When libraries forget their mission

Into town this morning, and into Suffolk Central Library in Ipswich.  My purpose?  To enquire as to the whereabouts of the copy of Vermaseren’s Mithras: the secret god.  A copy lives 40 miles away in the county reserve in Lowestoft, and I ordered it online on Tuesday.  Yet here we are on Thursday, and it has not arrived.

In I went, to find — to my astonishment — that a childrens’ playgroup had been set up in one corner of the main library.  The happy toddlers, and their parents, and some unspecified person in charge, were all singing childrens’ songs lustily.  This did mean, of course, that it was impossible for anyone to use the library for reading anything.  I had to queue, waiting to be served, so I had plenty of time to “enjoy” the caterwauling.  Hard-headed Andrew Carnegie, who funded the original library building, would not have approved.

At the desk, a smart-looking and helpful young lady told me that the book had been loaded into “the van” yesterday, and should be in Ipswich in 4-5 days.  I laughed, and asked whether they were sending the book by stage-coach.  (On reflection this was unfair: the stage-coach would have made that journey in a day).  The poor girl said that “the van” had to go around all the libraries in Suffolk, not just straight to Ipswich.  Even so, this is not a large county, and there are only 46 libraries, most of which are tiny and will probably have nothing on order.  It’s impossible not to notice that taking a book from the County Reserve to the County Library takes so long.  It is, in a word, inefficient.

I then ordered two more Mithras books.  The girl volunteered that the books would first search local libraries; and that this would take 4 weeks.  Again I felt a sense of unreality; why precisely does a search which could be undertaken in minutes take 4 weeks?  I declined this delay, and ordered the books from the British Library.  The price for a loan?  Now 5.40GBP each.  That’s not a lot less than the cost to buy many books.  Nor did the girl know who imposed the charge, supposing that it was the British Library.  But I know different: the British Library charges something like 15GBP, but the local authorities have a statutory duty to refund that to them.  Of course that means that each ILL costs the local council 15 GBP — so if they charge a lot to readers then that will deter people from borrowing books, thereby saving money which could be spent on buying votes!

Meanwhile the libraries themselves decay.  I was told on a previous visit that my emails were dealt with so very slowly because most of the staff were part-time, and so tended to leave things for someone else.

And so it went on.  Item after item of inefficiency, maladministration, neglect or wrong-headedness.  In real terms, there was nobody in charge.  Doubtless there is some woman somewhere who receives a salary to run the organisation.  (You can tell that it is a woman in charge because the conversion of Ipswich library into a playgroup is something that only a woman would do).  But she won’t have budgetary control.   All she will be doing is following “the rules”, doing the daily business of administration, but — this is the crucial bit — not in any way concerned with whether what is being done makes sense.

Why do we have libraries funded by compulsory exactions from ordinary people?  There is a reason, although you never hear it.

We live in a global economy.  We cannot compete on price for work.  We can and do compete on educational level.  When we have men out of work, it makes sense for them to skill themselves up by reading textbooks, so that they can obtain work and pay taxes.  Thus it makes sense for a small deduction on the salaries of us all in order to fund a supply of such books via local reading rooms.  It makes sense because in this way fewer people will be subsisting on those same public funds, and their wages will contribute to the local economy.  Supplies of textbooks cannot sensibly be held locally, so it makes sense to have a central depot which can speedily supply them as required.  The same facility can be used to encourage reading among the lower classes — the middle and upper classes can probably buy whatever they want — , again in order to ensure an educated workforce.

That’s it.  It’s not a question of philanthropy, but of cold hard self-interest.

And do Suffolk Libraries fulfil this mission?  Or have they forgotten it entirely, and do they now exist primarily to pay salaries to inattentive minor offcials?

The truth is somewhere in between.  But if we had to cost-justify Suffolk Libraries, could we do so?  I have my doubts.


22 thoughts on “When libraries forget their mission

  1. As a former librarian all I can say to Roger’s attacks on libraries – is that he is spot on.
    Libraries once had a purpose of allowing common people to become better read with both knowledge and culture available through choice books but this is now seen as elitist – so libraries give people what they “like” rather than what they “need”.
    Unfortunately most people like play groups, places to hang out and talk loudly with friends, light weight novels, coffee table picture books, cook books, DVDs of movies and TV shows, and most people do not like the hard work of study or care less that those who need quite places to study and access to quality books and journals are going without.
    As Neil Postman once said, we are “amusing ourselves to death”, and to this I would add that libraries are becoming rate payer funded amusement parks

  2. Thank you — your support is appreciated.

    I fear also that this is just a transitional stage. For there really can be no justification for funding amusement centres from taxes, and, in the next round of cut-backs, whenever that may be, this fact will impress itself on those who have to decide what to cut. At the moment they think they’re libraries, and probably don’t visit them much; but if they do, those councillors are hardly likely to be impressed.

    The next stage, once they cease to be libraries, will be to out-source such places; or privatise them, or otherwise remove them from the council balance sheet; after which they will certainly disappear. For while everyone thinks libraries are a good idea, many fewer people think that providing entertainment out of taxes is a good idea.

    I have, indeed, seen an announcement from one area in London, that had renamed its libraries as “information centres” or something like that, renaming them back to “libraries”. I know another London borough has been trying to close down most of its libraries. Perhaps, indeed, the process has begun.

    What we need, simply, is to restore the vision behind free universal library access.

  3. I suspect that if stock in any Suffolk library can be ordered by any user of Suffolk library services, whether it’s from their home branch or not, the smaller libraries are likely to have large numbers of items on order from other libraries. I assume this, because smaller libraries will have limited stock in them and their users will want access to a broader range of stock from other libraries.

    Therefore, if so much stock is travelling throughout the county it needs to be sorted to ensure it gets to the correct end-library. This takes time and effort, especially if the network of libraries is 40+

    Possibly the van doesn’t run at the weekend, hence a couple of days taken out of the process.

    I’m really just highlighting that the administration processes may actually be as efficient as they can be, especially if the stock is being made available to all library users… and making the stock available to all users is obviously a good thing.

    “so if they charge a lot to readers then that will deter people from borrowing books, thereby saving money which could be spent on buying votes!” – I suspect the case is that the library service needs to recoup some of the money, but they understand that £15.00 is a lot of money for a library user to pay themselves. Obviously in this case there’s a trade off between both types of services – a cheaper slower in-house service, which may take up to 4 weeks; or a more expensive, quicker service – this is how it works with all delivery systems isn’t it? eg Royal Mail; Amazon?

    It also looks as if the playgroup session on the Thursday was part of the Bookstart initiative – Please have a look at their site to see why these Bookstart activities are so important. http://www.bookstart.org.uk/about-us/research/

    Maybe you should also take a look at http://rosehillreaders.wordpress.com/ to see what is happening in Suffolk re. the future of the libraries.

    It would be interesting to hear your take on the good things that Suffolk Libraries do as well, because, obviously you do use them for some services and you do seem to value them in some ways (eg book loans from your own library and further afield; the online catalogue; ) and haven’t fallen out of love with them just yet.

    Seriously, I would be interested.

  4. I have deleted a number of abusive comments, and banned a number of users. None had anything to say about the problems I identified.

    I gather that this is thanks to a twitter comment from some campaign or other.

    Comments on the posts are welcome here, but please look at the comments policy before adding your note here. The policy is very simple, really. This blog is not a public forum, but rather my online diary. Any comment here consists of scribbling in the margins of my diary, as it were. Such annotations are welcome, if they add something, or are nice. But anything likely to give offence will be deleted.

  5. Hi there, I’m a former public librarian – just wondering what is inefficient about having the library van visit all the branches, which is normal procedure surely? I’ve only worked in urban authorities but I would expect it to be even more important in a rural county. On the van goes everything – all the new books as well the books which have been requested, plus anything else which is being distributed from a central point. It’s a bit patronising to say the least to assume that there will be nothing for any of the smaller branches – and surely a waste of money to have a van make a special trip just for your book?

  6. Thanks for your note, Gary. I fear my point has been missed, tho. Remember that the libraries cost money. Is the service worth what it costs? We have to ask this; because others will if we don’t.

    It is pointless to argue that taking 4 days to deliver a book 40 miles is “as efficient as it can be” in the age of Amazon, and next day delivery. It’s not good enough; and if that is *really* the best that can be done, then the service is doomed. But I have no belief that it *is* the best that can be done. Mind you, perhaps they have to rest the horses?

    Likewise it is useless to argue that turning the library into a playgroup is designed to encourage toddlers to read. Yes, encouraging toddlers to read is a good thing; but it is not what *libraries* are for.

    As for the 5.40 charge — the question is whether we want people to use the service or not? The purpose of the service is to supply textbooks and study materials to people locally. But a modest reading list of 20 items would cost over 100GBP. That is impossible for anyone not earning a very pleasant income, which renders it impossible for people to use a library to acquire skills. That is, the charge renders the service incapable of doing its job. Other counties apply a 1GBP charge, which is not unreasonable, and so did Suffolk until not long ago. I should add that Amazon charge 50GBP a year to send as many books as I care to order next day to my doorstep. That’s the yardstick of comparison.

    You ask about the “good things” in Suffolk libraries. I’m about as bookish as a reader could well be. Through the interlibrary loan system, I have been able to acquire enough books to learn a whole discipline that I might never have been able to do otherwise. I might add that the system of local libraries is the envy of people in the USA, or so they tell me. In the US, I am told, the very idea of people acquiring an education outside of the education system is impossible. Whether this is so, I cannot say.

    But, given that I am, or have been, a heavy user of the system, my comments in the post above surely should sound warning bells?

    * I can’t afford to borrow journal articles from it, because the cost is so high at 5.40 each (and the quality of reproduction is quite low); it’s easier and cheaper to take a trip to Cambridge when I want them and photocopy a couple of dozen.

    * I have to think very carefully before ordering books, because it costs so much and is so slow. Yesterday I ordered Ulansey’s “Origins of the Mithraic rituals”, which will turn up in 2-4 weeks and cost me 5.40GBP, to use for 2 weeks. I could have spent 12GBP and had it today from Amazon, to use forever. It was only just worth borrowing it. We’re in the realm of crazy economics.

    * I can’t study what I want when I want, in between work commitments — the books just won’t arrive.

    Other sections of society may benefit, I don’t know. I can only write about the service as it is experienced by me. I should add that I can’t imagine any section of society that benefits from turning libraries into playgroups! (Put them in a conference room, or something) Silence is necessary for thought.

    But as an adult, educated man, the library service is increasingly useless to me. It cannot stock what I want to read, with rare exceptions. When it does stock an item, by chance, in the county reserve, it can’t deliver it in a timely way. It doesn’t provide the books that I want free, but at a price not far short of Amazon, for a period which is too short for study, and obliges me to wait weeks until they arrive.

    If I was an unemployed man, hoping to train, the library would be useless to me, except as somewhere to read the papers. That’s better than nothing; but shouldn’t it be more? Wasn’t it more, until recently?

    After writing this, I went and had a look at the http://rosehillreaders.wordpress.com/ blog. I wasn’t aware of the current campaign, but then I live in my own little world, as you may see. But surely closing the little libraries — which I don’t use myself — is daft, in a Beeching-like way? — these exist precisely to serve the little kiddies and local groups, by making books accessible within walking distance, and feed into better standards at schools and hopefully people reading more as they grow up. They are an extension of the school system, essentially, although the van makes it possible for books to be accessed even in rural areas.

    But … if we look at the council proposal, surely it makes no sense for the council to wage a war on the motorist, and make it impossible for anyone to spend more than an hour in town because of high parking charges; and then to arrange that the only library should be located in the centre of town! How could most of us ever use it? Read a book there … how?

    By the way, I saw the tweet: “Please leave Roger a note on his blog, telling him how wrong he is about our wonderful library service” — that explains the rude and offensive comments that I had to delete, I suppose. Perhaps the author would care to add the word “polite” to that tweet?

  7. Hi Helen, if it takes 4-5 days for a book to travel from the County Reserve to the County Library, a distance of 40 miles, in the age of next day delivery, then something is wrong. Surely?

  8. “I might add that the system of local libraries is the envy of people in the USA, or so they tell me. In the US, I am told, the very idea of people acquiring an education outside of the education system is impossible. Whether this is so, I cannot say.” Surprisingly, this isn’t the case at all. I had supposed Britain had a far better library system than the US, but it sounds like the other way around.

    Our libraries in the US are funded by local taxes, with subsidies from the state, various grants, and charitable donations. If you live in town, you can get a card and use the library. If you live outside the city limits, and so don’t pay the tax residents pay, you have to pay about $120 per household per year for cards and borrowing privileges for the whole family. I think if you’re a student in the public schools this fee is waived. Ad of course, anyone can walk in, sit down, and read all day without a card.

    For my town of fewer than 20,000 people the collection is very good, though it is weighted toward fiction. Anyone with a card can order from inter-library loan with no further charge. If the books come from nearby, they might arrive the next day. If they come from further away, it takes longer, maybe as much as a week. I can and do order books on whatever interests me. My only complaint would be that I can’t keep them as long as I would sometimes like. In the summer there is children’s story time, but it’s in the children’s library – a separate room with its own very nice collection.

    In addition to the local public library, anyone can go to their local community college and get a public patron’s card that will let them at least borrow materials. (Most people don’t know about this, or don’t care.) Since these are academic libraries, this makes up for any deficiency in the non-fiction holdings of the public libraries. A motivated student can use the community college library to study differential equations, medieval history, or industrial electricity. If that weren’t enough, most people live within driving distance of a major public university, where public patrons can also get a card.

    Some of these provisions vary by state and city, but I don’t think many would say the US taxpayer was over-spending on public libraries (though certainly we over-spend on a host of other things). Our libraries in the US are far better than what you describe.

  9. This is very interesting, Marcel. It’s quite hard for all of us to assess another country’s provision; I can only go by what I learn from academics at conferences.

    The system of funding — $120 a year for borrowing rights unless you’re a town taxpayer — is novel. Here anyone can get a readers’ card, wherever they live. But of course the UK is smaller.

    Our local collections are heavily weighted towards fiction. But this is OK, since it does encourage housewives etc to read, and that in turn means that they expect their children to learn to read.

    Your comments about ILL are interesting. I understood that ILL’s cost real money. So if you wanted a copy of some text on Mithras, for instance — unlikely to be held outside of a university library — you’d have to pay $10-15. Is this not so? You can just order up 20 books, and pay zilch? If so, I am deeply envious!

    Access to university libraries is patchy. I have to pay to use Cambridge University Library, and pay again every 6 months. And I can’t borrow anything.

    In short, the picture you paint seems idyllic, compared to Suffolk. But I wonder whether all this would be generally true, or whether different states have different ideas? Which state are you in? (If that isn’t too personal a question?)

  10. There’s no charge for inter-library loan where I live in Illinois. The funding mechanisms probably differ from state to state, and there are challenges in sparsely populated rural areas, but the result has been pretty much the same everywhere I’ve lived. I’d be surprised if any US libraries charged for ILL, and if they did it would be a nominal fee to discourage nuisance requests. There is a limit to how many books you can request at one time – maybe ten – and new fiction is often restricted to local borrowers. The loan period is typically two weeks, with one renewal for two more weeks. In one case I requested a book that was unavailable within Illinois, and the librarian offered to take it to the next level – not sure what that involved. There would still have been no charge to me, but I already had what I wanted from another volume so I cancelled the request.

    Anyone can walk in and read in the university libraries, and you can get a borrowing card if you ask. It’s possible the card is a courtesy they aren’t required by law to extend, but they always have in my experience. Pubic patrons at the local college are asked to use the public library for ILL. Also, ILL for academic journal articles is not available to the general public. You need to be a student or staff or have some sort of affiliation to order off-site journal articles, and I think the library charges someone’s budget for these.

  11. Marcel, I am envious!

    But then I also think that the UK system worked better longer ago. It’s been neglected for many years. The only bit that anyone ever considers is the role in helping children learn. That is important; but it isn’t what the libraries were created for, and it won’t be enough to preserve the service against the cold winds of economic reality.

  12. Hello Roger – it depends whether you mind saving money or not, I suppose – I would be all in favour of a daily van run myself, but that is the sort of thing which is an obvious candidate for cuts, if cuts are to be made. I don’t see how you can have it both ways (unless you think that people would volunteer to move things about? Perhaps somebody would, if insurance &c could be adequately dealt with.) I worked in a London borough, where to begin with there was a twice weekly van run, increased eventually to daily at a time of plenty, and then in another urban set-up, which eventually also had a daily van circuit. The point is that the transport of your book from A to B is not the only thing which the van is called on to do. How much of a service is offered depends on funding.

  13. There are variations on the system Marcel described. I live in Indiana (next state to the East) and do not live in a town. However we have a county library system (it has 5 branches), a large portion of which is funded by tax revenues. I do not have to pay for a library card and to date have never had to pay for Inter-Library Loans.

    We have a Carnegie library located in a small town which is not part of the county system. I have a feeling the situation is different for them, but I don’t know what it is exactly.

    Our main branch in the largest town has a children’s wing. To a certain extent this has been used as a cheap form of child care. If someone wants to come to town they can leave their child for story hour while they run errands. They also have art classes and I’m sure there are other activities. It’s separated from the main library.

  14. Hi Helen — yes, it does depend entirely on details. I am just identifying what has to be craziness in the acceptance criteria. How to fix it is something I don’t know.

    But my feeling is that we’re in a drains up situation — where everything has to be looked at again. Just throwing money at rotted systems achieves nothing.

    For instance, when we ran India, we did so with a small number of very high quality people, who had the vision for good administration and were given quite large discretion in how to do it (although they had to write a lot of reports!) That country had the best administration it has ever had. By contrast in the third world they treat every government post merely as a means to pay someone — often a relative — a salary, and so the states employ armies of people who do little or nothing. When we took over Egypt, in the 1880’s, we found the latter situation, and had to really get rid of most of the existing stuff and start again, in order to run things efficiently.

    An instance: I was pretty shocked to find that nearly all the staff were part-time, for instance. You can easily see how that is convenient for the staff — and if no-one says no, if no-one is really looking at whether the service is doing what it should, then why not? But you can’t do that, because it means that no-one is actually taking responsibility (as I found out). It’s a splendid way to spend exactly the same money as for a staff of professionals, but get much less good service.

    But as you can see, these are the views of an outsider with general opinions, but no specific knowledge of the workings of libraries. I can only identify whether they are fit for purpose, not how to fix them!

  15. Hi Curt — thank you for your input. I’m interested to hear how it works over on your side.

    It’s interesting to learn that Carnegie’s benevolence — he built Ipswich Library here, you know — is still having an effect in the US. Is that “Carnegie library” a private library, then?

  16. Roger,

    No – the library is owned by the town. The terms of the original grant included that the town provide matching funds. This library recently received a grant (I’m not aware of the source) to do some major renovations.

    Their original grant was for $9,000.

  17. Roger,

    I read your comments with interest. As a Manager of a Suffolk Library I completely agree that there are areas in which we need to improve but also that there are areas we excel in. I would just like to make 2 comments.
    1) The van service you so easily disregard is in fact a few men in a few vans covering the entire county, schools, libraries, children’s centres, resource centres, offices and anywhere else a pick up or collection is required. Some places receive a daily collection, some 3 days per week, some 2 and some 1. This is down to the budget of that department, it is the service on offer and we use it because it is cheap. Perhaps if we were to charge for every reservation (as many other counties do) the service could be improved?
    2) Until very recently the Library service was run by a man.
    I think the Suffolk Library Service is an asset everyone in the county should be proud of. For less than £13 per head per year it is extraordinary.
    I am extremely proud to be part of the centre of my local community and love working with them and for them. Each and every one, regardless of their class, ability, reading choices or singing voices.

  18. Dear Amanda, — Thank you for your note. I’m sure the libraries do many good things, and I certainly wouldn’t wish them to disappear, particularly while I am paying money for them.

    I’m interested in what you say about the van service. I suspect that perhaps you have grown used to the service. But to me, coming to it fresh, four days is an extraordinary time!

    And implicit in all this is the presumption that it is being done efficiently, that everything possible is being done. For surely it is certainly possible that people are just jogging around in a comfortable routine, regardless of whether that actually cuts the mustard. I have some experience of the public sector, in the Ministry of Defence, and what I saw there does not encourage me to suppose that efficiency is the object. I worked on a project that should have taken 4 people a total of 3 months to complete. It had 8 people, not of particularly good quality, and had been running for 7 years (!) and still not done. They were busy every day. But the end was as far away as ever. Combine that knowledge with the “4 days to cover 40 miles” and you will appreciate my scepticism here.

    As for “women in charge”, I’m afraid that I don’t think men try to turn everything into playgroups for kiddies! It’s probably biology, but it is still infuriating when you see it. I still remember one mother who tried to get permission from her manager to bring her toddler into the commercial office in which I was working, and, when this extraordinary demand was queried, promised to “keep her quiet”! She got short shrift, of course. Any sensible management of the library would have given the playgroup idea the same treatment. Yes, it is important to provide for the children; but at the end of the day, it is more important to provide a library for the adults.

    (I couldn’t think of an epithet adequate to discover that on Saturday they’d turned the library that I was trying to use into a tatty little “craft fair”, complete with canned muzak that I had to endure. For of course, this again betrays the same lack of vision as to what a library is for.)

    Dear Susan:
    I have read the first part of the book you gave me on Eusebius. The flyleaf indicates he lived in the early 4th century, witnessing a change in the Roman government from Diocletian (persecution of Christians) to acceptance during the reign of Constantine. Interestingly enough, the last of the apostles, John (who wrote the Revelation, the gospel of John as well as letters labeled first, second and third John) lived near the end of the first century, passing away probably around 100 CE (AD). John wrote Revelation about 96 CE toward the close of the reign of Emperor Domitian. In verification of this, Irenaeus in his “Against Heresies” (V. xxx) says of the Apocalypse: “For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I, pages 559-60) In John’s three letters (which were written near or in Ephesus about 98 CE after his imprisonment by Domitian at the Island of Patmos where he wrote the Revelation) he warned the Christians of that time of the wrong teachings of the “many antichrists”. He said at 1 John 2:18,19: “Young children, it is the last hour, and, just as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now there have come to be many antichrists; from which fact we gain the knowledge that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us….” In his second letter, he said (2 John 7): “For many deceivers have gone forth into the world, persons not confessing Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.” The apostle Paul also wrote that there would be a falling away from the true faith in Acts 20:28-30 when he was addressing the elders of Miletus and Ephesus: “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers (English AV: “Bishops”), to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own [Son]. I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves, men will rise and speak twisted things to draw the disciples after themselves.” That was penned about 61 CE. Earlier, he had written to the congregation in Thessalonica in about 51 CE these words: “However, brothers, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we request of you not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be excited either through a letter as though from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here. Let no one seduce you in any manner, because it will not come unless the apostacy (Greek: apostasia from the verb aphistemi and means literally, “a standing away from” but has the sense of “desertion, abandonment or rebellion”. In classical Greek it was used to refer to political defection, and the verb is evidently employed in this sense at Acts 5:37, concerning Judas the Gallilean who “drew off” followers.) comes first and the man of lawlessness get revealed, the son of destruction. He is set in opposition and lifts himself up over everyone who is called “god” or an object of reverence, so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly showing himself to be a god…. And so now you know the thing that acts as a restraint, with a view to his being revealed in his own due time. True, the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work, but only till he who is right now acting as a restraint gets to be out of the way. Then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed…. But the lawless one’s presence is according to the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and portents and with every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth that they might be saved. So that is why God lets an operation of error go to them, that they may get to believing the lie, in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)
    What does all the above mean? An apostacy among professed Christians was foretold and during the period of persecution that the early Christian congregation experienced at the hands of the Roman Empire, professed Christians were at times induced to deny their Christian discipleship, and those who did so were required to signify their apostacy by making an incense offering before some pagan god or by openly blaspheming the name of Christ. By the 4th century, the apostacy was in full bloom, many of the Bishops (Greek: episcopos=overseers) now accepting pagan Greek ideas of the immortal soul doctrine (the Bible never teaches this, instead, just the opposite: “The soul that is sinning–it itself will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4,20 plus over 100 more citations) Some had also begun to accept the pagan teaching (from Egypt, Babylon and others) of the trinity. To try to solve the dispute, Roman Emperor Constantine summoned all bishops to Niceae about 325 CE at Nicaea. About 300, a fraction of the total, actually attended. The Encyclopaedia Britannica relates: ” Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed… the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council, ‘of one substance with the Father’… Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination.” After two months of furious religious debate, this pagan politician intervened and decided in favor of those who said that Jesus was God, averting the religious division that was a threat to his empire. After Nicaea, debates on the subject continued for decades, first swaying one way, then the other. Later, Emperor Theodosius decided the creed of the Council of Nicaea as the standard for his realm in 381 CE. Any who opposed the creed were persecuted, banished or killed. The scriptures plainly tell us that Jesus and his father, Jehovah, are not the same. Matthew 24:36 says, “Concerning that day and hour, nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” Who said that? Jesus himself. He also said, “…the Father is greater than I am”¬¬ (John 14:28) and “I do nothing of my own initiative, but just as the Father taught me, I speak these things… I always do the things pleasing to him” (John 8:28,29) and “…in your own Law it is written, ‘The witness of two men is true.’ I am one that bears witness about myself and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” (John 8:17,18)
    There are many other scriptures that reject the idea of the trinity, but you see the idea… the prophecies that there would be a falling away were coming true.
    What about Eusebius? We might give him the benefit of the doubt… he could have been one among them who objected to the way the Emperors were deciding what Christians should believe instead of the scriptures. I don’t know. What we do know is what he wrote to Stephanus, and herein I find an interesting oversight that Eusebius had when discussing the questions of Stephanus. It seems that Stephanus had Eusebius on the horns of a dilemma, to wit: Why were the geneologies of Jesus different? Matthew records the ancestry back to Abraham, whereas Luke records the ancestry back to Abraham, thence to Adam, the ancestries differing… the key being a different son of David. Here is what Eusebius says on pages 29-30 concerning Luke’s account: “For these reasons, therefore, they take a different line, agreeing that it was from David, but through David’s son, Nathan, certainly not through Solomon; they add that Nathan, according to the tradition in Kingdoms, was a prophet.” But this Nathan, the son of David, was not Nathan the prophet. How do we know? Nathan the prophet exposed David’s sin with Bath-Sheba (adultery). The child that was born to David and Bath-Sheba died and the succeeding son, Jedidiah (Solomon) lived and thereafter, David had three more sons: Shimea, Shobab and Nathan. There’s no way that Nathan the prophet could also be the son of David by Bath-Sheba!
    In addition, if you look at the context of Matthew and Luke, Matthew records things having to do with Joseph, the foster father of Jesus; Luke records things having to do with Mary, Jesus’ natural mother. So it would follow that the ancestry of Matthew’s account would be Joseph’s, leading through the kingly line back to Solomon, thence David, and the ancestry of Luke’s account would be Mary’s, leading back to Nathan, a younger son of David. Eusebius should have been aware of this obvious fact as well as the fact that the prophet Nathan could not be the Nathan who was a son of David by Bath-Sheba.
    One thing Eusebius does get absolutely right about the lineage is the scripture in Jeremiah 22:30 which clearly rules OUT the lineage to the Christ via Solomon, (see page 67) the scripture saying to wit: “…this is what Jehovah has said; ‘Write down this man [Jeconiah] as childless, as an able-bodied man who will not have any success in his days; for from his offspring not a single one will have any success, sitting upon the throne of David and ruling anymore in Judah.’ ” This shows that through David’s son Solomon, the “legal” right of rulership had been removed! None of that line would ever rule… so Jesus could not have descended through the son, Solomon because Jesus Christ is to be the ruler of God’s Kingdom as Luke 1:21 clearly states: “…and look! you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you are to call his name Jesus. This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will e no end of his kingdom.” And after all, Joseph was NOT related to Jesus at all, Jesus life being transferred from heaven to the womb of Mary by a miracle of holy spirit. (If humans can transfer sperm cells to a woman without the act of sex, so could God do so. The miracle was transforming the life of the one in the heavens he chose to a single human zygote cell, impregnating Mary with it, thus getting her characteristics AND lineage through David’s other son, Nathan, who had never been a king–or prophet for that matter). The Nathan that WAS a prophet definitely lived until the time of Solomon taking the throne, so he knew the Nathan who was the son of David. This prophet Nathan was possibly of the tribe of Levi, therefore nothing to do with David’s line, of the tribe of Judah.
    So Jesus was born of Mary’s lineage. Since actual conception took place, it appears that Jehovah God caused an ovum or egg cell in Mary’s womb to become fertile, accomplishing this by the transferral of the life of his firstborn Son from the spirit realm to earth. Only in this way could the child eventually born have retained identity as the same person who had resided in heaven as the Word, and only in this way could he have been an actual son of Mary and hence a genuine descendant of her forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and King David and legitimate heir of the divine promises made to them.
    Something else, and I quote this from a Bible encyclopedia:

    “The question arises: Why does Matthew leave out some names that are contained in the listings of the other chroniclers? First of all, to prove one’s genealogy it was not necessary to name every link in the line of descent. For example, Ezra, in proving his priestly lineage, at Ezra 7:1-5, omitted several names contained in the listing of the priestly line at 1 Chronicles 6:1-15. Obviously it was not essential to name all these ancestors to satisfy the Jews as to his priestly lineage. Similarly with Matthew: He doubtless used the public register and copied from it, if not every name, the ones necessary to prove the descent of Jesus from Abraham and David. He also had access to the Hebrew Scriptures, which he could consult alongside the official public records.—Compare Ru 4:12, 18-22 and Mt 1:3-6.
    The lists made by both Matthew and Luke were comprised of names publicly recognized by the Jews of that time as authentic. The scribes and Pharisees as well as the Sadducees were bitter enemies of Christianity, and they would have used any possible argument to discredit Jesus, but it is noteworthy that they never challenged these genealogies. If either Matthew’s or Luke’s genealogy of Jesus had been in error, what an opportunity it would have been for these opponents to prove it then and there! For until 70 C.E. they evidently had ready access to the public genealogical registers and the Scriptures.
    The same is true regarding the first-century pagan enemies of Christianity, many of whom were, like those Jews, learned men who would readily have pointed to any evidence that these lists of Matthew and Luke were unauthentic and contradictory. But there is no record that the early pagan enemies attacked Christians on this point.
    Also, both Matthew and Luke achieved their objective, and that was all they needed to do. To prove that Jesus was descended from Abraham and David, it was not necessary to make a new genealogy. All they had to do was copy from the public tables that the nation fully accepted regarding the lineage of David and of the priesthood and all other matters requiring proof of one’s descent. (See Lu 1:5; 2:3-5; Ro 11:1.) Even if there was an omission in these tables, it did not detract from what these Gospel writers intended and indeed accomplished, namely, presenting legally and publicly recognized proof of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah.
    Problems in Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus. Matthew divides the genealogy from Abraham to Jesus into three sections of 14 generations each. (Mt 1:17) This division may have been made as a memory aid. However, in counting the names we find that they total 41, rather than 42. One suggestion as to how they may be counted is as follows: By taking Abraham to David, 14 names, then using David as the starting name for the second 14, with Josiah as the last; finally, by heading the third series of 14 names with Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) and ending with Jesus. Notice that Matthew repeats the name David as the last of the first 14 names and as the first of the next 14. Then he repeats the expression “the deportation to Babylon,” which he links with Josiah and his sons.—Mt 1:17.
    As stated earlier, Matthew may have copied his list exactly from the public register that he used, or he may have purposely left out some links with a view to aiding memory. However, a suggestion as to the omission here of three kings of David’s line between Jehoram and Uzziah (Azariah) is that Jehoram married wicked Athaliah of the house of Ahab, the daughter of Jezebel, thereby bringing this God-condemned strain into the line of the kings of Judah. (1Ki 21:20-26; 2Ki 8:25-27) Naming Jehoram as first in the wicked alliance, Matthew omits the names of the next three kings to the fourth generation, Ahaziah, Jehoash, and Amaziah, the fruits of the alliance.—Compare Mt 1:8 with 1Ch 3:10-12.
    Matthew indicates that Zerubbabel is the son of Shealtiel (Mt 1:12), and this coincides with other references. (Ezr 3:2; Ne 12:1; Hag 1:14; Lu 3:27) However, at 1 Chronicles 3:19 Zerubbabel is referred to as the son of Pedaiah. Evidently Zerubbabel was the natural son of Pedaiah and the legal son of Shealtiel by reason of brother-in-law marriage; or possibly, after Zerubbabel’s father Pedaiah died, Zerubbabel was brought up by Shealtiel as his son and therefore became legally recognized as the son of Shealtiel.
    A Problem in Luke’s Genealogy of Jesus. Available manuscript copies of Luke list a second “Cainan,” between Arpachshad (Arphaxad) and Shelah. (Lu 3:35, 36; compare Ge 10:24; 11:12; 1Ch 1:18, 24.) Most scholars take this to be a copyist’s error. In the Hebrew Scriptures, “Cainan” is not found in this relative position in the genealogical listings in the Hebrew or the Samaritan texts, nor is it in any of the Targums or versions except the Greek Septuagint. And it does not seem that it was even in the earlier copies of the Septuagint, because Josephus, who usually follows the Septuagint, lists Seles (Shelah) next as the son of Arphaxades (Arpachshad). (Jewish Antiquities, I, 146 [vi, 4]) Early writers Irenaeus, Africanus, Eusebius, and Jerome rejected the second “Cainan” in copies of Luke’s account as an interpolation.—See CAINAN No. 2.
    Why do the genealogies of Jesus Christ as given by Matthew and by Luke differ?
    The difference in nearly all the names in Luke’s genealogy of Jesus as compared with Matthew’s is quickly resolved in the fact that Luke traced the line through David’s son Nathan, instead of Solomon as did Matthew. (Lu 3:31; Mt 1:6, 7) Luke evidently follows the ancestry of Mary, thus showing Jesus’ natural descent from David, while Matthew shows Jesus’ legal right to the throne of David by descent from Solomon through Joseph, who was legally Jesus’ father. Both Matthew and Luke signify that Joseph was not Jesus’ actual father but only his adoptive father, giving him legal right. Matthew departs from the style used throughout his genealogy when he comes to Jesus, saying: “Jacob became father to Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.” (Mt 1:16) Notice that he does not say ‘Joseph became father to Jesus’ but that he was “the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born.” Luke is even more pointed when, after showing earlier that Jesus was actually the Son of God by Mary (Lu 1:32-35), he says: “Jesus . . . being the son, as the opinion was, of Joseph, son of Heli.”—Lu 3:23.
    Since Jesus was not the natural son of Joseph but was the Son of God, Luke’s genealogy of Jesus would prove that he was, by human birth, a son of David through his natural mother Mary. Regarding the genealogies of Jesus given by Matthew and by Luke, Frederic Louis Godet wrote: “This study of the text in detail leads us in this way to admit—1. That the genealogical register of Luke is that of Heli, the grandfather of Jesus; 2. That, this affiliation of Jesus by Heli being expressly opposed to His affiliation by Joseph, the document which he has preserved for us can be nothing else in his view than the genealogy of Jesus through Mary. But why does not Luke name Mary, and why pass immediately from Jesus to His grandfather? Ancient sentiment did not comport with the mention of the mother as the genealogical link. Among the Greeks a man was the son of his father, not of his mother; and among the Jews the adage was: ‘Genus matris non vocatur genus [“The descendant of the mother is not called (her) descendant”]’ (‘Baba bathra,’ 110, a).”—Commentary on Luke, 1981, p. 129.
    Actually each genealogy (Matthew’s table and Luke’s) shows descent from David, through Solomon and through Nathan. (Mt 1:6; Lu 3:31) In examining the lists of Matthew and Luke, we find that after diverging at Solomon and Nathan, they come together again in two persons, Shealtiel and Zerubbabel. This can be explained in the following way: Shealtiel was the son of Jeconiah; perhaps by marriage to the daughter of Neri he became Neri’s son-in-law, thus being called the “son of Neri.” It is possible as well that Neri had no sons, so that Shealtiel was counted as his “son” for that reason also. Zerubbabel, who was likely the actual son of Pedaiah, was legally reckoned as the son of Shealtiel, as stated earlier.—Compare Mt 1:12; Lu 3:27; 1Ch 3:17-19.
    Then the accounts indicate that Zerubbabel had two sons, Rhesa and Abiud, the lines diverging again at this point. (These could have been, not actual sons, but descendants, or one, at least, could have been a son-in-law. Compare 1Ch 3:19.) (Lu 3:27; Mt 1:13) Both Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies of Jesus vary here from that found in 1 Chronicles chapter 3. This may be because a number of names were purposely left out by Matthew and possibly also by Luke. But the fact should be kept in mind that such differences in the genealogical lists of Matthew and Luke are very likely those already present in the genealogical registers then in use and fully accepted by the Jews and were not changes made by Matthew and Luke.
    We may conclude, therefore, that the two lists of Matthew and Luke fuse together the two truths, namely, (1) that Jesus was actually the Son of God and the natural heir to the Kingdom by miraculous birth through the virgin girl Mary, of David’s line, and (2) that Jesus was also the legal heir in the male line of descent from David and Solomon through his adoptive father Joseph. (Lu 1:32, 35; Ro 1:1-4) If there was any accusation made by hostile Jews that Jesus’ birth was illegitimate, the fact that Joseph, aware of the circumstances, married Mary and gave her the protection of his good name and royal lineage refutes such slander.”

    Anyway, I got long-winded, but I learned (and I hope you did too) some interesting things. It also shows how important it is to not follow tradition, but to use the scriptures. Eusebius fell victim to tradition and stated: “For these reasons, therefore, they take a different line, agreeing that it was from David, but through David’s son, Nathan, certainly not through Solomon; they add that Nathan, according to the tradition in Kingdoms, was a prophet.” (Boy, was he wrong to do that!)

    Well, I got a ways to go to finish the book. Wonder what I will find next?

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