Sunday, August 30, 2015

Jerusalem Pilgrimage

Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem from Psalm 122:6-8

May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
Prosperity within your palaces.
For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, "Peace be within you."

Long before there was Jerusalem, there was a natural spring called Gihon. This spring sustained the life of humans and herds for countless generations. The presence of humans in the hills of Jerusalem is evident from archaeological finds. The earliest evidence points to a million years of human and animal movement through this region.

The Gihon spring emerged in a cave on the eastern slope of the City of David above the Kidron Valley. The water flowed into the valley below, watering the terraced agricultural land on the slope of Zion. This area is called the "King's Garden" in II Kings 25:4; Jeremiah 52:7; and Nehemiah 3:15.

Jebus or Yebu (2220-1250 BC)

Jerusalem under the Jebusites

Stepped structure of the ancient Jebusite Wall

View from the area of the Jebusite fortress looking down to the Kidron Valley near the source of the Gihon Springs.

The main water source of the original City of David (Ir David) was the Gihon Spring located at the base of the eastern slope of the city in the Kidron Valley.

A 3,500 year fortress has been found that guarded the entrance to the Gihon Spring.

The Gihon Spring provided water year round by gushing forth several times a day. This water naturally flowed into the Kidron Valley. In the earliest days of Jerusalem’s occupation, reservoirs where built to collect the water from the Gihon Springs. Three systems were eventually designed to use this water: Warren's Shaft,  Siloam Channel (Tunnel), and Hezekiah's Tunnel.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

Hezekiah’s Tunnel is about 2 feet wide and 5 feet high at the entrance near the Gihon Springs, as seen in this photo. Notice the fresh water still moving through this tunnel as it has for 2,700 years.

This tunnel was discovered by Edward Robinson in 1838 and was cleared by Montague Parker’s team during the years 1909-1911.

Ancient Tombs in Silwan

Looking south into the Kidron Valley from near the south east corner of the Temple Mount. The Arab town of Silwan is on the left (east) of the photo. This is where the tombs of important persons have been found.

The Silwan necropolis is the most important ancient cemetery in Israel, and is assumed to have been used by the highest-ranking officials residing in Jerusalem. Its tombs were cut between the 9th and 7th centuries BC. The tombs face David's city, the oldest part of Jerusalem.

Remnants of the Monolith of Silwan, a tomb dating to the time of Solomon's Temple. It was once thought to be the burial site of Solomon's Egyptian queen.


The Ophel refers to the elevation in two sites: the City of David (Hill of Zion) and the Old City of Jerusalem where Solomon built the first Temple. The Stepped Stone Structure in the Ophel/City of David is the oldest part of Jerusalem.

Chalcolithic remains include bits of pottery found near the Gihon Spring and depressions which are believed to have been used to grind grain or press oil from olives. 


The Acra was the Seleucid stronghold built in 186 BC against the south wall of Solomon’s Temple Mount on the Ophel. It was used between the years of 186-141 BC as a military post to control the city's population and to monitor activities at the Temple.

The Western Wall ("The Wailing Wall")

The portion of the Western Wall inside the black box is the portion that remains from the Temple Mount retaining walls built by Herod. The seven courses of stones inside the black box are all Herodian blocks.

Looking east at another cornerstone on the southwest corner of the Wall. The pavement and steps are original Herodian pavement placed here in the first century.

This is a Turkish wall and tower built by the Ottoman ruler Suleiman. Notice the outcropping of the bedrock under the tower.

Mount Moriah (Temple Mount)

Looking across the pavement built over Mount Moriah to create a level surface. This is the site of the ancient Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock stands where Herod's Temple formerly stood.

David purchased a threshing floor from the Jebusite Araunah. It would have been located at a high elevation so that the wind could carry the chaff. It is believed it may have been on Mount Moriah.

Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Spirits covers the exposed bedrock of Mount Moriah that some believe to be the bedrock that was inside the Holy of Holies.

Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives

Old olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane

Sunset looking back at Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher

The cross on the grey dome over Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Front facade of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

The Tomb of the Virgin Mary

View looking down the steps to the Tomb of the Virgin Mary

The Church of the Sepulchre of Saint Mary was built over the burial site believed to be that of the Virgin Mary. The location of the Tomb of Mary is across the Kidron Valley from St Stephen’s Gate in the Old City walls of Jerusalem, just before Gethsemane, at the foot of Mount of Olives.

Floods in 1972 enabled excavations by the archaeologist Bellarmino Bagatti, who concluded that the place where Mary had been buried was clearly located in a cemetery used during the first century. The large crypt containing the empty tomb in the Church is all that remains of an early 5th-century church, making it one of the oldest nearly complete religious building in Jerusalem.

Related reading: Does Political Zionism Align with the Bible?; The City of Jerusalem by Col. C. R. Conder (1909)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Was Constantine a Saka Ruler?

Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea on the piety of Emperor Constantine

In this manner that spirit who is the hater of good, actuated by envy at the blessing enjoyed by the Church, continued to raise against her the stormy troubles of intestine discord, in the midst of a period of peace and joy. Meanwhile, however, the divinely-favored emperor did not slight the duties befitting him, but exhibited in his whole conduct a direct contrast to those atrocities of which the cruel tyrants had been lately guilty, and thus triumphed over every enemy that opposed him. For in the first place, the tyrants, being themselves alienated from the true God, had enforced by every compulsion the worship of false deities: Constantine convinced mankind by actions as well as words, that these had but an imaginary existence, and exhorted them to acknowledge the only true God. They had derided his Christ with words of blasphemy: he assumed that as his safeguard against which they directed their blasphemies, and gloried in the symbol of the Saviour's passion. They had persecuted and driven from house and home the servants of Christ: he recalled them every one, and restored them to their native homes. (Eusebius’ 4th century AD Life of Constantine, Book III)

Ancient Constantinople

The ancient city of Byzantium, later renamed “Constantinople,” was built around 657 BC on the European side of the Strait of Bosporus, the only entrance to the Black Sea. It was on the highest land of the deep inlet called “The Golden Horn” at the entrance to the Bosporus. The earliest evidence of human settlement first in this area dates to about 6600 BC and lasted for 1000 years before it was inundated by the rising sea level. Archaeological discoveries include Neolithic wattle and daub buildings with simple stone footings. The ancient residents placed mussel shells below their houses to provide permeability. Other artifacts include stone grain presses, spoons, needles and axes.

Graves have been discovered with fetal-position burials and typical R1b timber graves. The Neolithic discoveries were unearthed in Pendik, a section of modern Istanbul, and at Yenikapi, both on the European side of the Bosporus. The Yenikapı excavations led to the recovery of 35 thousand artifacts covering all periods from the Neolithic Period to the time of the Ottomon Empire. Additionally, the sea filling layers between the remains of the ancient Port of Theodosius and the Neolithic layer have provided a better understanding of the changes undergone by the Sea of Marmara in the last 10 thousand years.

Byzantium was a small city but it played an important role in history. The town was at the frontier between the Greek and the Persian empires, and in 478 BC the Greeks drove the Persians out of the city. The city came to play an important role in the spread of Christianity after 324 AD when Constantine the Great made it the capitol of his empire.

Constantine the Great

Constantine was born in Niš (pronounced Nish) on 27 February 273 AD. Nis is a very ancient city in southern Serbia. Its location made it a gateway between the East and the West. In ancient times, Nis was populated by Saka peoples. The Hindu text Matsya Purana claims that the Saka (called “Scythians” by the Greeks) ruled the ancient world for 7000 years. Another text, Mahabharata, designates “Sakadvipa” as the “land of the Sakas” in northern India. Assyrian documents speak of the Saka presence between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in the time of Sargon (722-705 B.C.)

Scythians archers

The Beja, Kushite metal workers who inhabit the Red Sea Hills and the central desert of Egypt, are also called the Medjay. In Serbian Medja means border. Medjiana is the name of Constantine’s majestic palace outside Nis. Medijana means “on the border.” Constantine's name Medjiana for his estate signified his intention to attend to affairs of state at the border of his two realms: East and West. He often resided there and built various residences on his estate; one of them was probably built for his mother Helena.

Nis was named after the Nišava River, which flows through the city and which was named Navissos by the Celtic masters of the city in the 3rd century BC. The Nišava belongs to the Black Sea basin and its catchment area is in Bulgaria and in Serbia. The Nišava was a navigable river in ancient times. The Nišava Valley is part of the natural ancient road which connected Europe and Asia: the road follows the valleys of the Morava, the Nišava and the Marica and continued to ancient Byzantium (modern Istanbul).

Constantius’s two wives were Helena (the mother of Constantine) and Theodora. Theodora was the second wife and she was taken to forge a political alliance. Constantine’s two wives were Minerva and Fausta. Constantine married Fausta, his second wife, in 307, again for political reason. She was the daughter of Emperor Maximianus who insisted that Constantine marry Fausta. Unlike Helena, Fausta was not a Christian. She was reported to have been unfaithful to Constantine and falsely accused Minerva’s son Crispus of sexually molesting her. It is believed that Constantine arranged for her death in 326, shortly after he ordered the execution of his son Crispus. In the case of the first wives, there is no record of divorces, so it is possible that these rulers maintained two wives in separate households. This would be consistent with the marriage pattern of the Horite Saka rulers who settled in Southern Serbia.

Constantine, the first publically Christian emperor, came to power in 312 AD, upon the death of his father. He united the empire when he defeated Licinius at the Battle of Chrysopolis in 324 AD. Following the destruction of his naval forces Licinius evacuated the garrison of Byzantium. Constantine understood the strategic importance of the city of Byzantium and established the capital of his empire there in 324 AD. The next year (325) Emperor Constantine convened the First Council of Nicaea which resolved the controversy over the nature of the Son of God and his relationship to God the Father.

Constantine’s father was Constantius I (ruled 293-306 AD), who according to Eusebius's Life of Constantine, was himself a Christian, though he pretended to be a pagan while he ruled under Diocletian who was notorious for his persecution of Christians. His father’s faith was a great influence on Constantine’s conversion, according to Eusebius, who wrote:

Because of the wicked magical enchantments so diligently practiced by the tyrant [Maxentius, who was in control of Rome], Constantine was convinced that he needed more powerful aid than his military forces could give him, so he sought the help of God. He believed arms and soldiery less important than the help of the power of the invincible and unshakeable God. So he considered which god he could rely on for protection and help. It occurred to him that, of the many emperors who had preceded him, those who had put their hope in a multitude of gods and served them with sacrifices and offerings had been deceived by flattering predictions and oracles promising prosperity and come to a bad end, without one of their gods warning them of the impending wrath of heaven. On the other hand, the one who alone had condemned their error, honoring the one Supreme God throughout his whole life [i.e. his father], had found him to be the Savior and Protector of his empire. Reflecting on this…, he decided it would be great folly to join in the idle worship of those who were no gods, and to err from the truth after such convincing evidence. For this reason he felt bound to honor his father’s God alone.

Constantine’s mother was Helena. She took a deep interest in the holy places in Jerusalem and lived for a time in Palestine. She claimed to find the True Cross. Christians were granted freedom of religion after the Edict of Milan was signed by Constantine (Emperor of the West) and fellow “Serbian” Licinius (who controlled the Balkins) in February 313 AD. The next month, Licinius married Constantine's half-sister Constantia. The armies of both Constantine and Licinius fought under Christian banners. Constantine’s military standard consisted of a flag suspended from the crossbar of a cross to symbolize Christ’s crucifixion. Below is a coin of Constantine (c. AD 337) showing a depiction of his banner or labarum with the Chi-Rho symbol above and spearing a serpent below.

The spearing of the cosmic serpent (evil) is a theme of the ancient Kushites also. Here Horus, overshadowed by the sun, is seated on barge. Anubis, the jackal-headed totem of Horus, spears the great serpent.

Constantine's Christian labarum was made after his vision and subsequent dream. These also are described by Eusebius.

Constantine’s vision

Accordingly Constantine called on him with earnest prayer to reveal to him who he was, and stretch forth his right hand to help him in his present difficulties. And while he was thus praying with fervent entreaty, a most extraordinary sign appeared to him from heaven – something which it might have been hard to believe had the story been told by any other person. But since the victorious emperor himself long afterwards declared it to the writer of this history, when he was honored with his acquaintance and society, and confirmed his statement by an oath, who could hesitate to believe it, especially since other testimonies have established its truth? He said that about noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the sign of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, “By this symbol you will conquer.” He was struck with amazement by the sight, and his whole army witnessed the miracle.

Constantine’s dream

He said that he was unsure what this apparition could mean, but that while he continued to ponder, night suddenly came on. In his sleep, the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens, and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies.

Constantine's Reign

Constantine’s father, Constantius I, died in AD 306 during a stay in York. York was the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior. His son Constantine the Great was proclaimed Emperor by the troops based in the fortress at York. There is a statue of Constantine in the center of York. Constantine ruled from 306-337 AD.

Byzantium became the capitol of Constantine’s empire. He intended that it be the “New Rome.” Economically revitalized, Constantinople became the cultural and economic center of the east. Emperor Constantine began the construction of a series of defensive stone walls around the city in 324 AD. Constantine's wall was reinforced with towers at regular distances, and was completed under his son Constantius II who ruled from 337–361 AD. These ramparts are considered the last great fortification system of antiquity. Special commemorative coins were issued in 330 to honor the founding of Constantinople as the capitol of the New Roman Empire. The city was protected by relics, and the figures of Roman deities were replaced or Christianized. Constantine built the Church of the Holy Apostles on the site of a temple that had been dedicated to Aphrodite.

Constantinople was one of the original patriarchal sees of the Church. The others were in Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, and Jerusalem. The five cities are called the “Pentarchy” in Church history and there was a conciliar and collegial relationship among these early patriarchs. Constantinople continued to be an important city of the Byzantine Empire until it was captured by the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Meroe on the Orontes

Alice C. Linsley

The ancient capital of the Kushite kingdom was Meroe in modern Sudan before the establishment of the city of Antioch (Antakya; also called Hatay) in 307 BC by Antigonus, one of the generals of Alexander the Great. Antioch soon became the most important city of the area. In the 2nd century AD it had 500,000 inhabitants. Antioch played a great role in the early development of Christianity. Both St. Peter and St. Paul lived there for many years. The oldest known church was in a cave on the outskirts of the city. It was visited by Pope Paul VI in 1962.

Antioch is intimately connected with the early history of the gospel. The elders of the church in Antioch commissioned Paul and Barnabas to be missionaries to the Gentiles of Asia Minor. The early Christians were first called followers of “the Way” and then for the first time they were called “Christians” at Antioch. Acts 11:26 tells us that it was the Cypriot-born Barnabas (Bar-Nabas, son of Nabas/Prophet) who brought Paul before the elders at Antioch. “So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”

St. Ignatius was chosen to serve as Bishop of Antioch after St. Evodius, who died around AD 67. Antioch was the birth place of John Chrysostom, who died in 407 A.D.

Nicolas the deacon of the Seven Deacons was a proselyte of Antioch. Christians who dispersed after Stephen's martyrdom preached at Antioch.  From Antioch the church sent charity by the hands of Barnabas and Saul to the brethren at Jerusalem who were suffering during a time of famine.

The pre-Antioch Meroe was built on the precipice of Mt. Silpius in modern Turkey. In ancient times, the Orontes River (the Draco; also called the Asi) was the chief river of the Levant and had sufficient depth for sail boats to come up the river from the Mediterranean near modern Beirut in Lebanon. This was aided by the north-flowing currents. Thus Meroe, and later Antioch, became port cities. The fortress on the spur of Mount Silpius was named IO, which means “pillared place dedicated to the Creator.” The O was a solar image. The sun was the emblem of the Creator. Heliopolis (Biblical On) was called “Iunu” which means place of pillars because it was constructed with many pillars.

Antioch was built at the bend in the river to the north of the craggy ascent of Mount Silpius, which rose abruptly on the south. The IO fortress was about 300 miles from Jerusalem and about 2185 miles from Meroe in Sudan.

Ancient Meroe overlooked the Orontes River. The settlement pre-dated Antioch by about 1600 years. For the Egyptians, the Orontes marked the northern boundary of Amurru, east of Phoenicia. They found it easy to navigate because, like the Nile River, the Orontes flows from south to north. The river was first known as the Asi. The word asi in Aramaic means east. Asi is found attached to names in the Bible. The priest Elkanah had a son named Am-asi (I Chron. 2:25, 35). An obscure figure in ancient history was Amasi-appa. The word appa means father. The Orontes was also called Draco, because it flows north and that direction is identified by observing the northern polar star at night. When the fortress at Meroe was build, about 4000 years ago, the north pole star was seen near Alpha Draconis in the constellation of Draco. A relatively inconspicuous star in the night sky of the Northern Hemisphere, it is significant as having been the north pole star from the 4th to 2nd millennium BC.

It appears that around 2000 B.C. the fortress on Mount Silpius was considered the “Meroe of the East.” It had a shrine dedicated to Anat, a women’s name of Horite origin and first found in the Upper Nile. Joseph married Asenath, the daughter of a priest of On (Heliopolis) on the Nile. The name Anat appears among several ancient Nilotic rulers. Anat-Hor name means "Anat of Horus.” Most Nilotic rulers had Horus names, as Horus was regarded as the protector of righteous rulers. Anat-Har was succeeded by ‘Aper-Anat, which mean “Priest of Anat.” In ancient Egyptian records a ruler named Anat-Har (or Anat-Hor or Anather), was the first ruler of the Sixteenth dynasty of Egypt, who reigned over part of Lower Egypt as a vassal of the Hyksos kings of the 15th Dynasty. The Egyptians called the chiefs of the Upper Nile settlements "Hyk Khase" which appears to be the origin of the term "Hyksos."
Anat-Hor’s scarab or royal seal

It was possible to sail to Antioch from the Mediterranean through the city of Samandağ, founded in 300 BC by Seleucus Nicator, another general of Alexander the Great. It was called “Seleucia Pieria” but it was subject to silting and the port was finally ruined by an earthquake in 586 A.D. Thus the preferred way to Antioch was via Cyprus to Beirut and up the Orontes. Before Abraham's time, this would have taken the traveler near the archaic megalithic shrine of Baalbek. Baalbek was inhabited since 9000 B.C.

The Orontes River has been the site of many famous battles in ancient history. Around 1274 BC, the major Battle of Kadesh was fought here between the Egyptian army of Ramesses II and the Hittite army of Muwatalli II. The river was also the site of the Battle of Karkar (Qarqar) fought in 853 BC, when the Assyrian army, under Shalmaneser III, encountered an allied army of twelve kings led by Hadadezer of Damascus. Hamath on the Orontes fell to Sargon II in 720 B.C. Hebrew (ha’biru) were living in the region of Antioch and Hamath according to Isaiah 11:11:

On that day,
The Lord shall again take it in hand
to reclaim the remnant of his people
that is left from Assyria and Egypt,
Pathros, Ethiopia, and Elam,
Shinar, Hamath, and the isles of the sea.

Related reading: Was King Arthur a Horite Ruler?; Does Genesis 10 Describe the Ainu Dispersion?; Stone Work of the Ancient World; Gobekli-Tepe's T-shaped Pillars

Monday, July 20, 2015

Was King Arthur a Horite Ruler?

Alice C. Linsley

In the ancient world, the R1b Annu/Ainu/Anakh dispersed widely. They built their shrines near water on mountains or elevated places. This was true along the Nile, in the Baltic region, in Southern China, Northern Japan and Okinawa, and in Cornwall. The Cornish fortress of Tintagel or Trevena is an example. In Cornish, it is called Tre war Venydh, meaning "village on a mountain."

Remains of Tintagel Fortress

Legend has it that King Arthur was born at Tintagel Castle. The ruins of Tintagel Castle stand on an island dominating the 300 feet (90 meters) high cliffs. Tin (or din) means fortress and tagel refers to a constriction or narrows, as in the neck of an island. Arthur was born into a Christian noble family of Cornwall which exercised influence on Christian missions and the defense of the Faith against Pagans from about 480-530. Christian priests were already well established in Cornwall, Devon and Ireland by 44 AD.

Tintagel Castle and the nearby village are associated with Arthur. It is thought that his name is related to the Brittonic root arto, meaning bear (Greek artos means bread.) That is possible, as the Ainu who passed through this region were bear hunters and also venerated the bear as a sacred totem. However, I would like to suggest a different possibility. King Ar-thur might as well indicate a ruler of the Ar clans of Hur, or a Horite ruler. C. S. Lewis regarded Arthur to perfectly fit the pattern of the "righteous ruler" exemplified by the Biblical Horites (Horim). This is why speculation about his miraculous birth and his return to England sprang up.

The Ravenna Cosmography, compiled around 700 AD from Roman material 300 years older, lists a route running westward into Cornwall. On this route is a place then called Duro-cornovio. The Latin Duro-cornovio corresponds to the British Celtic duno-Cornouio-n, which means "fortress of the Cornish people." However, the original name for Cornwall was Kernow, which is related to the words Karnak and Karnevo. Kar is a archaic root that refers to a circular place of ritual. Kar-nak refers to the rite of teeth removal among the ancient Nilotes.

"Terah took a wife and her name was Amsalai, the daughter of Karnevo; and the wife of Terah conceived and bare him a son in those days." Jasher 7:50

The words duno and duro are related to the Ana'kh word dar, which refers to a citadel or a fortress. The Aramaic word for fortress is derived from dar, and the Arabic word dayr means monastery. The Akkadian dûr refers to a fortress, as in Dûr-Sharrukin, meaning “Sargon's fortress."

The Annu/Ainu/Anakh were known as masters of stone monuments, tombs and mining operations. They built sacred circles in reverence to the Sun, the emblem of the Creator. Ki-kar refers to a circle as in Exodus 25:11: ki-kar za-hav ta-hor, meaning "circle of pure gold." In the Anchor Bible Commentary on Genesis, E.A. Speiser recognizes that kikar refers to a circle.

From 400,000 BC to 200,000 BC, archaeological finds of flint axes and blades indicate that people were living in Devon and moving through Cornwall which was a good hunting ground, as it was too far south to be under the ice sheet. By 40,000 BC settlements dotted South West Britain.

Carn Euny, Sancreed, near Penzance

Carn Euny is an Iron Age settlement consisting of courtyard houses and the remains of round houses. The village dates from the the 1st century BC, though there is evidence that the site had been settled since the Bronze Age. Carn Euny is best known for the well-preserved fogou, a large underground passageway, which is more than 65 feet (20 metres) long. This fogou runs just below the surface of the ground and is roofed with massive stone slabs typical of the tunnels built by the R1b stone masons.

Mining in Cornwall and Devon began in approximately 2150 BC. From that time Horite mining experts were present in Cornwall. In the 1st century AD, one of those experts was Joseph of Ar-Mathea, which means Yosef of the Ar clan of Matthew.

Genetic studies have confirmed that the Horite Ainu dispersed widely across the ancient world. Some migrated to Hokkiado (Northern Japan) and Okinawa. Others came to the British Isles and Scandinavia. From there, some migrated to Greenland, Labrador, and Eastern Canada where they came to be called "Miqmac" by the French. The Ainu have a Nilotic origin and are described as having a red skin tone. Interestingly, an early population living in Cornwall were the Dam-oni, which means “red people.” The word Dam-oni is derived from two words found in the Bible: dam, a reference to red and blood, and oni/On, a reference to the great shrine city of Heliopolis, biblical On (Genesis 41:45). Joseph married the daughter of a priest of On. The Dam-oni may have come from Carnac (Karnac) in Brittany because the stone monoliths in Damnonia are like those in Carnac, though smaller. On the Nile, the ancient shrine at Karnak was built with huge stones by skillful craftsmen, the likely ancestors of these early inhabitants of Cornwall.

In the region where Joseph of Ar-Mathea is said to have visited there are many Hebrew place names like Marazion, meaning "sight of Zion" and Menheniot, which is derived from the Hebrew words min oniyot, meaning "from ships." Menheniot was a center of lead mining.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Danger of Reductionism

"Anthropology is the enemy of reductionism, be it naturalistic explanations of human skin color variation, the ascertainment of human presence via exclusive archaeological arguments or the belief that linguistic classifications are only skin deep."-- German Dziebel

German V. Dziebel

Dr. German Dziebel holds a B.A. in History from St. Petersburg State University (Russia), a Ph.D. in Ethnology from the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology (St. Petersburg, Russia), an M.A. in Sociology from Central European University (Warsaw, Poland), an M.A. in Anthropology and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Stanford University (Stanford, California). He spent two quarters as an exchange student at the University of Chicago.

I find Dr. Dziebel's work very satisfying. in part, because he is right that anthropology is the enemy of reductionism. That is no less true for Biblical Anthropology. Application of anthropological principles of study to the data found in the oldest layers of material in the Bible has been my focus for over 30 years. This research has rendered significant discoveries and clarified connections between peoples of the archaic world. Indeed, my research, like Dr. Dziebel's, hinges mainly on kinship analysis. His focus has largely been on the peoples of the Americas. Mine on the dispersion of related peoples from the Nile Valley.

I find Dziebel's work fascinating because he is tracing connections from the Americas to the Old World which I believe can be explained by the movement of archaic populations out of the Nile Valley between 20,000 and 10,000 years ago. Dziebel, on the other hand, believes that modern humans originated in the Americas.

Dziebel has stated:

In the study of modern human origins and dispersals, kinship systems and mating patterns play an important strategic role connecting patterns of genetic variation with sociocultural and linguistic systems. While multiple studies have shown that ancient kinship systems and mating patterns likely contributed to the observable regional and global clines of genetic variation, no comprehensive study of worldwide kinship-systemic variation as it relates to genetic variation exists to date. (From here.)

While Dziebel and I might not agree on how to interpret the evidence of connections between people of the New and Old Worlds, we share a conviction that kinship, marriage and ascendancy patterns, molecular genetics, and linguistic studies are essential if we are to develop anything resembling a comprehensive picture of genetic variation worldwide.

We agree also that reductionism always misleads. There are many examples of reductionism among Christians: Luther's interpretation of 1 Peter 2:9 by which he concludes that all baptized people are priests; the Protestant theory of Sola Scriptura, Young Earth Creationism, the belief that all extant human populations are descended from the three sons of Noah, etc.

Secular reductionists attribute religious beliefs to non-religious causes. Some view religious faith as a by-product of human evolution. In this view religion enhances survivability for members of a group and so is reinforced by natural selection. Others reduce the religious impulse to superstition, as a way to explain the inexplicable.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Y-Chromosome Profile of 64% of European Men

About 64% of modern European men (that 2 out of 3) are descended from just three Bronze Age males. That is the finding of a research team from the University of Leicester that looked at the DNA sequences of 334 men from 17 European and Middle Eastern populations.

Professor Mark Jobling from the Department of Genetics at Leicester University said: “The population expansion falls within the Bronze Age, which involved changes in burial practices, the spread of horse-riding and developments in weaponry.

"Dominant males linked with these cultures could be responsible for the Y chromosome patterns we see today."

Read the report here.

The question that needs to be addressed is: Did these three males produced an enormous number of children or does this research confirm the existence of a 3-clan patrilineal confederation which practiced endogamy? If the latter, this is confirmation of the kinship pattern of Abraham's ancestors in the R1b group.

Some who read this article will immediately think of the 3 sons of Noah. However, Shem, Ham and Japheth represent one of many 3-clan confederations mentioned in the Bible. They were Nilo-Saharans, not Europeans. The lines of Ham and Shem intermarried. The Hungarians claim to be descended from Japheth, which is likely since they call themselves "Magyar" and there are Magyar living along the Nile. Noah's three sons lived about B.C. 2438-2275. We cannot identify them as the three Bronze Age chiefs in the report, however, as there were many such confederations between 3200–600 BC in Europe.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Understanding the Bible

Alice C. Linsley

The Bible is really a library. It contains 66 different books. Many of the books had different writers. Some of the writers wrote a great deal. For example, Paul of Tarsus wrote about two-thirds of the material in the New Testament. He was a brilliant man who knew the Hebrew religion of his ancestors (Horim/Horites) and also Greek philosophy. The town where Paul grew up was called Tarsus and there was a famous philosophy academy there.

Most of Paul’s writings are letters written to different churches that were spread around the ancient Near East. He also wrote a very important letter to the Christians in Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire. That book is called Romans. This letter to the Romans has influenced many writers throughout history, including Augustine of Hippo in North Africa. He became a bishop in the early church and is considered a saint.

In the letter to the Christian at Rome, Paul explains that God loves us and we can’t earn God’s love. We can only receive it as a gift and allow God’s love to change our hearts and minds so that we can love others with pure hearts. Paul also explains how Jesus is God’s Lamb sacrificed to cover the sin of the whole world and that is why we do not need to sacrifice animals anymore. Finally, Paul tells the Roman Christians to be strong in their Christian faith because they were going to go through a hard time; that they would suffer. Some died for their faith. Others were put in prison. Some ran away from their homes and never returned. Wherever these Christians went, they told other people about Jesus, God’s gift to the world.

Paul traveled around to many different places telling people about Jesus. Some of his traveling companions were Barnabas and a young man named Mark. In some towns the people welcomed them and they stayed for a while and made good friends with people who wanted to love and serve the Lord Jesus. In other towns, they were badly treated. Once they were put in jail, but God delivered them through an earthquake. They also prayed for sick and injured people and they were healed in Jesus’ name. You can read about their amazing adventures in the book called Acts of the Apostles, of simply Acts.

One of the most important narratives of the Bible concerns a sent-away son named Abraham. When his father died, Abraham's older brother Nahor took charge of their father's kingdom in Mesopotamia. Abraham went where God told him to go and after a time, with God's help, he too became a great ruler in the region of Edom. His first wife was named Sarah and his second wife was named Keturah. Abraham is related to the Horite rulers who are listed in Genesis 36.

Another sent-away son was Moses. He also became a great ruler over his Hebrew (Habiru) people. The Hebrew were a caste of ruler-priests called Horites. Like Abraham, he had two wives. This was the custom for Horite men who became rulers. Moses's Kushite wife was his half-sister, as was Sarah to Abraham. The prophet Samuel's father was a ruler-priest with two wives. His name was Elkanah and his wives' names were Penninah and Hannah. Samuel's family was also Horite.

Most to the heroes in the Bible were sent-away sons to whom God delivered a kingdom. This is one of the patterns by which we recognize Jesus, God's son, who comes into the world to save the lost and to receive an eternal kingdom.

Two Related Divisions

The Bible has two main divisions: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament has material that was translated from ancient languages including old Hebrew, old Arabic, and Aramaic. Aramaic is the language that Jesus spoke. All of these languages are related to even older languages that were spoken along the Nile River and along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In ancient times, people lived near the great rivers.

In the Old Testament there are creation stories, lists of great kingdom builders, histories of kings and great battles, love stories, law books, poetry, and accounts of great prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Amos. Prophets were important people because God sent them to their rulers which a message that the rulers needed to hear. Sometimes the rulers didn’t like what they were told by the prophets and killed them. Sometimes, the rulers listened and did what the prophet said and saved their whole kingdom. That is what happened in the story of Jonah. Even the animals were saved from destruction.

There were men prophets and also women prophets, like Deborah and Huldah. These women were so important that all the people respected them. People came to Deborah when they had serious disputes or arguments to settle. In the book of Judges, chapter 4, verses 4-6, you can read, about how Deborah handled these cases while sitting under a palm tree (called a tamar). Her tree was between the towns of Ramah and Bethel. Huldah was so wise that the king sent his advisers to her for advice. The king trusted her more than his own advisers.

One of the most important prophets of the Bible was Samuel. His father was a ruler-priest in the town of Ramah, not far from where Deborah had lived between the towns of Ramah and Bethel. God told Samuel to anoint the first two kings of Israel: Saul and David. Samuel always did exactly what God asked him to do even though he had no control over how things would work out. He had great trust that God always does what is best, and even turns bad things into good things in the end.

Prophets were important people, and so were priests. There were twenty-four groups or “divisions” of priests who lived in different town spread all over the land of Canaan. They served the people where they lived and they also took turns serving at the temple in Jerusalem. The priests helped the people when they felt guilty because they had done bad things. In ancient times, priests did their work at great stone temples that were built on hills near the great rivers. The priests received gifts of food, wine, oil and sheep, goats and cows from the people who came to the temple to worship God. Sometimes the priests would sacrifice an animal and the blood of the animal was a spiritual covering for the person who did bad things and wanted God to forgive them.

The animals were valuable and nobody likes to kill an animal, so this was done when there was a serious need for forgiveness. Sadly, some priests saw this system as a way to make money and they encouraged the people to brings lots of animals, even for things that were not very serious. This did not please God the Creator and he sent some prophets to tell the priest who controlled the temples and water shrines to stop being so corrupt. Really, we can ask God for forgiveness any time and we don’t need to take the life of animal. But for the really deep problems, we need God’s help, for sure. That help is always there for us, if we ask for it.

In the New Testament, there are letters written to the many new churches that were started by Jesus’ followers. Most of the letters were written by Paul of Tarsus, but there are also letters written by men he knew, including Peter, James and John. These men were born and raised near a big lake. The lake still exists and is so big it is called the “Sea” of Galilee. Peter had a brother named Andrew and they were both fisherman. James and John were fisherman also and their father’s name was Zebedee. Jesus first met Peter, James and John while they were repairing their fishing nets on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

The New Testament also contains four books about the life of Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These four books are called the “Gospels” and they have many of the same stories, but each book is written from a different perspective.

Matthew is a name that appears often in Jesus’ family and the writer of this book may have been one of Jesus’ relatives. Matthew wrote about how Jesus was not only a fully human man, but also the Son of God, being fully divine.

Mark’s book reveals the influence of ancient Egyptian beliefs about the appearance of a Righteous Ruler who would die and rise to life again and lead his followers to eternal life (immortality). Mark believed that Jesus is the long-expected Righteous Ruler.

Luke was a medical doctor who was highly educated. His account of Jesus was originally written in very high quality Greek. Some of Luke’s story came from Jesus’ mother. Her name is Mary and she is honored by Christians around the world. Sometimes she is called “the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ our God.” Luke must have asked her many questions about her son because some of his stories about Jesus had to have come from his mother.

Matthew, Mark and Luke are histories about Jesus’ life. John’s Gospel is different. John wrote about Jesus’ life, but not as a history book. Instead, John explains who Jesus is. Many people think that the first Bible book a person should read is John’s Gospel because it helps us understand about Jesus. John explains that Jesus is the Son of God who came into the world to save sinners and that he came as a gift from God, because God loved the world he made and especially human beings. John understands that Jesus is the “Seed” born to the Woman (Genesis 3:15) who crushes the head of the serpent who hates God. That serpent is a symbol of the evil that is in the world that makes people attack Jesus and his followers. Jesus defeats the evil serpent by dying and rising to life again. He tramples down death by his death and promises eternal life to all who believe in Him. This is called the Resurrection and Christians around the world celebrate Jesus’ resurrection at Easter.

You can read about Jesus’ ancestors in the Old Testament. One of the best books to read is the beautiful love story named for the main female character, Ruth. Ruth was the mother of Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse, and Jesse was the father of David who became the greatest King in the history of Jesus’ people. He and his ancestors are described as having a reddish brown skin tone and lots of hair. This gives us an idea of how Jesus might have looked.

King David’s father was a ruler-priest who had many sheep. The priests kept sheep for food and also to sacrifice when there was a serious offense committed against God and God’s people. David was the youngest of Jesse’s sons and he often was put in charge of taking care of the sheep. He became a strong young man who was able to defend his sheep from lions and bears. His weapons were a staff and a slingshot. When David was still a young man, he killed a mighty warrior with a single stone that he hurled from his slingshot. You can read about that in I Samuel, chapter 17. The warrior was named Goliath of Gath and he cursed the true God and made fun of David and his people. Goliath’s people, called “Philistines” were trying to take the land away from David’s king whose name was Saul. When Saul died, David became the king.

David’s hometown was Bethlehem, which is where Jesus was born, because Jesus’ mother was the daughter of a ruler-priest of Bethlehem name Joachim (also spelled Yoachim). Bethlehem was the home of the eighteenth division of ruler-priests who were Jesus’ ancestors. This priestly division was called ha·pi·TSETS (Happizzez), a name of Egyptian origin. (Hapi was the ancient Egyptian word for the Nile River.) In 1962 archaeologists discovered a small piece of a list of the twenty-four priestly divisions in the ruins of a synagogue at Caesarea, near Galilee. This old marble fragment had the names of the places where four of the divisions resided, including Nazareth, the residence of Happizzez.

The famous Ark of the Covenant was guarded by the priests of Bethlehem until David was able to move it to "the city of David," a 12-acre ridge south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (II Samuel, chapter 5, verse 9). This had been a holy place for people in that area since 3200 years before Jesus.

Jesus’ mother Mary was married to a man named Joseph. He was from Nazareth, near the Sea of Galilee. Nazareth was the home of another division of ruler-priests. They raised sheep and were skilled in stone work, mining, and wood work (carpentry). Jesus worked as a carpenter in Joseph’s workshop in Nazareth. Jesus’ closest followers or disciples were from Galilee also. Jesus returned there to meet with them after His resurrection. At Jesus’ “Last Supper” with his disciples, he informed them: "After I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” (Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 26, verse 32)

How to Use the Bible

The Bible is as useful as any good library. You can read for fun, to increase your knowledge of the ancient world, or to help you understand God better. You can read it when you are sad or discouraged and it will lift your spirits. If something really bad happens, you can read it for comfort and hope.

Here is a list of readings for different occasions and situations.

When discouraged

Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Isaiah 40:31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 42:16 And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

When sad or broken-hearted

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

When confused

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

Psalm 34:17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.

When joyful and excited

Psalm 5:11-12 Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.

Psalm 47:1 Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Psalm 63:5-7 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

Psalm 96:11-13 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Isaiah 12:6 “… Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

1 Peter 1:6-9 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

When worried or anxious

John 14:27 Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

I Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He [God] cares for you.

Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.