Peter and the Two Disciples on the Road to Emma’us: A Must Buy!


Andrew Wood

When many people think of great conversion stories they often think of people like Paul of Tarsus who was miraculously struck blind while on the road to Damascus when he met the risen Jesus (Acts 9:1-19). Or we may think of other great charismatic leaders who almost in an instant had a life changing experience of God, after which they never looked back. This can sometimes discourage us, as well as encourage us. We may think that something like what happened to Saint Paul would never happen to us, and that its true, for it may not. But what happened to Saint Paul is rare.

In this talk you will see another, less well known experience of conversion; though one that happened to a person equally well known as Paul: namely the conversion of St Peter. In the Gospel of Luke we see that there were three stages to Peter’s conversion. Looking closely at these three stages we see how conversion is an on-going experience, for it is a journey with the Lord on the path of both self-discovery, and discovery of who the Lord is and what he has done, and is doing, in our lives.


“An Extraordinary Synod, Indeed”

George Weigel


According to Vatican-speak, a specially scheduled session of the Synod of Bishops is an “Extraordinary Synod,” meaning Not-an-Ordinary Synod, held every three years or so. In the case of the recently-completed Extraordinary Synod of 2014, extraordinary things did happen, in the “Oh, wow!” sense of the word. And if this year’s Extraordinary Synod was a preview of the Synod for which it was to set the agenda, i.e., the Ordinary Synod of 2015, that Synod, too, promises to be, well, extraordinary.

How was the Extraordinary Synod of 2014 extraordinary? With apologies to the Bard, let me count the ways:

1. The 2014 Synod got an extraordinary amount of press attention. Alas, too much of that attention was due to the mass media misperception that The Great Moment of the Long-Awaited Catholic Cave-In was at hand: the moment when the Catholic Church, the last major institutional hold-out against the triumph of the sexual revolution, would finally admit the error of its ways and join the rush into the promised land of sexual liberation, symbolized in this instance by a Catholic cave-in on the nature of marriage. What ought to have gotten the world’s attention—the witness of African bishops to the liberating power of monogamy and lifelong marital fidelity—got sadly short shrift, though Third World women are the principal beneficiaries of the truth about marriage the Church received from its Lord.

2. The 2014 Synod demonstrated the extraordinary self-confidence of bishops from dying local churches who nonetheless feel quite comfortable giving pastoral advice to local churches that are either thriving or holding their own. Many northern European bishops and theologians (and bishop-theologians) acted as if the blissful years when they set the agenda for the world Church at Vatican II had returned. That these same bishops and theologians and bishop-theologians have presided over the collapse of western European Catholicism in the intervening five decades seemed not to matter to them in the slightest. Happy days were here again.

3. The 2014 Synod was extraordinary, or at least the media claimed it was, for an unprecedented public display of discord among cardinals. Perhaps those who found this either unprecedented or unseemly could consult Galatians 2:11, where Paul reports that he “rebuked” Peter “to his face.” Or ponder the fierce arguments among North African bishops during the Donatist controversy. Or look into the quarrel between Bishop Cyprian of Carthage, a doctor of the Church, and Pope Stephen, Bishop of Rome. Or read the debates at the first session of Vatican II. The 2014 controversies were indeed noteworthy, in that otherwise intelligent men whose position had been pretty well demolished by fellow scholars were incapable of admitting that they’d gotten it wrong. But upon further review (as they say in the NFL), that isn’t so new either.

4. The 2014 Synod was extraordinary in that a lot of theological confusion was displayed by elders of the Church who really ought to know better. The idea of the development of doctrine was especially ill-used by some. Of course the Church’s self-understanding develops over time, as does the Church’s pastoral practice. But as Blessed John Henry Newman showed in the classic modern discussion of the subject, all authentic development is in organic continuity with the past; it’s not a rupture with the past. Nor is there any place in a truly Catholic theory of doctrinal development for rewriting the words of the Lord or describing fidelity to the plain text of Scripture as “fundamentalism.”

5. The 2014 Synod was extraordinary in its demonstration that too many bishops and theologians (and bishop-theologians) still have not grasped the Iron Law of Christianity in Modernity: Christian communities that maintain a firm grasp on their doctrinal and moral boundaries can flourish amidst the cultural acids of modernity; Christian communities whose doctrinal and moral boundaries become porous (and then invisible) wither and die.

6. One more thing: why were no representatives of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family invited to a Synod on the family?

Extraordinary, indeed: in both Vatican-speak and plain English.

George Weigel is a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

Visions on Demand


By Frits Albers, Ph.B.

The video tape Visions on Demand achieves what its compilers had in mind when they made it: it totally destroys the credibility of all those who for more than 17 years have been pushing and manipulating the happenings at Medjugorje. What the video may lack in seamless professionalism it undoubtedly gains in overall coverage and sincerity. Not much of what has come to light in all those 17 years since the start of the hoax in 1981, and is becoming more widely known (especially in the Vatican), has been left unsaid.

One thing the video is silent on is the origin of the breakdown between the local hierarchies of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and some of the Franciscans. For a proper understanding of this difficult question it is necessary that research into it goes back to the early years of the reign of Pope Leo XIII (who was elected on February 20, 1878). What this will bring to light is the subject-matter of this short paper.

Joachim Pecci brought with him to the papal throne as Pope Leo XIII the conviction that for the full benefit of Catholic life anywhere in the world, it is of the greatest importance that peoples everywhere are united with the Holy See through the establishment or the restoration of strong local hierarchies. That as early as 1880 he had in mind the regions which the great Apostle St. Paul had called Illyricum (Rom. 15:19), and which the Holy Father mentions by name as Bohemia, Moravia, Croatia, can be gauged from the fact that in that year the Holy Father issued an encyclical to remind the whole Catholic world of the immense missionary activities that had been carried out by the two great Saints of the Slavonic peoples: St. Cyrillus and St. Methodius, and to ask for prayers for the people populating these regions. This was obviously in preparation of what the Holy Father did the following year. For it was already in 1881 that he fully restored the Hierarchies of what he calls in the Apostolic Letter of Restoration “the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

So, within a little more than two years after ascending to the See of St. Peter, Pope Leo XIII issued an encyclical in 1880 to prepare for his Apostolic Letter of 1881 by which he restored the hierarchies in Bosnia – Herzegovina. It is from these two Letters, so clearly representative of the mind of Pope Leo XIII, that I wish to bring the following extracts to the attention of all who are puzzled by the deep rifts that have right from the start shown up the happenings at Medjugorje as fraudulent exactly 100 years later.

We will deal with the second of these two Letters, the one of 1881, first.

The Holy Father starts the 1881 Apostolic Letter Ex hac augusta by which the Hierarchy of Bosnia – Herzegovina was being restored, by going right back to the earliest Christian times of these regions by relating that their conversion to Christianity was taken care of by the Apostle of the Gentiles himself, who in his Letter to the Romans could testify to the truth “… from Jerusalem in all directions as far as Illyricum I have preached the Gospel of Christ” (Rom. 15:19). Taking from recorded history household names such as St. Luke, St. Clemens, St. Titus as the successors of St. Paul, the Holy Father lays down the cornerstone of his whole argument when he declares:

It is wonderful to say how beneficial it must have been for Christianity to have an Ecclesiastical Hierarchy founded of which the principal Sees were those of Thessalonica, Salonica and Smyrna, which rightly can glory over the fact that they received their first occupants from the two Princes of the Apostles themselves.

After that it is the stated intention of the Holy Father to show that from that blessed time on the Holy See has never allowed any part of its care for Illyria to flag. In the course of this Apostolic Letter covering its history some forty Popes are mentioned by name to give substance to this declared intention.

As can be expected, the history of the region as unfolded in this Apostolic Letter presents the usual checkered appearance to the casual student. The unity the Holy Father imposes on this picture is the steadfast interest shown by the Holy See in the vicissitudes of the peoples populating those remote regions, by which a seemingly earthly interest nevertheless brings out the divine interest of the Father of all. The struggles of the Holy See are the manifestations of the Divine Providence. Part of these ‘vicissitudes’ incorporate the loss at times of the Episcopal Sees which had been established in the region under previous pontificates.

When the Holy Father arrives at a description of the 12th century, and after noting that “a happier time is apparent because of a reunion with the Holy See”, he then makes the following remarkable statement:

However happy this state of affairs may have been, it did not last long. Because not much later, from the vicinity of Bulgaria, other evils came forth and became widespread and far worse than that which went before. These evils had their origin in the old errors of the Manichaeans which gave their name to the sect of the Patarenses. From this sad concurrence of evils, which for three centuries fed on these regions, much damage was done to the Faith and morals of the peoples living in those territories.

So the new pestilence was sown by the Bulgarians; it had its origin in the ancient errors of the Manichaeans, and it was so vehement that it lasted for the best part of three centuries, from ca 1170 – 1470. Thirteen Popes are mentioned by name, from Innocentius III (+1216) until Sixtus IV (+1484), who during this time did something about this sad state of affairs. In the next couple of pages the Apostolic Letter then deals with some of the activities undertaken by these Pontiffs, and it is in this context that first mention is made of a measure which seems to have its repercussions in our days.

The members of the religious families of St. Francis and St. Dominic can claim for themselves a large share of the glory of this happy state of affairs (a return to the yoke of the Gospel) of whom not a few, slain by the heretics, died a glorious death for the Name of Christ.

The Holy Father does not indicate when these monks arrived there, but addressing himself in the next sentence to what occurred in the middle of 1300, and taking into account that St. Dominic died in 1221, and St. Francis in 1226, it appears that the Holy See did not waste any time in dispatching those new religious to these outlying shores.

In 1233, acting on a report of his predecessor’s legate, Gregorius IX (+1241) increased the number of Episcopal Sees in Pannonia. The same was done for Bosnia during the reign of Pius II (+1464). Again the Holy Father mentions several centuries (from ca 1430 – 1730) of ups and downs with regards to those regions. And for the second time the Franciscans get singled out for a distinction:

Nevertheless, in spite of all this obvious good, Pope Leo XIII returns once again to the fundamental theme of his Apostolic Letter when immediately afterwards he mentions:

The mind of the Holy Father Pope Leo XIII is becoming very clear. Recognizing any good that had been done during those troublesome centuries and giving that good its proper due, he nevertheless states in the above quoted words that it is the view of the whole papacy that in the care of souls no good can ever come near the greatest good of them all: for Catholics to live under a bishop in a well-run diocese.

Thus, giving glory to God that the hour had come for him to restore to these regions the Catholic Hierarchy in its full powers, Pope Leo XIII, before launching into the administrative details of this important move, concludes the historico-doctrinal part of his Letter with these important words:

For it can no longer be subject to doubt that the Hierarchical Administration of Ecclesiastical Matters, [in which, as is the case with the way the human body is joined together, the variety itself of the ranks and services in a wonderful way contributes to the wellbeing of all the parts and to the way in which they harmonize with one another because of the common bond of Faith and Love, and because of the authority of the Supreme Head guiding and correlating everything] must for this reason be highly esteemed because, as it slowly increases all the supports on which the religious life of souls depends, and as it directs the powers of everybody towards the common good, the faithful use one and the same Rule of Discipline in the variety of services that make out the Christian life, and because the souls of all are knitted together much more tightly with the bond of peace and love.

Here the value and the necessity of the Hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church are being spelled out in the course and in the context of Her official teaching, and it is obvious that it was far removed from this Holy Father’s mind when he took pains to write all this down, giving each one his due, that there would come a time in which the Franciscans would force the peoples of these regions to choose between themselves and the bishops.

And in portraying Our Lady as taking sides with the Franciscans against the established Hierarchy vested in the bishops, the Franciscans have held Her up before the whole world as contradicting authoritative Catholic teaching expounded here in an official Apostolic Letter, issued for the very purpose of re-establishing the Hierarchy over and above the good that may have been done by Religious Orders. Nay, to give to this good the very foundation it still requires.

This concludes our investigation of Pope Leo XIII’s Apostolic Letter of 1881 by which he restored for the greatest good of the Catholics living in those regions the old Hierarchies of Illyricum, first established by the Apostle of the Gentiles, St. Paul.

We can now turn our attention to this Pope’s encyclical which he had issued the year before in 1880. The papal intent for giving to the Church this encyclical was to prepare the way for the 1881 Apostolic Letter studied so far. In this encyclical-of-preparation the Holy Father underlines the weight of what we have just studied, his thoughts on the importance of Catholics living under the care of bishops in well-run dioceses, by elevating both the memory as well as the feast days of the two outstanding missionaries of these Dalmatian regions, Sts. Cyrillus and Methodius. And in doing so this address to the whole Church, in its own way, goes through the history of this part of the Balkan, mentioning dates and activities of the Holy See in relation to Bosnia – Herzegovina.

And then, towards the end of his encyclical, as a kind of summary, this far-seeing Pope makes the following remarkable statement:

Neither – as we have seen from the foregoing – can it be said that the solicitude of the Holy See for the peoples of these regions had been spent or had come to an end because of the care the Religious Orders had exhibited at times over the centuries. And how does the Holy Father express this solicitude of the Holy See over and above what others may have done?

From this 1880 encyclical we can clearly see what Leo XIII had in mind when he brought it to fruition the year after in 1881. The fruits of the vastly superior plenitude for Catholics living under the care of bishops and diocesan priests in communion with the Catholic Church are being spelled out here: true obedience, the profession of the one true Faith, and to experience how great is the power for good that emanates from structures established by the Catholic Church for the well-being of family life and that of the State.

To portray Our Blessed Mother as being totally opposed to this unity under a well-established and properly functioning Hierarchy as well as to the benefits that flow from this unity with Rome, would be the same as saying that She is in Hell with all the other apostates and unbelievers. Since this is impossible we can only come to one conclusion: that the Medjugorje ‘apparitions’ and ‘messages’ themselves come from that infernal place.



Taken from:

The Great Solar Miracle: Fatima October 13, 1917


 Damien F. Mackey



Taken from my book (1994),

The Five First Saturdays




After the Lady had identified who she was, Lucia again asked her if she would cure the sick, and convert the sinners who had been recommended to her. Our Lady replied:

“I will cure or convert some of them. Others I will not.

They must repent and beg pardon for their sins”.


Then, with a look of grief and in a suppliant tone of voice, she added:


“Men must not offend God any more for He is already very much offended”.


And opening her hands Our Lady, as She was rising to go away, projected beams of light onto the sun. Lucia cried: “Look at the sun!” And suddenly, as the crowd looked upwards, the clouds opened and exposed the blue sky with the sun at its zenith. But this sun did not dazzle. The people could look directly at it. It was like a shining silver plate. Then the sun trembled. It made some abrupt movements. It began to spin like a wheel of fire. Great shafts of coloured light flared out from its centre in all directions, colouring in a most fantastic manner the clouds, trees, rocks, earth, and even the clothes and faces of the people gathered there, in alternating splashes of red, yellow, green, blue and violet – the full spectrum of rainbow colours.


After about five minutes the sun stopped revolving in this fashion. A moment later, it resumed a second time its incredible motion, throwing out its light and colour like a huge display of fireworks. And once more, after a few minutes, the sun stopped its prodigious dance.


After a short time, and for the third time, it resumed its spinning and fantastic colours. The crowd gazed spellbound. Then came the awful climax. The sun seemed to be falling from the sky. Zig-zagging from side to side, it plunged down towards the crowd below, sending out a heat increasingly intense, and causing the spectators to believe that this was indeed the end of the world.


People stood wild-eyed, or sank to their knees in the mud, as the sun rushed towards them. A desperate cry went up from the crowd, begging God, or the Blessed Virgin Mary, for mercy, asking pardon for their sins. The sun halted, stopping short in its precipitous fall, and then it climbed back to its place in the sky, where it regained its normal brilliance.


Then the dazed people, who had just experienced the wonder of the age – or what Cardinal Laraana would later call “the greatest Divine intervention since the time of Our Lord” (Soul, Sep-Oct, 1990, p. 6) – found that another miracle had occurred. This apocalyptic scene, full of majesty and terror, had ended with a delicate gift, which showed the motherly tenderness of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for her children. Their sodden clothes were dry and comfortable, without a trace of mud and rain.


But there was another aspect to Our Lady’s Miracle that only the three children witnessed. Corresponding to the three distinct movements of the sun, separated by the moments of pause, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco


saw three distinct tableaux representing, successively, the Joyful, the Sorrowful and the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.


In the first tableau they saw the three members of the Holy Family; with Our Lady of the Rosary to the right of the sun and more brilliant than the sun, wearing a white dress and a blue mantle. To the left, dressed in red, was St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus blessing the world. Next, Our Divine Lord appeared as a grown man, lovingly blessing the world. To the left was Our Lady of Sorrows, clad in purple. Finally, Our Lady of Sorrows was replaced by Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Scapular in her hand. The Miracle of the sun at Fatima, therefore, was absolutely a Rosary miracle. It seemed even to move to the pulse and rhythm of a Rosary being recited. Its approximately fifteen minutes’ duration might also have been intended to represent one of the conditions of the Five First Saturday devotion: fifteen minutes of meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary, while keeping Our Lady company.


Full of Scriptural Imagery

All in one, the great Miracle of the 13th of October, 1917, incorporated some of the most spectacular elements of renowned Old Testament miracles. Fr. Smolenski (op. cit., pp. 11-12) has compared Noah’s time for instance, when it rained for forty days and forty nights, with Fatima on that day, when everything was drenched with rain. The dove with the branch indicated that the storm had subsided; Our Lady’s presence over the holm-oak tree was Heaven’s peace. The Ark landed on solid earth; Fatima was dry because of the miracle. God re-established the covenant of peace by means of Noah; Our Lady asked that Consecration be made to her Immaculate Heart. The rainbow became the sign of peace; the whole area of the Fatima miracle reflected all the colours of the rainbow during the sun’s dance. “As Noah’s sons inherited the covenant of peace, brought to mind by the presence of the rainbow, so Mary, Image of the Church as the servant of God, would have her children be the bearers of her peace to a re-energized and re-evangelized creation”. Other comparisons with Old Testament miracles appear in Soul magazine (Sep-Oct, 1990, p. 6). For instance, the sun’s leaving the entire area dry at the Cova da Iria reminds one of the dry path through the Red Sea. Or of Joshua’s own solar miracle, when, at his command, the sun gave its light two hours after sunset. Again, reminiscent of the sun’s fall, was Elijah’s calling down of fire from the sky as a challenge to the pagan priests. (Elijah is of course already linked to the Carmelites, and the Scapular, due to his association with Mount Carmel, and his miraculous mantle). Finally, we could add to these the miraculous alteration affected on the sundial, as cause by the prophet Isaiah for the benefit of king Hezekiah. Pope Pius XII, when instituting the feast of The Queenship of Mary with his encyclical, Ad Caeli Reginam, in 1954, likened Our Lady to the rainbow in the Genesis account of Noah and in Ecclesiasticus:

“Is She not a rainbow in the clouds, reaching towards God, a promise of peace? (Cf. Genesis 9:13). ‘Look upon the rainbow, and bless Him that made it; it is very beautiful in its brightness. It encompasses the heaven about with the circle of its glory, the hands of the Most High have displayed it’ (Ecclesiasticus 43:11-12)”.

But undoubtedly, more than anything else, it was the stupendous character of the Miracle of the Sun – coupled with the fact that it had been predicted to the very hour, months in advance – that sets Fatima apart from all of the Old Testament manifestations of God, and even from the preceding Marian apparitions. Pope Paul VI referred to it simply as ‘Signum Magnum’, ‘The Great Sign’.

The Mysterious Bible Numbers of Edwin Thiele


Damien F. Mackey


“…. despite the undoubted merits of Thiele’s own chronological scheme, his treatment

of the chronology of king Hezekiah, specifically, is perhaps the least satisfactory part of

his entire work”.


The Fall of Samaria

This famous event has traditionally been dated to c. 722/21 BC [E. Thiele dates it to 723/722 BC. The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, p. 162.] and, according to the statement in 2 Kings, it occurred “in the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of King Hoshea of Israel” (18:10). While all this seems straightforward enough, more recent versions of biblical chronology, basing themselves on the research of the highly regarded Professor Thiele [ch. 9: “The Chronology of the Kings of Judah (715-561 BC)”], have made impossible the retention of such a promising syncretism between king Hoshea and king Hezekiah by dating the beginning of the latter’s reign to 716/715 BC, about six years after the fall of Samaria. Moreover, there is disagreement over whether Samaria fell once or twice (in quick succession) to the Assyrians (e.g. to Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and then again to Sargon II in 720 BC); with Assyriologist Tadmor, whom Thiele has followed, claiming a ‘reconquest’ of Samaria by Sargon II [H. Tadmor, ‘The Campaigns of Sargon II of Assur’, p. 94. Tadmor here refers to Sargon’s “reconquest of Samaria”. For Thiele’s discussion of what he calls Tadmor’s “masterly analysis”, see Thiele, op. cit, e.g. pp. 167-168].

Let us briefly touch upon these objections here.

Firstly, regarding the Hezekian chronology in its relationship to the fall of Samaria, one of the reasons for Thiele’s having arrived at, and settled upon, 716/715 BC as the date for the commencement of reign of the Judaean king was due to the following undeniable problem that arises from a biblical chronology that takes as its point of reference the conventional neo-Assyrian chronology. I set out the ‘problem’ here in standard terms.

If Samaria fell in the 6th year of Hezekiah, as the Old Testament tells it, then Hezekiah’s reign must have begun about 728/727 B.C. If so, his 14th year, the year in which Sennacherib threatened Jerusalem, must have been about 714 B.C. But this last is, according to the conventional scheme, about ten years before Sennacherib became king and about thirteen years before his campaign against Jerusalem which is currently dated to 701 B.C. On the other hand, if Hezekiah’s reign began fourteen years before Sennacherib’s campaign, that is in 715 B.C, it began about twelve to thirteen years too late for Hezekiah to have been king for six years before the fall of Samaria. In short, the problem as seen by chronologists is whether the starting point of Hezekiah’s reign should be dated in relationship to the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C, or to the campaign of Sennacherib in 701 B.C.

A second reason for Thiele’s divergence from the traditional dating for Hezekiah is that Thiele, following others such as O. Zöckler [op. cit., p. 169], had found no evidence whatsoever for any contact between king Hezekiah and king Hoshea. Not even when Hezekiah had, in his first year, sent his invitations throughout Hoshea’s territory for the great Passover in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 30). Thus Thiele could not accept that these two kings had reigned concurrently.

In regard to the first point, the true date of commencement of the reign of king Hezekiah, I should simply like to make the general comment here that this is in fact an artificial ‘problem’. The situation has arisen, as we shall find, from Thiele’s heavy reliance upon the conventional neo-Assyrian chronology, which has been significantly over-stretched, thereby doubling the activities of the one Assyrian king: Sargon II/Sennacherib. See my:

Assyrian King Sargon II, Otherwise Known As Sennacherib

Failure to recognize this – and a too confident reliance upon the conventional scheme in general – has caused Thiele, and those who have followed him, to turn the reign of Hezekiah of Judah into one of the most vexed problems of Old Testament chronology. And, despite the undoubted merits of Thiele’s own chronological scheme, his treatment of the chronology of king Hezekiah, specifically, is perhaps the least satisfactory part of his entire work.

With Sennacherib found to have been at work in connection with both the fall of Samaria and, of course, the campaign in Hezekiah’s 14thyear, then it becomes necessary to date the Judaean king’s reign in relationship to both, and not merely to one, of these significant Assyrian campaigns.

Thiele’s other point, about the lack of evidence for contemporaneity of reigns between Hoshea and Hezekiah, is indeed a legitimate one, as is also Tadmor’s argument – in connection with the neo-Assyrian evidence – in favour of two actual conquests of Samaria by the Assyrians.

A Solid Foundation Needed for the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

Thiele has, in his widely accepted, neo-Assyrian-based so-called biblical’ chronology, completely rejected – and hence lost – that triple biblical link of the 9thyear of Hoshea, the6th year of Hezekiah and the fall of Samaria.

Despite this current mood in academic thinking, let us not forget that the testimony of Israel has sometimes been our only source of knowledge about a particular king, nation or event, prior to the flowering of archaeology in modern times. Thus, for twenty centuries or more, the only mention of the great Assyrian king, SARGONII, was to be found in the opening verse of Isaiah 20: “In the year that the commander-in-chief, who was sent by King Sargon of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought against it and took it”. Historians doubted Isaiah’s testimony that there even was such an Assyrian king, ‘Sargon’. Again, relevant to the Era of king Hezekiah, there is some interlocking chronology between the Assyrian records and 2 Kings for the incident of the fall of Samaria. These syncretisms, I suggest, should not be lightly dismissed. Potentially, they are fully preserved in my five chronological ‘anchors’ for EOH as listed in my thesis:

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background

(Chapter 1, p. 28); but they are annihilated in Thiele’s chronology, despite the latter’s assertion that [ibid., p. 174]:

… never will the events of the Old Testament record be properly fitted into the events of the Near Eastern world, and never will the vital messages of the Old Testament be thoroughly or correctly understood until there has been established a sound chronology for Old Testament times.

Montgomery tells of the devastating effect that Thiele’s chronology has had upon the traditional dating of Hezekiah in its relation to Hoshea of Israel and the fall of Samaria [‘Towards a Biblically Inerrant Chronology’, section: “The Divided Kingdom”]:

Thiele’s chronology has the fall of Samaria in 722 BC, Hezekiah’s accession year in 715 BC and his 14th year in 701 BC – 21 years apart. He insists that Hezekiah and Hosea [Hoshea] had no contact at all. He says “… it is of paramount importance that synchronisms (II Kings 18:1, 8, 10) between him (Hezekiah) and Hosea be recognized as late and artificial.”[12, p174], i.e. they are false.

This is an extremely bold conclusion for Thiele to have reached in regard to an ancient document that provides us with multi-chronological links; especially given his insistence

upon“a sound chronology for Old Testament times”. Admittedly though, as already noted, there are problems to be sorted out in connection with the biblical link between Hoshea and Hezekiah, the beginning of whose reign is said to have occurred during Hoshea’s third year (2 Kings 18:1): “In the third year of King Hoshea son of Elah of Israel, Hezekiah son of King Ahaz of Judah began to reign”. Thiele has discussed this in several places, and has rejected the veracity of the biblical evidence. His argument firstly centres upon the fact that Hezekiah had, in the great Passover he proclaimed in his first year, sent invitations to Israel – to Ephraim and Manasseh and even Zebulun (2 Chronicles 30:1, 6, 10), leading Thiele to conclude [Op. cit, ch’s 8 and 9]: “While the northern kingdom was still in existence, it would not, of course, have been possible for the envoys of Judah to pass through the territory of Israel; so we have here a clear indication that it was no longer in existence”.

On a more general note, Thiele has offered this related objection [Ibid,p. 169]:

Nowhere in the record of Hezekiah’s reign is mention made of any contact by him with Hoshea. In less serious times there was always a mention in the account of a king of Judah of some contact with the corresponding king of Israel, but none is found here. If it had been during the days of the God-fearing Hezekiah that Assyria was bringing Israel to its end, it is almost certain that Hezekiah would have had some contact with Hoshea and mentioned that contact. The deafening silence in this regard is a clear indication that Hoshea and his kingdom were no more when Hezekiah began.

This is a legitimate point. The most likely solution to the problem, in my opinion, is that Hoshea was no longer in charge of Israel.

I suggested in Chapter 1 (p. 26) that Hoshea’s revolt against Assyria, involving his turning to ‘So King of Egypt’,would have occurred close to 727 BC, the beginning of Hezekiah’s reign. Some years earlier, with the Assyrian forces of Tiglath-pileser III “approaching the very border of Israel and … threatening to push onward to Samaria”, according to Irvine’s construction of events, Hoshea had led “a pro-Assyrian, anti-Pekah movement within Israel …” [Isaiah, Ahaz, and the Syro-Ephraimitic Crisis, p. 34] But now, in the face of Hoshea’s revolt, the swift-acting Shalmaneser V (who I am identifying with Tiglath-pileser), had promptly “confined [Hoshea] and imprisoned him” (2 Kings 17:4). Hoshea was thus rendered inactive from about the beginning of Hezekiah’s reign and on into the siege and subsequent capture of Samaria. And so the Egyptian-backed Hezekiah, who had like Hoshea rebelled against Assyria, became for a time the sole ruler of the entire land, prior to the Assyrian incursions into Judah. In this way, one presumes, Hezekiah would have been able to have sent his messengers into northern Israel.

The other legitimate objection that I had noted in Chapter 1 (on p. 22) concerned Tadmor’s view, followed by Thiele, that Samaria was captured twice by Assyria; a second time in 720 BC. [op. cit., p. 94. Tadmor here refers to Sargon’s “reconquest of Samaria”]. Moreover, Roux considers whether it were Shalmaneser V or Sargon II who captured Samaria as “still a debated question” [Ancient Iraq, p. 310]. While van de Mieroop writes of Shalmaneser V as conquering Israel’s capital “just before his death” [A History of the Ancient Near East, p. 235], adding that: “His successor Sargon II claimed the victory for himself and turned the region into the province of Samaria”.

Whilst I have discussed in detail in Chapter 6 of my thesis the neo-Assyrian chronology in its relation to Hezekiah, I should like to make some comments here, following Boutflower. Sargon, according to D. Luckenbill, had claimed that the fall of Samaria occurred (i.e. he caused it) in his first year [Ancient Records of Assyria & Babylonia, vol. 1, # 4. At least, the fall of Samaria is generally regarded as being the incident to which Sargon referred here]. “[At the beginning of my rule, in my first year of reign … Samerinai (the people of Samaria) … 27,290 people, who lived therein, I carried away …]”. I see no good reason though not to accept Sargon’s plain statement here. There is apparently a one year discrepancy between Sargon II’s Annalsand the document that Winckler called Cylinder B, according to which the fall of Samaria could not have occurred in the reign of Sargon, but of his predecessor, Shalmaneser. Here is Boutflower’s explanation of the apparent puzzling discrepancy [The Book of Isaiah, pp. 112-113]:

… the Annals make Sargon’s reign to commence in the year 722 BC., styled the rish sharruti or “beginning of the reign”, 721 being regarded as the first year of the reign; whereas our cylinder, which after Winckler we will call Cylinder B, regards 721 as the “beginning of the reign”,and 720 as the first year of the reign.

From this conclusion we obtain the following remarkable result. The capture of Samaria is assigned by the Annals to the “beginning of the reign” of Sargon, the last three months of the year 722, and it is recorded as the first event of the reign. But according to this new reckoning of time on Cylinder B that event would not be included in the reign of Sargon at all, but would be looked upon as falling in the reign of his predecessor Shalmaneser V.

When, then, it is objected that in 2 Kings xvii. 3-6 the capture of Samaria – which took place in 722 – appears to be assigned to Shalmaneser … we can answer that the sacred writer is no more at fault than the scribe who wrote Cylinder B ….

It does appear from Sargon II’s Annals that Samaria revolted again even after it had been captured by the Assyrians. This action, tied up I believe with Hezekiah’s own revolt – part of an Egyptian-backed Syro-Palestine rebellion against Sargon II – was followed by further such revolts, possibly also involving Samaria. It does not alter the fact that Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom, had fallen to Shalmaneser V and Sargon II in the ninth year of Hoshea, which was the sixth year of Hezekiah. When the plain testimony of Sargon II above, in relation to the capture of Samaria, is synthesized with that of 2 Kings 18:10, we gain this four-way cross-reference for c. 722 BC: (a) fall of Samaria; (b) beginning of Sargon’s rule; (c) sixth year of Hezekiah; (d) ninth year of Hoshea.

We can even add to this list (e) year one of Merodach-baladan as king of Babylon, according to Sargon’s testimony:“In my twelfth year of reign, (Merodach-baladan) …. For 12 years, against the will (heart) of the gods, he held sway over Babylon …”.

Thus, in regard to the one historical incident of the fall of Samaria (c. 722 BC), one can bring into solid alignment three of the four major nations with which this thesis is primarily concerned (Judah/Israel; Assyria and Babylonia). Unfortunately, as already noted, historians and biblical chronologists, notably Thiele, have basically ignored the above four-way synchronism, preferring to align Hezekiah’s regnal years to a miscalculated neo-Assyrian history, making Hezekiah a late contemporary of Sargon II’s, and dating the former to c. 716/5-687 BC. This means, as we also saw, that Hezekiah would have begun to reign about a decade later than where 2 Kings locates him; far too late for his having been the king of Judah during the fall of Samaria.

Listening to what Saint Matthew has to say


Damien F. Mackey

In this three-part article we attempt to learn what Matthew the Evangelist himself

had intended with regard to certain challenging aspects of his Gospel.

Part One: The Structure of Matthew’s Gospel

Bernard Sadler started the ball rolling aright when he, in The Structure of Matthew (“For Mary Immaculate, Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Queen of Evangelists”), sought to learn from Matthew himself what was the Evangelist’s intended structure for his Gospel, as Bernard put it, “to explain the basic structure Matthew used composing his gospel”. Bernard wrote (


The structure of Saint Matthew’s gospel has long remained obscure. Scholars believe that Matthew wrote his gospel in a Semitic language, probably Hebrew. We do not know what his manuscript looked like because the original and any copies that may have been made from it have been lost. A Greek language version was made, some scholars think by Matthew himself, and that too has been lost. But copies of this Greek version, of uncertain degrees of relationship, have come down to us. These early Greek versions seem not to show any structure, and editors since have offered a wide variety of suggestions. The familiar division of the gospel into 28 chapters made in the 13th century and the further division into verses made in the 16th century do not help. They are indispensable today for reference purposes, and are retained here, but they tell us little about the gospel structure.

Understanding the structure of the gospel and how Matthew ordered the various parts to each other and to the whole is important, because unless this structure is correctly understood what Matthew is saying is likely to be misunderstood. Understanding the gospel’s structure will not prevent readers or commentators making errors of interpretation but misunderstanding the structure certainly will not help.

The purpose of this book is threefold: to explain the basic structure Matthew used composing his gospel; to present outlines showing how this basic structure is found throughout the gospel; and to provide a gospel text laid out using those structures.

Basic structure

Now, contrary to modern perceptions, early Greek versions do show the structure—but not the way modern readers expect. Matthew wrote his gospel in paragraphs grouped into larger symmetrical units called chiasms. A chiasm is a passage of several paragraphs (or other units) so written that the last paragraph of the chiasm is linked to the first paragraph, the second-last paragraph is linked to the second paragraph, and so on. It is the linking of paragraphs this way that binds them together as a chiasm. A chiasm usually has a freestanding central paragraph about which the others are arrayed. Chiasm is the only structure Matthew used in his gospel.

The linking of the paragraphs of a chiasm is done by parallelism. Parallelism consists in the repetition of words or phrases. A differently inflected form of a word may be used and occasionally a synonym is used; for example, Matthew uses the word treasures in 6:19 and repeats it in 7:6 as pearls. Sometimes two words are repeated in reverse order to produce what is called inverted parallelism.

There are other kinds of chiasms and other uses of parallelism in Hebrew literature but here we are considering only those Matthew used to shape his gospel. ….

Part Two: Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus Christ

Question:What does Saint Matthew have to say about Our Lord’s Genealogy?

A merely superficial reading of this text (Matthew 1:6-17) will not suffice to unravel its profound meaning.

According to Monsignor John McCarthy, in his Introduction to “The Historical Meaning of the Forty-two Generations in Matthew 1:17” (

For those who study deeply into the Gospel text, Matthew’s prologue, contained in his first two chapters, is one of the most masterful pieces of writing ever presented to human eyes. The genealogy with which this prologue begins displays its full share of wondrous artistry, but so subtle is its turn that many commentators have failed to grasp the logic that it implies. ….

Deep study is indeed required to grasp the logic of it all, because it appears that Matthew has, within his neat triple arrangement of “fourteen generations” (1:17):

“Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David,

fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon,

and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah”.

completely dumped four kings of Judah whose history is written in Kings and Chronicles.

Those familiar with the sequence of the kings of Judah as recorded in Kings and Chronicles will be struck by the fact that Matthew 1 is missing these: Ahaziah; Joash (Jehoash); andAmaziah, three virtually successive kings – Matthew understandably omits the usurping Queen Athaliah before Joash -and later, Jehoiakim. Four in all!

Matthew’s omissions can be seen clearly in this chart, a comparison of him with I Chronicles (

Matthew 1: 6-16 1 Chronicles 3:10-16

























Azariah (Ozias)









What is going on here?

Was Saint Matthew the Evangelist mathematically deficient, somewhat like the schoolboy whose ‘sum of all fears’ is actually the fear of all sums?

Even a mathematical dope, however, can probably manage to ‘doctor’ basic figures in order to arrive at a pre-determined number!

Monsignor McCarthy, when discussing Fr. Raymond Brown’s attempted resolution of this textual difficulty, begins by asking the same question:

Could Matthew count? Raymond Brown, reading Matthew’s genealogy from the viewpoint of a modern reader, does not plainly see fourteen generations in each of the three sets of names, but by using ingenuity he can “salvage Matthew’s reputation as a mathematician.” He cautions, for one thing, that we should not expect too much logic in Matthew’s reasoning, since omissions are frequently made in tribal genealogies “for reasons that do not seem logical to the Western scientific mind” (pp. 82-84). ….

On the face of things – or, as Monsignor McCarthy puts it, “reading Matthew’s genealogy from the viewpoint of a modern reader” – what Saint Matthew may seem to have done would be like, say, a horse owner whose nag had come fourth in the Melbourne Cup, who later decided to re-write the story by completely ignoring any reference to the first three winners (trifecta), so that his horse now came in ‘first’. We however, believing the Scriptures to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, cannot simply leave it at that: a supposed problem of the sacred writer’s own making. Though this is apparently where the more liberally-minded commentators are prepared to leave matters in the case of a scriptural difficulty that it is beyond their wisdom to solve; thereby, as Monsignor McCarthy writes with reference to Fr. Brown, leaving things “in a very precarious state”. We had discussed previously a similar case: that of Fr. D. Dumm writing on “Tobit” for The Jerome Biblical Commentary, who, being unable to make any sense of the geography of the book, had had to conclude that:

“[The angel] Raphael knows the journey of life far better than the route to Media!”

See also my:

A Common Sense Geography of the Book of Tobit

As with Fr. Dumm, so with Fr. Brown, there is a failure to attempt to “salvage” the sacred text. Rightly, therefore, does Monsignor McCarthy proceed to suggest:

Brown’s reasoning leaves a big problem. In the light of the deficiencies that he sees in Matthew’s counting, how can one seriously believe that Matthew really shows by his 3 x 14 pattern that “God planned from the beginning and with precision the Messiah’s origins” …? What kind of precision is this? And what could the number fourteen seriously mean in the message of Matthew? Brown believes that for Matthew fourteen was, indeed, “the magic number” …, but he cannot surmise what that number was supposed to mean. He knows of no special symbolism attached to the number fourteen, and, therefore, he cannot grasp at all the point that Matthew is trying to make. So, rather than “salvage” Matthew’s reputation as a theologian, Brown leaves Matthew’s theology of 3 x 14 generations in a very precarious state.

Monsignor McCarthy will, like Bernard Sadler in Part One above, seek to determine what Matthew himself is saying. Thus: “Let us look at the plain message of the text of Mt 1:17”. Contrary to what Fr. Brown had imagined: “Matthew is not plainly saying that there were fourteen immediatebiological generations in each period. In fact, when in his opening verse Matthew speaks of Jesus as “Son of David, son of Abraham,” he is setting up a definition of terms which enlarges the notion of a generation”.

The Evangelist’s ways are not our ways – not how we might operate in a modern context. Accordingly, Monsignor McCarthy will allow Matthew to speak for himself:

Just as Matthew can use the word ‘son’ to mean any descendant in the direct line, so can he use the word ‘begot’ to mean any ancestor in the direct line. Therefore, he does not err in saying in the second set of names that “Joram [Jehoram] begot Oziah [Uzziah]” (Mt 1:8), even though there were three immediate biological generations in between. Matthew is saying that there were fourteen undisqualified generations in each period of time, and his point has force as long as there is a discernible reason for omitting some of the immediate generations in keeping with the purpose of his writing.

This brings us to that exceedingly interesting matter of the “discernible reason for omitting some of the immediate generations”. For, how to justify bundling out of a genealogical list two such mighty Judaean kings as Jehoash and Amaziah? Between them they occupied the throne of Jerusalem for about three quarters of a century! Well, say some liberals, Matthew was using faulty king lists. No, say some conservatives, those omitted kings of Judah were very evil, and that is why Matthew had chosen to ignore them. But, can that really be the case?

2 Kings 12:2: “Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the Lordall the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him”.

2 Kings 14:3: “[Amaziah] did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not as his father David had done. In everything he followed the example of his father Joash”.

Why, then, does Matthew’s Genealogy include the likes of Jehoram (Joram), and Ahaz (Achaz), for instance, about whom Kings and Chronicles have nothing whatsoever favourable to say?

2 Chronicles 21:6 “[Jehoram] followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as Ahab’s family had done, because his wife was Ahab’s daughter. So he did what the Lord considered evil”.

2 Kings 16:2-4 “Unlike David his father, [Ahaz] did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites”.

Monsignor McCarthy, wisely basing himself upon the Fathers, seems to have come up with a plausible explanation for why these particular kings were omitted from the genealogy, and why the name of the wicked Jehoram, for instance, was genealogically preserved:

Regarding the second set of “fourteen” generations, we read that “Joram begot Oziah” (Mt 1:18). But we know that Joram was actually the great-great-grandfather of Oziah, because Oziah is another name for Azariah (cf. 2 Chr 26:1; 2 Kg [4 Kg] 14:21), and in 1 Chr 3:11-12 we read: “and Joram begot Ochoziah, from whom sprang Joas, and his son Amasiah begot Azariah.” Hence, Matthew omits the generations of Ochoziah, Joas, and Amasiah from his list, and the judgments given in the Old Testament upon these people may tell us why.

St. Jerome 3 sees a reason in the fact that Joram married Athalia, the daughter of Jezebel of Sidon, who drew him deeper and deeper into the practices of idolatry, and that the three generations of sons succeeding him continued in the worship of idols. In the very first of the Ten Commandments given by God through Moses on Mount Sinai it was stated: “Thou shalt not have foreign gods before me. … Thou shalt not adore or serve them. I am the Lord thy God, powerful and jealous, visiting the iniquity of fathers upon their children unto the third and fourth generation of those that hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands to those that love me and keep my commandments” (Ex 20:3-6). Now Solomon was a sinner and an idolater (1 Kg f3 Kg] 11: 7-8), but he had a good man for his father and was therefore not punished in his own generation (1 Kg [3 Kg] 11:12).

St. Augustine 4 points out that the same was true of Joram, who had Josaphat for his father, and therefore did not have his name removed from Matthew’s genealogy (cf. 2 Chr 21:7).

St. John Chrysostom 5 adds the further reason that the Lord had ordered the house of Ahab to be extirpated from the face of the earth (2 Kg [4 Kg] 9:8), and the three kings eliminated by Matthew were, as descendants of Athalia, of the seed of Ahab. Jehu eradicated the worship of Baal from Israel, but he did not forsake the golden calves in Bethel and Dan. Nevertheless, the Lord said to him: “Because you have diligently performed what was right and pleasing in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab in keeping with everything that was in my heart, your children shall sit upon the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation (2 Kg [4 Kg] 10:28-31). So it is interesting to note that while these generations of Jehu were inserted into the royal lineage of Israel, the three generations of Ahab were taken out of the genealogy of Jesus by the judgment of God through the inspired pen of St. Matthew.

[End of quote]

A Further Note on Matthew 1:17

Further to my:

The” Toledoths” of Genesis

Matthew 1:1 has an apparent toledôt: “This is the genealogy[a] of Jesus the Messiah”, supposedly the only one in the New Testament, that may seem at first to contradict the thesis of P.J. Wiseman thattoledôt are colophon endings, rather than headings. Though it does conform nicely with his argument that toledôt refer to “ancestors” not “descendants”.

But the Gospel of Matthew is, like so many other Bible books, chiastically structured, with the first division coming at 1:17 according to Bernard Sadler’s (Part One above) findings. In other words Matthew 1:1 chiastically connects with 1:17. And, guess what, “generations” is mentioned 4 times in 1:17. So this latter may be our actual colophon, whereas 1:1 is a link to this (perhaps Wiseman’s ‘catch-line’ theory).

Perhaps, more importantly, 1:1 constitutes the title,in the way that Genesis 1:1 does

It may open up a whole new field for study.

Part Three: The Zechariah Problem (Matthew 27:9)

Monsignor John McCarthy and Bernard Sadler were thorough and convincing in their respective studies of the Gospel of Matthew.

Here I shall be much more tentative as I propose what I think could possibly be a solution, albeit a controversial one, to why Saint Matthew would have attributed to the prophet Jeremiah words that we actually find in the book of the prophet Zechariah.

Put simply, I intend to argue that Zechariah was Jeremiah.

Now, here is the Zechariah problem as set out by D. Miller and E. Lyons at Apologetics Press:

Who was Matthew Quoting?

…. After reporting in his gospel account about Judas’ suicide and the purchase of the potter’s field, Matthew quoted from the prophets as he had done many times prior to chapter 27. He wrote: “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’ ” (27:9-10).

For centuries, these two verses have been contemplated by Christians and criticized by skeptics. The alleged problem with this passage, as one modern-day critic noted, is that “this is not a quote from Jeremiah, but a misquote of Zechariah” (Wells, 2001). Skeptics purport that Matthew misused Zechariah 11:12-13, and then mistakenly attributed the quotation to Jeremiah. Sadly, even some Christians have advocated this idea (see Cukrowski, et al., 2002, p. 40). What can be said of the matter? ….

Miller and Lyons then go on to provide their answer to this difficulty.

My short-cut solution to it on the other hand, that Zechariah was Jeremiah, would seem to be disqualified immediately on chronological grounds. Whereas we last hear of Jeremiah (qua Jeremiah) as an exile in Egypt, where he is generally thought to have died around 570 BC, Zechariah’s time of prophesying – {the Book of Zechariah} – is specifically dated some 50 years later than that (520-518 BC).

However, the“Darius” referred to in Zechariah 1:1: “In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah”, generally thought to have been Darius the Great, actually fits much better as a previous king given the early stage of the restoration (Zechariah 4:9): “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple …”.Compare this with what happened in “the second year”, again, of Cyrus (Ezra 3:8, 10):

In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak and the rest of the people (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work.


When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord ….

Common denominators are: second year (with month); Zerubbabel; and foundation of Temple. That a Darius (namely, Darius the Mede) can also be this Cyrus of the Book of Ezra has been well argued by many, usually by those who would take Daniel 6:28 to intend only the one king: “So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius, even [not “and”] the reign of Cyrus the Persian”. The Hebrew waw explicative function allows for such an interpretation. James Jordan, moreover, has connected Darius the Mede with Cyrus by chiasmus (The Handwriting on the Wall, ch. 12: And I, previously, had identified the great world-ruling “King Ahasuerus” of the Book of Esther also with Darius the Mede of the Book of Daniel:

Belshazzar’s Feast in the Book of Esther?

Taking away any chronological impediment now opens the way for the prophet Jeremiah to be Zechariah. It actually brings to completion the prophet Jeremiah who, appointed by God (1:10) “over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant,” had so far (as Jeremiah) seemingly done little by way of ‘building and planting’.

Moreover, according to Jewish tradition, Zechariah was ‘possessed’ of the spirit of Jeremiah ( “[Zechariah] leans avowedly on the authority of the older prophets, and copies their expressions. Jeremiah especially seems to have been his favorite; and hence the Jewish saying that “the spirit of Jeremiah dwelt in Zechariah”.”

Again, both Jeremiah (29:10) and Zechariah (1:12) refer to the “70 years” of punishment.


For those interested in reading further on this, and how the genealogy of Zechariah may tell us more about the origins of Jeremiah, see my:

A Case for Multi-identifying the Prophet Jeremiah


Vatican: UN Committee “A Sword Against Freedom of Religion”

NEW YORK, October 3 (C-Fam) The Vatican accused a UN committee of intolerance against Christians and interfering with the free exercise of religion in a scathing reply to a UN committee released to the press last Friday.

The Vatican’s official response to explosive comments made by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child earlier this year, which told the Catholic Church to change its teaching on abortion and same-sex attraction, departs sharply from UN etiquette by confronting the committee bluntly and without mincing words.

The Vatican is especially harsh on the committee for meddling with religious freedom, as well as sowing confusion and disregard of international law. It chastised the UN committee for abusing its position to disparage the Catholic Church during the reporting process under Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The committee’s recommendation to change Church teaching on abortion was “completely unacceptable,” the Vatican said. The treaty states that children must be protected “before and after birth.” With regards to Church teaching about marriage, the Vatican said same sex couples, sexual orientation, and diverse forms of the family are “controversial” and “subjective lifestyle choices” never contemplated by human rights treaties.

According to the Vatican the UN experts are guilty of “negative stereotyping” and “intolerance against members of the Catholic religion.” The committee “launched” into interpretations of scripture, as well as observations on faith, morals, and canon law.

The Vatican said the committee applied the principle of non-discrimination in an “unprincipled way, namely as a sword against freedom of religion” when it claimed Church teaching on the complementarity and equal dignity of man and woman are examples of sexism.

Sexual education is outside the purview of the treaty, noted the Vatican “Education about authentic human love, human sexuality, married love and related matters are primarily and fundamentally the right, duty, and responsibility of parents.”

Aside from the substance of the recommendations, the committee failed to comprehend the “specific nature and mission” of the Holy See. The committee told the Vatican it was responsible for the actions of clerics and Catholic institutions operating in the territory and under the laws of other countries.

“The Holy See’s religious and moral mission, which transcends geographical boundaries, cannot be transformed into a sort of universal legal jurisdiction, which somehow becomes a matter under the mandate of a treaty body,” the Vatican explained. That would require the Church to “control the daily activities of clerics, religious and laypersons, living in the territories of sovereign States.”

Vatican Press spokesperson Fr. Federico Lombardi had promised a detailed response following the committee’s observations earlier this year. He explained that outside the borders of the Vatican City all the Church could do was support the treaty with its moral and spiritual clout. The Vatican became the fourth party to the treaty in 1990 under John Paul II and the treaty enjoys near universal ratification by UN member states.

Other UN state parties to the treaty will follow the Holy See with interest. It remains to be seen if the committee includes the Holy See’s reply in the official record of the reporting process that is reviewed annually by the UN General Assembly. The committee may try to limit the exposure of the Vatican’s response within the UN system.