Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Covenant, meaning a solemn contract, is the customary word used to translate the Hebrew word berith (ברית pact, treaty, mise, league, alliance) as it is used in the Hebrew Bible.

While the word is used to identify treaties or similar contracts between rulers or individuals, the primary covenants mentioned in the Bible are the one between God and the Israelites (Old Testament) and the one between God and the Christian Church (New Testament).

This covenant was the basis for the Torah, and the claimed status of the Israelites as God's "chosen people."
God's promise to Israel in both the Old Testament and the New Testament that He would redeem the nation of Israel, give Israel the land of Zion, and "appear in his glory" and "come out of Zion" when "all Israel shall be saved" (cf. Psalm 102:15-18, Romans 11:25-27).


Six-Day War

Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem shortly after its capture.The Six-Day War (Hebrew: מלחמת ששת הימים), also known as the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Six Days' War, or June War, was fought between Israel and its Arab neighbors Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. It began when Israel launched what it described as a pre-emptive attack against Egypt, following the latter's closure of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and the deployment of troops in the Sinai near the Israeli border, and after months of increasingly tense border incidents and diplomatic crises. At its end, Israel controlled the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. The results of the war affect the geopolitics of the region to this day.

For Egypt, the 1956 Suez War was a military defeat but a political victory.

Heavy diplomatic pressure forced Israel to withdraw its military from the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. After the 1956 war, Egypt, although not Israel, agreed to the stationing of a UN peacekeeping force in the Sinai, UNEF, to keep that border region demilitarized, and prevent guerrillas from crossing the border into Israel. As a result the border between Egypt and Israel quieted for a while.


Sunday, December 28, 2008


Virtual Map of Gaza and the Gaza Strip, IsraelGaza (Arabicغزة Ġazzah; Hebrew עזה Azzah) is the largest city within the Gaza Strip, part of the Palestinian Territories. The city, which has a population of approximately 400,000, is frequently termed "Gaza City" in order to distinguish it from the larger Gaza Strip.

40 So Joshua struck the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings. He left none remaining, but devoted to destruction all that breathed, just as the LORD God of Israel commanded. 41 And Joshua struck them from Kadesh-barnea as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, as far as Gibeon. 42 And Joshua captured all these kings and their land at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.(Joshua 10:40-42 ESV)

Strategically located on the Mediterranean coastal route, ancient Gaza was a prosperous trade center and a stop on the caravan route between Egypt and Syria. The city was occupied by Egypt around the 15th century BCE.


Thursday, December 25, 2008


The infant Jesus in Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerard van HonthorstChristmas (literally, the Mass of Christ) is a traditional holiday commonly observed on 25 December. In most Eastern Orthodox Churches, even where the civil calendar used is the Gregorian, the event is observed according to the Julian calendar, which coincides with the predominant reckoning of 7 January. It is celebrated by most Christians to mark the birth of Jesus, which is believed to have occurred in Bethlehem in the Roman Province of Judea between 6 BC and AD 6. Christ's birth, or nativity, was said by his followers to fulfill the prophecies of Judaism that a messiah would come, from the house of David, to redeem the world from sin. Efforts to decide upon a date on which to celebrate his birth began some centuries later.

The word Christmas is a contraction of Christ's Mass, derived from the Old English Cristes mæsse. It is sometimes abbreviated Xmas, probably because X resembles the Greek letter Χ (chi) which has often historically been used as an abbreviation for Christ (Χριστός in Greek).

The Nativity of Jesus refers to the Christian belief that the Messiah was born to the Virgin Mary. The story of Christmas is based on the biblical accounts given in the Gospel of Matthew, namely Matthew 1:18-2:12 and the Gospel of Luke, specifically Luke 1:26-2:40. According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem. According to popular tradition, the birth took place in a "stable", surrounded by farm animals, though neither the “stable” nor the animals are mentioned in the Biblical accounts.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Taken by Apollo 8 crewmember Bill Anders on December 24, 1968, showing the Earth seemingly rising above the lunar surface.

Christmas Eve, December 24, is the day before Christmas Day, the celebrated birthday of Jesus Christ.

The Christmas season liturgically begins on Christmas Eve, and is preceded by a four-week fast called Advent. The Mass of the Vigil is said in the late afternoon or early evening hours of December 24th. The Christmastide season continues through until the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus on the Sunday following the Solemnity of the Epiphany.

Many Roman Catholics and Anglicans traditionally celebrate a midnight Mass (Eucharist) which begins sometime before midnight on Christmas Day; this ceremony, which is held in churches throughout the world, marks the beginning of Christmas Day. A popular joke is to ask what time Midnight Mass starts, but in recent years some churches have scheduled their "Midnight" Mass as early as 7 p.m. In Spanish-speaking areas, the Midnight Mass is sometimes referred to as Misa del Gallo ("Rooster's Mass"). In the Philippines, this custom lasts for nine days, starting on December 16 and continuing daily up to December 24, during which Filipinos attend dawn masses, usually starting at around 4:00-5:00 a.m.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Star of Bethlehem

The night sky as it appeared looking south from Jerusalem on Nov. 12, 7 BC, 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.The Star of Bethlehem, also called the Christmas Star or Jesus Star, is a star in Christian nativity tradition that revealed the birth of Jesus to the magi (or 'three kings') and later led them to Bethlehem. According to the New Testament account, found only in the Gospel of Matthew, the magi were men "from the east" who were inspired by the appearance of the star to travel to Jerusalem in search of a "king of the Jews". There they met King Herod of Judea, who advised them that the child they sought was in Bethlehem, a nearby village. The magi then went to Bethlehem, found Jesus and his mother, paid him homage, gave gifts, and returned to their "own country".

Christians regarded the star as a miraculous sign given by God to mark the birth of the Christ (or Messiah). Ancient theologians claimed that the star fulfilled several prophecies, including the Star Prophecy. In modern times, astronomers have proposed various explanations for the star, including a nova, a planet, a comet, an occultation, and a conjunction (massing of planets). The subject is a favorite at planetarium shows during the Christmas season, although the Biblical account suggests that the visit of the magi took place at least several months after Jesus was born. The visit was traditionally celebrated on Epiphany.


Monday, December 22, 2008


Bible verse from Isaiah writen on a wall across the street from the United Nations Building in New York City...they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. - Isaiah 2:4Isaiah (יְשַׁעְיָהוּ Heb: Jessaiahu "Salvation of/is the Lord" or "Yahweh Saves") was the son of Amoz, and commonly considered the author of the Book of Isaiah.

The Book of Isaiah is a book of the Hebrew Bible as well as the Christian Old Testament, containing prophecies attributed to Isaiah. This book is often seen by scholars as being divided into at least two sections. The first section, consisting of chapters 1-39, is generally accepted as being written by the prophet Isaiah of Jerusalem, or by his followers who took down his words.

Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of four kings -- Uzziah (Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Legend has it that he was martyred during the reign of Manasseh, who came to the throne in 687 BCE. That he is described as having ready access to the kings would suggest an aristocratic origin.

Approximately 700 BC Isaiah prophecied the coming, suffering and death of the Messiah:


Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Magi

The number of the wise men is unknown as it was never stated in the Bible; only that there were three gifts---the supposition that this implied three givers is speculationThe Magi (singular Magus, from Latin, via Greek μάγος ; Old English: Mage; from Old Persian maguš) was a tribe from ancient Media, who - prior to the absorption of the Medes into the Persian Empire in 550 BC - were responsible for religious and funerary practices. Later they accepted the Zoroastrian religion (Zoroastrianism), however, not without changing the original message of its founder, Zarathustra (Zoroaster), to what is today known as "Zurvanism", which would become the predominant form of Zoroastrianism during the Sassanid era (AD 226–650). No traces of Zurvanism exist beyond the 10th century.

The best known Magi are the "Wise Men from the East" in the Bible, whose graves Marco Polo claimed to have seen in what is today the district of Saveh, in Tehran, Iran. In English, the term may refer to a shaman, sorcerer, or wizard; it is the origin of the English words magic and magician.

The Wise Men 's number is unknown as it was never stated in the Bible; only that there were three gifts---the supposition that this implied three givers is speculation.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Massacre of the Innocents

The Massacre of the Innocents, Artist: Pieter Pauwel Rubens, c. 1637. Oil on panel, 199 x 302 cm, Alte Pinakothek, MunichThe Massacre of the Innocents is an episode of infanticide by Herod the Great that appears in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 2:16-18). It is not mentioned in the other gospels, nor does it figure in the early apocrypha, with the exception of the Infancy Gospel of James 22. Matthew relates that King Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn "King of the Jews" whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi.

Some secular biographers of Herod and scholars do not regard the massacre as an actual historical event.

According to the gospel of Matthew, when the Magi (popularly known as the "Three Wise Men") sought out the birth of Jesus, they first visited Herod the Great to ask, "where is He that is born King of the Jews". Herod, the Roman client king in Judea, feeling that his throne was in jeopardy, asked the Magi to find the child and return to tell him so that he may worship him, with the hidden intention of killing the identified child immediately. When the Magi, warned in dreams of the king's true intentions, returned home by a different route to avoid being forced to betray the child, Herod ordered the slaughter of all male children who were two years old and under. Fortunately for them, according to Matthew, Joseph, Mary and Jesus had fled to Egypt after they had been warned by an angel. Jesus thus avoided being killed.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tacitus on Jesus

Codex Mediceus 68 II fol. 38The Roman historian Tacitus wrote concerning the Great Fire of Rome, in book 15, chapter 44 of his Annals (c. 116) including an account of how the emperor Nero blamed the Christians in Rome for the disaster and initiated the first known persecution of early Christians by the Romans. This has become one of the best known and most discussed passages of Tacitus' works. Although partly aimed at showing the inhumanity of the emperor, Tacitus' remarks have been studied more by modern scholars for information about his own religious attitudes and about the early history of Christianity:
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius Caesar at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Seven churches of Asia

The Seven Churches of Asia The seven churches of Asia (properly Asia Minor) are seven major churches of the early Christianity, as mentioned in the New Testament Book of Revelation. All sites are in modern-day Turkey. In Revelation, Jesus Christ instructs John the Apostle to:

"Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea." (Revelation 1:11)

19"Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.

20The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:19-20)

It should be understood that "churches," in this context, refers to the community of Christians living in each city, and not merely to the building or buildings in which they gathered for worship. This letter should also apply to the community of Christians today (the Christian Church, the Body of Christ).

The seven churches are located:


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jesus the man

Ecce Homo (“Behold the Man!”), Pontius Pilate presenting a scourged Jesus of Nazareth to the people of JerusalemDuring the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus, the high priests and elders asked Jesus, "Are you the Son of God?" When he replied, "You are right in saying I am," they condemned Jesus for blasphemy (Luke 22:70–71). The high priests then turned him over to the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate, based on an accusation of sedition for forbidding the payment of taxes Luke 23:1-2 and claiming to be King of the Jews. When Jesus came before Pilate, Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" to which he replied, "It is as you say." According to the Gospels, Pilate personally felt that Jesus was not guilty of any crime against the Romans, and since there was a custom at Passover for the Roman governor to free a prisoner (a custom not recorded outside the Gospels), Pilate offered the crowd a choice between Jesus of Nazareth and an insurrectionist named Barabbas. The crowd chose to have Barabbas freed and Jesus crucified. Pilate washed his hands to indicate that he was innocent of the injustice of the decision (Matthew 27:11–26).

According to all four Gospels, Jesus died before late afternoon at Calvary, which was also called Golgotha. The wealthy Judean Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin according to Mark and Luke, received Pilate's permission to take possession of Jesus' body, placing it in a tomb. According to John, Joseph was aided by Nicodemus, who joined him to help bury Jesus, and who appears in other parts of John's gospel (John 19:38–42). The three Synoptic Gospels tell of the darkening of the sky from twelve until three that afternoon; Matthew also mentions an earthquake (Matthew 27:51, the earth breaking open and a number of righteous dead people rising out of the grave and going into Jerusalem.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Gospel of John

The Rylands Library Papyrus P52 is the earliest manuscript fragment found of the Gospel of John, dated to about 125The Gospel of John, (literally, According to John; Greek, Κατά Ιωαννην, Kata Iōannēn) is the fourth gospel in the canon of the New Testament, traditionally ascribed to John the Apostle. Like the three synoptic gospels, it contains an account of some of the actions and sayings of Jesus, but differs from them in ethos and theological emphases. The purpose is expressed in the conclusion, 20:30-31: "...these [Miracles of Jesus] are written so that you will put your faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. If you have faith in him, you will have true life."

According to Trinitarianism, of the four gospels, John presents the highest christology, implicitly declaring Jesus to be God (see The Word).

Compared to the synoptics, John focuses on Jesus' cosmic mission to redeem humanity. Only in John does Jesus talk at length about himself, and John includes a substantial amount of material that Jesus shared with the disciples only. Certain elements of the synoptics (such as the parables of Jesus, exorcisms, and the Second Coming of Christ) are not found in John.


Sunday, December 14, 2008


Map of Lebanon from the CIA Factbook. Tyre is near the southern border.Tyre, from Strong's H6865 Hebrew: צור Tsor or Tzor = "a rock."

Tyre is a city in the South Governorate of Lebanon. With 117,100 inhabitants (it is reported only 10% of the population is left because of the Israel-Lebanon conflict), Tyre juts out from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, about 23 miles north of Acre, and 20 miles south of Sidon.

"The location of the city of Tyre is not in doubt, for it exists to this day on the same spot and is known as Sur." [Virtual map of Tyre/Sur, Lebanan] (Katzenstein, H.J., The History of Tyre, 1973, p9)

Tyre originally consisted of two distinct urban centers, one on an island and the other on the adjacent coast (approximately 30 stadia apart or 3.5 miles according to Strabo in his Geography xvi, 2), before Alexander the Great connected the island to the coast during his siege of the city. One was a heavily fortified island city amidst the sea and the latter, originally called Ushu (later, Palaetyrus, by the Greeks) was actually more like a line of suburbs than any one city and was used primarily as a source of water and timber for the main island city. Flavius Josephus even records them fighting against each other, although most of the time they supported one another due to the island city’s wealth from maritime trade and the mainland area’s source of timber, water and burial grounds.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chronology of Jesus

Adoration of the Shepherds, Artist: Carvaggio c.1609, Oil on canvas, 314 x 211 cm. Location: Museo Nazionale, MessinaThe chronology of Jesus depicts the traditional chronology established for the events of the life of Jesus by the four canonical gospels (which allude to various dates for several events). Among historians who are Christian Biblical scholars, the literature suggests the following detailed timeline for Jesus. The timeline records Jesus as Christ and Messiah from biblical and historical accounts of his life.

According to common interpretations of the four canonical gospels, Jesus was born between 8 BC and AD 6 and was baptised by John the Baptist at the start of His ministry, about 30 years later. His ministry lasted one year (synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke) or three years (Gospel of John), and he was executed under Pontius Pilate between AD 26 and 37. He rose from the dead three days later, appeared to the disciples and others, and then ascended to heaven.

The chronology of Jesus is uncertain, disputed, and perhaps impossible to ascertain definitively based on available evidence. The texts used in chronological reconstruction, the four canonical gospels, provide few clear dates — including the year of Jesus's birth, death, and age at death.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Kalam cosmological argument

M 17 Omega Nebula, © NASA / HubbleThe Kalam cosmological argument is a version of the cosmological argument derived from the Islamic Kalam form of dialectical argument. It attempts to prove the existence of God by appealing to the principle of universal cause. Similar arguments are found in the theologies of Judaism (for example, in the work of Maimonides) and Christianity (for example in Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologiae), where it is known as the "uncaused cause" or "first cause" argument.

The origin of the word "kalam" (علم الكلم) is Islamic and is one of the 'religious sciences' of Islam. In Arabic the word means "discussion", and refers to the Islamic tradition of seeking theological principles through dialectic. A scholar of kalam is referred to as a mutakallam (Muslim theologian; plural mutakallamin).

The original scholars of kalam were recruited by Hunayn Ibn Ishaq (d. 873) for the House of Wisdom under the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad. They collected, translated, and synthesised everything that the genius of other cultures had accumulated before undertaking to augment and expand it. From their translations of Greek, Iranian, and Indian works, they formed the basis of Muslim falsafa (philosophy) in the 9th and 10th centuries.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mary, mother of Jesus

Annunciation, Artist: Andrea Del Sarto, c. 1528. Oil on wood, 96 x 189 cm. Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), FlorenceAccording to the New Testament, Mary was the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, who at the time of his conception was the betrothed wife of Joseph of Nazareth (cf. Matt 1:18-20, Luke 1:35). According to non-canonical works, her parents were Saint Joachim and Saint Anne. A theory says that her father's name was Heli, mentioned in the lineage of Jesus in Luke 3:23-38. According to the Gospel of Luke, Mary, being a virgin at time, learned from Gabriel the archangel, a divine messenger sent by God, that she would conceive Jesus, "the Son of God", through a miracle of the Holy Spirit.

Mary is the subject of much veneration due to Luke 1:48 ("for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed") in the Christian faith, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Church, and is also highly regarded by Muslims. The area of Christian theology concerning her is Mariology.

The feast of the nativity of Mary is celebrated in the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican Churches on 8 September. The Orthodox and Catholic Churches also celebrate many other feast days in honour of Mary.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Joseph of Nazareth

St Joseph with the Infant Jesus, Guido Reni (c. 1635), The Hermitage, St. PetersburgJoseph of Nazareth, also called Joseph the Betrothed and Saint Joseph, was the legal father of Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 1:16; Luke 3:23) and the husband of Mary. However, according to the bible, he is not the biological father of Jesus. According to Christian tradition Mary conceived of Jesus through divine means and not through human effort. Not much is known of Joseph except that he was "of the House of David" and lived in the town of Nazareth. His date of death is unknown, though he was still living when Jesus was 12 years old. In the Roman Catholic tradition (see Catholicism), he is the patron saint of workers and has several feast days.

The spiritual significance of the comment in Luke 3:23 "as was supposed" (in some translations "so it was thought") (of Joseph's fatherhood) is in the fact that God is letting us know that Jewish society did NOT understand the real paternity of Jesus...

that of the Holy Spirit... thus was incapable of understanding His ministry... as was certainly exhibited by the actions and attitudes of the scribes, Pharisees, lawyers, etc. to whom parentage and ancestry had become a cumbersome and burdensome legalism that blighted New Testament Judaism. They completely missed the Messianic note in the lists of both Matthew and Luke... except for a very small minority like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, eventually...or Simeon or Anna of Luke 2.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Aramaic of Jesus

Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani --which means, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? can be found in verses Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani --which means, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? can be found in verses Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34
Most scholars believe that Jesus spoke Aramaic with some Hebrew, and possibly Greek. Generally, scholars believe that the towns of Nazareth and Capernaum where Jesus lived were Aramaic-speaking communities, that he was knowledgeable enough in Hebrew to discuss the Hebrew Bible, and that he might have known some Greek through commerce as a carpenter in nearby Sepphoris (see Tzippori). Accordingly, Jesus is believed to have addressed primarily Aramaic-speaking audiences.

This article explores Aramaic reconstructions of phrases in the New Testament as attributed to Jesus (Hebrew-Aramaic ישוע Yeshua, meaning "YHVH is salvation") and New Testament figures.

It is generally accepted that Jesus was born a Jew, and grew up in a Jewish family in Roman-controlled Palestine. For over a half-millennium, the colloquial language for Palestinian Jews was Aramaic, stemming from the Babylonian exile and invading Assyrian empire. For some Jews Hebrew remained a colloquial language, until the end of the 3rd century AD.


Sunday, December 07, 2008


The word faith has various uses; its central meaning is similar to "belief", "trust" or "confidence", but unlike these terms, "faith" tends to imply a transpersonal rather than interpersonal relationship – with God or a higher power. The object of faith can be a person (or even an inanimate object or state of affairs) or a proposition (or body of propositions, such as a religious credo). In each case, however, faith is in an aspect of the object and cannot be logically proven or objectively known. Faith can also be defined as accepting as true something which one has been told by someone who is believed to be trustworthy. In its proper sense faith means trusting the word of another.

In religious contexts, "faith" has several different meanings. Sometimes, it means loyalty to one's religion. It is in this sense that one can speak of, for example, "the Catholic faith" or "the Islamic faith." For creedal religions, faith also means that one accepts the religious tenets of the religion as true. For non-creedal religions, it often means that one is loyal to a particular religious community. In general, faith is "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:1)" with your physical (as opposed to spiritual) eyes.


Saturday, December 06, 2008


Rembrandt’s perception of the moment when Mary turns her head and sees the newly-risen Jesus. He is holding a spade to explain her initial belief that he was a gardener.Hope is one of the three theological virtues in Christian tradition (Faith, Hope and Love or Charity) which are spiritual gifts of God. In this sense, hope is not a physical emotion but a spiritual grace.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. -1 Corinthians 13:13

Strong's G1680 (Greek: ἐλπίς [elpis]) in the Christian sense: joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation.

Hope being a combination of the desire for something and expectation of receiving it, the virtue is hoping for Divine union and thus eternal happiness. Like all virtues, it arises from the will, not the passions.

13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. -1 Thessalonians 4:13

9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:9-11


Friday, December 05, 2008

The Anointed One

The Anointing of Jesus, by William Hole, 1906The Anointed One refers to The Messiah, Christ the Lord, The Chosen One of God.

To anoint is to grease with perfumed oil, milk, water, melted butter or other substances, a process employed ritually by many religions and races. It also means to be in the presence of God. People and things are anointed to symbolize the introduction of a sacramental or divine influence, a holy emanation, spirit or power. It can also be seen as a spiritual mode of ridding persons and things of dangerous influences and diseases, especially of the demons (Persian drug, Greek κηρες, Armenian dev) which are believed to be or cause those diseases.

Unction is another term for anointing. The oil may be called chrism.

The word is known in English since c. 1303, deriving from Old French enoint "smeared on," pp. of enoindre "smear on," itself from Latin inunguere, from in- "on" + unguere "to smear." Originally it only referred to grease or oil smeared on for medicinal purposes; its use in the Coverdale Bible in reference to Christ (cf. The Lord's Anointed, see Chrism) has spiritualized the sense of it.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Gospel of Matthew

Apostle St Matthew, artist EL GRECO, 1610-14, Oil on canvas, 97 x 77 cm, location Museo de El Greco, ToledoThe Gospel of Matthew (literally, "according to Matthew"; Greek, Κατά Μαθθαίον or Κατά Ματθαίον, Kata Maththaion or Kata Matthaion) is one of the four Gospel accounts of the New Testament. It narrates an account of the life and ministry of Jesus, from his genealogy to his post-resurrection commissioning of his Apostles to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Mat 28:19) Bibles traditionally print Matthew as the first gospel, followed in order by Mark, and . The Christian community traditionally ascribes authorship to Matthew the Evangelist, one of Jesus's twelve apostles, while secular scholarship generally agrees it was written by an anonymous non-eyewitness to Jesus's ministry.

The Gospel of Matthew is written in Greek, not in Aramaic. The Greek of the gospel of Matthew cannot easily be translated back to Aramiac. This is very suggestive that Matthew is not a Greek translation of an Aramiac original. It is also generally agreed that the Gospel of Mark is actually the earliest of the four gospels and that the author of Matthew substantially used the Gospel of Mark in writing this gospel.

A minority of scholars defend the tradition that asserts Matthean priority, with Mark borrowing from Matthew (cf. Augustinian hypothesis and Griesbach hypothesis). Then in 1911, the Pontifical Biblical Commission asserted that Matthew was the first gospel written, that it was written by the evangelist Matthew, and that it was written in Aramaic.


Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament

Christ the Redeemer, Artist: ANDREA DEL SARTO. Wood, 47 x 27 cm, SS. Annunziata, FlorenceA large variety of names and titles are used in the New Testament to describe Jesus.

Authors have put forward numerous explanations to explain the origin of the name 'Jesus', and have offered a still larger number of explanations for the meaning of the name. The name is related to the Hebrew יְהוֹשֻׁעַ Joshua, which is a theophoric name first mentioned within the Biblical tradition in Exodus 17:9 as one of Moses' companions (and, according to tradition, later successor). Breaking the name down, we see that there are two parts: יהו Yeho, a theophoric reference to YHWH, the distinctive personal name of the God of Israel, plus the three letter root שוע, relating to the noun shua. Due to disputes over how to render שוע lexically, there are a number of generally accepted phrases this combination can translate to:

* Yeho-shua
* Yhwh saves
* Yhwh (is) salvation
* "Yhwh" (is) a saving-cry
* "Yhwh" (is) a cry-for-saving
* "Yhwh" (is) a cry-for-help
* Yhwh (is) my help


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist, artist: Carvaggio, c. 1604, Oil on canvas, 172,5 x 104,5 cm, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas CityJohn the Baptist (also called John the Baptizer or Yahya the Baptizer) is regarded as a prophet by at least three religions: Christianity, Islam, and Mandaeanism. According to the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:35-36), he was a relative of Jesus. That he was a prophet is asserted by the Synoptic Gospels and the Qur'an (see also Islam). He is also commonly referred to as John the Forerunner/Precursor because he was the forerunner of Christ (Tiphshut). In Mandaic he is called Yihja jahane. Isaiah 40:3-5 is commonly read as a prophecy of John. Muslim tradition maintains that the head of John the Baptist is interred in the Umayyad Mosque. In later times it was rumored that the Knights Templar also had possesion of the head of St. John. According to Luke 3:1, John began his ministry in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, which would have been the year 28 or 29.

As an adult John started to preach in public, and people from "every quarter" were attracted to his message. The essence of his preaching was the necessity of repentance and turning away from selfish pursuits. He denounced the Sadducees and Pharisees as a "generation of vipers," and warned them not to assume their heritage gave them special privilege (Luke 3:8). He warned tax collectors and soldiers against extortion and plunder. His doctrine and manner of life stirred interest, bringing people from all parts to see him on the banks of the Jordan River. There he baptized thousands unto repentance.

All four canonical gospels relate to John's ministry, his preaching and baptism in the Jordan River. Most notably he is the one who recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and on Jesus' request, baptised him. The baptism marked the beginning of Jesus' ministry. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke relate that Jesus came from Galilee to John and was baptized by him, whereupon the Spirit descended upon him and a voice from Heaven told him he was God's Son.


Monday, December 01, 2008


Many churches make use of Advent wreaths during this season, with one candle representing each of the four Sundays of Advent. The rose candle is lit on the 3rd Sunday of Advent. During Christmas Day, four lit white candles are used.Advent (from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming") is a season of the Christian church, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus, in other words, the period immediately before Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western Christian year and commences on Advent Sunday. The Eastern churches begin the liturgical year on 1 September. The Eastern Christian equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast but it differs both in length and observances.

The progression of the season may be marked with an Advent calendar, a practice introduced by German Lutherans. At least in the Roman Catholic calendar, Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25; in other words, the Sunday between November 27 and December 3 inclusive.

Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second Coming of Christ. Christians believe that the season of Advent serves a dual reminder of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting that Christians today endure as they await the second coming of Christ.


Sunday, November 30, 2008


The Prophet Isaiah, Artist - Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1726-29. Fresco, 200 x 250 cm, in the Patriarchal Palace in Udine, c.1726Isaiah (יְשַׁעְיָהוּ Heb.: Jessaiahu "Salvation of/is the Lord" or "Yahweh Saves") was the son of Amoz, and commonly considered the author of the Book of Isaiah.

The Book of Isaiah is a book of the Hebrew Bible as well as the Christian Old Testament, containing prophecies attributed to Isaiah. This book is often seen by scholars as being divided into at least two sections. The first section, consisting of chapters 1-39, is generally accepted as being written by the prophet Isaiah of Jerusalem, or by his followers who took down his words.

Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of four kings -- Uzziah (Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Legend has it that he was martyred during the reign of Manasseh, who came to the throne in 687 BCE. That he is described as having ready access to the kings would suggest an aristocratic origin.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

parables of Jesus

The Prodigal Son, Rembrandt Harmensz. van RijnThe parables of Jesus, found in the Synoptic Gospels, embody much of Jesus' teaching. Jesus' parables are quite simple, memorable stories, often with humble imagery, each with a single message. Jesus, for example, likened the Kingdom of God to leaven (an image usually meant as corruption) or a mustard seed. Like his aphorisms, Jesus' parables were often surprising and paradoxical. The parable of the good Samaritan, for example, turned expectations on their head with the despised Samaritan proving to be the wounded man's neighbor. The parables were simple and memorable enough to survive in an oral tradition before being written down years after Jesus' death.

His parables are sometimes interpreted as allegories in the gospels themselves and in Christian tradition. In such an allegory, each element corresponds metaphorically to a class of people (e.g., false Christians), a heavenly reward, or some other topic. The gospel of John includes allegories but no parables.

Parables are attributed to Jesus in the three synoptic gospels of the New Testament and the noncanonical Gospel of Thomas. According to some interpretations, the Gospel of John also contains a parable.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Cyrus the Great

This clay cylinder is inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform with an account by Cyrus, king of Persia,  559-530 BC of his conquest of Babylon in 539 BC and capture of Nabonidus, the last Babylonian king.Cyrus the Great, 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.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lamb of God

Madonna and Child with the Lamb of God, Artist: CESARE da Sesto, c. 1515, Oil on panel, 37 x 30 cm, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, MilanLamb of God (Latin: Agnus Dei) is one of the titles given to Jesus in the New Testament and consequently in the Christian tradition. It is believed to refer to Jesus' role as a sacrificial lamb atoning for the sins of man in Christian theology, harkening back to ancient Korban Jewish Temple sacrifices in which a lamb was slain during the passover, the blood was sprinkled along the door, and the lamb was eaten. (see also Korban Pesach).

The Biblical significance of the title is rendered in the context of earlier lamb symbolism.

The blood of the paschal lamb of the Old Testament protects and saves the Israelites in Exodus 12. This link is made explicit in 1 Corinthians 5:7. For Paul, Christians are saved by Christ as their true paschal lamb.

The Hebrew Bible also testifies to the earlier practice of sin offerings as a possible means of atonement. Lambs could be used in these offerings (e.g. Leviticus 4:32-34 and 5:6), and this link is strongly suggested by John 1:29 and 1 Peter 1:19. Like the sin of a person could be forgiven through the offering and the pouring out of the blood of an "unblemished" lamb (cf. Lev 4:32), so Christians would be freed from sin by the blood of Jesus as the unblemished Lamb of God. See Sin for further discussion about the concept of sin and the means of atonement in Judaism.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Paul Tillich

Paul TillichPaul Johannes Tillich (August 20, 1886 – October 22, 1965) was a German-American theologian and Christian existentialist philosopher. Tillich was one of the most influential Protestant theologians of the twentieth century.

Paul Tillich was born on August 20, 1886, in the province of Brandenburg in eastern Germany in the small village of Starzeddel. Tillich's Prussian father was a Lutheran pastor and his mother was from the Rhineland and more liberal, influenced heavily by Calvinist thinking. At an early age Tillich held an appreciation for nature and the countryside into which he had been born.

Tillich's approach to Protestant theology was highly systematic. He sought to correlate culture and faith such that "faith need not be unacceptable to contemporary culture and contemporary culture need not be unacceptable to faith". Consequently, Tillich's orientation is apologetic, seeking to make concrete theological answers that are applicable to ordinary daily life. This contributed to his popularity because it made him easily accessible to lay readers. In a broader perspective, revelation is understood as the fountainhead of religion. Tillich sought to reconcile revelation and reason by arguing that revelation never runs counter to reason (affirming Thomas Aquinas who said that faith is eminently rational), but both poles of the subjective human experience are complementary.



The Flagellation of Christ, Artist: Nicola Grassi, c. 1720, Oil on canvas, 105 x 159 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest Kenosis is a Greek word for emptiness, which is used as a theological term. The ancient Greek word κένωσις kénōsis means an "emptying", from κενός kenós "empty". The word is mainly used, however, in a Christian theological context, for example Philippians 2:7, using the verb form κενόω kenóō.
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
In Christian theology, Kenosis is the concept of the 'self-emptying' of one's own will and becoming entirely receptive to God and His perfect will. It is used both as an explanation of the Incarnation, and an indication of the nature of God's activity and condescension. Mystical theologian John of the Cross' work "Dark Night of the Soul" is a particularly lucid explanation of God's process of transforming the believer into the icon or "likeness of Christ".


Sunday, November 23, 2008


Virtue (Latin virtus; Greek ἀρετή) is moral excellence. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting individual and collective well-being, and thus good by definition. The opposite of virtue is vice.

Etymologically the word virtue (Latin virtus) first signified manliness or courage. In its widest sense, virtue refers to excellence, just as vice, its contrary, denotes its absence. The term as used by moral philosophers and theologians signifies an operative habit essentially good, in contrast to an operative habit essentially evil. What are traditionally known as the four cardinal virtues, enumerated by the classical Greek philosophers have been translated into English as Justice, Courage, Wisdom, and Moderation. The three virtues of faith, hope and love (or charity) are central aspects of the of the Judaic, Christian and Muslim traditions.

Virtue may also be identified from another perspective: it can have either normative or moral value; i.e. the virtue of a judge is to justly convict criminals; the virtue of an excellent judge is to specialise in justly convicting criminals, this being its normative value, whereas the virtues of reason, prudence, chastity, etc. have moral value.

In classical Greek, virtue is more properly called ἠθικὴ ἀρετή (ēthikē aretē), or "habitual excellence", something practiced at all times. The virtue of perseverance is itself a necessary adjunct to each and every individual virtue, since, overall, virtue is a species of habit which, in order to maintain oneself in virtue, needs to be continuously sustained. Self-proclaimed immoralist Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, however, expressed the view that "when virtue has slept, it will arise all the more vigorous."


Friday, November 21, 2008

Tree of Jesse

Detail from Jesse - David - Solomon, MICHELANGELO Buonarroti, 1511, Fresco, Cappella Sistina, VaticanThe Tree of Jesse refers to a passage in the Biblical Book of Isaiah which describes metaphorically the descent of the Messiah and is accepted by Christians as pertaining to Jesus, and is often represented in art, particularly in that of the Medieval period, the earliest dating from the 11th century.
“1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear,” (Isaiah 11:1-3 ESV)
In the New Testament the lineage of Jesus is traced by two of the Gospel writers, Matthew and Luke. Luke describes the "generations of Christ" in Luke 3:23-38, beginning with:
23 When Jesus began to preach, he was about thirty years old. Everyone thought he was the son of Joseph. But his family went back through Heli...


Thursday, November 20, 2008

“LOVE” (I See Love - Third Day, Steven Curtis Chapman, Mercy Me)

I See Love - Third Day, Steven Curtis Chapman & Mercy Me
Love (Greek: agape) is a primary characteristic of God's nature (1 John 4:8, 16) and the highest expression of Christian faith and action (1 Cor. 13:13; Gal. 5:14; Eph. 5:2; 1 John 4:7-21). In the New Testament, agape is charitable, selfless, altruistic, and unconditional.

Love -1 Corinthians 13:1-8

It is parental love seen as creating goodness in the world, it is the way God is seen to love humanity, and it is seen as the kind of love that Christians aspire to have for others. (Greek: Philia) - also used in the new testament, Philia is a human response to something that is found to be delightful. Also known as "brotherly love".

Two other words for love in the Greek language -- (Greek: eros) (sexual love) and storge (needy child-to parent love) were never used in the New Testament.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lineage of Jesus

The infant Jesus in Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerard van HonthorstThe lineage of Jesus is recorded in two places in the bible:

1) Matthew 1:1-17, and

2) Luke 3:23-38 (in addition to several other new testament references: Mark 10:47, luke 1:32, Acts 2:29-30, Rev. 5:5, 22:16).

The Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38 accounts differ because, Luke follows Mary's lineage (Jesus' blood mother), through David's son Nathan (Luke's genealogy focused on Jesus' descent from God through the virgin birth. It placed no emphasis on Jesus being the descendant of king David) and the Matthew genealogy follows Joseph's line (Joseph being the legal father of Jesus, see below) through David's son Solomon.

God's promise to David was fulfilled because Mary was the biological parent of Jesus.

The spitirtual significance of the comment in Luke 3:23 "as was supposed" (in some translations "so it was thought") (of Joseph's fatherhood) is in the fact that God is letting us know that Jewish society did NOT understand the real paternity of Jesus... that of the Holy Spirit... thus was incapable of understanding His ministry...as was certainly exhibited by the actions and attitudes of the scribes, Pharisees, lawyers, etc. to whom parentage and ancestry had become a cumbersome and burdensome legalism that blighted New Testament Judaism. They completely missed the Messianic note in the lists of both Matthew and Luke... except for a very small minority like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, eventually...or Simeon or Anna of Luke 2.



The Enoch Scroll, Hanokh, 4Q201, Parchment, Copied ca. 200-150 B.C.E., Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities AuthorityPseudepigrapha (from Ancient Greek pseudes = "false", epigraphe = "inscription"; see the related epigraphy) are falsely attributed works, texts whose claimed authorship is unfounded; a work, simply, "whose real author attributed it to a figure of the past." For instance, few Hebrew scholars would ascribe the Book of Enoch to the prophet Enoch, and few liberal Christian scholars would insist today that the Third Epistle of John was written by John the Evangelist, or that the Second Epistle of Peter was written by Saint Peter. Nevertheless, in some cases, especially for books belonging to a religious canon, the question of whether a text is pseudepigraphical or not elicits sensations of loyalty and can become a matter of heavy dispute. The authenticity or value of the work itself, which is a separate question for experienced readers, often becomes sentimentally entangled in the association. Though the inherent value of the text may not be called into question, the weight of a revered or even apostolic author lends authority to a text: in Antiquity pseudepigraphy was "an accepted and honored custom practiced by students/admirers of a revered figure". This is the essential motivation for pseudepigraphy in the first place.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Son of God

"Son of God" is a biblical phrase from the Hebrew bible, and the New Testament of the Christian bible. According to the bible, it refers to Jesus.

Throughout the New Testament the phrase "son of God" is applied repeatedly, in the singular, only to Jesus. "Sons of God" is applied to others only in the plural. The King James version of the New Testament calls Jesus God's "only begotten son"

(John 1:14, 3:16-18, 1 John 4:9 KJV)

Greek: μονογενής
single of its kind, only

"his own son" (Romans 8:3)

Greek: ἑαυτοῦ
himself, herself, itself, themselves

It also refers to Jesus simply as "the son" in contexts in which "the Father" is used to refer to God.


Friday, November 14, 2008


This is the day that the Lord has made.Omniscience is the capacity to know everything infinitely, or at least everything that can be known about a character including thoughts, feelings, life and the universe, etc. In monotheism, this ability is typically attributed to God. There is a distinction between:
  • inherent omniscience: the ability to know anything that one chooses to know and can be known and,
  • total omniscience: actually knowing everything that can be known.
Many modern theologians argue that God's omniscience is inherent rather than total, and that God chooses to limit his omniscience in order to preserve the freewill and dignity of his creatures.

Nontheism often claims that the very concept of omniscience is inherently contradictory.

Some theists argue that God created all knowledge and has ready access thereto. Some believe this statement invokes a circular time contradiction: presupposing the existence of God, before knowledge existed, there was no knowledge at all, which means that God was unable to possess knowledge prior to its creation. There are several flaws in this reasoning.

God "created" knowledge while eternally possessing it in full. Is this really any more paradoxical than God having no beginning and no end?


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ramesses II

The unwrapped mummy of Ramses II, photographed in 1889 by the German Egyptologist Emil BrugschRamesses II (also known as Ramesses the Great and alternatively transcribed as Ramses and Rameses) was the third Egyptian pharaoh of the Nineteenth dynasty. He is often regarded as Egypt's greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh. His successors and later Egyptians called him the "Great Ancestor." He is traditionally believed to have been the Pharaoh of the Exodus.

At age fourteen, Ramses II was appointed Prince Regent by his father. He is believed to have taken the throne in his early 20s and to have ruled Egypt from 1279 BC to 1213 BC for a total of 66 years and 2 months. He was once said to have lived to be 99 years old, but it is more likely that he died in his 90th or 92nd year. Ancient Greek writers such as Herodotus attributed his accomplishments to the semi-mythical Sesostris, and he is traditionally believed to have been the Pharaoh of the Exodus due to a tradition started by Eusebius of Caesarea. If he became king in 1279 BC as most Egyptologists today believe, he would have taken the throne on May 31, 1279 BC.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Since the Lausanne Congress of 1974, a widely-accepted definition of a Christian mission has been "to form a viable indigenous church-planting movement." This definition is motivated by theological analyses of the acts required to enhance God's reputation (usually translated as "glory" or "honor"). The definition is claimed to summarize the acts of Jesus' ministry, which is taken as a model for all ministries. The motivation is said to be God's will, plainly stated throughout the Bible, including the Old Testament.

The movement must "plant" (start) churches because the process of forming Godly disciples is necessarily social. "Church" should be understood in the widest sense, as an organization of believers. It is not a building. Many churches start by meeting in houses. Discipling is required to grow the number of believers to the largest extent, and maximize their quality and therefore the acceptability of their worship to God and non-Christians.


Monday, November 10, 2008

John Napier

John NapierJohn Napier of Merchistoun (1550 – 4 April 1617), nicknamed Marvellous Merchistoun, was a Scottish mathematician, physicist, astronomer/astrologer and 8th Laird of Merchistoun. He is most remembered as the inventor of logarithms and Napier's bones, and for popularizing the use of the decimal point. Napier's birth place, Merchiston Tower, Edinburgh, Scotland, is now part of Napier University. He is buried in St Cuthbert's Church, Edinburgh.

Napier is relatively little-known outside mathematical and engineering circles, where he made what is undoubtedly a key advance in the use of mathematics.

Logarithms made calculations by hand much easier and quicker, and thereby opened the way to many later scientific advances. His work, Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio, contained thirty-seven pages of explanatory matter and ninety pages of tables, which facilitated the furtherment of astronomy, dynamics, physics, and astrology. He also invented Napier's bones, a multiplication aid.

As a devout Christian, Napier was also fervent biblical scholar. His commentary on the Book of Revelation is titled, A Plaine Discourse on the Whole Revelation of St. John., and was published in 1593.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Simon the Zealot

Simon the Zealot was a brother of James the Great and St Jude Thaddeus. He is portrayed with a large, serrated saw. It was with this that he was eventually martyred for his faith. St Simon was cut in half by heathens in a most gruesome way. Image courtesy of www.art.nlThe apostle Simon, called Simon the Zealot in Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13; and Simon Kananaios ("Simon" signifying שמעון "hearkening; listening", Standard Hebrew Šimʿon, Tiberian Hebrew Šimʿôn), was one of the most obscure among the apostles of Jesus; little is recorded of him aside from his name. Few pseudepigraphical (see pseudepigrapha) writings were connected to him (but see below), and Jerome does not include him in De viris illustribus.

The name of Simon occurs in all the passages of the synoptic gospels and Acts that give a list of apostles, without further details.

Simon the Zealot was listed as one the the twelve disciples of Christ (Matthew 10:4; Acts 1:13) sometimes referred to as "Simon the Cananean" (Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15) and some identify with Simeon of Jerusalem, which others dispute on the grounds that Simeon was described at the time of Jesus' birth some thirty years before, as an old man not far from death. . Simon, the name, stems from the Hebrew "Shimon" which means "hearing." The word "Cananean" stems from old Aramaic, meaning "zealous one."

He was chosen as one the Christ's twelve disciples (Matthew 10:2-4; Acts 1:13), sent on a mission to the the lost sheep of the house of Israel to preach "the kingdom of heaven is at hand," to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. He was told, "You received without paying; give without pay." (Matthew 10:5-8), present with the other disciples at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:20), and was with the other disciples for the Great Commission and Christ's Ascension (Matthew 28:16-20).


Friday, November 07, 2008

Korban Pesach

The lamb is one of the animals that was used as a sacrificial animal prior to 70 CE. Korban Pesach (Hebrew: קרבן פסח "sacrifice of Passover") also known as the "Paschal Lamb," or "Passover Lamb" is the sacrifice that the Torah mandates to be brought on the eve of Passover, and eaten on the first night of the holiday with bitter herbs and matzo. According to the Torah, it was first offered on the night of the Israelites' Exodus from Egypt. In Christian theology, the "Lamb of God" harkens back to these ancient Jewish Temple sacrifices in which a lamb was slain during the passover, the blood was sprinkled along the door, and the lamb was eaten.
Passover in 2009 will start on Thursday, the 9th of April and will continue for 7 days until Wednesday, the 15th of April.
The blood of this sacrifice sprinkled on the door-posts of the Israelites was to be a sign to the angel of death, when passing through the land to slay the first-born of the Egyptians that night, that he should pass by the houses of the Israelites. This is called in the Mishnah the "Egyptian Passover sacrifice" ("Pesaḥ Miẓrayim"; Pes. ix. 5). It was ordained, furthermore (Ex. xii. 24-27), that this observance should be repeated annually for all time. This so-called "Pesaḥ Dorot," the Passover of succeeding generations (Pes. l.c.), differs in many respects from the Pesaḥ Miẓrayim. In the pre-exilic period, however, Pesaḥ was rarely sacrificed in accordance with the legal prescriptions (comp. II Chron. xxxv. 18). According to Rashi, only once during their forty years of wandering in the wilderness, one year after the Exodus, was the sacrifice offered.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

T. D. Jakes

T. D. Jakes, Founder and senior pastor of The Potter’s House church in Dallas, Texas, is a celebrated speaker and author with many bestselling books to his credit, including Woman, Thou Art Loosed! and So You Call Yourself a Man?Thomas Dexter "T. D." Jakes Sr. (born June 9, 1957) is an American pastor of the The Potter's House, a 30,000 member church in Dallas, Texas. It is a non-denominational megachurch.

His church services and evangelistic sermons are broadcast on The Potter's Touch, which airs on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Black Entertainment Television and The Word Network, . Other aspects of Jakes' ministry include an annual revival called "MegaFest" (which draws more than 100,000 people during that period of time), an annual women's conference called "Woman Thou Art Loosed", and gospel music recordings.

Thomas Dexter Jakes was born on June 9, 1957 in South Charleston, West Virginia to Ernest Jakes, Sr., a janitor and entrepreneur , and Odith, an educator. Even as a child he was known in his West Virginian neighborhood as "the Bible boy." He was also told he would never be able to preach because of his bad lisp. Shortly after his father's death from kidney failure, Jakes decided to go into ministry. In 1979, with very little funds of his own and with only ten initial members, he founded Greater Emmanuel Temple of Faith as a storefront church in Montgomery, West Virginia. Jakes maintained his day job digging ditches in order to support his ministry until the church was able to support him. During its first 10 years, the church grew to over 1,000 members. In 1982, Jakes turned to full-time ministry.


Monday, November 03, 2008


Christianity and Jewish prophecy is: Old Testament Bible prophecies interpreted by some to concern a Messiah, which are thought by Christians to have been fulfilled by Jesus during his time on earth, as described in the New Testament.

Prophecy, in a broad sense, is the prediction of future events. The etymology of the word is ultimately Greek, from pro- "before" plus the root of phanai "speak", i. e. "speaking before" or "foretelling" (proclamation), but prophecy can be supernatural, subnatural, or natural phenomena, whether it is communication with a deity, the reading of magical signs, astrology, or guesswork. It is also used as a general term for the revelation of divine will.

Following is a list of verses from the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible, Old Testament) that show Christian interpretations regarding Messianic prophecies, supporting the claim that Jesus has been promised by God to be born as a human, and is the awaited Messiah:


virgin birth of Jesus

The Birth of the Virgin, 1365, Artist: Giovanni Da Milano. Fresco, Rinuccini Chapel, Santa Croce, FlorenceThe virgin birth of Jesus is a religious tenet of Christianity and Islam which holds that Mary miraculously conceived Jesus while remaining a virgin. A universally held belief in the Christian church by the second century, this doctrine was included in the two most widely used Christian creeds, which state that Jesus "was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary" (the Nicene Creed as revised by the First Council of Constantinople) and was “born of the Virgin Mary” (Apostles’ Creed), and was not seriously challenged, except by some minor sects, before the Enlightenment theology of the eighteenth century.

The gospels of Matthew and Luke say that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. These gospels, later tradition and current doctrine present Jesus' conception as a miracle involving no natural father, no sexual intercourse, and no male seed in any form. The Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 1:18) additionally presents the virgin birth of Jesus as fulfilling a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah:

13 And he said, "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:13-14 ESV)


Saturday, November 01, 2008

N.T. Wright

Tom (N.T.) Wright is the Bishop of Durham of the Anglican Church and a leading British New Testament scholar. Ordinarily he is known as "Tom Wright", although his academic work has always been published under the name "NT Wright" (Nicholas Thomas). He is generally perceived as coming from a moderately evangelical perspective. He is associated with the so-called Third Quest for the Historical Jesus, and the New Perspective on Paul (a complex movement with many unique positions, originating from the probing works of James Dunn and E. P. Sanders). He argues that the current understanding of Jesus must be connected with what is known to be true about him from the historical perspective of first century Judaism and Christianity.

Wright has written over 30 books.

He has completed three books in a projected six-volume scholarly series Christian Origins and the Question of God. These are:
  1. The New Testament and the People of God,
  2. Jesus and the Victory of God and
  3. The Resurrection of the Son of God.
He has also written books on a popular level, including The Challenge of Jesus and the projected twelve volume For Everyone Bible commentary series in a similar vein to William Barclay's Daily Study Bible series.

His work has been praised by scholars from a wide range of views, such as Professor James DG Dunn, Richard B. Hays and Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. However, critics of his work are also found across the broad range of theological camps, from conservatives such as J. Ligon Duncan to liberals like Robert J. Miller.

Educated at Sedbergh School, then in Yorkshire, Wright specialised in Classics.

From 1968 to 1971, he studied theology and then Literae Humaniores (sometimes called "Greats", i.e. classical literature, philosophy and history) at Exeter College, Oxford. During that time he was president of the undergraduate Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union.


The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, 1722, Artist: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Oil on canvas, 167 x 139 cm, San Stae, Venice"Bartholomew": in Aramaic "bar-Talemai?", Greek: "son of Tolmai" or from Ptolemais, often identified with the Nathanael of John 1:45-1:51.

The name Nathanael is derived from the Hebrew: "Nathanael" a male given name that means "gift of God" (from Hebrew natan "he gives" + el "God").

Bartholomew (Nathanael) was born in Cana of Galilee (John 21:2). When Philip told him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 46 Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." (John 1:46)

He was listed as one of Christ's twelve disciples (Matthew 10:2-4; Acts 1:13).

He was honest
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" (John 1:47)


Thursday, October 30, 2008


Abraham (אַבְרָהָם "Father/Leader of many", (circa 1900 BCE) Standard Hebrew Avraham, Arabic ابراهيم) is regarded as the founding patriarch of the Israelites whom God chose to bless out of all the families of the earth. He is a critical figure in both Judaism and Christianity, and is a very important prophet in Islam. Accounts of his life are given in the Book of Genesis and also in the Qur'an.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are sometimes referred to as the "Abrahamic religions", because of the role Abraham plays in their holy books and beliefs. In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Abraham is described as a patriarch blessed by God (the Jewish people called him "Father Abraham"), and promised great things. Jews and Christians consider him father of the people of Israel through his son Isaac; Muslims regard him as the father of the Arabs through his son Ishmael. In Christian belief, Abraham is a model of faith, and his intention to obey God by offering up Isaac is seen as a foreshadowing of God's offering of his son, Jesus. In Islam, Abraham obeyed God by offering up Ishmael and is considered to be one of the most important prophets sent by God.

His original name was Abram (אַבְרָם "High/Exalted father/leader"); he was the foremost of the Biblical patriarchs. Later:
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly." 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 "Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.

Abraham was commanded by God to offer his son up as a sacrifice in the land of Moriah (see Mount Moriah). Proceeding to obey, he was prevented by an angel as he was about to sacrifice his son, and slew a ram which he found on the spot.


The Cambridge Declaration

The Cambridge Declaration is a statement of faith written in 1996 by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, a group of Reformed and Lutheran Evangelicals who were concerned with the state of the Evangelical movement in America, and throughout the world.

Both the conference and the eventual declaration came about as a result of David F. Wells' 1993 book No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? (ISBN 0-8028-0747-X). This book was highly critical of the Evangelical church in America for abandoning its historical and theological roots, and instead embracing the philosophies and pragmatism of the world.

While not a best seller, the book was critically acclaimed by a number of important Evangelical leaders. In 1994 a number of these leaders formed the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Since much of Wells' thesis stemmed from the modern church's abandonment of historical confessions of faith (such as the Westminster Confession of Faith and the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith), the Alliance was based upon Evangelicals who not only adhered to these Reformed confessions of faith, but were able to direct their ministries accordingly.




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