Thursday, December 31, 2009


flag of jihad
Islamism or "Radical Islam" is a controversial term and definitions of it sometimes vary. Leading Islamist thinkers emphasized the desire to apply many aspects of sharia (Islamic law) to modern society; of pan-Islamic political unity; and of the elimination of non-Muslim, particularly western, military, economic, political, social, or cultural influences in the Muslim world, which they believe to be incompatible with Islam.

tenets are less strict and can be defined as a form of identity politics or "support for [Muslim] identity, authenticity, broader regionalism, revivalism, [and] revitalization of the community". Still others define it as "an Islamic militant, anti-democratic movement, bearing a holistic vision of Islam whose final aim is the restoration of the caliphate".

many Islamists include "enforcement of Islamic punishments, including prohibitions on charging interest on loans, playing music, showing television", and enforcing traditional dress and prayer attendance.


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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Six-Day War

Israeli Soldiers at the Western Wall
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.

The war's aftermath saw the region return to an uneasy balance without any real resolution of the region's difficulties. At the time, no Arab state had recognized.


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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Secular Humanism

Secular humanism is a humanist philosophy that upholds reason, ethics, and justice and specifically rejects rituals and ceremonies as a means to affirm a life stance. The term was coined in the 20th century to make a clear distinction from "religious humanism". A perhaps less confrontational synonym is scientific humanism, which the biologist Edward O. Wilson claimed to be "the only worldview compatible with science's growing knowledge of the real world and the laws of nature".

Relationship to other concepts
When humanists use the phrase secular humanism it is typically to emphasize differences relative to religion or religious humanism. There are a number of ways in which secular and religious humanism can differ: Religious humanists may value rituals and ceremonies as means of affirming their life stance.

  • Secular humanists are typically not interested in using rituals and ceremonies.

  • Some religious humanists may seek profound "religious" experiences, such as those that others would associate with the presence of God, despite interpreting these experiences differently. Secular humanists would generally not pursue such experiences.

  • Some varieties of nontheistic religious humanism may conceive of the word divine as more than metaphoric even in the absence of a belief in a traditional God; they may believe in ideals that transcend physical reality; or they may conceive of some experiences as "numinous" or uniquely religious. Secular humanism regards all such terms as, at best, metaphors for truths rooted in the material world.

  • Some varieties of religious humanism, such as Christian humanism include belief in God, traditionally defined. Secular humanism is skeptical about God and the supernatural and believes that these are not useful concepts for addressing human problems.

While some humanists embrace calling themselves secular humanists, others prefer the term Humanist, capitalized and without any qualifying adjective. The terms secular humanism and Humanism overlap, but have different connotations. The term secular humanism emphasizes a non-religious focus, whereas the term Humanism deemphasizes this and may even encompass some nontheistic varieties of religious humanism. The term Humanism also emphasizes considering one's humanism to be a life stance. Secular humanism advocates secularism but is a broader concept. Secularism has a number of usages but generally emphasize limits on the role of religious or supernatural considerations in the affairs of society or government. Secular humanism adds to these positions a comprehensive perspective on life, including affirmation of human dignity and the importance of ethics.



Saturday, December 26, 2009


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 (see also Strong's H1285).

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."



Friday, December 25, 2009

Census of Quirinius

The Census of Quirinius refers to the enrollment of the Roman Provinces of Syria and Iudaea for the purpose of taxation taken during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus when Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria. An account of the census was given by the historian Josephus, who associated it with the beginning of the Zealot movement. The Gospel of Luke associates the birth of Jesus with this census, but appears to date it a decade earlier. Most scholars regard this as an error, but some have suggested ways of reconciling the two.



Thursday, December 24, 2009

William Blake

William Blake (28 November 1757徂2 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language". His visual artistry has led one modern critic to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced". Although he only once journeyed farther than a day's walk outside London during his lifetime, he produced a diverse and symbolically rich corpus, which embraced the imagination as "the body of God", or "Human existence itself".

Considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work. His paintings and poetry have been characterized as part of both the Romantic movement and "Pre-Romantic", for its large appearance in the 18th century. Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England, Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions, as well as by such thinkers as Jakob B枚hme and Emanuel Swedenborg.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Star of Bethlehem

The pre-dawn sky as it appeared looking east from Babylon on August 24, 2 B.C. Mercury, Mars and Jupiter form a scepter and Venus marks the picture in Leo as referring to Jesus.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 21, 2009

The Magi

The Journey of the Magi by James TissotThe 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.


Sunday, December 20, 2009


Isaiah the Prophet in Hebrew Scriptures was depicted on the fresco at the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo. Isaiah (Jesaja), 1509, MichelangeloIsaiah (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.

This was the time of the divided kingdom, with Israel in the north and Judah in the south. There was prosperity for both kingdoms during Isaiah’s youth with little foreign interference. Jeroboam II ruled in the north and Uzziah in the south. The small kingdoms of Palestine, as well as Syria, were under the influence of Egypt. However, in 745 BCE, Tiglath-Pileser III came to the throne of Assyria.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

parables of Jesus

The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind, Artist: BRUEGEL, Pieter the Elder. Date: 1568The parables of Jesus, found in the Synoptic Gospels, embody much of Jesus' teaching. Jesus' parables are quite simple, memorable stories, often with humble imagery, each with a single message. Jesus, for example, likened the Kingdom of God to leaven (an image usually meant as corruption) or a mustard seed. Like his aphorisms, Jesus' parables were often surprising and paradoxical. The Parable of the Good Samaritan, for example, turned expectations on their head with the despised Samaritan proving to be the wounded man's neighbor. The parables were simple and memorable enough to survive in an oral tradition before being written down years after Jesus' death.

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

Believed to be the words of Jesus, taught to him by the Father, Christians place high significance on the parables.
28So Jesus said to them, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. —John 8:28
Parables are attributed to Jesus in the three synoptic gospels of the New Testament and the noncanonical Gospel of Thomas. According to some interpretations, the Gospel of John also contains a parable.

According to one source the Gospel of Luke contains both the largest total number of parables (24) and the largest number of unique parables found nowhere else (10). The Gospel of Matthew contains 23 parables of which six are unique. The noncanonical Gospel of Thomas contains 15 parables of which two are unique. The Gospel of Mark contains eight parables of which only one (the Parable of the Growing Seed) is unique. The Gospel of John contains only the story of the Vine, which some consider to be a parable.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

virgin birth of Jesus

The infant Jesus in Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerard van HonthorstThe virgin birth of Jesus is a religious tenet of Christianity and Islam which holds that Mary miraculously conceived Jesus while remaining a virgin. A universally held belief in the Christian church by the second century, this doctrine was included in the two most widely used Christian creeds, which state that Jesus "was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary" (the Nicene Creed as revised by the First Council of Constantinople) and was "born of the Virgin Mary" (Apostles' Creed), and was not seriously challenged, except by some minor sects, before the Enlightenment theology of the eighteenth century.

The gospels of Matthew and Luke say that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. These gospels, later tradition and current doctrine present Jesus' conception as a miracle involving no natural father, no sexual intercourse, and no male seed in any form. The Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 1:18) additionally presents the virgin birth of Jesus as fulfilling a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah:
13 And he said, "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:13-14 ESV)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Massacre of the Innocents

Peter Paul Rubens' painting, Massacre of the Innocents.The 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.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Tacitus on Jesus

Fictitious portrait of the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus.The 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.
Tacitus then returns to the topic of Nero's reputation and the effect on it of these events:
Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jesus the man

The Entombment of Christ or Deposition from the Cross (1602–1603) is a masterwork of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.During 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.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Kalam cosmological argument

This graphic represents a slice of the spider-web-like structure of the universe, called the “cosmic web.” These great filaments are made largely of dark matter located in the space between galaxies. Credit: NASA, ESA, and E. Hallman (University of Colorado, Boulder)The 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 [vmap of babylon/Bagdhad]. 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.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Mary, mother of Jesus

Annunciation, Artist: Andrea Del Sarto, c. 1528. 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.

Titles Given to Mary
Mary's most common titles include The Blessed Virgin Mary or Our Lady (Notre Dame, Nuestra Señora, Madonna).

Mary is frequently referred to by the Orthodox Church and related traditions within the Catholic Church as Theotokos, a title recognized at the Third Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus in 431. Theotokos is often translated into English as "Mother of God," or more literally as "Godbearer" or "Birthgiver of God." The theological significance of the title is that Mary's son, Jesus, is fully God as well as fully human, and that Jesus' two natures (divine and human) were united in a single Person.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

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, he is the patron saint of workers and has several feast days.

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


Monday, December 07, 2009


Blaise PascalIn Christian theology, fideism is any of several belief systems which hold, on various grounds, that reason is irrelevant to religious faith. According to some versions of fideism, reason is the antithesis of faith; according to others, faith is prior to or beyond reason, and therefore is unable to be proven or disproven by it.The word is also occasionally used to refer to the Protestant belief that Christians are saved by faith alone: for which see solā fide. This position is sometimes called solifidianism.

Blaise Pascal believed that direct arguments for the existence of God were futile, so he argued instead that religious practice was a good idea.

Fideism is an epistemological theory which maintains that faith is independent of reason, or that reason and faith are hostile to each other and faith is superior at arriving at particular truths (see natural theology). The word fideism comes from fides, the Latin word for faith, and literally means "faith-ism."

Theologians and philosophers have responded in various ways to the place of faith and reason in determining the truth of metaphysical ideas, morality, and religious beliefs. The term fideist, one who argues for fideism, is very rarely self applied. Support of fideism is most commonly ascribed to four philosophers: Pascal, Kierkegaard, William James, and Wittgenstein; with fideism being a label applied in a negative sense by their opponents, but which is not supported by their own ideas and works. There are a number of different forms of fideism.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

spiritual warfare

Spiritual warfare is the concept that demons attempt to thwart Good and the will of God. Some believe this "warfare" to be manifested in multiple ways, including by demonic possession, demonic harassment, by attacks on a person's thoughts, relationships, or life with God.

Contemporary Evangelical circles are particularly interested in the concept of spiritual warfare. Some Evangelicals believe that when someone is attacked by demons or fallen spirits, the targeted person can combat the attack by prayer, fasting, consulting with their spiritual advisers, and perhaps also by a process known as casting out demons.

A scriptural basis for the concept of spiritual warfare is found in the Epistle to the Ephesians, where Paul of Tarsus metaphorically arms the Christian with weapons and armor that recall those of a Roman centurion:
“ 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. —Ephesians 6:10-18 ”


Saturday, December 05, 2009

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 smear, spread a liquid, a process employed ritually by many religions and races. It also refers to vesels consecrated to God. People and things are anointed to symbolize the introduction of a sacramental or divine influence, a holy emanation, spirit or power. 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 also Chrism) has spiritualized the sense of it.

Anointing in Ancient Egypt, image from the 1901-1906 Jewish Encyclopedia.The indigenous Australians believed that the virtues of one killed could be transferred to survivors if the latter rubbed themselves with his caul-fat. So the Arabs of East Africa anoint themselves with lion's fat in order to gain courage and inspire the animals with awe of themselves. Such rites are often associated with the actual eating of the victim whose virtues are coveted.

Hebrew Bible
Among the Hebrews, the act of anointing was significant in consecration to a holy or sacred use: hence the anointing of the high priest (Exodus 29:29; Leviticus 4:3) and of the sacred vessels (Exodus 30:26).


Friday, December 04, 2009

gospel of Matthew

The Inspiration of Saint Matthew. Artist: Michelangelo Caravaggio. Date: 1602.The 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." 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.

For convenience, the book can be divided into its four structurally distinct sections: Two introductory sections; the main section, which can be further broken into five sections, each with a narrative component followed by a long discourse of Jesus; and finally, the Passion and Resurrection section.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament

The Crowning with Thorns. Artist: (Michelangelo) Caravaggio (1571-1592).A large variety of names and titles are used in the New Testament to describe Jesus.

Personal name
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
Biblical Hebrew יְהוֹשֻׁעַ [Yehoshua`] underwent an orthographical change into the Aramaic (some say late Biblical Hebrew) form יֵשׁוּעַ [Yeshua`] (for example, Ezra 2:2) because of a phonological shift where guttural phonemes weakened, including [h]. Late Biblical Hebrew usually shortened the traditional theophoric element [Yahu] יהו at the beginning of a name to יו [Yo-], and at the end to יה [-yah]. In [Yoshua`], it palatized to [Yeshua`]. This shortened Hebrew name was common - the Hebrew Bible mentions ten individuals called it - and was also adopted by Aramaic- and Greek-speaking Jews.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

John the Baptist

John the Baptist, Artist: CARAVAGGIO. Date: c. 1604John the Baptist (Greek: βαπτιστής baptistēs, From βαπτίζω (G907) which is to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)) He is also called John the Baptizer or Yahya the Baptizer) and is regarded as a prophet by at least three religions: Christianity, Islam, and Mandaeanism. According to the Gospel of Luke Luke 1:36, 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.

Flavius Josephus in Jewish Antiquities book 18, chapter 5, paragraph 2 records the following:
Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure to him. (William Whiston Translation)


Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Map of Israel, Courtesy of BingThe name "Israel" is rooted in the Hebrew bible, the Tanakh, where Jacob is renamed Israel after wrestling with a mysterious adversary ("a man", and later "God" according to Gen. 32:24-30; or "the angel", according to Hosea 12:4). Israel means "he who has wrestled with God." The Jews, the nation fathered by Jacob, were then called "the children of Israel" or the "Israelites." The Land of Israel (Hebrew: יִשְׂרָאֵל, Eretz Yisrael) is the region which, according to the Hebrew Bible, was promised by God to the descendants of Abraham through his son Isaac and to the Israelites, descendants of Jacob, Abraham's grandson. It constitutes the Promised Land and forms part of the Abrahamic, Jacob and Israel covenants. Mainstream Jewish tradition regards "the promise" as applying to all Jews, including descendants of converts.

The earliest known mention of the name 'Israel', probably referring to a group of people rather than to a place, is the Egyptian Merneptah Stele dated to about 1210 BCE. For over 3,000 years, Jews have held the Land of Israel to be their homeland, both as a Holy Land and as a Promised Land. The Land of Israel holds a special place in Jewish religious obligations, encompassing Judaism's most important sites — including the remains of the First and Second Temples (see temple), as well as the rites concerning those temples. Starting around 1200 BCE, a series of Jewish kingdoms and states existed intermittently in the region for over a millennium.

Under Babylonian, Persians, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and (briefly) Sassanian rule, Jewish presence in the province dwindled due to mass expulsions.

In particular, the failure of the Bar Kochba Revolt against The Roman Empire resulted in the large-scale expulsion of Jews.





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