The Bible Names Miracle
By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics
The stories of Old Testament figures often foreshadow the stories of New Testament figures who share the same name. In some instances their actions were similar. For example, Judah in the Old Testament suggested selling Joseph into slavery, and Judas in the New Testament was paid to betray Jesus.
In other instances the New Testament story is an almost perfect reversal of the Old Testament story. In the Old Testament, King Saul killed himself with his sword rather than be captured by the Philistines. In the New Testament, the Apostle Saul, also called Paul, cried out to stop the Roman jailer from killing himself with a sword. King Saul preferred suicide to captivity, Paul preferred to be a captive rather than have his jailer commit suicide.
These parallels exist for at least seven major New Testament figures: Jesus, Joseph, Simon-Peter, Paul, John the Baptist, John the Apostle, and Judas.
There are also an amazing set of parallels between Doubting Thomas, "Thomas" meant twin, and the twins of both the Old and New Testaments. I have included these in the essay.
The relationships discussed here may have been difficult to see because many Old and New Testament figures who had the same Hebrew name have different names in English, for example, Jesus and Joshua, and James and Jacob. Usually this is because many New Testament names were translated first from Hebrew into Greek and then from Greek into English while Old Testament names were translated directly from Hebrew into English.
This foreshadowing or typology maybe a miracle or prophesy. This provides evidence or proof that God is behind the Bible.
Several distinguished academics have checked this out and they were quite impressed. I took my material to GTU, the Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley, a collection of Christian colleges representing many denominations. They have one of the finest theological libraries in the country. A couple of the professors were so impressed that they insisted that I see the top person in the field at GTU. He also was impressed. I also sent my material to a brilliant scholar that works in this specific field, at first he said it was simply impossible, but then agreed and was very impressed.
But, don't just take their word or mine. Check it out and decide for yourself. You can tell me what you think in my guest book, e-mail or publicly humiliate me on Reddit..
Twins Follow a Pattern
The parallels involving Doubting Thomas and the three sets of twins mentioned in the Bible are perhaps the most impressive example of foreshadowing or typology. In each case the Bible discusses human twins a hand or an arm was examined to determine someone's status or identity. The pattern is clear in the Doubting Thomas story (John 20:24-29). The name Thomas means twin and the Bible says that Thomas was called the twin. The other apostles told Thomas that Christ had risen from the dead. Thomas said he would not believe unless he put his fingers in the nail holes. Christ appeared to Thomas and the other disciples and offered his hands to Thomas, who made an immediate profession of faith, "My Lord and My God."
There are two sets of twins in the Old Testament. Esau and Jacob the sons of Isaac and Rebekah were the first set. In Genesis 27, Jacob stole Esau's blessing. Isaac asked Esau to kill some game and cook it the way Isaac liked. Isaac promised he would give Esau a blessing after Isaac ate the meal. Jacob's mother, Rebekah, convinced Jacob to steal the blessing by pretending he was Esau. Jacob killed a kid from the flock, cooked the kid, and tied the kid's skins to his arms. Issac was blind, but when Jacob served the meal to Isaac, Isaac recognized Jacob's voice so Isaac asked to feel Jacob's arms. Isaac knew that Esau's skin was hairy, but Jacob's skin was not. The goat skins convinced Isaac that Jacob was Esau, and he gave Jacob the blessing due his first born son, Esau. As in the Doubting Thomas story a person's arm is inspected to determine their identity or status.
Zerah and Perez are the second set of twins in the Old Testament (Genesis 38:27-30). Zerah's hand came out of the womb first, and the midwife tied a thread around it, but Zerah pulled his hand back into the womb. Then Perez came out followed by Zerah with the thread still tied around his wrist. I assume the thread was used to determine who was the first born. The point is, once again, someone's hand or arm was checked to determine their identity or status.
So far, I have discussed three stories that shared two elements of the pattern: twins and someone checking a hand or arm to determine who another person is. But there is a third element, the color red or scarlet.
Red first appears in the Bible in the story of Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:25-31). Esau came out of the womb red and hairy. Esau sold his birth right to Jacob for a bowl of red pottage, and therefore he was called Edom which means red. The first 24 chapters of the Bible do not use the word red or scarlet once, then within six verses red is used three times.
Scarlet, which means red, first appears in the story of the second set of twins, Zerah and Perez. The thread tied around Zerah's wrist was scarlet. So in the first 38 chapters of the Bible the words red and scarlet are only used in stories about twins.
The blood from Christ's wounds would also have been red, though the Bible makes no mention of blood in the wounds of the risen Christ, let alone the color of the blood.
So there are three elements in a pattern repeated three times, twins, someone investigates a second person's forearm or hand to determine identity or status, and red or blood which is red.
Up until now we have been speaking of human twins, but Castor and Pollux, the Gemini twins are also mentioned in the Bible. They were the figurehead on the bow of the ship that took Paul away from Malta (Acts 28:11). According to one tradition in Greek mythology Castor and Pollux were the twin sons of Zeus and a human mother. This maybe the tradition that the Bible in the original Greek is referring to because it calls them the son's of Zeus.
A few verses earlier in the same chapter (Acts 28:3-6) Paul carried a load of wood up to a fire. A serpent came out of the wood and latched onto Paul's arm, but Paul shook the serpent into the fire. The people of Malta said that Paul must be a murder because, even though he had escaped the ship wreck, the gods were punishing him. But Paul did not die, and his arm did not even swell, so they decided Paul must be a god. Note the similarity between this and Doubting Thomas's profession of faith, "My Lord and My God."
But, more to the point the pattern has reoccurred for a forth time. Again there is the twins theme, again a person's hand or arm is inspected to determine his identity or status, and again there is a wound and therefore blood which is red. In conclusion, there is a pattern involving all the human twins and half human twins in the Bible which is extremely unlikely to have happened by chance.
Note that there are two New Testament books, the Gospel of John, and Acts with the pattern by two different authors, John and Luke. Luke does not include the story of Doubting Thomas in his Gospel, which you might expect him to if he was intentionally setting up a pattern.
Nevertheless, one could attempt to explain the pattern by claiming the writers intentionally created it. But even if the authors were intentionally creating the pattern, it is still surprising none of the many other authors who wrote the many other books of the Bible related a story involving human twins that did not follow the pattern.
The probability that this pattern was recreated in four stories about twins by pure chance is vanishingly small.
I discovered the first three stories without much help, using a Bible and a concordance. The forth case involved some help involving a strange coincidence. The first or second person I showed this to, happened to be doing a careful Bible study on Paul and his trip to Malta. He said, I had not spotted the forth set of twins because the concordance I was using called them something else, probably Castor and Pollux, but not twins. The version of the Bible he was using referred to them as the Twins. That he happened to be doing this intense study of just the section of the Bible I needed seemed like a providential coincidence.
This pattern applies to human twins or twins that are part human and part god in the case of the Gemini twins. Here is a discussion of the pattern in animal twins.
The patterns involving Thomas and twins may be the most impressive, perhaps the second most impressive set of parallels are those that tie together King Saul and the Apostle Saul, better known as Paul.
King Saul and Saul-Paul
Particularly impressive is the similarity between the conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus and King Saul's attempt to capture David at Ramah. Paul was given letters authorizing him to arrest Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem (Acts 9:1-6). Just before Paul reached Damascus he had a supernatural experience and ultimately a conversion.
In the Old Testament there is a very similar story about King Saul. David went to live with Samuel in Ramah at Nai'oth. (I Samuel 19:18-24). Saul sent agents to capture David but as the approached Nai'oth the agents were overcome by the Holy Spirit and prophesied. They were unable to carry out their mission. This happened three times until King Saul himself went. As King Saul approached Nai'oth he too was overcome by the Holy Spirit and prophesied. King Saul stripped off his cloths and lay naked all that day and night at Nai'oth. Paul remained blind and similarly helpless for three days until Anini'as healed him.
In this case the similarity between New and Old Testament stories is overwhelming. In both cases the object was to capture the servant or servants of God and bring them back to Jerusalem. In both cases the persecutors are overcome by the power of God as they approach the person or people they sought to capture.
The story of Paul's conversion on the way to Damascus also ties in with two other stories of King Saul's pursuit of David. King Saul with an army of three thousand men chased David around the countryside (1 Samuel 24). Note that the Apostle Paul's conversion experience is in the countryside. King Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. David was hiding in the recesses of the cave and could easily have killed Saul. Instead he cut off a piece of the border of Saul's cloak. When Saul left the cave David followed him and showed him the piece he had cut off. David argued that he meant Saul no harm because he could have killed Saul in the cave but did not. Saul agreed and repented of his plan to kill David.
On another occasion David again showed Saul that he could have killed him but did not (1 Samuel 26). Saul set out again to kill David with the help of three thousand men. David and one his men crept into Saul's camp when Saul and his men were asleep. Instead of killing Saul, David took his spear and water jar. Then standing on a mountain a long way from Saul's camp David shouted back to Saul calling Saul's attention to the fact that he had Saul's spear and water jar. By doing this, David proved to King Saul once again that he could have killed him but did not.
In the Old Testament stories, David, who foreshadows Jesus, showed that he could have killed Saul but did not, thus demonstrating both power and mercy. Jesus also demonstrated his power and mercy. He demonstrated his power by blinding Saul and his mercy by healing him.
In all cases the man named Saul repented. In the Old Testament King Saul returned to his earlier desire to kill David after the first demonstration of mercy. David moved to Philistine territory after the second reconciliation so King Saul was not given a chance to turn against David after David's second act of mercy. In the New Testament, Paul's conversion was permanent. It is often the case that the New Testament story is a triumph where the Old Testament story is a tragedy.
Still another story which is closely tied to the conversion of Paul is King Saul's visit to the witch at En-dor. King Saul ordered the execution of all who practiced witchcraft. The Apostle Paul persecuted Christians. Therefore both King Saul and Saul-Paul were persecuting people.
King Saul asked the witch at En-dor to call up the Prophet Samuel from the dead. Ananias was called upon to heal Paul of his blindness and ultimately to baptize him. In both cases someone from the persecuted group was called upon to help a man named Saul in a supernatural way. In both cases the person resists at first because of the obvious danger.
Finally, both stories involve communication with someone who had experienced physical death, Samuel in the Old Testament and Christ in the New.
Many elements of Paul's conversion are foreshadowed in the several stories of King Saul discussed above. Also note, Old Testament tragedy often foreshadows New Testament triumph.
Another case of Old Testament tragedy foreshadowing New Testament triumph was the death of Saul (2 Samuel 31:4). Rather than be taken captive by his enemies, the Philistines, Saul killed himself with his sword.
In the New Testament (Acts 16:26-28) Paul preferred to remain a captive rather than have his jailer commit suicide. An earthquake shook the prison where Paul and Silas were being held. The doors of the prison flew open, and the chains dropped from the prisoners. The jailer woke up, saw the doors of the prison open, and thinking he would be tortured to death for allowing the prisoners to escape, picked up his sword to kill himself. But Paul called out, "Don't do yourself any harm: we are all here." The Apostle Paul preferred to be a captive rather than have the jailer commit suicide. This was an almost perfect reversal King Saul's suicide.
Paul saving the jailer also ties into the story mentioned above where David and one of his men crept into Saul's camp while Saul and his men were sleeping. After David managed to sneak out of Saul's camp with Saul's water jar and spear, David made a speech to Saul. Part of that speech was a suggestion that Abner, Saul's general, had been negligent in letting David get in and out of camp and should therefore be killed. David was at very least putting Abner's life at risk, this contrasts with Paul who was quick to protect the life of the jailer. The Romans would have tortured the jailer to death if Paul and his associate had escaped, that is why the jailer was about to kill himself. Paul did not escape and voluntarily faced the Roman officials the next day.
Note that Old Testament tragedy is once again replaced by New Testament triumph. Paul the reformed villain of the New Testament followed a higher standard than David the Old Testament hero who in many ways foreshadows Christ.
In summary, several Old Testament stories concerning King Saul's attempts to capture David, and the events leading up to King Saul's suicide foreshadow just two stories concerning the Apostle Paul, the story of Paul's Conversion, and Paul's heroic decision to save the jailer.
Of Simeon, Simon, and Swords
Simon-Peter's Hebrew name was Simeon. Simon was a Greek name commonly adopted by men named Simeon. Simeon's reaction to the rape of his sister, Dinah, and Simon-Peter's actions at the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane have several things in common.
In Genesis 34 Jacob and his household were passing through an area ruled by Hamor when Hamor's son, Shechem, raped Jacob's daughter, Dinah. Shechem asked to marry Dinah, and Jacob's family agreed to the marriage and the unification of the two groups if Hamor, Shechem, and the men of Hamor's country were circumcised. They all agreed and were circumcised. While they were still recovering, two of Jacob's sons, Simeon and Levi, took swords and killed Hamor, Shechem, and their countrymen.
In the Gospel of Luke (22:35-38), Christ told the disciples to go and buy swords. The disciples said they had two swords, and Christ said this is enough. Note, Simeon and Levi killed the followers of Hamor with two swords. Luke mentions that one of the disciples struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear (22:50-51). Then Jesus healed the ear. Luke fails to tell us which disciple welded the sword, but John (18:10-22) reveals that is was Simon-Peter.
Note that the stories are about Levi the founder of the clan which became the Old Testament priesthood and Simon-Peter the first leader after Christ of the new priesthood.
Note also that it is only by using both the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John that the full pattern is revealed. Of course Luke and John had no way of knowing that their work would eventually be included in a Bible, so if they wanted to establish a pattern why didn't they include all the elements in their own gospels.
Joshua, Jesus, of Kings, Stones, Caves, and Trees
The Old Testament version of the name Jesus is Joshua, there are once again a number of parallels between Jesus and Joshua. Joshua was the son of Nun. According to one source Nun refers to a plant which was a symbol of the eternal. So Joshua son of Nun could be loosely translated as Jesus son of the eternal.
Strong's Concordance provides a similar story. Strong's says that Nun means perpetuity, and is based on a root word that means to resprout or "propagate by shouts." Strong's says this is figuratively to be perpetual.
It is perhaps more impressive that in all of the various creation myths of the Egyptians everything began with the swirling chaotic water of Nu or Nun. So Nun was the origin of all things. Joshua son of Nun could be translated Jesus son of the origin of all things.
There is an interesting set of parallels between the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and Joshua's execution of five kings (Joshua 10:16-27). When five kings who had allied themselves together lost their battle against Israel, they hid in a cave. Joshua ordered stones rolled over the cave's mouth and men posted to guard it. After the Israeli army finished slaughtering the five kings' armies, Joshua had the stones rolled away and the kings brought out. Joshua killed them and had them hung from trees. At sunset Joshua had them cut down and thrown back into the cave, and great stones were laid at the cave's mouth.
This story about Joshua foreshadows many elements of the death and resurrection of Christ. The kings corpses hanging from trees foreshadow Christ hanging on the cross. In five verses in the New Testament the Crucifixion is referred to as hanging on a tree (Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, Galatians 3:13, 1st Peter 2:24). The kings act of hiding in the cave and their ultimate burial in the cave both foreshadow the burial of Christ in a tomb recently hewn from rock. The stones placed at the cave's mouth foreshadow the stone rolled in front of the tomb of Christ. The guard ordered by Joshua foreshadows the Roman guard that guarded Christ's tomb. The emergence of the kings from the cave foreshadows the Christ's emergence from the tomb. The fact that the five kings were kings foreshadows Jesus role as king. Finally the fact that the king who initiated the alliance of the five kings was King of Jerusalem foreshadows Christ's role as the heir to the line of David which ruled from Jerusalem.
It has also been argued that many elements concerning Joshua and the entrance of the Children of Israel into the Promised Land foreshadow the entrance into the ultimate promised land, Heaven.
It is my impression from a conversation that I had many years ago that the following argument circulates among some Christians.
It is symbolic that Moses was not allowed to lead the Children of Israel into the Promised Land because Moses brought the law to Israel and it is not by the law but only by grace that we may enter Heaven. So it was left to Joshua, who foreshadows Jesus, to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land.
The first generation of adults that left Egypt were not allowed to enter the promised land. The second generation, the men younger than 20, did eventually enter the Promised Land with Joshua and Caleb. This second generation maybe a type for the New Testament second generation, those who have been born again through baptism in water and the Holy Spirit.
Judah, Judus, and the Monetary Value of Friends and Relatives
As mentioned above, the stories of Judah in the Old Testament and Judas in the New provide another interesting parallel. Judah in the Old Testament suggests that Joseph should be sold into slavery (Genesis 37:26-27). The price was twenty pieces of silver. Judas in the New Testament sells Christ for the famous thirty pieces of silver.
Joseph Dreams and Egypt
The parallels between Joseph the son of Jacob in the Old Testament and Joseph the husband of Mary in the New Testament are obvious enough that they are commonly noted. God communicated with both Josephs in dreams and both lead their families to Egypt.
John and Jonathan Good Friends and the Passing of the Torch
Finally there are parallels between John the Baptist and John the Apostle and Jonathan in the Old Testament. It should be noted that John and Jonathan are not the same name but both names do have the same root.
Jonathan was a son of the old dynasty, and John the Baptist was a son of the old priesthood. Jonathan recognized David the founder of the new dynasty, and John the Baptist recognized Jesus the founder of the new priesthood.
The great example of the friendship between two men in the Old Testament is David and Jonathan, while the great example of friendship between two men in the New Testament is Jesus and the John, the disciple that Christ loved.
Summary and So What
We have looked at most of the major figures in the New Testament and found that there are similarities between their experiences and the experiences of Old Testament figures with the same name. In the case of Doubting Thomas it is particularly clear that these go far beyond the bounds of coincidence.
Furthermore, even if we take a very cynical view of the Evangelists, the writers of the four Gospels and Acts, it would have been far too difficult for them to manipulate all the facts to fit a pattern this complex even if they had considerable freedom to manipulate.
But their freedom to manipulate was limited. They were, after all, writing about what their contemporaries regarded as true events. It is hard to imagine the Evangelists going to the other believers and saying, "Well we know what really happened, but if we can change this name and that event it will fit into a pattern with Old Testament events so we can fool future generations." Even if the church leaders were totally unscrupulous, what would have mattered to them would have been the scandal the manipulation would have caused in their own generation. It would be a strange sort of unscrupulous leader who was willing to sacrifice his own power and influence for the sake of spreading his ideas among future generations.
But what right do we have to assume that the apostles were unscrupulous hoaxers? Most or all died martyr's deaths, not a mass suicide which would be relatively easy, but martyr's deaths that often involved torture separated one from another by decades and thousands of miles.
Other critics have said that copy errors or intentional changes by monks copying scriptures caused the patterns. Of course honest errors might destroy a pattern like this, but how would they create it? The more serious argument is that copyists intentionally changed the text. If so this would have to have been done very early before many copies had been made. If there were thousands of copies spread out over an area that stretched at least from Spain to India (the Apostles are believed to have set up Christian communities from Spain to India) it would be impossible for a single copyist to change the text simply by producing one, or even several false copies.
Finally most of the patterns I am discussing here are not even touched upon by most sophisticated modern commentaries. I have searched for many of the patterns on the Internet without finding them. Were these relatively uneducated men that much more sophisticated than modern scholars? Were they that superior to the hive mind of the Internet.
But of course many people will not be convinced, they will suggest that I am very imaginative, or Jesus and/or the Apostles were very tricky. But perhaps it is not the point of any one miracle to decide the matter beyond all contention. Rather, miracles invite people to investigate the faith more carefully, to check out other miracles and the rational argumentation that supports the faith. Finally, miracles invite people to pray for the gift of faith.
Though I have not gotten many complaints, some may think my work reflects badly on the Christian faith. Remember that this is simply the work of a layman. I discovered the pattern on my first reading of the Old Testament. There are many other apologetic arguments produced by professionals and scholars. If you go before God on Judgment Day and say I read an essay on some guy's personal web site and it turned me off to Christianity, God may say you failed to seriously search for his truth.
Professors, Editors, and Others RespondI have show this material to many people both personally and through this web site. The professors have been impressed, the editors were not, the general public had mixed reactions. I have an extensive page on the reactions here.
Your ResponseSo I have now put it on my web site. Tell me what you think. As a result of my essay you saw the light, or you have found a huge error in my argument. I await your responses.
Of course I would love to have you link to this page, but if you are not Catholic perhaps you do not want to link to Catholic pages. I can understand that. So I have set up two mere-Christianity versions of this page.
One is on another web site where I am pretty sure I have removed all references to the Catholic Church. In fact a slightly altered version of the Bible Names Miracle essay is all that one can read unless you fiddle with the url. The other site, which is about fish bowls, light bulb jokes, and other harmless topics, links to the essay Bible names, but the essay does not link back. So you can link to the introduction of the Bible Names Miracle essay on that site secure in the knowledge that all you are leading people too is an essay that provides evidence that God is behind the Bible.
There is also another version of the essay on this web site. This was an earlier attempt to do the same thing I mentioned in the last paragraph. These Catholic pages link to the mere Christianity version, but the mere Christianity version does not link back. As that page is mostly identical to this one I have a no robots tag on it, otherwise the search engines would think I was spamming them. But I set up another page that leads into the mere-Christianity version of this essay. You can link to that secure in the knowledge that it has no links that lead to the Catholic areas of this site.
I have a couple of other web pages on the Bible that I think are pretty amazing. There has been some controversy on the differences between the genealogies and Nativity stories of Matthew and Luke. This has been something of a mystery for almost two thousand years. I suggest a simple solution, Matthew was writing to Christians who converted from Judaism, while Luke was writing to a Roman official. The differences are just what one would expect if both writers were carefully picking what to write about from a set of true events and they did not want to upset their respective audiences. Check it out, the genealogy web site, the Nativity web site.
My index pages for more miracles and other articles with evidence or apologetics for God, Christianity, and the Catholic faith is here..