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August 07, 2004

I finished reading Matthew, and I now understand why so many people were telling me to start the New Testament before I finished the Old Testament -- the New Testament is much more engaging and easy to understand than the Old Testament, at least thus far.

A question for you Biblical scholars out there: Who is Mary Magdalene? Jesus's mom? Or is Jesus's mom the other Mary? Is very confusing.


I've been feeling low/confused/rattled lately, so I've been praying more than I was. I still usually feel like I'm just going through the motions when I pray, and that it is more a personal reflection and accounting procedure than anything else. But then, it usually makes me feel better, whatever it is... peace, etc.


I listen to people explain to me their impressions of God, and most of them are so simple and undemanding -- "I believe there is a God who loves everyone who lives their lives in a good way." This is a beautiful thing to believe, and maybe it's real -- maybe God doesn't requre anything of us, not even to believe in him/her/it, for one to attain salvation. I've been told by devout Christains that there has to be a choice involved in order to get into "heaven," and I'm beginning to believe that this might be true, if only for the Christian religion. For this to be true, however, requires God to completely overlook a person who lived his life with perfect Christian morality but who never made the choice to believe... this seems particulaly harsh for such a seemingly forgiving and understanding God. Then again, if "hell" is simply an eternity spent separated from God, then why would a Godless person care?

The point is, I'm still confused.


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There are several 'Marys' in the Bible. The first and foremost is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Another is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, or at least an adulteress, whom Jesus rescued and forgave. Mary, the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene were present at Golgatha where Jesus was crucified.

The only reason Jesus came to us in human form is because there was not a single human being who ever could get through life without making mistakes and grieving God. (Job may have been the closest to an exception). Because God's own covenant people could never restrain themselves from worshipping other gods, He, who could not look on sin, created a way that the sins (which man always falls prey to) could be forgiven.

In every culture and every religion, it has been a "given" that, without a blood sacrifice, the "gods" could not be appeased and sins could not be forgiven. Even the pagans figured out that the "purer" and more innocent the sacrifice, the more likely the gods would be pleased. Hence we have the babies who were thrown into the sacrificial fire of Baal's mouth and the countless places where virgin young women were burned alive.

God sent a spotless, sinless lamb to be the sacrifice for the sins of all men from every nation, tribe and tongue for all time. The lamb provided for that last sacrifice was Jesus. Four thousand years of prophets listening to God produced the Bible Old Testament. All of the major prophets predicted Jesus' coming, where he would be born, why he was coming and why and how he would die. (Look back to Isaiah 53, for one.)

The Old Testament Bible described the sacrificial system that God ordained through Abraham. Unfortunately, having the Israelites sacrifice a spotless yearling lamb at Passover from the time of Moses did not cleanse them from their sins long enough. They were at it again the next minute. The sacrificial system did not work, so that God created a new way for a single sacrifice to atone for sins forever.

Through Jesus, it is now possible to approach God through a simple prayer. And God listens and answers prayers every day.

I continue to pray that it all makes sense to you one day. Keep praying, and I know you will find Him. He's been after you for a long time.

"hell" is simply an eternity spent separated from God

this is a good distinction to understand. the Devil apparently doesn't choose to be evil. instead, the choice is 'not God'- which is evil.

In my understanding, [which is by no means wise] some Christians feel that if an unGodly [non-Xtian] person has been presented with Jesus and does not accept him as savior, then they are choosing 'not-God' and are doomed to hell.

But since I'd rather believe that God loves everyone always and will always accept them into heaven, I suppose I agree with you mostly.

By the distinction I mentioned above, an unGodly person already lives in hell.

hmm. I think I just rehashed what you wrote.

I just read your blog and encountered the question ' who is Mary Magdelene'.

If you remember from the DaVinci code - she is a very contraversial figure. Many still believe that she was a prostitue - even though that view is not supported in the bible. Priests interviewed by ABC last year said that she was definitely not a prostitute - and could not say for certain whether or not she was actually married to Jesus.

I offer this web site as one of many that discuss her status - just so that you get a more global view of the Biblical 'facts'.


Thank you for your magdalene comment, but that's crap.

For the sake of people who aren't you, perhaps you could explain to us exactly how the comment on Magdalene is "crap."

If you're going to make a comment like this, at least make an effort to back it up, otherwise it does nothing to further my (or anyone else's) understanding of the Bible.

hey, jef. good to see you're still going strong in your quest. you have my respect and admiration.

i realize this is not the latest entry, so perhaps no one will backup to read this. regardless, there is this question that i know i will never find an answer for. and i just want to put it down... i really don't want an answer, either, because there isn't a human being that can answer it. there are many, i'm certain, who think they can (i think that's scary, but whatever)... i grew up "christian," surrounded by the bible both in church and in school, so there aren't many "facts" i can't drum up... but some things just ain't factual... like this thing...

someone (name not posted) commented:
"Unfortunately, having the Israelites sacrifice a spotless yearling lamb at Passover from the time of Moses did not cleanse them from their sins long enough. They were at it again the next minute. The sacrificial system did not work, so that God created a new way for a single sacrifice to atone for sins forever."

doesn't god determine what "works?" how long a cleansing "lasts?" if he could create a new way, why couldn't he just make the old way "work?" or why couldn't he make the new way one that didn't require blood at all? if he's so loving, why did he make necessary the death of so much life? if it's so we "prove" our devotion in a way that requires a huge sacrifice... couldn't he just peek in our heads and know how devoted we are? in a way, it seems like a very "materialistic" way of forgiving sins/allowing people "in." give me this, something of yours, and THEN i will know you're serious, and you'll know you're serious, and i'll give you what i have to offer. *sigh*

Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the risen Christ ! She is sometimes called the apostle to the apostles because she saw Him first and went to tell the others.

Looking for good stuff to read in the OT, try Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiasties. Of course it is all good, but these 3 I mentioned may resonate with you more than say Leviticus would.


Well, two things:

1) I would say that God *didn't* change to a second method of saving people in the New Testament - the sacrifices in the Old Testament were pointing forward to Jesus. People have always been saved by faith in him, either from looking forward to him (as in the OT) or looking back to him (as we do).

2) I agree that it's inconsistent for a loving God to torture people in hell forever. My belief is that those who are not saved will ultimately be destroyed and be dead (unconscious) forever. Here are a couple of links that explore this concept in more detail

Dear X
You are on the right path. Keep reading the Bible, and praying day and night.
Let's ask God in the name of Jesus, to awaken our mind and heart. Let's open our hearts and all our "doors" for the Divine Power.

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