Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Tribe of Levi, the breastplate worn by the High PriestLevi/Levy (Hebrew: לֵוִי, "joining") was, according to the Book of Genesis, the third son of Jacob and Leah, and the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Levi (the Levites); however 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.
The text of the Torah argues that the name of Levi refers to Leah's hope for Jacob to join with her, implying a derivation from yillaweh, meaning he will join, but Biblical scholars have proposed quite different origins of the name.

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.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Egyptian hieroglyphs

A section of the Papyrus of Ani showing cursive hieroglyphs.Egyptian hieroglyphs (sometimes called hieroglyphics) were a writing system used by the Ancient Egyptians that contained a combination of logographic and alphabetic elements. Cartouches were also used by the Egyptians. The variety of brush-painted hieroglyphs used on papyrus and (sometimes) on wood for religious literature is known as cursive hieroglyphs; this should not be confused with hieratic.


The word hieroglyph comes from the Greek ἱερογλυφικά (hieroglyphiká); the adjective hieroglyphic, as well as related words such as ἱερoγλυφος (hieroglyphos 'one who writes hieroglyphs', from ἱερός (hierós 'sacred') and γλύφειν (glýphein 'to carve' or 'to write', see glyph). Hieroglyphs themselves, were called τὰ ἱερογλυφικά (γράμματα) (tà hieroglyphiká (grámmata), 'engraved characters') on monuments (such as stelae, temples and tombs). The word hieroglyph has come to be used for the individual hieroglyphic characters themselves. While "hieroglyphics" is commonly used, it is discouraged by Egyptologists.


Monday, October 29, 2007

John 3:16

Statue of Nicodemus by Giovanni Angelo Del Maino John 3:16 (chapter 3, verse 16 of the Gospel of John) is one of the most widely quoted verses from the Christian Bible. It has been called the "Bible in a nutshell" because it is considered a summary of some of the most central doctrines of traditional Christianity:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. — John 3:16 (KJV)
God "...didn't give Him into the hands of a trustworthy caregiver. He didn't give Him up for adoption by loving parents. He didn't even give Him up for a season only to have Him returned to Him unharmed. When God gave His only begotten Son, He gave Him up to be killed. That's how much God loved the world." -Jeff Miller , Th.M.


The verse occurs in a narrative in the third chapter of John taking place in Jerusalem. Nicodemus, a member of the ruling council, comes to talk with Jesus, whom he calls Rabbi. Jesus' "miraculous signs" have convinced Nicodemus that Jesus is "from God." In reply, Jesus declares, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" (verses 5–6). John 3:16 summarizes Jesus' lesson to Nicodemus: that belief in Jesus is the path to eternal life. In this passage, Jesus proclaims himself the Messiah and lays out important aspects of Christian theology. This shows a contrast with the Gospel of Mark, for instance, in which Jesus often tries to keep his divinity secret until his final trip to Jerusalem.


Saturday, October 27, 2007


Diego Velasquez, Christ on the Cross Museo del Prado, Madrid, c. 1632Imputation is a concept in Christian theology which proposes that righteousness of Jesus Christ satisfies all criteria necessary to share in God's grace. Those who trust in the promise that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross atones for their sins believe in this type of righteousness as opposed to imparted righteousness and sanctification. The teaching of imputed righteousness is a signature doctrine of the Lutheran and Reformed traditions of Christianity.

The case for imputed righteousness

Imputed righteousness is the Protestant solution to a "divine predicament." On the one hand, God is infinitely merciful, "not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9). On the other, God is infinitely holy and just, which means that he cannot approve of or even look upon evil (Habakkuk 1:13), neither can he justify a wicked person (Prov. 17:15). Because the Bible describes all men as sinners and says that there are none who are righteous (Rom. 3:23, 10), these two "competing" traits in God's nature appear to put him in a dilemma.


Friday, October 26, 2007


God creates Adam; Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo Buonarroti.Sanctification or in its verb form, sanctify, literally means to set apart for special use or purpose, that is to make holy or sacred (from the Latin verb sanctificare, which in turn derives from sanctus, "holy" and facere, "to make".). The Greek word is hagiasmos (άγιασμος), meaning "holiness, consecration, or sanctification." It comes from the root hagios (άγιος), which means holy or sacred. Sanctification then refers to the state or process of being set apart or made holy. What is often missed, or overlooked, is the relational aspect that is associated with the word sanctification. Only God is truly holy. Everything else, whether it is things or people, is holy only because of its relationship to God.

Definition and descriptions

The concept of sanctification is widespread among religions, but is perhaps more common among the various branches of the Christian religion, especially those of the Protestant-Reformed and Wesleyan-Arminian traditions. The term can be used to refer to objects which are set apart for special purposes (i.e., the Temple vessels), but the most common use within Christian theology is in reference to the change brought about by God in a believer, begun at the point of salvation or justification and continuing throughout the life of the believer. Many forms of Christianity believe that this process will only be completed in Heaven, but some believe that complete holiness is possible in this life on earth--particularly in the final days before the ultimate return of Jesus. Some Protestants denominations call the completion of sanctification "glorification".


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Isaac Watts

Statue of Isaac Watts in Southampton. Isaac Watts (July 17, 1674 – November 25, 1748) is recognised as the "Father of English Hymnody", as he was the first prolific and popular English hymnwriter, credited with some 750 hymns. Many of his hymns remain in active use today and have been translated into many languages.


Born in Southampton, Watts was brought up in the home of a committed Nonconformist — his father had been incarcerated twice for his controversial views. At King Edward VI School (where one of the houses is now named "Watts" in his honour), he learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew and displayed a propensity for rhyme at home, driving his parents to the point of distraction on many occasions with his verse. Once, he had to explain how he came to have his eyes open during prayers.
"A little mouse for want of stairs ran up a rope to say its prayers."

Receiving corporal punishment for this, he cried
"O father, do some pity take And I will no more verses make."

Watts, unable to go to either Oxford or Cambridge due to his Nonconformity, went to the Dissenting Academy at Stoke Newington in 1690.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Abrahamic religion

Abrahamic Religions representing about one half of the religions of the worldIn 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 (see: Samaritans) separated from Judaism in the next few centuries.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Census of Quirinius

The Virgin and St. Joseph register for the census before Governor Quirinius. Byzantine mosaic c. 1315.The Census of Quirinius refers to the enrollment of the Roman Provinces of Syria and Iudaea for the purpose of taxation taken during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus when Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria. An account of the census was given by the historian Josephus, who associated it with the beginning of the Zealot movement. The Gospel of Luke associates the birth of Jesus with this census, but appears to date it a decade earlier. Most scholars regard this as an error, but some have suggested ways of reconciling the two.

This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. -Luke 2:2

Before becoming too "theologically preoccupied" with the doubts on Luke's accuracy regarding the Census of Quirinius, there are several things to consider...


Saturday, October 20, 2007


Engraved from the original oil painting in the University Library of Geneva, this is considered the best likeness of John Calvin.In Christian theology, justification is God's act making a sinner righteous before Him by His grace, received through the faith given to the person by God, for Christ's sake, because of his life, death, and resurrection. Because the meaning of the term is subject to dispute among Christians, simple definitions should be taken with a grain of salt.

"Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that 'the just shall live by his faith.' Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. " -Martin Luther
Considerable sectarian controversy exists as to its nature and definition. These controversies include:

  • Whether justification is an ongoing process in addition to an immediate change in the person or if it is a change in a person's state before God followed by Sanctification;

  • The relationship between justification and religious law; whether justification is merely "forensic", a legal declaration that a sinner is now righteous before God for Christ's sake, or more;

  • The relationship of justification to sanctification, the process whereby sinners become more righteous and are enabled by the Holy Spirit to live lives more pleasing to God; and

  • The relationship of justification to atonement, the expiation of sins.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Tribes of Israel

Map of the twelve tribes of IsraelIsrael had 12 sons, as follows: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin (Jacob was renamed Israel Gen. 32:27-29)The Tribe of Levi was set apart from the others in the sense that, the members of the Tribe of Levi were to be in charge of the tabernacle of the Testimony. (see: Num. 1).

The Tribe of Joseph is not usually listed with the Hebrew tribes although Joseph is one of Jacobs twelve sons, the eldest of Rachel. It is sometimes referred to as the House of Joseph. Rather, the two tribes founded by his sons Ephraim and Manasseh are listed separately.

Tribal Divisions

Politically, the Israelites were composed of thirteen tribes: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Benjamin. In parts of the Bible, Ephraim and Manasseh are treated as together constituting the House of Joseph, while the Levi have a special religious role and had only scattered cities as territory; whence traditionally either Ephraim and Manasseh were counted as one tribe, or Levi wasn't counted, so that together the tribes were the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

The division into Tribes was geographical, as well as genealogical; each tribe held a distinct territory, though there are a few peculiarities. Levi's territory was very discontinuous, consisting entirely of towns and cities scattered as enclaves within the territory of the other tribes, Simeon's territory was entirely inside the territory of Judah, and Manasseh was split between the half tribe west of the Jordan, and the other half tribe on the eastern side. The Kingdom of Judah consisted of Judah, Simeon, Benjamin, and the parts of Levi within those lands, while the Kingdom of Israel contained Reuben, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Manasseh, Ephraim, and the remainder of Levi.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Founders of modern science

Earthrise over the Moon, Apollo 8, NASA. This image helped create awareness of the finiteness of Earth, and the limits of its natural resources.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. 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 Ptolemy (astronomy), Galen (medicine), and Aristotle (physics) were found not always to match everyday observations. For example, an arrow flying through the air after leaving a bow contradicts Aristotle's laws of motion, which say that a moving object must be constantly under influence of an external force, as the natural state of earthly objects is to be at rest. Work by Vesalius on human cadavers also found problems with the Galenic view of anatomy.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007


YHVH, the name of God  or Tetragrammaton, in Phoenician (1100 BC to AD 300), Aramaic (10th Century BC to 0)and modern Hebrew scripts.The convenant name of God. It means "I AM WHO I AM."

Also Yahweh: a name for the God of the Old Testament as transliterated from the Hebrew consonants YHVH (Yod)(Heh)(Vav)(Heh), it is the distinctive personal name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

This is the same name ("I AM") that Jesus used when the high priest asked if He was the Christ (Mark 14:61-62).

Of all the names of God, the one which occurs most frequently is the Tetragrammaton, appearing 6,823 times, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia. The Biblia Hebraica and Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia texts of the Hebrew Scriptures each contain the Tetragrammaton 6,828 times.

In Judaism, the Tetragrammaton is the ineffable name of God, and is therefore not to be read aloud. In the reading aloud of the scripture or in prayer, it is replaced with Adonai (Lord). Other written forms such as:

י (yod) ו (vav) (YW or Yaw); or י (yod) ה (heh) (YH or Yah)
are read in the same way.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Psalm 1 in a form of the Sternhold and Hopkins version widespread in Anglican usage before the English Civil War (1628 printing). It was from this version that the armies sang before going into battle <br />Psalms (from the Greek: Psalmoi) (originally meaning "songs sung to a harp", from psallein "play on a stringed instrument", Ψαλμοί; Hebrew: Tehilim, תהילים) is a book of the Hebrew Bible, Tanakh or Old Testament.

In the Hebrew Bible, the Psalms are counted among the "Writings" or Ketuvim (one of the three main sections into which the books are grouped).

The Book of Psalms, especially if printed separately and set for singing or chanting, is also called the Psalter.

Composition of the Book of Psalms

The Book of Psalms is divided into 150 Psalms, each of which constitutes a religious song or chant, though one or two are atypically long and may constitute a set of related chants. When the Bible was divided into chapters, each Psalm was assigned its own chapter. Psalms are sometimes referenced as chapters, despite that chapter assignments postdate the initial composition of the "canonical" Psalms by at least 1,500 years.

The organization and numbering of the Psalms differs slightly between the (Masoretic) Hebrew and the (Septuagint) Greek manuscripts


Monday, October 15, 2007


Sumer, Akkad and ElamSumer (or Shumer, Egyptian Sangar, [biblical Shinar], native ki-en-gir, (from Ki = Earth, En = (title) usually translated as Lord, Gir = (cultured) usually translated as Civilised, thus "the land of the civilised lords") was an ancient civilization located in the southern part of Mesopotamia (modern day southeastern Iraq, see also: Iraq Maps) from the time of the earliest records in the mid 4th millennium BC until the rise of Babylonia in the late 3rd millennium BC. The term "Sumerian" applies to all speakers of the Sumerian language. Sumer is considered the first settled society in the world to have manifested all the features needed to qualify fully as a "civilization".


The term "Sumerian" is an exonym first applied by the Akkadians. The Sumerians called themselves "the black-headed people" (sag-gi-ga) and their land "land of the civilized lords" (ki-en-gir). The Akkadian word Shumer possibly represents this name in dialect. The Sumerians were a non-Semitic people and were at one time believed to have been invaders, as a number of linguists believed they could detect a substrate language beneath Sumerian. However, the archaeological record shows clear uninterrupted cultural continuity from the time of the Early Ubaid period (5200-4500 BC C-14, 6090-5429 calBC) settlements in southern Mesopotamia. The Sumerian people who settled here farmed the lands in this region that were made fertile by silt deposited by the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers.


Saturday, October 13, 2007


9th century Syriac Estrangela manuscript of John Chrysostom's Homily on the Gospel of JohnAramaic is a Semitic language with a 3,000-year history. It has been the language of administration of empires and the language of divine worship. It is the original language of large sections of the biblical books of Daniel and Ezra, and is the main language of the Talmud. Aramaic is believed to have been the native language of Jesus. In the following passage, spoken by Jesus while being crucified, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani" is Aramaic. Matthew 27:46 has a direct parallel in Psalm 22 (written by David nearly 1,000 years before the birth of Jesus):
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" -Matthew 27:46

Even at the threshold of death, Jesus quotes scripture (see Psalm 22:1).

It is confessed that David was a type of Christ, and that many passages of the Psalms, though literally understood of David, yet had a further and mystical reference to Christ. But there are some other passages, which were directly, and immediately intended for, and are properly to be understood of the Messiah; though withal there may be some respect and allusion to the state of the penman himself. And this seems to be the state of this psalm, which is understood of the Messiah, by the Hebrew doctors themselves, and by Christ himself and by his apostles. And there are many passages in it, which were literally accomplished in him, and cannot be understood of any other. In this psalm David speaks of the humiliation of Christ, ver. 1 - 21. Of the exaltation of Christ, ver. 22 - 31. To the chief musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A psalm of David.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library of Calvin College.
John Wesley's notes on Psalm 22


Friday, October 12, 2007


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

spontaneous generation

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

According to Aristotle it was a readily observable truth that aphids arise from the dew which falls on plants, fleas from putrid matter, mice from dirty hay, and so forth. In the 17th century such assumptions started to be questioned; such as that by Sir Thomas Browne in his Pseudodoxia Epidemica, subtitled Enquiries into Very many Received Tenets, and Commonly Presumed Truths, of 1646, an attack on false beliefs and "vulgar errors." His conclusions were not widely accepted, e.g. his contemporary, Alexander Ross wrote: "To question this (i.e., spontaneous generation) is to question reason, sense and experience. If he doubts of this let him go to Egypt, and there he will find the fields swarming with mice, begot of the mud of Nylus, to the great calamity of the inhabitants."

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Thursday, October 11, 2007


Detailed map of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, January 2006. Produced by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - public UN source.Ramallah (Arabic: رام الله is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank adjacent to al-Bireh. Its population consists of approximately 23,000 residents. It is located about 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Jerusalem. It is a modern built city and is considered the unofficial capital of the Palestinian Authority.

Early history

Modern Ramallah was founded in the mid 1500s by the Hadadeens, a tribe of brothers who were descended from Yemenite Christian Arabs. The Hadadeens, led by Rashed Haddad, arrived from east of the Jordan River near what is now the Jordanian town of Shobak. Although the reasons for the Hadadeen's migration is attributed to fighting and unrest among tribes in that area, a more common rendition is as follows: Rashed's brother Sabri Haddad was once hosting Emir Ibn Kaysoom, the head of a powerful tribe in the region, when Sabri's wife gave birth to a baby girl. According to tribal customs, the Emir congratulated Sabri and asked for the infant's betrothal to his own young son once they both came of age. Sabri believed the request to be in jest, as Christian-Muslim intermarriage was not customary, and agreed to the request in what he likewise considered a joke. Many years later, the Emir came to the Hadadeens and demanded they fulfill their promise, which they refused to do. Many clashes ensued during the following months, with assassinations occurring on both sides.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Merneptah Stele

The Merneptah SteleThe Merneptah Stele (also known as the Israel Stele or Victory Stele of Merneptah) is the reverse of a large granite stele originally erected by the Ancient Egyptian king Amenhotep III, but later inscribed by Merneptah who ruled Egypt from 1213 to 1203 BC. The black granite stela primarily commemorates a victory in a campaign against the Libu and Meshwesh Libyans and their Sea People allies, but its final two lines refer to a prior military campaign in Canaan in which Merneptah states that he defeated Ashkelon, Gezer, Yanoam and Israel among others. The stele was discovered in the first court of Merneptah's mortuary temple at Thebes by Flinders Petrie in 1896. Petrie remarked "This stele will be better known in the world than anything else I have found" and is now in the collection of the Egyptian Museum at Cairo; a fragmentary copy of the stele was also found at Karnak. It stands some ten feet tall, and its text is mainly a prose report with a poetic finish, mirroring other Egyptian New Kingdom stelae of the time. The stela is dated to Year 5, 3rd month of Shemu (sumer), day 3 (c.1209/1208 BC), and begins with a laudatory recital of Merneptah's achievements in battle.

The stele has gained much notoriety and fame for being the only Egyptian document generally accepted as mentioning "Isrir" or "Israel". It is also, by far, the earliest known attestation of Israel. For this reason, many scholars refer to it as the "Israel stele". This title is somewhat misleading because the stele is clearly not concerned about Israel—it mentions Israel only in passing. There is only one line about Israel: "Israel is wasted, bare of seed" or "Israel lies waste, its seed no longer exists" and very little about the region of Canaan.

Israel is simply grouped together with three other defeated states in Canaan (Gezer, Yanoam and Ashkelon) in the stele. Merneptah inserts just a single stanza to the Canaanite campaigns but multiple stanzas to his defeat of the Libyans.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Teach the Controversy

artistic view of creationismTeach the Controversy is the name of a Discovery Institute intelligent design campaign to promote intelligent design, a variant of traditional creationism, while discrediting evolution in United States public high school science courses. A federal court, along with the majority of scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, say the Institute has manufactured the controversy they want to teach by promoting a false perception that evolution is "a theory in crisis" due to it being the subject of wide controversy and debate within the scientific community. An article published by the National Institutes of Health says that "99.9 percent of scientists accept evolution" whereas intelligent design has been rejected by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community. The Discovery Institute claims that fairness and equal time requires educating students about the alleged scientific controversy, and says intelligent design is a scientific alternative to evolution. The scientific community and science education organizations have replied that there is in fact no scientific controversy regarding the validity of evolution and that the controversy exists solely in terms of religion and politics.

The intelligent design movement (IDM) and the Teach the Controversy campaign are largely directed and funded by the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian think tank based in Seattle, Washington, USA. The overall goal of the movement is to "defeat [the] materialist world view" represented by the theory of evolution and replace it with "a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."


Monday, October 08, 2007


The Roman Theater at EphesusEphesus ( Greek: Έφεσος see also List of traditional Greek place names, Turkish: Efes) was one of the great cities of the Ionian Greeks in Asia Minor, located in Lydia where the Cayster river flows into the Aegean Sea (in modern day Turkey). It was founded by colonists principally from Athens. The ruins of Ephesus are a major tourist attraction, especially for people travelling to Turkey by cruise ship via the port of Kuşadası.

Ancient Ephesus

Ephesus is believed by many to be the Apasa (or Abasa) mentioned in Hittite sources as the capital of the kingdom of Arzawa. Mycenaean pottery has been found in excavations at the site.

The many-breasted "Lady of Ephesus", identified by Greeks with Artemis, was venerated in the Temple of Artemis, the largest building of the ancient world, according to Pausanias (4.31.8) and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, of which scarcely a trace remains.

Roman Ephesus

Beginning in the Roman Republic, Ephesus was the capital of proconsular Asia, which covered the western part of Asia Minor.


Saturday, October 06, 2007


Simon the Zealot was a brother of James the Great and St Jude Thaddeus. He is portrayed with a large, serrated saw. It was with this that he was eventually martyred for his faith. St Simon was cut in half by heathens in a most gruesome way. (image courtesy of member of an ancient Jewish sect in Judea in the first century who fought to the death against the Romans and who killed or persecuted Jews who collaborated with the Romans. Zealotry (with an upper case "Z") was a movement in first century Judaism, described by Flavius Josephus as one of the "four sects" at this time. The term Zealot, Kanahi (Hebrew: קנאי, plural: kanahim, קנאים); is a term given for a "zealot". It literally means one who is "jealous" on behalf of God.The term is Greek in origin. The lower case form in modern English is used to refer to any form of zeal, especially in cases where activism and ambition in relation to ideology have become excessive, possibly to the point of being harmful to others, oneself, and one's own cause. A zealous person is called a zealot. In non-political or non-religious terms, zeal is an ordinary word and simply means extreme enthusiasm and passion for a particular activity.


Zealotism denotes zeal in excess, usually on behalf of Israel's God. The original Zealots were a Jewish political movement in the 1st century AD which sought to incite the people of Iudaea Province to rebel against the Roman Empire and expel it from the country by force of arms during the Great Jewish Revolt (AD 66-70). When the Romans introduced the imperial cult, the Jews had rebelled and been put down. The Zealots continued to oppose the Romans, on the grounds that Israel belonged only to a Jewish king descended from David.


Friday, October 05, 2007


The Garden of Gethsemane. The Church of All Nations is visible in the background. Gethsemane (also spelled Gethsemani) was the garden where, according to the New Testament and Christian traditions, Jesus watched and prayed the night before he was crucified and suffered for the sins of the world (see Atonement). According to Luke 22:43–44, Jesus' anguish in Gethsemane was so deep that "his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." Gethsemane was also where Christ was betrayed by the disciple Judas Iscariot.

The garden identified as Gethsemane is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives, now within the city of Jerusalem. Located by the garden is the Church of All Nations, also known as the Church of the Agony.

The ancient church was destroyed by the Sassanids in 614. The church rebuilt on the site by the Crusaders was finally razed, probably in 1219.

The name Gethsemane is given in the Greek of the Gospels (Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32) as Γεθσημανι (Gethsêmani). This represents the Aramaic (see also: Aramaic of Jesus) 'Gath-Šmânê', meaning 'the oil press' or 'oil vat' (referring to olive oil). It would appear from this that there were a number of olive trees planted around the area at the time.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Tower of Babel

Figures de la Bible. Illustrated by Gerard Hoet, and others. Published by P. de Hondt in The Hague (La Haye). 1728. Image courtesy Bizzell Bible Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries.The tower constructed by the builders at Babel (that is, Babylonia - modern day Iraq) became a symbol of their defiance against God, (Gen. 11:1-6). It was probably modeled after a ziggurat which is a mound of sun-dried bricks and was probably constructed before 4,000 bc.

According to the narrative in Genesis 11 of the Bible, the Tower of Babel was a tower built by a united humanity to reach the heavens. Because the hearts of men were said to be inherently evil and disobedient, they were striving to make a name for themselves instead of worshipping the God who created them. Because of this open defiance, God stopped their efforts by confusing languages so that no one could understand each other. As a result, they could no longer communicate and the work was halted. The builders were then scattered to different parts of Earth. This story is used to explain the existence of many different languages and races.

The story is found in Genesis 11:1-9 as follows:

1Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinarand settled there. 3They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

5But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."

8So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Persecution of Christians

martyrdom of St. Paul, 16th - 17th century, Hendrik Goltzius Many Christians have experienced persecution from both non-Christians and from other Christians during the history of Christianity. Persecution may refer to unwarranted arrest, imprisonment, beating, torture, or execution. It also may refer to the confiscation or destruction of property, or incitement to hate Christians.

The New Testament reports that the earliest Christians suffered persecution at the hands of the Jewish leadership of the day, commencing with Jesus Himself. It also reports the beginning of persecutions by the Romans (see Rome). However the definition of Jewish is frequently used in an undiscriminating way that has been the cause of later controversy.

The first Christians were born and raised under Judaism, as Christianity began as a sect of Judaism. The earliest examples of "Jewish persecution of Christians" could better be understood perhaps as examples of "Jewish persecution of other Jews," that is, sectarian conflict. The creeds of early Christianity (for example 1Cor 15:3-9) were a clear departure from Pharisaic Judaism of the time. However, several other Jewish sects of this time such as the Essenes were similarly heterodox.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Syriac Peshitta

Peshitta text of Exodus 13:14-16 produced in Amida in the year 464The Peshitta is the standard version of the Bible in the Syriac language.

The name 'Peshitta'

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

History of the Syriac versions

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

The Peshitta Old Testament is the earliest piece of Syriac literature of any length, probably originating in the second century.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Doctrine of the Trinity

depiction of The Holy TrinityGod is a single being existing simultaneously as three distinct persons: The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the trinity is a reference to the "tri-unity" of God. There is only one God, but this God is a unity of one (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 44:6-8; 45:5-6; 1 Tim 2:5; 1 Cor 8:4). This God is also a complexity within unity (Gen. 2:24; 11:6; 1 Cor 3:6-8).

Scripture and tradition

The word "Trinity" comes from "Trinitas", a Latin abstract noun that most literally means "three-ness" (or "the property of occurring three at once"). Or, simply put, "three are one". The first recorded use of this Latin word was by Tertullian in about 200, to refer to Father, Son and Holy Spirit, or, in general, to any set of three things.

The Greek term used for the Christian Trinity, "Τριάς" (a set of three or the number three), has given the English word triad. The Sanskrit word, "Trimurti," has a similar meaning, as has "Dreifaltigkeit" in German, and many other words in other languages.

The New Testament does not use the word "Τριάς" (Trinity), but only speaks of God (often called "the Father"), of Jesus Christ (often called "the Son"), and of the Holy Spirit, and of the relationships between them. The word "Trinity" began to be applied to them only in the course of later theological reflection.

The earliest Christians were noted for their insistence on the existence of one true God, in contrast to the polytheism of the prevailing culture. While maintaining strict monotheism, they believed also that the man Jesus Christ was at the same time something more than a man (a belief reflected, for instance, in the opening verses of the Letter to the Hebrews, which describe him as the reflection of God's glory and bearing the impress of God's own being, and, yet more explicitly, in the prologue of the Gospel according to John) and also with the implications of the presence and power of God that they believed was among them and that they referred to as the Holy Spirit. St Paul even goes so far as to state that "in [Jesus] lives all the fullness of Deity bodily" (Colossians 2:9).





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