Skip to comments.Unraveling Jesus' mystery years in Egypt
Posted on 07/31/2005 5:38:30 AM PDT by NYer
|"Behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him." - MATTHEW 2:13
How much do we really know about Jesus?
Not as much as we might think, according to a new film documentary focusing on the little-known childhood of Christianity's savior.
Titled "Jesus in Egypt," the film is based on a book of the same name by author Paul Perry, widely known for his work on near-death experiences.
Like Perry's book, the film focuses on the flight of Jesus' family to Egypt from Israel after King Herod threatened to "destroy" the boy Jesus, as St. Matthew wrote in the New Testament.
The film was prepared by a team led by Perry that includes Florida archaeologist John de Bry, 61. De Bry is a veteran of many projects, including a quest for the ships of the pirate Capt. William Kidd off Madagascar in 2000.
The film, providing information little known outside Egypt, takes viewers on a long trek through the nation's ruins and dusty desert towns, looking at the predominantly Muslim country's Christian past.
It also talks about the boy Jesus toppling idols and maturing quickly into a spiritual leader as his family traveled through Egypt.
For centuries, Christians in the northeastern African nation have kept records and documents about the family's journey there, but the Bible, with the exception of a few verses, concentrates primarily on the last three years of Jesus' life.
Because of that, the majority of the world's Christians know little about Jesus in Egypt, the 54-year-old Perry said from his home in Paradise Valley, Ariz.
While Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country, it also is home to several million Coptic Christians and the group's headquarters.
Perry, for his part, says he decided to write the book after learning how vital the story of Jesus' family is to Christians living in Egypt.
He made two journeys to scores of places the family is said to have stopped in the country, according to Coptic tradition. The first journey was for the book in 2001, and the second for the documentary, which took seven weeks to film in early 2004.
Because of concern about possible Muslim threats, the Egyptian government in 2004 gave the filmmakers plenty of security, as they had for Perry during his first trip in 2001. No incidents occurred either time.
The film shows many scenes and images, all of which are based on the centuries-old oral traditions and documents gathered by the Coptic Church but not on any new archaeological or documentary evidence.
Even without new evidence, de Bry, before leaving for Cairo in June, said, "We can no longer deny that there is a certain degree of truth to the tradition of the Holy Family in Egypt, a tradition based on a collective memory of historical events. The burden of proof is not on those who believe in the tradition but those who do not."
Of his latest venture, de Bry added, ''I'm not a born-again Christian, but this experience has changed me spiritually. It's been enlightening.''
This has gotten a little off the thread, but maybe I caused that.
The Levite duties were divided in twenty-fourths. If they were divided evenly through twelve months (Ancient Hebrew Calendar), each term was slightly over two weeks.
My studies show that the first month (Nisan) was about the same as our April. Zacharias was appointed to 'the course of Abia', which was the eighth 'course' (1 Chron. 24:10). That would be the last half of our July (Tammuz).
Here's where the dates are harder to pinpoint. How quickly did Elizabeth conceive? I don't think the Lord would have procrastinated the opening her womb, and I doubt Zacharias would have delayed getting together with his wife after his journey home (whatever distance that was). So I'll be helpful to the 12/25 crowd and say Elizabeth conceived in late August (Ab).
Elizabeth hid herself five months. We would be at late Jan. The Angel appears to Mary 'in the sixth month'. Let's be kind once more to the 12/25ers and say that Mary conceived in the last few days of that sixth month, Feb (Shebat).
Nine months later we find ourselves at late Nov (Bul). So now we can see the real meaning of 'Thanksgiving Day'.
I helped the 12/25 folks and still came up a month short.
Personally, I think that the birth was probably earlier than that, maybe as much as a month. Who knows.
That's why I follow the Lord and his apostles lead, and emphasize the kingdom of God and being born again.
seamole, I can't speak for the shepherds in the holy land 2000 yrs ago. I was an active beef producer for over 30yrs, and therefore know a little about animal husbandry. But here's some facts about raising sheep from my sheep producer neighbor.
When all there is available is primitive shelter, shepherds are not going to allow breeding to cause winter lambing. The wet newborns can die from exposure. 40F or below is not good.
Winter lambs and their mothers (ewes) require 3 or 4 times the care of ewes alone. This causes greater stores of resourses such as hay, grain, straw, etc. (which cut into bottom line).
Early spring lambs get to start in a warmer climate, the pasture is cleaner than a cramped stall, and the grass is easier to their little mouths to chew and digest than dried forage.
So I remain skeptical about hebrew shepherds in 1 A.D. lambing in Dec or Jan. Therefore, I believe the Word, that the shepherds were in the fields (probably mid-fall) watching their flocks by night when the angels sang (WOW, just try and picture being there!).
Added thoughts are of course welcome.
What's to know?
We know from scripture that Jesus was with his family in Egypt until shortly after Herod's death, when an angel then commanded them to return to Israel. Since Herod died in 4 AD, we can assume that Jesus had not learned much of anything from anyone in Egypt in those 4 years. And since he was in fact the Lord incarnate, the idea that he would have to learn anything from anyone about spiriual matters is quite laughable. Much is made about the "missing 18 years' from 12 to 30 as well, but since Jesus was already teaching Levites and religious leaders in the temple when he was 12, this idea that he 'went to India to learn from the Hindus' or variations of that theme are equally ridiculous.
"The Tradition of the Church somewhere comes back to an arbitrary decision..."
If that's what Tradition is, I have no desire for it.
Me neither, in light of this:
Mark 7:5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?" 6 And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: `THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 7 `BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' 8 "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." 9 He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition."
"...you hold to the tradition of men."
That is not the only place where tradition is mentioned in Holy Scripture.
Quite obviously, when I refer to the Tradition, "the tradition of men" is not the Tradition to which I refer.
Therefore, I would think you would have scoped out that I was referring to some other tradition.
That other tradition, THE Tradition, is referred to in Jude 3 and also in II Thes 2:15.
Well, I agree, not all tradition is bad. Some is quite edifying. However, the church in general, both Catholic and protestant, is filled with things that are placed on people that the Lord never mandated through scripture, for no other reason that "it's always been this way." Frankly, it has NOT always been this way . This is simply an undeniable fact.
Of course, I'll be the first to admit, I don't know everything! In fact, not much, probably.
1Co 13:12 - For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.
If you ain't born again, you ain't a Christian.
"...filled with things that are placed on people that the Lord never mandated through scripture..."
OK. Now we're back on the same page by recognizing that there is "the Tradition".
The exact date of the Birth of Jesus Christ is very important to Christianity. We know this because St. Luke the Evangelist fills his Gospel with details that have but one purpose, to establish it for all time. So don't say this is not important or not mandated.
So why didn't he just give a date? Something like 753AUC would have been more convenient than hints.
"Commandments of men"http://www.catholic.com/library/Scripture_and_Tradition.asp
Consider Matthew 15:69, which Fundamentalists and Evangelicals often use to defend their position: "So by these traditions of yours you have made Gods laws ineffectual. You hypocrites, it was a true prophecy that Isaiah made of you, when he said, This people does me honor with its lips, but its heart is far from me. Their worship is in vain, for the doctrines they teach are the commandments of men." Look closely at what Jesus said.
He was not condemning all traditions. He condemned only those that made Gods word void. In this case, it was a matter of the Pharisees feigning the dedication of their goods to the Temple so they could avoid using them to support their aged parents. By doing this, they dodged the commandment to "Honor your father and your mother" (Ex. 20:12).
Elsewhere, Jesus instructed his followers to abide by traditions that are not contrary to Gods commandments. "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice" (Matt. 23:23).
What Fundamentalists and Evangelicals often do, unfortunately, is see the word "tradition" in Matthew 15:3 or Colossians 2:8 or elsewhere and conclude that anything termed a "tradition" is to be rejected. They forget that the term is used in a different sense, as in 1 Corinthians 11:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:15, to describe what should be believed. Jesus did not condemn all traditions; he condemned only erroneous traditions, whether doctrines or practices, that undermined Christian truths. The rest, as the apostles taught, were to be obeyed. Paul commanded the Thessalonians to adhere to all the traditions he had given them, whether oral or written.
"So why didn't he just give a date? Something like 753AUC would have been more convenient than hints."
When St. Luke wrote his gospel, the terms B.C. (Before Christ), A.D.(in the year of our Lord), C.E. (common era), B.C.E. (before the common era) did not exist. To establish a date, one has to first establish a point of reference. That's what we do today when we say B.C. or A.D., we go by a previously established point of reference. Muslims go by the date of Mohammed's Flight from Mecca to Medina (A.D. 622 by the way). Jews by the year of the Creation (And don't ask because I'm not Jewish). St. Luke did not go by the year of the Creation, interestingly. Instead he used other points of reference, other events he was confident would last through the ages as solid points of reference. The first chapters of his gospel are filled with these, and they obviously have but one purpose, to establish exactly when important events happened, the most important of all being the Incarnation of the Son of God.
Have you ever heard of Denys the Little? Living in the 6th century, Denys established the year of our Lord based upon the information provided by St. Luke and other historical data. For more on Denys the Little go to http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05010b.htm
I understand that, but you cannot deny that the church in general is rife with tradition that is contrary to scripture. Since the passage in 2nd Thessalonians refers to traditions received from the apostles themselves...
Where did Paul or any of the disciples institutue a Christian priesthood?
Where did baptising of infants come from?
When did communion go from being a shared meal to a wafer and a sip of wine?
When did membershiop in a particular church body or denomination become necessary for participating in communion?
Which of the apostles commanded huge buildings to be erected for worship? Or any at all?
Which apostle demanded that church pastors or leaders go through seminary or bible college?
Where did the disciples command that they be called "Father"?
Which of the disciples created a distinction between the 'professional ministry class' and the laity?
I could go on but you get the drift. I tend to agree with Luther in his proclamation of "Sola Scriptura!" If it ain't in the bible, it's all suspect and up to question.
Again, merely my opinion, nothing more.
"...the church in general is rife with tradition that is contrary to scripture"
We are wandering off the subect - Jesus in Egypt - but I deny that remark with ease. Here's why.
The Church, is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. So it follows that if "the church in general is rife with tradition that is contrary to scripture" something is very wrong. The Church is the Body of Christ. That which we say of the Church, therefore, applies to our Lord's Body. And that which we say of the Body applies to the Church. Each dictates the other. Morever, our Lord promised that the gates of hell(death) would not prevail against His Church. So if "the church in general is rife with tradition that is contrary to scripture", hell has prevailed and if hell has prevailed, Jesus lied.
My Jesus never lied.
I agree to an extent; however I think your understanding of the scripture concerning the "gates of hell" is flawed. It has nothing to do with the church being corrupted; we know from Jesus' own words in Revelation that it indeed is and will be. It will be lukewarm, and full of false teachers and false doctrines. The "gates of hell" reference is an illustration of the offensive stance the church ought to be taking to advance the kingdom, not a defensive one. It is we who are to kick the gates of hell down, not the other way around.
But yes, it is off topic. Sorry!
"The "gates of hell" reference is an illustration of the offensive stance the church ought to be taking to advance the kingdom, not a defensive one"
Oh? Says who?
But let us say your interpretation has merit(something I do not admit by the way), that still leaves us with a Body of Christ that's corrupted through and through (according to you), top to bottom and stem to stern.
I have no use for a corrupted Body of Christ. A corrupted Body is worthless and it's all yours.
"Oh? Says who?"
Says anyone with the knowledge of the times of Christ, that the gates of a city were for defense against invaders. People at that time would have understood Jesus to mean that the gates of Hell ( notice the gates belong to hell, not the church) would not prevail against the church. Since gates are stationary objects and cannot attack anyone, it only stands to reason that it must be the church attacking them. Jesus used several offensive illustrations, such as binding the strong man to plunder his house, destroying the works of the enemy, etc etc.
"that still leaves us with a Body of Christ that's corrupted through and through (according to you), top to bottom and stem to stern."
Please, show me where I said that.
What I did say was that there is corruption in the church, and it does many things which are contrary to scripture, some of them against the letter of scripture, and some against the spirit of it. Jesus himself said that there would be false teachers and false prophets , as did Peter
(2 Peter 2: 1 - 22). Many would fall away or be taken captive by deciet. Why is this so hard to accept? If Jesus knew the church would not escape corruption (and judgment--) why do you think he was wrong?
And for what it's worth, I have no desire to have a pissing match here. I respect other beliefs, and have gone out of my way to ackowledge that what I say is my own opinion based on my own study, and that I don't know everything. I like to discuss this stuff because it's interesting. I have no desire to attack anyone. If something I say angers you, perhaps you need to examine what it is you believe and how sure you are of it. If I know something to be wrong, I don't feel threatened by it or angered because of it. But my guess is that you and I would be in complete agreement on the essentials of the faith. The other 10% is all debatable, IMO.
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"Says anyone with the knowledge..."
I was looking for some patristic commentary not scholastic reasoning.
"What I did say was that there is corruption in the church..."
If there is corruption in the Church, there is corruption in the Body of Christ. I'm sorry, but I cannot buy that.
Now, I can accept that different churches can be corrupted by heresy and schism. When a church(that is to say a limb) is corrupted by heresy, it falls away from the healthy whole. Having fallen away, it is no longer of the Church. When a limb is corrupted by schism, the schismatic limb either returns or it slips into heresy. Schism, in other words, is a temporary condition that does not last very long.
There are many examples in the history of the Church of limbs getting infected and falling away from the Church. A few infections were the Nicolaitanism, Gnosticism, Arianism, Eutychianism, Islam, Nestorianism. Churches that became infected and fell way include: Armenian Apostolic, Coptic, Assyrian Church of the East, the Church in Yemen, Church of Sion, Patriarchate of the West.
Get the idea?