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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.

REVELATION 1:7

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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Monday
Oct022017

Believers, Keep On Believin'

SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, Tenn.Oct. 5, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — 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.

Now, Tennessee Bible researcher 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. Gray said the biography, written by the late Coptic Pope Shenouda III, reveals tantalizing clues on “a largely overlooked, very important albeit “hidden man,” whose given Jewish name was John.”

“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.”

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).

“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. 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.’ 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. 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 rcartergray@yahoo.com 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: https://tanata.squarespace.com.

Thursday
Sep282017

Ordinary Dogs

People chained like ordinary dogs

They’re falling down in a war of fog

The southern kingdom of Israel

Dispersed into the world of endless hell

 

Now we have a renewed blessed plot

The Jews worked mightily for what they got.

Where is strongman, where is the king

That the enemies of Israel mean to bring?

 

David, of Judah, was black like ebony

Solomon’s mother an Ethiopian tree,

Grown from the first blacks of Ethiopia.

Judah moved south into Africa.

 

Jesus was black — are you surprised?

Know the African Adam to become wise:

The first humans were formed in East Africa.

Lord, now I understand the cruel diaspora.

 

But what will come of these matters?

Shall the writer of John’s Gospel be scattered

With the sands of Jerusalem; you know that this is true.

 

This is my earnest means to tell the truth to you.

Thursday
Sep282017

What Color Was Jesus and Solomon?

What color were Jesus and Solomon, yo?

Can’t be another question, so say so

If Jesus was black like Adam’s seed …

What does that say to you and me?

Jesus was the half-brother of these African clans

Jesus has the DNA to save everyman. Hear it, see it, tell it!

 

If your brother is white you might need a gentle hand

The supremacists won’t tell the truth — they’re a withering band.

When they know a black has created all the world …

That’s gotta change a grown man into a girl.

Thursday
Sep282017

Notes On 'Finding Prester John'

After a second cup of coffee, Eli Knowles (pronounced “know-less), 64, had a sufficiently clear mind to recall what he knew, as he shaved, and what he was going to say and do on this special day. But what he had to say is what a crazy man would say. He could be wrong, but he didn’t think so; he needed for people to get ready for the paradigm shift of all paradigm shifts, that God was going to gloriously reveal. Eli felt funny. People already thought this Navy vet was crazy. His material had to ease people into the fact that Jesus, like the first humans who migrated out of East Africa, was black. And that Eli wasn’t crazy. But, even if he was, this material was getting out if it killed him. Literally. And he had gotten death threats on his web site, with one Russian hacker able to knock out five years of essays, poems, papers, reflections.

What Eli was was a former Navy intelligence specialist who spent a year in Asmara, Ethiopia (now Eritrea), and came to discover that the locals all equated themselves with the Tribe of Judah, and Haile Selassie, the emperor, would one day would become their Lion of Judah, with the Ark in nearby Axum to make the ancient prophesies come true.

It didn’t sink in for Eli for a long time that the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia were long-time descendants of the first Jews of Judah, the southern kingdom. If Jesus was the Lion of Judah, how could that be worked out? And also Eli asked himself, was Jesus black? 

Not until the film The Da Vinci Code revealed its heresies did Eli feel motivated to speak on Coptic matters anytime the film producers were ready. Did these people really believe that a dung-covered scroll written in the 3rd century and not found until 1945 could have any bearing on a painting finished in 1499? To read the Nag Hammadi Library, all Gnostic works, was the most bizarre claptrap I have ever read.  

*** 

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

Why did the Roman soldiers go out of their way to get an African, headed in the opposite direction, (Simon of Cyrene, North Africa) to share Jesus’ burden of carrying the cross to Golgotha?

Would it interest you to know that John Mark, who is the reporter for all these events, also came from Cyrene, the place in Africa that his friend Simon was from?

Now look at Hebrews 7:14, which is one of the final identifiers that Jesus was black. Jesus arose from the same seed as Adam and the first Adam clans formed by God out of nothing.

Wednesday
Sep062017

If You Can Reach It

There’s something you might imagine

It’s a tale of redemption and love

And how the African refugee John Mark

Communed with Jesus, our God.

And wrote much of scripture

From John, to Hebrews, to Revelation

With John Mark being given the gifit

To exalt a foundering nation.

 

John wrote Mark and John,

Striving to reveal the truth

Don’t give up on the puzzles in the Bible.

The mysteries are there for you.

The Lord will wait for you;

Answers appear from secrets

And all the Bible codes are true.