About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Baptised to Re-Occupy the Land

What do you do when you see the land wounded, or people being forced from their homes which are then left to turn into ruins? What do you do when you see people losing their livelihoods, and becoming unemployed and destitute? What do you do when people are held hostage by their mortgage and loan holders? What do you do when the tax system is set up to burden poor people while the big owners are laughing all the way to the bank? What do you do when institutions which were supposed to alleviate social and personal hardships are not doing it? 
       You go and re-occupy the land! That is what John the Baptist did, together with many other prophets and popular leaders of his time. We will be talking about it this Sunday. They knew that their land, the Promised Land, was like a garden, able to sustain all the people. They knew that there was enough food for everyone. They knew that society, and the political as well as the religious systems, were supposed to function differently; they knew it from Moses and from the Prophets. They felt that it was high time for a new beginning, a new Exodus, for a new Crossing of the Jordan river, a new reclaiming of the Promised Land. And so they did it. They went to the wilderness, they went to the Jordan, they tried to return to their cities. They attempted to recapture the divine dream. 
       These are the origins of our baptismal practice. Baptism was not primarily personal or spiritual hygiene, as it was often (mis)represented! At its core was this broader and deep-seated religious, political and societal longing for a new beginning. A longing for a new start which would be fresh and just! In baptism we are sent to reoccupy the land, to reclaim the life for ourselves and for our God, to recapture the radical divine dream. And that is prescribed to us this Sunday in our lectionary reading from the Gospel of Mark (Mark 1:2-8).
Friday Message from Rutgers Church 2011-12-02 
Popular movements reenacting the Exodus and the Joshua’s occupation of the Promised Land
according to Josephus Flavius writings Bellum Iudaicum – “The Jewish War”, and Antiquitates Judaicae – “The Antiquities of the Jews.” With few characteristic short quotations.

36 C.E. The Samaritan prophet who promised to lead people to the treasure of Moses on mount Gerizim. Killed and dispersed by Pilate at the end of his rule. (Antiquitates 18.85-87)

Between 44-46 C.E. Theudas lead people to Jordan River and promised to divide its stream like Joshua. “Now when Fadus was procurator of Judea, a certain pretender named Theudas persuaded the greater part of the mob to take up their possessions and follow him to the Jordan River. For he told them that he was a prophet and that at his command he could divide the river, providing them with easy passage. Saying these things, he deceived many. Fadus, however, did not permit them to take advantage of the madness, but sent a squadron of cavalry against them, which falling upon them unexpectedly killed many and took many alive. Capturing Theudas, they cut off his head and displayed it in Jerusalem. (Antiquitates 20.97-98)

52-58 C.E. “Deceivers and imposters, pretending to be under divine inspiration and fomenting upheavals, persuaded the multitude to madness and led them out into the desert, as if there God would show them signs of liberation. Against these Felix - for he supposed it to be the beginning of insurrection - having sent cavalry and armed infantry, destroyed a great multitude.” Later a certain Egyptian prophet (understand an Egyptian Jew) brought many to Mount of Olives and wanted to take Jerusalem by force promising signs of toppled city walls. Felix killed 400 followers and dispersed the rest of them. (Antiquitates 20.167-68 and 169-170 paralleled in Bellum 2.259-260 and 161-263)

59-62 C.E. Anonymous impostor under Festus promised salvation and rest from hard times taking them to the wilderness where they were destroyed. (Antiquitates 20.188)

Around 71 C.E.  In Libya Jonathan the Jewish refugee in Cyrene seduced people to wilderness preparing them for exodus. Catullus, local Roman governor, sent cavalry and dispersed them. (Bellum 7.437-40)

No comments: