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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Two Men From Cyrene

Simon and John Mark both from Cyrene.

What was it the Roman soldiers seen

When they seized poor Simon to help the Lord

Carry His cross under the sword?


When Jesus Turns 2,000

Have you thought much about the idea or fact that Jesus, with the turning of the new millennium, will soon be 2,000 years old, crucified at at the age of 33, more or less a few years? We don't have an exact idea of when Jesus was born, but 4 A.D. or B.C are roughly what many scholars think is the possible swing of dates. Others say he was born at 1 A.D. Period. At any rate, we are obviously reasonable to say that the whole plan of the earth's civilization and its salvation is intriguing if you believe the year of Jesus' return is nigh -- which I believe it is.

But who can say that Jesus will come back on this date or the other? Still it is interesting to think about. It's amazing how much has happened to the world, how civilizations have been built. And we as a society have turned away from the faith. As for my faith, it's the same as it was in my childhood.

to be continued ...


Questions For The Ages


SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, Tenn., April 15, 2018 — Questions: 1) Why did the angel tell Mary and Joseph to take Jesus into Africa to hide Jesus from King Herod? 2) Why was an African man (Simon of Cyrene) heading in the opposite direction, singled out and seized by the Roman soldiers so Simon might share the burden of Jesus‘ cross? 3) What is the African link Jesus shares with “the other disciple, whom Jesus loved”? 4)  Were Jesus and an African Adam effectively half-brothers, sharing the same biological Father? 

Now, 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 (John 18:15), who leaned on Jesus like a kid brother would 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 writer of John’s Gospel for nearly two millennia, according to Randall Gray, a religion writer and editor, who served as a Naval intelligence specialist in Ethiopia during the early 70’s.

“The Beloved Disciple, an African refugee (Cyrene/Libya) and Jewish Levitical priest, came to call himself the Hammer, an unusual Roman surname meaning Mark,” Gray revealed. “His given Jewish name was John. 

“St. John Mark was the only professional writer in Jesus’ inner circle,” Gray said. “John Mark knew the high priests, because John Mark worked with them. John Mark was the Beloved Disciple.”

“We can imagine that St John Mark, since he was the only male disciple at Jesus’ crucifixion, would have seen the manner in which hammers were used on Jesus — and adopted the name Mark or Hammer, almost as a war cry or a throwing down of the gauntlet,” Gray said. 

Gray said John Mark and his wealthy mother were Jesus’ benefactors.

Gray’s African experience living and working among black descendants of ancient Judah would lay the groundwork for his theories about the Beloved Disciple and his African ties to a black Jesus. 

“The people in Ethiopia who effectively called themselves people of Judah was a clue regarding Jesus as the Lion of Judah (Rev.5:5),” Gray said.  

Gray credited his primary source as the late Coptic Pope Shenouda’s 1968 biography of John Mark, The Beholder of God.




John Mark, Beloved Disciple



SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, Tenn., April. 1, 2018 — 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 like a kid brother would 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, according to Randall Gray, a religion writer and editor, who served in Ethiopia (or “New Judah) as a Naval intelligence specialist during the early 70’s.

“‘The other disciple, the one Jesus loved,’ also eventally would call himself the Hammer, an unusual Roman surname that is translated Mark,” Gray revealed about the Beloved Disciple. “His given Jewish name was John.”

A black African refugee (from Cyrene, what today is known as Libya) and a Jewish Levitical priest, St. John Mark “was the only professional writer and priest in Jesus’ inner circle,” Gray said. “He knew the high priests on the night Jesus was arrested, because John Mark worked with them as a scribe,” Gray added.

“We can imagine that St John Mark, since he was the only male disciple at Jesus’ crucifixion, would have seen the manner in which hammers were used on Jesus — and adopted the name Mark or Hammer, almost as a war cry or a throwing down of the gauntlet,” Gray said. His greatest battles would be fought with the Greek-influenced Gnostics, which the Gospel of John reveals. The Gnostics arose in Alexandria, Egypt, which John Mark heavily evangelized.”

The wealthy African refugees John Mark and his mother Mary were Jesus’ benefactors, Gray revealed. “John Mark was the cousin or nephew of Barnabas. John Mark founded the Coptic church and opened a school of theology,” Gray said. John Mark is venerated by the Copts in Egypt and around the world, Gray added, especially in Venice. “But we know — suspicially — very little about this important figure, he said. Gray said he has relied on the Scriptures, a 1960 article “John and John Mark” by Pierson Parker and a 1968 Coptic biography written by the late Coptic Pope Shenouda III. The biography, The Beholder of God, has only been  translated and available in English since 1997.

“I only hope I can reach a broad audience with this information, because a writer should be credited with the work he has done. John Mark, a priest, may have written the very priestly book of Hebrews in the New Testament.

“John Mark and Mary probably bought Jesus’ one-piece fine linen cloak or sindon and gave it to Him as a gift,” Gray said. “Mary and John Mark hosted the Last Supper in their relatively expensive two-floor home in Jerusalem. And, as Acts 1:13-14 spells out, during their time in Jerusalem, many disciples lived in John Mark’s apparently spacious home, including John and James, the sons of Zebedee, and Mary. the mother of Jesus, and some of Mary’s other children, half brothers and half sisters of Jesus.

“This fact powerfully refutes the theory that Zebedee’s John was the Beloved Disciple who took Mary to Galilee “in that very hour” (John 19:26-17) Jesus requested the Beloved Disciple to take care of his mother (John 19:26-27),” Gray explained. “John Mark and Mary had the fiscal means to keep Mary, Jesus’ mother. And because John Mark and his mother lived in Jerusalem, they could house Mary within the hour as John 19:26-27 indicates.”

Gray said there are additional verses in scripture which eliminate Zebedee’s John as a candidate for the Beloved Disciple, notably Matthew 28:16.

“Zebedee’s John does not leave for Galilee until after Jesus’ resurrection (Matthew 28:16), and then he goes to a mountain to meet Jesus with the 10 other surviving disciples, later returning to Jerusalem to be put up by John Mark and Mary. The African house is generally known as the first church. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was not taken anywhere by Zebedee’s John — and yet near Ephesus someone has built Mary’s “home” of stone, a forgery, no doubt, so she might be near this son of thunder.”

Reportedly, Gray said, John Mark’s home in Cyrene was under siege by robbers, prompting mother and son to go up to Jerusalem, permitting John Mark, a Levite, to fulfill his dream of becoming a priest working at the Temple in Jerusalem. Gray said there is a tradition that the name Mark is pejorative. This church tradition stated John Mark mutilated his hands to avoid serving in the priesthood,” Gray explained.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Gray said.

 Gray said there were other critics of John Mark’s efforts to write scripture as an amanuensis of Peter. We know that the apostle Paul also used John Mark as a scribe. When John Mark said he was headed back to Jerusalem, John Mark, his cousin Barnabas, and Paul had a blow-up regarding the trip. Paul was furious with John Mark

“These traditions are evidence perhaps that some ancient forces have sought to discredit and hide the person of John Mark — and all people of African descent — throughout history, perhaps because of what John Mark’s African race might say about the racial identity of a black Jesus. I can imagine there are beings who do not want Jesus’ race known — as we come down the home stretch to the the Day of the Lord.”

Gray, an ex-Naval intelligence specialist serving for a year in Ethioipia and Eritrea in the early 70’s, took note when he was overseas in ancient Ethiopia (or “New Judah”) that the people there were descendants of the ancient Tribe of Judah. “They called Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie their Lion of Judah, as he was a direct descendant of King Solomon, and satisfied other criteria to validate the 14th century Ethiopic prophecies. Selassie was a man of color, and so we can surmise that King Solomon was a black man too. Solomon, a king who enjoyed relative peace after his warmongering father David died, is a forerunner of another Prince of Peace, who one day will rule as Messiah.”

“I determined that Jesus must be black, as he is to be the true Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5). Selassie rebuked those who believed he was the black messiah or the Lion of Judah. He disavowed the title in a national radio address before he was deposed in 1974. He was later imprisoned and murdered. In 2000, they found his body stuffed beneath a toilet in the imperial palace in Addis Ababa.

Gray said that the missing piece of the mystery associated with Jesus’ race can be found in Hebrews 7:14, “from a priestly book written by an obvious priest. John Mark has got to be considered the writer of Hebrews,” Gray said. “The verse reads thusly, ‘For it is evident that out Lord arose from the Tribe of Judah …’ What about a person would say that he or she was of a particular tribe? It would have to be physical, racial trait, right I lived and worked with these wonderful descendants of ancient Judah, and there was not a white face among them.”

Gray, a former religion writer and editor for two dailies in Chattanooga, said, “St. John Mark was the only professional writer in Jesus’ inner circle. And yet,” Gray asserted, “the Beloved Disciple has been grossly overlooked, and not without tampering in the Gospel of Mark, I believe. On the night Jesus was arrested, in the Gospel of John, the Beloved Disciple follows Jesus after His arrest. In Mark 14:50-51, we have a “certain youth,” believed to be John Mark himself, who was disrobed in the Garden of Gethsemane and ran away naked into the night. That doesn’t jibe with the events in the more authoritative Gospel of John.”

Gray has relied on a 1968 Coptic biography of St. John Mark, The Beholder of God, to help him in his research, prompted initially by the dubious clues, puzzles and heretical Gnostic material in The Da Vinci Code. The biography was written by the late Coptic Pope Shenouda III, and only made available in English in 1997. After St. John Mark founded the Coptic church, Gray said, John Mark went on to serve as its first bishop.

“And then we have the involvement of Simon, a native of Cyrene, like John Mark!” Gray exclaimed. “Simon of Cyrene was walking in the opposite direction from Jesus’ procession when he was singled out and seized by Roman soldiers to assist Jesus in carrying His cross. Simon, a man of color, was intended to share in another black man’s sufferings

John Mark would have observed all of this. Since John Mark was also a native of Cyrene, we can presume from Simon’s story that John Mark is black by association.”

Jesus had a black priest as “another disciple.” Their bond, perhaps, was due to the fact that Jesus too, like the first Jews and the first humans … was black, which makes His crucifixion seem to have been more like a lynching. If St. John Mark, an African, has been hidden from us, we can perhaps say it’s because of what a black Beloved Disciple would say about racial identity of Jesus.

“After all, Jesus and Adam, rising from Africa, had the same biological Father. Eden was not in Sumer or anywhere else in the Fertile Crescent,” Gray continued. “So let the Ancient Alien theorists be duly informed. The first homo sapiens arose in East Africa — and with their all-encompassing, universal DNA, they eventually gave rise to all the other races on earth as they populated it. Jesus had the same universal DNA, permitting Him to shed His blood for all races of people.

“The Messiah will not be white, pale or gray … but black. And who’s being fooled by the crop circles? ET’s make the circles, but God made the crops. Jesus Himself said there would be false messiah’s, deception, signs and wonders relevant to the identity of the True Messiah in the End Times.

“Who can say whether there has been tampering in the 14th chapter of Mark,” Gray said. “But any scholar worth his salt knows that the last 12 final verses in the last chapter (16) of Mark’s gospel do not appear in the most reliable New Testament manuscripts.

“Wikipedia won’t give my research and thesis so much as a mention in their Beloved Disciple page,” Gray revealed. “I know how it feels to have one’s writing go unappreciated and unattributed. For some reason the contributions of St. John Mark and other blacks in history has been purposely, it would seem, covered up.

“Why has the Beloved disciple apparently been hidden from us?” Gray asked rhetorically. “We can learn a lot from Hebrews 7:14, for starters,” Gray said. “It is the only place in the Bible that tells us, especially me, that Jesus was black. I lived in Ethiopia, whose prophecies have called for a Lion of Judah to lead them. However, long-time Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie was called by his people the Lion of Judah. Selassie disavowed the title, saying so in a national radio address.

“He was deposed while I was in Ethiopia in 1974,” Gray said. “He was imprisioned and then murdered. They found his body stuffed beneath a toilet in the imperial palace in Addis Ababa. So much for that Lion of Judah. May he rest in peace. But New Judah can still have hope.

“Revelation 5:5 says the title Lion of Judah is reserved for Jesus,” Gray pointed out. 

Gray explained he lived and worked among the descendants of the people of Judah, and “there wasn’t a white face among them. I loved these people of Ethiopia, especially in Asmara, which is part of what I call New Judah. These intelligent and kind people there are deserving of a King, a Lion of Judah.

“That last point is at the heart of my thesis, that Zebedee’s John did not take Mary, the mother of Jesus, anywhere on the day Jesus died. John Mark was the disciple at the cross of Jesus. James and John, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, tucked tail and ran.

“How can we know that Jesus was black?” Gray posited. “Why don’t we know? Why have the contributions of blacks to civilization has been excluded? We can know by reading Hebrews 7:14: “For it is evident that our Lord arose from the Tribe of Judah …” What about a person would make it evident that he or she belonged to a particular tribe? Their physical appearance, the color of their skin. Right?

“There is another thing I’d like to cover,” Gray said. “It has to do with where the first humans emerged, according to contemporary genetic research. And I’d like to assert the validity of the Genesis creation story, that Ancient Alien theorists say exists in other ancient forms. Eden was not in ancient Sumer or any other site in Mesopotamia, but rather in East Africa,” contemporary genetic research shows.

“These first black humans, bearing universal DNA to give rise to all other races, migrated out of Africa 50,000 years ago and populated the world. I’d like for all the Ancient Alien theorists to take mind of this genetically proven fact. These “theorists” actually want the world to believe ancient beings are our creators. Many will fall for an ET derivative, a hybrid. The world needs to know that the Messiah is black. Jesus Himself said there would be deception, false messiahs in the End Times, who will fool even some of the elect. If an ET claims to be our creator, or if they all do, we can’t fall for it. “

Gray, a religion writer and editor, is a resident of Signal Mountain, Tennessee. He served as a Naval intelligence specialist in Ethiopia (or “New Judah,” as Gray terms it) during the early 70’s. He has relied on his personal African experience in Ethiopia and a Coptic (Egyptian) biography of John Mark, The Beholder of God, written in 1968 by the late Coptic Pope Shenouda III and released in English in 1997.

“And John Mark would have plenty of trouble with the heresies of the Gnostics and other false teachers, who arose in Alexandria, Egypt, one of the cities John Mark evangelized despite the intense opposition of the Greek-leaning Gnostics.”

Gray said there is one church tradition that states the name Mark is pejorative. It was stated that the name Mark meant that John Mark had mutilated his hands to avoid service in the priesthood. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” Gray said. “John Mark was a pillar of the early church. He founded the Coptic church in Alexandria, serving as its first bishop. He founded a school of theology. He spoke and wrote in four languages. He was ‘the other disciple,’ apart from the twelve. And yet he has been disrespected, disregarded and disavowed. Probably because of what the black John Mark would say about the racial identity of Jesus. The contributions of blacks and how they have been hidden or disregarded is an absolute hurtful reality for African-Americans, many of whom yearn to know their ancient history and be proud.”

Gray said he has spent a lot of time looking for and finding two instances of forgery in the Gospel of Mark. “Most Bible scholars agree with the hypothesis of tampering or forgery in the last 12 verses of the final chapter, chapter 16 of the gospel Mark,” Gray said. These last 12 verses do not appear in the most realiable early manuscripts of the New Testament, he pointed out.

“So Mark 14:50-51 is suspect. It seems this verse is intended to embarrass or discredit the “certain youth found in this passage, whom we suspect was John Mark,” Gray said. “Indeed, there is evidence that the person of John Mark and his African roots have been hidden from us. And who can say what the race of the Messiah will be? Why don’t we know that Jesus was black? 

o discredit the ‘certain youth,’ whom we suspect was John Mark himself. But the passage in Mark that suggests he was disrobed and ran away naked into the night (Mark 14:50-51), which does not jibe with the Gospel of John’s account of “the other disciple, whom Jesus loved” and how he accompanied Jesus on the night Jesus was arrested.



“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 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:



The discrediting of John Mark, not helped by the apostle Paul’s one-time rift with the younger evangelist. Why was he discredited? Gray thinks it’s because of what John Mark, an African, would say about a black Jesus. “As a writer myself, I feel like every writer or artist should be recognized for their work. Nothing of note has ever been said about John Mark until now.

How does Gray know that Jesus was and is black? He responds by sayhinng Hebrews 7:14 has given him all the evidence he needed: “For it is evident that our Lord arose from the Tribe of Judah ..” Gray says the emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie was called the Lion of Judah by many Ethiopians and the Rastafarians, a title Selassie disavowed in a national radio address. Gray lived among descendants of the people of Judah who fled Judah, and, he says, there wasn’t a white face in the people.

What about a person would indicate that a person belonged to a particular tribe?

Asking Gray why this matter is so important to him, a white man, Gray said he was making peace with his military career in Africa, and seeks to honor Jesus’ wishes to be on the look for a deceiver or false messiah. Also, Gray said, as a writer himself, he would hate to be completely overlooked for his writings.

The “ex-spy” says that there are a handful of verses in the Christian scriptures that prove his hypothesis that John Mark was the Beloved Disciple and writer of the Gospel of John, and, that Jesus, John Mark and Simon of Cyrene were all black.

“First, compare John 19:26-27 with Acts 1:13-14. In the John verse it states that the Beloved Disciple took Mary, the mother of Jesus, to his home “in that hour Jesus made his request.”


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.