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In the Year of our LORD Jesus Christ
2019
-- As of January 20, 2017
A Sigh Of Relief With The Inauguration Of Donald John Trump as President of the United States of America, And Hope For A Prosperous Future For All United States Citizens (we who are a nation called "the melting pot of the world"). We shall be great and exceptionally great again.

It is likely that the entries to this blog will be less frequent than in years past. I do intend to keep this blog active, and to offer insightful information and/or opinion (and sometimes humor and/or entertainment on occasion) when I do post.


Peace and Liberty. Semper Fidelis.










Thursday, November 12, 2009

John the Baptist and the limits of Archaeology, Part 2

The Davidic kingship is a concept carried through in history as a real family from a real Patriarchal Kingship. Modern scholars like Israel Finkelstein may live in a state of utter denial of David being a real figure in real history, but the entire nation of Israel would not have wrestled with this issue over 2000 years ago in always adhering and teaching compliance of kingship to David’s House alone if it were mythical…nor would there be a total acceptance of David’s historicity by both Jews and Christians, as witnessed in their writings in the succeeding 5 centuries from this Lukan (A.D. 50) passage.

In fact, the lawyers who exalted themselves in the Sanhedrin some 2000 years ago -- had David been mythical -- would have cast the entire sacrificial system of Judaism aside and formulated their own government and own worship system with the help of the Caesars or various Roman emperors, casting off the old and leaving some new and alien tradition (for posterity) behind to justify their legal view. No Sanhedrin faction or persons (so far as history is known) so allied with Rome or any other Occupation Nation, to cast off David and openly wrest kingship away from David in great antiquity...even philosophically.

Whether or not we have an artifact as yet, stating "King David" dating to the era of David's reign is somewhat irrelevant to whether or not there is veracity to his existence. That evidence will someday come. But until then, as with the issue of the Hittites and other finds only taken on Biblical assurance just 200 years ago, we need to trust the Biblicalarchaeological guidebook that led to those kinds of finds. And that guidebook of archaeology hasn't changed...it's still the SAME Holy Bible now as it was then, 200 years ago before the age of modern archaeology.


The Temple and Religious Service

As we study the building of the Temple, we are able to better identify what those who viewed a still thriving and existing Temple (the first hearers and readers of Luke’s Gospel) knew. Zacharias received the pre-dawn lot to carry incense into the Holy place, and thereafter, his assignment was to come just outside the door, and lower and raise (cleanse and fill) the washing laver on a loud pulley system, out of view of the foremost group of waiting priests assigned with him.

We are left this knowledge by literary historical sources from as little as 900 years ago, dating back to that preserved from the First Century Era. And using that data left by Maimonides and others, Biblical archaeologists are also instructed and educated as to what they should be looking for and where...rather than making guesses as to religious ritual in antiquity that may or may not be factually correct without the literary support to verify the claims made upon the past.

The New Testament is clear that despite John's pedigree as a Kohen, John the Baptist was reared as a Nazirite (as well as a Temple priest) by Zacharias. John also had the advantage of being an ordained Semikah rabbi (by the laying on of hands and accepted by Jewish authorities in Jerusalem), taking to himself disciples. As a recognized prophet, in Josephus and in the New Testament, it may be safe to say that there may have been a touch of the miraculous in his ministry. What the bounds and scope of that miraculous was ... we don't know, except that it could not rival the healings and miracles performed by Jesus that were by the thousands at a time, and beyond every medical dispute.


As a Nazirite, John the Baptist's and even Jesus' appearance of living 33 years without a hair-cut or trim isn't readily envisioned.

[cf. Hegesippus on James in Eusebius History 2.23
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.vii.xxiv.html

cf. Numbers 6:1-21,
http://www.hebrewoldtestament.com/B04C006.htm#V1

and Babylonian Talmud. tractate Nazir
http://comeandhear.com/nazir/index.html ]

In fact, this very issue of Nazirite practice is lost upon most western minds and representations of Jesus, and of John the Baptist. Did or did not Jesus ever drink wine? He is accused of wine drinking by mere presence of being with others who did so. But it appears that His ministry was more of a residing overseer conducting sober ceremony, rather than any imbibing (Luke 22:17-18,20).

Therefore, we ought not only to look at John the Baptist, but at Jesus as having the right of free access to the Temple’s Holy Place, especially since Jesus apparently enjoyed visiting the Temple often and was respectedeven by his enemies with an authority exceeding the scribes. Perhaps, in part, because of Jesus' Nazirite separation -- as well as being a Semikah rabbi next in line to the Throne of David.

John the Baptist chose the wilderness areas to call the people out of Jerusalem, and make them a people having hearts made ready for the appearance of a G-D Messiah or YHVeH Messiah ... A concept of G-D as the Messiah that is clearly Biblical and known then, but debated by those who have been wrongly swayed otherwise…and refuted by the archaeological literary evidence coming to light, such as the Hazon Gabriel stone, which invokes the Isaiah prophecy in the name Eliakim (the G-D who rises / resurrects [as from the dead, like Jesus would later do]).

Isaiah 22:20-23
"And it shall come to pass in that day,
that I will call my servant Eliakim
[the G-D who rises / resurrects]
the son of Hilkiah
[YHVeH who is my protection / portion]:

And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.

And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

And I will fasten him as a nail [hang, such as the crucifixion] in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house."


The very use of Eliakim as the identity, more than just simply as the Name of the Messiah, teaches us that He is to be a G-D figure, who is the son of G-D the Father (of Him). Thus, Jesus concept of his being G-D from G-D is seen by just one of various examples through the prophets and various books through the entire Old Testament (with perhaps Esther being the exception). This lack of like translations of the meaning of Hebrew names into English, is perhaps a project which one day needs to be remedied.

There is some controversy among Dead Sea Scroll scholars and commentators as to whether or not John the Baptist was a Qumranian Essene. It appears to me that he was not likely to have been.

In the Dead Sea Manual of Discipline, 6:11-12 it reads:
"And in the Assembly of the [i.e., of the leaders of the] the Congregation, no man shall speak without the consenting of [the leaders of the] Congregation, nor indeed [without the consenting of] the Guardian of the Congregation."

In the role of a prophet, John would not have needed this permission of the Guardian of the Congregation. And clearly, it does not appear as if HE were guardian over any group, other than his small band of disciples...which included Andrew, the later disciple of Christ and brother to Simon (later called Peter).

"...(leave) from the dwelling-place of the men of perversion, in order (that you may) go to the Wilderness to prepare the WAY of Him, as it is written:

'In the Wilderness, prepare the way of ****
[YHVeH is referenced here in the scroll by 4 dots],
make straight in the desert a mecillah for our G-D.
This is the search of the Law."
(Manual of Discipline, 8:13-15).


The Madaba Map and the Greek of the Gospel accounts tell usthat the wilds of Judea, in this period of the 1st - 6th centuries A.D., could also be defined as that called "the wilderness". It did not have to be the opposite or Eastern side of the Jordan...but it could have been.

In fact, it is also possible that when the Jordan swelled beyond its width of 15-30 feet at Bethabara/ Bethany, and even if it were a width of 200 - 300 feet wide for baptisms, with a depth exceeding 12 feet in the middle of the stream...John's disciples could have easily stood with the hundreds of thousands of Israel at its Western banks while John stood as a witness on its Eastern banks / shoreline, shouting from the wilderness.

However, we might also envision some of John's disciples in the role of lifeguards also, in positions to catch any being carried away downstream...as well as being the ones who directed the crowds in orderly fashion, and served in Levitical priestly functions themselves. Much of this hasn't been fully explored and properly thought out, especially amongst scholars who like to assume an air of authority upon the matter.

However, the idea that John stood on the Wilderness EAST only while the people were baptized in the widerness WEST bank of the Jordan, is not practical.

Certainly John stayed in the river Jordan, and not its tributaries east of it...because it was the Jordan that had a spiritual significance. In the north, on another occassion, when the water waned, John would have baptized at the Yarmuk river juncture of the Jordan, which forms a natural shape of the letter Ayin. The concept of "beyond Jordan" in the Gospels appears to relate to a northern Jordan (such as the Yarmuk -Jordan juncture) in respect to how Jerusalemites referred to it from in the south. In contrast, a southern Jordan around Bethany / Bethabara in respect to Galilee, would also be labeled as "beyond Jordan" by those in the north. This appears to be moreso the likelihood than it would for the expression "beyond Jordan" to relate to an Easterly area, because context gives us a picture of baptizing IN the Jordan while yet being BEYOND it. Hence "beyond Jordan" as a north from south (such as that of a "'down below" or "down under") and south from north (such as that of an "up above" or "up beyond") is to be viewed as a localized expression dating to this period in history and among the Israelis of the 1st Century A.D.


But getting back to Bethabara / Bethany in the south. There would have best been a scenario of standing at some kind of elevation, perhaps upon a boulder at the Western Bank to preach...with the occasional descending to personally move among the people and his disciples in the waters and along the banks as if it were a shoreline.

Therefore, if I were in Israel, I would look to this area for such a boulder at the point as indicated on the Madaba map by the log, and then at about a stone's throw or a little more from any likely candidate boulder, then look for the heap of stones that were the memorial stones of Joshua for the tribes of Israel.

If we can find those stones, via John the Baptist's ministry...it would be interesting to see how we could shame the skeptics. Or perhaps they would still have no shame, regardless.

2 comments:

  1. Was Jesus a nazarite, that is, one taking a vow to avoid wine and haircuts, or a Nazarene, that is, someone from the town of Nazarith?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I will answer the Nazarite question in a separate and up-coming post.

    ReplyDelete