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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« '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.

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