Stephen the Martyr spoke to us in his native Greek.
Posted on 01 May 2012, 14:06
The teaching of the spirit of Stephen the Martyr can stand comparison with that of recognised mystics of the great religions, and deserves to be valued for its own sake.
Here, I’m going to try to give a simple account of the detective work that led us to be reasonably sure that we were truly conversing with the spirit of Stephen Martyr. To begin with, there was the time that Stephen spoke a little in the kind of Greek spoken in Thrace 2000 years ago. From that Greek we understand that Stephen saw himself as a Celt, and he had been accepted by a group of Essenes who were probably in Galilee. In English he said that the parents of Jesus, Joseph and Mary had also been Essenes. At another time, he said that St Paul had not been present at Stephen’s stoning, but rather that the vision on the road to Damascus had taken place 15 months previously.
But how did we get to be talking with Stephen in the first place?
It began in May 1973 when I received about 100 pages of prophecies about myself written by a person I did not know, who lived in the North Island of New Zealand. Three months later I was to learn that the spirit of Stephen the Martyr had spoken, about the same time that I received the prophecies, through an entranced Thomas Ashman, a non-practising Jew, living in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Ashman had not previously been a medium. And by chance I learned that he was now living in Christchurch, and that I might speak to Stephen if I wished.
Just now I am going to list, one by one, some of clues that Stephen wittingly or unwittingly gave us in the eight years of our conversations: they are clues which, once one has found the key, will unlock proof that we are dealing with the authentic Stephen.
I have to remark that it has taken far more than thirty years to discover the keys that we now have. Indeed, quite recently, the penny has dropped two more times. But let me explain:
About the third year of conversations, Stephen surprised us by speaking a little in a form of ancient Greek. In my theological training at Oxford as a would-be Anglican clergyman, I had learned sufficient Greek to read the New Testament and selections from the Christian Fathers. So with two other members of the group who were talking to Stephen we carefully transcribed his words from a tape recording of the conversation.
“Karno dioti, dieta dioti, Karno dioti boro zelai Leneka mella diesta”
The word-endings are the ones used in Macedonia and Thrace, and vary from
the standard Attic Greek of 2000 years ago that would have read as
“Karno dioti, dietei dioti, Karno dioti, boro zelai Lenaika mellei diesthai”
[If you are a Greek scholar and would like to see the words in proper accented Greek letters, do e-mail me]
Having said that, most people can’t read Greek, so let’s discuss these language clues using our normal alphabet.
I should point out that I am only presenting some highlights out of more than fifty pages of Afterlife Teachings. With regard to those Greek words, Stephen was later to say that it was indeed an achievement to have remembered them spoken after so many generations had elapsed.
Here is how we finally got to translate these words, and only after thirty years had elapsed: “For this Carnyx or Celt, the two years [of his novitiate] having elapsed, for this Celt, mark you, the unfermented wine as is used in [the Athenian Dionysian festival of] the Lenes, shall now be diluted with water, [so that this Celt may be received as an Essene, partaking of the Messianic Communion.” ] [This is an expanded translation to bring out the presumed meaning of the words.]
A weird sentence, I grant you. A lot of unpacking of meaning is required. But let’s start with the Celtic bit.
(1) A carnyx is a Celtic war trumpet, and in a Greek-English lexicon it would be listed as “to karnon”. “Karnon” was also used to symbolise a Celt. Those Roman coins celebrating victory over Celts depicted a Karnon or Carnyx to symbolise the Celts. So Carnyx here means, “this person who is a Celt.”
(2)Then there is the word “zelai”. This is a native Thracian word, not Greek at all. Thracian was not a written language, so it hard to imagine anyone using the word, unless they had come from Thrace. Now Thrace at that time had been under Celtic domination. This reinforces the Celtic theme.
(3) A third confirmation of the Celtic theme is that the Greek word modifications are characteristic not of Athens, but of Thrace and Macedonia: Thrace being, as just mentioned, Celtic.
(4) A fourth confirmation is the word boro, which can have the meaning, “drunkard”. Celts were notorious in the ancient world for their love of liquor.
(5) The Celtic theme came up again, when (for some reason) I suggested to Stephen that he may actually have been born in Galatia, i.e. that his parents had spoken the Thracian dialect, but had travelled to Galatia. Stephen replied that he had been born in Ancyra, the main town of Galatia. Later he said that he had been born in Seletar not far from Ancyra, but on the opposite side of the river. I asked him the meaning of the name, and he said, “The Fourth Landing-Place.” Later I was able to ascertain that there was a rare use of the word “tar” to mean “fourth”, and that “selia” had various meanings including “tray”. From an encyclopaedia article I was able to discover that Galatia was named after Gauls or Celts, and that it was ruled by Celts and Jews who sometimes intermarried.
Remember that all these words were uttered by a non-academic medium in deep trance. How in the world would a non-academic person be aware of the correct word modifications for Greek spoken in Thrace, or be aware of a native Thracian word, or that Carnyx meant Celt?
A second theme is “unfermented wine, or must”.
(1) The Thracian word zelai means “wine”
(2) Assoc. Professor of Classics at the University of Canterbury, Dr Robin Bond, pointed out that boro can also mean, “with unfermented wine, or must”. He mentioned that such wordplay characterises ancient Greek mantic utterances.
(3) Then there is the word Lenaika. This word refers to the second annual Dionysian festival held in the suburb of Lenes in ancient Athens, and it was the festival of the making of the unfermented wine, or must.
(4) At a later date it became apparent that the Greek “Lenaika” was used as a translation of the Aramaic “yayin hadash” or “mô’ed hattîrôs” . But more of that later.
The first and second themes fit each other like lock and key, but dieta, “two years having elapsed” and mella diesthai “should be diluted” seemed to baffle explanation.
It had taken twenty years before I found a grammar of ancient Greek dialects that placed the anomalous word endings in Thrace. And it was years before I put two things together that Stephen had said on separated occasions: Firstly that the Greek words that we are discussing in this article had been spoken to Joseph the father of Jesus, and second that Joseph and Mary had been Essenes.
He had also said that he himself had been an Essene.
Stephen’s Greek words had been spoken (presumably his own words, since they were in his own dialect) to Joseph who had been an Essene. Thus I was led to find out what could be learned from the Dead Sea Scroll documents relating to the sect.
I was eventually to discover that to join the Essenes, one of the conditions was that one spent a two year period as a novice. After two years, if all went well, one could join them. “Two years having elapsed” then suggested that Stephen, as a Celt (in the sense that he had come from a Celtic country) had spoken those words to the Essene Joseph when Stephen had finished his novitiate.
Why is Karno dioti (“and therefore this Celt”) repeated? The Jewish Essenes were very hostile to foreigners, and it would be quite an occasion for a Jew from a Celtic land to be admitted. The repetition of the word Carnyx=Celt seems to say, “You are actually receiving me, a Celt, into your group.”
Apparently to join the Essenes it was customary to partake in an act of Communion, in which unfermented wine was diluted. It was the Essenes who diluted the must, or unfermented wine. That answered the long-standing puzzle about why there should be diluting of grape juice.
Stephen asserts this, but were Mary and Joseph in fact Essenes? We have no proof of this, but various scholars do think so.
Was Stephen an Essene? He says that he had been an Essene, and once again there are scholars who think so. If Jesus had been brought up as an Essene, he did not remain one, for while he was alive, he was rejected by his family presumably for his emphasis on the primacy of the Kingdom of Heaven, of Love of God and neighbour. As a follower of Jesus, Stephen would likely have been rejected by the Essenes.
Was Stephen the product of a mixed marriage? For very many years I had thought that one parent would be Hebrew and the other a Celt. But it was only after Afterlife Teachings was published, that it occurred to me that Stephen could just as well call himself a Celt because he came from a Celtic country, even though both parents were Jewish.
Were there Essenes in Galilee? That was an obvious question that stupidly I had not asked myself until the book was published. Mary and Joseph lived in Galilee, and yes indeed, there were Essenes in Galilee. It was entirely possible for Stephen to join an Essene group in Galilee of which Mary and Joseph were members.
Was Paul at Stephen’s stoning? Stephen said that Paul had not been there, and that in fact his vision on the road to Damascus had taken place fifteen months earlier. S.G.F. Brandon thinks it unlikely that Paul had been present.
(In reference to the Acts version, he wrote: “The nature of Paul’s participation is singularly passive and artificial, and, as we have seen, there is good reason to doubt its historicity. However it has an important function in the narrative of the Acts, being clearly employed to introduce a portrait of Paul as the most notorious persecutor of the church.” … “a later attempt to connect Paul to the protomartyr Stephen, and was probably made in ignorance of the direct contradiction it thus constituted to Paul’s own explicit statement in the Galatian Epistle that he was unknown personally to the Palestinian Christians until some three years after his conversion.” The Fall of Jerusalem and the Christian Church, SPCK 1951.] pp.89-92)
Why in the original words was there reference to the Lenaika? I have suggested that Stephen was comparing the Essene Festivals of Must or unfermented grape juice called in Aramaic “yayin hadash” or “mô’ed hattîrôs juice, with the equivalent Greek festival of the Lenes; that in fact he was using this Greek term to translate the Aramaic.
Would Joseph and Mary have understood Stephen’s Greek? Palestine had been under Greek and then Roman dominance for up to three hundred years. Educated people would probably understand both languages. There is some consensus that the Epistle of James was in fact written by James the brother of Jesus. James’ Greek is excellent, and James is obviously a born leader. If James had good Greek why would Jesus not? Why would not their parents? In those times intellectuals had to earn their living by use of some trade: Greek writer St Paul’s trade was that of a tentmaker, Joseph’s that of carpenter.
Stephen said that Jesus had difficult times with his family.
Confirmed in these quotations from the Gospels: John 7:3-5, Mark 3:20-21, Mark 3:33-35
Why was I one of the people asking Stephen questions? Stephen said that I had been known to him as an Essene also, in those times. I have no recollection of this.
How much does this essay provide solid evidence that we cannot be receiving information just from the mind of Thomas Ashman, the medium? Would it be agreed that most of it could not have done so?
In view of how little I knew in 1981 and how many mutually supporting pieces of information have been discovered in the subsequent thirty years, can I be accused of manufacturing evidence?
I don’t believe that I have done so. But taken as a totality could the totality of interlocking information have come out of either Thomas’ or my head? I know for sure that it did not, and I would maintain also that it could not have done so.
In 278 [BCE] three Celtic tribes that had migrated across Europe to the Dardanelles were taken as allies by Nicomedes I of Bithynia. The Celts invaded and ravaged Anatolia until they were defeated by Antiochus in 275. Thereafter they were settled in northern Phrygia by Nicomedes and Mithradates, where they served as a buffer against the Seleucids. The district they occupied was thereafter called Galatia (from Galli, the Latin word for Celts). [Encyclopaedia. Britannica,. 2000]
Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr by Michael Cocks is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.
Next blog, May 15