Category Archives: History

How St. Perpetua Used Her Last Moments to Give Glory to God

Of the many wonderful lessons and habits imparted to me and my eight brothers and sisters by my parents, perhaps one of the ones I am most grateful for is their insistence on dressing well for Mass.

I loved to dress up, so I rarely protested (except for the sole time I made the mistake of trying to convince my mother that spaghetti straps were appropriate for church), but I do remember one of my brothers questioning my parents’ insistence on slacks over jeans.

“It’s a sign of respect. We get dressed nicely because we’re going to see Jesus, and we dress up for important things.” My mom responded. Her straightforward answer satisfied my brother, and I never heard another complaint, from him or any other sibling.

This simple lesson sprang to mind when I first read the Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicity. I had known little about the two martyrs, except for hearing their names recited during the Eucharistic prayers every Mass. I presumed they’d been killed in an arena like so many of their brethren, but could guess at nothing more than that.

On reading their Passion, I learned that indeed, these holy women had been condemned to die, along with their female companions, by being gored by a rabid heifer.

The cow ran at Perpetua first, and threw her into the air. Rolling to the side to preserve her modesty, she realized her hair had come down, a sign of mourning. The account reads:

Next, looking for a pin, [Perpetua] likewise pinned up her disheveled hair; for it was not meet that a martyr should suffer with hair disheveled, lest she should seem to grieve in her glory.

This young mother, facing death, refused to allow her killers to believe she wept for her suffering. Her life, so brutally cut short, would serve as a witness of the joy with which she went to meet her Creator. She was going to see Jesus, and so she re-pinned her hair.

I do not intend to draw any comparisons between the heroic actions of a young woman facing death in the arena for her faith, and getting up 10 minutes earlier on a Sunday to iron a skirt for Mass. However, Perpetua’s actions speak to a deeper truth, one that is often missing from our world today. We are creations of body and soul. Our eternal souls matter of course, but so too do our bodies. How we dress and present ourselves to the world matters deeply, not for any superficial reason, but because after his Ascension, our bodies are the only ones Christ has in this world to carry out his work to glorify his Father.

My parents’ instructions to dress appropriately for Mass had nothing to do with virtue signaling our piety to the world. They were teaching us to serve God, and to not hide the primacy we placed on our faith. They knew that if we were to do this in the large decisions of our lives, like discerning our vocation, then we would need to learn to do so in the small moments too, like slipping a cardigan over our sleeveless dresses before entering a church.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, it does not seem likely that I will be called to die a martyr’s death in the arena, so I do not know if I would face it with St. Perpetua’s courage, though I’d pray for the grace to do so. But thankfully honoring God does not always require the shedding of our blood.

St. Perpetua used her last moments on earth to give glory to God. In the last act she could take with her physical body, she honored Christ. May we make the same choice in our own lives, whether they be our final actions or one of many we have yet to take.

What a lesson for us all!

Are There Bible Translations Christians Should Avoid?

Reading the King James Version of the Bible rather than the English Standard Version does not bring one closer to the inspired writings of Moses, Paul, etc. One must read with discernment: some Bible translations have changed, removed, or added text, which was not inspired by God.

As for modern versions versus the KJV, the main difference is accessibility to the average reader. This is the reason newer translations are released every few years: so that non-theologians can learn about Jesus.

But are there Bible translations, which do not convey the truth about Jesus Christ? Should Christians avoid certain versions?

How Many Versions Are There?

The Bible has been translated into almost every language around the world. The American Bible Society reports that there have been hundreds of versions written in English since the Tyndale Bible of 1526.

Modern readers, however, will typically choose from a handful of options including:

1. The King James Version

2. The English Standard Version

3. The New International Version

4. The New Living Translation

5. The Message

6. The Christian Standard Bible

These are just a few of the most popular translations in English. Although the KJV dates to the Jacobean era, many Bible readers are attached to this translation simply because it sounds as though it should be more authentic. This is a much older form of English after all.

Only The King James Version

Luke Wayne refers to the “King James Onlyists” (KJOs) when he writes about typical objections to modern translations of the Bible. These KJOs believe that Christ’s deity is not as strongly portrayed in modern English as in the centuries-old KJV.

On the contrary, “modern Bible translations are […] accurate translations of the manuscript tradition on which they rely” and many more recent translators have been able to use documents, which were only recently discovered; documents not available to translators during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Wayne asserts that many translations such as the ESV and the CSB came about as a result of working directly with the primary sources: those ancient texts from which the writers of the KJV derived their Bible.

They are not translations of the King James Version or of other, later texts in English. These are still the inspired scriptures, made more accessible to modern readers.

Age is not an indicator of reliability. While both Protestant and Catholic Bibles contain 27 New Testament Books, Catholic Bibles (dating from the 16th century) contain 46 Books of the Old Testament: “Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch. Catholic Bibles also include sections in the Books of Esther and Daniel which are not found in Protestant Bibles […] called the deuterocanonical books. The Catholic Church believes these books to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.” Christian Bibles contain 39 books.

When one either adds to or subtracts from the Word of God, the resulting translation no longer represents the truth of God.

Other Bibles to beware of include the Book of Mormon and the New World Translation (NWT), the latter of which was designed for use by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Matt Slick lays out some subtle but important differences between a Christian translation and the NWT, which demonstrates how small changes lead to fundamental distortions. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are One.

he CBE and Gender Equality in the Bible

Controversy has emerged around the use of gender-inclusive language in Scripture. Is Jesus “The Human One” or “The Son of God”? One can only reach an intelligent opinion by going right back to the ancient Hebrew and Greek with a proper understanding of how those ancient scripts are translated.

Experts at CBE International decry the use of exclusively male nouns and pronouns in places where the original text is not specific.

When a group of male and female theologians translated ancient texts, they arrived at what they say is a gender-inclusive Bible, which still tells the truth.

Not everyone agrees with this point of view; but Alvera Mickelson suggested “the New Revised Standard Version, the International Children’s Bible (the Odyssey Bible) the New Living Translation, or other modern speech translations using gender-accurate language” would be a good choice if one is shopping for a Bible.

While these translations remove the male bias wherever the reference is not specific (“human” rather than “man”), they do not change the Word of God. With the NLT for instance, one “need not worry that her Bible had been changed.”

Christians must decide for themselves what they believe and use discernment based on the evidence of primary resources.

The tenets of God’s teaching must not change as a result of a new translation. Christ is God, but he came to earth as a man (this is still made clear in the NLT); he was crucified, died, and rose again.

He is One with the Holy Spirit, and He is returning one day to defeat Satan. Christ lives in believers by His Spirit, and believers are saved by his grace, not by works. A good translation will not obscure these truths or the fact that he was, in fact, a man.

The Message: a Caveat

Michael Brown does offer a caveat where the Message is concerned. Eugene Peterson’s work is a paraphrase meant to put God’s inspired Word into a more colloquial style of English, which is easy to relate to and understand.

“The Message is not a translation and should not be used as your primary Bible. However, as a very free paraphrase, it is sometimes powerful and brilliant while at other times it is seriously off-target.”

He cites passages relating to sexual immorality in particular. The Message sometimes waters down the truth about homosexuality or sex before marriage and how God views these activities.

How to Choose a Bible

One way for a person to decide, which Bible is the right one is by determining, which version is being used at one’s own church. This makes it easier to follow along during the sermon.

For those who are more concerned with finding the translation, which is easiest to understand, the ESV, CSB, and NIV use relatively modern language, although there are sections of Scripture, which will always be puzzling at first glance.

A Study Bible with explanatory notes is helpful in any translation.

Supplementary resources and alternative translations are helpful when one wants to conduct a deeper study or unpack difficult passages.

Any Bible containing a concordance, maps, and commentary will typically be thick and cumbersome, but invaluable for exploring ancient words and historical context.

Why Does This Matter?

The most important factor in choosing a Bible is that one selects and reads his or her Bible regularly. Once chosen, that Bible is no good sitting in a bookshelf unused.

Scripture is the best yardstick against which to test itself, so if a passage is difficult, reading from a reliable alternative translation is often helpful if it does not subtract from, add to, or distort the inspired Word of God.

The Saint Behind Valentine’s Day

Monday many will celebrate an early Christian saint without even realizing it. It’s the feast day of the martyr, Saint Valentine.

Valentine’s Day will be overflooding in expressions of emotional love. It will be a day of heartfelt sharing, hugs and kisses, chocolates and candlelight dinners.

Since Valentine’s Day has become its own event, it might surprise some people to learn that Valentine was a real person. In a culture that tells us “love is love” and that “love is never wrong,” the literal person used to celebrate such notions is a Catholic saint. He was a historical person who shed his blood for Jesus Christ and his Gospel.

As such, perhaps we can ask if Valentine himself could help us to understand love? He’s honored by our culture for a reason. With the secular version of Valentine’s Day taking the frontstage, however, is the perspective of Valentine, the person of faith, permitted in the discussion on love?

In observing life and watching the fluidity of the human heart, we can identify two simple movements: the euphoria of desire, the thrills of affection, and a pursuit of pleasure on one hand, and the perseverance of care, the warmth of accompaniment, and the self-denial of love for the good of another on the other.

In most relationships that endure, there is a dynamism between these two movements of the heart, with sacrificial love becoming the foundation of the relationship, since euphoria, thrills, and pleasure are never stable and inherently contain a certain capriciousness about them. Admittedly, such a capriciousness makes them enjoyable, but also marks them as unstable and possibly dangerous at times to a loving and sustained relationship.

As we learn from Valentine’s witness, love is refined and deepened by self-abnegation. Love takes us up the task and journey of seeking seek the good of the beloved, even to our own discomfort and suffering. The one who loves says, “I love you” is also willing to say, “I seek your good before my own.”

The task of love is not easy. It requires the tempering and ordering of the calls within us for euphoria, thrills, and pleasure for its own sake. In love, we permit a mirror to be held in front of us. We see our own weaknesses. We recognize our own selfishness and the various disorders within our souls that distract or hinder true love. In trying to love another, we can be shocked by the narcissism within us. As we seek to love another, we realize that love actually purifies us. By loving, we become who we truly are. In love, we become ourselves.

Love can only fulfill its higher calling if we allow it to refine us. A love that is being purified can give this witness: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

With this summons in our own hearts, we can turn and look to Valentine and to the God he worshiped. He gave us a beautiful testimony that has survived even the secular purge of Western culture. It is a testimony of love that contains lessons on loving. It is the story of a person who knew love so well, and accepted divine love so openly, that he loved others beyond himself. He accepted death to show this love.

Following the way of the Lord Jesus, the one person who loved the most in human history, Valentine laid down his life for others. Through his holy life and death, he shows us the grace and the adventure of love: euphoria leading to endurance, emotional thrills to self-possession, and the pursuit of pleasure giving way to sacrifice.

Saint Valentine knew that it was love which sustains and carries us through life. Love is what reveals us to ourselves, allows to give ourselves as a self-donation to another, and what binds us to one another. As we honor the holy Valentine, martyr and witness to love, we are also invited to learn from him and imitate him in his selfless love.

Archaeological Evidence for the Kingdom of Judah

During the past 14 years (2007–2021), archaeological digs have taken place at four separate sites in the Judean foothills: Khirbet Qeiyafa (biblical Sha’arayim, mentioned in 1 Samuel 17:52 and 1 Chronicles 4:31), Khirbet el-Ra’I (biblical Ziklag, mentioned as being in southern Judah in Joshua 15:31), Socoh (Joshua 15:31), and Lachish (mentioned as being in southern Judah in Joshua 15:31). As cities mentioned in Scripture in the southern part of Israel (and during the divided monarchy, Judah) at the western border with the Philistines, they should be expected to have been fortified cities, with walls and gates.

Since the 1990s, more and more evidence of the southern kingdom of Judah has come to light, including seals, pottery, inscribed tablets, and rings which mention David, Solomon, or a later king from the “house of David.” While skeptical biblical archaeologists and historians have grudgingly accepted these findings, they have maintained the attitude that Judah was a petty kingdom, or even a small chiefdom of little significance. Even as recently as 2010, liberal Jewish archaeologist Israel Finkelstein said in an interview that Jerusalem was little more than a “hill-country village” and David’s armies were “500 people with sticks in their hands shouting and cursing and spitting—not the stuff of great armies of chariots described in the text.”1

But the recent archaeological digs have begun to change that opinion as more and more information comes to light. Evidence of well-fortified towns and cities has been unearthed, and several important artifacts with biblical names have surfaced.

Sha’arayim

The smallest of the sites excavated was Khirbet Qeiyafa (biblical Sha’arayim). The town was located on the border with Philistia, opposite Tell es-Safi (biblical Gath). After David killed Goliath and the armies of Israel routed the Philistines, the Israelite armies chased them as they fled back through Sha’arayim on their way to Gath (Joshua 15:31). Excavations took place from 2007–2013 and revealed a heavily fortified city with “a rich destruction layer” surrounded by a casemate wall (a double, parallel line of walls with partition walls), two gates and a row of houses adjacent to the city wall.2 During their last year there, a monumental administrative building was uncovered on the acropolis in the 2013 season. The building was found out to be from the Byzantine era (c. AD 500), but further excavation found that it had been built over a building from the time of King Saul and David (c. 1050–1000 BC). This earlier building covered more than 10,000 square feet and its walls were three feet thick. According to the authors of the paper, they believed it “occupied the highest and most important location—at the center of the site, overlooking the entire city as well as the surrounding countryside as far as Jerusalem and the Hebron mountains to the east and Ashdod to the west. This huge structure was both a prominent and potent point of the city. It reflects power and authority over the city, as well as the region. We believe it was an administrative center of the recently established Davidic kingdom.”3

But the major find was an ostracon (shard of pottery with an inscription) discovered in 2008 with five lines of the oldest known Hebrew text ever discovered, believed to be a thousand years older than the Dead Sea Scrolls. The text has received numerous (and differing) translations, one of which contends that it contains a reference to the chief officers establishing a king,4 while another contends it is instruction for the king to remember the poor and the widows and execute justice on their behalf.5 Both of these things are mentioned in Scripture, Saul being made King of Israel by the people at Gilgal (1 Samuel 11:14–15) and God’s instructions to kings, princes, and leaders in Israel not to pervert justice (Isaiah 1:17, 23; Jeremiah 7:6–7, 22:1–3), so either translation is consistent with Scripture on these points. The translators of the text mentioned above both consider the ostracon to be from the time of King Saul (c. 1100–1050 BC).

Interestingly, the only other biblical mention of Sha’arayim (1 Chronicles 4:31) tells us that this city was inhabited “until David reigned.” This is significant because after Saul and his son Jonathan were killed on Mt. Gilboa (northern Israel) and the armies of Israel routed, the Philistines raided several towns in Israel and Judah. Not long after Saul’s death, the armies of David and the armies of Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, had engaged in a battle (2 Samuel 2:12–17). Then after Ishbosheth was killed in a palace coup, David was crowned king of all Israel at Hebron. Subsequently, David and the armies of Israel fought the Jebusites in Jerusalem and took the city (2 Samuel 5:6–9).

Then we read that David turned his attention to the Philistines, who by this time had occupied much of western Israel as far north as Baal Perazim, about six miles northwest of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:19–25). A short time later, he routed the Philistines again and drove them all the way back to the coastal plains, even taking the city of Metheg-ammah, which was likely a western suburb of Gath (2 Samuel 8:1). David then defeated Moab, Edom, and Syria (2 Samuel 8:2–5). He put garrisons in Syria and Edom (2 Samuel 8:6, 15) but did not put garrisons again in western Israel. It therefore appears that the Philistines destroyed Sha’arayim right after the defeat of Saul, but David’s routing of the Philistines a few years later and their being put under subjugation and tribute meant he did not need a strong border on this western side of the kingdom. So the city walls and “administrative building” mentioned above may have been built during Saul’s reign and lasted to the time of David’s reign over Judah, but by the time he became king over all Israel, the city had been destroyed. This accords well with 1 Chronicles 4:31.

Socoh

Of special note in this 2010 archaeological dig was a royal jar handle with the name Zephaniah on it. The prophet Zephaniah was a great-great-grandson of King Hezekiah and prophesied in the time of King Josiah of Judah.

Socoh (also spelled Sochoh) was one of the towns of southern Judah (Joshua 15:35). Socoh was a small walled town with two primary building phases, fortified during the time of Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:7) and also in the eighth century BC, likely from the time of King Uzziah (Azariah), who is recorded as fortifying southern Judah and even occupying Philistine lands. But Socoh/Sochoh had been in existence as a village long before and was actually the site where the Philistines camped when the battle of David and Goliath took place (1 Samuel 17:1). The last mention of Sochoh is in 2 Chronicles 28:18, when the city was captured and occupied by the Philistines during the reign of wicked King Ahaz (Uzziah’s grandson). Of special note in this 2010 archaeological dig was a royal jar handle with the name Zephaniah on it. The prophet Zephaniah was a great-great-grandson of King Hezekiah, and he prophesied in the time of King Josiah of Judah. King Hezekiah had recaptured much of southern Israel from the Philistines and had even conquered parts of Philistia (2 Kings 18:8), so it is likely that Judah reoccupied Socoh at this time, meaning it is plausible that the Zephaniah seal was the prophet’s or referred to him.

Ziklag

The excavations at Khirbet al-Ra’I (biblical Ziklag) that occurred from 2015–2018 revealed several layers of occupation from the time of the judges, massive fortifications during the time of King David (c. 1050–1000 BC) and Solomon/Rehoboam (c. 1000–900 BC), and a Persian and Hellenistic layer. Between the layers from the time of the judges and David, there were periods of Philistine occupancy (deduced from Philistine pottery dominating at certain levels). Ziklag is not a Semitic name but appears to be of Philistine origin.6 When Joshua listed the tribe of Judah’s land portion, it included many cities that were held by the Philistines at the time, including Ziklag (Joshua 15:31).

We read in 1 Samuel 27:1–6 that Ziklag, during the time of King Saul, was occupied by the Philistines but given to David as a gift by Achish, king of Gath. Of special note was a destruction layer between the Davidic and Solomon layers, corresponding exactly with 1 Samuel 30:1, which states that while David was away, the Amalekites came and burned the city down and took everyone captive. David was able to catch up to and decimate the Amalekites and recover all the people and spoils (1 Samuel 30:16–20). But likely he and his army had to rebuild the city. There is evidence of building stone being reused, and the rebuilding was on a much smaller scale than the former city had been, only about one-tenth the size.7

Again, this would fit well with the biblical text, which informs us that as David was returning to Ziklag, King Saul had been killed in battle. Shortly afterward, David went to Hebron and was crowned king of Judah (2 Samuel 2:1–4), so he and his family and armies moved to Hebron. Ziklag did not need to be as large as it had been, so it was scaled down. However, this smaller village lasted only a short time and ended in a sudden destruction, leaving dozens of complete pottery vessels in the destruction layer.8 This fits the account of Shishak’s campaign during the time of Rehoboam, when Shishak plundered southern Judah on his way to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 12:2–4). Shishak would not have been interested in looting Judean pottery, as his pillaging of the gold artifacts in the temple in Jerusalem makes clear.

Lachish

The second-to-last site excavated (2013–2017) by Garfinkel and his associates, and the largest by far, was Lachish. In the southern kingdom of Judah, Lachish was probably the second most important site besides Jerusalem. The city as it was in the c. 1000–900 BC timeframe (Level 5) was circled by a massive, almost 10 ft. (3 m) thick wall with residential buildings abutting the wall.9 According to 2 Chronicles 11:5–12, Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, fortified Lachish together with several other cities in Judah. This accords well with the timeline estimated for the city’s fortification and settlement during this period. Rehoboam’s reign is dated at 975–957 BC by Ussher and 931–913 BC by conventional archaeologists, either of which fit the proposed dates.

Lachish is mentioned numerous times in the OT, starting with the mention of its Amorite occupants prior to Israel conquering it in Joshua 10:31–32. Its last mention is in Nehemiah 11:30, as some of the Israelites returned there from the Babylonian captivity during the time of Ezra. Consequently, there are nine main archaeological layers to sift through on the Tell, with the oldest having the highest numbers. Level 3 has been positively identified as being the level when the Assyrian king Sennacherib and his armies destroyed the town in 701 BC, because positive evidence of a siege mound has been found at that level (e.g., 2 Chronicles 32:9). Level 2 was the then-current city which Nebuchadnezzar destroyed in 586 BC (e.g., Jeremiah 34:7), and Level 1 was the layer which covers the post-exilic times mentioned in Nehemiah 11:30.

Level 5 is the one with the most impressive defensive structures and is dated to 1000–900 BC. Pottery types found at this level are typical Judean pottery found elsewhere in Israel dated to the same period, and in addition to the thick walls, remains of a fortress have been found on Level 5.10 Of special note is that there was no destruction layer between Level 5 and Level 4. In fact, Level 4 seems to have grown out of and spread over a larger area than Level 5.11 As the population increased, people started moving and building outside the fortress walls but still had the option of retreating inside the fortress walls in the case of a battle or siege. This same pattern repeated itself between Level 4 and Level 3: no destruction layer, but urban expanse and reuse of materials.12 Four-handled jars, some with seals bearing the names of Hebron and Socoh (and possibly Mareshah) on them, attest to commerce between the Judean cities.

Archaeology Corroborates Scripture (Again and Again)

The excavations at these four Tells (archaeological mounds of former villages and/or cities) in what was the southern part of the kingdom of Judah correspond perfectly with the descriptions of events in the Bible, starting in Joshua and through the books of Kings and Chronicles (and even to the time of Nehemiah).

The excavations at these four Tells (archaeological mounds of former villages and/or cities) in what was the southern part of the kingdom of Judah correspond perfectly with the descriptions of events in the Bible, starting in Joshua and through the books of Kings and Chronicles (and even to the time of Nehemiah). They are proof of a widespread monarchy, from the time of Saul through to the last kings of Judah, with the resources to build and fortify large towns and establish trade between them. The Israelites (and Judahites) of the time of the united and divided monarchies were not a ragtag group of petty chiefdoms as envisioned by liberal critics but a complex society ruled by occasional godly and, more oftentimes, wicked kings who did not follow the Lord but instead fell into idolatry. Historical evidence of warfare with outside monarchs (from Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon) testifies to the accuracy of Scripture when it touches on historical matters. Evidence does not “prove” Scripture, but it helps us to see that what God has said is trustworthy and true. And when one has the proper perspective of the Word of God being absolute truth from an omniscient and holy God, it follows that the Bible’s history is true, its message of the fall of man, the flood, dispersion at Babel, and most importantly, the gospel, is true.

The True Son of David

Archaeological finds of physical objects bearing descriptions of members of the “house of David” serve yet again to deny revisionist history which sought, and still seeks, to claim that David and Solomon were mythical characters. Answers in Genesis often points out that denying a historical Adam undermines the very gospel itself. Christ in his humanity was a literal descendant of a literal Adam and came as the last Adam to give life since the first Adam brought death. But denying a literal David is just as critical a mistake. Christ is descended from a literal David, and Paul emphasized this important connection: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8).

As Christians, we know from Scripture that David was the king of Israel, and this should impact our worship of Christ. How so? We should remember that Jesus’ human lineage was from the line of David, as emphasized in the very first verse of the New Testament (Matthew 1:1), and we can (and should) glorify God by remembering what was said of Jesus during his triumphal entry—“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9). And Jesus personally identifies with David at the very close of Scripture, reminding all true churches throughout all generations, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16). From the very first verse to the last chapter of the New Testament we see Christ identified with David—a real person who was a real king—whose descendant is the true King of kings!

Holocaust Remembrance Day: ‘Never again’

Yesterday, January 27, marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was on this date in 1945 that Soviet troops took control of the extensive Auschwitz labor and extermination complex that the Nazi Reich operated from 1940-45, finally liberating the remaining survivors.

Of the 1.3 million people who were taken to Auschwitz, 1.1 million were murdered. Of that number, 865,000 Jews were killed by lethal gas upon arrival. Others succumbed to starvation, disease, beatings, execution and medical experimentation.

The Red Army soldiers experienced shock and disbelief as they approached and liberated the camp. These were hardened men, having fought the Nazis since June 1941.

In December 1941, they had retreated to the outer perimeter of urban Moscow. Yet, they fought their way back after turning the tide of the war in late 1942 and were in the outskirts of Krakow, Poland, approaching the pre-war German-Polish border.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s “Holocaust Encyclopedia” has a page devoted to giving a brief descriptive overview of the “Nazi camps.” The Encyclopedia states that in its 12 years of existence, the Nazi state “established more than 44,000 camps and other incarceration sites (including ghettos).” And these were used for a “a range of purposes, including forced labor, detention of people thought to be enemies of the state, and for mass murder.” Imagine the death and destruction Soviet soldiers witnessed walking through the tragic scenes the Nazis left behind in Auschwitz.

In addition to the carnage in the camps, there was the endless destruction brought about by the war itself being fought eastward to Moscow and back to near-Germany with millions of men bombing, shelling, and shooting apart so much of the pre-war civilization that existed in these regions. They must have already seen many horrific sites in the past several years, yet Soviet soldiers were appalled by what they saw in Auschwitz. The level of brutality and depravity seen there was beyond comprehension. Of course, it still is.

Yet, the Nazis did not operate haphazardly. Hitler held to a racial hierarchy of human life. In it, the most despised were the Jews. The Nazis targeted the Jews and psychologically manipulated the German people to “other” them.  They accused the Jews of being the source of every sort of evil in the world. Thus, their complete extermination would be a paramount goal of the Reich’s war aims.

The Holocaust is unique for its horror and scale in world history. In the other cases, the perpetrators of genocides targeted a people group because they occupied territory that the perpetrator wanted free and clear: They lived next to each other, one group had to go. The extermination of the Jews by the Reich was a different thing altogether. Hitler sought the killing of the Jews in all places.

When the Nazis invaded North Africa, they brought SS killing teams to hunt down Jews in Africa. The Isle of Guernsey, Corfu, Tunisia, Norway, Sicily, the Caucuses — all became killing fields for Jews. There was no realpolitik reasoning for it. 

Hitler sought a metaphysical purge of the Jews from the earth reminiscent of the same demonic drive exhibited in the Book of Esther (Esther 3:5-6). Satan hates God, and he hates the Jews for their relationship with Him. It is a hatred that never rests.

There has never been anything like the tragedy of the Holocaust. That is why we observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We remember the victims, and we renew our commitment to Never Again allow this to happen.


Originally published at the Family Research Council. 

How Catholics Influenced Civil Rights

The civil rights movement was a series of events and developments that profoundly affected and radically changed life in the United States, and Catholics and the Church played important roles.

Setting a date for the beginning of the movement is not that easy. It began in no single place. In some historical estimates, it began with the abolitionists, those Americans who demanded an end to legalized slavery, gradually making themselves heard in the generations before the Civil War.

For other historians, the deciding moment was the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863. Although remembered today, not inappropriately, as a bold, wide step forward, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited. It freed slaves in most, but not all, the territory of the 11 states that had withdrawn from the Union to become the Confederate States of America.

It left in bondage slaves in all of Tennessee, a Confederate state; in Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri, states that had remained within the Union despite their acceptance of slavery; and in parts of Louisiana and Virginia, both also states that had entered the Confederacy.

In fact, it was the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the amendment’s seating in law on Dec. 31, 1865, that slavery at last was outlawed in the United States.

Catholics were among the Americans arguing about slavery, both pro and con, and they were affected by all the events of the time, but they were not major players, given their status as a small and not yet influential minority — except in Louisiana and to a lesser degree in Maryland.

With regard to racial justice and equality, however, no Catholic either in Louisiana or Maryland made history opposing slavery. Catholic New Orleans was a huge slave market. From Galveston, Texas, to Wilmington, Del., Catholics owned slaves. And, perhaps hard to imagine, dioceses and religious congregations also owned slaves.

Plessy v. Ferguson

The Catholic community in these states, and in other states, at the time either lost sight of African-Americans, preoccupied as the bishops and also the laity were by other concerns, many of them of the bread-and-butter variety, or Church efforts for blacks that were concentrated upon rudimentary education or human services such as care for the sick. It is important here to recall the general state of education and of human services at the time.

A candlelight procession led by nuns calmed tensions in East Harlem in New York in 1967. That year, several cities across the United States experienced riots due to civil rights issues.

Racial segregation, eventually the match that ignited the civil rights movement, was set in constitutional law on May 1, 1896. At that time, by a vote of seven to one, with one associate justice abstaining, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, ruled that “separate but equal” facilities based on race were in accord with the Constitution. The case was originally about seating in railroad coaches. It came to involve every aspect of life, and in practical terms it meant the deprivation and humiliation of African-Americans virtually throughout much of the United States. What Plessy did not permit in law, it accommodated and empowered as social convention.

The case became the basis of an entire cultural pattern. How did Catholic bishops, priests and laity react? Catholics were gaining numerical strength and political power as the 20th century dawned. There was little, if any, however, Catholic criticism of, and certainly no defiance of, segregation. For Catholics, criticizing the culture created by Plessy was going too far out on a limb.

There were exceptions, specifically in the sense of attention on the part of some bishops and other Catholics to the plight of blacks, a plight inevitably bleak and hopeless because of the widespread, popular frame of mind enabled by Plessy.

Trapped in Surrounding Culture

Katharine Drexel, a wealthy Philadelphia heiress, took an interest in African-Americans and Native Americans and eventually founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to educate black and Indian youths. At the same time, the Josephite Fathers and the priests of the Society of the Divine Word turned their eyes toward blacks.

While these efforts were praiseworthy, the overwhelming current of American Catholic opinion, and organized effort, was to ignore injustices imposed on blacks. It may be hard to imagine such indifference, but segregation was so strict and encompassing that few whites truly knew precisely what blacks experienced.

The formal stance of the Church was to relieve human misery and to equip young blacks for lives easier and more rewarding than those their forebears had known, but the attitude was paternalistic. It was as if blacks were perpetual children, rendered as such by their lack of the aptitude that whites enjoyed.

In this, the Church was trapped in the culture surrounding it, and rare was the program that denied this presupposition about anyone not born white. After all, going beyond the United States, it was the mindset that launched, and certainly fixed in place, the great colonial empires ruled from Europe, including Catholic Belgium, France, Italy and Portugal.

Some Catholics, by the 1920s, came to see these injustices indeed as injustices. Jesuit Father John LaFarge was among them. Editor of America magazine, he had a platform to dissect the social norms so widely prevalent and to call for correction.

Bishops were appointed to dioceses with large black populations and, while never confronting what Plessy had created, they built schools and hospitals for African-Americans. Perhaps unwittingly they sowed the seeds of logical questions that later entered the minds of Catholics. If blacks are entitled to the Christian concern of the Church, how then are they different from other human beings? If they are not different, how can they be treated as if they were?

Then came the terrible events in Europe, in particular the savage anti-Semitism in Germany. No decent person could observe what was being done to Jews by the Adolf Hitler regime and not be repelled. To be sure, it was not the same in this country, although the collective experience of American blacks hardly was exempt from brutality of the most frightful type in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Lynchings were not uncommon. The criminal justice system and judicial action were jokes when it came to justice for blacks. Still, the specter of European Jewry’s sufferings under Hitler caused some Catholics in this country to think.

Always, of course, Catholics, as well as others, simply were kindhearted and prompted by the love of Christ that embraced all. Once, for example, the Ku Klux Klan stopped a train in Alabama and dragged a black man from the train. They led him to a tree along the roadbed, planning to hang him. Unnoticed by the Klan, a Benedictine abbot was on the train. He had not all that much security himself, being a Catholic cleric. Nevertheless, seeing what was happening, he left the train and walked directly to the Klan leader to plead for the man’s life. Ignored, the abbot then knelt in the dirt before the Klan wizard and implored that the man’s life be spared.

The man was hanged, nevertheless, but Christianity drove the abbot, and it drove many other Catholics to recoil at the abuses of blacks.

Jumping on Board

When the U.S. Supreme Court, in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, on May 17, 1954, reversed Plessy, strong currents of interracial justice moved through American Catholic public opinion, but by no means pulled the heartstrings of every American Catholic.

To give them their due, the older generation of Southern bishops at the time not only guided the Church through the terrible days of the convent inspection laws, the Ku Klux Klan, the Al Smith campaign of 1928, and limited resources and great demands, but in communities from El Paso, Texas, to Norfolk, Va., Little Rock, Ark., to Jacksonville, Fla., they had made the Church a presence for the good of the entire society.

Some were reluctant to embrace the cause of desegregation. It was not as if any opposed equal rights nor denied the status of human dignity of blacks. Most had worked precisely to enhance this status. Rather, they feared that if they moved too quickly, all would be lost, and in the end neither Catholics as a whole or blacks would be in better straits.

Given the natural course of events, these more cautious bishops were leaving the scene. Succeeding them was a new breed. Having matured in the days just before World War II, and often educated in Europe or in the more intellectually sophisticated centers of the Atlantic Northeast, they saw as the priority the bringing of justice to African-Americans.

Some came from outside the South. Native Southerners, however, were outstanding as bold champions of change, such as Bishop Vincent S. Waters of Raleigh, a Virginia native, Tennessee-born Bishop Joseph A. Durick of Nashville, Bishop Joseph Brunini of Natchez-Jackson, himself from Mississippi, and Bishop Carroll T. Dozier of Memphis, also from Virginia.

To be honest, all these bishops headed divided presbyterates. Old ways died hard for more than a few Catholic priests. Others, to their credit, were at the front line.

There were dozens and dozens of priests who marched when the demonstrations started. They were insulted and cursed by many, encouraged by some, but they marched precisely to put the Church in the forefront of the movement to recognize human rights for blacks.

In Mississippi, Father Bernard F. Law, later cardinal-archbishop of Boston, did remarkable things to elevate and validate the image of the Church because of his constant, but often resented, call for rights for blacks.

Swinging Toward Racial Equality

At the national level, the Catholic bishops were unswervingly behind the civil rights movement, and their series of public statements made their position crystal clear. At the level of the papacy, Pope Paul VI left no question about Catholic teaching and universal Church policy in the matter. For example, he named African-American priests to the episcopacy, a switch from the time when many dioceses would not accept black applicants for the seminary. The arc was swinging toward racial equality in American Catholicism. At the very time so many young Catholics were attending Catholic schools, Catholic education embraced racial equality. Teachers taught it. Catholic publications forthrightly supported it, and at the time when the Catholic press was at its strongest. Young priests were ordained who fully supported civil rights, and some Catholic lay organizations came around, albeit sluggishly.

This hardly is to say that in the 1950s and 1960s American Catholic public opinion, especially in the South, accounted for one great, mighty groundswell for rights for blacks. Many Catholics feared violence. The Church lost ground numerically among whites, although in the end maybe not as much as might be assumed. Bishops and priests lost good will, although again not as much as they had presumed. No social study of American life today escapes the facts that racism lives in this country. The arc, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, swings toward justice. Still, it goes back and forth. As the U.S. bishops wrote in a statement marking the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington: “The dream of Dr. King and all who marched and worked with him has not yet fully become a reality for many in our country. While we cannot deny the change that has taken place, there remains much to be accomplished.”

Christians point to genetics breakthroughs to prove Adam and Eve

Many Christians have rejected the scientific theory of evolution in part because they think it rules out the existence of a historical Adam and Eve. Yet some scientists and theologians argue that recent breakthroughs in genetics make a historical Adam and Eve compatible with evolution, and that this development may help bridge what many see as a conflict between faith and science.

“For over 160 years, the societal conflict over evolution has been deep and stubborn. But now, in a surprise twist, evolutionary science is making space for Adam and Eve,” S. Joshua Swamidass, an associate professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, told Fox News Digital. “It turns out that the theological questions are about genealogical ancestry, not genetics. In this paradigm shift, we are finding a better way forward, a better story to tell.”

In his book “The Genealogical Adam and Eve: The Surprising Science of Universal Ancestry,” Swamidass argues that genetics and evolutionary theory do not conflict with the existence of Adam and Eve, universal ancestors of all humans whom Jesus died to save.

Modern genetics only captures a small sliver of the story of human ancestry, Swamidass writes. While your parents are both 100 percent your parents, you only get roughly 50 percent of your DNA from each of them, and only about 25 percent of your DNA from your grandparents. As you go farther back, you have more genealogical ancestors who each contribute less and less to your DNA.

The Genealogical Adam & Eve: The Surprising Science of Universal Ancestry cover courtesy S. Joshua Swamidass

While universal genetic ancestors are rare, universal genealogical ancestors are surprisingly common, the author noted. Each individual has four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on, but population size in past generations tends to get smaller, so overlap is inevitable. He argues that by 1 A.D., every person on Earth was descended from Adam and Eve.

Swamidass’ model of a Genealogical Adam and Eve (GAE) claims that biological humans may still share a common ancestor with apes according to the theory of evolution, but God could have created Adam and Eve from the dust and a rib, without parents, and these two became the ancestors of all humans by 1 A.D. Swamidass claims that Genesis appears to require biological humans outside of Adam and Eve’s family line because after Cain murders Abel and leaves his parents, he fears that he will be killed, he acquires a wife, and he builds a city.

“Most readers of Genesis understood Adam and Eve to be (1) ancestors of us all, and (2) miraculously created without parents of their own,” Swamidass told Fox News Digital. “In contrast, evolution teaches that (3) we share common ancestors with apes, and (4) we arise from a large population, not a single couple. This conflict of fact only seemed solvable by revising foundational Christian theological beliefs, or by rejecting evolution.”

“But now, clearing up some big scientific understandings, we know that all four of these things can be true at the same time,” Swamidass said. “Even if Adam and Eve lived as recently as just 6,000 years ago, they would be the genealogical ancestors of everyone across the globe by AD 1. They could even have been created de novo, from the dust and a rib. Of course, at the same time, we would also descend from people outside the Garden, others whom God created by a providentially governed process of evolution.”

Swamidass’ GAE model has already made waves in theological and scientific circles. The BioLogos Foundation, a Christian nonprofit founded by NIH Director Francis Collins that embraces the scientific theory of evolution, appears to have reversed its position on Adam and Eve, deleting articles claiming that genetics ruled out a historical Adam and Eve and posting articles that echo Swamidass’ model. BioLogos did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the matter.

William Lane Craig, a Christian philosophy professor at Houston Baptist University and Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology, published the book “In Quest of the Historical Adam: A Biblical and Scientific Exploration” in September. His book echoes Swamidass’ arguments – although he places Adam and Eve further back in history.

Reasons to Believe (RTB), a Christian nonprofit dedicated to blending faith and science in a way that questions evolution but embraces an old earth, published a book in 2020 in which the author, Anjeanette Roberts, wrote that Swamidass’ model “provides a way for biblical interpretations of a historical Adam and Eve—understood as universal, genealogical ancestors for all humanity living at the time of Christ and today—to be reconciled with mainstream evolutionary science.”

Michael Murray, a Christian philosophy professor at Franklin and Marshall College, recently said at an evangelical conference that due to the work of Swamidass, Craig, and others, “we have arrived at the point where we can confidently affirm that the basic evolutionary story is not the threat to Christian orthodoxy that we once feared, and not because we had to compromise on orthodoxy.”

“My view is that recent findings in genetics and paleontology have shown that our best scientific theories and data do not rule out a historical Adam and Eve,” Murray told Fox News Digital. He said the developments do not make Adam and Eve more or less likely, but they do show that, “for all we know, there might have been a pair that is the ancestor of all extant humans or extant Homo sapiens.”

Murray noted that “there was an emerging consensus among both secular scientists and scientists of faith that the relevant empirical data was flatly inconsistent with an ancestral pair.” Yet these recent developments have shown “that an ancestral pair is not flatly ruled out as was previously thought.”

Nathan Lents, a secular professor of philosophy at John Jay College, told Fox News Digital that recent developments have made Adam and Eve more plausible.

“I would not say that there is any evidence, historical or scientific, in favor of the existence of Adam and Eve, as they are presented in the Bible,” Lents said. “However, there have been developments in our understanding of ancestry and genetics that allow for the possibility of universal ancestors of the entire human population in the surprisingly recent past.”

He noted that “there are important caveats” about the possibility of universal ancestors, such as isolated populations, and about the impact of the GAE model – it does not involve “sole progenitorship of the human race from just two people.”

Many Christians disagree with the model, however. According to Gallup, 40 percent of Americans say God created man in his present form, and between 38 percent and 66 percent of White evangelical Protestants say the same, according to the Pew Research Center.

Fazale Rana, vice president of research and apologetics at RTB, told Fox News Digital that the models of Swamidass and Craig “both suffer from theological problems, despite their agreement with mainstream science.” Rana said that since the models do not consider Adam and Eve the sole progenitors of humanity, they “potentially put key Christian doctrines (such as human exceptionalism, the Fall, Original Sin and the Atonement) in harm’s way.”

Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson, a Christian biologist with the young-earth creationist organization Answers in Genesis, told Fox News Digital that Swamidass’ “definition of Adam and eve is almost unrecognizable from a Young Earth perspective; it’s essentially the mainstream model with an undetectable supernaturally created pair inserted at some point.”

Jeanson said that his forthcoming book “Traced: Human DNA’s Big Surprise” uses the same developments in genetics to show that “the DNA history of mankind makes sense from a young-earth perspective,” making and examining testable predictions.

Yet even Rana and Jeanson admitted that the GAE model may decrease the public perception of a conflict between science and religion.

“It may soften the antagonism on the part of the evolutionary community,” Jeanson said. 

Rana described these developments as “good for the Church” because “they offer models that preserve the biblical narrative of human origins for those people who are persuaded by evidence for human evolution.” Yet he suggested that the GAE models “will have little or no impact” in the scientific community because they do not offer anything “that distinguishes them from materialistic evolutionary models.”

The secular Lents noted that “science and Christianity have been pitted against each other unnecessarily. Conflicts over evolution have bred mistrust on both sides that has bled into other issues,” like skepticism about vaccines.

“When Christians and evolutionary science find harmony and common ground, or at least a peaceful truce, we can build trust and begin to work together on matters that threaten the healthy, safety, and flourishing of us all,” Lents said. “For this reason, I applaud the work that Christian scientists are doing to bring greater acceptance and understanding of science into their communities. We need not be at war with each other.”

Ken Keathley, a theology professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that the efforts of Swamidass, Craig, and others “have been very fruitfrul.”

Women’s higher education was pioneered by Christians

Southern Baptist Convention leader Paige Patterson was fired Wednesday following a meeting of the board of trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he served as president. With a following of over 15 million, Southern Baptists are America’s largest Protestant denomination.

Trustees were responding to a petition by over 3,000 Southern Baptist women regarding what they called Patterson’s “unbiblical” remarks on womanhood, sexuality and domestic violence. In an audio recording from 2000 that surfaced recently, Patterson was heard counseling a woman to stay with her abusive husband. In another sermon, he commented on a 16-year-old girl’s body. Trustees specifically cited Patterson’s handling of a student’s assault allegations. One female seminary student claimed that Patterson advised her not to report a rape to the police.

It would be easy to assume evangelical Christian educators like Patterson uniformly discriminate against women because they believe the Bible teaches women to submit to men. But, as a historian of women, religion and higher education, I know that the story is not that simple: Evangelicals actually led in opening higher education to women.

Evangelicals pioneer women’s higher education

The very first college in world history to offer a bachelor’s degree to women, Oberlin, did so in 1837, with the goal of training more people to spread the evangelical gospel.

In other words, theologically conservative Christians pioneered women’s higher education for theological reasons.

I call these people “evangelical pragmatists” because they were willing to bend cultural norms about appropriate activities for women in order to get more hands on deck for God. For the same reason, they structured Oberlin to be unusually affordable and even admitted African-American students starting in 1835. Prior to this time, only a handful of African-Americans are believed to have graduated from any American college.

Remarkably, the first and longest standing single-sex institution of higher education for American women, Mount Holyoke, was founded in 1837 by evangelical pragmatists for the same reason. Mount Holyoke was only a three-year institution at its founding, and it did not immediately admit African-Americans. But it was the most advanced and affordable single-sex education available to American women at the time.

Evangelicals historically disagree on women

Even in the 1800s, when almost all ministers were men, Oberlin president Charles Finney, one of the most famous evangelists of that era, allowed a woman, Antoinette Brown Blackwell, to enroll in Oberlin’s attached theological seminary. Members of Oberlin’s faculty disagreed on whether the Bible permitted women to preach, but they supported Christian women getting the best education possible.

Unlike the founders of Oberlin and Mount Holyoke, not all evangelical educators believed in theological education for women and their role in the church – a disagreement that continues to the present.

The problem is that the Christian scriptures contain some passages that affirm absolute equality between men and women – which is truly radical for the time they were written. Other passages, however, seem to teach divinely ordained roles for men and women.

Even Christians who agree that the Bible is a reliable communication from God to humankind disagree on the meaning of the teachings on gender difference. The contentious debate about those passages has often centered around questions such as: Were they simply advice to women and men in past cultures on how to act wisely in those contexts, or did God intend those roles to be binding at all times?

Modern Southern Baptists and women

Since the 1980s, the Southern Baptist Convention has fallen into what is called the “complementarian” category that believes God intended different gender roles for all times. In particular, Paige Patterson was a leader in the “conservative resurgence” within the denomination that led to a more restrictive interpretation of the Bible.

The SBC statement of belief subsequently published in 2000, The Baptist Faith and Message (BFM), asserts, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” Many Southern Baptist seminaries interpret this ruling to mean that the professors who train pastors should also be men.

Indeed, the thousands of Southern Baptist women who signed the petition against Patterson explicitly affirmed SBC doctrine and did not ask for women’s ordination. They, and many Southern Baptist men, believe that while women and men have distinct roles to play, they should receive equal hearing and respect.

Many of the first women to attend Oberlin would have agreed with the BFM statement as well, although Oberlin also graduated early Christian feminists like Lucy Stone, who founded the American Woman Suffrage Association and was one of the first women to keep her maiden name after marriage.

Thus, even evangelicals who agree on different roles for the sexes disagree on what types of educational and church leadership opportunities women should have. “Culture warrior” Christians, focused on defending the accuracy of the Bible against liberals, have tended towards being more restrictive of women’s opportunities. Pragmatists, who are more focused on spreading the Christian message, have, on the other hand, tended to open up opportunities for women.

Prominent among Southern Baptist pragmatists is women’s Bible study teacher Beth Moore. She recently penned an open letter to Southern Baptist men about the sexism she has encountered in the denomination. Moore noted many men use her lack of formal theological training as an excuse to discount her, but that she was unwelcome when she sought to attend Southwestern Seminary in 1988. Even today only three of the seminary’s 38 faculty members are women. All three teach in a separate women’s studies department.

With the upcoming June annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention following closely on the removal of Patterson, it remains to be seen whether the denomination will follow Moore’s lead and open more opportunities to women.

Is This How Jesus Walked On Water?

Walking on water is one of the most well-known miracles attributed to Jesus. Most experts agree Jesus was a real person, per Live Science.

The miraculous feats he’s said to have accomplished during his lifetime are another matter, at least as far as they can be proven through science, rather than accepted as a matter of faith, or through divine intervention.

When it comes to walking on water, though, research from the last decade suggests that the story may in fact have a scientific explanation, more so than what was previously believed.

Per Learn Religions, the New Testament story of Jesus walking on water begins shortly after another miracle, called the feeding of the 5,000, or the miracle of the five loaves and two fish. According to the story, Jesus sent his disciples across the Sea of Galilee before him.

When a storm struck, Jesus was then seen walking on the water, reassuring them as he approached. Although believers take many lessons from the New Testament story, scientific evidence that might explain the story has been missing until relatively recently.

IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN ICE

As reported by The Guardian in 2006, unique weather and water conditions can sometimes create a thin layer of ice on the surface of the Sea of Galilee. According to a team of U.S. and Israeli scientists, this possibly explains how Jesus appeared to be walking on water, as it is recorded in the New Testament.

According to the study, iced-over parts of the water, called “springs ice” or salty springs, dotted the shore of Galilee. The phenomenon has even been observed near Tabgha, an ancient settlement mentioned elsewhere in the Bible.

If a patch of ice had broken off, blown smooth and nearly undetectable by the heavy wind, it might explain how Jesus seemed to be walking on water. According to Doron Nof, professor of physical oceanography at Florida State University and the study’s lead author, odds are there was at least one, but perhaps as many as four, of these cold periods that occurred during the life of Christ, per The Guardian.

For this reason, “The chance that there was ice on the lake is very, very high,” he said. For science-minded individuals, this presents a scientific explanation for the miraculous feat. For the faithful, the veracity of the story was never in doubt.

Original Article: https://www.grunge.com/720536/is-this-how-jesus-walked-on-water/

What the names Jesus, Mary, and Joseph mean

What is the importance of one’s name? For Jews during the time of Jesus, names we very important and were believed to alter the trajectory of a person’s life. Here are the meaning behind Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

1. Origins

Jesus

In Hebrew, Yeshua is short for the name Jehoshua. It is one of the so-called theophoric names, in other words, it contains the name of God. The name is composed of two words. The first part of the name: “Jeho” comes from Yahweh, and the second “shua” is derived from the verb save. Thus, the name Jesus literally means “Yahweh is salvation” or “Yahweh saves.” 

This is indeed the meaning of the name Jesus indicated in the Gospels. The angel told Joseph that Mary would give birth to a son “and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sin” (Matthew 1:21). 

Mary

There are many hypotheses about the meaning of the name Mary. A very convincing one speaks about the Egyptian-Jewish origin of the name. It was given to girls who were born to elderly parents. This name has two parts, the Egyptian “Mar” means beloved/loving and the Jewish abbreviation for “ja” from the name Yahweh, meaning “loving God” or “beloved by God.” 

Joseph

Joseph, or the Hebrew Yosef, is a biblical name. It has the word God in its meaning: it is composed of Jo (shortened from Jeho, Yahweh “God”) and the verb jasaf “to appropriate.” Thus, it means “may God multiply—thoughtfully—the good.” 

Genesis’ story of Joseph in Egypt is also related to Joseph, Mary’s spouse. Doctors of the Church and popes have said that precisely Joseph of Egypt is Joseph of Nazareth’s prototype. Joseph of Nazareth is the guardian of God the Father’s most precious treasures: Jesus and His mother. 

2. The importance of a name

In Jewish tradition, a name is very important. It is supposed to express a person’s special traits, and even his or her mission in life. Bestowing a name is treated like a prayer that the one who bears that name will fulfill the message contained in it. 

3. Today

Do I know the meaning of my name? Do I know why I was given this name? What qualities in my name would I like to fulfill in my life? 

Today, I will ask Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to help me live beautifully and according to the Gospel.