Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Prophets

The Major prophets:
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel
each originally depicted on the fresco
on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. (date:1509)
Books of the Old Testament referred to as: "The Prophets"

Former Prophets
  • Joshua or Yehoshua [יהושע]
  • Judges or Shoftim [שופטים]
  • Samuel or Shmu'el [שמואל]
  • Kings or Melakhim [מלכים]

Latter Prophets
  • Isaiah or Yeshayahu [ישעיהו]
  • Jeremiah or Yirmiyahu [ירמיהו]
  • Lamentations [מגילת איכה]
  • Ezekiel or Yehezq'el [יחזקאל]
  • Daniel or Daniye'l [דניאל]

Major Prophets
A major prophet is a book in the Major Prophets section of the Christian Old Testament in the Bible. The term "major prophet" is typically a Christian term as the Jewish Hebrew Bible does not group these books together and does not even include the deuterocanonical Book of Baruch. The closest analogous grouping in the Hebrew Bible is the "Prophets" or Nevi'im. The Christian major prophets in order of occurrence in the Christian Bible are:

  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations, also known as the Lamentations of Jeremiah
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel (listed with the Ketuvim in the Hebrew Bible).


Friday, July 30, 2010

Masoretic Text

Nash Papyrus (2nd century BCE) contains a portion of the
pre-Masoretic Text, specifically the Ten Commandments and the Shema Yisrael prayer
The Masoretic Text (MT) is the Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible (Tanakh). It defines not just the books of the Jewish canon, but also the precise letter-text of the biblical books in Judaism, as well as their vocalization and accentuation for both public reading and private study. The MT is also widely used as the basis for translations of the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles, and in recent decades also for Catholic Bibles.

The MT was primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the seventh and tenth centuries CE. Though the consonants differ little from the text generally accepted in the early second century, it has numerous differences of both little and great significance when compared to (extant 4th century) versions of the Septuagint, originally a Greek translation (around 300 BCE) of the Hebrew Scriptures in popular use in Palestine during the common era and often quoted in the second part of the Christian Bible (known as the New Testament).

The Hebrew word mesorah (מסורה, alt. מסורת) refers to the transmission of a tradition. In a very broad sense it can refer to the entire chain of Jewish tradition (Oral tradition), but in reference to the masoretic text the word mesorah has a very specific meaning: the diacritic markings of the text of the Hebrew Bible and concise marginal notes in manuscripts (and later printings) of the Hebrew Bible which note textual details, usually about the precise spelling of words.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sodom and Gomorrah

In the Bible, (סְדֹם) Sodom and (עֲמֹרָה) Gomorrah were two cities destroyed by God for their sins. In Hebrew Sodom, a city in the Valley of Siddim near the south end of the Dead Sea, which with three others was destroyed in the time of Abraham and submerged in the Dead Sea. (numerous: Gen 10:19 - Rev 11:8) Hence vines of Sodom, which were probably degenerated and inferior, (comp. the apples of Sodom Jos. B. J. 4. 8.4) are put Deut. 32 as the emblem of a degenerate state:
For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of poison; their clusters are bitter;
comp. Jer. 2:21:
Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine?
Also judges of Sodom, i. q. unjust and corrupt judges, Is. 1:10:
Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah!
The name may signify burning, conflagration, as being built on a bituminous soil and therefore perhaps exposed to frequent fires; comp. the name Karaxixavfiivtj given to a part of Phrygia. Or it may be i. q. nallE field, vineyard, q. v.— On the site and catastrophe of Sodom.



Hebrew word meaning "anointed one." It is the equivalent of the New Testament word "Christ" which also means "anointed." Jesus, as the messiah, was anointed by God (Matthew 3:16) to carry out His three-fold ministry of Prophet, Priest, and King. As the messiah He has delivered the Christian from the bonds of sin and given to him eternal life. In that sense, Messiah means deliverer, for He has delivered us. The Messiah was promised in the Old Testament in the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15).

In Judaism, the Messiah (מָשִׁיחַ) Aramaic משיחא see also: Aramaic of Jesus) initially meant any person who was anointed by a prophet of God. In English today, it is used in two major contexts: the anticipated saviour of the Jews, and one who is anticipated as, regarded as, or professes to be a saviour or liberator. Jews, however, do not generally use the word "saviour" in reference to the messiah, primarily because of the Christian connotation of the word "saviour."


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Abrahamic religion

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

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

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

All the Abrahamic religions are derived to some extent from Judaism as practiced in ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah prior to the Babylonian Exile, at the beginning of the 1st millennium BCE. Many believe that Judaism in Biblical Israel was renovated and reformed to some extent in the 6th century BCE by Ezra and other priests returning to Israel from the exile. Samaritanism separated from Judaism in the next few centuries.

Christianity originated in Judea, at the end of the 1st century, as a radically reformed branch of Judaism; it spread to ancient Greece and Rome, and from there to most of Europe, Asia, the Americas, and many other parts of the world. Over the centuries, Christianity split into many separate churches and denominations. A major split in the 5th century separated various Oriental Churches from the Catholic church centered in Rome . Other major splits were the East-West Schism in the 11th century, separating the Roman Catholic Church from the Eastern Orthodox Churches; and the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, that gave birth to hundreds of independent Protestant denominations.

The origins of Judaism and the ancestral Abrahamic religion are still obscure. The only source generally agreed by all to be canonical that bears on that question is the Genesis book of the Hebrew Bible, which according to Rabbinic tradition was written by Moses after the Exodus from Egypt, sometime in the 2nd millennium BC. According to Genesis, the principles of Judaism were revealed gradually to a line of patriarchs from Adam to Jacob (also called Israel); however the religion was only established when Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, and with the institution of priesthood and temple services.

Islam originated in the 7th century, in the Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina. Although not a dissident branch of either Judaism or Christianity, it explicitly claimed to be a continuation and replacement for them, and echoed many of their principles. According to the Muslim belief, the Qur'an was the final word of God and its message was that of all the prophets.

"The year that Muhammad fled Mecca for Medina was 622, which marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar.

Stinging from the rejection of his own town and tribe, Muhammad's message quickly become more intolerant and ruthless - particularly as he gained power. Islam's holiest book clearly reflects this contrast, with the later parts of the Qur'an adding violence and earthly defeats at the hands of Muslims to the woes of eternal damnation that the earlier parts of the book promises those who will not believe in Muhammad.

It was at Medina that Islam evolved from the relatively peaceful religion (that had thus far been borrowed from others) to the military force that it became during the last ten years of Muhammad's life, in which infidels were evicted or enslaved, converted upon point of death, and even rounded up and slaughtered.

To fund his quest for control, Muhammad first directed his followers to raid Meccan caravans in the holy months, when the victims would least expect it. This was despite the fact that the Meccans were not bothering him in Medina."


Monday, July 26, 2010

Tel Dan Stele

The Tel Dan Stele is a black basalt stele erected by an Aramaean king in northernmost Israel containing an Aramaic inscription to commemorate his victory over the ancient Hebrews. Although the name of the author of the stele does not seem to appear on the available fragments, it is most likely a king of neighboring Damascus. Language, time, and location make it plausible that the author was Hazael or his son, Bar Hadad II/III, who were kings of Damascus and enemies of the kingdom of Israel. The stele was discovered at Tel Dan, by a team of scholars and workers led by Israeli archaeologist Avraham Biran (1909 - 2008). The Stele was previously named Tell el-Qadi, after a mound where a city once stood at the northern tip of Israel. Fragment A was discovered in 1993, and fragments B1 and B2, which fit together, were discovered in 1994. Biran's excavations began in 1966 and ended in 1993, making the Tel Dan excavation the longest continuously excavated site in Israel.

The inscription generated excitement among biblical scholars and biblical archaeologists because the letters 'ביתדוד' are identical to the Hebrew for "house of David." If these letters refer to the Davidic line then this is the first time the name "David" has been recognized at any archaeological site. The scholarly consensus among archaeologists and epigraphers is that the fragment is an authentic reference to the Biblical King David.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Roman Legion

The Roman legion (from Latin legio, legionis, f., from lego, legere, legi, lectus — to collect) was the basic military unit of the ancient Roman army. It consisted of a core of heavy infantry (legionaries), with auxiliary cavalry and ranged troops, typically skirmishers. The size of a typical legion varied widely throughout the history of ancient Rome , with complements ranging from 5000-6000 men in the republican period of Rome, to the fairly standard number of around 5,400 in the early and middle imperial period and finally to on average 1000-2000 men in the very late imperial period. As legions were not standing armies until the Marian reforms (c. 107 BC), and were instead created, used, and disbanded again, several hundred Legions were named and numbered throughout Roman history. To date, about 50 have been identified. In the time of the Early Roman Empire, there were usually about 28 standing Legions plus their Auxiliaries, with more raised as needed.

Due to the enormous military successes of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire the legion has long been regarded as the prime ancient model for military efficiency and ability.

Originally, in the time of the Kings, the legio ("conscription") was the whole Roman army, composed of levied citizens. Much of Roman history of this era is founded on legends, but it is believed that during the reign of Servius Tullius, all Roman able-bodied, property-owning male citizens were first divided into five classes for military service based on wealth, since soldiers provided their own weapons and equipment.

  • Legio V Macedonica

    Legio V Macedonica ("Macedonian") was a Roman legion. It was probably originally levied by consul Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus and Octavian in 43 BC, and it existed in Moesia at least until 5th century. Its symbol was the bull, but the eagle was used as well. The cognomen Macedonica comes from the fact that the legion was stationed in Macedonia for a period of its life.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Neil Armstrong

"Houston, Tranquility Base here.
The Eagle has landed."
Neil Alden Armstrong (born 5 August 1930) is a former Test pilot and astronaut, and was the first man to step upon the moon. His first spaceflight was Gemini 8 in 1966, for which he was the command pilot. On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft together with pilot David Scott. Armstrong's second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission on July 20, 1969.

Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface ("The Eagle has landed") and spent 2.5 hours exploring while Michael Collins orbited above.

Before becoming an astronaut, he was an aviator for the United States Navy and saw action in the Korean War, then a test pilot at the NACA High-Speed Flight Station, now known as the Dryden Flight Research Center, where he flew over 900 flights in a variety of aircraft.

As a research pilot, Armstrong served as project pilot on the F-100 Super Sabre A and C aircraft, F-101 Voodoo, and the Lockheed F-104A Starfighter. He also flew the Bell X-1B, Bell X-5, North American X-15, F-105 Thunderchief, F-106 Delta Dart, B-47 Stratojet, KC-135 Stratotanker and Paresev.

After visiting the Holy Land in 1988, Neil stood on the steps where the Temple in Jerusalem once stood.

Neil was a deeply religious man. While in Jerusalem, in 1988,
He asked a local professor to take him to a place where the guide was certain Jesus had walked.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Philo of Alexandria

Philo (20 BCE - 40 CE), known also as Philo of Alexandria and as Philo Judeaus, was a Hellenized Jewish philosopher born in Alexandria, Egypt. The few biographical details concerning him are found in his own works, especially in Legatio ad Caium, ("embassy to Caius") and in Flavius Josephus.

The only event that can be determined chronologically is his participation in the embassy which the Alexandrian Jews sent to the emperor Caligula at Rome for the purpose of asking protection against the attacks of the Alexandrian Greeks. This occurred in the year 40 CE.

Philo included in his philosophy both Greek wisdom and Judaism, which he sought to fuse and harmonize by means of the art of allegory that he had learned as much from Jewish exegesis as from the Stoics. His work was not widely accepted. "The sophists of literalness," as he calls them (De Somniis, i. 16-17), "opened their eyes superciliously" when he explained to them the marvels of his exegesis. Philo's works were enthusiastically received by the early Christians, some of whom saw in him a Christian. Eusebius speculated that the Therapeutae, the Jewish group of ascetic hermits in the Egyptian desert that Philo describes in De vita contemplativa ("Contemplative Life") was in fact a Christian group.

We have a brief reference to Philo by the first century Jewish historian Josephus. In Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus tells of Philo's selection by the Alexandrian Jewish community as their principal representative before the Roman emperor Gaius Caligula. He says that Philo was sent to represent the Alexandrian Jews in regard to civil disorder that had arisen between the Jews and the Greeks in Alexandria (in Egypt). Josephus tells us also that Philo was skilled in philosophy, and that he was brother to an official called Alexander the alabarch. According to Josephus, Philo and the larger Jewish community refused to treat the emperor as a god, to erect statues in honor of the emperor, and to build altars and temples to the emperor. Josephus says Philo believed that God actively supports this refusal. This portrait of Philo matches the character of Philo that is expressed in his own writings, as discussed below.


Thursday, July 22, 2010


Gehenna (Hebrew:גַּיְא geenna, or Gehenom or Gehinom), in Jewish eschatology, is a fiery place where the wicked are punished after they die or on Judgment Day. Gehenna also appears in the New Testament and early Christian writing, and appears in Islam as Jahannam.

The word traces to Greek, ultimately from Hebrew: גי(א)-הינום‎ Gêhinnôm (also Guy ben-Hinnom (Hebrew: גיא בן הינום‎) meaning the Valley of Hinnom's son. The valley forms the southern border of ancient Jerusalem and stretches from the foot of Mount Zion, eastward, to the Kidron Valley. It is first mentioned in Joshua 15:8.

Originally it referred to a garbage dump in a deep narrow valley right outside the walls of Jerusalem (in modern-day Israel) where fires were kept burning to consume the refuse and keep down the stench. It is also the location where bodies of executed criminals, or individuals denied a proper burial, would be dumped. In addition, this valley was frequently not controlled by the Jewish authority within the city walls; it is traditionally held that this valley was used as a place of religious child-sacrifice to Moloch by the Canaanites outside the city.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wernher von Braun

Dr. Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun (March 23, 1912 – June 16, 1977) was one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Germany and the United States. The German scientist, who led Germany's rocket development program (V-2) before and during World War II, entered the United States at the end of the war through the then-secret Operation Paperclip. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen and worked on the American ICBM program before joining NASA, where he served as director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle, the superbooster that propelled the United States to the Moon. He is generally regarded as the father of the United States space program. Wernher von Braun received the National Medal of Science in 1975. He was tall, articulate and spoke English with a distinctive German accent.

(see also Founders of modern science)

After von Braun's death, Major General John Medaris commented,
“ His imagination strolled easily among the stars, yet the farther out into the unknown and unknowable vastness of Creation his thoughts went, the more he was certain that the universe, and this small garden spot within it, came from no cosmic accident, but from the thought and purpose of an all-knowing God. ”
Concerning the teaching of evolution in public schools, Wernher von Braun said:
“ To be forced to believe only one conclusion—that everything in the universe happened by chance—would violate the very objectivity of science itself. Certainly there are those who argue that the universe evolved out of random process, but what random process could produce the brain of a man or the system of the human eye? Some say that science has been unable to prove the existence of a Designer.. They challenge science to prove the existence of God. But, must we really light a candle to see the sun?  ”


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles (in Koine Greek "απόστολος" apostolos: "messenger from God, LXX 3 Ki.14.6; esp. of the Apostles, Ev.Matt.10.2, al." (Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott), G652: "a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders a) specifically applied to the twelve apostles of Christ) in a broader sense applied to other eminent Christian teachers" (Strong's Concordance) were men that according to the Synoptic Gospels and Christian tradition, were chosen from among the disciples of Jesus for a mission (see also: Seventy Disciples). According to the Bauer lexicon, Walter Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: " Judaism had an office known as apostle (שליח)".

The Gospel of Mark states that Jesus initially sent out these twelve in pairs (Mark 6:7-13, cf. Matthew 10:5-42, Luke 9:1-6), to towns in Galilee.

Literal readings of the text state that their initial instructions were to heal the sick and drive out demons, but some scholars read this more metaphorically as instructions to heal the spiritually sick and thus to drive away wicked behavior.


Monday, July 19, 2010


Wahhabism (Arabic: Al-Wahhābīyya‎ الوهابية) or Wahabism is a conservative form of Sunni Islam attributed to Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab (1703–91), an 18th century scholar from what is today known as Saudi Arabia, who advocated a return to the practices of the first three generations of Islamic history.

Wahhabism is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia, and is also popular in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. It is often referred to as a "sect" or "branch" of Islam, though both its supporters and its opponents reject such designations. It has developed considerable influence in the Muslim world through the funding of mosques, schools and other means from Persian Gulf oil wealth.

The primary doctrine of Wahhabism is Tawhid, or the uniqueness and unity of Allah (the deity Muslims worship). Ibn Abdul Wahhab was influenced by the writings of Ibn Taymiyya and questioned medieval interpretations of Islam, claiming to rely on the Qur'an and the Hadith. He preached against a "perceived moral decline and political weakness" in the Arabian Peninsula and condemned idolatry, the popular cult of saints, and shrine and tomb visitation.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

teleological argument

A teleological argument (or a design argument) is an argument for the existence of God or a creator based on perceived evidence of order, purpose, design and/or direction in nature. The word "teleological" is derived from the Greek word telos, meaning "end" or "purpose." Teleology is the supposition that there is purpose or directive principle in the works and processes of nature.

The argument

The teleological argument is consistent with Romans 1:20:
"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."
Although there are variations, the basic argument can be stated as follows:
  1. X is too (complex, orderly, adaptive, apparently purposeful, and/or beautiful) to have occurred randomly or accidentally.
  2. 2. Therefore, X must have been created by a (sentient, intelligent, wise, and/or purposeful) being.
  3. God is that (sentient, intelligent, wise, and/or purposeful) being.
  4. Therefore, God exists.
Alternatively, for 2, 3, and 4, more than one (sentient, intelligent, wise, and/or purposeful) being must have created X; therefore more than one creator, (ie. gods and goddesses) exist


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oral Tradition

The Oral Torah or Oral Law (Hebrew: תורה שבעל פה, Torah she-be-`al peh), according to Rabbinic Judaism, is an oral tradition received in conjunction with the written Torah (and the rest of the Hebrew Bible), which is known in this context as the "Written Torah" (Hebrew: תורה שבכתב, Torah she-bi-khtav). The traditions of the Oral Torah are believed to be the same as those recorded in the Mishnah and Talmud during the 2nd-5th centuries CE.

According to classical Judaism and the tenets of Orthodox Judaism, Moses and the Jews at Mount Sinai received an Oral as well as a written Torah ("teaching") from God. The books of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) were relayed with an oral tradition passed on by the scholarly and other religious leaders of each generation, and according to classical Rabbinic interpretation, the teachings of the Oral Law are a guide to that interpretation of the Written Law which is considered the authoritative reading. Jewish law and tradition thus is not based on a strictly literal reading of the Tanakh, but on combined oral and written traditions. Further, the basis of halakha (הלכה, (nf. law, rule, dogma; theory; Jewish religious laws) includes the premise that the Written Law is inherently bound together with an Oral Law.

The "Oral Law" was ultimately recorded in the Talmud and Midrash.


Friday, July 16, 2010


Dispensationalism is a branch of Christian theology that
  1. teaches Biblical history as best understood in light of a number of successive economies or administrations under God, which it calls "dispensations," and
  2. emphasizes prophecy of the end-times and the pre-tribulation rapture view of Christ's second coming.
Dispensation is an English term excogitated from the Latin dispensatio, frequently used to translate the Greek oikonomia, the management of a household or of household affairs
  • specifically, the management, oversight, administration, of other's property
  • the office of a manager or overseer, stewardship
  • administration, dispensation.
Some consider Dispensationalism to be a nineteenth century distortion of Biblical history. Dispensationalists teach that there are seven distinct "dispensations" within biblical history. The seventh being the 1000 year reign of Christ or the millennium. According to some, the primary error is the "two covenant" teaching. Dispensationalists believe that God's covenant with Israel continues even through the present "church age." Some Protestants believe that the new covenant in Christ replaces the old covenant with Israel.


Thursday, July 15, 2010


The name Hayah (Hebrew: היה) denotes God's potency in the immediate future, to be, exist, be present; happen, occur, take place: become, turn into, and is part of YHVH. The phrase "Hayah-'asher-Hayah" (Hebrew: אהיה אשר אהיה) comes from the word Hayah and is used a total of 43 places in the Old Testament, where it is usually translated as "I will be" -- as is the case for its first occurrence, in Exodus 3:14:
14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
or "I shall be," as is the case for its final occurrence in Zechariah 8:8. This stems from the Hebrew conception of monotheism—that God exists within each and everyone and by himself, the uncreated Creator who does not depend on anything or anyone; therefore "I AM WHO I AM." Some scholars state the Tetragrammaton itself derives from the same verbal root, but others counter that it may simply sound similar as intended by God, such as Proverbs 8:34 and the Hebrew words "shaqad" (Hebrew: שקד, to bow, bend) and "shaqed" (Hebrew שקד, almond branch) found in Jeremiah 1:11-12.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Damascus (Arabic: دمشق‎) is the capital and largest city of Syria, with close ties to Israel. Founded approximately 2500 BCE, it is thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, before Al Fayyum, and Gaziantep. Its current population is estimated at about 4.5 million.

In Arabic, the city is called دمشق الشام Dimashq ash-Shām.

Although this is often shortened to Dimashq by many, the citizens of Damascus, and of Syria and some other Arab neighbors, colloquially call the city ash-Shām. Ash-Shām is an Arabic term for North and for Syria. (Syria — particularly historical Greater Syria — is called Bilād ash-Shām — بلاد الشام, 'country of the north' — in Arabic.) The English name for Damascus is taken from the Greek Δαμασκός, via Latin. This comes from the old Aramaic name for the city — דרמשק Darmeśeq, which means "a well-watered place". However, pre-Aramaic tablets unearthed at Ebla refer to a city to the south of Ebla named Damaski. It is possible that the name 'Damascus' pre-dates the Aramaic era of the city. Damascus is designated as having been part of the ancient province of Amurru in the Hyksos Kingdom, from 1720 to 1570 BC. (MacMillan, pp. 30-31).


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Cambridge Declaration

The Cambridge Declaration is a statement of faith written in 1996 by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, a group of Reformed and Lutheran Evangelicals who were concerned with the state of the Evangelical movement in America, and throughout the world.


"No Place for Truth"

Both the conference and the eventual declaration came about as a result of David F. Wells' 1993 book No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? (ISBN 0-8028-0747-X). This book was highly critical of the Evangelical church in America for abandoning its historical and theological roots, and instead embracing the philosophies and pragmatism of the world.

While not a best seller, the book was critically acclaimed by a number of important Evangelical leaders. In 1994 a number of these leaders formed the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Since much of Wells' thesis stemmed from the modern church's abandonment of historical confessions of faith (such as the Westminster Confession of Faith and the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith), the Alliance was based upon Evangelicals who not only adhered to these Reformed confessions of faith, but were able to direct their ministries accordingly.


Sunday, July 11, 2010


The Shahada, also spelled shahadah, (Arabic: الشهادة aš-šahāda from the verb šahida "to testify") is the Islamic creed. The Shahada is the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness of Allah and acceptance of Muhammad as his prophet. The declaration reads: Lā ilaha illa al-Lāh, Muhammadun rasūlu l-Lāh “There is no allah but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah" (in English). This declaration is called the Kalima, which literally means "words." Recitation of the Shahadah is the most important of the "Five Pillars of Islam," for Muslims, and is performed daily.

Narrated Ibn Umar: Allah's apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):
  1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's apostle.
  2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.
  3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity).
  4. To perform Hajj (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca).
  5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

    (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, p. 17).
Non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam do so by a public recitation of the creed. Technically the Shi'a do not consider the Shahadah to be a separate pillar, but connect it to the beliefs. Those wishing to leave Islam also have options available.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas [Thomas of Aquin, or Aquino] (c. 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Catholic philosopher and theologian in the scholastic tradition, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Universalis. He is the most famous classical proponent of natural theology. He gave birth to the Thomistic school of philosophy, which was long the primary philosophical approach of the Catholic Church. He is considered by the Catholic Church to be its greatest theologian and one of the thirty-three Doctors of the Church. There have been many institutions of learning named after him.

The life of Thomas Aquinas offers many interesting insights into the world of the High Middle Ages. He was born into a family of the south Italian nobility and was through his mother, Countess Theadora of Theate, related to the Hohenstaufen dynasty of Holy Roman emperors.

He was probably born early in 1225 at his father Count Landulf's castle of Roccasecca in the kingdom of Naples (which is today in the Province of Frosinone, belonging to the Regione Lazio).


Friday, July 09, 2010


Alexandria (Greek: Αλεξάνδρεια), (population of 3.5 to 5 million), is the second-largest city in Egypt, and its largest seaport. Alexandria extends about 20 miles (32 km) along the coast of the Mediterranean sea in the northwest of Egypt. It is home to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the New Library of Alexandria, and is an important industrial centre because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez.

In ancient times, the city was known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) and the Library of Alexandria (the largest library in the ancient world). Ongoing maritime archaeology in the harbour of Alexandria (which began in 1994) is revealing details of Alexandria both before the arrival of Alexander, when a city named Rhakotis existed there, and during the Ptolemaic dynasty.

The city of Alexandria was named after its founder, Alexander the Great and as the seat of the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt, quickly became one of the greatest cities of the Hellenistic civilization — second only to Rome in size and wealth.

However, upon the founding of Cairo by Egypt's mediæval Islamic rulers, its status as the country's capital ended, and fell into a long decline, which by the late Ottoman period, had seen it reduced to little more than a small fishing village. The current city is Egypt's leading port, a commercial and transportation center, and the heart of a major industrial area where refined petroleum, asphalt, cotton textiles, processed food, paper, and plastics are produced.


Thursday, July 08, 2010


Levi/Levy (Hebrew: לוי Leviy, n. Levi, Levite, "joining") was, according to the Book of Genesis, the third son of Jacob and Leah:
Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, "Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." Therefore his name was called Levi. —Gen 29:34 ESV

The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob's firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. —Gen 35:23 ESV
Levi is also known the progenitor of the Israelite tribe of Levi (the Levites); however some Biblical scholars view this as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an Etiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation. Certain religious and political functions were reserved for the Levites, and, according to textual scholars, the early sources of the Torah - the Jahwist and Elohist - appear to treat the term Levi as just being a word meaning priest; scholars suspect that "levi" was originally a general term for a priest, and had no connection to ancestry, and that it was only later, for example in the priestly source and Blessing of Moses, that the existence of a tribe named Levi became assumed, in order to explain the origin of the priestly caste.

Many scholars suspect that it simply means priest, either by being a loan word originating from the Minaean word lawi'u, meaning priest, or by referring to those people who were joined to the Ark of the Covenant. Some scholars believe that the Levites were not originally Israelite, instead originating as migrants, and consequently consider the name to refer to the Levites joining with either the Israelites in general, or the earlier Israelite priesthood in particular. It has also been suggested that the term Levi may just be a corruption of the name Leah (or vice versa), or cognate with the word leviathan, whose exact translation remains highly debated.



Jihad (Arabic: جهاد‎), an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād is a noun meaning "struggle." Jihad appears frequently in the Qur'an and common usage as the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of Allah (al-jihad fi sabil Allah)". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid, the plural is mujahideen.

A minority among the Sunni scholars sometimes refer to this duty as the sixth pillar of Islam, though it occupies no such official status. In Twelver Shi'a Islam, however, Jihad is one of the 10 Practices of the Religion.

According to scholar John Esposito, Jihad requires Muslims to "struggle in the way of God" or "to struggle to improve one's self and/or society." Jihad is directed against Satan's inducements, aspects of one's own self, or against a visible enemy. The four major categories of jihad that are recognized are Jihad against one's self (Jihad al-Nafs), Jihad of the tongue (Jihad al-lisan), Jihad of the hand (Jihad al-yad), and Jihad of the sword (Jihad as-sayf). Islamic military jurisprudence focuses on regulating the conditions and practice of Jihad as-sayf, the only form of warfare permissible under Islamic law, and thus the term Jihad is usually used in fiqh manuals in reference to military combat.


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Tribe of Benjamin

The Tribe of Benjamin (בִּנְיָמִין "son of my right hand" but in some rabbinical Judaism traditions "son of the south") is one of the Hebrew tribes of Israel, founded by Benjamin, son of Jacob.

The book of Judges 19-21 describes an episode in which all of the rest of Israel attacks and defeats the Benjamites in the battle at Gibeah, in retaliation following a disgraceful incident. To complete the defeat, all the civilians, including women and children, in the Benjamite towns and villages are then killed, and the other tribes vow that they will never allow their women to marry benjamites ever again. however, so as to not exterminate a tribe of Israel, they then provide four hundred virgins, spoil from another town they have massacred, as wives to the Benjamites, and also allow them to raid a festival and carry off some of the women.


Monday, July 05, 2010


Sheol (pronounced "Sheh-ole"), in Hebrew שאול (Sh'ol), is the "abode of the dead", the "underworld", or "pit". Sheol is the common destination of both the righteous and the unrighteous dead, as recounted in Ecclesiastes and Job.

Sheol is sometimes compared to Hades, the gloomy, twilight afterlife of Greek mythology. The word "hades" was in fact substituted for "sheol" when the Hebrew bible was translated into Greek. The New Testament (written in Greek) also uses "hades" to refer to the abode of the dead.

By the second century BC, Jews who accepted the Oral Tradition had come to believe that those in sheol awaited the resurrection either in comfort (in the bosom of Abraham) or in torment. This belief is reflected in Jesus' story of Lazarus and Dives. At that time Jews who rejected the Oral Tradition believed that Sheol meant simply the grave.

Anglicans, who do not share a concept of "hades" with the Eastern Orthodox, have traditionally translated "sheol" (and "hades") as "hell" (for example in the King James Version). However, to avoid confusion of what are separate concepts in the Bible, modern English versions of the Bible tend either to transliterate the word sheol or to use an alternative term such as the "grave" (e.g. the NIV). Roman Catholics generally translate "sheol" as "death."


Sunday, July 04, 2010

C.S. Lewis

C.S Lewis's surviving
BBC radio address: Part 1
Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis was a Northern Irish author and scholar, born into a Church of Ireland family in Belfast, although mostly resident in England in adulthood. Lewis is known for his work on medieval literature, for his Christian apologetics and for his fiction, especially the children’s series entitled The Chronicles of Narnia and his science fiction Space Trilogy. He was also a leading figure in an Oxford literary group called the Inklings.

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

C.S Lewis's surviving
BBC radio address: Part 2

Saturday, July 03, 2010


#Liberty, the #freedom to act or believe without being oppressed.


  1. the state of being free, esp. to enjoy political and civil liberties
  2. exemption or immunity: freedom from government control
  3. liberation, such as from slavery
  4. the right or privilege of unrestricted access: freedom of the skies
  5. self-government or independence
  6. the power to order one's own actions
  7. ease or frankness of manner


  1. to burden with cruel or unjust impositions or restraints; subject to a burdensome or harsh exercise of authority or power: a people oppressed by totalitarianism.
  2. to lie heavily upon (the mind, a person, etc.): Care and sorrow oppressed them.
  3. to weigh down, as sleep or weariness does.
  4. Archaic. to put down; subdue or suppress.
  5. Archaic. to press upon or against; crush.
Individualist and liberal conceptions of liberty relate to the freedom of the individual from outside compulsion or coercion; A collectivist perspective, on the other hand, associates liberty with equality across a broader array of societal interests. As such, a collectivist redefines liberty as being connected to the reasonably equitable distribution of wealth, arguing that the unrestrained concentration of wealth (the means of production) into only a few hands negates liberty. In other words, without relatively equal ownership, the subsequent concentration of power and influence into a small portion of the population inevitably results in the domination of the wealthy and the subjugation of the poor. Thus, freedom and material equality are seen as intrinsically connected, a line of thought that finds its home in the reasoning of philosopher, writer, and composer of the eighteenth century Enlightenment Jean-Jacques Rousseau. On the other hand, the individualist argues that wealth cannot be evenly distributed without force being used against individuals which reduces individual liberty.

According to Rousseau, by joining together into civil society through the social contract and abandoning their claims of natural right, individuals can both preserve themselves and remain free. This is because submission to the authority of the general will of the people as a whole guarantees individuals against being subordinated to the wills of others and also ensures that they obey themselves because they are, collectively, the authors of the law.

video: Youtube, Air Force Concert Band Play Stars & Stripes/Air Force Song


Thursday, July 01, 2010


Paul David Hewson (born 10 May 1960), nicknamed Bono Vox (stage name) and Bono (pronounced Bonn-oh), is the lead singer and occasional rhythm guitarist of the Irish rock band U2. Bono lives south of Dublin with his family and shares a villa in Èze in the Alpes-Maritimes in the South of France with The Edge, as well as an apartment at The Dakota in Manhattan.

Bono doesn't attend church on a regular basis. However, he does pray regularly, usually before meals and he tries to have a "Sabbath hour" as often as he can. He likes Eugene Peterson's bible paraphrase, The Message. Sometimes he hangs out with Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones, and sometimes he hangs out with Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant.

In a interview, Bono said,"I often wonder if religion is the enemy of God. It's almost like religion is what happens when the Spirit has left the building."

In an article titled, "HIV, Bono, and Christianity Today" by Fayola Shakes, Bono said,
"Shouldn't the focus be on meeting the person's where they're at? Isn't that what Jesus did? He didn't shout "Repent, you little hussy!" to the woman caught in the act of adultery. As far I recall, it went more like this:

"Then Jesus stood up again and said to her, 'Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?' 'No, Lord,' she said. And Jesus said, 'Neither do I. Go and sin no more.'"

So why does the church still have a pocket full of stones? I could see if it were 1984. Back then everyone -- scientists, doctors, HIVers -- was searching for answers.




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