Impressions of “The Many Faces of Christ,” by Phillip Jenkins, and “The Emergence of Islam,” by Gabriel Said Reynolds

I recently read two books, both of which revolve around the diversity of the Christian church in the middle ages. One of the currents in Christianity, which had proponents in Archbishop Nestorius and the middle east, was that God would never sully himself by actually inhabiting human flesh, having a mother, or a son. Perhaps the best remembered proponent of that belief was the Arab, Muhammad ibn Abudllah.

chi-rho-islamic-coin

Early Islamic coin, prominently featuring the “Chi-Rho” sign still found in Christian churches

Our knowledge of early Islam is weak.  The Qu’ran itself is vague — one might say nearly timeless — and most of “early Islamic history” comes from hadiths written centuries after.

Here is a rare, contemporary account of the rise of Islam:

In that period a certain one of them, a man of the sons of Ishmael named Mahmed, became prominent. A sermon about the Way of Truth, supposedly at God’s command, was revealed to them, and Mahmed taught them to recognize the God of Abraham, especially since he was informed and knowledgeable about Mosaic history. Because the command had come from on High, he ordered them all to assemble together and to unite in faith. Abandoning the reverence of vain things, they turned toward the living God, who had appeared to their father–Abraham. Mahmed legislated that they were not to eat carrion, not to drink wine, not to speak falsehoods, and not to commit adultery. He said: “God promised that country to Abraham and to his son after him, for eternity. And what had been promised was fulfilled during that time when God loved Israel. Now, however, you are the sons of Abraham, and God shall fulfill the promise made to Abraham and his son on you. Only love the God of Abraham, and go and take the country which God gave to your father Abraham. No one can successfully resist you in war, since God is with you.”
Bishop Sebeos The Armenian History

Chi-Rho, the first two letters of christ, surrounded by Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet
Chi-Rho, the first two letters of christ, surrounded by Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet

A large fraction of the world’s population believe a book is all you need. Muslims believe that the Qu’ran is eternal, the first born of all creation, existing with God in heaven before the beginning of time. Many Protestants believe in Sola Scriptura, “the book alone,” that the traditions and councils and history of the church are at best irrelevant and at worst harmful, because the Bible has all the answers.

There are two problems with “the book itself.” First, few Christians understand the definition or construction of their book. Second,few Muslims rely on their book alone, because of the incorporation of the hadiths into Islamic jurisprudence.

many faces of christ philip jenkins

The Many Faces of Christ, by Phillip Jenkins, is a story of the writing and editing of the New Testament. Because the New Testament we are familiar with is fixed — Four Gospels, one Acts, several letters to specific churches, and so on — there’s a sense of that’s how naturally it should be. And indeed, virtually every Christian group uses the same four gospels — those according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as their base. But there differences begin. Is Acts of the Apostles properly part of the Bible itself (almost all groups: yes), or is it a work of hagiography (writing about holy lives), or is it simply false? What about the Protoevangelium of James, which focuses on the childhood of Mary? Martin Luther tried to remove the Letter to the Hebrews from the Bible… but perhaps the problem is Paul’s letters (like the Gnostics and the Muslims believe).

The mass destruction of these “alternative” books began, not during the reign of Constantine, but during the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church’s prohibition against vernacular copies of the bible — but rarely those of “alternative” books (which were not holy and, therefore, simply works of fiction)such as the Cave of Treasures or the Gospel of James — meant those were widespread before the emergence of common-language Bibles. But “Sola Scriptura” meant that such sayings and legends no longer had a place in Protestant Christendom.

The process of creating the Protestant Bible — of perfecting Luther’s “Sola Scriptura” — finished some time after Martin Luther, around 1800. After that year the Old Testament books Luther opposed rarely were included in Protestant Bibles, but the New Testament books Luther opposed were always included in Protestant Bibles.

An example of such extra-Biblical works was the Protevangelium, best seen as Joseph/Mary fan fiction. In this passage, Mary is being raised by the Temple in Jerusalem, and is of marriageable age (12), so the Temple holds a lottery to marry her off:

And when she was twelve years of age, the priests met in a council, and said, Behold, Mary is twelve years of age, what shall we do with her, for fear lest the holy place of the Lord our God should be defiled?

Then replied the priests to Zacharias the high-priest, Do you stand at the altar of the Lord, and enter into the holy place, and make petitions concerning her, and whatsoever the Lord shall manifest unto you, that do.

Then the high-priest entered into the Holy of Holies, and taking away with him the breast-plate of judgment made prayers concerning her;

And behold the angel of the Lord came to him, and said, Zacharias, Zacharias, Go forth and call together all the widowers among the people, and let every one of them bring his rod, and he by whom the Lord shall shew a sign shall be the husband of Mary.

And the criers went out through all Judaea, and the trumpet of the Lord sounded, and all the people ran and met together.

Joseph also throwing away his hatchet, went out to meet them; and when they were met, they went to the high-priest; taking every man his rod.

After the high-priest had received their rods, he went into the temple to pray;

And when he had finished his prayer, he took the rods, and went forth and distributed them, and there was no miracle attended them.

The last rod was taken by Joseph, said behold a dove proceeded out of the rod, and flew upon the head of Joseph.

And the high-priest said, Joseph, Thou art the person chosen to take the Virgin of the Lord, to keep her for him:

But Joseph refused, saying, I am an old man, and have children, but she is young, and I fear lest I should appear ridiculous in Israel.

Then the high-priest replied, Joseph, Fear the Lord thy God, and remember how God dealt with Dathan, Korah, and Abiram, how the earth opened and swallowed them up, because of their contradiction.

Now therefore, Joseph, fear God lest the like things should happen in your family.

Joseph then being afraid, took her unto his house, and Joseph said unto Mary, Behold, I have taken thee from the temple of the Lord, and now I will leave thee in my house; I must go to mind my trade of building. The Lord be with thee.
The Protovangelium of James 8:9-16

The same nonsensical story, of the Temple lottery to determine who would mary Mary, occurs in the Qu’ran

Right graciously did her Lord accept her: He made her grow in purity and beauty: To the care of Zakariya was she assigned. Every time that he entered (Her) chamber to see her, He found her supplied with sustenance. He said: “O Mary! Whence (comes) this to you?” She said: “From Allah. for Allah Provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure.”

There did Zakariya pray to his Lord, saying: “O my Lord! Grant unto me from Thee a progeny that is pure: for Thou art He that heareth prayer!

While he was standing in prayer in the chamber, the angels called unto him: “Doth give thee glad tidings of John, witnessing the truth of a Word from God, and  noble, chaste, and a prophet,- of the company of the righteous.”

He said: “O my lord! How shall I have a son seeing I am very old and my wife is barren?” “Thus” was the answer “doth God accomplish whatt He willeth.”

He said: “O my Lord! Give me a Sign!” “Thy Sign,” was the answer, “Shall be that thou shalt speak to no man for three days but with signals. Then celebrate the praises of thy Lord again and again, and glorify Him in the evening and in the morning.”

Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! God hath chosen thee and purified thee- chosen thee above the women of all nations.

“O Mary! worship Thy Lord devoutly: Prostrate thyself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down.”

This is part of the tidings of the things unseen, which We reveal unto thee by inspiration: Thou wast not with them when they cast lots with arrows, as to which of them should be charged with the care of Mary: Nor wast thou with them when they disputed.

Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of those nearest to God.

“He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be of the righteous.”
Qu’ran 3:37-46

emergence of islam gabriel said reynolds

If The Many Faces of Christ is the process of hacking off “unworthy” texts from the Bible, The Emergence of Islam by Gabriel Said Reynolds is about the opposite process that occurred in the Muslim worlds: how the Qu’ran has been drowned out by the Hadiths in Muslim religious literature.

Hadiths are sayings of the prophet Muhammad.  A biblical analogy might be to King David.  David’s story was written down very quickly — the Book of Samuel seems to have been written during the time of King Solomon, and may have known King David.  But the “sayings of David,” the Psalms, were probably written hundreds of years later.

Interesting features of the Qu’ran include that iti never calls itself the Qu’ran (“Recitation”), though it repeatedly calls itself “The Book,” “The Book Manifest,” or “Th Reminder,” that the word Qu’ran itself appears to be Syrio-Aramiac and not Arabic, that the Qu’ran repeatedly emphasizes that it was written in Arabic, that the Qu’ran appears to use the Ethiopian version the Torah as a source, and that the Qu’ran, though it references many prophets, saints, the Virgin, and the Messiah, never names a known pagan idol or deity.

Why it has these features is unknown, or at least not described in Reynolds book. Rather, Reynolds spends most of it attacking the historicity of the Hadiths, which he argues were written to explain the Qu’ran to a later, and much different, imperial community.

An example of this can be found in the tale of Jonah, which is described in familiar terms in the Qu’ran

And Jonah was surely of those sent.
When he fled to the laden ship,
So he shared with others but was of those cast away.
So the fish took him into its mouth while he was blamable.
But had he not been of those who glorify (Us),
He would have tarried in its belly till the day when they are raised.
Then We cast him on the naked shore, while he was sick.
And We caused a gourd to grow up for him.
And We sent him to a hundred thousand or more.
And they believed, so We gave them provision till a time.
Qu’ran 27:139-148

This is a clear description of the biblical Book of Jonah, and even matches step by step of the veggie tales movie version of it. But later Islamic scholars, writing around the time of the composition of the hadiths, were confused where and when Jonah “fled.” The answer is explicit, indeed ridiculously so, in the opening of the Biblical book – no less than three city names occur in the first three verses

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
Jonah 1:1-3

The Qu’ran was written in a plce and time where everyone knew much of the Bible and quasi-biblical literature (the Cave of Wonders, the Torah, the Book of Samuel, the Psalms, the Protoevangelium, the Gospels, and the Letters of Paul all seem to be familiar to the author of the Qu’ran), but by the time the Hadiths were written this knowledge had been lost, and the cultural difference between Muslims, Jews, and Christians had become to vast that using the Book of Jonah as a reference was now out of the question.

A consequence of this view — that the Qu’ran is an ancient text but that the hadiths were written long after to explain to the Qu’ran — is that we now very little of the emergence of Islam. Almost Muhammad’s entire biography may be incorrect, as it is based on hadiths written hundreds of years after his life.

It also means that some odd aspects of the Qu’ran, such as using pronouns without previously identifying the noun, become even more vexing

For instance, in this passage (which begins the book, “The Israelites,” in this passage), who is “His servant,: and what are the “Mosques”

In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

Glory to Him Who carried His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Remote Mosque, whose precincts We blessed, that We might show him of Our signs! Surely He is the Hearing, the Seeing.

And We gave Moses the Book and made it a guidance to the Children of Israel (saying): Take no guardian beside Me —

The offspring of those whom We bore with Noah. Surely he was a grateful servant.
Qu’ran 17:1-3

In the hadiths, the answer is clear: the references are to Muhammad, Mecca, and Jerusalem.

But Said suggests, the answer can just as plausibly be Elijah, Jerusalem, and Mt. Sinai.

Another example is the “Satanic verses,” where Muhammad approves prayers to three….   somethings…

Have ye thought upon Al-Lat and Al-‘Uzzá
and Manat, the third, the other?
These are the exalted “Gharaniq” whose intercession is hoped for.

The names Al-lat, Al-Uzza, Manat, and the word, “Gharaniq” are words unknown before hte publication of the qu’ran. What is interceding?
Most texts will say these are goddesses, but no other pagan gods or goddesses are mentioned in the Qu’ran.  Numerous prophets, angels, and saints, though, are mentioned.  Perhaps Al-lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat are the names of prophets, angels, or saints?

Perhaps they as silent to history as St. Kilda.

Perhaps they are guardian angels?

We don’t know. There is so much we don’t know.

mary mother of jesus in quran

I’m glad I read The Many Faces of Christ before The Emergence of Islam, because the Qu’ran’s scattershot approach to the Bible makes more sense in light of how the Bible was assembled. When the Patriarch of Constantinople denied God had a mother, though venerated the Virgin, the Qu’rans denial and veneration of the same is less surprising. Likewise, the Quran’s inclusion of apocryphal works (such as the Cave of Wonders or the Protoevangelium) but apparent ignorance of the Wisdom Books, also makes sense when one considers the state of the flux the biblical cannon was then in.

Letter to the Hebrews

If you see the Father, you will die

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
John 1:18

The Son is the way we can see that which would kill us to see

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Colossians 1:15

We cannot bear the Father, not even His love.  And we wati for the Son to come again.  But until then, the Father, in the Name of the Son, sent the Holy Spirit to us

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:26-27

The Father

The Sigil of the Fire
The Sigil of the Fire of Fires

God, that ancient of days El, spoke the stars into existence.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Genesis 1:3

These fusion reactors are his warriors.

From the heavens, the stars fought
From their stations, they fought with Sisera
Judges 5:20

when_galaxies_collide_by_richmerk-d3k4lwo

Such a being – who created the hottest fires in the world, and uses them as his warriors — keeps even the sea monsters for fishing

“Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook
or press down his tongue with a cord?
Can you put a rope in his nose
or pierce his jaw with a hook?
Will he make many pleas to you?
Job 41:1-3

While not fishing for monsters, He uses monstrous creatures of fire — the Seraphim — as his throne

seraphim_by_cinemamind

He lives, seated on bio-mechanical living beings

I looked, and I saw beside the cherubim four wheels, one beside each of the cherubim; the wheels sparkled like topaz. As for their appearance, the four of them looked alike; each was like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the cherubim faced; the wheels did not turn about[b] as the cherubim went. The cherubim went in whatever direction the head faced, without turning as they went. Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels. I heard the wheels being called “the whirling wheels.” Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a human being, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.
Ezekial 10:9-14

And guarded — attended — sung to — by transdimensional monsters

cherubim_full_color_by_aremke-d30l7kj

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the LORD, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying…

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
Isaiah 6:1-2,4

What else can be said of it?

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;

And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.

And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
Genesis 28:12-13

The Son

The Technician Ascends to the Fire of Fires
The Technician Ascends to the Fire of Fires

But there seems to be another person who is also God. Instead of the terrible, effortless cosmic war to create the universe, there is work with hands

Then the LORD God formed a man[c] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.
Genesis 2:7-8

This LORD surrounds himself not with terrible monsters, but with humans. Humans he calls family

And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
Luke 8:20-21

Humans he calls friends

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
John 15:12-15

The Righteous King of Peace, and Friends
The Righteous King of Peace, and Friends

 

The Holy Spirit

The Singularity, To Which All Things React
No man has seen a naked singularity. We can detect its presence, but who can pass the Event Horizon and return?

And then there is this… other…. thing… We may call it a “person,” and “God,” because it is identified with God and is not the other two — yet —

Here, the LORD promises his “Presence”

If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.
Exodus 33:13-15

By “Presence,” Moses seems to mean the Holy Spirit of God, a presence of God that is itself God

Yet they rebelled
and grieved his Holy Spirit.
So he turned and became their enemy
and he himself fought against them.
Then his people recalled the days of old,
the days of Moses and his people—
where is he who brought them through the sea,
with the shepherd of his flock?
Where is he who set
his Holy Spirit among them,
who sent his glorious arm of power
to be at Moses’ right hand,
who divided the waters before them,
Isaiah 63:10-12

And here, the “Angel of the LORD” is the LORD Himself. Proceeding from that which He is:

The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Genesis 22:15-18

And here, the “Name of the LORD” seems not to simply mean the Tetragrammaton, but a being of its own will — a being of fire

See, the Name of the LORD comes from afar,
with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke;
His lips are full of wrath,
and His tongue is a consuming fire.
Isaiah 30:27

This Presense, this Angel of the LORD, this Name of the LORD, He is the Father’s Ambassador, but from the Son too. We can have the Holy Spirit, because we could not withstand the Father.

The Holy Spirit, Wings of Fire Reaching to the Rims of the Wheel
The Holy Spirit, Wings of Fire Reaching to the Rims of the Wheel

The Presence of the LORD, the Holy Spirit of God, the Angel of the LORD, the Name of the LORD are ways of describing the indescribable — that God that proceeds from God the Father, and Our Lord the Son, who we can approach, without being consumed in fire.

Preparing the Blood of the Sacrifice

The Priests Prepare to the Sacrifice, for the Blood of the Covenant
The Priests Prepare to the Sacrifice, for the Blood of the Covenant

The Letter to the Hebrews is unique in that it takes hand of both ends of the Torah — the ancient worship of El and The LORD Genesis, the priestly devotions of Deuteronomy — and shows they are necessarily both of the same religion. The religion of Abraham. The religion of Christ.

Like many have before, the author of Hebrews notes that blood is a moral detergent, and that “the blood of the covenant” was re-presented by the High Priest in the Temple… a contemporary occurrence in the author’s time

When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance
Hebrews 9:6-7

Blood is used as a moral detergent throughout the Torah. Moses bound the young Bull for sacrifice, and

Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the Lord. Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.”

Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Exodus 24:5-8

But in the intellectual and Pharisaical tradition, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews asks — why is blood a moral detergent? Why must it be present for a command to be valid?

Because as Moses said, the blood of the Bull is the blood of the Law.

In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.
Hebrews 9:16-18

But there is an imperfection. Not only was a bull sacrificed to the Bull El, goats were sacrificed…

He [Jesus] did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean
Hebrews 9:12-13

The Sigil of Azazel
The Sigil of Azazel

.. sacrificed to AZAZEL

“[High Priest] Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and use it as a sin offering, but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.
Leviticus 16:6-10

Thus the Law is an imperfect sacrifice — from a mortal High Priest, mediated against through creatures like the Burning Bush and Azazel. The dead cattle and dead goats are not what God is after

For I desire steadfast love[a] and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Hosea 6:6

The imperfect blood of a dead, imperfect law, mediated by imperfect creatures.

The Lord did not want sacrifice, and it is not even clear if the Aaronic priesthood was ever valid.

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless
Hebrews 7:18

In the regulations concerning priests, the Torah reads:

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron, saying, ‘No man of your offspring throughout their generations who has a defect shall approach to offer the food of his God
Leviticus 21:16-17

What man is without defect? The modern eye is probably drawn to the first or last entry in this, one of many lists of defect

or a hunchback or a dwarf, or one who has a defect in his eye or eczema or scabs or crushed testicles.”
Leviticus 21:20

Hebrews’ hammers at the imperfection everywhere in the imperfect sacrifice, mediated by Azazel and the Burning Bush.

But the Gospel According to St. Matthew, the most Hebrew of the gospels, seems to dwell on the middle peace. A defect as small as one in the eye prevents mediation between God and man

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
Matthew 7:3-6

Would a Perfect Priest walk the Earth?

The Lamb in the Center of the Wheel, the First Born of All Creation
The Lamb in the Center of the Wheel, the First Born of All Creation

Bread and Wine

If there was a Perfect Mediator, He could He could bless both God and man.

After his [Abram’s] return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Genesis 14:17-20

Hebrews gives an explanation to this passage

This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
Hebrews 7:1-3

Melchizedek_Abraham

The Perfect Priest, the Perfect Sacrifice

The LORD, begotten by the Father, was made perfect, on Earth, in His suffering.

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 5:7-10

This allows a Priesthood to be strong and worthwhile, a perfect priest, forever

For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
Hebrews 7:28

God does not wish sacrifice, and with the perfect priest, it is no longer needed, for God Himself will not remember those sins

As the Prophet Jeremiah wrote,

No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
Jeremiah 31:34

Call Upon the Name of the LORD

Except, not really..  As the letter to the Hebrews says,

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”

then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Hebrews 10:16-17

The Prophecies of Jeremiah were voiced by jeremiah, but they were by the Holy Spirit.

And again

Today, if only you would hear his voice,
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,

Psalms 95:8

But really

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,”

Hebrews 3:7-8

The Father is a Fire, good in the sense a Bull can be good, visible in the sense a black hole is visible, incomprehensible to human minds and unseen to human eyes.

The Son has walked the Earth, but in his human nature comes to this place, or that, in this time, or that, and so much of what He has to say we cannot bear right now.

But in He, Sent by the Father in the Name of the LORD,

The TORAH

To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the Name of the LORD
Genesis 4:26

The WRITINGS

And everyone who calls
on the Name of the LORD will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be deliverance,
as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
whom the Lord calls
Joel 2:23

The LETTERS

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  For “everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:12-13

The Good Bull

Is the Bull Good?

tdaxp’s note: This is a speculative piece, like The Fire of the Angels. My reaction to Paul’s letters to the Colossians and Mullen’s The Assembly of the Gods may be useful for context.

God who brings him out of Egypt,
is like the horns of a wild ox for him;
he shall devour the nations that are his foes
and break their bones.
He shall strike with his arrows.
Numbers 24:8

Then take all the fat on the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, and both kidneys with the fat on them, and burn them on the altar. But burn the bull’s flesh and its hide and its intestines outside the camp. It is a sin offering
Exodus 29:13-14

Sitting in the cab of the F-100 pickup truck, watching my grandpa with the whip, the phrase “The Bull is Good” did not occur to me.

Cruiser the bull

But if it had, here would have been my evaluation of it.

“The Bull” clearly exists. The definition of a bull — what a bull is — is an adult male Bos taurus. The white charolais standing on the gravel might be wished away through some metaphysical definition of “is” — but the act of bull that had led us to that road, led my grandpa to the whip and me to the horn — was unarguable except by the obstinate.

Likewise, the Bull clearly had the capacity to be good, of having a right or desirable quality, at least in the context of himself. The pride, strength, and anger of his design – the protectiveness and the adventure of it — was unmistakable. The bull’s actions weren’t random. There was a design.

Nor was the question if the unhuman way in which the bull was “good” – the alien conception of motivation and drive that led the french to crash before him – the human conception of good. The bull stood naked, with no shelter or work or history – and was unconcerned with these. “Is the bull good in a human way?” might even be a meaningless question, for it is not certain if a bull could even be human.

Rather, the question is “is the bull good in an inhuman way?” Is the manner in which he crafts the clay under his feet into a path and speaks the the fear into my heart through his nostrils inhuman? He — if not this white charolais, one indistinguishable to it to the seven year old in that pickup — had crippled others like my grandfather. Perhaps he would take away the one I love now.

But I’d seen the calves that were his offspring. I’d seen the way — at a distance, but with the design clear – he had watched as he entered my grandparents (his??) pasture. He was a good cowherd. At least, to his own bullish morality.

Now, what if the Bull’s Calf had come to me, and, like Balaam’s donkey, opened its mouth?

What if the Calf had said, “Love one another, as I have loved you“?

What if He then said, “I have more to say, but you cannot bear it now.

What if the Bull told the Calf to walk down a garden path. But at the end of the path was not flowers but a dead tree. Not a feedlot but a slaughterhouse.

What if Calf then said, ‘My Bull, my Bull, why have You abandoned Me?”

white charlais calf

What if then he was taken to a kosher butcher who followed the law, pierced His slides while the blood drained out, propped Him onto a meat hook, and prepared the Calf into Veal?

What if, after three days, the Veal had once more become the Calf. True Bos taurus from true bos taurus. And the Calf said, “Did not the one on which cooking oil was poured have to suffer these things, to enter into His glory?”

(I don’t know. Why did He?)
(Because the Bull willed it.)

Is the Bull good?