Tuesday, March 31, 2009


King David in Prayer Artist: Pieter de Grebber, Date: 1635-40. Medium: Oil on canvas, 94  84 cm Location: Museum Catharijneconvent, UtrechtDavid (Standard Hebrew דָּוִד, Davíd, "Beloved", Arabic داوود, Dā'ūd, "Beloved") was the second king of the united kingdom of Israel (c. 1005 BC – 965 BC) and successor to King Saul. His life and rule are recorded in the Hebrew Bible's books of First Samuel (from chapter 16 onwards), Second Samuel, First Kings and Second Kings (to verse 4). First Chronicles gives further stories of David, mingled with lists and genealogies.

He is depicted as the most righteous of all the ancient kings of Israel - although not without fault - as well as an acclaimed warrior, musician and poet (he is traditionally credited with the authorship of many of the Psalms). 2 Samuel 7:12-16 states that God was so pleased with David that He promised that the Davidic line would endure forever; Jews therefore believe that the Jewish Messiah will be a direct descendant of King David, and Christians trace the lineage of Jesus back to him through both Mary and Joseph.

The nature of his reign and even his existence have been questioned and debated, rejected and defended by modern biblical scholars, but the account given in the Hebrew Bible remains widely accepted by the majority of ordinary Jews and Christians and his story has been of central importance to Western culture.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

history of South Africa

Satellite image of Cape peninsula, Courtesy of NASAThe written history of South Africa begins with the arrival of the first European explorers to the region. The Portuguese, the first Europeans to see South Africa, chose not to colonise it, and instead the Dutch set up a supply depot on the Cape of Good Hope. This depot rapidly developed into the Cape Colony. The British seized the Cape Colony from the Dutch in the end of the 18th century, and the Cape Colony became a British colony. The ever-expanding number of European settlers prompted fights with the natives over the rights to land and farming, which caused numerous fatalities on both sides. Hostilities also emerged between the Dutch and the British, and many Dutch people trekked into the central Highveld in order to establish their own colonies. The Dutch (by then known as Boers) and the British went to war twice in the Anglo-Boer Wars, which ended in the defeat of the Boers and of their independent republics.

The Cape Colony, Natal and the two Boer republics unified in 1910 as the Union of South Africa.
Black people were not granted suffrage in the Boer republics, and the rights of Black, Coloured, and Asian people continued to erode in the Union.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Gospels

The front side of folios 13 and 14 of a Greek papyrus manuscript of the Gospel of Luke containing verses 11:50–12:12 and 13:6-24, P. Chester Beatty IBooks in the new testament referred to as the Gospels:

In Christianity, a gospel (from Old English, "good news") is generally one of four canonical books of the New Testament that describe the miraculous birth, life, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. These books are the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, written between 65 and 100 AD.

Many modern scholars argue that the sequence in which the Gospel accounts have traditionally been printed in the Bible is not the order of their composition, and that the first canonical gospel to have been written is Mark (c 65-70), which in turn was used as a source for the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Matthew and Luke may have also used the hypothetical Q Document. These first three gospels are called the synoptic gospels because they share a similar view. The last gospel, the gospel of John, presents a very different picture of Jesus and his ministry from the synoptics. The canonical gospels were originally written in Greek.


Friday, March 27, 2009

John the Apostle

St John the Evangelist, imagined by Jacopo Pontormo, ca 1525 (Santa Felicita, Florence)John the Apostle (יוחנן "The LORD is merciful", Greek Ευαγγελιστής Ιωάννης), was one of The Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Christian tradition proclaims he is the same person who wrote:
  • the Gospel of John and first epistle of John (the author of these is also referred to as John the Evangelist, John the Theologian or John the Divine)
  • the second and third Epistle of John (the author of these is sometimes distinguished under the name of John the Presbyter).
  • the Book of Revelation (the author is sometimes referred to as John of Patmos or John the Revelator).
John the Apostle was the son of Zebedee, and the brother of James. One tradition gives his mother's name as Salome.

John and James were originally fishermen and fished with their father in the Lake of Genesareth (the Sea of Galilee).


Thursday, March 26, 2009


Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicized as Tertullian, (ca. 155–230) was a church leader and prolific author during the early years of Christianity. He was born, lived, and died in Carthage [vmap of Carthage] in what is today Tunisia.

Tertullian denounced Christian doctrines he considered heretical, but later in life adopted views that came to be regarded as heretical themselves. He was the first great writer of Latin Christianity, thus sometimes known as the "father of the Latin Church".

He introduced the term Trinity, as the Latin trinitas, to the Christian vocabulary and also probably of the formula "three Persons, one Substance" as the Latin "tres Personae, una Substantia" (itself from the Koine Greek "treis Hypostases, Homoousios") and also the terms vetus testamentum ("old testament") and novum testamentum ("new testament").


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Billy Graham

Billy Graham with the Reagans, February 5, 1981. White House photo officeThe Rev. Dr. William Franklin Graham, Jr. KBE (born November 7, 1918 in Charlotte, North Carolina), commonly known as "Billy Graham," is an American Christian evangelist. He has often advised U.S. presidents and continues to be listed as one of the "Ten Most Admired Men in the World" in Gallup Polls. He is of Scottish descent.

Raised as a Presbyterian, Billy Graham switched denominations to Southern Baptist in 1934 during a Christian revival meeting conducted by Mordecai Ham. Graham was ordained a Southern Baptist minister in 1939.

After graduating from Sharon High School in May 1936, Graham attended Bob Jones College (now Bob Jones University) but found it to be extremely fundamentalist and, considering this disobliging, he transferred to the Florida Bible Institute, now Trinity College of Florida, in 1937 and graduated from Wheaton College in 1943.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009


To be like Christ; showing the spirit of Christ.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” —Mark 1:35-37, NIV
We know about Jesus
  • healing the sick;
  • raising the dead;
  • throwing the money-changers out of the House of God;
  • having mercey on the woman caught in the act of adultery;
  • feeding the five thousand from a few pieces of bread and a few fish;
  • performing many miracles
However, in the above passage we see Jesus in the fullness of His character.


Sunday, March 22, 2009


An American family Bible dating to 1859. Most religions have religious texts they view as sacred. Many religions and spiritual movements believe that their sacred texts are wholly divine or spiritually inspired in origin. The names of sacred scriptures are often capitalized as a mark of respect or tradition.
4For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
(Romans 15:4 ESV)
The word scripture gets its original meaning from Greek word graphe:
  • grafh
  • graphe
  • graf-ay
which means "writing," "a document," or "Holy Writ." The writings (or documents) of the Old and New Testaments were eventually canonized.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kingdom of Kush

Aerial view of the pyramids at MeroëThe Kingdom of Kush was an ancient African state centered in the confluences of the Blue Nile, White Nile and Atbarah River in what is now the Republic of Sudan. It was one of the earliest civilizations to develop in the Nile Valley. The Kushite civilization has also been referred to as Nubia, and as Ethiopia in ancient Greek and Roman records. The Kushite state was formed before a period of Egyptian incursion into the area. According to Josephus and other classical writers, a Kushite Empire covered all of Africa and some parts of Asia and Europe at one time or another.

The first cultures arose in Sudan before the time of a unified Egypt, and the most widespread is known as the Kerma civilization. It is through Egyptian, Hebrew, Ancient Rome|Roman and Greeks|Greek records that most of our knowledge of Kush comes.

The Egyptians took control of Kush in ca. 1520 BC, but their grip on the area would decline over the next 500 years, until the Kushites became independent. The Kushites buried their monarchs along with all their courtiers in mass graves. The Kushites also built burial mounds and pyramids, and shared some of the same gods worshiped in Egypt, especially Amon and Isis.


Friday, March 20, 2009

The Four Loves

Cover image for The Four Loves, published by Harvest Books (September 29, 1971). Created by Christie’s Images/CORBIS. The image is being used per fair use.The Four Loves is a book by C. S. Lewis which explores the nature of love from a Christian perspective through thought-experiments and examples from literature. The content of the examination is prefaced by Lewis' admission that he initially mistook John the Apostle's words "God is Love" (1 John 4:7-9, 1 John 4:15-17) for a simple inroads to his topic. By distinguishing need-love (such as the love of a child for its mother) from gift-love (epitomized by God's love for humanity), Lewis happens upon the contemplative that the natures of even these basic categorizations of love are more complicated than they, at first, seem. As a result, he formulates the foundation of his topic ("the highest does not stand without the lowest") by exploring the nature of pleasure, and then divides love into four categories, based in part on the four Greek words for love: affection, friendship, eros, and charity. It must be noted, states Lewis, that just as Lucifer—a former archangel—perverted himself by pride and fell into depravity, so too can love— commonly held to be the arch-emotion—become corrupt by presuming itself to be what it is not ("love begins to be a demon the moment he begins to be a god").

Affection (Storgē," στοργη) is fondness through familiarity, especially between family members or people who have otherwise found themselves together by chance. It is described as the most natural, emotive, and widely diffused of loves: natural in that it is present without coercion; emotive because it is the result of fondness due to familiarity; and most widely diffused because it pays the least attention to those characteristics deemed "valuable" or worthy of love and, as a result, is able to transcend most discriminating factors. Ironically, its strength, however, is what makes it vulnerable. Affection has the appearance of being "built-in" or "ready made", says Lewis, and as a result people come to expect, even to demand, its presence—irrespective of their behavior and its natural consequences.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Johannes Kepler

Portrait of Johannes KeplerJohannes Kepler (December 27, 1571 – November 15, 1630) was a German Lutheran mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, and a key figure in the 17th century astronomical revolution. He is best known for his laws of planetary motion, based on his works Astronomia nova and Harmonice Mundi; Kepler's laws provided one of the foundations of Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravitation. Before Kepler's laws, planets' orbits were believed to be circular. Kepler's laws of planetary motion proved that the planets' orbits were actually elliptical.

Through his career Kepler was a mathematics teacher at a Graz seminary school (later the University of Graz, Austria), an assistant to Tycho Brahe, court mathematician to Emperor Rudolf II, mathematics teacher in Linz, Austria, and adviser to General Wallenstein.

He also did fundamental work in the field of optics and helped to legitimize the telescopic discoveries of his contemporary Galileo Galilei.


Babylonian exile

Mural near the reconstructed Ishtar gate, depicting the palace quarter of Nebuchadnezzar&quote;s Babylon. The Ishtar gate is shown in the top left corner of the imageBabylonian captivity, or Babylonian exile, is the name generally given to the deportation and exile of the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar II.

Historical account
Three separate occasions are mentioned (Jeremiah 52:28-30). The first was in the time of Jehoiachin Jehoiakim in 597 BCE, when the Temple of Jerusalem was partially despoiled, and a number of the leading citizens were removed.

28 This is the number of the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive: in the seventh year, 3,023 Judeans; 29 in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar he carried away captive from Jerusalem 832 persons; 30 in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the Judeans 745 persons; all the persons were 4,600. (Jeremiah 52:28-30 ESV)


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mount Nebo

The Dead Sea is viewable in the distance from atop Mount Nebo. The promised land is just beyond the Jordan River and the Dead SeaMount Nebo (Arabic: جبل نيبو; transliterated: Jabal Nībū) is an elevated ridge that is approximately 817 metres (2680 feet) above sea level, in what is now western Jordan. The view from the summit provides a panorama of the Holy Land, and to the north, a more limited one of the valley of the River Jordan. The West Bank city of Jericho is usually visible from the summit, as is Jerusalem on a very clear day.
Distances to various Holy Land locations from atop Mount Nebo, Jordan:Hebrew prophet Moses was given a view of the promised land that God was giving to the Hebrews.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Clive Staples Lewis

Clive Staples LewisClive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis was a Northern Irish author and scholar, born into a Church of Ireland family in Belfast, although mostly resident in England in adulthood. Lewis is known for his work on medieval literature, for his Christian apologetics and for his fiction, especially the children’s series entitled The Chronicles of Narnia and his science fiction Space Trilogy. He was also a leading figure in an Oxford literary group called the Inklings.

Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to Albert James Lewis and Flora Augusta Hamilton Lewis on November 29th, 1898. At the age of 4, shortly after his dog 'Jacksie' was run over by a car, Lewis announced that his name was now Jacksie. At first he would answer to no other name, but later accepted Jacks which became Jack, the name by which he was known to friends and family for the rest of his life. When he was six his family moved into a new house called Leeborough or Little Lea in Strandtown.

He had a brother named Warren Hamilton Lewis (Warnie), three years his elder. Lewis' mother died in 1908, and he was schooled by occasional tutors. He was sent to a school in England at age nine following his brother.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Crown of Thorns

A Crown Of ThornsIn Christianity, the Crown of Thorns (Greek: στεφανον εξ ακανθων, stephanos ek akantha "crown"+"of"+"a thorn"), one of the instruments of the Passion, was the woven chaplet of thorn branches worn by Jesus before his crucifixion. It is mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew (27:29), Mark (15:17), and John (19:2, 5) and is often alluded to by the Early Church Fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and others.

John the Evangelist describes it like this:

1 Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands. (John 19:1-3 ESV)
Following Genesis 3:17-19—

17 And to Adam he said,

"Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (ESV)
— thorns were seen by Christian writers as emblems of The Fall of Man.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Aleppo Codex

A page from the Aleppo Codex, Deuteronomy.The Aleppo Codex (Hebrew: כֶּתֶר אֲרָם צוֹבָא) was the oldest complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible according to the Tiberian masorah, produced and edited by the influential masorete Aaron ben Asher. However, approximately one-third of it, including nearly all of the Torah, has been missing since 1947. It is also considered the most authoritative document in the masorah ("transmission"), the tradition by which the Hebrew Scriptures have been preserved from generation to generation. Thus the Aleppo Codex is seen as the most authoritative source document for both the biblical text and its vocalization, cantillation as it has been proven to have been the most faithful to the Masoretic principles.

The Aleppo Codex has a long history of consultation by Rabbinic authorities (it is cited in numerous responsa). Modern studies have shown it to be the most accurate representation of Masoretic principles to be found in any extant manuscript, containing very few errors among the millions of orthographic details that make up the Masoretic text.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Georges Lemaître

Father George Lemaître, of Belgium. Roman Catholic Priest.Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Éduard Lemaître (July 17, 1894 – June 20, 1966) was a Belgian Roman Catholic priest, honorary prelate, professor of physics and astronomer.

Fr. (later Msgr.) Lemaître proposed what became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe, although he called it his 'hypothesis of the primeval atom'.

He was a pioneer in applying Einstein's theory of general relativity to cosmology: suggesting a pre-cursor of Hubble's law in 1927, and then publishing his primeval atom theory in the pages of Nature in 1931. At the time Einstein believed in an eternal universe and had previously expressed his skepticism about Lemaître's original 1927 paper. A similar solution to Einstein's equations, suggesting a changing radius to the size of the universe, had been proposed in 1922 by Alexander Alexandrovich Friedman, as Einstein informed Lemaître when he approached him with the theory at the 1927 Solvay Conference (Friedman had also been criticized by Einstein), but it is Lemaître, with his proposed mechanism, that made the theory famous for several reasons according to historians.


Thursday, March 12, 2009


Statue of Martin Luther outside the Marienkirche in central BerlinIn Christian theology, justification is God's act making a sinner righteous before Him by His grace, received through the faith given to the person by God, for Christ's sake, because of his life, death, and resurrection. Because the meaning of the term is subject to dispute among Christians, simple definitions should be taken with a grain of salt.

Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that 'the just shall live by his faith.' Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. -Martin Luther


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Christian Music

DoveThe Christian church creates Christian music or adapts existing music for Christian use. Contemporary Christian music explores Christian themes, but not always in the confines of the church. Music makes up a large part of Christian worship and includes the singing of hymns, vocalized psalms, vocal and instrumental versions of spiritual songs for the purpose of uplifting and praising God. Musical instruments often accompany singing in the service, either through live performance or the use of soundtracks. Some churches employ only a cappella music to worship God. On other occasions instrumental music only expresses praise toward God. Churches today use these methods of musical expression in many different combinations to offer their praise to God.

Being Jewish, Jesus and his disciples would most likely have sung the psalms from memory.

However, without a centralised music industry, the repertoire of ordinary people was much greater than it is today, so they probably knew other songs too. Early Christians continued to sing the psalms much as they were sung in the synagogues in the first century.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Young Earth creationism

Behemoth and Leviathan, an engraving by William BlakeYoung Earth creationism (YEC) is the religious belief that the Heavens, Earth, and life on Earth were created by direct acts of God during a short period, sometime between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. Its adherents are those Christians and Jews who believe that God created the Earth in six 24-hour days, taking the Hebrew text of Genesis as a literal account. Some adherents believe that existing evidence in the natural world today supports a strict interpretation of scriptural creation as historical fact. Those adherents believe that the scientific evidence supporting evolution, geological uniformitarianism, or other theories which are at odds with a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation account, are either flawed or misinterpreted.

Many Young Earth creationists (YECs) are active in the development of creation science, an endeavor that holds that the events associated with supernatural creation can be evidenced and modelled through an interpretation of the scientific method. This has led to the establishment of a number of Young Earth Creation Science organizations such as the Institute for Creation Research, Creation Research Society and Creation Ministries International.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus

Christ before the High PriestThe Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus is an event reported by all the Canonical Gospels, in Mark 14:53–65, Matthew 26:57–68, Luke 22:63–71 and John 18:12-24. After the arrest of Jesus, the Canonical Gospels report that Jesus was taken to the Sanhedrin, a legal body composed of the chief Sadduccees, Pharisees, and elders (Kilgallen 255). The precise location and nature of the trial varies between the canonical Gospels, and particularly between the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John.

In the Synoptics, Jesus is taken to the Sanhedrin, with Matthew adding that the Sanhedrin had assembled where Caiaphas was located, possibly implying that the gathering occurred at the home of Caiaphas.

At the time in which the narrative is set, this body was an ad hoc gathering, rather than a fixed court (Brown 146), as in the latter Council of Jamnia, and its gathering in Caiaphas' home is historically plausible, though irregular. Daniel J. Harrington argues that being located in a home makes it more likely that this was a small first preliminary hearing and not a full trial. According to Rabbinic Judaism, the Sanhedrin of the Pharisees, probably a different sanhedrin, was led by Gamaliel from approximately the year 9 to 50. This is believed to be the same Gamaliel who appears in Acts 5:34 and 22:3. Shammai may have also played a role.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

Joseph of Arimathea

Jesus being taken down from the cross by Joseph of ArimatheaJoseph of Arimathea, according to the Gospels, was the man who donated his own prepared tomb for the burial of Jesus after Jesus was crucified. A native of Arimathea, he was apparently a man of wealth, and a member of the Sanhedrin (which is the way bouleutēs, literally "senator", is interpreted in Matthew 27:57 and Luke 23:50). Joseph was an "honourable counsellor, who waited (or "was searching" which is not the same thing) for the kingdom of God" (Mark, 15:43). As soon as he heard the news of Jesus' death, he "went in boldly" (literally "having summoned courage, he went") "unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus."

Pontius Pilate, who was reassured by a centurion that the death had really taken place, allowed Joseph's request. Joseph immediately purchased fine linen (Mark 15:46) and proceeded to Golgotha to take the body down from the cross. There, assisted by Nicodemus, he took the body and wrapped it in the fine linen, sprinkling it with the myrrh and aloes which Nicodemus had brought (John 19:39).

The body was then conveyed to a new tomb that had been hewn for Joseph himself out of a rock in his garden nearby. There they laid it, in the presence of Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and other women, and rolled a great stone to the entrance, and departed (Luke 23:53, 55). This was done speedily, "for the Sabbath was drawing on".


Saturday, March 07, 2009

Mount Hermon

virtual map of the Mount Hermon areaMount Hermon (33°24′N 35°51′E ; Hebrew: הר חרמון, Har Hermon; Arabic: جبل الشيخ‎, Jabal el-Shaiykh, Djabl a-Shekh, "mountain of the chief" and "snowy mountain") is a mountain in the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. Its highest point is 2,814 m (9,230 feet) above sea level, and is on the border between Syria and Lebanon.

Though the summit remained under Syrian control, the southern and western slopes of Mount Hermon came under the control of Israel as part of the Golan Heights as a result of the Israeli victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, and were unilaterally annexed by Israel in 1980.

Mount Hermon was called Senir by the Amorites and Sirion by the Sidonians (Deuteronomy 3:9; Psalms 29:6; 1 Chronicles 5:23; Song of Solomon 4:8; Ezekiel 27:5). The mountain served as the northern boundary of the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 3:8) and also was the northern limit of the Conquest (Joshua 11:17; 12:1; 13:5).


Friday, March 06, 2009

watchmaker analogy

A gold pocket watchThe watchmaker analogy, or watchmaker argument, is a teleological argument for the existence of God. By way of an analogy the argument states that design implies a designer. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the analogy was used (by René Descartes and Boyle, for instance) as a device for explaining the structure of the universe and God's. relationship to it. Later, the analogy played a prominent role in natural theology and the "argument from design," where it was used to support arguments for the existence of God and for the intelligent design of the universe.

The most famous statement of the teleological argument using the watchmaker analogy was given by William Paley in 1802.

Paley's argument was seriously challenged by Charles Darwin's formulation of the theory of natural selection, and how it combines with mutation to improve survivability of a species, even a new species. In the United States, starting in the 1980s, the concepts of evolution and natural selection (usually referred to as "Darwinism") became the subject of a concerted attack by Christian creationists. This attack included a renewed interest in, and defense of, the watchmaker argument by the intelligent design movement.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

History of Protestantism

The Reformation Wall in Geneva. From left: William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and John KnoxThe History of Protestantism begins with the Reformation movement, which began as an attempt to reform the Catholic Church and led to the fracturing of Christendom. Many western Christians were troubled by what they saw as false doctrines and malpractices within the Church, particularly involving the teaching and sale of indulgences. Another major contention was the rampant Simony and the tremendous corruption found at the time within the Church's hierarchy. At the time, this systemic corruption often reached all the way up to the Bishop of Rome himself, the Pope.

On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses On the Power of Indulgences to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church, which served as a pin board for university-related announcements. This document outlined Luther's criticisms of the Church and the Pope. The most controversial points centered on the practice of selling indulgences and the Church's policy on purgatory. Among Luther's spiritual predecessors were men such as John Wycliffe and Jan Hus. Other reformers, such as Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin, soon followed Luther's lead. Church beliefs and practices under attack by Protestant reformers included purgatory, particular judgment, devotion to Mary, the intercession of the saints, most of the sacraments, and the authority of the Pope.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Thomas AquinasPhilosophy is the study of general problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, truth, beauty, justice, validity, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing these questions (such as Christian mysticism or mythology) by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on reasoned argument. The word philosophy is of Ancient Greek origin: φιλοσοφία (philosophía), meaning "love of wisdom."

To give an exhaustive list of the main branches of philosophy is difficult, because there have been different, equally acceptable divisions at different times, and the divisions are often relative to the concerns of a particular period. However, the following branches are usually accepted as the main areas of study.

  • Metaphysics investigates the nature of being and the world. Traditional branches are cosmology and Ontology.

  • Epistemology is concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge, and whether knowledge is possible. Among its central concerns has been the challenge posed by skepticism and the relationships between truth, belief, and justification.

  • Ethics, or 'moral philosophy', is concerned with questions of how persons ought to act or if such questions are answerable. The main branches of ethics are meta-ethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. meta-ethics concerns the nature of ethical thought, comparison of various ethical systems, whether there are absolute ethical truths, and how such truths could be known. Ethics is also associated with the idea of morality. Plato's early dialogues include a search for definitions of virtue.

  • Political philosophy is the study of government and the relationship of individuals and communities to the state. It includes questions about justice, the good, law, property, and the rights and obligations of the citizen.

  • Aesthetics deals with beauty, art, enjoyment, sensory-emotional values, perception, and matters of taste and sentiment.

  • Logic deals with patterns of thinking that lead from true premises to true conclusions, originally developed in Ancient Greece. Beginning in the late 19th century, mathematicians such as Frege focused on a mathematical treatment of logic, and today the subject of logic has two broad divisions: mathematical logic (formal symbolic logic) and what is now called philosophical logic.

  • Philosophy of mind deals with the nature of the mind and its relationship to the body, and is typified by disputes between dualism and materialism. In recent years there has been increasing similarity between this branch of philosophy and cognitive science.

  • Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Photograph of medieval canvas Abraham and Melchisedek at The Church of Saint Peter, Leuven, BelgiumMelchizedek (Hebrew: מלכי–צדק Malkiy-Tsedeq, sometimes written Malchizedek, Melchisedec, Melchisedech, Melchisedek or Melkisedek), is a figure mentioned by the Hebrew Bible, in the Book of Genesis, where he interacts with Abraham and in a Psalm, of David.
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said,

"Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!" (Gen. 14:18-20 ESV)
Exalted things are spoken of Christ in Psalm 110. He should not only be the unrivalled King above all the kings of the earth, but He has simultaneously always existed, in glory, as the eternal Son of God. He will rest, while sitting at God's right hand, after completing His work and suffering; He will dispense law, and judgment upon the enemies of the Most High God. Yet, He remains seated, at rest, as the eternal King. All his enemies are known and collected, but the time has not yet arrived that they should be his footstool. His kingdom, being established, will be impregnable in the world, despite all its powers of darkness.


Monday, March 02, 2009


Samson and DelilahSamson, Shimshon (Hebrew: שמשון, Standard Šimšon Tiberian Šimšôn; meaning "of the sun" – perhaps proclaiming he was radiant and mighty, or "[One who] Serves [God]") or Shamshoun شمشون (Arabic) is the third to last of the Judges of the ancient Children of Israel mentioned in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), and the Talmud. He is described in the Book of Judges chapters 13 to 16.

The exploits of Samson also appear in Antiquities of the Jews written by Jewish historian Flvaius Josephus in the last decade of the 1st Century AD, as well as in works by Pseudo-Philo, written slightly earlier.

Samson is a Herculean figure, who is granted tremendous strength through the Spirit of the Lord to combat his enemies and perform heroic feats unachievable by ordinary men: wrestling a lion, slaying an entire army with nothing more than the jawbone of an ass, and destroying a temple.

He is believed to be buried in Tel Tzora in Israel overlooking Nahal Sorek. There reside two large gravestones of Samson and his father Manoah. Nearby stands Manoach’s altar (Judges 13:19-24). It is located between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol.


Sunday, March 01, 2009


The prophet Ezekiel, Sistine ChapelThe book of Ezekiel is a book of the Jewish Hebrew bible as well as the Christian Old Testament, attributed to the prophet Ezekiel (Hebrew: יחזקאל, Yehezkel).

The Book of Ezekiel gives little detail about Ezekiel's life. In it, he is mentioned only twice by name: 1:3 and 24:24. Ezekiel is a priest, the son of Buzi (my contempt), and his name means "God will strengthen". He was one of the Israelite exiles, who settled at a place called Tel-abib, on the banks of the Chebar, "in the land of the Chaldean dynasty." The place is thus not identical to the modern city Tel Aviv-Yafo, which is, however, named after it. He was probably carried away captive with Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:14-16) about 597 BC.

Ezekiel, like Jeremiah, is said to have been a descendant of Joshua by his marriage with the proselyte Rahab (Talmud Meg. 14b; Midrash Sifre, Num. 78). Some scholars claim that he (Ezekiel) was Jeremiah or the son of Jeremiah, who was (also) called "Buzi" because he was despised by the Jews. He was already active as a prophet while in Israel, and he retained this gift when he was exiled with Jehoiachin and the nobles of the country to Babylon (Flavius Josephus, Ant. x. 6, § 3: "while he was still a boy"; comp. Rashi on Sanh. 92b, above). In the event Jeremiah and Ezekiel were indeed the same person, Hilkiah the priest was his father.




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