Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 8.32.51 PM.pngThe Tower of Babel is recorded in Genesis 11:1-9.  Critical scholars have traditionally viewed this story as mythical and not historical. There just seemed to not be enough corroborating evidence.

But, recently the Smithsonian Channel’s show titled Secrets aired its first episode of season four titled “The Tower of Babel” which seemingly supports the biblical record.

The episode focused on the Tower of Babel Stele (i.e., stone tablet) from the Schøyen Collection which is the private collection of Norwegian businessman Martin Schøyen. Joseph M. Holden, author of The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Biblestates that “according to most critical scholars, this event [i.e., the Tower of Babel] found in Scripture is mythical and certainly could not have taken place in Mesopotamia, where it is said to have occurred.  Originally, support for this notion was found in the fact that no extra-biblical Mesopotamian record existed that documented such an incredible event.” That is until, apparently, now:

 

On the website of the Schøyen Collection the commentary section on the Tower of Babel Stele states: “Here we have for the first time an illustration contemporary with Nebuchadnezzar II’s restoring and enlargement of the Tower of Babel, and with a caption making the identity absolutely sure. We also have the building plans, as well as a short account of the reconstruction process.”  Apparently the ziggurat in Bablyon was originally built during the time of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC).

The Secrets episode on the Smithsonian Channel states that there is “some very compelling evidence the Tower of Babel was real.”  Professor Andrew R. George, featured in the episode and the professor of Babylonian history at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, states that “This is a very strong piece of evidence that the tower of Babel story was inspired by this real building.”

Related Articles on The Tower of Babel Stele:

Evidence for Bible’s Tower of Babel Discovered” | The Christian Post May 9, 2017

Ancient Babylonian Tablet Provides Compelling Evidence that the Tower of Babel DID Exist” | Ancient Origins May 8, 2017

Smithsonian Channel Spotlights Stone Tablet Believed to Confirm Biblical Tower of Babel” | Christian News Network May 7, 2017

Tower of Babel Discovered? Ancient Tablet Describes Mesopotamian Structure Built By ‘Multitudes’ ” | Breaking Israel News May 8, 2017

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Post about other biblical archaeological discoveries from this blog include:

50 People in the Old Testament Confirmed Archaeologically

History Has Gone to the Toilets-The Ancient Latrine of Lachish

Virtual Unwrapping of Levitical Scroll

City of Geza

Philistine Cemetery

Ancient Shopping List Provides Evidence of When Bible Was Written

Hezekiah Bulla

12th Dead Sea Scroll Cave Found!

 

 

 

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Recently several bloggers, scholars, and apologists have posted videos on the reliability of the bible.  Three such videos are below, in order of lenght (shortest first, then longest)

1. Does the Bible Have Contradictions?

Sean McDowell, Assistant Professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University, earned a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2014 and is the  author, co-author, or editor of over eighteen books including The Fate of the Apostles, and Is God Just a Human Invention?  In this short video (2:50) answers the question “Does the Bible Have Contradictions?”

 

Michael Licona of Risen Jesus ministries and associate professor in theology at Houston Baptist University recently published a book with Oxford University Press on the same topic: Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?

2. Are the Gospels Accurate?

J. Warner Wallace, a former cold-case homicide detective and continues to consult on cold-case investigations, applied his investigative skills to investigations the reliability of the gospel eyewitness accounts.  He wrote about his in his book Cold-Case Christianity. In God’s Crime Scene, he investigates eight pieces of evidence in the universe to make the case for God’s existence.  In this nine minute video Wallace answers the question: “Are the Gospels Accurate?”

 

3. Can We trust the New Testament?

Michael J. Kruger (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) is the president and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary and is author of The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament DebateThe Early Text of the New Testament (Oxford University Press), and Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament BooksIn this video (28 minutes) Dr. Kruger is being interviewed by Ratio Christi on the topic, “Can We Trust the New Testament?” The interview covered a wide range of topics from textual criticism to bible contradictions to the development of the NT Canon:

 

Visit my page titled “Is the Bible Reliable” in which I cover the topic of the when the New Testament was written, the manuscript evidence, archaeological evidence, and non-biblical sources concerning the New Testament.

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“There are people alive today who may live to see the effective death of Christianity within our civilization.”

-Rod Dreher (The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation)

One commentator (highlighted below) states that The Benedict Option might be”The most important book for Christians in this decade.”

If the death of Christianity occurs in our civilization (and Dreher means in Europe and America) how is Christianity to respond?  Dreher’s Answer: The Benedict Option.

Rod Dreher, has just published his this much discussed strategy (up until March 20 in blog and article form primarily) in book form: The Benedict Option.  Subtitled “A Strategy for Christian in a Post-Christian Nation,” Dreher opens by reminiscing about his 2006 best seller Crunchy Cons which he advocated for “a countercultural, traditionalist conservative sensibility.” He brought up the moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre who had proclaimed that Western Civilization has “lost it moorings.”

His introduction recounts the steady decline of Christianity with references to failure of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana followed by a similar failure in Arkansas in 2015.  Two months later the U. S. Supreme Court declared a constitutional right to same-sex marriage with an immediate push by activists and political allies for transgender rights: “Post-Obergefell, Christians who hold to the biblical teachings about sex and marriage have the same statue in culture, and increasingly in law, as racists.”

So begins Dreher in what is surely to be a much discussed and debated option amongst post-Christian traditionalists and doctrinally orthodox believers.

I have written The Benedict Option to wake up the church and to encourage it to act to strengthen itself, while there is still time.  If we want to survive, we have to return to the roots of our faith, both in thought and in practice.  We are going to have to learn habits of the heart forgotten by believers in the West.  We are going to have to change our lives, and our approach to life, in radical ways.  In short, we are going to have to be the church, without compromise, no matter what the cost.

Dreher provides and Benedict Option FAQ page over at the American Conservative

This sounds like a book that needs to be read.  Much reaction has already being buzzing on the internet, articles, and podcasts concerning Dreher’s book.  Below are just a few samples of this dialogue The Benedict Option:

Sparking Renewal: A Review of ‘The Benedict Option’ ” by Gerald Russello | Intercollegiate Review Spring 2017

Along the way, Dreher has carved out his own space against that toxic culture and has called that space and that which he saw others creating “the Benedict Option.” The name is an homage both to Pope Benedict Emeritus XVI and the famous closing sentence of Alasdair MacIntyre’s influential book After Virtue: “This time . . . the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.”

This is our cultural moment, despite who occupies the White House or Congress, and with his unerring cultural radar, Dreher has written the book for this new moment: a central point in The Benedict Option is “put not your trust in princes.” Culture is more important than politics, and the currents of modernity did not change on Election Day. And one thing conservatives, and especially Christian conservatives, should understand is that they have lost the culture war, and, indeed, it was their obsession with politics—and their assumption that the culture and major institutions such as big business would always support them—that partially caused that loss.

Exploring the Benedict Option” by John Stonestreet | Breakpoint

Stonestreet concludes his podcast that explores the Benedict Option by saying:

the controversial aspect of the Benedict Option is Dreher’s call for “a strategic withdrawal.” To many, understandably, this sounds way too much like post-Scopes fundamentalism that abandoned the public square to non-Christians.

Dreher insists that it doesn’t mean the same thing, and I hope not. Because escape is never an option for Christians. We should never retreat into our institutions because we’re seeking safety. We should, however, strengthen them out of loyalty to each other and to the true, the good and beautiful, preserving the best of Christian culture so that we can—at some point—gift it back to the world in acts of grace.

Now whether you agree or disagree with the Benedict option, I am thankful that Dreher’s book is igniting a long-overdue conversation about what it means to live in a post-Christian context.

The Constantine Strategy in the Benedict Option!” by John Mark Reynolds | Eidos March 12, 2017

John Mark Reynolds, president of The Saint Constantine School and senior fellow in the humanities at The King’s College, declares that The Benedict Option may be the most important book for Christians in this decade:

Until the muddle or the collapse of this version of America  is settled, the sensible person builds an alternative culture. Rod Dreher thinks we may be at one of those points in the West of the world and argues what needs to be done. Traditional Christianity is hard to live in a decadent America and harder still to live where Daesh is torturing Christians.

and in the list of top Christian thinkers in the post below Reynolds declares “The Benedict Option is not a way, but the only way forward for Christians who wish to be more than nominal in their faith.”

Top Christian Thinkers Reflect on the ‘Benedict Option’ ” by John Stonestreet | Breakpoint

Breakpoint hosts the thoughts of top Christian thinkers on Dreher’s book:

Rod Dreher’s “The Benedict Option” is one of the most anticipated and talked-about Christian books in recent memory. How do Christians carry on and live out the faith in this “new Dark Age,” as Dreher puts it? We’ve asked leading Christian writers and thinkers to share their thoughts on “The Benedict Option.”

Bruce Ashford, Joshua Chatraw, Greg Forster, Michael Francisco, Tom Gilson, Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, Peter Leithart, Gerald McDermott, Karen Swallow Prior, John Mark N. Reynolds, Roberto Rivera, John Stonestreet, Glenn Sunshine, Andrew Walker, and Trevin Wax.

The Benedict Option and the Way of Exchange” by Alan Jacobs | First Things March 20, 2017

It would be a mistake, as Alan Jacobs at First Things and distinguished professor of the humanities at Baylor University states, to assume that Dreher’s Benedict Option is pessimistic, despairing, or hopeless:

Therefore, to argue, as many have, that the argument Rod Dreher makes in The Benedict Option is despairing, and hopeless, and a failure to trust in the Lord Jesus, is a category error. It takes a set of sociological and historical judgments and treats them as though they were metaphysical assertions. Anyone in Roman Cappadocia who had said that the culture Basil and his colleagues had built was not bound to last until the Lord returns would not have been deficient in Christian hope. Rather, he or she would have been offering a useful reminder of the vagaries of history, to which even the most faithful Christians are subject. Dreher’s argument in The Benedict Option may be wrong, but if so, it is wrong historically and prudentially, not metaphysically.

“The Benedict Option or the Constantine Project?” (Two part series) by David Kern | Circe Institute

Part 1, Part 2

Kern, the director of our multimedia initiatives for the Circe Institute (an acronym for the Center for Independent Research on Classical Education), hosts a skype call between Rod Dreher and John Mark Reynolds.  While the title sets the two positions as opposed to each other, in reality the discussion results in a much agreed upon strategy between Dreher and Reynolds. It is a 2 parts series

Other Articles and Responses to the Benedict Option:

Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option: Why I Have Mixed Feelings” by Michael Brown | Christian Post March 18, 2017

If Politics Can’t Save Us, What Will?” by Collin Hanson | The Gospel Coalition March 13k 2017

Why We Need the Benedict Option and How It Doesn’t Have to Return to Fundamentalism” by Heather Walker Peterson | Patheos March 9, 2017

9 Most Intelligent Takes on Rod Dreher’s ‘The Benedict Option’ ” | Intercollegiate Review Spring 2017

Reflections

John Calvin - Christian Theologian

John Calvin was one of the great voices of the Protestant Reformation, but what exactly did he believe, and what else did he contribute to Christianity? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of John Calvin—and why he still matters today.

Who Was John Calvin?

John Calvin (1509–1564) was born in Noyon, Picardy, France, to a devoted Roman Catholic family. He studied the liberal arts at the University of Paris, but his father wanted him to study law, so he went on to receive a law degree at the University of Orléans. Because John Calvin didn’t want to be a lawyer, he returned to the study of classical literature. In Paris, he left the Roman Catholic Church and became part of the Protestant Reformation movement that was then spreading through Europe. He later moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where he became one of the leaders of the emerging Reformed…

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Reflections

Saint Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure was one of the great thinkers of the Middle Ages, but what exactly did he believe and what else did he contribute to Christendom? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of St. Bonaventure—and why he still matters today.

Who Was St. Bonaventure?

St. Bonaventure (c. 1221–1274) was born in the Tuscany region of Italy during the High Middle Ages. Bonaventure studied at the University of Paris and became the most eminent theologian of the Franciscan order (named after St. Francis of Assisi) in the Catholic Church. Like his theological colleague, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure was also one of the great philosophers of the scholastic era, serving as both a scholar and a church official (minister general of the Franciscans). His theological thinking reflected a deep commitment to Augustinianism joined with an acceptance of elements of Catholic mysticism. Some reports convey that he died mysteriously during the…

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Bible History Daily has an updated list of 50 people in the bible who have been confirmed archaeologically.  It is not an exhaustive list.  It does not include Caiaphas or Pontius Pilate or anyone from the New Testament because it focuses on the Hebrew Bible.  The list of 50 comprises mainly kings, pharaohs, and officials.  It is a nice list of names which also includes who they were, when the reigned, and where in the bible they are mentioned. Here is a quick screen shot of the list:Screen Shot 2016-12-14 at 8.42.46 AM.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Post about other biblical archaeological discoveries from this blog include:

History Has Gone to the Toilets-The Ancient Latrine of Lachish

Virtual Unwrapping of Levitical Scroll

City of Geza

Philistine Cemetery

Ancient Shopping List Provides Evidence of When Bible Was Written

Hezekiah Bulla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over at James Bishop’s blog a recounting of William Murray’s conversion to Christianity. William Murray is the son of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the famed founder of American Atheists, who is known for the lawsuit that banned prayer and bible reading in school on behalf of her son.

James Bishop's Theological Rationalism

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Now deceased Madalyn, once known as the most hated woman in America and a title she apparently took great pleasure in (1), fought a war against school prayer and won. It was further ruled in her favour that official Bible-reading in American public schools in 1963 and onward would cease. According to her son Murray (now 70 years of age), as captured on film while still a school pupil during this whole affair, “I am an atheist, and I wish to be an atheist, and I don’t feel it would be appropriate for me to stand up and say the Lord’s Prayer” (2). Madalyn subsequently founded the American Atheists and sued the city of Baltimore demanding that the state collected taxes from the tax exempt Catholic church. She also sued NASA arguing that public prayer ought to be banned by government employees in outer space. She would also…

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Reflections

st-basil-the-great-3Not many people are known as so-and-so “the Great.” But St. Basil the Great was one of the finest thinkers, writers, and preachers in Christian church history. What did this man believe, and what did he ultimately contribute to historic Christianity? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of St. Basil the Great—and why he still matters today.

Who Was St. Basil?

St. Basil the Great (c. 329–379) was born in Caesarea Mazaca, Cappadocia, to one of the most distinguished and pious Christian families. Along with Basil, the Orthodox and Catholic churches subsequently honored a number of his family members with sainthood. Basil received a notable Christian and classical education in the famous ancient cities of Athens and Constantinople. Basil, along with his brother Gregory of Nyssa and his friend Gregory of Nazianzus, made up the theologically potent threesome known as the Cappadocian Fathers. Later serving as the…

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Reflections

Kierkegaard

Søren Kierkegaard was unknown to the world until 100 years after his death. Though his philosophical and theological works finally rose in popularity in the twentieth century, what exactly did he believe and what else did he contribute to Christianity? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of Søren Kierkegaard—and why he still matters today.

Who WasSøren Kierkegaard?

Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, and was the youngest of seven children. Known as the melancholy Dane for his life of angst and tragedy, he experienced a dramatic conversion to Christianity in his college years that would shape the rest of his life. Nevertheless, being subsequently dissatisfied in love, career, health, and church life, he met an early demise. He died a lonely and frustrated man in obscurity in the middle of the nineteenth century with his many self-published writings virtually unknown. Yet, 100 years later…

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Reflections

Saint_Irenaeus2

Irenaeus was one of the first Christians to defend the faith against Gnosticism, but what exactly did he believe and what else did he contribute to Christianity? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of Irenaeus—and why he still matters today.

Who WasIrenaeus?

Irenaeus (c. 130–202) was a Greek thinker who was born in Asia Minor to a Christian family. His historic connections to early Christianity ran deep, as he was a student of the apostolic father Polycarp (69–155). Christian tradition asserts that Polycarp actually knew the apostle John—so Irenaeus wasn’t too far removed from the time of the apostles. Irenaeus was both a sophisticated theologian and a careful apologist. In fact, he was the first Christian apologist to defend Christianity from specific heresies (false teachings that deny essential Christian doctrines). Irenaeus defended Christianity from the influential heresy known as Gnosticism. He also wrote about the early…

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