Tuesday, June 23, 2015

There are trees and then there's a Tree

I haven't posted in so long I figure this is going to be rather like speaking into the void. But here we are anyway.

I'm reading the Qur'an this Ramadan, and can I just take a moment to tell you how pleased I was when I discovered that my shiny new Qur'an indicates where it breaks into juz? I had a list printed and everything, which was a little annoying but you do what you must, and then I discovered this feature.

Shiny new Qur'an has many features. Yay shiny new Qur'an!

It's this one, in case you're curious: Al-Qur'an. 

So I'm reading the other night and I come across some verses in relation to Adam and Eve in the Garden. Now, the Qur'an is laid out differently from the Bible, and in many cases a story is revisited in different surahs throughout the Qur'an, spreading the details of the story out. Which, I admit, can get annoying when you're used to having the style of the Bible to look at. Story begins, story ends.

I know that there are more verses that deal with Adam and Eve and the 'fall', but this isn't about those, it's about the thought I had while reading these early verses. They're Surat al-Baqarah, 35-37. It's just a short little reference to a story that is familiar to most people. Adam and Eve are in the Garden and God tells them that they can eat from any of the trees therein. Except for this one.

In the Bible, it is called the 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil'. We see it in Genesis 2:16-17 and 3:1-7, generally speaking. There's obviously more to those chapters, but those are the verses that refer to the same incident. Here's a link to Genesis 2-3 for reference.

Now, having been raised in Christianity, more or less, I have always filled in the blank when reading Qur'anic references to this story and known that it was the Tree of Knowledge (because the whole name is long and I'm being a lazy typist). However, when I was reading these verses again, it struck me that the Qur'an doesn't spell any such thing out. One might infer it, given the stance that the Qur'an is there to correct mistakes in the previous revelations (mistakes by people, not God) or places where the stories have been corrupted. The fact that the Qur'an doesn't explicitly correct the attribution could be considered support for it or you could look at the fact that the Qur'an doesn't name the tree similarly to say that it was not, in fact, the Tree of Knowledge.

Adam and Eve do realize their nakedness after eating the fruit, which could be taken as another sign that this is the Tree of Knowledge, but it could also be taken that there was nothing special about the tree itself, knowledge wise, only that their first sin brought into possibility shame and other sins.

So. What I was thinking was, there are two different messages that are being presented here, depending on how you look at it. In the Biblical story, the prohibition with regard to the Tree was specifically because it was the Tree of Knowledge. There was also the Tree of Life, but there doesn't seem to be an edict not to eat the fruit of that one. One could interpret the prohibition to mean that knowledge is a part and parcel with sin.

I don't think most people do interpret it that way, or have historically, but it's a thought. I know plenty of people who wish to go back to what they view as the simplicity of the 'Garden times' and I could easily see some of them making this connection. Adam and Eve were happy and in line with God when they were ignorant. Then they gained knowledge (against God's edict) and boom. Everything went to pot.

On the other hand, you have the Qur'anic version of the story which makes no mention of the tree being anything other than a tree. Just a tree that God said not to touch. Which makes Adam and Eve's sin fairly straight forward. God said 'no', they did it anyway. Much simpler. God's not, in this story, even appearing to be wanting to keep them from knowing things as He is in the Biblical version.

There's a rule. They break it. They get punished and forgiven.

Does the Biblical story even mention forgiveness? There's a lot of punishment, a lot of blame going around, but I don't see or recall an explicit mention of Adam or Eve repenting and seeking forgiveness for their transgression.

In the Qur'an they do receive a punishment, they're put out of the Garden to live on/in the rest of the earth and life is much more difficult there, but they are also shown to look for God's forgiveness and to receive it.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I'm Not Really a Responsible Adult. I Don't Even Play One on TV.

I keep meaning to get back to blogging, restart this blog, be myself again, but then I get distracted by a book or a show or I sit down to write and all I want to write about is angry things which is not what I really want to write about.

So I haven't done any of it.

Partially this is because I've been bad about taking my medicine like I should. Certainly my thyroid is not on the level of people who take prescriptions to keep them alive, though it is a permanent and degenerative autoimmune disorder. But if I forget to take my pill one morning it's not going to kill me or endanger me significantly. But it does throw me off. If I miss enough days or am off schedule enough I start to feel sick and cranky and irrationally out of control of my emotions. And I get to feeling like what I imagine depression feels like to some people. I don't want to do anything. I start to lack the energy to do anything but sleep.

Don't get me wrong, this is all my own fault. I know that I have a permanent health problem and I know what to do to maintain a base level of normalcy in my body. But sometimes I forget to do what I should, and since one of the side effects of my thyroid levels dipping in my memory gets worse, it's a slippery little slope.

But I'm being good and I'm feeling better, so inshallah, that won't be a problem anymore.

I've noticed that I'm angrier lately, and I'm not sure how much of that is just being out of whack hormonally and how much is that I've been without a solid religion for so long.

I know that there are plenty of people have no problem living without a faith to follow, but I suspect that I'm not one of them. Or maybe it's just a lingering disappointment in still not having a place to set my feet, so to speak.


So I'll get back to the real posts soon, inshallah, but for now, a random observation.

There's a billboard that I pass sometimes that, unfortunately, is in a place I can't get a picture of. There's nowhere to pull over and get a shot of it and I'm not stupid enough to try and take a picture while driving. In spite of some extensive Googling I can't find an example anywhere. But let me tell you how amused I am at some of the billboards that *do* come up. And the fact that one of them is a Hobbit billboard.

Wait. Three. Three Hobbit billboards that Google thinks are about God.

*FOUR*. Google knows something we don't, people.

And one that tells people they can't hold hands with God while masturbating. Which...

I've got nothing.

It's got a sort of clouds and light background and the wording says, 'God is Lord and His is the Glory'.

Want to know what my first thought was, when I saw it?

'When did the Muslims get a billboard?'

I mean I've thought about it since then and I assume that it's actually another Christian billboard but the phrasing just feels so odd to me because I can't remember the last time I heard a Christian say 'God is Lord'. It's always 'Jesus is Lord'.

I really wish they'd put it in a better place so I could get a pic or put the name of their church on it somewhere. Of course it might be on it and I just can't see it because a) driving and b) there are trees.

Okay, end of randomness.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The First Rule of Religion Is...

...we don't talk about religion.

At least in my house.

I don't discuss it with my parents because they follow a distinctly....*waves hands in the air* version of Christianity. They *believe*, but know very little about their own faith.

I cannot tell you how many times I have had to point out/remind one of them that according to their beliefs God didn't just *send* Jesus, that Jesus *was* God. Or how many times I have to point out that the New Testament didn't just spring out of nothingness and that historical context is important to understanding what they're reading.


Logic and reason need not freaking apply.

But I made the mistake on Thursday of talking about religion with my father. And it all boiled down to him telling me that I think too much, throwing out the old line about having the faith of a child and that I need to 'shit or get off the pot'.


*headdesk FOREVER*


I admit that the minute you start telling me that my *thinking* is getting in the way of God and that I need to be a child who just *trusts* and *believes* that you have lost me.

Because I think. It's what I do. I lack the emotional gullibility to just *believe*. I have seen no miracles. I have experienced no transcendent moments of faith. If I cannot think my way to a point then how can I be expected to believe it?

And I was never the child who just *trusted*. Maybe parents are supposed to be our models of that, they're supposed to be trustworthy so that we can have that blind, loving trust in certain things. But I grew up without parents who could be trusted. And I cannot remember ever blindly believing anything anyone told me. I'm sure there was a time. It's a thing that kids do. But for me that time is so far in the past, was so fleeting that it's as good as a non-event.

But really my favorite part of his argument for why I need to just believe so I can make my choice was that if *his* choice (though he swears he has reasons for belief that he can't explain to anyone) is right then I'm going to hell if I don't make the right choice. Implied, of course, being that it's the same choice that he made.

So we have, in my father's Christianity, this: don't think too hard and be afraid of going to hell.


I can't imagine why none of this appeals to me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Brain Twin and I Share the Crown for Queen of Procrastinators

And to be perfectly honest I am the evil twin.

Without a doubt.

I could show you evidence but then I'd have to move out of the country and change my name. ;)

Clearly I am just a *tad* behind on the Gospel of John posts and I also have a couple of comments on the GoJ posts I've already made to reply to. But it's been a super crazy month. We've had people at work go on vacation which is good for them and good for my bank account but has me working either really early hours or really late hours and leaves very little time for blogging.

We also upgraded the system we use to produce our classified section (I work at a newspaper in case anyone missed that factoid) by a whole lot. It's beautiful. I may compose odes to the new system.

I mean it's really bad when the representative for Brainworks (the system we use) didn't believe that we weren't using a third party program between Brainworks and our Quark because the version we had was so old he didn't recognize the interface.

*faceplants into desk for a million years*

We also upgraded Quark. From Quark 4 to Quark 9.

I know we can all count and see how many versions there were between those two things.

We were working on Ancient Mac's.


Basically this:

Only we couldn't get on the internet anymore. Or access some of our (rather necessary) servers. Because ANCIENT.

We have been promised the opportunity to Office Space one of these bastards.

For anyone unfamiliar with Office Space (watch it it is hilarious....) here's what I mean. There is some mild (in my opinion) swearing for those who are sensitive to that or, you know, have kids.

Please do not underestimate how badly we want to do that.


With the two weeks it took to do the upgrade, install and training and vacations (none of them mine), I've just not had the energy or the time to blog.

And then I spent the last week not sleeping well due to nightmares. It's funny how you can think that you're completely over something and then your subconscious just laughs at you.

So I've just been taking care of myself.

Which mostly means lots of reading (let me tell you about the Stormlight Archive series one day. Mostly it will be a lot of squeeing and shaking you until you buy the books) and watching the Lord of the Rings in my free time. Basically I watched both Hobbit movies (currently released) and all three of the Lord of the Rings movies (extended edition on all where possible) in two days.

Gotta love three day weekends.

Which might explain why, when I performed a minor household repair with no input or assistance I did this:


Let's all just ignore how things actually turned out for Boromir and Gondor, okay?

Yes. Excellent.

So, in conclusion, I know I suck but I've accepted this fact. At least in this case I sucked for reasons of personal sanity maintenance.

I plan, inshallah, to start the posts up again this weekend and just do one post a week. I think it's a schedule with less pressure (all personally given) that I can keep up.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I have found the secret to vegetarianism.

One meal at a time.

I want to go vegetarian and have for a long time, but the thought of No More Meat sort of overwhelms me.

But I realized today, making lunch, I just have to make the choice every meal.

My tomato and avocado sandwich was delicious.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

John 6

First, a thought that have nothing to do with having been reading John.

I don't understand people who believe that most of humanity was created specifically to go to hell. These are some of the same people who condemn creating embryos for use in stem cell research (not saying they're wrong on that point, by the way). But these are the same things, aren't they? And it's just such a depressing way to think about God and humanity. 
And now, on to John.
4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.
It’s a little thing, but I think this line helps make it clear that the Gospels were written after the Apostles began to go after non-Jewish converts. After all, a Jewish convert would know what Passover was without the additional descriptive. It’s only someone coming from outside the Jewish people who would need an explanation, however brief.
7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”
Okay, I was curious as to how much this was in ‘real’ money. According to the all knowing Google, one denarius was worth about $20 (I have no back up for this, it was a whim googling). So Philip was saying that they had about $4000 worth of bread. To feed 5000 people.
I feel like something is wrong with these numbers, to be frank. Because that seems like a lot of bread. If you’re not expecting to feed these people for a very long time, it seems to me like you could do it with $4000 worth of bread. Bah. We’re going to assume that the all knowing Google has failed me.
*ponders some more*
Okay, if the 5000 counts only the men then there would have been a lot more than just those 5000, adding in women and children. Yet they only mention feeding the 5000 men later on in the chapter. Another instance of only counting the men and implying that they fed everyone else too?
Either way. That’s a lot of people to be fed and – you know, I was going to wonder where Jesus and the Apostles got all that money (because it was rather a lot of money), but really, is Philip saying that they had that much bread? Or is he saying that even if we had 200 denarii worth of bread, we still couldn’t feed all of these people?
Random bread thoughts. I has them.
8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
The second. It was clearly the second option. It really has been a while since I read these stories, hasn’t it? Maybe a case of familiarity breeding glossing over? After all, these are the stories we grow up on in Sunday School.
10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
This is one of those instances where (assuming it is meant to recount an historical incident) it either happened the way it’s written (more or less) and there was a miracle or the author lied through his teeth. I can’t think of any other reasonable explanation for that little food feeding that many people.
The other way to take it is that the miracle here is not meant to be taken as a literal event but as a point of theology. I can think of a couple of meanings for this story, but what do you guys think?
15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.
How would you forcefully make someone king? Even if you grabbed them and popped a crown on their head, you can’t make them rule, can you? Not for very long or very well, in any case. Still, I can see the point here of rejecting the idea of earthly power and rule.
19 So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. 20 But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.
Again an instance where I wonder about the stories and miracles that didn't make the cut that Jesus walking on water in the middle of a fierce storm is met with a shrug once they recognize him.
28 Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
I would suspect that this is one of the verses used to support a faith alone argument of Christianity. 
30 Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Now in verse 26 Jesus says that they follow him not because they've seen the signs but because they ate of the bread and were filled. But isn't the bread a sign?
35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Direct claim of divinity or a statement of divine purpose? Depending on the theology some people believe that our souls pre-exist our bodies, so why couldn't Jesus have been speaking along the lines of a soul coming down from heaven to do God's work/will but not being divine in and of himself?
41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?"
Not hard to believe. After all, whether you think that Jesus was claiming divinity or just divine mandate, this is still a local boy suddenly claiming to be someone huge and important. A little incredulity is to be expected.
43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.
Undoubtedly a more direct claim of divinity. If everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Jesus and the prophets are taught by God then Jesus must, in some respect, be God. Or at least claiming such.
48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”
53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”
These are some the verses that are understood so very differently in Protestant circles versus Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Lutheranism (at least the high church variety), Anglicanism, etc.

On the one hand, liturgical churches tend to be the ones who take these verses literally. It's a part of the doctrine of transubstantiation/consubstantiation. The bread and wine during the liturgy literally becomes the flesh and blood of Jesus (well, in a mystically literal sort of way - there are claims that some has been tested and found to be real blood and flesh but I have extreme doubts about such things) and then depending on your theology either remains flesh and blood until consumed or reverts to bread and wine when the spirit leaves.

I should say that whether or not this is true (on the one hand, if Jesus is God this is not outside of his abilities and on the other, kind of cannibalism? but it's a complicated topic and I'm trying not to stay up to all hours so we'll just leave it at this) at least liturgical churches have a great respect for Communion that I have found to be lacking in churches without a liturgy. I keep thinking of my parents' old church, where 'communion' was the most important thing in the church, something that brought everyone together, was Biblical, etc. etc. but only took place once a month unless it got bumped from the schedule for something more important.
Like a singing missionary group. 
Or a video.

You can't see it, but I'm making a face. The lack of respect for communion is one of those things that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Wait, no, here.

Once more, Blanche is me.

Anyway. And then Jesus loses some disciples because implied cannibalism. One of the arguments for the literal reading of the above verses is that if Jesus was speaking in metaphor why didn't he explain it to the disciples as they were leaving? He had, we suppose, a chance to correct this misunderstanding but he let it sit.
65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
I'm not into the idea of pre-destination, after all, what's the point of free will in a set up like that? But I imagine that this verse is one that is used to support that kind of theology. 

70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” 71 He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.
And then we have Judas. Things don't turn out well for Judas, in the end.  
He turns into a vampire.
Wait...wait...no, sorry. That's just a really bad movie. 
It still doesn't turn out well for Judas.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

John 5

And we're back!

Again, sorry for the delay.

Life. It is not always conducive to the things we want to do.

Also, crap, it is 12:30 in the morning. Again.

I should offer that that last post, when I said I was going to bed? Turns out I was wrong. The book came out at 12:30 that morning. So when I checked Hawkeye, out of habit, there it was. And what is any good addict to do but start reading? I finished at about 1 am yesterday morning.

I am sleep deprived and super caffeinated. Clearly I make bad life choices on occasion.

This is what adult hood looks like.

Knowing something is a bad idea and doing it anyway. Because you can.

Possibly I am not the best adult. :D

Right. Actual content of post!

Chapter 5 opens with another well known story, that of the paralytic at the pool.

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.

I should say that I find the details of this man's case slightly odd. We don't know how old he is, but we know that he is at least 38 - since he could have had the infirmity since childhood. The average life expectancy for a man in that time was about (I believe) the late thirties, early forties. So this man is either at the twilight of his life or he has greatly exceeded expectations in spite of his infirmity. 

This implies, to me at least, that he had people to help take care of him. Family or friends, someone. He did not live alone in this condition his entire life.
  When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

And yet here he is, so close to the possibility of healing but alone. With no one to help him into the pool. How did this happen? How did it come to pass that someone who was obviously assisted and looked after for a large portion of his life comes to be so close to healing and abandoned?

If he is extremely old, perhaps he outlived everyone? Or perhaps he was a bad person and he drove away any family that would have been there to help him?

Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
And that day was the Sabbath. 

Here is another miracle, whether by Jesus' power or God's (with Jesus relaying the message?) Only this one seems to be with purpose different from the first two discussed in John.

I'm not entirely certain why Jesus decided to turn the water into wine, except perhaps that his mother asked him and maybe he was just having a good time at the wedding or the groom was a friend of him. 

The officers son who was healed was done due to the faith of the father, I believe. 

But this man, the paralytic, so far as we can see, makes no plea nor declaration of faith prior to Jesus declaring him healed. Certainly the man desired healing or he wouldn't be at the pool, but Jesus seems to decide to heal him almost at random.

Though if we follow the tack that Jesus has extra knowledge (things we should not know through ordinary means) then the choice of this man could have been extremely deliberate. If you are going to attract the attention of the powers that be, without seeming to *want* to attract their attention, how better than to heal a man who will immediately run to the temple after his healing?

We assume, from the fact that this man went to the temple after being healed that he is either a very religious man from the start or that he went there, perhaps to be declared clean? We're not given the exact nature of his illness, but perhaps it was something that also made him ritually impure and therefore unable to take part in the worship at the temple?

14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” 15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

This is problematic for me. Verse 14 seems to be saying that the man's illness, his infirmity, was caused by his sin. But this doesn't bear out in real life at all. Plenty of truly terrible people are walking around this earth without having to bear the physical wounds of their sins. And good, innocent people suffer illness and bad fortune in life all the time. 

If sin = physical illness, shouldn't we see some real life correlation? Or is this just a kind of wishful thinking, that a persons villainy should be evident in their body, an easy way to tell.

16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”

I...can entirely see the Jewish priests and others being upset at the Law being broken, but I have a hard time imagining that *this* is the reason they sought to kill Jesus. Far more likely the rebellion that he was fomenting, with the turning over of the money changers' tables and such was the problem. Rome was not exactly known for their kind and loving method of enforcing the peace. 

Though the next verse says that they were extra incensed because Jesus here claimed that God was his father, I'm not seeing it. Perhaps there is something in the original wording used that makes it clear he was referring to God and not to an actual human father? 

18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

It does not, either, follow that claiming God as his father would make Jesus equal with God. This was a time of gods and demi-gods after all. Certainly the Jewish people had become monotheistic over time, but they were surrounded by polytheistic cultures. Someone claiming to be a son of god (or God) was hardly an unknown quantity. There remains, also, the fact that many people throughout the Bible are referred to as the 'son' of God. These men were not claiming divinity, or at least they were never treated as such. 

 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

Why, if the Son is equally as divine and a part of the Godhead, does the Father need to show him anything? I would never argue that Jesus, incarnate, has access to the divine omniscience, but it remains that if he was truly equal in substance and being with the Father then he would know what the Father knows. And if you are a part of an omniscient being, can you actually set aside your own power? Once Jesus (assuming divinity and incarnation) became a man, did he cease to be God in some way? He limited himself in ways that God certainly never is.

21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

Does any of this read to anyone else like a father passing on a mantle or a responsibility to their son?  If the Son is part of God which is the Father (as the unbegotten, uncreated 'part' of God) how are these jobs differentiated? How does the Trinity keep one part of itself out of the judging, etc.?

 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.

Again, if the Trinity is equal, how can one part grant the other part life or power? It seems that there is a very fine line between Triunity and being three separate entities. If one, the Father, has the ultimate control over what the other two are capable of doing, then they cannot be equal in any sense.

28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 

Does this not sound as though works are important in the deciding of the destination of a persons soul? That there are things that one can do, laws that one can follow, that enable you to enter heaven?

  30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

If Jesus is God, it would seem from verse like this that he is a lesser one, wouldn't it? That he cannot claim the equal power of his other thirds? That the Father is a superior being in some way? 

37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 

While it is true that none have seen God's form (I would question that He even had one, being a transcendent being) several people in the Old Testament are reported to have spoken to God in person, as it were. 

   38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

Again, prophecy. I am not a big fan of prophecy in general, to be perfectly honest. Prophecies are things that are never clear prior to an event, but seem to become clear when big events happen. We've seen this happen with the 9/11 attacks. People were suddenly shouting at anyone who would listen that the attacks had been predicated by Nostradamus and every other prophetic medium since time immemorial. 

You can see almost anything in prophecy if you're willing to believe in it.

I would also point out that they searched the scriptures because the scriptures were given to them as a guide to God's good graces and eternal life. We know that some prophecies referenced in the New Testament as pointing to Christ have been fulfilled by force, as it were. The New Testament authors wrote pieces of the gospels to match Old Testament prophecy of the messiah in order to make Christ the messiah.
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