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The large sucking sound of Messianic Study



The more I learn, the more I know the Messianic study and idea has little to do with the novel, and yet, I continue to read and learn about the Messiah concept. What a mess that is. Don't go there. It hurts the brain after a while and then, most of the rest of the body as well.

I'm basically writing this to remind myself that I'm not studying the messianic stuff any more, I'm finishing up the novel with the first intended story. So if you were looking for an actual blog entry here, that is not what we are doing today. At least not ... now.. today.. maybe later today.


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Writing about Ancient Days

The bane of historical sections in fictional novels, is the writer of the fictional novel. Ideas and settings are hard enough to come up with, and when you get a good story line running in your head, the last thing you want is some archeologist coming up with a fact that makes your great idea impossible, or at the very least highly unlikely.

For example, I had a great mental image of Dismas coming down into the Valley of the Shadow, on the east side of Jerusalem. There is a necropolis on the Mount of Olives, just to the south of where he is riding down from the summit. To bring the description inline with the mood of the character, I wanted to darken the atmosphere up a bit, which is rather difficult considering you are looking at Jerusalem from the summit of the Mount of Olives at sunrise.

One of the descriptions I came up with, is to put some fog down in the bottom of the vale, and to put some small lamps on the tome stones in the fog covered area of the necropolis. Small lights in fog are spooky to me. There are names like death watches and dead lights that come to mind when I see these scenes. The trouble was I didn't know if the Jewish people put lamps on tome stones.

After doing some research on the Internet, I came across an article on Stephen Smuts' blog called Ancient Jewish Oil Lamps . In the article Stephen says:

Lamps are common finds in archaeological excavations of private dwellings, villages, as well as in tombs, and are helpful tools for dating.
I really like the word "tombs" in that sentence, because it offered the suggestion that having lamps around the dead would (at least), not be offensive to a Jewish reader. So I wrote Stephen and asked him if there was any Jewish custom he knew about which would put lamps on tome stones. He was very kind in taking time from his day in writing me back.

The answer of course is no, they didn't and don't do that. So in my "writers" mind, these lamps are being left by Roman or Greek friends of the dead, and since there are only a few lamps in the scene, and it isn't and offensive act (wouldn't be considered a desecration), I left the scene in the chapter, but I don't explain it or elude to it after.

Stephen also suggests in his article that the lamps are very useful for dating a discovery, and I take this to mean there are different types of lamps being created over time; different styles and possibly different materials being used as well.

The great temple lamp, the one inside the temple which burns before the door of the Holy center, can only be filled with olive oil. And... this olive oil is made from gathering the first drop of oil from each olive.

The towering lamps in the court yard in front of the temple are also filled with olive oil, and the wicks are said to be made from the old robes of the priests. How true this is, I don't know. There are many basic information areas that we have lost regarding the temple, which is the second bane when writing about ancient days. Some times the information you are looking for, simply doesn't exist.
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Map of Alexandria I used for the first Forever Jack Novel


I found this map on Michael Livingston's web site. He did a bit of editing to the version he found. While most of my descriptions are going to be vague, especially concerning places that simply do not exist any longer, in order to write the passages, I need to know what they look like.

I guess it is quite a bit like the characters of a fiction novel. You note and create a much larger profile for them than you will ever use in the novel.

In the Gospel of Nicodemus, Dismas is said to have guarded the passage of Joseph and Mary, with their new child Jesus, into Egypt. This simple statement tells us a great deal about Dismas, and his character if we choose to use it, and I did choose, because there is so precious little to go on.

First off, Dismas is probably between the age of 16 and 20 when this happens. Any older, and he would be past 50 when they capture him as a thief for Crucifixion. Any younger, and he wouldn't have the clout to guard anyone, anywhere.

This also tells us that Dismas is a career thief. A highway man. And, probably from Egypt himself, though not necessarily an Egyptian. I choose to keep him simple, and left the nationality up to the reader to decide. The orphan history is assumed, since for the life he is leading at such a young age, he has to have the skills. To have those skills at 16, he had to grow up with him. Jumping from there to Dismas being an orphan on the streets of Alexandria, seemed almost apparent.

Michael Livingston had some issues with this map, suggesting that it wasn't accurate to where things were according to new information found in recent digs. You can read more about that on his web site. I needed very little from the map. The Jewish quarter, the location of gates, and the rough size of the city. Most of the rest I could manage without.

An outline map of Ancient Alexandria

This looks like it was possibly a campaign map of some sort. Not very detailed
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Messiah Ideas and View Points in Forever Jack

I believe at this point, I'm going to drop most of the Apocalyptic and Messiah ideas in this Forever Jack novel, and revisit them in the course of the other two. There is simply too much to really digest, and they weren't part of my original ideas for the novel.

In my Google Book List there are a number of book titles that I have put in under the tag of Messianic Study which I'm currently reading and learning from. There is one more, which for some reason would not allow itself to be put on my book list.

One is The Messiah idea in Jewish History

I'm sure there will be others. What I am finding so far, however, is that my original concept of the Messiah ben Joseph may not be practical. It appears, from my reading (thus far), that the Messiah is a war monger and devastates the nations of the world, no matter how you translate the idea. Not really a new idea, nor an interesting one to me for that matter.

I was originally attracted to the Messiah ben Joseph because I thought that the meaning could be something like "Of Joesph" or "Like Joseph", and Joseph is a very interesting man. From my admittedly limited understand, this could mean that the first Messiah would come as a man like Joesph who could raise the Jewish nation and produce a world of peace. While this is normally idealized as being -- he will kick every one's ass and raise Jerusalem to the top of the heap -- this ideal is not what the words are saying. What it Says is, he will raise Jerusalem, and bring a world of peace.

Peace doesn't require war to create, and Joseph was not a warrior, by any stretch of the imagination.

Much of the trouble I believe comes from the fact that the expected accounts and deeds I have read are being acquired through reference to Apocalyptic Literature, which is hardly a good source for historical or even prophetic study. For example, we have very large books like The Jewish Messiah By James Drummond which rely almost completely on the Apocalyptic sets, which seems to completely ignore the reality of Apocalyptic Literature, even while putting in his first chapter a very good description and history of the genre. Apocalyptic writings are not prophetic, nor historic, .. they are ... amusement.

So, in my mind, trying to grasp the purpose and nature of the Joseph Messiah, is nearly impossible to do with just the Apocalyptic writings of any religion. We don't even know who wrote these stories. They are anonymous.

There are, I am sure, plenty of good sources out there to discover and digest, so I will be able to find my answers, but it is going to take more time than I have... and again, this interest really wasn't part of the first book to explore anyway.

I am probably going to introduce the idea in some minor way in the book, so I can touch back on it later, but that is all really.

What has been interesting, in the study work I've done so far, is how often a prophetic statement is observed in the Bible, and translated to mean War, or Destruction. If the Nation is going to rise, it seems that most writers just assume this means that the Nation is going to rise through War. Not only that, I have yet to come across a single commentary which suggests that this means it is going to simply become equal. Equal, would mean, peace. Right?

Nope.

It is always War, Devestation, Subjegation and strife, strife, strife.

To clarify, I don't find this in the Bible itself... just in the interpretations I have read thus far, and this has no slight meant to the Jewish people. Again, its just the writings I've gone through thus far... and Christians have Jerry Farwell; what a horrible perspective an outsider would have if all he had to read about Christianity was Jerry Farwell.

Shadow Dance continues

The Shadow Dance Novel has been on a rather long sabbatical, however recently I've found the time to re-enter the world of the Scarred Lands and continue the story of Elaine's entry and ascension in the world of Drendari. "Life," her father Edrin Northstar, Prince of the High Elf Tera Vi, tells her, "is ascending beyond your child, and becoming more than yourself."

The characters and heroes are all gathered, and while some will fall, others will push forward striving to fullfill their pacts, and promises. Starting this week I plan on posting a chapter a week again, until the novel is complete and then continuing to post at the same rate for the next novel, The Shadow Forge. The Shadow Forge will continue the story of Elaine, Mac Anu and Naill into the City of Mithril. Begining in Shelzar, the City of Sin, the group will travel to the East, past the Halls of Burok Torn, and into the lands of Vesh.

I also plan on using this blog area to walk through some of the more mudane thought patterens surrounding the novel itself, and hope that it adds to the enjoyment of the story, but mainly, as a way of keeping track of all that happens in my mind as I write this (some times overwelming) story.

GTP and ME and Chess

You: Give me an annotation of the following game, noting and highlighting tactics, positioning, shifts in momentum and their causes, as we...