21 January 2017

The Wisdom of Saint Isaac, Candlemas, Miriam, and More

My apologies: this post went up before I was finished. What you find below is my mostly complete transcription from my handwriting:

In writing what is below, I am neither seeking to convert you or convince you to think as I think. I am simply setting forth what I understand at this moment.  You must use your own discernment and do your own research to reach the conclusions that inform your faith and colour the way you live your life for God and in God.

A personal reflexion:

We need the Wisdom of God.  On many occasions God has sent Wisdom's voice into the world. One such moment in which we hear Lady Wisdom speak is through the words and witness of the Saints. Below this reflexion of mine you will find a clear expression of Wisdom in the words of St. Isaac of Nineveh also called St. Isaac the Syrian and Saint Isaac the Wise.

We have lived in a world that has turned a deaf ear to Wisdom over the last 150 years. It seems we have no desire to listen to prophets or the wisest of admonitions from apparitions of the Lord Jesus Christ and his Blessed Mother Mary.

Most of you will not know that in the ancient Hebrew religion the name of Lady Wisdom was known and revered.  Her name ... Miriam ... in English today is Mary.  

With the advent of Christ the "correcting" scribes of the Jews erased from their Scriptures references to Christ and His Mother continuing the work undertaken circa 600 BC to drive out Mother Wisdom from the First Temple and from the religion of Israel.  The deliberate and absolute error of translating a very important word as "young woman" is part of this effort continued to this day. The word in question does not mean "young woman"; it means "virgin".  The LXX makes it clear that the early Christians knew this word and that it meant "virgin". Pre-Christian Hebrew texts and Aramaic translations show that in the Hebrew religion prior to Christ, this word meant "virgin".  

The passage in question should be familiar to you: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son."  Sadly, even the Vatican and Catholic scholars are falling prey to the idea that contemporary rabbinical Jews must have it right, and we are wrong.  No, it is the other way round.  The rabbinical Jewish Scriptures are not in any way our Christian Old Testament.   Their Scriptures reflect decisions of rabbis after the time of Christ, scribes who decided to add vowel points to the text and so arrange the Hebrew letters that the Christian testimony could not be confirmed by their altered text of the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings.  They are certainly sacred to rabbinical Jews and should be respected as the sacred text of their religious community.  But those texts are not the Christian texts.  

The text that can be definitively called "the original Christian Old Testament" is the Septuaginta which in English we call the Septuagint.  But that is not the only one.  The ancient Aramaic translations used by Aramaic speaking Christians are every bit as "original" as the Septuagint (LXX).  The meaning and understandings in these versions convey the faith that Jesus and his disciples held. We can find Hebrew writings before Christ or near to his time who also confirm and convey the same meanings.  .. Now back to Lady Wisdom who was called Miriam.

Prior to Christian times, the relationship between Miriam who was Wisdom and Miriam the sister of Moses was well known and celebrated. There is some evidence that the Hebrews who knew the Moses story saw in the trio of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam a human reflexion of the Divine Family that was known as El Elyon (God Most High) Yahweh Sabaoth (the Lord of Hosts), and El Shaddai ('the God of the high places' and also 'the God on whose breasts we nurse).*  

After the advent of Christ his enemies only left a partial memory of Wisdom and of Miriam, sister of Moses in their Scriptures ... though it should be said that this work of erasing and changing can be traced back to Hezekiah and again in Josiah's reign.  Early Christians saw parallels between Moses, Aaron, and Miriam  AND Jesus, St. John the Forerunner, and either Mary the Mother of Jesus or Mary Magdalene.  Jesus was as Moses, but superior to Moses. St. John the Baptist was like Aaron but superior to Aaron, and Mary was as Miriam, though superior to her.  With the identification of Miriam, it is also possible to look at the evidence and conclude that Mary of Bethany sister of Martha was the individual who paralleled Miriam, sister of Moses.  None of this should be handled as an absolute but remembered to know that the early Christians were seeing parallels between Jesus and Moses and those nearest to Him.

This effort of Jesus' enemies "the correcting Scribes", the efforts of Ezra to rewrite and suppress Sacred Scripture, and the iconoclasm in the reign of King Josiah was not completely successful. As a side note, to this days Yemini Jews and those of Yemeni  Jewish background never name a son "Ezra"; it goes all the way back to when their ancestors, rejecting Ezra's new Scriptures, were evicted from the Temple and the priesthood.  They left Jerusalem to the iconoclasts and reformers and went into Arabia to keep the Hebrew and the Hebrew religion as it had been in the long time beforehand.

I imagine all of this may sound strange, and some of what I write next may seem stranger yet.  

The prophets lamented seeing Lady Wisdom depart from Jersusalem, and immediately after the "reformation" of King Josiah, God allowed Jerusalem to fall, the Temple to be destroyed, and the Hebrew people taken into captivity.  This is not the normal subject matter of most homilies and sermons today. Uncritically, most Christians read of Josiah's "great Reform" without asking the necessary questions.  This account was written by those who supported Josiah's reform and were taken into captivity.  There is no alternative account. There is no minority report.  And we know that a great many books are missing altogether from the Scriptures we possess and others are completely lost to time. 

Did some of the missing books mentioned by name in the Bible we have today give this anti-Josiah or anti-Deuteronomist position?  There is no way to know, but we must bear in mind that we are reading an account by a particular controversial party whose success was in getting their rewritten Scriptures to replace those that had gone before... and then further altered those Scriptures so the First Temple religion of Israel could not be seen without great, great effort.  

Through communities like the Essenes, the religion of the Jews of Egypt as recorded by Philo, and by clear evidence the first followers of Jesus all held to traditions and doctrines that came from the First Temple.  Sometimes this is very important as it explains why three of the Gospels place the Last Supper of the Lord on Passover and John records the event using the Second Temple calendar in which it is the Day of Preparation.  Very, very few in the Western Church are aware of this.

And now back to Mother Wisdom... and much of the following comes from research and fruitful dialogue with members of the Armenian Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, and the Assyrian Church of the East:

When considering many sources, one can discern (or construe!) that the witness and testimony of Jesus and the early Christians was that Lady Wisdom and her Son, the Divine Child returned to the Temple when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple. For the earliest Christians, Mary was Lady Wisdom in the flesh, and Jesus was Yahweh Sabbaoth, the God of Israel, in the flesh.  Their entrance together into the Temple was greeted by a great Prophetess named Anna or Hannah and an aged sage priest named Simeon.  

We remember this event as Candlemas on 2nd February and we call it the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple or the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin which refers to the ritual purification undertaken by the mother after giving birth and when the child could enter into the world with the parents.  Today only a handful of Protestants remember the day. And most Latin Catholics have neither knowledge of the feast or its meaning and they make no effort to commemorate the day and its extraordinary events.

This entrance into the Temple by Joseph, Mary, and Jesus meant to the early Christians that the Divine Family who were the One God who is the all in all, who had been at the heart of Hebrew religion --that is El Elyon, Yahweh Sabbaoth, and El Shaddai -- symbolically returned to the Temple and the People of Israel.

With Joseph his role was seen in symbolic relationship with the God the Most High; he had the great honour of having been chosen out of all mankind to serve in fathering the boy-child Jesus, the Son of God.  He was also the rightful heir to the Davidic throne over the Kingdom of Israel.  Joseph is a person of enormous significance in actuality and for the early Christians. 

With Mary and Jesus, the earliest Christians understood something very different from Christians today regardless of their Church or denomination.  The earliest Christians saw that the Divine King and His Queen Mother had come to Earth in the flesh.  To say anything less is to completely misrepresent their faith.

The Scribes were Jesus' enemy. They deliberately purged the Scriptures of anything that could related to Jesus and His Mother Mary.  In the archeological record we find time and again blessings that invoke Yahweh and Asheratah or Yahweh and his Asherah.  Many current scholars love to tell you that this is God and His wife... they have got it completely and utterly wrong.  This is God the Word, the Divine Child & King and Asheratah (or Asherah) is the Queen Mother.  This pattern of rulership was essential to the Davidic Kingdom and the human kingdom reflected the divine realties at the heart of the faith of Israel.  The king ruled with his mother enthroned beside him.  There was no rule for rulership for the wife or wives of a king in Israel.  This form of governance reflected the heavenly realities of rulership as they were believed and understood.

What was this Hebrew religion? To be honest much of what we "know" is guess work, educated guess work, but it can be demonstrated that this ancient Hebrew religion had been about God Most High, the Divine Son (the Word), and the Queen Mother (also known as Wisdom, the Spirit of truth).

The religious system we have today has come down to us through a great mangling.  The Ethiopian Orthodox come the closest to reflecting the original.  Yet all of it has been subjected to the vagaries of warfare, malevolence, and what can only be called the work of the devil to take from God's People the very truth of God.

This does not invalidate our religious systems or the structures of the Church(es).  In spite of all that the evil one has thrown at Christians, the Spirit of God has continued to lead us more and more into acquisition of the truth and the renewal of our faith no matter what.  That does not mean that the faith and religion we practice possesses all truth and knows all truth. It is a "not yet" but "then we shall know and behold with our own eyes" the very fulness of the truth in Christ Jesus.

The problems we face are the fossilisation that takes place in bureaucratic structures, an unwillingness of those in charge to listen to the prophets and seers God continues to send into the world, and the fallen human predisposition to exercise power and jurisdiction without any sincere nod to God's authority and the direction He continues to give.

We live in an age where the religion of Jesus and the earliest Christians is in some ways obscured.  It can be teased out from the icon traditions of the eastern Christian and Apostolic churches.  It can be found in the interpretative understandings of early Christian scholars like Origen. It is reflected astoundingly clearly in the writings of Philo, a Jew of Alexandria.  It is front and centre in both the Akathist Hymn of the Virgin and the Litany of Loreto.  It is clearly laid out in significant early Christian texts that were not included in the original canons of scripture.  The only exception to this rule is in the fuller and richer canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

You may intuit the original truth of these things from the way in which the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches celebrate and love Mary, the Theotokos, the Mother of God.  Recently, Pope Francis added Saint Joseph to the Canon of the Mass which illustrates the way the Spirit of holiness is leading the Church into all truth.  The truth of God and the truth of Jesus Christ is much larger than the Scriptures which are used like walls around the minds of some people keeping them from knowing the whole story.  But in time we who see as it were through a glass darkly will see all very plainly ... even face to face.

I know some of this is startling, very odd, and perhaps offensive to the views you have cherished.  But the very brokenness of the Christian witness to Jesus in this world tells us all that something is broken and we must have gotten some things very wrong for a long time.

The Holy Spirit of God who leads us into all truth never allows us to make altars of our preferences, tastes, and prejudices.  Truth does not really care if Evensong "went well".  But Jesus promised we would be led by the Spirit in the way of truth and the way of wisdom, and the Holy Spirit continues to lead us into all truth.  

And if we are being led into the Fulness of Truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, then we are being led into Reconciliation with a a capital "R" and into the renewing of our minds in our relating with others even our enemies.

So we turn to the Wisdom of St. Isaac the Syrian.  We need to lay down our cudgels and spears and weep before God for the sake of our enemies.  Our hearts must grow toward each other within the Divine Compassion of Christ even as we must grow into the full stature of Christ Jesus.

But it all begins with Wisdom, and asking God Most High in the Holy Name of His Divine Son to send the Holy Ghost from heaven so that we receive both the gift of Wisdom and her divine guidance and company as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ -- both his footsteps in the world and his footsteps to the Cross and also his footsteps out of the Empty Tomb and onward to His session at the right hand of God the Almighty Father.  If we follow that path embracing His Holy Mother Mary and loving Saint Joseph whom Jesus called Abba first in his earthly life, then we will be on the right path toward acquiring  the whole truth of the Living God our Saviour.

Let us have the gift of Wisdom, O Father, and grant unto the faithful to dwell and live within the Compassionate Heart of Jesus Christ our King and Lord. Amen.

          * Today most Christian authorities only admit a translation of El Shaddai as God of the Mountains or God of the High Places, but the evidence is plenty that El Shaddai was also understood as possibly the God with abundant breasts or the God with nursing breasts.  This likely will be very new information for some, and there are those who vociferously disagree on translation El Shaddai.  For me the translation is clearly a "both/and" which one often finds in very ancient languages like Hebrew and Aramaic.

The following comes via the Reverend Canon A.M. Allchin of + Memory Eternal +

Saint Isaac the Syrian writes:

    An elder was once asked 'What is a compassionate heart?'

    He replied, 'It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons and for all that exists.

    'At the recollection and at the sight of them such a person's eyes overflow with tears owing to the vehemence of the compassion which grips his heart; as a result of his deep mercy, his heart shrinks and cannot bear to hear or look on any injury or the slightest suffering of anything in creation.

    'This is why he constantly offers up prayer full of tears, even for the irrational animals and for the enemies of truth, even for those who harm him, so that they may be protected and find mercy. He even prays for the reptiles as a result of the great compassion which is poured out without measure - after the likeness of God - in his heart. '

The heart of compassion: 
daily readings with St Isaac of Syria 
(London 1989), p9. 

O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.