• Cracked Pot Archaeology Comments Off on “Noah’s Ark is (still) in Turkey” by Dan Eden

    by Gordon Franz

    An article by Dan Eden has been circulating on Facebook and the Internet entitled: “Noah’s Ark is (still) in Turkey” since the middle of December 2013. It advocates the Durupinar site discovered by Ron Wyatt on, or near, Agri Dagh, the (late) traditional Mount Ararat. This story has been passed it on as Gospel Truth! The simple answer to the question raised at the beginning of this article: “Why is this not a BIG story?” is because the story is BOGUS and there is NO TRUTH to the article.

    Ron Wyatt’s side-kick on his Durupinar expedition was David Fasold. Toward the end of Fasold’s life he co-authored an article with Lorence Collins that was published in a peer-reviewed scientific publication called the “Journal of Geoscience Education” (1996, vol. 44, pages 439-444). The article was entitled: “Bogus ‘Noah’s Ark’ from Turkey Exposed as a Common Geologic Structure.” The article can be obtained from JSTOR and perhaps can be found elsewhere on the Internet. The article is excellent and the title summarizes the issue very well. The discovery is BOGUS, a geological formation, and NOT Noah’s Ark.

    The geologist on Wyatt’s team, a Christian and a young earth creationist, also came to the same conclusion. His information was written up and passed on to the Turkish Department of Antiquities and is summarized in an article by Dr. Andrew Snelling of Answers in Genesis. The link to his excellent article is here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cm/v14/n4/special-report-amazing-ark-expose

    Ron Wyatt was a Seventh Day Adventist (SDA). When SDA people read something like this or see one of Wyatt’s videos on the subject, they ask the archaeologists at the Siegfried H. Horn Archaeological Museum at Andrews University, a SDA institution with a very reputable archaeology program, about Wyatt’s “discoveries.” The museum has a “Ron Wyatt packet” that includes various article debunking Wyatt’s so-called discoveries. The packet is sent to those who make inquiries about Wyatt and his “discoveries.” Their address is: Siegfried H. Horn Archaeological Museum, Institute of Archaeology, Andrews University, 9047 US 31, Berrien Springs, MI 49104-0990. The museum’s email is: [email protected]

    Two SDA brothers, Russell and Colin Standish, wrote an excellent expose of Ron Wyatt from an SDA perspective entitled: Holy Relics or Revelation. Recent Astounding Archaeological Claims Evaluated. It can be obtained from Hartland Publications, Box 1, Rapidan, VA 22733. The publisher’s phone number is: 1-800-774-3566. I highly recommend this expose of Wyatt. They did their homework and spoke the truth in love.

    Christians need to STOP passing along BOGUS reports concerning Noah’s Ark. This does not help the cause of Christ. This story, like a cracked pot, holds no water, especially the water from Noah’s Flood.

  • Cracked Pot Archaeology Comments Off on Where is Mount Sinai in Arabia (Galatians 4:25)?

    by Gordon Franz

    Introduction
    In Galatians 4:25, the Apostle Paul identifies Mount Sinai as being in Arabia. He writes: “For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar – for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children –“ (4:24-25 NKJV, emphasis GWF). The questions to be asked regarding this passage are:

    • “Where was Arabia in the 1st century AD, and what area did it cover, when the Apostle Paul wrote the book of Galatians?”
    • “Where would a Jewish person, living in Jerusalem in the 1st century AD, understand Arabia to be?”
    • “What was the Apostle Paul’s geographical understanding of the term Arabia?”

    The short answer is that in the days of the Apostle Paul the term “Arabia” included the Sinai Peninsula and did not correspond just to modern-day Saudi Arabia’s boundaries as some today mistakenly assert. The area of Saudi Arabia was one part of First Century Arabia, but not the whole of Arabia. Thus the Biblical Mount Sinai, located in the Sinai Peninsula, which in my opinion should be located at Jebel Sin-Bishar (Franz 2000: 112; Faiman 2000; Har-el 1983; Rasmussen 1989: 89-91), was in “Arabia.” The traditional Mount Sinai at Jebel Musa was also located in the Sinai in ancient “Arabia.” So Mount Sinai (either site) was in both the Sinai and in “Arabia,” which overlapped, and there is no disconnect with the Bible, ancient geography, or modern scholarship.

    Based on this verse in Galatians, some have insisted that the Apostle Paul is referring to Mount Sinai being in Saudi Arabia, and not in the Sinai. For example, Robert Cornuke, the president of the BASE Institute states:

    “It’s [Galatians 4:25] one of several Bible references plainly describing the location of Mount Sinai. It’s in Arabia. Not in Egypt. Not in the Sinai Peninsula. And how does the Bible define Arabia? In both the Old and New Testaments, Arabia has always been located south and east of Palestine, the area of present-day Saudi Arabia. The Sinai Peninsula, on the other hand, lies south and west of Palestine. The apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, informs us that Mount Sinai is in Saudi Arabia. Not Egypt!” (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 170-171; emphasis GWF).

    His associate, Larry Williams, basically says the same thing (1990: 70-71), as did Ron Wyatt, who also placed Mount Sinai at Jebel al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia (Wyatt 1994; Standish and Standish 1999: 195-200).

    A word of caution though, as we have already read, all the Bible actually says is that Mount Sinai is in Arabia, not Saudi Arabia. It is not wise to read into the text that which is not stated, or to simplistically interpret 21st century political boundaries as applicable to a 1st century Biblical text without any substantiation.

    Where was Arabia According to the Ancient Sources?
    Unfortunately no actual maps of Roman Arabia exist from the First Century AD, so we are limited to the accounts of the geographers, historians, and contemporary travelers. As one examines these accounts, it will be seen that the vast territory of Arabia goes from the Nile Delta in eastern Egypt and the Arabian Gulf (Red Sea – Gulf of Suez) on the west, all the way over to the Persian Gulf on the east. It goes from Damascus in the north, to the tip of Yemen in the south. Today, the territory of First Century Arabia, would cover the areas of eastern Egypt, including the Sinai Peninsula, southern Israel, Jordan, and parts of Syria and Iraq, all of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the Gulf States on the Persian Gulf. It is not limited to Saudi Arabia or the northwest quadrant of Saudi Arabia as Cornuke has stated.

    Moses
    Moses never uses the word “Arab” or “Arabia” at the time he wrote the Pentateuch. The Book of Exodus thus cannot be used to located “Arabia” which did not exist yet as a geographic term and so, of course, “Arabia” does not appear in that book of the Bible. The words “Arab” and “Arabia” appear later in the Bible (1 Kings 10:15; 2 Chron. 9:14; 17:11; 21:16; 22:1; 26:7; Neh. 2:19; 4:7; 6:1; Isa. 13:20; 21:13; Jer. 3:2; 25:24; Ezek. 27:21). So the Apostle Paul does not have a Mosaic use of the word “Arabia” in mind when he uses the word in Galatians 4:25 because “Arabia” did not exist in Moses’ day.

    Shalmaneser III
    The word “Arab” first appears in an extra-Biblical inscription from a monolith found at Kurkh from the time of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (853 BC). It describes the coalition of armies led by the rulers of Damascus, Hamath, Israel, and “Gindibu’ the Arab and his 1,000 camels” that battled against Shalmaneser III at Qarqar (Eph’al 1982:21). Throughout the Assyrian period, various Assyrian kings describe the activities of the Arabs, or desert nomads, in their inscriptions (Eph’al 1982:21-59).

    Herodotus
    The first time the word “Arabia” is used as a term for a designated geographical area is in the mid-fifth century BC by the famous Greek historian and traveler, Herodotus (ca. 450 BC). He traveled to Egypt and wrote about his trip in his book, The Persian Wars.

    In his monumental work on ancient Arabs, Dr. Israel Eph’al of Tel Aviv University, points out that:

    “Herodotus, an important source for the demography of the mid-5th century B.C. Egypt and Sinai peninsula, calls the entire region east of the Nile and the Pelusian Branch, from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, ‘Arabia’, and its population ‘Arabs’ ([Herodotus, Persian Wars] 2:8, 15, 19, 30, 75, 124, 158 [LCL 1: 283, 291, 297, 309, 361-363, 425, 471]).

    The Gulf of Suez is called “the Arabian Sea” and the mountainous region [in Egypt] east of Heliopolis “the Arabian mountains” (2:8, 124 [LCL 1: 283, 425]). [In Egypt] Daphnae (Biblical Tahpanhes, present-day Defeneh) is described as a border town with a garrison “against the Arabs and the Syrians” (2: 30 [LCL 1: 309]), and the town of Patumus (biblical Pithom) near Bubastis at the approach to Wadi Thumilat as “city of Arabia” (2:158 [LCL 1: 471]).”

    (Eph’al 1982: 193-194, emphasis added; the Loeb Classical Library, LCL, bracketed references […] were added by GWF).

    Herodotus’ description would therefore include all of the Sinai Peninsula in Arabia of his day.

    In the mid-third century BC, when Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek (known as the Septuagint, abbreviated LXX) and followed the contemporary use of the word “Arabia” they referred to Goshen as “Goshen in Arabia” (Gen. 45:10; 46:34; LXX English translation). The Children of Israel resided in Goshen during their 400 years sojourn in Egypt, which is located on the eastern most branch of the Nile Delta connected through to the Wadi Thumilat canal. Though Goshen is part of Egypt (Gen. 37:6, 27; Ex. 9:26), the translators of the Septuagint obviously considered it and the Sinai Peninsula in between the Egyptian Goshen-in-Arabia and what is now modern Saudi Arabia as all part of ancient “Arabia,” of course. The Eastern Nile Delta land of Goshen was Arabia, the Sinai was Arabia, and (Saudi) Arabia was Arabia.

    Alexander the Great and the Arabs in Arabia
    Alexander the Great went to fight the Arabians in the area of the Anti Lebanon Mountains, also known as Mount Hermon (Dar 1988: 26-27). This is situated in modern day Lebanon and Syria. Alexander the Great fought the Arabs in Arabia, but he was never in modern-day Saudi Arabia.

    Flavius Arrianus, better known as Arrian wrote a book about AD 150 about the life of Alexander the Great. He gave great details about Alexander’s campaign against the Persians. After the Greeks had taken Sidon, Alexander was preparing to move on Tyre. Because of harassment by the Arabs: “Alexander marched some of the cavalry squadrons, the hypaspists, the Agrianians and the archers in the direction of Arabia to the mountain called Antilebanon. Here he stormed and destroyed some places and brought others to terms; in ten days he was back at Sidon” (Anabasis of Alexander 2.20.4; LCL 1:195).

    Plutarch (ca. AD 45-120), in his Parallel Lives of Alexander the Great (about AD 120), recounts the same incident by saying: “While the siege of the city [Tyre] was in progress, he made an expedition against the Arabians who dwelt in the neighborhood of Mount Antilibanus” (Alexander 24.6; LCL 7:293).

    Quintus Curtius (First Century AD) wrote a history of Alexander the Great and also recounts this same incident in these words: “On Mount Libanus also the peasants of the Arabians attacked the Macedonians when they were in disorder, killed about thirty, and took a smaller number of prisoners. This state of affairs compelled Alexander to divide his forces, and lest he should seem slow in besieging on city, he left Perdiccas and Craterus in charge of that work and himself went to Arabia with a light-armed band” (History of Alexander 4.2.24 – 4.3.2; LCL 1:185). After this short campaign Curtius informs us: “And Alexander, on returning from Arabia, found hardly any traces of so great a causeway” (History of Alexander 4.3.7; LCL 1:187).

    For these historians, the part of “Arabia” that Alexander the Great was fighting Arabs in, was in what is today Lebanon and Syria, not Saudi Arabia.

    Josephus
    Josephus, the First Century AD Jewish historian, lived in Jerusalem for a number of years before its destruction by the Romans in AD 70. He was well familiar with the topography of the city as well as its walls, towers, and monumental buildings. In fact, he was a contemporary of the Apostle Paul who would understand the term “Arabia” the same way Josephus understood it.

    In his Jewish Wars, written sometime between AD 75 and 79, Josephus describes the line of the third wall enclosing the northern part of Jerusalem. He mentions that there are ninety towers on this wall and the most important was the Psephinus Tower:

    “… which rose at its north-west angle and opposite to which Titus camped. For, being seventy cubits high [thirty-five meters], it affords from sunrise a prospect embracing both Arabia and the utmost limits of Hebrew territory as far as the [Mediterranean] sea, it was of octagonal form” (Josephus, Jewish Wars 5.159-160 [LCL 3: 247-249]; see also Wars 5.147 [LCL 3: 243], emphasis added, brackets material added by GWF).

    When Josephus uses the word “Arabia” in this passage, he is not referring to the area of Saudi Arabia, but to the Trans-Jordanian Plateau. If he stood on top of the Psephinus Tower, he would observe first-hand Arabia to the east, as well as the Mediterranean Sea through a saddle in the hills by present-day Abu Gosh to the northwest.

    When I was doing graduate work in archaeology and geography of the Bible at the Institute of Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem in the late 1970’s, I was able to climb onto the roof of a bank building, (with permission of the guard), to have a similar view. This bank was approximately 35 meters high and close to where the Psephinus Tower had been located. I observed the mountains of Transjordan to the east (ancient Arabia), but could not see the Mediterranean Sea because of the haze. I have archaeologist friends, however, who have seen the Mediterranean Sea from the top of this building on several occasions. One can also calculate the visibility with the aid of a good topographical map. Josephus wrote this passage from first-hand experience. For him, Arabia included what is today the Kingdom of Jordan.

    In the first century AD, the Nabatean kingdom, with its capital in Petra (today in southern Jordan), occupied part of what was known as “Arabia.” Josephus noted on several occasions that Petra was in Arabia (Wars 1.125, 159, 267; 4.454 [LCL 2:59, 75, 125; 3:135]). He also describes the extent of the Nabatean kingdom as from the Euphrates River to the Red Sea (Antiquities 1.220-221 [LCL 4:109]).

    Josephus gives a description of Lake Asphalatis, known today as “the Dead Sea,” in which he mentions that the “length of this lake is five hundred and eighty furlongs, measured in a line reaching to Zoara in Arabia” (Wars 4.482 [LCL 2:143], emphasis added). Zoara is the Biblical Zoar and is located in the southeastern portion of the Dead Sea (Gen. 13:10; 14:2, 8; 19:22, 23, 39; Deut. 43:3).

    Herod the Great fortified several sites on the border of his kingdom to keep an eye on the Nabateans in Arabia. One fortress was Machaerus (Voros 2012). It is situated on the east side of the Dead Sea because Herod understood how strategic the site was in “its proximity to Arabia, conveniently situated, as it was, with regards to that country, which it faces” (Josephus, Wars 7.172 [LCL 3:555], emphasis added). The territory of Arabia was fourteen kilometers to the south of Machaerus on the south side of the Arnon River.

    Another site that Herod the Great fortified was the Herodium, the only building project named after him. The fortress is located a few kilometers to the southeast of Bethlehem in the Judean Desert “on the Arabian frontier” (Josephus, Wars 1:419 [LCL 2:199], emphasis added). From the top of the Herodium, one today can get a splendid view of the territory of Arabia to the east of the Dead Sea, but one can not see Saudi Arabia from the top of the Herodium.

    Josephus describes the territory and borders of Perea to the east of the Jordan River. He states that:

    “Perea extends in length from Machaerus to Pella, in breath from Philadelphia to the Jordan [River]. The northern frontier is Pella, which we have just mentioned, the western frontier is the Jordan [River]; on the south it is bounded by the land of Moab, on the east by Arabia, Heshbonitis, Philadelphia, and Gerasa” (Josephus, Jewish Wars 3.46-47; [LCL 2:589]; brackets and emphasis added by GWF).

    Ancient Philadelphia is located under Ammon, the capital of the modern kingdom of Jordan.

    Josephus also mentions the southern border of Judea and states “it is marked by a village on the Arabian frontier, which the local Jews call Iardan” (Wars 3.51 [LCL 2:591], emphasis added). The village of Iardan has been tentatively identified with Arad in the Eastern Negev Basin [LCL 2:590, footnote d]. Arabia would include areas south of Judah, including the Beersheva Basin and the different wildernesses to the south of Beersheva, basically the southern part of Israel today.

    This brief survey of Jewish Wars by Josephus demonstrates the First Century understanding of the term Arabia. It included more than just the area of northwest Saudi Arabia. His understanding of the term included territory in modern-day Jordan and southern Israel, as well as the Sinai Peninsula, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and part of Iraq. The Apostle Paul would have understood the term in the same way.

    Strabo
    Strabo, a Greek geographer from Pontus on the Black Sea (64 BC to ca. AD 25), describes the territory of Arabia in his books on the geography and nature of the ancient world. In his Geography, he states:

    “The whole of Arabia Felix (… is bounded by the whole extent of the Arabian Gulf [Red Sea] and by the Persian Gulf). And all the country occupied by the Tent-dwellers and by the Sheikh-governed tribes (which reaches to the Euphrates [River] and Syria)” (Geography 2.5.32 [LCL 1:499]; emphasis added, bracketed material added by GWF).

    Elsewhere in his writings, Strabo delineates the eastern border of Arabia as the Persian Gulf (Geography 16.4.2 [LCL 7:307]).

    Strabo, who visited Egypt during his lifetime, understood the geography of that area quite well and wrote about it in detail. For him, the western border of Arabia began at the east side of Egypt’s Nile River and the Arabian Gulf (today the Gulf of Suez) and went eastward, thus placing the Sinai Peninsula in first century Arabia (Geography 16:4:2; 17:1:21, 24-26, 30,31 [LCL 7: 309; 8: 71-79 85-87]).

    The Apostle Paul would have been familiar with the writings of Strabo and would concur with him that “Arabia” went from eastern Egypt, across the Sinai and the Arabian Peninsula, all the way to the Persian Gulf. This would clearly put the Sinai Peninsula within Arabia of Strabo’s day as well as the Apostle Paul’s day.

    Egeria
    Egeria, one of the early church mothers, travelled to the East between AD 381 and 384 and wrote a book about her pilgrimage. She visited Jebel Musa which she mistakenly, in my opinion, thought was Mount Sinai. She also visited the Land of Goshen (Wilkinson 1981: 91-103). She stayed at Clysma, the modern-day Suez City in eastern Egypt at the northern end of the Gulf of Suez, and from there went to visit the “city of Arabia” in Goshen in Egypt (Wilkinson 1981: 100). She wrote, “It gets its name from the region, which is called ‘the land of Arabia, the land of Goshen’, a region which, while it is a part of Egypt, is a great deal better than any of the rest” (Wilkinson 1981: 100-101, emphasis added). Egeria followed the Septuagint reading of Gen. 46:34 in her description of Goshen being in the Land of Arabia.

    The Conclusion of the Matter
    The ancient sources, both the contemporary and near-contemporary to the Apostle Paul, speak for themselves. When the Apostle Paul wrote that Mount Sinai was in Arabia, he was drawing on the contemporary understanding of the geographical location of “Arabia.” Ancient Arabia would include the territory from the Eastern Nile Delta and the Arabian Gulf (Red Sea – Gulf of Suez) across the Sinai Peninsula to the Persian Gulf. It would not be limited to just the northwest quadrant of Saudi Arabia as the proponents of Jebel al-Lawz would contend.

    Based on the above, the ancient historians and geographers differ with Mr. Cornuke’s recent statement that “Arabia has never been in the Sinai Peninsula when Paul wrote this [Gal. 4:25]” (August 8, 2012, AM session, Camp-of-the-Woods, Speculator, NY). Biblical and secular first century geography did include the Sinai Peninsula in “Arabia.” In summary, it seems that the Apostle Paul would have disagreed with Mr. Cornuke’s assertions about Mount Sinai never being in the Sinai Peninsula.

    Further Discussion
    For a more detailed, scholarly, discussion of the ancient sources and related issues, see: Bowerstock 1971; 1983; 1990; Donner 1986; MacAdam 1989; Montgomery 1934; Murphy-O’Connor 1993.

    For links to other critiques of Cornuke’s ideas, see:

    How Accurate are Bob Cornuke’s Claims?

    Bibliography

    Bowerstock, G. W.

    1971 A Report on Arabia Provincia. Journal of Roman Studies 61: 219-242.

    1983 Roman Arabia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.

    1990 The Three Arabias in Ptolemy’s Geography. Pp. 47-53 in Geographie Historique au Proche-Orient. Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

    Cornuke, Robert; and Halbrook, David

    2000 In Search of the Mountain of God. The Discovery of the Real Mt. Sinai. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman.

    Donner, Fred

    1986 Xenophon’s Arabia. Iraq 48: 1-14.

    Eph’al, Israel

    1982 The Ancient Arabs. Nomads on the Borders of the Fertile Cresent 9th-5th Centuries B.C. Jerusalem: Magnes; Leiden: E. J. Brill.

    Faiman, David

    2000 Digging Mount Sinai from the Bible. Bible and Spade 13/4: 115-118.

    Franz, Gordon
    2000 Is Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia? Bible and Spade 13/4: 101-113.

    Har-el, Menashe

    1983 The Sinai Journeys. The Route of the Exodus. San Diego, CA: Ridgefield.

    Herodotus

    1999 The Persian Wars. Books 1-2. Vol. 1. Trans. by A. D. Godley. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 117.

    Josephus

    1976 Jewish Wars. Books 1-3. Vol. 2. Trans. by H. Thackeray. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 203.

    1979 Jewish Wars. Books 4-7. Vol. 3. Trans. by H. Thackeray. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 210.

    1978 Antiquities of the Jews. Books 1-4. Vol. 4. Trans. by H. Thackeray. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 242.

    MacAdam, Henry

    1989 Strabo, Pliny the Elder and Ptolemy of Alexandria: Three Views of Ancient Arabia and Its Peoples. Pp. 289-220 in L’Arabie Preislamique et son Enviornnement Historique et Culturel. Edited by T. Fahd. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

    Montgomery, James

    1934 Arabia and the Bible. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania.

    Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome

    1993 Paul in Arabia. Catholic Biblical Quarterly 55/4: 732-737.

    Rasmussen, Carl

    1989 Zondervan NIV Atlas of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

    Standish, Russell; and Standish, Colin

    1999 Holy Relics or Revelation. Recent Astonishing Archaeological Claims Evaluated. Rapidan, VA: Hartland.

    Strabo

    1989 Geography. Books 1 and 2. Vol. 1. Trans. by H. Jones. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 49.

    1982 Geography. Book 17. Vol. 8. Trans. by H. Jones. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 267.

    Voros, Gyozo

    2012 Machaerus: Where Salome Danced and John the Baptist Was Beheaded. Biblical Archaeology Review 38/5: 30-41, 68.

    Wilkinson, John

    1981 Egeria’s Travels to the Holy Land. Revised edition. Jerusalem: Ariel; Warminster: Aris & Phillips.

    Williams, Larry

    1990 The Mountain of Moses. New York, NY: Wynwood.

    Wyatt, Mary Nell

    1994 Mt. Sinai. Privately published paper.

    About the author
    Gordon Franz is a Bible teacher who holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Biblical Seminary, SC. Since 1978, he has engaged in extensive research in Biblical archaeology and has participated in a number of excavations in and around Jerusalem, including Ketef Hinnom and Ramat Rachel; as well as the excavations at Lachish, Jezreel, Hazor, and Tel Zayit. He has taught the geography of the Bible and led field trips in Israel for the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, the Institute of Holy Land Studies, and the IBEX program of The Master’s College. He also co-teaches the Talbot School of Theology’s Bible Lands Program. Gordon is on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research.

  • Cracked Pot Archaeology Comments Off on MOUNT SULEIMAN, KING SOLOMON, AND NOAH’S ARK

    by Gordon Franz

    How many Mount Suleiman’s are their in the Middle East and are they named after King Solomon?

    Introduction
    Arch Bonnema, an “Ark in Iran” advocate and part of the team Bob Cornuke took to Iran to climb Mount Suleiman, northwest of Tehran, in June of 2006 opined where he thought Noah’s Ark landed. He commented in an interview: “And that mountain is Mt. Suleiman (Solomon), the only mountain in the entire Middle East with a Hebrew name” (Church 2010:6). This was information that he apparently got from Cornuke but did not bother checking out Cornuke’s facts.

    The Wrong Mount Suleiman
    In an article entitled “Noah’s Ark Discovered in Iran?” by Kate Ravilious on National Geographic News for July 5, 2006, it was reported that the BASE researchers used the Book of Genesis and other literary sources, when they journeyed to Iran in July 2005 in order to climb Mount Suliman for the first time. Ravilious explains: “They chose Mount Suleiman after reading the notes of the 19th-century British Explorer A. H. McMahan [sic]. In 1894, after climbing Mount Suleiman [sic], McMahan [sic] wrote in his journal [sic], ‘According to some, Noah’s ark alighted here after the deluge.’ McMahan [sic] also spoke of wood fragments from a shrine at the top of the mountain where unknown people had made pilgrimages to the site. ‘We found a shrine and wood fragments at 15,000 feet [4,570 meters] elevation, as described by McMahan [sic],’ Cornuke said.”
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/07/060705-noahs-ark_2.html

    Apparently the BASE researchers had the 1894 “journal” accounts by British explorer McMahon a year before their second trip to Mount Suleiman in the beginning of June, 2006 on which Arch Bonnema was a participate. Did they carefully read the “journal” account and was it a reliable guide for their trip?

    The BASE website claimed that a “British explorer in 1894 … confirm[s] local Iranians believe the Ark landed on Takht-i-Suleiman (east of Lake Urmiah); the British explorer claimed to see a wooden shrine.” [The section about Captain McMahon has since been removed from the BASE website].

    The British explorer was identified on the website and the National Geographic article as “A. H. McMahan [sic].” In fact, the individual being referred to is Captain A. H. McMahon, British Joint Commissioner of the Afghan-Baluchistan Boundary Commission [not McMahan, note the misspelling of his name and omission of his military rank and official government position]. The website goes on to state that Captain McMahon “noted in his journal in 1894 that he was the first European who had successfully climbed Takht-i-Suleiman.” In fact, Captain McMahon did not note this in his “journal” or diary, but rather, reported it in a published letter to The Geographical Journal, vol. 4, no. 5 (Nov. 1894), pp. 465-466. The article was entitled “Ascent of the Takht-i-Suliman.” [Note again the misspelling of this particular Mt. Suliman, the BASE website spelled it Suleiman and the Geographical Journal article spelled it Suliman]. The McMahon article was apparently posted on a Pakistani website in 2005 but has since been removed.

    Captain McMahon climbed Takht-i-Suliman in Baluchistan (modern Pakistan), not Iran, between June 28 – 30, 1891, with Major MacIvor and local guides (1894: 465). Takht-i-Suliman means “Solomon’s throne,” after a tradition that King Solomon married a woman from Hindustan named Balkia and upon their return to Israel on their flying throne, they stopped on this mountain so Balkia could get one last look at her native land. There is another mountain in Iran with the same name and a similar tradition, but a different wife.

    Upon closer investigation, there are some very clear discrepancies between Captain McMahon’s actual report and what the BASE Institute claimed on their website.

    First of all, the locations are different. Captain McMahon gives a detailed account of his ascent of Takht-i-Suliman as well as where he was when he corresponded with The Geographical Journal. [Note again, the website says “geographical journal”- small letters, not capital letters at the beginning of each word, and no italics to indicate it is a publication]. Captain McMahon wrote the letter to The Geographical Journal from his expedition camp and sent it via Fort Sandeman in Zhob, Baluchistan on August 8, 1894. Zhob, Baluchistan, is in present day Pakistan, nowhere near north-central Iran and BASE’s Mt Suleiman.

    In describing his ascent, McMahon states that Takht-i-Suliman has a sister peak called Kaisaghar (elevation 11,300 feet above sea level) and it is located in “the Suliman range of the north-west frontier of India” in the territory of Sheranis (1894: 465). The identification of this location should have raised red flags for any ark researcher: Baluchistan is not in, or near, Iran.

    Contrary to Bonnema’s assertion, there are at least four Mt. Suliman’s (spelled various ways) in the Middle East. There are three in Iran, one specifically called Takht-i-Suliman located about 80 miles southeast of Lake Urmiah, but not climbed by the BASE team. Another, called Mt. Suleiman (36 24’N 50 59’E) located about 300 miles east of Lake Urmiah, situated in the Elborz range, 55 miles northwest of Tehran, which the BASE team climbed and allegedly found Noah’s Ark. The third is located southwest of Hamadan in the region of Luristan. The fourth, the one that Captain McMahon climbed and described, is in present day Pakistan, about 40 miles east of Quetta (Pakistan), and about 1,360 miles / 2,200 kilometers eastward from Lake Urmiah.

    Second, the elevations are different. The top of Takht-i-Suliman in Baluchistan, now Pakistan, is about 11,100 feet above sea level and the shrine was lower down the slope. The BASE Institute reports that they spotted the Ark at 13,120 feet above sea level (although Ark Fever states the object of interest is at 12,500 feet, page 238, 244) and he found the shrine and wood fragments at the 15,000 feet elevation. There is about a 4,000 feet discrepancy between the shrines that needs to be explained! How is it possible to have spotted the ark and shrine both at altitudes several thousand feet higher than the mountain itself?

    It is safe to conclude from these discrepancies that the BASE team did not climb the same mountain as Captain McMahon, nor see the shrine the captain and major viewed. Captain McMahon’s article was not a reliable guide for the BASE trip because the reference to the landing site for Noah’s Ark was on a different Mount Suliman in an entirely different country (Pakistan), not the one climbed by the BASE team in Iran.

    Concluding Questions for Mr. Cornuke
    After the tentative announcement of the “discovery” of the “ark” in June 2006, I found the Geographical Journal article on the Internet and then Xeroxed a hard copy at the Columbia University library and sent it to Mr. Cornuke on June 23, 2006. Unbeknownst to me, the BASE researchers already had this article and used it more than a year before in order to determine Mount Suliman, northwest of Tehran, in Iran as their target. Perhaps Mr. Cornuke could explain to Ark researchers why the name of Captain McMahon was consistently misspelled. He had the proper spelling available in the copy of McMahon’s article. Why is Captain McMahon identified as an “explorer” and not a Captain in the British Army who was the official British Joint Commissioner of the Afghan-Baluchistan Boundary Commission? Why does Cornuke call it “notes” “in his journal” instead of a published letter in The Geographical Journal by Captain McMahon? I had given Mr. Cornuke the proper citation in my cover letter. Why did he not follow it?

    Bibliography

    Church, J. R., editor
    2010 Has Noah’s Ark Been Found at Last? The Evidence is Overwhelming! Prophecy in the News 30/6 (June): 3-7, 38.

    McMahon, Captain A. H.
    1894 “Ascent of the Takht-i-Suliman.” The Geographical Journal 4/5: 465-466.

    About the author
    Gordon Franz is a Bible teacher who holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Biblical Seminary, SC. Since 1978, he has engaged in extensive research in Biblical archaeology and has participated in a number of excavations in and around Jerusalem, including Ketef Hinnom and Ramat Rachel as well as the excavations at Lachish, Jezreel, Hazor, and Tel Zayit. He has taught the geography of the Bible and led field trips in Israel for the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, the Institute of Holy Land Studies, and the IBEX program of The Master’s College. He also co-teaches the Talbot School of Theology’s Bible Lands Program. Gordon is on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research.

  • Life of Christ Comments Off on THEY’RE BAAAAACK!: The American Atheists Christmas Billboard 2013

    by Gordon Franz

    Introduction
    During the Christmas season of 2010 there was a billboard in New Jersey on one of the approaches to the Lincoln Tunnel to New York City. It had three wise men riding their camels in the starlit night toward an open-sided shelter with a gabled thatched roof next to a couple of palm trees; a donkey was tied to the stall, a bight star overhead, and Mary and Joseph watching over the new-born Baby Jesus. Then I saw the words: “You KNOW it’s a Myth. This Season, Celebrate REASON!” It was signed by the American Atheists and said they were “Reasonable since 1963.” Well, they’re baaaack! This Christmas season the same sign have been spotted in Sacramento, California.

    “Come now, and let us REASON together,” says the LORD
    The atheists want us to celebrate REASON this season. The prophet Isaiah set forth God’s challenge to His wayward people Israel when he proclaimed: “’Come now, and let us REASON together,’ says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool’” (1:18). Just as God wanted to reason with His wayward people in the 8th century BC, so today, God welcomes the opportunity to reason with atheists in the 21st century AD. The Lord has not changed and He is still long-suffering and is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). That includes every member of the American Atheists!

    One of the ways God reasoned with His people was by predictive prophecy. Over 70 times the prophet Ezekiel, at the beginning of the 6th century BC, says that God gave predictive prophecy so that when the prophecies were fulfilled, the people, both Jews and Gentiles, may “know that I am the LORD.” Predictive prophecy was given because it demonstrates that the Lord Jesus is God who knows and reveals the future and is sovereignly acting in history. This might deflate the atheist’s ego because there is Someone greater than the human-centered atheist. It would also show that they would have to be accountable to Someone greater than themselves. Humbling thought!

    The events surrounding the birth of the Lord Jesus were foretold by the holy Hebrew prophets as they were borne along by the Holy Spirit hundreds of years before the Lord Jesus was born (2 Peter 1:19-21). The prophet Isaiah, who recorded that God wanted to reason with His people, gave some of the most powerful and profound prophecies about the Person and work of the Lord Jesus.

    King David was also a prophet and the Spirit of God took him beyond himself and his own experience when he composed Psalm 40 (Cf. Acts 2:29, 30; cf. Matt. 22:41-46). In verses 6-8, David sang: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. Then I said, ‘Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart’.” The Divine commentary on this passage, written a thousand years later, is found in Hebrews 10:1-18. The Spirit of God changed the 6th verse of the psalm and said: “But a body You have prepared for Me” (Heb. 10:5). Thus the Son, not David, is speaking to God the Father and said He would do the Father’s will. The Father prepared a body for His Son in the womb of Mary. Her conception was by the Holy Spirit.

    During the reign of King Ahaz, the prophet Isaiah challenged the king to test the Lord by asking for a sign. The king, with false piety, refused. Isaiah then turned to those in the royal court, including Prince Hezekiah, and announced a profound sign to the House of David: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call His name Immanuel. Curds and honey He shall eat [= His humanity], that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good [= His divinity]” (7:14). Matthew records the fulfillment of this sign when an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him that Mary will conceive the Lord Jesus by the Holy Spirit while she was a virgin. When he quotes Isaiah 7:14 from the Septuagint, he uses the Greek word parthenos which can only mean a virgin (1:20-23).

    There are actually three aspects to the nature of this Child in these verses. First, He would be virgin born. Second, He would have a humble beginning. And third, He would have a sinless nature, thus divine. The first part of verse 15 states: “Curds and honey He shall eat.” These are the foods of the poor, not a symbol of a royal diet. The sign to shepherds was that He would be born in poor circumstances (Luke 2:10-12), not royal surroundings. When Mary dedicated her first-born in the Temple, she offered two turtle doves, the offering of the poor (Luke 2:22-24; cf. Lev. 12:8). The wise men did not arrive until a year, to a year and a half after the birth of the Lord Jesus, before they presented Jesus with gold, frankincense and myrrh.

    Verse 15 goes on to say, “that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good.” In this passage Isaiah is pointing out the sinless nature of the Child. Unlike us (and Hezekiah and Isaiah’s children), who by nature are sinful human beings that choose evil and refuse the good (Rom. 1-3), this Child will have a sinless nature as demonstrated by the fact that He chooses good and refuses evil.

    Later, Isaiah would prophesy the dual nature of the Lord Jesus and His names. He would be fully God and fully Man. “For unto us a Child is born [= His humanity], Unto us a Son is given [= His divinity]; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6).

    J. A. Alexander, in his commentary on Isaiah (1981, vol. 1, page 134), so eloquently summarizes this verse: “These words are strikingly appropriate to Jesus Christ, as the promised child, emphatically born for us and given to us, as the Son of God and the Son of Man, as being wonderful in His person, work and sufferings; a counselor, prophet, authoritative teacher of the truth, a wise administrator of the church, and confidential adviser of the individual believer – a real man, and yet the Mighty God; eternal in His own existence, and the giver of eternal life to others; the great peace-maker between God and man, between Jew and gentile, the umpire between nations, the abolisher of war, and the giver of internal peace to all who being justified by faith have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).”

    A contemporary of Isaiah, the prophet Micah, would predict the place of the birth of the eternal Messiah: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (5:2 [5:1 Heb.]). There were three Bethlehems in the Land of Israel during the time of the prophet Micah. One was in the tribal territory of Zebulun (Josh. 19:15); another one was in Benjamin (Neh. 7:26); and the last in Judah (Josh. 15: 60 LXX). Micah singled out the tribal territory of Judah as the place where Messiah was to be born.

    When the wise men visited Jerusalem after the birth of the Lord Jesus they inquired “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” (Matt. 2:2). The paranoid schizophrenic King Herod heard this and was afraid, so inquired of the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah was to be born (2:3-4). They gave Herod the correct answer, Bethlehem of Judah, and even quoted the prophecy of Micah 5:2, yet they were oblivious to the Messiah because they did not act on their knowledge of Micah’s prediction in the Word of God!

    The reason the Messiah, the everlasting Ruler in Israel, was to be born in Bethlehem was because He was to be from the House and lineage of King David (Luke 2:4).

    The Son said, “Behold, I have come … to do Your will, O God”
    The Holy Spirit gives a divine commentary on Psalm 40 in the Book of Hebrews and explains the purpose that the Lord Jesus came to earth (10:1-18). He was to do the will of the Father and replace the sacrificial system instituted by Moses, which could only atone for (or cover) sins, but could never take away sins or make the sinner perfect.

    The Lord Jesus was a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, thus His death on the cross was an infinitely perfect sacrifice that paid for all the sins of all humanity, once and for all and it was never to be repeated. There was no more need for any sacrifices after that. After His bodily resurrection from the dead, He sat down at the right hand of the Father and is waiting till His enemies are made His footstool (10:9-13; cf. Ps. 110).

    The prophet Isaiah, looking down the corridors of time, saw the cross work of the Lord Jesus as well (Isa. 52:13-53:12). What this work would accomplish was the salvation of any or all who would put their trust in the Lord Jesus as their Savior. Isaiah writes: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (53:6). Isaiah elsewhere tells us that all our righteousness, all the best we can do, is as filthy rags in God’s sight (64:6).

    After David’s sin with Bathsheba, he confessed his sins before the Lord (Ps. 51), and trusted Him to forgive his sins. When David realizes that God had forgiven him, he rejoiced by singing: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit (Ps. 32:1-2).

    The way of salvation, a home in Heaven, the forgiveness of sins, and peace with God is open to all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. This invitation is as broad as “whosoever will may come” (even the American Atheists can come to Jesus), but narrow as Jesus’ statement: “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior? (Acts 4:12; 16:30).

    Jesus is the REASON for the Season!
    Perhaps Christians should put up billboards with this powerful and pointed response: “You KNOW He’s the Truth. This Season Celebrate the REASON for the Season – the LORD JESUS CHRIST!”

  • Profiles in Missions Comments Off on TITUS: Blessed Are the Peacemakers (and Administrators)

    by Gordon Franz

    Introduction
    As the Lord Jesus sat on a hillside over looking the Sea of Galilee, He instructed His disciples with some of the most profound words ever uttered by human beings (Matt. 5:1-7:29). He began His discourse by saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs in the Kingdom of Heaven” (5:3). He went on to say, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” (5:9). At the end of what has been called, the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus gave a parable of two builders. He said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise builder who built his house on the rock” (7:24). James, the son of Zebedee, an “ear-witness” to this discourse would comment on this parable with the words, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).

    One who took these spoken and written words to heart was Titus, a co-worker of the Apostle Paul. The Early Church Fathers indicate that Matthew’s gospel was the first gospel written and probably in circulation by AD 40 (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.25.3-6; LCL 2:75). Perhaps Titus had seen a copy of this gospel and read the Sermon on the Mount and was touched by the Beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers” while he was in Antioch on the Orontes. Titus was a peacemaker in the church at Corinth and the churches on the island of Crete. He has been described as being “capable, energetic, tactful, resourceful, skillful in handling men and affairs, and effective in conciliating people” (Hiebert 1992: 105). All these character traits served him well as he worked along side of the Apostle Paul, or as an emissary from the Apostle Paul, to reconcile different factions in the church and to build up the Body of Christ. Truly Titus was a blessed man because he was a peacemaker.

    In this study on the life of Titus, we will consider how God used a man with the spiritual gift of administration to be a peacemaker in the church at Corinth and the churches on the island of Crete, and to bring blessing to the saints in Jerusalem.

    Titus – A True Son in the Faith
    The Apostle Paul was Titus’s spiritual father because he led Titus to faith in the Lord Jesus. In his epistle to Titus he states: “Titus, a true son in our common faith” (1:4). Unfortunately Paul does not recount when, where, or how Titus came to faith. Timothy was another young man that Paul led to the Lord, probably on his visit to Timothy’s hometown of Lystra during Paul’s first missionary journey (cf. 1 Tim. 1:2).

    There are several possibilities as to when and where Titus came to faith. The first opportunity would have been while Paul was in the region of his hometown of Tarsus (Gal. 1:21; Acts 9:30), or while working among the Gentiles in Antioch on the Orontes between AD 35-46 (Acts 11:25-26).

    If the later is the case, Antioch on the Orontes was the third most important city in the Roman Empire, after Rome and Alexandria, and was noted for its immorality. Juvenal, a Roman satirist of the 2nd century AD, in his Third Satire asks the question: “And yet what fraction of our dregs [sewerage] comes from Greece [the Greek world]? The Syrian Orontes [River] has long since poured into the Tiber, bringing with it its lingo and its manners, its flutes and its slanting harp-strings; bringing too the timbrels [tambourine] of the breed, and the trulls [prostitutes] who are bidden ply their trade at the Circus. Out upon you, all ye that delight in foreign strumpets [harlots] with painted head-dresses!” (Satire 3:61-67; LCL 37; brackets mine – GWF). Is it any wonder that Paul reminded his son in the faith what environment he had come out of? “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures …” (Tit. 3:3). But Paul goes on to say, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward men appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (3:4-7).

    Another possibility when Paul could have shared the gospel with Titus, according to a Second Century AD tradition, was during Paul’s first missionary journey (AD 47-48). This tradition hints that Titus was from Iconium in South Galatia and that was where he first met Paul. Titus had seen Paul “in the spirit” and described him to Onesiphorus as being short, bald, and bow-legged (Acts of Paul and Thecla 3:2-3; Schneemelcher 1992: 2: 239). Onesiphorus (cf. 2 Tim. 1:16; 4:19) proceeded to meet Paul on the Via Sabaste and invited him to Iconium. It is possible that Titus came to faith at this point and Paul invited him to be his disciple / student and joined Paul’s team when they returned to Antioch on the Orontes. In the Acts of Paul and Thecla, a sermon at Iconium by Paul is recorded and there are a number of quotes from Matthew’s gospel. Perhaps this is where Titus heard: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

    When Titus came to faith, we do not know, but he became a “son of God” by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior (John 1:12). Most likely Titus was included in the number of the “disciples” that Paul and Barnabas worked with after they returned from their first missionary journey (Acts 14:26-28).

    Titus – A Relative of Dr. Luke?
    Titus’s name appears eleven times in four of Paul’s epistles (Gal. 2:1-3; 2 Cor. 2:12-13; 7:6-7,13-14; 8:6,16-17, 23; 12:17-18; Tit. 1:4; 2 Tim. 4:10), but interestingly, his name does not appear in the Book of Acts. Sir William Ramsay, a British classical scholar, suggested that Titus was a relative of Dr. Luke, the author of the book of Acts (1896: 390). This may account for why Titus is not mentioned in this book because it demonstrates the humility of Luke. He does not mention his own name in either his gospel, or the Book of Acts. Luke did not want to draw undue attention to his family. Others have gone so far as to suggest that Luke and Titus were brothers (Souter 1906-1907a: 285; 1906-1907b: 285-286; Boys-Smith 1906-1907: 380-381). Souter goes so far as to suggest that “Titus, in fact, becomes the authority from whom Luke acquires most of his information about Paul’s doings prior to the period at which he himself became acquainted with him” (1906-1907b: 335). He even sees a connection between the two because their names are mentioned together in 2 Tim. 4: 10-11 (1906-1907b: 336). He also suggested “the brother” mentioned in 2 Cor. 8:18 and 12:18 could be Luke. But this is conjecture because it could also be just another unnamed brother in the Lord.

    Titus in Jerusalem – Exhibit A
    The first time we encounter Titus with the Apostle Paul is when he takes Titus to Jerusalem as “Exhibit A” concerning whether Gentile’s needed to be circumcised in order to be saved as recorded in Galatians 2. We read: “Then after fourteen years I [Paul] went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preached among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, least by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (2:1-5).

    Scholars have debated when this visit to Jerusalem took place. The two possibilities that have been suggested are the famine relief in AD 44 (Acts 11:27-30; Bruce 1995: 157-159). Or the Jerusalem Council in AD 49 (Acts 15:1-4). The chronological indicator in verse one, however, seems to point towards the second view. Assuming the Lord Jesus was crucified and resurrected in AD 30, Paul was saved on the road to Damascus in AD 32 or 33 and he is in the Arabia Desert and Damascus for three years before he goes up to Jerusalem for the first time after he is saved. Do the math: 32 + 3 + 14 = 49, the year of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15.

    This Council was instigated by an issue in the church in Antioch on the Orontes: “Do Gentiles have to be circumcised in order to be saved?” There were certain people who were of the sect of Pharisees who believed (Acts 15:1, 5) who were in the church and said a Gentile person must be circumcised in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabas challenged this with an emphatic “No!” The decision was made to send a delegation to Jerusalem and ask the Apostles to settle the issue once and for all. Paul and Barnabas went up to Jerusalem with “certain others” (Acts 15:2) and this group included Titus (Gal. 2:1). The Apostle Paul was responsible for taking Titus: “I … took Titus with me.” Titus was “Exhibit A” because he was an uncircumcised Greek (Gal. 2:3) who had trusted the Lord Jesus as his Savior at least two, if not four or more years prior to this trip.

    The decision of the Jerusalem Council, composed of the apostles and elders of the church, was that Gentiles did not have to be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15: 13-39).

    On the other hand, Paul had Timothy, another son in the faith, circumcised at Lystra (Acts 16:3). According to Jewish Halakah, Timothy was Jewish because his mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, were Jewish, yet his father was a Gentile (Acts 16:1; 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15). Timothy’s circumcision, however, had nothing to do with his salvation, nor his sanctification. In fact, Paul is delivering the decrees given by the Jerusalem Counsel in Acts 15 which explicitly states that circumcision has nothing to do with salvation (Acts 16:4). Paul had Timothy circumcised for a very practical reason. They could get free lodging in the synagogue!

    Titus at Ephesus – Partner and Fellow Worker with Paul
    Four years passed since the Jerusalem Council and the next time Titus appears in Scripture. His whereabouts during this time are not recorded. Did he labor in Antioch on the Orontes, or return to Iconium? The Apostle Paul could have taken him from Antioch, or picked him up in Iconium on his way to Ephesus during his third missionary journey (AD 53-55). Paul identifies Titus as a vital “partner and fellow worker” in the work in Ephesus (2 Cor. 8:23).

    Paul and his team ministered in Ephesus for almost three years (Acts 19:10; 20:31). They began by doing evangelism among the Jewish people in the city (Acts 19:8-9; cf. Rom. 1:16), but then set up a teaching center in the School of Tyranus (Acts 19:9; cf. 2 Tim. 2:2). As a result of this discipleship program, all in Asia Minor heard the gospel (Acts 19:10). A riot ensued in Ephesus because the silversmiths were losing business because tourists were not buying the silver trinkets of Artemis in the temple to her honor, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world! We are not told where Titus was when the riots in the theater of Ephesus broke out. Perhaps he was on a peacemaker mission in Corinth at the time.

    Titus at Corinth – The Peacemaker
    The Apostle Paul, along with his co-workers, Silas and Timothy, established the church at Corinth about AD 50-52. A delegation, led by Stephanas, visited Paul in Ephesus about three years later and shared some of the problems that were occurring among the saints in Corinth. These carnal believers were creating divisions among themselves and saying, “I am of Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, [and the real pious ones], I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 1:10-17, especially verse 12; brackets by GWF). They were also allowing a moral scandal, one that included a man sleeping with his father’s wife, to continue in the church that was ruining the testimony of Christ in that city (1 Cor. 5:1-13). Some in the church were also abusing the Lord’s Supper by coming to the meeting with unconfessed sins and then getting drunk at the Lord’s Table (1 Cor. 11:17-34). Paul addressed these issues head-on in his first epistle to the Corinthians.

    Scholars have had a field day trying to figure out the chronology of when and how often Titus went to Corinth on Paul’s behalf. I will suggest a plausible chronology based on the work of D. Edmond Hiebert (1992: 109-11).

    Titus apparently makes three trips to Corinth. I don’t know if they had “Frequent Sailing Miles” in the 1st century AD, but if they did, Titus would have racked up his “frequent sailing mileage” between Ephesus and Corinth! The purpose of the first trip was to collect money for the poor in the Jerusalem church (1 Cor. 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 8-9; Rom. 15:25-28). I believe that he was exercising his spiritual gift of administration as he saw to it that the collection was done decently and in order. This trip apparently took place a year before Second Corinthians was written (2 Cor. 9:2) and Titus was accompanied by “our brother” (2 Cor. 12:18). Some have suggested it was Dr. Luke (Souter 1906-1907a; 1906-1907b), but that is just conjecture. When Paul had written his first epistle to the church, the collection had already been started (1 Cor. 16:1-3).

    A delegation consisting of Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus reported to Paul in Ephesus about the problems in the church at Corinth. Paul wrote his first epistle to the church. More than likely this delegation took the letter back with them to the city. Apparently Titus was in Corinth working on the collection and was in the meeting when the letter was read to the congregation. Upon his return to Ephesus, he reported to Paul the reaction to the letter and opposition expressed by some in Corinth (2 Cor. 10:12-18; 11:22, 23; 13:1-3).

    Paul sends Titus back to Corinth in order to be a peacemaker (Matt. 5:9), with the intention of meeting up in Troas when the conflict was settled. When Titus does not show up in Troas, Paul had “no rest in his spirit” and moved on to Macedonia (2 Cor. 2:12-13).
    Perhaps Paul was a bit impatient and expected instantaneous results from his letter and the personal ministry by Titus. Once he was in Macedonia, he was still troubled by the situation in Corinth (2 Cor. 7:5). Eventually Titus did meet Paul in Macedonia with the good news of the repentance of the sinning saint and his reconciliation to the church and also the church in Corinth’s acceptance of Paul’s authority (7:6-11). In this, Titus was joyful (7:13, 14), and Paul greatly rejoiced (7:6-9).

    Paul wrote a follow-up epistle (2 Corinthians) to the believers in Corinth and sent this letter back with Titus and two unnamed brothers. This Titus was eager to do this (8:6, 16-18). He also went back to finish gathering the money for the saints in Jerusalem (8:18-22).

    Paul gives Titus a very strong recommendation (8:23). He writes, “If anyone enquires about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you.” Paul declared that Titus could be trusted with the money because he would not take advantage of them (12:18).
    Sometime after Paul wrote the letter, he arrived in Corinth for a three months stay (Acts 20:3). If Titus was with him, this would have been his third visit to the city. Fortunately for the Apostle Paul, the problems in the church at Corinth were resolved because of Titus’ ministry as a peacemaker. This freed Paul to write the most important epistle of the New Testament, the epistle to the church in Rome spelling out the great doctrinal truths of justification, sanctification and living for the Lord in a wicked world. At the end of the epistle, Paul sends greetings to the saints in Rome from the saints in Corinth, yet he does not mention Titus among those believers (Rom. 16:21-23). Perhaps Titus was on his way to Jerusalem with a token of the collection for the saints in the Holy City, with the rest to follow (Acts 20:4). Paul could thank the Lord for Titus as a peacemaker. The words of the Lord Jesus rung in his ears: “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

    Titus on Crete – The Administrator
    During Paul’s fourth missionary journey (AD 63-66) he left Titus on the island of Crete to take care of some problems that existed in the churches on that island. This was an island with an unsavory reputation of being made up of people who were always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons (Tit. 1:12). The church itself had a divisive element that was leading people astray. After more than 20 years in the faith, Titus was Paul’s “go to guy” to take care of the problems at hand. Paul left him on the island to “set in order the things that are lacking” (1:5). The Greek word “set in order” (epidiorthoo) is only used here in the New Testament. Before the First Century AD, the word is used only once and ironically, it was on a Second Century BC inscription that was found at Hierapytna on the island of Crete! The word was used to refer “to the activity of a regional administrator. Evidently this rare term had some currency in Crete in the context of political organization” (Wieland 2009: 351).

    The purpose of the ministry of Timothy and Titus was to establish stable leadership within the churches that they ministered, rather than to serve as pastors themselves among the flock on a long-term basis. Thus Titus was functioning as an administrator among the churches on the island of Crete.

    What was lacking in the church was suitable leadership so Paul instructed him to ordain elders in every city. These elders should be grounded in the Word of God so they can overcome opposition and teach sound doctrine to the people in the churches. After he completed this task, Paul instructed Titus to meet him in Nikopolis (Tit. 3:15). Titus apparently goes to Nikopolis and Paul is arrested there and taken to Rome and imprisoned again. Titus followed the arresting party, probably at a distance, to Rome.

    Titus in Dalmatia – Apostolic Mission
    During the Apostle Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome (AD 67), Demas abandoned him and departed for Thessaloniki (2 Tim. 1:16, 17; 4:10). In the same passage, Paul mentions that Crescens went to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia. The text does not seem to indicate that the latter two abandoned him like Demas did.

    The borders of Dalmatia in the First Century AD were not clearly defined. At times it was considered the southwestern part of Illyricum, in the area of present-day Albania / Croatia, along the coast of the Adriatic Sea (Pattengale 1992:2:4, 5).

    More than likely, the Apostle Paul sent Titus on an apostolic mission of some sort, but what the nature of this mission was, we are not told. There are two possibilities to consider. First, it is plausible, but not probable, that Paul sent Titus to follow up on the church that Paul and Dr. Luke would have planted during the three months they were shipwrecked on Malta (Acts 28:1-10). I mention this possibility because in the First Century AD there were two Malta’s in the Roman world: Melite Africana, the traditional landing site of Paul in the book of Acts, and Melite Illyrica, the island of Mljet off the Dalmatian coast (Meinardus 1976:145-147). Personally, I do not share Meinardus’ view. I believe that Melite Africana was the island Paul was shipwrecked on, thus ruling out this possibility as to why Paul sent Titus to Dalmatia.

    The second possibility, and this is more likely, is that he was sent to follow up on the churches Paul planted on his third missionary journey. Paul departed from Ephesus after the uproar had subsided and went through Macedonia and Greece (Acts 20:1-2). A plausible reconstruction of this part of the journey might be that he went through Macedonia encouraging the churches along the entire length of the Via Egnatia through Illyricum (Rom. 15:19) to the Adriatic Coast and then took a ship down to Corinth. Titus would have visited the churches that were planted during the Illyricum phase of this journey.

    Titus in Church Tradition
    The brochure from the church of Titus in Heraklion on the island of Crete summarizes the Greek Orthodox tradition of Titus on the island. It states: “Titus’ activity in Crete is not sufficiently known because there are no ancient official and verified records about the first period of the Cretan Church. In later times, there was founded in Crete a very rich biographical tradition about the first bishop and patron of the local Church. According to that tradition, Titus was Cretan of a noble family descending directly from Minos, the mythical King of Knossos. Titus was a relative of Rustillus (or Rustulus), the Roman proconsul in Crete. He was well-educated and spent some time in Jerusalem where he became an eye-witness of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Later, as a bishop in Crete, he founded nine bishoprics in Knossus, Ierapytna, Kydonia, Chersonissus, Eleftherna, Lambe, Kissamus, Kandanus, and Gortys. According to the same tradition, Titus died 94 years old in about 105 AD” (Detorakis 1990:2). There is no way to independently confirm any of these traditions so they should be taken with caution.

    Tradition also states that Titus died and was buried at Gortyn on the island of Crete. There was a sixth century AD basilica built over the burial place of Titus. The bones were removed to Venice when the Ottoman Turks invaded the island (824 AD). His skull was later returned to a new church of Titus in Heraklion on May 15, 1966. One can still see his skull today!

    Why did Paul value Titus and the Lord used him in the His work?
    The Apostle Paul describes Titus as his “partner and fellow worker” in the Lord’s work. There are at least four reasons Paul valued Titus and he was useful in the work of the Lord. The first reason was that Titus was exercising his spiritual gift of administration (1 Cor. 12:28). This was manifested in his organizing the collection for the saints in Jerusalem and well as appointing elders on the island of Crete.

    William McRae in his book, The Dynamics of Spiritual Gifts, defines the gift of administration as: “a God-given capacity to organize and administer with such efficiency and spirituality that not only is the project brought to a satisfactory conclusion but it is done harmoniously and with evident blessing” (1976: 52). He goes on to say that the person with this gift: “is able to give vision and direction, … is able to organize and direct toward a specific goal, … sees that everything is done decently and in order. Projects are done in a way that promotes the work of God and the growth of those involved” (1976: 52).

    A number of years ago when I was working with the Youth Group at my home church, we had a number of young people that were heading to college the next year and they were not sure what to do, where to go, and how to discern God’s will for their life. At one leaders meeting, the adults were discussing this situation and what could be done to help the teen-agers make an informed, spiritual decision about this important junction in their life.

    I suggested that we have a mini seminar about how to choose a college, what to look for in a college, and discerning God’s will for ones life. Everyone thought it was a great idea, but who would organize it? They looked at me as if I should organize this event. The expression on my face read, “Don’t look at me, I don’t know what I’m doing. I just had the idea.” One man at the meeting caught the “deer in the headlight” look right away and said that he would organize the event. It was obvious, this man had the gift of administration and did a wonderful job organizing and carrying out the event. This man relished the opportunity to exercise his spiritual gift. I believe that Titus had the gift of administration and he exercised that gift well to build up the Body of Christ in a practical, as well as a spiritual way.

    The second reason I believe Paul used Titus was that Titus showed maturity when dealing with carnal Christians at Corinth. More than likely, Titus was in the meeting in Corinth when Paul’s first letter arrived admonishing them to deal with the sins in the church, even a gross sin (1 Cor. 5:1). These words upset some people in the church and some even questioned Paul’s authority to say what he said! Yet Titus, lovingly and patiently, worked with these people, using the Scriptures that Paul had written, so they responded positively to the message (2 Cor. 7:5-15). The main goal of church discipline should always be restoration, not ex-communication (Matt. 18:15-17; cf. Gal. 6:1).

    The third reason Paul used Titus was that he was open and above board in his dealings with the Corinthians. He had pure motives (2 Cor. 12:17-18). While he was among the Corinthians, he worked for their edification, to build them up in their faith, and not for his own gain (12:19).

    The final reason Paul used Titus was that he was a “people person.” He had a concern for the spiritual well being of the believers in Corinth (2 Cor. 8:16), so he volunteered to help them. He saw a job that needed to get done and he did it.

    Life Lessons to be Learned
    The reasons Paul valued Titus in the work of the Lord are the same lessons for us to learn so the Lord can use us in His work today.

    • First, we should discern what our spiritual gift is and exercise it to build up the Body of Christ, both numerically, as well as spiritually.
    • Second, spiritual believers in the Lord Jesus need to have patience and gentleness when dealing with carnal, or sinning, Christians in the church. Paul instructed the believers in Galatia: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (6:1).
    • Third, in dealing with Christians, especially carnal Christians or new believers, we should have pure motives, not taking advantage of people, and be open and above board in our dealings with them.
    • Finally, we need to be “people persons.” We need to be involved in people’s lives to help them in time of spiritual, and/or, physical need. If we see a need in the assembly, or the Body of Christ, we should seek to meet that need, quietly and seeking no rewards or glory for ourselves.

    Paul admonished the believers in Corinth: You follow me, as I follow the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). Titus heard the truth of the Word of God, believed it, applied it, and is in himself evidence of that truth. Titus was blessed for his work as a peacemaker and administrator and was a vital part of the historic spread of the early church. He heard the truth, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Applied it to his life, and he was blessed as a result. Might we do the same in our lives.

    Bibliography

    Barrett, C. K.
    1969 Titus. Pp. 1-14 in Neotestamentica et Semitica. Edited by E. E. Ellis and M. Wilcox. Edinburgh: T & T Clark.

    Bowman, John
    1963 A Guide to Crete. London: Pantheon.

    Boys-Smith, E. P.
    1906-1907 Titus and Luke. Expository Times 18: 380-381.

    Bruce, F. F.
    1985 The Pauline Circle. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans.

    1995 Paul. Apostle of the Heart Set Free. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans.

    Detorakis, Theocharis
    1990 Holy Archdiocese of Crete, Parish of Saint Titus. Holy Church of Titus, the Apostle. Bulletin 6.

    Eusebius
    1980 Ecclesiastical History. Vol. 2. Trans. by J. Oulton. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 265.

    Evans, Harold
    1979 An Apostolic Partner. Expository Times 90: 207-209.

    Hiebert, D. Edmond
    1992 In Paul’s Shadow. Friends and Foes of the Great Apostle. Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University.

    Juvenal
    1993 Juvenal and Persius. Trans by G. G. Ramsay. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 91.

    Lees, Harrington C.
    1917 St. Paul’s Friends. London: Religious Tract Society.

    McRae, William
    1976 The Dynamics of Spiritual Gifts. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

    Meinardus, Otto
    1976 St. Paul Shipwrecked in Dalmatia. Biblical Archaeologist 39/4: 145-147.

    Mitchell, Margeret M.
    1992 New Testament Envoys in the Context of Greco-Roman Diplomatic and Epistolary Conventions: The Example of Timothy and Titus. Journal of Biblical Literature 111/4: 641-682.

    Munn, James
    1956-1957 The Man Who Was Left Behind. Expository Times 68: 377-378.

    Pattengale, Jerry
    1992 Dalmatia. Pp. 4, 5 in Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 2. Edited by D. N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday.

    Quinn, James
    1978a Paul’s Last Captivity. Studia Biblica 3: 289-299.

    1978b “Seven Times He Wore Chains” (1 Clem. 5:6). Journal of Biblical Literature 97/4: 574-576.

    Ramsay, William
    1896 St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

    Rolston, Holmes
    1954 Personalities Around Paul. Richmond, VA: John Knox.

    Schneemelcher, Wilhelm, ed.
    1992 New Testament Apocrypha. Vol. 2. Cambridge: James Clarke; Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox.

    Seekings, Herbert S.
    1914 The Men of the Pauline Circle. London: Charles H. Kelly.

    Souter, Alexander
    1906-1907a A Suggested Relationship between Titus and Luke. Expository Times 18: 285.

    1906-1907b The Relationship between Titus and Luke. Expository Times 18: 335-336.

    Stenstrup, Ken
    2010 Titus. Honoring the Gospel of God. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical.

    Thomas, W. D.
    1985 Titus, the Good All-rounder. Expository Times 96: 180-181.

    Walker, William O., Jr.
    1980-1981 The Timothy – Titus Problem Reconsidered. Expository Times 92: 231-235.

    Wieland, George
    2009 Roman Crete and the Letter to Titus. New Testament Studies 55: 338-354.

  • Noah’s Ark Comments Off on REPORT ON THE “INTERNATIONAL NOAH AND JUDI MOUNTAIN SYMPOSIUM” – SIRNAK, TURKEY
    REPORT ON THE “INTERNATIONAL NOAH AND JUDI MOUNTAIN SYMPOSIUM” – SIRNAK, TURKEY
    Gordon Franz
    Introduction
    The “International Noah and Judi Mountain” symposium was held in Sirnak, Turkey, under the auspices of Sirnak University. One of the purposes of this conference was to set forth the case for Cudi Dagh, the mountain just to the south of Sirnak, as the landing place of Noah’s Ark in South East Turkey. This mountain is not to be confused with the (late) traditional Mount Ararat, called Agri Dagh, in northeastern Turkey.
    Interestingly, at this conference I learned of another mountain that allegedly Noah’s Ark landed on. It is located at Mount Gemikaya in Azerbaijan. By my count, that is the sixth mountain vying for the honors of this historical event: two in Turkey, three in Iran, and one in Azerbaijan. The Iranian and Azerbaijani sites are far outside the Land of Ararat / Urartu, and in the case of the Iranian sites, deep inside the Land of Media. We can safely dismiss these mountains as the place where Noah’s Ark landed according to the Bible. To be truthful, Agri Dagh must be dismissed as well because it is a post-Flood volcanic peak in a plain, and not within the “mountains (plural) of Ararat” (Gen. 8:4).
    The Setting of the Symposium
    The symposium was held at the Sehr-I Nuh Otel (translation: Noah’s City Hotel) in Sirnak, just north of Cudi Dagh (Cudi or Judi Mountain). This mountain is within the “mountains of Ararat” (Gen. 8:4) where Noah’s Ark landed. The facilities at the hotel were first class, the food was absolutely delicious, and we had a spectacular view of Cudi Dagh from the panorama view windows as we ate our meals.
    Special thanks goes to Dr. Mehmet Ata Az, a philosophy professor at Sirnak University, for coordinating the speakers and making sure our needs were met. He truly has a servant’s heart and our best interest in mind. Thank you my friend!
    Synopsis of Select Papers
    The conference on Friday and Saturday (September 27 and 28, 2013) was well organized with sixty-six papers presented in two parallel sessions so I did not get to hear them all. There was simultaneous translation into Turkish, Arabic, and/or English. I learned much from each of the presentations that I attended.
    Each paper was 15 minutes long. Much to my surprise, the moderators kept the conference on schedule! Unfortunately most of the papers were summaries of the presenter’s longer paper that will be published in the proceedings of the symposium. So I look forward to this publication with the papers published in book form so they can be studied in more detail. This volume should be published in a couple of months.
    At least one-third of the papers were devoted to Noah, his Ark, and/or the Flood in the Qur’anic sources and Islamic theology. This was a surprise to me because I did not realize how much the Qur’an spoke about Noah. Thus it was helpful and of interest to me because I did not know the Arabic sources and it filled in some big gaps in my understanding. The Qur’an, as well as other ancient Jewish, Christian, and Pagan sources, places the landing site of the Ark on Cudi Dagh (Crouse and Franz 2006).
    I will summarize and discuss several papers that I think might be of interest for those researching Noah’s Ark.
    Bill Crouse, president of Christian Information ministry, was one of four plenary papers at the beginning of the conference. His paper was: “Five Reasons for Rejecting Agri Dagh as the Ark’s Final Resting Place and Five Reasons Why it Did Land on Cudi Dagh.” His five reasons for why it did not land on Agri Dagh, the traditional site of Mount Ararat, are: (1) The early ancient sources do not mention Agri Dagh as the landing site of Noah’s Ark, (2) Agri Dagh is a volcanic mountain and was never submerged under water, and thus it was formed after the Flood and could not be the landing site of the Ark, (3) Geographically, the peaks of “Greater Ararat” and “Lesser Ararat” are not located in the “Mountains of Ararat,” but rather, in a plain, (4) The “eye-witness” accounts are unreliable, and (5) Thus far, after 60 plus years of searching, nothing has ever been found there. The five reasons Bill believes the Ark landed on Cudi Dagh are: (1) There is a consensus of diverse ancient sources that place the landing site of the Ark in the area of Cudi Dagh, including pagan, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic sources, (2) Diverse groups of pilgrims have visited the site for over at least two thousand years, (3) There are olive trees in the area of Cudi Dagh (cf. Gen. 8:10), but none in the area of Agri Dagh, (4) Possible archaeological remains have been discovered on the top of Cudi Dagh, including wood that has asphalt on both sides (cf. Gen. 6:14), 9-12 inch nails/spikes (cf. Gen. 4:22), and other objects found in the area of the landing site, and (5) Cudi Dagh is a much more accessible mountain for disembarking from the Ark.
    After the first session, Bill was interviewed by Turkish national television. Also, the conveners of the conference are translating his paper into Turkish so that it can get a wider distribution in the Turkish language, giving Turks a better understanding of the issues relating to Noah’s Ark.
    The Sirnak Investment Support Office Coordinator, Faik Bugday, presented a paper on the “Relationship between Noah and Development.” I had dinner with him during the conference and he shared more about how they were planning to develop the region for tourism and to expand the economy. Some of the ideas include: A new airport that was recently built to the west of Cizre (also spelled Jizra) two months ago (summer 2013), and has three flights a week. It is called the Sirnak Airport by Turkish Air. As peace prevails and tourism increases, I’m sure the airline will add more service to this soon-to-be-important airport.
    Some of the projects on the drawing board include a high speed rail service connecting Sirnak with other regional cities, several of which have connections with Noah’s Ark. This has the potential for individual tourists who want to visit the area to get around economically and fast.
    Another project is a cable car (think ski lift) up to the top of Cudi Dagi from the area of Sirnak. Once Noah’s Ark has been excavated, this will facilitate tourists getting to the mountain to visit the remains of this Biblical object.
    I can envision, when peace prevails in the region, a 12 day “Genesis / Revelation” Biblical study tour of Turkey, with some sites visited by the Apostle Paul thrown in for good measure. The Christian tourist would fly into Istanbul and transfer to a domestic flight to Sirnak Airport. A few days will be spent in eastern Turkey visiting Cudi Dagh and the landing site of the Ark; Shah and Hassana, where ancient Assyrian inscriptions were found; the Tomb of Noah and a museum in Cizre; the Monastery of Milatya and the church with the sarcophagus of St. Jacob in Nusaybin, the ancient site of Nisibis. The group would then fly to Izmir in Western Turkey and visit the Seven Churches of Revelation (chapters 1-3), as well as some of the sites visited by the Apostle Paul.
    The local historian from Cizre, Abdullah Yasin, was scheduled to speak in the parallel session that was not being translated into English. He was moved to the other session, on-the-spot, so that the English speaking participants could hear him. He addressed some of the evidence found in the Cudi Dagh area for Noah’s Ark. It was also timely that his new book, Nuh Peygamber (a.s.) Tufani ve Cudi Dagi (ISBN: 978-605-5053-03-1), just saw the light of day. It is well illustrated but is only in Turkish. I hope that it will be translated into English soon. Abdullah Yasin has a small museum in Cizre dedicated to the archaeology of Cudi Dagh.
    Anne Habermehl presented a paper on “The Role of Science in Determining the Resting-Place of the Ark.” One of the main points of her paper was that Agri Dagh, the (late) traditional site of the Ark landing was a post-Flood volcanic mountain and thus could not be the place of the Ark landing. This important paper had been peer-reviewed by two of the leading creation geologists before she gave the paper. This information should be seriously considered by the proponents of Agri Dagh.
    My friend, Rex Geissler, gave a paper entitled: “Archaeology, Excavations, Historical Documents on Mount Ararat.” This was the only paper given at the conference that defended the traditional site. Other Agri Dagh proponents had been invited, but they declined for one reason or another. One point that Rex stressed was that there was no Urartean pottery ever found in southeastern Turkey, and thus the area of Cudi Dagh was outside “mountains of Ararat.” This statement is very misleading for two reasons: Few, if any, excavations have been made there, and absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
    Mark Wilson gave an excellent paper on “Noah, the Ark, and the Early Flood in Christian Literature.”  Basically it was about what the New Testament said about Noah and the Great Flood. Timo Roller, a German researcher, gave a paper on “The German Explorers of Cudi Dagh: 114 Years of Examining the Real Landing Place.” He discussed the explorations by Johannes Lepisius, Friedrich Bender, the Hans Thoma team, and his own research with Google Earth. Timo had a collection of old photographs of Cudi Dagh and was able to identify exactly where each picture was taken on Google Earth and the direction the camera was pointing. This paper was very helpful in getting a good visual perspective on the mountain.
    The vice-rector of Sirnak University, Dr. Ibrahim Baz, gave an impressive PowerPoint presentation on “An Ancient Settlement on Judi Mount: Shah Village and Sheik Yahya Darshavi.” Sah is located at the western end of Cudi Dagh and had some Assyrian reliefs left by Sennacherib, king of Assyria, and possibly other Assyrian kings. He had some spectacular pictures of Sah in the springtime with beautiful flowers in them. The Assyrian reliefs have been published, but further study is in order.
    I was surprised to learn after talking with several Muslim participants at the conference that they believed in the Flood of Noah’s day, but they believed it was a local flood and not a universal flood. They hold to this view for theological reasons and not geological reasons. Dr. John Baumgardner, formerly of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, gave a paper on “Noah’s Flood: The Key to Correct Understanding of Earth History.” In the paper he discussed the R.A.T.E. (Radioisotope and the Age of the Earth) project he worked on with ICR. His main point was to show the scientific evidence for a young earth and geological evidence for a universal, world-wide Flood.
    My paper (Gordon Franz) was entitled: “Did Sennacherib, King of Assyria, Worship Wood from Noah’s Ark?” This question was prompted by an account in the rabbinic sources that Sennacherib worshiped wood from the Ark. I answered the question in the affirmative because Sennacherib was on Cudi Dagh during his Fifth Campaign about 697 BC when he saw the Ark and brought wood back to Nineveh. He most likely learned of the history of the Ark from Israelites or Judeans with whom he came in contact. The wood he worshiped was in the House of Nisroch his god (2 Kings 19:36-37; Isa. 37:37-38). Nisroch means plank (of wood), or board.
    It cannot be said with 100% certainty that Sennacherib worshiped wood from Noah’s Ark until the Temple of Nisroch is found and excavated, but it can be said that the “rabbinic legend” of Rabbi Papa in Tractate Sanhedrin is historically plausible, if not probable. This “legend” has its basis in historical reality. If that is the case, Sennacherib saw Noah’s Ark on Cudi Dagh, the Assyrian Mount Nipur, in the mountains of Ararat / Urartu, because he was never on, or in the area of, Agri Dagh, the traditional Mount Ararat!
    The “Reader’s Digest” version of my paper is up on my website:
    https://www.lifeandland.org/2013/10/did-sennacherib-king-of-assyria-worship-wood-from-noah%e2%80%99s-ark-as-a-deity/
    The final presentation of the conference was by the Rector (president) of Sirnak University, Prof. Dr. Ali Akmaz. In his summery of the conference he said that Sirnak University was going to start an Institute of Noah Studies and produce a documentary of the history and archaeology of Cudi Dagh. But the most important announcement was that they were going to excavate the site of the Ark Landing once they get a team of archaeologists and engineers in place and secure a permit from the Department of Antiquities. I wish them well in this important, and potentially history changing, endeavor.
    I look forward to that cable-car ride up to the top of Cudi Dagh to visit the remains of Noah’s Ark! ?
    Sight-seeing After the Symposium
    The university had scheduled a trip for some of us by helicopter to the top of Cudi Dagh so we could view the landing site of the Ark, conditions permitting. As it turned out, on Sunday morning the army cancelled the trip because of problems in the area, including on top of Cudi Dagh. It was for the best. I appreciate the university’s concern for our safety, even though we were never in any real danger. “Better safe then sorry!”
    Well, what do you do for three “free” days before your return flight? You know the old saying: “When life deals you lemons, make lemonade!” Well, “Plan B” was instituted and we had a nice tall glass of cool lemonade that was very good! We took a taxi from Sirnak to Sanliurfa and spent the rest of our time there visiting the sites in the area. On the way we stopped at Nusaybin to visit the Church of St. Jacob and his sarcophagus in a vault underneath the church. St. Jacob of Nisibis is important for Noah’s Ark studies because he noted that the Ark was not on Mount Ararat (Agri Dagh) but on a mountain in the canton of Kortuk where we find Cudi Dagh.
    On Monday we went to Gobekli Tepe to view its impressive prehistoric archaeological remains. Then we went on to Harran where Abraham once lived before he went to the Land of Cannan. It was thrilling to read the unconditional covenant that God made with Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3) at Harran where it was first given!
    On Tuesday we visited local sites in Sanliurfa, named in the Greek period by Alexander the Great as Edessa, after the well watered city of the same name in Macedonia. Wednesday we returned to the good ol’ US of A.
    Thank you for reading this article. Feel free to pass it on to your family and friends.
    Bibliography
    Crouse, Bill; and Franz, Gordon
    2006Mount Cudi – True Mountain of Noah’s Ark. Bible and Spade 19/4: 99-113.

    by Gordon Franz

    Introduction

    The “International Noah and Judi Mountain” symposium was held in Sirnak, Turkey, under the auspices of Sirnak University. One of the purposes of this conference was to set forth the case for Cudi Dagh, the mountain just to the south of Sirnak, as the landing place of Noah’s Ark in South East Turkey. This mountain is not to be confused with the (late) traditional Mount Ararat, called Agri Dagh, in northeastern Turkey.

    Interestingly, at this conference I learned of another mountain that allegedly Noah’s Ark landed on. It is located at Mount Gemikaya in Azerbaijan. By my count, that is the sixth mountain vying for the honors of this historical event: two in Turkey, three in Iran, and one in Azerbaijan. The Iranian and Azerbaijani sites are far outside the Land of Ararat / Urartu, and in the case of the Iranian sites, deep inside the Land of Media. We can safely dismiss these mountains as the place where Noah’s Ark landed according to the Bible. To be truthful, Agri Dagh must be dismissed as well because it is a post-Flood volcanic peak in a plain, and not within the “mountains (plural) of Ararat” (Gen. 8:4).

    The Setting of the Symposium

    The symposium was held at the Sehr-I Nuh Otel (translation: Noah’s City Hotel) in Sirnak, just north of Cudi Dagh (Cudi or Judi Mountain). This mountain is within the “mountains of Ararat” (Gen. 8:4) where Noah’s Ark landed. The facilities at the hotel were first class, the food was absolutely delicious, and we had a spectacular view of Cudi Dagh from the panorama view windows as we ate our meals.

    Special thanks goes to Dr. Mehmet Ata Az, a philosophy professor at Sirnak University, for coordinating the speakers and making sure our needs were met. He truly has a servant’s heart and our best interest in mind. Thank you my friend!

    Synopsis of Select Papers

    The conference on Friday and Saturday (September 27 and 28, 2013) was well organized with sixty-six papers presented in two parallel sessions so I did not get to hear them all. There was simultaneous translation into Turkish, Arabic, and/or English. I learned much from each of the presentations that I attended.

    Each paper was 15 minutes long. Much to my surprise, the moderators kept the conference on schedule! Unfortunately most of the papers were summaries of the presenter’s longer paper that will be published in the proceedings of the symposium. So I look forward to this publication with the papers published in book form so they can be studied in more detail. This volume should be published in a couple of months.

    At least one-third of the papers were devoted to Noah, his Ark, and/or the Flood in the Qur’anic sources and Islamic theology. This was a surprise to me because I did not realize how much the Qur’an spoke about Noah. Thus it was helpful and of interest to me because I did not know the Arabic sources and it filled in some big gaps in my understanding. The Qur’an, as well as other ancient Jewish, Christian, and Pagan sources, places the landing site of the Ark on Cudi Dagh (Crouse and Franz 2006).

    I will summarize and discuss several papers that I think might be of interest for those researching Noah’s Ark.

    Bill Crouse, president of Christian Information ministry, was one of four plenary papers at the beginning of the conference. His paper was: “Five Reasons for Rejecting Agri Dagh as the Ark’s Final Resting Place and Five Reasons Why it Did Land on Cudi Dagh.” His five reasons for why it did not land on Agri Dagh, the traditional site of Mount Ararat, are: (1) The early ancient sources do not mention Agri Dagh as the landing site of Noah’s Ark, (2) Agri Dagh is a volcanic mountain and was never submerged under water, and thus it was formed after the Flood and could not be the landing site of the Ark, (3) Geographically, the peaks of “Greater Ararat” and “Lesser Ararat” are not located in the “Mountains of Ararat,” but rather, in a plain, (4) The “eye-witness” accounts are unreliable, and (5) Thus far, after 60 plus years of searching, nothing has ever been found there. The five reasons Bill believes the Ark landed on Cudi Dagh are: (1) There is a consensus of diverse ancient sources that place the landing site of the Ark in the area of Cudi Dagh, including pagan, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic sources, (2) Diverse groups of pilgrims have visited the site for over at least two thousand years, (3) There are olive trees in the area of Cudi Dagh (cf. Gen. 8:10), but none in the area of Agri Dagh, (4) Possible archaeological remains have been discovered on the top of Cudi Dagh, including wood that has asphalt on both sides (cf. Gen. 6:14), 9-12 inch nails/spikes (cf. Gen. 4:22), and other objects found in the area of the landing site, and (5) Cudi Dagh is a much more accessible mountain for disembarking from the Ark.  Bill’s presentation is on YouTube and can be viewed here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp0sUCKKj74

    After the first session, Bill was interviewed by Turkish national television. Also, the conveners of the conference are translating his paper into Turkish so that it can get a wider distribution in the Turkish language, giving Turks a better understanding of the issues relating to Noah’s Ark.

    The Sirnak Investment Support Office Coordinator, Faik Bugday, presented a paper on the “Relationship between Noah and Development.” I had dinner with him during the conference and he shared more about how they were planning to develop the region for tourism and to expand the economy. Some of the ideas include: A new airport that was recently built to the west of Cizre (also spelled Jizra) two months ago (summer 2013), and has three flights a week. It is called the Sirnak Airport by Turkish Air. As peace prevails and tourism increases, I’m sure the airline will add more service to this soon-to-be-important airport.

    Some of the projects on the drawing board include a high speed rail service connecting Sirnak with other regional cities, several of which have connections with Noah’s Ark. This has the potential for individual tourists who want to visit the area to get around economically and fast.

    Another project is a cable car (think ski lift) up to the top of Cudi Dagi from the area of Sirnak. Once Noah’s Ark has been excavated, this will facilitate tourists getting to the mountain to visit the remains of this Biblical object.

    I can envision, when peace prevails in the region, a 12 day “Genesis / Revelation” Biblical study tour of Turkey, with some sites visited by the Apostle Paul thrown in for good measure. The Christian tourist would fly into Istanbul and transfer to a domestic flight to Sirnak Airport. A few days will be spent in eastern Turkey visiting Cudi Dagh and the landing site of the Ark; Shah and Hassana, where ancient Assyrian inscriptions were found; the Tomb of Noah and a museum in Cizre; the Monastery of Milatya and the church with the sarcophagus of St. Jacob in Nusaybin, the ancient site of Nisibis. The group would then fly to Izmir in Western Turkey and visit the Seven Churches of Revelation (chapters 1-3), as well as some of the sites visited by the Apostle Paul.

    The local historian from Cizre, Abdullah Yasin, was scheduled to speak in the parallel session that was not being translated into English. He was moved to the other session, on-the-spot, so that the English speaking participants could hear him. He addressed some of the evidence found in the Cudi Dagh area for Noah’s Ark. It was also timely that his new book, Nuh Peygamber (a.s.) Tufani ve Cudi Dagi (ISBN: 978-605-5053-03-1), just saw the light of day. It is well illustrated but is only in Turkish. I hope that it will be translated into English soon. Abdullah Yasin has a small museum in Cizre dedicated to the archaeology of Cudi Dagh.

    Anne Habermehl presented a paper on “The Role of Science in Determining the Resting-Place of the Ark.” One of the main points of her paper was that Agri Dagh, the (late) traditional site of the Ark landing was a post-Flood volcanic mountain and thus could not be the place of the Ark landing. This important paper had been peer-reviewed by two of the leading creation geologists before she gave the paper. This information should be seriously considered by the proponents of Agri Dagh. Anne’s paper and report from this trip are up on her website: http://www.creationsixdays.net/

    My friend, Rex Geissler, gave a paper entitled: “Archaeology, Excavations, Historical Documents on Mount Ararat.” This was the only paper given at the conference that defended the traditional site. Other Agri Dagh proponents had been invited, but they declined for one reason or another. One point that Rex stressed was that there was no Urartean pottery ever found in southeastern Turkey, and thus the area of Cudi Dagh was outside “mountains of Ararat.” This statement is very misleading for two reasons: Few, if any, excavations have been made there, and absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    Mark Wilson gave an excellent paper on “Noah, the Ark, and the Early Flood in Christian Literature.”  Basically it was about what the New Testament said about Noah and the Great Flood. Timo Roller, a German researcher, gave a paper on “The German Explorers of Cudi Dagh: 114 Years of Examining the Real Landing Place.” He discussed the explorations by Johannes Lepisius, Friedrich Bender, the Hans Thoma team, and his own research with Google Earth. Timo had a collection of old photographs of Cudi Dagh and was able to identify exactly where each picture was taken on Google Earth and the direction the camera was pointing. This paper was very helpful in getting a good visual perspective on the mountain.

    The vice-rector of Sirnak University, Dr. Ibrahim Baz, gave an impressive PowerPoint presentation on “An Ancient Settlement on Judi Mount: Shah Village and Sheik Yahya Darshavi.” Sah is located at the western end of Cudi Dagh and had some Assyrian reliefs left by Sennacherib, king of Assyria, and possibly other Assyrian kings. He had some spectacular pictures of Sah in the springtime with beautiful flowers in them. The Assyrian reliefs have been published, but further study is in order.

    I was surprised to learn after talking with several Muslim participants at the conference that they believed in the Flood of Noah’s day, but they believed it was a local flood and not a universal flood. They hold to this view for theological reasons and not geological reasons. Dr. John Baumgardner, formerly of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, gave a paper on “Noah’s Flood: The Key to Correct Understanding of Earth History.” In the paper he discussed the R.A.T.E. (Radioisotope and the Age of the Earth) project he worked on with ICR. His main point was to show the scientific evidence for a young earth and geological evidence for a universal, world-wide Flood.

    My paper (Gordon Franz) was entitled: “Did Sennacherib, King of Assyria, Worship Wood from Noah’s Ark?” This question was prompted by an account in the rabbinic sources that Sennacherib worshiped wood from the Ark. I answered the question in the affirmative because Sennacherib was on Cudi Dagh during his Fifth Campaign about 697 BC when he saw the Ark and brought wood back to Nineveh. He most likely learned of the history of the Ark from Israelites or Judeans with whom he came in contact. The wood he worshiped was in the House of Nisroch his god (2 Kings 19:36-37; Isa. 37:37-38). Nisroch means plank (of wood), or board.

    It cannot be said with 100% certainty that Sennacherib worshiped wood from Noah’s Ark until the Temple of Nisroch is found and excavated, but it can be said that the “rabbinic legend” of Rabbi Papa in Tractate Sanhedrin is historically plausible, if not probable. This “legend” has its basis in historical reality. If that is the case, Sennacherib saw Noah’s Ark on Cudi Dagh, the Assyrian Mount Nipur, in the mountains of Ararat / Urartu, because he was never on, or in the area of, Agri Dagh, the traditional Mount Ararat!

    The “Reader’s Digest” version of my paper is up on my website:

    Did Sennacherib King of Assyria Worship Wood from Noah’s Ark as a Deity?

    The final presentation of the conference was by the Rector (president) of Sirnak University, Prof. Dr. Ali Akmaz. In his summery of the conference he said that Sirnak University was going to start an Institute of Noah Studies and produce a documentary of the history and archaeology of Cudi Dagh. But the most important announcement was that they were going to excavate the site of the Ark Landing once they get a team of archaeologists and engineers in place and secure a permit from the Department of Antiquities. I wish them well in this important, and potentially history changing, endeavor.

    I look forward to that cable-car ride up to the top of Cudi Dagh to visit the remains of Noah’s Ark! 🙂

    Sight-seeing After the Symposium

    The university had scheduled a trip for some of us by helicopter to the top of Cudi Dagh so we could view the landing site of the Ark, conditions permitting. As it turned out, on Sunday morning the army cancelled the trip because of problems in the area, including on top of Cudi Dagh. It was for the best. I appreciate the university’s concern for our safety, even though we were never in any real danger. “Better safe than sorry!”

    Well, what do you do for three “free” days before your return flight? You know the old saying: “When life deals you lemons, make lemonade!” Well, “Plan B” was instituted and we had a nice tall glass of cool lemonade that was very good! We took a taxi from Sirnak to Sanliurfa and spent the rest of our time there visiting the sites in the area. On the way we stopped at Nusaybin to visit the Church of St. Jacob and his sarcophagus in a vault underneath the church. St. Jacob of Nisibis is important for Noah’s Ark studies because he noted that the Ark was not on Mount Ararat (Agri Dagh) but on a mountain in the canton of Kortuk where we find Cudi Dagh.

    On Monday we went to Gobekli Tepe to view its impressive prehistoric archaeological remains. Then we went on to Harran where Abraham once lived before he went to the Land of Cannan. It was thrilling to read the unconditional covenant that God made with Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3) at Harran where it was first given!

    On Tuesday we visited local sites in Sanliurfa, named in the Greek period by Alexander the Great as Edessa, after the well watered city of the same name in Macedonia. Wednesday we returned to the good ol’ US of A.

    Thank you for reading this article. Feel free to pass it on to your family and friends.

    Bibliography

    Crouse, Bill; and Franz, Gordon

    2006Mount Cudi – True Mountain of Noah’s Ark. Bible and Spade 19/4: 99-113.

  • Noah’s Ark Comments Off on Did Sennacherib, King of Assyria, Worship Wood from Noah’s Ark as a Deity?
    Gordon Franz
    Introduction
    In Tractate Sanhedrin, Rabbi Papa (ca. AD 300-375) recounts a story about Sennacherib, king of Assyria, finding a piece of wood from Noah’s Ark. It states: “He [Sennacherib] then went away and found a plank of Noah’s ark. ‘This’, said he, ‘must be the great God who saved Noah from the flood. If I go [to battle] and am successful, I will sacrifice my two sons to thee’, he vowed. But his sons heard this, so they killed him, as it is written, And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adram-melech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword.” This story is recounted in Louis Ginzberg’s classic work, Legends of the Jews, and implies that this is a legendary account. One reason it might have been considered a legend is because Sennacherib was never on, or near, the modern-day Mount Ararat (Agri Dagh). Yet there are plausible historical reasons to believe this story is true and not legendary.
    There are three lines of arguments that suggest the historical plausibility of this event. First, at one point in his life, Sennacherib was on the mountain in the Land of Ararat where tradition and ancient history say Noah’s Ark landed. Second, he learned of the story of Noah’s Ark from some Israelites or Judeans with whom he had contact. Third, the strongest, the temple of Nisroch was dedicated to a plank of wood from Noah’s Ark.
    Sennacherib Saw Noah’s Ark
    Sennacherib would have seen Noah’s Ark during his fifth campaign carried out about 697 BC. This campaign was precipitated by the rebellion of seven cities located on Mt. Nipur, the Assyrian name for Cudi Dagh which were not subject to the Assyrian yoke.
    The flat area to the south of Mt. Nipur, today called the Cizre Plain, was a “buffer zone between the Mesopotamian lowlands and the Anatolian highlands”. In antiquity, the Cizra Plain was called the province of Ulluba. In the year 739 BC, after annexing Ulluba, Tiglath-Pileser III built and fortified a city named Ashur-ipisha. The surveyors of the Cizre Plain project have tentatively identified the site located in the center of the plain, Takyan Hoyuk as the site of Ashur-ipisha.
    The Assyrians used this agriculturally rich province to supply food for Nineveh and other cities in central Assyria. They would float grain and other foodstuff down the Tigris River on crafts called kalakku. These crafts consisted “of a raft supported by inflated animal skins”.
    The Assyriologist Julian Reade, suggested that the original cause of the Mount Nipur expedition [Sennacherib’s fifth campaign] was to punish the inhabitants for sinking loads of grain or stone sphinx colossi in transit to Nineveh. Others have suggested that the mountain villagers were attacking the Assyrian farms on the Cizre plain.
    Sennacherib successfully campaigned against the seven cities on Mt. Nipur (Tumurra, Sharim, Khalbuda, Kipsha, Esama, Kua and Kana). To commemorate his victory he placed at least nine sculptured panels near the top of the mountain. Seven were found near the village of Shakh. Two were found near the village of Hasanah. It has been suggested that Tummurra, the chief city of the region, lay under the village of Shakh because of its close proximity to the bulk of the inscriptions. The city of Esama should be identified with Hasanah, located at the foot of Cudi Dagh, because the toponym is preserved in the name of the village, and there too, the village is in close proximity of the inscriptions. I would be most grateful if any of the Turkish archaeologists are aware of any archaeological surveys on Cudi Dagh that could help identify the other five cities that were destroyed by Sennacherib.
    The inscriptions on the sculptured panels reveal the ego of Sennacherib.  After attributing his victory to the Assyrian gods, he describes himself as “the great king, the mighty king, king of the universe, king of Assyria, and the exalted prince!”. He goes on to describes himself as an ibex, leading the charge up the mountain, through gullies and mountain torrents to the highest summits. The impression one gets from his inscriptions is that he climbed all over the mountain in his conquest of the seven cities.
    When Friedrich Bender visited Cudi Dagh in the spring of 1954 he obtained wood samples from an object that might be Noah’s Ark at a level of about 2,000 meters, just below the summit of Cudi Dagh. This location is also near some of the inscriptions that were carved by Sennacherib’s artisans.
    Sennacherib would have seen an intact Noah’s Ark. He apparently, according to Jewish tradition, had “relic fever” and brought some wood back to Nineveh with him from Cudi Dagh.
    Sennacherib Heard about Noah’s Ark from Israelites or Judeans
    How did Sennacherib know that the object he saw was Noah’s Ark? More than likely he heard about the Ark from Israelites or Judeans with whom he had come in contact. There are several possibilities as to their identity. The first possibility is that his mother told him.
    In the spring of 1989, Iraqi archaeologists excavated a vaulted tomb (Tomb II) in the North-West Palace at Nimrud, ancient Kalkhu. Inside was a sarcophagus that contained two skeletal remains as well as 157 objects. The two occupants have been identified as Yaba, the wife and queen of Tiglath-Pileser III (744-727 BC), and Atalia, the wife and queen of Sargon II (721-705 BC). In a detailed study of these names as it relates to the foreign policy of Assyria, Stephanie Dalley suggests that they were Judean princesses married to the kings of Assyria. She concluded that “Atalya was almost certainly the mother of Sennacherib.”
    This is a tantalizing possibility, but is it the case? K. Lawson Younger, in an article discussing the Yahwistic theophoric element in names written in the Neo-Assyrian language, Akkadian, says it is far from certain that the name of Sargon’s queen, Atalia, contains the Yahwistic theophoric element and it is probably best to refrain from too much speculation on the queen’s ethnicity. Ran Zadok concurs with Younger. With these cautions in mind, we probably should look elsewhere for Sennacherib’s contact with Israelites or Judeans.
    The second possibility would be an Israelite or Judean soldier in the Assyrian army during Sennacherib’s Fifth Campaign. It is known that the Assyrians incorporated the armies of their defeated foes into their army.
    A third possibility how Sennacherib could have come in contact with Israelites or Judeans were those Judeans working on Sennacherib’s “Palace without Rival” in Nineveh. David Ussishkin, the excavator of Lachish, did a detailed study of the Lachish relief in the British Museum. He concluded from the dress that some of the laborers working on Sennacherib’s palace were Judeans, and “quit possibly the men of Lachish.”
    John Russell, in his monumental study on Sennacherib’s Palace, points out that Rooms 29, 30, and 33 of the palace were embellished with a special stone panel from Mount Nipur (Cudi Dagh) of polished stones. On the back of one winged lion from Room 33, door p, was an inscription that stated: “Palace of Sennacherib, great king, powerful king, king of the world, king of Assyria: [grain stone], whose appearance is like mottled barley (?), which in the time of the kings, my fathers, was valued only as a necklace stone, revealed itself to me at the foot of Mt. Nipur. I had female sphinxes made of it and had them dragged into Nineveh.” In a study conducted at the British Museum on the slabs that originated at Mt. Nipur, it was determined that the stone was fossiliferous limestone, also known as biopelsparite, and contained microfossils and shell fragments that fit the description of “cucumber seeds” or “finely grained barley.”
    The Israelites or Judeans that Sennacherib came in contact would have told him some of the great stories from the Torah. One of the most dramatic being the account of Noah’s Flood and God providing salvation for Noah and his family by placing them in an Ark built by the great patriarch.
    The Deity of the Temple of Nisroch Was a Plank from Noah’s Ark
    The Bible recounts the death of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, in this way: “Now it came to pass, as he [Sennacherib] was worshiping in the house (temple) of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammeleh and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the Land of Ararat.” Archaeologists, Assyriologist, and Bible commentators have been puzzled over the identification of the Sennacherib’s god, or personal divine patron, Nisroch because there is no Assyrian god named Nisroch! Some have suggested that Nisroch might be the god Enlil, whose name was sometimes used as an epithet of the god Ashur, the chief god of Assyria. Or he might be Ninurta the Assyrian god of war. But in both cases the biblical form of the name does not match the forms preserved in Assyrian sources. Others suggest that the name of the god Nisroch (Heb. nsrk) was a corruption of the name Marduk. Yet Lettinga points out: “There is no evidence that Sennacherib especially worshipped the divinity whose city, Babylon, he thoroughly destroyed in 689 BC. Sennacherib does not call Marduk his god but Assur.” But Lettinga goes on to suggest, based on Sennacherib being buried in the city of Assur, that the name Nisroch is a blend of the divinity names Assur and Marduk since Sennacherib had taken the statue of Marduk to a temple in Assur after he destroyed Babylon.
    Another commentator, giving sage advice, offered this suggestion: “To date, no Assyrian god by the name of Nisroch is known. However, given the Biblical record for accuracy in the reporting of obscure details of ancient life, it is reasonable to assume that archaeology has simply failed to uncover the data as yet. The implication is that this was the private tutelary [guardian or protector] god of the king.”
    Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, in a footnote on the rabbinic story based on this passage, says: “Because Sennacherib worshiped in the house of Nisroch (the house of the neser – the plank from Noah’s ark that Sennacherib turned into a god), his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, came and smote him.” In Aramaic, the word nsr could mean “plank.” In Syriac, it could mean board. Jastrow gives the definition of “board” for “neser” and “nisra.” Instead of looking for an unknown Assyrian or Babylonian god, or saying the name Nisroch is a corruption of some god, we should consider the possibility that the god he worshiped was a plank of wood … wood from Noah’s Ark! Sennacherib had heard the story about the Flood from an Israelite or Judean, but because of pagan influence in his life, he thought that the plank was the god who saved Noah and not the Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth! During his fifth campaign to Mount Nipur Sennacherib came across the remains of Noah’s Ark and brought back a plank and worshiped it as his personal god.
    Where was the Temple of Nisroch located? Cogan and Tadmor also state: “Likewise, the location of the Nisroch Temple remains, for the present, enigmatic” (1988: 239). There are several possibilities for the location of this temple. The first would be in Sennacherib’s “Palace without Rival” in Nineveh. A second possibility would be Assur, one of the provincial capitals of Assyria and the city where Sennacherib was buried. Neither city has revealed any evidence for this temple. It has been suggested that Sennacherib was murdered in Dur-Sarruken, a provincial capital about 20 kilometers to the north of Nineveh. Perhaps this is where we should look for the House of Nisroch where Sarruken might preserve the name Nisroch!
    Conclusion
    It can not be said with 100% certainty that Sennacherib worshiped wood from Noah’s Ark, but it could be said that the “rabbinic legend” is historically plausible, if not probable. This “legend” has its basis in historical reality. If that is the case, Sennacherib saw Noah’s Ark on Mount Nipur (Cudi Dagh) in the mountains of Ararat / Urartu, because he was never on, or in the area of, Agri Dagh, the (late) traditional Mount Ararat!

    by Gordon Franz

    Introduction

    In Tractate Sanhedrin, Rabbi Papa (ca. AD 300-375) recounts a story about Sennacherib, king of Assyria, finding a piece of wood from Noah’s Ark. It states: “He [Sennacherib] then went away and found a plank of Noah’s ark. ‘This’, said he, ‘must be the great God who saved Noah from the flood. If I go [to battle] and am successful, I will sacrifice my two sons to thee’, he vowed. But his sons heard this, so they killed him, as it is written, And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adram-melech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword.” This story is recounted in Louis Ginzberg’s classic work, Legends of the Jews, and implies that this is a legendary account. One reason it might have been considered a legend is because Sennacherib was never on, or near, the modern-day Mount Ararat (Agri Dagh). Yet there are plausible historical reasons to believe this story is true and not legendary.

    There are three lines of arguments that suggest the historical plausibility of this event. First, at one point in his life, Sennacherib was on the mountain in the Land of Ararat where tradition and ancient history say Noah’s Ark landed. Second, he learned of the story of Noah’s Ark from some Israelites or Judeans with whom he had contact. Third, the strongest, the temple of Nisroch was dedicated to a plank of wood from Noah’s Ark.

    Sennacherib Saw Noah’s Ark

    Sennacherib would have seen Noah’s Ark during his fifth campaign carried out about 697 BC. This campaign was precipitated by the rebellion of seven cities located on Mt. Nipur, the Assyrian name for Cudi Dagh which were not subject to the Assyrian yoke.

    The flat area to the south of Mt. Nipur, today called the Cizre Plain, was a “buffer zone between the Mesopotamian lowlands and the Anatolian highlands”. In antiquity, the Cizra Plain was called the province of Ulluba. In the year 739 BC, after annexing Ulluba, Tiglath-Pileser III built and fortified a city named Ashur-ipisha. The surveyors of the Cizre Plain project have tentatively identified the site located in the center of the plain, Takyan Hoyuk as the site of Ashur-ipisha.

    The Assyrians used this agriculturally rich province to supply food for Nineveh and other cities in central Assyria. They would float grain and other foodstuff down the Tigris River on crafts called kalakku. These crafts consisted “of a raft supported by inflated animal skins”.

    The Assyriologist Julian Reade, suggested that the original cause of the Mount Nipur expedition [Sennacherib’s fifth campaign] was to punish the inhabitants for sinking loads of grain or stone sphinx colossi in transit to Nineveh. Others have suggested that the mountain villagers were attacking the Assyrian farms on the Cizre plain.

    Sennacherib successfully campaigned against the seven cities on Mt. Nipur (Tumurra, Sharim, Khalbuda, Kipsha, Esama, Kua and Kana). To commemorate his victory he placed at least nine sculptured panels near the top of the mountain. Seven were found near the village of Shakh. Two were found near the village of Hasanah. It has been suggested that Tummurra, the chief city of the region, lay under the village of Shakh because of its close proximity to the bulk of the inscriptions. The city of Esama should be identified with Hasanah, located at the foot of Cudi Dagh, because the toponym is preserved in the name of the village, and there too, the village is in close proximity of the inscriptions. I would be most grateful if any of the Turkish archaeologists are aware of any archaeological surveys on Cudi Dagh that could help identify the other five cities that were destroyed by Sennacherib.

    The inscriptions on the sculptured panels reveal the ego of Sennacherib.  After attributing his victory to the Assyrian gods, he describes himself as “the great king, the mighty king, king of the universe, king of Assyria, and the exalted prince!”. He goes on to describes himself as an ibex, leading the charge up the mountain, through gullies and mountain torrents to the highest summits. The impression one gets from his inscriptions is that he climbed all over the mountain in his conquest of the seven cities.

    When Friedrich Bender visited Cudi Dagh in the spring of 1954 he obtained wood samples from an object that might be Noah’s Ark at a level of about 2,000 meters, just below the summit of Cudi Dagh. This location is also near some of the inscriptions that were carved by Sennacherib’s artisans.

    Sennacherib would have seen an intact Noah’s Ark. He apparently, according to Jewish tradition, had “relic fever” and brought some wood back to Nineveh with him from Cudi Dagh.

    Sennacherib Heard about Noah’s Ark from Israelites or Judeans

    How did Sennacherib know that the object he saw was Noah’s Ark? More than likely he heard about the Ark from Israelites or Judeans with whom he had come in contact. There are several possibilities as to their identity. The first possibility is that his mother told him.

    In the spring of 1989, Iraqi archaeologists excavated a vaulted tomb (Tomb II) in the North-West Palace at Nimrud, ancient Kalkhu. Inside was a sarcophagus that contained two skeletal remains as well as 157 objects. The two occupants have been identified as Yaba, the wife and queen of Tiglath-Pileser III (744-727 BC), and Atalia, the wife and queen of Sargon II (721-705 BC). In a detailed study of these names as it relates to the foreign policy of Assyria, Stephanie Dalley suggests that they were Judean princesses married to the kings of Assyria. She concluded that “Atalya was almost certainly the mother of Sennacherib.”

    This is a tantalizing possibility, but is it the case? K. Lawson Younger, in an article discussing the Yahwistic theophoric element in names written in the Neo-Assyrian language, Akkadian, says it is far from certain that the name of Sargon’s queen, Atalia, contains the Yahwistic theophoric element and it is probably best to refrain from too much speculation on the queen’s ethnicity. Ran Zadok concurs with Younger. With these cautions in mind, we probably should look elsewhere for Sennacherib’s contact with Israelites or Judeans.

    The second possibility would be an Israelite or Judean soldier in the Assyrian army during Sennacherib’s Fifth Campaign. It is known that the Assyrians incorporated the armies of their defeated foes into their army.

    A third possibility how Sennacherib could have come in contact with Israelites or Judeans were those Judeans working on Sennacherib’s “Palace without Rival” in Nineveh. David Ussishkin, the excavator of Lachish, did a detailed study of the Lachish relief in the British Museum. He concluded from the dress that some of the laborers working on Sennacherib’s palace were Judeans, and “quit possibly the men of Lachish.”

    John Russell, in his monumental study on Sennacherib’s Palace, points out that Rooms 29, 30, and 33 of the palace were embellished with a special stone panel from Mount Nipur (Cudi Dagh) of polished stones. On the back of one winged lion from Room 33, door p, was an inscription that stated: “Palace of Sennacherib, great king, powerful king, king of the world, king of Assyria: [grain stone], whose appearance is like mottled barley (?), which in the time of the kings, my fathers, was valued only as a necklace stone, revealed itself to me at the foot of Mt. Nipur. I had female sphinxes made of it and had them dragged into Nineveh.” In a study conducted at the British Museum on the slabs that originated at Mt. Nipur, it was determined that the stone was fossiliferous limestone, also known as biopelsparite, and contained microfossils and shell fragments that fit the description of “cucumber seeds” or “finely grained barley.”

    The Israelites or Judeans that Sennacherib came in contact would have told him some of the great stories from the Torah. One of the most dramatic being the account of Noah’s Flood and God providing salvation for Noah and his family by placing them in an Ark built by the great patriarch.

    The Deity of the Temple of Nisroch Was a Plank from Noah’s Ark

    The Bible recounts the death of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, in this way: “Now it came to pass, as he [Sennacherib] was worshiping in the house (temple) of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammeleh and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the Land of Ararat.” Archaeologists, Assyriologist, and Bible commentators have been puzzled over the identification of the Sennacherib’s god, or personal divine patron, Nisroch because there is no Assyrian god named Nisroch! Some have suggested that Nisroch might be the god Enlil, whose name was sometimes used as an epithet of the god Ashur, the chief god of Assyria. Or he might be Ninurta the Assyrian god of war. But in both cases the biblical form of the name does not match the forms preserved in Assyrian sources. Others suggest that the name of the god Nisroch (Heb. nsrk) was a corruption of the name Marduk. Yet Lettinga points out: “There is no evidence that Sennacherib especially worshiped the divinity whose city, Babylon, he thoroughly destroyed in 689 BC. Sennacherib does not call Marduk his god but Assur.” But Lettinga goes on to suggest, based on Sennacherib being buried in the city of Assur, that the name Nisroch is a blend of the divinity names Assur and Marduk since Sennacherib had taken the statue of Marduk to a temple in Assur after he destroyed Babylon.

    Another commentator, giving sage advice, offered this suggestion: “To date, no Assyrian god by the name of Nisroch is known. However, given the Biblical record for accuracy in the reporting of obscure details of ancient life, it is reasonable to assume that archaeology has simply failed to uncover the data as yet. The implication is that this was the private tutelary [guardian or protector] god of the king.”

    Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, in a footnote on the rabbinic story based on this passage, says: “Because Sennacherib worshiped in the house of Nisroch (the house of the neser – the plank from Noah’s ark that Sennacherib turned into a god), his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, came and smote him.” In Aramaic, the word nsr could mean “plank.” In Syriac, it could mean board. Jastrow gives the definition of “board” for “neser” and “nisra.” Instead of looking for an unknown Assyrian or Babylonian god, or saying the name Nisroch is a corruption of some god, we should consider the possibility that the god he worshiped was a plank of wood … wood from Noah’s Ark! Sennacherib had heard the story about the Flood from an Israelite or Judean, but because of pagan influence in his life, he thought that the plank was the god who saved Noah and not the Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth! During his fifth campaign to Mount Nipur Sennacherib came across the remains of Noah’s Ark and brought back a plank and worshiped it as his personal god.

    Where was the Temple of Nisroch located? Cogan and Tadmor also state: “Likewise, the location of the Nisroch Temple remains, for the present, enigmatic” (1988: 239). There are several possibilities for the location of this temple. The first would be in Sennacherib’s “Palace without Rival” in Nineveh. A second possibility would be Assur, one of the provincial capitals of Assyria and the city where Sennacherib was buried. Neither city has revealed any evidence for this temple. It has been suggested that Sennacherib was murdered in Dur-Sarruken, a provincial capital about 20 kilometers to the north of Nineveh. Perhaps this is where we should look for the House of Nisroch where Sarruken might preserve the name Nisroch!

    Conclusion

    It cannot be said with 100% certainty that Sennacherib worshiped wood from Noah’s Ark, but it could be said that the “rabbinic legend” is historically plausible, if not probable. This “legend” has its basis in historical reality. If that is the case, Sennacherib saw Noah’s Ark on Mount Nipur (Cudi Dagh) in the mountains of Ararat / Urartu, because he was never on, or in the area of, Agri Dagh, the (late) traditional Mount Ararat!

    Tags: ,

  • Paul and Places Comments Off on EMPRESS MESSALINA: A SUBMISSIVE AND CHASTE WIFE?
    EMPRESS MESSALINA: A SUBMISSIVE
    AND CHASTE WIFE?
    Gordon Franz
    A Plausible Historical Illustration of 1 Peter 3:1-6
    The Apostle Peter wrote his first epistle from Rome about AD 43. In this letter, he admonishes wives to “be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear” (3:1-2, NKJV). He might have had Valeria Messalina, the 18 year old wife of Emperor Claudius, in the back of his mind as an ironic contrast when he penned these verses.
    Messalina was born in AD 25 and married her nearly 50 year old uncle Emperor Claudius at the tender age of 14 or 15. She became his third wife and bore him two children, Britannicus and Claudia Octavia. She reigned as empress for about 8 years until her sexual appetite got the best of her. She was caught by her husband in an adulterous relationship with Gaius Silius, the most handsome man in Rome, as well as being involved in a planned coup and was forced to do the honorable thing – commit suicide in AD 48 (Vagi 1:157-158; 2:271-272; Wend 1999:20-23; Rose 1999:48-49).
    While in Rome, Peter would have heard some of the gossip circulating around the city about the Imperial family. Among other things, Messalina was a devotee of the Greek goddess Hera (Juno was her Roman counterpart), the goddess and patron of marriage (Motte and Pirenne-Delforge 1996:683; RPC I/1:249).
    Yet it seems Messalina would sneak out of the palace after she was sure her husband was fast asleep and work the night shift at a local house of ill-repute (Juvenal, Satire 6:115-132; LCL 93; see also Pliny, Natural History 10:172; LCL 3:401). She also had a reputation of arranging orgies for the upper class women in the palace while Claudius was away (Dio Cassius, Roman History (60) 18:1-2; LCL 7:413). Messalina apparently was anything but a submissive and chaste wife! In fact, in her arrogance, she had no fear of anybody, including the Lord Jesus or her husband the emperor!
    Bibliography
    Burnett, Andrew; Amandry, Michel; and Ripolles, Pere Pau
    1992 Roman Provincial Coinage.  Vol. 1.  London and Paris: British Museum and Bibliotheque Nationale de France.  (Cited as RPC).
    Dio Cassius
    1924 Roman History.  Books 56-60.  Vol. 7.  Translated by E. Cary.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library.  Reprinted 2000.
    Juvenal
    1918 Satire.  Translated by G. G. Ramsay.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library.  Reprinted 1993.
    Motte, Andre; and Pirenne-Delforge, Vinciane
    1996 Hera. Pp. 682-683 in Oxford Classical Dictionary. Third edition. Edited by S. Hornblower and A. Spawforth. New York and Oxford: Oxford University.
    Pliny
    1983 Natural History.  Vol. 3.  Translated by H. Rackham.  Cambridge,
    MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library.  Second Edition.
    Rose, Joe
    1999 Valeria Messalina. The Celator 13/9: 48-49.
    Vagi, David
    1999 Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. 2 Vols. Sidney, OH: Coin World.
    Wend, David
    1999 Claudius: The Man, Times and Coinage – Part III. The Celator 13/4: 20-30.

    by Gordon Franz

    A Plausible Historical Illustration of 1 Peter 3:1-6

    The Apostle Peter wrote his first epistle from Rome about AD 43. In this letter, he admonishes wives to “be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear” (3:1-2, NKJV). He might have had Valeria Messalina, the 18 year old wife of Emperor Claudius, in the back of his mind as an ironic contrast when he penned these verses.

    Messalina was born in AD 25 and married her nearly 50 year old uncle Emperor Claudius at the tender age of 14 or 15. She became his third wife and bore him two children, Britannicus and Claudia Octavia. She reigned as empress for about 8 years until her sexual appetite got the best of her. She was caught by her husband in an adulterous relationship with Gaius Silius, the most handsome man in Rome, as well as being involved in a planned coup and was forced to do the honorable thing – commit suicide in AD 48 (Vagi 1:157-158; 2:271-272; Wend 1999:20-23; Rose 1999:48-49).

    While in Rome, Peter would have heard some of the gossip circulating around the city about the Imperial family. Among other things, Messalina was a devotee of the Greek goddess Hera (Juno was her Roman counterpart), the goddess and patron of marriage (Motte and Pirenne-Delforge 1996:683; RPC I/1:249).

    Yet it seems Messalina would sneak out of the palace after she was sure her husband was fast asleep and work the night shift at a local house of ill-repute (Juvenal, Satire 6:115-132; LCL 93; see also Pliny, Natural History 10:172; LCL 3:401). She also had a reputation of arranging orgies for the upper class women in the palace while Claudius was away (Dio Cassius, Roman History (60) 18:1-2; LCL 7:413). Messalina apparently was anything but a submissive and chaste wife! In fact, in her arrogance, she had no fear of anybody, including the Lord Jesus or her husband the emperor!

    Bibliography

    Burnett, Andrew; Amandry, Michel; and Ripolles, Pere Pau

    1992 Roman Provincial Coinage. Vol. 1.  London and Paris: British Museum and Bibliotheque Nationale de France.  (Cited as RPC).
    Dio Cassius

    1924 Roman History.  Books 56-60.  Vol. 7.  Translated by E. Cary.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library.  Reprinted 2000.

    Juvenal

    1918 Satire. Translated by G. G. Ramsay.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library.  Reprinted 1993.

    Motte, Andre; and Pirenne-Delforge, Vinciane

    1996 Hera. Pp. 682-683 in Oxford Classical Dictionary. Third edition. Edited by S. Hornblower and A. Spawforth. New York and Oxford: Oxford University.

    Pliny

    1983 Natural History.  Vol. 3.  Translated by H. Rackham.  Cambridge,

    MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library.  Second Edition.

    Rose, Joe

    1999 Valeria Messalina. The Celator 13/9: 48-49.

    Vagi, David

    1999 Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. 2 Vols. Sidney, OH: Coin World.

    Wend, David

    1999 Claudius: The Man, Times and Coinage – Part III. The Celator 13/4: 20-30.

  • American History Comments Off on “HONOR THE KING” AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION (1 Peter 2:17)
    “HONOR THE KING” AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
    (1 Peter 2:17)
    Gordon Franz
    A Provocative Thought Question
    On the Sunday morning of the 1976 Bicentennial, my pastor, James Smith of Fair Lawn Bible Church in Fair Lawn, New Jersey spoke on 1 Peter 2:13-17. In the evening service we had a question-and-answer session about the morning message.
    At the question-and-answer session, the pastor’s teen-age son, Timmy, asked a very legitimate, yet provocative question: “If the American colonists / patriots were born-again Christians, then why did the colonists not honor the king, but instead revolt against the Crown?!”
    That was a very insightful question because Fair Lawn, New Jersey in the Colonial period was called Slooterdam, a Dutch word for a fish trap that was in the Passaic River (Rogers 1960:12). Slooterdam was in Bergen County which was divided between the Tories, who were Loyalists to the Crown, and the Patriots who were loyal to, and fought for, the Continental Congress (Braisted 2007:65-76; Leiby 1980). At this time, there was no sitting on the fence in Bergen County. In actuality, Bergen Country was a mini-civil war with family members that sometimes fought each other. A person could only be on one side of the fence or the other! I do not recall the pastor’s answer to that question, but I have never forgotten that challenging question.
    King George III, a Born-Again Christian?
    A few years later I came across a very fascinating article that added another perspective to that question and its relation to 1 Peter 2:13-17. Research has shown that King George III was likely a born-again Christian (Brown 1981:1-5)!
    Contrary to the portrayal by colonial politician and the propaganda of the American press that King George III was a tyrant, he was, demonstratively, a kind and humble man (Knox 1976:101). He encouraged his family and subjects to read the Bible. He supported the non-conformist churches (evangelicals) as opposed to the Church of England. He told his dying daughter, Princess Amelia, “it is not of yourself alone that you can be saved, your acceptance with God must depend on your faith and trust in the merits of the Redeemer [the Lord Jesus Christ]” (Brown 1981:2).
    He once asked one of his subjects as to the grounds of his hope of salvation. The person replied, “The sacrifice and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The king responded, “That too is the ground of my dependence” (Brown 1981:5). In other words, King George III professed to be a born-again Christian! The colonists did not honor the king as Peter admonished believers in the Lord Jesus to do; nor did they “love the brotherhood” which included King George III who was part of the family of God (1 Peter 2:17)! Why not?
    The Founding Fathers” Deists, Christians, or Theistic Rationalists?
    Recently I came across a very interesting, thought-provoking, book that added another dimension to this question. It is entitled, The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders (1912), by Gregg Frazer, a history professor at the Master’s College in California. In the book, Frazer interacted with the two extremes in American political theology. On the one extreme was the “Christian America” camp that believed that the United States was “a Christian nation built upon Christian and, specifically, biblical principles” (2012:2), and wants America to return to that position.
    On the other extreme, are the secularists who championed the so-called “wall of separation” between church and state and said that many of the Founders were deists. Frazer points out that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin were not deists, but rather, theistic rationalists (2012:125-163, 197-213). Each camp emphasized their favorite part of the First Amendment of the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The secularist camp emphasized the first part, while the Christian American camp the latter. Thus both parts of the Establishment Clause are in the Constitution.
    In the book, Frazer shows that the “political theology of the American Founding era was neither Christianity nor deism. The prevailing political theology of the American Founding era was theistic rationalism” (2012:2; italics in original). Theistic rationalism, a phrase coined by Frazer, “was a hybrid belief system mixing elements of natural religion, Christianity, and rationalism, with rationalism as the predominant element … Adherents were willing to define God in whatever way their reason indicated and to jettison Christian beliefs that did not conform to reason” (2012:14). Frazer concluded by saying:
    “By making their own reason the final determinant of what counted as legitimate revelation and the final determinant of the meaning of revelation, the theistic rationalists essentially defined away any independent divine influence on their own religion and politics. God effectively lost the ability to define Himself or make demands on them with which they were not comfortable. In other words, they effectively became the voice of God to themselves. In a practical sense, God became whoever they preferred Him to be and made only those demands they wished Him to make. They had truly created a god in their own image” (2012:236; italics in original).
    The Founders did, however, “not erect a wall of separation between church and state; [but] they promoted religion and considered it a necessary support for a free society” (2012:234). With this understanding, perhaps the theological foundation of the American Revolution was not as Biblical as one might want to believe!
    The “Conclusion” of the Matter
    If I had lived in Slooterdam during the American Revolution, which side of the fence would I have come down on? I have debated this question in my own mind many times. Would I have joined the Outwater Militia and fought with the Continental Army? Or, would I have been a British sympathizer and plundered food from my neighbors and sell that food to the British in New York City? A third option, a difficult if not impossible one at best, would have been to remain neutral.
    With 20/20 hindsight I am glad the American Colonies won the War of Independence and we have the Constitutional Republic that came out of it. I am grateful for the Bill of Rights with both parts of the First amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
    But what would I have done during the war? Biblically, I would have had to honor the king. The consequence of this action would mean I would have had to go to Canada with my fellow loyalists after the war. This is a chilling thought (Braisted 2007:75-76)! Yet I would have honored the king and loved the brotherhood, eh!
    Bibliography
    Braisted, Todd
    2007 Bergen’s Loyalists. Pp. 65-76 in The Revolutionary War in Bergen County. Edited by C. Karels. Charleston, SC: History Press.
    Brown, Roger Lee
    1981 The Christian Life of King George III. The Banner of Truth 215-216: 1-5.
    Frazer, Gregg
    2012 The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders. Reason, Revelation, and Revolution. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.
    Knox, R. Buick
    1976 Howel Harris and John Elias. Journal of the Historical Society of the Presbyterian Church of Wales 60/4: 95-103.
    Leiby, Adrian
    1980 The Revolutionary War in the Hackensack Valley. Camden, NJ: Rutgers University.
    Rogers, Robert
    1960 From Slooterdam to Fair Lawn. A History of the Fair Lawn Area, Bergen County, New Jersey. Fair Lawn, NJ: Thomas Jefferson Junior High School.

    by Gordon Franz

    A Provocative Thought Question

    On the Sunday morning of the 1976 Bicentennial, my pastor, James Smith of Fair Lawn Bible Church in Fair Lawn, New Jersey spoke on 1 Peter 2:13-17. In the evening service we had a question-and-answer session about the morning message.

    At the question-and-answer session, the pastor’s teen-age son, Timmy, asked a very legitimate, yet provocative question: “If the American colonists / patriots were born-again Christians, then why did the colonists not honor the king, but instead revolt against the Crown?!”

    That was a very insightful question because Fair Lawn, New Jersey in the Colonial period was called Slooterdam, a Dutch word for a fish trap that was in the Passaic River (Rogers 1960:12). Slooterdam was in Bergen County which was divided between the Tories, who were Loyalists to the Crown, and the Patriots who were loyal to, and fought for, the Continental Congress (Braisted 2007:65-76; Leiby 1980). At this time, there was no sitting on the fence in Bergen County. In actuality, Bergen Country was a mini-civil war with family members that sometimes fought each other. A person could only be on one side of the fence or the other! I do not recall the pastor’s answer to that question, but I have never forgotten that challenging question.

    King George III, a Born-Again Christian?

    A few years later I came across a very fascinating article that added another perspective to that question and its relation to 1 Peter 2:13-17. Research has shown that King George III was likely a born-again Christian (Brown 1981:1-5)!

    Contrary to the portrayal by colonial politician and the propaganda of the American press that King George III was a tyrant, he was, demonstratively, a kind and humble man (Knox 1976:101). He encouraged his family and subjects to read the Bible. He supported the non-conformist churches (evangelicals) as opposed to the Church of England. He told his dying daughter, Princess Amelia, “it is not of yourself alone that you can be saved, your acceptance with God must depend on your faith and trust in the merits of the Redeemer [the Lord Jesus Christ]” (Brown 1981:2).

    He once asked one of his subjects as to the grounds of his hope of salvation. The person replied, “The sacrifice and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The king responded, “That too is the ground of my dependence” (Brown 1981:5). In other words, King George III professed to be a born-again Christian! The colonists did not honor the king as Peter admonished believers in the Lord Jesus to do; nor did they “love the brotherhood” which included King George III who was part of the family of God (1 Peter 2:17)! Why not?

    The Founding Fathers: Deists, Christians, or Theistic Rationalists?

    Recently I came across a very interesting, thought-provoking, book that added another dimension to this question. It is entitled, The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders (2012), by Gregg Frazer, a history professor at the Master’s College in California. In the book, Frazer interacted with the two extremes in American political theology. On the one extreme was the “Christian America” camp that believed that the United States was “a Christian nation built upon Christian and, specifically, biblical principles” (2012:2), and wants America to return to that position.

    On the other extreme, are the secularists who championed the so-called “wall of separation” between church and state and said that many of the Founders were deists. Frazer points out that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin were not deists, but rather, theistic rationalists (2012:125-163, 197-213). Each camp emphasized their favorite part of the First Amendment of the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The secularist camp emphasized the first part, while the Christian American camp the latter. Thus both parts of the Establishment Clause are in the Constitution.

    In the book, Frazer shows that the “political theology of the American Founding era was neither Christianity nor deism. The prevailing political theology of the American Founding era was theistic rationalism” (2012:2; italics in original). Theistic rationalism, a phrase coined by Frazer, “was a hybrid belief system mixing elements of natural religion, Christianity, and rationalism, with rationalism as the predominant element … Adherents were willing to define God in whatever way their reason indicated and to jettison Christian beliefs that did not conform to reason” (2012:14). Frazer concluded by saying:

    “By making their own reason the final determinant of what counted as legitimate revelation and the final determinant of the meaning of revelation, the theistic rationalists essentially defined away any independent divine influence on their own religion and politics. God effectively lost the ability to define Himself or make demands on them with which they were not comfortable. In other words, they effectively became the voice of God to themselves. In a practical sense, God became whoever they preferred Him to be and made only those demands they wished Him to make. They had truly created a god in their own image” (2012:236; italics in original).

    The Founders did, however, “not erect a wall of separation between church and state; [but] they promoted religion and considered it a necessary support for a free society” (2012:234). With this understanding, perhaps the theological foundation of the American Revolution was not as Biblical as one might want to believe!

    The “Conclusion” of the Matter

    If I had lived in Slooterdam during the American Revolution, which side of the fence would I have come down on? I have debated this question in my own mind many times. Would I have joined the Outwater Militia and fought with the Continental Army? Or, would I have been a British sympathizer and plundered food from my neighbors and sell that food to the British in New York City? A third option, a difficult if not impossible one at best, would have been to remain neutral.

    With 20/20 hindsight I am glad the American Colonies won the War of Independence and we have the Constitutional Republic that came out of it. I am grateful for the Bill of Rights with both parts of the First amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    But what would I have done during the war? Biblically, I would have had to honor the king. The consequence of this action would mean I would have had to go to Canada with my fellow loyalists after the war. This is a chilling thought (Braisted 2007:75-76)! Yet I would have honored the king and loved the brotherhood, eh!

    Bibliography

    Braisted, Todd

    2007 Bergen’s Loyalists. Pp. 65-76 in The Revolutionary War in Bergen County. Edited by C. Karels. Charleston, SC: History Press.

    Brown, Roger Lee

    1981 The Christian Life of King George III. The Banner of Truth 215-216: 1-5.

    Frazer, Gregg

    2012 The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders. Reason, Revelation, and Revolution. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.

    Knox, R. Buick

    1976 Howel Harris and John Elias. Journal of the Historical Society of the Presbyterian Church of Wales 60/4: 95-103.

    Leiby, Adrian

    1980 The Revolutionary War in the Hackensack Valley. Camden, NJ: Rutgers University.

    Rogers, Robert

    1960 From Slooterdam to Fair Lawn. A History of the Fair Lawn Area, Bergen County, New Jersey. Fair Lawn, NJ: Thomas Jefferson Junior High School.

    Tags: ,

  • Paul and Places, Uncategorized Comments Off on Mutiny on the HMS Corinth: Under-rowers for Captain Jesus
    MUTINY ON THE HMS CORINTH:
    Under-rowers for Captain Jesus
    Gordon Franz
    Introduction
    On April 28, 1789, eighteen sailors from the crew of the HMS Bounty, led by Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian, mutinied against Lieutenant William Bligh because he was allegedly cruel to them, but more than likely the mutineers were smitten by the beauty of the women on the islands of Tahiti and Pitcairn.
    In the First Century AD, the crew of the HMS Corinth (His Majesty’s Ship Corinth) was mutinying to the will of the captain of the ship, Captain Jesus, by following different oarsmen on the ship and not the captain in charge of the ship. The Apostle Paul had to address the issue of division within the church at Corinth.
    The Maritime Setting of Paul’s Ministry in Corinth
    At the end of the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey, he and his traveling companions, Aquila and Priscilla, embarked on a ship at Cenchrea heading for Ephesus in Asia Minor (Acts 18:18-19). As they sailed east through the Saronic Gulf, with Attica on their port side (left side), they passed through the Bay of Eleusis and perhaps stopped at Eleusis to discharge or pick up passengers at the famous Eleusian shrine to Demeter. As they continued down the Straits of Salamis they observed a shrine to Artemis on the island of Salamis off the starboard side (right side) of the ship. Nearby was a trophy dedicated to the Greek navy and its victory over the Persian fleet on September 25, 480 BC (Pausanius, Descriptions of Greece 1.36.1; LCL 1:193).
    Perhaps Paul had read the account of this naval battle in the works of Herodotus (Persian Wars, Book 8) while at Tarsus University, or maybe, while he was in Athens, he had seen the theatrical production The Persians by Aeschylus in the Theater of Dionysius. Always looking for an opportunity to engage people in conversation, Paul might have asked one of the Greek sailors to recount the battle. This was like asking a new grandmother about her newly born grandchild! (“Want to see my pictures?”!). The Greek sailor might have regaled Paul with stories about the heroics of the victorious Greek fleet of trireme vessels and how they routed the Persians and their allies right under the nose of the Great King, the King of kings, Xerxes.
    The sailor would have had a good laugh when he pointed to the spot on Mount Aegaleos where Xerxes placed his throne to watch the battle. There Xerxes observed a Persian trireme commanded by his ally Queen Artemisia ram what Xerxes mistakenly thought was a Greek trireme in her attempt to escape the Greek forces. Xerxes reportedly exclaimed, “My men have become women, and my women men!” (Herodotus Persian Wars 8.87-88; LCL 4:85-87). Some have paraphrased this statement as: “My men fight like women and my woman fights like a man!”
    The Apostle Paul might have used his knowledge of trireme vessels he had gained in this conversation to drive home a point about the carnal activities of the believers in the church at Corinth. They were mutinying against Captain Jesus on the HMS Corinth!
    The Trireme Vessels
    The apostle would have been interested in the trireme vessels that both the Persian and Greek navies used because they provided him with a spiritual illustration that could be use in his epistle to the Corinthians. This illustration would be very meaningful to the civic-pride of the Corinthians because Thucydides (ca. 460-400 BC) reported that “Corinth was the first place in all Hellas, we are told, where triremes were built” (History of the Peloponnesian War 1.13.2; LCL 1:25).
    The wooden trireme vessels had three banks of oarsmen below deck. The side of the trireme was covered with wood, animal skin, or canvas of some kind, so the rowers could not see what was going on outside. At the stern (back) of the ship and above deck was the captain with a young man who beat the cadence on a drum. The captain would say “Stroke.” The drummer would beat the drum, “Boom.” The rowers would stroke their oars in unison. Again: “Stroke,” “Boom,” and another united stroke of the oars by the rowers. These oarsmen were called uparetas, which is usually translated “under-rowers.”
    Since the Roman navy still employed trireme vessels in their fleet, Paul would have been familiar with them. Thus, he filed away this information about the trireme ships and the “under rowers” for future use.
    The Problem in Corinth
    The Apostle Paul first visited Corinth in AD 50 during his second missionary journey and spent 18 months ministering in the city (Acts 18:11). He, more than anyone else, was responsible for establishing the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 3:10). Yet the Apostle Peter (Cephas) and Apollos from Alexandria had a great influence in the church as well.
    The first issue that Paul addressed when he wrote First Corinthians in AD 56 was the mutiny of the church at Corinth to the sovereign will of the head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ. There was division and contention within the church (1 Cor. 1:10-11). Factions were being formed by followers of Paul, Apollos, Peter, and the real “pious” ones, Christ (1:12)! Paul labeled these divisions and factions as carnality (3:1-4).
    The Apostle Paul stated that he, Apollos, and Peter were fellow-workers laboring together, metaphorically, in agriculture (3:6-9) and building construction (3:9-11). Yet he pointed out that God ultimately gave the increase for the harvest (3:6-7) and the Lord Jesus was the foundation of the church at Corinth (3:11).
    Paul then painted another powerful word-picture that invoked civic pride, issued a call to unity, challenged the saints to work as a team, and encouraged them to follow the Sovereign Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ.
    Under Rowers for Admiral Jesus
    Paul wrote: “Let a man so consider us, as servants (uparetas, “under-rowers”) of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1). The word-picture of an “under-rowers” was well known to the saints in Corinth. When Paul wrote to “consider us,” he was referring to himself, Apollos, and Peter (1 Cor. 3:22), as oarsmen rowing together on the same ship for Captain Jesus!
    There are at least five aspects of “under-rowers” that Paul might have had in mind when he painted this word-picture. First, the under-rowers were not slaves, but they were all volunteers because they were citizens of the city-state. All believers in the Lord Jesus have “heavenly citizenship” (cf. Phil. 3:20-21), so should willingly volunteer for the Lord’s service.
    Second, as a member of an organized team of rowers, they were all on the same footing as each other. The Apostle Peter considered himself a “fellow elder” in the assembly where he was in fellowship and not elevated above the others (1 Pet. 5:1-4; a lesson in humility he learned from the Lord Jesus in the Upper Room, cf. John 13:4-17).
    Third, they rowed together. If all the under-rowers were “rowing to the beat of different drummers” the ship would be stranded in the water and would go nowhere! While there is diversity of spiritual gifts within the assembly, all believers are to work together to edify spiritually, and build up numerically, the Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 12).
    Fourth, the under-rowers were below deck and could not see the captain, nor could they see outside, so they had to trust him to lead them into battle and finally into port. They were to row by faith, just as believers are to walk by faith, and not by sight! (cf. 2 Cor. 5:7; see also Peter’s take, 1 Pet. 1:7-9).
    Fifth, the under-rowers received no honor because only the captain was visible and he was the one who guided the ship into battle. This instilled humility in the oarsmen because they had to acknowledge that the victory belonged to the captain. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Lord Jesus will graciously reward the believer who labors for Him, in His strength, by His grace, and for His glory (cf. 1 Cor. 3:12-17). But the believer will humbly return those rewards to the feet of the Lord Jesus and acknowledge: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:9-11).
    Bibliography
    LCL = Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press.

    by Gordon Franz


    Introduction
    On April 28, 1789, eighteen sailors from the crew of the HMS Bounty, led by Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian, mutinied against Lieutenant William Bligh because he was allegedly cruel to them, but more than likely the mutineers were smitten by the beauty of the women on the islands of Tahiti and Pitcairn.

    In the First Century AD, the crew of the HMS Corinth (His Majesty’s Ship Corinth) was mutinying to the will of the captain of the ship, Captain Jesus, by following different oarsmen on the ship and not the captain in charge of the ship. The Apostle Paul had to address the issue of division within the church at Corinth.

    The Maritime Setting of Paul’s Ministry in Corinth
    At the end of the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey, he and his traveling companions, Aquila and Priscilla, embarked on a ship at Cenchrea heading for Ephesus in Asia Minor (Acts 18:18-19). As they sailed east through the Saronic Gulf, with Attica on their port side (left side), they passed through the Bay of Eleusis and perhaps stopped at Eleusis to discharge or pick up passengers at the famous Eleusian shrine to Demeter. As they continued down the Straits of Salamis they observed a shrine to Artemis on the island of Salamis off the starboard side (right side) of the ship. Nearby was a trophy dedicated to the Greek navy and its victory over the Persian fleet on September 25, 480 BC (Pausanius, Descriptions of Greece 1.36.1; LCL 1:193).

    Perhaps Paul had read the account of this naval battle in the works of Herodotus (Persian Wars, Book 8 ) while at Tarsus University, or maybe, while he was in Athens, he had seen the theatrical production The Persians by Aeschylus in the Theater of Dionysius. Always looking for an opportunity to engage people in conversation, Paul might have asked one of the Greek sailors to recount the battle. This was like asking a new grandmother about her newly born grandchild! (“Want to see my pictures?”!). The Greek sailor might have regaled Paul with stories about the heroics of the victorious Greek fleet of trireme vessels and how they routed the Persians and their allies right under the nose of the Great King, the King of kings, Xerxes.

    The sailor would have had a good laugh when he pointed to the spot on Mount Aegaleos where Xerxes placed his throne to watch the battle. There Xerxes observed a Persian trireme commanded by his ally Queen Artemisia ram what Xerxes mistakenly thought was a Greek trireme in her attempt to escape the Greek forces. Xerxes reportedly exclaimed, “My men have become women, and my women men!” (Herodotus Persian Wars 8.87-88; LCL 4:85-87). Some have paraphrased this statement as: “My men fight like women and my woman fights like a man!”

    The Apostle Paul might have used his knowledge of trireme vessels he had gained in this conversation to drive home a point about the carnal activities of the believers in the church at Corinth. They were mutinying against Captain Jesus on the HMS Corinth!

    The Trireme Vessels
    The apostle would have been interested in the trireme vessels that both the Persian and Greek navies used because they provided him with a spiritual illustration that could be use in his epistle to the Corinthians. This illustration would be very meaningful to the civic-pride of the Corinthians because Thucydides (ca. 460-400 BC) reported that “Corinth was the first place in all Hellas, we are told, where triremes were built” (History of the Peloponnesian War 1.13.2; LCL 1:25).

    The wooden trireme vessels had three banks of oarsmen below deck. The side of the trireme was covered with wood, animal skin, or canvas of some kind, so the rowers could not see what was going on outside. At the stern (back) of the ship and above deck was the captain with a young man who beat the cadence on a drum. The captain would say “Stroke.” The drummer would beat the drum, “Boom.” The rowers would stroke their oars in unison. Again: “Stroke,” “Boom,” and another united stroke of the oars by the rowers. These oarsmen were called uparetas, which is usually translated “under-rowers.”

    Since the Roman navy still employed trireme vessels in their fleet, Paul would have been familiar with them. Thus, he filed away this information about the trireme ships and the “under rowers” for future use.

    The Problem in Corinth
    The Apostle Paul first visited Corinth in AD 50 during his second missionary journey and spent 18 months ministering in the city (Acts 18:11). He, more than anyone else, was responsible for establishing the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 3:10). Yet the Apostle Peter (Cephas) and Apollos from Alexandria had a great influence in the church as well.

    The first issue that Paul addressed when he wrote First Corinthians in AD 56 was the mutiny of the church at Corinth to the sovereign will of the head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ. There was division and contention within the church (1 Cor. 1:10-11). Factions were being formed by followers of Paul, Apollos, Peter, and the real “pious” ones, Christ (1:12)! Paul labeled these divisions and factions as carnality (3:1-4).

    The Apostle Paul stated that he, Apollos, and Peter were fellow-workers laboring together, metaphorically, in agriculture (3:6-9) and building construction (3:9-11). Yet he pointed out that God ultimately gave the increase for the harvest (3:6-7) and the Lord Jesus was the foundation of the church at Corinth (3:11).

    Paul then painted another powerful word-picture that invoked civic pride, issued a call to unity, challenged the saints to work as a team, and encouraged them to follow the Sovereign Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Under Rowers for Captain Jesus
    Paul wrote: “Let a man so consider us, as servants (uparetas, “under-rowers”) of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1). The word-picture of an “under-rowers” was well known to the saints in Corinth. When Paul wrote to “consider us,” he was referring to himself, Apollos, and Peter (1 Cor. 3:22), as oarsmen rowing together on the same ship for Captain Jesus!

    There are at least five aspects of “under-rowers” that Paul might have had in mind when he painted this word-picture. First, the under-rowers were not slaves, but they were all volunteers because they were citizens of the city-state. All believers in the Lord Jesus have “heavenly citizenship” (cf. Phil. 3:20-21), so should willingly volunteer for the Lord’s service.

    Second, as a member of an organized team of rowers, they were all on the same footing as each other. The Apostle Peter considered himself a “fellow elder” in the assembly where he was in fellowship and not elevated above the others (1 Pet. 5:1-4; a lesson in humility he learned from the Lord Jesus in the Upper Room, cf. John 13:4-17).

    Third, they rowed together. If all the under-rowers were “rowing to the beat of different drummers” the ship would be stranded in the water and would go nowhere! While there is diversity of spiritual gifts within the assembly, all believers are to work together to edify spiritually, and build up numerically, the Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 12).

    Fourth, the under-rowers were below deck and could not see the captain, nor could they see outside, so they had to trust him to lead them into battle and finally into port. They were to row by faith, just as believers are to walk by faith, and not by sight! (cf. 2 Cor. 5:7; see also Peter’s take, 1 Pet. 1:7-9).

    Fifth, the under-rowers received no honor because only the captain was visible and he was the one who guided the ship into battle. This instilled humility in the oarsmen because they had to acknowledge that the victory belonged to the captain. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Lord Jesus will graciously reward the believer who labors for Him, in His strength, by His grace, and for His glory (cf. 1 Cor. 3:12-17). But the believer will humbly return those rewards to the feet of the Lord Jesus and acknowledge: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:9-11).

    Bibliography

    LCL = Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press.

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