Archive for the ‘Names’ Category

Titles of Jesus: Archon of the Kings of the Earth

February 1, 2013

Jesus is described in numerous ways in the book of Revelation.  One of the titles mentioned in the salutation of John and Jesus’ letter to the seven churches is “The Archon of the Kings of the Earth” (Greek: “ὁ ἄρχων τῶν βασιλέων τῆς γῆς”), which the King James Version translates as “the prince of the kings of the earth.”

This title of head over all of the kings of the earth is something that the Roman bishop desires.  Boniface VIII is an example of the desire of popes to have supreme temporal authority.  His Unam Sanctam, which proclaims a false gospel of submission to the Roman bishop (as discussed here) is sometimes dismissed from consideration on the basis that its reference to rulers being required to submit to Rome is not meant universally.  In fact, the rulers are merely the minor premise, with the general principle being the major premise.  But the problem is more acute.  The very title of Archon of the Kings of the Earth belongs to Jesus Christ.  Boniface VIII can wear his double tiara and John XXII his triple tiara, but that’s just jewelry – the truth is that it is Christ who is Archon.

True ministers of the gospel (as some ancient bishops in Rome were), are ministers of God, just as also the temporal rulers are ministers (in a different sense) of God.  But the kingdom of heaven is not set up like Gentile kingdoms on earth.  There are lords many and kings many, but while we have overseers, we are all brethren and have one Lord, Jesus Christ.

I think this title is sometimes overlooked by my brethren who want to maintain a rigid separation of church and state.  With this title, though, Jesus is claiming all temporal to be his.  Thus, all the kings of the Earth ought to obey his revealed will and ought to order their kingdoms accordingly.

It’s a marvelous title.  It emphasizes the supremacy of Jesus even while we acknowledge that Jesus first coming was not to establish an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly kingdom.  Nevertheless, the kings of the earth should beware.  Jesus Christ their Archon is coming again in judgment.  They ought to consider that warning and be ready against his coming.


When and Why Did Popes Start Changing Their Names?

September 6, 2010

One Roman Catholic correspondent criticized my list of popes that denied the immaculate conception (link to list and discussion) on the basis that some of the statements were made by the popes before they took office.

He actually went so far as to claim:

Men who become Pope change their names precisely to show that what they taught before, which may be erring, is of no account to their pontificate.

Of course, my correspondent was just trying weasel out of the evidence that was stacked against him, but it did make me wonder: when did the name changing begin?

The obvious answer of “Simon’s name was changed to Peter” isn’t correct. First of all, “Peter” was Simon’s surname (see the discussion here). Second, many of the early bishops of Rome (and alleged bishops of Rome) did not take on a pseudonym.

I’d love to have a more definitive answer, but EWTN reports this:

Papal Names – Most of the early Popes kept their own names upon election. However, when the Roman priest Mercury was elected in 533 he took the name John II, so the Church would not have a Pope named after a pagan god. Thus began the practice of taking a new name which today is taken for granted.

which seems like a reasonable explanation (source). The practice seems to have stuck, although I’m not aware of any canon law that absolutely requires a name change.

The last pope not to change his name was Marcellus II (crowned in 1555). Ironically, his name is the name of a pagan god (Mars, like his name sake and like pope Mark). It’s also worth noting that while he would have been the first recorded bishop of Rome with the name “Mercury,” the official list of popes also includes among his predecessors not only those named for the major god Mars, but also those named for some of the lesser gods: Dionysis, Anterus, and Zephyrinus. (source)

John II did not get the trend to catch on immediately. The next several popes maintained their birth name, though John III (originally Catelinus) followed suit (he may have changed his name before becoming pope). (source) Indeed, the next few name changes were to be called “John” (Octavian became John XII in 955 and Pietro Canepanova became John XIV in 983) (source). However, by 1503, when Julius II retained his birth name he was disrupting a 494 year tradition spanning 72 popes (source).

So – what is the real reason that popes change their names? It’s a tradition. If you like it, thank Johns II, III, XII, and XIV for paving the way – but don’t make the facile assumption that they do it for theological reasons, or that this is a tradition that comes down from the apostolic era.


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