A journey to search my soul

This is a blog of my personal collections. The purpose of this blog is to educate myself and public in regards to antiquities especially related to religion and calligraphy. I welcome everyone to input their feedback in this blog which they think would be helpful. I do not watermark the photos in this blog so everyone is free to use them as long as they are not used for illegal and unethical reasons. I appreciate if you could notify me if you plan to use any of the photos here. Enjoy browsing!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ancient Coin Review 03 : Pohon Katun ( Tin Cash tree) - 16th Century of Johor Sultanate

After a few years searching, at last I managed to acquire this museum piece antiquity belongs to Johor Empire Era ( 16th- 19th century). This is a complete “tree” of coins. This is a rare piece as I haven’t seen such a thing in Malaysian museums yet ( probably I haven’t explored enough).
Let me provide some insights of this “tree”. During the era of Johor Sultanate, tin coins or “Katuns” as they were known, were minted in a variety of shapes and sizes for use in the local markets. Some of these circular, others hexagonal or octagonal. A few of them carried full inscriptions indicating that they were intended for Johor, but the majority were inscribed only with the title such as “ Malik Al Adil” ( The Just King).
This tree was moulded by pouring molten tin though an opening in a mould which runs along a central channel into the side branches and finally into the coin moulds where the katun were cast. After the metal had cooled and hardened, the katuns were broken off and the excess metal of the central stem and brances was re smelted for further use.
Comparing this coins’ tree with my other katuns, I could match this katun with type C katun, hexagonal and class IV as outlined in Saran Singh’s The Encyclopaedia of The Coins of Malaysia Singapore & Brunei, page 123 ( SS30). The obverse was inscribed in Arabic, “Haza Al Masruf” means “ This is petty money” whereas the reverse of this katun was inscribed with “ Dar Al Johora” means “ of the city of Johor”. It has hexagonal shape with plain edge and typical weight of 1.7 gm each. Diameter range from 18-20mm. Made of tin and quite rare per se and RRRR if with the tree.
Interestingly, this tree has a “Kris” shape whereas coins’ tree from other Malay empires has a normal straight branch shape. “ Kris” is a asymmetrical dagger/sword indigenous to Malay world. It has a wavy blade.
This piece is absolutely a priceless relic.

The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel

I found this article written by Dr. Antonio Hernandez in June 2005 is very interesting. It sheds some light on where they are now.

The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel

There is fascinating evidence that the Lost Tribes of Jews do exist today.
Of the twelve tribes making up the Southern and Northern Kingdoms of Israel (thirteen if one counts the Tribe of LEVI as a tribe), nine are said to be "lost". (One of them, DAN, was found in the Falasha Jews of Ethiopia in the early 1980s, and are now relocated in Israel.)

In the 8 century B.C., the Assyrians moved on the Northern kingdom of Israel_ the ancestral home of the ten tribes plus the tribe of LEVI. The Assyrians first enslaved and later scattered the Ten Tribes. The record is clear: these Israelites spread, settled certain regions, and remained alive. For an anthropologist or historian, the proof of extinction of a people must be inarguable. This proof does not exist with the Lost Tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel ; in fact, the opposite is true.

But there is fascinating evidence that the Lost Tribes of Jews do exist today. It must be remembered that Mosaic Law, the modern Jewish Halachah, was dictated or written ca. 1100 B.C. With that in mind, it must then be noted that the Diaspora of the Northern Tribes is not to be confused with the original Babylonian Diaspora.
While not lost in the sense of lost civilizations, the accepted meaning is that the nine tribes dissipated into the global community, beyond recognition. The tribes of JUDAH, BENJAMIN and LEVI are called by the prophet Ezekiel the "Staff of Judah"; the ten tribes are collectively called the "Staff of Joseph". In the end, all tribes are reunited and the two staves are joined once again. The 10 Lost Tribes are:
1. GAD
5. DAN (found and confirmed, late 1980s)
6. ZEBULON (ZEBULUN, ZEVULON, a.k.a. brother to NAFTALI tribe)
This list does not count the priestly and priest-assistant 'tribe' of LEVI.

Let us parse carefully the bare facts and findings:
1. According to accepted lore, King Solomon died 2,900 years ago, roughly ca. the year 895 B.C. He left behind a son named Afghan (Aván), about whom we shall later read more. The North Kingdom consisted of the ten tribes; the South Kingdom was the home of the other tribes, JUDAH and BENJAMIN. Most Jews today claim descent from JUDAH, rightly or wrongly.

2. The kingdoms split and the Assyrians took the ten lost tribes into captivity. It is possible the Assyrians reached Europe in their march west. 722_721 B.C. are the accepted dates for the actual diaspora of the lost tribes. By this time, many Jews had been assimilated by the Assyrians anyway. Interestingly, Assyrian friezes and bas relief show the Jews wearing full-sized yarmulkes, a sort of ancient identifier easy to recognize today.

3. The Assyrians kept the Samarian (Samaritan) Jews– that is, the native Israelite Jews from the Northern capital city of Samaria– to serve in the military as charioteers. The Israelite Tribes' capital city was Samaria; Jerusalem was the Southern Kingdom's capital. In modern Uzbekistan, which was once part of the USSR and is home to the great cities of Bokhara and Samarkand (which is Uzbekistani for "Samarian City"), there is a Jewish enclave still in existence, comprised of Samarian Jews. They live mainly in Samarkand, which is named after them. This gives the lie to the thought that modern Samaritans are separate from and enemies of the Jews, for they are Jews too. Uzbekistan, which lies precisely north of Iran, is a fascinating region, a prime stop along the old Silk Road. It is a sort of stop-gap between the Middle East and Eurasia.

4. NAFTALI apparently traveled into Iran and Afghanistan, and was thought to have been lost there. Though the Naftalites could be ancestors of a mysterious community of Jews living in Bokhara, Uzbekistan, this is in doubt: Simcha Jacobovici thinks the mysterious Bokharan Jews are of the tribe of ISSACHAR. But there are many Bokharan Jews who do seem to belong to NAFTALI. The Bokharan Jews resemble Polish or Bulgarian Jews, but could be early Sefardic Jews. One known culture of people not mentioned, the ancient Nabatu (Nabataeans or Nabateans) of Jordan, builders of the city of Petra in Jordan, is not mentioned or addressed by Jacobovici. But these people may well have been of the Tribe of NAFTALI, and their work shows Jewish Greek influence. Jacobovici did find evidence of a people known as Eftalites or Neftalites, whose kingdom spread from Uzbekistan to northwestern India and Nepal from the A.D. 5–6 centuries. Oddly, at the very same time, a kingdom known as the Afridi– presumably the tribe of EPHRAIM– ruled parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan at exactly the same time.

5. NAFTALI (NAFTALI): the hidden Jewish past of Bokhara City and Uzbekistan itself is deep and embarrassing, as Jacobovici discovered. All traces of this history are kept buried. There seems to be a history from the A.D. 6th to 5th centuries, of a Central Asian kingdom known as the Ephtalite or Hephtalite Empire. It is often named but has virtually no history_ but the name reminds one of the Naftalites. Again, this could be one and the same people as the mysterious Nabatu of Petra, Jordan. Most Bokharan Jews of certain origin are now in Israel. Most of these Bokharan Jews seem to be Ashkenazim. Quite a few Naftalite Jews remain in Bokhara, though many are migrating toward Israel. They maintain that they are of the tribe of JUDAH, and perhaps their own tradition should be respected and accepted.

6. DAN: in the early 1990s, Jacobovici and Ashkenazi Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail set out to research the last known locations of each tribe, following the accepted historical routes they are supposed to have taken. In the early 1980s, Jacobovici documented the plight of the Ethiopian Jews, the Falshas, who have since been confirmed as the lost tribe of DAN, and have been airlifted to Israel in their entirety (in 1991). The Falshas, from the area of the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia, are accepted as being the sole remnants of the tribe of DAN, though there may very well be Danites among the Lemba Jews of South Africa.

7. MANASSEH (MENASHE): near the Gaza Strip there exists a community of Jews from the India-Burma border area, mainly from India, and are assumed by Israelis to be Thai guest workers. Calling themselves the M_n-mase, they are believed to be the lost tribe of MANASSEH (MENASHE). Most of these people remain in Manipur, India. Most compelling about them is that they are guerrillas, fighting for an independent Israeli state in India. In India, the lost tribe of MANASSEH (MENASHE) numbers 1.5 million or more. They have fought for an independent Israeli state within India, and are much hated by their neighbors. They look Burmese or Thai, and are regarded as alien trespassers. They are aware that they follow Mosaic Law, and once had priests (LEVI kohanim) among them. It is odd that there are numerous of these same people living in Bombay– though identifying with the ZEBULUN tribe, they look Indian and refer to themselves simply as bene Israel. Most compelling is that they are aware that they are not bene Yehudi (Judaean) Jews, but bene Israeli Jews. These Bombay Jews claim their ancestors were shipwrecked Israelites who had sailed from Israel 2,000 years ago; they carefully distinguish themselves from the Bene Yehudi, whom they consider "descendants of Indian Jews originally from Baghdad."
The presence of Chinese Jews in Kai-feng (see 9 below) made scholars think that the tribe of MANASSEH (MENASHE) had also reached China. The tribe of ZEBULUN (ZEVULON) is the brother tribe of NAFTALI (NAFTALI). The Zebulunites known to exist today in Bombay, India, numbering some 5,000-6,000, are probably one and the same as the Menassehites. They have a special devotion toward the prophet Elijah, and believe Elijah was taken up into heaven in God's chariot from Bombay, India.

8. NAFTALI (NAFTALI) seemed to have reached China. In the city of Kai-feng there exists a community of Jewish descent, known today as the "Jews of Kai-feng" referenced simply as Chinese Jews. These people are labeled variously as Ju-dai, Yo-da, or Yu-dai, meaning "Jew". These Chinese Jews seem fully Chinese, but many have Semitic features and sentiments. They ardently desire to go to Israel, mainly because of their feeling of spiritual isolation. Among the Chinese Jews there were many synagogues and rabbis until the start of the cultural revolution. One old Chinese Jewish man stated that the synagogues fell into ruin after the community was scattered and the rabbis left. Another elderly Chinese Jew, when asked if he was "Yo-dai" (another linguistic variant), he replied in the affirmative, adding enthusiastically in heavily accented English, "I am Jewish, I am Jewish!"

9. ZEBULUN (ZEVULON): At the same time the so-called "Nephtalite" Empire was ruling central Asia, an empire known as Z_vula was ruling in adjoining parts of India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is some speculation that these Zebulunites of Bombay are actually Naftalites, though it seems improbable given the existence of a Zebulunite tribal empire equal to the Naftalites tribal empire. In light of all the Indian and Chinese Jews today, there can be little doubt that at the very least, all these people are Israelite Jews, sharing common stories and heritage. They themselves quash the issue by simply insisting that they are bene Israel, Israeli Jews, without further concern as to tribe.

10. NAFTALI (NAFTALI): Interestingly, the Jews of Bombay think of themselves as descendants of shipwrecked Naftalites. Their cemetery is just outside Bombay, with grave markers that resemble Semitic ship anchors. Oddly, the graves have been shown to be both Naftalite and Zebulunite. Thus the Jews of Bombay are tied to the tribe of MANASSEH (MENASHE). Those of the community of Bombay who have immigrated to Israel immediately moved to the old lands once occupied by ZEBULUN (ZEVULON). There they congregate at Elijah's Cave.

11. EFRAIM: Turkey, Iraq and Syria were once homes to many Jews. Afghanistan (Avánestan) still is home to Jews. The Khyber Pass (in Hebrew, Havor), well known as the only overland route into the Hindu Kush and India, lying in Afghanistan and stretching to Pakistan, is well guarded. The Afghani Pathan people, who call themselves Puchtun, are thought to be Jews but are of uncertain origin. The Pathan Jews believe that King Solomon's son Afghan is their ancestor. Scholars think the Afghani Pathan Jews are of the tribe of EFRAIM, descendants of whom seem most common in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They themselves merely call themselves Mosakhel, descendants of Moses.

12. EFRAIM: Puchtun Jews practice a sort of Judaeo-Islam religion known as Puchtunwali_ it is clearly a stark Old Testament set of laws. These Jews say of themselves that when faced with true issues, they follow Puchtunwali and not the Muslim Koran. Thus they can be said to adhere to Old Testament law, unadorned and unsoftened. The city of Jilalabad in Pakistan is also home to Pathans. The proper Afghani Jewish community fled the country in the 1980s after the Russian invasion. Jacobovici, claiming the tradition that EFRAIM and MENASSEH will lead the exodus back into Israel, points out that the number of Jews and the number of Puchtun in the world today is nearly identical.

13. REUVEN (RUBEN), GAD, and SIMON (SHIMON) as well as EFRAIM, make their home in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The defeated Afghani Taliban regime is made up of such Jews, who are of course practicing Muslims. They do not like talking about their Jewish heritage_ perhaps they are too conscious of it. Nonetheless, the Afghani Jews also call themselves Bani (Bene) Israel, "Israelites". It is odd that these people are some of the most anti-Semitic people on earth.

14. Afghani Jews in Israel live mainly in the city of Tel Aviv today. They chuckle at the memory of the Pathans and the Mosakhel, recalling that these groups thought themselves to be "more Jewish than the Jews." The Pathans seem to be from the tribe of EFRAIM and a few MANASSEH (MENASHE).

15. MANASSEH (MENASHE): 2,300 years ago, Jews in Afghanistan and Pakistan were persecuted. They are absolutely hated there today. Most fascinating of all was the discovery of Buddhist Law petroglyphs, placed there by the Emperor Ashoka in the 4th century B.C., written in Hebrew and Aramaic. It beggars the imagination: Buddhist Dharma written in Aramaic for the sake of Jewish communities in Afghanistan! It suggests that Jews were well known to the Buddhist Indians, and highly regarded by them.

16. LEVI was never found as a tribe per se, nor were self-proclaimed Levites found, other than the Ile de Djerba Kohanim (see 18 below). LEVI is comprised of the descendants of Aharon, the 'brother' of Moses, and his two sons. Levites are priests and priests' attendants, and LEVI is certainly alive and well all over the world. They make up a strong portion of any Jewish community_ even among the Bene Lemba, in which the Kohain ("priests") are called Buba. Thus it is strongly contended that LEVI lives scattered amongst all the Jews, known and unknown.

17. LEVI: Off the coast of Tunisia on the Ile de Djerba (Isla de Yerba), there was discovered an entire community of LEVI Jews. They claim to be ritually pure priests, awaiting the day of the shofar blast that calls all Jews back to Eretz Yisroel (Yisrael) under the Messiah. Then they will be at the ready, eager to serve at the restored Temple in Jerusalem. This Jewish community is famous for its silversmithing, and is generally recognized as the oldest Jewish community on earth. These Kohanim arrived on the island after the destruction of the 1st Temple. Strangely, many of them have Sefardic surnames.

18. ASHER was never found, nor even traces of its possible routes. Scholars expected to find Asherite Levites on the Ile de Djerba_ that is to say, Levites accompanying the Asherites. None were found that could be authenticated in any way. More thoughts about the tribe of ASHER will be offered in the conclusion.

19. MANASSEH (MENASHE): Though the Indian M_nmase Jewish community, the largest by far, was admonished by Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail to remain in India until the coming of the Messiah, they are pouring into Israel. It seems that all these scattered Jewish enclaves are anxiously immigrating to Israel- those who are able, in any case. These self-styled Bene Israel Indians (and the Ethiopian Jews back in the 1990s) comprise the largest number of émigrés to Israel.

The tribe of ASHER, if any remnants of it exist, could be anyplace_ or everywhere. Tunisia, Morocco and of course Europe are suspected as the most likely sites for the settlement of ASHER. The Caucasus Mountains in eastern Europe is as likely a place as any for the location of ASHER. Some scholars think the Sefardic Jews are Asherites, though the Sefardim, like all Jews, claim descent from the tribe of JUDAH.

In the Southern United States, from southern Illinois to the Appalachian Mountain region, there exists a group of possible Jews. Known as Melungeons, many of them claim Jewish heritage. They are a perfect example of the trouble in hunting for old cultures; they are so racially mixed that there is no possibility of tracing their true origins without mtDNA testing for the Kohain (Kohen) Modal Haplotite. (This mtDNA result is the only conclusive DNA test to confirm Jewish ethnicity. It is found in more than 50% of the Jewish population of the planet, as opposed to being present in less than 10% of any other given population tested so far.)

Japan has long been suspected as a home of lost tribe communities. The Japanese language has many ancient Semitic words, and Jewish names, such as the surname Katsu ("Katz") and the given name J_shuya, are common. Another instance is the Hebrew term Kissu'i Rosh, meaning "to cover the head", which may have been a sort of title for scribes and rabbis. In Japanese, Hissui (Kissui) Roshi means "jade master".
Japan is famous for its indigenous, Eskimo-like Caucasian tribe called Ainu. There has never been speculation about the Ainu people being one of the Lost Tribes, but interestingly, they follow a general code of conduct similar to the Jewish one, and the men grow great, long beards. Most fascinating of all is the tribe's name: Ainu, which sounds like the Hebrew word for "father", avinu. Though perhaps ASHER landed in Japan, it seems more likely that any Jewish blood in Japan is of the tribes of NAFTALI (NAFTALI), MANASSEH (MENASHE) and ZEBULUN (ZEVULON). It seems ASHER is the most divided_ and perhaps permanently lost_ of the tribes. Japan must also be accepted as a possible haven for post-expulsion Sefardic refugees.

The Bene Lemba Jews of South Africa, scientifically proved to be Jews, are comprised of nearly every tribe, including LEVI. The Lemba seem to be closely related to Afghani/Pathan Jews, as they share surnames with them, such as Tsadikki and Suleimani. The Lemba Jews call themselves not only Bene Lemba but also "Israelites". There is a cause to move the Lemba Tribe in its entirety to Israel, but the Lemba prefer that the Messiah take them there.

Thus ends the search for the lost tribes of Israel. They were there all along, well known throughout history and outcast for their beliefs. Scholars and Jews themselves rejected these peoples' claims to Jewish identity, and Christian explorers are largely responsible for the revelation of many of these Jewish enclaves. It is saddening that most Jewish scholars totally reject the claims of these peoples' Judaism out of hand. But again, to counter the old argument that the Lost Tribes were assimilated, we do not have any proof that these people disappeared. Such proof is needed before a blanket statement as to their extinction can be pronounced.
Prominent Jewish scholars view the newly found peoples as late-coming moochers, seeking refuge in Israel_ or at least in the Jewish community_ to escape persecution in their respective native lands. Such scholars have stated that these 'lost tribe' Jews are no more than outcaste people who cling undeservingly to the Jewish dream. Perhaps the fear among Jewish scholars is that most people on earth will one day be revealed to be Jews!

Nevertheless, scholars who reject the Lost Tribes are at least willing to leave them in peace. They refuse to recognize that the tribes are not at peace, since in their "native" lands, they are as hated as any Jews have been. It is no wonder they wish to rejoin their brethren. Those Jews who seek to assist Lost Tribe folk are not helping. They are insisting on inflicting formal conversion ceremonies to "bring back into Judaism" these Lost Tribe peoples. And that is in itself a vote of no confidence for the Lost Tribes peoples.

§The SAMARITANS, considered by Jews to be unclean, arrogant heretics and excommunicated enemies of Israel due to alleged Assyrian allegiance, continue to live and practice the ancient form of Judaism in Syria, Israel and parts of Uzbekistan. The Jews claim that today Samaritan practice is too Muslim, just as they outcaste them originally for allegedly cooperating with the Assyrian Empire. In Uzbekistan, they have, of course, assimilated into the general Jewish population– much of which was probably Samarian to begin with: and Samaria was the capital of the Israelite Jews' Northern Kingdom.

Correct history for the Samarians (Samaritans) tells us that the city of Samaria, Northern Israelite Kingdom, was built on a hill overlooking the main road to Jerusalem. The site was chosen by the Israelite King Omri, who reigned from 876 to 869 B.C. King Omri made Samaria the capital of the Northern Kingdom.

The Assyrian Conquest is related biblically at II Kings (17: 1-6, 24). The Assyrians replaced the Israelite Jews they expelled, with peoples from other conquered lands. Nevertheless, the remaining Samaritan Jews preserved the Samaritan Torah, allegedly an older written version of the modern Jewish Torah.

After the Assyrians fell, Samaria passed to the Babylonians and successive conquerors of Palestine. The Romans took the region and renamed the city "Sebaste"_ the modern village of Sebastiyeh (Sabastiyah) preserves the name. Today, Samaritan Jews continue to follow their version of the Torah. There are few left today, and these make their home near their ancient temple site at Mt. Gerizim, near N_bulus in the West Bank.
What is fascinating is that Jacobovici found among the Pathans and Puchtunwali practice the same kind of unforgiving Torah law as practiced by Samaritans. It is this fierce element that causes many scholars to misjudge the religious practice of Samaritan Jews as being tinged with Islam, though Islamic culture has had a deep impact on Samaritans in general.

The Jewish Historical Outline Leading Up To the Lost Tribes' Exile
Events below cover nearly all of the millennium from 1,100 to 100 B.C.:
Ca. 1100 = Moses' time, time of Pharaoh Rameses III. Note that the following books were composed roughly in this time, ± 100 years: Torah, Vedas, Gathas, and Avesta. This makes an inexorable link between the Scriptures and religions of the Jews, Hindus, Zoroastrians and Mithraics.
1000 = Prince Solomon builds the first temple. King David reigns, but has been told he is too impure to build. He provides for the building, but never gets to build.
Ca. 922-895 (?) = Solomon dies, David long gone.
722-721 = Assyrians sack Northern Kingdom of Israel, scattering the Ten Tribes of the North.
600s = Assyrians die out, but Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon takes Jerusalem, starting the Babylonian Exile.
500s = Jews in Babylonian Exile, by the Waters of Babylon [Iraq]. The synagogue/rabbinical traditions begin. Note also the following Scriptures were composed at this time: Confucian Books, Tao Te Ching, and the Dharmapada.
539 = Jews are freed by the Persian king who led the Babylonian Conquest, and are allowed to return to Jerusalem. There they meet the Samaritans, none of whom ever left. The second temple is started, but Samaritans resent the Jews coming back and taking everything. The Jews make war with Samaritans that will last to this day.
516 = The second temple is completed. According to the writers of the time, it is a sad sight compared to Solomon's Temple, which was totally destroyed, with pieces of it being carried back to Iraq.
Ca. 500s to 200s = Existence of "Neftalite" (from the Caucasus to Afghanistan) and "Zavulanite" (from Afghanistan to Pakistan/India) Kingdoms. These are presumed to be remnants of the lost tribes in toto_ but very likely not representative of all tribes.
Ca. 300s = Emperor Ashoka, in making/distributing the Dharma stelae, sends several written in Aramaic to the region of Afghanistan, proving it was still a well-known land of the Jews at this time. (One such stele was located by Jacobovici in the early 1990s, and is written in both Hebrew and Aramaic.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Book Review 03 : The Gospel of Barnabas

I will post a short summary of this controversial gospel called the Gospel of Barnabas. I purchased this gospel when I was a student in Colorado probably in 1995/1996. This Gospel is considered as an apocrypha as it's not canonised. This is a very controversial Gospel which promotes the Monotheism instead of Trinity and was claimed copied by St Barnabas during the first century. The full review & gospel can be seen at this link http://www.barnabas.net/

Title : The Gospel of Barnabas with notes from M.A. Yusseff
ISBN : 00892951331

Life of Barnabas

Barnabas was a Jew born in Cyrus. His name was Joses,and due to his devotion to the cause of Jesus, the other apostles had given him the surname of Barnabas; this term is variously translated as "Son of Consolation" or "Son of Exhortation".

He was a successful preacher with a magnetic personality. Any one tormented by the clash of creeds found solace and peace in his company. His eminence as a man who had been close to Jesus had made him a prominent member of the small group of disciples in Jerusalem who had gathered together after the disappearance of Jesus. They observed the Law of the Prophets, which Jesus had come, "not to destroy but, to fulfil" (Matthew 5:17). They continued to live as Jews and practiced what Jesus had taught them. That Christianity could ever be regarded as a new religion did not occur to any of them. They were devout and practicing Jews distinguished from their neighbours only by their faith in the message of Jesus.

In the beginning they did not organise themselves as a separate sect and did not have a synagogue of their own. There was nothing in the message of Jesus, as understood by them, to necessitate a break with Judaism. However, they incurred the enmity of the vested interests among the Jewish higher echelon. The conflict between the Jews and the followers of Jesus was started by the Jews because they felt that the Christians would undermine their authority.

ACTS 12: 25
"And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark."

ACTS 13: 1 and 2
"Now there was in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers, as Barnabas, and Simeon, that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrach, and Saul. "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said: Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

ACTS 14:11 to 15
"And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia. The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. "And they called Barnabas Jupiter, and Paul Mercurius. "Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. "Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out. "And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are thereon."

The gulf progressively began to widen. During the siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Christians left the city; and refused to take part in the Bar Coachaba rebellion in 132 A.D. These two events brought to the surface the difference between the Christians and the Jews.

The question of the origin of Jesus, his nature and relation to God, which later became so important, was not raised among these early disciples. That Jesus was a man super- naturally endowed by God was accepted without question. Nothing in the words of Jesus or the events in his life led them to modify this view. According to Aristides, one of the earliest apologists, the worship of the early Christians was more purely monotheistic even than of the Jews.

With the conversion of Paul a new period opened in Christian Theology. Paul's theology was based on his personal experience interpreted in the light of contemporary Greek thought. The theory of redemption was the child of his brain, a belief entirely unknown to the disciples of Jesus. Paul's theory involved the deification of Jesus.

The Pauline period in the history of the Christian Church saw a change of scene and principles. In place of the disciples, who had sat at the feet of Jesus, a new figure, who had not known Jesus, had come to the forefront. In place of Palestine, the Roman Empire became the scene of Christian activity. Instead of being a mere sect of Judaism, Christianity not only became independent of Judaism but also became independent of Jesus himself.

Paul was a Jewish inhabitant of Tarsus. He had spent a long time in Rome and was a Roman citizen. He realised the strong hold which the Roman religion had on the masses. The intellectuals were under the influence of Plato and Aristotle. Paul seems to have felt that it would not be possible to convert the masses in the Roman Empire without making mutual adjustments. But his practical wisdom was not acceptable to those who had seen and heard Jesus. However, in spite of their difference, they decided to work together for the common cause.

As recorded in the Acts, Barnabas represented those who had become personal disciples of Jesus, and Paul co-operated with them for some time. But finally they fell out. Paul wanted to give up the Commandments given through Moses about things to eat; he wanted to give up the Commandment given through Abraham regarding circumcision. Barnabas and the other personal disciples disagreed. The following sentences in the Acts give a hint of the rift:

"And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved."
"When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissen- sion and disputations with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question" (Acts 14:1 and 2).

After this rift, there was a parting of the ways. In the Acts, Barnabas disappears after the rift, because the recording of the acts of the Apostles was done by the followers of Paul. Because of Paul's compromise with Roman beliefs and legends, Pauline Christians grew in number and grew in strength. A stage was later reached when kings were used as pawns to further the ends of the Church.

The followers of Barnabas never developed a central organization. Yet due to the devotion of their leaders their number increased very fast. These Christians incurred the wrath of the Church and systematic effort was made to destroy them and to obliterate all traces of their existence including books and churches. The lesson of history, however, is that it is very difficult to destroy faith by force. Their lack of organization became a source of strength because it was not so easy to pick them up one by one.

Modern research has brought to light odd facts about these Christians. They are like the crests of waves and looking at them one can visualise a whole body of ocean not yet visible.

We notice that up to the 4th century A.D. there existed a sect known as Hypisistarians who refused to worship God as father. They revered Him as an All Mighty Ruler of the world, He was the Highest of all and no one was equal to Him. Paul of Samasata was a Bishop of Antioch. He was of the view that Christ was not God but a man and a prophet. He differed only in degree from prophets who came before him and that God could not have become man substantially. Then we come across another Bishop of Antioch viz Lucian. As a Bishop his reputation for sanctity was not less than his fame as a scholar. He came down strongly against the belief of Trinity. He deleted all mention of Trinity from the Bible as he believed it to be a later interpolation not found in the earlier Gospels. He was martyred in 312 A.D.
Next we come to the famous disciple of Lucian viz Arius (250-336 A.D.) He was a Libyan by birth. Peter Bishop of Alexandria ordained him a Deacon but later excommunicated him. Achilles the successor of Peter again ordained Arius as priest. Alexander the next Bishop of Alexandria once again excommunicated him. Arius however had gathered such a large following that he became a headache for the Church. If kept out of Church he could be a great danger to her but he could not be accommodated within the Church as he wanted to establish the unity and simplicity of the Eternal God. He believed that how so ever much Christ may surpass other created beings he himself was not of the same substance as God. He was as human being as any other man. The teaching of Arius spread like wild fire and shook the very foundation of the Pauline Church. The controversy that was simmering for three hundred years suddenly became a conflagration. No man dared to oppose the organized Church but Arius did,and remained a headache for her whether he was ordained a priest or was excommunicated. During this time two events changed the history of Europe.
Emperor Constantine brought a greater part of Europe under his rule and secondly he began to support the Christians without accepting Christianity. To the soldier prince the different creeds within the Christian faith were very confusing. In the Imperial Palace itself the controve sy was raging not less fiercely. It appears that perhaps the Queen Mother was inclined towards Pauline Christianity while his sister Princess Constantina was a disciple of Arius. The Emperor was wavering between the two faiths. As an administrator he was interested only in uniting all the Christians within one Church. It was at this time that the conflict between Arius and Bishop Alexander became so widespread and so violent that it became a law and order problem. So the Emperor anxious to maintain peace in the newly unified Europe had to intervene.

In 325 A.D. a meeting of all denominations of Christianity was called at Nicea (Now Isnik, a village). Bishop Alexander was not able to attend the conference and he deputed his lieutenant Athanasius, who subsequently succeeded Alexander as Bishop of Alexandria.

The conference had many prolonged sessions. Emperor Constantine could not grasp the full implications of the ecclesiastical confrontation, but he was very clear in his mind that for maintaining peace in his realm the support and cooperation of the Church was necessary. Accordingly he threw his weight behind Athanasius and banished Arius from the realm. Thus the belief of Trinity became the official religion of the empire. Fearful massacre of Christians who did not believe in Trinity followed. It became a penal offense to possess a Bible not authorized by the Church and according to some estimates as many as 270 different versions of the Bible were burnt. Princess Constantina was not happy at the turn of events. The Emperor ultimately was persuaded to accept the faith of the men he killed. The result was that Arius was called back in 346. The day Arius was scheduled to visit the Cathedral of Constantinople in triumph, he died suddenly. The Church called it a miracle. The Emperor knew it was a murder. He banished Athanasius and two other Bishops. The Emperor then formally accepted Christianity and was baptized by an Arian Bishop. Thus Monotheism became the official religion. Constantine died in 337. The next Emperor Constantanius also accepted the faith of Arius. In 341 a conference was held in Antioch and Monotheism was accepted as a correct interpretation of Christian faith. This view was confirmed by another Council held in Sirmium in 351. As a result Arianism was accepted by an overwhelming majority of Christians. St. Jerome wrote in 359 that 'the whole world groaned and marvelled to find itself Arian'.

In this context the next important figure is that of Pope Honorius. A contemporary of Prophet Mohammed (peace be on him) he saw the rising tide of Islam whose tenets very much r esembled those of Arius. As the mutual killings of Christians was still fresh in his memory he perhaps thought of finding a via media between Islam and Christianity. In his letters he began to support the doctrine of 'one mind', because if God has three independent minds the result would be chaos. The logical conclusion pointed to the belief in the existence of one God. This doctrine was not officially challenged for about half a century. Pope Honorius died in October 638. In 680, i.e. 42 years after his death, a council was held in Constantinople where Pope Honorius was anathematized. This event is unique in the history of Papacy when a Pope was denounced by a succeeding Pope and the Church.

The next two personalities of this faith that deserve mention were members of the same family. L. F. M. Sozzini (1525- 1565) was native of Siena. In 1547 he came under the influence of Camillo a Sicilian mystic. His fame spread in Switzerland He challenged Calvin on the doctrine of Trinity. He amplified the doctrine of Arius, denied the divinity of Christ and repudiated the doctrine of original sin and atonement. The object of adoration according to him could only be the one and only one God. He was followed by his nephew F. P. Sozzini (1539- 1604). In 1562 he published a work on St. John's Gospel denying the divinity of Jesus. In 1578 he went to Klausonburg in Transylvania whose ruler John Sigisumud was against the doctrine of Trinity. Here Bishop Francis David (1510-1579) was fiercely anti-Trinitarian. This led to the formation of a sect known as Racovian Catechism. It derives its name from Racow in Poland. This city became the stronghold of the faith of Arius.
Among the present-day Christians a large number of men and women still believe in one God. They are not always vocal. Due to the crushing power of the Churches they cannot express themselves and there is not much communication between them.

In the end it will be of interest to quote Athanasius the champion of Trinity. He says that whenever he forced his understanding to meditate on the divinity of Jesus his toilsome and unavailing efforts recoil on themselves, that the more he wrote the less capable was he of expressing his thoughts. At another place he pronounces his creed as:-

There are not three but "ONE GOD".
The Gospel of Barnabas was accepted as a Canonical Gospel in the Churches of Alexandria till 325 C.E. Iranaeus (130-200) wrote in support of pure monotheism and opposed Paul for injecting into Christianity doctrines of the pagan Roman religion and Platonic philosophy. He had quoted extensively from the Gospel of Barnabas in support of his views. This shows that the Gospel of Barnabas was in circulation in the first and second centuries of Christianity.

In 325 C.E., the Nicene Council was held, where it was ordered that all original Gospels in Hebrew script should be destroyed. An Edict was issued that any one in possession of these Gospels will be put to death.

In 383 C.E., the Pope secured a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas and kept it in his private library.

In the fourth year of Emperor Zeno (478 C.E. ), the remains of Barnabas were discovered and there was found on his breast a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas written by his own hand. (Acia Sanctorum Boland Junii Tom II, Pages 422 and 450. Antwerp 1698) . The famous Vulgate Bible appears to be based on this Gospel.
Pope Sixtus (1585-90) had a friend, Fra Marino. He found the Gospel of Barnabas in the private library of the Pope. Fra Marino was interested because he had read the writings of Iranaeus where Barnabas had been profusely quoted. The Italian manuscript passed through different hands till it reached "a person of great name and authority" in Amsterdam, "who during his life time was often heard to put a high value to this piece". After his death it came in the possession of J. E. Cramer, a Councillor of the King of Prussia. In 1713 Cramer presented this manuscript to the famous connoisseur of books, Prince Eugene of Savoy. In 1738 along with the library of the Prince it found its way into Hofbibliothek in Vienna. There it now rests.

Toland, in his "Miscellaneous Works" (published posthumously in 1747), in Vol. I, page 380, mentions that the Gospel of Barnabas was still extant. In Chapter XV he refers to the Glasian Decree of 496 C.E. where "Evangelium Barnabe" is included in the list of forbidden books. Prior to that it had been forbidden by Pope Innocent in 465 C.E. and by the Decree of the Western Churches in 382 C.E.

Barnabas is also mentioned in the Stichometry of Nicephorus Serial No. 3, Epistle of Barnabas . . . Lines 1, 300.
Then again in the list of Sixty Books
Serial No. 17. Travels and teaching of the Apostles.
Serial No. 18. Epistle of Barnabas.
Serial No. 24. Gospel According to Barnabas.

A Greek version of the Gospel of Barnabas is also found in a solitary fragment. The rest is burnt.

The Latin text was translated into English by Mr. and Mrs. Ragg and was printed at the Clarendon Press in Oxford. It was published by the Oxford University Press in 1907. This English translation mysteriously disappeared from the market. Two copies of this translation are known to exist, one in the British Museum and the other in the Library of the Congress, Washington, DC. The first edition was from a micro-film copy of the book in the Library of the Congress, Washington, DC.

Reference : This text is taken from the book published by The Quran Council of Pakistan, 11 A, 4th North Street, Defence Housing Society, Karachi-4, Pakistan.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Book Review 01: Dead Sea Scrolls Deception

I purchased this book from Border bookstore, Rundle Mall in 2008. This is a very interesting & controversial book. It was written by Michael Baigent & Richard Leigh. I would recommend you to buy and read this book with open mind then only then you could understand the messages conveyed.

Title : The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception
Authors : Michael Baigent & Richard Leigh
ISBN : 9780099257035
Purchased price :AUD28.95

This book is about the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran, Jordan and how its discovery has led to manipulation & exploitation by certain group of people - religiously & politically.

The writers have revealed how the people in charge in deciphering & restoring the scrolls attempted to hide the truth of the deciphering results in order to comply with the order of the Catholic church- Vatican.

These scrolls were carbon dated circa 1st century CE and not preChristian era. Hence the content of these scrolls are much closer to the original teachings of the Judaism as well as the earliest Christian Jews. Surprising to see that there is a lot of disagreement in contents if we were to compare these scrolls with our current Old testament.

This book also talked about the Essenes, the group of people who deemed owner of these scrolls. There are few views who this Essene is. Traditionally, Essenes is referred as a deviated sect in Judaism whom keeping aloof from the rest of the Judiasm society. However with the evidences of the archaelogical excavation & the content of these scrolls, the definition of this Essenes needs to be reviewed. The writers strongly believed that this Essenes sect is none other than the early Christians ( mainly from Jews background) who try to save their faith & scrolls from being contaminated by the Pagan Roman in jerusalem & "Pauline" Christians. They were also believed to be the follower of James ( Jesus's brother). During early Christianity there was a conflict in teachings between James's & Paul's. Paul was deemed trying to contaminate the true teaching of Jesus by instilling the divinity of Jesus and abandoning the practice of the Judaism Law.
In one of the scrolls - Habakkuk Commentary, there is narration about few characters such as "Teacher of Righteousness", "Liar" * "Wicked Priest". Since it's common in Jew tradition not to single out name, the authors of this book believed that this narration is about the conflict that happened during the early Christian era. Based on the similarity of the events in this narration and the conflict between James & Paul, they believed "Teacher of Righteousness" was referred to James, whereas "Liar" was referred to Paul and "Wicked Priest" was meant for Ananas.
In short , the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls is really a blow to the modern Christianity. There are numerous places in Modern Bible which are not comformant with these scrolls. The core teaching of Modern Christianity is totally different than the core teaching of the early Christians. We knew there was a conflict between James & Paul during this era. James, brother of Jesus, and has been an ardent follower of Jesus during his time, tried to keep Jesus teaching as it was but was prosecuted as well as his followers. Whereas, paul, has never seen Jesus and never became jesus follower during his life, even prosecuted early Christians, just happened to repent and claimed to see Jesus in his day-dream ordering him to spread Christianity. He managed to pull a larger crowd towards Christianity with his own intrepretation though suffered some prosecutions at early stages. His doctrine & teaching was canonized during the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E and from then on it became the standard accepted "Pauline" Christianity a.k.a Catholic.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ancient Manuscript Review 01 : Antique Ottoman Quran 1858 C.E

This is an Ottoman-era Quran acquired from Istanbul in 2006.
Scroll down to see the full spec.
The thing that make this Quran interesting is its small size. Its dimension is 140x110mm. Most of Ottoman Qurans in my collections are much bigger ~200x120mm. This Quran is nicely written with one of the most beautiful calligraphy. It's very neat and the illumination is superb. This is one of my favorite collections.

Quran Specs :
Complete Koran
140 x 110 mm
Decorated Hardcover binding
Clear Naskhi script in black ink within a blue/red frame with gold discs between verses
Vowels and diacritical signs are in red & black
Notes in margin
Multicolored Floral medallion at margin
Copiyst : Al Haj Hafiz Waliyuddin As Syukri
Date : 1275 AH ( 1858 AD)

Ancient Coin Review 02 : Sultan Alaudin Riayat Shah 1- Johor Sultanate ( 1527 - 1564CE)

This is a gold coin from Sultan Alaudin Riayat Shah era. He was the son of the last Malacca Sultan, Sultan Mahmud Shah who fled from Malacca after the invasion of Portugese. He became the first ruler of Johor Empire in 1527CE.he set up his capital at Johor Lama situated on the Johor river. He promoted foreign trade and was able to attract a fair amount of commerce. However Johor was captured by Acheh in 1564CE and became its vassal state until the collapse of the Acheh Empire in 1641CE.

Octagonal gold coin ( kupang) under the rule of Johor Sultan Alaudin Riayat Shah 1 (1527-1564AD).

Similar coin was sold for SGD750 ( USD550) in Lot 189 in the Collectibles Auction Asia (CAA) Auction 5/2015 held on 18 April 2015 at Landmark Village Hotel, Singapore.

Obv: Sultan Alaudin
Rev: Khalifatul Mukmin
weight : 0.53gm
Dim : 12mm
Rarity : RR ( ref SS2)

Market Price : USD550

Ancient Coin Review 01 : Sultan Abdullah Haayat Shah - Johore Sultante( 1615-1623CE)

I bought this gold coin of this Johor Sultan in 2006. It costed me a fortune but I am glad I have it finally ( after a few installments). Bought this from a trader in Malacca. It is quite rare coin and listed as RRRR in Saran Singh's Encyclopedia of The Coins of Malaysia Singapore & Brunei, page 116.
Sultan Haayat Shah ruled the Empire of Johore from 1615-1623 CE. He is from the Malacca royal line.

This is a rare gold coin (kupang )from Sultan Abdullah Haayat Shah ( 1615-1623CE) of Johore Sultanate.

Similar coin was sold for SGD1200 ( USD880) in Lot 189 in the Collectibles Auction Asia (CAA) Auction 5/2015 held on 18 April 2015 at Landmark Village Hotel, Singapore.

Obv: Sultan Abdullah Shah
Rev : Khalifatul Mukminin
wt: 0.62gm
dim: 14mm

Market Price : USD880

Words of Wisdom 01 : You are The One!!

I saw my Lord with the eye of my heart.I said ,” No doubt, You are the One, You are, You are “.
You are the One that has sensed every “where”, where there is no “where” but You.
There is no way for the “where” to know where are You, because there is no “where” except You.
No Imagination can contain You, because it will not be able to find how You are.
Your knowledge encompasses everything and in everything I see Your Oneness.In my annihilation my annihilation was annihilated, and in my annihilated annihilation I found You.