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Archeology in Abner's Philadelphia


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#1 Bonita

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 11:52 AM

Abner, the head of the Eastern Church in Philadelphia, was also the chief of the evangelistic corps of seventy (165:0.1). Present day Philadelphia is Amman, Jordan. One of the oldest, if not the oldest, church known on earth is St. George's in Amman. On the floor of the church is a mosaic inscription stating: “the 70 beloved by God and the divine” believed to be referring to those who founded the worship there. Last year archeologists discovered a cave beneath the church with evidence that it was used by Christians in the 1st Century. There is speculation that this was the place where the original seventy worshipped and possibly lived.

Read the article here:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25061134/

I find this so intriguing because Abner's church held most strictly to the original teachings of Jesus until it was absorbed by the Islamic movement. I'm hoping that someday archeologists may find some scrolls from this dig which may give us better insight into the beliefs and controversies between Abner and the Western Church. With further discoveries, perhaps it is possible to get a better glimpse at how they understood the Master's teaching and reveal what portions of it, if any, might still persist in Islam today.

166:5.3 The Jews at Jerusalem had always had trouble with the Jews of Philadelphia. And after the death and resurrection of Jesus the Jerusalem church, of which James the Lord's brother was head, began to have serious difficulties with the Philadelphia congregation of believers. Abner became the head of the Philadelphia church, continuing as such until his death. And this estrangement with Jerusalem explains why nothing is heard of Abner and his work in the Gospel records of the New Testament. This feud between Jerusalem and Philadelphia lasted throughout the lifetimes of James and Abner and continued for some time after the destruction of Jerusalem. Philadelphia was really the headquarters of the early church in the south and east as Antioch was in the north and west.

166:5.4 It was the apparent misfortune of Abner to be at variance with all of the leaders of the early Christian church. He fell out with Peter and James (Jesus' brother) over questions of administration and the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem church; he parted company with Paul over differences of philosophy and theology. Abner was more Babylonian than Hellenic in his philosophy, and he stubbornly resisted all attempts of Paul to remake the teachings of Jesus so as to present less that was objectionable, first to the Jews, then to the Greco-Roman believers in the mysteries.

166:5.5 Thus was Abner compelled to live a life of isolation. He was head of a church which was without standing at Jerusalem. He had dared to defy James the Lord's brother, who was subsequently supported by Peter. Such conduct effectively separated him from all his former associates. Then he dared to withstand Paul. Although he was wholly sympathetic with Paul in his mission to the gentiles, and though he supported him in his contentions with the church at Jerusalem, he bitterly opposed the version of Jesus' teachings which Paul elected to preach. In his last years Abner denounced Paul as the "clever corrupter of the life teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of the living God."

166:5.6 During the later years of Abner and for some time thereafter, the believers at Philadelphia held more strictly to the religion of Jesus, as he lived and taught, than any other group on earth.

166:5.7 Abner lived to be 89 years old, dying at Philadelphia on the 21st day of November, A.D. 74. And to the very end he was a faithful believer in, and teacher of, the gospel of the heavenly kingdom.


195:1.11 The Eastern version of the message of Jesus, notwithstanding that it remained more true to his teachings, continued to follow the uncompromising attitude of Abner. It never progressed as did the Hellenized version and was eventually lost in the Islamic movement.



#2 Bill Martin

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 12:20 AM

Abner held too closely to the forms of truth.

P.1436 - §1 All static, dead, concepts are potentially evil. The finite shadow of relative and living truth is continually moving. Static concepts invariably retard science, politics, society, and religion. Static concepts may represent a certain knowledge, but they are deficient in wisdom and devoid of truth

But when tempted to criticize evolutionary religion, be careful. Remember, that is what happened; it is a historical fact. And further recall that the power of any idea lies, not in its certainty or truth, but rather in the vividness of its human appeal. 1005-5


P.2072 - §4 The Eastern version of the message of Jesus, notwithstanding that it remained more true to his teachings, continued to follow the uncompromising attitude of Abner. It never progressed as did the Hellenized version and was eventually lost in the Islamic movement.










P.1491 - §8 After the death of Cymboyton, his sons encountered great difficulties in maintaining a peaceful faculty. The repercussions of Jesus' teachings would have been much greater if the later Christian teachers who joined the Urmia faculty had exhibited more wisdom and exercised more tolerance.
P.1491 - §9 Cymboyton's eldest son had appealed to Abner at Philadelphia for help, but Abner's choice of teachers was most unfortunate in that they turned out to be unyielding and uncompromising. These teachers sought to make their religion dominant over the other beliefs. They never suspected that the oft-referred-to lectures of the caravan conductor had been delivered by Jesus himself.
P.1491 - §10 As confusion increased in the faculty, the three brothers withdrew their financial support, and after five years the school closed. Later it was reopened as
P.1492 - §0 a Mithraic temple and eventually burned down in connection with one of their orgiastic celebrations.


Abner's people sought to uplift a difficult region of the world where religious missionaries had failed in past millenia.

P.1050 - §7 Not even in China or Rome did the Melchizedek teachings fail more completely than in this desert region so very near Salem itself. Long after the majority of the peoples of the Orient and Occident had become respectively Buddhist and Christian, the desert of Arabia continued as it had for thousands of years. Each tribe worshiped its olden fetish, and many individual families had their own household gods. Long the struggle continued between Babylonian Ishtar, Hebrew Yahweh, Iranian Ahura, and Christian Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Never was one concept able fully to displace the others.
P.1051 - §1 Here and there throughout Arabia were families and clans that held on to the hazy idea of the one God. Such groups treasured the traditions of Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, and Zoroaster. There were numerous centers that might have responded to the Jesusonian gospel, but the Christian missionaries of the desert lands were an austere and unyielding group in contrast with the compromisers and innovators who functioned as missionaries in the Mediterranean countries. Had the followers of Jesus taken more seriously his injunction to "go into all the world and preach the gospel," and had they been more gracious in that preaching, less stringent in collateral social requirements of their own devising, then many lands would gladly have received the simple gospel of the carpenter's son, Arabia among them.

Pauline Christianity made compromises with existing religions and its appeal spread rapidly over the well-maintained and widespread Roman Highway system and across the Roman "lake" that was the Mediterranean Sea. Paul had civilized, well-educated and receptive groups ready for his message of Redemption through Blood that dovetailed nicely with the large Mithraic populace of Asia Minor.

Abner struggled with fierce and proud tribal warriors of the desert, dedicated to the long established traditions that assured their survival in a difficult environment.

I must confess a sentimental soft spot (in my head) for Abner. My mind tells me : You cannot put spiritual joy under a microscope; you cannot weigh love in a balance; you cannot measure moral values; neither can you estimate the quality of spiritual worship.(2095-2) Yet isn't it entirely normal to want to preserve something precious? Yet you CANNOT imprison truth in a creedal formula to pass down through time. Truth must live freely in the decisions, choices and acts of spirit-born children of God.

Likewise in my insufferable hindsight, I look upon the (modern-day) political incorrectness of Paul's misogyny and how it colored his preaching, and am tempted to judge him based on my modern mores.
He went out and turned the world upside-down. Paul made things happen. He went out tirelessly to proclaim the truth as he knew it. He did not hide his lamp under a bushel. He did not bury his coin to save it and return what he was given to his master. He gave 100%.


I just think if Abner would have followed in Paul's path preaching and teaching,instead of going off into a spiritual desert, we may have had a much different world history the past two millenia.

The real question, (and i will leave this to others smarter and more educated than I) is, "what lessons do Paul and Abner give to us and our stewardship of the Urantia Papers?"
Slowly but surely the Power of Love is overcoming the Love of Power

#3 Rick Warren

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 06:36 AM

Much appreciate the link Bonita,

Interested to hear more, except that the archeologists make outrageously broad assumptions, often on tiny fragments.

Are the 70 mentioned in the Bible?

Bill, that statement about the loss of Abner's uncompromised teachings in Islam is the most arresting in the whole revelation for me. What are modern day teachers to make of such a profound lesson in dissemination?! That rigidity fosters stupidity? That the better part of wisdom is spirit discernment? That a good heart and sentimental love are not enough? That quality spiritual teaching is very subtle?

If it was easy to do, we wouldn't need an Adjutant of Wisdom, a TA or the SOT eh? Rick

Edited by Rick Warren, 18 July 2009 - 06:37 AM.


#4 Bonita

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 10:09 AM

When thinking about Abner, it's helpful to remember that he was a Nazarite first. He was the leader of the Engedi colony, the headquarters for the Nazarite brotherhood. Interesting to note that Engedi is an oasis in a desert wilderness near the Dead Sea. It is an historical biblical refuge going all the way back to the days of David and is still inhabited today with a kibbutz.

What is a nazarite? One who "lives apart". There are only three restrictions on a Nazarite: 1.) No wine or anything made from grapes; 2.) Never cut one's hair; 3.) Never touch the dead.

The idea was to be ritually, and hence spiritually pure and clean. Besides the high priests, Nazarites were the only persons allowed into the Holy of Holies. Samson, like John the Baptist, was a Nazarite from birth, which means that the child is dedicated to God by the parents before birth. This harkens back to the days when it was customary to sacrifice the first born male, which later was changed to sacrificing only the foreskin. The evolution to dedicating their son's lives to God was a compromise made by the parents; and since these children were pure from before birth, they presumably had special gifts. People respected and revered these ascetics because of their purity and closeness to God.

TUB does not tell us if Abner was a Nazarite from birth, but it is likely that he was, given that he was the leader. You can imagine how hard it must have been for him to change an attitude that was indoctrinated from birth! The fact that he would join Jesus' followers, convert John the Baptist's followers to Jesus' teachings, move to a city like Philadelphia, and then hold steadfastly to what Jesus taught him, speaks volumes for Abner's loyalty and love for the truth. Remember, Jesus refused to do the ceremonial washings and fasting deemed essential for purity by these Nazarites. It had to take a huge leap of faith for him to undo such habits and beliefs.

Abner's inability to incorporate pagan beliefs like Paul did most likely stems from his strict understanding of purity. He can't be blamed for it really; it would be like asking us to go back to throwing excrement in the streets and rivers, more than a clean holy man could be asked to take. His inability to line-up with James and Peter in Jerusalem was due to arguments over administration not theology or philosophy as with Paul. My guess is it had something to do with James being Jesus' brother and an "heir to the throne" mentality within the church there, but I don't know. I'm sure that Abner would have been against establishing a "bloodline".

Listen, I have volumes to say on this subject, but I'm trying very hard to keep my posts short by addressing a single point. I can go on and on indefinitely if there is interest. I've been studying this for over a year now but have not solidified my thinking on it. Still searching for clues. Also, checking the Bible for references to the seventy--- back later with what I find, if anything.

Edited by Bonita, 18 July 2009 - 10:10 AM.


#5 Midsoniter woman

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 06:00 AM

The LDS church is the only Christian church who has tried to keep the tradition of the 70 evangelical teachers as well as the women's corp. Notice I said "tried". Abner's tragic ending should be a lesson for us all to get along. Work from the inside out, not the outside in. Unity, not necessarily uniformity. Bonita, please post your research. I will read it. Thanks.
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#6 Bonita

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 11:19 AM

The LDS church is the only Christian church who has tried to keep the tradition of the 70 evangelical teachers as well as the women's corp. Notice I said "tried". Abner's tragic ending should be a lesson for us all to get along. Work from the inside out, not the outside in. Unity, not necessarily uniformity. Bonita, please post your research. I will read it. Thanks.


Thanks MW. Speaking of the LDS, I've been wondering a lot about the Urim and Thummim. Historically, they were divination stones used by priests in the Old Testament but were supposed to disappear with the ark of the covenant back in 607BCE. And then they showed up in NY state? There's a lot about Joseph Smith that is peculiar, but I agree that his efforts to recognize women is exemplary. I'm sure his emphasis on the "seventy" has to do with evangelism and conversion.

The original meaning of "evangelist" was bringer of good news. It had nothing to do with conversion. The idea of itinerant preachers and proselytizers is a modern interpretation. Jesus was attempting to enlighten, bring light where there was darkness. There was no converting because he did not have a religion to convert people to. He was sending messengers to awaken people to the spirit within them. There was no proselytizing. Those who were awakened to the spirit then requested to be marked by the rite of baptism as faithful believers in a common spirit Father. Simple spiritual stuff made complicated by evolutionary humans.

The word evangelist comes from the Koine Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (transliterated as "euangelion") via Latin "Evangelium", as used in the canonical titles of the four Gospels, authored by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (also known as the Four Evangelists). The Greek word εὐαγγέλιον originally meant a reward for good news given to the messenger (εὔ = "good", ἀγγέλλω = "I bring a message"; the word angel is of the same root) and later "good news".


I'm not so sure what the lessons are to be learned from Abner. He apparently did have quite an influence on the Eastern Church, which TUB says follows more closely to Jesus' original teachings. The rest of the Abnerian kingdom of heaven teachings got absorbed into Islam. We have to be grateful for that, I guess. The saddest thing for me is that TUB did not give us any insight into what the Abnerian kingdom of heaven teachings were. We are left to try and figure it out ourselves. The revelators have dropped several hints, but I know my mind can twist those clues around many different ways. TUB leaves us with the idea that Pauline Christianity is what we have to work with; but there is so much difference between the East and West that I wonder if Abner's thinking may actually be the way to marry the two. Just guessing. Wish I knew. Could talk endlessly about it . . .

BTW Rick, the biblical reference to the seventy is in Luke chapter 10.

171:1.6 Within a short time after the destruction of Jerusalem, Antioch became the headquarters of Pauline Christianity, while Philadelphia remained the center of the Abnerian kingdom of heaven. From Antioch the Pauline version of the teachings of Jesus and about Jesus spread to all the Western world; from Philadelphia the missionaries of the Abnerian version of the kingdom of heaven spread throughout Mesopotamia and Arabia until the later times when these uncompromising emissaries of the teachings of Jesus were overwhelmed by the sudden rise of Islam.



#7 Rick Warren

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 12:27 PM

Thanks Bonita,

The passage from Luke 10 reads:

And after these things, the Lord did appoint also other seventy, and sent them by twos before his face, to every city and place whither he himself was about to come, then said he unto them, `The harvest indeed [is] abundant, but the workmen few; beseech ye then the Lord of the harvest, that He may put forth workmen to His harvest. Wikipedia


Edited by Rick Warren, 20 July 2009 - 12:29 PM.


#8 Bonita

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 05:54 PM

Hi Rick,

Personally, I like the version in the New International Version of the Bible better, which by the way, says seventy-two instead of seventy. Apparently there is some controversy over the translation, but it's like splitting hairs.

What I've often wondered is what happened to the seventy. Surely they all did not go to Philadelphia and stay with Abner. They were trained to be evangelists so I'll bet they continued to wander and teach, but it is only a guess.

On another note, I've been looking everywhere for what the life of a Nazarite was like and for evidence of what they believed in. So many scholars equate Nazarite with Nazarene and I know that is not right. They also equate them with the Essenes, and TUB tells us that they are two separate groups. I feel that if I could discover what Nazarites believed in, I might be able to get a glimpse of what the Abnerian kingdom of heaven was. Knowing Abner's background could give some insight into how he interpreted Jesus' teachings and what if any still exists in the Eastern Church and Islam. Likewise, I'm wondering if I can assume that John the Baptist's ideas about the kingdom of heaven were the same as his Nazarite chief, Abner.

TUB says of John: "He preached the kingdom of heaven but hardly entered into the happiness thereof. Though Jesus spoke of John as the greatest of the prophets of the old order, he also said that the least of those who saw the great light of the new way and entered thereby into the kingdom of heaven was indeed greater than John."(136.0.1) Did Abner grasp the new way and preach a higher understanding of the kingdom of heaven? One is lead to believe so.

I'm also wondering what it was that he preached that was so difficult for the wandering tribes of Arabia to accept? In Karen Armstrong's book, Islam, a Short History, she states that Muhammad originally sought to work closely with the Jews and Christians but they rejected him. In Stephen O'Shea's book, Sea of Faith, it states that Muhammad was recognized at one time as a prophet by a Christian mystic and after his marriage to Khadija, whose cousin was a Christian, he undertook prayer and mediation eventually resulting in his revelations. So, his rejection by these faiths must have been difficult to accept. Originally he taught his followers to pray facing Jerusalem, as did the Jews at the time; but when he was rejected, he taught them to face Mecca instead thereby declaring Islam's independence from the other two monotheistic religions arising out of Jerusalem.

So which way did it go? Did Islam reject Christianity or did Christianity reject Islam? One has to wonder if Abner's followers were purists and rejected new prophets? The same thing could be happening today, no?

#9 Rick Warren

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 05:22 AM

Bonita asks: So which way did it go? Did Islam reject Christianity or did Christianity reject Islam? One has to wonder if Abner's followers were purists and rejected new prophets? The same thing could be happening today, no?


It wouldn't be surprising if the established religions rejected a new one, eh? That still happens everyday! But worthy ones endure the early persecutions, then flourish, then dogmatize, then tyrannize, and finally bend to the trends that attrite their flocks. Maybe the injection of UB facts and truths will change the norm and produce better and lasting religion(s).

Interesting to think that Judaism, Christianity and Islam had their chance to be friends, hadn't heard that.

Thanks much Bonita, Rick

#10 Bonita

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 09:47 AM

It wouldn't be surprising if the established religions rejected a new one, eh? That still happens everyday! But worthy ones endure the early persecutions, then flourish, then dogmatize, then tyrannize, and finally bend to the trends that attrite their flocks. Maybe the injection of UB facts and truths will change the norm and produce better and lasting religion(s).

Interesting to think that Judaism, Christianity and Islam had their chance to be friends, hadn't heard that.

Thanks much Bonita, Rick


Not only do established religions reject new ones, but new ones are formed because they reject the established ones. That is precisely why the Essenes formed, in rebellion to the Temple priesthood after the Maccabean Revolt. I believe many of the Essene doctrines influenced John the Baptist and his followers; and if that is true, they eventually came to influence two major new religions.

I'm not sure that UB facts will influence the religions of the world very much, facts can be argued; but, UB teachings about the true kingdom of heaven might eventually do something.

#11 Howard509

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 01:05 PM

The Urantia Book claims that Abner's message of the Kingdom, as opposed
to Paul's Gospel about Jesus, spread to Mesopotamia and Arabia, only to
be squelched by the rise of Islam. I wonder, if the Urantia Book's
account is historically accurate, what Eastern Christian group is the
Urantia Book referring to? Are the Chalcedonian Eastern Orthodox
churches the Abnerian church? Are the non-Chalcedonian Oriental
Orthodox churches? Or are the Nestorian Assyrian churches the original
Abnerian faith? Or is it some other historical group that I haven't
mentioned?

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience. -
Teilhard de Chardin


#12 Howard509

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 03:59 PM

If there is any historical group that might be the followers of the Abnerian teachings of the kingdom, it might be the community that produced the Gospel of Thomas. I've always been struck by that Gospel's similarity to the Urantia Book.

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience. -
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#13 Howard509

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 01:40 AM

Thomas had a trying time during the days of the trial and crucifixion. He was for a season in the depths of despair, but he rallied his courage, stuck to the apostles, and was present with them to welcome Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. For a while he succumbed to his doubting depression but eventually rallied his faith and courage. He gave wise counsel to the apostles after Pentecost and, when persecution scattered the believers, went to Cyprus, Crete, the North African coast, and Sicily, preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom and baptizing believers. And Thomas continued preaching and baptizing until he was apprehended by the agents of the Roman government and was put to death in Malta. Just a few weeks before his death he had begun the writing of the life and teachings of Jesus. ~ The Urantia Book, (139:8.1)


We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience. -
Teilhard de Chardin


#14 Bonita

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 10:05 AM

So, if it is as you are implying that Thomas actually wrote the Gospel of Thomas in Malta, then how is it connected to Abner in Philadelphia?

The quote says that Thomas began writing about the LIFE and teachings of Jesus. The Gospel of Thomas is only a collection of 114 sayings and tells us nothing about the life of Jesus.

Abner was a Nazarite and his interpretation of Jesus' gospel would have been influenced by those very rigid Jewish beliefs. We are told in TUB that it was unfortunate that Abner and his followers were so strict and unyielding in their teaching. In fact, one of the reasons for the growth of Islam was the rejection of Abner's followers' moral strictness. Abner was more Babylonian than Hellenic in his theology and we know that Babylonian influences were present in early gnosticism. Remnants of gnosticism are also present in Islam.

166:5.4 It was the apparent misfortune of Abner to be at variance with all of the leaders of the early Christian church. He fell out with Peter and James (Jesus' brother) over questions of administration and the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem church; he parted company with Paul over differences of philosophy and theology. Abner was more Babylonian than Hellenic in his philosophy, and he stubbornly resisted all attempts of Paul to remake the teachings of Jesus so as to present less that was objectionable, first to the Jews, then to the Greco-Roman believers in the mysteries.

195:1.11 The Eastern version of the message of Jesus, notwithstanding that it remained more true to his teachings, continued to follow the uncompromising attitude of Abner. It never progressed as did the Hellenized version and was eventually lost in the Islamic movement.

5:4.5 . . . Mohammedanism provides deliverance from the rigorous moral standards of Judaism and Christianity.

#15 Howard509

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 04:55 PM

The Gospel of Thomas is not a Gnostic text. It doesn't have the elaborate mythology of Gnosticism. Instead, it is within the tradition of Jewish wisdom literature. It's definitely more in line with Jesus' concept of the kingdom than it is with Pauline Christianity. The Gospel of Thomas, like the Urantia Book, teaches that sonship with God is open to all people, without need of an institutional church, and that the spark of divine is within all of us; we just need to learn to commune with it.

Edited by Howard509, 27 January 2013 - 04:57 PM.

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience. -
Teilhard de Chardin


#16 Bonita

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 05:12 PM

I didn't say that the Gospel of Thomas was gnostic. You must have misunderstood what I wrote.

There is no consensus among scholars as to when the text was actually written but most agree it is from the second century AD or later and from Syria. And no one believes that it was written by the apostle Thomas, which was your assertion. If it had been written by the apostle Thomas, or written by one of his associates, it would probably have been included in the Canon.

#17 Guest_EEB aka AASB-AWSW_*

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 11:07 PM

. . . . we know that Babylonian influences were present in early gnosticism. Remnants of gnosticism are also present in Islam.


Bonita, how is it that you were able to contrive that "Gnosticism", as you presented above, can be determined from the quotes you presented?

Can you give me a list of the Gnostic documentation you have read which supports your statement, I'd very much like to compare them with my hard copies? Since most if not all of the Gnostic documentation was unearthed after the UB, I would be interested where your information comes from?

#18 Bonita

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 10:25 AM

Check out this site: http://www.cais-soas...nag_hammadi.htm

#19 Guest_EEB aka AASB-AWSW_*

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 10:44 AM

Seems a little one sided, have you looked at the following:
http://www.gnosis.org/library.html

Not to mention that there were 51/53? codex's found in the original Nag Hammadi Library,
And the yet to be (ongoing) transcribed 80% of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Not to mention the Apocrypha & Pseudo-Apocrypha of the Old and New Testaments which have some inference to Gnosticism.

#20 Guest_EEB aka AASB-AWSW_*

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 10:54 AM

Also, in re-reading this topic and reference to seventy, and your reference to Luke and your version definition where you prefer the reference to seventy-two, is a direct reference back to the Septuagint, in the Egyptian era, where six Jewish scribes from the twelve tribes of Israel, from memory, recreated the Old Testament text, where it was shorted to 70 from 72. The remarkable thing about this was the 72 versions were almost word for word the same.




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