Socrates was highlighted and brought to public view beyond the territory in which he lived by two persons, one was Plato and the other one was Xenophon.
Plato is read well, whereas Xenophon is not read much for reasons more than the fact that he did not have an illustrious disciple like Aristotle.
Xenophon is supposed to have been turnpiked by Socrates and asked: How men are made virtuous?
When Xenophon pleaded ignorance, much as the Biblical command of Jesus to Matthew at the customs, is supposed to have stated: FOLLOW ME & LEARN‼️
This Xenophon became Socrates’ follower and wrote many books, which have mostly survived and the one book called Apology deals with the trial of Socrates and the defence.
The interesting part of all this is that Xenophon being the head of 10,000 men of the mercenary band, had gone on a war and was actually absent from Athens at the time of the trial and execution of Socrates. Yet, what Xenophon wrote of Socrates, is accepted by historians as true.
The point I am labouring at is that one need NOT BE A WITNESS to the events to gather facts from those who were present at the scene and present those facts as History. Therefore on a comparative basis, much of the History wouldn’t measure up to the touchstone of historicity if the same yardstick which is applied to Jesus were to be applied to those historical figures.
Like Plato and Xenophon to Socrates, the persons who were in a position to write about Jesus were John and the other 10 disciples who survived the crucifixion. But it was not any of these who brought out the teachings of Jesus as much as the Evangelist Paul. An erudite Jew, with a Roman citizenship. This Paul of Tarsus, earlier called Saul, wrote on Jesus and his teachings by the mid fist century of the Common Era. The evangelism of Paul made enclaves of Christianity in various cities of Greece and the Asia Minor. That is History. A record not disputed. Paul had not met Jesus while Jesus was in the flesh, however Paul says that Jesus appeared to him. This is almost a few years after Jesus’ crucifixion, if we take that as a fact, then Pontius Pilate, who as per historical records was the Roman Prefect in-charge of Judaea executing the functions on behalf of the Roman emperor, was contemporaneous to Jesus historically.
But why was not Jesus’ name not mentioned in the records?
I believe that not only the Roman Prefect was not interested in perpetuating the status of persons who could be a threat to the the Roman Empire; even the Jewish Religious heads were against the memory of Jesus, consequently all records must have been destroyed so as to gloss over the empty tomb issue.
Further, looking at Jesus from the synoptic Gospels, Jesus was then a popular local hero shuttling between Galilee and Judaea, at variance with the established Jewish faith and its informal custodians like the Pharisees and the Scribes and it wouldn’t have been anybody’s case to glorify his deeds in the flesh or to perpetuate the memory of Jesus. In fact the Jews then being under the Roman vassalage, the local authorities were interested in maintaining status quo lest a worse fate befall them. Therefore, to look for contemporary references either in the Roman history or the Jewish history wouldn’t be of much avail.
At least one and a half decade had passed before Paul starts his epistolary venture, before the Gospel writer Mark wrote his Gospel.
Therefore the forerunner to the Gospels were those 13 epistles written by Paul the evangelist to the various branches he had established around Greece and Asia Minor. These pockets of Christian Faith coagulated into the Church. These are facts.
I’d like to excerpt Schopenhauer here from his essay WISDOM OF LIFE:
“We can thus understand how it is that the vainest people in the world are always talking about la gloire, with the most implicit faith in it as a stimulus to great actions and great works. But there can he no doubt that fame is something secondary in its character, a mere echo or reflection—as it were, a shadow or symptom—of merit: and, in any case, what excites admiration must be of more value than the admiration itself. The truth is that a man is made happy, not by fame, but by that which brings him fame, by his merits, or to speak more correctly, by the disposition and capacity from which his merits proceed, whether they be moral or intellectual. The best side of a man’s nature must of necessity be more important for him than for anyone else: the reflection of it, the opinion which exists in the heads of others, is a matter that can affect him only in a very subordinate degree. He who deserves fame without getting it possesses by far the more important element of happiness, which should console him for the loss of the other. It is not that a man is thought to be great by masses of incompetent and often infatuated people, but that he really is great, which should move us to envy his position; and his happiness lies, not in the fact that posterity will hear of him, but that he is the creator of thoughts worthy to be treasured up and studied for hundreds of years.
Therefore, it was the content of Jesus’ teachings which Paul gathered from the Apostles which form the bulk of his exhortations to those pockets of Christianity which Paul established, which formed the kernel and substance of Jesus’ sayings and lent to the appeal and coagulation of the movement called the Church at Antioch.
In the case of Jesus the man, the man Jesus died and His ideas sprouted and spread. Whether he was crucified, buried and resurrected could be a matter of faith but that the Faith led to the discovery of tracing those teachings to Jesus, which is discovery of a fact from an Idea.
That atoms existed was an Idea even before it was discovered and proved and its structure hypothesised though chemistry. Likewise, Jesus was a discovery and that discovery is a fact that its origins are not concentrated at one point does not take away the fact that it was historical.
If Imran Khan could rely on the revelations made by the Angel Gibrel to the Prophet Mohammed as ‘facts’ and implicitly believe in those facts as historical, he should at least concede to the fact that Jesus, Isa Nabi, for him and refrain from questioning the Historicity of Jesus.
I may not agree with the belief that Jesus was merely a prophet, but Mr. Imran is bound to believe as a fact that Jesus was born, lived a Prophet and would return.
At least each man is to be judged by the same yardstick which he uses, for Jesus said:
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
(Matthew Chapter 7)
‘Did he know her?’ Son asked.
‘Not in the biblical sense’ the father said.
‘Then what is she MeTooing about?’ Son asked.
‘He wanted to know her – in the biblical sense’ the father answered.
‘So what’s wrong in the asking?’ The Son asked.
‘She felt that it was in that asking that her modesty was outraged!’ The father answered.
‘Outrage of modesty in the asking?’ The Son lamented and added: “ Did she say No?”.
‘Outraged, not in the asking, but that he thought of her the type who could be asked.’ Said the father.
‘Now she has to prove to her paranoid spotlight syndrome of her youth that she didn’t mentally succumb later on to that asking, the answer for which was kept in abeyance then! – the father added.
An unuttered NO of the youth, haunts her well past her youthful body‼️
There was this Captain of a ship which set sail from a port to another somewhere in the Middle East. On the way, a storm brewed and all the passengers, the crew and the Captain realised that their journey was in jeopardy and escaping with their Lives became their ONLY PRIORITY. Bad Times don’t support our pet theories and ideologies, consequently, the Captain of the ship issued an edict as follows:
So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.
The Shipmaster was the Captain of the ship proceeding to Tarshish from Joppa and the sleeper was Jonah, a Jewish Prophet, running away from the instructions of his God to proceed to Nineveh.
The Captain says: O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. The Captain’s personal beliefs notwithstanding chides the sleeping Jonah to call upon HIS GOD and doesn’t even ask the sleeping Jonah to identify his religion or the name of the God he worshipped.
The prayers sought was for the storm to subside but the answer came from Jonah, who felt penitent and told the Captain to throw him overboard. Sure enough the crew, Captain and the passengers threw Jonah out and sure enough the storm abated.
Well it is not uncommon to say that God had plans, rather other set of plans to deal with the errant Jonah. Doctrinally that ‘plan of God’ is odious to my ears and thought. God is God and Time is in His hands. God could do anything, so why plan? Plan is a forethought of a
possible future. When it is God who creates ‘future’, where would be the necessity of a Plan? Plan is an anthropomorphic idea laden with the deficiencies of human understanding. Why ascribe that to God?
God send a fish which swallows Jonah and he his transported to another location and he finally lands up in Nineveh.
The point of this blog is that, when absolute necessity arises in one’s life one may surrender to the will of God, whom he or she believes. But as a Captain of a ship, having the responsibility of the ship, the goods in the ship and the human lives involved it is the DUTY OF THE CAPTAIN not to ascertain the names of the gods those humans worship but to exhort every human in his ship to pray to HIS OWN GOD. That full-throated participative prayer is what a Captain is to exhort and hope for a relief.
The prayer was not answered in the way it was imagined. Till Jonah was offloaded, the storm did not subside. The proposal itself came from the person who was to suffer the consequences of his own proposal. That is how the prayers of those who called their own God’s was answered.
My best example for Secularism is the Captain of that ship caught in the storm with Jonah.
Getting human participation retaining their own beliefs is more important than proselytising humans in distress or cataloguing them during distress.
Like that Captain, leaders ought to shed the divisive distinguishing mapping of people and exhort them to give their best.
Some of the conflicts which have arisen between contemporaneous Prophets are interesting. I rely on the Prophets and prophecies exclusively from the Bible, not merely because I trust the Bible but because I don’t trust the way the Bible is being interpreted to suit the preacher’s priorities.
Week before last I had the opportunity of attending a service at King’s Temple, Hyderabad. The preacher, not only spoke on Tithes, but also caveated the listeners that one should Tithe only at the local church, which supports its members of the congregation and explicitly warned the congregation against contributing to the Tele-evangelists out of the Tithes. Understandably, Malachi 3:10 was pressed into service.
You may call me a forum shopping Christian, if you choose to. I would fain listen to a well read Osho on Christianity than listen to a ‘fire & brimstone’ doomsday preacher stirring up unsavoury anxieties to make the listeners submit to their agenda on their avowed ‘distributive infrastructure enabling’ programmes.
I believe, and firmly at that, that God given Liberty cannot be mindlessly squandered away at these exhortations which are neither consistent with the Bible nor with the teachings of Jesus.
Micaiah s/o Imlah and Zedekiah, the son of Chenaanah, stake it out in I Kings 22 chapter.
Zedekiah had mustered the support of 400 other prophets who had prophesied that if Ahab and Jehoshaphat went to war together against Syria to regain Ramoth-Gilead for Israel, Ahab along with the King of Judah Jehoshaphat would defeat the Syrians. But there is one lone voice against that prophecy by another Prophet Micaiah, who says that a ‘lying spirit’ had fallen upon the other 401 prophets and that Micaiah saw the Israelites ‘shepherdless’. The way these two prophets confront each other is dramatic and versified well:
24 But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the LORD from me to speak unto thee?
25 And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see in that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.
The issue raised was not that Zedekiah had become possessed by the ‘lying spirit‘ but how did the ‘Spirit of the Lord’ get into Micaiah? That was the question of Zedekiah. Zedekiah would that all the prophets were wrong so that the blame could be laid on the King or the people. But when the prophecies are contrary to each other, and there are two camps of Prophets with two contrary prophecies, the one who turns out to be right is likely to have an upper hand post, the event. This division cannot be countenanced by Prophets. They stand united or they rise united, but never fall. Here, by hindsight we know that Zedekiah fell.
Similar situation arose in Chapter 27 of Jeremiah, wherein Jeremiah prophesied thus:
8 And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the LORD, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.
9 Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon:
The interesting part of this prediction was that Zedekiah, probably a close relative of the reformer King Josiah, was the then ruler of Judah and probably wanted to become a sovereign and not continue to be a vassal King of the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar. At the same time he did not want to lose control over the king of Edom, the king of Moab, king of the Ammonites, king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, who had sent messengers to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah, either as bringers of tribute or for a conclave of the emissaries of vassal kings led by Zedekiah.
In any case the situation was not very appetising. Jeremiah makes it worse by bringing out a prophecy, which I am unable to digest.
The Almighty God makes a Jewish Prophet say that not only Nebuchadnezzar but his son and grandson would rule over their kingdom without any recourse for the Israelites to repent and gain remission for that remaining period. Has Jeremiah forgotten that Yahweh had commuted the sentence decreed on Hezekiah; has Jeremiah forgotten that Yahweh had given options to King David to choose a sentence out of three?
In the next chapter there is s counter Prophecy by Hananiah, which like the previous set of prophets, is equally dramatic:
10 Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck, and brake it.
11 And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years. And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.
12 Then the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the prophet, after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying,
13 Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron.
14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him: and I have given him the beasts of the field also.
15 Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie.
16 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD.
17 So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.
Quite curiously, Hananiah prophesies this in the fifth month of that year and dies after Jeremiah’s prophecy, in the seventh month of the same year.
Jeremiah, instead of extolling the mercies and long suffering nature of the Almighty is ‘prophesying’ that God had given the lands to Nebuchadnezzar, who in the meanwhile probably was erecting a big statue, said to be Nebuchadnezzar’s god, in Babylon, and busy decreeing that everyone should prostrate before that statue. Ridiculous. I am sure and believe that God knew what Nebuchadnezzar was doing back in Babylon when Jeremiah was making those prophecies.
I find this prophecy to be in tune with the Prophecy of Caiaphas in John 11 thus:
47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;
I find no difference between Jeremiah’s and Caiaphas’ prophecies. It was born out of expediency.
I believe in a God, who would confront me and make me go through deeds of penance either through a punishment, but never ever a God who would put the punisher above me and exalt him above me being a part of his flock.
Ezekiel 34 offers a better perspective on the goodness of God.
In any case, Jeremiah doesn’t measure up to the Prophets like Elijah, who not only withstood the might of Jezebel’s influence over Ahab but also exhorted the Israelites, in those trying times, to stick to Jehovah. Nor like John the Baptist, who resisted Herod.
Submitting to a political power that prospers, is one thing but to acquiesce to such political power doesn’t behove a Prophet. Jeremiah falls short and comes out as an expedient Prophet, who saw off his days of vassal-ship of Judah in comfort‼️ No wonder Jeremiah is called a ‘weeping prophet’ – helplessly Hopeless.
What could one expect of a contemporaneous Prophet like Jeremiah with the King Josiah, who was faultless but died in the hands of Neco, the Egyptian. Maybe his circumstances moulded him into a weeping prophet.
Me thinks that Jeremiah had been included in the canonical books of the Bible more because he supported the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar than the Egyptian Pharoahs, who went down in their quest for suzerainty over Canaan.
Unless Prophecies are written like minutes at the time of such utterances, it should be taken with a generous pinch of salt. It is even highly probable that after facts have stabilized, post facto writings could be passed off as fulfilled Prophecies, by the Baruchs and Boswells to enhance the image of their idols.
When one’s mind is infested with spiritual or temporal megalomania it may attract vain persons, who are seriously looking for someone to give them a direction. Such vain persons who lack the brakes of common sense, born out of liberal education, willingly believe those assertions powerfully made by those megalomaniacs.
Hitler’s assertions of superiority was neither tested in the touchstone of a large sample, nor did his assertions acknowledge exceptions. Those vain Germans who fell for that Austrian’s assertions took more than 45 years under the yoke of the victorious Allied powers. It is a pity that that generation of vain men who believed in the fake news of Aryan supremacy reached their graves with the yokes concocted from Nuremberg Trials onwards by the Allied thinktanks‼️
When personal Beliefs justify Facts, objectivity gets thrown out.
If a society is bred on Personal Beliefs, it becomes an excellent breeding ground for Lies.
When Lies get packaged as Truth, the Society which entertains and promotes such Truth, becomes unreliable on Facts and consequently unstable in its path.
#MeToo has set in motion such a possibility. Stale and unverifiable allegations without proofs have started crowding our newsfeed.
The reader is unable to dislodge from his mind, the sympathy the victim deserves, with any certainty of Facts, thus leaving the reader in a Limbo of equivocation.
Yet, videos of Suhel Seth publicly pinching/poking an awardee in the dais, justifies the necessity for such a platform.
I am with the Victims, but who is the Victim?
One of the two pet Christian notions of each generation is that that generation is the culmination of all discoveries and revelations on Christian theology. The Second notion is that the Second Coming of Christ would happen within their generation, for sure.
The first notion is erroneous and the second one could turn out to be false.
As regards the First notion, that notion is a good insulation against reading up the Christian theological material written over the ages, consequently it affords one to be puffed up with a sense of prophetic confidence – Elijah like, being emboldened to tell God that he was the only one who had not fallen to the coercive methods of Jezebel in Baal-ising Israel. But God, who in his en passant reply tells the mortal Elijah that he had reserved for himself 7000 men who had not bent their knees before Baal.
So one day, when my father was still alive, to emphasise the point that Jesus’ healing was conditional, I told him that Jesus always told those whom he had healed that they should SIN NO MORE.
He calmly said: Son read the Bible. Jesus has said that only twice, and both are reported only in the Gospel of John. One was to the woman who was caught in the very act of adultery, and the other was to the invalid who had lain in the vicinity of the pool at Bethesda, for a full 38 years.
I scurried to my Bible and read chapters 5 & 8 of the Gospel of John, and found that indeed to that woman and that invalid Jesus had said : Go and sin no more.
I asked my dad: Why did he say that only to these two, whereas the Bible has multiple instances of Jesus having healed many?
I am yet to recover from my Dad’s reply: Son, these were the only two persons in the whole New Testament who NEVER SOUGHT RELIEF FROM JESUS. ONE WAS RECONCILED TO THE FACT THAT SHE WAS AN ADULTERER, AND THE OTHER THOUGHT THAT THE ONLY WAY TO GET HEALED WAS TO BE THE FIRST TO GET INTO THE POOL AFTER THE MOVING OF THE WATERS‼️
These two persons did not ask Jesus for relief, not did anyone else intercede in their behalf, in fact they both were resigned to their condition; one as a sinner deserving being stoned in public; the other one, stuck in the formalism of ‘being the first after moving of the waters’. They neither thought that they deserved relief nor did they believe that there was an option outside their own judgement and knowledge.
These persons when they obtained their relief unsought, had to be intimated not of repentance, but not committing sins in the future, as Jesus had already cleansed them of their past sins through Grace.
I was flabbergasted at his interpretation, I’ve never heard of any such interpretation of GO AND SIN NO MORE, neither before nor after.
I believe that every generation is intimated through Discovery or Revelation from the Bible and to believe that ‘our generation’ is the culmination of all understanding of the Bible is downright erroneous.
As regards the second notion, Jesus’ warnings were aimed at an awareness of human consciousness to be prepared continually, without any backlogs of un-repented sins & unresolved spiritual issues, so that when the end comes, one could stand prepared before the seat of Judgement.
But Jesus’ ‘continual awareness’ and ‘constant doing’, have been hijacked through institutionalised anxiety, by stamping everyone of being perpetually guilty. The more the anxiety the more a man would believe that the end is near. Time hastens. If the end were to be near, then Death is the only option for him to consider. This idea of Death has to be interposed with a more redeeming idea of the Second Coming. But his own unworthiness would rule out him being ‘raptured’. Now that Death has been relegated as a NO OPTION, he has to believe that the Second Coming SHALL HAPPEN WITHIN HIS OWN LIFETIME. Consequently, the Second Coming has become the mechanism for everyone to ignore Death, which could also happen before the Second Coming, yet institutionalised Belief that it SHALL happen before his death, keeps his attention fixed not in being “raptured” but with the anxiety of being LEFT BEHIND‼️
Secondly, it preempts the thought of Death. So why not believe that the Second Coming is imminent? Forgetting fully that no man, not even the Son knows the end of Time.
Instead of following Good and doing Good, PERPETUALLY, everyone is anxiety ridden to predict that end, that day of reckoning, and be prepared and flawless, for that one day!