Friday, June 11, 2010


What's going on in Iraq?


Recently I was able to go and visit my brother Paul in Ramadi. We had a good visit but I was stuck there for two extra days. Paul is a Specialist (E4) and is with the 82nd Airborne. It has gotten oppressively hot here at last. However, this deployment I have air conditioning. Something we didn't have in the initial stages of my last deployment. And although I had air condition later in my deployment last time, I was rarely able to enjoy it because of how and where I was working. I have a chapel service for our Christian detainees recently. One asked me-through a translator-if when Jesus demanded his followers to wear crosses when he said "take up your cross and follow me." I said no-that is was a metaphor or a symbol for living a life of submission to God. The Arabic word for Submission is Islam. The interpreter-who was a Muslim-said that the cross is a symbol of Submission-or a symbol of Islam. I thought that was ironic.



On May 26 I will have my thirty-eighth birthday. Back in 2008, I was thinking about how I am getting older and how I needed to get a little further ahead. With some heard work I was able to earn my Master's Degree in just two semesters, finish my chaplain's officer's basic course and make a deployment. Hopefully, this deployment will help me to earn some capital so that I can have more options regarding the future. I felt I had no other option but to begin my career as an officer. The sacrifice is that I will be deployed. It is good to get one deployment out of the way. Also, if I had a choice between going to Iraq or Afghanistan, at this point, I'd rather go to Iraq. The country is stabilized and I am familiar with Iraq. Also, through divine providence, I was sent back to the same area in which I was deployed before-Baghdad International Airport. I imagine that I could possibly be deployed to Afghanistan within a year or two-the way things are in the world today. I have four more years in the military. After that, we will see how things go-regarding if I get out of stay in. I feel that what I need to do now is begin a doctoral program. Hopefully, I will be able to start in Fall 2011. When I get back this fall, I will take some time off. I will apply for a doctoral program. I may do some substitute teaching. I will probably do a book promotion in Chicago. I may go back to the Middle East. After finishing "Christ the Man" (basically about the first year of Christ's ministry) I have moved on in my interest to Moses and the Exodus. When I was in Egypt last time, I spent the time visiting Egypt's Coptic Christian community. What I plan to do this time is retrace the steps of Moses-from his birth until his death. I want to start in Lower Egypt (Northern Egypt) travel down to Upper Egypt (Southern Egypt) and Nubia. According to Josephus, Moses traveled to Nubia as an officer in the Egyptian military. Then I want to travel across Sinai and end in Mount Nebo in Jordan-where Moses viewed the Holy Land before he died. I will only go on this research expedition if I feel I can afford it. I need to budget my finances very carefully. Southern Egypt has many ancient Egyptian temples-things you can't see in the Cairo area-where I lived before. I believe there could be huge benefits from going on such a trip.


The Hammer of God

In what little free time I have I have been pounding away at "The Hammer of God" my book on Judas Maccabeus and Charles Martel. I want to have it up on two months before Hanukkah-so that people can order it for this holiday season. That means I need to have the manuscript finished and submitted in about two weeks-which is possible.



As I write this it is Shavuot. Shavuot is the Hebrew way of saying "Pentecost." Pentecost is the day Christians celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit and the "birthday" of the church. "Pentecost" means 50th day-and is the Greek name for the Jewish festical "Shavuot" which means "weeks" or "feast of weeks." According to Jewish tradition it was on "Shavuot" or Pentecost that God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. This holiday is mentioned in Exodus 34:22 and Deuteronomy 16:10. It is also called "festival of Reaping" in Exodus 16:10 and Day of First fruits in Numbers 28:26.

On Pentecost Jews would recite "My Father was a wandering Aramean…" (Deuteronomy 26:1-10) in order to remind themselves of their Aramaic roots. However, certain Jews, who wanted to divest themselves of their Aramaic heritage mis-translated this passage as "An Aramean tried to destroy my father"! (The Aramean they refer to is Laban, the uncle and father-in-law of Jacob. According to the Scripture he cheated Jacob.)

There are certain traditional Jewish practices connected to Pentecost.

  1. The reading of the Akdamut poem. (Akdamut means "An introduction to the words.) This is an Aramaic poem extolling the greatness of God, the Torah and Israel. It is a 90 line poem written by Rabbi Meir Bar Yitzchak around 1096. The Jewish community in Europe must have been Aramaic speaking at this time.
  2. Eat Dairy foods
  3. Read the Book of Ruth. Ruth is a story about the harvest and Shavuot is an early harvest festival. (Sukkot would be a later harvest festival that took place in autumn.) Carman appeared in a new "Book of Ruth" movie. An earlier version was made in the 1950s or 60s and is called "The Story of Ruth." The earlier version is probably a better movie but the Carman version is a little more accurate.
  4. Decorate the house with greenery (like some Christians do at Christmas)-the reason is to remember Moses' rescue by Bithia-the daughter of Pharaoh-among the bulrushes.
  5. An all night Torah study (this tradition began in 1533)

There are two "Feast of Firstfruits" one is on the "morrow of the Sabbath" during the Passover. This is when the "counting of the Omer" begins. This is the countdown to Shavuot. There is dispute about when the counting of the Omer begins. Is it the day after the Sabbath-or Sunday-or the day after the high Sabbath of the Passover? If it was the day after the weekly Sabbath then Jesus' rising on Sunday would have been a fulfillment of the "first-fruit." The resurrection of Jesus Christ is described as "first fruits" in the New Testament. Karaites, Sadducees, Boethusians, the Book of Jubilees and Catholics all state it is a Sunday. So-what are the links between Shavuot and "Christian" Pentecost? The outpouring of the Holy Spirit and according to Jewish oral tradition the "Ten Commandments" were proclaimed in all seventy languages of the world and heard by all the world when they were given upon mount Horeb. (Of course there are more than seventy languages-but the ancients believed there were seventy languages.) In like manner the Gospel was proclaimed in all the languages of the world on Pentecost.



Thunderstorm in Baghdad


Today we had a thunderstorm and rain here in Baghdad. This is also a time of transition. Units are moving out and I am at about the middle of my deployment. The mornings here are still cool and the evenings too, but it gets hot in the afternoons.


The Shekinah Glory


I have heard many preachers talk about the "Shekinah" glory of God. This was a glow or a light that shined from the Ark of the Covenant upon the mercy seat. The Bible describes it as a glowing cloud. In 1 Kings 8:10-11 the Bible says, that when King Solomon dedicated the Temple a bright cloud filled the Temple. The priests had to go outside because the glory of the Lord was filing the entire building. I looked in the Bible for the word "shekinah" in this context. The word isn't used. The Hebrew word "Kevod" is used. The word "Shekinah" is the word that is used in the Aramaic Targum version of the Old Testament.


I was wrong


I have been reading "Moses: A Life" by Jonathan Kirsch. Mr. Kirsch has strong passionate feelings against Moses and the God of the Bible. For instance he describes God as "perverse" and "cranky." He believes Moses is a mythological figure and never existed. The book is handy because he summarizes most of the Jewish legends about Moses from the "Midrash." Last newsletter I said that the Jewish legend was that Moses' adoptive Egyptian mother's arm stretched out 30 feet long when she grabbed his ark out of the Nile. I was wrong. Actually, the tradition is that her arm stretched out 225 feet (yes-that is no typo: "two-hundred and twenty-five feet") when she lifted Moses from the waters of the Nile. Many of the legends of the Midrash are similar to this and are absurd. However, one interesting thing is that many scenes from "The Ten Commandments" (both the Charlton Heston version and the Christian Slater version) and from Burt Lancaster's "Moses the Lawgiver" come from these Midrash tales and not the Bible. Rarely, extremely rarely, the Rabbis make an interesting observation. Sometimes people look towards Rabbinic lore for extra insight into the Scriptures but often it isn't there. I think the best insight comes from archeological discoveries. Jonathan Kirsh is a Jewish lawyer. I am surprised with his loathing of Moses and God that he would put so much time and effort in research of the subject. He was absolutely no sympathy for Moses whatsoever.


Soldier died in our motorpool


Sgt. Kurt E. Kruize, 35, of Hancock, Minn died in our motorpool when we was pinched between a truck and a trailer when he was attempting to attach a trailer at night. He left behind a widow and four children. He did not belong to my unit and I did not know him. Pray for his family.

The Ancient Egyptians


I watched a series of movies entitled "The Ancient Egyptians" (with Jeremy Sisto) that were strict recreations of historical events based on Egyptian inscriptions and ancient scrolls. Some of the film is filmed in the ancient Egyptian language. (Actually, "Stargate," "The Mummy," "The Mummy Returns" and "Immortal" also have dialogue in ancient Egyptian.) Egyptian is very closely related to Semitic languages. It is closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic. The film contains a "making-of" documentary showing Coptic Christian church services. Since Egyptian Christians still use Egyptian, they used the Egyptian Coptic language as an aide in simulating the pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian.


The Assyrians: An Indigenous Ethnic Christian Group of Iraq (Conclusion: Part 4 of 4)

By Chaplain (1LT) Stephen Andrew Missick


Religious persecution

Islam is a religion and a political system. Moslems are members of the umma, which can be translated as "the nation" or "the community." Although Assyrians are the indigenous people of Iraq, they are viewed as "outsiders" by many Moslems, since they, as non-Muslims, are outside the umma. As non-Muslims they are often discriminated against. During the Armenian Genocide of 1914-1915, 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Turks and tens of thousands of Assyrians were also slaughtered. Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Kurds and Turks carried out several pogroms and massacres of Assyrian Christians. The Assyrians volunteered to fight for the British during both World War I and World War II, hoping that the British would protect them from religious persecution. The Assyrians fought in a decisive conflict against Nazis in Iraq at Fallujah during World War II and were instrumental in achieving a major victory there. The Assyrians feel they were betrayed by the British and feel the British are partly to blame for the pogroms and ethnic cleansing that occurred after World War I and World War II. (Some Assyrians feel that an independent Assyrian nation should have been created after World War I.) Assyrians endured ethnic and religious persecution under the regime of Saddam Hussein (but also had a certain level of protection from religious violence). After the fall of Saddam Hussein insurgents have targeted Assyrians for terrorist attacks and have bombed churches during religious services and have assassinated clergy. With the surge some stability has returned. The Assyrians face an uncertain future in Iraq.

Resources with Additional Information

Internet: The Assyrian International News Agency, ,,, Assyrian Academic Studies


Samuel Hugh Moffett A History of Christianity in Asia: Volume 1: Beginnings to 1500 (Harper San Francisco 1992) Hans-Joachim Klimkeit and Ian Gillman Christianity in Asia Before 1500 (University of Michigan Press, 1999) Sebastian Brock The Hidden Pearl (Transworld Films, Italy 2001) Christoph Baumer The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity (I.B. Tauris, June 2006)


Chaplain (1LT) Stephen Andrew Missick is the author of Aramaic: The Language of Jesus of Nazareth and is the author and illustrator of the educational comic book The Assyrians: The Oldest Christian People.

March #2

The Latest From Iraq


I am still here languishing in Baghdad. (Just kidding-it isn't really that bad.) I am kept busy working as a chaplain. We have Ugandans who work here as guards with us. Many of the Ugandans are devout Christians. I distributed Bibles to them and they were very excited. For many of them, it was the first time that they were able to own their own personal copy of the Holy Bible. I need your prayers as I minister to these soldiers. It seems like when I have counseling-it is like all day long and it's a little draining some times. We had the election here and it seemed to go very well. 39 people were murdered because they voted. Despite the threats, the voter turnout was relatively high, over 60% of the registered voters voted. That is much higher than our mid-term election and is probably higher than our turnout in the states for presidential elections. We heard a lot of explosions and gunfire that day. Actually, here you hear gunfire and explosions all the time-you kind of just tone it out. It is hard to tell if it is hostile fire or our soldiers at the ranges or OED disposing of explosives.


The Academy Awards


Hollywood is dominated by the radical left. Last year they gave the Academy Award for "best picture" for a film called "Milk" which was about a homosexual politician. Maybe the Academy is starting to be concerned about how they are beginning to be perceived as extremely left-wing political. So, this year the "Best Picture" award went to "The Hurt Locker," a movie about the Iraq war. Now, some soldiers have mixed feelings about this movie. There are some inaccuracies. I was in Iraq when this movie is set 2004. That year we wore the DCU uniform-which is the Desert Combat Uniform. Now we wear the ACU-the army combat uniform, which the soldiers are portrayed as wearing. So, this is an anachronism. (This uniform may possibly be phased out soon, since soldiers complained that the ACU was not providing concealment in Afghanistan and was leading to soldiers getting killed. In Afghanistan the uniform is being replaced-but not in Iraq.) Also, the main soldier is a thrill seeker who puts his buddies in harms way. That type of behavior is frowned upon. However, Hollywood has put out a huge number of movies that portray American soldiers as monsters or were anti-Amercian and anti-War (Rendition, Redaction, Lions for Lambs, The Valley of Elah, the Messenger, the Battle for Haditha, Avatar, ect.) "The Hurt Locker" portrays American soldiers as heroes and shows what kind of cruel and inhumane people Islamic terrorists are. "The Blind Side" basically a Christian movie-won "best actress" for Sandra Bullock. It is good to see some Christian movies made and widely released at long last. I think we are in a culture war-and a culture war must be fought and won through culture-movies, tv shows, books, art, ect. A movie about "Solomon Kane" has just come out. Solomon Kane was like one of my heroes growing up. He is a puritan avenger. The movie was well done. I saw a pirated copy here. He battles demonic forces in the film, which is what he does in some of the stories by Robert E. Howard and in the comic books. In the film, however, Solomon Kane earns God's redemption through protecting the innocent. As a puritan he would have believed that redemption is received by faith in Jesus Christ and cannot be earned.


The Assyrians

An Indigenous Ethnic Christian Group of Iraq

(Part 2 of 4)

By Chaplain (1LT) Stephen Andrew Missick


Assyrian Beginnings


Every February, Assyrians celebrate a holiday called "the Rogation of the Ninevites" in which they remember the repentance of their ancient Assyrian ancestors at the preaching of the prophet Jonah as is recorded in the Old Testament. According to accounts written by the early church fathers, Mesopotamian Christianity was established by the Apostles Saint Thomas ("doubting Thomas") and the Apostle Thaddeus. The account is that Saint Thaddeus and Saint Mari preached to King Abgar of Edessa and then traveled throughout Mesopotamia preaching the Gospel. The Assyrians use the Divine Liturgy of Mari and Thaddeus, which is one of the oldest liturgies than is currently in use in the world. Many important early church fathers and theologians composed important theological and historical books in the Syriac language.


The Assyrian Church:


The Assyrian Church has been called the Nestorian Church in the past. Assyrians even called themselves Nestorians until fairly recently. The proper name for this church is "the Church of the East." Nestorius (circa 386-circa 451 A.D.) was a Patriarch of Constantinople who was deposed and condemned as a heretic for teaching that Jesus Christ had two separate natures, a human nature and a divine nature. This led to considerable controversy in the early church. Eventually, the church declared that Christ has two natures but they are united. This controversy split the church into several factions, Nestorians, Monophysites and the orthodox Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox. (The Monophysites deny Christ has two natures. They teach that he has one divine nature. The Coptic, Ethiopic, Syrian Orthodox and Armenian Church are Monophysite. They now seem to be objecting to the term "Monophysites" and prefer to be referred to as Henophysites. ) These old Christological controversies may seem very arcane and irrelevant, but they are very important to Eastern Christians and are very important to understand when relating to Eastern Christians, especially for clergy.) The Assyrian Church of the East is Trinitarian and the Nicene Creed is recited during Holy Communion. In the course of ecumenical dialogue, the Roman Catholic Church has declared that it no longer views the Church of the East as heretical. The term "Nestorian" could possibly be viewed as pejorative or derogatory and should be avoided when speaking to Assyrians. (It may be helpful when writing books and articles when referring to the Church of the East to note for clarification that it was known as the Nestorian Church. But this title is no longer proper terminology.) Some Assyrians object to being called "Nestorian" for the following reasons. First, Nestorius didn't found their church, the Holy Apostles did hundreds of years before Nestorius. Secondly, although they did accept "Nestorian" theologians, neither they nor Nestorius, ever taught the "Nestorian" heresy ( the heresy that Jesus Christ is composed of two persons-the human and the divine).


January #2

What is Stephen Doing? (I thought I would like to include a synopsis of two weeks here so you can get an idea about what I am doing here in Iraq: Friday: RED CROSS MESSAGE: soldiers brother is murdered in the Houston area. I pray with the soldier. I counsel with a soldier experiencing severe stress. RED CROSS MESSAGE: I alert soldier that his child is stillborn. Saturday: Staff meeting. I counsel soldier with seemingly suicidal inclinations (relationship-marital issues). Sunday: Officiated at morning chapel. Chaplain T. preached. Over fifty in attendance. 2LT W. requests religious coverage for reception and visitation. Monday: Attended staff meeting gave thought for the day. Visited Styker chapel. Distributed toiletries to Ugandans. Counseled one soldier about faith matters. Tuesday: worked on bulletin. RED CROSS MESSAGES: two soldiers. One grandfather died, the other Step-father is dying. Report of a suicidal soldier Wednesday: Counseled soldier with anger issues. SPC W-a chaplain assistant requests religious coverage for reception. I visit "visitation." Bible Study. Soldier threatens to commit suicide. I am called but Chaplain N. arrives there first and we are able to take soldiers weapon away and get the soldier to mental health. Two Red Cross messages: Missing child and wife in critical condition. Thursday: Tennant meeting. Men's Bible Study. Distraught soldier counseled. STATS: Counseling for: Anger/morale issues/personality conflicts: Three To become a better Christian: One Suicidal Inclinations: One apparent suicide attempt. One soldier seemingly suicidal and two other reports received. Red Cross messages: Six. Friday: Did visitation at Liberty. Saturday: TOA ceremonies. I prayed the benediction. Attended awards ceremonies. Sunday: I preached. Approximately 40-50 in attendance. Afterwards I went with LT W. to visit with our soldiers doing "visitation" and went to "reception" and visited with soldier working there. Went to Chaplain G's last service said goodbyes. Monday: Visited Liberty again. Lengthy counseling with four soldiers there. Tuesday: 0300 receive a RED CROSS MESSAGE. Counseled and prayed with solider (his father died-unexpectedly). I spend most of the day sick with a cold in bed. I counseled with one soldier today. Wednesday: Mission "beyond the wire" with Alpha Co. doing detainee transport to Triple C-I. Spend quality time with soldiers. Bible study tonight with Chaplain C. Met with commander. RED CROSS MESSAGE at 2300-soldiers father died (after being in a coma for some time-not unexpected). Prayed with soldier. Thursday: Interviewed by Houston Chronicle. Attended Tennant meeting. I lead Men's Fellowship-six in attendance. Counseled two soldiers. RED CROSS MESSAGES: Two "Formal" Counseling Sessions: Six (several informal talks with soldiers) Counseling Issues: Spiritual direction:1. Relationship issues: 4, Morale, stressful work environment: 1.

Houston Chronicle Coverage

We have two reporters here who are embedded with us. (They actually seem to spend more time in downtown Baghdad rather than our base here at BIAP.) The reporters are Marya Beltran and Lindsey Wise. You can check out their coverage of 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team at

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) by Robert Spencer

I want to recommend all books on Islam by Robert Spencer, especially "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam." In it he mentions the sufferings and deprivations of the Aramaic Assyrian Christians that they have suffered under the Muslims.

Gunmen Kill 8 at Egyptian Church After Christmas Mass

The Coptic Christians of Egypt celebrate Christmas on January 7. Three men in a car sprayed automatic gunfire into a crowd of churchgoers in southern ("upper") Egypt as they left midnight mass for Coptic Christians killing at least eight people in a drive-by shooting, the church bishop said. They Assyrian International News Agency has done a good job of reporting this incident. I read a news report that says that there are usually good relations between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Egypt. That isn't true! Coptic Christians suffer discrimination and persecution and anti-Coptic pogroms are not uncommon! This recent attack took place in Nag Hammadi, the place where the famous "Gospel of Thomas" was discovered.

Many people think Egypt is a "moderate/westernized" country. In reality the Egyptian government tries to accommodate and make concessions to Islamic fanatics, they persecute Egyptian Christians, and the populace is radical and becoming more radical all the time. It is very possible that Egypt may have an Islamic revolution and become an Islamic Republic the way Iran is now.

I want to recommend the testimony of Majed El Shafie who works for the ICEJ ministry. He was tortured and even crucified for converting from Islam to Christianity but was able to miraculously escape before he was executed.

"Allah in Malaysia"

The word "Allah" is the generic word for "god." Arab and Maltese Christians call God "Allah" in their language. It is possible that the word "Allah" is derived from Aramaic. In the Aramaic section of Daniel, the word for God is "Al-aw." Jesus on the cross cried out "Allahi, Allahi lamina sabacktani!" In modern Aramaic and classical Syriac (church Aramaic) the word for God is "Allaha." So, Christians in Malaysia also call God Allah. In Kuala Lumpar the Muslims sued to stop them from calling God "Allah." The court ruled in favor of the Christians. (The lawsuit was over a church newsletter for Catholics.) In response, three churches were firebombed by the Muslims. Roman Catholic and Evangelical churches have been burned down. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ suffering in Malaysia. This proves that the "Allah" of the Muslims, is not the same God of the Christians and the Bible. At least the Muslims don't thinks so, not in Malaysia at any rate.

January 2010

Update from Baghdad:

I am currently at a military installation at Baghdad International Airport. Last year was a very busy year. I finished seminary. Then I attended Army Chaplains Basic Training for three months in the summer. After I finished that I went to Bastrop- a place near Austin for PMT-Pre-Mobilization Training. After that I was mobilized, first to San Antonio and then to Fort Bliss. From Fort Bliss I went to Camp Buehring, Kuwait. From Kuwait I went to Baghdad which is where I am at now. The weather here is a little chilly. Sometimes it is pleasant. It rains a little bit now and then. I am a chaplain. I have been busy ministering to the troops. Recently, I had several sleepless nights. First, I had to notify a soldier that he child was born dead. Then the next evening I had to notify another soldier that her brother had been murdered. The following evening I had to counsel with a solider that was considering suicide. I was able to return to my old base, Camp Slayer. BIAP has changed in one way-they have erected a lot of concrete T-walls to help protect the base from IEDs and VBIEDs (Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Devices).

The standard of living here has drastically improved from my last deployment-in both Kuwait and Iraq. A goal of our deployment is to transition over to greater Iraqi control. Certain bases are being closed down and we intend to have half as many troops as we do now when I had back home in autumn. I am taking "leave" (military jargon for vacation) at the end of February and the beginning of March. Please pray for us-that God would give peace to Iraq, that the terrorists would be destroyed and that I would be able to effectively minister to my soldiers. We do have some Assyrian Iraqi Christians that work on the base. Remember to pray for the Aramaic Christians of Iraq.

New Minaret Law in Switzerland

Geneva: Swiss voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on minarets on Sunday, barring construction of the iconic mosque towers in a surprise vote that put Switzerland at the forefront of a European backlash against a growing Muslim population. Muslim groups in Switzerland and abroad condemned the vote as anti-Islamic. Swiss leader said, "The minaret is a sign of political power and demand, comparable with whole-body covering by the burqa, tolerance of forced marriage and genital mutilation of girls." Swiss activists also quoted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who compared mosques to Islam's military barracks and called "the minarets our bayonets." The Swiss have watched the explosion of Islamic extremism and violence across Europe and are taking necessary steps to protect themselves and their way of life. Christians do not enjoy freedoms in Islamic countries that Europeans grant to Muslims.

First Jesus-era House Found in Nazareth-December 21, 2009

Archeologist Yardena Alexandre of the Israeli Antiquities Authority said that the new house that has been discovered in Nazareth is a place which is likely that Jesus and his childhood friends would have known. Nazareth at the time of Jesus was a small hamlet with about 50 houses populated by poor Jews. The town contained a hideout and a cistern. The archeologists also found chalk and clay vessels that were used by Galilean Jews of the time. "The dwelling and older discoveries of nearby tombs in burial caves suggest Nazareth was an out-of-the-way hamlet of around 50 houses on a patch of about four acres. It was evidently populated by Jews of modest means who kept camouflaged grottos to hide from Roman Invades, said archeologist Yardena Alexandre of the Israel Antiquities Authority," according to the Associated Press.

Robert Crumb's Genesis

Cartoonist Robert Crumb has recently published a cartoon version of the Book of Genesis that includes the entire text. I thought it was very good. (However, some of the architecture depicted looks anachronistic. He used ancient structures is Morocco for inspiration when he should have looked at archeological reference books. He has a few pages of commentary in the back-some of which I don't agree with on a scholarly level. Robert Crumb is not a believer in the "inerrancy of Scripture." I think that the comic book is, over all, accurate and reflective of the text of Scripture. I think reading this comic will greatly increase the readers understanding of the Bible. (Robert Crumb is famous for his counter-cultural hippy era comic art. He has been, in the past, notoriously vulgar. However, I think he did a good job on this comic book. Overall, it is very accurate.)

Books and Comics

Remember my books: 1. The Words of Jesus in the Original Aramaic 2. Mary of Magdala 3. Treasures of the Language of Jesus and 4. Aramaic: The Language of Jesus of Nazareth. The books are available from Remember my comic books 1. The Assyrians: The Oldest Christian People 2. The Hammer of God: Character and Historical Reference 4. The Hammer of God Minicomic 5. Chronicles: Facts from the Bible and 6. The Hammer of God Coloring Book. The comic books are available from And don't forget my articles which are at the Journal of Assyrian Academic studies


Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

By the time you get this letter I should be in Kuwait. Please pray for my soldiers as they spend their holiday season away from home and in a warzone.

We should head up to Baghdad in about three weeks to a month. Most of next year I will be in Iraq. I will be coming home on "leave" (what the army calls earned vacation) for February and March.

King Melchizedek

According to the Epistle to the Hebrews in the New Testament, Jesus became "a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 7). This priesthood, to which Jesus belongs, is an ancient pre-Abrahamic priesthood of the Jebusites. Melchizedek was the gentile King of Salem (Jerusalem) and priest of the "Most High God" who offered an unbloody sacrifice of bread and wine in thanksgiving for Abraham's victory over the eastern kings who had held Abraham's nephew Lot hostage (Genesis 14:17-20). The Melchizedek, also called the Adoni-zedek, was the priest king of Jerusalem (Joshua 10:1, 3). David apparently became the Melchizedek priest when he came to rule over Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 8:18 in the Hebrew says that "David's sons were priests." As the Messiah, Jesus is the Son of David. He is the Priest of all priests as well as being the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.) In his glorification Jesus became the Great High Priest, far superior to the high priest of the Jewish Temple.

Melchizedek means "Zaddiq is King." Of course Tzedek is Hebrew and Aramaic for "Righteousness." Apparently, the Jebusites worshiped "God Most High" by the name of Tzedek. So, Zaddiq is a title or attribute of God. Note how the Jebusite king of Jerusalem whom Joshua fought was named "Adonai-Zedek" meaning "Tzedek is Lord." According to later Jewish tradition, Melchizedek was the same person as Shem the son of Noah, but this seems very doubtful to me. The writer of Hebrews compares Christ to Melchizedek noting that Melchizedek can mean "King of Righteousness" and that he was the king of Salem (Shalom) meaning the King of Peace. (Of course "Salem" is Jerusalem.") It seems to me that the Melchizedek is an example of gentiles who had knowledge of God. Paul speaks of this in Romans 1:19-20, 2:13-16 and also in the Old Testament this is mentioned in Malachi 1:11.

Prayer Requests


Pray for me to be able to effectively minister to the troops. Pray that all the troops under me will be kept from harms way. Please pray that all of these troops will come home with me.


Pray for all of our troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also remember the Christians of the Middle East, especially the Copts of Egypt and the Assyrians of Iraq and Iran, who are our persecuted brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.



The Hammer of God


Hanukkah is when we remember how Judah Maccabee (from the Aramaic "Maqqaba" meaning "the Hammer") fought for religious freedom. I have five comic books on Judah "the Hammer of God" Maccabee available and they make wonderful Hanukkah-Christmas gifts and are very educational.


Books and Comics


Remember my books: 1. The Words of Jesus in the Original Aramaic 2. Mary of Magdala 3. Treasures of the Language of Jesus and 4. Aramaic: The Language of Jesus of Nazareth. The books are available from


Remember my comic books 1. The Assyrians: The Oldest Christian People 2. The Hammer of God: Character and Historical Reference 4. The Hammer of God Minicomic 5. Chronicles: Facts from the Bible and 6. The Hammer of God Coloring Book. The comic books are available from

Thursday, June 10, 2010

October 2009

Going Back to Iraq


I am currently in Fort Bliss, which is in Texas, however, I am in the outskirts of Fort Bliss in New Mexico. We are doing Pre-Deployment training. The unit I am with is deploying to Iraq. Just as a refresher: in May I graduated from seminary with a master's degree in divinity and upon my graduation I was commissioned as a chaplain in the Texas National Guard. Upon my graduation I went to "Chaplain's Officers Basic Training" in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Upon my graduation from that (after three months) I went to Austin (Bastrop really) for "Pre-Mobilization" training. Now I am on "title ten" orders which means I am "federalized" or on active duty. We are making our final preparations. We are heading out to Kuwait at the beginning of December. The plan right now is for us to go back to Baghdad near the area in which I served in 2003 and 2004. PRAYER REQUESTS: Please pray for the Christians of Iraq. Pray that I would be an effective chaplain. Pray that my soldiers will be kept safe. Pray for our soldiers in Afghanistan. There is a remote possibility that we may be sent at the last minute to Afghanistan instead of Iraq. Please pray that we are not sent to Afghanistan.


Aramaic Products


I purchased Robert Spencer's "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)" which is an excellent book. In it he spends several pages discussing the Aramaic Christians and how they are and have been persecuted by Muslims. He mentions them by the name "Assyrian" and speaks of the "Assyrian Church of the East." Robert Spencer is one of the best writers on Islam today. I strongly recommend all of his books.


There is an interesting program on the Aramaic Saint Thomas Christians of India. See "Ancient Christians in India" the "Religion and Ethics Program of PBS"


Agnes and Margaret Smith discovered an important Syriac-Aramaic manuscript of the New Testament at Mount Sinai during the 1800s. A new book by Janet Soskice entitled "The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels" has recently been published. Also of interest is the Greek Codex Siniaticus which was also discovered at Mount Sinai. I have seen (and read from) the Codex Siniaticus at the British Museum. This manuscript was probably one of the Bibles commissioned by Emperor Constantine around 325 AD. Most of the Codex is at the British Museum other parts are kept at Mount Sinai. Recently, the complete text has been "reunited" in an on-line edition. See the official site of Codex Siniaticus online.


Even though I am deployed I am going to try to keep publishing the "Aramaic Herald." However, the newsletter is going to go from being 8 pages to being only 2 due to the fact that I will be busy ministering to soldiers.

The Baptists


The Christian denominations called "Baptist" have their origins in the "Radical Reformation" of the sixteenth century. In the 1520s, after being inspired by the teachings of Martin Luther and Ulricht Zwingli, a group of Protestants came to view their Roman Catholic infant baptism as invalid. They had themselves re-baptized and were then called Anabaptists, a name that means "those baptized again." They rejected this title but it stuck. Later in 1609, an Arminian preacher from England whose name was John Smith came into contact with Anabaptists in the Netherlands after fleeing to Holland for religious freedom. He became the first "British Baptist" and eventually joined with the Anabaptists. Anabaptists were active in England before the time of John Smith. Thomas Helwys, a disciple of John Smith, returned to England and started a Baptist church, which was then called "Anabaptist." In both England and in the American colonies, Baptists were often called "Anabaptists" in the early years. Roger Williams had nothing to do with the founding of the Baptist church and very little to do with founding of the Baptist church in America. He affiliated with the Baptist for a few short weeks. (After examining Scripture, Anabaptists came to believe that only those who repent of their sins and confess their belief in Christ are to be baptized. This means that they reject the baptizing of infants or small children. The earliest Anabaptists sprinkled or poured as a mode of baptism. Some still do. When it was discovered that the Greek word for "baptism" means immersion, certain Anabaptists and Baptist began to baptize by immersion.) The earliest British Baptist churches were the General Baptists. They denied the Roman Catholic belief in "Original Sin" and taught that Jesus died for all mankind, that his death was a "General" or universal atonement. Later, certain other Baptists became enamored with the bizarre teachings of John Calvin and began teaching that Jesus did not die for the sins of the world but rather that Jesus died for a particular group of people, called the "elect." These were the Particular Baptists. (Calvinists teach that God hates Mankind (except for the elect) and that God causes people to sin and then damns them for the things He Himself caused them to do. To a Calvinist, to say that people have a free will is to say that God is not sovereign. Thus, to a Calvinist, God is the direct source and cause of all evil and suffering in the world. They also teach a "Limited Atonement" doctrine which teaches that Jesus did not die for the sins of the world. "Limited Atonement" is clearly unbiblical and outside of Christian orthodoxy. The Roman Catholic Church has declared "Limited Atonement," also known as Jansenism, a heretical teaching.) The third of the three earliest groups of Baptists was called the "Seventh Day Baptists" because the adherents of this sect kept the Sabbath. Anabaptist groups include the Mennonites and the Hutterites. The Amish are a sect of the Mennonites. The Mennonites and the Hutterites are now pacifists. However, in the beginnings of the Anabaptist movement, many Anabaptists tried to establish justice through an armed revolution against their oppressors. These Anabaptist sects were brutally put down, and died out. The Hutterites do not possess personal property but hold all things in common following the example of the early church (Acts 2:44-45). Christian churches of the Baptist tradition include the Anabaptists, the Baptist and Brethren churches. This religious movement began in 1521 AD (with the Zwikau Prophets and other Anabapist groups) and was not founded by John the Baptist. Many Protestant churches practice believer's baptism by immersion.