorts his Christian disciples to not keep the Sabbath of Judaism, but live instead "in accordance with the Lord's Day, on which our life also arose through him and his death (which some deny)." Only one verse later, he connects the holy ones of history with those who were anticipating being raised up from the dead-ones in Sheol/Hades along with their Messiah: "how can we possibly live without him [Jesus], whom even the prophets, who were his disciples in the Spirit, were expecting as their teacher? This is why the One for whom they righty waited raised them from the dead (ἐκ νεκρῶν) when he came." 

This past fulfillment of raising up holy ones from the abode of the dead-ones (i.e. Sheol/Hades) is what justifies his other remarks bracketing the letter with regard to his own personal hope and exception to "reach God" when he dies (1:2; 14:1). For Ignatius of Antioch, the whole notion of reaching God was made possible by the definitive end and final judgment upon the Old Creation. For Ignatius, there is no more a message of awaiting resurrection from the dead-ones after a period in Sheol/Hades; there is only eternal death or resurrection unto eternal life with Christ, which, of course, makes perfect sense since Ignatius wrote after AD70. 

9) Matthew 25:31ff is probably not redactional. The affinity between Matt. 25:31ff and 27:52-53 has probably gone largely unnoticed because, in the Christian tradition, very few modern scholars consider most (or all) eschatological "end-times" remarks as actually being fulfilled in the first century.  There are many great reasons to consider the ways in which Church Fathers thought otherwise

10) Modern scholars like Allison and Senior can't make sense of resurrection in the first century because they're assuming something imaginary, something that is part of a later Christian tradition about bodily resurrection. Christian tradition is loaded with debates about that doctrine. Early Judaisms had similar debates. Regardless of whether bodily resurrection at the end of the physical cosmos is philosophically cogent and true, as long as we approach these texts literarily, we cannot help but notice that the expectation surrounding the New testament message consistently witnesses to soon-coming first century events; and as long as we assume that those New Testament scriptures are historically reliable and rhetorically coherent, I think it's safe to say that Allison and Senior (along with scholars like them) tend to read back into the text what became popular dogmas centuries after their fulfillment. The message of being raised "out of" or "from the dead-ones" (ἐκ νεκρῶν) make more sense if it was actually fulfilled in first century events (which, as Ignatius of Antioch pointed out, some deny). 

1. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. (ESV)
2. hoi hagioi is the transliteration of the Greek text, ο γιοι, which means “the holy ones”
3. Allison Jr., pp. 42-44
4. Ibid. p. 44-45
5. This was referenced in the first, lengthy paragraph above, in sub-point (3), which mentioned rabbinic sources. One of Ignatius's letters ("Ign. Magn 9") is compared with those remarks in rabbinic sources because that letter makes a lot of comments in contrast with the philosophy of rabbinic judaism in the first century.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Opening the verse

waking up to love
every day with you right here
tucked into warm sheets

peeking over there
I cannot help but wonder
you gave self to me

goodness must be felt
like a tattoo of kindness
i can see it too

blessed is he who finds
and who understands wisdom
her worth is priceless 

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ex Eventu Deviance

Consider this my second post in a potential series that started earlier this month. That first post is found hereIn that post, I mentioned a few personal views:

1) People either believe the so-called 'New Testament' witness is historically reliable and rhetorically coherent, or they don't. 

2) Almost all academicians unswervingly swear allegiance to the same dogmas: that the end of the ages did not come in the first century, and the parousia was delayed (and must still be delayed); therefore all "data" collected from new testament witnesses and even non-canonical literature of that general era must be jammed through a peer-reviewed process that, in the very least, attempts to cohere with those dogmas.

3) All the eschatological mumbo-jumbo of academic guilds theorizing about imaginary sources seems more convoluted than just taking the new-testament texts at face value. Either something cataclysmic occurred as promised (or prophesied) in first century Israel, and that fulfilled promise influenced the course of history, or the New Testament witness is false and unreliable.

4) I also don't think 'already-not-yet' paradigms are helpful in mediating the tension between what the texts are and what meaning those texts would have communicated if they were historically reliable and rhetorically coherent. 

Even though I have not traced out a history of that paradigm (because that would be an exhaustive study), I nevertheless imagine, based on what I have studied over fifteen years, that every traceable, popular tradition thereof was conjured up and defended because Christians throughout history have, in large part, been highly influenced by inescapable social expectations, dogmas, and politics. In social-psychological parlance, this natural movement away from some dogmas and toward others is described as the black sheep effect, where Christians have renegotiated the boundaries of permissible thought in response to perceived deviants.1

5) Last of all, if 'already-not-yet' paradigms are only partially adequate (which is to say, they are not wholly adequate), then I think one might as well seriously consider playing around in the Jumanji of source-critical dogmas. 

* * * * * * *

In this post, I just want to say a few words about point #5 above: playing around in the wild and enticing jungle of source-critical dogmas. 

Over many years I have marked up a few hundred books in my personal library that attempt to apply the 'science' of Vaticinium ex eventu to the Tanakh, the New Testament scriptures, the so-called 'intertestamental' scriptures, the so-called 'Apostolic Fathers,' and the pseudopigraphical writings surrounding them all. I am well aware of scribal traditions and the ever-shapeshifting attempts of scholars to pinpoint sources and the reasons for redaction or composition after the events. Undoubtedly, some manuscripts manifest reasons for redaction. 

I also do not (personally) deny that there exists a plethora of redacted religious documents related to the Christian Scriptures; nor do I blow off the reality of ex eventu compositions between 1,000 BC and AD 1,000. Nevertheless, I have remained intrigued and perplexed by the voluminous conjectural dogmas surrounding the list of first-century time sensitive texts that I presented in the previous post (in footnote #74). All of those, if one looks back, relate to Jesus and his claims about the so-called "end of the world" in some future. Most Christians nowadays imagine it referred to our future, and not merely the near future of that generation in which Jesus and his apostles lived (i.e. the first century). 

Scholars nowadays have combed through each and every one of those time-sensitive statements and have cataloged reasons why some statements were about our future, and others were not. Pseudo-explanations range between why those statements were made, to what culturally sensitive memories were behind or underneath the final edit. Needless to say, there once was a day when such conjecture was considered both silly and dangerous. Yet it is no longer considered deviant to honestly believe and promote the dogma that all predictive references to AD70 and the events leading up to it throughout the Scriptures were vaticinium ex eventu. Accordingly, none of them must be or can be definitively asserted to be part of Jesus' genuine gospel, and therefore it is probable that they were not.2 Such prophesies, instead, were "likely" Christian reflections of a later era, imposed upon much clearer, more reliable apocalyptic messages about the end of the physical cosmos.

So then, what I want to do next is play with that idea. Let's take one example and toy with it accordingly. 

Let's take for granted that the Gospel of Matthew is a Jewish-Christian scribal amalgamation, and the final redacted form (or composition) was truly after the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. We then select Jesus' Olivet Discourse as a specimen. We look at the texts of Mark chapter 13 and compare them with Matthew 24. After examining them carefully, we conclude, along with F.F. Bruce and countless others over the last hundred years of western civilization, that the Markan form of Jesus' Olivet Discourse is earlier than AD 70, as indicated by those modifications of it in the Gospel of Matthew, which reflect the situation after AD 70.3 We also conclude, based on our lack of absolute certainty, that "Mark" was likely not even alive prior to AD 70, nor did he know Jesus' apostles (as older, sacred tradition asserts). 

Indeed, we conclude that based on the raw data left to us now, almost two thousand years ex eventu, that it is highly improbable that the Markan form of the Gospel was composed prior to AD70. In the very best and most idealized circumstances, it is merely the Olivet Discourse contained in the Markan form which could possibly be authentically reported from sources prior to AD70. As F. F. Bruce dogmatically asserted, such deductions seem to be self-evident. Regarding the ex eventu composition of Matthew 24 in relation to Mark 13, he mentions that:
In the Markan form of the question they apparently belong to the same temporal complex as the destruction of the Temple. But in Matthew the question is re-worded so that the destruction of the Temple is separated from the events of the end-time: 'Tell us, when will this be [the destruction of the Temple], and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?' (Matt 24:3). For, when Matthew's Gospel was written, the destruction of the Temple had taken place, but the parousia and the 'close of the age' were still future. A distinction which was patent after A.D. 70 was not so obvious at an earlier stage, and it is such an earlier stage that is implied in Mark's wording.4

Below are some questions in my mind, to serve as a little push-back to these popular ex eventu assertions. 

1) Because the entirety of the New Testament texts indicate a seamless historical context anticipating imminent events to take place within the first century (see the previous post), why not assume that the authors or redactor after AD70 edited the texts to make future readers think Jesus did actually refer to AD70 and the events leading up to it? 

2) Why do we, in the 21st century, imagine some dude (tradition calls him "Matthew") changed or inserted “prophecies” about the so-called “end of the world” into discourses about AD70 and the events leading up to it? 

3) Given the consistent first century, soon-coming emphasis of the entire New Testament corpus (as I illustrated plainly in the previous post), why not imagine Matthew (and all the NT authors) edited just those statements that appear to pertain to the “end of the world”, and not those pertaining to AD70? 

4) Given the nature of contemporary source-critical ventures and the liberty available within such enterprises, why not imagine that the Matthean "form" of the Olivet Discourse was composed to communicate the truly reliable and fulfilled (past) events of AD70 alongside an imaginary and contrived (yet psychologically hopeful) view about Jesus teaching a “literal” end of the world as his Parousia and as the 'close of the age'? 

5) Why not instead imagine that the original intent behind the composition or redaction of Matthew 24 was entirely about AD70 and the events leading up to it, and that whatever modifications were ever made to it based on earlier sources, those are evidently indicated by later imaginary scribal conventions and folklore about the literal end of the world

* * * * * * *

Here is my point behind all of these questions:

Given one's commitment to the slipperiness of redaction criticism, "Matthew" very likely left us with chapter 24 in order to highlight the truth that Jesus really did prophesy, preach, teach, and emphasize the upcoming turmoils, persecutions, and trials leading up to and culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. Even if the destruction of the Temple had taken place in the past by the time Matthew's gospel was written, that does not mean he wrote about the Parousia or the 'close of the age' as something in our future (or his future, after AD70). Even if Matthew was not a contemporary of Jesus or his apostles at all, the final form as we have it today (and we have no other Matthean form of the Olivet Discourse, by the way) would likely have been designed to portray Jesus and his message as it was truly believed, as it was understood to be. That's the whole point of Matthew's Gospel: to present a believable message, one that is both historically reliable and rhetorically coherent. And that message, regardless of whether it was composed before or after AD70, need not be that Jesus taught about AD 70 and then, afterward, about the literal end of the “world” a few millennia beyond AD70, all within the same discourse. 

As I have pointed out in detail elsewhere, there is no noticeable form of the Olivet Discourse among the Synoptics that makes a sharp or clear distinction between the destruction of the Temple and events after AD70 (i.e. events which could potentially be in our future, thousands of years after the discourse).

So then, here I am, being all deviant. Please don't waste your time trying to crucify me on social media (or privately) for thinking out loud on my own blog. Although it certainly is in vogue nowadays, it's certainly not godly to crucify Christians for simply pointing out what Jesus taught. I'm aware that this paradigm of first century fulfillment is perceived nowadays to be heterodox. It actually is not, either hermeneutically or factually because I don't think philosophical commitments to Christian dogmas about the "end of the world" absolutely must be proof-texted from the "Bible." There are lots of Christian dogmas that are derived philosophically from sources outside the "Bible" to justify what they believe is also taught within the Bible, yet their case from inside isn't as tightly sealed as they imagine. 

I happen to believe such is the case surrounding preterist convictions, too. Two significant reasons why I think Christians nowadays imagine first century fulfillment to be heterodox (or they overreact in rage against imagined trajectories toward other heterodoxies) is because catalogs of sacred traditions and confessional standards have so much dogma surrounding these texts that serious, detailed attention to first century fulfillment of the entire Olivet Discourse has continued, in large measure, to be completely overlooked, ignored, or deflected over the last 500 years; adding to that gaping chasm of presumption, other paradigms have been inserted to fill in and reorient public perspectives about that gap (like "already-not-yet" templates), as an attempt to synthesize sacred traditions of Reformational and Counter-Reformational dogmas with the crystal clear first century time-sensitive statements. But i'll save a detailed discussion about all of that for the future. 

1. See Outi Lehtipuu, Debates Over The Resurrection Of The Dead: Constructing Early Christian Identity [Oxford Early Christian Studies] (2015). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 67-108
2. For a specimen of such views, carelessly asserting autobiographical remarks about the certainty of vaticinium ex eventu scribal redaction throughout the New Testament, see G.H.W. Lampe, "A.D. 70 in Christian Reflection" in Jesus And The Politics Of His Day [Edited by Ernst Bammel & C.F.D. Moule] (1992 Reprint). New York, NY: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, pp. 153-71 
3. F.F. Bruce, "The date and character of Mark" in Jesus And The Politics Of His Day [Edited by Ernst Bammel & C.F.D. Moule] (1992 Reprint). New York, NY: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, p. 81
4. Ibid. 

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Fools of Corinth

One fool loves to sing
Inspired by lofty dreams
Of encouraging others
In hymns of praise and adoration
Communicating the richness of praxis
Serving others on the way
To where the good shepherd leads
Where they can taste and see
And touch and smell
And hear that the Lord is good
Another fool marks his territory
And declares war
Communicating audibly only with daggers
Blasting through his nostrils
Lifting one leg
That stumpy stand
Is now soaked

Cold and damp blankets would feel better
Than offering the sound of a bleating lamb
As we light our lamps
Complacency in gestures
Of banality and mediocrity
Passive aggressive positioning
Encourages hatred
Peers then point out the obvious
Hate is a very strong word
And complacency is another unjust accusation
Hell no
That's a soft description of reality
What are we to do with all these
Clouds and wind without rain

In a fool's ears
Do not speak
For he will despise the insight of your words
All these gods around the house of the Lord
And yet no word from Him
No divine counsel
At best childish tropes and platitudes
At worst tone deaf service
And puritanical opinion pieces
If this is what heaven is like
I'll take hell
As smelter for silver
And kiln for gold
So is a man according to his praise
Surely you do not know the look of your flock
And so you don't put your mind on the herds
Better is open reproof than hidden love
You sure seem to like dishing it out

Can you receive it
I have seen good people
Entering the doors
Lighting their candles
Leaving before the sheep are slaughtered
I don't blame them for disliking torturous tones
The clanging of brass
The tinkling cymbal
The confusion of tongues
Lifeless instruments
Offering indistinct notes
What we need are two or three witnesses
To interpret
To facilitate prayer not only with their spirit
But with their minds also

To sing praise not only with their spirit
But with their minds also
Otherwise, when thankfulness is truly offered
How might an outsider say Amen
Thankfulness may be given well enough
But the one entering the doors
Is not being edified
It's better that literally everyone just shuts up
It's better to dwell in the corner of a roof
Than with a quarrelsome wife in a spacious house
Like one binding a stone in a sling
So is one who gives a fool honor
Before destruction a man's heart is haughty
But humility comes before honor
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord
Is riches and honor and life
Better is a poor and wise youth
Than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Capital of Futurism

G.K. Chesterton once said that too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists. That, of course, was a witty way of pointing out the real problem of economics and free markets in practice: Capitalism is easily tempted to conspire with civil governments to foster monopolies over an entire industry with only a few capitalists largely in control, under the auspices of an oligarchy, instead of allowing the market to actually be more free through organic entrepreneurial enterprise. I want to take this idea and spin it a little bit, and replace free market capitalism with eschatological futurism. 

With regard to the well-known problems of eschatology in practice and the liberty to look at historical texts to interpret them honestly without being demonized, I wish the same could be said for futurism, but unfortunately there are not too few futurists; there are far too many--far too many who believe in whatever they're told about it, and far too few who are willing to research and think for themselves. I consider it to be a truism that over the last one hundred years of academia there has been a monopoly over the market of eschatological dogmas. In the Church, I have found there to be a surprising amount of liberty with regard to the promoting the reliability of the New Testament historical witness; but in the academies around the world, the environment is very different. It doesn't matter which "New Testament" author is researched, used, or cited. Among the many doctrines propounded, almost all academicians unswervingly swear allegiance to the same dogmas: that the end of the ages did not come in the first century, and the parousia was delayed (and must still be delayed); therefore all "data" collected from new testament witnesses and even non-canonical literature of that general era must be jammed through a peer-reviewed process that, in the very least, attempts to cohere with those dogmas. 

However, just a cursory glance through the new testament literature should provide a sense of eschatological coherence. I personally think that the same can be said with some popular non-canonical literature surrounding the Bible (like the Didache, Epistle of Barnabas, 1 Clement, etc.) but if we don't see it clearly in the New Testament we won't be able to apply it to our critical thinking outside the Bible either. We will just allow our minds to be programmed by the guild and the sources they insist we must believe in order to be saved by their dogmas.

All of this made me realize that I have something to share with the public that I have not yet shared. 

Below is a screenshot of one page from an academic paper I wrote earlier this year in response to a major publication by Cambridge University Press. Currently my paper is under review, so I'm not going to say anything more about that. Nevertheless, today I had a strong urge to share footnote #74 of that document, because, if read carefully, and taken seriously as reliable history, one can only presume that these authors were describing the same first century events, and those events actually occurred, or they were all delayed into the distant future, even beyond the current century in which we live. In other words, there is a timeline of events in which something cataclysmic was believed to occur soon, and there isn't room for parts of it to get pushed off thousands of years into the distant future. 

Below is that footnote. All I ask is that you think about this seriously. I have studied thousands of pages of academese and I am personally convinced that all the eschatological mumbo-jumbo of academic guilds theorizing about imaginary sources is vastly more far-fetched than just taking the new-testament texts (along with all of their variants) at face value. Either something cataclysmic occurred in first century Israel, and that influenced the course of history, or the New Testament witness is false and unreliable:

Last of all, for those who have been trained to play safely in the eschatological Ouija of "already-not-yet" paradigms, I just want to point out that I understand why and how those paradigms typically work. I also was reared in already-not-yet hermeneutical presumptions. Yet I don't think any attempts at justifying those paradigms, offered by fundamentalists or critical scholars, are credible. I have spent fifteen years looking for one credible justification, and have not found one to be convincing by comparison with their fulfillment in well-documented first century events. The "data" doesn't actually add up to "already fulfilled-but-not-yet-fulfilled", or consummated, or whatever. One either believes the New Testament witness is historically reliable and rhetorically coherent, or not. It cannot be both under any already-not-yet paradigms. And if not both, then I think one might as well seriously consider playing around in the Jumanji of source-critical dogmas. 

I contend that all of what is contained in footnote #74 doesn't add up to proof or persuasiveness of the New Testament witnesses historical reliability and rhetorical coherence unless these time sensitive texts were seriously and truly referring to first century events that did take place. And I'll bite the bullet and say one more thing: they were seriously and truly referring to first century events that did take place in their future. Elsewhere on this blog I have written extensively about the many Church Fathers who interpreted many of these texts (cited above) as being fulfilled in first century events. Check that out too, when you get a chance. 

Friday, November 29, 2019

Vanishing point

Just call her
like you're on the phone
See if she picks up
She's alive
and ascended
The only reason not to reach for the phone 
and talk to her is
you can go directly to Joshua instead
Call up Josh then
Ask him
Talk to him 
Get his take on it
What's the worst that can happen
He'll hang up on you
He won't pick up
He will pickup
but remain silent
Maybe he will hang up
That's up to him
I don't know why he would
You would know better than I would 
about why He would
That's between you and him
And if he does
then you know how he feels about you
But at least he's going to pick up
and listen
to what you have to say
when you call
He calls each of us all the time
and we're the ones who don't make the time for him
We see him calling
Or we don't recognize the number
and send him to voicemail
He can leave a message if he really wants
Hopefully your inbox isn't full
But if you pick up the phone 
if you initiate and reach out
he's not like us
He will pick up
and listen
And that's what you need
We all need someone to just hear us out
He needs to hear how you feel
So tell him how you feel
Ask him whatever you want
Be real with him
He cares about you
She cares about you, too
She told her sister that she didn't want to be buried with their mother in Ohio
She wanted to be buried with her four children in Wisconsin
What we have been trained
and traumatized
to believe
to think
to fear
is the real myth
The horizon always ascends to eye level
no matter how high you ascend

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Look Down

Baffle  and manipulate to defeat their brilliance and slay
Them  in battle with trending tweets of disembodied knowledge,
With  armies of wikipinions and FDA approved standards.
Bullshit  guides of the blind they are, as Jesus would say.
If  only you would go back to the beginning and look down, not up.
You  know the type of which I speak.
Can't  you just go back and peruse vertically to see what I mean?
Dazzle  the blind guides forming and filling
Them  with toxic treats and cancers,
With  misinformation, disinformation, and blocked formations.
Brilliance  cannot be defeated if it cannot be baffled.