Monday, October 30, 2006

Cyrus the Great

An old Iranian portrait of Cyrus the Great.Cyrus the Great (Old Persian: Kuruš, modern Persian: کوروش, Kourosh; ca. 576 or 590 BC — July 529 BC), also known as Cyrus II of Persia and Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Persian Empire under the Achaemenid dynasty and the creator of the Cyrus Cylinder, considered to be the first declaration of human rights. As the ruler of the Persian people in Anshan, he conquered the Medes and unified the two separate Iranian kingdoms.

In historical artifacts discovered in the ancient ruins of Babylon and Ur, Cyrus identifies himself as King of Iran, where he reigned from 559 BC until his death. He is the first ruler whose name was suffixed with the words the Great (Vazraka in Old Persian, Bozorg in modern Persian), a title adopted by many others after him, including the eventual Acheamenid Shah, Darius the Great, and Alexander the Great, who overthrew the Achaemenid dynasty two centuries after the death of Cyrus.



The Patriarch AbrahamThe Patriarchs, known as the Avot in Hebrew, are Abraham, his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. Collectively, they are referred to as the three patriarchs (sh'loshet ha-avot) of Judaism, and the period in which they lived is known as the patriarchal period.

Their primary wives – Sarah (wife of Abraham), Rebecca (wife of Isaac), and Leah and Rachel (the wives of Jacob - see also sons of Jacob) – are known as the Matriarchs. Thus, classical Judaism considers itself to have three patriarchs and four matriarchs.

The word has mainly taken on specific ecclesiastical meanings. In particular, the highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Roman Catholic Church (above Major Archbishop and primate), and the Assyrian Church of the East are called patriarchs.


Saturday, October 28, 2006


The region in the 9th century BCE. Notice the coastal land of Philistia, from which the name ‘Palestine’ derivesPalestine is one of several names for the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the banks of the Jordan River with various adjoining lands. Many different definitions of the region have been used in the past three millennia.

Boundaries and name
The region in the 9th century BCE. Notice the coastal land of Philistia, from which the name "Palestine" derives. Ancient Egyptian texts call the entire levantine coastal area R-t-n-u (conventionally Retenu), which stretched along the Mediterranean coast in between modern Egypt and Turkey.

It subdivided into three regions. Retenu's southern region (called Djahy) approximates modern Israel with the Palestinian Territories, the central region Lebanon, and the northern region (called Amurru) the Syrian coast as far north as the Orontes River near Turkey.


Thursday, October 26, 2006


Moses Conferring Priesthood of Aaron upon his older brother, AaronAaron (אַהֲרֹן, a word meaning "bearer of martyrs" in Hebrew (perhaps also, or instead, related to the Egyptian "Aha Rw," "Warrior Lion"), was one of two brothers who play a unique part in the history of the Hebrew people. He was the elder son (and second child) of Amram and Jochebed of the tribe of Levi; Moses, the other son, being three years younger, and Miriam, their sister, several years older. Aaron was the great-grandson of Levi and represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest. While Moses was receiving his education at the Egyptian court and during his exile among the Midianites, Aaron and his sister remained with their kinsmen in the eastern border-land of Egypt. Here he gained a name for eloquent and persuasive speech; so that when the time came for the demand upon Pharaoh to release Israel from captivity, Aaron became his brother’s nabi , or spokesman, to his own people and, after their unwillingness to hear, to Pharaoh himself.



Paradiso 14, from Gustave Doré‘s illustrations to The Divine ComedyHeaven is an afterlife concept found in many religions or spiritual philosophies.

Those who believe in heaven, especially those of the Judeo-Christian faith, generally hold that it (or Hell) is one of the two possible afterlife destinations of many or all humans. In unusual instances, humans have had, according to many testimonies and traditions, personal knowledge of Heaven. They presume this is for the purpose of teaching the rest of humanity about life, Heaven, and God.

While there are abundant and varied sources for conceptions of Heaven, the typical believer's view appears to depend largely on his particular religious tradition. Various religions have described Heaven as being populated by angels, demons, gods and goddesses, and/or heroes (especially in Greek mythology). Heaven is generally thought of as a place of eternal happiness.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Letters of Paul

Portrait of St. Paul by RembrandtThe Letters of Paul are as follows:
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon



Bono talking to then Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin in Prague, 2000.Paul David Hewson (born 10 May 1960), nicknamed Bono Vox (stage name) and Bono (pronounced Bonn-oh), is the lead singer and occasional rhythm guitarist of the Irish rock band U2. Bono lives south of Dublin with his family and shares a villa in Èze in the Alpes-Maritimes in the South of France with The Edge, as well as an apartment at The Dakota in Manhattan.

Bono doesn't attend church on a regular basis. However, he does pray regularly, usually before meals and he tries to have a "Sabbath hour" as often as he can. He likes Eugene Peterson's bible paraphrase, The Message. Sometimes he hangs out with Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones, and sometimes he hangs out with Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant.

In a interview, Bono said, "I often wonder if religion is the enemy of God. It's almost like religion is what happens when the Spirit has left the building."


Monday, October 23, 2006


Statue of Martin Luther outside the Marienkirche in central BerlinIn Christian theology, justification is God's act making a sinner righteous before Him by His grace, received through the faith given to the person by God, for Christ's sake, because of his life, death, and resurrection. Because the meaning of the term is subject to dispute among Christians, simple definitions should be taken with a grain of salt.
Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that 'the just shall live by his faith.' Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. -Martin Luther

Considerable sectarian controversy exists as to its nature and definition.


Saturday, October 21, 2006


Emperor DiocletianGaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus (245?–312?), born Diocles, was Roman Emperor as Diocletian from November 20, 284 to May 1, 305. Diocletian brought to an end the period popularly known to historians as the "Crisis of the Third Century" (235–284). He established an autocratic government and was responsible for laying the groundwork for the second phase of The Roman Empire, which is known variously as the "Dominate" (as opposed to the Principate), the "Tetrarchy", or simply the "Later Roman Empire". Diocletian's reforms helped ensure the survival of the Western Roman Empire for another two hundred years, and the survival of the Eastern Roman Empire (later the Byzantine Empire) for another thousand.

An Illyrian of low birth (from the province of Dalmatia, today's western Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Western Montenegro and Northern Albania), Diocles rose through the ranks to the consulship.

Persecution of Christians In 303, the last and greatest persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire began.


Friday, October 20, 2006

tower of Babel

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1563) The tower constructed by the builders at Babel (that is, Babylonia - modern day Iraq) became a symbol of their defiance against God, (Gen. 11:1-6). It was probably modeled after a ziggurat which is a mound of sun-dried bricks and was probably constructed before 4,000 bc. According to the narrative in Genesis 11 of the Bible, the Tower of Babel was a tower built by a united humanity to reach the heavens.

Because the hearts of men were said to be inherently evil and disobedient, they were striving to make a name for themselves instead of worshipping the God who created them. Because of this open defiance, God stopped their efforts by confusing languages so that no one could understand each other. As a result, they could no longer communicate and the work was halted. The builders were then scattered to different parts of Earth. This story is used to explain the existence of many different languages and races.


Thursday, October 19, 2006


Antioch on the OrontesAntioch on the Orontes (Greek: Αντιόχεια η επί Δάφνη, Αντιόχεια ή επί Ορόντου or Αντιόχεια η Μεγάλη; Latin: Antiochia ad Orontem, also Antiochia dei Siri), the Great Antioch or Syrian Antioch was an ancient city located on the eastern side (left bank) of the Orontes River about 30 km from the sea and its port, Seleucia of Pieria (Suedia, now Samandagi). The city's ruins are located in Antakya, Turkey.

Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch was destined to rival Alexandria as the chief city of the nearer East and to be the cradle of gentile Christianity.


The geographical character of the district north and north-east of the elbow of Orontes makes it the natural centre of Syria, so long as that country is held by a western power; and only Asiatic, and especially Arab, dynasties have neglected it for the oasis of Damascus.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Wall of the New Testament period (called Bab Kisan) in Damascus where Paul escaped to begin his ministry.Damascus (Arabic: دمشق‎) is the capital and largest city of Syria. Founded approximately 2500 BCE, it is thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, before Al Fayyum, and Gaziantep. Its current population is estimated at about 4.5 million.

Name In Arabic, the city is called دمشق الشام

Although this is often shortened to Dimashq by many, the citizens of Damascus, and of Syria and some other Arab neighbors, colloquially call the city ash-Shām. Ash-Shām is an Arabic term for North and for Syria. The English name for Damascus is taken from the Greek Δαμασκός, via Latin. This comes from the old Aramaic name for the city — דרמשק Darmeśeq, which means "a well-watered place". However, pre-Aramaic tablets unearthed at Ebla refer to a city to the south of Ebla named Damaski. It is possible that the name 'Damascus' pre-dates the Aramaic era of the city. Damascus is designated as having been part of the ancient province of Amurru in the Hyksos Kingdom, from 1720 to 1570 BC. (MacMillan, pp. 30-31).



Alter in the synagogue at SardisAn altar is any structure upon which sacrifices or other offerings are offered for religious purposes.

Altars in the Hebrew BibleAltars (Hebrew mizbe'ah (מזבח), from a word meaning "to slay") in the Hebrew Bible were typically made of earth (Ex. 20:24) or unwrought stone (Ex. 20:25). Altars were generally erected in conspicuous places (Genesis 22:9; Ezekiel 6:3; 2 Kings 23:12; 16:4; 23:8.) The first altar recorded in the Hebrew Bible is that erected by Noah (Genesis 8:20). Altars were erected:

  • By Abraham (Genesis 12:7; 13:4; 22:9),
  • by Isaac (Genesis 26:25),
  • by Jacob (Genesis 33:20; 35:1, 3),
  • and by Moses (Exodus 17:15, Jehovah-nissi).


Monday, October 16, 2006


View from Pergamum looking down on the city of Bergama.Pergamon or Pergamum (Greek: Πέργαμος, modern day Bergama in Turkey, 39°7'N 27°11'E) was an ancient Greek city, in Mysia, northwestern Anatolia, 16 miles from the Aegean Sea, located on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus (modern day Bakırçay), that became an important kingdom during the Hellenistic period (see Hellenistic civilization), under the Attalid dynasty, 282-129 BC.

The Attalids, the descendants of Attalus, the father of Philetaerus who came to power in 282 BC, were among the most loyal supporters of Rome among the Hellenistic successor states.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Koine Greek

Luke 2:1-9, Koine GreekKoine Greek refers to the forms of the Greek language used in post-classical antiquity (c.300 BC – AD 300). Other names are Alexandrian, Hellenistic, Common, or New Testament Greek. Koine Greek is important not only to the history of the Greeks for being their first common dialect and main ancestor of Demotic Greek, but it is also significant for its impact on Western Civilization as a lingua franca (a common language used by speakers of different languages; "Koine is a dialect of ancient Greek that was the lingua franca of the empire of Alexander the Great and was widely spoken throughout the eastern Mediterranean area in Roman times") for the Mediterranean. Koine also was the original language of the New Testament of the Christian Bible as well as the medium for the teaching and spreading of Christianity. Koine Greek was unofficially a first or second language in the Roman Empire.

The Birth of Jesus

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius
was governor of Syria.)


Friday, October 13, 2006


Territory of the Hyksos, 1750(?)-1575 a.C.The Hyksos (Egyptian heka khasewet meaning "foreign rulers") were an ethnically mixed group of Southwest Asiatic or Semitic people who appeared in the eastern Nile Delta during the Second Intermediate Period. They rose to power during the Second Intermediate Period, and ruled Lower and Middle Egypt for over one hundred years, forming the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Dynasties of Egypt, (ca. 1674-1548 B.C.E.).

Traditionally, only the six Fifteenth Dynasty rulers are called "Hyksos".

The Hyksos had names that bear strong similarities to Canaanite names, especially those which contain the names of Canaanite deities such as Anath or Ba'al. Archaeologists (see biblical archaeology) think of the Canaanites as being indistinguishable from the Phoenicians. The Hyksos introduced new tools of warfare into Egypt, most notably the composite bow and the horse-drawn chariot.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006


U2 - The Edge, Bono, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr.U2 is an Irish rock band formed in Dublin, whose members are Christians. The band features Bono (Paul David Hewson) on vocals, rhythm guitar and harmonica; The Edge (David Howell Evans) on lead guitar, keyboards and backing vocals; Adam Clayton on bass guitar; and Larry Mullen, Jr. on drums and occasional backing vocals.

Formed in 1976, U2 has consistently remained among the most popular acts in the world since the mid 1980s. The band has sold approximately 50.5 million albums in the U.S., according to the RIAA, and upwards of 170 million worldwide, has had six #1 albums in the US and nine #1 albums in the UK and is one of the most successful bands of the rock era. The band has won 22 Grammy awards, more than any other recording artist.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mount Ararat

Mount Ararat (16,940 feet, 5165 m) is the largest volcano in Turkey. Although not currently active, its most recent eruption has probably been within the last 10,000 years. It is located in extreme northeastern Turkey, near the borders with Iran and Armenia. Southwest of the main peak lies Little Ararat (12,877 feet, 3896 m). Ahora Gorge is a northeast-trending chasm dropping 6000 feet from the top of the mountain and was the focus of a major earthquake in 1840. A number of claims by different explorers to have found remnants of Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat have led to continuing expeditions to the mountain, many of which have focused their searches on the gorge area.  Image STS102-344-23 was taken from the Space Shuttle on 18 March 2001 using a 35-mm film camera. Courtesy of the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA-JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Credit: Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space CenterMount Ararat (Hebrew: אֲרָרָט) is the tallest peak in modern Turkey. This snow-capped, dormant volcanic cone is located in the Ağrı Province, near the northeast corner of Turkey, 16 km west of the Iranian and 32 km south of the Armenian border.

The name Ağrı in Turkish is said to be derived from Agir in Kurdish meaning fire, referring to Ararat being a volcano. (çiyayê agirî in Kurdish). But this derivation is uncertain, since there is no historical record of when the volcano was last active and which tribes lived in the vicinity at that time.


history of Ancient Israel

A stone (2.43x1 m) with Hebrew inscription “To the Trumpeting Place“ excavated by B. Mazar at the southern foot of the Temple Mount is believed to be a part of the Second Temple.The Semitic culture followed on from the Ghassulians. People became urbanized and lived in city-states, one of which was Jericho. The area's location at the center of routes linking three continents made it the meeting place for religious and cultural influences from Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Asia Minor.

It was also the natural battleground for the great powers of the region. It was also subject to domination by adjacent empires, beginning with Egypt in the late 3rd millennium BCE.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Pontius Pilate

Christ before Pilate, Mihály Munkácsy, 1881
Pontius Pilate (Latin: Pontius Pilatus') was the governor of the Roman Iudaea Province from 26 until 36. In modern times he is best known as the man who, according to the canonical Christian Gospels, presided over the trial of Jesus and ordered his crucifixion, instigating the Passion.

Pilate's biographical details before and after his appointment to Iudaea are unknown, but have been supplied by tradition, which include the detail that his wife's name was Procula (she is canonized as a saint in Orthodox Christianity) and competing legends of his birthplace.


Friday, October 06, 2006


The Roman Empire c. 120, with Aegyptus province highlightedAegyptus was, in ancient geography, a province of the Roman Empire, encompassing most of modern-day Egypt except for the Sinai Peninsula. Both the provinces of Cyrenaica to the west and Arabia to the east bordered Aegyptus. The area originally came under Roman rule in 30 BC, and served as a major producer of grain for the empire.

Roman rule in Egypt
The first prefect of Aegyptus, Gaius Cornelius Gallus, brought Upper Egypt under Roman control by force of arms, established a protectorate over the southern frontier district, which had been abandoned by the later Ptolemies. The second prefect, Aelius Gallus, made an unsuccessful expedition to conquer Arabia Petraea: the Red Sea coast of Egypt was not brought under Roman control until the reign of Claudius. The third prefect, Gaius Petronius, cleared the neglected canals for irrigation, stimulating a revival of agriculture.


Thursday, October 05, 2006


Shechem Baal Berith templeShechem, Sichem, or Shkhem (Hebrew: שְׁכֶם‎ / שְׁכָם "Shoulder") was an Israelite city in the tribe of Ephraim, situated at Tell Balatah 32°12′11″N, 35°18′40″E, 2 km east of present-day Nablus) was the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the city was razed and reconstructed up to 22 times before its final demise in 200 CE.

Within the remains of the city can still be found a number of walls and gates built for defense, a government house, a residential quarter and the ruins of a temple raised to Zeus by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, the latter dating to the second century CE.


ancient Egypt

The Great Sphinx Giza Plateau, Cairo. Khafre's pyramid in the background. Ancient Egypt was a civilization located along the Lower Nile, reaching from the Nile Delta in the north to as far south as Jebel Barkal at the time of its greatest extension (15th century BC). It lasted for three millennia, from circa 3200 BC to 343 BC, ending when Artaxerxes III conquered Egypt. As a civilization based on irrigation it is the quintessential example of an "hydraulic empire."

Egypt was a transcontinental nation located mostly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula lying in Asia. The country has shorelines on the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Gulf of Suez; it borders Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, and the Gaza Strip, Palestine and Israel to the east.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Territory of the Hyksos, 1750(?)-1575 a.C.The Hyksos (Egyptian heka khasewet meaning "foreign rulers") were an ethnically mixed group of Southwest Asiatic or Semitic people who appeared in the eastern Nile Delta during the Second Intermediate Period. They rose to power during the Second Intermediate Period, and ruled Lower and Middle Egypt for over one hundred years, forming the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Dynasties of Egypt, (ca. 1674-1548 B.C.E.).

Traditionally, only the six Fifteenth Dynasty rulers are called "Hyksos". The Hyksos had names that bear strong similarities to Canaanite names, especially those which contain the names of Canaanite deities such as Anath or Ba'al. Archaeologists think of the Canaanites as being indistinguishable from the Phoenicians. The Hyksos introduced new tools of warfare into Egypt, most notably the composite bow and the horse-drawn chariot.



David faces Goliath in single combat.Goliath (גָּלְיָת "Passage; revolution") is a Philistine warrior mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and a descendant of Rapha. He is famous for his battle in the 11th century BC with David, the young Israelite boy who would later be chosen by God and anointed by Samuel to become the King of Israel. He hailed from Gath, one of five ancient city states in Philistia.

Account in the Hebrew Bible
According to the First Book of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible, the Philistine army marched into southern Israel to make war on the Israelites, but instead of immediately engaging in battle, went into camp in the Valley of Elah. The Israelites under King Saul made camp nearby. Goliath, who is described as a "champion" in the Biblical text, positioned himself between the two armies and challenged the Israelites to send out a warrior to challenge him. If that man won, the Philistines would become the subjects of Saul's army. If Goliath won, the converse would occur. For forty days, in both the morning and evening, Goliath issued his challenge. However, no man came forward to accept it.


Monday, October 02, 2006


Mural near the reconstructed Ishtar gate, depicting the palace quarter of Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon. The Ishtar gate is shown in the top left corner of the image Babylon is the Greek variant of Akkadian Babilu (meaning "Gateway of the god", translating Sumerian Kadingirra), an ancient city in Mesopotamia (modern Al Hillah, Iraq). It was the "holy city" of Babylonia from around 2300 BC, and the seat of the Neo-Babylonian empire from 612 BC.

In the Old Testament, the name appears as בבל (Babel), interpreted by Genesis 11:9 to mean "confusion", from the verb balal, "to confuse".

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.




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