Being Thankful About the Basics, including the Little Things

Being Thankful About the Basics, including the Little Things

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.  (Luke 10:20)

John14.2-pic

Being secure for eternity, thanks to having the Lord Jesus Christ as my Redeemer, is wonderful (John 3:14-16; Luke 10:20).  Yet I would have no eternity, either good or bad, if God had never created me (to be me) in the first place.

In other words, the most basic gratitude, that we should have, is being thankful that God chose to make us as the unique humans we are (Psalm 102:18).

PaloDuroCanyon-Mastodon-with-JJSJ

JJSJ birdwatching / hiking in Palo Duro Canyon, Texas Panhandle, during spring of AD2018 (photo-shopped Mastodon inserted by my cousin Don Barber)

So here is a limerick about appreciating being a creature (whom God chose to make), plus being grateful for some of the simplest things in life, such as good food (Acts 14:17).

THANK YOU, GOD, FOR BLESSING LITTLE ME

(AND FOR LITTLER BLESSING TOO)

O God, thanks for making little me;

Thanks, too, for littler blessings I can see:

Little gifts, like cherries red,

Liverwurst, dark rye bread —

Thanks mostly, You chose to make me!

Cherries-wild


 

KEEP LIFE SIMPLE: BE HONEST!

KEEP  LIFE  SIMPLE:   BE  HONEST!

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

“But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, because He hath prepared for them a city.”   (Hebrews 11:16)

God has promised us a glorious future, a home in Heaven with Him forever — a good destiny beyond our best expectations!   And God is not bashful about His promise because He knows that he is faithful and shall make it happen when the timing is right.  God will never be ashamed of promises He makes, because He always fulfills His promises.

Being made in God’s image means that we should live out moral behavior that is like God — we should be truthful, gracious, kind, caring, appreciative of beauty, etc.

So human merchants should be honest.  Yet the fact that legislatures pass consumer protection/antifraud laws (with names like “Deceptive Trade — Consumer Protection Act”) is a reminder of how fallen the human race is — we routinely fail to live out our mandate of honoring God as creatures made in His image.  So, BUYER BEWARE!

Of course, cheating merchants eventually earn a public reputation for dishonesty — and that reputation eventually punishes a lot of mercantile dishonesty.

Dishonest merchants often end up in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, for reasons like this — this I personally witnessed frequently many such commercial scams and schemes, including many “bust-out” frauds, as a Board-certified specialist in Business Bankruptcy Law, in Texas (active in federal bankruptcy courts, mostly representing creditors), during the timeframe of AD1990 through AD2010.

But this same problem can appear even in trivial scenarios, such as grocery stores dishonoring their own coupons.

Accordingly, a limerick follows.

STORE COUPON: FOR SAUSAGE OR FOR BAIT?

Bison sausage, when grilled, is a treat;
What pleasant, nutritious red meat!
So a coupon we used
Yet at first ‘twas refused
Now why would store clerks try to cheat?

(JJSJ sampling Cod Liver Oil — obviously this is not a photograph of eating Bison Sausage.)

Honesty is the best policy!  (See, accord, Romans 13:7.)

GOD’S HEAVENLY LEIKARRINGEN, AS NOTED IN ISAIAH 40:22

GOD’S HEAVENLY LEIKARRINGEN, AS NOTED IN ISAIAH 40:22

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

It is He Who sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; it is He Who stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in. (Isaiah 40:22)

What is “the circle of the earth”? Just because an interpretation seems to “help” win arguments does not make it right—it’s the truth that really counts.  (Sad to say, quite a few creation scientists, employing superficial review of the Scriptures, are guilty of this.)

For decades some creation scientists have suspected (and/or assumed) that Isaiah 40:22 refers to Earth’s spherical shape, because Earth is round like a ball.  But is that what the phrase “circle of the earth” refers to, in Isaiah 40:22?  As a matter of Biblical creation apologetics (as opposed to deistic science practices), it is important to take a philological “magnifying glass” to the Biblical Hebrew text’s details, in order to see what this verse is actually describing.

The foundational question — if truth is the priority — is whether the Hebrew noun chûg, used in Isaiah 40:22 (and translated as “circle” by the King James Bible translators), means “round” like Earth’s spherical shape, as opposed to some other kind of “circle”.

The noun “ball” is used to translate the Hebrew noun dûr in Isaiah 22:18. So, if God had wanted to describe Earth as a globe (i.e., a ball), in Isaiah 40:22, why not use the Hebrew noun dûr? Obviously that noun was part of Isaiah’s vocabulary, because Isaiah used that noun (dûr) in Isaiah 22:18.

But, to understand this part of Isaiah 40:22, the most focal question is what does chûg (“circle”) mean? To answer this question, we should compare Scripture with Scripture, i.e., especially by reviewing how that same Hebrew word is used elsewhere within Scripture.

First, consider that the noun chûg is used only 2 other times, in Job 22:14 and Proverbs 8:27.

Job 22:14 says: “Thick clouds are a covering to Him, that He seeth not; and He walketh in the circuit [chûg] of heaven.”  Question: is this “circuit” an orbit-like pattern or a spherical ball?

Proverbs 8:27 says: “When He prepared the heavens, I was there; when He set a compass [chûg] upon the face of the depth.” Question: is this “compass” an orbit-like pattern or a spherical ball?

Next, consider the root verb (that this Hebrew noun derives from), which is the Hebrew verb chûg, spelled that same as the noun (similar to how our English words “report” and “record” are either verbs or nouns, depending upon context).

As a verb, chûg appears in Job 26:10 (“He hath compassed the waters…”), denoting cloud-contained rainwaters, being part of Earth’s water cycle dynamics. The idea here is cyclical or circuitous movements, not sphericity.

Furthermore, we can review other Hebrew words that utilize the consonantal stem CHG (also transliterated ḤG), such as the verb châgag that uses the extended stem CHGG (also transliterated ḤGG). By doing this we acquire more relevant data for identifying the core meaning of chûg. Consider, therefore, these Scriptures that employ some form of the verb châgag, and/or a noun derived from that verb: Leviticus 23:9 (“feast”); Leviticus 23:34 (“celebrate”, “feast”); Leviticus 23:41 (“celebrate”, “feast”, “celebrate””); and 1st Samuel 30:16 (“dancing”).(1) Do the concepts of celebratory feasts—or “dancing”—fit the idea of Earth’s spherical roundness? Or, do “dancing” and cyclical celebrations compare better with Earth’s orbit-motions, while circling the sun, within our solar system that itself orbits within the Milky Way Galaxy?

The best English word, to picture the core idea here, is choreography—an amazingly well-ordered, orchestrated, festive, happy, harmonious DANCE.(1),(2) Like King David, even the heavenly bodies “dance” unto God’s glory!(2)

References

(1)The Hebrew noun chûg (“circle” in Isaiah 40:22, KJV) is related to the verb châgag, which is translated “celebrate” in Leviticus 23:9 & 23:41. The Hebrew noun chûg shares the same root verb as chag, another Hebrew noun, which is translated “feast” (referring to the Feast of Tabernacles) in Leviticus 23:34 & 23:9 & 23:41. The concept of celebratory dancing is illustrated in 1st Samuel 30:16, where the Hebrew verb châgag (in participle form) is translated “dancing”.

(3)See 2 Samuel 6:14 & Psalm 149:3. Notice that the festively cosmic choreography of Isaiah 40:22 is like the mathematically blended and harmonious interactive movements of a perfectly performed Norwegian Leikarringen folk dance (see photograph above), as opposed to a frenzied solo dancer’s break-dancing gyrations.

><> JJSJ    profjjsj@aol.com


In AD1982, at Wake Forest University, Dr. Johnson received the American Bible Society Award for scholarship in Biblical languages, especially Hebrew and Aramaic. However, despite many repeated efforts (and repeated encouragement from Kermit and Glenda Anderson), Johnson has unquestionably failed to learn the memory-challenging choreographic artistry of Norwegian folk dancing.


 

GOOD SERVICE INCLUDES QUICK SERVICE

Seest thou a man diligent [mahir] in his business?  —  he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before low-ranking men.   (Proverbs 22:29)

GoodSuccess-needs-GoodWorkEthic

SLOW  SERVICE  LIMITS  CUSTOMER  SATISFACTION,  EVEN  AT  A  CAR-WASH

When clean,  our car’s bright,  as a flower,

To the car-wash,  it went,  for a shower;

“15 minutes”  we were told  —

Waiting, waiting  —  it got old  —

Finally clean,  the car-wash  took an hour.

Punctuality and promptness are virtues tied to customer satisfaction.  As customers we don’t like slow service, so we should provide quick service when we are in roles of responsibility.   Good service is not delayed service.  Deadlines are important!   Good service includes promptness in responsiveness.  The adjective translated “diligent”, in Proverbs 22:29, means prompt in responsiveness (note: this Hebrew adjective’s root verb appears as “make haste” in Isaiah 49:17 & Proverbs 1:16).  In other words, handling responsibilities quickly is a trait that routinely precedes success and promotion.   God tells us this as a proverb, because it helps us with practical living.

It’s easy for us, as customers, to become dissatisfied when we are disappointed  — by sluggish (dis)service — e.g., see “When Will this Airplane ever Take Off?” [posted at https://rockdoveblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/01/when-will-this-plane-ever-take-off/ ].  It’s harder for us to make ourselves provide prompt service to others, when others are “customers” waiting for our service.  May God help us to serve with promptness.

 

 

PUSHING TRUTH AWAY IS NOT GOOD

JohnKnox-statue-StGilesCathedral.Edinburgh

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him?  …. See that ye refuse not Him Who speaketh; for if they escaped not who refused him who spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him Who speaketh from heaven.   (Hebrews 2:3 & 12:25)

Hebrews12.25

God’s truth demands a response.  A response to God’s revealed truth is either honest or dishonest.  There is no middle ground — when it comes to moral accountability for the truth that God gives unto each of us:   either we receive it as lovers of the truth, or we reject it while clinging to worthless lies (2nd Thessalonians 2:10).

PUSHING  BACK  TRUTH  INVITES  A  MISERABLE  LIFE  (AND  WORSE  AFTER  THAT)

For us abundant life   is appointed,

Yet for some its receipt   gets disjointed;

Though God gives enough truth,

Some push back, aloof;

So in life they fail,   disappointed.

mixed-photos-including Bosque-ICR-AD2012 009

Christ-is-risen!-PPTslide

 

NORWEGIANS TAKE SKIING SERIOUSLY !

NORWEGIANS  TAKE  SKIING  SERIOUSLY !
Skiathlon  Heroes  Recall  Norse  “Birch-leg”  Skiers  of  Old

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

For a just man falls 7 times, and rises again, but the wicked fall into calamity.  (Proverbs 24:16)

[photo credit: Business Insider]

As Norway’s Olympic skier Simen Hegstad Krüger recently (i.e., on Sunday, February 11th A.D.2018) reminded the watching world, Norwegians have a time-honored tradition as competitive and resilient snow-skiers – and a track-record as loyal teammates during times of crisis – harking back to the Birkebeiner of old.

At Alpensia Cross-Country Centre, in the men’s cross-country 15km X 15 km skiathlon competition (2018 Winter Olympics, PyeongChang, South Korea), Krüger initially slipped, fell face in the snow, breaking a ski-pole, with his fall worsened when two other skiers (Russia’s Denis Spitsov and Russia’s Adrey Larkov) promptly collided into, stumbled upon, and tangled around him. Within 15 seconds Krüger found himself, in effect, as the cross-country train’s caboose!

[photo credit: Business Insider]

But, since Viking times, Norwegians have a hardy reputation for battling the odds – and 24-year-old Krüger refused to accept this disappointing debacle as an excuse for quitting, or for reducing his best efforts to win.

SUCCESS IS NOT ABOUT NEVER FALLING, IT’S ABOUT GETTING BACK  IN THE RACE!

If you fall the day is not done;

Get up! Finish what you’ve begun !

So when you fall down,

Don’t stay on the ground!

Get back in the race — and RUN !

Astoundingly, Krüger resumed the race, from his last-place position – with Viking-like vigor reminiscent of Eric Liddell – and steadily and serially by-passed each of his 63 Olympian competitors until he had won the race, earning a Gold Medal for Norway.  Wow!

 PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — When Simen Hegstad Krueger [sic – the proper spelling is Krüger] slipped and fell on the first lap of the 30-kilometer cross-country skiathlon and found himself face down in the snow with two rivals on top of him, he figured his hopes at an Olympic medal were over.   He couldn’t have been more wrong.  “Here it is my first ever Olympic race, and it starts in the worst possible way,” said the Norwegian, who untangled his legs and his skis from the two Russian competitors he wrecked, grabbed his broken ski pole and stormed up the hill to get back in contention.

Starting from the rear, Krueger passed 63 other skiers to take the lead and win the gold medal on Sunday to cap an amazing comeback.  After Krueger crossed the line in 1 hour, 16 minutes, 20 seconds, he looked to the heavens and repeatedly pumped his fists in the air.

Norway swept the medals, with [Norway’s] Martin Johnsrud Sundby taking silver and [Norway’s] Hans Christer Holund getting bronze.  Sundby said Krueger’s return to the front of the field after crashing is an incredible testament to his perseverance. “I think we have a deserving Olympic champion,” Sundby said.  Holund said he would expect nothing more from a Norwegian skier in a sport they have dominated for years. “When you are skiing for Norway, there are a lot of guys skiing for that right (to participate in the Olympics). You should not give up, especially when you are in the Olympics,” Holund said. “It shows that Simen is a real strong guy — not just physical, but also mental.”

Just seconds after the mass start began and with skiers still bottled up in lines, Krueger appeared to slip in mid-stride and his right ski came out from under him, causing him to fall to the ground.  The two skiers directly behind him — Andrey Larkov and Denis Spitsov, Russians competing under the Olympic flag — couldn’t stop quick enough and toppled over him in a heap.

Krueger told himself he needed to stay calm. He knew he couldn’t get back the 15 seconds he lost all at once.  It would take patience to get back in the lead pack and still have some energy left at the end of the race. “I had to try to keep those (negative) thoughts away,” Kruger said. “I knew it was going to be extremely hard.”  One of the Norway coaches gave Krueger a new pole — which is legal — shortly after the crash.

Krueger steadily moved through the field and eventually took the lead with 5 kilometers remaining.

On the eighth and final lap, Krueger made what Holund called a “daring move” to pull away from the pack.  He [i.e., Krüger] succeeded with the help of Norwegian teammates, whose plan coming into the race was for a team victory — meaning protecting the leader if he tried to pull away by not letting other top medal contenders like Swiss great Dario Cologna catch up. “If Simen had a seven-second lead and I tried to catch him and Dario was able to stay with me, and then Dario and [I] caught him and Dario has the best finish — that would not look so good for us,” Sundby said. “I think we all agree the plan was good for the Norwegian team.”

[Quoting “AP” / Soobim Im, “Norwegian Skier Simen Hegstad Krueger Crashes Early, Breaks Pole, Still Wins Gold Medal”, USA TODAY SPORTS, posted at https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2018/02/11/norways-krueger-wins-gold-in-skiathlon-after-early-crash/110314870/ (2-11-AD2018); updated ‎2-12-AD2018, 6‎:‎52‎ ‎a.m.]

Martin Sundby (L), Simen Krüger (M), Hans Holund (R)
[photo credit: Westdeutsche Zeitung]

Yet the stakes were even higher – much higher in fact – when two Norwegian patriots employed their superlative skiing skills to save the life of an infant king, Håkon IV Håkonsson, son of Håkon III Sverreson, who was himself son of the Norwegian king Sverre who is lauded within Norway’s modern (albeit unofficial) national anthem, Ja Vi Elsker, as follows:

Dette landet Harald berget med sin kjemperad     [this land Harald united with his host of heroes],
dette landet Håkon verget medens Øyvind kvad     [this land Håkon protected while Øyvind sang];
Olav på det landet malte korset med sitt blod     [upon the land Olaf painted with his blood the cross],
fra dets høye Sverre talte Roma midt imot     [from its heights Sverre spoke up against Rome].

[Quoting Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s anthem, Ja, Vi Elsker Dette Landet, verse 2.]

King Sverre Sigurdsson, a descendant of Norway’s Viking kings Harald Fairhair and Harald Hardrada (as shown in a footnote, below), ruled Norway during the Viking Age’s sunset years, and was constantly engaged in a jurisdictional and theological tourney with the Church of Rome’s ecclesiastical-geopolitical imperialism, providing a foretaste of the centuries-later conflict (of Scandian-Saxon nations with the Church of Rome) that today we call the Protestant Reformation. [See, accord, Karl Jonsson, SAGA OF KING SVERRI OF NORWAY (SVERRISAGA), translated by John Sephton (London: David Nutt, 1899; reprinted 1994 by Llanerch Publishers of Felinfach), at pages 2-233, 235, 237, 239-240, & especially 241-261 (“Anecdoton Sverreri”).

NOTE: “Tusen takk” to Col. John Eidsmoe, for repeatedly educating me regarding the heroic Birkebeiner skiers.]

Throughout King Sverre’s adventurous lifetime and turbulent reign, Sverre faced a fierce and bloody conflict with the Baglers (“Hoodies”, who affiliated with the hood-wearing monks of the Roman church, often allied with Denmark). King Sverre’s opposing faction was called the Birkebeiner (“Birch-legs”), because some of them were so poor that they wrapped and tied birch-bark around their legs as protection against Norway’s snow and cold.(1)

Providentially, King Sverre had studied Christian (and Roman) theology in the school of Kirkjubøur (and in time became an ordained priest) in the Faeroe Islands, before Sverre became Norway’s king (during his 30s).

Consequently, Sverre was not easily intimidated by the theological bluffing, sophistic arguments, or bullying tactics of the Bagler faction’s ecclesiastical “authorities”.

After a long and action-packed reign (from about A.D.1184 to March 9th of A.D.1202), King Sverre was succeeded by his son Håkon III Sverreson. Yet Norway’s king Håkon III survived his father by less than 2 years, due to being treacherously poisoned by his Bagler-affiliated stepmother (dowager queen Margrete Eriksdotter, daughter of Swedish king Eric IX), dying on New Year’s Day of A.D.1204. Håkon III was thus succeeded by his 4-year-old nephew, Guttorm, a grandson of King Sverre, from January to August (of A.D.12024) — then the boy king Guttorm died suddenly, another “inside job” assassination by poison.

Before his own assassination, however, the unmarried King Håkon III Sverreson had fathered an son – also named Håkon (thus Håkon IV Håkonsson) – who was born to Inga of Varteig (Håkon III’s concubine since A.D.1203), during the spring of A.D.1204, only a few months after King Håkon III’s death by poison. Thus King Sverre’s dynasty now hung on the life of his newborn grandbaby – as the rival Bagler faction wanted that royal baby killed!(2)

To make matters worse, baby Håkon IV Håkonsson — who was not yet 2 years old! (during the winter of A.D.1205/1206) — was then in Østfold, a part of Norway controlled by the Baglers, so baby Håkon needed to be safely whisked away to territory controlled by the Birch-legs, protected by a bodyguard of Birch-leg patriots. So the Beinebeiners headed toward Nidaros (i.e., Trondheim), in hopes of finding refuge at the capital city of the new Birkebeiner-allied king, Inge II Bårdson (ruled A.D.1204—A.D.1217) — but the Birch-leg patriots’ mountainous trek was vehemently interrupted by a fierce and prolonged winter blizzard.

photo credit: THE LAST KING (Norway-produced Birkebeiner movie)

Knowing their territorial vulnerability, and with no time to waste, baby Håkon IV was entrusted to the best two skiers, Torstein Skevla and Skjervald Skrukka.

Torstein and Skjervald — through hours of blizzard snowstorms — indefatigably carried baby Håkon (for about 5 hours, during daylight hours late winter/early spring) over montane snows from Lillehammer unto Østerdalen, and presented him to King Inge II for safekeeping.  (Håkon IV eventually succeeded King Inge II, in April of A.D.1217, 11 years later).

photo credit: THE LAST KING (Norway-produced Birkebeiner movie)

Those were violent times in Norway! — notice that King Inge immediately followed the truncated reigns of King Håkon III (who ruled less than 2 years) and boy-king Guttorm (who ruled less than 4 months), both of whom intriguing insiders had assassinated by poison.

Nowadays the amazing skiing of Birch-leg heroes Torstein Skevla and Skjervald Skrukka, with baby Håkon IV, is memorialized by Norway’s annual skiing event, Birkebeinerrennet (“Birkebeiner race”), a cross-country skiathlon conducted during March – about 35 miles, with contestants carrying a 3.5-kilogram backpack (to approximate the body weight of the not-yet-2-year-old infant Håkon IV).

Norway’s commemorative Birkebeinerrennet skiing event

[photo credit: Faster Skier]

Obviously, Norwegians take their skiing quite seriously.

><> JJSJ profjjsj@aol.com

[photo credit: Leader Telegram]

Lillehammer heraldry

REFERENCES

(1) In Norwegian, “birk” = “birch”;  “bein” = “leg”.

(2) The patrilinear ancestry of Håkon IV Håkonsson traces back to Norway’s famous Viking king Harald Hardrada, and from him back to Norway’s first nationwide king, Harald Fairhair: Harald “Fairhair” begat Sigurd Haraldsson, who begat Halfdan Sigurdsson, who begat Sigurd “Syr” Halfdansson, who begat Harald “Hardrada” Sigurdsson, who begat Olaf “Kyrre” (i.e., “the Peaceful”) Haraldsson, who begat Magnus “Barefoot” Olafsson, who begat Harald “Gilli-Krist” (i.e., “Christ’s servant”) Magnusson, who begat Sigurd “Munn” (i.e., “the Mouth”) Haraldsson, who begat Sverre Sigurdsson, who begat Håkon III Sverreson, who begat Håkon IV Håkonsson [who was later known as Håkon Gamli (i.e., “the Old”) to distinguish him from his own son, Håkon V Håkonsson].  See the 2 genealogical charts on pages 235 & 237 in John Sephton’s translation of Karl Jonsson’s SAGA OF KING SVERRI OF NORWAY (SVERRISAGA), cited above.


 

 

SCIENTISTS BLUNDER, TRYING TO RADIOCARBON-DATE VIKING BONES, FAILING TO ADJUST FOR SEAFOOD DIETS

SCIENTISTS  BLUNDER,  TRYING  TO  RADIOCARBON-DATE  VIKING  BONES,  FAILING  TO  ADJUST  FOR  SEAFOOD  DIETS

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Viking bones unearthed at mass burial site at Repton, Derbyshire, England   (CNN photo from Ashley Strickland article 2-2-AD2018)

Our bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, as when one cuts and cleaves wood upon the earth.  (Psalm 141:7)

It’s hard to understand why serious amounts of radioactive Carbon 14 are “missing”, in Viking bones, unless you realize that much of it was never there to start with.

GreatHeathenArmy-pic-map.HistoryChannel

GREAT  HEATHEN  ARMY     (History Channel)

The “Great Heathen Army” invaded England, from Scandinavia, during the latter part of the A.D. 800s (specifically, the A.D. 860s  and 870s), replacing previous Viking “hit-and-run” raiding with seizure and occupation of English lands: Nordic Vikings by the thousands had arrived, with intentions to stay!(1)

The raids on England escalated further [i.e., escalated beyond quick hit-and-run plundering] in 865/6, when ‘a great heathen army’ took up winter quarters in East Anglia.  …  The leaders appear to have included Ivar the Boneless and his brother Halfdan, sons of the [Viking] Ragnar Lodbrok, as well as another ‘king’ called Bagsecq, and several ‘earls’ …. The annals in Anglo-Saxon Chronicle afford a good sense of the course of the [great heathen] army’s campaign in the late 860s, as it moved [often on horseback] from East Anglia into Northumbria in 866, from Northumbria into Mercia in 867, and back north into Northumbria in 868, before returning via Mercia to East Anglia in 869.  …  The disarticulated [skeletal] remains of at least 250 people (mainly men in their prime, but also including some women), from the charnel excavated at Repton, Derbyshire, in 1980-6 … [appears to represent the Great Heathen Army]known to have wintered at Repton in 873-4; and it has been suggested that the charnel represents the mass burial of members of the army who died at this time from an epidemic of some kind.

[Quoting Simon Keynes, THE OXFORD ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE VIKINGS (Oxford University Press, 1999; edited by Peter Sawyer), page 52-55.]

IVAR “the Boneless” Ragnarsson photo credit: AncientPages.com

Ironically, skeletal remains of those vicious Vikings, tested by radiocarbon methods, have illustrated once again that radiometric dating is not the always-accurate-and-authoritative “sacred cow” that we have been told it is.(2)

Can we confidently use Carbon 14 radiometric dating, on a disinterred skeleton, to discern when someone died, centuries ago? If a portion of the expected Carbon 14 is “missing” in a Viking skeleton, could it be that it never was there in the first place? In particular, must we sometimes qualify some Carbon 14 testing outcomes by eyewitness reports that describe the deceased’s diet?

As we shall see, investigating this question requires collecting empirical science data, yet the ultimate answer requires forensic science analysis, including verified reports from reliable eyewitnesses.(3)

Consider the case of a mass burial of about 249 or 250 skeletons in Derbyshire, England. Do these skeletons represent Vikings who belonged to the Great Heathen Army [Old English: mycel hæþen here], Scandinavian warriors who over-wintered in the Derbyshire village of Repton during A.D. 873/874?

Because eyewitnesses indisputably reported the Great Heathen Army’s historical presence, then and there, many modern historians concluded that the 249+ mass-grave skeletons (in Derbyshire) were those of Scandinavian Vikings who invaded England as the “Great Heathen Army”, during A.D. 865-879.(1)

However, some empirical science investigators, using routine Carbon 14 radiometric dating methods, rejected that timeframe as matching the buried bones, arguing that the bones must be a century or so older, based upon the residual Carbon 14 found inside the unearthed bones.(4)

Archaeological evidence for the Viking Great Army that invaded England in AD 865 is focused particularly on the area around St. Wytan’s church in Repton in Derbyshire.  Large numbers of burials excavated here in the 1980s have been attributed to the over-wintering of the Great Army in AD 873-874.  Many of the remains were deposited in a charnel, while others were buried in graves with Scandinavian-style grave goods.  Although numismatic [i.e., minted coins] evidence corroborated the belief that these were the remains of the Great Army, radiocarbon results [which were routinely interpreted at chronology ranges in the A.D. 600s or 700s] have tended to disagree.

[Quoting from page 1 of the ANTIQUITY article by Jarman, Biddle, et al. — see Footnote # 2 below.]

So, who was right and who was wrong?

Did the disinterred bones belong to men who died in the A.D. 600s or 700s? If so, why was there no historical record of a Viking army occupying Derbyshire during the A.D. 600s or 700s?

But, if the hundreds of Nordic skeletons were more recent, representing deaths that occurred during the latter half of the A.D. 800s (consistent with the time when the Great Heathen Army was occupying Derbyshire and its environs), why did the radiocarbon measurements suggest that those buried had died a century or more before Derbyshire was overwhelmed by hundreds of Scandinavian Vikings?

Notice that England’s historical records not only provided eyewitness accounts of the Great Heathen Army invading and occupying Derbyshire by the thousands, during the late A.D. 800s, English historical records also indicate that the opposite was true in earlier centuries – i.e., Derbyshire was virtually free of seafaring Nordic invaders during the A.D. 600s and 700s.(1),(2)

As a forensic science problem, the radiometric dating results clashed with all of the available eyewitness accounts – proving that something was wrong with either the historical records or the radiocarbon analysis. Were the eyewitness accounts in error? Or was the radiometric dating methodology invalid?

Of course, Carbon 14 radiometric dating methods utilize several assumptions.(2),(5) So, if one of the basic assumptions is invalid (i.e., incorrect), the conclusions that rely on that erroneous assumption will likewise be invalid (i.e., incorrect).

Could it be that one of the usual assumptions, used in Carbon 14 radiometric dating, is wrong, for measuring time-of-death data, for human skeletons such as those deposited in the mass grave at Repton, in Derbyshire?

To answer this question, consider the basic logic underlying radiometric dating:

The carbon-dating technique cannot be used to date rocks … but it can be used to date things that were once living—things that contain carbon. Here’s how it works. Sometimes nitrogen 14 changes into carbon 14 high in the atmosphere [where sunlight contacts air]. Over time, however, the carbon 14 decays back into nitrogen 14. Since plants “breathe” [i.e., take in] carbon dioxide, their leaves, stems, and seeds contain some carbon 14 in their structures along with the more common isotope, carbon 12. Once they stop living, they stop taking in new carbon 14 [via photosynthesis processes that require the plants to be living] and the unstable carbon 14 already there [especially in the form of digestible carbohydrates] begins to decay back into nitrogen 14, while the stable carbon 12 remains. By measuring the amount of carbon 14 left sometime after the plant dies, you can calculate (in theory) how long ago the plant died. Since animals eat plants [or eat animals that eat plants], their deaths can be dated in the same way.

[Quoting John D. Morris, THE GEOLOGY BOOK (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2007), page 50.]  And, it is assumed, that humans ingest (and release) C-14 the same as do animals.

Thus, the “normal” radiometric dating scenario presumes that human skeletons will contain organic material—with steadily decaying Carbon 14—that is traceable to plant photosynthesis that incorporated atmospheric carbon dioxide into plant carbohydrates, such as fruit sugars or starches within grains or root vegetables.(5)

Moreover, as herbivores graze on plant food, radiocarbon within photosynthesis-fixed carbohydrates can be converted metabolically into animal proteins—such as amino acids derived from eating terrestrial livestock like cattle, sheep, goats, or swine.(4)  So humans can acquire Carbon 14 directly, from eating plants, as well as indirectly, from eating herbivores (or from eating carnivores who ate herbivores).

Carbon14-cycle-diagram.HowStuffWorks

Notice that the vital assumption here, which quickly affects the mathematics of radiometric dating, is the assumption that human skeletons contain residual Carbon 14 acquired from predominantly “terrestrial” (i.e., land-food-based) diets.

However, eating a lot of finfish (such as cod, salmon, trout, herring, etc.), and/or shellfish (such as shrimp or crab), does not fit this vital assumption.(6)  Yet what kind of diet were the Scandinavian Vikings known for?  Seafood, especially fish – and lot so it!  So don’t look for fish to have the same concentration of Carbon 14 that one receives from eating bread, beef, beets, or dairy products.(4),(6)

Meanwhile, the metabolic difference in Carbon 14, between “terrestrial” and “marine” diets, requires that radiocarbon dating methods be adjusted, to account for how a mostly-marine (i.e., fish-dominated) diet produces human radiocarbon counts that are much less than diets comprised of mostly-terrestrial (i.e., more plant-derived) foods.(4),(5),(6)

This dietary reality is discussed, below, in a radiocarbon study of bones from Greenland Vikings, whose habit of eating fish (and other seafood) is historically well-documented (and undisputed).

Bone samples from the Greenland Viking colony provide us with a unique opportunity to test and use 4C dating of remains of humans who depended upon food of mixed marine and terrestrial origin. We investigated the skeletons of 27 Greenland Norse people excavated from churchyard burials from the late 10th to the middle 15th century. The stable carbon isotopic composition (813C) of the bone collagen reveals that the diet of the Greenland Norse changed dramatically from predominantly terrestrial food at the time of Eric the Red around AD 1000 to predominantly marine food toward the end of the settlement period around AD 1450. We find that it is possible to 14C-date these bones of mixed marine and terrestrial origin precisely when proper correction for the marine reservoir effect (the 14C age difference between terrestrial and marine organisms) is taken into account. From the dietary information obtained via the S13C values of the bones we have calculated individual reservoir age corrections for the measured 14C ages of each skeleton. The reservoir age corrections were calibrated by comparing the 14C dates of 3 highly marine skeletons with the 14C dates of their terrestrial grave clothes. The calibrated ages of all 27 skeletons from different parts of the Norse settlement obtained by this method are found to be consistent with available historical and archaeological chronology. . . .

        Bone Dating

The 14C dating of bone is by now technically well established, relying on refined chemical extraction techniques combined with accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) (for example, Brown et al. 1988). Since very small, even submilligram-sized, samples of bone collagen can be dated with AMS, it has become possible to select the best samples from a skeleton, minimizing problems with degradation and contamination. If the bone is reasonably well preserved, AMS 14C ages as well as stable carbon isotopic ratios can be determined reliably for skeletal remains of archaeological interest without destroying the object. If the bone collagen is of terrestrial origin, the measured (conventional) 14C age is converted into a true calendar age by using the global tree-ring calibration curve (Stuiver and Polach 1977). However, this simple procedure is not applicable when the bone collagen is derived in part from marine carbon which, due to the marine reservoir effect, appears several hundred 14C years older than the corresponding terrestrial carbon. This seriously constrains the dating of bones of people who have had access to food protein from the sea. Therefore, archaeologists have generally distrusted the precision of 14C dates of human bones. But precise 14C dating of human bones is so attractive to the archaeologist that it is highly desirable to add bone to the list of datable material. To extend the calibration of measured 14C ages to “marine” bones one needs to know both the marine food fraction and the reservoir age, that is, the age difference between the atmosphere and the particular region of the sea at the time the protein was produced.”

[Quoting from Jette Arneborg, Jan Heinemeier, Niels Lynnerup, Henrik L. Nielsen, Niels Rud, & Arny E. Sveinbjornsdottir, “Change of Diet of the Greenland Vikings Determined from Stable Carbon Isotope Analysis and 14C Dating of their Bones”, RADIOCARBON, 41(2):157-168 (1999), at page 157.]

In other words, unless the dietary difference is adjusted for, the skeletons of piscivorous Vikings (who ate literally tons of fish during their lives!) appear to be about a century (or more!) “older” than what they really are, because they appear to have been decaying (and thus losing) Carbon 14 much longer than they actually have been.(4)

Thus, the simple reality, of course, is that the Viking bones’ (supposedly) “missing” portion of the residual Carbon 14 was never there to start with!

So what is the take-away lesson we can learn from these skeletons?

For starters, note this limerick lesson regarding the relevant forensic evidences:

SEAFOOD  DIETS  SKEWED  CARBON  14  “DATING”  OF  VIKING  BONES
    250 skeletons were found,
    Decaying C-14  in the ground;
        But the bone “dates’ were odd,
        Due to diets of cod
    Proving carbon “dates” might not be sound.

Scientific sleuthing, like detective work in a whodunit mystery, requires more than observing physical evidences(3) – we need to learn from reliable eyewitnesses with personal knowledge of the relevant events, in order to properly interpret the evidentiary meaning of physical clues that we see today. Unlike the empirical science practice of observing experiments in the present, past events are no longer visible, so the need for reliable eyewitnesses is an unavoidable reality.  Eyewitness reports need to be verified as reliable (or not), of course, so observing physical evidence is useful for corroborating (or contradicting) an eyewitness report.(3)

The other side of the coin, however, is that empirical science findings must be critiqued by reliable eyewitness reports, if past events are being investigated.

It is a forensic science fundamental that we need reliable witnesses to understand physical effects caused by unique events of the no-longer-observable past. Thus, unusual historical events—such specific battles, or crimes, or traffic accidents, or a worldwide flood)—require more than merely observing physical effects that exist in the present, such as fingerprints, rubber skid-marks, or blood-spatter.(3),(7)

When it comes to reliable eyewitnesses, who can report true facts about our origins, we need Genesis. God is the perfect eyewitness: He was there, He observed it all, He remembers perfectly, He is always truthful, and He is perfectly capable of communicating accurate and relevant information in human language. If we don’t trust Genesis it is our own fault (John 5:44-47).

References

(1) John Haywood, THE PENGUIN HISTORICAL ATLAS OF THE VIKINGS (London: Penguin Books, 1995), pages 13 & 62-63.

(2) Recently evolutionists have been embarrassed by the presence of Carbon 14 (a/k/a “C-14”) in coal, oil, fossilized wood, natural gas samples, and even in many kinds of dinosaur bones, where evolutionary theories do not permit C-14 to be.  See, e.g., Jake Hebert, “Do Young C-14 Results Reflect Contamination?”, ACTS & FACTS, 42(7):20 (July 2013);  Brian Thomas & Vance Nelson, “Radiocarbon in Dinosaur and Other Fossils”, CREATION RESEARCH SOCIETY QUARTERLY, 51(4):299-311 (2015). In this study it is the proportional lack of Carbon 14 that presents a dating problem to the empirical scientists who glibly dismiss the applicational relevance of forensic science principles.

(3) James J. S. Johnson, “There’s Nothing Like an Eyewitness”, ACTS & FACTS, 45(12):20 (December 2016) (“Do we need reliable eyewitness reports to know the real truth about non-repeating historic events? In a word, yes.  After the fact, historical causes routinely leave behind physical effects, often with observable characteristics such as fingerprints, tire-tread impressions, or DNA. These can provide reliable inferences about what occurred at a specific location and time… [yet], for complete accuracy, there is nothing like a reliable eyewitness [who] can report relevant observations—about who, what, how, or why—that otherwise could leave a mystery misunderstood or unsolved. … Eyewitness testimony relies upon honesty, opportunity to observe, an accurate memory, and testimonial clarity. These forensic principles apply to the challenging task of reconstructing unique actions that happened in the past, because these events (unless recorded on film or video) can’t be seen in the present. This applies to learning about past occurrences as different as the sinking of a German warship or how sea creatures got fossilized along with land-roaming dinosaurs.”).

(4) Catrine L. Jarman, Martin Biddle, Tom Higham & Christopher Bronk Ramsey, “The Viking Great Army in England:  New Dates from the Repton Charnel”, ANTIQUITY (online version, 2018), pages 1-3 of 17 (posted February 2018, at https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2017.196 ).  Pages 2-3 of this article says: “Although several samples [perhaps from clothing] were consistent with a ninth-century [A.D.] date, a number [of samples, especially those taken form human bones] dated to the seventh and eighth centuries AD, and thus seemed to belong to an earlier phase of activity … [so] identification of those buried in the [Repton] charnel as members of the Great Army has been brought into question. [citing prior literature].”  Pages 6-7 of this article discuss the need to adjust radiocarbon-dating calculations to somehow account for the lower levels of C-14 originally accumulated in the bones of people who habitually eat large amounts of fish and other seafood.

(5) John D. Morris, THE GEOLOGY BOOK (Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books, 2007), page 50.

(6) Jette Arneborg, Jan Heinemeier, Niels Lynnerup, Henrik L. Nielsen, Niels Rud, & Árný E. Sveinbjörnsdóttir, “Change of Diet of the Greenland Vikings Determined from Stable Carbon Isotope Analysis and 14C Dating of their Bones”, RADIOCARBON, 41(2):157-168 (1999).

(7) James J. S. Johnson, “Genesis Critics Flunk Forensic Science 101”, ACTS & FACTS, 41(3):8-9 (March 2012).