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Crucified Before the Foundation of the World

"Crucified before the foundation of the world." What does that mean? How could that even happen? Historians and archaeologists ta...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Is Eye Witness Testimony Reliable?

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...Image via Wikipedia Lawyers seem to have a real affinity for eye witness testimony even though all the tests and evaluations seem to indicate that eye witness are not usually very accurate.  If five people witness an accident, they will give very different accounts of the events.  And yet we still believe what the eye witnesses say.

In Acts 1 Luke depends heavily on eye witness accounts.  He investigated and found a unity in their reports that was convincing evidence that Jesus had risen from the dead.  Luke talks about the various behaviors Jesus engaged in.  He says Jesus ate with them and talked to them.  Mostly, he emphasizes that he was among them, alive, walking, talking, and eating.  He says Jesus gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. 

No matter that they may remember the events differently, an eye witness is someone who was present.  We want to know what the witness saw and heard and did.  In Luke's account, he is intent on making his readers know that the proofs were real.  Jesus had been dead.  They had buried him.  Then he rose and he was alive.  They saw him taken up into heaven.  He went into heaven alive.  This was real.

Read Acts 1 for yourself.  Note all the ways Luke wants to prove that Jesus was alive.
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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Introduction to the Minor Prophers II

Some months ago I wrote a post entitled Introduction to the Minor Prophets, but my post did not live up to the title.  In it I talked about Elijah as one of the important non-writing prophets and about how  Moses filled the office of a prophet, but I never really got to the minor prophets.  I hope this post is more organized than the original one.

There are several categories of prophets: non-writing prophets and writing prophets, major prophets and minor prophets.  Some prophets were also judges or priests.  Samuel was a judge and a prophet.  Miriam was the sister of Moses and she was a prophet.  Deborah, the only female judge, was also a prophet   Some examples of non-writing prophets are Elijah, Elisha, and Nathan.

Of the writing prophets, the only distinction between Major and Minor prophets is the volume of prophesies they wrote.  There are four Major prophets:  Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.  There are twelve Minor prophets:  Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

The writings of the Minor prophets were no less inspired or important than those of the Major prophets, but they may not have covered as long a period.  Their message may have addressed one issue or time period, but it was recorded and preserved.  The messages of the Minor prophets come from different period in the history of Israel.  Prophesies are referred to as the pre-exile prophets, the prophets in exile, and the post-exile prophets.   The messages of the pre-exile prophets tell of the coming judgment.  The messages of the prophets in exile are intended to strengthen the Israelites to endure.  The messages of the post-exile prophets call for return to righteousness.   The two prophesies written during the exile are Daniel and parts of Isaiah. 

Several of the prophesies are written to different nations. 

Hosea prophesied to Ephriam whose capital was Samaria.  Ephriam was part of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

Joel prophesied to Judah, but included Phonesia and Philistia.

Amos prophesied mostly to Israel, but he also included the surrounding countries.

Obadiah prophesied to Edom of destruction because they were destructive to the Children of Israel.

Jonah prophesied to the city of Ninevah in Assyria.

Micah prophesied to Samaria, Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem about the evil in them.

Nahum prophesied to Ninevah in Assyria.  Because of their repentance, the city had not been destroyed when Jonah prophesied, but this time they did not repent.

Habakkuk prophesied to Judah after the fall of Israel and their deportation.

Zephaniah prophesied to Judah and the nations surrounding her.

Three prophets prophesied to Judah and Jerusalem after the exile: Haggai called the people back to the Lord and stressed the Messianic theme. 

Zechariah was also a priest.  He called for a return to obedience especially in matters of justice, mercy, and compassion.

Malachi stressed the faithfulness of God toward his people and their lack of faithfulness toward him.  He called them to repentance.

Many of these books are short and easy to read.  Spend a few minutes gleaning treasures from them.

Introduction to the Minor Prophets
Also see:
Go Marry a Prostitute  a commentary on the book of Hosea
The Just Shall Live by Faith a commentary on the book of Habakkuk

Friday, September 16, 2011

Does Word Order Matter?

NT Resources, a blog I accessed through the Biblegateway site, shared a quote that spoke about the dangers of changing any element that relates to religion or culture.  The quote is a warning about improving or clarifying items we have come to understand in a specific way, and the danger that improving it will cause a revolution.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible.  Now we view it as the old standard for all Bible reading.  Many people assume it is written in Old English.  I will hasten to assure you that it is not even written in Middle English, but in what modern English.  Of course some things are dated and the original would look very strange to us, but that's still modern English.

I said all that to say this:  change is strange and foreign.  We have been reading new translations of the Bible for at least sixty years, and I think there are still people who believe the KJV had it right.(I think the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament was published in 1946 and the Old Testament was published in 1952.)  I do believe you can be as well taught from the KJV as from the NIV or the RSV, or any of the others, and they are numerous.  The truly intelligent way to study the Bible is to compare the versions.  Reconcile the differences, and you may come to understand the Bible better.

One of the most difficult and meaningful experiences I ever had was translating passages from the Latin to English.  I had to use a dictionary on almost every word.  I had to understand the rules for translation and the cases of the nouns and the tenses of the verbs.  And I had to do all that with 618 verses of the Old and New Testaments.  Understand another thing--the Vulgate was translated around 400 c.e. from the Hebrew and Greek.  Changing the word order or the translation does not negate the Bible's message or God's truth.  Let it inform you, and let God make it real in your experience.