Aug 22, 2017
Aug 22, 2017
A dig in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve in the upper Jordan Valley revealed a multi-layered site containing a Roman-style bathhouse, among other remains and artifacts.
Researchers are basing their exploration on the writings of Flavius Josephus, the first-century Romano-Jewish scholar and historian, who said the town of Bethsaida was upgraded to a city and renamed Julias after Julia Augusta, mother of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, in 30 AD.
“Josephus reported that the king had upgraded Bethsaida from a village into a polis, a proper city. He didn’t say it had been built on or beside or underneath it,” Aviam said. “And indeed, all this time, we have not known where it was. But the bathhouse attests to the existence of urban culture.”
The gospel of John names the disciples Philip, Andrew and Peter as being from the town Bethsaida.
28 Jul, 2017The burial place of a 1.5-year-old boy with a deformed elongated skull was unearthed by archaeologists in Crimea. The scientists immediately dubbed the finding an ‘alien’ due to the unusual structure of the skull.
The dig also uncovered a mosaic wall which may have been part of a church. Archaeologists believe the find may tally with the account of a Bavarian bishop who reported visiting a church said to have been built over the home of Peter and Andrew during a trip to Bethsaida in 725 AD.
The area, known as el-Araj, is one of three considered most likely to be the site of Julias, along with the nearby site of e-Tell.
“Only time will tell if (1) our site has the church, and (2) it is correctly situated on the site of first-century Bethsaida,” Steven Notley, academic director of the el-Araj excavations and professor at Nyack College in New York, told National Geographic.
“At present, I think our prospects of an affirmative answer on these two points is very, very good.”
With permission from
August 21st is the date of “the Great American Eclipse”, and the hype around it is already starting to reach a fever pitch. It is being called “the Great American Eclipse” because this will be the first total solar eclipse ever that is only visible in the United States. In other words, since the United States became a nation there has never been a total eclipse that was only visible here and nowhere else. And this will be the first total solar eclipse to cross from the west coast to the east coast in 99 years. So for those that love astronomy, this is bigger than the Super Bowl.
Close to 200 million people live within a day’s drive of “the totality zone”, and many are projecting that this will be the most-viewed eclipse ever. In fact, many hotels and campsites along the path of the eclipse are already completely booked. So if you want to see it live, you better make your arrangements quickly.
Of course the “main event” will not last for very long. Depending on the location, the total eclipse will only last for about two or three minutes.
But if you count from the time that the moon will begin to cover the sun until the time when the sun is completely uncovered again, it will take approximately two and a half hours for the entire process to unfold. The following comes from Newsweek…
If you are in the band of totality, you will see (if you look through special ‘solar filters’ that darken the Sun by a factor of about 100,000) the Moon gradually covering the sun for about 75 min, then the beautiful totality, and then the uncovering for another 75 min.
Of course in the heavens things will be taking place at very high speed. For example, the moon’s shadow will actually be crossing the U.S. at a speed of close to 1,700 miles per hour.
And even if you are not in the “totality zone”, you will still notice what is happening on August 21st. That is because this eclipse will actually cast a “shadow” over the entire nation.
Could it be possible that has some sort of significance?
I don’t know, but without a doubt there will be a whole lot of speculation going on as we get closer to the date.
Many have pointed out that this solar total eclipse in 2017 will be followed by another total solar eclipse nearly seven years later on April 8th, 2024.
And when you plot the projected courses of these two solar eclipses on a map, they form a giant “X” over the center of the United States…
Could this be some sort of extremely bizarre coincidence?
And if it isn’t a coincidence, what could it mean?
I am afraid that I don’t have the answers to those questions right now, but I do find it to be extremely interesting that the heart of this “X” just happens to fall in the middle of the New Madrid fault zone.
Back in 1811 and 1812, the New Madrid Fault zone was hit by a series of absolutely massive earthquakes. At one point the shaking was so bad that it even caused church bells in Boston to start ringing. If similar earthquakes happened in our day and time, the damage would be absolutely unimaginable. The following comes from Smithsonian.com…
The Midwest was sparsely populated, and deaths were few. But 8-year-old Godfrey Lesieur saw the ground “rolling in waves.” Michael Braunm observed the river suddenly rise up “like a great loaf of bread to the height of many feet.” Sections of riverbed below the Mississippi rose so high that part of the river ran backward. Thousands of fissures ripped open fields, and geysers burst from the earth, spewing sand, water, mud and coal high into the air.
Could you imagine “thousands of fissures” suddenly opening up all over the middle of the country?
One insurance company tried to estimate what the economic toll would be if similar quakes happened today, and they came up with a figure of “about 300 billion dollars”…
A series of big shakes — of the sort last seen in 1811 and 1812 — would cause about $300 billion in damage, Swiss Re says. The cost would be double the damage from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.
Houses — especially brick ones — would collapse. Buildings would sink sideways into liquefying earth. Bridges might tumble into the rivers. The route of the Mississippi River could change — as it did in the last big quake.
People would die, perhaps by the thousands. Being mainly a property reinsurer, Swiss Re didn’t estimate the human toll.
And we should also consider the fact that there are 15 nuclear reactors along the New Madrid fault zone. And so during a major catastrophe we could be looking at Fukushima times 15.
Let us hope that the next major New Madrid earthquake is put off for as long as possible. Nobody should ever want to see that kind of devastation.
But scientists tell us that the Earth’s crust is “mechanically weaker” under the New Madrid fault zone than it is in other areas of the country, and they assure us that given enough time there will be more massive quakes in the region someday.
It is entirely possible that it could just be a complete coincidence that these two eclipses form a giant “X” directly over the heart of the New Madrid fault zone, but I think that it would be a mistake to dismiss this phenomenon altogether without reflecting on what it might mean. Because as Pastor Mark Biltz has pointed out, it appears that God specifically used solar eclipses back in Biblical times…
“An archaeological find of cuneiform tablets was found in the 19th century describing events in Nineveh. A famous eclipse mentioned in the tablets was known as the Bur-Sagale eclipse, which is verified by NASA as occurring on June 15, 763 BC. The path of totality was right over Nineveh. God had declared the sun and the moon were for signs, and now the Ninevites saw the wrath of God coming even before Jonah arrived a couple months later. When Jonah arrived, they were ripe for repentance.”
Our world is a very strange place, and it is getting stranger with each passing day.
And one thing is absolutely certain – the entire nation will be looking up into the sky on August 21st, and what they will see will be truly historic.
Personally I don’t even think the historical Jesus actually existed. He was recycled from previous myths from Sumer and ancient Egypt. Look up Mythra.
The life story of the most famous person who has ever lived is, in fact, filled with a mysterious gaping hole.
According to Christian doctrine on the life and times of Jesus, he was the Son of God who laid his life to be crucified to expiate the sins of the world. But growing body of evidence has started to emerge showing the Christian narrative of the life and times of Jesus is misleading and inaccurate. Was he born in Bethlehem or in Nazareth? New discovery proves Jesus was a Buddhist monk who lived and died in India.
In the late 19th century, a Russian doctor named Nicolas Notovitch traveled extensively throughout India, Tibet, and Afghanistan, and chronicled his experiences and discoveries in his 1894 book The Unknown Life of Christ.
During his voyage, Notovitch broke his leg and recuperated at the Tibetan Buddhist Monastery of Hemis in the city of Leh in India. At the monastery, monks showed Notovitch two large yellowed volumes of a document written in Tibetan, titled The Life of Saint Issa.
Notovitch translated the document which detailed the true story of a child named Jesus (i.e. Issa = “son of God”) born in the first century to a poor family in Israel. Jesus was referred to as “the son of God” by the Vedic scholars who tutored him in the sacred Buddhist texts from the age of 13 to 29. Notovitch translated 200 of the 224 verses from the document in 1887.
One lama [monk] explained to Notovitch the full scope and extreme level of enlightenment that Jesus had reached:
“Issa [Jesus] is a great prophet, one of the first after the twenty-two Buddhas. He is greater than any one of all the Dalai Lamas, for he constitutes part of the spirituality of our Lord. It is he who has enlightened you, who has brought back within the pale of religion the souls of the frivolous, and who has allowed each human being to distinguish between good and evil.
“His name and his acts are recorded in our sacred writings. And in reading of his wondrous existence, passed in the midst of an erring and wayward people, we weep at the horrible sin of the pagans who, after having tortured him, put him to death.”
A book titled The lost years of Jesus, authored by Elizabeth Clare Prophet, confirms Notovitch’s account that Jesus lived and died in India. In Buddhism, when a great Buddhist or a Holy Man (i.e. lama) dies, wise men consult the stars and other omens and set off to find the infant who is the reincarnation of the Lama. When the child is old enough, he is taken away from his parents and educated in the Buddhist faith.
Christians believe when Jesus was born, three wise men came to seek and honor the infant; they were named Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior. It is speculated these three wise men took Jesus to India, when he was 13, to make him the greatest Buddhist ever.
“Jesus is said to have visited our land and Kashmir to study Buddhism. He was inspired by the laws and wisdom of Buddha,” a senior lama of the Hemis monastery told the IANS news agency. The head of the Drukpa Buddhist sect, Gwalyang Drukpa, who heads the Hemis monastery, also confirms the story.
The 224 verses have since been documented by others, including Russian philosopher and scientist, Nicholas Roerich, who in 1952 recorded accounts of Jesus’s time at the monastery:
“Jesus passed his time in several ancient cities of India such as Benares or Varanasi. Everyone loved him because Issa dwelt in peace with the Vaishyas and Shudras whom he instructed and helped.”
It is claimed Jesus spent some time teaching in the ancient holy cities of Jagannath (Puri), Benares (in Uttar Pradesh), and Rajagriha (in Bihar).
German scholar, Holger Kersten, has also chronicled the early years of Jesus in India in the book Jesus Lived In India. Further, in the BBC documentary, titled Jesus Was A Buddhist Monk, experts theorized that Jesus escaped his crucifixion and lived in the Kashmir Valley until he died at 80. Locals believe Jesus is buried at the Roza Bal shrine at Srinagar.
Dr Stuart Bramhall
May 23, 2107
Al Jazeera (2016)
The Crusades is a fascinating history of a subject that was quite new to me, as Americans rarely study the Crusades in school. Despite the title, the expert commentators represent a balance of French and English historians, as well as Muslim scholars from various Middle Eastern universities. Most of the documentary series consists of historical re-enactment of papal enclaves, battles, sieges, treaty signings and other historical events. The filmmakers use a series of maps to plot the progress of European occupation of Jerusalem and the Levantine* coast, as well the eventual liberation of these territories in the 13th century.
The documentary leaves absolutely no doubt that the Crusades were an imperialist campaign of colonization – and not religious wars, as is commonly claimed. Whenever European crusaders conquered a specific city or region, they indiscriminately slaughtered most of the inhabitants, whether they were Muslims, Jews or fellow Christians. The entire fourth Crusade (1203) was devoted to sacking the greatest Christian city in the world (Constantinople), whose residents were mainly Byzantine Greeks.
Part 4 is my favorite because it focuses on the role of the Crusades and Muslim influence in facilitating the European Renaissance of the 14th-15th centuries. When the Crusades began in 1085, the vast majority of Europeans (99%) were illiterate, whereas Middle East cities enjoyed an advanced flourishing civilization (as did India, China, Africa and North and South America prior to European colonization). When occupying crusaders were finally defeated and forced to return to Europe in 1291, they took with them advanced knowledge of Arab military tactics and agriculture, sugar cultivation, medicine, algebra, glass manufacturing and Greek philosophers ( whose work had been translated and preserved by Muslim scholars.
Part 1 – covers the role of Pope Gregory and Pope Irwin in instigating the disastrous Peoples Crusade and the first Crusade (1086-1099), resulting in the sacking and occupation of Jerusalem (lasting nearly 200 years).
Part 2 – covers the fragmented Muslim resistance to the expansion of European occupation, hindered by both religious (Sunni vs Shia) conflict and tribal rivalries. It’s during this period (1100-1127) the term hashshashin (origin of the English words assassin and hashish) came into usage, owing to the Shia assassins hired to secretly kill Sunni military commanders. Between 1127-1143 a Muslim revival led to the liberation of numerous crusader strongholds, and the launch of a second crusade by Pope Eugene, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany.
Part 3 – describes the rise of Salah Ad-Din (known in in Europe as Saladin), who unified rival Muslim armies and by 1187 retook all crusader strongholds except Jerusalem. This led to the launch of the third Crusade by Philip II (France), Frederick I (Germany) and Richard the Lion Hearted (England) This was followed by the fourth Crusade, which sacked Constantinople; the failed fifth Crusade (1213); the sixth Crusade in which Frederick II (Germany) retook Jerusalem by treaty and the failed seventh Crusade, led by Louis IX of France (1248). In 1244, Muslim armies retook Jerusalem, which remained under their control until it became part of the British protectorate of Palestine with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire.
Part 4 – in addition to outlining the cultural riches Europe gained from the Crusades, Part 4 also explores how Europe’s medieval colonization of the Middle East laid the groundwork for the eventual European colonization of North Africa and the Middle East (in 1917), with the formation of the state of Israel in 1948 representing a major milestone in this re-colonization.
*Levantine – a term describing a region on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea north of the Arabian Peninsula and south of Turkey, usually including the area of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria.
May 11, 2017
Over five centuries after the Age of Discovery, we all know a long historical cycle is ending. The Decline of the West is shorthand for a tangle of immense complexity – directly proportional to the ascent of the century of Eurasia integration, driven by China’s New Silk Roads.Every time I dig deeper into the Decline of the West, I have to go back to the roots. And that means – echoes of Stendhal, Keats, Nietzsche — a Journey to Italy. I had recently engaged in an extended dialogue with Machiavelli in Florence. This time, the French presidential election was looming – widely billed as the “civilized” West facing a crucial crossroads.
I set out after reading Decadence, by the explosive philosopher and founder of the Popular University of Caen, Michel Onfray. His thesis is devastating; Judeo-Christian civilization, thus the West, was built on a fiction, “that of a Jesus never having an existence other than allegorical, metaphorical, symbolic and mythological.” Over a thousand years of art history had conferred him “the body of a white man, with blond hair and a thin beard’ (where better to examine it than through Renaissance art?) And “nothing that constitutes this emblematic portrait, finds justification in a single verse of the New Testament.”
Thus, Onfray writes, “our whole civilization is based on the attempt to give a body to this being that had only a conceptual existence.” Jesus of Nazareth, “who did not exist historically,” becomes the “Christ Pantocrator” (meaning, in Greek, “ruler of all”), “crystallizing under his name almost two thousand years of a Western history saturated by him.”
St. Paul laughed out of the agora
So here was the road map for the journey: Christianity as the official history of the West – in an almost perpetual clash with ancient Greek philosophy. And then once more to retrace the steps of how humanism – and the Enlightenment – briefly lifted the human spirit until the slaughterhouse of the 20th century led the way to the current, end of ideology, Age of Anger.
I started in Turin over dinner with the great Gianni Vattimo, one of the last, towering European intellectuals. Frail but still sharp, Vattimo is like a living embodiment of a dying world. I paid my ritual homage to Nietzsche (“there are no facts, only interpretations”), a fierce admirer of the pre-Socratics, at the house where he wrote Ecce Homo before succumbing to folly. In Milan, I saw the Silk Road in reverse at Porta Nuova as the city increasingly reinforces its myriad links with China.As I moved south towards Florence, I could not stop thinking – in a Nietzschean mode – about St. Paul, among his countless pilgrimages to Ephesus, Antioch, Corinth, Pergamon, Tyr, meeting Pythagoreans, Platonics, Epicureans, Stoics, Cynics in agoras where they taught their art de vivre according to reason, always mingling with the local merchants, weavers, fishermen.
Paul hated philosophers. The New Testament refers to Paul at the agora in Athens, which once harbored the prized dialogues between Socrates and Plato, Plato and Aristotle, and many a Neoplatonist debate. Paul was horrified by this city full of “idols.” He was preaching the “resurrection of the flesh,” the abolition of paganism and a multiplicity of tolerant gods, replaced by a one and only, intolerant God. Talk about delirium; that could not but send partisans of Zeno or Epicurus into roars of laughter.
Then there was Helen, mother of emperor Constantine, turning the Cross into a major political business. Helen invented not only the pilgrimage to the Holy Land but also the Crusades – that extended historical instance of Christian jihad.Constantine, a cynical, opportunist strategist, understood that to halt the political fragmentation of the Roman Empire and domesticate popular anger the best way was to adopt a minor, quirky Jewish sect whereby the poor must remain poor (it’s God’s will) and power exists because God conferred it to those who possess it (parallels to American exceptionalism, anyone?)
When, in May 22, 337 Constantine converts himself to Christianity, he converts the whole empire; he kills Rome as the center of the world (we should not forget that Augustus, founder of the Roman Empire, was a devout disciple of pagan Apollo); he creates Judeo-Christian civilization; and he opens the way to what will become the West.
Onfray synthesizes it; Rome lived for 11 centuries. But then “the She-wolf was eaten by the Lamb”; that was “the inaugural feast of our Judeo-Christian civilization.”
Epicurus does Tuscany
Cynics – and Epicureans — privilege other modes of feasting. By then I had reached Tuscany, armed with a pocket edition of the Letters of Epicurus. Ahead was the sublime countryside in Val d’Orcia, worthy of a Renaissance masterpiece; Bacchus springing up from the perfect bottle of Brunello at the fortress in Montalcino; the simple magic of water and flour savored in a pici from Siena.And as a sideshow, in a revised pagan Rome register, I was catching up with remembrances of La Dolce Vita. How Luchino Visconti ruled Cineccitta. How Antonioni pictured the eclipse of sentiment by transposing his life with Monica Vitti to the screen. How Fellini was arrested by the NYPD in the black Cadillac of his producer Dino de Laurentiis just to be honored by the cops as a living God.
Epicurus teaches in his Letters a radical antinomy to Christianity. All that exists is nothing but atoms that fall on the void (so no more resurrection of the flesh); serenity is obtained by the knowledge of atomist physics (thus no government of men under the fear of God); and most subversively, pleasure is the origin of good, residing in the satisfaction of natural and necessary desires (thus no Christian asceticism, penitence, original sin — and interminable expiation of the sin).
No wonder, for centuries, Christianity had to suffocate this hedonist, sensualist philosophy. Three Epicurus letters survived the Christian Inquisitor because they were included in a 3rd-century volume by philosophy historian Diogenes Laertius. And then Epicureanism reappeared in the 7415 verses of Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura. What an extraordinary historical twist; the Christian destruction of the work by Epicurus the Greek was to a great extent saved by an immense poem written by Lucretius the Roman.De Rerum Natura was discovered by Poggio Bracciolini in January 1417 in a German monastery. The first edition is published in Brescia in 1473. Enthusiastic readers include Erasmus, Montaigne, Machiavelli, Spinoza, Pascal, Galileo, Newton. Europe really comes alive when humanism oversteps Christianity.
Poggio Bracciolini traveled all over Europe as much as Petrarca, who had searched for Greek and Roman manuscripts since the 1330s. When Poggio rediscovers Lucretius, he builds intellectual Europe; the vision of the world that puts man at the center where, after a millennium, Christianity had installed the Christ. Rhetoric, history, poetry, philosophy, letters, architecture, all those disciplines that have shone before Christ – and then nourished those ghastly Christian auto-da-fés – are finally set free.
Nowhere better than Florence to retrace the steps of humanists who created Europe without Christianity. Take Niccolo Niccoli; when he dies in 1437, he had amassed 800 manuscripts, the most spectacular collection in Florence. And he single-handedly invents the modern concept of the public library, where you can borrow any book you want.
Onfray frames it beautifully: ““Constantine and his followers made ancient thought leave through the door, Petrarca, Niccoli and Poggio made it re-enter by the window.”
Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight
And nowhere better than in Tuscany may we revive how Christian mythology was sold to the masses — in contrast with eulogies of Greek paganism. The aesthetic perfection of Donatello’s spectacularly insolent, adolescent David, Botticelli’s Neoplatonist Spring, or Giambologna’s Mercury shines as much as Leonardo’s Annunciation and most of all the unfinished Adoration of the Magi, meticulously restored with state of the art technology.
And then we are knocked out by a breathless Franciscan masterpiece; the Legend of the True Cross by Piero Della Francesca at the St. Francis Basilica in Arezzo.
St. Francis absolutely venerated the symbol of the Passion. The whole saga is pictured in a sort of Renaissance cinemascope 4K series of frescoes – also meticulously restored. Piero based them on legends related to the wood of the cross where Christ was crucified, included in the Apocryphal Gospels originated in Asia and known as the Golden Legend.
The symbolism is unmistakable; God always intervenes; He is the guarantor of redemption; and in the end, the forces of Evil will be defeated.
No wonder the Golden Legend enjoyed an immense success during the Crusades; one of the chapters, the profanation of the Holy Land by infidels, was used as effective propaganda for military conquest.
But Piero, with his unmatched formal rigor, transcends it, turns it into an epic, a “less is more” modernist aesthetic orgasm even as the message remains a myth; Piero’s Annunciation – arguably the highlight of the fresco cycle — symbolizes a rite of passage for man; condemned by the original sin, from Adam to Christ, he finally enters the age of Christianity, where faith in salvation, possible by the sacrifice of the Redemptor, signals hope.
Yet way over a century before Piero, the Ambrogio Lorenzetti cycle of frescoes painted between 1338 and 1339 at the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena was hinting at something way more revolutionary; the triumph of sensible, human – not divine — politics.
This meticulous intervention of man building an ethic-aesthetic conception of civil society still blows our minds away. In his Allegory of Good Government, Lorenzetti depicted nothing less than the effects of good government in a sort of utopia of reality; a solar, serene, laborious medieval city in a symbiotic relationship with a productive countryside. Something that the West has lost – perhaps forever.
Throughout history, the West was enshrined as a fable; imagined to death; celebrated as the fountain of civilization; deeply religious, sentimental, paragon of secularism, imperial, colonial, political. It’s easy to forget that for those Christians “discovering” the new world, the West was not the antithesis of the East but a Divine successor. Now the pendulum swings back.On the way back to Paris, through Epicurean Bologna – home of the definitive tortellini – I had time to revive a last modernist yell, via a bilingual pocket edition of Pound’s Pisan Cantos, a sort of pre-requiem for the Decline of the West. As a lone ant from a broken ant-hill/ from the wreckage of Europe, ego scriptor.
Pull down thy vanity, repeated as an incantation in canto LXXXI, reads like a poignant message to two millennia of Christianity. And then, riding on the TGV, I saw the new French pharaoh, Ramses Macron, studiously and cinematically walking towards his pyramid at the Louvre to celebrate yet one more Western triumph towards a Brave New Neoliberal World.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.