Biblical Egyptology

Biblical Egyptology
Colin Burgess

The Book of Exodus is crucial to Jewish and Christian self-understanding. It narrates the two primary acts or plans of salvation.: the exodus from Egypt and the revelation at Sinai. These events echo throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and stand at the center of OT faith. For Christians, they find their climax in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Exodus is alluded to within the OT more than any other book, and in the NT, only Psalms and Isaiah are cited more frequently. 

Exodus has been skillfully crafted and offers rich material for theological reflection through its powerful and memorable narratives. For example, Exodus 34:6-7 contains the most sublime revelation of God’s character in the OT. In the aftermath of Israel’s rebellious and idolatrous worship of the Golden Calf, God reveals himself as merciful and gracious. 

As part of the Scriptures that Christians hold as authoritative, Exodus must not only entertain and capture our imagination, but also shape our understanding of God, humanity, and the world around us. Given its canonical importance, it is not surprising that Exodus continues to be the subject of scholarly research. This essay will review five recent works that will prove useful for pastors and teachers. 

Historicity of the Exodus Account
It is the unanimous testimony of the OT that God delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage. This begs the question: Did the Exodus actually occur? 
Two recent studies will help students understand the issues that shape the current debate over the historicity of Exodus. First, E. Frerichs and L. Lesko have edited Exodus: The Egyptian Evidence (Eisenbrauns, 1997). This work consists of the following papers originally presented at Brown University in 1992: “The Exodus: Egyptian Analogies” by A. Malamat, “Merneptah’s Canaanite Campaign and Israel’s Origins” by F.J. Yurco, “Observations on the Sojourn of the Bene-Israel” by D.B. Redford, “Is There Any Archaeological Evidence for the Exodus?” by W.G. Dever, “Exodus and Archaeological Reality” by J. Weinstein, and “Summary and Conclusion” by W.A. Ward. 

Malamat and Yurco are sympathetic to the possibility of an exodus though not on the scale portrayed in Exodus. Malamat discusses “indirect” sources for the Exodus. Several documents shed light on the milieu in which an exodus could have occurred. For example, one extant Egyptian papyri describes the tight control that Egypt maintained over its eastern border during the late 13th century and observes that people could only leave if they possessed a special permit. Another describes the escape of two slaves and provides parallels to the Exodus story: (1) the slaves escape at night from the city of Ramesses, (2) the Egyptian military pursues, and (3) the escape route is into the Sinai wilderness. None of this proves that Israel experienced an exodus from Egypt, but the analogies add credibility to the biblical account. Malamat suggests that migrations from Egypt probably spanned centuries. The peak period under Moses should be located during the collapse of the Egyptians and Hittites in the late 13th and early 12th centuries BCE. Yurco provides a good discussion of the Merneptah stele (ca. 1207 BCE) which contains the earliest extra-biblical citation of Israel and provides the latest possible date for the settlement of Israel in Canaan. 

Redford, Dever, Weinstein, and Ward are more skeptical. Redford studies the interaction between Egypt and its neighbors and concludes that during the New Kingdom period there is no evidence of any substantial resident Syrian-Palestinian population in Egypt. Dever discusses the implications of the lack of archaeological evidence for the Exodus, wilderness wanderings, and conquest. Dever concludes that it is more plausible to read Genesis-Joshua as folktale and to explain Israel as a natural indigenous population shift within Canaan. Weinstein further highlights the lack of archaeological support for the biblical narrative and states that “were it not for the Bible, anyone looking at the Palestinian archaeological record data would conclude that whatever the origins of the Israelites, it was not Egypt” (98). Ward provides a conclusion that reiterates the tensions between the archaeological record and the Bible. 

The skepticism present in the latter essays marks a distinct change in the scholarly consensus. As recently as 1981, J. Bright wrote, “There can really be little doubt that ancestors of Israel had been slaves in Egypt and had escaped in some marvelous way. Almost no one today would question it…Although there is no direct witness in Egyptian records to Israel’s presence in Egypt, the Biblical tradition a priori demands belief: it is not the sort of tradition any people would invent!” (A History of Israel [3d ed.; Westminster, 1981] 120-21).
In Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition (Oxford University Press, 1996), J.K. Hoffmeier provides a thorough evangelical assessment of the biblical, philological, and archaeological evidence regarding the Israelite sojourn in Egypt from the time of Joseph until the Exodus (Genesis 39—Exodus 15). He demonstrates the plausibility of the biblical record over against the skepticism of much recent scholarship. The first two chapters provide an overview of the current debate concerning the early history of Israel. He traces the discussion from the demise of the biblical depiction of a unified conquest of Canaan under Joshua to the current sociological and anthropological models that understand the rise of Israel as the culmination of a process indigenous to Canaan. Hoffmeier demonstrates that the issue turns on the scholar’s use of the biblical materials and aptly points out the shortcomings of much of current scholarship’s extreme skepticism. For example, given that the Bible contains many historical allusions regarding foreign cities and rulers that are reliable, are we really to imagine that Israelite writers knew more about other nations than they did about themselves? If the Exodus-Conquest model is a fiction, why is the biblical tradition so steadfast in its confession? Skepticism regarding Joshua’s portrayal of a conquest is also unwarranted. First, the lack of archaeological evidence of destruction may be mute because Joshua states that only three cities were destroyed. Second, scholars are often guilty of reading texts too literally rather than understanding the conquest narrative in the background of other Ancient Near Eastern military documents. Third, the issue of an essential continuity between the material culture of Israelite and Canaanite sites is related to point one—Israel moved into the cities of the defeated Canaanites (Deut 6:10-11). 
In the remainder of the work, Hoffmeier demonstrates that the narratives in Genesis 39—Exodus 15 are compatible with what scholars know from Egyptian history. Included are chapters on “Semites in Egypt,” “Joseph in Egypt,” “Israelites in Egypt.” “Moses and the Exodus,” “The Eastern Frontier Canal,” and “The Geography and Toponymy of the Exodus.” Hoffmeier’s method does not rely upon a source-critical reading of the text. Instead, he uses a comparative method that focuses not on a hypothetical reconstruction of the development of the Pentateuch, but on the texts themselves as they compare with Ancient Near Eastern texts. 

This book is important. It lays a solid historical foundation upon which to read the narratives of the Book of Exodus. It brings the student up to speed on current issues in Israelite historiography and, with clear argumentation built upon a wide range of evidence, it supports the reliability of the core Israelite confession, “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt” (Exod 20:1). 
Interpretation of the Text
Three outstanding commentaries have been published since 1987 that provide profound insights into the theological interpretation of Exodus. John I. Durham’s Exodus (Word, 1987) is avowedly evangelical. Following the standard Word commentary format, he offers a translation with notes, a discussion of critical issues, and commentary on each unit of Exodus. Durham’s over-arching concern is the explication of the central theological message of the book—“the fundamental biblical declaration that whatever else he may be, God is first of all a God at hand, a God with his people, a God who rescues, protects, guides, provides for, forgives, and disciplines the people who call him their God and who call themselves his people” (xxiii).
Durham offers helpful reviews of the historical-critical issues that have shaped the discussion of each passage, but he never allows this to blur the meaning of the final text. He is open to understanding Exodus as a composite work, but argues that it is a theological unity that has been carefully shaped by its editors.
Durham provides a superb translation of the text that closely follows the Hebrew and highlights the exegetical work upon which it is based. Updated bibliographies are included for each passage and more importantly Durham dialogues extensively with this literature in the body of his work. This provides the student with a guide to the vast secondary literature on Exodus. Some will be disappointed that Durham spends little time on issues of historicity. Without argumentation, he affirms a 13th century date for the Exodus. Also, given the current lack of consensus on the formation of the Pentateuch, it would have been helpful if Durham had related the results of his study to the debate on the overall compilation of the Pentateuch. 

Terrence Fretheim’s Exodus (John Knox, 1994) is a strong contribution to the Interpretation series. Though avoiding historical questions, Fretheim offers the reader a thorough theological interpretation of the book’s contents. He shows an appreciation for the overall literary context of the book in the exposition of individual passages and sensitivity to the interplay of story, liturgy, and law within Exodus. Throughout the work, Fretheim deals with such leading theological issues as images for God, knowledge of God, divine sovereignty and human freedom, liberation and Exodus, worship, and law and covenant. An outstanding excursus grapples with the issue of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. 

Fretheim’s lasting contribution may be his emphasis on the presence of Creation theology within Exodus. Previous scholars have noted parallels between Genesis 1-9 and the Tabernacle unit (Exodus 25-40) in terms of creation—fall—recreation, but Fretheim demonstrates cogently that creation themes run throughout the book. An allusion to creation is found in Exodus 1:7 where the narrator reports that in fulfillment of God’s imperative (Gen 1:28) the Israelites were “fruitful and multiplied.” Pharaoh’s genocidal intentions are not merely against Israel, but against God’s purposes for creation. God’s redemptive activity is thus cast as a response to Pharaoh’s anti-creational activities against Israel. This backdrop of creation theology serves to elevate God’s particular activity on behalf of Israel to an action with implications for all creation.
The final work for our consideration is W. Propp’s Exodus: A New Translation and Commentary (Anchor Bible; Doubleday, 1999). This first of a two-volume set covers Exodus 1-18. The massive scope of the Anchor Bible series allows for comprehensive treatment of issues related to the interpretation of Exodus. Propp provides a gold mine of information written in a clear style that makes the fruits of critical study available to his reader. Propp’s introduction explains the scope and purpose of his commentary and will be supplemented in the second volume by five appendices that will address larger historical-critical issues such as the validity of the Documentary Hypothesis and the emergence of Israel in light of contemporary archaeology. An exhaustive bibliography is provided for further study. 

The body of the commentary is devoted to discussions of the translation, text, source analysis, redaction analysis, and interpretive notes and comments for each passage. Propp’s gift is his ability to navigate through the depths of an enormous amount of secondary literature and an array of interpretive problems to focus on explaining the text itself. In the Notes sections, Propp carries on a lively debate with both ancient and modern interpreters. He considers alternate interpretations so the reader benefits from understanding other interpretations alongside Propp’s own. However, Propp does occasionally find ambiguity in the text and refuses to choose between alternatives. This commentary is not as overtly theological as the others, but it is the most comprehensive and up-to-date.
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Chaplaincy Studies

What I Have Learned.
Final Essay for Master of Chaplaincy Course
Rev. Arthur Strafuss
Now that I am at the end of another class I look back with a smile and admiration for the instructor and staff that supported me through this.  During this time I was appointed to the position of Chaplain in the American Legion.  I owe this position directly to the taking of the course. 

My assignment is to answer the following:
What did I learn from this course?
What helped me the most?
What could be improved in this course?
What do we hope to accomplish after taking this course?
The most important things of the course for me were the assignments. The getting and digging out the information, and the information was a storehouse, for me.  From this I have made a data base of all this information that I can bring up or go online to get what I need. 
The most important things that help me the most were:
A.     Learning about other type of chaplains, as the Animal Chaplain, which help pet owner through lost of a pet and consoling them their pet is sick or being hospitalizes.  I was surprise to find out that many Seeing Eye dog owners need that form of help through the hard time with their dog.
B.     Police and Fire Chaplains was a surprise in the duties of a chaplain may differ in many ways.  The Chaplain in my town covers both Fire and Police.  He does not live in the town, and is only on call.  In a city like Boston the chaplain is more of a face to face presents. Not just on call but out on call with the Fire Department or Police.  They can’t share both departments.
C.    The need for a partner in my ministry. That can be a friend first and then a soul friend later, after we know and work with each other for awhile.   It needs time to know each other’s strengths, and weaknesses and how we can help each other in our ministry.  It would e great to share a ministry together, helping others, reading sermons, and help with classes.
D.     Massachusetts Suicide Prevention Program

The goal of the Suicide Prevention Program is to reduce the number of suicides, suicide attempts and self-injury among Massachusetts residents. We do this by:
1.          Raising awareness of suicide as a public health problem
2.          Providing support to communities, agencies and individuals interested in suicide prevention
3.          Providing education and training for professionals and caregivers
4.           Funding community-based suicide prevention and mental health promotion programs
5.          Supporting and collaborating with state, regional and community suicide prevention coalitions

I am open supporting and encouraging communities to collaborate across disciplines to prevent suicide and suicide attempts across the lifespan. In our area, teen suicide is on the rise.  I may have an opportunity to help in the High Schools to get a handle on this problem.
E.      I loved the Tool kit.  What I am finding is the kit depends on what I am doing.  I am cutting back on the Bibles to carry around and the communion kit but I still keep then in the care.  I am also reinstalled my CB Radio back in the trunk.
F.      I like the lesion on active listening
There are two parts to active listening
1,   Have the ability to listen, make eye contact, body language, and giving the speaker your attention. Not to me distracted by cell-phone, noses, actions in the street, and so on.  This gives the message that you see what the speaker is saying is important and that you have an active interest in the subject.  This technique is best used on a one on one session, in which you are trying to help this person through something.  Be prepared for a lot of talk going into dead ends.  Theses session go for a long time until something comes out that you can actually help with.
2,   Having the ability to understand what the speaker is saying is the other.  This can be a smile, quick and shot comments, and sharing your own story.
Word of caution, I am a good listener, I have been most of my life, when dealing with a lonely single person male or female, do not get out the wrong massage.  You may need to make a boundary, or rule of the session that should not be broken.  It very easy to fall into this trap, I have and that is why I state the ground rules first.  It is call transference. I made the mistake of going out for coffee after the session.
What I would change:
A.     Fix the Forum.  I am still having problem with it.
B.     Would like to see Counseling as a complete course as part of this program.  It would help people like me that do not have any counseling history.
C.    More Internet resources, as in helps in consulting, and to Chaplain Organizations.
What do we hope to accomplish after taking this course?
A.     I am going through a hard time right now.  Once I get through it I will be developing my still as a Chaplain in the American Legion, and using that position to open up more opportunities as a Chaplain.
B.      I am continuing my courses to work toward the Master’s in Chaplaincy and then on to the Doctorates.
C.     I would like to join a professional chaplain organization, for the purpose of my own education and fellowship.
D.     Still Thinking about the Unemployment Chaplain.  I think there is a need there.  People go through the most trying time when they have lost their jobs.  Families break up, things fall apart and never get back together again.   People need to know that God is there and She/He is waiting to be ask for any help that is needed. When all is lost, there is always God. That needs to be convened, that they are not alone, that there is hope.  That a personal relationship with God (no matter how you see God) needs to be established, then prepare for something to happen.
E.      I still plain to work in Education, but God Centered no matter where I am.
Now that is the end of the last lesson.  I wish to thank Daniel Moore and Amy for their help and support.
Blessing to all and the good work you do.
Rev Arthur Strafuss
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Four Gospels

I just concluded the Four Gospels. I am now to write a paper on the course those that know me say it should be easy for me. Many moons ago I sat in a classroom for two years being taught this same course, only from the prospective of the founder of my religious denomination, one that I was not to question their teaching. This Four Gospels Course was all questioning, designed to make you question preconceived notion that you may or may not have. To bring away a personal prospective, it is well written and easy to understand. I took this course looking for some answers, I found some and I found some more questions to take a deeper look into.
Our Christian Bible is a Jewish book born out Judaism. At the time of Christ there was no such religion as Christianity; Jesus was a Jew, as were Peter, James, John, Andrew, Mary Magdalene, and Paul all twelve of the chosen were Jewish. Christianity accepts the fact of only one being a Jew Judas Iscariot.
Jesus was a Galilean Jew and lived his entire life within the boundaries of Judea, the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel an area now divided between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and, in a few geographical definitions of Judea , Jordan. Historians and Four Gospels generally describe Jesus as an itinerant preacher and leader of a religious movement within Judaism. The followers of Jesus composed an apocalyptic Jewish sect during the late Second Temple period of the 1st century. Some groups that followed Jesus were strictly Jewish, or those strongly attracted to Jewish practice, including the church leaders in Jerusalem. The Roman Centurion Cornelius is the first Gentile (non-Jewish) convert Paul of Tarsus, after his legendary incident on the Road to Damascus, he had success in proselytizing among the Gentiles.
According to biblical reconstruction, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, taught in parables and aphorisms, challenged pious traditions, legalism and social hierarchy. Is that what we who are Christians are doing in the Universal Life Church — challenging the established church? Is that challenging pious traditions, legalism and social hierarchy the reason some say that we are not Christian enough? It is not until we throw of the chains of oppression of fundamentalism and legalisms of today’s church will we find the freedom in Christ.
What the Church does not tell you is during Jesus’ time and for 20 years after his death; converts to the Christian sect of Judaism were required to convert to Judaism first to become Christians. The very fact then becomes Jesus was Christianity’s greatest spokesman, but not its originator.
As such I study the course through Midrash a modifying adjective, Midrashic. For me the Four Gospel Course drove me deeper into the course than ever before. Do you know how delighted I was when my eyes were opened to a simple fact that I missed so many times. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, is a midrashic creation! The name Zechariah stemmed from the fact John had been identified with prophet Malachi, whose immediate predecessor in the Bible was the prophet Zechariah!
The more I study the Four Gospels I personally question and I am challenged by the concept of the Trinity. I can not find it any where in the Four Gospels. Neither of the words “Trinity” nor “Triunity” appear any where in the Old Testament or New Testament. The Old Testament depicts God as the father of Israel and refers to divine figures such as Word, Spirit, and Wisdom. The Hebrew Scriptures tell us that God is one, and the Godhead a single being. “Hear, O Israel : The LORD our God is one LORD” Deuteronomy 6:4. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” Deuteronomy 5:7 “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel and his redeemer the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” Isaiah 44:6
The New Testament does not use the word “Τριάς” (Trinity) nor explicitly teach it. Jesus and his followers I did not believe intend to contradict the Jewish Shema Yisrael: “Hear, O Israel : The Lord our God is one Lord” Deuteronomy 6:4
I know some of you may or may not understand at this point of what I am talking about but this part of the course is troubling to me. I would love to get my hands on an out of print book written by Michael Goulder, Midrash and the Lection in Matthew. I now find myself questioning the existence of what some call the Q document because I now see Luke and Matthew are to be understood liturgical and lectionary books. I find some of the themes of Exodus in both Matthew and in Mark. I also see examples in Mark and Matthew of Genesis being a guide for these narratives.
The more I read the Four Gospels I find Christianity to be one way to God not the only way. I find words like ALL and NOTHING being used. Matthew 11:28”come to me all” said the Christ of God. That is an invitation for all to seek God through his or her faith even those of other faiths through their faith. I see infinite inclusiveness of the God whose invitation is not selective. I see the love of God “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:39. Nothing and all must mean nothing and all.
Rev Linda Miskimen

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As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.


This course was designed to learn how to minister to the scientific community or even to the traditional religious believer.
As quoted in Lesson 4… “When we tap into that universal God energy we can produce any kind of miracle”. I believe this is true. There were many philosophical viewpoints covered in this course. I thought it interesting that science and Marxism, Socialism and Communism was lopped into the same philosophical
thought patterns though it shouldn’t be surprising as most scientist are atheists. I suppose if one was to minister to the likes of these thought systems in a way, would be nailed to the cross as the author of this course purports through his own testimony. I am happy that my ministering work attracts those who are open to the spiritual path and are perhaps looking for their specialty or new levels of growth to enhance their abilities.
With that said, this course was one of the hardest to get through because it was a dark analogy of what a
“spiritual” person is expected to go through as being nailed to the cross. It sounded more like punishment then the rewards of Light and Love and joy that comes with being spiritual, or an enlightened soul. A soul with spirit. My view is that Christ Jesus bore the cross so we wouldn’t have to.
I especially liked the philosophy of Socrates and Plato… Socrates, “ We must learn to accept the world as it is.” And, through the understanding of Plato, we can often know more about what a person thinks than they know themselves.
If “we are part of a unified whole” (page 5, Lesson 5), then we are like a piece of the pie not the whole pie. God is the whole. We are a piece of the whole form. The next sentence states, “However much we want to think of ourselves as individuals, we are not. and when we die we fall back into the greater whole.”
I don’t think God expects us to be like him, just to be the best EXAMPLE that we can be. I am not a purest and certainly no saint. I am human like anyone else. I bring this up perhaps as a reminder to myself that I am not a Savior, and I have no business trying to be. Taking this approach which I have experienced, can
cause a great deal of suffering, heartache, and disappointment. I understand Faith without works is dead. However, there is no amount of works that will gain you favor in Heaven than GRACE. This is the administration that we now live under. All that is expected once again is to be an example of good and honest living. This is a part of spiritual principles.
Knowledge is power but wisdom is even more powerful. I believe that if we live by or follow our God-given talents, God will bring us together with those who can benefit most from our counsel or spiritual nature.
Dr. Rev. Nancy Kimes
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As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Gospel of Thomas

Essay for the Master of the Gospel of Thomas Course
Reverend Sharon J. Mayer
Reverend Raymond Thompson used personal touches and interests to enhance the study of The Gospel of Thomas. His insightful studies of the course information make for interesting reading and leads one to further study of the subject matter.  The course is very interesting and thought provoking. I am not sure I agree with all of the course materials but will certainly hold Reverend Thompson’s thoughts in mind during any further study of the subject. As each of us learn based on our own lives, interests, and understanding a good lively debate will help with the study of any subject.
It is not known exactly when the Gospel of Thomas was first written and there is debate as to whether or not it was the basis of the known Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John or if they were the basis of the Gospel of Thomas. Considering that most of the early history of the teaching of Jesus would have been verbally passed along no one is really sure of the exact dates of any of the books of the known Bible. In the Book of Acts it was said that anyone teaching about Jesus should be someone who had walked with him and had personal knowledge of his teachings. As time when on most of those who had walked with him were scattered or had been killed and others who heard the information took up the teaching. Many different versions of what was said or taught were later written down. Keeping in mind that what is said is sometimes not what is heard or written down much later it is so important to find an early text to back up information and teachings.
The text was a Coptic translation from Greek and other fragments of the text have been found in other areas than the one found near Nag Hammadi so it is known that the Greek version was used in Egypt as early as the second century. It is thought that the saying of Jesus in The Gospel of Thomas are in a more traditional form that the known gospels. They also show a Gnostic point of view of what Jesus was saying and teaching as apposed to the known gospel teaching to the different cultures. It is interesting that the Gospel of Thomas was the only complete text found at Nag Hammadi. We often hear that when we are ready the truth will appear and if indeed these are the lost and “secret” saying of Jesus maybe there were to be found intact at that particular time and place to advance knowledge
So what was the text not added to the known Bible? There were multiple texts available when the church decided to consolidate according to Cannon and the books chosen were those that most reflected the thoughts of the Church Fathers of the time. With so many ideas of what was actually taught and what was to be the final teaching of the Church many writing were left out of the Bible. Many were considered too controversial to be added to the core of the church teaching. In the Coptic Gospel of Thomas there is no narrative of the passion which was the core teaching of the church. The writer was not interested in the death or resurrection of Jesus, but consolidates the sayings and states understanding of the words would lead to eternal life.  Since the church teaching was based on the death and resurrection the text did not fit into the ideas the church wanted to have as part of the Bible.  
I am sure that when each of the 114 sayings is read by  people with different backgrounds and walks along the path of knowledge there will be many perspectives of what is being read and the level of understanding will vary greatly.  Not all of us have had the encounters that Reverend Thompson experienced on his path.
Using the information given in the course and going forward will give a good grounding on what was in the text as found in Egypt. I am so very glad that all of the texts were not burned or lost to collectors and can be shared by those seeking knowledge of the early instructions given to believers. As saying one states: “Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death.”
Additional reference material from my personal library used for course;
The Nag Hammadi Library; Revised addition. James M. Robinson, General Editor, copyright 1988
The Nostic Bible, Gnostic Texts of Mystical Wisdom from the Ancient and Medieval Worlds; Edited by Willis Barstone and Marvin Meyer, copyright 2003
Lost Christianities The Battles for Scriptures and the Faiths We Never Knew; Bart D. Ehrman, copyright 2003
Lost Scriptures Books that Did Not Make it into the New Testament; Bart D. Ehrman, copyright 2003.  Bart D. Ehrman chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is considered an authority on the early Church and the life of Jesus.
The Secret Teaching of Jesus, Four Gnostic Gospels, Translated and with an Introduction and Notes by Marvin W. Meyer, copyright 1984


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The  ULC, run by Rev. Long, has created a chaplaincy program to help train our ministers and lots of free online sermons for your use. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I’ve been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.
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Druidism at ULC Seminary
Druidism Course
The Master of Druidism has proven to be a valuable course for learning the most possible about this great and ancient religion of the Druids. The course was fascinating and very valuable. I highly recommend that anyone interested in learning about the Druids both ancient and modern take this course.
Even though most of what we know about the Druids is from the writings of the Romans and the Greeks, due to the fact the Druids did not record their history in writing, this course really gives us great insight into the modern practice of Druidism and incorporates the aspect of the ancient Druids as best as any one could do. This ancient religion is one of the most fascinating religions of the Gaul and Celtic People’s and one that I am glad is being carried on today by modern Druids.
Again, I cannot stress enough how excellent this course has been and the information gained through it is invaluable. Please, I encourage all of you, to take the course and learn all you can about the Druids. I hope you do and I hope you find it as fascinating and satisfying as I did.
Judge Edward Singleton

The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more.

Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free,  and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button.

The  ULC, run by Rev. Long, has created a chaplaincy program to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I’ve been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.

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As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

ULC Monastery Not Affiliated with headquarters

ULCUniversal Life Church & Online Seminary This is an important announcement regarding some changes that have been happening at the Universal Life Church.
For additional, independent verification of what’s going on, click Monastery.
As some of you are aware, the site has changed hands. Due to a series of unconfirmed circumstances, there was an abrupt change of leadership and ownership of the domain name and site. It is currently in the control of George Freeman and his associates, currently signing the site as ‘Br. Martin’. The circumstances of this change are in dispute among the parties. With the announcement going out, I felt it necessary to add a page to the Seminary site to let people know what’s going on.
For many years, the site was owned by Daniel Zimmerman. Many of you have had dealings with him and have formed your own opinions as to his honesty and integrity. Until recently, the site (known as The Monastery) was an authorized site affiliated with headquarters.
As of August 1, 2006, that is no longer the case. From that point on, if you were ordained at the site, your ordination was not sent to headquarters, nor were you recorded as being a legal minister with the Universal Life Church. If you have any links on your own website to the site, I strongly urge you to change the links to, or to headquarters, to avoid sending anyone to a site that might confuse people as to its true intentions.
The new site still implies a connection between them and ULC Headquarters in Modesto, but no such affiliation exists. We fear this is going to be causing a lot of confusion and misunderstandings among the ministers of the ULC and we hope that, over time, word will spread and those who wish to affiliate with the ULC will steer clear. I believe that Andre Hensley, at headquarters, will be issuing (or may have already issued) a press release, Wikipedia has been changed, and the word is spreading.
Any products you purchase from that site do not have the sanction of headquarters, nor the blessing of the Bureau for Private Post-secondary and Vocational Education, so proceed with that awareness.
If you are worried in any way that your ordination is in question, please re-ordain yourself on this site or at headquarters directly. Only those ordinations done after Aug. 1st, 2006, on the site are in question. To affiliate yourself with this site, please make sure you are signed up to receive the newsletter so you will be kept abreast of everything happening with the ulc.
I hope this answers your questions. If you have any others, please feel free to ask me at


To ordain yourself with the Universal Life Church, for free, for life, right now, click on the Free Online Ordination link.

Rev. Long created the ULC seminary site to help ministers learn and grow their ministries. The Seminary offers a huge catalog of materials for ministers of the Universal Life Church
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.


     The lessons on Druidism were  a reawakening or reaffirming belief on this path called life. I took the class first of all for several reasons. As a visual artist much of my paintings revolve around our relationship with a spiritual landscape which includes the symbol of the tree. This symbol is a strong image of personal empowerment for me.  I grew up in a small town in rural Ohio. Here is where I discovered my creativity.  I would sit for  hours under the mighty pine, oak or maple and draw my natural surroundings. It was while under these natural cathedrals I committed in furthering my education as an artist.
     I left my small town for the big city “Chicago”where I pursued my dream of becoming an artist. I earned my B.F.A, M.F.A. in fine arts and art therapy. I have been a practicing artist and art therapist for over 30 years. The image of the tree also has meaning as a symbol of my health. I live with a chronic pain condition called fibromyalgia. I see the tree as a image of resiliency.  Trees can withstand the most severe weather , they can grow around any obstacle , in essence they are a visual lesson for our souls to grow from.
     In several of these lessons the book ” Druid Magic” by Maya Magee Sutton PH.D and Nicholas R. Mann was referenced. I found the book on Amazon for 95 cents. The wealth of information is priceless. I have it amongst my other earthen spirituality books that I re-read quite often. 
It refers to the druid as artist, poet, teacher and counselor just to name a few, however these are all aspects of myself.  I connected with this and used the book as a reference point with the assignments from the course. This only strengthened my basic connection that I have had all along my life, that I was or am a druid.
     Now what is a druid?  My understanding from  the assignments and book  is that a Druid is one who is in search of the universal truth and lives by this truth.  This for me is a reflection of how I try to live my life. The universal truth is an awakening to one self that all of creation is following many Individualized paths to discover this enlightenment.  When I paint the image of the tree it is very significant to my own sense of spiritual symbolism. I remember how the assignments referred to the druid arts. These forms of natural self expression is what I found to strengthen my own earthen aesthetics. This to me is what enables me to rekindle my sense of the essence of my own creation and how I continue to relate to its continued evolution.

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Metaphysical Healing

Master of Metaphysical Healing Essay
In taking this course in Master of Metaphysical Healing I quickly realized that it put my own faith, knowledge and beliefs to the test. This course has asked some very compelling questions and demands of me and although my answers may be only my perception, I will try and answer them in my final essay to the best of my honesty, belief and my own personal experiences.
As I have been blessed with my own successful practice for that past two years as a Spiritualist, conducting Angelic Readings, providing Spiritual Guidance, Past Life Regression as well as performing as a proven medium, I could have never dreamed there was so much more to learn. I became curious to the realms of Metaphysical Healing a few years ago when my daughter became violently ill due to a surgery she had replacing parts of her knee with a cadaver donor part. As I was sitting in on the consultation between her and her doctor I became extremely uncomfortable with the idea of her allowing them to place a stranger’s body part inside of her own body. As she was 18 and legally able to make her own decisions I pleaded my concerns to her but she didn’t want them to take her own parts from the back of her knee to replace what she needed as the healing process would be longer and more painful.
I asked the doctor if I could clear and bless the cadaver body parts. He could not allow this so I projected my healing and clearing light on the day of her surgery to the actual surgery room. As she lay there, waiting for them to come and get her, I had a sudden need to place my hands over my daughters head and as I did, I realized I was asking for permission and protection through the divine light of God. She became very relaxed and peaceful. She accredited this simply to a mother’s touch. I accredited this to – I had no clue what was going on but I felt a surge of love and strength flow through my hands as I thanked God for allowing my hands to be the conductor of this peace and serenity.
Two days after her surgery she became violently ill. She was vomiting and had a fever of 104. I rushed her to the hospital and they said she could possibly be trying to reject the cadaver parts or had contacted an infection. I was fear stricken. She was so very sick and incoherent. When the nurses left the room I walked behind the head of her bed and stood over her. I spoke in a whisper and told her if she could hear me to relax. I then told her I was going to ask God for his grace to heal her. I placed my hands over the crown of her head and then I moved my right hand down to her chest with my left hand on her head.
(I am right handed.) I somehow had a knowing of this infection. I asked for this infection to leave her body.
I asked for healing light to surge through her body taking the infection through my right hand and then allowing it to flow through me to my left hand and out through the crown of her head. I acknowledged that I was aware that I was simply a tool being used for this healing and that I would trust and accept whatever the outcome. I placed my trust completely within the divine and healing light of God.
Within about 15 minutes, she became wide awake and wanted to sit up. I told her to relax as I needed to clear myself of this infection. With her eyes still closed she asked,”Mom, what did you do?”
“I’m not sure,” I said, but I think I just conducted a healing. Her fever broke and she had no more nausea. When the nurses came in they said she probably just had a reaction to the anesthesia. They offered her juice but she was craving water. We went home an hour later. That was lesson one for me.
I ordered this course to learn what had happened to us that day. I wanted to learn what I had done that day and how I had done it. And then – during this course – another opportunity presented itself. This time it was my 30 year old son.
I was on Lesson 17 when we got a call from my daughter in law telling us that our son who is a bread man could not drive home and that he was experiencing terrible dizziness and numbness in his arms. She was going to pick him up from work and take him directly to the hospital as he was having symptoms of a heart attack. We met her at the hospital to pick up our grandchildren and went home. After they examined him they sent him home with a diagnosis of vertigo. He simply needed rest.
We took the kids home that night and I walked into my son’s bedroom and lay down next to him on the bed. I placed my right hand on his chest as he was sleeping and had a knowing instantly that they had missed something. I knew it wasn’t his heart. I trusted my reading capabilities but now needed to put my class knowledge to the test. I asked for permission to come into his space and as I received that permission I instantly felt a vibration from his stomach. I felt it looked like a yellow starburst, like a small sunshine in his stomach. I asked him if he had a stomach ache. He said no. and then – just as if someone had taken me by the face and screamed at me I knew he had a block in his stomach. I could see it. It made no sense to me at all as to why this would cause vertigo but I made him promise to ask our family doctor the next day to check his stomach. Our family doctor has known me for over twenty years and he is aware of what I do for a living. He doesn’t understand it – but I knew he would listen.
So, the next day, I was reading over my lessons beginning with lesson one making sure I of what I should be doing as my son was at the doctor and our doctor gave him the old once over and told him that vertigo was quite common and to take some time off. That is when my daughter in law told him that I wanted him to check my son’s stomach. Our doctor asked if I said this specifically and my daughter in law told him yes. Reluctantly, he asked my son to lie down on the table and my son was a bit embarrassed as he said you are kidding right? Our doctor simply told him that if he didn’t check his stomach that he would never hear the end of it from me.
So as he listened with a stethoscope for about three minutes, he then pressed on my sons stomach and he about came off of the table. Our doctor then turned and slammed his hand on the wall and exclaimed, “How does she do that?!!! He has a hernia!”
My daughter in law then whispered to him that I have a knowing. He exclaimed that I was a crack pot – but that I was a correct crackpot.
My son had a hernia that was about to burst and yes this will cause vertigo. And this was lesson two of many for me.
I have gone over my lessons in this class many times. I can not possibly retain all of the terms I need to remember as I use this wonderful class as a tool. I have conducted healing sessions in my session’s room and they have been successful although they have been very light healing such as a broken heart etc. Baby steps, but I don’t mind at all. I have printed out all of my lessons and I use it as my text book. And each and every time I read it I learn and retain something new.
This is a fascinating course and although I can not recite all I have learned verbatim, my hopes are that some day I will. However, my knowing of what and how to heal is there. I have learned how to identify and ground myself to listen.
It is my belief that terminal conditions do in fact exist and I think that we do have to acknowledge these diagnoses as the proof is in the pudding so to speak – however – we do not have to accept it. In other words, this diagnosis is true in that tests have revealed it is so and if this is our spiritual path out of this existence then so be it – but what if it isn’t? What if this is simply a plight or lesson for us at this time in our life – perhaps a test of faith if you will? If this is so, then I truly do believe this is where spiritual healing comes in. What do we have to lose?
Spiritual Healing in my opinion is all in the eyes of the beholder. Yes, I am aware that some do believe it is the work of the devil – whoever he is? I do all of my work within the divine light of God therefore – the devil as he is called – has no existence in my realm of healing. I have no space for him. He too – is in the perception of the beholder. I call upon God and my angels for healing, guidance and wisdom.
When I am asked if this treatment will cause pain and how does it work, I simply say, it has been my experience that spiritual healing causes no physical pain. As I am a practicing spiritualist I have only had the experience of observing emotional pain. Lots of tears flow in my session’s room and I believe that to be the body’s way of clearing emotional toxins from within one’s self. Not to worry, most healers have lots of hugs and tissues.
I do not believe that any one person has to believe in any thing or any one that you do not want to believe in, in order to be healed. However, it is more than obvious that they do believe that an illness exists inside of them, therefore, they do have a belief in some thing. That is key. It doesn’t matter what you yourself believe as much as it matters that you believe in something. I, myself believe in the divine light of healing and I can call upon my own belief to heal through my knowledge of my lessons learned through this course, faith, love and the divine light of God. I, myself allow my client to choose the ambiance they prefer to conduct our sessions, therefore, if they want candles and a darker setting – so it will be – and if they don’t – then we wont. I created my session’s room for the privacy and comfort of my clients. I can read and heal in a garage if need be. Confidentiality and complete serenity has been beautifully created for my clients comfort and privacy and they, themselves, choose what that environment will be.
As I believe that we are all here for a reason, the healers who have prescribed other treatments have done so for a reason. That reason is based upon past experience and history of possible recovery. Therefore, I am not one to criticize another healer whether they be a surgeon or doctor or???? A client’s treatment is a personal decision that only they can make. Sadly, I can not guarantee a cure, however, what I can offer is my gift of the belief that I can call upon a higher power to allow me to help and try to heal along with other healers and my fee is based upon what they can afford. It has been my experience that when we make this about money, then we take away from the true gift. Someone else who can afford it – will pay it forward. This has always been my belief and the way I conduct my sessions. Through the healing energy I have called upon based upon my faith.
The most precious gift we are given here in this place is time. That is our only risk.
Thank you for this most enlightening class that I will be studying for many years to come.
Many Blessings in Light and Love,
Marti Tote
The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Spirit Quest

The Spirit-Quest Discourse is an excellent course for either beginners or those who are more advanced. I found this course an excellent refresher course, with new insights that I had not thought of before. I can not say that it taught me a lot as much of the information within the course I had already learned through other courses of study, through reading and surprisingly some things I just knew. 
One of the main things I liked about this course and that is all lessons, is your assignment of the week. It is one thing to learn or read each topic but another to apply what you learn, I found each weeks homework assignment to be very helpful in incorporating many of your suggested exercises into my human journey. Many of these “homework” assignments I have found helpful in my personal dealings and in my work as a spiritual counselor and instructor. 
I have used some of your techniques while working with some of my students and with those that I am counseling, and they found them helpful as well.
Spirit-Quest is definitely an extensive course that I will be constantly referencing as I have learned over the course of my years of study and throughout my own journey that often times we read things one time and find things we need to know, read it later and new things appear. 
The lessons I found extremely helpful are:
Protection Rose
Tools For Getting Unstuck Part 1 and 2
Creating Your Own Reality Pt 1 and 2

All in all the course was extremely well written, easy to understand and with the assignments each week one could begin to apply each lesson into their own life’s journey.

Rev. Joyce Chandler


Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free,  and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button.

As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church  materials.  I’ve been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.

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As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.