A Catholic Jew Pontificates

I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Great French Pope and Prophetic Interpretation: A Hebrew Catholic Opinion

Prophecy is not always as clear cut as we think it is and its interpretation is difficult until after the events have occurred. For example there are many Catholic prophecies by seers and saints over the centuries of the rise of a Great French Pope and a Great Monarch. What does the word translated as French in English really refer to?

The original prophecies spoke of a Frankish or Frank Pope. There are a number of ways one could interpret this word. Frankish can refer to the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne which includes modern France, Germany and Italy and a number of other places in Western Europe. The prophecy could mean this Angelic Pope comes from one of the countries of Western Europe.

In the time of the Crusades the Muslims referred to all Western Christians of Europe as Franks and so this Pope could be a European Pope. Some groups of Jews were also referred to as Franks. It came to be a name for Jews of European origin living in the Ottoman Empire especially in Turkey. The term Frankist refers to those Jews who became Catholics under the leadership of Jacob Frank. Thus the term could mean the future Pope is to be a Jew or a Catholic of Jewish ancestry.

The name Francis also means Frank or Frenchman so the prophecies may refer to a Pope called Francis. Our present Pope is the first Pope to ever be called Francis. However the prophecy may not refer to our present Pope but to a future Pope called Francis. Now that we have our first Pope called Francis it is very likely a future Pope will also take that name in the near future. Another interpretation is the future Pope may have been a Franciscan.

Thus this Great Frank or French Pope could come from any of these origins. It is also possible that he could fulfill all these meanings if he is a Western European French born Catholic of Jewish  ancestry who takes the name Francis. Time will only make this clearer. I personally think this Great Pope will not arise until after we have a Pope probably called Pius XIII who goes into exile and hiding. However prophecies are tricky and they will probably be fulfilled in ways that surprise us all.

The media is reporting that one man is interpreting the unique stellar alignment on 23 September 2017 as the end of the world, which is obviously nonsense. Others believe it will be the Protestant rapture and others the arrival of Nibiru or some other celestial object. This alignment may indeed signal a certain Marian period as described in Apoc. 12 will begin. On the actual day nothing unusual may happen on the earthly level at all but the stellar alignment of the Virgin crowned may begin a new phase of her mission to save mankind and to usher in a kingdom of peace according to God's Will.

Monday, September 11, 2017

We are the Night's Watch: A Hebrew Catholic Reflection

"Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come."
―The Night's Watch oath
This oath of a military order in the "Game of Thrones" really sums up what the charism of the Little Eucharistic Brothers of  Divine Will is about but on a spiritual level. Yeshua said on his darkest Night in the Garden of Gethsemane: "Would you not watch one hour with me?". Those of us who have given up all do it to serve God and our fellow brothers and sisters in the battle against the Night or Darkness. The Winter is indeed coming with the living dead or white walkers coming in it's train. We mount the wall everytime we enter the chapel to do Eucharistic Adoration. The Zohar states: "The hour of prayer is the hour of battle". Our chapel is the Watch tower or look out Tower and we stand in the gap for others.

We pray for the return of the true King like John Snow in Game of Thrones or Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings. This ultimately of course refers to the return of King Yeshua but on the earthly level we await and pray for the rise of the Great Catholic King and the Great French Pope ( a Gandalf -like figure). We pray for the light of God's Divine Will to spread and explode in the world in order to bring in the Kingdom of Holiness on earth as it is in Heaven. All of us secretly long for a Great warrior Queen to fight on our behalf and free us who we can serve like Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones or Galadriel the Elven Queen in Lord of the Rings who are types for Our Lady our Great Jewish Warrior Queen who fights our spiritual battles. There is something in the soul of the Anglo-Gaelic English-speaking peoples that revere their Queens even more than their Kings.
In the Game of Thorns we have recently learnt that John Snow who is considered as a Bastard is in fact really the legitimate son of the Targaryen Dynasty and the true King who should be sitting on the Iron Throne. Thus the Great Monarch will also be revealed as a true heir to the French Throne and King Louis XVII even though some will question his legitimacy as we have seen with those who question whether Prince Harry is the son of Prince Charles. However time will soon tell us who these prophetic figures will be and we in the meantime pray for the victory of the Light of the Messiah to triumph over the Darkness that is descending on the world. We await the Messiah's coming as the Thief and Bridegroom in the Night who is embodied on earth in the persons of the Davidic Heir (Monarch) and the Shepherd of the Flock (Pope). Firstly as Christians (Notzrim) and secondly as Catholics and thirdly as consecrated monacelli (little monks or brothers) we are indeed the Night's Watch!

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Hebrew Catholic or Hebrew Speaking Kehilla? The St James Vicariate

In my blog article of Five Kinds of Hebrew Catholics I wrote about the Hebrew-speaking Catholics who seek to be culturally Israelis who are Catholic in religion. This group in Israel is the present St James Vicariate. In recent years they have been growing due to a number of Gentile families from the third world whose children speak Hebrew so feel more comfortable in the Israeli-style Hebrew speaking Kehillot of the St James Vicariate in Israel.

However the original Association of St James founded in the 1950's saw itself in a different light and many older members are saddened by the new direction of the St James Vicariate since the death of the first modern-day Hebrew Catholic Bishop in Jerusalem of a Hebrew-speaking community. The movement has now changed from being a sacred place for Hebrew Catholics of their own in the Church, to a Hebrew-speaking community in Israeli society which includes some Jewish or Hebrew Catholics. Some Hebrew Catholics are still involved with it but they will soon be outnumbered by the Gentiles. Basically the new direction is moving away from the Jewish identity of the Kehillot and its development of a Jewish-Christian spirituality for Hebrew Catholics or Jewish believers in Yeshua in the Church. Is this just assimilation in another form?

It is not that its present direction is not a good one and is certainly needed for those Catholics who are not Jews growing up in Israel. However the original vision that inspired its founders is rapidly being lost. Maybe it is time for someone in Israel to reform the original St James Association for the development of the Jewish Church possibly based on the Ordinariate model in which Hebrew Catholics all over the world could be members if they wished.  

In the past English-speaking Hebrew Catholics who tend to be more conservative and orthodox than the more liberal French influenced Hebrew -speaking Catholics have had troubles communicating. Father David Neuhaus did a wonderful job in trying to reach out to all while working within the parameters of the new direction of the St James Vicariate. That he himself was Jewish and English -speaking helped and his involvement in discussion with other Jewish believers in Yeshua in the Churches and Messianic Jews was also important and seemed to maintain a bit of the older spirit of the original association of St James. Now he is no-longer leader and with the leadership given to a Gentile priest will even these connections fade?

Among many Jewish believers in Yeshua in Israel there seems to be less devotion to traditional Jewish ways centred on Torah and Mitzvot than in the diaspora. Diaspora Hebrew Christians have become more and more observant as they realise this is what preserves Jewish identity. However in Israel this is seen as less important as Israeli identification is seen as that which preserves their identity. However this makes them more a part of secular Israeli culture and more distant from Orthodox Jewish religious culture.

Many Jews in the Church and their Gentile supporters have longed for a return of the Jewish Church of the Circumcision as the mother form of the Church and the need to create a Jewish space in the Church. Now it would seem one of those spaces in the making is becoming regentilised step by step until it is just another branch of the Gentile Church that happens to have the Latin liturgy in the Hebrew language. This would seem to rather suit the Arab dominated Latin Rite of the Church in the Holy Land and the Franciscans whose clergy are mostly negative towards Jews and the state of Israel. 

In the recent Vicariate clip in celebrating of the 60th anniversary of the St James Vicariate we see the sadness of one who fought for the original vision of the Association of St James, Cecile Pilverdier, at this new direction. After the excitement of the first Jewish Bishop in Jerusalem since the early Church with his death many dreams were dashed as the Kehillot of St James went in a different direction. But there is always hope and new wine that needs new wineskins. The Holy Spirit has not finished yet and in God's time we will see that Jewish space created in the Church in preparation of the ingrafting in Romans 11. Maybe it will only be when a more ecumenical working together with other Jews in the different churches and the Messianic Jewish movements, as has begun in the Helsinki Consultations, that a way forward will be found.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ellen Looney Downey: Irish Frankist Matriarch

 The Grave of Ellen Ahearn (nee Looney) 1833-1919 in Victoria, Australia.

In the 1760's a number of Frankist families moved from Poland and Germany to Ireland. Some of these families moved to the areas of the counties of Waterford and Cork in southern Ireland where there had been a crypto-Jewish community since the 16th century. These families took Irish surnames and outwardly observed the customs of the other Irish Catholics but in the home and in their own Frankist meeting they observed their own Jewish Frankist customs. They intermarried mainly with only those of other Frankist or Crypto-Jewish families. These families maintain their Jewish identity in secret for a few generations before being totally assimilated into the surrounding culture.

One of the descendants of these families was Ellen Looney who was born in 1833 in County Waterford in Ireland. Her father John Looney on his paternal line came from one of the older Sefardi crypto-Jewish families that had been in Ireland since the 16th century. The Looney family were descended from Juan da Luna of Spain and Portugal. John Looney had been born in Waterford in 1798 where his parents Gerard Looney and Catherine Murray had moved from Youghal in Cork. The Murray family were also known as the Murzynski family before they arrived in Ireland in the 1760's with the other Frankist families.

Youghal was a centre of crypto-Jewish activity and in the 16th century two of the Mayors of Youghal had been openly Jewish from the Annyas (Ennis/ Anes) family that were Sefardi Jews from Portugal. The da Luna or Looney family intermarried with the Annyas or Ennis family. A small Jewish community of Marranos Jews was established in Cork City before 1690 and that these were members of the Commissariat of the Duke of Marlborough's army recruited by Isaac Pereyra, Commissary General of the Army in Ireland.

Ellen Looney's mother was known as Hanora or Hannah O'Connor and her Jewish name was Chana Kinnor. Chana's parents were Frankists who settled near Cork and Hanora was born in Cobh near Cork around 1811. She later lived in Fermoy with her family. Her father David Kinnor (O'Connor) had been born in the Rhineland in Germany. Kinnor means Harp in Hebrew and the Kinnor family claimed to be descended from King David. David's grandfather David Menke Kinnor was born in Poland in 1730 and moved to Germany where he was also known as David Harf. The Jewish Kinnor family may have arrived in Poland in the 17th century from Scotland. 

The Kinnear or Kinnor family in Scotland were crypto-Jews (and part of a crypto-Jewish network of families) who reverted to open Judaism in Poland. In the 12th century the Kinnor family settled in Fife at the Priory of St Andrew and Kinneir in Fife was taken from their surname. Le Kinnor in Normandy in France had been their home before coming to Scotland in the reign of King David I of Scots. Michael le Kinnor (de Kyner) was the founder of the family in Scotland and the Kinnear family were descended from his son Simon de Kyner. At this time a number of crypto-Jewish and Jewish families moved to Scotland due to trading possibilities and messianic excitement among some Jews of a new Davidic King in the north.

Hanora O'Connor's mother Mary Maher (Miriam Mayer) was born in Ireland in 1787 of a Frankist family descended from Jacob Frank the Rebbe or Tzaddik of the Frankists. Two of Hanora's brothers Michael and James became Catholic Bishops in America. 

When Ellen Looney's parents moved to England to escape the Potato Famine, Ellen decided to stay behind in Cappoquin, Waterford. However within a short time she had lost her employment and was forced to enter the workhouse in Dungarvan in Waterford County. At this time most of the farmers had to dismiss their servants due to their increasing poverty. She in 1849 as part of a group of workhouse orphan girls went to Australia and worked initially for a family in Geelong in Victoria. In 1850 at Port Fairy in Victoria she married Robert Downey who was a former convict who also came from one of the Waterford crypto-Jewish Frankist families. His father was Denis Downey (aka Dionzy Dawosky). Robert had been sent to Australia in 1837 and received his ticket of leave in 1846. He had been convicted on 16 July 1836 at Waterford.

Ellen and Robert Downey had a large family and left alot of descendants in Australia. The eldest two caused the family great heart-ache as Daniel Downey was imprisoned for being an arsonist and their daughter Susan was in and out of asylums. Robert in 1870 was tragically killed when he fell off his dray and was run over by his own cart. Ellen would remarry to another one of the crypto-Jews descended from the Ahearn family of Youghal. She had a daughter Kitty (Catherine) from this second marriage. Ellen would live until 1919 until she was about 86. On her tombstone it says she was 90, but death ages on tombstones are often incorrect.

Ellen's daughter Ellen Downey from her first marriage seems to have married another Australian-born Irishman of crypto-Jewish ancestry John Cavanagh. The surname Cavanagh coming from the Hebrew word Kevanah (meaning devotion or intensity in prayer). However by this time the Jewish customs of the family would probably have been minimal and they were totally assimilated into Irish Catholicism of their neighbours by the 20th century. The Potato famine's beginning in 1845 in Ireland no doubt played a large role in the disruption of the networks of crypto-Jewish and Frankist families.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Lying, Bedding and Homosexual Acts: A Hebrew Catholic Insight

Most of us have heard the verses in Leviticus "A man shall not lie with a man as with a woman" (Lev.20:13 and Lev 18:22) and its application to homosexual acts. However there has been some controversy about this translation and the interpretation of it as applying to all homoerotic sexual acts. I decided to read it in the Hebrew and see what it was saying on the peshat level. 

וְאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִשְׁכַּ֤ב אֶת־זָכָר֙ מִשְׁכְּבֵ֣י אִשָּׁ֔ה תֹּועֵבָ֥ה עָשׂ֖וּ שְׁנֵיהֶ֑ם מֹ֥ות יוּמָ֖תוּ דְּמֵיהֶ֥ם בָּֽם׃
(v'ísh asher yishkav et-zachar mishkeve ishah toevah asu sh'nehem mot yumatu d'meyhem bam.) "And a husband, who lays (has sexual intercourse) with a male bedding his wife, having committed a depraved act, both of them die, their blood (guilt) is on themselves." There are a number of ways of understanding this verse. Ish in Hebrew means husband or man and isha means wife or woman and zachar means male. The verses in Leviticus seems to be saying that a husband who has anal sex with a male who is sexually penetrating his wife (a three-way sexual act) is committing a depraved act. The term mishkeve ishah (bedding wife) is a euphemism for sexually penetrating a woman that is another man's wife. This word is also used in Genesis 49:4 when Reuben takes his father's wife (concubine) Bilhah and sexually penetrates her. This term bedding (mishkeve) is used for a sexual act done from lust rather than an act of love.

Some scholars have drawn our attention to the practice of male temple prostitution to which this section of the Torah seems to be referring. Some believe that et-zachar refers to a male prostitute hired by the husband rather than just any male. It would seem the "both" who receive the death penalty are the husband and the male prostitute, but it is possible it refers to the husband and his wife but less likely. In that day and culture the woman was probably given little say in what her husband demanded. In this case the three-way sexual act is done as part of a ritual of idol worship which makes the act even more an abomination for God's people. 

The first Leviticus reading is in the parashah (Torah portion) called Acharei Mot (after death) and the second in Kedoshim (holy ones). Kedoshim is also a name used for Temple Prostitutes and Mot is also the name of a Canaanite God of death and the underworld. Baal is another of the chief Canaanite gods and the word Baal in Hebrew can mean husband or master. Thus the three-way act was a ritual of sacred sex representing Baal (the ish), Mot (the zachar) and Asherah (the isha). The hebrew word acharei can also mean the rear or back and this phrase acharei Mot alludes to Mot (zachar) receiving the phallus of Baal (ish) in his backside while bedding the Asherah (isha). In the Egyptian version it may represent Seth (ish), his nephew Horus (zachar) and the Goddess Isis and the mixing of the two ejaculations of the seed of the men. In later Israelite history this ritual was performed in the Asherah groves in the high places  as well as in the Jewish Temple itself until removed by the godly Jewish King Josiah (2 Kings 23). The word mot (death) is also included in the passage in Leviticus 20:13 about this practice.

This act also humiliates and shames the wife and the Torah seeks to give her some protection against the whims of her husband. This practice would also mean that one would not be sure of who was the father of a child - the husband or the other male. This is not good for society or the family unit. This also denies the rights of a child to know who are his biological parents and his full identity.

Later Judaism interprets these death penalties as spiritual in much the same way as Catholics refer to mortal sins that cut the soul off from grace (death to the soul rather than the body). As this sin is one that carried a blood guilt the only means of forgiveness is through deep repentance (teshuvah) and tears and some form of reparation (tikkun). King David had blood guilt due to his sins in the story of Bathsheba and Uriah and he repented and wept and then his reparation (tikkun) was the death of his baby son. In a sense the innocent baby son paid the price for David's reconciliation with God. This story of David, Bathsheba and Uriah when read in Hebrew and in the light of Jewish tradition also alludes to the homosexual inclinations of Uriah.

It would seem that Uriah has never consummated his marriage due to his stronger attraction to men and thus he and Bathsheba are childless. The story also seems to see Uriah's attitude to Bathsheba was more of that of a father to a daughter or a pet owner to their beloved pet, rather than a husband to a wife. We see hidden in the text his homo-erotic preference for being with his soldiers or lying with David's male servants or officers of the court rather than his wife. The text also seems to hint at his homo-erotic love for King David according to some sources (Ibn Mar Shaul). Shari Lowin points out the connection between the Hebrew words of mishkav (to lie) and mishkevo (on his bed) in 2 Samuel 11 with those in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 and thus hinting at Uriah's real reason for not going home and lying with his beautiful wife even though the king commanded him directly.* The king orders him to "wash his feet" which is a euphemism for having sexual intercourse as the feet also refers to the male scrotum (balls). 

As we know from the story of David and Jonathan, that David himself was not adverse to being physically intimate with a male friend with whom he had a love covenant. However this did not interfere with his love of his wives and the bearing of children. It would seem that David got Uriah drunk and got him to come out (vayyizi) which is possibly a euphemism for sexual arousal of the male organ. However much to David's dismay he did not go to his home and wife but instead lay with David's men on David's bed. This passage seems filled with double entendres as home (beit) also refers to one's wife and the author notes that Uriah didn't go down (which again refers to the sexual act of going down on one's wife).

Reading the text in this manner reveals that Uriah was participating in some kind of all male sexual orgy. It is after David saw this that he decided to have Uriah placed in the front-line of Battle. He realised that his words were hypocrisy about respecting the Ark and his soldiers on the front-line and the real reason Uriah disobeyed the King's direct command to go home and have intercourse with his wife. Of course David's reaction was wrong and self-serving but reading the text in this manner helps us understand why such a man of God could justify to himself such an action. It was probably not the homo-erotic elements that troubled David but the group nature of the acts which reminded him of the all male sex orgy of the Israelite men worshiping the Golden Calf.

The Hittites were a Canaanite tribe whom the Jews considered to practice homosexuality as part of their pagan rites. The Hittites may have been especially known for this practice and could explain why Uriah is called the Hittite. (These Hittites are not connected to the so-called Hittites (Hatti) of Asia Minor). It is unclear if Uriah was a convert to the Hebrew faith from the Hittites or he was given the name due to his practice of homoerotic love found among the Hittites. Or the Hittites, being of African origin, may have had bigger male sexual organs and Uriah may have been called the Hittite for the reason of the size of his own member. 

The homosexual rape and castration of Noah by his son Ham and also Ham's son Canaan is found in certain Jewish sources. Others believe that Ham had intercourse with his own mother while his parents were drunk. Could the Canaanite and Egyptian custom of the sacred sex act of the three way have its origin in Noah and his wife having uncovered drunken sex and that Ham or his son Canaan mounted Noah? Or did Ham get his son Canaan to slip in between his grandparents and in their drunkenness and the darkness didn't realise that Canaan was bedding Noah's wife and Noah was laying Canaan from behind? Was Canaan still there when Noah woke up and realised what had happened? Did Ham think it all a great joke and tell his brothers who were horrified and took a blanket to cover up the entire naked scene? Was this why Noah cursed Canaan rather than Ham? This scenario then makes sense of the ritual nature of the acts discussed in Leviticus. The Ish (Noah) lays with the et-zachar (Canaan) who is bedding the Isha (Noah's wife known as Emzara or Mother of the Seed). We must remember that Noah and his family had lived in a very wicked society before the flood and some of that remained with them and corrupted the post-flood descendants.

The Rabbis saw David's lying with Bathsheba as not adultery but as fornication or premarital sex. In a sense Uriah was not fully married to Bathsheba as the marriage ceremony had not been completed by its consummation and the Rabbis taught that the soldiers all took out a temporary divorce so that their wives would be free to marry if their husband went missing in action.

Thus these passages in Leviticus 18 and 20 are saying something about the sanctity of the marriage bed and depraved acts of lust that manifests in a form of a sexual act that corrupts the nuptial acts of love. Both Jewish and Christian tradition has extended the meaning of this to include all depraved acts based on lust which includes the anal sexual act between two men or even between heterosexual spouses. It is the acts that are an abomination or depraved not the persons who engage in them. Even less so is it saying anything negative about those who are primarily psychologically same sex attracted for reasons the Catholic Church itself doesn't fully understand (as stated in the Catechism).

While a literal reading of the texts in Leviticus in their cultural setting do not directly address all homosexual acts, the Jewish and Christian traditions read them in a broader perspective. In the time of Moses and of David they were at an early place in salvation history and even had more than one wife and concubines as well. Their attitudes to same sex intimacy seems to have been more flexible than in later times in Jewish history. Our understanding of morality has developed and especially with the New Covenant focused more on the striving and longing for the ideal rather than a limitation of the bad. With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the aid of the sacraments Christians can aim for a higher standard.

 However one needs to balance that with a non-judgmental attitude to those who struggle and an attitude of gradual progress towards perfection rather then expecting perfection immediately. Pope Francis asked a pertinent question about whether the receiving of the Eucharist is a reward for the good and perfect or medicine for the sinner on the journey to goodness. In the Western Church we have over the long centuries overemphasized the judicial and legal dimensions of the Church at the expense of the spiritual, practical and mystical approach and interpretation. We are in need of a corrective. A pseudo-Jansenist and pseudo-Gnostic mind set is still evident among many Catholics who think their rigid, static and legalist interpretation of the Catholic faith and culture is the only orthodox one. Pope Francis has been risen up by the Holy Spirit to be that corrective.

It is sometimes difficult when we are trying to support traditional marriage and to protect the right of children to have a mother and father not to demonise all who are same-sex inclined or living a homosexual lifestyle rather than opposing the ideas of those who set themselves up as "gay" activists. Like us all, people who are same sex attracted and tempted are broken and hurting and in need of love, compassion and healing. Some times we seem to forget loving the sinner while we battle the sins. We may refer to "gay" people as disgusting and an abomination rather than the lustful depraved acts. We conveniently forget that most of us may be guilty of committing such depraved acts of lust even if it is only in thought. However when a nation starts to promote depraved acts as morally good the whole nation becomes subject to divine chastisement in order to bring it to repentance and then to experience God's mercy and forgiveness. Do we want to be like Nineveh in the time of Jonah or like Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Abraham and Lot? At the same time our focus should be on strengthening the family in society and not judging those people who identify themselves as "gay".

*Lowin, Shari. Arabic and Hebrew Love Poems in Al-Andalus. Vol. 39. Routledge, 2013.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Mixed or Mutiple Identity: A Hebrew Catholic Reflection

 Miriam Margolyes

I was watching an old panel discussion on Q and A in which Miriam Margolyes the British Jewish actress was promoting a return to Dickens and Shakespeare to Australian schools. I don't normally agree with Miriam as she is an extremely left-wing, anti-Israel, Lesbian activist but on this point I certainly agreed with her and the Australians Germaine Greer and Barry Humphreys who were also supporting this.  As an English and History teacher and of Anglo-Jewish and Anglo-Gaelic ancestry I certainly think Australian school children should learn the great classics of English literature and British history which have formed our culture.

This caused me to reflect on multiple or mixed identities. I primarily saw myself as a traditional Anglo-Australian with deep roots in Australian history and culture.  However unlike some other Australians I saw no conflict with also feeling a great attachment to British culture and history and feeling a deep connection to the cultures of my English, Irish and Scottish ancestors. However through my Anglo-Jewish ancestry I felt also a very deep connection to not only Anglo-Jewry and its culture and way of life but through that to all Jewish cultures and to a great love of Israel and the Israelis. I am like a modern day Australian version of Daniel Deronda. 

As I relate to Dickens and Shakespeare and the other greats of English literature I feel an attachment to Arthurian literature as I do to Biblical and Jewish literature. I have a great love and devotion to the British Royal Family and the Queen but I also have a similar feeling towards the Czars of Russia and Russian culture and literature. I also have some kind of attraction to all things Sefardi and through my Spanish Jewish ancestry to all things Spanish. While I love Norse, Greek and Roman mythology I do not feel such a connection with their modern versions in Scandinavia, Greece and Italy. Why? Why does a Russian Orthodox service touch my heart in a way the Greek Orthodox service doesn't? Is it in our genes these tendencies or is it environment? Or a mixture?

 Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill

All I know is that I have these multiple identities which seem to work for me just as such multiple identities work for others.  At the age of 24 I became a Catholic and in a sense a whole new identity was brought into formation within me. I can see elements of my spiritual identity as being drawn from Anglican, Catholic, Jewish, Russian Orthodox and Evangelical and Charismatic sources. Am I mixed up and confused? Probably but I am now so used to it that I have integrated it all which makes up the person I am today. Probably more confusing to others than myself. 

 Banjo Paterson

I can enjoy reading the Zohar or Rebbe Nachman of Breslov in the morning and then reading the poetry of Lord Byron or Banjo Paterson in the afternoon and then the Dark Night of the Soul by St John of the Cross in the evening. Is this being all things to all men as advocated by St Paul? Paul or Rabbi Shaul certainly had some mixed identity as a devout Pharisee Jew, a Christian apostle and a Roman citizen who was obviously well educated in Jewish, Roman and Greek culture and literature. Even those who identify as Hebrew Catholics or Catholic Jews have our own unique mix as background and foreground identities. Will this lead to multiple personalities like in the "Threes faces of Eve" or the "United States of Tara"? I hope not!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Location of the Jewish Temple and the Via Dolorosa: A Hebrew Catholic Opinion

Location of the Temple according to the 5th theory

Today there are five major theories circulating about the location of the Jewish Temple. The first theory, which was also believed by some Jewish and Christian authorities of the past, is that the Temple and the Holy of Holies was located where the present Muslim mosque of the Dome of The Rock stands. The second theory, which also had the support of some Jewish and Christian authorities of the past, is that the Temple and the Holy of Holies were in the area of the Al Kas fountain between the Dome of the  Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque. At this location the Al Kas fountain could be today on the spot of the Holy of Holies or the Bronze Sea (or Laver) or the Altar of Sacrifice.

The Temple Mount today showing the Dome of the Rock an the Al Aqsa Mosque. The red numbers represent the location of the Jewish Temple according to the five theories.

The third theory is that the Temple and the Holy of Holies was to the north of the Dome of the Rock where the Dome of Spirits is today. The fourth theory is that the Temple and Holy Holies were not on the Temple Mount but to the south over the Gihon Spring. This forth theory believes that the whole Temple Mount was the Antonia Fortress which they believed was a city that housed a legion of 6,000 Roman soldiers. The fifth theory is that the Temple was where the Al Aqsa mosque is today and that the Temple platform extended further south than the present Temple Mount. This theory is proposed by Norma Robertson.

 The location of the Temple and the Antonia Fortress according to the 1st theory

Location of the Temple with the Altar in the area of the Al Kas fountain according to the 2nd theory

Location of the Temple  in Red with the Holy of Holies over the Al Kas fountain according to the 2nd theory

After examining the evidence of all five theories I believe the second one to be the correct one but I also think the fifth theory has alot going for it especially in regards to the aqueduct and water sources which is also a strength for the 2nd theory. According to the Book of Acts the Antonia Fortress was a barracks where St Paul preached not the city complex that the fourth theory proposes. In fact it was a barracks for 600 Roman soldiers not 6,000. We know that the original Temple had been a threshing floor which would also make theory four incorrect as it would not be built over the Gihon Spring as it would pollute the water source. Theory one is also wrong as threshing floors are built in valleys not on hilltops.

 The Location of the Temple according to the 4th theory

The fortress Antonia was also south of the moat so the present so-called Antonia Fortress at the school at beginning of the traditional Via Dolorossa could not have been the location of the Roman Antonia Fortress. Theory three would seem to be impossible as it borders right on the moat and leaves no room for the Antonia Fortress. Between the Western Wall (Kotel) and the Temple was a beautiful Rose Garden which would best fit the area of trees today seen near the Al Kas fountain area.

Location of the Temple according to the 2nd theory

Location of the Temple according to the 3rd theory

The Dome of the Rock  and the Al Aqsa Mosque are built on the foundations of the Roman Temple to Jupiter build by the Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century very similar to the Temple of Jupiter in Lebanon. It is believed that the statue of Hadrian on a horse once stood where the Al Kas Fountain is today (or nearby) which was believed to be the Holy of Holies of the Jewish Temple (Abomination of Desolation?). Is this the source of the legend of Mohammed ascending to Heaven on his horse from the Temple Mount? For Jews and Judeo-Christians it invoked the image of the false Messiah of Dan who was visualized as a rider on a horse with a serpent at his heels (Genesis 49:17).

The location of the Temple according to the fifth theory

The original Via Dolorosa may have started at the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus was taken across the Kedron Valley to the south side of the Temple to the House of Annas, then the House of Caiaphas, then to Pilate's residence at the Antonia Fortress, then to Herod's residence. These places are all located in the west (except the Antonia Fortress) in the area known as the Upper City. They are located in today's Jewish and Armenian Quarters. It also possible that Pilate was resident in Herod the Great's Palace and that Herod was resident in the Hasmonean Palace (near Shonei Halakhot and haSheshelet streets) which is about half way from Herod's Palace and the Antonia Fortress (Dome of the Rock location). In this case the soldiers would have taken Jesus away to the Antonia fortress for his flagellation and after Pilate's judgment they returned there with Jesus to collect his Cross. If the Gabbatha was in the Armenian quarter Parking lot area then that was a 17 -18 minute walk to the Dome of the Rock location of the Antonia Fortress.

From Herod then Jesus was taken back to Pilate at the Antonia Fortress (Dome of the Rock). This is possibly the real location of the First Station of the Cross and Jesus was led out of the western gate of the Antonia Fortress compound heading up a street that parallels today's Baruq Street (but probably 20 feet down below the present street) and the ancient Western Wall. Some believe that the gate here is the Iron Gate near the Little Kotel (possibly the real second station of the Cross). This street heads towards the north-west until the 4th station that is under the Church of the Spasm. From there it joined a street heading back towards the south-east before turning up a street heading west for the Ephraim Gate on the Wall of Second Temple Jerusalem and then outside the city to Golgotha. Thus the traditional Stations are roughly correct from the 4th station onwards but 20 feet under the ground.

A rough outline of the original Via Dolorosa on a modern map

Locations according to the 2nd theory in black letters and the different theories for the location of the Temple in red numbers

Rough outline of the Temple location according to the 2nd theory with the Bronze Sea or Laver at the spot of the Al Kas fountain

Until further archeological digs are allowed on the Temple Mount then the question is open about where the actual Temple and the Holy of Holies stood. If the second theory is correct then the Kotel (Western or Wailing Wall) is very close to the Holy of Holies and would explain the intense holiness and presence one feels when resting one's head on its stones. 

 Alternative 6th theory of the location of the Temple on Mt Zion

There is also another sixth possible location of the Temple and Antonia Fortress which would need more research. The Temple Mount may have been Herod the Great's Palace and the residence of Pilate. The Antonia Fortress may have been in the present Armenian Quarter and the Jewish Temple to its South on the area of Mt Zion and the valley between it and the eastern Hill may have been the original Kedron Valley and the eastern Hill the Mt of Olives. The Cenacle may have been in the area that was once part of Solomon's Palace. The Temple and the city of Jerusalem were said to be totally raised except for Herod's Palace which could be why so-much is still standing in the area of the Temple Mount.

According to the visions of  Blessed Anne Catharine Emmerich both Annas and Caiaphas's houses were on Mt Zion 300 paces apart (she was often very incorrect at judging distances). It would seem that the site known as Annas' House today may have been in fact the House of Caiaphas and the so-called House of Caiaphas in the Armenian quarter the House of Annas. In the time of Jesus a diagonal road ran between the House of Caiaphas and the House of Annas. She speaks of the area called Ophel (before one reaches Mt Zion in the west) being on a hill south of the Temple and surrounded by their own walls. She also places the palace and tribunal of Pilate on the north-west side of the Temple Mount and north of the moat. Opposite or adjoining Pilate's residence was the great forum or market place to the north of Pilate's residence but separated from the forum by a courtyard. This forum would seem to be where the school is that many claim was the location of the Antonia fortress. There was a Guard house with an open court which under it was a small prison. On the forum in front of the guardhouse was the Gabbatha. 

Emmerich clearly states that the Antonia Fortress was built on the projecting rock (ie the Dome of the Rock) which gives support for the 2nd theory as well as the 5th theory. She also states that King Herod's residence was not far from Pilate's residence and the forum in what she calls the new city in the north. If Blessed Emmerich's location of the Forum where Jesus was scourged and trialed by Pilate was near the Omariya School then the traditional 1st station of the Cross is roughly correct too. The 2nd Station would probably be south of the present traditional 2nd station near the present Baruq St.

 However I think at this stage of research that the 2nd theory is probably the correct one in regards to the Temple and the Antonia Fortress. There is of course much traditional support that in favour of the Dome of the Rock location of the 1st theory and is believed by many Jews and Christians today. Until further archeological discovery or Divine Revelation should definitively prove the point we all need to keep an open mind to all theories and the possibility that our choice of theory could be incorrect