Introduction to the Mysteries of the Rosary from the perspective of an early Christian

This website reveals the monumental work of Greg Biltz entitled "An Early Christian's Perspective on the Mysteries of the Rosary".

His work not only explores how the various Mysteries of the Rosary have a deep foundation in Scripture, but he also gives us a sense of how an early Jewish-Christian would have viewed the Mysteries of the Rosary.

In addition his extensive work also reveals how all the Feasts of the Lord in the Old Testament were in fact Messianic prophecies, along with some very interesting conclusions concerning the exact dates of the birth and death of Jesus, and their relation to the Jewish Feasts of Tabernacles and Passover.

By way of a informal introduction, Greg Biltz is a 71 year old layman (as of 2017) who lives in the USA. He initially wanted to publish this work anonymously, giving all the glory to God, however I encouraged him to publish it in his name, and he conceded. In a recent email to me he writes:

"I have been saying all 15/20 decades of the rosary everyday since 1983.  I encountered so many questions I created a file called “Questions for God”.  Then I started researching.  I have read the Bible over 30 times cover to cover (at least 5 different translations).  I have read 5 different commentaries.  I have studied the Research on the Shroud and the Sudarium, read Josephus, studied Jewish history, and rabbinical teaching techniques. I started studying when I first saw the negative image of the Shroud in New Orleans in 1983." 
And he goes on to say that this work "...is  a God thing. It is my gift to Our Lady. If we can make it easy to say a good rosary while driving, by downloading to a thumb drive or smartphone, maybe more rosaries will be said.  When you love someone you want to make them happy.  The only thing we can give to God is someone else's soul by leading them to God.  We are to love God with all our mind, heart, and strength.  Let's teach people how to pray."

So without further introduction, let's delve right into this important work, and let Greg's research into God's infinite love for us as shown through the sacrificial lives of our Lord and His Mother, speak for itself.
-Glenn Dallaire, website publisher.
_________________________________________________________________

This work is dedicated to my mother who has never stopped praying for me. She has shown me the way to Jesus is through His mother.
Ichthys (1),(2)
  (1) ΙΧΘΥΣ (ichthys), a Greek word meaning “fish” is an acronym for "Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός,Σωτήρ" (Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr; which translates into English as "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour."  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ichthys
 (2) The symbol of the fish was used by early Christians to recognize other Christians.  A Christian would draw either the top or bottom line in the dust and if the other person was a Christian he or she would complete the symbol.

INTRODUCTION
Mary has asked us to say the rosary and to consider the Mysteries of the Rosary from her point of view.  She has also suggested that the scriptures make a useful reference for meditation as we say the Rosary.  Since most of us don’t have access to the combined narratives of the gospels, Jewish traditions, Jewish history, rabbinical teaching techniques, or the current research on the shroud; this document is provided as a background on the Mysteries of the Rosary.  It is grounded in the scriptures by supplementing the combined narratives from the gospels.  It is intended to serve as a reference; to provide the historical background to the events surrounding the various Mysteries. 

The Rosary is not intended to be just a series of repetitions of Hail Marys.  The Rosary is meditative prayer.  The Hail Mary said reverently is supposed to function as a mantra [1]  allowing the mind to reflect on the Mystery.  Did you ever notice how much your mind wanders while you say the rosary in a group?  Wouldn’t it be better to have the mind reflecting on the appropriate Mystery?  To do that requires an understanding of the Mystery. 

To get the most out of the Rosary one needs to first understand what was happening, the context, to form a basis for meditation.  Let me begin with an example of a short story from scripture that you are familiar with:
On another Sabbath He [Jesus] entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.  The Scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him.  But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!”  And he got up and came forward.  And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?”  But they kept silent.  After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to him, “Stretch out your hand!” And he did so; and his hand was restored.  The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him(Mt 12:10-14, Mk 3:1-6, Lk 6:6-11) [2]

An extreme reaction to curing on the Sabbath don’t you think? [3]   Jesus knew that He was being set up by the Scribes and Pharisees.  They wanted to categorize Jesus as a sinner. (The word “accuse” that was used also means “categorize”.)  They wanted to be able to discount the things that Jesus was saying which made them uncomfortable.  Jesus knew what was happening and decided to make the situation into a learning experience for the people in the synagogue:

Remember that the man with the withered hand did not asked to be healed.  He was just listening to Jesus speak.  Jesus asked him to come to the front so that He could more readily make his point.  He then asked the Scribes and Pharisees: “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?”  Jesus was referring to Moses’ sermon in which he explained the law (Deut 11:26-28, Deut 30:15-18), a sermon that has been memorized word for word by everyone present and which basically says: if you obey by pursuing life and good, you will receive blessings; and if you disobey by pursuing death and evil you will receive curses. Jesus implied that to not do the good, is to do harm.  The Scribes and Pharisees were getting a new interpretation on the words of Moses.  A new interpretation that they realized was correct. (This story serves as a proof that Jesus was a rabbi.  If Jesus were not a rabbi, the Scribes and Pharisees would have stopped him right there.  Only an authorized rabbi can provide a new interpretation of scripture.  That means that Jesus had to have spent his early years studying and then at least 8 years serving as Talmid, apprentice, to a Master Rabbi.) The Scribes and Pharisees were going to categorize Jesus as someone that can be ignored because he did not keep the law.  Instead, Jesus has just pointed out that according to that same law, they are the ones failing to keep the law because they are not asking, even begging, Jesus to cure the man.  The trap they set for Jesus had just rebounded onto themselves.  They were the ones not keeping the law!

They chose to remain silent because to answer Jesus, they either had to publicly deny Moses (condemning themselves in the eyes of all present) or they had to ask Jesus to cure the man.  Jesus was angered at their lack of response, but He wasn’t finished yet, his teaching moment had just begun. 

The rabbis used a variety of teaching techniques to convey a message so that it could be easily remembered.  One of the common ones was “enactment”, a technique in which the rabbi enacted a scene from the Torah.  Since everyone in the Synagogue had memorized the entire Torah word for word, it only took a few words to set the stage so that everyone “got the message”.  The evangelists set the stage for us, the reader of the story, by saying that Jesus was angered at the hardness of their hearts.  Who in the Torah was known for hardness of heart?  Pharaoh.  Who stretched out his arm before Pharaoh?  Moses.  Who told Moses to stretch out his arm?  Yahweh.  What happened when Moses stretched out his arm?  Miracles, which confounded Pharaoh. 

Thus, when Jesus told the man to stretch out his arm, Jesus was enacting a scene from Exodus, where He was playing the role of Yahweh, the man with the withered arm was playing Moses, and the Scribes and Pharisees were forced into playing Pharaoh.  Everyone in the Synagogue understood that Jesus was doing much more than just curing the man.  He was demonstrating that the Scribes and Pharisees, just like Pharaoh, were bullies who cared nothing for the people.  Only Jesus didn’t call them bullies who use the law as a weapon, Moses just did!  Moses did it with a major miracle as an explanation point. 

The Scribes and Pharisees were the face of the religion to all the people in the Synagogue.  They were the ones who kept all 613 commandments and taught the law and the prophets.  Yet Jesus had no use for them as they served only themselves.  Jesus used their trap to show them to be bullies who use the law as a weapon. 

Do you think any of them ever went back to that synagogue?  Now, it makes sense that the Scribes and Pharisees were so upset that they joined with the Herodians to figure out how to destroy Jesus.

So, why did Jesus do that to the Scribes and Pharisees?  It almost seems a mean thing to do.  The way Jesus set up the incident is revealing.  He gave them the interpretation of the Law that allowed, even required him to heal on the Sabbath.  He explained it in the form of a question.  We are told He was angry at the hardness of their hearts when they didn’t answer.  The Scribes and Pharisees did it to themselves by not answering.  Everyone in the Synagogue knew the correct answer.   The refusal of the scribes and Pharisees to respond required Jesus to respond so that their attempt to prevent Jesus from teaching the truth was clear to those present. 

That short vignette, that is given in all the synoptic Gospels, now takes on a much deeper meaning because you now know the context that the evangelists all presumed you already knew.

The next time you hear the story of the man with the withered hand, read as the Gospel, you will know and recall the whole story without hearing all the detail provided here.  This Web publication is intended to provide the context for each of the Mysteries of the Rosary.  So that subsequent Rosaries can then be reflections on the context without the need to review the contextual details.

This Web publication will provide you with a look at the Mysteries of the Rosary within the context that an early Jewish Christian would have had.  The context is based on some notions shared by the early Christians that you will find woven throughout.
1.      The message that excited the early Christians was not the forgiveness of sins.  It was that through Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jesus established the Kingdom of God on earth. The concept is best articulated by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in The Phenomenon of Man, where he said: “You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience.  You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.”  Thus, God can be metaphorically thought of as a farmer who is raising a crop of spiritual beings.  The physical universe is his farm.  God always knew that we as human, “spiritual”, beings would fail miserably, if left to ourselves.  God knew that He would have to come into humanity to show us how to love, how to be like Him.  He knew that if He did that, we would ultimately do what He asked Adam and Eve to do in the garden of Eden, “to till it and keep [protect] it” (Gen 2:15).  

      So, God, in the person of his son Jesus, came into humanity to (re-)establish the Kingdom of God on earth.  Only then, with Jesus’ message of “Love each other as I have loved you” could the earthly garden for the raising of spiritual beings become the productive garden that God wanted it to be.  When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the early Christians (both Gentile and Jew) they became very aware of the spiritual reality of which they were a part: “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn 18:36).  When they saw the signs worked by the Apostles in the name of Jesus they had tangible validation of the truth of the message.

2.      Right from the outset, in Genesis, the Old Testament points to the New Testament.  In fact, beginning with the first word in the Bible: “In the beginning” which in Hebrew is בְּרֵאשִׁית "Barasheet”.  In Hebrew every letter is also a number and a picture word.  Hebrew is written from right to left thus the first two letters of Barasheet are the Hebrew letters בְּ Bet and רֵ Resh. By combining these two letters, the Hebrew word בְּרֵ "Bar" is formed, which means “son of". For example, the phrase "Simon bar Jonah" means: Simon, son of Jonah, where the Hebrew word "bar" means "son".  So:
 “In the beginning”, ” בְּרֵאשִׁית ”:

1. 
בְּרֵ Bet & Resh = Son of;
2. 
א Aleph = God, the first;
3. 
שִׁ Shin = To destroy;
4. 
י Yod = By his effort or hand; and
5. 
ת Tav = The cross

If all 6 Hebrew letters in the word Barasheet are used to construct a sentence from the meaning of each letter, the following statement is created:
"The Son of God will be destroyed (or killed) by His own hand (or by his own effort) on the cross."

Now, why is this so significant? Because God made sure that His word (the Hebrew Scriptures) contain the truth: that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that, from the beginning (בְּרֵאשִׁית "Barasheet”), it was determined by God, that His Son, Jesus Christ, would die on the cross for our transgressions. Indeed, according to the New Testament(Rev 13:8), Jesus is “the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.”   Even the very name of God: “ יהוה “,“Yahweh” when translated from the pictogram is "Behold the Hand, Behold the nail."  [4]

In Genesis 5 we find the genealogy from Adam to Noah.  Each name can be traced to its etymological roots [5]  to see the meaning of the name, which every Jewish Christian would have known.
Name
Meaning
Adam
Mankind
Seth
Appointed
Enosh
Mortal, Feeble, Frail
Kenan
Sorrow
Mahalalel
God who is praised
Jared
Shall come down
Enoch
Teaching
Methuselah
His death shall bring
Lamech
Despairing
Noah
Comfort

Reading the meanings as two sentences from Adam to Noah, we get:  Mankind (is) appointed (to) mortal(ity), feeble(ness), frail(ity), and sorrow.  God who is praised shall come down [in the person of his Son] teaching (that) his death shall bring the despairing comfort. 

Noah’s son Shem was the only righteous first-born son all the way back to Adam. Shem became the King of Salem [6] [7] [8] which was later renamed Jerusalem.  As king of Salem he was also called Melchizedek: Prince of Peace.  Abraham defeated the  kings in the area of Salem, while rescuing his nephew (Gen 14:14-16).  Since in defeating them he also saved Salem,  Melchizedek, a priest of God Most High, came out from Salem and offered a thanksgiving sacrifice of bread and wine.  Thus, the Prince of Peace initiated the Todah (Gen 14:18-19).  The Todah [9]  is a thanksgiving offering of bread and wine that is offered in thanksgiving for a deliverance from great peril.  The Messiah was to be a priest of the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4), a priesthood handed down from father to son, in which the priest was also prophet and king. [10]

3.      God wanted Moses to convey to his people some truths that He wanted them to never forget.  Those truths form the very basis of salvation history.  So, he made them a list of festivals to be celebrated every year (Lev 23:4-43): Passover,Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles.  He called them “holy convocations, my appointed feasts” (Lev 23:2).  Convocation in Hebrew “קָרָא”,(transliterated: “kaw-raw”), has two meanings and God meant both: a convocation and a dress rehearsal. 

convocation is when all the Israelite men, were to convene in the place designated for the worship of Yahweh: the place where the Ark of the Covenant resided (Deut 16:6).  After the Exodus, but prior to David that place varied between Bethel (Jug 20:27), Shiloh (1Sam 1:3), seven months(1Sam 6:1in the hands of the Philistines in Ashdod, in the temple of Dagon (1Sam 5:2), Kiriath-jearim (1Sam 7:3) and later Gibeon, in the house of Obed-edom (2Sam 6:11).   After David, it was Jerusalem.  “Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Weeks [Pentecost], and the Feast of Tabernacles” (Deut 16:16).  Women and children went to Jerusalem for Passover which is a family feast but were only required to go to Jerusalem for Tabernacles on a Sabbatical, Shmittah year – years divisible by 7 (Deut 31:10-13).  They did not need to attend the other Feasts.  (The holy family went to Jerusalem every year for Passover (Lk 2:41).)

dress rehearsal concept implies that the feasts are prophecies of something beyond themselves.  These feasts form the cornerstone of the practice of the Jewish faith. 

Jesus was Jewish, and the Jewish faith is focused on the Feasts of the Lord.  Jesus said: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Mt 5:17-20) It is easy to understand how Jesus fulfilled the prophets, but how do you fulfill the law unless there is prophecy in the law: the law defines the Feasts of the Lord and requires that they be celebrated every year.  Jesus has already fulfilled 5 of the seven feasts: Tabernacles, Unleavened Bread, Passover, First Fruits, and Pentecost and He fulfilled each of them on the specific day of each feast!  Because God does not forget his promises, Jesus will also fulfill the two remaining feasts: Trumpets and Atonement.

The Feasts in date sequence, according to the Jewish Temple, solar/lunar Religious Calendar:

Passover (Pesach) is celebrated on the 14th day of the first month, Nisan. It is a remembrance of the sacrifice of an unblemished, male lamb; whose blood saved the 1st born sons of the Israelites.  It is in fact a dress rehearsal for the sacrifice of God’s First-Born Son, the Lamb of God, to save all men.

Unleavened Bread (Chag Matzot) begins on the 15th of Nisan with the Seder Meal which was both the sacrificial meal for the Paschal lamb and a Todah offering of unleavened bread and wine in thanksgiving for the deliverance, about to be provided, by the blood of the paschal lamb: the angel of death would see the blood on the door posts and lintel of the homes of those who had participated in the Seder meals, and pass over their houses (Ex 12:21-23).  The word “Todah” means “thanksgiving”.  Todah in the Greek is “Eucharistia”.   The Seder is a dress rehearsal for the Eucharist: a Todah, Eucharistic, offering of bread and wine in thanksgiving for the deliverance [from sin] accomplished through the blood of the Lamb of God.  The Last Supper, a Seder meal, was initiated on the 15th of Nisan, according to the Essene calendar.  God uses both calendars!  The Last Supper was an “un-bloody” sacrifice; as the Essenes were not allowed to offer sacrifice in the temple.  It was completed on the cross, with the completion of the Seder ritual’s consumption of the 4th cup and the declaration of the Nirtzah: “It is finished”.   That happened right before the death of the Paschal lamb, the Lamb of God, on the Feast of Passover: Nisan 14 on the Temple calendar!  Jesus, the Lamb of God, had been selected by the people on Lamb Selection Day as the lamb for sacrifice for all the people.

First Fruits (Reishit Katzir) is the celebration of the first fruits of the harvest.  It is an acknowledgement that God continues to provide for us.  Jesus is the first fruit of the resurrection, opening the Kingdom of God and demonstrating that God continues to provide for us for all eternity (1Cor 15:20).  First Fruits was the third day: Passover Eve (the day the Lamb of God died on the cross) is the first day; the first day of Unleavened Bread (the Seder) is the second day; and First Fruits is the third day.  First Fruits was the day Jesus rose from the grave.  So, in answer to the question: Where does it say in scripture that the Messiah must die and rise on the third day?  Although most scholars will quote Hos 6:2, it is specifically in the fulfillment of Passover and First Fruits! (Lev 23:1-14).

Pentecost (Shavuot) means 50 days and is the 50th day after First Fruits.  It is a memorial of the day God himself came down on Mount Sinai in a cloud of fire and smoke and a blast of God's trumpet (Ex 19:18-19), to ratify the covenant with his people.  It is a dress rehearsal for the day the Holy Spirit comes down as flames of fire on the disciples, with a noise loud enough to draw a crowd of over 3,000 to the Cenacle, to ratify the new covenant written in our hearts.

Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) is celebrated on the 1st day of the 7th month.  The feast celebrates God judgement: when all the world is judged before God’s throne. [11]  It is unfulfilled but thought to be the warning or illumination when everyone will see themselves as God sees them.  The first of the two events that must yet be fulfilled before the Messiah returns is that the Gospel must have reached all men.  If you think about it the only way that can happen is with the warning, a supernatural event in which all men recognize the truth.  It is interesting to note that it is the only event that happens to everyone in the world on the same day.  If you think about it there is no time when it is the same day everywhere in the world, but Trumpets is also a 2-day feast, oh what a coincidence!

Atonement (Yom Kippur) is the holiest day of the year.  It is celebrated on the 10th day of the 7th month.  It is unfulfilled.  It is thought to be when the Jewish nation will acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah.  The second event, that must happen before the end, is the conversion of the Jews.  That is not meant to be the personal conversion of every Jew but rather the acknowledgement by the Jewish people, the nation of Israel, that Jesus was/is the Messiah.

Tabernacles (Succot), the Feast of “God with us”, in Hebrew “Emanuel”, is on the 15th day of the 7thmonth.  It is the feast that celebrates God’s physical presence with the Israelites in a pillar of cloud by day to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light during the Exodus (Ex 13:21).  It is a dress rehearsal for the birth of Jesus; when God came to live among his people as the Light of the World and the Source of Living Water, born in a sukkah (stable), inspected by Levitical Shepherds, and found without blemish thus set aside for sacrifice on Passover: The Lamb of God!

It is interesting to note that just as it says in scripture the first shall be last and the last shall be first (Mk 10:21). Tabernacles was the first of the Feasts to be fulfilled and the last in the list on the Jewish lunar, solar calendar.  The establishment of Tabernacles as the date of Jesus birth from scripture and its reasonableness according to extra biblical sources is covered in detail at the start of the Joyful Mysteries.

4.      The story of Jesus’ birth, life, and death is the story of the Lamb of God.  You will discover that the story of Jesus’ birth is the story of the birth of the Lamb of God.  When Jesus began his ministry, John the Baptist called out: “Behold the Lamb of God” (Jn 1:29to identify Jesus as the Lamb of God.  When Jesus began Holy Week, He came into to Jerusalem as the Lamb of God and was chosen by the people as the lamb for the sacrifice for all people on Passover.  On Friday morning, while the sacrificial lamb was tied to the altar in the temple, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was nailed to the altar on which He would die.  As the Lamb for the sacrifice, for all the people; Jesus was the first lamb to die: The Lamb of God!   Jesus’ death and resurrection initiated the Kingdom of God on earth.  It was the day the revolution began. [12]

When John entered the tomb after the resurrection, it says: “For they did not understand the scripture that He had to rise from the dead.”  If you have memorized the Torah and much of the Tanakh why would you fail to understand?  When Jesus explained scripture to Clophas and Luke and later to the rest of the disciples in the upper room, he was pointing out to them something they could not have known:  that all the Feasts of the Lord were Messianic prophecies.

Jesus said that when the fig tree blooms (Israel becomes a nation) this generation will not pass away before all will be accomplished (Mt 24:32-34).  I suspect He was referring to his work of fulfilling the Feasts of the Lord.  Note: These feasts do not necessarily refer to the 2nd coming or the end of the world.  Oh, and the fig tree bloomed in 1948.

FOOTNOTES:
[1] While some think of “mantra” as an Asian religious concept, it is now generally used to mean a word or phrase that is repeated in any meditation.
[2] This document combines the narratives of the Gospels. The scriptural references refer to the various sources for the combination but will not necessarily match word for word any individual translation. The primary biblical sources include: The Revised Standard Version Second Catholic Edition, Ignatius Press, San Francisco; The Saint Joseph Edition of The New American Bible, Catholic Book Publishing Co. New York; Navarre Bible both New and Old Testaments, Four Courts Press, Scepter Publishers, Dublin, New York, New Jersey, The New American Bible Revised Edition, World Catholic Press, Catholic Book Publishing Corp., NJ.
[3] Adapted from James Alison’s Jesus the Forgiving Victim, Kindle edition pg 356
[4] Dr. Kenneth Stevenson: NAZAH: White Linen and the Blood Sprinkling
[6] Salem (Σάλεμ) is the Greek word for Peace
[7] Hebrew = ”Todah”; English = ”Thanksgiving”, Greek = ”Eucharistia”
[8] In Genesis the priesthood was handed down from father to son. We saw above the genealogy from Adam to Noah, and Shem was Noah’s first-born son. Thus, he was a “Priest of God most High”. Shem out lived all his descendants through and including Abraham. In Genesis it is recorded that after the Todah, Thanksgiving Sacrifice, Shem blessed Abraham (Gen 14:19), making him his spiritual heir: passing on to him priesthood.
[9] Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg: Judaism p190.
[10] We know that Jesus died at 3pm which was the time that the sacrifice of Paschal lambs began. The lamb selected by the people as the sacrifice for all the people was always the first lamb sacrificed. It is reasonable to then assume that Jesus would have died just before the lamb sacrificed by Caiaphas.
[11] N.T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Begna: Reconsidering the meaning of Jesus’ Crucifixion.

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