Monday, May 2, 2016

The Anglican Priesthood in Anthropological Context

Alice C. Linsley

Anglican holy orders include bishop, priest and deacons. Some priests may also be monks. In the Eastern churches these are called "hieromonks" and all bishops in the Eastern Orthodox churches are taken from the ranks of celibate monks. This is one of the differences between Anglican orders and Eastern Orthodox orders. Anglican and Eastern Orthodox orders differ also from Roman Catholic orders on the matter of celibacy. Contrary to the position of the Roman Church, priests of old, that order from which the priesthood of the Church emerged, married and enjoyed sexual relations with their wives. However, they abstained from sex, shaved their bodies, fasted, and entered periods of intense prayer in preparation for their time of service at the temple or shrine. Married Orthodox clergy continue this practice, abstaining from sexual relations with their wives for 24 hours prior to presiding at the Divine Liturgy.

Before the ordination of women priests, Anglican orders were more highly regarded by the hierarchs of both the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches. This innovation devalued Anglican orders in the view of those churches and continues to be an obstacle to wholeness within catholic Christendom. The innovation reveals confusion about the nature of the priesthood and suggests infidelity to the received tradition of the Apostles which was embraced by the early priests of the Church. The ordination of women as priests is an accommodation to a culture that does not understand blood covenants or the distinction between the blood work of males and females. The contemporary confusion about the distinction between life and death reflects this lack of understanding. (The matter of blood work will be addressed in the last section of this paper.)

The heresy of gender equality

At the outset, the reader should understand that this paper does not advocate either the complementarian view of men and women in the Church or the Roman sacramental arguments against women's ordination. I agree with Dr. William Witt that these arguments are not found in the early Fathers' writings and they are not convincing. Dr. Witt's objection is to innovations in response to cultural changes. That seems to be a vote for holding on to the original pattern which is the male priesthood. My objection to women priests is based on anthropological study of why women were never priests until the 20th century. Ultimately, the question rests on whether the Church has the authority to change received tradition that extends back to Jesus' ancestors named in the king lists of Genesis 4 and 5. Should the Church decide it has such authority, it must recognize that a woman priest also changes our received Christology.

The biblical view of men and women is not complementarian. It is binary and reflects acute observation of reality on the part of the ancients. The assertion that women and male are equal is a heresy. Citing Genesis 1:27 to prove the complementarian position reveals ignorance of the larger pattern in Scripture. In its context this verse makes a distinction between humans and other animals. The phrase "male and female" is a biblical merism that parallels the phrase "God created man in the image of God..." This verse speaks about ontology. It does not speak about equality as that notion is taken today. Today gender equality has become tyranny for Christians who desire to adhere to biblical teaching.

The female form speaks of birth, but is not the source of life. Mary brought forth Jesus, and Jesus honored her, but she is not Christ's equal in divinity or glory. This is consistent with the binary pattern of Scripture in which one entity in the binary set (light-dark, male-female, etc.) is superior in a visible way to the other: the sun is the greater light, the moon the lesser as its light is refulgent. Males are large and stronger than females. The one must be stronger in order to save the weaker. Christ must be overall in order to stoop to save all. Further, this binary feature of the Biblical worldview militates against Asian dualism, a framework in which the blood work of Christ becomes meaningless.

The veneration of Mary expresses the truth that she is unique among women as God-bearer. Her service is to the greater glory of her divine Son just as the Church's service to Christ is as a weaker vessel. The argument that the Church is female and this justifies women priests is illogical and unfounded when we study the biblical pattern.

The Roman argument against women priests

For Martin Luther, the priest stands at the altar in persona christi. This Eucharistic theology was developed in the writings of Thomas Aquinas and reiterated by Paul VI's Inter Insigniores in October 1976 and further clarified by Cardinal Ratzinger in Responsum ad Propositum Dubium in November 1995.

The encyclical Inter Insigniores bears closer examination in its assertion that the canonical documents of the oldest Christian communities preserved the pattern they had received.

The Catholic Church has never felt that priestly or episcopal ordination can be validly conferred on women. A few heretical sects in the first centuries, especially Gnostic ones, entrusted the exercise of the priestly ministry to women: This innovation was immediately noted and condemned by the Fathers, who considered it as unacceptable in the Church. It is true that in the writings of the Fathers, one will find the undeniable influence of prejudices unfavourable to woman, but nevertheless, it should be noted that these prejudices had hardly any influences on their pastoral activity, and still less on their spiritual direction. But over and above these considerations inspired by the spirit of the times, one finds expressed -- especially in the canonical documents of the Antiochan and Egyptian traditions -- this essential reason, namely, that by calling only men to the priestly Order and ministry in its true sense, the Church intends to remain faithful to the type of ordained ministry willed by the Lord Jesus Christ and carefully maintained by the Apostles. 

Responsum ad Dubium concludes with these words:

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of Our ministry of confirming the brethren. We declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.

In her book The Catholic Priesthood and Women, Catholic laywoman Sara Butler acknowledges that a shift has taken place in Catholic theology as a result of the affirmation of the gender equality. She recognizes that this view undermines traditional arguments against women priests. She acknowledges that the in persona christi argument first appeared in Paul VI's Inter Insigniores.

Anglo-Catholics have embraced the Roman position that the priest acts in persona christi and many Anglicans are unaware of  the Eastern Orthodox position that the priest acts in persona ecclesiae. Dr. Witt believes that the Orthodox view removes the objection based on gender representation. However, this is not so.  In Eastern Orthodox theology the Church is viewed as the "new Israel" and the figurehead of the new Israel is the male priest, the "father" who offers sacrifice for the family (as did Job) and baptizes and chrismates. Father Georges Florovsky points to this in the following statement:

The first followers of Jesus in the "days of His flesh," were not isolated individuals engaged in their private quest for truth. They were Israelite regular members of an established and instituted Community of the "Chosen People" of God ... Indeed; a "Church" already existed when Jesus began His ministry. It was Israel, the People of the Covenant... The existing Covenant was the constant background of His preaching. The Sermon on the Mount was addressed not to an occasional crowd of accidental listeners, but rather to an "inner circle" of those who were already following Jesus . . . "The Little Flock" that the community which Jesus had gathered around Himself was, in fact, the faithful "Remnant" of Israel, a reconstituted People of God. Each person had to respond individually by an act of personal faith. This personal commitment of faith, however, incorporated the believer into the Community. And this remained forever the pattern of Christian existence: one should believe and confess, and then he is baptized, baptized into the Body. ("Worship and Everyday Life: An Eastern Orthodox View," Studia Patristica, vol. 2 (1963), p. 266.

The Orthodox maintain that God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants were fulfilled through
Christ and His Church. “In Christ, then, the covenant with Israel was fulfilled, transformed, and transcended. After the coming of the Messiah—the Incarnation of God the Son—only those who are ‘built into Christ’ are counted among the people of God. In Christ, the old Israel is superseded by the Christian Church, the new Israel, the body of Christ; the old covenant is completed in the new covenant in and through Jesus Christ” (George Cronk, The Message of the Bible; St. Vladimir Seminary Press; 1982, p. 80).

In other words, those who faithfully believe in Jesus Christ inherit the status that Israel had before it rejected the Messiah. This view is based on a wrong interpretation of Galatians 3:7-9: “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham . . . if you are Christ’s then you are of Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Paul is not speaking of the Church supplanting the faithful of Israel when he calls the followers of Jesus “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). He is reiterating that the pattern of faith and the ground of salvation are the same for all faithful people throughout time. This touches on Paul's understanding of the pleromic nature of the Blood of Jesus. Nor can the Orthodox view of the relation of the Church and Israel be supported by I Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” for here Peter is addressing believing Jews in the diaspora. They were for the most part biological descendants of the ruler-priest caste from which the priesthood of the Church emerged. Martin Luther's generalization of the priesthood to all believers served his purpose by undermining the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, but it also deflects from historical facts concerning the origin and nature of the priesthood.

What is the Priesthood?

Many years of anthropological investigation using Biblical data has convinced me that Messianic expectation is one of the earliest religious beliefs. It is expressed in the burial practices of Abraham's archaic ancestors who believed in bodily resurrection and anticipated the coming of a Righteous Ruler who would overcome death and lead His people to immortality.

From the earliest times, the office of priest and ruler were connected. The ruler-priest stood as the altar as one who intercedes for his people, offering sacrifice according to divinely inspired law. The anticipation of the One who would overcome death, crush the serpent's head under His feet, was fulfilled in only one ruler-priest, Jesus the Messiah.

The Christian priest is to be like Jesus Christ, exemplifying Christ in purity of life and in masculine form. When Anglicans contemplate reception of Christ's body and blood in the Eucharist, it is appropriate to see before them a masculine form. Likewise, in contemplation of the Annunciation and Incarnation we would have before us an image or icon of Mary, not a masculine form. To place a female form at the altar unravels the fabric of the Messianic tradition. It tells this story: The ewe who gives birth, and nurtures with her milk, is sacrificed, offering herself for the life of the world. It simply does not work! The ewe is a timid creature who stays with her young and seeks protection from the ram when threatened. She embodies feminine virtues and her self-sacrifice is at odds with the order of creation.

Here is another story told by the female standing at altar: The one who saves is the daughter of God. The divine council agrees to take the life of one who is divinely designed to give life. Now we have a pagan tragedy!

Despite what feminists, politically-correct academics, and rights activists might say, the ministry of priests in the Church developed organically from the Horite priesthood of Abraham's people and was exclusively the work of a select group of men (a ruler-priest caste) whose devotion to the worship of the Creator involved, by today's standards, extreme asceticism and purity of life. That there were priestesses in the Greco-Roman world is irrelevant to the question of women priests in the Church because this practice has no connection to the priesthood known by Jesus Christ and his followers. Failure to make this distinction has led to much confusion and obfuscation.

In the ancient world Horite priests were known for their purity, sobriety and devotion to the High God whose emblem was the Sun. Plutarch wrote that the “priests of the Sun at Heliopolis never carry wine into their temples, for they regard it as indecent for those who are devoted to the service of any god to indulge in the drinking of wine whilst they are under the immediate inspection of their Lord and King. The priests of the other deities are not so scrupulous in this respect, for they use it, though sparingly.”

The Horite priests, who are often called "Habiru" (Hebrew) in ancient texts, worshiped the Creator when other peoples were worshiping lesser deities. They anticipated the coming of the Seed of God (Gen. 3:15) and believed that He would be born of their ruler-priest bloodlines. That is why the lines of priests intermarried exclusively and why unchaste daughters of priests were burned alive (Lev. 21:9). Sexual impurity was not tolerated.

In the ancient world, only men born into the priestly caste could serve a priests and many of those never did. Some served in sub-castes as warriors, scribes, and metal workers. There was never a question about having a "right" to this work. It was reserved for those who were born into the caste or sub-caste. Among Abraham's ancestors bloodline was traced through the mothers, as is still the case today with Jews. Social status and occupation were traced through the fathers. Jesus' bloodline is traced through his mother. His social status and work as a carpenter came through Joseph's line. Both Mary and Joseph were of the Horite ruler-priests caste and they were cousins.

The Horite marriage and ascendancy pattern remained unchanged from the Neolithic period of Genesis 4 and 5 (the lines of Cain and Seth) to the time of Joseph and Mary. The pattern can be traced through the Bible using the anthropological tool of kinship analysis, and it is an impossibility that this pattern could have been written back into the text at a late date.

There were priests among Jesus' first followers. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were members of the Sanhedrin and of the Horite ruler-priest caste. Arimathea refers to the Horite line of Matthew or Matthea. This was Jesus' ancestry through both Mary and Joseph. Horite priests expected a Righteous Ruler to defeat death and lead his people to immortality. This is why Horite priests took great precautions in the preparation of the bodies of dead kings. It is likely that Joseph of Arimathea and Joseph, the husband of Mary, were both of the Pharisee persuasion.

Priests were dispersed throughout Palestine. Settlements often took their names from the priestly division that resided there. For example, Nazareth was the home of the eighteenth priestly division, Hapi-tsets (a word of Nilotic origin), so Nazareth is Happizzez in 1 Chronicles 24:15. Nazareth was the home of Joseph who married Jesus' mother. Mary was from Bethlehem. Her full name would have been "Miriam Daughter of Joachim, Son of Pntjr, Priest of Nathan of Bethlehem." From predynastic times among the Egyptian Horites, ntjr designated God or the king. Pntjr is Pa-Netjer, the name of Joachim’s mother. The Horite priests traced descent through both the mother and the father. A limestone stela (1539-1291 B.C.) bearing the names of Pekhty-nisu and his wife Pa-netjer is on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. The Ancient Egyptian word nisu (ruler) became nasi in Hebrew and applied to the High Priest who presided over the Sanhedrin.

Through Mary the promise of Genesis 3:15 came to be fulfilled. The Seed of the Woman crushed the serpent's head and death has been overcome. The ancient expectation of a divine royal son who would overcome death and lead his people to immortality was fulfilled.

The connection between Bethlehem and the Horites is alluded to in I Chronicles 4:4, which lists Hur/Hor as the "father of Bethlehem." To this day Jews call their ancestors Horim, which is Horite in English. The ancient Horite priests were devotees of Horus, the son of Ra, the creator. Horus' conception took place by divine overshadowing. He is the pattern by which Jesus would be recognized by Abraham's descendants as the Son of God. When the Virgin Mary asked how she was to have a child since she "knew" no man, "The angel answered her and said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the holy child will be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35)

Anglican Orders and the Horite Priesthood

None of the twelve Apostles served as ruler-priests, as far as we know. Originally only priests belonging to prominent families were members of the Sanhedrin (bet din). A "prominent" family was one whose lineages could be traced back to Horite ruler-priests of renown. These members of the Sanhedrin served under the presidency of the high priest much as priests today served under the presidency of their bishop. The high priest bore the title nasi (ruler, king, prince) and retained this even after the presidency was transferred to other hands. Similarly, in Anglican orders there is an understanding that a bishop remains a bishop even after he has stepped down from serving in that office.

The second in charge was a ruler-priest who was called ab bet din (father of the court). The role of the ab bet din appears to have been a combination of the roles of the Bishop's chaplain and the chancellor of the Diocese who serves as the chief legal consultant to the Bishop.

The third century Rabbi Johanan enumerates the qualifications of the members of the Sanhedrin as follows: they must be tall, of imposing appearance, of advanced age, and scholars. They were also required to be adept in the use of foreign languages.

The only followers of Jesus that are known to be members of the Sanhedrin were James the Just, Nicodemus, and Joseph bouleutēs (honorable counselor).  Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin, was "waiting for the kingdom of God" according to Mark 15:43. He is designated Joseph Hari-Mathea (not Arimathea), that is, Joseph of the Horite line of Matthew. Apparently, he had business and family connections in the British Isles. Eusebius of Caesarea (AD 260–340) may have been referring to this connection in Demonstratio Evangelica when he reports that some of Jesus' earliest disciples "have crossed the Ocean and reached the Isles of Britain." Since a qualification of membership in the Sanhedrin was facility of languages, Joseph would have been able to communicate with the people of Britain.

As a ruler-priest Joseph would have appointed men who were qualified to serve as priests in Britain. Being of advanced age, he would have been older than Jesus and the disciples. This suggests that the priesthood came to Britain very early and is older than generally supposed. It must be nearly as early as the episcopacy of Evodius of Antioch (53–69 A.D.) and the episcopacy of James the Just of Jerusalem (d. 69 A.D.), but would likely precede the episcopacy of Linus of Rome (67-79 AD).

Further, the legend concerning Joseph of Hari-Mathea coming to Britain has basis in science. Horite priests were among the Ainu and genetic studies have confirmed that the Ainu dispersed widely across the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion. Some came to the British Isles and Scandinavia and migrated to Greenland, Labrador and Eastern Canada where they are called "Micmac."

Anthropological studies have shown that the Ainu were among Abraham's Nilotic ancestors. Further, Genesis 41 confirms that Joseph, the son of Jacob, married the daughter of a priest of On (Heliopolis) and On has been identified as an Ainu shrine city.

Received Tradition and Change

The priesthood as a tradition received from Jesus' Horite ancestors and it was a tradition which the Hebrews, and later the Jews, and then Christians preserved without change. The Church does not have the authority to change this tradition any more than it has authority to change the doctrine of Jesus' two natures, or the Eucharistic words of institution. This is the consensus of the Church Fathers, the Council of Nicaea (Canon 19), and the Council of Laodicea (Canon 11), as well as the consensus of the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II spoke ex cathedra on female priests in 1994. Observing that the male priesthood had been "preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and clearly taught by the Magisterium in recent documents," he decreed that the Church has "no authority to confer priestly ordination on women."

In "The Veiling of the Virgins" Tertullian speaks of the sacerdotal life as a "male function," and St John Chrysostom wrote, "When one is required to preside over the Church, and be entrusted with the care of so many souls, the whole female sex must retire before the magnitude of the task, and the majority of men also” (On the Priesthood).

The Western tendency to innovate is not a new development. Speaking against this tendency, St. Basil the Great wrote, “The dogmas of the Fathers are held in contempt, the Apostolic traditions are disdained, the churches are subject to the novelties of innovators” (Letter 90, To the Most Holy Brethren and Bishops Found in the West).

This willful disregard of Apostolic traditions reached new heights in the Episcopal Church with the unprecedented and politically-motivated decisions to ordain women and non-celibate homosexuals. Again, St. Basil's words well describe the present condition of that body which can scarcely be called a "church." He wrote:

“Every man is a theologian; it does not matter that his soul is covered with more blemishes than can be counted.  The result is that these innovators find an abundance of men to join their factions. So ambitious, self-elected men divide the government of the churches among themselves, and reject the authority of the Holy Spirit.  The ordinances of the Gospel have been thrown into confusion everywhere for lack of discipline; the jostling for high positions is incredible, as every ambitious man tries to thrust himself into high office. The result of this lust for power is that wild anarchy prevails among the people; the exhortations of those in authority are rendered utterly void and unprofitable, since every man in his arrogant delusion thinks that it is more his business to give orders to others than to obey anyone himself” (On the Holy Spirit).

Feminist theologians have pressed the Church to ordain women, seeking to overthrow the wisdom of the Fathers and the Councils in their own brand of "liberation theology." They paint only one portrait; that of universal male oppression of women. They misrepresent the reality of women in the early church and in the Bible. Phoebe, Lydia, Priscilla were ministers in the early church, and more than 90% of the women named in the Bible are the wives and daughters of high ranking ruler-priests and they exercised considerable influences in their communities. Further, in the Eastern Orthodox Church women are highly revered and at least half the icons in a given church are of women saints, martyrs, and a few women who are regarded as "equal to the Apostles," such as Photini (the Woman at the Well), and a central place is given to the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is venerated, as she was by early Christians. Feminists theologians would overthrow any tradition which they regard as misogynistic to advance their agenda. For such as these, St. John Chrysostom has these stern words: “The divine law indeed has excluded women from this ministry, but they endeavor to thrust themselves into it; and since they can effect nothing of themselves, they do all through the agency of others.” (De Sacerdotio)  A review of the past 30 years of the Episcopal Church's history makes it fairly easy to identify who the "others" are.

Breaking the Ancient Pattern

It is a historical and anthropological observation that no woman ever served in the office of priest until 1944, at which time Florence Li Tim-Oi was ordained by Ronald Hall, Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong, in response to the crisis among Anglicans in Communist China. She later stepped down from serving as a priest. In 1976 the Episcopal Church broke the age-old tradition of the all-male priesthood by vote of General Convention. At that time the "irregular" ordinations of the "Philadelphia Eleven" and the "Washington Four" were made regular. The first woman ordained to the priesthood in the United States was Ellen Marie Barrett (January 1977). She was ordained by the Rt. Rev. Paul Moore, Jr., Bishop of New York. Ellen Barrett, a lesbian, had served as Integrity's first co-president. Other lesbians had been among the Philadelphia Eleven. In the United States, the ordination of women and gay and lesbian "rights" were intertwined from the beginning, so that today it is difficult to treat these as separate issues. Both have been framed as "equal rights" issues, revealing a profound misunderstanding of the nature of the priesthood.

The faith of Christ, the Son of God, is an unchangeable tradition coming from Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors who were a caste of ruler-priests who, as devotees of Horus, were called "Horites." They came to rule the Nile and many of the major water systems of the ancient world. Josephus calls the descendants of Abraham by Keturah "Horites" and quoting another ancient historian, speaks of them as "conquerors of Egypt and founders of the Assyrian Empire." These Nilo-Saharan ancestors of Abraham did indeed come to rule Egypt where they built remarkable shrine cities at Karnak and Heliopolis (Biblical On).

In "Isis and Osiris" Plutarch remarked that Horite priests burned incense three times a day: frankincense at dawn, myrrh at mid-day, and kyphi at dusk. These were the three most significant points in the Sun's daily journey and high noon was considered the sacred center, a time when there are no shadows (cf. James 1:17).

The distinctive traits of the Horite belief system align remarkable well with key features of catholic faith and practice because Christianity emerged from the belief system of Abraham's Horite people. Consider these beliefs:
  • Male ruler-priests who were mediators between God and the community
  • A binary (versus a dualistic) worldview
  • Blood sacrifice at altars for atonement
  • Expectation of the appearing of the Son of God in the flesh
  • God's will on earth as in heaven, interpreted by morehs or prophets
  • Belief in an eternal and undivided kingdom to be ruled by the Son of God
  • Belief in a Righteous Ruler, the Son of God, who they called Horus, who would overcome death and lead his people to immortality. This last point was a bone of contention between the Pharisees and the Sadducees in Jesus' time. 
The priesthood is recognized as an extremely ancient office, and there is but one priesthood, that of Jesus Christ's Horite people. Its point of origin is the Nile Valley at a time when the Sahara was wet (7500 B.C.-3000 B.C). It is quite distinct from the other ancient religious office of the shaman. Both the priest and the shaman are intermediaries, but their worldviews are quite different. Underlying shamanism is the belief that spirits cause imbalance and disharmony in the world. The shaman’s role is to determine which spirits are at work in a given situation and to find ways to appease the spirits. This may or may not involve animal sacrifice.

Underlying the priesthood is belief in a single supreme Spirit to whom humans must give an accounting, especially for the shedding of blood. In this view, one Great Spirit (God) holds the world in balance and it is human actions that cause disharmony. The vast assortment of ancient laws governing priestly ceremonies, sacrifices, and cleansing rituals clarifies the role of the priest as one who offers animal sacrifice according to sacred law. The priest was forbidden to consult the spirits of the ancestors as shamans do in trance states. Had Anglican clergy taken this prohibition seriously the tragedy of Bishop James Pike might have been averted.)

Priests are intermediaries between the Creator and the community, not between the spirits and the community. When sickness, sudden death, or a great calamity such as flooding or plague affects the community, the shaman investigates the cause and seeks to balance benevolent and malevolent energies. When the community served by the priest experiences hardship, deprivation and loss, the priest calls the people to repentance and seeks to restore the community to the peace of God. For the priests of old, this involved blood sacrifice, a work performed exclusively by male priests.

Blood Work

For Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors blood was perceived as having power. Genesis 4:10 describes Abel's shed blood as having power to cry out to God from the ground. Leviticus 17:11 declares that life is in the blood: "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life." 

Archaic man had an intuitive anxiety about blood. The sacrificing priesthood likely came into existence the first day that blood was shed and the individual and the community sought relief from blood anxiety and guilt. Abraham's Horite people made a distinction between the blood work of men in killing and the blood work of women in birthing. The two bloods represent the binary opposites of life and death. The blood shed in war, hunting and animal sacrifice fell to warriors, hunters and priests. The blood shed in first intercourse, the monthly cycle, and in childbirth fell to wives and midwives. The two bloods were never to mix or even to be present in the same space. Women did not participate in war, the hunt, and in ritual sacrifices, and they were isolated during menses. Likewise, men were not present at the circumcision of females or in the birthing hut.

The confusion of bloods was not permitted because this blurred the distinction between life and death. Similarly, the Hebrews were commanded never to take the life a young goat by boiling it its mother’s milk, a symbol of life. This clarifies the gravity of abortion, a procedure in which placental blood and water which sustain life become mixed with blood of the fetus being killed. In the Biblical worldview this is utter desecration.

As the priest sacrifices animals on the altar, his blood work requires the taking of life. The blood work of women, on the other hand, pertains to giving life, and the two should never be confused. Another example of the segregation of blood work is seen in the forming of brotherhood pacts among tribal peoples by the intentional mixing of bloods between two men, but never between male and female. The binary distinctions of male and female, and their distinct blood work, are maintained as part of the sacred tradition that Abraham received from his Horim.

Archaic man regarded blood and water as the primal substances of life. For Christians the blood and water that give life to the world are those that flowed from the pierced side of Jesus, the Lamb of God. Though the blood of animals points to the blood of Jesus Christ, His blood was always prevenient and eternally efficacious, as is His grace. This is the meaning of the story of the binding of Isaac (Gen. 22) when understood in the Horite religious context, and it sheds light on the nature of the priesthood.

As Abraham and Isaac ascended Mount Moriah, Isaac asked his father "where is the lamb for the sacrifice?" and Father Abraham answered that God Himself will provide a lamb (seh), but in fact, God provided a ram (ayil). For Abraham the Horite the meaning would have been clear, that God alone provides the one to be offered, in this case clearly not Isaac, though he was of Horite blood and miraculously conceived. The pattern of Horus whereby he rises in the morning as a lamb and dies with the setting sun as a ram speaks of a future fulfillment of the Horite expectation of a deified son who would defeat death and lead his people to immortality. Horus was sometimes shown with a ram's head, signifying mature vitality, having grown in strength from lamb to ram. This image of Horus was found at the Temple of Horus at Edfu, 70 miles south of Luxor. It is an image consistent with the understanding of Horus as the "son" of God, not a daughter; as the divine ram, not a ewe.

Horus shown with falcon head (left) and with ram's head (right) 

When Scripture poses binary opposites such as God-Man, Heaven-Earth, Life-Death, Day-Night, East-West or North-South, it is initiating a pattern of thought that travels between two points. This is a particularly important feature of the Biblical worldview because, as has been observed by anthropologist and philosophers, this binary structure brings complexity of meaning while on the surface the meaning seems obvious. For example, the Sun's daily movement from east and west is evident and can be observed by the position and length of the shadows it casts. On a sunny day the sun's rays are felt most intensely at high noon, the mid-point of the solar arc. This is a time without shadows when we are exposed to the full glory of the Sun.

For Jesus' Horite ancestors the Sun was the emblem of the Creator and his son Horus. The son was called "Horus of the two horizons" (east-west) and "Horus of the two crowns" (north-south, Lower Nile-Upper Nile).  are examples of how meaning is derived by holding two points in view. We see this in the Passover sacrifice at twilight, what is called in Hebrew ben ha-'arbayim, meaning "between the two settings." According to Rabbi Radak, the first "setting" occurs when the sun passes its zenith at noon and the shadows begin to lengthen, and the second "setting" is the actual sunset (p. 55, vol. 2, The Jewish Publication Society Torah Commentary, "Exodus").

On the eastern horizon Horus is the lamb, young and pure as the new day. On the western horizon, after his sacrifice at the sacred center (the Cross), he is the ram who comes to full strength. The ram's horn (shofar) symbolized the covenant between God and the Hebrews. When it was blown the veil or tehome was lifted, allowing God's Presence to be seen. The ram's horn which lifts the veil refers to Jesus Christ and his blood work by which he makes all things new.

Jesus Christ's blood work cleanses, heals, restores, redeems and justifies. He is both offered sacrifice and offering priest. Every priest from before the time of Abraham to the first priests of the Church are of his order, and there is no other true order of priests. Jesus Christ is the one true Priest of God, and all priests appointed by God and rightly ordained belong to him and are to be like him as an icon is to the spiritual reality which it mirrors.

Friday, April 29, 2016

As in the days of Noah

The Apostles asked Jesus, "When shall these things be?" They were asking about the dawning of the Kingdom of God. In reply, Jesus said:
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark… Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming." (Matthew 24:36-42)
In this passage from Matthew's Gospel Jesus compares the coming Day of Judgement to events surrounding Noah's survival of the flood. In that great flood some died and some were spared.  Those who were spared owed their salvation to God's intervention in their lives.  Noah, a great ruler in the region of Lake Chad, was a righteous man who listened to God and obeyed.  Likewise, on that great Day, some will experience salvation through faith while others will be lost. This passage is about the Judgement. To make it be about the "Rapture" is to do damage to the text.

The term "rapture" is taken from St. Jerome's Latin translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:17—"we will be caught up" [Latin: rapiemur]. The Rapture is a cherished doctrine of American Fundamentalists. It has been perpetuated through popular books and movies. The doctrine maintains that Christ will return twice, first to the sky where He will gather to Himself all the elect, and later to the Earth for the Day of Judgment. A deep study of the Bible does NOT support this view.

The rapture was popularized in the 1970s by Hal Lindsey’s novels, especially The Late Great Planet Earth, and more recently by the apocalyptic fiction of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. These writers were elaborating on an idea that appeared in the thought of John Nelson Darby, considered to be the founder of Dispensationalism. Belief in "the Rapture" is a key element of Dispensationalism.

John Nelson Darby

For Americans, the most influential figure of Dispensationalism was C.I. Scofield who perpetuated this doctrine in the footnotes of his Scofield Reference Bible. Many who uncritically read the Scofield Bible have adopted the doctrine, though it has no precedent in the Church or in the writings of the Church Fathers.

According to Dispensationalists, when Christ returns, those who have died in Christ will be raised to a glorious state, along with all living believers. As a body these will be caught up from the Earth to be with Jesus Christ. This is the assumption based on 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17, which states, "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord."

Here the Apostle Paul is stressing the bodily resurrection and proper order. He is describing the Last Day, not an intermediate event when the faithful are "caught up" as was the mysterious Enoch of old.

In the Bible, God reveals enough about the future to give us hope, but not so much that we can trust in ourselves for salvation. Noah was a faithful ruler who recognized the Creator as his God and obeyed Him as his Lord. He lived in a time much like our own, with the effects of climate change and a dependence on false spirituality.

Before His ascension, the Apostles asked Jesus, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" Jesus said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority." (Acts 1:7)

Because no one knows the day and hour when the second advent will occur, many assume that it is impossible to say anything more precise in regard to Christ's return than what is stated at Matthew 24 and Acts 1:7. However, we should ask this question: "What were the days of Noah like?" Today there is a great deal of information about Noah's homeland at the time of the flood. We also have a good picture of the customs of the people around him that displeased the Creator.

Many who lived in the region of Noah's homeland relied on shamanic ritual to gain favor from the spirits. The ruler-priests of Noah's line did not perform these rituals. Instead they offered burnt sacrifice to atone for the sins of their people and they did not consult spirits. Their worldview was distinct from the worldview of the prehistoric pagans, just as today the worldview of Christian priests is distinct from the worldview of shamans and modern pagans who rely on rituals rather than the atoning work of the Incarnate Christ.

It is sufficient for us to know that God has appointed a day for the restoring of all things. It is sufficient for us who await that day to continue in the Apostles' teaching, in the breaking of bread, and in prayer.

As with Noah, we are to be vigilant, ever watchful, heeding the Creator's warnings so that we are ready for the Last Day. It took many years for the waters to accumulate in Noah's homeland to the point where the great water systems overflowed into one another. So there is time, though limited, for people to be warned of the Judgement that is to come.

The Church Father Origen has this to say about the vigilance that is to characterize the Christian life:
All who listen to the depths of the gospel and live it so completely that none of it remains veiled from them care very little about whether the end of the world will come suddenly and all at once or gradually and little by little. Instead, they bear in mind only that each individual’s end or death will arrive on a day and hour unknown to him and that upon each one of us “the day of the Lord will come like a thief.” It is important therefore to be vigilant... When God the Word comes and brings an end to the progress of this life, he will gather up the one who gave “no sleep to his eyes nor slumber to his eyelids” and kept the commandment of the One who said, “Be vigilant at all times.”…But I know another kind of end for the righteous person who is able to say along with the apostle, “Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me and I to the world.” In a certain sense, the end of the world has already come for the person to whom the world is crucified. And to one who is dead to worldly things the day of the Lord has already arrived, for the Son of man comes to the soul of the one who no longer lives for sin or for the world. (Commentary on Matthew 56)
Related reading: Noah's Ark; Dispensationalism and the Three Witnesses; The Kingdom of God in Genesis; Male Spiritual Leaders: Two Patterns; Shamanic Practice and the Priesthood; Was Noah Mesopotamian or Proto-Saharan?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Discrepancies are Evidence of Authenticity

…but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence… (1 Peter 3:15)

Alice C. Linsley

Supposed "contradictions" are one of the excuses people sometimes offer for rejecting the claims of Jesus Christ. Often these same people have little first-hand acquaintance with the Bible. They are uncritically repeating a lie.

When we consider the Gospel accounts of Jesus' birth, ministry, death and resurrection we do not encounter contradictions. We find discrepancies that result from different perspectives. In fact, if the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John agreed in every minute detail, we would have evidence of collusion among the witnesses. We would have reason to be suspicious.

J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective and a Christian case maker at Stand to Reason.  He applied his expertize in forensic investigation to the Gospels and concluded that the testimonies are authentic. Wallace writes, "The Christian life is a rational and reasonable life that is rooted and grounded in the evidence of the Resurrection and the truth of the Bible. Christians are saved by placing their trust in Jesus, but Christians become a powerful force in their world when they commit themselves to being 'case makers' for what they believe."

My father was an attorney who handled criminal cases. He knew how to cross-examine witnesses and how to detect collusion. He was impressed after reading the different Gospel accounts by how they agree on the main events but note different details. Had they all given exactly the same testimony he would have reason to doubt them, as that is a sign of collusion or conspiracy.

That there are different accounts of an event does not mean the event was invented, nor does it indicate fabrication on the part of the witnesses. Recognition of the different contexts of Biblical writers is also recognition that they represent real people in history. Consider how this is so.

Genesis 46:27 in the Septuagint says, "Thus all the souls of Jacob's house who went to Egypt were seventy-five" but the Masoretic says, "....all the persons of the house of Jacob, that came into Egypt, were seventy." There is no contradition here, but rather a significant discrepancy that testifies to different contexts. For the Masoretes 70 represented fullness and was not intended to be taken as an exact number of people. The Sanhedrin, for example, consisted of 70 men, never more and never less. Further, the number 70 referenced the number of appointed ones in their tradition and implies that those who went down into Egypt were appointed.

Numbers in the Bible are usually symbolic and reflect a specific contexts. For example, the number 40, as in the phrase "40 days and 40 nights" has a Nilotic context. The Nile flooded for 40 days and the people who had left their homes waited another 40 nights before returning home. It took "40 days and 40 nights" for the waters to recede. Though the book of Daniel is rich in number symbolism it is significant that the number 40 does not appear in that book. The context of Daniel is Babylonian rather than Nilotic and the Babylonian number symbolism is different.

The Masoretes were Temple scholars of the 6th–10th centuries AD, long after the time of Moses. They had been greatly influenced by the theology and number symbolism of their ancestors who had been in Babylon. For the Masoretes 7 was a sacred number. The number is associated with the ancient Habiru/ Hebrew priesthood. This is evident in the priestly account of Noah's flood where Noah to told to take 7 sets of "clean" animals onto the ark. Contrast this with the older account in which Noah is told to take 1 set: male and female. (Note the binary feature; male-female, a distinguishing mark of the older version of the flood).

What I find most provocative about this discrepancy is the suggestion in the Masoretic text that not all the Habiru went with Jacob down to Egypt. This is certainly the case since many Hebrew clans besides Jacob's remained in Canaan. Among them were the clans of Seir, Elon, Esau and Uz. Uz was Job's clan.

Genesis 38 tells us that Judah, who had gone down to Egypt with his father, came back to Canaan where he had relations with Tamar. It appears that the ruling men of Jacob's clan continued to interact with kinsmen and business associates in Judah, Edom and Beersheba.

When we dig deeply into the Bible we find that discrepancies reveal different perspectives and traditions, but they also point to a shared religious tradition that can be traced to the dawn of human existence. The features of this shared tradition have been of great interest to Biblical anthropologists.

Related reading: Number Symbolism in the Bible; The Life Spans of Methuselah and Lamech; Who Is Jesus Christ?; Noah's Ark; Levi-Strauss and Derrida on Binary Oppositions; Binary Sets

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Years of Waiting for the Promised Heir

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. (Genesis 16:1-4)

Alice C. Linsley

Abraham is a pivotal figure of history. He is a sent-away son who established control over a territory that extended between Kiriath-Arba (Hebron) and Beersheba. His territory was entirely in the region of ancient Edom (Idumea) and he was kin to the Horite rulers of Edom listed in Genesis 36.

Abraham's first wife was Sarah, his half-sister. Sarah resided in Hebron. His second wife was Keturah, one of his patrilineal cousins. Keturah resided in Beersheba. Both Hebron and Beersheba were in the land of Edom, called "Idumea" by the Greeks. Idumea means "land of red people." Abraham's territory extended between the settlements of his two wives and was entirely in Edom.

It was the norm for Habiru rulers to have two wives. They often had two concubines also. Abraham's concubines were Hagar, the mother is Ishmael, and Masek, the mother of Eliezer. Neither of these sons was the "proper heir" to Abraham according to the Habiru marriage and ascendancy pattern. Eliezer was Abraham's heir according to Horite law, only until Issac was born. The proper heir for the Horite Habiru rulers was always the first born son of the half-sister wife.

According to Genesis 16, Sarah was barren and had given up hope of having a child. This is after she and Abraham had been living in Canaan for 10 years. During those years Abraham had already taken his second wife, Keturah. She born Joktan (Yaqtan), Abraham's first born son. However, Joktan was not Abraham's proper heir. As the son of the cousin bride, Joktan was named after his maternal grandfather in whose kingdom he would serve as a high ranking official. According to Genesis 25, Keturah bore Abraham six sons: Joktan, Yisbak, Midian, Zimran, Medan, and Shuah. The name Yishbak means “sent away.”

Abraham had four first born sons: Joktan, Ishmael (Yishmael), Eliezer, and Isaac (Yitzak), probably born in that order. Joktan became the head of the Joktanite tribes of Arabia. Yismael became the father of the Sinai Bedouins. His Paran settlement was on the way to Egypt as indicated by these words: This is the genealogy of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maidservant, bore to Abraham. And these were the names of the sons of Ishmael: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth, then Kadar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael and these were their names, by their towns and settlements… (Gen. 25:12-16).

No sons are named for Eliezer. He may have been a eunuch, not necessarily a castrated man, but perhaps one who is impotent, celibate, or not inclined to marry and procreate for legal reasons.

Yitzak fathered Jacob (Yacob/Yisrael), and Esau the Elder. Esau and Jacob were contemporaries of Seir the Horite, named in Genesis 36. The initial Y in these names indicates divine appointment by being overshadowed by the Sun. It is the symbol of the long horns of the bull and represents a solar cradle.

Clans related to Abraham's wife Keturah and her father Joktan the Edler

The first born sons ruled among the related clans of Horite Habiru. Abraham’s people. However, the first born sons of wives ranked above the first born sons of concubines. Joktan ranked over Eliezar, and Issac ranked over Ishmael. Joktan was a governor in the southern settlements of his maternal grandfather (Dedan, Ramaah and Sheba) and Isaac ruled the northern settlements of his father Abraham (Hebron, Beersheba, Gerar and Engedi).

Sarah's barren state would have caused her even greater misery after Abraham took his second wife and began to bear him sons. Here we find echoes of the Rachel-Leah conflict, and the Hannah-Penninah conflict. In these narratives, the scorned or barren wife is vindicated by divine action on their behalf.  Their long years a waiting were turned from sorrow to joy.

See the pattern? We await the return of the Promised Son, the Heir to the eternal kingdom. He has overcome death by death. He will turn our sorrow to joy and wipe away every tear.

Related reading: Who Was Abraham?; Abraham's Sons; Abraham's Complaint; The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y; Abraham's First Born Son; Edom and the Horites; The Barren and Grieving Rejoice

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Hittite Religion

Polygonal masonry chamber of Suppiluliuma II in Hattusa, modern Turkey

Alice C. Linsley

Before the time of the Hittites, the priests of the archaic world who served at the Sun temples had dispersed widely in service of kingdom builders known in Genesis as the mighty men of old. These priests are mentioned in ancient texts as 'Apiru, O'piru, Ha'piru and Ha'biru (Hebrew). They served among the peoples of Anatolia, including the Hatti who controlled a territory from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Ḫattuša (modern Boğazkale in Turkey) was the administrative center as early as BC 2500. It was a shrine city with more than 30 temples.

More than 232 letters of state correspondence have been found at Hattusa. One is a letter from the ruler of Išuwa to the "Chief of the Charioteers." Asan administrative center Hattusa had many scribes schooled in Akkadian. The Old Hittite period reflects the Akkadian Sargonic tradition. Sar-gon means "most high king" or "king of kings" and is a conjunction of two African words sar/sarki and gon. The words sar and gon both refer to a ruler. When placed together - sar-gon - these words are a form of emphatic reduplication. The word sarki refers to red ocher and to priests.

Many of the priests of the ancient world, including the priests of ancient Hatti, were devotees of Horus. The shrine centers of the greater region reflect this in their names: Horoztepe (Horus Hill); Kültepe (Ash Hill, place of sacrifice) and Išuwa (Yeshua?).

Green cube at Hattusa

This green stone, believed to be a gift from the Egyptian king with whom the Hatti signed a treaty in BC 1258, was at the center of a Horite shrine. Among the ancient Nilotes green malachite symbolised the hope of resurrection. The land of the blessed dead was described as the "field of malachite." Green stones were associated with Horus, whose animal totem was the falcon. The Book of the Dead speaks of how the deceased will become a falcon "whose wings are of green stone" (chapter 77). The Eye of Horus amulet was made of green stone.

Nilotic craftsmen moved into the Tigris-Euphrates region and into Anatolia. They were called the Nes and their animal totem was the serpent. The word Nes is associated with the rulers of the Nile. In ancient Egypt Nesu biti referred to the ruler of a united Upper and Lower Nile.

Mother and infant
Bronze figurine found at Horoztepe

It is thought that the Hittites introduced iron work to Anatolia, but the term "Hittite" is an anachronism. They called themselves Nes and their language was called Nesli. The word Nuzi is derived from the words Nes and Nuz. Nuzi was a Horite administrative center on the Tigris. The Horites were devotees of Horus and his mother Hathor, the patroness of metal workers. Documents from the household of a Nuzi official named Tehiptilla record grants of food, clothing, and shelter to a number of Habiru in his service. One who likely served in a military role received a horse.

The Habiru were Afro-Asiatics and already well dispersed before the time of Abraham. Among them were castes of metal workers whose ancestral lines intermarried from time immemorial. The NS mark represents the metal working tradition. Nahash means serpent.

As an adjective it means shining bright, like burnished copper. The clans of HeT were Bronze Age smiths who ranged from Timnah to Anatolia. The serpent image was sacred among them, just as it was for Moses and the people of Israel in the wilderness. Abraham interacted with the Hittite clans of Het who are listed in Genesis 10. HT is the Hebrew and Arabic root for copper - nahas-het. The mountains near the Hittite center of Isuwa had rich deposits of copper which were mined in antiquity.

Sun Temples

The religion of the Hittites, like that of Abraham's Nilotic cattle-herding ancestors, was henotheistic. They believed in a supreme Creator who was served by lesser "gods" or assisting divine powers. The deification of righteous rulers followed logically from the idea that divinely appointed powers on earth were also lesser gods (Allohi in Arabic and Hausa, Elohiym in Hebrew).

The Hittites conceived of the cosmos as God's sacred pyramid or temple. Elevated sites were the preferred locations for their shrines and temples. These "high places" were fortified. Sometimes the names reflect the Nilotic peoples who founded them. Such is the case of the Horite shrine on Mt. Silpius overlooking the Orontes (Draco) in Turkey. This ancient site was called Meroe.

The high elevations made it possible for the priests to offer prayers as the Sun rose and the light of God entered the temple from the east. This practice is reflected at the Horite temple of Nekhen, dating to BC 3500. As the Sun set, God left the temple toward the west. Rulers were buried in pyramids with the hope that they would rise with the Sun and lead their people in procession to immortality. St. Paul refers to this belief when he writes about how Christ rose from the grave, leading captives in his train. (Ephesians 4:7-9)

This is the symbolism of the dung beetle (sand scarab), which comes out of the sand when the Sun rises and returns to the sand as night approaches. The daily cycle follows the pattern of the Sun's journey and life after death. The female beetle lays her eggs in the sand and when the eggs hatch, she gives her body to be eaten by her newborn young (cf. Jesus' words, "This is my Body given for you...").

The Sun and the scarab spoke to the ancient Horites of their deity, HR (Horus). He was regarded, with his father Ra, as the fixer of boundaries. Horos refers to the boundaries of an area, or a landmark, or a term. From horos come the English words hour, horizon and horoscope. The Indo-European root for year is yeHr-, yet another reference to Horus. The association of Horus with the horizon is seen in the word Har-ma-khet, meaning Horus of the Horizon. Today the word horoscope connotes astrology, but the word originally meant "observer/watcher of the hours/times."

A Binary Worldview

In Hittite religion, the Sun represented the male principle and the moon (the lesser, refulgent light) represented the female principle (Heb: hokma, Gr: sophia). The sun was the symbol of the Creator who ruled the heavens and the solar arc represents the Creator's daily journey.

The sun and moon represent a binary set, and in their binary worldview preference for the sun was not an arbitrary preference, but rather, it was based on astronomical observation. The sun is to the moon what the male is to the female, superior in size and strength. This is characteristic of the binary worldview of the Horite Habiru, a worldview that is quite distinct from the dualistic worldview that comes to dominate the region after the Axial Age.

In the binary worldview one entity in the binary set is observed to be superior in some way to its opposite. This is expressed in Genesis 1:16: "God made the two great lights: the greater to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night." In a dualistic worldview the entities in the binary set are regarded as equal (ying-yang). The Sun was associated with masculine virtues because solar rays were believed to inseminate the earth over which the sun has dominion. The moon, as the sun's celestial companion, was associated with feminine virtues. Egyptian queens painted themselves white before they appeared in public, whereas their husbands sought skin darkened by the Sun (see image above). Doubtless, the ancients had observed the moon's influence on the woman's monthly cycle. This is reflected in living languages. In French, for example, “le moment de la lune”refers to menstruation.

Solar images abound in Hittite culture. These are usually works of metal found in the royal tombs or on the standards of rulers. One example is the long horns of bulls and deer, such as appear on this bronze standard found at Horoztepe (shown right).

The horns of the bull were a solar cradle that indicated divine appointment by overshadowing. Images of Hathor, the mother of Horus, show her overshadowed by the Sun resting in the long horns of a bull. Divine appointment of the ruler was indicated by the solar cradle Y at the beginning of the ruler's name: Yishmael, Yitzak, Yacob, Yeshua, etc. and by the ili/itti suffix in the Akkadian and Nilotic languages.

The March/April 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review shows a statue found at the principal temple in Hattusa. The mother of the king wears the Sun as a sign of divine appointment. This is a Hittite version of ancient Nilotic images of Hathor holding Horus on her lap (shown below)

The divine son was a ruler-priest associated with the heavens and thunder. He was regarded as the High God and was known throughout the ancient world by different names; Horus, Hromi Daba, Hesus, Grom Div, Crom Dubh. Dabog, Dagda, and Perun. This is the only European bull deity that is celebrated in the middle of the Leo sign and he is often referred to as "the Giving God."

The Giving God, sometimes called Hesus, was crucified on an oak tree. The hope of his third-day resurrection was enacted by the sowing of grain in the fields. In antiquity, this annual ritual was overseen by Horite priests who led the people in procession to the fields.

The Nilotic peoples and their dispersed descendents living in Anatolia viewed the high king as the Creator's earthly representative. This is clearly evident with King Hattusili I who claimed that he was divinely appointed to represent the will of the gods and that the prosperity of his people depended on his intercessions on their behalf. He moved his administrative center from Neša (near modern Kültepe) to Ḫattuša.

Related reading: The Urheimat of the Canaanite YAbraham and the HittitesA Tent for the Sun; The Sun and the Moon in Genesis; Theories of Change and Constancy; The High Places; Horned Altars and Horned Sacred Vessels; Fertility Images Among Abraham's Ancestors; The Religion of the Saka; Solar Imagery of the Proto-Gospel

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Where Ahmed Osman Goes Wrong

Alice C. Linsley

Ahmed Osman (Arabic: أحمد عثمان‎) is an Egyptian-born author and Egyptologist. Drawing on the Bible, the Qur'an, and ancient Egyptian texts, he has put forward theories about Moses and Jesus that are largely rejected by most scholars. His work has a following among the "quirky" which is discrediting to him as a scholar. Osman has much to offer, but he has ignored the anthropologically significant data of Genesis and Exodus. Though his ideas are interesting, many cannot be supported by the evidence of history, linguistics, anthropology, and molecular genetics.

Ahmed Osman
In his book "Christianity: An Ancient Egyptian Religion" Osman posits that the roots of Christianity are found in ancient Egypt. He bases this conclusion, in part, on the variants of the name Jesus which include Yeshua, Joshua, Issa, Esau and Esse. Osman focuses on the variant Esse and attempts to connect Jesus and his followers to the Essenes, a Jewish ascetic sect of the 2nd century BC–2nd century AD who lived in structured communities in Palestine and held property in common. Certainly, the Essenes were influenced by theological ideas found in ancient Egypt.

Both the Essenes and the Pharisees held expectation of Messiah as a king who would restore the Davidic dynasty and restore Israel's former glory. This hope is expressed in Psalm 110:1: The Lord (YHWH) said to my Lord (L'adoni): "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet. L'adoni is an address for a human master. The Essenes believed that master was David. Their view of Messiah was as a political agent who would fulfill their nationalistic and spiritual hopes. Probably this is why Jesus avoided using the word "Messiah" when speaking of himself. He told Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world. This world is passing away. His kingdom is eternal. "Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations." Daniel 7:14 and Psalm 145:13

An eternal kingdom requires an immortal King. That is why Christians maintain that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate proof of his identity as the long-awaited Son of God. Jesus' conception in the Virgin's womb by divine overshadowing is another proof of his identity. The angel explained to Mary: "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God."(Luke 1:35)

The oldest of these variants is likely Yeshua as it has the initial Y indicating divine appointment by overshadowing. This idea is found among Abraham's Proto-Saharan cattle-herding ancestors dating to at least 3500 BC. The Y depicted the long cattle horns that were worn as a solar crown. This Y mark appears in the names of many Horite Habiru/Hebrew rulers: Yaqtan (Joktan); Yishmael (Ishmael); Yishbak; Yitzak (Isaac); Yacob (Jacob); Yosef (Joseph); Yetro (Jethro); Yeshai (Jesse) and Yeshua (Joshua/Jesus).

However, the roots of Messianic expectation can be traced to one of the oldest known Horite temple at Nekhen (Sudan), a site of veneration of Horus that predates the first Egyptian dynasties. Discoveries at Nekhen continue to push back the dating of early civilizations. In May 2014, Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim announced the discovery of a Pre-Dynastic tomb at Nekhen (Hierakonpolis)
that dates to about 500 years before King Narmer and the 1st Dynasty.

Nekhen is called the Falcon City as the falcon was one of the totems of Horus, the son of Ra. The Egyptian hr means "the one on high" and is a reference to the falcon that soars in the heavens. In the Coffin Texts, Horus claims, "I have brought the ways of eternity to the twilight of the morning.  I am unique in my flight." (Passage 148)

Nekhen was a large city with an estimated population of 20,000. It had markets, breweries and a large fishing industry. The city stretched nearly 3 miles along the Nile floodplain. Votive offerings at the Nekhen temple were ten times larger than the normal mace heads and bowls found elsewhere, suggesting that this was a very prestigious shrine. Horite priests placed invocations to Horus at the summit of the fortress as the sun rose.

The solar arc signified the rising of Horus from death to life. He rose as a lamb and set in mature strength as a ram. This conception is the background story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. The expectation that the Righteous Son would not remain in the grave is expressed in Psalm 16:10: For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Horus of Nekhen
Renée Friedman, who has direct knowledge of the excavations at Nekhenhas written that the "evidence of industrial production, temples, masks, mummies, and funerary architecture as early as 3500 B.C. is placing Nekhen at the forefront of traditions and practices that would come to typify Egyptian culture centuries later.

Osman on Moses, Monotheism, and the Ten Commandments

In his book The Hebrew Pharaohs of Egypt, Osman puts forth the theory that Moses and the Pharaoh Akhenaten are the same historical person. He writes that Moses “abandoned traditional Egyptian polytheism and introduced a monotheistic worship centered on the Aten… [and] erected his new temples open to the air facing eastward; in the same way as the orientation of the Heliopolis.”

Heliopolis is Biblical On (Iunu), an Annu shrine city. Osman does not seem to be aware of the Annu and their religious practices. Plato, who studied under a Horite priest of Heliopolis for thirteen years, wrote "Tell me of the God of On, which was, is and shall be." Heliopolis was the geodetic center of Egypt. The pyramid triads at Giza, Abusir and Saqqara were aligned to the obelisk at On. Baalbek (Heliopolis) in Lebanon also aligned to On.

Osman makes assumptions that should be questioned. He assumes that ancient Egyptian religion was polytheistic. However, the more we learn about the ancient Egyptians the more it appears that their religion is not a true example of polytheism. From pre-dynastic times there was only one Creator though he was identified by different names: YHWH, El, Amun, Amun-Re, Aten, Atum, Azu, Re, etc. This God has a son, Horus. The Father and the Son are inseparable and of one essence in the theology of Abraham's Horim. Horus knows the Father and the Father knows the Son. This is expressed in the Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts. In the priest's prayer to the King, he says, "Horus is a soul and he recognizes his father in you..." (Utterance 423)

While "gods" are mentioned in the Egyptian texts and in the Bible, both maintain that the One God is above all other gods. In the Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts this is explicit. In a prayer addressed to the Purified Horus of the East it is said, "For you are he who oversees the gods, There is no god who oversees you!" (Utterance 573)

Horus is the bread offered to mortals. Consider this from the Pyramid Texts, mortuary texts dating from the beginning of the 4th dynasty: "O Hunger, do not come for me; go to the Abyss, depart to the flood! I am satisfied, I am not hungry because of this kmhw-bread of Horus which I have eaten." (Utterance 338) The Egyptian word km means to bring to an end, to complete, or fulfill, and hw refers to the temple or mansion at the end of the water above. Genesis speaks of this: God made the vault [expanse above] and separated the water under the vault from the water above it (Genesis 1:7).

It appears that the "kmhw-bread of Horus" is what the Church Fathers call "the bread of immortality." Concerning himself, Jesus said that "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:53-54).

Osman assumes that Moses was a monotheist, which is incorrect. Moses and his Horite Habiru ancestors were henotheists, that is, they believed in one supreme uncreated Creator who is served by lesser created divine powers such as angels. Angelic or celestial beings were often portrayed as birds. Henotheism is much closer to monotheism than to polytheism.

The Creator's emblem was the Sun by which the Creator gives life to the world. The Sun was also called "Bull of bulls" because it inseminates the Earth. Consider this prayer from the Pyramid Texts: "Hail to you, Bull of bulls, when you arise!... As for my corpse, it is rejuvenated." (Utterance 336) This God has the power to give life to the dead.

The Creator overshadows those He appoints. Divine appointment applied to rulers and to the Woman (Gen. 3:15) who was to conceive the divine Seed or the Si-Re, "Son" of Re. Jesus refers to himself as the Seed in John 12:24. He tells his disciples that he is going to Jerusalem to die and when they object, he explains: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."

Osman notes that the Ten Commandments is clearly influenced by earlier Nilotic writings, such as Spell/Prayer 125 in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. He is correct in this. However, a much more significant influence is the Code of Ani which dates to about 2500 BC. There also is evidence of influence from the Law of Tehut which dates to about 3200 BC.

Portions of the Psalms are also found in earlier Nilotic writings. This should not surprise us since Abraham's Habiru ancestors came from the Nile Valley. The prayers of ascension in the Pyramid Texts and the Psalms of Ascent have much in common.

There are many parallels between the Psalms and the ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts, a collection of funerary prayers written on coffins beginning in the First Intermediate Period. Consider this poetic depiction of the soaring Horus from the Coffin Texts (Passage 148):
"I am Horus, the great Falcon upon the ramparts of the house of him of the hidden name. My flight has reached the horizon. I have passed by the gods of Nut. I have gone further than the gods of old. Even the most ancient bird could not equal my very first flight. I have removed my place beyond the powers of Set, the foe of my father Osiris. No other god could do what I have done. I have brought the ways of eternity to the twilight of the morning. I am unique in my flight. My wrath will be turned against the enemy of my father Osiris and I will put him beneath my feet in my name of 'Red Cloak'." 

Here we find a Messianic reference that appears in Psalm 110: The Lord says to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet."

Biblical References to Horus and the Horites

Horus and the Horites are referenced throughout the Bible. The Horite rulers of Edom are listed in Genesis 36. Among them are Seir, Esau the Elder, Esau the Younger, Zibeon, Ezer, and Uz.

Biblical persons with Horus names include Hur, Moses's brother-in-law, and Aaron, Moses's brother. Aaron in Arabic is Harun.

In 1 Chronicles 7:36 we find the Horus name Har-nepher: "The sons of Zophah: Suah, Harnepher, Shual, Beri, Imrah..." Har-nepher (HR-ntr/ntjr) means Horus is King/God. The Virgin Mary's name reveals her Horite ancestry. She is Miriam Daughter of Joachim Son of P-ntjr Priests of Nathan of Bethlehem. From predynastic times, ntjr designated the king. It is likely that p-ntjr means "King's priest" or is a reference to a member of the Horite ruler-priest caste.

Joseph's family lived in Nazareth, the home of the eighteenth division of priests. This division was called "Happizzez" (1 Chronicles 24:15). The word happi is of Egyptian origin and designates the Nile River.

I Chronicles 4:4 names Hur/Hor as a "father" of Bethlehem, and 1 Chronicles 2:54 names Salmon, the husband of Rahab of Jericho, is called a "father" of Bethlehem. Mount Hor (Numbers 20:22-29) is near Petra in Edom. Edom was Horite territory.