2,700-Year-Old Phoenician Shipwreck Discovered

Discovery News:

An international team of researchers has discovered the remains of a Phoenician ship that sunk in the waters off the island of Malta around 700 BC, Maltese authorities announced this week.
One of the oldest shipwrecks found in the Mediterranean, the vessel is about 50 feet long. It was found at a depth of 400 feet on the sandy seabed of Gozo island, the second-largest island in the Maltese archipelago.
“There are very good chances that the wooden hull is still present, buried beneath the sand,” Timmy Gambin, a senior lecturer in maritime archaeology at the University of Malta and the co-director of the project, told Discovery News.
Gambin and colleagues from Texas A&M University and the French National Research Agency, found the ship’s cargo spread over a 700-square-foot area. According to Gambin, it was “in a fantastic state of preservation.”
The sandy seabed likely cushioned the impact when the ship sunk, leaving jars and ceramic containers unbroken.
According to the researchers, the ship carried a mixed cargo of jars and grinding stones.
About 20 grinding stones made from volcanic rock, each weighing as much as 75 pounds, were identified at the site.
“The stones, probably coming from Sicily, were being transported to be sold elsewhere in the Mediterranean,” Gambin said.
The researchers also spotted some 50 amphorae — containers with two handles and narrow necks used to hold wine and oil — made in seven different types and sizes. This would indicate the vessel had traveled to numerous harbors before sinking.
Like other Phoenician trading vessels, the ship might have made stops in Sardinia and Malta to sell its cargo…

More here.


Images Surrounding the Crucifix


Catholic Exchange.

Q: I have a very old crucifix which has a skull and crossbones at the bottom of the cross. What does that mean? Also, what does INRI mean? I have heard people pronounce it as though it were one word.
Both the INRI and the skull and crossbones are mentioned in the passion accounts of our Lord. First, INRI is an abbreviation for the Latin Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, meaning “Jesus the Nazorean, King of the Jews.” In sentencing our Lord to death, Pontius Pilate had this inscription written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek (Jn 19:20) placed on the Cross above the head of our Lord.
Each of the Gospels testifies to this inscription, although with slight variations: St. John’s Gospel, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews”; St. Matthew’s Gospel, “This is Jesus, King of the Jews”; St. Mark’s Gospel, “The King of the Jews”; and St. Luke’s Gospel, “This is the King of the Jews.” Since St. John stood with the Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross, his Gospel is the most accurate, although all of the Gospels agree in substance as to what was written.
Another interesting point arises in artwork depicting the Crucifixion. Sometimes the inscription will be fully spelled-out (not simply INRI), but spelled backward. The artists are mindful that Hebrew is read from right to left, not left to right as in English.
Finally, the use of all three languages — Hebrew, Latin and Greek — served a dual purpose. First, these were the languages that would have been spoken in Jerusalem at the time of the Crucifixion. Secondly, Hebrew was the language of the chosen people, the people of the Old Covenant; Latin and Greek were the languages of the Gentiles and Imperial Rome. Jesus came to save not just the Jew but also the Gentile, so the proclamation reminds us that the sacrifice is for all mankind. While the powers of this world labeled Him as an earthly king, Jesus, crucified and risen, is the King who conquered sin and death, and whose kingdom will not end.
Next, the skull and the crossbones has a dual significance. First, Jesus was crucified just outside the old city of Jerusalem at Golgotha, meaning “Skull Place” in Hebrew. The four Gospels all attest to this fact: Matthew 27:33, Mark 16:22, Luke 23:33, and John 19:17. The word “golgotha” is an Aramaic form of the Hebrew word “gulgoleth“, meaning “skull.” The Latin word “calva“, also meaning “skull,” is the root for “Calvary.”
Secondly, an ancient tradition relates that this spot was also where Adam was buried, hence the depiction of both the skull and crossbones. Today, at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the Greek Orthodox have a chapel built over the rock of Calvary itself, and the place where the Cross was erected is marked by a silver disk right below the altar. To the right of the altar, there is a crack in the rock. The Gospel of St. Matthew states that when Christ died on the Cross, “the earth quaked, boulders split, tombs opened” (Mt 27:52). The crack continues down to the Chapel of Adam (in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher) where tradition holds Adam was buried and where the Precious Blood of our Lord dripped upon his bones and his skull. Here the blood of Christ flowing from the Sacred Heart of our Lord would have been a stream of redemption, touching all, even Adam himself.
Christ, the new Adam, obedient to the Heavenly Father’s will unto to death, conquered the sin committed when the first Adam disobeyed God. The gates of heaven closed by the sin of Adam were now opened by the sacrifice of our Lord.
These two symbols placed on the crucifix help us to remember that our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross is the greatest act of love God has shown to us. Therefore, each time we gaze upon our crucified Lord we should be moved to say as did St. Francis of Assisi, “We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You, for by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.”


Do Not Be Afraid — I Am With You!

This portion of Scripture, I shared in Church today. Powerful…

1 Israel, the Lord who created you says,
“Do not be afraid — I will save you.
I have called you by name — you are mine.
2 When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you;
your troubles will not overwhelm you.
When you pass through fire, you will not be burnt;
the hard trials that come will not hurt you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the holy God of Israel, who saves you.
I will give up Egypt to set you free;
I will give up Ethiopia and Seba.
4 I will give up whole nations to save your life,
because you are precious to me
and because I love you and give you honour.
5 Do not be afraid — I am with you!
“From the distant east and the farthest west,
I will bring your people home.
- Isaiah 43:1-5


When God Was Silent

The Jewish and Christian crucible years.

At Aleteia:

The historical period that I am presently working on — roughly 200BC through 150AD — has a claim to rank among the most significant in the history of Western religion, a critical era for Jews and Christians alike. The problem is that until we decide what to call this era, it is all but impossible to understand it.

I was recently taken aback when I saw a word that I had not read in a while, namely “intertestamental.” Both word and concept are unfashionable to the point of being obsolete, but we do not as yet have a good replacement. In trying to find a better label, I am not just seeking tidiness. How we define a historical period is critical to how we approach it, and where we draw the fundamental distinctions between what does and does not belong within that topic.

Once upon a time, Christian scholars identified a sharp and obvious division between the writing of the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament ended with the restoration work of Ezra and Nehemiah, and the prophet Malachi, around 420 BC. The story then resumes with the opening of the New Testament, with the birth of Christ, and the missions of John the Baptist and of Jesus himself. Historical events certainly happened in those four centuries, some of great moment, but the gap was clear.

God rested his voice for a solid four centuries.

Critical Bible scholarship then blurred the distinction, pointing out that parts of the Old Testament belonged to that gap period. Daniel’s prophecies belong to the mid-second century BC. The Catholic Bible canon includes such first and second century BC texts as Maccabees and the Wisdom of Solomon.

The other critical development has been the enormous outpouring of research on what are generally called Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, “falsely-titled” writings, which together constitute a vast body of literature. Some of these had always been known in parts of the Christian world, in Ethiopia or the Slavonic lands, while others were discovered afresh, most famously with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

We now know that the era between about 200 BC and 150 AD was an era of enormous tumult and creativity in the Jewish and early Christian worlds. These centuries saw the great encounter between Judaism and Hellenism, as the Jewish world found its second capital in Alexandria. This is also the famous age of Jewish sects, like the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Enochic groups. I use these terms gingerly, as to speak of “sectarian” Judaism exaggerates their bizarre quality, and makes too many assumptions about the normality of “normative” Judaism.

Each of the great events called forth literary responses…

Read on here.