Thursday, July 22, 2010

320: Peter Makes Zombies

Acts 9-10
"Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, 'Tabitha, get up.' She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up." - Acts 9:40

Chapter 9 picks up with Saul going around throwing Jesus lovers in jail. On Saul's way to Damascus, he falls to the ground and hears a voice that says, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?". Saul asks the voice who it is, and the voice replies, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do". How is Saul persecuting Jesus? He's persecuting people that he feels are breaking Jewish law by worshiping a false idol. I'm not sure how that's a personal affront to Jesus.

Saul stands up, and the bible says that the people who were with him "heard the sound but did not see anyone". What sound? The sound of the voice? The bible doesn't say. When Saul opens his eyes, he finds that he is blind.

Saul is blind for three days until a disciple of Jesus is sent to him. This disciple tells Saul that he has been sent by Jesus to fill him with the Holy Spirit. As soon as the disciple says this, scales fall out of Saul's eyes and he can see.

When Saul gets to Damascus he begins preaching about Jesus. When the Jewish elders catch wind of this, they conspire to kill Saul. Saul somehow finds out about this conspiracy and sneaks out of the city by night.

Saul returns to Jerusalem and attempts to join with the twelve. They are reluctant because they think it's a trap. Wait, shouldn't the Holy Spirit be telling them that it isn't a trap? After all, Saul is supposed to be filled with the Holy Spirit now. Some guy I've never heard of (Barnabas) vouches for Saul, and the twelve welcome him.

The focus shifts to Peter and the bible tells a story of him healing a paralytic. When he heals the man, he says "Jesus Christ heals you". I thought he was using the Holy Spirit to heal people, not Jesus. Isn't Jesus supposed to be staying at the right hand of God (at least till the end of the world)?

Next is a story about a woman named Tabitha. The bible says that she was a follower of Jesus, but she died of some sickness. Her friends call for Peter (who is in an adjacent town) upon her death, to come resurrect her. Peter goes to them and tells everyone to leave the room. He then tells Tabitha to get up (who is witnessing this if nobody is in the room?). She does, and everyone is convinced. We are given no clue as to why Tabitha is special in the early church. Unless this is meant to imply that all sufficiently righteous people in the early church were immediately resurrected upon their death. Somehow I doubt that.

In chapter 10, Cornelius (a centurion) has a vision about an angel telling him to go get Peter. He sends two of his servants and a soldier on their way to fetch Peter from the town he's staying in.

As these men are on their journey to get him, Peter collapses and has a vision. In this vision a large sheet is let down on the earth. This sheet somehow contains "all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air". Then a voice tells him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat." Peter says surely not, he would never eat anything unclean (which seems to defy people's notion that Jesus made all things good to eat). The voice responds by saying, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean".

Ok, but what has God made clean? I guess this is meant to imply that all the animals on the sheet are good to eat? It's important to note that God still excludes all sorts of fish, and you still can't eat those four legged insects. That's if you assume that the animals on the sheet are the ones that God now means to imply are clean, which the bible doesn't explicitly say.

As this vision is wrapping up, the centurion's servants arrive at the gate of the house where Peter is staying. The Holy Spirit tells him to go with Cornelius's men, and he does.

When Peter arrives at Cornelius's house, he falls at Peter's feet. Peter tells him to get up because he is only a man. Peter goes on to give a long speech about how God doesn't show favoritism, and that he will treat everyone equally if they are God fearing. But I thought you also had to love Jesus now, lest you will be sent to hell? In any case, this seems to show extreme favoritism (at least at this time in history) toward the Jews, since they were the first ones to receive the Jesus message.

It's interesting to note that Peter reiterates that Jesus was hung from a tree (not a cross). As Peter is speaking, the Holy Spirit is given to everyone that is listening. The chapter ends with all of the gentiles being baptized.

This is an interesting story. And I promise it has something to do with the bible, bear with me:
Nmachi Ihegboro was born yesterday in London, England, with blonde hair, blue eyes, pale-pink skin, and other completely typical Caucasoid (that is, "white") features. The only thing that makes her birth unusual, aside from her African-sounding given and family names, is that both her parents are black, not white, and in fact she has two black siblings who look little different from their parents.
As they say, "Pics or it didn't happen", here it is:

African albinism is actually surprisingly unremarkable. Some sources say that it happens in 1 of every 20,000 births. However, the claim here is that this is a truly caucasian baby. That is, somehow this couple, that claims to have no white ancestors, held all the recessive genes to make a white baby:
...their doctors began to suspect that Nmachi suffered from albinism, or the total absence of bodily pigment. Albinism is a very serious disorder that places the patient at permanent risk of sunburn from even the slightest sun exposure, and often makes the patient's eyes permanently light-sensitive and can even lead to blindness. But the color of the skin, hair and eyes would tend toward an extreme, and the eyes would be pink, not blue. Therefore, as Professor Bryan Sykes of Oxford University suspects, this child is not an albino.
Unfortunately, instead of doing any research, the writer of this article just used his own idea of what an albino is and stated it as fact. Turns out, the Oxford University Professor is right (shocking). Allow me to point you to a gallery of African albinos that look exactly like this baby (that is, blonde, and mostly non-pink eyes). As for this baby's "white features", that's up to your own opinion.

Here's where the bible comes in: The writer, operating on the assumption that the baby is not an albino, starts drawing ridiculous conclusions:
But creationists know that in fact all human beings alive today have two common ancestors: Noah, the builder and captain of the largest lifeboat ever built, and his wife. Their son Ham happens to be the common ancestor of southern Africans and the ancient Egyptians. So Nmachi could be expressing genes long suppressed but passed along since the Babel Incident, and inherited either directly through Ham's son Cush or perhaps introduced to her family by an Egyptian soldier or two.
Whoa, what? I didn't realize that the Tower of Babel had anything to do with people's race. The most important, possibly false, assumption that the writer is making is that Noah and his wife were white. There is no biblical evidence of this, and there is certainly no historical evidence of this. As far as I remember there is no mention of (black/white) race anywhere in the bible.

Of course, nobody seems to want to do a genetic test that would put this case to rest.

If you want to do your own research/draw your own conclusion about this case, here are some relevant links:
Lighter eyes vs. Lighter skin (mentions African albinism sometimes comes with blonde hair blue eyes),
and the real origins of human skin color.


  1. Acts 9

    Acts 9:2. The high priest in Jerusalem would have no authority in Damascus to impart to Saul. Luke is just trying to invent an excuse for Saul to go to Damascus, since he knows that he was converted along that route.

    Acts 9:7. What sound did they hear? Was it the voice? (Or did it just sound like thunder, as in John)? And why does Luke report that they didn't see "anyone"? Did Saul see anyone? The text doesn't say so.

    Acts 9:12. Paul's vision included a name? How would he know what Ananias's name was from a vision? Was he wearing a name tag in it?

    Acts 9:13-14. Is Ananias questioning Jesus' judgment?

    Acts 9:17-18. How was Ananias able to impart the Holy Spirit? After all, he wasn't an apostle. Or was Saul's baptism like that that Philip administered - just for show.

    Acts 9:19,23. If Saul only spent a few days with the disciples in Damascus, what was he doing for the rest of those "many days" in the city? Did he not get along with them? Was he by himself?

    Acts 9:24. Why did they have to kill him outside the city gate?

    Acts 9:27. Bryan, Barnabas was mentioned back in Acts 4:36.

    Acts 9:29. Why do the Grecian Jews in particular want to kill him? Why don't the Palestinian Jews who sent him on the mission to Damascus want to try him instead?

    Acts 9:31. So there was no persecution after Saul was converted? He was the source of ALL of the persecution that the Xians experienced, in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, to this point?!

  2. Acts 10

    Acts 10:10. This "vision" of Peter is explicitly portrayed as a dream. Maybe this command didn't come from God at all; maybe She still wanted the Xians to keep Jewish dietary laws.

    Acts 10:12. We can eat reptiles, too? Cool. The people of Taiwan, Vietnam and Laos will be happy (I ate snakes and geckos in those countries). Bummer that shellfish are still verboten, though.

    But the NIV is a bit vague. This is Young's Literal Translation: "in which were all the four-footed beasts of the earth, and the wild beasts, and the creeping things, and the fowls of the heaven." So the sheet contained "every" kind of 4-footed animal, wild animals, reptiles, and birds, not just some of them.

    I guess we should eat cats and dogs, too. Chinese and Koreans will be happy.

    Acts 10:13-14. It's never specified who is speaking. Peter calls him "Lord," but maybe he was just guessing. In any case, Lord could be more than entity.

    Is the voice commanding Peter to eat ALL of these creatures? (In one sitting?) Peter seems to take the commandment as meaning he SHOULD eat all of those animals, rather than just that he could, since his objection wouldn't make sense otherwise; after all, if every kind of 4-footed animal was on the sheet, then some kosher ones, such as lamb, must've been there, too.

  3. The biggest thing to notice about the story of Cornelius in Acts 10 is that the whole idea that Jesus said that all foods are clean (as in Mark 7:19) or that his message should be taken to the Gentiles (as in Matt 28:19 or Luke 24:47) must've been a later invention. If he had ever said anything like either of these things, there would've been no controversy later. Instead, we have the apostles depicted as continuing to keep the Jews laws and shun the Gentiles for a long time after the resurrection. And in Acts 11 and Paul's letter to the Galatians, we see a raging debate over this issue in the early church. Later each side tried to place its words into the mouths of Jesus (and Peter) to try to win the argument.



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