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Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls

We get a couple of newsletters from different archaeology organizations and the one we received today had the title of this article as its question. They also hade the following as a lead in:

Villa, fortress, pottery factory, caravanserai. Essene, Sadducee, Christian

The debate about who wrote the dead sea scrolls and what was Qumran probably will go on for a long time. That is until someone comes to their senses about Qumran and see that it could have been everything described in that lead in. It is quite possible that Qumran was fortified when the news of the approaching Roman legions finally reached the area.

It would be hard to tell when exactly that fortification took place. The buildings could have been a prison prior to the Essene occupation and fortified at that time. Then it could have been a pottery factory prior to the Essenes moving in, or the Essenes could have made pottery to support themselves. Archaeology can be a guessing game at times.

Where does the truth actually lie–if indeed any undisputed truth has even yet been established?

As we have studied Qumran and the Essenes, we have come to the conclusion that Qumran had a variety of uses including the Essene sanctuary. The presence of mikvahs helps support that last idea. The truth may not be found in this case as to many people look for a single answer. They dismiss the idea that the buildings existed for a long time prior to the Roman destruction and went through a variety of owners who used the space for their own purposes

The Essenes of Qumran were a community formed and guided by a party of Zadokite priests. In the latter half of the second century B.C., having lost hope of regaining their ancient authority in the theocracy of Jerusalem and under active persecution by a new house of reigning priests, they fled to the desert and, finding new hope in apocalyptic dreams, readied themselves for the imminent judgment when their enemies would be vanquished and they, God’s elect, would be given final victory in accordance with the predictions of the prophets.

We have an article written a while ago on the Essenes. We just forgot where we put it. We like the author but do not run into many of his published works so we have forgotten his name for now. We will try to look for it and put it up here if we can. In the meantime, it is a great article on who Jesus was talking about in those verses where he mentions the Pharisees, Sadducees and the scribes. The author made a very strong case that Jesus was refering to the Essenes when he used the word scribes.

Jesus wouldn’t have used the name Essenes as that was a name created many centuries after Jesus walked the earth. They may not have had an organizational name at that time. Since the Essenes had the reputation as being scribes, it would make sense that Jesus would use the term for scribes. If that author is correct, that would solve one biblical mystery.

Certainty was short-lived. By 1990, in Bible Review, Lawrence H. Schiffman was convinced that either the sect at Qumran was not Essene, but was Sadducean, or that the Essene movement must be totally redefined as having emerged out of Sadducean beginnings.

But archaeology being what it is, there will always be those people who do not accept the facts and continue to push for their ideas. The origins of the Essenes are shrouded in mystery. They could have taken in disgruntled former Sadducees, they could have been formed by the those men who quit that group. We don’t know for any credible documents talking about their origin either were never written or have never been uncovered. Religious groups start up almost every year and the Essenes could have come from anywhere.

They could also have  been started by men who were not part of any religious tradition but saw the need or heard a speaker they liked and decided to form their group. Again, we cannot be sure because documentation is missing.

Scholars used to think that the library was entirely the product of the inhabitants of Qumran. Instead, it can now be stated, this hoard of manuscripts includes material representing a variety of Jewish groups as well as polemics against other Jewish groups.

The scrolls could have been written or copied by the Essenes or they could have purchased them from a businessman who dealt in religious works. It is highly likely that they wrote the scrolls that pertained to their beliefs and the teacher of righteousness. The other scrolls could be their own work or… pick your theory. Again, archaeology can be a guessing game.

Because so little evidence refering to the Essenes remain, we may never know the complete truth. One thing is for sure, Robert Cargill’s, the new editor at BAR, theory that men smuggled the scrolls out through underground tunnels in pottery jars while the Romans had circled Jerusalem and were starting to enter the city, is unrealistic and void of any logical or rational proof. The scroll were placed in those caves long before the Romans cut the area off with their troops.

Sometimes we must be content with the mystery.

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Our Comments on a Few Topics 10

#1. So much wrong with thishttps://www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/michael-foust/biological-male-wins-female-cycling-title-not-fair.html

A biological male who identifies as female won a cycling world championship Sunday, sparking controversy over fairness in athletics.

Rachel McKinnon won the 35-44 female age bracket at the UCI Masters track cycling championships in Los Angeles

“First transgender woman world champion…ever*” McKinnon wrote on Twitter

He may identify as a woman, but he is just a person pretending to be something he is not. Some people may argue the point and say that since the term transgender doesn’t appear in the bible, that God has not addressed this issue. He has. He just doesn’t use the same terms as we do. In the OT he talks about making 2 genders only and those options were perfect. He talks about men and women not dressing in each other’s clothes- he is against it. In the NT he talks about how the body is the temple of God and that it should not be corrupted; he also talks about deception and false teaching.

God says a lot about how wrong transgender is. Is letting that competitor compete with women fair? Of course not. The Bible tells us that the woman is the weaker gender. It is no contest. Men should not compete against women and women should not compete against men, no matter how talented they are. Doing otherwise and bowing to the demands of the LGBTQ community is wrong.

We are getting into an age where the western world will be like the city of Nineveh in Jonah’s day– not knowing their right hand from their left.

#2. We are glad he wonhttps://www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/michael-foust/fire-chief-fired-for-christian-beliefs-get-1-2-million.html

The city of Atlanta agreed Monday to pay former fire chief Kelvin Cochran $1.2 million, four years after he was suspended and then fired for publishing a book containing historic Christian beliefs.

Cochran’s self-published 162-page book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?: Overcoming the Stronghold of Condemnation,” included Bible verses addresses sexuality and homosexuality. It was the latter topic that sparked a controversy and an investigation and eventually, his termination. He wrote the book on non-work time.

We also like the ruling as it was sound, logical and rational.

#3. Don’t think this will stop https://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/christian-filmmakers-challenge-minnesota-law-for-forcing-them-to-make-same-sex-wedding-films.html

Two Christian filmmakers are going before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minnesota on Tuesday, to challenge the state’s law that is forcing them to create videos that contradict their religious beliefs.

According to CBN, Telescope Media Group owners Carl and Angel Larsen wanted to enter into the wedding industry, but the state’s Human Rights Act prohibits the couple from pursuing this avenue unless they make films promoting same-sex marriage, a union that their Christian beliefs define as between one man and one woman

Governments will continue to find ways to make LGBTQ practicing people seem natural, normal and okay. That is until the support and the fad surrounding these issues go away. They are concerned more about votes than anything else. It isn’t the votes of the LGBTQ members that they are worried about. They are still a very small minority. It is the votes of their straight friends, family and observers that they worry about. That is not a small minority.

God has given governments the right to rule and Jesus never said to go against the government in a sinful way. So when defending yourselves or protesting these regulations make sure you stay within biblical teaching. We cannot win if we sin in our struggle against wrong decisions. The first battle of Ai proved that.

#4. Fear cannot defeat lovehttps://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/fear-grips-churches-northeastern-kenya-muslim-extremists-kill-christian-teachers.html

Fear Grips Churches in Northeastern Kenya as Muslim Extremists Kill Two Christian Teachers

We aren’t condemning or going to condemn anyone here. Overcoming fear is a hard thing to do. But the Bible tells us that love casts out fear. So if we love God then death and what unbelievers do to us should not make us afraid or fear anything. We have a God who has promised us a new home.

#5. It is a wrong lawhttps://www.christianheadlines.com/columnists/breakpoint/deadly-canadian-maid-expansion-assisted-suicide-north.html

n 2016, Canada legalized “Medical Assistance in Dying also known as MAID. The terminology is, of course, a euphemism for euthanasia. To be eligible for MAID, persons must be at least 18-years-old and have a “grievous and irremediable” condition.

Like all such death-devoted legislation, terms like “grievous and irremediable” are moving targets. Descriptions used in the law include expressions like “serious and incurable,” “irreversible decline,” and suffering—both “physical and psychological”—that a person finds “intolerable.”

Of course, nearly all of these words are subjective: What’s “intolerable” to one person may not be to another. If Netherlands and Belgium are any indication, we can be sure that eligibility for MAID will, like gas, expand to fill whatever space is available.

The Bible says that if man spills the blood of man then his blood is required (done from memory). We do not see that penalty revoked in that or any other passage of scripture. Nor do we see any clause that exempts assisted suicide.Even though it is difficult to handle, we do not see God changing his views because some people cannot endure their illness.

Governments should not be promoting the ending a life no matter how many of its citizens complain and cry out. Governments leaders need to lead the people to what is right and lead them away from what is wrong. Church leaders cannot let the terms compassion and love distort or influence their biblical views in the wrong way. We love God thus we must present his way in the most compassionate way possible even if it goes against popular sentiments.

 

 

Our Comments on a Few Topics 9

#1. Plagiarism- https://www.christianpost.com/news/evangelist-christine-caine-settles-lawsuit-accused-her-copying-parts-authors-book-227925/

Ms. Scott contends that her work, Untangled, including exact wording, phrasing, and compilation, along with the book’s general thematic message and presentation, is consistently copied, reworded, and derived without authorization within Unashamed and Unshakeable and that there exists proof of direct copying within the book’s promotional materials and printed, e-book, and audio forms,” Delehanty said in the complaint against Caine and her publishers.

We are not going to say she did not plagiarize. We are also not going to berate her if she did. Christians already know that plagiarism is wrong and should not be done. What we are going to do is talk about plagiarism and the hypersensitivity that is part of the atmosphere in the writing world. We write and we know how difficult it is to be original. Especially when there are hundreds of people trying to write on the same topic.

To make things worse, sometimes there is just only 1 or 2 ways of saying the same thing. There are just not enough words in the English language to rephrase certain topics. We know, we have had to do this. People should not be too quick to throw the accusation of plagiarism around.

It is possible for two different people to come up with the same idea and use very similar words and phrases and do it independently of each other. If they couldn’t, then either Darwin had to sue Wm. Wallace or vice versa for stealing the idea of evolution. What needs to be done is to make sure plagiarism has taken place before accusing anyone of stealing ideas.

This is not always easy to do as similar words and phrasing is not evidence for plagiarism or copying only. it could be that two different people said the same thing the same way in an honest attempt to communicate their thoughts.  Let’s not jump on the accusation bandwagon and be careful to make sure a violation has been committed before pointing fingers.

#2. Christian Entertainmenthttps://www.christianpost.com/news/if-youd-like-to-rebuke-mainstream-media-buy-a-ticket-to-see-gosnell-227881/

and https://www.christianpost.com/voice/gosnell-the-movie-the-murder-case-that-put-abortion-on-trial.html

No, we do not need to rebuke mainstream media through going to see a movie. We do need to rebuke their faulty journalistic efforts and the deterioration of accurate, objective and honest reporting. That can be done in a variety of ways. We are like AW Tozer. We are not big fans of Christian entertainment. He wrote about the topic and his thoughts are captured in the work, Tozer on Worship & Entertainment by James Snyder.

We also do not agree that the movie Gosnell put abortion on trial. Abortion did not commit those crimes a human did. A human was put on trial for abusing the freedom that comes with legal abortion practices. Abortion itself cannot think nor can it decide to do evil. Let’s not distort what is taking place in that trial.

When Christians seek to use different media for their outreach, they need to be careful not to assume they are making the impact they think they are making. Somtimes it is just best to let God direct our actions and keep away from formats that may devalue the Gospel message.

#3. The new fad- https://www.christianpost.com/news/new-mariners-church-leader-stresses-importance-accountability-prevent-pastor-scandals-227789/

The new senior pastor for the California-based megachurch Mariners Church has stressed the importance of accountability, in light of recent scandals elsewhere in the evangelical world.

This seems to be the new fad that is rising in the church world. Church members are going to be seeking new ways to stay in control of their fellow believer’s lives. This is the second article in less than a week concerning the topic of accountability. We have been waiting for years to hear a good Christian definition of the term. Webster defines the term as:

an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions

Now we understand being responsible for one’s choices and behavior. But we tend to think that the church in general takes this too far and applies more criteria than is needed. The targeted person then ends up trying to please their fellow humans instead of God. Also, this trend leads some to add in outlawed words and behavior that are personal subjective preferences and not biblical ones.

We are reminded of a story we heard some years ago. A Christian man with a porn issue had to travel on business. As soon as he entered his hotel room his phone rang. It was a friend from his church. The caller told the man to call the front desk and have them disconnect any porn channels that may be delivered to his room.  This was before the man even had a chance to get settled and even think for himself what he should do.

The man may not have even considered watching porn but his issue was brought up and he was reminded of his weakness and then told what to do. That to us, is not accountability but using the term to dictate another person’s actions long before a violation was committed. Given Webster’s definition we would think that accountability waits till the person commits a violation before action can be taken.

We do not see the caller as being supportive as he could have talked to the man before he left on his business trip. Another problem we find with accountability is that it doesn’t relieve the person of past issues but reminds them of their failure, even when they may have taken care of that failure. Thier weaknesses are continually held over their heads even though God does not do that. Yet power over others is attractive to certain church members.

When it comes to pastors, we must remember that they are still human. They will face temptation or make a bad judgment call. We should not be surprised at a Christian leader’s mistakes. They may not have conquered all of their sins; they may not resist temptation to well and they may make bad decisions. Moses was a friend of God yet he still made a bad decision when he got angry.

We should be spiritually prepared to handle those errors correctly when they happen. We have had enough warnings about it in the Bible. Accountability does not mean we run roughshod over a person’s life but make sure that they repent and be responsible for their decisions.

#4. Expectationshttps://www.christianpost.com/news/big-bang-theory-spinoff-young-sheldon-scientific-explanation-why-god-exists-227884/

As the episode progresses, we see Sheldon’s overly protective and loving mother, Mary (Zoe Perry), who’s an evangelical Christian, battle with news she received that the teenage daughter of her friend was killed in a car accident.

Her pastor advised her to serve others as a way to get out of her grief. Mary also created a faith garden to pray outdoors to help her healing process, but when she finally made her supplication to God about the death of her friend she comes to a head with her sadness and spirals downward.

The woman of faith finds herself doubting why it would be in God’s plan for a young girl to die. She begins drinking, and stops praying at supper or even going to church.

We are not going to talk about science here. Science can help in producing evidence for God. That is a given. What we are going to address, is the issue of expectations that help undermine the faith of so many people. People have far too many bad expectations about God, life and how it all works together. They let these expectatios over-rule the lessons the Bible teaches. Then, when expectations are not met, they accuse God, blame him or attack for things he did not do.

They suddenly have a crisis of faith because life did not go as they expected it to. What is missing in all of this is the realization of the consequences our decisions have. Plus, people seem to want to go after God and forget evil’s role in life. It wasn’t God who gave them bad expectations, thus he should not be blamed for those events that contradict those thoughts.

People also seem to forget that having expectations about life and other people’s lives is not biblical teaching. There is not one word about it in scripture. Yes God makes promises but our expectations of receiving those promises cannot ignore any of the rules that God has laid out to receive them.  Then we must factor in that while God has granted us life, he has not granted long life to everyone. We must accept that reality.

One can avoid a crisis of faith if they take the time to examine their thoughts, feelings and expectations and see if they line up with biblical teaching. We need to protect our faith and put the blame where it belongs– with evil. Don’t question God when it is not God at fault.

 

Not Quite

We are sure you have heard about this recent discovery

https://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/historical-evidence-for-the-exodus-may-have-been-found.html

Historical Evidence for the Exodus May Have Been Found

Well we have read about it and our title is our opinion. There are several reasons for our not accepting this possibility. We go through the article mixing our reasons with comment son other tidbits we find inside the article.

Experts are currently analyzing ruins near the River Jordan as potential proof that the story of the Exodus, is more than a legend and indeed a historical fact.

Only unbelievers consider the Exodus a legend. if you gather what facts we have and look at them closely, you would see that there is enough evidence to prove the biblical account true.

According to U.K. Daily Express, a United Kingdom media outlet, archaeologists generally agree that the Israelites were natives of Canaan, which contradicts the account in the Biblical book of Exodus.

Yes there are some and maybe it is quite a large group. Yet, scholarly beliefs do not dictate history or historical events. Israel Finkelstein is one such archaeologist but he cannot provide any evidence to support that theory. What they have found is evidence for a large influx of people around the time of the Exodus. But archaeologists being who they are, do not accept the evidence.

Archaeologists Ralph K. Hawkins and David Ben-Shlomo have now found some evidence in the Jordan Valley site of Khirbet el-Mastarah, which they believe are remnants of ruins from a nomadic people who they believe to be the Hebrews coming from Egypt.

Archaeological belief also doesn’t prove an historical event either. This is one of our reasons why we reject their theory. The Israelites were not building any buildings during the Exodus. They were given marching orders and had to conquer the land first. Plus, the wandered continuously for 40 years. They did not stop to build anything. Then, they moved from the Exodus to the conquering stage and attack Jericho. No building was done.

We have not proved that these camps are from the period of the early Israelites, but it is possible,” noted Ben-Shlomo.

This is leading into another reason why we reject their theory. It would be impossible to link those ruins to the ancient Israelites of the Exodus.

he Christian Post reports that the archaeologists found stone ruins and pottery fragments at the site and were able to preliminarily date them to a period of time between the Late Bronze Age (1400–1200 B.C.) and the Iron Age (1200–1000).

The dating is moot. It may give us a ballpark figure but the pottery may come after the conquest or from the people living in the area when the Israeites arrived. This is another reason we reject the theory. KA Kitchen wrote in his book On The Reliability of the OT that the Israelites were expecting to be in the promised land very soon after leaving Egypt. He said that it is highly doubtful that the Israelites took heavy pottery with them. Desert travel, whether for a short time or long time does not facilitate carrying heavy equipment or kitchen ware.

Especially when the Israelites could make more once they settled in the new land.

Within a range of just a couple of miles, we may be able to see the evolution of early Israel from a domestic-scale culture [at Khirbet el-Mastarah] to a political-scale culture [at Khirbet ‘Auja el-Foqa].”

No, not really. But nice try. There are just too many mitigating factors that come into play before that could be established. So  given the reasons above, we still say not quite. The archaeologists may have come close but they do not get a cigar. Those ruins and pottery do not tie into the Exodus.

 

Some Discoveries and News

#1. https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-artifacts/inscriptions/2000-year-old-jerusalem-inscription/

2,000-Year-Old Jerusalem Inscription Bears City’s Name

For the first time, archaeologists have unearthed a Second Temple period stone inscription that spells the name Jerusalem as Yerushalayim (as it’s spelled in Hebrew today), rather than Yerushalem or Shalem. The inscription, dating to the first century B.C.E., reads:

Hananiah son of
Dudolos
of Jerusalem

The Jerusalem inscription, carved on a limestone column drum, was uncovered during excavations led by Danit Levy on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in Binyanei Ha’Uma, a massive convention center in Jerusalem. The IAA press release announcing the discovery describes the inscription as Aramaic but written with Hebrew letters.

Read the rest at the link

#2. http://www.biblearchaeology.org/currentevents.aspx

All of the following reports in this section come from the above link

A.Archaeologists Discover Tomb of Fifth Dynasty Egyptian Official

The tomb of a prominent official in the Egyptian Court of the Fifth Dynasty was discovered in Abusir, just north of the Saqqara region in Giza. Archaeologists unearthed a large limestone and mud brick tomb with the name of the owner and his titles engraved on the walls. The official named “Ka Ir Is” was known as the “Supervisor of the King’s affairs,” “Secret Keeper of the Morning House,” and “His Master’s Beloved.” A large pink granite statue of the tomb’s owner was also discovered which portrays him seated on a small chair inscribed with his name and titles, and wearing a wig. According to biblical chronology, the tomb itself predates Abraham’s visit to Egypt (Gn 12:10) by a several hundred years.

B.Mt. Zion Excavations Unearth First-Century Mansion and Ancient Road

Archaeologists digging at Mount Zion have uncovered the remains of a priestly mansion dating to the first century AD, as well as an adjacent structure that dates from the Hasmonean era (late first century BC). The rooms of the mansion were well-preserved with ceilings despite the fact that it had been destroyed when the Romans took Jerusalem in 70 AD. Another important find was the discovery of an ancient road dating to the Byzantine era, if not earlier. The paved street had a central drain and may be a continuation of the famous Cardo Maximus street which extended across Mt. Zion

C.Excavations at Abel Beth Maacah Reveal Cultic Shrines

Archaeologists excavating at Tel Abil el-Qameh, identified as the biblical city of Abel Beth Maacah, continue to uncover evidence of cultic activity at the site spanning several hundred years. One structure, dating to the Iron Age I, had two standing stones, benches and fragments of a bull figurine. A series of later buildings included a room with standing stones, an offering table, a cylindrical cultic stand and plastered basins. Another discovery dating to the ninth century BC was a jar on a round podium filled with astragaloi (knucklebones) which were often used in divination. The most recent discovery was yet another shrine with unmarked standing stones. Excavators have suggested this site may be associated with the “wise woman” of 2 Sam. 20:18-19, who they propose may have served in the role of an oracle.

D.Submerged Church Honoring Council of Nicea Discovered

Aerial photographs commissioned by the government of the Bursa Province in Turkey revealed the remarkable outline of a church submerged in Lake Iznik, near ancient Nicea. It is located in only 10 feet of water, about 160 feet from shore. Archaeologists believe the church may have been built on the site of the former Senate Palace, where the first Council of Nicea took place in 325 AD. Underwater excavations have revealed several graves dating to the fourth century underneath the basilica’s main wall which included coins dating to the reign of Emperor Valens (364-378 AD). There is evidence that an earlier pagan temple to Apollo might lie beneath the church.

E.Over 1000 Clay Seals Discovered in Central Israel

A huge cache of clay seal impressions (known as bullae) was found at the ancient Hellenistic city of Maresha, located in the Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park. Archaeologists recently discovered seven previously unknown rooms in the cave complex of Maresha, including one that had 1020 untouched clay seals lying on the floor amidst broken pottery. An initial study of 300 of the clay seals suggest they date primarily from the second century BC and may have been part of a private archive. The delicate, unfired bullae depict images of various gods, such as Apollo, Athena, and Aphrodite, as well as cornucopia, masks and animals. Only a few bore Greek letters and numbers, perhaps indicating dates; none of the seals in the initial survey had written inscription

F. Evidence of Aramean Destruction Unearthed at Biblical Gath

Archaeologists working at Tell es-Safi – biblical Gath – have released their first summary from the 2018 excavation season. This year they focused entirely on the lower city at the site, and unearthed significant evidence of the destruction by Hazael, King of Aram at Damascus in the ninth century BC. This confirms what is recorded in the Bible in 2 Kings 12:17: “About this time Hazael king of Aram went up and attacked Gath and captured it. Then he turned to attack Jerusalem.” The remains of the siege system built around the site have been discovered, as well as evidence of defensive actions taken by the residents of Gath in attempting to use soil from the garbage dump to fortify and buffer the inside of the city wall against the Aramean forces.

G. Ceramic Pomegranate Discovered at Biblical Shiloh

The Associates for Biblical Research has announced the discovery of a ceramic pomegranate during the 2018 excavation season at biblical Shiloh. Shiloh was the center of Israelite worship and site of the tabernacle for over 300 years. The 20 cm-long pomegranate was unearthed in situ, and still had four of the five prongs intact. Pomegranates were common motifs in the Israelites’ worship at the tabernacle, having adorned the hem of Aaron’s robe (Ex 28:34; 39:26), and later in the first temple (1 Ki 7:17, 42). This discovery confirms the biblical description of Shiloh as a temenos (a sacred, dedicated precinct) early in Israel’s history.

H. New Study Suggests Whales Were Once Native to the Mediterranean Sea

A study recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biology), suggests that whales once swam in the Mediterranean Sea. Researchers from the Université de Montpelier used DNA barcoding and collagen fingerprinting to identity a collection of ancient whale bones from Roman and pre-Roman archaeological sites near the Strait of Gibraltar. The results indicated that the bones belonged to two species of whales: right whales and grey whales. Given the proximity to the Strait of Gibraltar, the researches believe that the Mediterranean Sea was once a calving ground for these whales. Furthermore, they conclude: “The evidence that these two coastal and highly accessible species were present along the shores of the Roman Empire raises the hypothesis that they may have formed the basis of a forgotten whaling industry” some 2000 years ago. Biblical critics have questioned where a fish big enough to swallow Jonah in the Mediterranean Sea came from. While the Bible never calls the fish that swallowed Jonah a whale – it simply describes it as a “great fish” – the new study is evidence that whales were once native to the Mediterranean Sea

I. Another Stunning Roman-Era Mosaic Discovered in Lod

Excavators have unearthed another spectacular 1700-year-old mosaic in the ancient city of Lod (called Lydda in the New Testament). In 1996, the famous Lod Mosaic was discovered, and in 2014, another one was found in the courtyard of the same structure. At that time, the corner of a third mosaic could be seen, but it was under a parking lot. Now, four years later, that mosaic has been unearthed and is another stunning example of Roman-era workmanship. The house in which the mosaics have been unearthed is believed to have been a luxurious villa belonging to a wealthy Jewish merchant. Based on pottery and coins uncovered in the excavations, it appears the villa was in use from the first century AD to the late third or early fourth century AD. The new mosaic, like the others, depicts scenes of nature with animals and fish, but not people. Archaeologists hypothesize that this may be because of the Jewish belief in the divine prohibition against graven images.

There are plentyg links at that website to pursue each story if you want

 

 

The Lost Gospels

Our topic comes from the following link

https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/bible-interpretation/christian-apocrypha-the-lost-gospels/

Christian Apocrypha: The “Lost Gospels”? Apocryphal texts and early Christianity

As you know, the term gospel means ‘good news’. Yet if something has been lost for 2 millennia, it certainly cannot be good news.It is bad news for if those recovered works were part of God’s word and instructions to us, billions of people would have died not having a chance to read them. God is a fair and just and has preserved his word throughout history. While every nation has not heard the word in each generation, that we know of, at least his word was available to all.

Which brings us to the topic of today. We will agree with the following quote:

Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria wrote in the fourth century C.E. that the Christian apocrypha—texts that refer to the life of Jesus and his followers that are not included in the New Testament—“are used to deceive the simple-minded.”

In the past 1800 years, there has been nothing to change that conclusion. These supposed lost gospels were lost for a reason- they were not the truth and not part of God’s inspired word. Yet that fact has not stopped some scholars from trying to promote these works and make them a part of Christianity. That is because they define Christianity so broad that cults and false religions are included in that category.

Gnosticism was not and is not a part of the Christian faith but to scholars, just because some Gnostic works included the word God, Jesus, the disciples an dother Christian words and content, these scholars have concluded they belong to the faith. Again, they are not correct in that assumption.

It was once believed that after the Church had determined the contents of the canon, all of these additional (noncanonical) texts were abandoned, hidden or destroyed

We do not know for sure if those false religious works were abandoned, hidden or destroyed. Just because the Nag Hammadi library was found in the dirt, does it mean such actions took place. Some may have been but with what we know of religious people, it is highly unlikely that these works failed to gain some sort of following or were kept unsold on the ancient bookshelves. As the Jehovah Witnesses’ prove, ancient cultic beliefs do not die out. They just find a new audience.

“Today scholars of the Christian apocrypha are challenging this view of the loss and rediscovery of apocryphal texts,” explains Burke. “It has become increasingly clear that the Christian apocrypha were composed and transmitted throughout Christian history, not just in antiquity.

Seems that some scholars agree with us, though we would not place their transmission or acceptance in the Christian history category. False beliefs do not die out when an era ends. If that were so Mormonism would have died out by the end of the 20th century, as would so many other false beliefs would.

Another modern “invention” has also aided in the scholarly understanding of the history of Christian apocrypha: archaeology. At Egyptian sites such as Oxyrhynchus and Akhmîm, archaeologists have unearthed texts or works that were previously known only from their mention by other ancient authors

We do not agree that the invention of the printing press sparked any flood of  new searches for ancient works. That idea just doesn’t make sense. On the other hand, archaeology has uncovered a host of ancient documents which would have sparked a very great interest in what the ancients had to say. BUT, this tool does not change the boundaries of what is Christian and what is not.

The bad identification of many ancient works by scholars and archaeologists have only served to confuse people, mislead them, and misrepresent Christianity. This is partially due to the fact that a majority of archaeologists and scholars have stopped believing in the Bible and God and seek their own ideas over the truth. They do not accept Peter’s or Paul’s warning that false teachers abound and have decided to make Christian what is not Christian.

It has become increasingly clear that Christianity began as a multitude of voices, each one declaring itself right and others wrong,” states Burke, who rejects the idea that these gospels were “lost” through intentional suppression by the “winning” tradition, the Roman Church

This is evidence for the above point. It is not clear that Christianity began as a multitude of voices. It began with only 1 voice– Jesus’. The other voices were like today. False ideas being passed off as truth in hopes of leading people to sin and destruction. We have no doubt that the ancient church soon filled up with many people calling themselves Christians but preaching a different gospel. Much like today, even the fundamental, evangelical and other true Christian churches are filled with these people.

It is not a multiple of voices leading to one voice. But one voice being distorted and changed into multiple voices for whatever reason they may have. One reason for this is that such people, like Joseph Smith, held a poor view of the people they were preaching to and saw them as a means to an end. Not as Christ saw them, people without a shepherd, needing the truth and good spiritual food.

Oh and the Roman Church was not the winning church. It was filled with the same type of people looking to get rich through religion. History has not been kind to those people who kept the faith and stayed away from the Roman church once it went astray from the truth. We must add that the Roman church of Paul’s and Peter’s time is not the same church as the one now known throughout history as the Roman Catholic Church. That denomination did not get started till about the 5th or 6th century AD.

All this leads Burke to conclude that the Christian apocrypha “were valued not only by ‘heretics’ who held views about Christ that differed from normative (or ‘orthodox’) Christianity, but also by writers within the church who did not hesitate to promote and even create apocryphal texts to serve their own interests.”

Here we have modern scholars trying to read long dead minds. If ancient writers in the church held those false works in high esteem, we would doubt their declaration that they were Christian. Of course, Burke does not differentiate between Christian and non-Christian so his general statement is quite misleading. The key words would be — “to serve their own interests”. That purpose would automatically disqualify those people from being in the Christian category unless they were just new or immature believers at the time.

A lot of the scholarly views concerning the ancient false texts we disagree with. We do not see many as forgeries. We see them as books that were more or less like historical fiction is today. Using the names and places of real people and cities while creating a fictional tale around it. Ben Hur, long thought of as a Christian movie, would probably fit this category.

When you look at what the scholars and archaeologists say about these texts, we have to consider the source. Are they believers? If they are, are they following Christ’s rules on academic and historical research or secular rules? Are they preaching a different gospel than what Jesus and the disciples taught?  Are the scholars lumping everything in the Christian category without reason to do so? Do they accept God’s boundaries on what is or isn’t Christian?

Are they bringing the good news or making the truth less divine and more earthly? There are more questions one can ask here. The thing is modern believers should not let themselves be tripped up when scholars and archaeologists use biblical or Christian terms. They have their own definitions, like cults, for those terms and because of their failure to follow God are far more inclusive than God is.

Christianity is defined by God and Christ, not by modern scholars or archaeologists. We must be discerning, as the Bible instructs, to avoid being swept away by false ideas disguised as Christian works. Th Bible as we have it today is the only work that is the gospel and Christian. Nothing has been lost or rediscovered since the biblical books were first penned.

 

Misogyny in the Bible

When this topic comes up, and it is not new, we just have to shake our heads. Why? Because we stand in amazement at how many fallible, sinful people think they know more than God. The owner of Meerkat musing is one example. He posts here and we have had discussions on his website about many moral issues. He is like so many others in thinking that their subject opinions are greater than God’s moral standards.

The article in question is not really an article but it goes by the same title as listed above

https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/bible-interpretation/first-person-misogyny-in-the-bible/

Christopher Rollston is one of the world’s leading paleographers of ancient Near Eastern inscriptions. I have been harshly critical of some of his views, principally regarding unprovenanced inscriptions—inscriptions that have surfaced only from the antiquities market, not from a professional archaeological excavation. They may be forgeries, he argues.

We have had our run-ins with Dr. Rollston before and suffice it to say we think that his expertise influences him to read ancient texts incorrectly. But he is one of those people who thinks he knows better than God as he did write an article against God and his views of women.

he wrote an article about the Bible’s sometimes “unfair” or unequal treatment of women

We read that article when it was published and found that while Dr. Rollston may consider himself a Christian, that he may be an expert on ancient inscriptions, he does not know or understand the Bible or God. We can  say that as the charges he levels at God do not add up. In that article, linked above, the quote is given

Noah and his wife had three sons (Shem, Ham and Japheth—Genesis 5:32) who were each married. All eight were on the ark. We know the names of all the men, but none of the women (Genesis 8:18), not even Noah’s wife.

Why is this an issue? We have said it before and we will say it again now, that if God included everything that misguided people and unbelievers want to see in the bible, it would be so thick and boring, no one would pick it up or read it. But that is not the rebuttal point here. There is a weakness to Dr. Rollston’s argument. It is very short-sighted and ignores other passages of the Bible.

First off, we do not know the name of the husband of Lydia found in Acts 16. Does that make God a bad God who doesn’t know what he is doing? It seems that people who disagree with certain passages of scripture and God look for minutia to find points where they can justify their rejection of Jesus. Does God hate men because of this omission? It is clear that Dr. Rollston is not thinking clearly himself when he makes his argument.

Another example shows why many people do not understand the Bible:

Rollston finds the marginalization of women obvious and “clear” in the Ten Commandments: “The wife is classified as her husband’s property, and she’s listed with the slaves and work animals.

This is not so. While many scholars have come to that conclusion they do not have any real textual or ancient support that conclusion is correct.Just because women are listed in a command about not lusting does not make her her husband’s property. God is simply saying do not lust after another man’s wife. The idea she is property is read into the passage.

Rollston continues with other examples:

We do not have time to delve into all the examples he has given but we need to ask who Dr. Rollston thinks he is that he can say God is wrong in his instructions to his people? We may not have the answer to every difficult passage in the Bible and it takes time, patience and honesty to make sure we get to the truth of a passage but that does not mean God is wrong

We must be careful to correctly understand the terms God has used in his instructions and not import modern human definitions or distortions. Why does Dr. Rollston have a problem with male parental authority? He cites that Numbers 30 is wrong because a father can over-rule his daughter’s vows. Did he stop to think that God put the father in charge to protect his daughters from making foolish vows? She may be too young to understand what she is doing and needs help to make sure she doesn’t make a vow she can’t keep.

Why condemn God when one does not know all the facts? God has order and he wants order in the family, why is God wrong for putting the father and husband in charge of the family unit?

begins by stating that “men should pray” (and the word used here for men is andras, a gendered word that refers only to males) and then says “women should dress themselves modestly and decently” (vv. 8–9). So men are to pray, and women are to dress modestly. That’s quite a contrast.

Again, Dr. Rollston’s arguments fall short here as there is no scripture instructing men to be immodest in their dress { yes, we hate the pants down to the knees fad also}. Just because God may not specifically address the issue doesn’t mean men get to be immodest in their apparel. Women may need special instruction because some of them do dress to attract the attention of a man and it is not very moral or modest decision-making.

Then, Dr. Rollston fails to counter his point of view with the many examples of women praying. Many women are recorded praying in the OT . Anna spent her life serving God by praying. So clearly there is a problem with those accusing God of using misogyny in his word. They need a broader and more honest view of biblical instruction.

Of course, the final examples Dr. Rollston gives refer to women’s behavior in the church and church leadership. Dr. Rollston and others have forgotten to whom the church belongs. God has given his reasons why women are banned from those positions and those reasons have nothing to do with making women second-class citizens or inferior to men. Again, God likes order and he has established his order which makes men the lead. Not superior to women but the leaders.

Humans have known this order from the beginning of time. God’s reasoning is sound. How can we object to it when we do not hold the same power as God, are not his equals and cannot create out of nothing? We do need to be humble and obey his instructions if we want to progress in the Christian faith and draw favor from God.

Instead of leaping to conclusions and falsely accusing God of sin, humans should be more patient, make sure evil is not influencing their thinking and be honest about their study of scripture. it wouldd go better for them if they practiced a little caution instead of assuming God is wrong.

 

 
 
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