I recently posted about recently announced discoveries at the Herodium in the Holy Land. Here’s a fantastic video of the location, made by Amir Aloni. It is beautiful and fascinating. Aloni has a collection of great flyover videos of the Holy Land here, including Qumran, the Dead Sea region, the wilderness green from all the rain, and more.
“The Story of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a lecture presented by Professor Geza Vermes at Louisiana State University’s Hill Memorial Library on September 29, 2009. Geza Vermes was born at Mako in Hungary in 1924. He studied in Budapest and in Louvain (Belgium), where he read Theology and Oriental history and languages, and in 1953 obtained a doctorate with a dissertation on the historical framework of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Now Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies and Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, he continues to lecture in Oxford and worldwide.” [Via YouTube]
From the Gospel of Luke:
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the upper room.
From the Gospel of Matthew:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
From the Apocalypse of John:
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.
The Gospel of Luke records a revelatory and visionary event that happened in the life of a young Jewish girl name Miriam (Mary), who lived in the northern hill country of Judea, called “the Galil” (Galilee). The Jewish people have been conquered, occupied, and oppressed by the Romans for about 40 years when this event takes place:
The word of YHWH to Isaiah the Prophet:
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
The Menorah is mentioned in two passages in the NT: once in Hebrews (9:2) and then in the opening vision of Revelation. In this latter apocalyptic vision, the menorah. with its seven lamps, is identified with the seven churches to whom the vision is directed, with each receiving a message to its angel or messenger (Greek angelos means “messenger”). These churches were all located in the western region of modern day Turkey. It is notable that the One in the vision is seen as being “in the midst” and “walking among the lampstands”.
This week’s Torah reading is Vayeira (וַיֵּרָ֤א—”And he appeared”) Genesis 18:1-22:24. It includes the promise that Sarah would have a son, Isaac or Yitzak—a boy named “laughter” because Sarah (who was 90 in the biblical narrative) laughed when she heard it. I suppose, in this regard, he could have easily been called named Yivkeh, “weeping”.
On this day in 63 BCE, Gaius Octavius Thurinus was born. When he was nineteen, he would become the adopted heir of his great-uncle, Julius Caesar. We know him as Octavianus or Caesar Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome.
Later during his reign, his birth was celebrated as that of a Savior, as is recorded in the Greek Priene Calendar Inscription:
A group I meet with on Thursday nights has been studying the Gospel of John, and as we’ve progressed I’ve been working my way through it in Greek, trying to do my own translation. What I’ve found is that I have great sympathy and empathy for Bible translators, who (among a multitude of other struggles) are so often forced to take all the nuanced options in original languages and reduce them to one. Or they have to take wordplays in one language and try to figure out solutions for making them work in translation (or not). Sometimes, however, I wonder “Why did they make that translation choice!?” because for one reason or other it just doesn’t make sense to me. One of those passages is John 15:1-4. Continue reading