Artifacts & Biblical History

St. Paul and the “Evil Beast” People of Crete

by Steve Ray on October 12, 2020

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Before the virus hysteria, we were touring the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. We had about 100 happy cruisers along with us on this pilgrimage.

St. Paul visited this island after his two-year imprisonment in Rome around AD 63.

After his release St. Paul set out again on apostolic travels. During this time he and Titus visited Crete.

Paul writes to Titus, “Paul … to Titus … for this reason, I left you in Crete [as bishop].” (Titus 1:1-4)

We are always told to be NICE. We should not speak disparagingly about people.

When writing to Titus, Paul did not have very flattering words for the Cretans. He spoke his mind — and it is recorded as inspired Scripture. This is what he wrote to Titus about the Cretans,

“‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true.” (Titus 1:12)

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When I have been to Crete on numerous occasions, I found the Cretans quite nice folks, but a lot can change in 2000 years.

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A painful price is paid when one reaches his hand into a swarm of bees to swipe some of their honey. Stingers fly and welts flare. I know. I raised hives of bees as a boy and once I was stung 35 times in one day. And that was with protective equipment!

Wild honey is not collected from wild bees without burning pain and suffering. Today there is protective equipment and methods to harvest honey, but in times past it took a man willing to experience bitter pain today for the sweet rewards later.

There seems to be a principle built into the real world that is expressed with maxims such as “good things take time,” and “no pain no gain.” A paycheck is preceded by forty hours of work. Muscles appear after weeks of sweat equity and exercise.

Shortcuts seldom pay off and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Achievement takes effort and rewards are given to those who work hard.

Suffering is shunned by most people. Pain is avoided. We usually chose the path of least resistance. It seems most people are hard-wired for pleasure, relaxation and personal gratification. Following these baser impulses rarely reap the rewards human beings aspire to.

The number forty is used symbolically in the Bible over and over again. Jewish and Christian tradition has known this from the beginning. Forty is the number of testing, suffering, fasting, repentance and self-denial.

It often precedes new beginnings and new stages of salvation and restoration. Noah’s flood lasted forty days, Israel wandered in the wilderness forty years, Jonah gave Ninevah forty days to repent, Elijah fasted forty days and nights—as did Jesus in the wilderness.

John the Baptist wandered in the Judean Wilderness east of Jerusalem. He wore rustic clothing and suffered the pain of harvesting his own wild honey. He ate his wild honey with locusts, another word for a grasshopper.

Such hopping insects were declared “clean” foods for the Jews (Lev 11:22). I once jokingly told a group of pilgrims I “loved living the Bible in the Holy Land” and if they found a grasshopper I would eat it like John the Baptist had done. They went on a mission and found a 4” wiggly grasshopper. I had no choice but to imitate the Baptist. (See me eat it here.)

In the summer months, the wilderness of Judea hovers around 120?. John looked and acted a lot like Elijah the prophet and it was from this exact location that Elijah was assumed body and soul into heaven.

No wonder the Pharisees questioned if John was the Elijah who was to come. He was baptizing repentant Jews about thirty miles down from the mountains of Jerusalem and about three miles from the ancient community of Qumran.

John undoubtedly associated with these devout Essenes who had moved to the hot wilderness to seek God and become the Children of Light. The wilderness, like the number forty, is usually associated with seeking God and a sincere holiness brought about by self-denial and isolation.

Christian tradition from the earliest times understood the spiritual benefits of established periods of fasting, repentance, prayer and self-denial. This practice of self-abandonment to the wilderness for forty days was incorporated into the liturgical year. It was called Lent. The word originates from an old English word meaning “spring” and was used because Lent, the time of fasting and prayer was practiced in the spring of the year in preparation for Easter.

 John the Baptist wandered in the wilderness to mortify the flesh and earthly desires, focusing his mind and heart on things above. He was seeking holiness and spirituality. Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the same wilderness to be tempted by the Devil and prepared for his ministry.

The Church wants us to share in this deeper life of God. Lent is a time set aside so that we can join John in the wilderness—setting aside the distractions of daily life and earthly pursuits, turning to God and prayer.

Of course, it is not as easy for most of us since we have families, work schedules, diapers to change, houses to clean and on and on. The Lord and the Church understand this completely. But even the daily service of a family, the quality labor provided on the job and extra love shown to others can be an act of penance and self-giving.

We can all fit in time for confession, a bit more prayer and spiritual readings, deny ourselves a few extravagances or pleasures and seek to get closer to God. It is never easy—it wasn’t for John, Jesus or others who wandered for forty days looking for a deeper walk with God and a richer human experience.

We buy honey in the store and few of us like John are willing to reach into a hive and grab the honey at great cost. But like John we can impose a bit of self-denial upon ourselves, entering into penance, prayer, repentance and self-denial—though it often feels like reaching for the honey. The minimal pain of Lent can bring about the sweetness of holiness.

These places in the desert still exist. We can walk through the ruins of Qumran, see the mist over the Dead Sea and the mountains of Moab in Jordan and stand on the shore of the River Jordan at the place Jesus met John. We can walk with Jesus in the with his forty days of temptation when he stepped out of the wilderness. No prayer or sacrifice, no self-denial or charitable act will go unnoticed by God. The sweetness of the Spirit will certainly be our reward.

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Bible Verses Missing in Modern Translations?
By Steve Ray       (PDF version here)

There are a lot of people today that are what we call “King James only“ Christians. They believe that the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is the only inspired version and that modern translations are modernist. One argument for this is that there are some verses contained in the KJV which are not in recent modern versions.

The argument of KJV-only adherents only betrays their ignorance of the process of inspiration, transmission and translation. We sometimes joked that, “If the KJV was good enough for St. Paul, it is good enough for me.”

Examples of missing verses and passages are Mark 16:9–20John 5:4Acts 8:37, and 1 John 5:7.

downloadWe don’t have any of the original writings of the documents in the New Testament, only copies and copies of copies. There are thousands of fragments and manuscripts from the early centuries. The earliest is called the John Ryland fragment which contains a small portion of John 17 and 18. It is dated at AD 125 and was found in the sands of Egypt and written of papyrus.

The more ancient the manuscripts the more likely they are to be accurate to what the apostles actually wrote. And the more ancient manuscripts found to compare and analyze, the more accurate the translation will be.

The KJV was translated in 1611 by Protestant King James of England and was translated when we were still devoid of the best and most ancient manuscripts that testify to the original writings of the apostles. Over the last 400 years since the translation of the KJV there have been many newly discovered ancient and more reliable manuscripts.

Modern scholarship uses the most authoritative and trustworthy manuscripts to update the text of Scripture to make it much more accurate to what the apostles actually wrote. These manuscripts were not available during the translations of the KJV.

So, it was discovered there were some verses added by copyists over the centuries so King James had these later interpolations included in his translation.

download (1)But modern translations do not include them as part of the text, because they were not part of the original texts. But, even though modern translators know that those verses are not in the original Greek text, they still often add them in brackets with comments like: “Early mss [manuscripts] do not contain this v [verse].” This note is from the New American Standard Bible which is the translation I was raised with in my middle years along with the KJV.

Commenting on the later interpolation, the NIV footnote adds, “Some less important manuscripts [add]…”  The Catholic New American Bible, used for Mass in the US, footnotes, “Toward the end of the second century in the West and among the fourth-century Greek Fathers, an additional verse was known… This verse is missing from all early Greek manuscripts and the earliest versions, including the original Vulgate. Its vocabulary is markedly non-Johannine.”

Anybody who claims that those verses are definitely part of the original writings — and that Bibles that don’t include them are modernist and in error — only show their ignorance and the whole process of inspiration, transmission, translation and hermeneutics. For more on this check this Protestant but very good source: Why Are Newer Translations of the Bible Missing Verses?

You may also appreciate my article What Translation of the Bible Should you Use?

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Feast Day of St. Martha, loved by Jesus

July 29, 2020

Martha is often given the short shrift. She lived with her brother Lazarus and her sister Mary in Bethany where Jesus lived when he was in the Jerusalem area. She worked hard, cared for people but was criticized by Jesus, or so it seems. I don’t think Jesus was criticizing those who serve guests and take […]

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Feast Day of Joachim & Anna: Nativity and Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

July 26, 2020

July 27 is the Feast Day of Mary’s parents Sts. Joachim and Anna. Their story is not told in the Bible, but in a 2nd-century document entitled The Protoevangelium of James. In this document we read of the birth and presentation of Mary and her childhood through her marriage to Joseph and the birth of Jesus. This […]

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St. Isaiah, Sts. Adam & Eve, St. Abraham, St. Moses – Did you know some Old Testament people are Saints?

July 6, 2020

Today is the Feast Day of St. Isaiah the Prophet.  What? Isaiah is a saint? Yes, and so are many of the heroes of the Old Testament. Adam and Eve have liturgical feast days, so do Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, King David and many others. The Roman Martyrology (1600) lists saints recognized up to that point including […]

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Debunking 5 Biblical Myths Accepted by Many as True

May 17, 2020

There are three “truths” I have been asked about many times. Often people tell me these as though they’re explaining to me something I’ve never heard before. However, in each case, there is no historical, biblical or actual basis to any three of them. In each case they started being taught in recent times and […]

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Depth of Water in Sea of Galilee! HIGH!

April 25, 2020

For those who have traveled to Israel with Janet and I and stayed at the Ron Beach Hotel in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee, you will certainly enjoy these pictures! Janet and I have only seen the sea this high about 16 or 17 years ago. It is delightful to see it full again. […]

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Resurrection Appearances: Places & People

April 15, 2020

In response to my show on Drew Mariani, here is the list of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. Click here for the document: https://catholicconvert.com/wp-content/uploads/Resurrection-People-who-witnessed.pdf For the podcast of my show with Drew Mariani — the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus and the institution and need for Confession, click ? below  or click this link: https://relevantradio.com/2020/04/the-importance-of-sacrament-of-confession/ My segment begins […]

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Steve’s 1/2 hour podcast: “Witnesses to the Resurrection” on Relevant Radio

April 13, 2020

After counting the different individuals or entities who were at the Tomb or later witnesses of the resurrected Christ, I came up with 15 witnesses in 9 locations. Enjoy the podcast! The interview starts at 02:40 minutes into the show.

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When Was Jesus Crucified? How Long on the Cross? Do the Gospels Contradict Each Other?

April 10, 2020

Do the Gospels Conflict? How Long was Jesus on the Cross? (See also Was Jesus Crucified Naked? and How Long Was Jesus in the Tomb?) The question intrigued me sufficiently enough that I spent the best part of a day working on it. On the surface there seems to be a contradiction in the Gospels, mentioning different […]

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Was Jesus Clothed or Naked at the Crucifixion?

April 7, 2020

A few years ago I wrote an article entitled “Was Jesus Crucified Naked?” It generated a lot of comments, some very critical. A very kind person wrote to me today about that article saying they was uncomfortable with the idea that Mary was looking up at unclothed men on crosses. THEY WROTE: It was my […]

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Lenten Bundle: “Stations of the Cross” and “Pain of the Crucifixion”

March 23, 2020

Two of Steve’s most popular talks are now in a bundle for $6. Great for family listening and for drives in the car. Very powerful and enthusiastic talks including Scripture, apologetics, medical information, typology, explanation of the real Stations in Jerusalem and the place and manner of crucifixion. Purchase the 2-CD set for a reduced […]

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Feast of Chair of St. Peter: “Chair of Moses, Chair of Peter” Steve’s Article, YouTube Video and Resources

February 21, 2020

St. Cyprian of Carthage (beheaded 257 AD) one hundred and fifty years before the New Testament writings were collected into one book called “The Bible”: “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will […]

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How Did the Israelites Find their Way without a Compass?

February 13, 2020

How did the Israelites think of north, south, east and west without a compass, GPS or even a map? Since I am in the heart of Israel today with our Holy Land Part II pilgrimage, I thought this would be an interesting topic. Here is a short article written by Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg. We read in […]

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Traveling with Paul, Mary and the Apostles in the 1st Century was TOUGH!

February 6, 2020

Jostling through the crowds Paul and Luke pushed their way to the ramp. The wooden cargo ship was ready to leave Caesarea and they had gathered the last of their supplies. They pressed the silver denarii into the hands of the sailer at the dock. They were allowed onto the ship. They rushed to the […]

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