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.




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