Monday, June 12, 2017

Bootles Beatlegs

If there is one thing that separates the people who merely like a performer or band from those who are fans, it's bootlegs. I guess this means I'm not a true fan of Bob Dylan, because although I own several of his albums and enjoy them, I'm not the least bit interested in collecting bootlegs of his music.
But with The Beatles, it's another matter. I think I must have first heard about bootleg albums when it was rumoured that Tyrrell's record store, in Market St, Newcastle was selling copies of a prototype of Let It Be called Get Back. I think they were selling them from "under the counter." They cost more than a regular album; maybe twice the price. I forget.
When I got my copy home, and opened the brown paper bag it was sold in, it had a plain, aquamarine cover, and little or no information about the tracks on it. It got worse! Because when I put it on the turntable, it was mainly surface noise. You could hardly hear any music at all.
Later on, there was a nice record called Sessions, with an attractive cover, and information on the back, which provided maybe about thirty minutes of interesting versions of songs, and some of those hard-to-hear tracks from that old Get Back LP, earlier versions of songs such as I'm Looking Through You, and never-released songs such as Leave My Kitten Alone.
Over the years, record collectors' markets have had albums with titles like Ultra Rare Tracks, volume six. These albums have cost about $40, and have had about fifteen minutes of music on them! Some of them have been very interesting, while others have consisted of The Beatles practising a few bars of  Help, over and over.
The alternate versions and previously unpublished songs on the Anthology set of CDs are fascinating. And the advent of YouTube has killed off those expensive bootlegs. Most of the material is up on YouTube, though occasionally copyright holders will take down some things.
I was interested to discover today that there are "work in progress" versions of Strawberry Fields Forever on YouTube that I had never heard before, and are not included on the super deluxe box set of Sgt Pepper. (Strawberry Fields was the very first song recorded for that new album, though it ended up as a double A sided single, and didn't make it onto the final disk.)
But, today I started listening to the disks of "work in progress" versions, included in the box set. The Strawberry Fields tracks sound terrific. Giles Martin has remixed these tracks, as well as those on the main album. They sound so much better than the versions that have been put up by fans on YouTube.

Friday, May 26, 2017

How to save a Youtube video ... before it's removed!

I know I'm going to forget this, so here is a page explaining how to save a Youtube video.
How to save a Youtube video
And here's the page that assists you in the task.
Youtube saving video page

Now ... will I remember I've done this?

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

It was fifty years ago today

I've been asked to reflect on my enjoyment of The Beatles' music, in the wake of the fiftieth anniversary celebrations of the release of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
I grew up in a Christian family, in which we had a collection of old 78 records of Scottish music, Mario Lanza's Student Prince LP, soundtrack recordings of film and Broadway music like Oklahoma! and Brigadoon, lots of recordings of gospel music, such as Tennessee Ernie Ford and George Beverly Shea, children's records, and one Classical LP - of Strauss waltzes.
I heard The Beatles' music for the first time when they came to Australia in 1964. We watched a program called Around The Beatles on TV and I started trying to play their songs on my piano and piano accordion.
At the end of the year, my friend Leonard and I were invited to go around the classrooms in our new school in Belmont playing two Beatles' songs on guitar and piano accordion. I Should Have Known Better  was pretty easy, but the chords of If I Fell were harder to play, because of the way they are laid out on  the accordion's buttons.
The following year, at Debbie Wilson's 13th birthday party, I was captivated by Things We Said Today. I liked the sad sound of Paul McCartney's voice, the rhythmic acoustic guitar part, and the way the song alternates between minor and major keys. I was hooked.
On 25th June, 1967 (or was it 26th in Australia?) I got up very early to watch The Beatles in the first world telecast ever singing All You Need Is Love. Sgt Pepper had already been released in the U.K. and US, but we were still waiting for it in Australia. I think I may have had an EP or two of Beatles's songs, but I didn't have any LPs. I asked for a copy of Sgt Pepper for my fifteenth birthday, on 16th October. Mum thought $5.25 was a lot of money, and when the price went up to $5.50, she nearly reneged on the deal!
I was so excited, I kept going on and on about getting this record, and in the end, Mum gave it to me a few days before my birthday, and none too graciously. I think she wanted to get me off her back!
I adored the album. I loved everything about it. The cover was fascinating, with so many different famous people on the front, and it even included the lyrics on the back cover. And the record cover (known as a gatefold) opened up, with a huge picture of The Beatles on the inside. I played it over and over on our monophonic record player.
It sounded like nothing I'd ever heard before. I was a bit behind the times, and had never heard Revolver, the groundbreaking album released the previous year, though I knew two of the tracks, (Yellow Submarine and Eleanor Rigby ) which had been released as a single.
Sgt Pepper has so many interesting features, in addition to the standard rock band instruments,  including the sound of an orchestra tuning up, a crowd laughing, a rooster that turns into an electric guitar, a group of animals chasing one another, an almighty orchestral crescendo, a brass band, a harp and string group, snippets of fairground music, a harpsichord, harmonicas, Indian instruments cleverly combined with syrupy orchestral strings, some cheeky clarinets, a piano chord that seems to go on forever, and a mysterious run-out groove of indecipherable chatter.
Over the years I have learnt a lot about music by listening to Beatles' songs and attempting to play them. A Hard Day's Night taught me about the place of dissonance in music, as I played that C chord with an E on the bottom and an E flat on the top when you sing "you know I feel all *right*" Penny Lane introduced me to the way changing the way a chord is laid out, can create a whole new feel to the same set of notes, as in the first line of the chorus which goes like this:
"Penny Lane is in my *ears* and in my eyes." I had to spend 35 cents buying the sheet music, to figure out what the chord on "ears" is, and discover the chord didn't change - only its arrangement, or voicing.
I think that The Beatles have inspired so many people to create interesting music, but I was never happy with the way they promoted drug-taking so enthusiastically. How many people have got into a variety of drugs, owing to The Beatles' influence?
Watching the Anthology DVDs, they came across as arrogant and self-serving. Reading books about their lives by people who knew them best, reveals that they have not been good role models. Though they wrote songs about peace and love, there was not a lot of that in their interactions with one another, especially in the later years.
As a Christian, I have always been aware that I could enjoy The Beatles' music, without wanting to be The Beatles, or taking their advice on how to live.
In 1969, when I was in Fifth Form [Year Eleven], I had the privilege of attending a camp at Gilbulla, in which people like The Kinsfolk (two Begbie brothers and a sister) got us to think about the influence of popular music on our lives. During the weekend, someone told us that Christians shouldn't be suckers - and fall for everything, nor wowsers - who were too pure to enjoy God's gift of music, but should be thoughtful critics. In my more than fifty years of listening to The Beatles' music, I have found this to be excellent advice.
I'm eagerly awaiting the remixed release of Sgt Pepper in a few days time, and am eager to listen to the album and the outtakes, read about its creation, and watch the restored Making of Sgt Pepper DVD, which George Martin, their genius producer, put together about 25 years ago. And, Yes! I've already bought the T shirt.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Harmonising the accounts of Jesus' resurrection

An reviewer has kindly gone to the trouble of summarising  John Wenham's Easter Enigma

This book is a scholarly attempt to harmonize the 4 separate Gospel accounts of what happened on the morning Christ rose from the dead. Each account presents a partial, independent, and true account of the witnesses to Christ's resurrection. Using first details from Scripture, and then reasonable conjecture, Dr. Wenham constructs a sequential narrative of the events from the Last Supper on Thursday to the Resurrection on Sunday to Christ's Ascension 40 days later.

Jesus eats the Passover meal with His 12 apostles in the Upper Room of Mark's house. Acts 12:12 suggests that this was the house of the unnamed wealthy benefactor (Mark's father) who had put his private olive garden, with its high walls and strong gate, at Jesus' disposal where He "had often met there with His disciples' (John 18:2). Judas leaves to arrange Christ's arrest. Jesus, the Eleven and Mark leave the house and cross the Kidron Valley. Jesus warns them that the Shepherd will be struck down and the sheep scattered. He predicts His impending death, the disciples temporary desertion of Jesus, His resurrection, and then His going to Galilee. Peter declares he will not desert Him. Jesus tells Peter that he will deny Christ three times before the rooster crows (dawn). Peter again insists he would not deny Christ (Matthew 26:30-35; Mark 14:27-31). They enter the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prays.

Judas arrives with an arresting party of members of the Temple guard and soldiers from the Roman garrison, stationed at the Antonia Fort to the north of the Temple. The Eleven escape up the Mount of Olives in the direction of Bethany, possibly to the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. The obviously line of escape for the Eleven is in the opposite direction of Jerusalem. Mark is nearly caught.

Jesus is taken back to the city; Peter and John think better of their cowardice, turn around, and join the returning company, which goes to the high priest's residence. Because John is known by the high priest and his servants, he gains access to the house of Caiaphas. There, Peter hears his Master's bold statement (Matthew 26:63,64). In response to Caiaphas' adjuration, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus replies, "I am." In the courtyard, Peter is confronted by a servant girl who says he is one of Christ's disciples. Peter denies Jesus three times. The Lord turns and looks at Peter, and Peter goes out and weeps bitterly. John, the son of Zebedee and Salome, then takes Peter in all his misery to John's (parents'?) home which is near the fish market in Jerusalem. It was also near the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. John is known by the high priest (John 18:15,16), possibly for supplying their fish.

Equating Matthew 27:56 "the mother of the sons of Zebedee" with Mark 15:40 "Salome" and John 19:25 "His mother's sister", Salome is the sister of Mary, the mother of Christ. Salome is therefore Jesus' aunt, and the apostles James and John are His cousins.

Also staying at John's home is Mary, the mother of Christ, and Clopas and his wife Mary. Again, equate Matthew 27:56, "Mary the mother of James and Joseph", with Mark 15:40 "Mary the mother of James the Less (little or younger) and Joses", and with John 19:25 "Mary the wife of Clopas". If these all describe the same person, then Mary and Clopas are the parents of the Apostle James the Younger. The church historian, Eusebius, says "Hegesippus asserts that Clopas was the brother of Joseph", the father of Jesus (Eusebius, Church History, Book 3, Chapter 11). So Clopas is Jesus' uncle, and Clopas' son is the Apostle James the Younger, Jesus' cousin.

Mary Magdalene comes to Jerusalem from Bethany. The Lord's mother, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Clopas, Salome, and Salome's son, the apostle John, come near to the cross. Other relatives and well-wishers (including Joanna and Susanna) stand further back. While on the cross, Jesus entrusts the care of His mother to the apostle John, His cousin (John 19:26,27). After the Lord's death, Joseph of Arimathea gets permission to bury Jesus, and the body is taken to his tomb. Joseph buys the great cloth (The Shroud of Turin) and Nicodemus buys the spices.

Joanna and Susanna follow Joseph of Arimathea and his servants and Nicodemus into the tomb to help lay out Christ's body. There was no time to wash and properly anoint the body before the onset of the Sabbath, around 6:00pm Friday. Joseph covers the back and front of Christ's body with the large linen, and Nicodemus brought 100 pounds of dry spices to pack around the body as a temporary anti-putrifacient until the women returned Sunday morning (after the Sabbath is over) to anoint the body properly.
Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene and Mary wife of Clopas watch from a distance.
The four women confer and agree to return at first light on Sunday to anoint Christ's body. Before they leave, they watch Joseph of Arimathea's servants roll the great gravestone against the entrance to the tomb (Matthew 27:60 and Mark 15:46).
Joanna and Susanna return to the Hasmonean Palace and prepare ointments.
Mary of Clopas takes Mary Magdalene to John's house (Because of the Sabbath, it is too late for them to return to Bethany).

Joanna was one of the well-to-do women who provided for Jesus and His disciples "out of their private means" (Luke 8:3). She also visited Christ's tomb (Luke 24:10). She was the wife of Chuza, steward to King Herod Antipas. Chuza and Joanna would have stayed at the royal residence, the Hasmonean Palace, in Jerusalem. Only Luke mentions Susanna in Luke 8:3 as one of those who helped support Jesus' ministry. It is possible that she also visited Christ's tomb with Joanna.

The grave is sealed and the Jewish Temple guard, backed by a contingent of Roman soldiers, sets up a watch. As the Sabbath draws towards its end (about 6:00pm Saturday), Clopas and his wife Mary leave John's house and go with Mary Magdalene to regain contact with the nine disciples at Bethany. Before leaving Jerusalem, they stop with Salome at the markets, which have re-opened at sundown on Saturday, and buy burial spices. Salome returns to John's house.

Preparing the Ointments
Luke 23:56 says that on Friday evening the women "returned [to their homes] and prepared spices and perfumes." Mark 16:1 says "When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James [the Less or Younger], and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him." There is no conflict here. Joanna and Susanna and Mary Magdalene, being women of "private means", began on Friday evening preparing the burial ointments from their own inventories, and then needed to purchase more as soon as the market re-opened, which would be sundown on Saturday. Matthew 28:1 says that on Sunday morning, "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (wife of Clopas) came to look at the grave." Matthew is presumably staying with the nine Apostles in Bethany, so it is a reasonable assumption that he is describing what he himself saw from Bethany, that Mary Magdalene and Mary wife of Clopas had spent Saturday evening in Bethany as well, before leaving for the grave early the next morning. They had left John's house in Jerusalem as soon as the Sabbath was over at sundown on Saturday evening. They purchased burial ointments with Salome, who returns to John's home, while Mary Magdalene and Mary wife of Clopas, accompanied by Clopas, travel to Bethany.

So at the close of Saturday, in John's house were Peter and John and Jesus' mother, and Zebedee and Salome. In the Hasmonean Palace were Joanna and Susanna. In Bethany were the nine Apostles, Mary Magdalene, Clopas and his wife Mary.

While it is still dark, Mary Magdalene and Clopas and his wife Mary set off from Bethany to return to John's house.
Since anointing Christ's body was women's work, Clopas stays at John's house, while Salome joins the two Marys. Then the three proceed with their spices to the garden tomb via the Gennath Gate. They were wondering "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" (Mark 16:3) They knew that Joseph of Arimathea had a gardener or night watchman (John 20:15).

A Great Earthquake
According to Matthew 28:1-15, there is a great earthquake and an angel of the Lord descends from heaven to roll back the stone, not to let Jesus out, but to let the women in when they arrive. Then he sits upon it, making it clear to the Jewish guard and the Roman soldiers that it is not going to be moved again. "His appearance was like lightening, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men." Both the Jewish and Roman guards run away.

When the Women Arrive at the Tomb
At what time did the women arrive at the tomb? Matthew 28:1 says "toward the dawn", Mark 16:2 says "very early...when the sun had risen", Luke 24:1 says "at early dawn", and John 20:1 says "while it was still dark." If John is thinking of Mary Magdalene setting off from Bethany, the translation "went to the tomb early, while it was still dark" would be precisely accurate. It was dark when the women left Bethany. By the time they had walked the 2 miles to Jerusalem and the tomb, dawn arrived. Matthews "toward the dawn" also fits a Bethany departure. The word "went" used by the first three Gospel writers and the word "came" used by John translate the same verb. Either translation is acceptable.

The women arrive at the tomb and see the great stone rolled away. Mary Magdalene concludes that someone has stolen Christ's body and runs to John's house to tell Peter and John. She leaves Mary of Clopas and Salome at the tomb. Mary Magdalene tells Peter and John, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him" (John 20:2). John 20:1 only mentions Mary Magdalene as having visited the tomb, but John knows other women were with her, because she says to them, "...and WE do not know where they have laid Him."

While Mary Magdalene is running to John's house to tell Peter and John that someone has stolen Christ's body, Joanna and Susanna, to help with the anointing, set out from the Hasmonean Palace and reach the garden via the Ephraim gate. Having already been inside the tomb on Friday evening, they don't hesitate to lead Salome and Mary of Clopas into the tomb, where the two angels make themselves visible and deliver their message.

Inside the Tomb
What happens when the women arrive at the tomb is told by Matthew 28:5-7, Mark 16:5-7, and Luke 24:3-8. Taken together, these accounts present independent and non-contradictory information. Luke mentions two angels PRESENT. Matthew and Mark mention one angel SPEAKING. At no time did Matthew or Mark say there was only one angel PRESENT. The angels are so "dazzling" in appearance that the angel in Matthew 28:5 tells them to not be afraid, Mark's speaking angel in 16:6 tells them to "not be amazed", and in Luke 24:4,5 the women are so terrified they bow their faces to the ground.

Luke 24:4 says the two angels "suddenly stood near" the women. This seems to contradict Mark's 16:5 speaking angel as "sitting at the right." But the word in Luke is "ephistemi" means "to appear to, often with the connotation of suddenness." It is entirely in keeping with the behavior of angels in Scripture to appear and disappear at will. For them to have stood and then sat down, in the same conversation, is not unreasonable. They may have been standing when they suddenly appeared to the women, and then sat down to put the women at ease.

So we can imagine the four women against the wall in the cave (Joanna, Susanna, Salome, Mary of Clopas). Suddenly, the darkness is lit up. They see two men in dazzling white, standing near them. The women, fearful, bow their faces to the ground. The angels then sit down on either side where Jesus had lain. The angel sitting on the right side says (putting together the 3 Gospel accounts above),

"Don't you be afraid. I know whom you are seeking -- Jesus the Nazarene, the crucified one. Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here -- He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where they laid Him. Remember how He talked to you when He was in Galilee (Matthew 17:22-23), saying that the Son of man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise. Go quickly, tell his disciples (and Peter) that He is raised from the dead and is going before you into Galilee. You will see Him there, as He said."


1st APPEARANCE (to Mary Magdalene)
According to John 20:1-10, Peter and John (followed shortly by Mary Magdalene) set off "running together" from John's house to the tomb by the Gennarth Gate. John gets to the tomb first, but doesn't go in. Instead, he stoops at the entrance and looks in. He sees the linen wrappings lying on the ground. Peter then arrives and goes right in. He also sees the linen wrappings lying on the ground, and the face-cloth which had been on Christ's head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then John enters the tomb, and "he saw and believed." The Scriptures don't explicitly say what made John believe that Christ had risen, but imply that it had something to do with the collapsed grave cloths. Who would first unwrap a body before taking it?

As they return home, Mary Magdalene lingers behind at the tomb (John 20:11-18). She has her first experience with the angels. Unlike the sudden appearance of the angels to the other women when they were inside the tomb, Mary stoops at the entrance to look into the tomb and sees the angels sitting on either side of where Jesus' body had been lying. The angels ask her why she is weeping. Mary still thinks someone took Jesus body away. Then Mary turns around and sees Jesus, but does not immediately recognize Him. She supposes Him to be the gardener. When Jesus says to her, "Mary," she calls Him Rabboni (which means Teacher) and grabs hold of Him. He tells her not to cling to Him, perhaps to reassure her that she will see Him again before He ascends to His Father. He tells her to "go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'"
Although this is a passage that is not in the earliest manuscripts of the Bible, Mark 16:9 says that Jesus' first appearance was to Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene returns to John's house to find the other women who have come back from the tomb, following the angel's instructions to go tell Christ's disciples that He is risen and He is going into Galilee. The other nine disciples staying in Bethany must be informed, so presumably two or more agree to go. The likeliest would be the two women who have sons there, Salome, mother of the Apostle James the Elder (Older), and Mary of Clopas, mother of the Apostle James the Younger.

2nd APPEARANCE (The other women, Salome and Mary of Clopas)
According to Matthew 28:8-10, some women set off for (presumably) Bethany to tell the good news to the nine disciples there. Jesus appears to them somewhere on the track between Jerusalem and Bethany, namely the Mount of Olives. They take hold of His feet and worship Him. He tells them to not be afraid, but to tell His brethren to meet Him in Galilee. The Apostles wait 8 days before doing so. John makes it clear that it took the disciples about one week to set off for Galilee (John 20:26). As devout Jews, they remained in Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For the six days following Passover, Jews ate unleavened bread and did no servile work.

After Jesus had appeared to these women, they hurried on to Bethany and told the other nine Apostles about having just seen Jesus. Matthew is there, and he later reports in his Gospel (1) how Mary Magdalene and Mary of Clopas left early Sunday morning to go to the tomb, (2) the first encounter the women had with the angels in the tomb, and (3) then Christ appearing to them while they were on their way to Bethany (Matthew 28:1-11). For all 3 situations, Matthew could have obtained eyewitness details from Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary of Clopas.

3rd APPEARANCE (To His uncle Clopas and another disciple)
According to Luke 24:13-31, Jesus appeared to two disciples while they were walking to Emmaus, "Cleopas" and an unnamed disciple. There is good evidence to equate Cleopas with Clopas, Jesus' uncle. Cleopas, a shortened form of Cleopatros, is the nearest Greek name to Clopas. Neither Emmaus road disciple recognized Christ at first. However, Cleopas and the other disciple's "eyes were opened and they recognized Him" when Christ "took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them (Luke 24:31,21).

4th APPEARANCE (To the Apostle Peter)
After Jesus had appeared to the women, presumably Salome and Mary of Clopas, they went to tell the nine Apostles in Bethany. Understandably, they were met with unbelief (Mark 16:11). But the nine Apostles, though doubting what these women saw, could not entirely ignore it. Perhaps John's brother, James the Elder, and Peter's brother, Andrew, lead the nine to John's house in Jerusalem to consult with Peter and John about the supposed appearance of Christ to the women. This means that James the Elder would be going to the house of his father and brother, Zebedee and John the Apostle.

According to Luke 24:33, Cleopas and the other disciple then return from Emmaus to Jerusalem to find the eleven Apostles behind locked doors in John Mark's house (John 20:19). They are greeted with the remarkable news that Christ had appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34). Later in I Corinthians 15:5, Paul confirms that Jesus did appear to "Cephas", using Peter's Aramaic name. As to where this meeting occurred, the Gospels are silent.

What is the significance of Christ appearing to Peter alone? In Mark 16:7, the angel tells the women to go tell Christ's disciples "and Peter" about the risen Christ. This private meeting could very well be Jesus showing tender forgiveness to Peter because of his terrible misery for having denied his Lord 3 times on Maundy Thursday evening. Matthew 26:75 says Peter had "wept bitterly." Later, in John 21:15-17, Jesus restores Peter, in the presence of seven of the Apostles, to the position of leader of the eleven with a thrice-repeated charge to feed Jesus' flock.

5th APPEARANCE (To ten of the Apostles, without Judas, who had committed suicide, and without Thomas)
Luke 24:36-43 and John 20:19-24 report Jesus' 1st appearance to the Apostles on Resurrection Sunday, "when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week" (John 20:19). When Luke 24:33 uses the phrase "the eleven" and John 20:24 says "the twelve", these are ways of simply referring to the Apostles as a whole, rather than exact numbers. It seems that before Cleopas finished telling his story, Jesus suddenly appeared to them inside the locked room. He greets them, "Peace be with you." They are startled and frightened, thinking they have seen a ghost. He gently reproaches them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." Jesus then draws aside His garment and shows them His spear wound (John 20:20). But "they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement." (Luke 24:41) So Jesus, to break the tension, asks for something to eat. "They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and He took it and ate it before them." Both Luke and John confirm it was the same Jesus who was crucified that is now risen. He has the same wounds as when He died, and can eat food like before, but He can now pass through walls with a transformed body. Jesus then "opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" that "the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day" and that "repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations." Then Jesus again says to them, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." (John 20:21) He said He would send forth "the promise of My Father upon you (the Holy Spirit)," but they had to wait in the city until (50 days later) they were "clothed with power from on high."

6th APPEARANCE (To eleven Apostles, including Thomas)
John 20:24-29 records Jesus' 2nd appearance to the Apostles, this time including Thomas, who was not with them when Jesus first appeared to them on the evening of Resurrection Sunday. It is now 8 days later, the next Sunday, the Apostles apparently staying in Jerusalem to observe Passover Week. The Apostle Thomas had told the other Apostles "unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." When Jesus appears, He seems to use Thomas' very words as an invitation, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answers Him, "My Lord and My God!"Jesus' words seems to mildly rebuke Thomas for not having believed what the witnesses had told him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."

7th APPEARANCE (To seven of the Apostles: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee James and John, and two others of His disciples)
The Apostles leave Jerusalem, perhaps on the day after (Monday) Jesus appeared to them with Thomas present. They go to Galilee. Jesus had told them on Maundy Thursday He would go to Galilee after He had risen (Matthew 26:32). In Luke 24:7, the angels in the tomb reminded the women that when Jesus was in Galilee, He had foretold His arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection to the Apostles (Matthew 17:22-23). The angels also told the women to go and tell His disciples, "He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you." (Matthew 28:7 and Mark 16:7). And when Jesus appeared to "the other women" (possibly Salome and Mary of Clopas), He told them to "take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me." (Matthew 28:10)

John Chapter 21 tells this story. Peter decided to go fishing on the Sea of Galilee (Tiberias), and six of the other Apostles decided to go with him. They fished all night and caught nothing. When daylight was approaching, they saw a man on the shore, not knowing it was Jesus. He told them to cast their net on the right side of their boat. They did, and the net was so full they couldn't haul it into the boat. Just then Peter said, "It is the Lord" and he jumped into the water. What made Peter recognize Jesus at this point? At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus had told Peter to let down his net "for a catch" (Luke 5:1-11) after Peter had fished all night and caught nothing. Afterwards, Peter, James, and John "left everything" to follow Christ, who told them, "from now on you will be catching men."

Now, after Peter jumps into the water, the other disciples, who are 100 yards from shore, bring their boat in, and the net loaded with 153 fish. Jesus tells them to bring some of their fish, place them on a charcoal fire, and have breakfast. By this time, the other six Apostles recognized Jesus.

8th APPEARANCE (To more than 500 brethren at one time)
In I Corinthians 15:6, the Apostle Paul says that Jesus appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time. This is the meeting described by Matthew 28:16-20 in which "the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshipped Him, but some were doubtful." The phrase "but some were doubtful" does not refer to the eleven Apostles, but to others present. We know this because Matthew is one of the eleven Apostles, and he was present the first two times Jesus appeared to the Apostles in the Upper Room. He therefore knows that all of the other Apostles came to believe that Jesus had risen, so he would not be saying now that some of the Apostles were doubtful.

This meeting on the mountain in Galilee would have been arranged quietly so as not to arouse suspicion of the neighbors or King Herod's agents. Putting Paul's words in I Corinthians 15:6 together with Matthew 28:17, Jesus appears on the mountain in Galilee to the eleven Apostles, more than 500 believers, and some who were doubtful. The importance of this mission was for Jesus to commission the witnesses to the risen Christ to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations."

9th APPEARANCE (To James, the Lord's brother)
The Apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 15:7 that Jesus appeared to James, His brother. This meeting took place after Jesus' meeting with the 500 brethren and before Ascension Day. James was probably the oldest of Jesus' four half-brothers, being the first one named in Matthew 13:55 (James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas). Why did Jesus appear privately to James? We know that before Christ's resurrection, James, like his other three brothers, did not believe in Him (John 7:5; Mark 3:21). But after Christ's Ascension, James and his three brothers did believe (Acts 1:14). In fact, ten years after Jesus appeared to James, James became the leader of the church in Jerusalem, tradition says, appointed by the Lord Himself and the Apostles (according to the first church historian, Eusebius, in 7:19). So Jesus' appearance to James must have been a very personal affair. After the resurrection, James must have grieved growing up with Jesus and not believing in Him. Jesus forgave him, and restored him for eventual leadership in the Jerusalem church. The change brought about in him was so complete that James referred to himself as "a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" (James 1:1).

10th APPEARANCE -- CHRIST'S ASCENSION (To the eleven Apostles)
Christ's final appearance occurs to His eleven Apostles, as recorded by Paul in I Corinthians 15:7, Mark 16:15-20, Luke 24:44-53, and Acts 1:1-14. The Apostles were gathered in the Upper Room in Mark's house (Luke 24:33 and 49). Jesus appears to them there. He reminds them that His suffering, death, and resurrection had been predicted. "All things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Now, "repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47). Christ commands them to stay in the city until they are "clothed with power from on high (the Holy Spirit)" (Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4). He then leads them out of the city on the same route they took on Maundy Thursday, the night of the Last Supper. To escape notice by the authorities, it was probably very early morning. Jesus had therefore talked with them all night. They walked through the city gate, down into the Kidron valley, past the Garden of Gethsemane, and up to the Mount of Olives. Acts 1:12 says that the Ascension occurred on Mount Olivet, the eastern slope between Jerusalem and Bethany, about "a Sabbath day's journey away" from Jerusalem, or 3/5 to 3/4 of a mile.

In Jesus' final words to His eleven Apostles, He tells them not to be preoccupied with when future events would happen, but to wait and receive the Holy Spirit, Who would empower them to be Christ's witnesses "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Act 1:8). "Jesus lifted up His hands and blessed them (Luke 24:50). After He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9). "And they, after worshipping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God" (Luke 24: 52,53).

Forty days had passed since Christ rose from the dead (Acts 1:3). During that time, Christ appeared to Peter (6 times); John, James, Nathaniel/Bartholomew (5 times); Thomas and the other Apostles (4 times); the inner circle of women (twice); Cleopas, Jesus' uncle (twice); the companion of Cleopas (twice); James, the Lord's brother (once or twice); and more than 500 brethren (once).

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Burial and Cremation

The other day, Christian people were happily ridiculing John Piper for his thoughts on cremation and burial. What he had to say was not new, and has been also the view of respected Christians in the past and currently.

Jeffrey E Miller has put up a video and is progressively sharing his thoughts in articles over the next little while on this issue.

Miller thinks similarly to Piper on this issue. I think it is worth chewing over, without feeling the need to ridicule others who think differently.

Friday, September 11, 2015

A genuine Luther quote

It intrigues me that many famous quotes are misattributed. My Scots friend Jeanette Stewart says that they were so busy, they outsourced them!

But Terry Gallagher has given me a wonderful genuine quote by Martin Luther, from his Introduction to Paul's letter to the Romans:

"Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. 
Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. 
The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. 
Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace."

Thanks Terry!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ten year anniversary

In 2005,  Ron, one of our church members in Bathurst, encouraged us to read through the New Testament in 3 months, and gave us a pamphlet that gave you readings for each day, from September to Christmas.

Only a few of us joined in, but I enjoyed reading through the TNIV New Testament, and then decided to read through the Old Testament. That was not easy, because it is over 3 times as long as the New Testament, and has many chapters of genealogies and lists.

But I got through it, and decided that in the future I'd read a bit of the Old Testament and a bit of the New and go through them both together.

Over the next ten years, I read through four study Bibles, listened to two audio Bibles, worked through the Bible in nine different translations, and last year read through the Greek New Testament.

This has been an enriching experience.

One of the most enjoyable read-throughs, which I did once in the TNIV and once in the new NIV, was going through the unusually-named The Books of the Bible, which is a reorganised Bible, with chapters, headings and verses removed, but with judicious spacing to mark the different sections.
This version is partly thematic and partly chronological. The First Testament is more like, but not exactly the same as, the way the Hebrew Bible is organised.

Most of the Bibles I read are in the tradition of the King James Version of the Bible [which closely follows the earlier Tyndale Bible], but two of them have been translated without letting the KJV dictate the agenda. I find this refreshing, as it provides some interesting new insights into what the original authors may have intended. These two versions are the New Jerusalem Bible, available, if you scroll down, here, and the one I'm working through now, the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

The two audio Bibles were well worth listening to. I enjoyed the African American dramatic version of the TNIV called The Bible Experience. (If you purchase a copy today, it will be in the recent version of the NIV.) And I listened to a lightly-dramatised free-of-charge version of the King James Version from Faith Comes By Hearing. I think it would be hard-going to read through the King James, and if I were trying to, I think I'd use a version such as the Cambridge Paragraph version of the KJV, because its usual format of  a paragraph per verse spoils the flow of God's Word. (There is a copy of this edition available in Logos Bible software.)

I enjoyed reading the ESV through twice, in the Reformation Study Bible and in the ESV Study Bible. Both of these versions have excellent helps for understanding the message of the Bible, but  I am always left with questions they didn't answer, or questions whose answers raised more questions!

It was fascinating going through the NIV Archaeological Study Bible in the 1984 edition of the NIV. This Bible has lots of maps,photos, diagrams and articles about the historical background of the Bible. Did you know that the oldest part of the Bible that exists as an archaeological artefact is the wonderful Aaronic blessing, at the end of Numbers 6:

      The LORD bless you
         and keep you;
      the LORD make his face shine on you
         and be gracious to you;
     the LORD turn his face toward you
         and give you peace.

I enjoyed the exercise of reading through three idiomatic Bible versions: the Contemporary English Version, the Australian edition of the Good News Bible and the New Living Translation
I can see the value of the CEV for new readers of English, but found the translation of some parts of the Bible (such as Ephesians) too loose to be useful.

Having nearly been through the whole Bible thirteen times over the past ten years (after I finish reading through The Holman Christian Standard Bible in the Mission of God study Bible edition), I'm looking forward to the next part of the journey!

I'm thinking of reading through J B Phillips' version of the New Testament, and would like to tackle the New King James Version and the New Revised Standard Version.

And I'm eagerly awaiting the new Zondervan NIV Study Bible, edited by Don Carson, which is expected to be released next month.

By the way, I have devised my own Excel spreadsheet to make the read-through easier. I never read from Genesis to Revelation, but read a few chapters of the First Testament, a Psalm and a chapter or two of the New Testament, as often as I can. Sometimes every day. Sometimes I miss a day or more. Life gets in the way. Then I pick up where I left off.

And I don't begin on 1st January, which is the worst day to begin anything. Any other day is a good day to start reading the Bible!