Monday, June 30, 2008


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.

  1. The imputation of Adam's sin to his descendants
  2. The imputation of the believer's sin to Christ
  3. The imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

substitutionary atonement

Jesus Carrying the Cross, 1580, El GrecoSubstitutionary atonement is a doctrine in Christian theology which states that Jesus died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. It stresses the vicarious nature of the crucifixion being "for us" and representational Christ representing humanity through the Incarnation.

Atonement is a doctrine found within both Christianity and Judaism. It describes how sin can be forgiven by God. In Judaism, Atonement is said to be the process of forgiving or pardoning a transgression. This was originally accomplished through rituals performed by a High Priest on the holiest day of the Jewish year: Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). In Christian theology the atonement refers to the forgiving or pardoning of sin through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ which made possible the reconciliation between God and creation, thus substitutionary atonement.

Within Christianity there are numerous technical theories for how such atonement might work, including:
  • the ransom theory,
  • the Abelardian theory, and
  • the Anselmian satisfaction theory.
A distinction must be made between substitutionary atonement (Christ suffers for us), and penal substitution (Christ punished instead of us) which is a subset of substitutionary atonement. Both affirm the substitutionary and vicarious nature of the atonement, but penal substitution offers a specific explanation as to what the suffering is for: punishment.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tribes of Israel

The sons of Jacob ordered left to right by birthIsrael 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.


Monday, June 23, 2008

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, June 21, 2008

John Piper

John PiperJohn Stephen Piper (born January 11, 1946, Chattanooga, Tennessee) is a Reformed Baptist minister, author, and theologian, currently serving as senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He oversees the evangelical organization Desiring God, which is named after his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (1986).


Piper was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Bill and Ruth Piper. When he and his older sister were still young, the Pipers moved to Greenville, South Carolina, where he spent the rest of his youth and graduated from Wade Hampton High School.

His father was an itinerant evangelist who actively ministered through international radio and Bible courses until his death in March 6, 2007.Things I Have Learned Piper has written a tribute to his mother, who died in 1974, in the booklet, What's the Difference? (Crossway Books, 1990) which is also chapter one of the book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Crossway Books, 1991).

On January 11, 2006, Piper announced that the month beforehand, he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. According to a letter sent to his church, he and his doctors believe that the cancer is fully treatable. Piper's reaction to his diagnosis was:
"This news has, of course, been good for me. The most dangerous thing in the world is the sin of self-reliance and the stupor of worldliness. The news of cancer has a wonderfully blasting effect on both. I thank God for that. The times with Christ in these days have been unusually sweet."
He married Noël Henry in 1968, and together they have four sons, a daughter, and several grandchildren.


Friday, June 20, 2008

History of Jerusalem

Archaeological ruins from King David’s timeThe earliest traces of human occupation in Jerusalem go back to the late Chalcolithic Period and Early Bronze Age (c. 3000 BC). The Egyptian Execration Texts (c. 1900-1800 BC) and the Amarna letters (14th century BCE) show that the city was under the power of Ancient Egypt. In one of the Amarna letters the city's governor, Abdi-Heba, asks for help from Egypt to fight the Habiru (possibly identical to the Hebrews).

This city has known many wars, and various periods of occupation. According to Genesis 14:18-20, the city (named as Salem) was ruled by king Melchizedek, a priest of God. According to one Jewish tradition reported by the midrash, it was founded by Abraham's forefathers Shem and Eber.

Later, according to the Biblical narrative of the Books of Samuel, it was controlled by the Jebusites, a group that scholars generally believe to have been Hittite.

It is probable that Melchizedek was himself a Jebusite; the -zedek part of the name occurring in other rulers such as Adonizedek, and in some biblical references to Jerusalem itself, such as neweh zedek (Jeremiah 31:23, where it is often translated as home of righteousness).

Kingdoms of Judah and Israel (1000 BC - 580 BC)

According to the Books of Samuel, the Jebusites managed to resist attempts by the Israelites to capture the city, and by the time of King David were mocking such attempts, claiming that even the blind and lame could defeat the Israelite army. Nevertheless, the masoretic text for the Books of Samuel states that David managed to capture the city by stealth, sending his forces through a water shaft and attacking the city from the inside; archaeologists now view this as implausible as the Gihon spring - the only known location from which water shafts lead into the city - is now known to have been heavily defended (and hence an attack via this route would have been obvious rather than secretive). The Septuagint text, however, suggests that rather than by a water shaft, David's forces defeated the Jebusites by using daggers.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Karl Barth

Karl BarthKarl Barth (May 10, 1886 – December 10, 1968) (pronounced "bart") a Swiss Reformed theologian, was one of the most important Christian thinkers of the 20th century; Pope Pius XII described him as the most important theologian since Thomas Aquinas. Beginning with his experience as a pastor, he rejected the predominant liberal theology typical of 19th-century Protestantism, especially German, and instead embarked on a unique theological path, often called neo-orthodoxy by critics (a label emphatically rejected by Barth himself) that emphasized the sovereignty of God particularly through his innovative doctrine of election. Barth's theology swept through Europe and Britain.

Early life and education

Born in Basel, Barth spent his childhood years in Bern. From 1911 to 1921 he served as a Reformed pastor in the village of Safenwil in the canton Aargau. In 1913 he married Nelly Hoffmann, a talented violinist. They would have four sons and a daughter. Later he was professor of theology in Göttingen (1921–1925), Münster (1925–1930) and Bonn (1930–1935) (Germany). While serving at Göttingen he met Charlotte von Kirschbaum, who became his long-time secretary and assistant and played a large role in the writing of his epic the Church Dogmatics. He had to leave Germany in 1935 after he refused to swear allegiance to Adolf Hitler. Barth went back to Switzerland and became professor in Basel (1935–1962).


Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Qumran cavesQumran (Hebrew: חירבת קומראן‎, Khirbet Qumran) is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank, just next to the Israeli Kibbutz of Kalia. The site was most likely constructed sometime during or before the reign of John Hyrcanus, 134-104 BCE and saw various phases of occupation until, probably after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, Titus and his Legio X Fretensis destroyed it. It is best known as the settlement nearest to the hiding place of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the caves of the sheer desert cliffs.

The Dead Sea scrolls comprise roughly 825-870 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible, discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves in and around the Wadi Qumran (near the ruins of the ancient settlement of Khirbet Qumran, on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea).

Since the discovery in the middle of the last century of almost 900 scrolls in various states of completeness, mostly written on parchment, extensive excavations of the settlement have been undertaken. Jewish ritual baths and cemeteries have been found, a large cistern, a large dining or assembly room, an alleged scriptorium, and a guard tower.

Most scholars consider it to have been home to a Jewish sect, often said to be Essenes; others have proposed that it was a villa for a single wealthy family, or even that it was a Roman fort. The large cemetery nearby may contain some answers, if women are buried there in great numbers. It would tell what the occupants of the settlement were like and who lived there; but under Jewish law (Halakha) excavating cemeteries is forbidden.

The scrolls were found in a series of caves just to the west of the settlement. Some of the caves seem to have been permanent libraries with built in shelves. The texts found in them represent the beliefs and practices of different Jewish religious orientations. A number of them appear to have been selected for the library there, when Qumran is thought to have become the asylum for supporters of the traditional priestly family of the Zadokites against the Hasmonean priest/kings. A letter found in the 1990s expresses the reasons for creating a community, some of which mirror Sadducean arguments in the Talmud. But most of the scrolls seem to have been dumped in the caves only during the turmoil of the First Jewish Revolt, at a time when Jericho and Jerusalem were facing the sack, or had already been sacked, but Qumran was still standing and secretly accessible from Jerusalem via the Kidron Valley.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

G.W.F. Hegel

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich HegelGeorg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher and, with Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, one of the representatives of German idealism.

Hegel influenced writers of widely varying positions, including both his admirers (Bauer, Marx, Bradley, Sartre, Küng), and his detractors (Schelling, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Russell). Hegel discussed a relation between nature and freedom, immanence and transcendence, and the unification of these dualities without eliminating either pole or reducing it to the other. His influential conceptions are of speculative logic or "dialectic," "absolute idealism," "Spirit," the "Master/Slave" dialectic, "ethical life," and the importance of history.

According to M. James Sawyer, Hegel's Philosophy of History gave the structure adopted by the emerging schools of biblical criticism, as well as the mental cast to the entire century.

Paul Tillich, in his A History of Christian Thought, says that it is nonsensical for people to say that it was first Martin Luther then Hegel who produced Nazism.
It is nonsense, because even if Hegel said that the state is God on earth, he did not mean the the power state. He meant the cultural unity of religion and social life organized in a state. In this sense Hegel could say there is a unity of church and state. But for him "state" is not the party movement of the Nazis, or a relapse to a tribal system. State for him is organized society, repressing sin.


Monday, June 16, 2008

spiritual formation

Ein Christus, nach dem Leben, Rembrandt Harmensz van RijnSpiritual formation is the growth and development of the whole person by an intentional focus on one’s (1) spiritual and interior life, (2) interactions with others in ordinary life, and (3) the spiritual practices (prayer, the study of scripture, fasting, simplicity, solitude, confession, worship, etc.). In Care of Mind, Care of Spirit, Gerald G. May has written, “Spiritual formation is a rather general term referring to all attempts, means, instruction, and disciplines intended towards deepening of faith and furtherance of spiritual growth. It includes educational endeavors as well as the more intimate and in-depth process of spiritual direction.”

Spiritual formation is a universal experience. Dallas Willard writes that “it is a process that happens to everyone…. Terrorists as well as saints are the outcome of spiritual formation. Their spirits or hearts have been formed.”

A study of various world religions such as:
  • Judaism,
  • Islam,
  • Hinduism,
  • Buddhism,
  • Confucianism, and
  • Taoism
and others would enable one to understand specifically how each religion views spiritual formation or spiritual growth within its unique belief system.


Saturday, June 14, 2008


Peter Baptizing the Centurion Cornelius (1709), oil on canvas, by Francesco TrevisaniA centurion (Latin: centuriō; Greek: hekatontarchos) was a professional officer of the Roman army after the Marian reforms of 107 BC. Most centurions commanded a century (centuria) of 80 men, but senior centurions commanded cohorts, or took senior staff roles in their legion.

Centurions took their title from the fact that they commanded a century. Centuries were so-called because they originally numbered roughly 100 men. Early in Roman history, the standard establishment was set at 80 men, although by the Imperial period, the establishment of a century in a first cohort — but not others — had grown to 160 men.


In the Roman infantry, centurions initially commanded a centuria or "century" of theoretically 80 men, depending on force strength and whether or not the unit was part of the First Cohort. Centurions gradually rose in seniority in their cohort, commanding centuries with higher precedence, until commanding the senior century (of six) and therefore the whole cohort. The very best centurions were then promoted to become centurions in the First Cohort, called Primi Ordines, commanding one of the five centuries of 120 men and also taking on a staff role. The most senior centurion of the legion was the Primus Pilus who commanded the first century.

All centurions, however senior, had their own allocated century.

21 Peter went down and said to the men, "I'm the one you're looking for. Why have you come?"

22 The men replied, "We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say." 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. (Acts 10:21-23)


Friday, June 13, 2008

Pascal's Wager

Blaise PascalPascal's Wager (or Pascal's Gambit) is the application by the French philosopher Blaise Pascal of decision theory to the belief in God. It was set out in the Pensées, a posthumous collection of notes made by Pascal towards his unfinished treatise on Christian apologetics.

The Wager posits that it is a better "bet" to believe that God exists than not to believe, because the expected value of believing (which Pascal assessed as infinite) is always greater than the expected value of not believing. In Pascal's assessment, it is inexcusable not to investigate this issue:
Before entering into the proofs of the Christian religion, I find it necessary to point out the sinfulness of those men who live in indifference to the search for truth in a matter which is so important to them, and which touches them so nearly.
Variations of this argument may be found in other religious philosophies, such as Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Pascal's Wager is also similar in structure to the precautionary principle.


Thursday, June 12, 2008


Didache “The Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles by the Twelve Apostles” (Διδαχὴ κυρίου διὰ τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, Didachē kyriou dia tōn dōdeka apostolōn tois ethnesin)The Didache (Διδαχὴ, Koine Greek for "Teaching") is the common name of a brief early Christian treatise (c. 70–160 CE), containing instructions for Christian communities. The text is possibly the first written catechism, with three main sections dealing with Christian lessons, rituals such as baptism and eucharist, and Church organization. It was considered by some of the Church Fathers as part of the New Testament but rejected as spurious by others, eventually not accepted into the New Testament canon with the exception of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church "broader canon". The Roman Catholic Church has accepted it as part of the collection of Apostolic Fathers. It is the only rediscovered Christian text during the last 150 years of discoveries in libraries or in papyri to receive wide acceptance by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.


Considered lost, the Didache was rediscovered in 1883 by Philotheos Bryennios, a Greek Orthodox metropolitan bishop of Nicomedia, in the Greek Codex Hierosolymitanus written in 1053, from which he had already published the full text of the Epistles of Clement in 1875.

Shortly after Bryennios' initial publication, the scholar Otto von Gebhardt identified a Latin manuscript in the Abbey of Melk in Austria as containing a translation of the first part of the Didache.; later scholars now believe that to be an independent witness to the tradition of the Two Ways section.

Dr. J. Schlecht found in 1900 another Latin translation of chapters 1 through 5, with the longer title, omitting "twelve", and with the rubric De doctrina Apostolorum. Coptic and Ethiopian translations have also been discovered since Bryennios' original publication.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

N.T. Wright

N.T. WrightTom (N.T.) Wright is the Bishop of Durham of the Anglican Church and a leading British New Testament scholar. Ordinarily he is known as "Tom Wright", although his academic work has always been published under the name "NT Wright" (Nicholas Thomas). He is generally perceived as coming from a moderately evangelical perspective. He is associated with the so-called Third Quest for the Historical Jesus, and the New Perspective on Paul (a complex movement with many unique positions, originating from the probing works of James Dunn and E. P. Sanders). He argues that the current understanding of Jesus must be connected with what is known to be true about him from the historical perspective of first century Judaism and Christianity.

Wright has written over 30 books.

He has completed three books in a projected six-volume scholarly series Christian Origins and the Question of God. These are:
  1. The New Testament and the People of God,
  2. Jesus and the Victory of God and
  3. The Resurrection of the Son of God.

He has also written books on a popular level, including The Challenge of Jesus and the projected twelve volume For Everyone Bible commentary series in a similar vein to William Barclay's Daily Study Bible series.

His work has been praised by scholars from a wide range of views, such as Professor James DG Dunn, Richard B. Hays and Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. However, critics of his work are also found across the broad range of theological camps, from conservatives such as J. Ligon Duncan to liberals like Robert J. Miller.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Arab-Israeli War (1948)

Israeli Soldiers raise the flag at Eilat, 1949The 1948 Arab-Israeli War, referred to as the "War of Independence" (Hebrew: מלחמת העצמאות) or as the "War of Liberation" (Hebrew: מלחמת השחרור) by Israelis, is the first in a series of armed conflicts fought between Israel and its Arab neighbors in the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. For Palestinians, the war marked the beginning of the events they refer to as "The Catastrophe" ("al Nakba", Arabic: النكبة‎). After the United Nations proposed to partition the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine into two states, Jewish and Arab, the Arabs refused to accept it and the armies of Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq (see also: Iraq Maps), supported by others, attacked the newly established State of Israel which they refused to recognize. As a result, the region was divided between Israel, Egypt and Transjordan.


Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the League of Nations granted the British and the French temporary colonial administration over former Ottoman provinces south of present day Turkey. These regions had been called vilayets under the Ottomans, but were referred to as mandates at the time, after the process that allocated them. The two powers drew arbitrary borders, dividing the area into four sections. Three of these — Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon — survive to this day as states.

The fourth section was created from what had been known as "southern Syria". The region was officially named the British Mandate of Palestine, and was called "Falastin" in Arabic and "Palestina (E.I.)" in Hebrew. The British revised its borders repeatedly, but under the direction of Winston Churchill the region was divided along the Jordan River, forming two administrative regions.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Jonathan (son of Saul)

“Saul Throws Spear at David” by George TinworthDavid and Jonathan were heroic figures of the Kingdom of Israel, whose intimate relationship was recorded favorably in the Old Testament books of Samuel.

According to the Bible, true friendship involves loyalty, sacrifice, compromise, and yes, emotional attachment.
12 If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. 13 But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, 14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.
(Psalm 55:12-14)

24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
(Proverbs 18:24)

13 "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."
(John 15:13-15)

7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:7-8)

That is what we should learn from David and Jonathan.

Jonathan, the eldest son of Saul, is immediately struck with David on their first meeting: "When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." (1 Sam. 18:1) That same day, "And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself" (1 Sam. 18:3). Jonathan removes and offers David the rich garments he is wearing, and shares with him his worldly possessions: "Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt" (1 Sam. 18:4) .


Saturday, June 07, 2008


Statue of philosopher Immanuel Kant after Friedrich Hagemann (1773-1806), Berlin, Museum Friedrichswerdersche KircheRationalism, also known as the rationalist movement, is a philosophical doctrine that asserts that the truth can best be discovered by reason and factual analysis, rather than faith, dogma or religious teaching. Rationalism has some similarities in ideology and intent to humanism, secular humanism, and atheism, in that it aims to provide a framework for social and philosophical discourse outside of religious or supernatural beliefs; however, rationalism differs from both of these, in that:

  • As its name suggests, humanism is centered on the dignity and worth of people. While rationalism is a key component of humanism, there is also a strong ethical component in humanism that rationalism does not require. As a result, being a rationalist does not necessarily mean being a humanist.

  • Atheism, a disbelief or lack of belief in God, can be on any basis, or none at all, so it doesn't require rationalism. Furthermore, rationalism does not, in itself, affirm or deny atheism, although it does reject any belief based on faith alone. Historically, many rationalists were not atheists. Presumably, people who are rationalists today generally do not believe that theism can be rationally justified, because modern-day rationalism is strongly correlated with atheism. As a result, most—if not all—prominent rationalists today, including scientists such as Richard Dawkins and activists such as Sanal Edamaruku are atheists.
Outside of religious discussion, the discipline of rationalism may be applied more generally, for example to political or social issues. In these cases it is the rejection of emotion, tradition or fashionable belief which is the defining feature of the rationalist perspective.

During the middle of the twentieth century there was a strong tradition of organized rationalism, which was particularly influenced by free thinkers and intellectuals. In the United Kingdom, rationalism is represented by the Rationalist Press Association, founded in 1899.


Friday, June 06, 2008

William Whiston

William WhistonWilliam Whiston (December 9, 1667 - August 22, 1752), English divine and mathematician, was born at Norton in Leicestershire, of which village his father was rector. He is probably best known for his translation of the Antiquities of the Jews by Flavius Josephus, his A New Theory of the Earth, and his Arianism.

He was educated privately, partly on account of the delicacy of his health, and partly that he might act as amanuensis to his father, who had lost his sight. After his father's death, he entered at Clare College, Cambridge, where he applied himself to mathematical study, and obtained a fellowship in 1693. He next became chaplain to John Moore (1646-1714), the learned bishop of Ely, from whom he received the living of Lowestoft in 1698.

His A New Theory of the Earth (1696), an articulation of Creationism and flood geology which held that the global flood of Noah had been caused by a comet, obtained the praise of both Newton and Locke, the latter of whom classed the author among those who, if not adding much to our knowledge, "At least bring some new things to our thoughts." In 1701 he resigned his living to become deputy at Cambridge to Sir Isaac Newton, whom two years later he succeeded as Lucasian professor of mathematics. Here he engaged in joint research with his junior colleague Roger Cotes, appointed with Whiston's patronage to the Plumian chair of Astronomy in 1706.

In 1707 he was Boyle lecturer. For several years Whiston continued to write and preach both on mathematical and theological subjects with considerable success; but his study of the Apostolic Constitutions had convinced him that Arianism was the creed of the primitive church. For Whiston, to form an opinion and to publish it were things almost simultaneous. His heterodoxy soon became notorious, and in 1710 he was deprived of his professorship and expelled from the university. The rest of his life was spent in incessant controversy--theological, mathematical, chronological, and miscellaneous. He vindicated his estimate of the Apostolical Constitutions and the Arian views he had derived from them in his Primitive Christianity Revived (5 vols., 1711-1712).


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pauline Christianity

St. Paul, by El GrecoPauline Christianity is a term used to refer a branch of Early Christianity associated with the beliefs and doctrines espoused by Paul the Apostle through his writings. Most of mainstream Christianity relies heavily on these teachings and considers them to be amplifications and explanations of the teachings of Jesus. Others perceive in Paul's writings teachings that are radically different from the original teachings of Jesus documented in the canonical gospels, early Acts and the rest of the New Testament, such as the Epistle of James.

Proponents of the perceived Pauline distinctive include Marcion of Sinope, the 2nd century theologian who asserted that Paul was the only apostle who had rightly understood the new message of salvation as delivered by Christ.

Opponents of the same era include the Ebionites and Nazarenes, who rejected Paul for straying from "normative" Judaism.

Pauline Christianity, as an expression, first came into use in the twentieth century amongst those scholars who proposed different strands of thought within Early Christianity, wherein Paul was a powerful influence. It has come into widespread use amongst non-Christian scholars and depends on the claim, advanced in different ages, that the form of the faith found in the writings of Paul is radically different from that found elsewhere in the New Testament, but also that his influence came to predominate. Reference is also made to the large number of non-canonical texts, some of which have been discovered during the last hundred years, and which show the many movements and strands of thought emanating from Jesus's life and teaching or which may be contemporary with them, some of which can be contrasted with Paul's thought. Of the more significant are Ebionism and Gnosticism.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008


The prophet Samuel. The Fresco Painting. Circa 1112 From the Mikhailovskr Monastery of KievSamuel or Shmu'el (Hebrew: שְׁמוּאֵל) is an important leader of ancient Israel in the Book(s) of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible.

His status, as viewed by rabbinical literature, is that he was the last of the Hebrew Judges and the first of the major prophets who began to prophesy inside the Land of Israel. He was thus at the cusp between two eras.

According to the text of the Book(s) of Samuel, he also selected/anointed the first two kings of the Kingdom of Israel: King Saul and King David.


According to 1 Samuel 1:20, Hannah was the mother of Samuel and named him in memory of her requesting a child from God and God listening. However, this position is disputed by some textual scholars who consider that the passage originally referred to Saul, and was later doctored.

For the suggested etymology of the passage to work for the name Samuel requires it to be translated as Heard of God ('Shama', heard; 'El', god/El (a god)), or possibly as a sentence "God has heard", with "Shama" as the verb and "El" as the subject. Saul on the other hand means asked, and so certain scholars think an anti-monarchial editor changed the narrative so that Saul would no longer appear to have a divinely appointed birth.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008


close up picture of the skull, Author: Jason GastrichCalvary (Golgotha) is the English-language name given to the hill outside Jerusalem on which Jesus was crucified. Calvaria in Latin, Κρανιου Τοπος (Kraniou Topos) in Greek and Gûlgaltâ in Aramaic all mean 'skull', referring to a hill or plateau containing a pile of skulls or to a geographic feature resembling a skull.

Calvary is mentioned in all four of the accounts of Jesus' crucifixion in the Christian canonical Gospels:
And they took him up to the place Golgotha, which is translated Place of the Skull. -Mark 15:22

Then they came up to the place called Skull. -Luke 23:33

And carrying his cross by himself, he went out to the so-called Place of the Skull, which is called in 'Hebrew' Golgotha. -John 19:17

Luke's Gospel does not give the local, Aramaic name, Gûlgaltâ (Golgotha). John's Gospel somewhat misleadingly labels the name as 'Hebrew', indicating the 'language of the Hebrews', which was Aramaic at that time.

The New Testament describes Calvary as close to Jerusalem (John 19:20), and outside of its walls (Hebrews 13:12). This is in accordance with Jewish tradition, as Jesus was also buried near to the place of his execution.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Philipp Melanchthon

Philipp Melanchthon, engraving by Albrecht Dürer 1526Philipp Melanchthon (born Philipp Schwartzerd) (February 16, 1497 - April 19, 1560) was a German theologian and writer of the Protestant Reformation and an associate of Martin Luther.

Melanchthon was born at Bretten, near Karlsruhe, where his father, Georg Schwarzerd, was armorer to Count Palatine Philip.

In 1507 he was sent to the Latin school at Pforzheim, the rector of which, Georg Simler of Wimpfen, introduced him to the study of the Latin and Greek poets and of the philosophy of Aristotle. But he was chiefly influenced by his great-uncle, Johann Reuchlin, the great representative of humanism, who advised him to change his family name, Schwarzerd (literally Black-earth), into the Greek equivalent Melanchthon.

Not yet thirteen years old, he entered in 1509 the University of Heidelberg where he studied philosophy, rhetoric, and astronomy/astrology, and was known as a good Greek scholar. Being refused the degree of master in 1512 on account of his youth, he went to Tübingen, where he pursued humanistic and philosophical studies, but devoted himself also to the study of jurisprudence, mathematics, astronomy/astrology, and even of medicine.




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