Ember Days or the Quatuor Temporas are a traditional time of harvest fasting “four times” per year asking God to give us holy priests for the harvest of souls. Dr Taylor Marshall explains the history and Catholic theology of Ember Days and then challenges Catholics to voluntarily take up the Ember Days asking Christ for holy clergy.
iTunes: 1,706,247 downloads on iTunes as of today.
SHOUT OUTS: A huge “shout out” to all 741 (!) of you who wrote amazing 5-star reviews at iTunes. Please rate this podcast by clicking here. From there you can leave a review. I appreciate you for this! Thank you!
Subscribe to This Weekly Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or Youtube:
Apple/Mac Users: Please subscribe via iTunes by clicking here and then clicking on “View in iTunes.”
Android Users: For listening to The Taylor Marshall Show on Android devices (free) using the Stitcher app.
Saint Paul mentions an interesting detail: that the resurrected Jesus appeared to 500 people! That’s a big deal. Why isn’t it mentioned in the Gospels (or is it)? We’ll explore this detail in this post:
In 1 Corinthians 15, Saint Paul recites what seems to be a formula or creedal statement about the resurrection of Christ. I’ll bullet point it to make it clear:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
that he was buried,
that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
and that he appeared to Cephas,
then to the Twelve.
Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
Then he appeared to James,
then to all the Apostles.
Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Cor 15:3-8)
Here we have the kernel of the Apostles Creed (died, buried, rose on third day) but appended to it six resurrection appearances. Five apparitions and then finally one apparition to Saint Paul himself.
Paul speaks of the resurrected Christ appearing to “more than five hundred” and this event is recorded nowhere in the four Gospels or within St Luke’s Acts of the Apostles. So what is Saint Paul describing?
Christ Appearing to Over 500?
There are 4 opinions on this “500 witnesses event”:
Never Happened: Liberal scholars say that Saint Paul made this up to make it sound like there were plenty of witnesses to the resurrection. It never happened. It’s a lie. The Catholic Christian cannot allow that the Apostle Paul would bear false witness within Divine Scripture.
Galilee Event: Saint Paul refers to the Galilee appearance of the resurrected Jesus Christ as described by Saint Mark: “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee. There you shall see him, as he told you” (Mark 16:7). The 11 Apostles would have then gathered over 500 believers to join them in Galilee where Jesus appeared to them in His resurrected body.
After the Ascension: Saint John Chrysostom speculates that this event happened after Ascension because the Greek “more than (ἐπάνω) five hundred” could accurately be translated “above five hundred,” as in “above in the sky.”
Pentecost in Jerusalem: Saint Paul is referring to Pentecost. Saint Luke says that 120 Christians (Mary, Apostles, the Seventy, the women, the brethren of Jesus) were gathered for miracle of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost in Jerusalem. These 120 and the first several converts somehow witnessed an apparition of the resurrected Christ on this day, as well. Or perhaps the manifestation of the “Spirit of Christ” is counted as an apparition of Christ by Paul.
The majority position is (2) that this happened in Galilee when the Apostles went back to Jerusalem to witness Christ there. Here’s why this is the best answer:
The Ten Apostles (without Thomas) saw the resurrected Christ on the evening of the Resurrection Sunday when Christ appeared to them within locked doors and breathed on them.
The Eleven Apostles (now with Thomas) saw the resurrected Christ one Sunday later and allowed Thomas to place his fingers within His wounds.
If the Apostles saw Christ at least twice in Jerusalem, why then would Christ instruct them to go to Galilee to be witnesses there? Presumably so that all of Christ’s followers in Galilee could see Him resurrected there. This would make sense and this is why “more than five hundred” would see Christ resurrected. This “more than 500” would be the nucleus of the 5000 that were fed and of those who had seen His miracles.
When Saint Paul writes: “then to all the Apostles,” at the end of his list, he is likely referring to the Ascension of Christ. So the appearance to 500 likely happened before the Ascension. That rules out (3) Christ appearing after Ascension as suggested by Saint John Chrysostom. Sorry Chrysostom.
It also rules out (4) Christ appearing at Pentecost, because Christ appearing to disciples at Pentecost would have been recorded by Paul’s friend Saint Luke. After all, Saint Luke mentions Christ appearing to Saint Stephen – so why would he omit an apparition of Jesus on Pentecost? So then, it seems safe to say that Christ did not appear on Pentecost.
It could also be that Saint Matthew records the “500 Event” as having occurred in Galilee without mentioning “500”:
“The eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted” (Mt 28:16-17).
Matthew speaks only of the 11 living Apostles but says “some doubted.” Surely the 11 didn’t doubt at this time since it follows the “doubting Thomas” event that happened 13 days after the Resurrection in Jerusalem. So it could be that “some doubted” refers to “some of the 500 doubted.”
Christ is risen! Dr Taylor Marshall
Question: I’d love to hear others weigh in on this topic. Who were the five hundred and when did it happen? I think it was the Galilee Event but I’m open to other ideas. You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Many of us begin with an incorrect (even heretical) understanding of the Ascension of Christ. I’ve heard it said that Christ eventually “gave up” the use His body, as if he parked it in a garage with the idea of perhaps using His body again at the end of time to judge the living and dead.
Today we will discover the importance in Catholic orthodoxy of the presence of “the cloud” at the Ascension of Christ:
The ascension of Christ is described in Luke’s Gospel and referred to frequently in John. Christ gathers the 11 Apostles at the Mount of Olives where He commands them to remain in Jerusalem until the coming of the Holy Spirit:
And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
We receive more details in Luke’s Acts 1:8-11:
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Perhaps the most important detail here is the description of a “cloud” taking Him out of sight.
Christ did not float up into the sky like a balloon let loose by a child until it disappeared as a dot in the sky too far way to see. Rather, the Body of Christ was taken by a cloud.
Saint Peter perceives the Davidic importance of this event in Acts 2:32-36 when he cites the royal Davidic “Lord said to my Lord” Psalm 110:
The Lord says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.” 2 The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your foes! 3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day you lead your host upon the holy mountains. From the womb of the morning like dew your youth will come to you. 4 The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” 5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. 6 He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. 7 He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head.
This is a Psalm declaring that David will “ascend” to his God-appointed throne at God’s right hand and begin to rule. We find that the Davidic king is at least quasi-divine. He is:
“will scatter kings…corpses…over the wide earth”
This is a cosmic king. A divine Messiah. Something David could never be and this is why Christ asks how David could ever say: “The Lord says to my Lord.”
This is Trinitarian theology. We find one Divine Person (Lord) speaking to another Divine Person (Lord). For an interesting study of two distinct “Lords” in Hebrew Scripture, I highly recommend The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God by Margaret Barker.
We see the conversation between the “two Lords” in Daniel 7 with the “Ancient of Days” (first Lord) interacting with the Son of Man (second Lord). In Daniel 7:13, the Son of Man comes up to the Father. I’m not making this up or grasping at straws. Christ Himself quotes these passages as references to Himself in the future at Matthew 24:30; 26:64 and Mark 13:26; 14:62 and Luke 21:27:
13 I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of Man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
It’s obvious how this passage in Daniel 7 echoes Psalm 110 with a divine-like King gaining universal dominion over all kings and kingdoms. But notice the “clouds.”
Christ purposefully includes “the clouds” in His own citation of this passage during His trial. Ultimately, it’s Christ’s quotation of this passage and “the clouds” that offends the High Priest leads Him to be “convicted” and crucified.
Then I looked, and lo, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand.
The Ascension of Christ with the cloud is important and it shows that He is still operating through His assumed human nature. This is good news for Catholics. If Christ has “parked His body” as if to be finished with it, then we would not have the perennial presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in our churches.
PS: King David was Eucharistic. 2 Sam 6:17-19 records that when King David ascended as king in Jerusalem, he gave every Israelite a wheat cake, wine, and a cake of grapes. A type of the wheat and grapes of the Eucharist of the Davidic Messiah.
I just happened upon your blog so I admit that I have not read your books or very much of your blog. However, it concerned me that in this article, you suggest that our salvation was accomplished by payment of a debt.
I am a Catholic and that is not what I believe. The concept of “debt” implies that sin is a sort of legal problem rather than an ontological one. However, I will hold off (for now!) on sharing any further thoughts because quite possibly I have misunderstood you.
Thank you Mary. I love how you hold off on judgment and ask for clarity. So often in the Catholic theological community, people start casting stones. I appreciate your moderation, prudence, and charity. Let’s look more deeply on this topic of debt and law.
“Ontological” = referring to being:
For new readers, by “ontological,” Mary means “having to do with our being or nature” (from Greek ὄν (gen. ὄντος) meaning being. Ontology is the study of being.
If you’d like to get a dictionary or lexicon of all these philosophical words used in Catholic theology, please download my book (for free), Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages (top right corner of taylormarshall.com).
Ontological or Debt/Law?
Salvation is ontological (the elevation of our human nature) and entails Christ transforming us “in Him” into “new creations.” We partake of the divine nature of Christ through His humanity. The hypostatic union becomes the bridge by which we partake of the divine nature. We are deified and in the Beatific Vision, Thomas Aquinas teaches that we will become “deiform” while remaining human and creatures.
So yes, ontological all the way. Catholics (like the Eastern Orthodox) teach that salvation is chiefly a transformation and elevation of human nature.
However, Scripture is replete of examples also discussing salvation in terms of both law and debt/remission.
It’s true Protestants focus almost solely on legal/forensic categories and hence Catholics tend to move away from them. This is a mistake on the Catholic’s part.
We are “freed from the law”. We are “justified” (legal term). Our debts are paid. The jubilee remission of debts is inaugurated by Christ.
Our terms “remission” and “redemption” (to buy back) are financial terms.
The Greek word for “redemption” is strongly legal and financial: ἀπολύτρωσις. It literally means “buying back from, re-purchasing, winning back what was previously forfeited.”
Christ Himself uses money examples as an analogy of sin remission: “And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt” (Matthew 18:27). “So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’” (Luke 16:5). “And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).
It’s not either ontological or legal/debt. It’s all. It’s both/and.
Thomism on Nature and Law
As a Thomist, I would go on to say that all true law (lex) must necessarily based on being (esse). In fact, if a law does not conform to being (natural law), according to Thomas it is not a law at all.
This is why Thomas divides history and covenants into three epochs: Natural Law (Adam to Moses), Old Law (Moses to Christ), and New Law (Christ till Parousia).
For him “New Law” is just another way of saying “New Creation.” Law and ontology are parallel.
In what year did Christ raise and elevate the body of His Blessed Mother into Heaven? Some say in the AD 40s or 50s. I argue based on data in the New Testament that Mary was assumed in AD 63. Please watch the video lesson that I’ve prepared on this topic for NSTI.
Fire transfers heat. Within the soul of Christ on the cross, He was full of fire. Fire of love. That divine fire burned in Him a million times hotter than a furnace or forest fire. Like the burning bush, He burned but never burned up for us, and He wanted to ignite that fire in our souls.
The fire was already burning furiously in the soul of Mary as she stood beneath the cross. Sparks and flickering flames were already in the souls of Saint John and the women with Mary.
That fire is personal. The fire is a Divine Person. The Holy Spirit.
Look into your chest and see if this Fire is burning with in you. Burning up sin and making your soul glow with warmth. Daily prayer is the oxygen that your soul needs. Stoke the fire with Scripture. Pour gasoline on it with the habitual grace of the sacraments.
This week, prayer every morning. Read Scripture every morning. Try to attend a daily Mass at least once.
Come Holy Spirit and kindle in us the Fire of Your Love.
A Blessed Pentecost to you and yours this coming Sunday,
You’re invited to this week’s NSTI Catholic Webinar class on Rome and the Early Papacy 101.
This webinar is a “mini-version” of the class that I teach to Catholic Seminarians in Rome. This class is complimentary; however, space is limited and you must reserve your spot before Wednesday. You can register (reserve your spot) by clicking here.
Early Papacy 101 Class with Dr Marshall
YOU WILL DISCOVER INFO ABOUT:
The Old Testament and Rome
Tradition of Peter in Rome
Popes after Peter in Rome
Importance of St Clement of Rome
The Power of the Bishop of Rome in 2nd Century
EVERYONE THAT ATTENDS WILL RECEIVE a pdf Handout on these Catholic topics.
This webinar is a “mini-version” of the class that I teach to Catholic Seminarians in Rome. Space is limited and you must reserve your spot before Wednesday. You can register (reserve your spot) by clicking here.
I’m seeing more and more anti-Christian apologetics against “Paul” as the faux founder of Christianity. Scholars like Bart Ehrman argue that Christ was originally just an apocalyptic Rabbi who eschatological vision crashed with his crucifixion.
The claim is that it was Saul/Paul, not Christ, who founded the religion of Christianity and that the historical Christ was universalized and divinized into a cosmic Christ.
The argument goes that Saul had some kind of conversion from radical Pharisaic Judaism to belief in Christ, but that Saul/Paul had zero interaction with the dead Rabbi Jesus.
It is true that Saul/Paul did not claim to have known or seen Jesus of Nazareth prior to His crucifixion. Instead, Saul/Paul claims to have met and known Jesus of Nazareth through mystical experiences.
To read of Paul’s three encounters with Jesus in the Acts of the Apostles, click here.
Paul’s first encounter with Jesus is his conversion on the Road to Damascus. Luke retells the conversion of Acts and the narrative compares Jesus to an Old Testament theophany of Yahweh.
In Acts 9:7, Luke writes:
And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no one.”
Here Luke is making the connection with God’s theophany in Deuteronomy with Christ’s theophany to Paul:
Then the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice.” (Deut 4:12)
Notice that in both cases there is no visual form, but only the voice.
The Alleged Controversy of the Paul’s Damascus Accounts
The “heard voice, saw nothing” account in Acts 9 makes for a great parallel with Deuteronomy but it opens up a problem.
There is a alleged contradictory account of between Luke’s narrative account of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9 and the second version retold by Paul himself in Acts 22:6-9:
6 “As I made my journey and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me.
Some claim that this contradicts the account in Acts 9 because:
Acts 9: men with Saul hear a voice, but see no one.
Acts 22:6-9: men with Saul saw the light but did not hear the voice.
The contradiction is dispensed with easily in this way:
Acts 9 reports that the men saw no one and Acts 22 says they saw a light. This is not a contradiction. These men saw a light but saw no form or person in it.
Acts 9 reports that the men heard a generic voice, but Acts 22 says they “did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me.” In Acts 22, the stress is on “the voice of the one speaking to Saul.” This means that the men heard a sound (Acts 9), but that it was not intelligible to them (Acts 22).
Here we can see that Saul’s encounter with Christ is not fictionalized. The fact that it is recounted three times in Acts is remarkable. It is the anchor of Paul’s claim to apostleship. Without it, Paul is merely an enthusiast. Luke’s Acts demonstrates that Paul’s apostleship is accompanied by miracles and this fact reveals Paul as a true and valid prophet for the New Covenant [Catholic] Church.