A Catholic Jew Pontificates

I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Fairy Queens: Fair Jewish Queens of Scotand of H2 mt-dna

The Fair Jewish Queen (Malcah Bahira) was also called the Fairy Queen in Scotland

The Dynasty of the Scottish Jewish Queens known as the Fair or White Queens in English and in Hebrew Malcah Bahira and in Scottish Gaelic as Banrigh Fionn were the H2 mt-dna descendants of King Menachem of the Khazars. After a split by those who followed a more Davidic Rabbinic form of Judaism with those who followed the Tengri-Judaic form, Menachem and the followers of the Tengri-Judaic Khazar religion (Kabars) moved west to Europe in the region of Transylvania and established a new Khazar state known as Bihar. The name of Bihar was the name of one of the ancestral Khazar Khagans (king or melekh). 

Menachem or Menumarot married Princess Adiva of England the daughter of King Alfred the Great. Adiva embraced the Tengri-Judaism of the Bihar Khazars which had a great devotion to the Mother Goddess or Sabbath Queen whose presence was seen as embodied in the Khazar Sacral Queen-Empress known as the Khagan Bek or Khagana Rebeka.  Queen Adiva of Bihar was the mother of Princess Men or Mena of Bihar who married Zoltan the Duke of Hungary. Mena's daughter Mariota of Hungary and Bihar was the wife of Aaron (Aharon) II the King or Khagan of Khazaria (d.940). Aaron II's brother Prince Judah was the father of Yochabel haKhagan the ancestress of the Dark Jewish Queens of Flanders and Scotland of J1b1a1 mt-dna. Yochabel was the 1st Dark Jewish Queen of the Khazar Jews and a daughter of Sybille a Rhadanite Jewess with raven black hair and olive skin.

Aaron II's son King Joseph of Khazaria (of R1a y-dna) fled Khazaria in 968 for the British Isles.  They selected King Joseph's sister Princess Agatha Bahira to be the new sacral Queen or Khagana Rebeka. She was the first of the Bahira or Fair Khazar Jewish Queens.  These Princesses from Bihar were blonde and fair and there was a word play between Bihara (of the Clan of Bihar) and Bahira (fair). Agatha's husband was Rognvald the Prince of Polatsk in Russia and of Waterford in Ireland. Her husband was descended from the Scandinavian Royal House of Waterford in Ireland. His ancestor had moved to Russia and become the Prince of Polatsk. Agatha married him while her brother was still King of Khazaria. Her daughter Rogneda the 2nd Fair Queen of the Khazars married Vladimir I the Ruling Prince of the Rus of Kiev. Their daughter also Rogneda married her relative Ragnall II King of Waterford and she was the first of the Sacral Queens descended from Adiva to move to the Isles. 

King Joseph and his family had already moved to Scotland and the Northern Isles around 968-9. King Joseph's grandson Prince Shlomo or Solomon (b.990 in Moray Scotland) married Ragna of Waterford and Dublin, the daughter of Ragnall II and Rogneda, who became the 3rd Fair Queen. Their son Margad became the King of Dublin. Margad's sister Agatha (b.962 Moray Scotland d. 1054 London) married Prince Edward Atheling in Hungary. Agatha's parents returned to Russia where Agatha's sister Margada married her relative Bryachislav Prince of Polatsk around 1040. Agatha's father Prince Solomon of the Scottish Khazars went to Hungary to assist his relative Andrew the White in claiming the throne of Hungary. It is here in Hungary that Edward the Exile, the Atheling heir to the English throne, met Agatha and married her around 1046.  King Andrew named his son Solomon after the father of Agatha. Agatha was the mother of St Margaret of Scotland the wife of Malcolm III King of Scots.

However it was Agatha's sister Ragna the 4th Fair Queen (Banrigh Fionn or Banrion Fairy) who remained Jewish and was the Queen of Dublin and Man (her husband was King Echmarcach). Her daughter Bride (Bracha) was the 5th Fair Jewish Queen who married Prince Solomon of Dublin. Their daughter Gormflaith succeeded her mother as the 6th Fair Jewish Queen who married Olaf Magnusson a prince of Norway and Dublin. At this time the Fair Jewish Queen was also associated with the term Fairy Queen (Banrion Fairy) by the Irish. She reigned from her palace which was near the present Dublin Castle. 

Queen Gormflaith's daughter Bride was the 7th Fair Jewish Queen who married Gilli the Jewish King of the Hebrides. Their daughter Agatha was the 8th Fair Jewish Queen who married Malcolm MacEth (of M222 y-dna) a Scottish Prince who was the Earl of Ross and Moray. Agatha's daughter Bride the 9th Fair Queen married the Khazar Prince Angus of the Isles and from this time the Fair Jewish Queens reigned from either the Isles or Moray and other places in Scotland. Bride's daughter Bethoc was the 10th Fair Jewish Queen who married Prince Ruari of the Isles. Their daughter Ragnhild the 11th Jewish Queen married Prince James of the Isles. Their daughter Euphemia (Elfame) (b.1222) was the 12th Fair Jewish Queen (Fairy Queen) who married Dugall MacRuari King of Kintyre and the Hebrides. The principal Palace or Abode of these Fair Jewish Queens was at Cnoc Rhaonastil on Islay which was believed by many to have been the residence of the Fairy Queen. Another of her abodes was at Schiehallion on the Scottish mainland. The Fairy Queen and her court were known to travel from residence to residence over the course of the year.


Euphemia or Elfame's daughter Agnes was the 13th Fair Jewish Queen who married Prince Iain MacDonald of the Isles a son of Alexander I King or Lord of the Isles and his wife Juliana. Their daughter Juliana was the 14th Fair Jewish Queen followed by her daughter Amie Ruari (MacRory) [1317-1350] who married John (Iain) I MacDonald of Islay the 7th King or Lord of the Isles. Their daughter was Margaret MacDonald the 15th Fair Jewish Queen who married Lord Donald MacKay of Strathnaver a descendant of Rebecca the 13th Dark Jewish Queen of the Khazars. She was the 1st Dark Jewish Queen of Scotland. Margaret MacDonald's daughter Margaret or Mariota MacKay was the 16th Fair Jewish Queen (Banrigh Fionn) who married the Dark Jewish King Keheh II MacIsaac (Lord Hugh). The area of the Eildon Hills and Melrose had been an abode of the Fair Jewish Queens or Fairy Queens since at least the 12th century and the families of Maxwell and Scott (R1b DF27 ZZ12) were part of these crypto-Jewish or Fairy families. It is said that the fairies left Galloway and Nithsdale in 1790 which may refer to the Jewish branch of the Maxwell family. These Jewish Maxwells were protected to a certain extent by the Catholic branch of the Maxwell family who were the Earls of Nithdale until 1716.

Under Catholic rule in Scotland the Jewish communities, while low key and secretive, had a certain tolerance as many of the aristocratic families were part of this hidden Jewish network. However with the advent of Protestantism in Scotland many of these Jewish women were accused of witchcraft if they followed the ancient practices of the Tengri and matriarchal influenced Judaism of the Khazars. Many Scottish families of Jewish origin have strong spiritual gifts such as second sight or premonition which are associated with the fae or fairy and they also use traditional herbal healing remedies. These practices and beliefs were demonised by the clergy and others. The figures of the Khazar Jewish Dark King and Queen and the Fair or Fairy Queen were associated with witchcraft and satanism. John Knox and his Calvinism was anti-matriarchal and promoted a unhealthy overemphasis on patriarchy rather than a balance between the two. This produced a society in which masculine rigidity and strictness based on the letter of the law over dominated. 

The Fair Jewish Queens descended from H2 mt-dna. They originated with Princess Asenath the Beautiful (Isnetnofret) who was a daughter of King Zedekiah the last King of Judah and his Egyptian-born Queen Tzaddah. Tzaddah maternally descended from Hephzibah the Queen Mother of Judah who was also Egyptian and a descendant of Nefertiti.  Adiva's immediate maternal ancestresses were from the Royal House of Mercia in Britain descended from Queen Redburga the wife of King Egbert I of England. 

Redburga was a Scandinavian Princess descended from King Ivar the Wide Fathom's daughter Hilda. Hilda's mother was a Frankish Princess descended from a long line of Frankish Princesses and Ladies of Metz going back to Queen Bertrude of Franks the wife of King Clothaire II of Franks. Her mother was a Jewish Princess from Persia descended maternally from Jewish Persian and Armenian princesses descended from Vahan I the Wolf  of Armenia and his wife a British Jewish or Gewisse Princess. She was in turn descended maternally from Irish and Gododdin Princesses which brings this maternal lineage full circle back to Scotland. Further back this lineage descends from Zenobia the Jewish Queen of Palmyra (born 240 AD). Zenobia was a maternal descendant of Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony. The Khazar maternal House of Kedi was also H2. The Fair Queens and the House of Kedi branch off from two of the daughters of Huna III the Babylonian Exilarch of the 4th century. The House of Kedi and the Fair Queens are probably both H2a1 mt-dna. 

Mary Queen of Scots belongs to another branch of H2 mt-dna and she and the Fairy Queens both descend from two of the daughters of Lady Doda of Metz of the 7th century. The Fairy Queens from Lady Rotrud (Ruth) of Neustria (b.674) and Mary Queen of Scots from Lady Doda (Dhoude) of Neustria (b.672). Their father was Chrodobertus (Reuben) Count of Neustria (Hesbaye). Lady Doda of Neustria married Mar David a son of Mar Chasdai II the Babylonian Exilarch and Lady Rotrud of Neustria married Lievin (Levi/Luitvin) of Hesbaye the Bishop of Treves and Guardian of the Grail Platter.


see

A Jewish sub-Kingdom in Medieval Scotland: DF105 y-dna




Tuesday, May 29, 2018

St Paul of Tarsus: Proud Torah Jew or Former Jew turned antinomian Christian?



Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus transformed him so that he had an inner conversion to faith in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. This Jewish Messiah would be the light for all nations. Was this however an experience that led to his conversion to a new religion that abandoned Jewish observances or did it deepen and broaden his understandings as one who remained solidly within the framework of the Jewish religion and culture? Scholars debate on both sides of this and seem to strongly disagree with each other.[1] A part of Paul’s call was to provide a religious structure for non-Jews (Gentiles) in which they could share with the Jewish believers in Jesus without becoming fully and ethnically Jewish.[2] In the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) he proclaimed his ideas of this freedom or dispensation from full Jewish Torah observance for Gentile believers and won the acceptance of the Jerusalem Church and its leaders (Galatians 2:2).[3] In this sense we can say that Paul did begin to establish a new religion for Gentiles. However it was not a new religion without any connection to Judaism.[4] Judaism was the roots and mother of this Gentile model of the Church. Some would describe this as a bilateral ecclesial Church of Jews and Gentiles.[5]

Many scholars will use Paul’s letters in the New Testament especially Galatians and Romans to work out what is Paul’s position in regards to his new Messianic faith and Judaism.[6] It is through the literary prism or icon of Acts 21 that one should read the epistles of Paul in order to evaluate Paul’s Damascus road experience (Acts 9:1-9; 22:1-21; 26:2-18) and his subsequent mission to the Jews and Gentiles. Paul under the guidance of the leaders of the Jerusalem Church set out to demonstrate that while he allows freedom from Torah observance for the new believers from among the Gentiles, he does not advocate such for believers from among the Jews.[7] This portion of Acts speaks approvingly of Jewish believers in Jesus maintaining the circumcision of their children and of them being zealous for the Torah observances (Acts 21:20-21). Paul elsewhere also affirms this when he speaks about the circumcised remaining circumcised (I Cor 7:18). In Romans he also writes that there is much value in being circumcised (Rom 3:1-2). Galatians 5:3 demonstrates that Paul believed that the one who is circumcised is called to full Torah observance.[8] Scholars such as Longnecker, Young, Lapide, Shulam and Nanos hold that Galatians 5:3 means that Jewish believers and anyone who converts to Judaism is obligated to full Jewish Torah observance.[9] [10] [11] [12] [13] Thus Paul himself must have remained Jewishly Torah observant.

Campbell, Nanos, Eisenbaum and Tucker have supported the interpretation that Paul was a Torah observant Jew after his Damascus road experience.[14], [15], [16], [17] Nanos in his study of Romans states that Paul is a good practicing Jew although shaped by his conviction that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel.[18] Paul is also a Jewish mystic. Paul’s mysticism is rooted in the Pharisee’s desire to enhance Jewish domestic holiness by applying Temple sanctity into the life and home of the Jewish devotee.[19] Ephesians 2 is an example of this Pauline Jewish mystical context that alludes to mystical insights in regards to the Temple to explain the mystery of salvation. However due to the more mystical nature of Ephesians and Colossians some scholars have claimed that these letters were not written by Paul at all. However two important scholars Campbell and Wright both consider Ephesians to be written by Paul.[20], [21]

Paul in Romans 3 says that the Torah should be established or upheld (Rom 3:31). Ephesians states “He abolished the Jewish Law with its commandments and rules” (Eph 2:15, GNT). This however is better translated as “Making void the law of commandments contained in decrees” (Eph 2:15, DRA). These “commandments in decrees” (dogmasin in Greek) refer to the eighteen rabbinic decrees (gezerot in Hebrew) enacted by the Sanhedrin under the control of the Beit Shammai Pharisees.[22] These eighteen gezerot made a much stricter separation between Jews and Gentiles.[23] That these gezerot are the ‘commandments in decrees’ that has been nailed to the Cross and abolished makes much more sense than Paul saying that the Jewish Torah has been abolished.[24] [25]

 Paul using this Temple theology or analogy refers to these gezerot as a dividing wall (mesotoichon in Greek and Soreg and Cheil in Hebrew) (Eph 2:14).[26] The original Temple had a court for the Gentiles but later the Soreg was introduced as a more strict separation of Jews and Gentiles.[27] Paul using the language of dividing walls and outer and inner courts alludes to the mystical Temple of the Messiah’s Body in which the dividing walls are broken down and those in the outer courts (women and Gentiles) are brought near in the Eucharistic Sacrifice and Body of the Messiah.[28] Thus the eighteen gezerot are abolished. This is confirmed in Peter’s vision of the sheet (Acts 10:11) and later Judaism would also abolish them.[29] [30]

The more mystical understanding of salvation in Paul (Gal 3:28) may then be understood that there are no barriers to salvation between groups or people even though they still have their distinct callings. This allows for the joining of Jews and Gentiles in the one family of Abraham.[31]. Paul confirms in Romans that God’s election of the Jews is irrevocable (Rom 11:29). Thus Paul after his Damascus Road experience is truly a Jewish prophet who is called to include the Gentiles in Israel’s inheritance without converting them to Judaism. While his place for Gentiles in the people of God has roots in the teachings of Beit Hillel, Paul provides a unique way or path for Gentiles who believe in Jesus as the Messiah. He does this while himself remaining a proud observant Jew and Pharisee (Phil 3:5; Acts 22:3,23:6). In Romans 11 Paul alludes to some great spiritual resurrection for the Gentiles and the world in the eschatological future as a result of the ‘ingrafting’ of the surviving Jewish community  into the Olive Tree that is the Church.


[1] Ian J. Elmer, Paul, Jerusalem and the Judaisers: the Galatian crisis in its broadest historical context (Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2009), 3-25.
[2] Harvey Falk, Jesus the Pharisee: A new look at the Jewishness of Jesus (Wipf and Stock Publishers: 2003): 19.
[3] The relationship of Paul with the Pillars of the Jerusalem Church is another area of scholarly debate. Depending on how the Greek of Galatians is translated can affect how one perceives this relationship.
[4] Falk, Jesus the Pharisee…, 19.
[5] Mark S. Kinzer, Searching Her Own Mystery: Nostra Aetate, the Jewish People, and the Identity of the Church, (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2015): 38, 218.
[6] Elmer, Paul, Jerusalem and the Judaisers…, 3-25.
[7] There were different levels of Torah observance among Jews. Some Jews like the Pharisees kept a more stringent form. There is nothing wrong with extra stringency when done from devotion either as individuals or as a group but should not be forced on other people or groups. Jesus often clashed with those who were trying to enforce extra stringencies on other Jews. The priests for example kept certain stringencies that were not meant to be forced on the lay Jews.
[8]Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law.” (Gal 5:3, NRSV).
[9] Richard Longenecker, Galatians, eds., Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker et al., Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1990): 41:226.
[10] Brad Young, Paul the Jewish Theologian: A Pharisee among Christians, Jews and Gentiles (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), 90.
[11] Pinchas Lapide and Peter Stulhmacher, Paul: Rabbi and Apostle, trans. Lawrence W. Denef (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 1984), 42.
[12] Hilary Le Cornu and Joseph Shulam, A Commentary on the Jewish Roots of Galatians (Jerusalem: Akademon, 2005): 327.
[13] Mark D. Nanos, The Irony of Galatians: Paul’s Letter in First Century Context (Fortress Press: Minneapolis MN, 2002), 253.
[14]  William S. Campbell, Paul and the Creation of Christian Identity (London: T&T Clark, 2008), 89-93.
[15] Mark D. Nanos, “The myth of the ‘Law-Free’ Paul standing between Christians and Jews,” Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations 4:1 (2009): 4. Accessed 30 April 2018. doi: 10.6017/scjr.v4i1.1511
[16] Pamela Eisenbaum, Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle (New York: HarperCollins, 2009), 252.
[17] Brian J. Tucker, ‘Remain in Your Calling:’ Paul and the Continuation of Social Identities in 1 Corinthians (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2011), 62-114.
[18] Mark D Nanos, The Mystery of Romans: The Jewish Context of Paul's Letter (Minneapolis MN: Fortress Press, 1996): 9.
[19] Albert Hogeterp, Paul and God's temple: a historical interpretation of cultic imagery in the Corinthian correspondence (Dudley, MA: Peeters Publishers, 2006), 55-57.
[20] Douglas A. Campbell, Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2014), 337.
[21] Nicholas Thomas Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2013), 60.
[22] Solomon Schechter and Julius H. Greenstone, Jewish Encyclopedia, “Gezerah,” 1906, accessed 28 April 2018, http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/6646-gezerah.
[23] Schechter and Greenstone, Jewish Encyclopedia, “Gezerah.”
[24]  Colossian 2:14 also refers to these dogmasin or gezerot which is translated as “handwriting in decrees”.
[25] Jesus saying in Matthew’s Gospel that the Torah was not abolished (Matt 5:17) seems to conflict with Ephesians saying the Law was abolished (Eph 2:15, NRSV) rather than just these rabbinic decrees being annulled when understood in its correct context.
[26] Clyde Weber Votaw, “The Temple at Jerusalem in Jesus' Day,” The Biblical World 23:3 (1904): 172-173. Accessed 1 May 2018, https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/473359.
[27] The Cheil is the stone wall and this is surmounted with lattice work and together they are called the Soreg. A sign threatening the death penalty for any Gentile passing this wall was hung on the wall.
[28] Tim Hegg, “The ‘Dividing Wall’ in Ephesians 2: 14: What is it? Who made it? How was it broken down?” accessed 1 May 2018, http://www.protorah.com/wpcontent/uploads/2014/12/The_Dividing_Wall_in_Ephesians_2_14.pdf.
[29] Schechter and Greenstone, Jewish Encyclopedia, “Gezerah.”
[30] This vision had nothing to do with the abolition of Kosher food laws but was referring to the 18 gezerot and their extensions of strict separation of Jews from Gentiles.
[31] Pamela Eisenbaum, “A remedy for having been born of woman: Jesus, Gentiles, and genealogy in Romans,” Journal of Biblical Literature 123:4 (2004): 671-702. Accessed 1 May 2018. doi: 10.2307/3268465

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

St. Paul and the Letter of Philemon: A Hellenistic Jewish Context


Philemon is the shortest letter of St Paul in the Bible however it can act as a door to understanding the much larger corpus of the Pauline Literature in its biblical and historical context. All Scripture including Philemon can be read at many levels and thus one can gain insights that relate to contemporary people and their modern concerns. However in order to read Scripture at different levels one needs to understand the literal historical level or sense first. While this historical level is primary it is not necessarily the most important or meaningful sense.[1] We all read Paul according to our own understanding or interpretation of the biblical and historical evidence and from one’s own world view and culture.

In recent years there has arisen a school of theology that is given the name of the ‘New Perspectives on Paul’ in which reference to the Jewish context of Paul is central. In fact Dunn calls this new perspective a quantum shift.[2] I would suggest that this occurred partly due to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948. The previous theological approach used by many Protestants was of the Higher Critical School which in the 20th century was taken on by many Catholic scholars. This German theology was at its very core anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish according to a number of authors.[3] These insights of the ‘New Perspective on Paul’ have caused many to not see Paul as an antinomian rebel but as one faithful to the Torah as represented in Acts 21. Rabbi Jacob Emden (1697-1776) a leader among the Litvak Jews of Eastern Europe in his famous letter proposed an interpretation of Paul as a faithful Torah observant Rabbi who only taught that Gentiles didn’t need to be Jewishly Torah Observant but insisted on full Torah observance for the circumcised.[4][5] This was demonstrated when Paul circumcised Timothy because he had a Jewish mother.[6] Paul taught in Galatians 5:3 that one who was circumcised was obligated to keep the whole Torah.

There are many diverse opinions among scholars of the context of Paul’s Letter to Philemon. However almost everyone is agreed that the letter was originally written in Greek. Certain puns or word plays in the Greek make this clear.[7] There is a word play or pun on Onesimus’ name, which means useful, in verse 11. Marchal perceives a more sexual connotation to the term ‘useful’ in regards to the use of slaves for sexual pleasure. Is Paul by the use of this pun letting Philemon know that Onesimus has revealed something more shocking in their relationship than just simple master and slave?[8] Is this Paul’s version of Jesus writing in the sand?[9]

Even though the letter is written in Greek one of a Jewish background can’t help but perceive the Jewish expressions behind the Greek words. An example is in verse 7 where a Jewish reader may detect simcha gedola (much joy) and Chizzuk (encouragement/strength) with its deeper Hebrew meaning under the Greek equivalents. Is this because Paul comes from Tarsus and as well as being a Pharisee he is also an educated Hellenistic Jew? It is also possible that Paul speaks to them in this manner because Philemon, Apphia and Archippus are Hellenistic Jews too. Eastern Orthodox Tradition holds that Philemon, Apphia and Archippus were of the seventy apostles (Shelikhim) and thus must have been Jewish.[10] This tradition holds that Apphia was the wife of Philemon and that with Archippus they went as Shelikhim to evangelise Colossae where Archippus became the Bishop (Parnas Hegemon). These traditions also say that Philemon became the Bishop of Gaza in Palestine. Other scholars think that Archippus was the son of Philemon and Apphia. If they were Hellenised Jews then this would explain Paul’s expectation that Philemon knows the obligations of the Torah.[11]  Paul doesn’t want to appeal to what is “anekon”( דזדקן righteous according to the Torah) but to love (agape/ahavah).[12] However by even mentioning “anekon” he has indeed reminded Philemon of his moral duty (chovah musarit) according to the Torah.

Most scholars believe that the Letter was written around 60-62 AD from Rome where Paul was imprisoned. Others hold that it was written almost a decade earlier and possibly from Ephesus.[13]  While most believe that Paul was actually in prison others believe the term ‘Prisoner of Jesus Christ’ has a more spiritual rather than a literal meaning.  It is believed by most to be addressed to the Church in Colossae but it is also possible it was a personal letter that was only addressed to the three Shelikhim especially if the allusion to a sinful[14] homosexual relationship was involved as suggested by Marchal. It may have later after the death of its protagonists were dead been then read to the wider Church. In that case the mention of the “Church in your House” may refer to Archippus rather than to Philemon.[15]

The structure of this letter has also been the subject of intense discussion by scholars. Some believe that this is a letter of recommendation of the kind that a patron wrote on behalf of another that uses deliberative rhetoric. Deliberative rhetoric is that which was used when writing to convince someone to change their mind or actions. FF Church writes an interesting article about the use of rhetoric in the context of the letter to Philemon.[16] Osiek states that it is impossible to separate the indicative from the imperative in this letter.[17] Others have questioned this rhetoric approach as they don’t think it reveals the purpose of the letter. Could this be due to the hidden purpose suggested by Marchal? Is this a letter that is trying to encourage repentance by a prominent and influential leader in the Church? That Philemon is a saint of the Church and went on to be a Bishop in Gaza suggests that Paul’s purpose was achieved.[18] Frilingos stresses the use of familial language and metaphors in the letter. He sees this as part of Paul’s purpose to challenge and displace Philemon’s claim of power over his slave by the use of this familial imagery. [19] Elliot sees this as a rhetoric of tact that Paul uses to manipulate others in a demonstration of his own power and authority.[20]



However some scholars don’t believe that Onesimus is an actual slave but someone Philemon was treating like a slave. And there are many other scenarios that could be proposed. Many people have focused on the issue of slavery and perhaps read into the text the concerns of later Christians. Others have focused on the message of love, mercy and kindness that Paul seems to be proposing to those who have power over the lives of others. This letter may demonstrate that Paul practised tough love in that he lovingly corrects, admonishes and lures his fellow believers into behaving in a more Christ-like manner rooted in love. Dunham perceives the Letter as providing a model of transformation of life in the resurrected Messiah.[21]



There are many open questions regarding this Letter and its context and background, thus certain opinions cannot be held dogmatically and one needs to be open to further reflection and the insights of further scholarship. In such a small essay one cannot cover the issues presented by Paul’s Letter to Philemon adequately but I have endeavoured to briefly touch on points of interest which need further explication. At this point I incline towards believing that Philemon, Apphia and Archippus are Hellenistic Jews and that Paul and Timothy are writing to them from Rome in the early 60’s from prison. I also would at this stage accept the more traditional interpretation that Onesimus as an escaped slave who Paul is seeking to reconcile with his master and I think the Marchal’s interpretation about a sexual “usefulness” may have some merit that may explain some of the question marks about the true purpose of the letter raised by some scholars. If Paul is dealing with a more serious and scandalous situation among the higher leaders he may be using his Messiah’s advice of being as gentle as a dove and as cunning as a serpent[22] in order to correct and reconcile sinners in the Church (Kehilla). Philemon himself may be fond of Greek rhetorical approaches and Paul may be displaying his policy of being all things to all men in order to win them back (in this case) to a Christ-like way of life[23] by writing in a style that Philemon would appreciate. I think that the aspect of the New Perspectives on Paul that emphasises the Jewish context is opening fresh insights to Paul’s writings and ideas in general and to Philemon in particular.






[1] Called the Peshat level in Judaism. The other levels or senses are Remetz (analogical), Drash (moral or homelitical) and Sod (anagogical or mystical)

[2] James DG Dunn. "The new perspective on Paul." HTS Theological Studies 64, no. 4 (2008): 1956-1958 .

[3] Roy H. Schoeman. Salvation is from the Jews (John 4: 22): The Role of Judaism in Salvation History from Abraham to the Second Coming. Ignatius Press, 2003.

[4] Harvey Falk. Jesus the Pharisee: A new look at the Jewishness of Jesus. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003.

[5] Pawel Maciejko believes Emden drew this conclusion from an earlier Jewish work written by David Nasi in 1430. David Nasi was the brother of the famous Joseph Nasi, Duke of Naxos.

[6] Acts 16:3

[7] Robert E Dunham, “Between text and sermon: Philemon 1:1-25”.  In Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology; Richmond Vol. 52, Iss. 2,  (Apr 1998): 191-194.

[8] Joseph A Marchal. "The Usefulness of an Onesimus: The Sexual Use of Slaves and Paul's Letter to Philemon." Journal of Biblical Literature 130, no. 4 (2011): 749-770.

[9] John 8:4

[10] Apostle Philemon on OrthodoxWiki

[11] See verses 8-9

[12] Verses 8-9

[13] Raymond Edward Brown, , Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland Edmund Murphy, eds. The new Jerome biblical commentary. (Prentice Hall, 1990), 869-870.

[14] Perceived as sinful to Jews and Christians but not to the pagan Greeks and Romans of the Empire and possibly less so to the Hellenistic Jews especially those who had assimilated the most to Greek and Roman culture among the wealthy upper class which Philemon may have belonged.

[15] Philemon 1:2

[16] F. Forrester Church. "Rhetorical structure and design in Paul's letter to Philemon." Harvard Theological Review 71, no. 1-2 (1978): 17-33.

[17] Carolyn Osiek. "Philemon." In The Catholic Study Bible. Oxford Biblical Studies 2016.

[18] Apostle Philemon on OrthodoxWiki

[19] Chris Frilingos. “‘For My Child, Onesimus’: Paul and Domestic Power in Philemon." Journal of Biblical Literature119, no. 1 (2000): 91-104.

[20] Scott S. Elliott. “‘Thanks, but no thanks’”: Tact, Persuasion and the Negotiation of Power in Paul’s Letter to Philemon.” New Testament Studies 57 (2011): 51-64.

[21] Robert E Dunham, “Between text and sermon: Philemon 1:1-25”, 191-194.

[22] Matthew 10:16


[23] I Corinthians 9:22