Sunday, May 31, 2009

history of Ancient Israel

1759 map of the tribal allotments of IsraelThe history of Ancient Israel and Judah is known to us from classical sources including Judaism's Tanakh or Hebrew Bible (known to Christianity as the Old Testament), the Talmud, the Ethiopian Kebra Nagast, the writings of Nicolaus of Damascus, Artapanas, Philo of Alexandria and Flavius Josephus supplemented by ancient sources uncovered by biblical archaeology including Egyptian, Moabite, Assyrian, Babylonian as well as Israelite and Judean inscriptions.

It was also subject to domination by adjacent empires, beginning with Egypt in the late 3rd millennium BCE.

Traditions regarding the early history found in later works such as the Kebra Nagast and commentaries of Rashi, Philo of Alexandria, and numerous others, (besides of course, the Tanakh) refer to the early inhabitants as the sons of Shem and also speak of an invasion by the people known as Canaanites (see Canaan) descended from Ham.


Saturday, May 30, 2009


Sarah (Hebrew: שָׂרָה, Arabic: سارة, Sāra ; "a woman of high rank") is the wife of Abraham as described in the Quran and the Hebrew Bible (Genesis).

The Hebrew word sarah indicates a woman of high rank and is sometimes translated as "princess" or goddess, or "high holy one".

Sarah was originally called Sarai (שָׂרַי / שָׂרָי / שרי, Standard Hebrew Saray, Tiberian Hebrew Saray / Śāray / Śārāy, Gen. 17:15) and was married to and lived with her husband, then called Abram (אברם) in the city of Haran.

Saray is a proper feminine noun from the masuline root word Sar (Strong's H8323) which is from the primitive root verb sarar (שרר):


Friday, May 29, 2009

Copper Scroll

Copper Scroll found at Khirbet KumranThe Copper Scroll is one of the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Khirbet Qumran, but differs significantly from the others. While they are written on leather or papyrus, this scroll is written on metal: copper mixed with about 1% tin. Unlike the others, it is not a literary work, but contains a listing of locations at which various items of gold and silver are buried or hidden. It is currently on display at the Archaeological Museum in Amman, Jordan. The treasure it describes is worth at least one billion dollars.

History and origin

The scroll was found in 1952 in Cave 3 at Qumran, the last of 15, and is thus referred to as 3Q15. Two copper rolls were discovered off by themselves in the back of the cave. The metal being corroded, they could not be unrolled by conventional means. Professor H. Wright Baker, of the College of Technology at Manchester, England, cut the sheets into strips. It then became clear that the rolls were part of the same document. Low-quality photographs of the scrolls were taken and published. Scholars have found these to be difficult to work with, and have relied on a drawing of the text by scholar Józef Milik published in 1962. Another scholar, John Marco Allegro, published his translation in 1960. The scroll was rephotographed in 1988 with clearer precision, under an effort led by P. Kyle McCarter, Jr.


Thursday, May 28, 2009


11th century book in Syriac Serto, Mount Sinai, Egypt.Aramaic 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 (see also: Aramaic 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)
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


Wednesday, May 27, 2009


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 self-proclaimed secular humanist, sceptic, "scientific" rationalist, supporter of the Brights movement, and critic of creationism and intelligent design, Richard Dawkins, is an atheist.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Arab-Israeli War (1948)

Israeli Soldiers Raising the ink flag in Umm Rashrash (now Eilat) which marked the end of the war, 1949 The 1948 Arab-Israeli War, referred to as the "War of Independence" (Hebrew: מלחמת העצמאות) or as the "War of Liberation" 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.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Simon Peter

St. Peter in Prison by Rembrandt, 1631Saint Peter, also known as Simon ben Jonah/BarJonah, Simon Peter, Cephas and Kepha - original name Simon or Simeon (Acts 15:14) - was one of the Twelve Apostles whom Jesus chose as his original disciples. His life is prominently featured in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. A Galilean fisherman, he (with his brother Andrew)
was literally "called" by Jesus to be a disciple. Above all the other disciples, Peter was assigned a leadership role by Jesus (Matt 16:18; John 21:15–16); and many within the early Church, such as St Clement of Rome and St Irenaeus (Adversus Haereses 3:3:20), mention his primacy.

The ancient Christian Churches, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox, consider Simon Peter a saint and associate him with the foundation of the Church in Rome ,
even if they differ on the significance of this for the position of the see of Rome and of the Pope in present-day Christianity.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Promised Land

The Kingdom of David and Solomon. Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms west of the Euphrates River from Tiphsah to Gaza; he was at peace with all his neighbors (I Kings, 4:24)According to the Bible, the Land of Israel (Hebrew: Eretz Yisrael) was promised to the descendants of Hebrew patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by God, making it the Promised land. The concept is frequently used symbolically by Christians, especially in hymnody as a reference to Heaven, or to a new land, such as North America colonized by the Pilgrims. In the Bible, particularly in Genesis, Deuteronomy and Joshua, the Land of Israel was promised as an everlasting possession.

'On that day, God made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river the Euphrates. The land of the Kenites, Kenizites, Kadmonites; the Chitties, Perizites, Refaim; the Emorites, Canaanites, Gigashites and Yevusites." '
(Genesis 15:18-21)

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Location of Oxyrhynchus in EgyptOxyrhynchus (Greek: Ὀξύρρυγχος; "sharp-snouted or sharp-nosed"; ancient Egyptian Pr-Medjed; Coptic Pemdje; modern Egyptian Arabic el-Bahnasa) is a city in Upper Egypt, located about 160 km south-southwest of Cairo, in the governorate of Al Minya. It is also an archaeological site, considered one of the most important ever discovered. For the past century, the area around Oxyrhynchus has been continually excavated, yielding an enormous collection of papyrus texts dating from the time of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods of Egyptian history. Among the texts discovered at Oxyrhynchus are plays of Menander and fragments of the Gospel of Thomas, an early Christian apocryphal document with doubtful authorship.

The town was named after a species of fish of the Nile River which was important in Egyptian mythology, though it is not known exactly which species of fish this is. One possibility is a species of mormyrid, medium-sized freshwater fish that figure in various Egyptian and other artworks.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Legio X Fretensis

Herodium one of the fortresses of the Jewish revolt conquered by the X Fretensis.Legio X Fretensis (Latin: "Tenth legion of the sea strait") was a Roman legion levied by Augustus in 41/40 BC to fight during the period of civil war that started the dissolution of the Roman Republic. X Fretensis is recorded to exist at least until 410s.

X Fretensis symbols were the bull, the holy animal of the goddess Venus (mythical ancestor of the gens Julia), a ship (probably a reference to the battles of Naulochus and/or Actium), the god Neptune, and a boar. The symbol of Taurus may also mean that it was organized between 20 April and 20 May.

Octavian, later known as Caesar Augustus, levied a legion and gave it the number ten, as a reference to Julius Caesar's famous Tenth Legion.

In 36 BC, the Tenth Legion fought under Octavian against Sextus Pompeius in the Battle of Naulochus, where it earned its cognomen Fretensis. The name refers to the fact that the battle took place near the sea Strait of Messina (Fretum Siculum).


Tree of Jesse

Jesse (detail), from  The Tree of Jesse (Hebrew: ישי Yishay) refers to a passage in the biblical Book of Isaiah which describes metaphorically the descent of the Messiah and is accepted by Christians as pertaining to Jesus, and is often represented in art, particularly in that of the Medieval period, the earliest dating from the 11th century.
“ 1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, ” (Isaiah 11:1-3 ESV)


Monday, May 18, 2009


The prophet Samuel. The Fresco Painting. Circa 1112 From the Mikhailovskr Monastery of Kiev Samuel or Shĕmuw'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.

In the Biblical narrative, Hannah is one of two wives of Elkanah; the other, Peninnah, bore a child to Elkanah, but Hannah remained childless. Nevertheless, Elkanah preferred Hannah. Every year Elkanah would offer a sacrifice at the Shiloh sanctuary, and give Hannah twice as big a portion of it as he would to Penninah. One day Hannah went up to the temple, and prayed silently, while Eli the High Priest was sitting on a chair near the doorpost. In her prayer she begs for a child in return for giving the child up, putting him in the service of the Shiloh priests, and raising him as a nazir.
11 And she vowed a vow and said, "O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head." (1 Samuel 1:10-11)


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Being and Time

Being and Time (German: Sein und Zeit, 1927) is a book by German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Although written quickly, and despite the fact that Heidegger never completed the project outlined in the introduction, it remains his most important work and has profoundly influenced 20th-century philosophy, particularly existentialism, hermeneutics and deconstruction.

Being and Time was originally intended to consist of two major parts, each part consisting of three divisions. Heidegger was forced to prepare the book for publication when he had completed only the first two divisions of part one. The remaining divisions planned for Being and Time (particularly the divisions on time and being, Immanuel Kant, and Aristotle) were never published, although in many respects they are addressed in one form or another in Heidegger's other works. In terms of structure, Being and Time remains as it was when it first appeared in print; it consists of the lengthy and important two-part introduction, followed by Division One, the "Preparatory Fundamental Analysis of Dasein," and Division Two, "Dasein and Temporality."


Saturday, May 16, 2009


Babylon (in Arabic: بابل; in Syriac: ܒܒܙܠ in Hebrew:בבל) is the Greek variant of Akkadian Babilu (bāb-ilû, meaning "Gateway of the god", translating Sumerian Kadingirra), an ancient city in Mesopotamia (modern Al Hillah, Iraq, see also: Iraq Maps), the ruins of which can be found in present-day Babil Province, about 50 miles (80 km) south of Baghdad. It was the "holy city" of Babylonia from around 2300 BC, and the seat of the Neo-Babylonian empire from 612 BC. In the Bible, the name appears as בבל (Babel).

In the Old Testament, the name appears as בבל Babel or Babylon interpreted by Genesis 11:9 to mean "confusion (by mixing)", from the verb balal:
1) to mix, mingle, confuse, confound
a) (Qal)
1) to mingle, confuse
2) to mix
3) to give provender, feed (animals)
b) (Hithpoel) to mix oneself (among others)
c) (Hiphil) to fade away

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.


Friday, May 15, 2009


The Major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel each originally depicted on the fresco at the Sistine Chapel ceiling.Apocatastasis (pronounced /ˌæpoʊkəˈtæstəsɨs/) is a Greek word (αποκαταστασις) meaning either reconstitution or restitution or restoration to the original or primordial condition.

In Christianity, apocatastasis is the doctrine of the ultimate reconciliation of good and evil forces. Apocatastasis maintains that all moral creatures -- angels, humans and devils - will eventually come to a harmony in God's kingdom, the evil ones through repentance and rejection of evil.

The belief was first articulated by Clement of Alexandria (d. 215) and Origen of Alexandria (d. 232) and defended by Diodore of Tarsus. They adapted Platonic terminology and ideas to Christianity while explaining and differentiating the new faith from all the others. . Proponents cited Biblical passage in 1 Corinthians 15:28 ("When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.") in support.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ein Gedi

Shulamit Fall at Nahal DavidEin Gedi (עין גדי; KJV Bible Engedi, NIV Bible En Gedi) is an oasis located west of the Dead Sea, close to Masada and the caves of Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Location 31°27′N, 35°23′E.

It is known for its caves, springs, and its rich diversity of flora and fauna. Ein Gedi is mentioned several times in biblical writings, for example, in the Song of Songs;

"My beloved is unto me as a cluster of henna flowers in the vineyards of Ein Gedi" (1:14).

Accorded to Jewish tradition, David hid from Saul in the caves here;

"And David went up from thence, and dwelt in the strongholds of Ein Gedi" (1 Samuel 24:1).


Tuesday, May 12, 2009


The Vision of Ezekiel. Artist: Sanzio Raffaello, Date: c. 1518.The Hebrew word Merkabah (מרכבה "chariot", derived from the consonantal root r-k-b with general meaning "to ride") is used in Ezekiel (1:4-26) to refer to the thron e-chariot of God, the four-wheeled vehicle driven by four "chayot" (Hebrew: "living creatures"), each of which has four wings and the four faces of a man, lion, ox, and eagle.

Several movements in Jewish mysticism, including the Ma’asei Merkavah of the late Hellenistic period following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, and later, students of the Kabbalah, have focused on these passages from Ezekiel, seeking underlying meaning and the secrets of Creation in what they argued was the metaphoric language of the verses. Due to the concern of some Torah scholars that misunderstanding these passages as literal descriptions of God's image might lead to blasphemy and/or idolatry, there was great opposition to studying this topic without the proper initiation. Jewish biblical commentaries emphasize that the imagery of the Merkaba is not meant to be taken literally; rather the chariot and its accompanying angels are analogies for the various ways that God reveals Himself in this world. Hasidic philosophy and Kabbalah discuss at length what each aspect of this vision represents in this world, and how the vision does not imply that God is made up of these forms. Jews customarily read the biblical passages concerning the Merkaba in their synagogues every year on the holiday of Shavuot, and the Merkabah is also referenced in several places in traditional Jewish liturgy.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Jacob's Ladder

The angels climb Jacob‘s Ladder on the west front of Bath AbbeyJacob's Ladder refers to a ladder to heaven described in the Genesis 28:11-19 which the biblical patriarch Jacob envisioned during his flight from his brother Esau:

10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." 17 He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."

18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth." (Gen. 28: 10-22)


Sunday, May 10, 2009

fine-tuned universe

The deepest visible-light image of the cosmos. Hubble Ultra Deep Field.The term fine-tuned universe refers to the idea that conditions that allow life in the universe can only occur with the tightly restricted values of the universal physical constants, and that small changes in these constants would correspond to a very different universe, not likely conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, or life as it is presently known.

The arguments relating to the fine-tuned universe concept are related to the anthropic principle, which states that any valid theory of the universe must be consistent with our existence as human beings at this particular time and place in the universe. In other words even though the actual probability of a universe to be one which supports intelligent life is very low, the conditional probability given our existence in it is 1 - and even if there are other universes devoid of life, there will be no one to observe them.

The premise of the fine-tuned universe assertion is that any small change in the approximately 26 dimensionless fundamental physical constants would make the universe radically different: if, for example, the strong nuclear force were 2% stronger than it is (i.e. if the constant representing its strength were 2% larger), diprotons would be stable and hydrogen would fuse into them instead of deuterium and helium. This would drastically alter the physics of stars, and presumably prevent the universe from developing life as it is currently observed on the earth.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Narrative theology

Wisembach, Commune des Vosges, Copyright © Christian AmetNarrative theology was a late 20th century theological development which supported the idea that the Church's use of the Bible should focus on a narrative presentation of the faith, rather than on the development of a systematic theology. The Christian faith is thus also to be interpreted by the Christian community, and not by outside scholars or explorers.

Partly a reaction to the modern, individualist and romantic trends of theological liberalism, important post liberal thinkers included George Lindbeck, Hans Wilhelm Frei, and Stanley Hauerwas.

Frequently referred to as postliberal theology, narrative theology was inspired by a group of theologians at Yale Divinity School, many influenced theologically by Karl Barth, Thomas Aquinas and to some extent, the nouvelle théologie of French Catholics such as Henri de Lubac. The clear philosophical influence, however, was Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophy of language, the moral philosophy of Alasdair MacIntyre, and the sociological insights of Clifford Geertz and Peter Berger on the nature of communities.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Doctrines of Grace

Anonymous 16th century portrait of John Calvin.Calvinist theology is sometimes identified with the five points of Calvinism, also called the Doctrines of Grace, which are a point-by-point response to the five points of the Arminian Remonstrance (see History of Calvinist-Arminian debate) and which serve as a summation of the judgments rendered by the Synod of Dort in 1619. Calvin himself never used such a model and never combated Arminianism directly.

The points therefore function as a summary of the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism, but not as a complete summation of Calvin's writings or of the theology of the Christian Reformed Church in general. In English, the points are sometimes referred to by the acronym TULIP, though this puts the points in a different order than the Canons of Dort.

The central assertion of these canons is that God is able to save every person upon whom he has mercy and that his efforts are not frustrated by the unrighteousness or the inability of humans.


Monday, May 04, 2009


Belshazzars Feast. Artist: Harmenszoon van Rijn Rembrandt. Date: 1635.The supernatural (Latin: super- "exceeding" + nature) refers to forces and phenomena which are are not observed in nature, and therefore beyond verifiable measurement. If a phenomenon can be demonstrated, it can no longer be considered supernatural. Because phenomena must be subjected to verifiable measurement and peer review to be considered as a scientific theory, science cannot approach the supernatural; see also Ex nihilo.
"Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so." —Galileo Galilei
Concepts in the supernatural domain are closely related to concepts in religious spirituality and metaphysics. The term "supernatural" is often used interchangeably with paranormal or preternatural — the latter typically limited to an adjective for describing abilities which appear to exceed possible bounds.

Characteristic for phenomena claimed as supernatural are anomaly, uniqueness and uncontrollability, thus lacking reproducibility required for scientific examination. Supernatural themes are often associated with paranormal and occult ideas, suggesting for possibility of interaction with the supernatural by means of summoning or trance for instance.


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Christian Church

The Four Evangelists. Oil on canvas, ca. 1625–1630, Jakob Jordaens (Dutch, 1593–1678)The Christian Church is a religiously ambiguous and cultural-sociological term to refer to all religions based on the worship of Jesus of Nazareth as the son of God. It is not a single religious institution. Today there is no single political entity recognized by the secular world as the unique Christian Church.

The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches all claim to be the unique church established by Jesus in the Great Commission. Protestants, on the other hand, hold that the concept is justified by the notion that the Church is ultimately headed by Jesus Christ himself, who acts as the unifying figure for all who follow Him. Anglicans feel that they are but a branch of the Church. The term means something quite different for each religious institution that sees itself as belonging to the Christian traditions.

The phrase The Church in its widest sense, as the Body of Christ has a similar breadth.

The word "church" is used in two senses:

  1. the visible
    • The visible church consists of all the people that claim to be Christians and go to church.
  2. and

  3. the invisible church.
    • The invisible church is the actual body of Christians; those who are truly saved. The true church of God is not an organization on earth consisting of people and buildings, but is really a supernatural entity comprised of those who are saved by Jesus.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Dead Sea Scroll FragmentThe Essenes (es'-eenz) were followers of a religious way of living in Judaism that flourished from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD. Many scholars today argue that there were a number of separate but related groups that had in common mystic, eschatological, messianic, and ascetic beliefs that were referred to as the "Essenes". There are also contemporary movements which identify themselves as Essenes, including the "Orthodox" Christian Essenes.

The main source of information about the life and belief of Essenes is the detailed account contained in a work of the 1st century Jewish historiographer Josephus entitled The Jewish War written about 73-75 CE (War 2.119-161) and his shorter description in his Antiquities finished some 20 years later (Ant. 18.11 & 18-22). Claiming first hand knowledge (Life §§10-11), he refers to them by the name Essenoi and lists them as the followers of one of the three "choices" in "Jewish Philosophy'" (War 2.119) alongside the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

The only other known contemporary accounts about the Essenes are two similarly detailed ones by the Jewish philosopher Philo (fl. c. 20 BCE - c. 54 CE; Quod Omnis Probus Liber Sit XII.75-87, and the excerpt from his Hypothetica 11.1-18 preserved by Eusebius, Praep. Evang. Bk VIII), who, however, admits to not being quite certain of the Greek form of their name that he recalls as Essaioi (Quod Omn. Prob. XII.75), and the brief reference to them by the Roman equestrian Pliny the Elder (fl. 23 CE - 79 CE; Natural History, Bk 5.73).


Friday, May 01, 2009

Missional Living

Village Children, Eastern Cape of South Africa.The Oxford English Dictionary defines "missional" as "Relating to or connected with a religious mission; missionary." In contemporary usage "missional" is an adjectival alternative to "missionary." Although both words are related to "missio" (Latin: sending), some scholars, including Darrell Guder et. al. in The Missional Church believe "missional" focuses on the the Church's indigenous, rather than cross-cultural context, with the church contextualizing its methods, morality, and message to fit this indigenous culture.

In this usage "missional" has rapidly entered the lexicon of the growing emerging church movement whose participants have popularized the term, enabling participants in this movement to recognize each other across denominational lines.

Different emergents may use the term with different nuances and connotations, but the term persists as essentially a postmodern alternative to the ecclesiology and missiology of Evangelical Christians. The practical outworking of emergent, missional living does not coincide with the emphases on propositional evangelism, teaching, and holiness found in historic Christianity. Missional believers are more inclusive than exclusive, refusing to identify boundaries that could be perceived as an "us vs. them" mentality. Within this atmosphere so-called missional believers seek to enhance the lives of all postmoderns regardless of their belief system or lifestyle.




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