Sunday, February 1, 2015

What appears below is a joke. It might not be a good one, but that is nevertheless what it is. If you are not from the USA and do not know what the Super Bowl is, or are unfamiliar with the melding of God and sports in the the USA, you might want to step away from this page. That's right, step away from the page.


In February 2013 I correctly predicted the Ravens would win the Super Bowl on the basis of my interpretation of the Bible where 49ers (49 years) or ravens appeared in the biblical text. Please feel free to go back and enjoy the interpretation, an interpretation such as you will find nowhere else.  

For today’s game, neither “Seahawks” nor “patriots” appear in the Bible; for that matter “hawk” alone does not appear either. But “eagle” or “eagles” appears 43 times and the eagle is a relative of the hawk, including the sea hawk, so eagle will have to do for the biblical analysis.

What would be the most closely related term for patriot in the Bible? The word itself does not appear in English translations of the Bible. There are two words in Greek, from which the word Patriot derives directly, patria and patris. Both of these words have their root in the Greek word patêr, or “father.” Patria has to do with shared ancestry, but comes also to mean a nation or a tribe and ultimately a nation or a people. Patris is related to one’s “fatherland,” the country or city from where one comes. 

Listed below are all of the verses which have patria:

Luke 2:4:  Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family (patria) of David,
Acts 3: 25 You are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors, saying to Abraham, "And in your descendants all the families (patria) of the earth shall be blessed.'
Ephesians 3:15 from whom every family (patria) in heaven and on earth takes its name.
 And patris:
 Matthew 13: 54 He came to his hometown (patris) and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power?
Matthew 13:57: And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "Prophets are not without honor except in their own country (patris) and in their own house."
Mark 6:1: Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown (patris); and His disciples followed Him.
Mark 6:4: Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown (patris) and among his own relatives and in his own household."
Luke 4:23: He said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, "Doctor, cure yourself!' And you will say, "Do here also in your hometown (patris) the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.' " 24 And he said, "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown (patris).
John 4: 44: for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in the prophet's own country (patris).
Hebrews 11:14: for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland (patris).
 So, now, on to the interpretation of the passages!

As I mentioned above, there are over 40 passages which mention eagles, but there is only one that needs to be discussed here and it is the apocryphal 2 Esdras 11 (or 4 Ezra as the Jewish apocalypse is known). In this chapter Ezra “had a dream: I saw rising from the sea an eagle that had twelve feathered wings and three heads” (2 Esdras 11:1) A sea eagle! Pretty close to a Seahawk I would say! 

What about this eagle? “I saw it spread its wings over the whole earth, and all the winds of heaven blew upon it, and the clouds were gathered around it. I saw that out of its wings there grew opposing wings; but they became little, puny wings. But its heads were at rest; the middle head was larger than the other heads, but it too was at rest with them. Then I saw that the eagle flew with its wings, and it reigned over the earth and over those who inhabit it. And I saw how all things under heaven were subjected to it, and no one spoke against it—not a single creature that was on the earth” (2 Esdras 11:2-6). Well that seems definitive does it not? Everyone on the earth was “subjected to it” and it “reigned over the earth.” Case closed, the Seahawks win. But not so fast. Let’s look a little deeper.

It is true the eagle from the sea reigned, but “after a time its reign came to an end, and it disappeared, so that even its place was no longer visible” (2 Esdras 11:13). On the other hand, the passage speaks of many different wings reigning for a while and then another wing reigning in its turn – “Then the next wing rose up and reigned, and it continued to reign a long time. While it was reigning its end came also, so that it disappeared like the first” (2 Esdras 11:13-14). So does that mean the reign is over now or that the Seahawks reign will continue on before the final end of their reign? This is where the text gets difficult, for it speaks of these numerous “wings” but are they players on the Seahawks or various championship versions of the Seahawks team? 

We have a key clue, though, in 2 Esdras 11:22-23 when it says that “And after this I looked and saw that the twelve wings and the two little wings had disappeared, and nothing remained on the eagle's body except the three heads that were at rest and six little wings.” The twelve wings must refer to the fans, the twelfth man as the fans are called, and they disappear, probably because the game is in Arizona. “The two little wings” might refer to the absence of Percy Harvin and Golden Tate as receivers. All that remains are “three heads that were at rest and six little wings.” Is this enough to reign again? I do not think so and I do not think this can represent a number of championship teams.

No, for “then the third wing raised itself up, and held the rule as the earlier ones had done, and it also disappeared. And so it went with all the wings; they wielded power one after another and then were never seen again” (2 Esdras 11:18-19). "Wielding power" probably refers to excellent plays or even leads in the Super Bowl, but not victory. For finally, it says, “therefore you, eagle, will surely disappear, you and your terrifying wings, your most evil little wings, your malicious heads, your most evil talons, and your whole worthless body, so that the whole earth, freed from your violence, may be refreshed and relieved” (2 Esdras 11:45-46).  Wow, that is a harsh condemnation for a football team!

Still, is it the case that this is the year the eagles, or Seahawks, reign will come to an end? Is it that obvious? Here we need to look at the Patriots and the passages concerning them. Most of the passages which have patris are concerned with Jesus and his hometown. Only Hebrews 11:14 concerns the fact that all people “are seeking a homeland (patris).” Is a homeland necessarily victory? Not necessarily, but the "homeland" described here is probably heavenly and we do know that through “the house and family (patria) of David” (Luke 2:4) “all the families (patria) of the earth shall be blessed” (Acts 3: 25). And it is through this patria that “every family (patria) in heaven and on earth takes its name” (Ephesians 3:15). Every patria? Sounds heavenly and victorious to me!

The Seahawks reign comes to an end today and every Patriot will be happy and feel blessed when New England wins. 

Now, as I wrote two years ago, 

it is entirely possible, I suppose, that the Bible itself does not speak of football games, that it does not predict the outcome of games, but that these games might be predicated on the players and coaches and how hard they prepared for the game itself. It might be that no matter what, it is just a game, a time for spectators to relax, enjoy the game and have fun with friends. I suppose that the Bible is more about how we ought to live our lives than about predicting outcomes and futures. I suppose you ought not to bet on the outcome of a game based upon what I have written here, though I would be remiss not to mention that there sure are a lot of passages in the Bible that talk about “casting lots.” Not that God cares who wins. And it is probably not best to bet too much on my biblical interpretation, even metaphorically speaking.
Still, having said all of that, enjoy the Patriots victory.

John W. Martens
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