The influence of the apostle Paul in early Christianity goes far beyond the reach of the seven genuine letters he wrote to early assemblies. Paul was revered —and fiercely opposed —in an even larger number of letters penned in his name, and in narratives told about him and against him, that were included in our New Testament and, far more often, treasured and circulated outside it. Richard Pervo provides an illuminating and comprehensive survey of the legacy of Paul and the various ways he was remembered, honored, and vilified in the early churches. Numerous charts and maps introduce the student to the "family" of Pauline and anti-Pauline Christianities.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
When it was destroyed in 70 CE Jerusalem was considered to be one of the most beautiful cities. It was thought to reflect the glory of God and many people came as tourists to Jerusalem and its temple. The Babylonian Talmud states:
“Whoever did not see Herod’s Temple standing never saw a beautiful building his whole life” (Succah 51b).
In the mid to late 60’s CE, Rome was struggling to put down a Jewish rebellion in Palestine. Titus, the future emperor of Rome, destroyed Jerusalem and the temple to discourage Jews from having nationalistic feelings connected to the city. After the city’s destruction, Jews were generally prohibited to enter into the ruins. Once a year, however, they were allowed to enter in order to mourn the destruction of the temple.
In 132 CE, the Emperor Hadrian was strengthening Roman power in Palestine. He also began to rebuild Jerusalem as a Roman city, which the Jews saw as a bad omen and a second Jewish revolt began which lasted until 135 CE.
The spiritual leader of the revolt was Rabbi Akiva from Caesarea who was executed by the Romans. The military leader was a Jew named Simon who had Messianic qualities and aspirations. He received the name Bar Kokhba, “Son of the Stars.” It appears that for a while they had control of Jerusalem, but eventually lost.
After the second revolt was defeated, Jerusalem was rebuilt by the Romans who changed its name in an attempt to erase the name from history. It was re-named Aelia Capitolina. Aelia was the family of Hadrian and Capitolina were the trinity of gods on the Roman hill and now declared to be part of the new city. The old city of Jerusalem today is based much on the pattern of the old Roman city, including the walls, the street lay out and the gates.
In addition to commemorating the destruction of two temples, Jews will also remember the many calamites that have befallen them over their long history. It is solemn fast day and many will refrain from washing, working and even greeting one another.
But Ron Havilio, a neighborhood resident and leading opponent of the project who has researched Ein Karem's history extensively, believes the archaeological loss may have been even greater. There is a well-known legend about a Palestinian treasure being buried in one of the neighborhood's houses during the War of Independence in 1948, and Havilio - who is distantly related to Yossi Havilio - claims this legendary treasury may actually have comprised treasures from the Second Temple.
His source for this claim is the Copper Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1952. The scroll, which was written on metal, details the places where the Second Temple's treasures were hidden after its destruction in 70 C.E. Among other things it says: "At the ashuach in Beit Hakerem, when you go 10 cubits to the left, are 62 talents of silver."
The accepted view is that "ashuach" signifies a reservoir and that the ancient Beit Hakerem is the modern-day neighborhood of Ein Karem. The only question, Havilio argued, is the location of the ancient pool referred to in the scroll - and analyses of the area's former geography indicate that one possible answer is right under the giant lavatory.
"There is a chance, even if only a small one, that an exciting discovery could be made at Ein Karem, one of the most important discoveries in Israel of the last 100 years," he said.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Ten tons of the stuff has been excavated from a cesspit beneath the ancient town of Herculaneum, near Naples.
Flushed down sewers from apartment blocks and shops, the deposit—the largest collection of ancient Roman garbage and human waste ever found, researchers say—dates to about A.D. 79. That year a catastrophic volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried Herculaneum, along with its more famous neighbor, Pompeii.
Lost jewelry, coins, and semiprecious stones from a gem shop have been found, along with discarded household items such as broken lamps and pottery, according to Wallace-Hadrill, director of the Herculaneum Conservation Project, a Packard Humanities Institute initiative.
And, coming from a onetime district of shopkeepers and artisans, the organic material has revealed just what your run-of the-mill Roman might have eaten in this coastal town, according to project scientists, who collaborated with the British School at Rome and the archaeological authorities for Naples and Pompeii.
Monday, July 18, 2011
St Cuthbert, also known as the "wonder worker of Britain," died in AD 687 and was buried on the Northumbrian island of Lindisfarne. He was widely regarded as Britain's most popular saint up until the murder of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.
When Viking raiders invaded Lindisfarne in 875, a group of monks fled, taking Cuthbert's body with them. After seven years of traveling with the body, the monks finally buried the saint again at what became Durham Cathedral.
The book was found with him when his coffin was reopened in 1104.
The book, written in Latin, is the Gospel of John. After it was taken from the coffin it was placed in a new shrine behind the altar of Durham Cathedral.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England by Henry VIII in the 16th century, the text passed to a series of private collectors.