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."


Adopted Son of God

Mark 1:11 in the Codex Sinaticus
Note the inserted verb making the sentence more regular.  

In the Greek Bible, also called the New Testament, there are several instances that indicate that Jesus became the Son of God at a certain point of his life, and actually, even after his death.

            That is exactly what we hear in the opening verses of the Epistle to the Romans. According to Romans 1:4 The Spirit of holiness appointed Jesus, through his resurrection to be the Son of God. 

            The same sentiment is shared a generation later in the Acts of Apostles 13:33. There it is a legendary rendition of the early Christian preaching - but the message is almost identical - In Jesus’ resurrection the Psalm too was fulfilled which says: You are my Son; today I have begotten you.'

            Furthermore in the Gospels we hear about at least two other occasions when Jesus is promoted and made into the Divine Son. One is on the mountain of Transfiguration which is associated with the beginning of his journey to Jerusalem. The other one, earliest in Jesus’ life, was at his baptism, when he came up from the water, saw the skies opened and heard the voice declaring him the Son of God.

            Each of these biblical instances references, or even directly quotes ancient formulas which made and inducted kings into their office. The Ancient Near East king became a king by being declared the Son of God (being adopted to the Sonship of God). And so in the New Testament we have at least three different moments when it was supposed to happen to Jesus - at the resurrection, at the transfiguration, or at his baptism.

            Yet this uncertainty about the time is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the fact that it is mentioned at all because from the early fourth century onward claiming that Jesus became the Son of God, regardless at what point of his life or afterlife, could cost people excommunication and eventually it might cost them even their very lives.

            So here we go, even on such an important matter as the sonship of God, the Bible itself contains what the later church would declare to be a grievous error. And that is something you might not know about the Bible.        


And let me say one more thing - all of this might sound academic, pedantic, perhaps dull - distant from our daily reality - what’s the big deal, and who cares? But knowing this and grappling with issues like this can protect our faith and our sanity. It is theological inoculation against all sorts of fanaticisms, fundamentalisms and dangerous religious manipulations. This is why I share it with you: to keep our faith informed and healthy.


This Sunday, the first in Lent, we will read one of those texts about Jesus’ baptism. However, we will not discuss this issue which the church made into heresy, but we will rather concentrate on Jesus’ liberating and hopeful message.


Evolution weekend

Every mid-February on the weekend closest to the birthday of Charles Darwin (the 12th of February) at Rutgers Church we celebrate the Evolution Sunday. We do it because we know and want to affirm that our Christian faith can coexist with evidence based science. We want to affirm that evolution is the intrinsic aspect of all that is alive. Thus even religious rituals and religion itself evolve and yes, even God evolves as I have preached about it in past years.
            This year the entire world is in the clutches of a deadly pandemic. We cannot avoid recognizing how evolution and evidence based science can directly inform and protect our lives and our health. The evolution is not only about the past – how plants, animals and humans came into existence – the evolution is an ongoing process and for instance, infections are evolving right before our eyes. Our understanding of this evolution is literally vital for all of us. Or taken from an opposite angle - any denial of evolution and of the evidence based science is a mortal threat to everyone.
            Interestingly, spread, development and evolution of biblical infectious illness of leprosy can lead us to a better understanding of the Bible and of our faith. It has been recognized for some time that the biblical leprosy was not fully identical with the Hansen Disease (modern scientific name for leprosy). At the same time modern DNA typing and anthropological and historical research of this disease can greatly contribute to our understanding of the Bible and the ancient sources of our faith.

            You can join us this Friday at 6 pm for a documentary and discussion of the evolution of illnesses and on Sunday at 11 for worship and celebration Charles Darwin and beneficial coexistence of science and faith, faith and science. 


Not a Lunacy

The biblical message is quite unequivocal and resolute: 
       When you look up to the heavens and see
       the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven,
       do not be led astray and bow down to them and serve them.
 (Deuteronomy 4:19)
Worship of heavenly bodies and any astrology were forbidden.
But then the prophet Isaiah (40:26) takes us in an exactly opposite direction:

       Lift up your eyes on high and see.
       Who created all of that?
      The one who brings out the host (of stars) in full number,
      calling them all by name;
      because of his great strength and mighty power,
      not a single one is missing.

On the surface it all looks quite orthodox. It looks just like a lovely celebration of the Creator of the splendid and awesome night sky. No problem, no conflict there, until .... Until we realize that the prophet describes biblical god with well known attributes of the Moon god - Yarikh (also transliterated as Yarih, Jarich or Jarikh).
            Behind the prophet’s words was the mythical image of the Moon god leading out each evening the flock of stars like a shepherd - that would be the peaceful version of that mythical image - or like a king leading his heavenly army to war - that would be a more bellicose image.
            And so there is no doubt, Isaiah is not the only instance in the Bible quoting this old myth. The same mythical image appears also in Psalm 147:

            The LORD determines the number of the stars;
            God calls all of them out by their names.

In Isaiah or in the Psalm the Moon God Yarikh is never mentioned by name, but YHWH is eloquently described as the moon god. And that is not a lunacy. There clearly was a time when the Hebrew god was merged and fused with the Moon god Yarikh and took over many of his attributes and functions. And this Biblical fusion of biblical god YHWH with the Moon god Yarikh is something you might not know about the Bible!

This Sunday we will observe what it might mean for our faith. Not a lunacy! But rather we can draw inspiration from our predecessors and ancestors, take it as encouragement to seek justice in our own turbulent times, and draw encouragement and hope for the future generations.