Thursday, April 30, 2009


an unborn fetus in the mothers womb, a newborn babyAn abortion is the removal or expulsion from the uterus of an embryo or fetus, resulting in or caused by its death. This can occur spontaneously as a miscarriage, or be artificially induced through chemical, surgical or other means.

Commonly, "abortion" refers to an induced abortion procedure at any point in the pregnancy; medically, it is defined as a miscarriage or induced termination before twenty weeks gestation, which is considered nonviable.

There have been various methods of inducing abortion throughout history. The moral and legal aspects of abortion are the subject of intense debate in many parts of the world.

Early Christian writers condemned abortion explicitly. There is no known Early Christian text that contains any exceptions under which abortion would be morally permissible.

The Didache, which most scholars consider to be written in the latter 1st century A.D., comments on the commandment, "you shall do nothing to any man that you would not wish to be done to yourself", by saying:
... Commit no murder, adultery, sodomy, fornication, or theft. Practise no magic, sorcery, abortion, or infanticide....


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Christian art

Entry into Jerusalem. Artist: French Miniaturist. Date: c. 1100. Medium: Illumination on parchment. Location: Bibliothèque Nationale, ParisChristian art is art that spans many segments of Christianity. Per each religious sect, art mediums, style, and representations change; however, the unifying theme is ultimately the representation of the life and times of Jesus Christ and in some cases the Old Testament.

Much of the art surviving from Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire is Christian art. While the Western Roman Empire's political structure essentially collapsed after the fall of Rome, its religious hierarchy, what is today the modern-day Catholic Church funded and supported production of sacred art. The Orthodox Church of Constantinople, which enjoyed greater stability within the surviving Eastern Empire was key in funding arts there, and glorifying Christianity.

As a stable Western European society emerged during the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church led the way in terms of art, using its resources to commission paintings and sculptures. Christian art is found in architecture principally in the form of churches, cathedrals, monasteries and tombs.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Triple-alpha process

The Triple-alpha process is a set of nuclear fusion reactions by which three helium nuclei (alpha particles) are transformed into carbon.

Hoyle's Contribution to cosmology
An early paper of Sir Frederick "Fred" Hoyle made an interesting use of the "anthropic principle. In trying to work out the routes of stellar nucleosynthesis, he observed that one particular nuclear reaction, the Triple-alpha process, which generated carbon, would require the carbon nucleus to have a very specific energy for it to work. The large amount of carbon in the universe, which makes it possible for carbon-based lifeforms (e.g. humans) to exist, demonstrated that this nuclear reaction must work. Based on this notion, he made a prediction of the energy levels in the carbon nucleus that was later borne out by experiment.

However, those energy levels, while needed in order to produce carbon in large quantities, were statistically very unlikely. Hoyle later wrote:
Would you not say to yourself, "Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule." Of course you would...A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.

Monday, April 27, 2009

timeline of Christianity

A folio from P46, early 3rd c. New Testament manuscript useful in discerning the early Christian canon.The purpose of this chronology is to give a detailed account of Christianity from the beginning of the current era to the present. Question marks on dates indicate approximate dates.

For "Old Testament" chronology, see History of ancient Israel.

The year one is the first year in the Christian calendar (there is no year zero), which is the calendar presently used (in unison with the Gregorian calendar) almost everywhere in the world, because of the current dominance of the Western world. Traditionally, this was held to be the year Jesus was born, however most modern scholars argue for an earlier date and later dates, the most agreed upon being between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C.

6 Herod Archelaus deposed by Augustus Caesar; Samaria, Judea and Idumea annexed as Iudaea Province under direct Roman administration, capital at Caesarea, Publius Sulpicius Quirinius became Legate (Governor) of Syria, conducted Census of Quirinius, opposed by Zealots (JA18, Luke 2:1-3, Acts 5:37)


Sunday, April 26, 2009


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

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

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


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ministry of Jesus

Jesus among the Doctors, c. 1558 or 1566-67, Artist: Paolo VERONESE, Oil on canvas, 236 x 430 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid.According to the Gospels, the Ministry of Jesus began when Jesus was around 30 years old, and lasted a period of 1-3 years. In the Biblical narrative, Jesus' method of teaching involved parables, metaphor, allegory, sayings, proverbs, and a small number of direct sermons. This was the first coming of Jesus, most Christian denominations believe in a Second Coming when Jesus will return to the earth to fulfill aspects of Messianic prophecy, such as the general resurrection of the dead, last judgment of the dead and the living and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth (also called the "Reign of God"), including the Messianic Age.

Some time after having rejected Satan's temptation, Jesus is described as leaving Nazareth. While Matthew doesn't explain why Jesus did this, both he and Mark mention that John the Baptist was arrested by Herod Antipas at this time. Luke gives a different circumstance, stating that Jesus left when the people of Nazareth rejected him. The texts don't recount what occurred between Jesus being tempted and John being arrested, but Jones believes that some months likely elapsed, with Jesus frequently being seen as a disciple of John the Baptist, until this was no longer possible (due to John being arrested). France argues that it was the flight from Nazareth which resulted in Jesus carrying out a ministry based on itinerant preaching, which France sees as being quite different to the ministry which John the Baptist had carried out.


Friday, April 24, 2009

social action

The ONE campaign was launched at a rally in Philadelphia with the help of Bono.In sociology, social actions refer to any action that takes into account actions and reactions of other individuals and is modified based on those events.

"Doing a '180' is putting others before yourself and also a willingness to be counter cultural."

In England in the 1830s, many poor children had no time for school or play. They worked in coal mines under inhuman conditions.

But these children had a friend in high places: Anthony Ashley Cooper, seventh Earl of Shaftesbury and a member of parliament. He was also a devoted Christian who believed God had called him to help the downtrodden. Shaftesbury fought for years to end the abusive child labor practices, although at times he felt “every hand is against me.” But he stood firm, and Parliament abolished child slavery in the mines.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Abrahamic religion

Abrahamic Religions representing about one half of the world's religionsIn the study of comparative religion, an Abrahamic religion is any of those religions deriving from a common ancient Semitic tradition and traced by their adherents to Abraham ("Father/Leader of many" Hebrew אַבְרָהָם Arabic ابراهيم), a patriarch whose life is narrated in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, and as a prophet in the Qur'an.

This forms a large group of related, largely monotheistic religions, generally held to include Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the Bahá'í Faith (based upon Islam), and comprises about half of the world's religious adherents.

According to the Jewish tradition, Abraham was the first person to reject idolatry, hence he symbolically appears as the founder of monotheistic religions. In that sense, Abrahamic religion could be simply equated with monotheistic religion, but not all monotheistic religions are Abrahamic. In Islam he is considered as the first monotheist and is often refered to as Ibrahim al-Hanif or Abraham the Monotheist. The term, desert monotheism, is sometimes used for a similar purpose of comparison in historical contexts, but not for modern faiths.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009


left: Abraham, Right: JesusThe word faith has various uses; its central meaning is similar to "belief", "trust" or "confidence", but unlike these terms, "faith" tends to imply transcending the personal rather than an interpersonal relationship – with God. 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 in which one can speak of, for example, "the Catholic faith" or "the Islamic faith." For denominational or doctrinal religions, faith also means that one accepts the religious tenets of the religion as true. For non-doctrinal or creed-oriented religions, often means that one is loyal to a particular religious community. In general, faith means being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see with your physical (as opposed to spiritual) eyes.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Presuppositional apologetics

Photo of Cornelius Van Til from The Works of Cornelius Van Til, 1895-1987, CD-ROM (New York: Labels Army Co., 1997), ISBN 0875524613Presuppositional apologetics is a school of Christian apologetics, a field of Christian theology that attempts to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and attack the alleged flaws of other worldviews. Presuppositional apologetics, argues that the existence or non-existence of God is the basic presupposition of all human thought, and that all men arrive at a worldview which is ultimately determined by the theology they presuppose. Evidence and arguments are only marshalled after the fact in an attempt to justify the theological assumptions already made. According to this view, it is impossible to demonstrate the existence of God unless one presupposes that God exists; modern science is incapable of discovering the supernatural because it relies on methodological naturalism and thereby fashions a Procrustean bed which rejects any observation which would disprove the naturalistic assumption. For example, science's methodological naturalism cannot make use of this statement:
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. -Hebrews 11:3 ESB


Monday, April 20, 2009


Tel ShiloShiloh "place of rest" (Hebrew: שלה Šīlōh, שלו Šīlô, שילו Šîlô‎) is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as a city in Ephraim and temporary home of the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle, the place where Samuel grew up.

Shiloh is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an assembly place for the people of Israel where there was a sanctuary containing the Ark of the Covenant until it was taken by the Philistines. According to the Book of Joshua 18:1, it was at Shiloh that the "whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled...and set up the tabernacle of the congregation...", being the tent which housed the ark.

Later on, the portable tent seems to have been enclosed within a compound or replaced with a standing structure with "doors" (1 Samuel 3:15) a precursor to the Temple, that survived until the time of Samuel.

At Shiloh Samuel was raised by the priest Eli and later himself served as priest there. When the Israelites were defeated at the battle of Aphek, their Philistine foes (who had already captured the Ark of the Covenant) apparently destroyed the shrine (1 Samuel 4).


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Anthropic principle

The deepest visible-light image of the cosmos. Hubble Ultra Deep FieldIn physics and cosmology, the anthropic principle is an umbrella term for various dissimilar attempts to explain the structure of the universe by way of coincidentally balanced features that are necessary and relevant to the existence on Earth of biochemistry, carbon-based life, and eventually human beings to observe such a universe. The common (and "weak") form of the anthropic principle is a truism or tautology that begins with the observation that the universe appears surprisingly hospitable to the emergence of life, particularly complex multicellular life, that can make such an observation and concludes with that premise that in only such a fine-tuned universe can such living observers be.

The idea evolved from the so-called "Dicke's coincidence", and has subsequently been reinforced by the discovery of many more anthropic coincidences since Robert Dicke first noted that the evolution of the universe is not random, but is coincidentally constrained by biological factors that require that the age of the universe had to be roughly this "golden-age". Much younger, and there would not have been time for sufficient interstellar levels of carbon to build up by nucleosynthesis, but much older, and the golden age of main sequence stars and stable planetary systems would have already come to an end.


Saturday, April 18, 2009


Christ with the crown of thorns, 1623, Oil on canvas, 106 cm x 136 cm, Catharijneconvent, UtrechtIn the arts, history, archaeology, the study of antiques, and similar fields involving unique or scarce artifacts from the past, and, with regard to documents in law, authenticity (Greek: ἀρχηγός from 'archēgos'='author')
  1. the chief leader, prince
    • of Christ
  2. one that takes the lead in any thing and thus affords an example, a predecessor in a matter,pioneer
  3. the author
Strong's Number: 747 — Greek: archegos


translated "Prince" in Act 3:15 (marg., "Author") and Acts 5:31, but "Author" in Hebrews 2:10, RV, "Captain," RV marg., and AV, and "Author" in Hebrews 12:2, primarily signifies "one who takes a lead in, or provides the first occasion of, anything." In the Septuagint it is used of the chief of a tribe or family, Numbers 13:2 (RV, prince); of the "heads" of the children of Israel, Numbers 13:3; a captain of the whole people, Numbers 14:4; in Micah 1:13, of Lachish as the leader of the sin of the daughter of Sion: there, as in Hebrews 2:10, the word suggest a combination of the meaning of leader with that of the source from whence a thing proceeds. That Christ is the Prince of life signifies, as Chrysostom says, that "the life He had was not from another; the Prince or Author of life must be He who has life from Himself." But the word does not necessarily combine the idea of the source or originating cause with that of leader. In Hebrews 12:2 where Christ is called the "Author and Perfecter of faith," He is represented as the one who takes precedence in faith and is thus the perfect Exemplar of it. The pronoun "our" does not correspond to anything in the original, and may well be omitted. Christ in the days of His flesh trod never deviating the path of faith, and as the Perfecter has brought it to a perfect end in His own person. Thus He is the leader of all others who tread that path.


Friday, April 17, 2009


  1. Jonah Leaves the Whale's Belly. Artist: Tintoretto. Date: 1577-78Jonah (יוֹנָה "Dove") was a person in the Biblical Old Testament and Jewish Tanakh, the son of Amittai ("My Truth"), from the Galilean village of Gath-hepher, near Nazareth.
  2. In the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Jonah is the 5th book in a series of books called the Minor Prophets (itself a subsection of the Nevi’im or Prophets). Unlike other prophetic books however, this book is not a record of a prophet’s words toward Israel. Instead of the poetry and prophetic prose of Isaiah or Lamentations, this book tells the story of an apparently inept prophet who becomes one of the most effective prophets in the entire Bible.
God ordered Jonah to preach at the city of Nineveh. Jonah did not want to, and tried to avoid God's command by sailing to Tarshish. A huge storm arises. The sailors, realizing this is no ordinary storm, cast lots, and learn that Jonah is to blame. Jonah admits this, and states that if he is thrown overboard, the storm will cease. The sailors throw him overboard, and the seas calm. Jonah is miraculously saved by being swallowed by a large fish. In chapter two, while in the great fish, Jonah prayed to God and asked forgiveness and thanked God for being so faithful, and the result was, God commanded the fish to vomit Jonah out.


Thursday, April 16, 2009


Archaeological sites of MesopotamiaMesopotamia refers to the region now occupied by modern Iraq, eastern Syria, and southern Turkey . The name comes from the Greek words μέσος "between" and ποταμός "river", referring to the area between the Euphrates and the Tigris (the Arabic term is بين نهرين Bayn Nahrain "between two rivers"). The fertile area watered by these two rivers is known as the "Cradle of Civilization," (see also cradle of humanity) and it was here that the first literate societies developed.
10 Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all sorts of choice gifts from his master; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor. 11 And he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time when women go out to draw water. 12 And he said, "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Let the young woman to whom I shall say, 'Please let down your jar that I may drink,' and who shall say, 'Drink, and I will water your camels'—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master." Genesis 24:10-14 ESV
There has never been a political entity called Mesopotamia, nor does Mesopotamia have any definite boundaries; the name is simply a convenient one invented by Greek historians to refer to a broad geographical area.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


The Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the entities that bring false peace, War, famine, pestilence, and death. The Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the entities that bring false peace, War, famine, pestilence, and death.Dispensationalism is a branch of Christian theology that:
  1. teaches Biblical history as best understood in light of a number of successive economies or administrations under God, which it calls "dispensations," and
  2. emphasizes prophecy of the end-times and the pre-tribulation rapture view of Christ's second coming.
Dispensation is an English term excogitated from the Latin dispensatio, frequently used to translate the Greek oikonomia. The Greek word denotes the law or management of a household (to manage, administer, regulate, or plan).

Some consider Dispensationalism to be a nineteenth century distortion of Biblical history. Dispensationalists teach that there are seven distinct "dispensations" within biblical history. The seventh being the 1000 year reign of Christ or the millennium. According to some, the primary error is the "two covenant" teaching. Dispensationalists believe that God's covenant with Israel continues even through the present "church age." Many Protestants believe that the new covenant in Christ replaces the old covenant with Israel.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Early Christianity

Tertullian, Paul of Tarsus, Clement of Alexandria, and James the JustThe term Early Christianity here refers to Christianity of the period after the Death of Jesus in the early 30s and before the First Council of Nicaea in 325. The term is sometimes used in a narrower sense of just the very first followers (disciples) of Jesus of Nazareth and the faith as preached and practiced by the Twelve Apostles, their contemporaries, and their immediate successors, also called the Apostolic Age.

Early Christianity, which began within Judaism, became clearly distinct from Rabbinic Judaism. It continued to revere the Hebrew Bible, generally using the Septuagint translation that was in general use among Greek-speaking Jews and Gentile Godfearers, and added to it the writings that would become the New Testament, thus developing the first Christian biblical canons. It defended Christian beliefs against criticism by non-believing Jews and followers of other Roman religions, survived various persecutions, consisted of divisions that accused each other of heresy, and developed church hierarchy.

What started as a religious movement within Second Temple Judaism became, by the end of this period, the favored religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine the Great (leading later to the rise of Christendom), and a significant religion also outside of the empire. The First Council of Nicaea marks the end of this era and the beginning of the period of the first Seven Ecumenical Councils (325 - 787).


Sunday, April 12, 2009


Luigi Pellegrino Scaramuccia, known as il Perugino (1621-1680)Easter is the most important religious holiday of the Christian liturgical year, observed in March, April, or May to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, which Christians believe occurred after his death by crucifixion in AD 27-33. Easter can also refer to the season of the church year, lasting for fifty days, which follows this holiday and ends at Pentecost.

In most languages of Christian societies, other than English, German and some Slavic languages, the holiday's name is derived from pecach פסח, the Hebrew name of Passover, a Jewish holiday to which the Christian Easter is intimately linked.

Easter depends on Passover not only for much of its symbolic meaning but also for its position in the calendar; the Last Supper shared by Jesus and his disciples before his crucifixion is generally thought of as a Passover seder, based on the chronology in the Synoptic Gospels. The Gospel of John has a different chronology which has the death of Jesus at the time of the slaughter of the Passover lambs, which may have been for theological reasons but which is regarded by some scholars as more historically likely given the surrounding events.


Saturday, April 11, 2009


While in the popular mind, eternity often simply means existing for an infinite, i.e., limitless, amount of time, many have used it to refer to a timeless existence altogether outside of time. There are a number of arguments for eternity, by which proponents of the concept, principally Aristotle, purported to prove that matter, motion, and time must have existed eternally.

Eternity as a timeless existence
Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote that time exists only within the created universe (see creation), so that God exists outside of time; for God there is no past or future, but only an eternal present. One need not believe in God in order to hold this concept of eternity: for example, an atheist mathematician can maintain the philosophical tenet that numbers and the relationships among them exist outside of time, and so are in that sense eternal.

The biblical word eternal is used in place of the Hebrew word qedem קדם Strong's H6924 (east, antiquity, front, that which is before, aforetime), with an early reference in the biblical book of Job:


Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Burial of Jesus, Carl Heinrich BlochGood Friday, also called Holy Friday or Great Friday, is the Friday preceding Easter Sunday. It commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus at Calvary.

Original Events of Good Friday
Jesus Christ, having been arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by the Temple Guards through the guidance of Judas Iscariot, is brought to the house of Annas, who is father-in-law of the current high priest, Caiaphas. There he is interrogated with little result, and sent bound to Caiaphas the high priest, where the Sanhedrin had assembled (John 18:1-24).

Conflicting testimony against Jesus is brought forth by many witnesses, to which Jesus answers nothing. Finally the high priest says to Jesus,
" 57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. 59Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61and said, "This man said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.'" 62And the high priest stood up and said, "Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?" 63But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." 64Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven." 65Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66What is your judgment?" They answered, "He deserves death." (Matthew 26:57-66).
In the morning the whole assembly brings Jesus to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, under charges of subverting the nation, opposing taxes to Caesar, and making himself a king (Luke 23:1-2). Pilate authorizes the Jewish leaders to judge Jesus according to their own Law and execute sentencing, however the Jewish leaders reply that they are not allowed by the Romans to carry out a sentence of death (John 18:31).


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Plagues of Egypt

Moses and Aaron before Pharoah by Gustov DoréThe Plagues of Egypt (Hebrew: מכות מצרים, Makot Mitzrayim), the Biblical Plagues or the Ten Plagues (עשר המכות, Eser Ha-Makot) are the ten calamities inflicted upon Egypt by God in the Biblical story recounted the book of Exodus, chapters 7 - 12, in order to convince Pharaoh (possibly Ramesses II, making the pharaoh of the Oppression Djeserkheperure Horemheb) to let the Israelite slaves leave (see also Pharaoh of the Exodus).
  1. (Exodus 7:14-25) » rivers and other water sources turned to blood ('Dam')
  2. (Exodus 7:26-8:11) » amphibians (commonly believed to be frogs) ('Tsfardeia')
  3. (Exodus 8:12-15) » lice ('Kinim')
  4. (Exodus 8:16-28) » Either flies, wild animals or beetles ('Arov')
  5. (Exodus 9:1-7) » disease on livestock ('Dever')
  6. (Exodus 9:8-12) » unhealable boils ('Shkhin')
  7. (Exodus 9:13-35) » hail mixed with fire ('Barad')
  8. (Exodus 10:1-20) » locusts ('Arbeh')
  9. (Exodus 10:21-29) » darkness ('Choshech')
  10. (Exodus 11:1-12:36) » death of the firstborn ('Makat Bechorot')
Whereas all the other plagues did not affect the Israelites, the Torah indicates that they were only spared from the final plague by sacrificing the Paschal lamb, marking their doorpost with the lamb's blood, and eating the roasted sacrifice together with Matzot ("Poor Man's Bread" לחם עוני) in a celebratory feast. The Torah describes God as actually passing through Egypt to kill all firstborn, but passing over (hence "Passover") houses which have the sign of lambs' blood on the doorpost. It was this plague which resulted in Pharaoh finally relenting, and sending the Israelites away at whatever terms they wished.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Syriac Peshitta

Peshitta text of Exodus 13:14-16 produced in Amida in the year 464.The Peshitta is the standard version of the bible in the Syriac language. The name 'Peshitta' is derived from the Syriac mappaqtâ pšîṭtâ (ܡܦܩܬܐ ܦܫܝܛܬܐ), literally meaning 'simple version'. However, it is also possible to translate pšîṭtâ as 'common' (that is, for all people), or 'straight', as well as the usual translation as 'simple'. Syriac is a dialect, or group of dialects, of Eastern Aramaic. It is written in the Syriac alphabet, and is transliterated into the Roman alphabet in a number of ways: Peshitta, Peshittâ, Pshitta, Pšittâ, Pshitto, Fshitto. All of these are acceptable, but 'Peshitta' is the most convenient spelling in English.

History of the Syriac versions
Peshitta text of Exodus 13:14-16 produced in Amida in the year 464. The name 'Peshitta' was first applied to the standard, common Syriac bible in the ninth century, when it is called such by Moshe bar Kepha. However, it is clear that the Peshitta had a long and complex history before receiving its name. In fact the Peshitta Old Testament and New Testament are two completely separate works of translation.

The Peshitta Old Testament is the earliest piece of Syriac literature of any length, probably originating in the second century. Whereas the majority of the Early Church relied on the Greek Septuagint, or translations from it, for their Old Testament, the Syriac-speaking church had its text translated directly from the Hebrew. The Hebrew text that served as a master copy for the translation must have been relatively similar to the Masoretic Text of mediaeval and modern Hebrew Bibles. Although previous studies had suggested that it was translated from Aramaic Targumim, this is now rejected. However, some isolated targumic influences can be seen in the text (especially in the Pentateuch and Books of Chronicles), with the addition of little interpretive asides. The style and quality of translation in the Peshitta Old Testament varies quite widely. Some parts may have been translated by Syriac-speaking Jews before being taken over by the church, while other parts may have been worked on by early Jewish converts to Christianity. As Syriac is the language of Edessa, it is likely that the translation took place in that region. However, Arbela and Adiabene, with its large and influential second-century Jewish population, has also been suggested as the place of origin. A few scholars have pointed to a few supposedly Western Aramaic features in the text, which may suggest that the original translation took place in Palestine or Syria. However, the interpretation of these features is extremely difficult.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Passover (Hebrew: פסח transliterated as Pesach or Pesah), also called חג המצות (Chag HaMatzot - Festival of Matzot) is a Jewish holiday beginning on the 15th day of Nisan, which falls in the early spring and commemorates the Exodus and freedom of the Israelites from ancient Egypt. Passover marks the "birth" of the Jewish nation, as the Jews were freed from being slaves of Pharaoh and allowed to become servants of God instead.

In most languages of Christian societies, other than English, German and some Slavic languages, the holiday's name is derived from Pesach, the Hebrew name of Passover, a Jewish holiday to which the Christian Easter is intimately linked.

Together with Sukkot and Shavuot, Passover is one of the three pilgrim festivals (Shalosh Regalim) during which the entire Jewish populace made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the days of the Holy Temple.

In Israel, Passover is a 7-day holiday, with the first and last days celebrated as a full festival (involving abstention from work, special prayer services and holiday meals). Outside Israel, the holiday is celebrated for 8 days, with the first two days and last two days celebrated as full festivals. The intervening days are known as Chol HaMoed (festival weekdays).


Sunday, April 05, 2009


Replication of the Urey-Miller experimentAbiogenesis (Greek a-bio-genesis, "non biological origins") is the formation of life from non-living matter. Today the term is primarily used to refer to hypotheses about the chemical origin of life, such as from a 'primeval soup' or in the vicinity of hydrothermal vents, and most probably through a number of intermediate steps, such as non-living but self-replicating molecules (biopoiesis). The current models of abiogenesis are still being scientifically tested. (compare abiogenesis v. creationism).

Classical notions of abiogenesis, now more precisely known as spontaneous generation, held that complex, living organisms are generated by decaying organic substances, e.g. that mice spontaneously appear in stored grain or maggots spontaneously appear in meat.

According to Aristotle it was a readily observable truth that aphids arise from the dew which falls on plants, fleas from putrid matter, mice from dirty hay, and so forth. In the 17th century such assumptions started to be questioned; such as that by Sir Thomas Browne in his Pseudodoxia Epidemica, subtitled Enquiries into Very many Received Tenets, and Commonly Presumed Truths, of 1646, an attack on false beliefs and "vulgar errors."


Saturday, April 04, 2009

William Lane Craig

William Lane CraigWilliam Lane Craig (born August 23, 1949) is an American philosopher, theologian, and Christian apologist. He is a prolific author and lecturer on a wide range of issues related to the philosophy of religion, the historical Jesus, the coherence of the Christian worldview, and Intelligent Design. He is married and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and is currently a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University in La Mirada, California. Craig is a fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, which is the hub of the Intelligent Design movement.
Does God Exist? Debate » Christopher Hitchens vs. William Lane Craig TONIGHT, 7:30 pm (PST) Moderated by: Hugh Hewitt

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Does the God of Christianity Exist and Does it Matter? MP3 Audio

Craig has been critical of philosophical naturalism, logical positivism, moral relativism, liberal theology, and the Jesus Seminar. He has defended the middle knowledge view of divine providence and is also notable for his work in the philosophy of time. He is a founding member and has served as president of the Philosophy of Time Society.

Craig became a Christian believer in high school at the age of 16. His vocation and academic studies reflect his religious commitment to Christian beliefs within the Protestant Evangelical tradition.


Friday, April 03, 2009


Phenomenology has at least three main meanings in philosophical history: one in the writings of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, another in the writings of Edmund Husserl in 1920, and a third, deriving from Husserl's work, in the writings of his former research assistant Martin Heidegger in 1927.

For G.W.F. Hegel, phenomenology is an approach to philosophy that begins with an exploration of phenomena (what presents itself to us in conscious experience) as a means to finally grasp the absolute, logical, ontological and metaphysical Spirit that is behind phenomena. This has been called a "dialectical phenomenology".

For Edmund Husserl, phenomenology is "the reflective study of the essence of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view." Phenomenology takes the intuitive experience of phenomena (what presents itself to us in phenomenological reflexion) as its starting point and tries to extract from it the essential features of experiences and the essence of what we experience. When generalized to the essential features of any possible experience, this has been called "transcendental phenomenology". Husserl's view was based on aspects of the work of Franz Brentano and was developed further by philosophers such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Max Scheler, Edith Stein, Dietrich von Hildebrand and emmanuel lévinas.

Martin Heidegger believed that Husserl's approach overlooked basic structural features of both the subject and object of experience (what he called their "being"), and expanded phenomenological enquiry to encompass our understanding and experience of Being itself, thus making phenomenology the method (in the first phase of his career at least) of the study of being: ontology.

The difference in approach between Husserl and Heidegger influenced the development of existential phenomenology and existentialism in France, as is seen in the work of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Munich phenomenologists (Johannes Daubert, Adolf Reinach, Alexander Pfänder in Germany and Alfred Schütz in Austria), and Paul Ricoeur have all been influenced. Readings of Husserl and Heidegger have also been crucial elements of the philosophies of Jacques Derrida and Bernard Stiegler.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Augustine of Hippo

Aurelius Augustinus, Augustine of Hippo ("The knowledgeable one") (November 13, 354–August 28, 430) was one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity. In Roman Catholicism, he is a saint and pre-eminent Doctor of the Church. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists (see Calvinism), consider him to be one of the theological fountainheads of Reformation teaching on salvation and grace. Born in Africa as the eldest son of Saint Monica, he was educated and baptized (see baptism) in Italy. His works—including The Confessions, which is often called the first Western autobiography—are still read by Christians around the world.

Saint Augustine was born in 354 in Tagaste, a provincial Roman city in North Africa. He was raised and educated in Carthage. His mother Monica was a devout Catholic and his father Patricius a pagan, but Augustine followed the controversial Manichaean religion, much to the horror of his mother.

Now we come to the man who is more than anyone else the representative of the West; he is the foundation of everything the West had to say. Augustine lived from A.D. 354 to 430. His influence overshadows not only the next thousand years but all periods ever since. In the Middle Ages his influence was such that even those who struggled against him in theological terminology and method—the Dominicans, with the help of Aristotle—quoted him often. Thomas Aquinas, who was the great opponent of Augustinianism in the Middle Ages, quoted him affirmatively most frequently.[1]


1. Paul Tillich, A History of Christian Thought From Its Judaic and Hellenistic Origins to Existentialism, 1968. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-21426-8

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Edmund Husserl

Edmund HusserlEdmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl (April 8, 1859 – April 26, 1938) was a philosopher, known as the father of phenomenology. His work was a break with the purely positivist orientation and understanding of the science and philosophy of his day, giving weight to subjective experience as the source of all of our knowledge of objective phenomena.

Husserl was a pupil of Franz Brentano and Carl Stumpf; his philosophical work influenced, among others, Eugen Fink, Max Scheler, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Emmanuel Lévinas, Rudolf Carnap, Hermann Weyl, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Pierre Bourdieu, Paul Ricœur, Jacques Derrida, Jan Patočka, Roman Ingarden, Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), Karol Wojtyla and Dallas Willard. In 1887 Husserl converted to Christianity and joined the Lutheran Church. He taught philosophy at Halle as a tutor (Privatdozent) from 1887, then at Göttingen as professor from 1901, and at Freiburg im Breisgau from 1916 until he retired in 1928. After this, he continued his research and writing by using the library at Freiburg.

Husserl was born into a Jewish family in Prossnitz, Moravia, then part of the Austrian Empire, after 1918 a part of Czechoslovakia (since 1993, the Czech Republic).




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