Jesus and the End Time | FAQ (Anticipated Questions)
I. General Questions:
Why should readers take this writing seriously?
One reason that readers should take this writing seriously is that the writer is not affiliated with any church or religious institution and, consequently, has no preconceived ideas about what the King James Bible (or KJV Bible) does or should say. The writer is therefore in a doctrinally neutral position from which he can present the actual words of KJV Bible texts that (1) show or describe End Times teachings of Jesus, (2) point out and discuss other KJV Bible texts that seem to shed light on their possible meanings, and (3) in appropriate cases go on to discuss how these words and meanings may affect the relative merits of different possible interpretations of those teachings. This, in turn, assures that this writing not only treats the words of the KJV Bible as more important than any claims or arguments made by the writer, but also allows readers to use the Bible to verify the correctness of any claims or arguments he does make. This approach also helps the writer realize his ultimate goal of making it easier for readers to discover what the Bible has to say about the End Times teachings of Jesus when it is allowed to speak for itself. Thus, one answer to the question of why readers should take this writing seriously is that it takes the words of the Bible seriously.
Another reason that readers should take this writing seriously is that neither it nor its associated website provides any financial incentive for the writer to "spin" his presentation in a way that favors some interpretations of the End Times teachings of Jesus over others. Neither this writing nor its associated website, for example, is a part of or affiliated with any ministry or other organization that engages in religious or political activities. In addition, neither this writing nor its associated website has received funds or been supported in any other way by any religious or political group or by any individual other than the writer himself. As a result, the writer is able to explore subjects and to discuss interpretations of End Times teachings which are clearly supported by the words of the KJV Bible, but which entrenched religious or political interests may be motivated to gloss over or oppose. Thus, another answer to the question of why readers should take this writing seriously is that it is not subject to the corrupting influence of money or political advantage.
Why should readers take the writer seriously? Is he a recognized authority on the Bible?
Although the writer is not a formally educated Biblical scholar he believes that there are good reasons for taking seriously the things he says in this writing. One is that he is a formally educated person who earned high honors at a large state university while studying fields that are at least as difficult to master as Bible studies. Another is that, before he retired, the writer had a long and successful career analyzing and writing about subjects which are as complicated and difficult to understand as the teachings of the Bible about the End Times. Still another is that the writer has a deep and abiding interest in the Bible, an interest he has indulged by putting in long hours of after-hours study that used analytical skills similar to those he was well paid to use during working hours. Finally, there is the fact that, having done these things for many years, the writer now wants to leave behind the things he has learned for those who are as interested in the subject of this writing as he is. Thus, one answer to the question of why readers should take the writer seriously is that he has a history of demonstrating that he is a serious person.
While the writer does not claim to be an authority on the Bible in the academic, professional sense of that word, he has spent so much time studying the Bible that he considers himself to be a well informed and serious student of it. This, in turn, is all that he believes to be necessary for him (or anyone else) to produce the fact-rich but less than exhaustive coverage of the End Times teachings of Jesus provided by the present writing. His reasons for believing this are perhaps best understood by thinking about the reading of this writing as analogous to the taking of a guided tour through the vast and fascinating landscape of the Grand Canyon. This is because the persons who are best qualified to serve as tour guides depends on the kinds of tours their guests are interested in and the amount of time they have to spend. For tours of this kind what is required (other than honesty and general trustworthiness) is not necessarily a person who is a highly educated earth scientist or geologist, but rather a person who has traveled trails through the Grand Canyon many times, who has experience expressing himself, and who wants to help his guests see the features of interest they are most likely to be interested in. In any case, it is the latter kind of guide that the writer hopes and tries to be. Thus, another answer to the question of why readers should take the writer seriously is that he has all the knowledge and experience necessary to perform the task he has set for himself.
What does the writer hope to accomplish by creating this website?
The writer did not create this website in order to make money. He has used only his own money and time and effort to create it and, as anyone who has read it knows, nowhere asks for money. What he would like to see happen, though, is the expansion of this website into an online forum on which readers with a serious interest in the End Time* may present their own interpretations of the texts covered by this writing, or show and discuss complete sets of End Time texts of their own choosing. Another thing he would like to see happen is the addition to this website of interactive features which allow readers to post comments on or criticisms of any set of End Time texts included in the online forum, subject only to restrictions of the kind necessary to prevent it from being used for activities incompatible with its purpose, such as Bible-bashing, name-calling, and fund-raising pitches. Finally, whether or not the creation of such an online forum proves to be possible, the writer will work with other, like-minded individuals who are willing to establish and maintain a non-profit corporation or charitable trust that will enable this website to continue to operate even after they have passed from the scene. Persons who are interested in discussing the possibility of becoming one of these individuals may wish to begin by using the "Contact Us" link that appears on the Home page of this website. [* As explained on the Introduction page, this writing uses the terms "End Time" and "End Times" interchangeably, depending on the contexts in which it uses them.]
Whether or not this website is expanded or incorporated in the above-described ways, the writer hopes that it may nevertheless serve another arguably more important purpose: to provide a KJV Bible background against which important doctrinal or theological questions may be posed, sharpened and debated. One key example of such a question is how now widely accepted interpretations of the teachings of Jesus about hell as a place of everlasting punishment for some of the dead compare with the teachings of the Old Testament about hell (Sheol in the New Revised Standard Version of the Old Testament) as the abode or dwelling place of all of the dead. This question is important because, depending on the answer, it may be necessary either to reject some now widely accepted interpretations of these teachings, or to conclude that Jesus was responsible for introducing into the Bible ideas about hell very different from those which his Jewish contemporaries held about Sheol. And, if it is concluded that Jesus is responsible for introducing new ideas about hell into the Bible, it is fair to ask how he came to have the authority to do this. The answers to questions like these, in turn, could hardly be more consequential. This is because the idea that hell is a place of punishment by fire that continues forever is so terrifying that any religious institutions or individuals who can convince enough people that this idea is true, and that they know how to save them from this fate, have in their hands a motivational tool they can use to frighten people into supporting policies or causes they otherwise wouldn't. In short, what is really at stake in debates about the correctness of some now widely held interpretations of the teachings of Jesus about hell is nothing less than the separation of church and state.
If I were to read only one part of this website carefully, which part should it be?
I would recommend that it be the web page or Adobe PDF document titled "Notes on Everlasting Punishment". This is because, while this website as a whole concerns itself primarily with accurately describing at least the most important of the End Times teachings of Jesus in the King James Bible, the most important of these include the teachings of Jesus about hell and damnation. This, in turn, is because drawing wrong conclusions about one or another of the specific events that will occur as the End Times approach and reach their climax must surely be less important than drawing wrong conclusions about the nature of damnation and the fates of persons who remain among the damned long after that climax has passed. In view of this importance, the writer has taken the time necessary to present the teachings of the Bible about hell and everlasting punishment with special care and attention to detail and context. By doing this, the writer hopes to help people avoid being victimized by unscrupulous preachers who use their carefully cultivated speaking skills to create terrifying images of a fate that evokes their deepest most primal fears, and then use those fears to obtain wealth and power for themselves by offering alleged sure-fire ways of avoiding that fate. To avoid this, the writer recommends that readers pay careful attention to the actual words of the books of the Bible that describe its ideas about or interpretations of hell and damnation. In his "Notes on Everlasting Punishment", the writer has done his best to provide a good setup piece. The rest---reading it, and building on it---is up to each reader.
What does the writer mean when he uses the word "text"?
The word "text" can be used to mean a number of different things. It can, for example, be used to mean a complete book, the words that appear on a printed page that includes both words and pictures, or all or any part any of the Bible. In this writing the writer will use the words "text" and "texts" to mean sets of one or more Biblical passages or verses that this writing quotes in full as topics for discussion. In most cases these texts are made up of one or more complete verses that appear adjacent to one another in the KJV Bible. In those cases in which verses of interest are separated by long sets of intervening verses that are not of interest, however, the writer may omit the intervening verses to save space and make the text easier to understand. In such cases, the writer will mark the omission by showing three asterisks (*) in their place.
Many other English translations of the Bible have been published since the King James Version first appeared. Why does the writer limit himself to showing and discussing texts that appear in that Version?
It is true that the King James Version of the Bible has a number of shortcomings. Since it was first published in 1611, for example, scholars have discovered that its translators did not use what scholars now regard as the best manuscripts or readings of the documents from which they translated it. It also contains words or passages the meanings of which did not become clear until after the discovery of better manuscripts or translations of its books, or of older versions of these books found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. In spite of these shortcomings, the King James Version has advantages that justify its continued use. One of these is that it has been around for so long and been so widely distributed that it is readily available to almost everyone in the English speaking world. Another is that King James Version was translated and published at about the same time that William Shakespeare wrote his works, a fact that endows its words with a Shakespearean quality and patina of antiquity that has caused many people to become quite attached to it, the writer among them.
The King James Version of the Bible also has a number of practical advantages. One is that it is foundational in the sense that many later translations of the Bible can reasonably be thought of as improvements to or corrections of it. This, in turn, allows readers of writings like this one to use it to introduce themselves to and orient themselves within those later translations. Another is that readers can use its texts as a text finding tool that helps them find the most nearly similar texts in other translations, in spite of differences in the words used in those translations. Arguably the most important of its advantages, however, is that the words of the KJV Bible are in the public domain and, consequently, can be copied and discussed freely, without violating the legal rights of the owners of the copyrights on more recent translations. This is important because it means that the owners of those copyrights cannot use them to prevent or punish the publication of works that express points of view they do not agree with.
The writer discusses a great many Old Testament texts that he thinks shed light on the End Times teachings of Jesus. Aren't the things that the New Testament says about these teachings enough?
While the things Jesus said about the End Times are of great importance, they are not things he said in a vacuum. On the contrary, he said these things not only in a particular place and time, but also to a people whose religious world view was shaped by the Holy Scriptures as they existed in that place and time. As a result, it would not be reasonable to simply read into things Jesus is described as saying in books of the Bible things that were not written until many decades after his death. A more reasonable approach is to consider the things Jesus said in view of the Scriptural background against which he said them. Since, with the exception of certain second-temple writings which did not make it into the canon of the KJV Bible (the apocrypha), the Scriptural background that existed when Jesus lived consisted of books Christians now call the Old Testament, it makes sense to use those books whenever possible to shed light on the true meanings of Jesus' teachings about the End Time in general and about hell and everlasting punishment in particular.
Based on his own experience, the writer believes that the better a person knows the Old Testament the more he is struck by how often the things Jesus said are taken from or patterned after things said in the Old Testament. Importantly, these things include not only statements that he quotes from a named prophet, but also words that he uses to paraphrase or allude to the words of an unnamed prophet, or of a Psalm or of one of the Books of Moses. These things also include terms like the kingdom of God, the elect, the children of God, and the Judgment which he does not define or explain, apparently because he expected his listeners to understand what he meant by them from their study of Scripture. By citing a large number of texts that identify the parts of the Old Testament that Jesus quotes from, or that he seems to paraphrase or allude to, the writer hopes to enable readers to understand these terms in something like the same way as the people who heard them from the mouth of Jesus himself.
Why does this writing devote so much space to the Biblical context of the texts it discusses?
The context in which a person's words appear is important because it is the thing which prevents his words from being misunderstood or misrepresented. Repeating a person's words without conveying an accurate idea of its context may even be used to make a person seem to have said exactly the opposite of what he actually said. Because this principle is so widely accepted, persons who do this are rightly regarded as guilty of misconduct. In order to avoid even the appearance of such misconduct, the writer has resolved doubts about whether or not to include things as context in favor of including them as context. This is because the writer would much rather be rightly accused of being wordy than be wrongly accused of misrepresenting facts.
Although a distinction can be drawn between the context of a person's words and the physical setting (the time and place) in which he spoke them, the writer will usually treat both as parts of the context of those words. This is because doing this makes it easier to decide which accounts of things Jesus said in different Gospels are accounts of the same event and which are not. This decision may, in turn, be important because it can help a careful reader decide whether he should try to reconcile the two accounts, or whether he should simply regard them as different formulations of a teaching that happens to use the same or similar characters or the same or similar themes. Including verses that describe the time and place at which Jesus said things can also make it easier for a reader to understand how they may affect the overall thrust or interpretation of the passages in which he said them.
End of Part 1
In order to limit the size of the web version of this document the writer ends the web version here, with the end of the first or "General Questions" section thereof. In the full-length version of this document that appears on the Table of Contents page, the latter section is followed by a second section titled "Questions About the Form and Punctuation of Documents Included in This Writing" which explains why the writer structures and punctuates the documents included on this website the way he has. The full-length version of this document then concludes with a third section titled "Questions About the Use of Special Display Features Like Horizontal Tiling" which describes how users may take advantage of the special display features of Adobe PDF readers to show any two or more KJV Bible texts included in this writing in a horizontally tiled relationship that makes them easy to compare on a line-by-line or page-by-page basis. Readers who are interested in reading the full-length version of this document can read or download that version from the Table of Contents page of this website. Clicking on the link shown below will take readers to the Table of Contents page. Once there, they can open this document by clicking on the link titled "Anticipated Questions" that is located at the bottom of left column of that page.
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