Comments and Replies ... and Who We Are

TANATA is devoted to discussing the paradoxes and the mysteries of life, among which is the paradox of the coexistence of good and evil. “God is love,” John tells us. Evil exists, we would suggest, not because God is detached or unconcerned, but because free will exists which is required for true, unforced love to exist. Still, it is painfully hard to reconcile this paradox. We believe that all evil one day will be judged and destroyed, until then we must pray.

DANIEL 7:13-14

13 “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.

14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.


7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

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Someone Else Has Found Pierson Parker!

From the Jesus Memoirs … Spread the Word About The Racial Identities of Jesus and His Beloved Disciple!

Honestly speaking, I am not as concise as the writer of this piece in taking apart and putting back together the points made by Pierson Parker, who wrote the very important piece on St. John Mark — “John and John Mark” — which was published in 1960 by the Journal of Biblical Literature. The Jesus Memoirs will help me in my effort to build a paper. I concur that an African refugee and priest John Mark wrote the Gospel of John, appealing to Jesus because John Mark was Jesus’ benefactor, and they shared a racial bond. The writer of the material which follows says nothing about the racial makeup of Jesus or John Mark. It needs to be stated that the chosen people of Judah were black — he first Jews, the chosen people of God. READ ON …

A key proponent of the suggestion that John Mark was the beloved disciple is Pierson Parker, “John and John Mark” JBL 79 (1960): 97-110. He makes the following points:

  1. John Mark lived in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12) where the Fourth Gospel concentrates most of the activity of Jesus and the beloved disciple (97).
  2. John Mark was related to a Levite named Barnabas (Colossians 4:10; Acts 4:36) and may have mutilated his fingers to get out of his priestly duties (Mark’s Latin prologue in codex Toletanus). The Fourth Gospel is interested in the temple cult, the beloved disciple knows the high priest in John 18:15, and there is the tradition of Polycrates that “John” wore the priestly vestment (98).
  3. John Mark was a figure of means, befitting a Gospel that does not take as much interest in the poor and the elite circles of the beloved disciple (98).
  4. John Mark could be host of the last supper (98).
  5. John Mark was a companion of Paul and there is Pauline influence in the Fourth Gospel, though in the author’s distinct terminology (98-99).
  6. John Mark was a co-worker of Luke. The distinct agreements between the Gospels of John and Luke, as well as their differing wording and literary contexts, are due to two authors sharing oral traditions when they worked together (99-100).
  7. Just as Paul reconciled with Barnabas and John Mark after their dispute over Gentile “Judaizing” (cf. Acts 15:37-39; Gal 2:7; Col 4:10), the Fourth Gospel sides with the Gentile view of the controversy (100).
  8. John Mark ministered among the diaspora and the Fourth Gospel is the sole one to mention Greek-speaking Jews in the diaspora (John 7:35; cf. 12:20) (101).
  9. John Mark was a companion of Peter (Acts 12:12). The Fourth Gospel goes into the most detail about Peter and the beloved disciple is his constant companion (101).
  10. There is no reason to suppose (John) Mark waited to be Peter’s “interpreter” until late in Peter’s life (cf. Papias) and the Fourth Gospel aligns with Peter’s preaching in Acts (102).
  11. The discrepancy over whether (John) Mark wrote a Gospel after Peter’s death (cf. Irenaeus) or during Peter’s lifetime (cf. Clement of Alexandria) is due to the evangelist adding an addendum (John 21) after Peter died (102-3).
  12. The tradition that John Mark went to Alexandria accords with the Alexandrian theology of the Fourth Gospel (103).
  13. John Mark visited Ephesus, explaining the tradition of the evangelist John in Ephesus (103).

Parker turns to Papias where he points out that (John) Mark’s substandard order may reflect the Fourth Gospel’s departures from the Synoptic tradition based on his personal recollections (104). Against Papias’s statement that (John) Mark was not a witness of Jesus, Parker cites a line from the Muratorian Canon that “he was present at some events” and argues that Papias defended the Fourth Gospel against its detractors (105). Since Papias ascribes the observation about (John) Mark’s lack of order to the Elder John of Ephesus (note: Parker leans towards seeing the tradition that the Apostle John was in Ephesus as mistaken), John Mark and the Elder John must be separate individuals (110). He closes with one more list about the evangelist:

  1. He had a home near Jerusalem in John 19:27 (106).
  2. He was a young man cared for or “loved” by Jesus (106).
  3. His date for Easter was supported by Christians in Ephesus (106).
  4. He stresses eyewitness testimony and could be one of the eyewitness “ministers” of the word (cf. Luke 1:2; Acts 13:5) (106).
  5. He did not rely on written sources besides his memory (106).
  6. The Fourth Gospel took shape after Peter’s death when John Mark was old (106).
  7. The Fourth Gospel has a good grasp of Jewish and Pagan though (106-7).
  8. The Fourth Gospel is similar to Colossians in combating Gnostic ideas.

It could also explain the unanimous tradition that the author of the Gospel was John, even as the various figures named John became confused in the early church (107-8).

This theory coheres with the beloved disciple being an elite Jerusalem follower, but major flaws remain. There is no evidence in the New Testament that John Mark knew Jesus during his lifetime or that the house in Acts 12 was the locale of the last supper and it seems problematic to discern the identity of a character in one text from an entirely separate book (Acts). Papias clearly states that (John) Mark was not a witness like the beloved disciple but a second-hand reporter of Peter, which is why he was not able to get the “order” correct, while the fragmentary line in the Muratorian canon could refer to Peter as the subject. The early church followed Papias in linking Mark or Peter with the second canonical Gospel: Parker is not persuasive in dismissing Justin Martyr (Dialogue 106:3) and, while he notes that Jerome hesitatingly related John Mark of Acts to the second canonical Gospel (Commentary in Philemon 24) (109n.36), 1 Peter 5:13 was the more common proof-text in defending that Gospel’s authorship.



'John The Hammer'

An excerpt:

Mindful of all the grief, pain and hard work, and grace, that had brought him to this point, Eli Knowles (pronounced “know-less”), now 63, seated on a campus bench, selected the first two orange 8-x-5-inch postcards from a stack of 300 and stood up. Two presumed students at the University of the South, or Sewanee, located on Monteagle mountain in southeast Tennessee, are headed his way. Eli, a burly Caucasian with a white beard and his long silver hair pulled back in a ponytail, stepped up and handed each person a card, before sitting back down on the bench. He’s prepared to answer any questions and produce any verses which might be required to confirm his thesis that St. John Mark — an African refugee, Jewish Levitical priest and scribe — was the Beloved Disciple of Jesus and the writer of John’s gospel.

Eli had gone to the trouble of printing out a series of verses from the gospels of John and Mark on green and blue cards. He even had a card with a verse from Matthew, which proves Zebedee’s John could not have been the Beloved Disciple, as he did not leave for Galilee until after the resurrection, traveling, as Zebedee’s John did with the 11 remaining disciples, to a mountain in Galilee. Jesus had told the women to tell the disciples where He was to meet them. Meanwhile John Mark and his mother Mary immediately took in Jesus’ mother.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, never left Jerusalem, and died and was buried there. Zebedee’s John could not be a writer with the skill of John Mark … after all he was an “uneducated” fisherman. John Mark was a Jewish Levitical priest and scribe. That also lies at the center of Eli’s thesis.

The cards are kept in a little tin box, with dividers and tabs. The students dutifully stop to read what they have been handed. Eli’s intent was to reveal the identity of the “other disciple, the one Jesus loved,” who wrote the Gospel of John. And to call attention to Jesus’ color. And why the African refugee and Jewish Levitical priest, naturally, had a special racial bond with Jesus. The Beloved Discipler, along with his mother Mary, were Jesus’ wealthy benefactors.

Eli has also brought a color print of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper and a copy of The Nag Hammadi Library, both of which shed light, in their own way, on the question of the identity of the Beloved Disciple of Jesus, who wrote the Gospel of John. Coptic material has prompted some scholars to revere the Nag Hammadi Library as scripture, when the Coptic biography of John Mark has been all but disregarded.

On one side of the postage-paid postcards is Eli’s address. The other side bears a question and six multiple-choice answers. 

The question reads: It is one of Christendom’s most enduring and confounding mysteries: Who was the unnamed “other disciple, whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2), who knew the Jewish high priests Annas and Caiaphas (John 18:15), who leaned on Jesus at the Last Supper (John 13:23-25), and who presumably wrote the Gospel of John, the Johannine epistles and Revelation? Bible scholars, laymen and early church patriarchs have wrestled with the obscured identity of the Beloved Disciple and the writer of John’s Gospel for nearly two millennia. Based on what we know today, whom do you say was the Beloved Disciple?

The answers listed on the postcards are as follows: A) Lazarus; B) Mary Magdalene; C) apostle and disciple St. John, the son of Zebedee; D) James, the brother of Jesus; E) wealthy African refugee, Levitical priest and scribe St. John Mark, the founder of the Coptic church and a school of theology, the only professional writer in Jesus’ inner circle, a native of Cyrene in north Africa (Libya), who leaned on Jesus as a kid brother would at the Last Supper, hosted by himself and his mother Mary; his unusual Roman surname “Mark” means “Hammer”; 6) none of these. 

Eli intends to pass out all of these “socratic” postcards in an effort to get out his message, even if it means he has to win over one person at a time. Nothing else Eli has done to try to generate attention and interest in his thesis pertaining to the Beloved Disciple, including international press releases, a letter-writing campaign and posts on his blog, has worked. He would write a scholarly paper, but the idea was just too much for him; he lacked an extensively bibliography. Still, it was imperative that Eli reveal the racial identities of Jesus, John Mark, Simon of Cyrene and Mary Magdalene. Eli believed in a society where people were chanting, “Black Lives Matter,” in the face of gun violence directed toward blacks, it was important for people of all colors to know Jesus was black.

Eli was a former reporter and editor at two local dailies. He could write stories and releases, even screenplays, but a full-fledged paper, with footnotes, wasn’t doable. Eli didn’t have time to construct an elaborate bibliography, and cite works in the body of a formal paper. So Eli, not a scholar, at least not an organized one, had to look for alternative ways to get out his message.

After looking at both sides of the card, the young female student said to Eli, “What if I were to choose B?”

“Which would be Mary Magdalene,” Eli said. I’m asking for the most correct answer,” Eli continued. “The man named John who wrote the Gospel of John.”

The young male student looked very nonchalantly at the card. But Eli saw his eyes widen. 

“What’s this with choice E?” he said. “I’ve never heard … I don’t know anything about John Mark,” the male student said. 

“And,” Eli said, “I would submit that there is a reason for that.”

The female student said, “C.”

Her male companion said, “Yeah, C. Is that right?”

“No,” Eli said laughing. 

“Then E?” the male student said.

“Correctamundo,” Eli said, beaming. “St. John Mark has been hidden from us because of his African ethnicity and nationality, I submit. St. John Mark was the only professional writer in Jesus’ inner circle; he may have been Jesus’ only black disciple, unless you consider Mary Magdalene, being from Magdala, an ancient place in Ethiopia or Abyssinia, which may suggest a racial bond between the two.”

Both students shrugged, as if to say, “So what?”

Eli smiled. The students marked their cards and handed them back to Eli. They had both chosen Zebedee’s John, the Galilean and brother of James, neither of whom had been very bright. Jesus had told both sons of Zebedee that they would drink from the same cup of martyrdom as Jesus would drink. That’s an important point for Eli. Because St. John Mark and Zebedee’s John are both said to have been martyred, eliminating St. John Mark. But Eli believes the claim of John Mark’s alleged martyrdom in Alexandria, Egypt is false.

And, Eli is amazed that the Copts in Egypt have not drawn these conclusions about John Mark, the writer of the Gospel of John as well as te fpinder of the Coptic Church..

Eli believes that like Enoch, the Beloved Disciple of Jesus, as Jesus had intimated, had not tasted death before proceeding into heaven.

Eli watches as a cluster of students exits a classroom building and turns up the sidewalk toward him. Eli counts six students and takes that many postcards from the stack. As he stands up to pass out the cards, he sees a woman exiting the same door, who looks to be in her thirties or forties. She carries a leather satchel as beautiful as herself. Eli continues to watch her as she turns in his direction. He passes out the six cards to the students, then bends down to take another card for this captivating African-American woman. Was she a student or a professor? He hoped she was faculty; in truth, he was trolling for faculty members and the clergy because these were the only ones who could bless Eli’s work and encourage, with results, its publishing. At the least academics could make calls or provide editing and direction, if they were to embrace Eli’s thesis and his efforts to write his screenplay.

“Is this a student project?” a young female student asks Eli.

Eli was grinning from ear to ear. “No, I’m not a student,” he said. “Just a voice in the wilderness, trying to make a splash … to mix metaphors.” Eli and the student laughed.

“Where did you get this information about John Mark?” a male student inquires.

“A Coptic biography that has only existed in English since 1997.” The explanation satisfies the male student. His eyebrows are nicely raised, Eli thinks to himself. The rest of the students, thankfully, were busy reading and marking their cards at the opportune moment Eli steps forward to hand a postcard to the African-American academic.

“Thank you,” the woman says, and immediately begins to read the postcard that has been handed to her. Eli loves campuses. Usually, everybody is so open.

“Irenaeus, in the third century, said the writer of John’s Gospel was C, the apostle and disciple John, the son of Zebedee,” a male student said.

“Yes, he did,” Eli agreed. “He was told that by someone, a mysteriously unknown source; it has always been taken as gospel. But Zebedee’s John didn’t know the high priests, on the night Jesus was arrested. Read John 18:15. John Mark knew the high priests, because he worked with them; he was himself a Levitical priest.”  

“How do you know that?” another male student asks.

“The biography, The Beholder of God,” Eli replies, “which was written in 1968 by the late Coptic Pope Shenouda III, is the only such biography that we have. No other saints have had as much detail written about them as John Mark has in this instance. But the biography and John Mark himself have been hidden, or discredited, I believe, because of what it would say about Jesus’ racial identity.”

“What was Jesus’ racial identity?” the African-American woman asks.

“The short answer is Ethiopian or like the San Bushmen in Southeast Africa, since He would be considered to be the half-brother of DNA superman scientific Adam, who arose in East Africa. The Adam clans and Jesus share the same biological father. That’s a theory of mine. The long answer about Jesus race can be found in the book of Hebrews, which I believe was written by John Mark. Hebrews, chapter seven, verse fourteen. The author of John says that it was ”evident” that Jesus arose from the Tribe of Judah. I lived and worked for 13 months with members of the Tribe of Judah all around me. They were black, and they all believed they would have a black messiah. If not Haile Selassie, the emperor, or Jesus Himself.”

The African-American woman was agape. But she hid it well.

“My name is Mary Elsworth,” she said.

“Eli Knowles,” Eli responds.

“I’m a member of the faculty,” Mary explains, as she, to Eli’s great astonishment and glee, puts her satchel down on the bench and begins to withdraw her Bible. 

“How has John Mark been discredited?” another female student asks. 

“Thank you for asking,” Eli replies. “John Mark’s unusual Roman surname ‘Mark,’ according to one church tradition, is meant to convey that John Mark mutilated his fingers to get out of becoming a priest.”

Mary turned and looked at Eli. “Really?”

Eli was beaming, because he was knocking it out of the park in front of this professor. He had her utmost attention. “Of course, the thing about the mutilating of fingers is nonsense, showing there have been legitimate attempts tp discredit John Mark. I also have reasons to believe John Mark has been hidden and/or discredited.

“Oh, I have the verses printed on cards,” Eli said, as Mary flipped through her Bible.

“You can put your Bible away; I have it right here.” Eli withdrew a smaller postcard from the little tin box with tabs and dividers. “Hebrew 7:14 reveals Jesus was black. The fact that he knew the high priests because he worked them them is essential to solving this mystery. John Mark was a Levitical Jewish priest. And I believe there have beem forces in history who have sought to obscure John Mark, because of what his race would say about Jesus..”

“Right, Mary said. “You’ve already said that.”

Eli pauses to regather his thoughts. “The surname Mark actually means ‘hammer,’ which John Mark no doubt adopted after seeing as how the hammer had been used against his Lord. He was, with Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the crucifixion site, John Mark was. And he would have seen everything. Nothing that any of Jesus other disciples could say.”

Mary stopped reading the postcard and looked at Eli, intrigued with the words spoken by this burly, white-haired, white-bearded stranger. She was intrigued because Eli spoke not only with conviction, but authority.

“Are you a student?” Mary asks Eli, holding her place in her Bible.

“Oh, no,” Eli says earnestly. “Just a beggar searching for bread.”

“The verse you cited says Jesus evidently was of the Tribe of Judah,” Mary says. 

“Yes,” Eli replies. “What do you take from that? Keep in mind that in Revelation Jesus is referred to as ‘the Lion of Judah. He was presumed to be of the Tribe of Judah because of His African features. He was that way because the seed that God used to create Adams in East Africa, effectively makes Jesus the half brother of DNA rich Adam. In that was he could sacrfice himself for all races. All races evolved from the Africans who migrated out of East Africa about 50,000 years ago.’

“Jesus was of the same tribe as David and Solomon,” Mary says. “Do you concur?”

Eli nods yes. “I believe Jesus was called the Son of David, because he looked like Solomon, whose mother, Bathsheba, was an Ethiopian. And she is hidden in the Gospel of Matthew, by the way, in Jesus’ genealogy that appears at the opening of Matthew. There’s a fascinating reference to Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, whose name is awkwardly stricken from the list. If David was black, I don’t know. But also being of the Tribe of Judah, I believe he was.”

Eli reached out to collect the cards from the students, as they trailed away. One person had voted for Mary Magdalene, but the rest had voted for Zebedee’s John, to Eli’s great disappointment.

“Interesting, Mr. Knowles,” Mary said.

“Let me provide you with two cards,” Eli said, “one of which has John 19:26-27 printed on it; the other card is Acts 1:13-14. Cross referencing these verses is the quickest and best way to show that John Mark was the Beloved Disciple, who took Mary to his Jerusalem home.. In John 19:26-27, the Beloved Disciple is described with Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the cross of Jesus. Of course, Jesus asks the Beloved Disciple to adopt his mother, in effect. And then we read that the Beloved Disciple took Mary to his home ‘in that hour.’ If the Beloved Disciple is Zebedee’s John, there would be no way that John could have Mary at his home in Galilee in an hour. Everybody hung out at John Mark’s house.

“In Acts 1, we learn that Mary, the mother of Jesus, all of Jesus’ disciples and some of his brothers are living in the house with the upper room. John Mark and his mother Mary, being wealthy, gave comfort, food and shelter to everyone involved with Jesus whenever they were in Jerusalem.”

Mary moved to sit down on the bench, as Eli got his things out of the way. The two talked for nearly an hour and a half.

“I have Chapel Talk in St. John’s Chapel tomorrow,” Mary said. “At 9 a.m. Maybe I can slip you in. It will give you about 20 minutes.”

“You’re serious?” Eli said, slightly overwhelmed. “You promise?”

“Yes, I promise,” Mary laughed. “We’ll talk more about it tonight. For now I have to go and see the dean, and I’ll mention it to him.”

“Can you give me directions to St. John’s Chapel?” Eli asked.

“Yes,” Mary said, “do you see that building and the double doors?” Mary pointed to the double-door entrance of the administrative building across the street.

“Yes,” Eli replied.

“Go through the double doors through the building. St. John’s Chapel is on the other side.”


Mary gave Eli a firm handshake as he handed her the two green postcards, bearing John 19:26-27 and Acts 1:13-14. 

“And,” Eli called out, “all the Coptic heries that say Jesus was a common man are forgeries. Jesus knew at least by the age of 12, that he was special and spoke with authority. He would have fought off the women, if there were any, that being socially a king-sized public mistake and sin. His life was going to end in an execution. How sexy is that? Who would want additional sin being someone who was going to be dying for the sins of the whole world!”

Mary, slightly annoyed, waved back to Eli as she headed for another campus building.

“Jesus was black because he had been a virgin-born type of Adam,” Eli called out, but mostly was speaking to himself. “With all his DNA, he was Adam’s half brother. And we know that John Mark was black, because he was from Cyrene, the same native land of the Cyrenean Simon, who was chosen by the Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry his cross because both were black. Jesus’ Adam-like DNA made it possible for Him to shed his blood for all races of all people.”

Mary waved with her back turned, as she scurried away. She was quickly out of earshot.

Oh well, his effort had been earnest, satisfying. He hoped for more students and faculty to pass by as his watch showed ten to ten. 

Eli looked down at her card, and she had marked E … with a question mark.

 More students and faculty were exiting another building, and began moving in Eli’s direction.


Jesus Was/Is Black!

Why did the angel tell Mary and Joseph to take Jesus into Africa to hide him from the murderous King Herod?

Why was an African man, walking in the opposite direction, seized by the Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry His cross?

What does it say about Jesus that the Beloved Disciple of Jesus was a wealthy African refugee and Levitical priest?

Was Jesus persecuted, lynched, arrested, beaten and crucified because of His racial identity, being of the Tribe of Judah?



Shout it out, children! 


'Finding Prester John'

Who is the priest named John who wrote the Gospel of John?

What would you say if you knew that this information had been hidden from me and you?

Why do we kneel before the Gnostic gospels originally written in Coptic in the Nag Hammadi Library … and ignore the Coptic biography of John Mark, titled THE BEHOLDER OF GOD?

The biography, written by Coptic Pope Shenouda III in 1968, states that John Mark was martyred. BUT WE BELIEVE JOHN MARK NEVER TASTED DEATH, being the writer of Revelation. 


Search For Prester John


Prester John (LatinPresbyter Johannes) is a legendary Christian patriarch and king popular in European chronicles and tradition from the 12th through the 17th century. He was said to rule over a Nestorian (Church of the East) Christian nation lost amid the Muslims and pagans of the Orient. The accounts are varied collections of medieval popular fantasy, depicting Prester John as a descendant of the Three Magi, ruling a kingdom full of riches, marvels, and strange creatures.

At first, Prester John was imagined to reside in India; tales of the Nestorian Christians’ evangelistic success there and of Thomas the Apostle’s subcontinental travels probably provided the first seeds of the legend. After the coming of the Mongols to the Western world, accounts placed the king in Central Asia, and eventually Portuguese explorers convinced themselves that they had found him in Ethiopia.

 Origin of the legend

Though its immediate genesis is unclear, the legend of Prester John drew strongly from earlier accounts of the Orient and of Westerners’ travels there. Particularly influential were the stories of Saint Thomas the Apostle’s proselytizing in India, as recorded in the 3rd-century work known as the Acts of Thomas,[1] and reports of the Church of the Eastin Greater Persia. The Church of the East, also called the Nestorian church, had gained a wide following in the Eastern nations and engaged the Western imagination as an assemblage both exotic and familiarly Christian.[2] Particularly inspiring were the Nestorians’ missionary successes among the Mongols and Turks of Central Asia; René Grousset (1970) suggested that one of the seeds of the story may have come from the Keraites, which had thousands of its members converted to Nestorian Christianity shortly after the year 1000. By the 12th century, the Keraite rulers were still following a custom of bearing Christian names, which may have fueled the legend.[3]

Prester John from Hartmann Schedel’sNuremberg Chronicle, 1493

Additionally, a kernel of the tradition may have been drawn from the shadowy early Christian figure John the Presbyter of Syria, whose existence is first inferred by the ecclesiastical historian and bishop Eusebius of Caesarea based on his reading of earlier church fathers.[4] This man, said in one document to be the author of two of the Epistles of John,[5] was supposed to have been the teacher of the martyr bishop Papias, who had in turn taught Eusebius’ own teacher Irenaeus. However, little links this figure, supposedly active in the late 1st century, to the Prester John legend beyond the name.[6]

The later accounts of Prester John borrowed heavily from literary texts concerning the East, including the great body of ancient and medieval geographical and travel literature. Details were often lifted from literary and pseudohistorical accounts, such as the tale of Sinbad the Sailor.[7] The Alexander romance, a fabulous account of Alexander the Great’s conquests, was especially influential in this regard.[8]

Scholars have debated over the origins of Prester John’s name, speculating that Prester could be a corruption of either the word “Presbyter” or “priest”.[9] Sir John Mandeville, a medieval writer who was famous in his lifetime for his travel accounts, wrote of an emperor named John who decides to become a priest after an audience with a Christian knight, in which the “emperour seyde, that he wolde no longer ben clept kyng ne emperour, but preest”.[10] This reference suggests that the latter reading of Prester as “preest”[10] as the correct interpretation of Prester John’s name.

The legend is first recorded in the early 12th century with reports of visits of an “Archbishop of India” to Constantinople, and of a “Patriarch of India” to Rome at the time of Pope Callixtus II (1119–1124).[11] These visits cannot be confirmed, evidence of both being secondhand reports. What is certain is that German chronicler Otto of Freising reported in his Chronicon of 1145 that the previous year he had met a certain Hugh, bishop of Jabala in Syria, at the court of Pope Eugene III in Viterbo.[12] Hugh was an emissary of Prince Raymond of Antioch seeking Western aid against the Saracens after the Siege of Edessa, and his counsel incited Eugene to call for the Second Crusade. He told Otto, in the presence of the pope, that Prester John, a Nestorian Christian who served in the dual position of priest and king, had regained the city of Ecbatana from the brother monarchs of Medes and Persia, the Samiardi, in a great battle “not many years ago”. Afterwards Prester John allegedly set out for Jerusalem to rescue the Holy Land, but the swollen waters of the Tigriscompelled him to return to his own country. His fabulous wealth was demonstrated by his emerald scepter; his holiness by his descent from the Three Magi.[13]

Silverberg connects this account with historical events of 1141, when the Kara-Khitan Khanate under Yelü Dashi defeated the Seljuk Turks near Samarkand. While the Kara-Khitan at the time were Buddhists and not Christian,[14] several vassals of the Kara-Khitan practiced Nestorian Christianity, which may have contributed to the legend as well as the possibility that the Europeans, who were unfamiliar with the concept of Buddhism, assumed that if the leader was not Muslim, he must be Christian.[15] The report of the defeat would have inspired a notion of “deliverance from the East”, and it is possible Otto recorded Hugh’s report to prevent complacency in the Crusade’s European backers; according to his account, no help could be expected from a powerful Eastern king.[16]

Letter of Prester John

No more of the tale is recorded until about 1165 when copies of what was certainly a forged Letter of Prester John started spreading throughout Europe.[14] An epistolary wonder tale with parallels suggesting its author knew the Romance of Alexander and the above-mentioned Acts of Thomas, the Letter was supposedly written to the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus (1143–1180) by Prester John, descendant of one of the Three Magi and King of India.[17][18] The many marvels of richness and magic it contained captured the imagination of Europeans, and it was translated into numerous languages, including Hebrew. It circulated in ever more embellished form for centuries in manuscripts, a hundred examples of which still exist. The invention of printing perpetuated the letter’s popularity in printed form; it was still current in popular culture during the period of European exploration. Part of the letter’s essence was that a lost kingdom of Nestorian Christians still existed in the vastnesses of Central Asia.

The credence given to the reports was such that Pope Alexander III sent a letter to Prester John via his physician Philip on September 27, 1177. Nothing more is recorded of Philip, but it is most probable that he did not return with word from Prester John.[19] The Letter continued to circulate, accruing more embellishments with each copy. In modern times, textual analysis of the letter’s variant Hebrew versions has suggested an origin among the Jews of northern Italy or Languedoc: several Italian words remained in the Hebrew texts.[20] At any rate, the Letter’s author was most likely a Westerner, though his or her purpose remains unclear.

Mongol Empire

Depiction of the Keraite ruler Ong Khanas “Prester John” in “Le Livre des Merveilles”, 15th century

In 1221, Jacques de VitryBishop of Acre, returned from the disastrous Fifth Crusade with good news: King David of India, the son or grandson of Prester John, had mobilized his armies against the Saracens. He had already conquered Persia, then under the Khwarezmian Empire’s control, and was moving on towards Baghdad as well. This descendant of the great king who had defeated the Seljuks in 1141 planned to reconquer and rebuild Jerusalem.[21][22] Controversial Soviet historian and ethnologistLev Gumilev speculated that the much reduced crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in the Levant resuscitated this legend in order to raise Christian hopes and to encourage European monarchs who by that time had lost interest in getting involved in costly crusades in a distant region that was far removed from their own states and affairs.[23]

The bishop of Acre was correct in thinking that a great King had conquered Persia; however “King David”, as it turned out, wasTengrist warlord Genghis Khan. His reign took the story of Prester John in a new direction. Though Genghis was at first seen as a scourge of Christianity’s enemies, he proved to be tolerant of religious faiths among those subjects that did not resist the empire, and was the first East Asian ruler to invite clerics from three major religions (Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism) to a symposium so that he might learn more about their beliefs.[24] The Mongol ruler was also reputed to have a Nestorian Christian favorite among his many wives, whom the Europeans imagined as influential in the disastrous Mongol sack of Baghdad.[24]

The Mongol Empire’s rise gave Western Christians the opportunity to visit lands that they had never seen before, and they set out in large numbers along the Empire’s secure roads. Belief that a lost Nestorian kingdom existed in the east, or that the Crusader states’ salvation depended on an alliance with an Eastern monarch, was one reason for the numerous Christian ambassadors and missionaries sent to the Mongols. These include Franciscan explorers Giovanni da Pian del Carpine in 1245 and William of Rubruck in 1253.[25]

The link between Prester John and Genghis Khan was elaborated upon at this time, as the Prester became identified with Genghis’ foster father, Toghril, king of the Keraites, given the Jin title Ong Khan Toghril. Fairly truthful chroniclers and explorers such as Marco Polo,[26] Crusader-historian Jean de Joinville,[27] and the Franciscan voyagerOdoric of Pordenone[28] stripped Prester John of much of his otherworldly veneer, portraying him as a more realistic earthly monarch. Odoric places John’s land to the west of Cathay en route to Europe, and mentions its capital as Casan, which may correspond to Kazan, the Tatar capital near Moscow. Joinville describes Genghis Khan in his chronicle as a “wise man” who unites all the Tartar tribes and leads them to victory against their strongest enemy, Prester John.[27] William of Rubruck says a certain “Vut”, lord of the Keraites and brother to the Nestorian King John, was defeated by the Mongols under Genghis. Genghis made off with Vut’s daughter and married her to his son, and their union produced Möngke, the Khan at the time William wrote.[29] According to Marco Polo’s Travels, the war between the Prester and Genghis started when Genghis, new ruler of the rebellious Tartars, asked for the hand of Prester John’s daughter in marriage. Angered that his lowly vassal would make such a request, Prester John denied him in no uncertain terms. In the war that followed, Genghis triumphed and Prester John perished.[30]

The historical figure behind these accounts, Toghril, was in fact a Nestorian Christian monarch defeated by Genghis. He had fostered the future Khan after the death of his father Yesugei and was one of his early allies, but the two had a falling out. After Toghril rejected a proposal to wed his son and daughter to Genghis’ children, the rift between them grew until war broke out in 1203. Genghis captured Sorghaghtani Beki, daughter of Toghril’s brother Jaqa Gambu, and married her to his son Tolui; they had several children, including Möngke, KublaiHulagu, and Ariq Böke.

The major characteristic of Prester John tales from this period is the king’s portrayal not as an invincible hero, but merely one of many adversaries defeated by the Mongols. But as the Mongol Empire collapsed, Europeans began to shift away from the idea that Prester John had ever really been a Central Asian king.[31] At any rate they had little hope of finding him there, as travel in the region became dangerous without the security the Empire had provided. In works such as The Travels of Sir John Mandeville[32][33]and Historia Trium Regum by John of Hildesheim,[34] Prester John’s domain tends to regain its fantastic aspects and finds itself located not on the steppes of Central Asia, but back in India proper, or some other exotic locale. Wolfram von Eschenbach tied the history of Prester John to the Holy Grail legend in his poem Parzival, in which the Prester is the son of the Grail maiden and the Saracen knight Feirefiz.[35]

A theory was put forward by the Russian scholar Ph. Bruun in 1876, who suggested that Prester John might be found among the kings of Georgia, which, at the time of Crusades, experienced military resurgence challenging the Muslim power. However, this theory, though regarded with certain indulgence by Henry Yule and some modern Georgian historians, was summarily dismissed by Friedrich Zarncke.[36]


A map of Prester John’s kingdom as Ethiopia

Prester John had been considered the ruler of India since the legend’s beginnings, but “India” was a vague concept to the Europeans. Writers often spoke of the “Three Indias”, and lacking any real knowledge of the Indian Ocean, they sometimes considered Ethiopia one of the three. Westerners knew that Ethiopia was a powerful Christian nation, but contact had been sporadic since the rise of Islam. No Prester John was to be found in Asia, so European imagination moved him around the blurry frontiers of “India” until it found an appropriately powerful kingdom for him in Ethiopia.[37] Evidence has suggested that locating Prester John’s kingdom in Ethiopia entered the collective consciousness around 1250.[38]

Marco Polo had discussed Ethiopia as a magnificent Christian land[39] and Orthodox Christians had a legend that the nation would one day rise up and invade Arabia,[40] but they did not place Prester John there. Then in 1306, 30 Ethiopian ambassadors from Emperor Wedem Arad came to Europe, and Prester John was mentioned as the patriarch of their church in a record of their visit.[41] Another description of an African Prester John is in the Mirabilia Descripta of Dominican missionary Jordanus, around 1329.[42] In discussing the “Third India”, Jordanus records a number of fanciful stories about the land and its king, whom he says Europeans call Prester John.

“Preste Iuan de las Indias” (Prester John of the Indies) positioned in East Africa on a 16th-century SpanishPortolan chart


After this point, an African location became increasingly popular. This may have resulted from increasing ties between Europe and Africa as 1428 saw the Kings of Aragon and Ethiopia actively negotiating the possibility of a strategic marriage between the two kingdoms.[38] On 7 May 1487, two Portuguese envoys, Pêro da Covilhã and Afonso de Paiva, were sent traveling secretly overland to gather information on a possible sea route to India, but also to inquire about Prester John. Covilhã managed to reach Ethiopia. Although well received, he was forbidden to depart. More envoys were sent in 1507, after Socotrawas taken by the Portuguese. As a result of this mission, and facing Muslim expansion, regent queen Eleni of Ethiopia sent ambassador Mateus to king Manuel I of Portugal and to the Pope, in search of a coalition. Mateus reached Portugal via Goa, having returned with a Portuguese embassy, along with priest Francisco Álvares in 1520. Francisco Álvares’ book, which included the testimony of Covilhã, the Verdadeira Informação das Terras do Preste João das Indias (“A True Relation of the Lands of Prester John of the Indies”) was the first direct account of Ethiopia, greatly increasing European knowledge at the time, as it was presented to the pope, published and quoted by Giovanni Battista Ramusio.[43]

By the time the emperor Lebna Dengel and the Portuguese had established diplomatic contact with each other in 1520, Prester John was the name by which Europeans knew the Emperor of Ethiopia.[44] The Ethiopians, though, had never called their emperor that. When ambassadors from Emperor Zara Yaqob attended the Council of Florence in 1441, they were confused when council prelates insisted on referring to their monarch as Prester John. They tried to explain that nowhere in Zara Yaqob’s list of regnal names did that title occur. However, their admonitions did little to stop Europeans from calling the King of Ethiopia Prester John.[45] Some writers who used the title did understand it was not an indigenous honorific; for instance Jordanus seems to use it simply because his readers would have been familiar with it, not because he thought it authentic.[46]

Ethiopia has been claimed for many years as the origin of the Prester John legend, but most modern experts believe that the legend was simply adapted to fit that nation in the same fashion that it had been projected upon Ong Khan and Central Asia during the 13th century. Modern scholars find nothing about the Prester or his country in the early material that would make Ethiopia a more suitable identification than any place else, and furthermore, specialists in Ethiopian history have effectively demonstrated that the story was not widely known there until well after European contact. Czech Franciscan Remedius Prutky asked Emperor Iyasu II about this identification in 1751, and Prutky states that the man was “astonished, and told me that the kings of Abyssinia had never been accustomed to call themselves by this name.”[47] In a footnote to this passage,Richard Pankhurst states that this is apparently the first recorded statement by an Ethiopian monarch about this tale, and they were likely unaware of the title until Prutky’s inquiry.[48]

17th-century academics like German orientalist Hiob Ludolf demonstrated that there was no actual native connection between Prester John and the Ethiopian monarchs,[49]and the fabled king left the maps for good.

Modern reception

The legend had affected several hundred years of European and world history, directly and indirectly, by encouraging Europe’s explorers, missionaries, scholars, and treasure hunters.

William Shakespeare’s 1600 play Much Ado About Nothing contains an early modern reference to the legendary king,[50] as does Tirso de Molina’s El Burlador de Sevilla.[51] In 1910 British novelist and politician John Buchan used the legend in his sixth book, Prester John, to supplement a plot about a Zulu uprising in South Africa. This book is an archetypal example of the early 20th-century adventure novel, and proved very popular in its day.

Charles Williams, a member of the 20th-century literary group the Inklings, made Prester John a messianic protector of the Holy Grail in his 1930 novel War in Heaven. The Prester and his kingdom also figure prominently in Umberto Eco’s 2000 novel Baudolino, in which the titular protagonist enlists his friends to write the Letter of Prester John for his adoptive father Frederick Barbarossa, but it is stolen before they can send it out.

Perhaps because of Buchan’s work, Prester John also appeared in 20th-century pulp fiction and comics. For example, Marvel Comics has featured “Prester John” in issues ofFantastic Four and Thor. He was a significant supporting character in several issues of the DC Comics fantasy series Arak: Son of Thunder. His Avatar is the ally of the Pendragon in Mage: The Hero Defined. The 1992 video game Castles II: Siege and Conquest contains a sub-plot involving the search for Prester John’s kingdom. Prester John also features in Tad Williams’ epic trilogy, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and Season 2 of Netflix’s Marco Polo includes references to Prestor John.


African Model Shoots Down Sumer Creation Myths

by Sebastian Kaulitzki,

Almost every man alive can trace his origins to one man who lived about 135,000 years ago, new research suggests. And that ancient man likely shared the planet with the mother of all women.

The findings, detailed today (Aug. 1) in the journal Science, come from the most complete analysis  of the male sex chromosome, or the Y chromosome, to date. The results overturn earlier research, which suggested that men’s most recent common ancestor lived just 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.

Isn’t this fun? Domesticated dogs do not share a common ancester, going all the way back. God made animals that could interact and live among us.

Despite their overlap in time, ancient “Adam” and ancient “Eve” probably didn’t even live near each other, let alone mate. [The 10 Biggest Mysteries of the First Humans]

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“Those two people didn’t know each other,” said Melissa Wilson Sayres, a geneticist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the study.

Tracing history

Researchers believe that modern humans left Africa between 60,000 and 200,000 years ago, and that the mother of all women likely emerged from East Africa. But beyond that, the details get fuzzy.

The Y chromosome is passed down identically from father to son, so mutations, or point changes, in the male sex chromosome can trace the male line back to the father of all humans. By contrast, DNA from the mitochondria, the energy powerhouse of the cell, is carried inside the egg, so only women pass it on to their children. The DNA hidden inside mitochondria, therefore, can reveal the maternal lineage to an ancient Eve.

But over time, the male chromosome gets bloated with duplicated, jumbled-up stretches of DNA, said study co-author Carlos Bustamante, a geneticist at Stanford University in California. As a result, piecing together fragments of DNA from gene sequencing was like trying to assemble a puzzle without the image on the box top, making thorough analysis difficult.

Y chromosome

Bustamante and his colleagues assembled a much bigger piece of the puzzle by sequencing the entire genome of the Y chromosome for 69 men from seven global populations, from African San Bushmen to the Yakut of Siberia.

By assuming a mutation rate anchored to archaeological events (such as the migration of people across the Bering Strait), the team concluded that all males in their global sample shared a single male ancestor in Africa roughly 125,000 to 156,000 years ago.

In addition, mitochondrial DNA from the men, as well as similar samples from 24 women, revealed that all women on the planet trace back to amitochondrial Eve, who lived in Africa between 99,000 and 148,000 years ago — almost the same time period during which the Y-chromosome Adam lived.

More ancient Adam

But the results, though fascinating, are just part of the story, said Michael Hammer, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Arizona who was not involved in the study.

A separate study in the same issue of the journal Science found that men shared a common ancestor between 180,000 and 200,000 years ago.

And in a study detailed in March in the American Journal of Human Genetics, Hammer’s group showed that several men in Africa have unique, divergent Y chromosomes that trace back to an even more ancient man who lived between 237,000 and 581,000 years ago. [Unraveling the Human Genome: 6 Molecular Milestones]

“It doesn’t even fit on the family tree that the Bustamante lab has constructed — It’s older,” Hammer told LiveScience.

Gene studies always rely on a sample of DNA and, therefore, provide an incomplete picture of human history. For instance, Hammer’s group sampled a different group of men than Bustamante’s lab did, leading to different estimates of how old common ancestors really are.

Adam and Eve?

These primeval people aren’t parallel to the biblical Adam and Eve. They weren’t the first modern humans on the planet, but instead just the two out of thousands of people alive at the time with unbroken male or female lineages that continue on today.

The rest of the human genome contains tiny snippets of DNA from many other ancestors — they just don’t show up in mitochondrial or Y-chromosome DNA, Hammer said. (For instance, if an ancient woman had only sons, then her mitochondrial DNA would disappear, even though the son would pass on a quarter of her DNA via the rest of his genome.)

As a follow-up, Bustamante’s lab is sequencing Y chromosomes from nearly 2,000 other men. Those data could help pinpoint precisely where in Africa these ancient humans lived.

It’s very exciting,” Wilson Sayres told LiveScience. “As we get more populations across the world, we can start to understand exactly where we came from physically.”

Follow Tia Ghose on Twitterand Google+. Follow LiveScience @livescience,Facebook Google+. Original article on


Apply This Passage To Beloved Disciple Mystery

21 Also Jesus said to them, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.” — Mark 4:21-22


Good Questions

Has Jesus’ racial identity been hidden from us?

If Jesus was black, will the Antichrist be white?

If the Shroud of Turin is a forgery, what was the forger’s purpose?

Is Jesus’ membership in the Tribe of Judah a certain indicator that he was black?

Were the first Jews of Judah black? 



Matthew 28:16 Offers Another Clue

MATTHEW 28:16 — Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.

Zebedee’s John, as one of the eleven disciples (minus Judas) described here, didn’t leave Jerusalem until after the Resurrection — and then he didn’t take Mary, the mother of Jesus, anywhere, but left with the 10 other disciples to go to a mountain in Galilee, as Jesus instructed. In Acts 1:3-4, it appears that the eleven disciples of Jesus were staying at John Mark’s big house, along with Jesus’ Mary.

Jesus especially loved John Mark because he was an African youth, a refugee, a scholar, a priest, who, along with his mother Mary, was a financial benefactor of Jesus. John Mark leaned on Jesus at the Last Supper as a kid brother would lean on his older sibling.



What Was It About Jesus That Made It 'Evident' He Was Of The Tribe of Judah?

For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. — Hebrews 7:14

Jesus was not a Levite; nevertheless, African refugee and Levitical priest John Mark goes on to say that Jesus was and is the ultimate High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. King David was of the royal tribe of Judah. Was there anything about David or Solomon that made it evident they were from the same tribe as Jesus?


African Lives Matter


Why were Jesus’ parents told by the angel to take Jesus into Africa to hide Him from the murderous King Herod?

What does it mean that Jesus’ most beloved disciple, a native of Cyrene (Libya), was an African

Why was an African  (also, incredibly another Cyrenean), heading in the opposite direction, chosen by Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry His cross?

Was Jesus called “the son of David,” because Jesus looked like Solomon, who had an African mother?

What does it mean that it was “evident” that Jesus was from the Tribe of Judah?

Was Jesus the half-brother of an African Adam?

The first humans were Africans.

The first Hebrews were very likely African — which calls into question the genetic makeup and race of Abraham, if he was to be a father of “many nations.” Could Abraham really have come from Mesopotamia or did he come from DNA-rich Africa?

African DNA (certain tribes in Ethiopia) can produce all races, including white. But the white race could not create an African.

If Jesus was scientific Adam’s half-brother, was Jesus a virgin-born African?

Why have Ethiopians (notably the Rastafarians) believed from the Kebra Negast document that they would have an African messiah from the Tribe of Judah? I pondered this question when I was stationed in Asmara, Ethiopia, which now belongs to Eritrea, and noted repeatedly that they called Haile Selassie THE “Lion of Judah.” But that title belongs to Jesus.

Do you detect a pattern?

Have all these things been intentionally hidden from us? 

Black lives really matter now more than ever! As for me, I’m only a white guy, who lived and worked as a Naval intelligence specialist in East Africa for a year.


The Best Test

Here’s a simple cross-referencing test (using John 18:15-16, John 19:26-27 and Acts 1:13-14) to demonstrate that wealthy African refugee and priest JOHN MARK (and not the disciple and apostle John, the son of Zebedee) IS THE BELOVED DISCIPLE and writer of the Gospel of John, as well as being the adopted son of Mary, the mother of Jesus:  

JOHN 19:26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And in that hour that disciple took her to his own home.



ACTS 1:13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas, the son of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.


JOHN 18:15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. 16 But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. 

And, did John Mark leave Paul and Barnabas on the mission field to go home to Jerusalem to look after the two Mary’s, as Jesus instructed? Is this, and the fact that he was a skilled writer, the reason that John Mark ultimately found favor with Paul — and should find favor with the world?

Check this out: There are actually people who believe Zebedee’s John drug Mary all over ancient Turkey and wherever else. This is from Wikipedia:

The House of the Virgin Mary (TurkishMeryem ana or Meryem Ana Evi, “Mother Mary’s House”) is a Catholic and Muslim shrine located on Mt. Koressos (Turkish: Bülbüldağı, “Mount Nightingale”) in the vicinity of Ephesus, 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) from Selçuk in Turkey.[1]

The house was discovered in the 19th century by following the descriptions in the reported visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774–1824), a Roman Catholic nun and visionary, which were published as a book by Clemens Brentano after her death.[2] The Catholic Church has never pronounced in favour or against the authenticity of the house, but nevertheless maintains a steady flow of pilgrimage since its discovery. Anne Catherine Emmerich wasBeatified by Pope John Paul II on October 3, 2004.

Catholic pilgrims visit the house based on the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken to this stone house by Saint John and lived there until herAssumption (according to Catholic doctrine) or Dormition (according to Orthodox belief).[3][4]

The shrine has merited several papal Apostolic Blessings and visits from several popes, the earliest pilgrimage coming from Pope Leo XIII in 1896, and the most recent in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI.

I have read about these pilgrims who go to Ephesus and Patmos, expecting to see evidence of Mary’s presence, never realizing that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was kept in Jerusalem in a large, well-appointed home for its day, with an upper room where everybody, practically, who was a disciple, was able to stay, including the brothers of Jesus. Nobody had any money but John Mark and his mother Mary. Surely they gave to Jesus his expensive linen cloak.




'Beloved Disciple' Was African Refugee, Priest John Mark, Gray Says

FROM COLLINS ATLAS OF WORLD HISTORY, 2003: Above is what I consider to be a very telling and important map, which features the spread of Christianity in the Near East and the Med. This is a really blurry photo taken from a book, shot with an iPhone, so you’ll have to let me guide you in what you’re seeing.

The colored lines represent the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul. The light brown indicates that Christianity by 600 A.D. was largely present; the darker golden color represents places where Christianity was strongly rooted. It is noteworthy how Christianity spread in response to the missionary work of Paul. But look at North Africa on the map. You’ll see brown and gold colors in Alexandria, Egypt and Cyrene (today Libya) to the left, but where are the colored lines and arrows indicating the journeys of missionaries to these two places? There are none … and that is telling. Whoever evangelized Alexandria and Cyrene has gotten no credit for it.

This map in a world history book haunted me after seeing it several years back. Who had gone into Africa to bring the Gospel to these two places? What apostle or disciple of Jesus would be responsible for the presence of Christianity in Northern Africa? Who evangelized Alexandria and Cyrene, if it was not Paul or any of his assistants, which would be indicated by colored lines and arrows?

Why show the rise of Christianity in these two places without saying which missionary was responsible? I began to do research on all-things-Africa in 2002, wondering why I had been stationed in Africa for a year in the Navy, revisiting that whole experience and what my time there had done to me. I asked God to reveal to me His reason for allowing me or sending me to Egypt and Ethiopia in 1973, if, in fact, God had a plan for my life. I had reasons to believe that there was a plan for me the more research I did. So, who is responsible for African missionary work which saw the spread of Christianity?

Pieces began to fall together the more I learned about Cyrene and Alexandria, and how it was a man named John Mark, a native of Cyrene, could be held responsible for Christianity’s spread in these two places. I read that John Mark was the founder of the Coptic church in Alexandria, who likely debated and argued with the Gnostics, who arose there. It is notable that John Mark and the Gnostics locked horns, because the Gospel of John was later written — author unknown — employing Gnostic elements to make the case that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine, among other things. The Gnostics believe that the world and solar system were the result of errors made by gods, and that mankind was doomed without spirituality.

Could John Mark have dropped his last name, Marcus, which means “hammer,” and written a book that was ascribed to the apostle John by early church fathers? Was John Mark an apostle? Could he be a second apostle John, who may have written the Gospel ascribed to him?

The answer is yes. 


Gray Cites Coptic Biography Of John Mark To Suggest Jesus May Have Been A Virgin-born African

SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, Tenn. — It is one of Christendom’s most enduring and confounding mysteries: Who was the unnamed “other disciple, whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2), who knew the Jewish high priests Annas and Caiaphas (John 18:15), who sat next to Jesus at the Last Supper (John 13:23-25), and who presumably wrote the Gospel of John, the Johannine epistles and Revelation? Bible scholars, laymen and early church patriarchs have wrestled with the obscured identity of the Beloved Disciple and the writer of John’s Gospel for nearly two millennia. 

A lengthy list of potential candidates ranges from Matthias, to Theophilus, to Lazarus, to John, the son of Zebedee, to Mary Magdalene, even Judas Iscariot. But it could not be Mary Magdalene, because she is described at the empty tomb of Jesus in the company of Peter and “the other disciple, whom Jesus loved.” Perhaps it is telling that “the other disciple” used this monicker to describe himself. The  use of the word “other” would seem to suggest the Beloved Disciple was not one of the twelve.

Now, Tennessee writer and ex-Naval intelligence specialist (stationed in Asmara, Ethiopia) Randall Carter Gray says he has solved the mystery, relying, in part, on a 1968 Coptic (Egyptian) biography of St. John Mark, The Beholder of God, which was only translated into English in 1997, clear scriptural evidence and a scholarly article “John and John Mark,” written by Pierson Parker and published by the Society of Biblical Literature in 1960.

Gray, 62, who has a 100-percent military related disability, said the biography, written by the late Coptic Pope Shenouda III, reveals tantalizing clues on “a largely overlooked, very important man,” whose given Jewish name was John … and whose unusual adopted Roman surname was Mark or Marcus, meaning “hammer.”

“North African refugee John Mark, of Cyrene (Libya),” Gray said, “is the Beloved Disciple, who wrote all the works in the New Testament ascribed to people named John and Mark. He knew the high priests, because he worked with them as a priest and scribe. He was the only professionally trained writer in Jesus’ inner circle.”

“What makes this mystery so fascinatinating,” Gray continued, “is the scriptural evidence in Mark’s Gospel suggesting that John Mark may have been intentionally obscured as the Beloved Disciple — perhaps because of what it might say about Jesus having a special bond with an African refugee.” As it is, Gray said, “there are plenty of clues that I followed to unlock the secret.”

In the biography, Shenouda claims that John Mark was 1) a native of Cyrene, 2) a North African refugee with a well-appointed home in Jerusalem, 3) a Jewish Levite priest and scribe, 4) the founder of the Coptic church and a theology school in Alexandria, Egypt, 5) one of the 70 apostles (evangelists) chosen by Jesus, 6) a cousin of Barnabas, 7) a secretary for the apostles Paul and Peter, and 8) John Mark was the host, along with his mother Mary, of the Last Supper. Gray said John Mark, a youth during Jesus’ ministry, leaned on Jesus like a kid brother would” (John 13:23-25). Gray rejects even the slightest suggestion of homoerotic behavior. “Jesus was without sin.”

“It is John Mark’s home that Peter immediately runs to after being miraculously released from prison,” Gray continued. “The home is effectively the first church, as it was a meeting place for Christians in Jerusalem, including Mary, the mother of Jesus and Jesus’ brothers (Acts 1:14; 12:12). John Mark’s mother Mary was a wealthy benefactor of Jesus, who was among the women in Jerusalem who cared for him.”

Acknowledging the description of John’s Gospel as a “Gnostic gospel,” Gray said, “John Mark wrote the fourth gospel with Gnostic elements, arguing that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine, because he confronted the Gnostics in Alexandria, where the heretical group arose,” Gray added. “I’m very surprised that people trying to solve this mystery have been so far off and disregarded the Coptic perspective. Wikipedia doesn’t even mention John Mark’s name in its page on ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved.’ But uses space to suggest something lasivious, when John Mark leans on Jesus like a kid brother would. Everyone from Lazarus to Mary Magdalene is posited as a candidate. But neither knew the high priests. John Mark did.

“I can imagine John Mark in the high priest’s courtyard (John 18:15-17) arguing on Jesus’ behalf after Jesus’ arrest, perhaps risking his career and even his life, even as Peter was denying he even knew Jesus. I can imagine Jesus especially loving John Mark, because the youth was a refugee, and perhaps a man of color, and a sensitive thinker and writer.” Jesus foreknew how important John Mark would be to the church and the New Testament, Gray said. “He foreknew that ‘this man’ (John 21:21-23) would not taste death as the writer of Revelation (Gray does not believe John Mark was martyred, though that has traditionally been asserted).

Returning to John’s Gospel, Gray said, “It was often disregarded or condemned by some of the early Christians. John’s Gospel was actually banned for a time. But today, the Gospel of John may be the most-preferred gospel among Christians, notably evangelicals.” 

As for John, the son of Zebedee, Gray said, “He has been the safe, but impossible choice for the Beloved Disciple for decades. Early church father Irenaeus wrote that ‘the apostle John’ was the person who wrote the fourth gospel, as it had somehow been told to him. But there were two apostles named John,” Gray said.

“We can’t assume anything about Zebedee’s John as a writer, because we know that he was uneducated, as Peter was” (Acts 4:3); and he appears nowhere in John’s Gospel except as an afterthought in the final chapter. But facts concerning his possible martyrdom have been obscured, Gray says, “because someone has tampered with the original manuscript of the Gospel of Mark. (14:51-52).

Given the biography’s claim that John Mark was a priest and scribe, Gray said it is “fascinating to focus on one particular use of the name ‘John’ in Acts 4:6, which may demonstrate to us that John Mark was a member of the Sanhedrin.

“Alexander is also mentioned here along with John,” Gray said. “That is significant, I think, because one of Simon of Cyrene’s sons was named Alexander, with the other being Rufus. I believe there is much ethnic significance in the fact that John Mark, Simon, Alexander and Rufus were all from North Africa” (Mark 15:21). Simon of Cyrene was seized by Roman soldiers to assist Jesus in carrying his cross — which Gray believes may show that Jesus, perhaps like Simon, was “a man of color.”

Gray said the shortened name “John” is used twice further on in Acts (13:34; 15:36-40) to describe John Mark. Sometimes, the young priest’s Gentile/Roman name “Mark” or “Marcus” — which means, interestingly, “hammer” — is used; “so,” Gray said, “we can’t be absolutely sure that the name of John in Acts 4:6 refers to John Mark, but in that very book, Luke, who wrote Acts and the gospel bearing his name, calls John Mark only by his first, Jewish name, John, just as he does when he’s describing the rulers, elders, priests and scribes assembled to hear Peter and Zebedee’s John.”

Gray explained that students of the Bible “all come rather jaded to the subject of the Beloved Disciple, because we have accepted some things that we think are unknowable. But I believe Jesus was right when he said there would come a time when all hidden mysteries will be revealed (Mark 4:22). It is time for John Mark to get his just due.”

Gray, a retired newspaper reporter and editor, who served in Egypt and Ethiopia (Eritrea) as a Naval intelligence specialist, said that he is raising funds and making contacts in the effort to produce a documentary on John Mark as the Beloved Disciple, the working title of which is Beloved Disciple/African Priest. He’s seeking interested parties to be interviewed and help with production. He can be reached by email at or by phone (423) 619-9034.

Gray said in his search for the identity of the Beloved Disciple he has tried to put himself in “Jesus’ sandals” to surmise what kind of person Jesus would be most likely to love. “I can envision Jesus loving a North African refugee, who apparently suffered at the hands of robbers in his native Cyrene, precipitating his flight to Jerusalem with his mother Mary,” Gray said. “I can see Jesus having had special affection for a man who may have been the object of racial bias, if John Mark was a man of color, which we can only assume he was.”

Much additional material pertaining to John Mark appears on Gray’s website: TANATA: Things (often) Are Not As They Appear:


TANATA To Launch PR Campaign On John Mark Hypothesis

Just so you know, valued TANATA reader, we are about to launch a PR campaign via press releases sent to iReach, a service of PRNewswire, to promote internationally our hypothesis about African John Mark being the obscured “other disciple, the one Jesus loved” (John 20:2), with our goal being to generate interest in a documentary project, which, I think, I’m prepared to write. But I need to get my interviews first, and that involves money for a production crew. So we hope to raise funds along with interest. It’s a long shot, but I think we could be in business if the right person reads our hypothesis.

I’ve written a rough draft of the first press release, and it reads okay, though it is wordy, with so many complications to iron out in various places in the New Testament. I’m torn over whether to come right out and say that the Gospel of Mark has, in my view, been tampered with to obscure the identity of John Mark, the Beloved Disciple. The “certain youth” (Mark 14:51,52) in the Garden of Gethsemane. The certain youth was relieved of his linen sindon covering, reportedly; but is this a spurious reference? A nude certain youth, running away from people, effectively takes John Mark out of the picture of running after anybody, rendering him not likely at all to be the Beloved Disciple. But, of course, he is.

Tampering with the Gospel of Mark is not out of the question, because of the spurious last 12 verses of the final chapter, mostly being rejected by Bible scholars as NOT John Mark’s work. At least these verses did not show up in the most reliable, earliest manuscripts of Mark’s gospel. These odd words from verses 8 to 20 in chapter 16 of Mark tell us that tampering with original works is never out of the question, even when we’re talking about the divine Word of God. God simply allowed for a puzzle to emerge from his New Testament, which would shed light on Jesus as a true Hebrew, being of the same color as Adam. Abraham, a father of many nations, must have been black. Moses got in trouble for marrying an Ethiopian woman, which may discredit any attempts to say Moses was a man of color. Solomon had an Ethiopian mother.

BTW, the hits on TANATA have increased by about 30 percent since we began using outlets, like, to publish our material on the obscured African refugee, scribe and priest. The post below contains a link to a draft of a paper, which, though published, is not quite complete. I don’t cite any sources; not having a bibliography is frowned upon, but I am not a traditional scholar. I’m a newspaperman … and a former spy.

Thanks for reading. Comment if you agree with TANATA on John Mark. 


Loose Ends About John Mark

What does it tell us that the apostle John, the son of Zebedee, is not mentioned in the Gospel of John, and where he does appear, in the fourth gospel, he is described by the Beloved Disciple as merely being one of two “sons of Zebedee,” the other son being James?

It tells us that John, the son of Zebedee, was not the Beloved Disciple and neither, apparently, was John respected by the Beloved Disciple for his role as a disciple and apostle of Jesus. After all, Zebedee’s John, along with James, was called a “son of thunder,” indicating that the two men were crude, boisterous and not thoughtful scholars, by any means.

Does anybody know how hard it is to write? It’s usually controlled chaos, to write well. It involves a lot of prewriting and constant self assessment and criticism. It would have taken a learned person to write John’s Gospel. Besides, the mere juxtaposition of the casual description of the two sons of Zebedee, by someone other than them, is compelling. Zebedee’s John, a loudmouth who wanted to know if he would get special favor in heaven, would not merely have referred to himself and his brother as “sons of Zebedee.”

So, we have more evidence to prove our thesis that John Mark is the Beloved Disciple. The problem we have now is … which John died a marytr .. and which one lived to write Revelation? Tradition says both were martyred between 45 and 60 A.D.

Here’s the link to my paper JOHN MARK: CERTAIN YOUTH AND BELOVED DISCIPLE, which appears on



Peculiar Treasure

The Jews have enriched all the nations in which they have settled — an inevitable fact because of the promise given to Abraham when he left his home to go to a land of God’s choosing: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2).

According to the psalmist, God chose Israel for His “peculiar treasure” (Ps. 135:4). And although it has not often been recognized, the Jews have been a treasure to all nations of the world.

Mark Twain wrote:

Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous, dim puff of stardust in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of. He is as prominent on this planet as any other people. His commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also altogether out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in the world in all the ages and he has done it with his hands tied behind him.

Blessings through the Jews

Even those who hate Jews take advantage daily of their many contributions. Those who have heart disease and use digitalis are benefiting from the work of Ludwig Traube. If one has a toothache and uses Novocain, he is helped by the work of Carl Koller. If one contacts typhoid fever, his recovery is likely to be the result of the work of two Jews, Widal and Weil. If one has diabetes and uses insulin, it is because that product is available through the research work of a Jew named Minkowsky. The list is long; the blessings that come to us through the Jews are many.

When settling in their ancient homeland, the Jews brought blessing to the Arabs who dwelt there. That may sound absurd in the light of present conflicts in the Middle East, but it is true.

In 1937 the Peel Commission was sent by Great Britain to survey the situation in Palestine. The commission was headed by Lord Peel and composed of a group of men of exceptional ability. Its report in part was as follows:

It is difficult to detect any deterioration in the condition of the Arab upper class. Landowners have sold substantial pieces of land at a figure far above the price it would have fetched before the First World War [It must be noted that this commission’s study was during the depression of the thirties]…. In recent transactions, mainly Palestinian Arabs have been concerned and the transactions have all been considerable…. Partly, no doubt as the result of land sales, the effendi class has been able to make substantial investments of capital…. At least six times more Arab-owned land is now planted with citrus than in 1920…. Some of the capital has been directed to building houses for lease or sale to industrial enterprise…. In the light of these facts, we have no doubt that many Arab landowners have benefited financially from Jewish immigration…. A member of the Arab higher committee admitted to us that nowhere in the world are such uneconomic land prices paid as by the Jews in Palestine.

The general beneficent effect of Jewish immigration on Arab welfare is illumined by the fact that the increase in Arab population is most marked in urban areas affected by Jewish development…. We are also of the opinion that up till now the Arab cultivator has benefited on the whole from the work of British administration and from the presence of the Jews in the country. Wages have gone up and the standard of living has improved. Jewish example has done much to improve Arab cultivation, especially citrus.

The reclamation and anti-malarial work undertaken by Jewish colonists have benefited all Arabs in the neighborhood. Institutions founded with Jewish funds primarily to serve the national home have also served the Arab population. The Arab charge that the Jews have obtained too large a proportion of good land cannot be maintained. Much of the land now carrying orange grove s was sand dunes and swamp when it was purchased.

But if this is true, why the Arab-Israeli conflict?

A similar question might also be asked concerning the reaction to Jews all over the world. Why are the Jews so maligned and hated when they are so productive and helpful? There can be but one explanation — the fulfillment of prophecy: “And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee” (Deut. 28:37).

The Dilemma

So the Jew finds himself in a difficult situation. He is a blessing, yet a byword. He is a treasure, yet he experiences great trouble. He is a contributor, yet he causes conflict wherever he goes. In short, although the material gains brought by Jews are desired, the Jew himself is unwanted. Nowhere was this truer than in Germany during the Third Reich. The official government policy became the extermination of the Jews while salvaging their accumulated wealth, including all personal possessions down to the fillings in their teeth.

Hitler’s Nazis made no secret of their hatred of the Jews from the very beginning. Part of their platform in 1920 was: “None but members of the nation may be citizens of the state. None but those of German blood, whatever their creed, may be members of the nation. No Jew, therefore, may be a member of the nation.”


Seven Years To 2022

Seven years of a broken heart

Till two-thousand-twenty-two

When my girl left, she took a part

The end comes into view


It was seven years from the night

A snowy Christmas Eve

She turned me out of the light

Seven years I grieved


But that seven years

When they were over, done

My girl came back to dry my tears

But now I’m all alone


Can I mark the end of her life

And count ahead seven years

When I will see her face again

Through joyful, grateful tears?


African Nations Decry Corruption of Charismatic Pastors

Charismatic Teaching In Africa: Fleecing The Flock

By Conrad Mbewe

The Zambian government is concerned about the many cases of pastors defiling girls, impregnating female church members, swindling church funds, causing the death of congregants by advising them against medical treatment, etc. At their level, they are seeking to address this matter because it is conspicuously getting out of hand. We wait to see what wisdom God will give to “the powers that be”! Other countries, such as Botswana, have already started clamping down on such pastors.

However, as a church, there is an elephant in the room that we seem to be failing to see — namely, that this scourge is almost exclusively among our Charismatic friends. Notice, I said “almost exclusively.” So, put those guns back into their holsters! I agree that once in a long while you hear of a pastor in other Christian circles being guilty of these misdemeanors. However, for every one of these pastors there are ninety-nine Charismatic pastors wreaking spiritual havoc. Am I the only one seeing this discrepancy in numbers on the two sides of this fence?

Also, in other church circles there seems to be self-regulatory methods that quickly kick these wolves in sheepskins out of the sheep pen. Disciplinary measures are undertaken and the individuals are speedily expelled. Across the fence, in the wider Charismatic world, these self-regulatory systems seem to be almost absent. Partly, it is because the pastor and his wife are normally the owners of the church’s name and the church’s assets. Hence, they have the audacity to tell those who point out their wrongs that the whistle blowers are the ones who must leave. Or, if they are ever expelled, they simply cross the road and start another Fimo-fimo [i.e. Something-something] International Ministries. And the rot goes on! Isn’t this ridiculous situation staring all of us in the face?

I have been told on many occasions that when I lump the bad guys with the good ones under the umbrella of “the Charismatics” I do a great disfavor to the good guys. I should perhaps use the term “prosperity gospel preachers” or “health-and-wealth preachers” in order to point out who the bad guys are.

Two vital concerns: Two issues concern me here. Firstly, why is it that almost all of these heretics are being nursed in Charismatic circles until they are weaned and ushered upon the world’s stage as full-blown heretics? Does this not suggest that there is something intrinsic in the Charismatic milk, which, once sucked for a number of years, tends to lend itself towards these heretical views? I am simply asking.

For instance, there is the view that God still speaks to us independent of the Bible. Drink this milk for a number of years and you will soon be attributing to God the inner voices coming from your fallen self. Then there is the view of “the man of God” who is a cut above everyone else in the church. Again suck this for a few years and, before you know it, you want to be a bishop, an apostle, and God-knows what other ecclesiastical titles are being forged in this factory of madness. You also close yourself off from peer accountability structures. You are a chief!

What about the emphasis on miracles, signs, and wonders? Again, does it not make sense that once this becomes a regular diet, all that people will want is health and wealth at the fingers of ecclesiastical witch doctors? Even the blood of Jesus is no longer about appeasing the wrath of a sin-hating God but instead it is about sprinkling on cars (for safe travel), hospital beds (for healing), and wallets (for more money). This is such an obvious continuum that I am amazed that we are not seeing this. Charismatic teaching is breeding these spiritual mavericks!

That does not mean that everyone who holds on to Charismatic views will end up tipping over the cliff edge. I have many Charismatic friends who I deeply respect and so far they are keeping a safe distance away from the edge. Many of them, for instance, are concerned about the Nigerian religious junk that is engulfing the continent. However, I am still asking the question: Can’t they see that intrinsic in their doctrinal position are the seeds leading to the disaster we are currently facing on the continent? This question needs to be faced honestly.

Secondly, I am very concerned about the failure of acknowledged leaders of the Charismatic movement on the continent of Africa to address this matter because to me it is a very serious issue. Behind closed doors, with a volume that is just slightly louder than a whisper, they assure me that they are concerned about it and are addressing it. But I never hear their voice in the growing chorus of condemnation at the havoc being caused by these health-and-wealth preachers.

A creepy similarity: There is a creepy similarity between this phenomenon and what is happening in Islam. There seems to be a fear by many people to state that Islam is the cause of the current mayhem in the world. They would rather we just call the people who are doing all this simply as terrorists. However, why is it that Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, etc., comprise people of Islamic belief? Could there be something in Islamic teaching that fosters the belief that Allah rewards you if you thrust your religious convictions down the bloody throats of other people?

Notice also that behind closed doors, Islamic leaders are willing to tell us that they are equally opposed to these militant terrorist groups. They assure us that Islam is a very peaceful religion. But even before they finish giving us these assurances, these Islamic terrorist groups are reported to be blowing up civilians on every side and we do not hear any loud condemnation from their lips. CNN, BBC, or Aljazeera is not quoting any of them issuing clear condemnations against these perpetrators of mayhem. Instead, they are conspicuously quiet.

These assurances from both Charismatic and Islamic leaders—while the world is going up in flames—remind me of what my late dad used to say when you wake up with a wound on any of your toes or fingers. He would say, “It was the work of a rat.” When you would ask how come you did not feel pain while the rat was nibbling your flesh away, he would say, “The rats blow on the wound each time they nibble. Thus you do not feel the pain. And that way, they can eat away your entire toe or finger.” Although that may not have been true, it was enough to keep me checking my limbs in the morning when I slept in a rat-infested place.

I fear that although the story of blowing rodents may be untrue, Charismatic and Islamic leaders are fulfilling this story in the world of humans. Their assurances are numbing our nerve-endings while rebels within their ranks wreak havoc. It is time they admitted that their teaching is fundamentally flawed at a very crucial point and is a nursery bed that is breeding these dangerous religious fanatics!

Botswana Trying To Rid Itself of ‘Charismatic Corruption’ 

By Keletso Thobega

Charismatic churches are on the rise in Botswana, with pastors promising miracles in the forms of successful marriages, work promotions, financial freedom, children for the barren – the list is endless. However, the government of Botswana has come out strongly against these “wolves in sheep’s clothing,“ threatening to deport them for their antics.

The country is currently considering a new policy that will give foreign pastors 30-day permits reserved for visitors and tourists instead of the usual 5-year permits allocated to them. In cases where foreign pastors apply for licences to operate their churches, they must have more than 250 listed congregants.

As reported in the Midweek Sun, former minister of labour and home affairs Peter Siele and Ntlo ya Dikgosi deputy chairperson Kgosi Lotlamoreng II started a campaign to curtail foreign pastors in 2010 and 2011  over concerns that they are are defrauding Batswana of their hard-earned money.

Some pastors have been accused of drug dealing, sponging money off locals, power struggles within their churches, failure to submit annual tax returns and preaching ill about President Ian Khama, which is akin to a crime in Botswana – you just don’t speak badly about the president!

Nigerian Prophet Peter Bollaward who was the helm of the Glory of the Latter Ministries in Gaborone was deported on February 8 after the ministry of labour and home affairs declared him a ‘prohibited immigrant’. He was reportedly detained for a few days before his deportation and questioned about the several millions in his ministry’s account and the fleet of expensive cars he drove.

In 2011 the flamboyant Pastor Frances Sakufiwa of Zambia, who ran the New Seasons Ministries and lived in Botswana for 15 years, was deported under a presidential order.  He wassurrounded by controversy, mostly related to his roving eye. It’s alleged that the handsome, charming and married pastor was a womaniser who changed women as often as one changes underwear. A few days after he was booted out of the country, a group of women reportedly pleaded with the president to reverse his decision and allow Sakufiwa back into Botswana, claiming he was “highly anointed”.

However, other sources claim the pastor was sent packing from Botswana because of his politically inclined prophesies. Apparently the Khama government became increasingly nervous about his prophesies and the huge media attention they were attracting.

In an interview with the Midweek Sun last year, director of immigration Mabuse Pule stopped short of proclaiming that government would not tolerate foreign pastors. “They come here to abuse our people and push personal agendas. The pastors group themselves and see our own pastors as outcasts in their own country,” he said. He used the biblical analogy in Matthew 7:15 which likens such folk to wolves in sheep’s clothing. “God does not bring crooks here. We will not allow anyone to deceive our people using His name,” Pule said.

In Botswana, the title of pastor is synonymous with wealth and social prestige. Congregants pay tithes and purchase miracle water and other religious memorabilia from the church. Pastors also receive ‘gifts’ from congregants in the form of money, clothes and even vehicles for their blessings and help.

Many Batswana have deserted Methodist, UCCSA, Anglican, Roman Catholic and ZCC churches in favour of the charismatic churches that have sprung up. The latter are characterised by loud music, singing and dancing, vigorous preaching, promises of miracles,  and exorcising of  “devil spirits”.

An acquaintance was involved in a horrific car accident that left her bound to a wheelchair  for a few months. Now a congregant at the Universal Church, she can walk with a slight limp and vehemently believes that God used the pastor to heal her through the Holy Spirit. As a self-proclaimed agnostic, I’m never sure how to digest this except by pointing out how commercialised faith and God have become.

On the few occasions that I visited the Universal Church and New Seasons, I was struck by the high turnout of congregants, particularly the youth, who are dressed to kill and are enthusiastically dancing, singing and chanting praises. Church is the new “cool” in this country; a big social club. This is a choice many Batswana have made, and it’s clear that charismatic churches will continue to thrive despite government’s attempts to stop them. The people will believe who and what they want to believe.

Keletso Thobega is a copy editor and features writer based in Gaborone, Botswana. 

(EDITOR’S NOTE: I personally know someone who preaches heatlh and wealth in Africa, all while failing to feed anyone anything. What the people are starving for is solid spiritual food based on the teachings of Jesus. The problem stems from the freedom that “pastors” have to declare themselves “Reverend” and “Dr.,” when they might not have spent a day studying for the ministry in a seminary. It is almost comical that these whitebread pastors from America treat the African pastors like strangers in their own country — when the very real fact may be that Jesus, a half-brother of Adam, forerun by King Solomon, was and is a man of color — a condition which many corrupt pastors would never be prepared to believe. — rcg)


Ancient Alien Creators? Or Demons?

The History Channel presents “Ancient Aliens” documentaries on a regular basis. In them, the Ancient Alien (or Astronaut) theorists would have us believe that extraterrestrials, and not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph, and Adam, created mankind — or at least gave ancient apes their ET DNA, turning apes into homo sapiens, they assert. And this is all based on the hard evidence on the ground and in museums — and it is compelling — that there are timeless beings who have made marks in stone and crops, apparently, and have now disappeared, perhaps to enjoy the fun.

Where are these timeless beings if they exist? Why are they hiding? Are they waiting for events to occur in the history of mankind to make their grand entrances (i.e. “take me to your leader”)? Is timing of the essence, for them? I suspect they will reappear with a central figure, who will be prepared to solve the world’s problems, especially the Israeli and Palestinian stalemate. If the figure arrives really impressively, who will there be to say that this isn’t God or Jesus?

But what we’re dealing with is not mere inhabitants from another world or galaxy — but demons, who inhabit the bowels of this planet. How can you look at the face of a “Gray” and not see that they, in addition to being sexless, are evil-looking as hell? They’re clearly demons, with the ability to traverse time. (Evil is as old as free will.) They’re waiting — until their new leader, perhaps sexless, emerges from where they may have cloned or test-tube created him. The guy is gonna be special, but deadly. Just my guess.

Meanwhile AA theorists fall all over themselves, where petragylphs, UFO sightings and ancient artifacts are concerned, trying to retell the creation story as it appears in Genesis. Further, the theorists (and I love how they call themselves “theorists,” and yet hammer home their views as if they are fact.) believe that ET’s want to help us, and they cite the nuclear accident in Japan as an example. Apparently, there were numerous UFO sightings around the damaged plant; at one point a UFO sent down beams of light. Well, that has been all it has taken for these theorists to believe ET’s are benevolent, have helped us in our so-called “evolution,” and will help us in the future make the next leap in our “evolution.”


Nothing has been said in any of these shows about the biblical narrative, the holy history of mankind and earth, as they are reflected in the Scriptures. Nothing has been said about “scientific Adam” — the very first homo sapien (there had to have been a first person, right?) — and how evidence of ancient “beginnings” point not to the Americas, Europe, and what was Sumer (now Iraq), but to Ethiopia, where God created Adam, a type of Solomon … and also a type of Jesus. (Hint: Solomon’s mother was an Ethiopian.)

It bears pointing out that the human race is not made up of creatures from another world or galaxy, or a heavenly realm, apart from the giants who mated with human women, presumably triggering God’s wrath and the reason for the flood. We are special. If aliens made the human race, where are the hybrids that look more like Gray’s? And if they created us, why do they abduct us in such numbers to perform procedures, apparently meant to find out what makes us tick?


… to be continued


Faith Of My Childhood Trumps 'Secret Knowledge'

When I was roughly the age of 5, I began experiencing night terrors with full-blown hallucinations. (When I became an adult and a father, I waited for my two children to have trouble sleeping, assuming all children did; but apart from a few normal nightmares, my kids never went through what I did.) At times one floating spirit after another burst onto my face and passed through me. I could see them even with my eyes closed — so it was in my mind, somehow. Something from outside me and my experience was doing this to me.

I’ve struggled to understand why these terrors occurred at all; they would keep me up all night, leaving me and my bedclothes soaked with sweat by morning. I can only presume I was feeling guilt for my molestation at 5. Satan was accusing me of having done a very wrong thing with two female babysitters.

I assumed that it was God whom I felt tormenting me. The night terrors continued until I reached a night where I was exhausted and absolutely spent worrying about the fearful things I saw and felt. I knew I had reached a limit; I knew I would go insane if nothing changed. Somehow God communicated to my mind that he was not the source of my guilt and shame, anxiety and hallucinations; that He was not tormenting me, but rather Satan was.

As soon as I had that thought, I fell happily to sleep after telling myself a brief story about animals going on a picnic, and I never had another night terror. I had God on my side; Satan was powerless against me.

As I look back and look at today and perhaps at what lies ahead, I see a world where there are actually people who believe there is no evil persona opposing God, but that God, if there is one, is both evil and good at the same time. Whoa. Who would want to live in a world like that? I know this is true, because a very intelligent and learned rabbi once told me that he didn’t believe in a persona that represents evil, i.e. Satan, the devil. He believed evil was a choice that some people just chose to make, without being tempted or coerced by any evil spiritual force behind the scenes, and, presumably not deserving of hell, even if they do evil. Oh well.

It is a very dangerous layout of dominoes, which tells you that you can do what you want without eventually getting caught. While I am not possessing of “the gnosis” or “secret inner knowledge,” or “Kundalini fire,” or whatever, I do have the simple faith of a child that God is somehow living in and around me, which I don’t understand. The flowers of the world are God’s handiwork — we should give him praise for the colors and the variety. When I was a child, beautiful flowers and the seeds that produced them fascinated me and increased my admiration of God. Just add soil and water … and voila!

God doesn’t make me feel guilty when I do wrong, his pure, loving nature won’t permit Him. If that could be conveyed to those who are so impressed with Eastern religion, and unimpressed with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Christianity, my side could be making a lot more progress than it’s making to serve the neediest among us and draw people to the truth.

“God is love,” John wrote.

Many Gnostics, and or followers of Kabbalah teachings, believe that the Tree of Life, or Sephirot, accurately portrays a dark universe, with evil being on one side and good on the other, but both of them being part of the same tree. What a license to do wrong Gnosticism could become in the minds of people who actually believe Jesus was trailer-park trash, if he existed at all, kissing the girls and making them cry, having nothing ultimately to do of a redemptive nature. Gnostics also believe in the Demiurge, which is another way of saying “a god of both good and evil.” We should be told and told repeatedly that evil exists because of the free will that must be present for love and good to exist. God is no part evil in any sense — but it makes some people feel better to pull God down below the point where they find themselves in life, cursing him for their lives, believing they have a license even to kill, since God himself kills. But He doesn’t. He has dominion over us and loves us, before and after we die.

What is most remarkable about the Gnostic gospels in the Nag Hammadi Library is how little the authors have to say about Jesus, who should be their unwavering focus, and how much the gospels appear to be unimpressively esoteric and apparently fabricated to the point of being nonsensical. As one of the twelve, Philip, in any piece of writing he might produce, would surely not spend his time babbling in print, as much of the Gnostic Gospel of Philip appears to be, if there were stories to tell about Jesus the person, the miraculous works he did and his ultimate role in redeeming the world. And yet there are those, including scholars, who embrace the Gnostic gospels and the rest of the Nag Hammadi Library, as if the material were on par with the Dead Sea Scrolls, which it is not. They praise the gnosis or inner knowledge the library attempts to purport. But alas, we must believe that those people would have also “seen” the new outfit of the stupid king.

Where should we begin to make our case that the Gnostic gospels, in particular those of Philip, Mary Magdalene and Thomas, are bogus forgeries, which just happen to be written in the Coptic language? And what should we say about where the Nag Hammadi Library was found (under a heap of dung in Nag Hammadi, Egypt), which ought to eliminate the Coptic material as authentic, because we would not expect Egyptians to have the words of Philip, Mary and Thomas, when no one else anywhere else does? How did the Coptic writer come by these materials? Were they first written in the languages of Philip, Mary and Thomas, which would have been aramaic? If they were first penned in aramaic, or some other language besides Coptic, where are the original manuscripts? Are we to believe that Philip, Mary and Thomas traveled to Egypt to give their accounts to the Coptic writer?

And then we have an author who has managed to find a way of making hay by giving credibility to the Gnostic material, which portrays Jesus as a kisser of prostitutes, at best, which would have, had it happened, ruled Jesus and his ministry out in the minds of his closest disciples. But those who praise the library in question are not convinced that Jesus could have been the perfect man the true Gospels claim he was. 

Finally, we have to ask ourselves not what can the Gnostic writings teach us, but what can they tell unless about fraudulent people who were obviously impressed with the New Testament Gospels and couldn’t resist trying their hand at writing something resembling scripture. Forgers are not new; presumably they’ve been around since there has been ink transferred to parchment. What does it say about a person who must, by writing, make such an ugly and dishonest mark?

“No harm, no foul,” some people might say. What’s wrong with embracing materials which, for one, make Jesus out to be a pretty amorous guy, even where presumed prostitutes are concerned?

We forget the story of Jesus and the woman at the well; it is a story that shows the morality and the non-judgmental nature of Jesus, who tells the woman that she has been sleeping around, and is on her fifth “husband” — all so that he may explain to her, in glowing terms, that forgiveness is available to all sinners and that the salvation of all men was “of the Jews.” He further describes the Father, not in weird or bizarre terms, which we repeatedly find in the Nag Hammadi Library, but in gentle, loving, spiritual terms she can understand. The authority of the New Testament Gospel material is inherent; it doesn’t try to preach any kind of elaborate knowledge, but rather succinctly and matter of factly describes the life and ministry of a carpenter’s son and how that ministry might be applied to every person’s life. 

Looking at the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and comparing them to the Nag Hammadi Library, is like comparing a Grand Piano to a cheap keyboard you can get online for 30 bucks. If you’re interested, read further about African John Mark’s Gospels of Mark and John (and perhaps Hebrews and the letters attributed to John), and how it was that John Mark took on the Gnostics in Alexandria, Egypt and parts of Africa, which he evangelized — a point that should be repeatedly made. John wrote a Gospel with an eye toward the Gnostics, who were (and still are) false teachers. He made the point to the Greeks and Gnostics in Alexandria that Jesus was both fully man and fully God. Who would spend their time writing a “gospel” which didn’t have anything substantive in it about Jesus? And yet that’s exactly what the fraudulent Gnostic gospels are.

… to be continued