Biblical Studies
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Biblical Studies
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The Religious Brain: A Default Setting?

The Religious Brain: A Default Setting? | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
New research suggests that we may indeed be "built" for belief.

 

For some time on my podcast Point of Inquiry, I've been doing occasional shows that explore what you might call the "innateness" of human religiosity--or in other words, why the way our brains are built can turn scientific thinking into a kind of also-ran.

 

In one program, for instance, I spoke with Emory University cognitive scientist Robert McCauley about his book Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not, which argues that our minds, from very early on, are geared towards certain tendencies that privilege religious belief over critical thinking.

 

In another show, meanwhile, I spoke with psychologist Will Gervais about how a more basic and intuitive cognitive style, one that comes to us quite naturally, promotes religious belief.


Via Dimitris Agorastos, David Hain
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The Most Dangerous Book; Part Two

The Most Dangerous Book; Part Two | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
Part Two in the story of the courageous struggle to put the Bible into the hands of the English people.

 

The Bible is so widely available today that it's easy to take it for granted. But it hasn't always been that way. 

 

Today people all over the world can read their own Bibles in their own languages, and they take their easy access to it for granted. But for more than 1,000 years the Bible was generally available only in Latin and thus mostly unavailable to the common people in any of their vernaculars. The result was that the vast majority were utterly oblivious to what the Bible taught.

 

It was believed that Scripture was dangerous and seditious in the hands of the common man.

 

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Apocalypse Now, Later or Never?

What is the value of the book of Revelation?

 

What is the value of the book of Revelation?

Does it foretell the cataclysmic end of the world, or is it merely first-century literature aimed at a first-century audience?

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The Most Dangerous Book, Part One

The Most Dangerous Book, Part One | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
Why was the translation of the Bible into English so violently opposed? First in a two-part series.

 

The story of how the English-speaking world came to have the Bible in their language is a fascinating study in courage and corruption, in perseverance and persecution.  

 

To many, Christians are “the people of the Book.” That book is readily accessible today in countless languages, so it is difficult to comprehend that opposition to its translation into the vernacular was a grueling battle fought to the death in the Middle Ages, with the church at Rome as chief antagonist. Even today there are many who, for disparate reasons of religion, philosophy, politics or science, would be happier to consign the Bible once more to its Latinate limbo, where it lay generally unread for about a thousand years.

 

By the time of the Protestant Reformation, the Book of books was at last being widely translated into a number of western European languages. In England, however, the clergy and the state remained in the vanguard of those most implacably opposed to a Bible in their mother tongue. The high price, including persecution and even death, that a courageous few paid to make the Scriptures available in English is not generally known. The forces that drove such persecution—and that continue to have influence—are even less well known.

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Dr. James Tabor on the early followers of Jesus.

 

Dr. James Tabor, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, share comments with VISION on the "Jewishness" of the Apostle Paul and the early followers of Jesus Christ.

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Who Is the Old Testament God?

Who Is the Old Testament God? | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
Throughout much of Christendom, the enduring image of the Old Testament God is of an angry, vengeful being but the Bible paints a different picture.

 

Human understanding of who and what God is has at least as many variations as there are religions.


Even within the bounds of Christianity, the faithful stumble over perceived contradictions about the nature of God. In particular, many find the God described in the Old Testament to be a very different personality from the God described in the New Testament, the first being harsh and judgmental, while the second is full of grace and mercy.


How can we understand the God of the Old Testament today?

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The Apostles; Part 1: Acting on Conviction

The Apostles; Part 1: Acting on Conviction | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
Vision presents a new series on the 21st-century application of the gospel, this time focusing on the first followers of Jesus and the book of Acts.

 

The story of the first followers of Jesus Christ has been told and retold countless times. Surely all that can be said has been said. 

 

Is there more that we can learn from their story?

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How Has ‘Bible Software’ Changed The Way We Read the Bible?

How Has ‘Bible Software’ Changed The Way We Read the Bible? | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it

Bryan Bibb writes on Facebook the following fascinating observations-

 

Experiencing the Bible through a system like Accordance fundamentally transforms the reading process, and changes the nature of the text itself. Technological advances in the past have had comparable effects, i.e., the development of the codex over the scroll, mass printing technology, etc.


The fear of a “fragmentary” reading is particularly interesting to me. The software allows one to view the context of a passage as desired, however narrow or broad. That context, however, could be linear within the passage or spread across the canon (and outside it!) through a search results window.

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A Mysterious Case of Persecution: Paul and the Colossians' Critics

A Mysterious Case of Persecution: Paul and the Colossians' Critics | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
Identifying the troublemakers in Colossians 2 has challenged scholars for centuries. Are we any closer today to resolving “the Colossian controversy”?

 

In the apostle Paul’s letter to one of the churches in Asia Minor, he addressed problems being stirred up by an unnamed group of troublemakers.

 

Identifying them has challenged scholars for centuries. Are we any closer today to resolving “the Colossian controversy,” and what can we learn from it?

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Ancient seal lends credence to biblical Samson-vs.-lion tale

Ancient seal lends credence to biblical Samson-vs.-lion tale | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
An ancient seal slightly smaller than a penny apparently depicts a man fighting a lion, which archaeologists believe could be an early reference to the Biblical tale of Samson.

 

An ancient seal slightly smaller than a penny apparently depicts a man fighting a lion, which archaeologists believe could be an early reference to the biblical tale of Samson.


The find doesn't prove that the legendary strongman, who was said to have torn apart a lion as if it were a "young goat," actually lived, but it does "anchor the story in an archaeological setting," said Tel Aviv University archaeologist Shlomo Bunimovitz.


The seal was found at Beth Shemesh, an archaeological site between the ancient cities of Zorah and Eshtaol, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) west of Jerusalem. Archaeologists date the seal to the 12th century B.C.

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Is the Maccabees’ ancient mystery close to solution?

Is the Maccabees’ ancient mystery close to solution? | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
New impetus in the 150-year search for the spectacular tomb of the famed Judean rebels...

 

Few ancient sites in the Holy Land have ignited the imagination like the lost tombs of the Maccabees, the family that led a Jewish rebel army to victory against Seleucid religious repression in the second century BCE.

 

Beginning more than 140 years ago, travelers, clergymen and enthusiastic scholars of varying levels of religious fervor and competence have been looking for the tomb site – described in contemporary sources as a magnificent Hellenistic monument that included pyramids and ships of carved stone and could be seen by sailors on the Mediterranean Sea, 18 miles away. The complex was one of the greatest man-made landmarks in ancient Judea.

 

No trace of it has ever been found.

 

For the early archaeologists who arrived in Ottoman Palestine with shovels, Bibles, and a thirst for the physical traces of the events described in Scripture, the tombs were a tantalizing mystery. More than a century later, so they remain.

 

Today, archaeologists have their eyes on a site that might — just might — provide an answer.

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Is The Human Brain Hardwired for God? | Andrew Newberg | Big Think

The question as to whether or not we are hardwired for religion and spirituality is an important one, says pioneering neuroscientist Andrew Newberg.

Via Peter Nathan
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Calculating the Time and Cost of Paul’s Missionary Journeys

Calculating the Time and Cost of Paul’s Missionary Journeys | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it

Stanford University recently unveiled ORBIS, a site that lets you calculate the time and cost required to travel by road or ship around the Roman world in A.D. 200. It takes into account a lot of factors—my favorite is that it models ancient sea routes based on historical sources and wave height.


Via Rob J Hyndman
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Joe Boutte's comment, July 7, 2012 8:36 AM
What a provacative study and resource for considering the faith, perseverance, and resources required to spread the Word. How may could afford it then or today?
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Why Suffering?

Why Suffering? | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
It’s an ages-old conundrum: If God is both good and all-powerful, why does He allow pain and suffering in the world?

 

How many people have turned away from belief in God because of suffering? One for sure was the Nobel Prize–winning author of many 20th-century works, Samuel Beckett. According to his official biographer, James Knowlson, “it was on the key issue of pain, suffering and death that Beckett’s religious faith faltered and quickly foundered.” In the 1920s the streets of his hometown, Dublin, were filled with men who had returned from the Great War, shell-shocked, gassed, maimed or dismembered. The confrontation with reality clashed with Beckett’s comfortable upper-middle-class background.

 

By his own admission, another incident in his student days contributed to the rejection of God and Christianity. Raised as an Anglican, Beckett attended church services with his father one Sunday evening to hear a family friend preach. Canon Dobbs spoke about his visits to “the sick, the suffering, the dying and the bereaved.” His way of consoling people in such straits was to tell them, “[Christ’s] crucifixion was only the beginning. You must contribute to the kitty.” Beckett was appalled at the failure to explain undeserved suffering and the attempted rationale for a growing mountain of pain. To say that suffering somehow prepared one for a better afterlife made no sense to him either; he considered it an affront to the sufferer.

 

 


Via Seth Capo
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New Resource: Israel Topographical Relief Map

New Resource: Israel Topographical Relief Map | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it

I’ve been asked many times over the years if I know of a place where one can purchase a 3-D relief map of Israel. The first one I ever saw was hand-crafted and not for sale. Some years later I found a company making large maps. While I knew one guy who actually carried the small (6-foot) edition back as “luggage” from Israel, this is impractical for most.

 

I just learned that Preserving Bible Times, Inc. is selling 10” x 20” 3-D relief maps. These are now available in both framed ($39) and unframed ($29) versions, with shipping of $9.95 for the first map and $1.95 for additional maps in the same shipment. Take a look at the images below to see the quality and detail.

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The Role of Archaeology in Biblical Studies

Archaeology and the Bible are intimately related. Here Dr. Sandra L. Richter discusses this important relationship.

 

It's not unusual for people to expect archaeology to "prove" the Bible. While there have been some important finds over the years that have certainly demonstrated that the biblical authors were not simply making it all up, archaeology rarely "proves" anything the way that some would like.

Over at the Seven Minute Seminary Sandra Richter has a brief video explaining what archaeology can and cannot tell us about the Bible.

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Insight Video: The Paul Puzzle

With over one billion adherents worldwide, Christianity makes a claim on every seventh person on earth. 

Yet what most 21st-century Christians believe and do differs greatly from what the early New Testament Church taught and practiced.

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God of Anger or God of Love?

God of Anger or God of Love? | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
How does one reconcile the loving God of the Old Testament with the harsh God of the New Testament?

 

What kind of God does the Bible portray? 

 

Before New Testament writers recorded their experiences with Jesus Christ, the Hebrew Scriptures alone informed the Church’s understanding of God. But when some began contrasting that Being with Jesus, a very negative image of the Old Testament God developed—an angry demiurge, forever looking for ways to pour out His wrath on a defenseless humanity. Jesus, on the other hand, exuded love, kindness and an ever-patient attitude toward sinful man. Martin Luther, a founding father of the Protestant movement, contributed much to this idea of a divine dichotomy.

 

David T. Lamb of Biblical Seminary in Pennsylvania thinks modern impressions of the Old Testament God are inaccurate, and in God Behaving Badly he presents another view. He initially appeals to his audience’s sense of political correctness, using emotive terms such as angry, sexist and racist to describe popular concepts of God. If people accept that God possesses characteristics that are unacceptable in today’s society, then they have a case for rejecting the Old Testament God in favor of Christ. But Lamb sets out to show that these notions are distorted and that a fresh look is required.

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8 Interesting Facts About the Dead Sea Scrolls

8 Interesting Facts About the Dead Sea Scrolls | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
There are many important and fascinating facts about the Dead Sea Scrolls. Check out our list of the top eight Facts About the Dead Sea Scrolls.

 

Measuring approximately 18 by 3 inches (46.5 x 7.7 cm), this sacred document was discovered in 1952 in a cave near Khirbet, Qumran, and is one of hundreds of texts that were found hidden within 11 caves in that area along the Dead Sea. The texts are comprised of a variety of religious documents written in Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew and date from 250 BCE to 68 AD.

 

The significance of finding and preserving the Ten Commandments Scroll -- and similar texts -- is multifaceted. Obviously, it has incredible religious and spiritual significance among many people around the globe. But it also has historical importance from a preservation standpoint and is part of a larger concern regarding how we care for and treat ancient texts and the written word. And finally, a discussion of this ancient document would not be complete without considering its relevance to modern society in general. The Ten Commandments are perhaps the oldest "laws" of the land, providing a broad-reaching moral compass regardless of religious ties or affiliations.

 

Read on to learn some interesting facts about the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, the scrolls themselves, their importance in today's world, and what some of today's greatest thinkers have to say about it all.

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The man who discovered a ‘lost’ wonder of the world

The man who discovered a ‘lost’ wonder of the world | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it


Among Cambridge University Library’s 200 miles of shelving and eight million books  are three soft leather folders and a scrap book volume sitting alongside countless other items in the manuscripts and archives of its Near Eastern collection.

 

Unremarkable to the casual observer, the  contents of the folders include  personal letters, sketches, bills of sale, letters of introduction and other papers.

 

Contained within, however, are first-hand documents relating to the travels leading up to the rediscovery of one of the lost wonders of the world – Petra, in Jordan – which took place on August 22nd, 200 years ago.

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ARCHAEOLOGY - Ephesus ancient city meets sea again

ARCHAEOLOGY - Ephesus ancient city meets sea again | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
Famous for its massive theater and ancient library, Ephesus continues to be a leader for Turkey’s tourism...

 

Famous for its massive theater and ancient library, Ephesus continues to be a leader for Turkey’s tourism industry, having attracted over 1 million foreign and domestic tourists between January and August.

 

Ephesus used to have a harbor on the Aegean coast. The city’s importance as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the Cayster River. Currently, the city’s distance is six kilometer to the sea. However, the new project will bring the harbour again.  

The ancient city of Ephesus, one of the premier tourist sites in Turkey readies to have a harbor on the Aegean coast again. Ephesus used to have a harbor on the Aegean coast, İzmir Culture and Tourism Provincial Director Abdülaziz Ediz recently told Anatolian news agency. The city’s importance as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the Cayster River (Küçük Menderes). Ediz said they had been working to realize a project called “Ephesus Reunion with the Sea” with the support of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, as well as the Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ministry.


Currently, the city’s distance is six kilometer to the sea.

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Digital Bible pops up in more pews, pulpits

Digital Bible pops up in more pews, pulpits | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
Some e-versions of the Bible offer opportunities to explore the book in ways printed versions cannot.

 

Not too long ago, the sight of someone using an electronic device during a worship service might lead an observer to assume that person was not fully engaged. But not anymore. Reading the Bible used to mean reading a book, but increasingly, people are getting the Word on smartphones, iPads and other electronic devices.

 

Reading the Bible used to mean reading a book, but increasingly, people are getting the Word on smartphones, iPads and other electronic devices.

 

Reading the Bible used to mean reading a book, but increasingly, people are getting the Word on smartphones, iPads and other electronic devices.

 

So then, what will happen to the printed Bible? The last word has not been written on that, but experts speculate that its unchallenged reign is over.

 

"The Bible is sort of the flagship of the printed book culture," said Timothy Beal, author of "The Rise and Fall of the Bible" (Mariner, 2011, $15.95). "The printed word is losing its place as the dominant medium for reading."

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The Leadership Strategy of Jesus

The Leadership Strategy of Jesus | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it

So much of the activity I see among leaders today is focused on reaching the masses. “Successful leaders” speak at big conferences, host popular television or radio shows, publish bestselling books, or write successful blogs.


Via Gary Morrison
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THE JERUSALEM REPORT

THE JERUSALEM REPORT | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World. In depth.

Via Peter Nathan
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Religion and Spirituality: Opposing Forces

Religion and Spirituality: Opposing Forces | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it
That the first-century church faced tremendous challenges as it struggled to become established is well known.

 

The fact that Christians in the Roman Empire often faced opposition is well known. The recorders of church history have devoted many pages to Rome’s persecution of those who claimed to follow Jesus Christ—persecution that came to a head from time to time under the reign of emperors such as Nero.

 

What is less well understood is the opposition, competition and persecution that feature within the pages of the New Testament itself, and not only in the apostles’ letters. In fact, antagonism was already the norm during Jesus’ ministry. Although many of His listeners admitted that He spoke with authority, even ordinary people found His teachings too hard to accept. But more importantly, Jesus’ teachings challenged the established religious hierarchy of the day. Thus His message caused some to feel the need to compete as well as oppose.

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