Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Apostolic Fathers

The Apostolic Fathers are a small collection of Early Christian authors who lived and wrote in the second half of the 1st century and the first half of the 2nd century. These authors are acknowledged as leaders in the early church, but their writings were not included in the New Testament biblical canon.

The apostolic fathers include St. Clement of Rome, St. Ignatius of Antioch, and St. Polycarp of Smyrna.

The Roman Catholic label “Apostolic Fathers” has been used since the 17th century to emphasize that these authors were thought of as being of the generation that had personal contact with The Twelve Apostles. Thus they provide a link between the Apostles who knew Jesus of Nazareth and the later generation of Christian apologists, defenders of orthodoxy, and developers of doctrine known as the Church Fathers.

Apostolic fathers and their works

Famous Apostolic Fathers include St. Clement of Rome (c 30 - c 100), St. Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Smyrna. In addition, The Didache and The Shepherd of Hermas are usually placed among the writings of the Apostolic Fathers although their authors are unknown.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Child Jesus is a religious symbol based on the activities of Jesus as an infant up to the age of twelve that recurs throughout history, starting from around the third or fourth century. It includes religious figurines and icons of the infant Jesus, usually with his mother, Mary, and his legal father Joseph.

Holy Family
This "original nuclear family" symbolized the Holy Trinity to many early Christian believers. They solidified the family unit with such deep spiritual significance that the Holy Family eventually became an integral part of Roman Catholic religious dogma.

The Scriptures and many apocryphal works were passed down either by word of mouth or through song, and later in works of art. The symbolism of the Child Jesus in art reached its apex during the Renaissance: the holy family was a central theme in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and many other masters.

Simeon would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said 29 "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel."⁠. –Luke 2:25-32


Friday, December 24, 2010

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 20, 2010




Copyright, 1896, By Thomas Y. Crowell & Company.

This translation is one of a series from Count Tolstoi's religious and philosophic writings, undertaken with his consent and approval. Made and revised directly from the Russian manuscript containing the Author's latest revisions and alterations, it somewhat differs in form, not only from the German and French translations, but from the Russian edition. Great care has been taken, by several persons whose labours are here gratefully acknowledged, to ensure the correspondence of the translation with the Author's meaning and purpose. The reader will be usefully informed that the four works referred to by the Author in the opening of his preface to this book are as follows...

Read the entire Book...

Friday, December 17, 2010

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)


Thursday, December 16, 2010


An Archangel is a superior or higher-ranking angel; chief of the angels. They are to be found in a number of religious traditions, including Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The word archangel derives from the Greek αρχαγγελος archangelos = αρχ- arch- ("first, primary") and αγγελος angelos ("messenger").

In Judaism
There are no explicit references to archangels in the canonical texts of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Indeed even angels are uncommon except in later works like Daniel. The earliest references to archangels are in the literature of the intertestamental period.

It is therefore widely speculated that Jewish interest in angels was learned during the Babylonian exile. According to Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish of Tiberias (230–270 CE), all the specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylon, and some modern commentators would argue that the details of the angelic hierarchy were largely Zoroastrian in origin.

Within the rabbinic tradition and the Kabbalah, the usual number given is at least seven: Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Sariel,Raguel and Remiel (possibly the Ramiel of the Apocalypse of Baruch, said to preside over true visions). Zadkiel, Jophiel, Haniel and Chamuel are also listed as archangels.

In Christianity
The New Testament rarely speaks of angels, and makes only two references to archangels,

1. Michael in Jude 1:9, (which is referring in passing to a Jewish legend)
9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"

I Thessalonians 4:16, where the "voice of an archangel" will be heard at the return of Christ
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010


"God is a Consuming Fire"
The word faith has various uses; its central meaning is similar to "belief", "trust" or "confidence", "certainty", "sureness," but unlike these terms, "faith" tends to imply eclipsing or rising above 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 occurrence, though, faith is in an aspect of the object and cannot be logically or "scientifically" proven or known with impartiality. Faith can also be defined as accepting as true something which one has been told by someone who is believed to be trustworthy, honorable, principled and so forth. In its proper sense faith means trusting the word of another.

Faith under extreme adversity
The "world" considers that the righteous are not worthy to live in the world, and God declares the world is not worthy of them. Though the righteous and the worldlings widely differ in their judgment, they agree in this, it is not fit that good men should have their rest in this world. Therefore God receives them out of it. The apostle tells the Hebrews, that God had provided some better things for them, therefore they might be sure that he had the expectation that they provide some good as well. As our advantages, with the better things God has provided for us, are so much beyond their own, so should our obedience of faith, patience of hope, and labor of love, be preeminent. And unless we get true faith as these early church believers had, they will rise up to condemn us at the last day. Let us then pray continually for the increase of our faith, that we might imitate these shimmering examples, finding ourselves, along with them, unblemished in holiness and gladness, and shine like the Son, our King, who reigns at the right hand of God the Father for evermore.


 Why did God decide to save us through faith? (John Piper)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Johannes Brahms

Johann Strauss II and Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms (pronounced [joːˈhanəs ˈbʁaːms]) (May 7, 1833 – April 3, 1897) was a German composer of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, he eventually settled in Vienna, Austria.

His first and most devoted supporter, Robert Schumann (1810-56), called him "another John the Baptist, whose revelations will puzzle many of the Pharisees, and every one else, for centuries."

Brahms's father, Johann Jakob Brahms, came to Hamburg from Schleswig-Holstein, seeking a career as a town musician. He was proficient on several instruments, but found employment mostly playing the horn and double bass. He married Johanna Henrika Christiane Nissen, a seamstress, who was seventeen years older than he was. Initially, they lived near the city docks, in the Gängeviertel quarter of Hamburg, for six months before moving to a small house on the Dammtorwall, located on the northern perimeter of Hamburg in the Inner Alster.

Johann Jakob gave his son his first musical training. He studied piano from the age of seven with Otto Friedrich Willibald Cossel. Brahms showed early promise (his younger brother Fritz also became a pianist) and helped to supplement the rather meager family income by playing the piano in restaurants and theaters, as well as by teaching. It is a long-told tale that Brahms was forced in his early teens to play the piano in bars that doubled as brothels; recently Brahms scholar Kurt Hoffman has suggested that this legend is false. Since Brahms himself clearly originated the story, however, some have questioned Hoffman's theory.


 Johannes Brahms, Hungarian Dance No. 5

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Magi

The 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.

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
(Matthew 2:1-3)


 Leonardo da Vinci's Adoration of the Magi Motion Sensing Visualization Demo

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Hebron (Al-Khalil) (Hebrew: חברון Chebrown "association" derived from the root word חֶבֶר cheber, meaning "association, company, band") is a town in the Southern Judea region of the West Bank of around 166,000 Palestinians and 500 Israeli settlers. It lies 3,050 feet (930 m) above sea level.

Geographic coordinates: 31°32' N, 35°6' E

Hebron is located 30km south of Jerusalem. Its elevation from sea level is about 1000m. Hebron is famous for its grapes, limestones, pottery workshops and glassblowing factories. It is also home of the nationally famous Al-Juneidi factory for dairy products.

The old city of Hebron is characterized by its narrow and winding streets, the flat-roofed stone houses, and the old bazaars. It is the home of Hebron University and Palestine Polytechnic University.

Hebron is one of most ancient cities in the Middle East, and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and was an ancient Canaanite royal city:

After this David inquired of the Lord , "Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?" And the Lord said to him, "Go up." David said, "To which shall I go up?" And he said, "To Hebron." -2 Sam. 2:1


 "Palestinian" Arab Crimes against Humanity

Saturday, December 11, 2010


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.

In an article titled, "Jews and Christians under Islam Dhimmitude and Marcionism*" by Egyptian-born British writer and political commentator, who writes about the history of non-Muslims in the Middle East, Bat Ye'or:
" According to the theory of jihad, inhabitants of the lands of war (dar al-harb) are infidels to be combated because they oppose the establishment of Islamic law in their countries. As enemies of Allah they have no rights: they themselves and their property become licit (mubah) for all Muslims. As the opportunity arises they can be taken as slaves, kidnapped for ransom, robbed or killed. War is waged against them to Islamize their territory which, according to the will of Allah, must belong to the Islamic community. If they resist, Islamic law provides for the deportation or massacre of the men and the enslavement of women and children. "
Some observers suggest Islamism's 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".

Attributes of sharia law supported by 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.


 Out of time: Radical Islam Taking Over Europe & West

Friday, December 10, 2010

Irreducible complexity

Refers to the argument that certain biological systems are too complex to have evolved from simpler, or "less complete" predecessors, and are at the same time too complex to have arisen naturally through chance mutations. An "irreducibly complex" system is defined by the term's originator, biochemistry professor Michael J. Behe, as one "composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning". These examples are said to demonstrate that modern biological forms could not have evolved naturally. The argument is used in a broader context to support the idea that an intelligent designer was involved, at some point, in the creation of life, against the theory of evolution which argues no designer is required. In a manner of speaking, the IC argument is a definition of the "designer", or at least "what was designed", a definition that has proven elusive in the past. The most common examples used in argument are the complexity of the eye (right), the Blood clotting cascade, or the motor in a cell's flagellum.

The examples offered to support the irreducible complexity argument have generally been found to fail to meet the definition and intermediate precursor states have been identified for several structures purported to exhibit irreducible complexity.

For instance, precursors to the flagellum's motor can be found being used as ionic channels within bacteria, known as the Type III Secretory System. This is true for most of the structure of the flagellum in general; of the 42 proteins found in the flagellum, 40 have already been found in use in different biological pathways. Even Behe's toy model used to illustrate the concept, the mouse trap, was countered by critics including biology professor John McDonald, who produced examples of how he considered the mousetrap to be "easily reducable", eventually to a single part. Critics consider that most, or all, of the examples were based on misunderstandings of the workings of the biological systems in question, and consider the low quality of these examples excellent evidence for the argument from ignorance.

 Irreducible Complexity 01/04–04/04

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Mary, mother of Jesus

According to the New Testament, Mary (Greek: Μαρία Maria, of Hebrew origin: מִרְיָם Miryam "their rebellion") was the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, who at the time of his conception was the betrothed wife of Joseph of Nazareth (Greek: Ἰωσήφ Iōsēph of Hebrew origin: יוֹסֵף Yowceph "Jehovah has added") (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.

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 08, 2010

Founders of modern science

Science (from the Latin scientia, 'knowledge') is a system of acquiring knowledge based on the scientific method, as well as the organized body of knowledge gained through such research. Science as defined here is sometimes termed pure science to differentiate it from applied science, which is the application of scientific research to specific human needs.

The renewal of learning in Europe, that began with 12th century Scholasticism, came to an end about the time of the Black Death, and the initial period of the subsequent Italian Renaissance is sometimes seen as a lull in scientific activity. The Northern Renaissance, on the other hand, showed a decisive shift in focus from Aristoteleian natural philosophy to chemistry and the biological sciences (botany, anatomy, and medicine). Thus modern science in Europe was resumed in a period of great upheaval: the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation; the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus; the Fall of Constantinople; but also the re-discovery of Aristotle during the Scholastic period presaged large social and political changes (see the Renaissance).

Thus, a suitable environment was created in which it became possible to question scientific doctrine, in much the same way that Martin Luther and John Calvin questioned religious doctrine. The works of Claudius Ptolemaeus (astronomy) and Galen (medicine) were found not always to match everyday observations. Work by Vesalius on human cadavers found problems with the Galenic view of anatomy.

The willingness to question previously held truths and search for new answers resulted in a period of major scientific advancements, now known as the Scientific Revolution. The Scientific Revolution is traditionally held by most historians to have begun in 1543, when De Revolutionibus, by the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, was first printed. The thesis of this book was that the Earth moved around the Sun. The period culminated with the publication of the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687 by Isaac Newton.


 Galileo and the Church, Part 1 of 4

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great (in Greek Μέγας Αλέξανδρος, transliterated Megas Alexandros) (Alexander III of Macedon) was born in Pella, Macedon, in July, 356 BC, died in Babylon, on June 10, 323 BC, King of Macedon 336–323 BC, is considered one of the most successful military commanders in world history (if not the greatest), conquering most of the known world before his death.

Alexander is also known in the Zoroastrian Middle Persian work Arda Wiraz Nāmag as "the accursed Alexander" due to his conquest of the Persian Empire and the destruction of its capital Persepolis.

He is also known in Middle Eastern traditions as Dhul-Qarnayn in Arabic and Dul-Qarnayim in Hebrew and Aramaic (the two-horned one) (see also: Aramaic of Jesus), apparently due to an image on coins minted during his rule that seemingly depicted him with the two ram's horns of the Egyptian god Ammon.

He is known as Sikandar in Hindi; in fact in India, the term Sikandar is used as a synonym for "expert" or "extremely skilled"; in the Malay Language he is known as Iskandar Zulkarnain.


 Alexander the Great (Part 1)

Monday, December 06, 2010

The old city of Jerusalem

Jerusalem is the holiest city of Judaism (since the 10th century BCE) and some denominations of Christianity (since the 5th century CE) and, after Mecca and Medina, the third holiest city of Islam (since the 7th century CE).

A heterogeneous city, Jerusalem represents a wide range of national, religious, and socioeconomic groups. The section called the "Old City" is surrounded by walls and consists of four quarters: Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim.

The status of the united Jerusalem as Israel's capital is not widely recognised by the international community and Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem is particularly controversial.

Jerusalem's Old City Wall
Jerusalem's Old City Wall encompasses an area of barely 1km². The existing wall was built in the 16th century (1535-1538) by the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Turks. The 4,018 meter long wall incorporates older parts from the Second Temple, Roman, Byzantine and Medieval periods.


 A Walk Through the Old City of Jerusalem

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Genealogy of Jesus

The Genealogy of Jesus is recorded in two places in the bible:
1) Matthew 1:1-17, and

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

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

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

The virgin birth also addressed the curse God had pronounced upon Jehoiakim. Kingship was an inherited right. By Joseph, Jesus inherited a legal claim to the throne of David. However, he was exempt from the curse of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:1-32, i.e. Joseph's offspring could not claim David's throne because of the curse) because Joseph was not the genetic father of Jesus.


 Understanding the Genealogy of Jesus

Saturday, December 04, 2010


Jericho (Arabic أريحا , Hebrew ירחו Yĕriychow "city of the moon" from the masculine noun: ירח yareach "moon" ) - is a town in the West Bank, Palestine near the Jordan River.

The first mention of Jericho in the Bible is from Numbers 22:

1 Then the people of Israel set out and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan River at Jericho. 2 And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. 3 And Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel. (Numbers 22:1-3)

Jericho has a population of approximately 20,000. It is believed by some to be the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the world.

The present city was captured by Israel after the Six-Day War in 1967. It was the first city handed over to Palestinian Authority control in 1994, in accordance with the Oslo accords. After a period of Israeli readministration, it was returned to the Palestinian Authority on 16 March 2005.


Biblical Archeology: "City of Jericho"

Friday, December 03, 2010

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.
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

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) ”


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Book of Kells

Folio 34r contains the Chi
Rho monogram. Chi and
Rho are the first two letters 

ofthe word ‘Christ’ in Greek.
The Book of Kells (Dublin, Trinity College Library, MS A. I. (58), less widely known as the Book of Columba) is an ornately illustrated manuscript, produced by Celtic monks around AD 800 in the style known as Insular art. It is one of the more lavishly illuminated manuscripts to survive from the Middle Ages and has been described as the zenith of Western calligraphy and illumination. It contains the four gospels of the Bible in Latin, along with prefatory and explanatory matter decorated with numerous colourful illustrations and illuminations. Today it is on permanent display at the Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland.

The Book of Kells is the high point of a group of manuscripts in what is known as the Insular style produced from the late 6th through the early 9th centuries in monasteries in Ireland, Scotland and northern England and in continental monasteries with Irish or English foundations.

These manuscripts include the Cathach of St. Columba, the Ambrosiana Orosius, a fragmentary gospel in the Durham cathedral library (all from the early 7th century), and the Book of Durrow (from the second half of the 7th century). From the early 8th century come the Durham Gospels, the Echternach Gospels, the Lindisfarne Gospels (see illustration at right), and the Lichfield Gospels. The St. Gall Gospel Book and the Macregal Gospels come from the late 8th century. The Book of Armagh (dated to 807–809), the Turin Gospel Book Fragment, the Leiden Priscian, the St. Gall Priscian and the Macdurnan Gospel all date from the early 9th century. Scholars place these manuscripts together based on similarities in artistic style, script, and textual traditions. The fully developed style of the ornamentation of the Book of Kells places it late in this series, either from the late eighth or early ninth century. The Book of Kells follows many of the iconographic and stylistic traditions found in these earlier manuscripts. For example, the form of the decorated letters found in the incipit pages for the Gospels is surprisingly consistent in Insular Gospels. Compare, for example, the incipit pages of the Gospel of Matthew in the Lindisfarne Gospels and in the Book of Kells both of which feature intricate decorative knotwork inside the outlines formed by the enlarged initial letters of the text. (For a more complete list of related manuscripts see: List of Hiberno-Saxon illustrated manuscripts.)


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The parables of Jesus

The 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.

28 So 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


Tuesday, November 30, 2010


He is also called Jesus Christ, where "Jesus" is an Anglicization of the Greek: Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous), of Hebrew origin יְהוֹשׁוּעַ (Yĕhowshuwa`, Joshua "Jehovah is salvation") from יְהֹוָה (Yĕhovah "the existing One") from הָיָה (hayah "to be, become, come to pass, exist"), יָשַׁע (yasha`, to save, be saved, be delivered); or Aramaic ישוע (Yeshua), meaning "YHVH is salvation"; and where "Christ" is a title derived from the Greek christós, meaning the "Anointed One," which corresponds to the Hebrew-derived "Messiah" משיח (mashiyach "anointed, anointed one"). Jesus is the incarnate Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, and the prophesied Hebrew Messiah, deliverer of Israel). Jesus is also known as "Jesus Christ", "Jesus of Nazareth", and "Jesus the Nazarene."

Christian views of Jesus (known as Christology) are both diverse and complex. Most Christians are Trinitarian and affirm the Nicene Creed, believing that Jesus is both the Son of God and God made incarnate1, sent to provide salvation and reconciliation with God by atoning for the sins of humanity (see also Christian worldview).

The most detailed accounts of Jesus' birth are contained in the Gospel of Matthew (probably written between 60 and 85 AD/CE) and the Gospel of Luke (probably written between 60 and 100 AD/CE). There is considerable debate about the details of Jesus' birth even among Christian scholars, and few scholars claim to know either the year or the date of his birth or of his death.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Eusebius of Caesarea

Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 275 – May 30, 339) (often called Eusebius Pamphili, "Eusebius [the friend] of Pamphilus") was a bishop of Caesarea in Palestine and is often referred to as the father of church history because of his work in recording the history of the early Christian church. An earlier history by Hegesippus that he referred to has not survived.

His exact date and place of birth are unknown, and little is known of his youth. He became acquainted with the presbyter Dorotheus in Antioch and probably received exegetical instruction from him. In 296 he was in Palestine and saw Constantine who visited the country with Diocletian.

He was in Caesarea when Agapius was bishop and became friendly with Pamphilus of Caesarea, with whom he seems to have studied the text of the Bible, with the aid of Origen's Hexapla and commentaries collected by Pamphilus, in an attempt to prepare a correct version.

In 307, Pamphilus was imprisoned, but Eusebius continued their project. The resulting defence of Origen, in which they had collaborated, was finished by Eusebius after the death of Pamphilus and sent to the martyrs in the mines of Phaeno in Egypt. Eusebius then seems to have gone to Tyre and later to Egypt, where he first suffered persecution.

Eusebius is next heard of as bishop of Caesarea Palaestina. He succeeded Agapius, whose time of office is not known, but Eusebius must have become bishop soon after 313. Nothing is known about the early years of his tenure. When the Council of Nicaea met in 325, Eusebius was prominent in its transactions. He was not naturally a spiritual leader or theologian, but as a very learned man and a famous author who enjoyed the special favour of the emperor, he came to the fore among the 300 members of the council. The confession which he proposed became the basis of the Nicene Creed.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fertile Crescent

The Fertile Crescent is a historical region in the Middle East incorporating Ancient Egypt, the Levant, and Mesopotamia. The term "Fertile Crescent" was coined by University of Chicago archaeologist James Henry Breasted.

Watered by the Nile, Jordan, Euphrates and Tigris rivers and covering some 400-500,000 square kilometers, the region extends from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea around the north of the Syrian Desert and through the Jazirah and Mesopotamia to the Persian Gulf. These areas correspond to the present-day Egypt, Israel, West Bank, Gaza strip, and Lebanon and parts of Jordan, Syria, Iraq, south-eastern Turkey and south-western Iran.

The population of the Nile River Basin is about 70 million, the Jordan River Basin about 20 million, and the Tigris and Euphrates Basins about 30 million, giving the present-day Fertile Crescent a total population of approximately 120 million, or at least a third of the population of the Middle East.


Saturday, November 27, 2010


Isaac (Hebrew: יצחק Yitschaq "he will laugh" or "he laughs") was the only son of Abraham (אברם 'Abram / אברהם 'Abraham) and Sarah (שרי Saray / שרה Sarah) and the father of Jacob (יעקב Ya`aqob) and Esau (עשו `Esav) as described in the book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible. Isaac was the longest-lived of the patriarchs (one hundred and eighty years), and the only biblical patriarch whose name was not changed. Isaac was also the only patriarch who did not leave Canaan, although he once tried to leave and God told him not to do so:
1 Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. 2 And the LORD appeared to him and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. 4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Compared to other patriarchs in the Bible, his story is less colorful, relating few incidents of his life.

Abraham's willingness to follow God's command to sacrifice Isaac has been viewed by early as well as modern Christianity as an example of faith and obedience.


 Isaac and Abimelech — Genesis 26:1–34

Thursday, November 25, 2010

F.F. Bruce

Frederick Fyvie Bruce (1910-1990) (more commonly known as F.F. Bruce) was a Bible scholar, and one of the founders of the modern evangelical understanding of the Bible.

He was born in Elgin, Morayshire and was educated at the University of Aberdeen, Cambridge University and the University of Vienna. After teaching Greek for several years first at the University of Edinburgh and then at the University of Leeds he became head of the Department of Biblical History and Literature at the University of Sheffield in 1947. In 1959 he moved to the University of Manchester where he became professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis. In his career he wrote some thirty-three books and served as editor of The Evangelical Quarterly and the Palestine Exploration Quarterly. He retired from teaching in 1978.

Bruce was a dedicated member of the Open Plymouth Brethren, though he did not affirm the dispensationalism usually associated with that movement.

Bruce was a distinguished scholar on the life and ministry of Paul the Apostle, and wrote several studies the best known of which is Paul: Apostle of the Free Spirit. He also wrote commentaries on several biblical books including Acts of the Apostles, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and the Epistle to the Hebrews.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010


In Christianity, the disciples were the students of Jesus during his ministry. Though often restricted to the Twelve Apostles, the gospels refer to varying numbers of disciples. In the Book of Acts, the Apostles themselves have disciples. The word disciple is used today as a way of self-identification for those who seek to learn from Christianity.

The term disciple is derived from the New Testament Greek word μαθἡτἡς., coming to English by way of the Latin discipulus meaning "a learner". Disciple should not be confused with apostle, meaning "messenger, he that is sent". While a disciple is one who learns from a teacher, a student, an apostle is sent to deliver those teachings to others. The word disciple appears two hundred and thirty two times in the four gospels and the Book of Acts.
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. –Luke 24:28-35

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Shekhinah (Hebrew: שכינה - alternative transliterations Shekinah, Shechinah, Shekina, Shechina, Schechinah, sometimes spelled Shchinah in Judaism) is the English spelling of a feminine Hebrew language word that means the dwelling or settling, and is used to denote the dwelling or settling presence of God, especially in the Temple in Jerusalem. Shekhinah is the "gentle" or "feminine aspect" of the Divine.

Shekhinah is derived from the Hebrew verb שכן shakan "to settle down, abide, dwell, tabernacle, reside," as in the Book of Exodus:
"And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God." –Exodus 29:45

ושכנתי בתוך בני ישראל והייתי להם לאלהים׃ ספר שמות 29:45

Christian theologians have often connected the concept of Shekhinah to the Greek term "Parousia", also a feminine word (literally: "presence") which is used in the New Testament in a similar way for "Divine Presence".


Jpost video: Thousands gather at the Kotel for Priestly Blessing

Monday, November 22, 2010

ONE Modern Day Prophet

At the Willow Creek Association's 2006 Leadership Summit Senior pastor Bill Hybels interviewed U2 lead singer Bono. Bono painted a poignant picture of the response of the Christian church to emergency of the global Aids and extreme poverty crisis, but reminds us that it is not too late. He asked Americans to rally – ONE by ONE.
"It's not about charity, it's about justice." –Bono
Rick Warren's (Saddleback Church) organized a Global Summit on AIDS and the church.
17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." –Luke 4:17-19, (from Isaiah 61:1,2)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tribe of Asher

The Tribe of Asher (Hebrew: אשר from אָשַׁר 'ashar "to go straight, walk, go on, advance, make progress") is one of the Hebrew tribes of Israel, the tribe descended from Asher the eighth son of Jacob and Zilpah. Asher, his four sons and a daughter, settled in Egypt.
And Leah said, "Happy am I! For women have called me happy." So she called his name Asher. —Gen 30:13
The tribe may be the same as the Weshesh mentioned in Egyptian accounts (the W of Weshesh is a modern invention for ease of pronunciation, the Egyptian records containing mention of the group refer to Uashesh). The Weshesh were part of a tribal confederation known as the Sea Peoples, which also included Peleset (the Philistines), Danua (possibly Dan), Tjekker (thought to mean of Acco, and thus may refer to Manasseh), Shekelesh (thought to mean men of Sheker, and thus may refer to Issachar).

Records only state that the Sea People attacked Egypt, and other nations, but not where hey came from or where they went to. As such there has been much speculation, with some thinking they either invaded, or returned home to, coastal Canaan, and subsequently their federation for some unknown reason split, with some tribes joining the Israelite federation.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) was a nineteenth-century German philosopher and philologist. He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy, and science, using a distinctive German language style and displaying a fondness for aphorism. Nietzsche's influence remains substantial within and beyond philosophy, notably in existentialism and postmodernism. His style and radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth raise considerable problems of interpretation, generating an extensive secondary literature in both continental and analytic philosophy. Nonetheless, his key ideas include interpreting tragedy as an affirmation of life, an eternal recurrence (which numerous commentators have re-interpreted), a rejection of Platonism, and a repudiation of (especially 19th-century) Christianity.

In his History of Western Philosophy Bertrand Russell was caustic in his chapter on Nietzsche, calling his work the "mere power-phantasies of an invalid" and referring to Nietzsche as a "megalomaniac".

Nietzsche began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. At the age of 24 he became the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel (the youngest-ever holder of this position), but resigned in 1879 due to health problems, which would plague him for most of his life. In 1889 he exhibited symptoms of serious mental illness, living out his remaining years in the care of his mother and sister until his death in 1900.

Born on 15 October 1844, Nietzsche grew up in the small town of Röcken, near Leipzig, in the Prussian Province of Saxony. He was named after King Frederick William IV of Prussia, who turned 49 on the day of Nietzsche's birth. (Nietzsche later dropped his given middle name, "Wilhelm".) Nietzsche's parents, Carl Ludwig (1813–1849), a Lutheran pastor and former teacher, and Franziska Oehler (1826–1897), married in 1843 and had two other children: a daughter, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, born in 1846, and a second son, Ludwig Joseph, born in 1848. Nietzsche's father died from a brain ailment in 1849; his younger brother died in 1850. The family then moved to Naumburg, where they lived with Nietzsche's paternal grandmother and his father's two unmarried sisters. After the death of Nietzsche's grandmother in 1856, the family moved into their own house.


includes:  "Parable of the Madman" Friedrich Nietzsche Read by Ravi Zacharias

Friday, November 19, 2010

Early Church Fathers

The Early Church Fathers, (Church Fathers, or Fathers of the Church) are the early and influential theologians and writers in the Christian Church, particularly those of the first five centuries of Christian history. The term is used of writers and teachers of the Church, not necessarily saints. It is generally not meant to include the New Testament authors, though in the early Church some writing of Church Fathers were considered canonical (those books considered to be inspired by God or to express the authoritative history of the relationship between God and his people).

Apostolic Fathers
The very earliest Church Fathers, of the first two generations after The Twelve Apostles of Christ, are usually called the Apostolic Fathers.

Famous Apostolic Fathers include
  • Ignatius of Antioch
  • Polycarp of Smyrna
  • Clement of Rome

In addition, the Didache (a brief early Christian treatise (c. 70–160 CE), containing instructions for Christian communities) and The Shepherd of Hermas (a Christian work of the second century, considered a valuable book by many Christians, and occasionally considered canonical scripture by some of the early Church fathers) are usually placed among the writings of the Apostolic Fathers although their authors are unknown.


Leo Tolstoy

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Lyof, Lyoff) (September 9 [O.S. August 28] 1828 – November 20 [O.S. November 7] 1910) (Russian: Лев Никола́евич Толсто́й) commonly referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer – novelist, essayist, dramatist and philosopher – as well as pacifist Christian anarchist and educational reformer. He is perhaps the most influential member of the aristocratic Tolstoy family.

As a fiction writer Tolstoy is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all novelists, particularly noted for his masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina. In their scope, breadth and realistic depiction of 19th-century Russian life, the two books stand at the peak of realist fiction. As a moral philosopher Tolstoy was notable for his ideas on nonviolent resistance through works such as The Kingdom of God is Within You, which in turn influenced such twentieth-century figures as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Leo was born on his father's estate of Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula guberniya of Central Russia. The Tolstoys are a well-known family of old Russian nobility, the writer's mother was born a Princess Volkonsky, while his grandmothers came from the Troubetzkoy and Gorchakov princely families. Tolstoy was connected to the grandest families of Russian aristocracy; Alexander Pushkin was his fourth cousin. His birth as a member of the highest Russian nobility marks off Tolstoy very distinctly from the other writers of his generation. He always remained a class-conscious nobleman who cherished his impeccable French pronunciation and kept aloof from the intelligentsia.

Includes:  Conversations with Leo Tolstoy by Leo Tolstoy and Simon Parke



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