Sunday, May 17, 2020

34A8D4E9-74C8-4F95-98E2-35786A76BA97There are three “truths” I have been asked about many times. Often people tell me these as though they’re explaining to me something I’ve never heard before. However, in each case, there is no historical, biblical or actual basis to any three of them. In each case they started being taught in recent times and because their side so often they “become true.”

In each case, they started being taught in recent times and because they’re sad so often they “become true.“

1) BREAKING THE LEG OF A WANDERING LAMB

The first of these is that shepherds in the Middle East break the leg of a wandering lamb to keep it close by. And being close to the shepherd makes the lamb very affectionate.

This does not happen and there are no traditions or incidents known of it happening. In fact, there are a good number of reasons why it would not happen. It is simply a manufactured myth.

2). THE “ EYE OF A NEEDLE” IS A GATE

FE7E50AF-5E9C-4045-B107-0FDAFCF875A9The story is lovely for preaching because it graphically explains how a camel cannot get through the small door in a wall to enter a city. With all the merchandise on it’s back the camel driver hast to remove everything from the camel’s back so it can stoop down and we go through the small gate.

However, there is no historical, written or archaeological evidence there was ever such a gate. The camel was the largest thing people usually saw and the eye of the needle the smallest, therefore, it made an excellent visual image about how a rich man could into heaven only by offloading his wealth and possessions. But the idea that the “eye of the needle” was a gate – is a myth.

3) THE FOLDED NAPKIN IN THE TOMB MEANT JESUS WOULD COME BACK

4515AF0D-50CE-49A7-98D1-A4D808F76F07 The Gospel of John tells us that the napkin or face cloth of Christ was rolled or folded up in a place by itself. Some have invented a custom that never existed, that a man would crumple up his napkin and toss it aside if he was done with dinner but would fold it neatly and set it aside if he was leaving but would come right back.

Therefore, since Jesus‘s face cloth or napkin was folded up in the empty tomb, it was a signal that Jesus would return.

“It has been rumored that folding the napkin at the table is a Jewish custom that means the person folding the napkin intends to return. Numerous Bible study sources have been checked, but there is nothing about this alleged Jewish custom of the folded napkins. The only references to this story seem to be from internet postings and emails that appear to have originated in 2007…. The truth is that table napkins, such as we use today, were not used in Jesus’ day. Jews would do an after-meal hand washing as part of the eating ritual….The folding of the napkin as a sign that a dinner guest was finished may be good European custom, but it appears this custom was unknown in the land of Israel in the time of Jesus.” (Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2013).

The folded napkin, like the other three, is a myth.

4) JESUS COULDN’T HAVE BEEN BORN DECEMBER 25 BECAUSE SHEEP AREN’T OUT  IN THE FIELDS IN WINTER

A5754794-4161-4869-9DBB-C8D5C4B0F68EPresumably wool is not enough to keep sheep warm so the have to stay home during winter. Not true. It can get cold in Bethlehem and on rare occasions I’ve even had snowball fights with local children. But Bethlehem is not Alaska and the temperatures are usually very mild even in December. I have often worn a light jacket even on New Years Day.

Even in inclement weather there are plenty of caves outside of Bethlehem and we often celebrate Mass in Shepherds Field where the shepherds kept the sheep overnight on the first Christmas Eve. Caves are abundant and on a cold night sheep can enjoy the warmth of the caves.

With my own eyes, I tell you, sheep are in the fields eating year-round.

5) SAUL OF TARSUS WAS GIVEN A NEW NAME AT HIS CONVERSION OR CALLING

5ECB630B-F0E9-41D9-B3B2-96E5E319B858Abram was renamed Abraham when God formed a covenant with him (Gen 17:5) and Simon was given his new name Peter (Rock) when he was commissioned as Royal Steward by Jesus (Matt 16:18). However, Saul was never given a new name. Saul of Tarsus had duel citizenship, both a Jew of Israel and also a Roman citizen (Acts 22:26-28). Up until he was called by God to go to the Gentiles, we see him referred to by his Jewish name Saul. After his call, he was referred to by his Roman name Paul (Acts 13:9) because he was now going out to preach to the Gentiles so he used his Roman name.

So Paul was not granted a new name but had two names from birth, his Jewish name and his Roman name.

There’s an old saying that if you say something often enough it becomes true. However, even though these things are said often enough, they are NOT true.

If you’ve heard of other “truths” like this that you think might be a myth, let me know.

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