Priest in Brutal Attack Left for Dead

Right here in Cape Town!

A Constantia priest was brutally attacked after Sunday service and left for dead, locked in the church’s strongroom – and was only found on Monday morning when the church secretary arrived for work.

The attackers tried to gouge out the eyes of Father Andrew Cox, 50, and tried to break his fingers before dumping him, bleeding and dazed, in the storeroom which they locked from the outside.

But Father Andrew, of the Constantia Catholic Church, said he has already forgiven his assailants.

Cox who lives on the church property, said he heard a noise and before he knew it three people came from behind some bushes and attacked him.

Cox told the Cape Argus on Tuesday morning that the three attackers were wearing balaclavas so he couldn’t identify them. “It was dark and I couldn’t see. All I saw was a knife glinting in the moonlight.”

He said the attack happened around 7.30pm and lasted about 30 minutes. “They tried to gouge my eyes out, stuffed plastic in my mouth and they also tried to break my fingers. At one point I managed to get the knife away from them but I couldn’t bring myself to stab them.”

He said they tied him up and dragged him inside the church before they made off with R3 500 of the church’s money.

Cox said he believed it was two men and a woman that attacked him. “If they were all men then one of them, his voice hadn’t broken yet.”

He said he didn’t realise at the time that they had stabbed him in his upper left thigh and his back.

Inside the church’s storeroom, Cox lay on the concrete floor on top of his South African flag as well as the Springbok flag.

“During the night I realised that the bleeding hadn’t stopped and I spent the night praying.”

He was rescued by the church secretary when she came in at 8am on Monday morning.

Cox said he had air to breathe in the strongroom because he had asked for air vents to be put in when they built it five years ago, just in case an incident like this happened.

It was not the first robbery at the church.

“Last year we had three robberies in one week while I was away on holiday. The year before that people made off with R60 000 that was stolen after a church fund-raiser.”

The attack has been met with dismay by the Catholic Archbishop of Cape Town, Stephen Brislin.

“It’s absolutely terrible,” he told the Cape Argus on Tuesday.

“I have spoken to him. (Cox) He was obviously quite shaken, but he said he had spent the night praying, and that he forgives them.

“A priest would never fight back – and he’s one of the gentlest and kindest people I know,” the archbishop said.

Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut confirmed the attack on Cox.

He said that no one had been arrested.

Traut asked if anyone had information they should contact the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Brown at 021 710 7335/47.



Historic Catholic Church Vandalised; 231-year-old Artefact Damaged

Santa Cruz – A vandal or vandals caused widespread damage at Holy Cross Church early Sunday in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime.

The damaged items included a baptismal font brought to Mission Santa Cruz by Junipero Serra in the late 1700s, a church spokesman said.

A custodian discovered the destruction to the main church and other areas on the property about 6:50 a.m., police spokesman Zach Friend said. Police believe the damage was done about 4 a.m., he said.

It included windows shattered by rocks and paint sprayed and poured on doors, walls, statues, a fountain area and sidewalks, Friend said. Some anti-church slogans and symbols were painted, he said.

Targets included the main church, the museum, the adjacent Siena House (a home serving pregnant women), and a garden area beside the historic chapel, said Warren Hoy, spokesman for the Diocese of Monterey.

The vandal or vandals went so far as to climb on the roof so they could spray paint on the church’s bell tower, Hoy said.

Paint was a poured on statues of Junipero Serra and the blessed Virgin Mary, he said.

Those statues and the original baptismal font were in a garden area adjacent to the chapel and Mission Galeria gift shop, he said.

“They got a little bit of everything,” Hoy said. “They were so thorough, that is why I keep saying ‘they.’ They took some time to do all this.”

Stained glass windows ringing the main church building, which was rebuilt after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, were largely spared, Hoy said. But some of the Plexiglas on the outside of those windows was damaged.

It’s unclear what the repair will cost, or whether the historic font could be repaired, he said.

“The sad thing is a lot of stuff they damaged were cultural artifacts, so they were not just attacking the church,” he said. “It’s the history of it.”

Holy Cross has suffered vandalism before, some of it specifically aimed at the history of the Mission era.

“Holy Cross is something of a lightening rod,” Hoy said. “It is the obvious famous church in Santa Cruz, so if you want to do something to the Church, with a capital C, you attack the Catholic Church, and when you do, you attack Holy Cross.

“And it’s readily accessible, it’s a church, it’s not walled off.”

Hoy added that while they are working with the police to find who damaged the property, they are praying for them too.

“They are obviously in a lot of pain and with any luck they will repent and turn themselves in,” he said.

The church is alarmed, but the vandalism outside did not prompt an alarm, Hoy said.

They might need to consider motion lights, he said.

Friend said the suspect damaged a video camera on the church property also, and that investigators are working to determine if any video was captured before the damage was done.

Police are looking into the possibility of this being a hate crime, he said.

Police ask anyone with information to call the anonymous tip line at 420-5995 or leave a tip at or on its cellphone application at

Source with more photos.

Sick. Evil.



Archbishop John Hepworth: Latest

First, I would like to thank all the readers who, over the past day, have been pointing out the latest developments regarding the former Traditional Anglican Communion Primate Archbishop John Hepworth. I too have seen the blog, including what Bishop Brian Marsh (ACA) has allegedly said regarding Archbishop Hepworth’s future in the TAC. I will however not be posting, linking or commenting on the source blog at this time. So please, there is no need to alert me further.

That said, for those interested (and who have otherwise also been inquiring):

Follow the links there – if you so wish.

Perhaps I should simply focus on Biblical Archaeology? (The subject with which my blogging exploits started – and  still the subject of my MA studies…) Less trouble than Church politics. Everything is already dead.

Now, as to the latest – which we actually try to alert the readers to on this blog – Archbishop Hepworth has responded (re: the above) in the mainstream Australian media (I suppose I can link that…) calling it all a ‘vendetta’:


An alleged victim of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church says he has been the subject of a smear campaign.

Traditional Anglican Communion head, Archbishop John Hepworth, said false claims that he had been accused of misappropriating church funds had been raised at services. He said the claims were part of a vendetta against him.

“It is totally false. I am being hounded and I am not amused,” he said.

Archbishop Hepworth last year accused a senior Adelaide Catholic priest of raping him 40 years ago.




Oh yes, and before I forget, this blog does have a disclaimer:

The opinions expressed here (by the author, i.e. Fr Stephen Smuts) and those providing the comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and/or official position of the Traditional Anglican Communion (in South Africa, or greater), the Catholic Church, or any other organisation for that matter…

The content of this weblog is provided for your personal use.

Links to external websites are provided for your convenience and do not necessarily signify an endorsement of the linked content.

Content, sources, information and links here do change over time.


Bible Archaeology

Archaeologists: The Hebrew Bible Not to be Dismissed as Legend (based on Khirbet Qeiyafa Discovery)

This is breaking news after a much-anticipated press release earlier today by Prof Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Groundbreaking archaeological discovery at Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Valley of Elah shows various cultic artifacts from King David era that serve architectural models for biblical texts and prove historical significance of Hebrew Bible.

Jerusalem, May 8, 2012—Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, announced today the discovery of objects that for the first time shed light on how a cult was organized in Judah at the time of King David. During recent archaeological excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city in Judah adjacent to the Valley of Elah, Garfinkel and colleagues uncovered rich assemblages of pottery, stone and metal tools, and many art and cult objects. These include three large rooms that served as cultic shrines, which in their architecture and finds correspond to the biblical description of a cult at the time of King David.

This discovery is extraordinary as it is the first time that shrines from the time of early biblical kings were uncovered. Because these shrines pre-date the construction of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem by 30 to 40 years, they provide the first physical evidence of a cult in the time of King David, with significant implications for the fields of archaeology, history, biblical and religion studies.

Located approximately 30 km. southwest of Jerusalem in the valley of Elah, Khirbet Qeiyafa was a border city of the Kingdom of Judah opposite the Philistine city of Gath. The city, which was dated by 10 radiometric measurements (14C) done at Oxford University on burned olive pits, existed for a short period of time between ca. 1020 to 980 BCE, and was violently destroyed.

The biblical tradition presents the people of Israel as conducting a cult different from all other nations of the ancient Near East by being monotheistic and an-iconic (banning human or animal figures). However, it is not clear when these practices were formulated, if indeed during the time of the monarchy (10-6th centuries BC), or only later, in the Persian or Hellenistic eras.

The absence of cultic images of humans or animals in the three shrines provides evidence that the inhabitants of the place practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines, observing a ban on graven images.

The findings at Khirbet Qeiyafa also indicate that an elaborate architectural style had developed as early as the time of King David. Such construction is typical of royal activities, thus indicating that state formation, the establishment of an elite, social level and urbanism in the region existed in the days of the early kings of Israel. These finds strengthen the historicity of the biblical tradition and its architectural description of the Palace and Temple of Solomon.

According to Prof. Garfinkel, “This is the first time that archaeologists uncovered a fortified city in Judah from the time of King David. Even in Jerusalem we do not have a clear fortified city from his period. Thus, various suggestions that completely deny the biblical tradition regarding King David and argue that he was a mythological figure, or just a leader of a small tribe, are now shown to be wrong.” Garfinkel continued, “Over the years, thousands of animal bones were found, including sheep, goats and cattle, but no pigs. Now we uncovered three cultic rooms, with various cultic paraphernalia, but not even one human or animal figurine was found. This suggests that the population of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed two biblical bans—on pork and on graven images—and thus practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines.”

Description of the findings and their significance:

The three shrines are part of larger building complexes. In this respect they are different from Canaanite or Philistine cults, which were practiced in temples—separate buildings dedicated only to rituals. The biblical tradition described this phenomenon in the time of King David: “He brought the ark of God from a private house in Kyriat Yearim and put it in Jerusalem in a private house” (2 Samuel 6).

The cult objects include five standing stones (Massebot), two basalt altars, two pottery libation vessels and two portable shrines. No human or animal figurines were found, suggesting the people of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed the biblical ban on graven images.

Two portable shrines (or “shrine models”) were found, one made of pottery (ca. 20 cm high) and the other of stone (35 cm high). These are boxes in the shape of temples, and could be closed by doors.

The clay shrine is decorated with an elaborate façade, including two guardian lions, two pillars, a main door, beams of the roof, folded textile and three birds standing on the roof. Two of these elements are described in Solomon’s Temple: the two pillars (Yachin and Boaz) and the textile (Parochet).

The stone shrine is made of soft limestone and painted red. Its façade is decorated by two elements. The first are seven groups of roof-beams, three planks in each. This architectural element, the “triglyph,” is known in Greek classical temples, like the Parthenon in Athens. Its appearance at Khirbet Qeiyafa is the earliest known example carved in stone, a landmark in world architecture.

The second decorative element is the recessed door. This type of doors or windows is known in the architecture of temples, palaces and royal graves in the ancient Near East. This was a typical symbol of divinity and royalty at the time.

The stone model helps us to understand obscure technical terms in the description of Solomon’s palace as described in 1 Kings 7, 1-6. The text uses the term “Slaot,” which were mistakenly understood as pillars and can now be understood as triglyphs. The text also uses the term “Sequfim”, which was usually understood as nine windows in the palace, and can now be understood as “triple recessed doorway.”

Similar triglyphs and recessed doors can be found in the description of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6, Verses 5, 31-33, and in the description of a temple by the prophet Ezekiel 41:6). These biblical texts are replete with obscure technical terms that have lost their original meaning over the millennia. Now, with the help of the stone model uncovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa, the biblical text is clarified. For the first time in history we have actual objects from the time of David, which can be related to monuments described in the Bible.

There is a nice slide show of the finds here too.

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a press release here. Photos can be downloaded here.

Todd Bolen covers the news on his blog and comments:

The press release has more details. The archaeologists believe that the site is Israelite because of the absence of pig bones and graven images.

Do these discoveries undermine the biblical narrative of Israelite monotheism? Such is the insinuation of the archaeologists.

The biblical tradition presents the people of Israel as conducting a cult different from all other nations of the ancient Near East by being monotheistic and an-iconic (banning human or animal figures). However, it is not clear when these practices were formulated, if indeed during the time of the monarchy (10-6th centuries BC), or only later, in the Persian or Hellenistic eras.

In other words, the presence of cultic material outside of Jerusalem challenges the biblical claim that Israelites worshipped only one God in one place. But there is no such biblical claim. Scripture is very clear that though the Lord commanded the Israelites to worship only at the central altar (Deut 12), the Israelites perennially failed to keep this command. The Bible is very open about this failure, recording stories such as Gideon’s idolatry (Judg 8:27); Micah’s shrine (Judg 17-18), and Saul’s pursuit of witchcraft (1 Sam 28). David was very mindful of the temptations:

Psalm 16:4 (NIV) — The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips.

What discoveries like these from Qeiyafa show is not that monotheism evolved only late in Israel’s history but that God’s covenant people were failed to worship in the prescribed way, just as the Bible records.

Expect more to follow as news unfolds.

Minimalists… Yet again: You’re wrong!


Bible Archaeology

Ekron of the Philistines: From Sea Peoples to Olive Oil Industrialists

The excavations of Ekron radically changed the traditional perception of the Philistines, a tribe of the Sea Peoples who migrated from the Aegean in the 12th century BCE. They settled along the southern coast of modern day Israel, became the chief antagonists of ancient Israel, and after 200 years were assimilated into one of the major ethnic groups like the Canaanites, Israelites, or Phoenicians. The Ekron Excavations have produced dramatic new evidence documenting Philistine history for an additional 400 years until the destruction wrought by the campaign of the Neo-Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar in 604 BCE. It was in the last phase, during the 7th century, that Ekron achieved the zenith of its physical and economic growth, when it became the largest olive oil industrial center known in antiquity. Among the major finds of the period was the Ekron Royal Dedicatory Inscription, one of the three most important documents outside the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the 20th century in Israel. The excavations also provided an answer to one of the enigmatic questions involving the Philistines, why they eventually disappeared from the pages of history.