Acts 15, Part 3
In this final post in this series on Acts 15, I look at one more observation from that chapter about kings and priests. With that I go on to show the story of Joshua feeding the 5000 is a parable covering the same material. Read on for more.
Kings and Priests
I've previously shown that Acts 15 calls out 5 different editors of The Testimony. They are Solomon, Ahab (with his wife Jezebel), Nebuchadnezzar (with Daniel's help), Mordecai and Ezra. The New Testament editor was Ananias, who was operating under the delegated authority of Ezra.
Note here how there is an interplay between kings and priests in each of these cases. Solomon is setting up the place for his priests to operate. Jezebel's letter is received by some organization able to put on a show trial. (Later called the Synagogue of the Libertines.) Nebuchadnezzar is producing a priestly language and related set of priestly documents, the first church canon. Note how each of these kings are operating through various forms of delegation, increasing as we go forward in time.
Mordecai continues, adding considerable theology on clean and unclean. He operates with the signet ring of the king, but is functioning in a role similar to a priest. Ezra follows with a complex authorization letter from the king.
Ezra sets up the first weekly reading of the new text. He operates without paying tax. He is charged with protecting the interests of the king. He sets up a priestly administration with various powers including corporal punishment. After Ezra, the priesthood is functioning in a modern hierarchial manner.
Note how there are 2 different organizational hierarchies in play here. The king commands the military and civil hierarchy. He wields the weapons of war. Those weapons are used against foreign kingdoms, they are also used to enforce the collection of tax.
The priestly system grows up under the king, but eventually becomes a parallel structure. The high priests located in Jerusalem are the top of that hierarchy, with a similar and geographically distributed hierarchy below.
Kings need priests because they need some sort of legitimacy. Where better than from god himself? Remember, of course, that asking for a king in Samuel's day was the root of trouble that still runs to this day. Joshua does not grant the legitimacy kings desire.
Of course at various times across world history those 2 hierarchies can be rooted at a single man. Later Roman history and the UK today are examples.
Those 2 hierarchies can also have different relative strengths. So a priest, using armed guards, protects a young king during Athaliah's reign. While the high priest in Jerusalem in NT times needs Roman kingly authority to execute their prisoner. They must cross hierarchies to do this.
So, think about this problem as having 2 similar hierarchies, with 2 heads, usually a king and a priest, operating in parallel to each other. Each giving the other what they need. The king getting legitimacy, the priest getting funding and military cover.
David's Fallen Tent is something like an antidote to these. The Acts 15 reference to David's Fallen Tent hits the story in Second Samuel where David, an early king atop the kingly hierarchy, is first considering setting up a house for god, which would have formalized the start of the second hierarchy.
So the Acts 15 promise that some day that tent will be restored suggests a future time when earth is not ruled by kings and priests.
We have noticed that many of the parables surrounding Joshua have components that point at the text itself. One of the sub plots of the Testimony is its own preservation, so this should not be a surprise. We currently think that all inspired parables should work this way.
As an example, consider Joshua healing the man with a withered hand. We call the condition today writer's cramp. You get it from hand copying excessively large documents. A writer's hand is healed of writer's cramp by switching from the Bible to the Testimony.
Another example. In the story of the woman at the well, the living water, that she had no access to, is a reference to the inspired text. Only with that can she learn what it takes to pass judgment and live forever.
These are simple parables that contain references to the text. Let me explore a much bigger parable that is also referencing the text.
Feeding The 5000
In regular Bibles, the parable of the Feeding of the 5000 is told in all 4 of the Gospels. There is also a different version, where 4000 are fed, found again in 2 of the gospels, Matthew and Mark. So this basic story of miraculous feeding of a large crowd is found 6 times in standard Bibles.
We generally believe that each story like this was inspired in 1 place in the text and written down by 1 witness. Stories can be cross referenced, but not repeated, otherwise writer's cramp.
These 6 times where a large crowd are fed were most likely 1 inspired author who wrote the original account and was then edited and copied 5 more times. That inspired version may itself have also been edited, making the inspired version hard to spot in the document passed down to us by history.
Note something interesting here. The editors must have been afraid of this story. The fraud strategy here is called 'flooding,' discussed in propaganda text books even to this day. The goal is to make the public unable to deduce a single, real, reality. Flooding is usually reserved to cover up serious crimes, like assassinating President Kennedy.
The editors really did not want readers to notice key details in the inspired story, so they added 5 more copies. They tweaked details a little bit in each copy. The copies vary enough to cause some to wonder if Joshua did this regularly.
These 6 versions differ in key details. Was there 5000 or 4000 in the crowd? Was it the end of the day or mid day? Was it because the people were hungry for dinner, or because Joshua had some other purpose? Was Philip tested? Was there exactly 5 loaves and 2 fish, or some other number? Or perhaps no precise number? Did they sit in sub groups, or in just 1 big group?
In the Testimony, Philip is the disciple who knows the text. He was using the text in his introduction with Nathanael. Philip was sent to Sychar later, a key place for the text. Philip also helped the Ethiopian in his chariot to understand stories from the text of Isaiah.
Philip's inclusion in the story of feeding the 5000 makes this a parable about the text. This is a very important point the editors would want to hide. So, our working assumption is the version told in John chapter 6, which is the only version which includes Philip, is the inspired version.
Full Disclosure: I have had some prophetic leading based on the name Philip in the John 6 telling of the feeding of the 5000. For those who have been with us in some of our group meetings you may remember how Joshua has brought up John 6 with me multiple times. Joshua has repeatedly told me to do the same. So I am biased to suspect the single version that names Philip is the inspired version.
Points in the Parable
The basic flow of the parable goes like this: Joshua tests Philip, where can we buy bread to feed all these people. Philip answers, 200 Denarii would not be enough. Then there is a boy with 5 barley loaves and 2 fish, but how would that feed 5000 people? The story continues, the loaves and fish are broken, everyone is fed, and 12 baskets are left over.
So let me start by pointing out the main algebra for this parable. The 5 loaves are written documents created by the 5 identified editors in Acts 15. The 2 fish, think fish skeletons, are the 2 hierarchy systems which hold the flesh of those documents. The boy found carrying the loaves and fish are the immature scribes who carry those texts across time.
So the parable is explaining how Joshua feeds large crowds. He has the loaves divided up, broken into small bits. This means taking the editor's written work and breaking it down into little bits. Those bits, the inspired parts only, can then feed multitudes.
Making copies of texts is something that the disciples can do. Anyone can, in theory, provided they don't have writer's cramp. Many can be fed through a document copying process.
Philip's reference to 200 Danarii factors into the 5000 person crowd as 5000 / 200 = 25. The unspoken 25 being the 25 glyphs of the Paleo Alphabet. 25 is a dead giveaway for the alphabet as the unifying idea for this parable. This is most likely a reference to the structure of the Testimony which uses the 25 alphabet glyphs for internal story organization.
When this parable was performed there were 200 section headings in the inspired OT material. The text Joshua had pulled from the ground near Sychar when he visited the woman at the well had 200 sections.
Philip's comment means there was not enough material under those section headings to feed everyone. The New Testament would come along and double that number, which explains the use of the disciples in the parable. They would go on to write another 200 sections, not just copy the earlier sections.
There are pieces left over, 12 baskets worth. Joshua orders those pieces to be gathered up so that nothing is lost. Given the parable is starting with loaves full of bad food, expanded by the yeast of the editors, it is important NOT to eat any uninspired parts.
The parts left over must be gathered to protect from being eaten, so that NO ONE is lost. The leftovers are soul poison.
In the other versions of the story Philip is left out, so the likely witness and author is scrubbed. In other versions there are groups of 100s and 50s, which hide the factor of 25. This hides the alphabet as key to the parable.
In other versions there are 4000, or also women and children. There are also 7 loaves and an unknown number of fish. Each of these changes break the parables from landing on the alphabet and from landing on the 5 historical editors.
These are all things Ananias would want to hide, which was his purpose in flooding the text with variations in this important story.
Our apps have been updated this week as usual. We are rethinking which editors go with which additions. Special care has been taken in the area surrounding Moses' writings.
Solomon is the most common editor in that area, having repurposed the Tent of Time from Moses's day to give apparent legitimacy to Solomon's temple project in Jerusalem.
Over the past couple weeks we have shifted the responsible parties for some additions, say Psalms, to Ezra. Ezra was responsible for setting up full operations of the temple in his day. We have only had Ezra available as an editor for a few weeks, so we are still equalizing the edits across available editors.
We are also working towards removing 'X' tags in the BRB. These tags do not name editors. When we are finished, all edits will be assigned to one of the known editors and the menus in the app will clean up.
We are continuing to do word audits and checks. We are now auditing against Aramaic, which brings words like 'ark' and 'mankind' back into the Testimony in ways expected by people familiar with regular Bibles. Suggesting, by the way, that standard English conventions in Bible vocabulary are correctly rooted from Aramaic in some way back from history, not from Hebrew as is widely taught these days.
We are also checking the use of high value words like 'temple' and 'sin' and 'holy.' These are often marker terms that show off the hand of an editor. The concepts implied by these terms are not inspired.
These words will not be used in an inspired passage where these ideas are endorsed or used to explain the world. They could be used, say, if a pharisee is struggling with his own broken theology, or a usurping king is building a temple instead of rebuilding Shechem.
We are looking at these issues case-by-case, and will be at this for some time to come.