Monthly Archives: February 2017


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The Roman God Janus

Janus (ianua) is the Roman god of gates and doors, beginnings and endings, represented with a double-faced head, each looking in opposite directions. Janusthe Gatekeeper has jurisdiction over every kind of door and passage and the power of opening or closing them.






By R. D. Flavin

Argh!  Huh!  Whoah, yeah.  Yeah!  C’mon!  Yeah!
Oh, yeah, I’m a — yeah, I’m a back door man,
I’m a back door man.  The men don’t know,
But the little girls understand.

Robert Toussie with Bush, Two-Face in 1942 and Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face in 2008’s The Dark Knight.

   The face of the leader, that mighty one in charge, and where the buck is supposed to stop is always well known.  Hunter-gathers who had their eyes on the prize saw a face of a leader in their dreams (passim Jaynes 1969, 1977).  The progressive and somewhat modern folk who espouse and enact interpretations of the examples offered in the works of Niccolo MachiavelliSun Tzu, or Eric Arthur Blair see the faces of leaders whether they’re asleep or not.  And, as matters are kinetic, there are the sinners and those fallen from grace who envision a face, yet quite can’t make it out.  Robert and Isaac Toussie, father-and-son land-development scam-artists, found out a couple of week’s ago when son Isaac was granted a presidential pardon for mortgage and mail fraud what the face of their leader looks like when the pardon was rescinded less than twenty-four hours later – it’s two-faced.  President Bushseems to be wearing more than one face as he considers pardons in the final weeks of his elected term.  Well, if one is going to wear more than one face at a time, January would be as good a month as any.

     In my January 2008 column, “No Joke,” I mentioned the late Heath Ledger’s role as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s second Batman film, The Dark Knight.  The word under the bridge is that he’ll probably be nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the so-called Crown Prince of Crime.  The 81st Academy Award nominations are to be announced January 22, 2009, exactly a year after Ledger’s passing, an irony which will not be lost on his fans, friends, and family.  The Dark Knight also featured another of Batman’s arch-enemies, Gotham City District Attorney Harvey Dent/Two-Face, played far superior by Aaron Eckhart compared to the earlier versions turned in by the fan-favs, Billy Dee Williams (Tim Burton’s 1989 film, Batman) and Tommy Lee Jones (Joel Schumacher’s 1995 film, Batman Forever).  Though Eckhart’s performance as Two-Face was solid enough, Ledger will likely get the nomination nod and Eckhart should look ahead to future roles that may bring about an Oscar consideration.

The Roman door-god, Janus, on a coin and a photograph of Janus, a moon of Saturn.

Well, all you people, they’re tryin’ to sleep,
I’m out to makin’ with my midnight creep — yeah,
‘Cause I’m a back door man.  The men don’t know,
But the little girls understand.  All right, yeah!

     Our first month of the year, January, may be thought of as “two-faced,” in that it’s named after Janus, the Roman door-god, who is often depicted as having two faces.  Because of his hospitality to Cronus the Titan (Saturn), it’s said that Janus was granted the power to both peer into the past and to see the future (Foster 1905).  Some extend the gratitude even further and claim that “[Saturn] taught the rude and uncivilized Italians many things, among them, to write, to coin money, and to make tools (Burchett 1918).”  Reflecting the relationship of Janus to Saturn, shortly after the 1966 discovery of a new large moon (or satellite) of our sixth planet, Saturn, the name “Janus” was proposed.  Oddly enough, a few days after the discovery another moon was observed in the same orbit as Janus and given the name Epimetheus, after a Titan whose name means “hindsight.”  As such, January, is a time to look back and also to plan ahead. 

Janus with two and three faces from early 14th century calendars (Gordon 1963).

     Being two-faced usually has the meaning of someone who is deceitful and possessing two-facedness.  Spinning the metaphor (“double-faced” may also refer to the now antiquated phonograph record with two sides of recordings), some weren’t satisfied with a “Jekyll and Hyde” duality and introduced a third face, perhaps attending to the moment.  Such images of Janus show him eating and drinking …while staring back at you who are watching him …eat and drink.  This Janus Trefrons (var. trefrontes < L. tre or three and frons meaning forehead or front) was a busy fellow, though for others, four was the magic number.

Drawings of Janus Quadrifrons from 1569 (Most 1996) and 1583 (Gilbert 1939) with a recent photograph.

      *Geek Alert*  While nearly every classicist recognizes the importance, indeed, the preeminence of Janus in ancient Roman culture, few agree on the ‘what’ and fewer still on the ‘why’.  The ‘what’ of ‘Janus’ is sketched by the latest OED with:

    1. a. The name of an ancient Italian deity, regarded as the doorkeeper of heaven, as guardian of doors and gates, and as presiding over the entrance upon or beginning of things; represented with a face on the front and another on the back of his head; the doors of his temple in the Roman Forum were always open in time of war, and shut in time of peace. Often used allusively, and in attributive and other relations.

1508 DUNBAR Gold. Targe 120 Ianus, god of entree delytable. 1598 HAKLUYT Voy. I. 488 Certaine idoll puppets..which they fasten to the doore of their walking houses, to be as Ianusses or keepers of their house. 1667 MILTON P.L. XI. 129 Four faces each Had, like a double Janus. 1713 Lond. Gaz. No. 5118/6 Janus’s Gate is now shut. 1814 CARY Dante, Paradise VI. 83 Composed the world to such a peace That of his temple Janus barr’d the door.

      The ‘why’ is difficult, I’m thinking too much for this column, yet not attempting a skinny explanation would be a wasting of an opportunity.  I assess ‘Janus’ as a transliteration using English grammar to represent the Latin god,Ianus, as the Roman alphabet didn’t contain the letter ‘J’ until the late Middle Ages.  Janus is believed by some to be a borrowing from the Etruscans, though the evidence is tenuous and could be simply analogous rather than indicative of continuation.  An early association with doors, keys, entrances, door-ways and thresholds developed into the name being applied to arches as ianus (pl. iani) and especially to arches which spanned a water-crossing, in other words, a bridge (Taylor and Holland 1952).  A practice of nearly all Roman blessings and prayers was to include a brief mention of Janus at the beginning of the rituals (concluding with a mention of Vesta, goddess of the hearth and home), an indication of his pre-classical Etrusco-Italic importance before being influenced by Greek and other eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern mythologies.  Yet, with Janus being included in old tales of sons castrating fathers, regime change, and the welcoming of outside culture and technology, his presence at or near the beginning of the calendar, as January, speaks to tradition and doing the right thing.  Janus was most often a popular Roman household god (var. cultic action figure) and his subsequent cosmological and chronological associations may be understood as an honorific, as when the Roman calendar was adjusted in 153 BCE from the New Year commencing in March to January, the month the Roman senate convened after Saturnalia Break.  As Janus Bifrons the Two-faced his placement at the beginning of the calendar seems appropriate and, besides, without the Gregorian reform April Fool’s Day celebrations avoided all those silly pagan May Day games.  Yeah, thatskinny had trouble getting through the door…

You men eat your dinner, eat your pork and beans
I eat more chicken any man ever seen — yeah, yeah.
I’m a back door man — wha!  The men don’t know,
But the little girls understand.

Chief Justice Roberts, Obama walking away and an Oscar.

      On this coming Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009, several minutes after noon, Chief Justice of the United States John Glover Roberts, Jr., whose nomination three years ago Obama opposed, will ask the president-elect to affirm the oath required by Article II, Section 1, clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

     The Cheney/Bush years have left lots of trash behind and it seems appropriate that its cleanup begin in January.  A good host must by necessity be a good janitor as well.  I’m unsure if current presidents can revoke previous presidential pardons or should be able to.  Of known messes to attend to a list would contain the policy of protracted conflicts, various degrees of criminality with our ongoing economic crisis, employment, health-care, education, and an explanation as to why gasoline prices fell so low, yet didn’t seem to inspire any of the major fast-food chain restaurants to expand their dollar menus.  And, realistically, some messes take longer to clean up than others.  Barack Hussein Obama II is soon to become America’s forty-fourth president.  I hope he guards the front and the back doors of freedom, becomes a gracious though sensible host, and cleans up messes as they are made. 

Well, I’m a back door man, I’m a back door man.
Whoa, baby — I’m a back door man.  The men don’t know,
But the little girls understand.
(From “Back Door Man.”  Words and music by Willie Dixon.  First recorded by Howlin’ Wolf (aka Chester Arthur Burnett).  Howlin’ Wolf.  1962; Chess Records.)

Burchett, Bessie Rebecca Burchett.  1918.  Janus in Roman Life and Cult: A Study in Roman Religions.  Menasha, WI:  George Banta.  In
  this reprint of her 1913 PH.D. thesis in philosophy granted from the University of Pennsylvania, Burchett writes, “Minucius Felix reverts to
  the story that Saturn fled from Crete to Italy and was recieved hospitably by Janus.  Out of gratitude, since he was a Greek of culture, he
  taught the rude and uncivilized Italians many things, among them, to write, to coin money, and to make tools.  Janus, therefore, named the
  country ‘Saturnia’ and ‘Latium’ in his honor.”  See: p. 33.  For an online version of Minucius Felix, click here.
Foster, Herbert Baldwin.  1905.  Dio’s Rome: An Historical Narrative Originally Composed in Greek During the Reigns of Septimus Severus,
  Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus: and Now Presented in English Form
.  Troy, N Y: Pafraets Book Co.
  Foster writes, “8. Dio the Roman says that Janus, an ancient hero, because of his entertainment of Saturn, received the knowledge of the
  future and of the past, and that on this account he was represented with two faces by the Romans. From him the month of January was
  named, and the beginning of the year comes in the same month. (Cedrenus, Vol. 1, p. 295, 10, Bekker.).”  Online here.
Gilbert, Allan H.  1939.  “‘A Double Janus’ (Paradise Lost XI. 129).”  PMLA.  54, 4: 1026-1030.  See: p. 1026, “The Temple of Janus
  Quadrifrons from Romanarum Antiquitatum Libri Decem . . . collecti a Ioanne Rosino (Basileae, 1583), p. 43.  This picture was almost
  certainly known to Ben Jonson (p. 1029, below), and may have been seen by Milton.”
Gordon, Olga Koseleff.  1963.  “Two Unusual Calendar Cycles of the Fourteenth Century.”  The Art Bulletin.  45, 3: 245-253.
Jaynes, Julian.  1969.  “The Historical Origins of ‘Ethology’ and ‘Comparative Psychology’.”  Animal Behaviour.  17, 4: 601-606.
Jaynes, Julian.  1977.  The Origin of Consciousness In the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.  Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. 

Most, Glenn W.  1996.  “Reading Raphael: ‘The School of Athens’ and Its Pre-Text.”  Critical Inquiry.  23, 1: 145-182.  See: p. 174, “Fig 10.
  Giovanni Antonio Dosio, view of Janus Quadrifrons, 1569.  From Dosio, Le antichità di Roma (1970).”
Taylor, Lily Ross and Louise Adams Holland.  1952.  “Janus and the Fasti.”  Classical Philology.  47, 3: 137-142.  In a footnote, the authors
  comment: “11.  See L. A. Holland, “Janus and the bridge,” TAPA, LXVI (1935), Proceedings, p. xliv.  This theory, corrected and amplified, is
  the subject of a book now in preparation.  The Spanish inscriptions cited above (n. 10) are still using ianus in its true meaning, since the
  arch marked a bridge which carried a highway over the river boundary.  However, it seems that after the time of Augustus any ianus might
  be called arcus, but by no means could every arcus be correctly be called ianus.  The distinction, like that between aedes and templum,
  was too fine to be observed in common use, and in imperial times arcus came to be a general term for structures which in the Republican
  period would, at least in official records, be distinguished as either fornices or iani.”  The book mentioned is: Holland, Louise Adams.
  1961.  Janus and the Bridge.  Papers and monographs of the American Academy in Rome; 21. Ann Arbor, MI: Univ. of Michigan Press. 

Still a rider on the storm,

Return to  



Business Day

For Bush, A Janus-Like View of Trade

    In the next few weeks, President Bush will decide what kind of a trade president he wants to be.

    After coming into office vowing to surpass the record of President Bill Clinton and aggressively press for new free trade agreements, Mr. Bush’s administration finds itself facing growing complaints that some of its policies look like those of a protectionist rather than a free trader.

    The administration faces the prospect of a trade war with Europe if the president fails to lift his temporary steel tariffs, which were ruled illegal on Monday by a World Trade Organization panel. A week from now, talks are to resume to extend the North American Free Trade Agreement throughout the Western Hemisphere, a proposal that has been protested by labor unions, small farmers and environmental advocates.

    Even the staunchest allies, like Australia, have complained that the farm bill President Bush signed into law last year is an impediment to new global trade agreements.

    All countries will be watching to see if Mr. Bush, the leader of a nation that has profited substantially from global trade, defies the W.T.O. and accepts $2 billion of European sanctions rather than lift the 30 percent tariffs that are meant to protect the American steel industry as it consolidates.

    Politics will naturally play an important role in that decision, just as it did when the administration decided to impose the steel tariffs and accept new American farm subsidies as the necessary price to pay for the authority to negotiate free trade agreements with little interference from Congress.

    The steel tariffs went a long way to winning votes from lawmakers representing manufacturing states. The farm states, led by Representative Larry Combest, Republican of Texas, made it clear that their votes depended on support for the 2002 farm bill. At one stage, Mr. Combest removed his name from the legislation for trade authority until the president assured him of his support for the increased farm subsidies.

    Now the bargain struck for trade promotion authority is threatening to backfire.

    Sebastian Mallaby, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Mr. Bush and his trade representative, Robert B. Zoellick, had committed the classic mistake of free traders who thought they could ”buy the allegiance of protectionists, whether they are big farmers or the steel industry, to make some advance in their long-term trade policy and not become captives of the protectionists.”

    ”It was naïve of them to think there wouldn’t be a price for all of this,” Mr. Mallaby said. ”Now, they’ve disillusioned people in their own free trade camp.”

    The immediate issue is the steel tariffs, and the White House remains divided over them.

    President Bush’s economic team at the White House — led by Stephen Friedman, director of the National Economic Council, and N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers — is in favor of ending the special steel tariffs. The tariffs have never been popular among economists, who generally oppose trade barriers of most types.

    President Bush’s political advisers, however, are looking at next year’s election and the role steel producers in Pennsylvania and Ohio will play in helping win these important battlegrounds. But those and other big industrial states are also home to big steel consumers, like car manufacturers and their suppliers, which have been paying higher prices.

    White House officials say they do not need to make a decision on the steel tariffs right away. The European Union must wait for the W.T.O. to officially approve the panel’s ruling sometime from Nov. 21 to Dec. 10. And they say there are potential compromises that might placate the Europeans without abandoning all the tariffs.

    But to some lawmakers who are worried that the mood in the country is moving against free trade, this seems like unnecessary delaying tactics.

    Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, said on Tuesday that the time had come to end the steel tariffs. Taking the side of industries that use steel and complain that the tariffs raise their cost of doing business, Mr. Alexander said the tariffs had already destroyed jobs in the American automobile industry. Now, he said, foreign sanctions would do more damage.

    ”Because of the W.T.O. ruling,” he said, ”continuing the tariff will destroy thousands more of our textile and agricultural jobs. President Bush’s honest effort to save steel jobs is now backfiring and hurting American workers.”

    The obvious question is whether the trade promotion authority was worth the bargain on steel and subsidies.

    So far, Mr. Zoellick has completed free trade agreements with Chile and Singapore that were begun during the Clinton administration. He succeeded in starting a new global trade round at Doha, Qatar, not long after the attacks of September 2001. But nearly two months ago, the talks broke up spectacularly at Cancún, Mexico, in large part over American and European farm subsidies.

    Other direct, nation-to-nation trade talks are under way, and Mr. Zoellick hopes to wrap up a free trade agreement with five Central American countries by the end of the year.

    Next week, Mr. Zoellick will have a chance to improve that record at a Free Trade Area of the Americas meeting in Miami — hoping to push ahead with another Clinton initiative to expand the North American Free Trade Agreement to the entire hemisphere.

    That got back on track last weekend when Mr. Zoellick agreed to focus on lowering tariffs for the moment rather than to continue battling for new rules he wants covering intellectual property rights, government procurement and foreign investment. In return, Brazil agreed to put aside, for the moment, its demand for a reduction in United States farm subsidies.

    Those subsidies are also on the political radar screen. The ”red states” territory in the Midwest and South that voted for Mr. Bush in the 2000 election are some of the biggest recipients of those subsidies, and it is unlikely that he will upset those voters with a new free trade agreement soon before the presidential election.

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    If I Were Told the Future – Lesson 29

    Summary of the Seven Letters

    Screen 1

    Welcome to the conclusion of this section! Let’s pray together:


    The study of the letters to the seven churches reveals the wonderful riches of the prophetic book of Revelation.

    Please grant us Your Holy Spirit, so that the global picture may help us to fully understand the seven letters.

    We ask You, above all, to help us to put into practice the invaluable counsels Jesus gives us in these letters. In His name we pray.


    Screen 2

    Revelation 1:11

    What you see, write in a book, and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia; to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.


    In this lesson, we will draw the main parallels between the letters to the seven churches.

    These parallels will help us to discover some important messages which can go unnoticed when each letter is studied separately.

    Though the letters present a local application, we will linger over their prophetic application.

    Screen 3

    Revelation 1:19

    Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.


    Daniel 2:39,40

    After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to you, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron.


    Following the pattern of Daniel’s prophecies describing the succession of earthly kingdoms, the letters describe the succession of the seven stages of Church history, between the first and the second coming of Jesus.

    Screen 4

    The seven churches symbolize the seven stages of Church history

    Screen 5

    Revelation 1:1

    The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, to show to His servants things which must shortly come to pass.


    Keeping in mind each one of the stages of Church history, let’s start by quickly reviewing the content of each section of the seven letters.

    Screen 6

    The portrait of Jesus reflects the need of each one of the 7 churches

    Screen 7

    What Jesus knows about each one of the seven churches

    Screen 8

    The positive points Jesus finds in each one of the seven churches

    Screen 9

    The negative points Jesus finds in each one of the seven churches

    Screen 10

    The counsel Jesus gives to each one of the seven churches

    Screen 11

    The warning Jesus gives to each one of the seven churches

    Screen 12

    What Jesus promises to him who overcomes in each of the seven churches

    Screen 13

    The letters to the seven churches present an interesting correlation

    Screen 14

    Revelation 22:10

    And [the angel] said to me,

    «Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.»


    In our lesson «The Book of Revelation», we have seen that this book presents a mirrorlike organization, in which its historical part (first part of the book) correlates with the eschatological part (second part of the book).

    In this mirrorlike organization, the letters to the seven churches (chapters 1 to 3) perfectly correlate to the section describing the reward granted to the churches (chapters 21 and 22).

    Let’s look at this together.

    Screen 15

    First, a short reminder of the mirrorlike organization of Revelation

    Screen 16

    The letters (chapters 1 to 3) correlate to the reward (chapters 21 and 22)!

    Screen 17

    Revelation 1:1,3

    The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, to show to His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John. (…)

    Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.

    For the time is at hand.


    By looking more closely at the seven letters, we continue to find many more amazing messages about the «things which must shortly come to pass», thus filling with zeal and hope the hearts of those who study Revelation.

    Screen 18

    From one letter to another, Jesus’ return is announced progressively!

    Screen 19

    Jesus’ promises to him who overcomes restore what had been lost in Eden!

    Screen 20

    Revelation 2:7

    He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches.

    «To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life.»


    In addition to describing the condition of the seven local churches and the seven stages of Church history between the first and second coming of Jesus, the seven letters are also addressed to each one of us: «He that has an ear, let him hear.»

    They reveal seven spiritual states a Christian can experience during his life.

    Then, they give the best advice and encouragement for each one of those spiritual states.

    Screen 21

    The letters to the seven churches have a message for each one of us

    Screen 22

    Revelation 1:1

    The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, to show to His servants things which must shortly come to pass.


    Each one of the letters to the seven churches gives us a valuable message which strengthens our confidence by its prophetic application, but also guides us in our Christian progress by its personal application.

    But the book of Revelation still holds in store a lot of surprises for us, as we will see in the next section about the seven seals.

    Don’t miss it!

    Screen 23

    Let’s pray:


    We sincerely thank You for giving us the book of Revelation, and for these seven letters You sent to Your Church.

    By their prophetic application, they strengthen our confidence in Your inspired Word.

    By their personal application, they are a source of vital counsels and encouragements, whatever our present spiritual condition may be.

    May Your Holy Spirit continue to guide us, as we now tackle the study of the seven seals of Revelation. In Jesus Christ we pray.


    The test of Lesson 29 is waiting for you!

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    Sunday, 26 February 2017



    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    I wish to thank you for your gracious invitation to celebrate this parish anniversary with you.  More than two hundred years have passed since the first public Anglican liturgy was held in Rome for a group of English residents in this part of the city.  A great deal has changed in Rome and in the world since then.  In the course of these two centuries, much has also changed between Anglicans and Catholics, who in the past viewed each other with suspicion and hostility.  Today, with gratitude to God, we recognize one another as we truly are: brothers and sisters in Christ, through our common baptism.  As friends and pilgrims we wish to walk the path together, to follow our Lord Jesus Christ together. 

    You have invited me to bless the new icon of Christ the Saviour.  Christ looks at us, and his gaze upon us is one of salvation, of love and compassion.  It is the same merciful gaze which pierced the hearts of the Apostles, who left the past behind and began a journey of new life, in order to follow and proclaim the Lord.  In this sacred image, as Jesus looks upon us, he seems also to call out to us, to make an appeal to us: “Are you ready to leave everything from your past for me?  Do you want to make my love known, my mercy?”

    His gaze of divine mercy is the source of the whole Christian ministry.  The Apostle Paul says this to us, through his words to the Corinthians which we have just heard.  He writes: “Having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart” (2 Cor 4:1).  Our ministry flows forth from the mercy of God, which sustains our ministry and prevents it losing its vigour.

    Saint Paul did not always have an easy relationship with the community at Corinth, as his letters show.  There was also a painful visit to this community, with heated words exchanged in writing.  But this passage shows Paul overcoming past differences.  By living his ministry in the light of mercy received, he does not give up in the face of divisions, but devotes himself to reconciliation.  When we, the community of baptized Christians, find ourselves confronted with disagreements and turn towards the merciful face of Christ to overcome it, it is reassuring to know that we are doing as Saint Paul did in one of the very first Christian communities.

    How does Saint Paul grapple with this task, where does he begin?  With humility, which is not only a beautiful virtue, but a question of identity.  Paul sees himself as a servant, proclaiming not himself but Christ Jesus the Lord (v. 5).  And he carries out this service, this ministry according to the mercy shown him (v. 1): not on the basis of his ability, nor by relying on his own strength, but by trusting that God is watching over him and sustaining his weakness with mercy.  Becoming humble means drawing attention away from oneself, recognizing one’s dependence on God as a beggar of mercy: this is the starting point so that God may work in us.  A past president of the World Council of Churches described Christian evangelization as “a beggar telling another beggar where he can find bread”.  I believe Saint Paul would approve.  He grasped the fact that he was “fed by mercy” and that his priority was to share his bread with others: the joy of being loved by the Lord, and of loving him. 

    This is our most precious good, our treasure, and it is in this context that Paul introduces one of his most famous images, one we can all apply to ourselves:  “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” (v. 7).  We are but earthen vessels, yet we keep within us the greatest treasure in the world.  The Corinthians knew well that it was foolish to preserve something precious in earthen vessels, which were inexpensive but cracked easily.  Keeping something valuable in them meant running the risk of losing it.  Paul, a graced sinner, humbly recognized that he was fragile, just like an earthen vessel.  But he experienced and knew that it was precisely there that human misery opens itself to God’s merciful action; the Lord performs wonders.  That is how the “extraordinary power” of God works (v. 7).

    Trusting in this humble power, Paul serves the Gospel.  Speaking of some of his adversaries in Corinth, he calls them “super apostles” (2 Cor 12:11), perhaps, and with a certain irony, because they had criticized him for his weaknesses even as they considered themselves observant, even perfect.  Paul, on the other hand, teaches that only in realizing we are weak earthen vessels, sinners always in need of mercy, can the treasure of God be poured into us and through us upon others.  Otherwise, we will merely be full of our treasures, which are corrupted and spoiled in seemingly beautiful vessels.  If we recognize our weakness and ask for forgiveness, then the healing mercy of God will shine in us and will be visible to those outside; others will notice in some way, through us, the gentle beauty of Christ’s face.

    At a certain point, perhaps in the most difficult moment with the community in Corinth, the Apostle Paul cancelled a visit he had planned to make there, also foregoing the offerings he would have received from them (2 Cor 1:15-24).  Though tensions existed in their fellowship, these did not have the final word.  The relationship was restored and Paul received the offering for the care of the Church in Jerusalem.  The Christians in Corinth once again took up their work, together with the other communities which Paul visited, to sustain those in need.  This is a powerful sign of renewed communion.  The work that your community is carrying out together with other English-speaking communities here in Rome can be viewed in this light.  True, solid communion grows and is built up when people work together for those in need.  Through a united witness to charity, the merciful face of Jesus is made visible in our city.

    As Catholics and Anglicans, we are humbly grateful that, after centuries of mutual mistrust, we are now able to recognize that the fruitful grace of Christ is at work also in others.  We thank the Lord that among Christians the desire has grown for greater closeness, which is manifested in our praying together and in our common witness to the Gospel, above all in our various forms of service.  At times, progress on our journey towards full communion may seem slow and uncertain, but today we can be encouraged by our gathering.  For the first time, a Bishop of Rome is visiting your community.  It is a grace and also a responsibility: the responsibility of strengthening our ties, to the praise of Christ, in service of the Gospel and of this city.

    Let us encourage one another to become ever more faithful disciples of Jesus, always more liberated from our respective prejudices from the past and ever more desirous to pray for and with others.  A good sign of this desire is the “twinning” taking place today between your parish of All Saints and All Saints Catholic parish.  May the saints of every Christian confession, fully united in the Jerusalem above, open for us here below the way to all the possible paths of a fraternal and shared Christian journey.  Where we are united in the name of Jesus, he is there (cf. Mt 18:20), and turning his merciful gaze towards us, he calls us to devote ourselves fully in the cause of unity and love.  May the face of God shine upon you, your families and this entire community!


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    Synthesis of the Declaration ofDominus Iesus

    Synthesis of the Declaration of Dominus Iesus

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    Synthesis of the Declaration of Dominus Iesus

    by Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith


    Synthesis of the Declaration ofDominus Iesus


    A synthesis of the declaration,Dominus Iesus prepared by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.




    Catholic News Service, September 14, 2000

    1. The Fullness and Definitiveness of the Revelation of Jesus Christ

    II. The Incarnate Logos and the Holy Spirit in the Work of Salvation

    III. The Unicity and Universality of the Salvific Mystery of Jesus Christ

    IV. Unicity and Unity of the Church

    V. The Church: Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Christ

    VI. The Church and the Other Religions in Relation to Salvation

    In the lively contemporary debate on the relationship between Christianity and the other religions, some Catholic theologians have argued that all religions may be equally valid ways of salvation. Relativistic theories have been presented that either deny or view as superseded certain fundamental truths of the Catholic faith regarding the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus, the inspired nature of the books of sacred Scripture, the inseparable personal unity between the eternal Word and Jesus of Nazareth, the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of the incarnation, passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the church, the inseparability—while recognizing the distinction — of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ and the church, and the subsistence of the one church of Christ in the Catholic Church. Such theories are based on philosophical and theological presuppositions which have become quite common. The declaration highlights some of these; for example, the conviction of the total elusiveness and inexpressibility of divine truth even by Christian revelation; relativistic attitudes toward truth itself, which would hold that what is true for some would not be true for others; the radical opposition posited between the logical mentality of the West and the symbolic mentality of the East; the subjectivism which regards reason as the only source of knowledge; the metaphysical emptying of the mystery of the incarnation; the eclecticism of those who in theological research uncritically absorb ideas from a variety of philosophical and religious contexts without regard for consistency, systematic connection or compatibility with Christian truth; finally, the tendency to read and to interpret sacred Scripture outside the tradition and magisterium of the church.

    Because of this debate, the International Theological Commission published a document in 1997 titled “Christianity and the World Religions,” which illustrated, with ample biblical references and theological arguments, the lack of foundation of pluralistic theologies of religions and which reasserted the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Christ and the church as the source of all salvation both inside and outside Christianity. Given, however, the rapid spread of the relativistic and pluralistic mentality, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has intervened with the present declaration in order to set forth and clarily certain truths of the faith, following St. Paul’s example: “I handed on to you as of first importance what I myself received” (I Cor. 15:3).

    The declaration is structured in six sections, which summarize the essential elements of the doctrine of the Catholic faith on the meaning and salvific value of the other religions.

    1. The Fullness and Definitiveness of the Revelation of Jesus Christ

    Against the theory of the limited, incomplete or imperfect character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, which would be complementary to that found in other religions, the declaration reiterates the teaching of the Catholic faith regarding the full and complete revelation of the salvific mystery of God in Jesus Christ. Since Jesus is true God and true man, his words and deeds manifest the totality and definitiveness of the revelation of the mystery of God, even if the depth of that mystery remains in itself transcendent and inexhaustible. Consequently, while admitting that other religions not infrequently reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men (cf. Vatican Council II, Nostra Aetate, 2), the declaration reaffirms that the designation of inspired texts is reserved for the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments because these are inspired by the Holy Spirit, have God as their author and teach firmly, faithfully and without error the truth about God and human salvation. The declaration also states that the distinction must be firmly held between theological faith, which is adherence to the truth revealed by the one and triune God, and belief in the other religions, which is religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God, who reveals himself.

    II. The Incarnate Logos and the Holy Spirit in the Work of Salvation

    Against the thesis of a twofold salvific economy, that of the eternal Word, which would be universal and valid also outside the church, and that of the incarnate Word, which would be limited to Christians, the declaration reasserts the unicity of the salvific economy of the one incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father. The mystery of his incarnation, death and resurrection is the sole and universal source of salvation for all humanity. Indeed, the mystery of Christ has its own intrinsic unity, which extends from the eternal choice in God to the Parousia: “He [the Father] chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

    Jesus is the mediator and the universal redeemer. Thus, the theory of a salvific economy of the Holy Spirit with a more universal character than that of the incarnate Word, crucified and risen, is erroneous. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the risen Christ, and his action cannot be placed outside or alongside that of Christ. There is a single Trinitarian economy, willed by the Father and realized in the mystery of Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit.

    III. The Unicity and Universality of the Salvific Mystery of Jesus Christ

    The declaration reasserts the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, who through the event of his incarnation, death and resurrection has brought the history of salvation to fulfillment; in Jesus Christ, salvation history has its fullness, its center and its source. At the same time, however, Christ’s unique mediation does not exclude participated forms of mediation of various types and degrees; these, however, receive meaning and valueonly from that of Christ and cannot be understood as parallel or complementary. Theories of a salvific action of God beyond the unique mediation of Christ are contrary to the Catholic faith.

    IV. Unicity and Unity of the Church

    The Lord Jesus continues his presence and his work of salvation in the church and by means of the church, which is his body. Just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the church can neither be confused nor separated.

    Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is a historical continuity between the church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church. In fact, this one church of Christ “subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him” (Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, 8). With regard to the “many elements of sanctification and truth” (ibid.) which exist outside the structure of the church, that is to say, in those churches and ecclesial communities which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church, it must be stated that “they derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church” (Vatican Council II, Unitatis Redintegratio, 3).

    Those churches which do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the primacy of the bishop of Rome remain united to the Catholic Church by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid eucharist. Therefore, the church of Christ is present and operative also in these churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church. On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the eucharistic mystery are not churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Catholic Church. “Therefore, these separated churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 3).

    V. The Church: Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Christ

    The mission of the church is “to proclaim and establish among all peoples the kingdom of Christ and of God, and she is, on earth, the seed and the beginning of that kingdom”(Lumen Gentium, 5). On the one hand, the church is the “sign and instrument of intimate union with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (ibid., 1) and thus the sign and instrument of the kingdom: She is called to announce and to establish the kingdom. On the other hand, the church is the “people gathered by the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (ibid., 4): She is therefore “the kingdom of Christ already present in mystery” (ibid., 3) and constitutes its seed and beginning. There can be various theological explanations of these questions. However, the intimate connection between Christ, the kingdom and the church cannot be denied or emptied in any way. In fact, the kingdom of God, which we know from revelation “cannot be detached either from Christ or from the church” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 18).

    However, the kingdom of God is not identified with the church in her visible and social reality. Indeed, “the action of Christ and the Spirit outside the church’s visible boundaries” must not be excluded (ibid.). In considering the relationship between the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ and the church, it is necessary to avoid onesided emphases as is the case of those who, in speaking about the kingdom of God, are silent about Christ or put great stress on the mystery of creation but remain silent about the mystery of redemption, because — they say — Christ cannot be understood by those who lack Christian faith, whereas different peoples, cultures and religions are capable of finding common ground in the one divine reality, by whatever name it is called. Furthermore, the kingdom, as they understand it, ends up either leaving very little room for the church or undervaluing the church. These approaches deny the unicity of the relationship which Christ and the church have with the kingdom of God.

    VI. The Church and the Other Religions in Relation to Salvation

    From what has been stated above, some points follow that are necessary for theological reflection as it explores the relationship of the church and of the other religions to salvation. Above all, it must be firmly believed that “the church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: The one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the church” (Lumen Gentium, 14). This doctrine must not be set against the universal salvific will of God; rather, “it is necessary to keep these two truths together, namely, the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the church for this salvation”(Redemptoris Missio, 9). For those who are not formally members of the church, “salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the church, does not make them formally part of the church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit” (ibid.).

    With regard to the way in which the salvific grace of God comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it “in ways known to himself ‘(Ad Gentes, 7). Theology is currently seeking to understand this question more deeply. At the same time, however, it is clear that it would be contrary to the Catholic faith to consider the church as a way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions.

    Certainly the various religious traditions contain and offer religious elements that are part of what “the Spirit brings about in human hearts and in the history of peoples, in cultures and religions” (Redemptoris Missio, 29). One cannot attribute to these, however, a divine origin or anex opere operate salvific efficacy, which is proper to the Christian sacraments. Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that other rituals, insofar as they follow from superstitions or other errors (cf. I Cor. 10:20-21), constitute an obstacle to salvation.

    With the coming of the Savior Jesus Christ, God has willed that the church founded by him be the instrument of salvation for all humanity. This truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the church has for the religions of the world, but at the same time it rules out in a radical way that mentality of indifferentism “characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that ‘one religion is as good asanotber”‘ (Redemptoris Missio, 36). As demanded by her love for all people, the church “proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail Christ, who is ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ (Jn. 14:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (cf. 2 Cor. 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life” (Nostra Aetate, 2).

    The intention of the present declaration is to reiterate and clarify certain truths of the faith in the face of problematic and even erroneous propositions.

    In treating the question of the true religion, the fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught: “We believe that this one true religion continues to exist in the catholic and apostolic church, to which the Lord Jesus entrusted the task of spreading it among all people. Thus, he said to the apostles: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Mt. 28:19-20). Especially in those things that concern God and his church, all persons are required to seek the truth, and when they come to know it, to embrace it and hold fast to it” (Vatican Council II, Dignitatis Humanae, 1).

    Related documents:

    Dominus Iesus 

    Letter to Bishops’ Conferences 

    The Expression Sister Churches

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    The name is ultimately Semitic, and came into Greek as the Aramaic שׁוּעַ (Yeshua), from the Hebrew יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yehoshuah, which in English we usually “translate” to Joshua).

     I’m not going to post a formal answer b/c this is a clearly a contentious subject and I’m likely to be down-voted, but there are some who do draw a connection between Zeus and Jesus, both from the perspective of their stories and names. There seems to be a similar connection between the Eucharist and Dionysis/Persephone. (i.e. Dionysus dies and is resurrected in “spirit”, literally wine. Persephone, aka Kore, represents grain and the summer winter cycle of death and rebirth.) Many Christians are uncomfortable with this parallel for obvious reasons. – DukeZhou Sep 1 ’16 at 20:09

    2 Answers

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    Jesus is the Medieval Latin spelling of Iesus (the ‘i’ is consonantal), itself derived from the Greek Ἰησοῦς, as bleh noted, which transcribed in Latin characters would be Iesous, close to your Iseous (which does not otherwise exist as a name).

    The name is ultimately Semitic, and came into Greek as the Aramaic שׁוּעַ (Yeshua), from the Hebrew יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yehoshuah, which in English we usually “translate” to Joshua).

    There is no relationship between that name and Zeus, which is proto-Indo-European and only looks similar to Iesus in its late form—its stem is dio- (whence Dios “of Zeus”, and its many derivatives in names like Dionysus and Diomedes or even Dioscuri, the two “sons of Zeus”). This name ultimately comes from the PIE root *dewos, and is related to the Latin deus, Old Persian daiva-, both words for god, as well as the Latin dies or Russian день (dyen’) meaning “day”.