Fr Stephen Smuts

Archive for February 2011

Iran Protests 2012 Olympic Logo: Racist! Zionist!

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Tehran has officially challenged the 2012 London Olympic Games logo as racist and Zionist.

Head of Iran’s Olympic Committee Bahram Afsharzadeh said the logo was designed by a freemason organization.

We had to protest the measure. We intend to write a letter to the Asian Olympic Council to urge them to follow up on the issue,” he told ISNA.

Tehran believes the geometrical figures illustrating “2012″ in the logo conceal the word Zion,” a term Iranian officials use to describe Israel and its government, which they do not recognize.

Some Muslim nations raised objections as soon as the logo was unveiled, but their objections were rejected by British Olympic Committee and International Olympic Committee officials.

Afsharzadeh said some British individuals and organizations also protested the logo.

“This is the first time that this has happened in the history of the Olympics. Zionists have exercised influence in Britain, and according to our information, the summer games logo has been designed by a Zionist organization linked to freemasons,” he said.

The above was here. Silly.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

February 28, 2011 at 19:00

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New Budget Campaign Asks 'What would Jesus cut?'

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A coalition of progressive Christian leaders has taken out a full-page ad that asks “What would Jesus cut?” in Monday’s edition of Politico, the opening salvo in what the leaders say will be a broader campaign to prevent cuts for the poor and international aid programs amid the budget battle raging in Washington…

If you’re interested, CNN has more.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

February 28, 2011 at 18:41

The Temple Institute: Blueprints and Computer Animation of the Sanhedrin Chamber of Hewn Stone

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Have been revealed:

Recently, the Temple Institute released the blueprints for the Chamber of the Hewn Stone (the Lishkat haGazit, in Hebrew), the area of the Temple complex in which the Sanhedrin would convene. This is very exciting to see, and makes the possibility of the Holy Temple’s rebuilding somewhat tangible. Even more so is the computer-generated, virtual “fly-through” that they have created as well. You can really visualize what it might be like.

If you’re not familiar with the Chamber of Hewn Stone, it probably because there’s not a great deal of information circulating about it. This chamber was used by the Sanhedrin for judgement. They would hear cases and deliberate upon them in this area.

When Israel became occupied by foreign powers, the Sanhedrin removed themselves from this location as an act of protest, since their power was essentially stripped from them (particularly in the area of capital cases). Although I had thought it took place much earlier, the Jewish Time Line Encyclopedia (p.93) says this took place in 29 C.E.

Some have claimed that this would have been where Jesus would have been taken and tried upon his arrest. However, there are several problems with this assumption, two of which are 1) The Sanhedrin could not try capital cases at night (Sanhedrin 35a-b), and 2) he was not tried by the Sanhedrin proper. He was sentenced before a kangaroo court, which did not legally have the authority to any sentence at all.

Also interesting is the fact that of all of the parts of the Holy Temple which they could have been the initial focus, the Chamber of the Hewn Stone was chosen. Why?

Well find out here.

Interesting stuff.

And here is a virtual computer-generated walk-through of the Sanhedrin Chamber of Hewn Stone:

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

February 28, 2011 at 15:44

John Dominic Crossan's 'blasphemous' Portrait of Jesus

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John Dominic Crossan really isn’t a favourite scholar of mine, at all, especially with that ridiculous and deleterious Jesus Seminar thing. But as anyone who has studied the Historical Jesus knows, you will at some point cross his path:

… Crossan believes the public should be exposed to even the most divisive debates that scholars have had about Jesus and the Bible. He co-founded the Jesus Seminar, a controversial group of scholars who hold public forums that cast doubt on the authenticity of many sayings and deeds attributed to Jesus.

The 77-year-old Crossan has built on the seminar’s mission by writing a series of best-selling books on Jesus and the Apostle Paul…

Crossan’s overarching message is that you don’t have to accept the Jesus of dogma. There’s another Jesus hidden in Scripture and history who has been ignored…

Crossan is also reviled in a way that few scholars are.

Some critics say he’s trying to debunk Christianity. Some question his personal faith. At a college lecture, Crossan says an audience member stood up and asked him if he had “received the Lord Jesus” as his savior.

Crossan said he had, but refused to repeat his questioner’s evangelical language to describe his conversion.

“I wasn’t going to give him the language; it’s not my language,” Crossan says. “I wasn’t trying to denigrate him, but don’t think you have the monopoly on the language of Christianity.”

When asked if he is a Christian, Crossan doesn’t hesitate.

Absolutely.”…

… Crossan says, however, that he’s “trying to understand the stories of Jesus, not refute them.”

Still, his findings often end up challenging some of Christianity’s most cherished beliefs.

Consider his understanding of the resurrection. Jesus didn’t bodily rise from the dead, he says. The first Christians told Jesus’ resurrection story as a parable, not as a fact.

“Crucifixion meant that imperial power had won,” Crossan says. “Resurrection meant that divine justice had won. God is on the side of the crucified one. Rome’s’ values are a dead issue to me.”…

To him yes. But not to many others:

… Yet some also wonder if he unwittingly gives people an excuse to diminish Jesus’ importance.

Ben Witherington, a New Testament scholar who has written several books about the early Christian community, says Crossan’s work allows people to sidestep questions like: Did he come to save the world? Is he the son of God?

It’s a user-friendly Jesus that doesn’t make demands on someone,” he says.

Witherington says Crossan is trying to find a nonsupernatural way to explain Jesus and Scripture, and “the shoe doesn’t fit.”

“The stories are inherently theological,” he says. “They all suggest that God intervenes in history. If you have a problem with the supernatural, you have a problem with the Bible. It’s on every page.”…

There is much more on Crossan at CNN here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

February 27, 2011 at 18:54

Libya's Roman Sites Unscathed by Unrest… So Far…

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Reuters:

Libyans appear determined to safeguard their rich cultural heritage during the popular unrest against leader Muammar Gaddafi, protecting it from the looting seen in neighboring Egypt’s revolution just weeks ago.

Conquered by most of the civilizations that held sway over the Mediterranean, Libya’s rich cultural heritage includes Leptis Magna, a prominent coastal city of the Roman empire, whose ruins are some 130 km (80 miles) east of Tripoli.

The birthplace of emperor Septimius Severus, its amphitheatre, marbled baths, colonnaded streets and a basilica are considered the jewel in the crown of its Roman legacy.

While communication with Libya difficult sketchy amid the uprising against Gaddafi’s four decade rule, two archaeologists who frequently work in the country said cultural artifacts appeared to have been spared the ravages suffered during Egypt’s recent revolt.

“So far there are no records whatsoever of any areas from the cultural heritage of Libya being affected by the troubles,”…

All seems to be ok. I don’t have particular concerns that museums will in any way be affected by all this,”…

I’m confident local people will protect (them) and the department of antiquity staff will ensure everything is in order and kept safe.”…

Read the whole piece here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

February 27, 2011 at 18:19

British worry me, says Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

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Read why here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

February 26, 2011 at 15:07

What was Israel’s ‘Capital’ Before the Monarchy?

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Quick… off the top of your head, name 5 of the most important biblical cities.

No doubt Jerusalem is on your list? Go ahead and stretch it to 10 important biblical cities.

Perhaps your list has cities such as Bethlehem (a city of judges, kings and Jesus),  or Jericho. Maybe your list includes Samaria, Dan, Jezreel, even Antioch, Ephesus or Rome.

Does the list include Shiloh? Shiloh was Israel’s most important city for several hundred years. Its occupation by Israelites and its destruction centuries later marked the beginning and end of an important era. I imagine many of us would not list Shiloh as a ‘Top 5′ city, perhaps not even a ‘Top 10′. Pity, because Shiloh was central to early Israel.

Shiloh is not so famous among Christians. This is understandable. The city of Shiloh was prominent in the time of the Judges, a centuries-long period of which we know relatively little. Shiloh usually serves as a backdrop to famous stories and people…

Read what they are over at Luke Chandler’s blog here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

February 26, 2011 at 14:18

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