Why Felix?

super_felix_coin_purse

Throughout the New Testament following Christ’s ascension, Paul (formerly Saul) has many adventures. He arrested, detained, and tried several times. One specific account is penned down in Acts 24. Paul had stirred up trouble for the elders in the previous chapter spreading this “gospel.” Ananias and the elders ( including Tertullus) came to the procurator Felix’s court to bring accusations against Paul.

“Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation,  in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude. But, to detain you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly.  For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.  He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him. By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him.”- Acts 24:2-8

Examine and Inquire.

According to livius.org,  “Felix suppressed bands of bandits and the messianic  movement.” (http://www.livius.org/am-ao/antonius/antonius_felix.html). Felix was a Roman appointed courtier in Samaria, and he was given military aid to fulfill his occupation. Also, “Felix stimulated outbreaks by injudicious disciplinary measures” (http://www.reocities.com/Athens/oracle/3088/felix.html). Felix was a very political man, and the took the necessary means to keep himself in power. So, when Paul this head of the so-called “messianic movement” was presented to Felix what would he normally do. Crush them! Did He?

No Felix did not.

Later in the chapter, we see Felix having Paul taken car of rather nicely.

“Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs.” -Acts 24:23

Why Felix? You great suppressor and military ruler. This Paul has caused so much trouble throughout Judea. However, Felix had reasoning behind his peculiar action. “Felix deferred judgment . The excuse he gave for delay was the non-appearance of Lysias, but his real reason was in order to obtain bribes for the release of Paul. He therefore treated his prisoner at first with leniency, and pretended along with Drusilla to take interest in his teaching.” (http://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/felix-antonius.html). This accusation of Felix detaining Paul for bribes and not to seek out his teaching is confirmed in the Scriptures.

“After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.” – Acts 24:24-27

silas

This rascal. He was holding a fugitive for ransom and bribes. My how times have changed. (Please hear my sarcasm.) Felix just like some politicians today seek out bribes for cases of high interest. It always amazes me the depth of the stories in the Bible, and just how relevant they are today.

Footnotes:

One Priest? Two Priest?… Red Priest. Blue Priest.

While reading through the four accounts of the life of Jesus Christ, I have seen so many things that I was not taught in Sunday School. Likewise, the story of the arrest and trial of Jesus has spurred many questions in my mind. In the account of John, the writer offers a detail that is not mentioned in the other three synoptic gospels.

“So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year.”

John 18:12-13 (ESV)

annas-caiaphas

The synoptic gospels all mention Jesus being led to Caiaphas in Matthew, the high priest in Mark, and the chief priests and scribes in Luke. None of these mention Annas by name. We are told in John who Annas is. He is in fact the father-in-law of Caiaphas the high or chief priest. So, why mention Jesus being brought to Annas first?

First, who exactly was Annas? Yes, he was the father-in-law to the current high priest, but he himself was a high priest as well. “Annas [also Ananus[1] or Ananias[2]], son of Seth (23/22 BC–66 AD), was appointed by the Roman legate Quirinius as the first High Priest of the newly formed Roman province of Iudaea in 6 AD; just after the Romans had deposed Archelaus, Ethnarch of Judaea, thereby putting Judaea directly under Roman rule.” (https://www.princeton.edu/~achaney

/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Annas.html)

A general search of Annas’ duration as high priest will send you links to a scripture from Luke.

“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,  during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.”

Luke 3:1-2 (ESV)

Wait two high priests. Can that be? The initial question of who was Annas was easily answered; however, it spun a greater question.

Were there two high priests serving at the time of Jesus? Caiaphas and Annas?

As I researched more vigorously into the term that Annas served as the appointed high priest, the more I saw the complexities of the Jewish system of law influenced by Roman rule. According to an article written by Roy Cogdill, Annas was the High Priest of the Jews at the time Jesus was tried; but he had been deposed from his office for the very reason that he had tried to impose the death penalty on another occasion, and the Romans had appointed his son-in-law, Caiaphas, to be High Priest in his stead. (http://www.truthmagazine.com/archives

/volume31/GOT031277.html). An article from Princeton revealed the same fate for Annas. He was appointed by Rome, but was dismissed by the Procurator Gratus for imposing and executing capital sentences which had been forbidden by the imperial government,” (Princeton). Caiaphas was appointed by Roman authority as the high priest. Although, Annas was not serving as a high priest, he was still a very well respected man throughout the Jewish community especially the religious elite. In fact, he was probably a great political leader because he had five sons and a son-in-law  most likely acting as puppet high priests. So, Caiaphas was the high priest serving at the time of Jesus’s trial, but Annas still was regarded as a person of importance to the Jewish council. Again the article mentions a scriptural reference to the regard of high priesthood for the duration of the man’s life according to the Mosaic Law. (paraphrase Princeton).

“And the congregation shall rescue the manslayer from the hand of the avenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge to which he had fled, and he shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil.”

 Numbers 35:25 (ESV)

“For he must remain in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest, but after the death of the high priest the manslayer may return to the land of his possession.”

Numbers 35:28 (ESV)

Perhaps for this reason, Annas was still called “high priest” even after his dismissal, along with Caiaphas(Luke 3:2). He also may have been acting as president of the Sanhedrin, or a coadjutor of the high priest.

(https://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/

wiki100k/docs/Annas.html)

take_him_to_caiaphas

John mentioned Annas for a reason. After research both in the scripture and in outside sources, I seem to have found an answer. No, there were not two serving priests at the time of Jesus’ trial. Annas was first appointed by Rome as a high priest of Judaea, but he was later dismissed by Procurator Gratus. Instead, his son-in-law Caiaphas (more recognized) was appointed as the high priest in his place. (paraphrase Truth Magazine) According to the account of John, Jesus was first brought before Annas and then Caiaphas. This instance most likely occurred because Annas was still highly regarded in the Jewish religious community, or he may have been serving as a part of the Sanhedrin. (paraphrase Princeton). I can only assume that Jesus was brought before Annas to wait for the “chief priests and scribes” to assembly for this make shift trial. The more I read this ancient text, the more I see so many things that I have never been taught.

Sources:

Literary Study Bible ESV.

(https://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/

wiki100k/docs/Annas.html)

(http://www.truthmagazine.com/archives

/volume31/GOT031277.html)

“Jesus Christ: The Boy Who Lived”

JesusPotterHarryChrist

A controversial book cover art.

Like most people my age a certain book and movie series stretched over the span of our childhood. The Harry Potter series. However, the series sparked loads of tension in my church, but my parents saw no need to censor the series from me. I am glad they did not because now I see how many allusions to the Bible are in the series. The two main allusions are the prophecy and the death of the Chosen One.  I believe Duoghah says it best, “A critical and honest study of the Harry Potter series will reveal that it is similar to the Bible in so many ways. While many writers in their works had either made allusions to the Bible or quoted some parts of it, the Harry Potter series succinctly explores the themes which can be found in the Holy Bible.” (http://www.humanities360.com/index.php/parallels-between-harry-potter-and-the-bible-37218/)

Harry holding the Orb in the Hall of Prophecy

hp5prophecy

First, the Gospels have many quotations and references to the Old Testament prophets. Jesus himself quotes a prophecy from Isaiah 61 in Luke 4

“And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed.'” (Luke 4:17-18 ESV)

Isaiah was prophesying about the coming Savior of the Jews. The one who would give sight to the blind and set those who are oppressed free. This text is one of many prophecies about the Savior made in the Bible. Similar to this prophecy quoted in Luke, is the prophecy  Professor Trelawney  makes in  the OOTP.  Both prophecies make reference of the one who is to free those oppressed by  evil.

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …” – Trelawney (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

Second, who is this one who will save? I was reading through Luke’s account of the Crucifixion Story, and I stumbled across a term that J.K. Rowling used to describe Harry throughout her series. “Chosen One.” Each main character is seen as the one who will finally defeat the evil in the world. Both Jesus and Harry, see through the course of their story in order to save those that they love that they must die. During Luke’s Gospel account of the story the soldiers and onlookers are mocking Jesus branding him “Chosen One” as he is being led to Golgotha to die.  Jesus willingly walks to his death for the sake of others. According to the story, three days later Christ conquered death.

“And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” (Luke 23:35 ESV)

Likewise, Harry walks toward his death in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (DH). He is walking through the Forbidden Forest to his death. He is met by Voldemort and Death Eaters who mock him, and he is met ultimately with death. We see in DH a dream like sequence, and ultimately Harry returning to life and defeating Voldemort.  “Voldemort is vanquished and the world is saved. Harry has literally sacrificed himself (his scar is now gone) to save the world.”(http://hubpages.com/hub/Harry-Potter-Christ-Like-or-Not).

 “Given that the Bible is part of the founding literature of Western Civilization, it is not difficult to find similarities between it and a large number of works of fiction, both classic and modern. And much as it will anger many fundamentalist Christians, this is true even of the Harry Potter series.” (http://voices.yahoo.com/parallels-between-harry-potter-3933038.html?cat=2).

These are two of the greatest pieces of literature ever written in my opinion. Christians can riot the series if they want, but Biblical Allusions are so saturated in this series. From the inherent Good vs. Evil theme to even the minute emblems of the Lion and the Snake, it is clear that Harry Potter draws allusion to stories in the Bible.