Bible


Story of ChristianityMuch of the Bible is written in narrative form.  It tells a story – a true story, but a story nonetheless.  There is a lot of information in the Bible to digest, and it’s easy to get lost in the details and miss the big picture.  So how does one put it all together?  What is the essence of the Biblical story?  What is the basic story line from Genesis to Revelation?  Various attempts have been to condense the major themes and events in the Bible into a coherent, terse story line.  Here is my attempt to arrange the puzzle pieces into a clear picture, such as it is.  I hope it will tie together some loose ends that may exist in your mind and offer you a bird’s-eye view of the greatest story ever told: (more…)

This past week has brought to the public’s attention the discovery of two important manuscripts: one of Leviticus and one of the Qur’an.

Leviticus

The Leviticus manuscript was actually discovered in 1970 in a Torah ark from a Byzantine-era synagogue excavated at Ein Gedi in Israel. It was burnt by a fire, however, and could not be deciphered until now. The scroll was found to contain Leviticus 1:1-8. It is dated no later than the 6th century A.D. (when the synagogue and village were burned).

Burnt Leviticus scroll 1

Burnt Leviticus scroll 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Qur’an

Two pages of the Qur’an (portions of Surahs 18-20) were discovered inside the codex of another late 7th century Qur’anic manuscript at Birmingham University.  Radiocarbon dating of the manuscript has revealed an age of A.D 568A- 645.  Muhammad lived from A.D. 570 – 632, making it a live possibility that the manuscript fragment was composed while Muhammad was still alive.

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Here is a great video summarizing the homily to the Hebrews.

We rightfully bemoan the rise of the gay hermeneutic in which Christians are reinterpreting the Bible to allow for committed same-sex relationships, but has anyone ever stopped to think that what these liberals are doing to the homosex texts we “conservatives” have already done to the divorce and remarriage texts?  We have mangled Jesus and Paul’s teachings to allow for divorce for reasons other than sexual immorality, and to allow those who have divorced or have been divorced without grounds to remarry because we don’t think it is fair for people to be unhappy or alone.  We understand the strong desire to be in a loving, sexual relationship.  Our emotions become the motivating factor for reinterpreting (or ignoring) what would otherwise seem to be a pretty straightforward condemnations for most divorces and remarriages.

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That’s an easy answer: p52 (a fragment of John 18).  Perhaps not.  P52 is typically dated to A.D. 125-175. There is a fragment of Matthew 21, p104, that is dated to A.D. 100-200.  The mean age of both manuscripts is A.D. 150, but if p104 is as early as its terminus a quo, then p104 may be the earliest NT manuscript.

P52

P52

 

P104

P104

Of course, there is still the possibility that we have a fragment of Mark’s gospel dated to before A.D. 90. The court is still out on this one since the research on this fragment has yet to be published. If it turns out to be a valid date, it would be the first NT fragment from the first century to be discovered – an exciting prospect indeed!

Open LoopSome believe the Biblical stories were myths or exaggerations.  At worst, everything is an invention.  At best, just the miracle claims were invented.  When you examine the Gospels, however, you find plenty of evidence that the authors were being faithful to what really happened, even when it was embarrassing.  Examples abound, including Peter’s denial of Jesus, Jesus calling Peter “Satan,” the disciples not understanding Jesus’ predictions of His resurrection, etc.  This is called the principle of embarrassment, and is one of the key principles historians use to judge the historicity of a report.

While reading Matthew the other day, another example of this principle stood out to me in a way it had not before.  We are told by Matthew that the chief priests went to Pilate “the next day” after Jesus had been crucified and buried to ask for guards to be posted at the tomb (Mt 27:62-63).  Why?  Because Jesus had predicted that He would rise from the dead, and they feared that the disciples might come and steal his body from the tomb and then claim Jesus’ prediction had come true (Mt 27:64).  (more…)

Telephone GameAre the words in the Bibles we read today the same words that the apostles and prophets wrote back then?  Many people assume that the words have been dramatically changed over the centuries, comparing the transmission of Scripture to the Telephone Game.  Daniel Wallace answers this challenge, showing how different the two really are: (more…)

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