Bible Archaeology

Pic of the Day

Following closely on the stunning photo of Jerusalem posted yesterday is this one:

It comes via the Bible Places Blog where Todd Bolen writes:

Crossway has posted a beautiful image of an open Bible with Jerusalem in the background. The publisher is using this image to promote the new ESV Study Bible, Personal Size, but teachers might find this image useful (click through for high resolution). I note that the Bible is open to the beginning of Psalm 48, but you must flip over one page in order to read some of my favorite words about Jerusalem:

Psalm 48:12–14 (ESV) — Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.


Harry Potter Actress, 13, Near Death Saved by Sacrament

After Priest anoints her with Holy Water:

Lucy Hussey-Bergonzi was a 13 year old child actress who had a walk on part in the film, Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince. Shortly after filiming she collapsed with a brain hemorrhage. Lucy was in a coma and on life support when doctors performed emergency operations.

Her collapse was triggered by a rare condition Lucy had carried since birth called Arteriovenous malformation (AVM),a cluster of abnormal blood vessels that remain undetected until they burst.

Lucy was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital on February 15,2009, where she got through two operations while she was in a coma

Five days later the family was informed that Lucy would not live. At this point they called for a priest to baptise her before she died. As the holy water touched her forehead,Lucy’s arm shot up in the air and within 24 hours she was taken off life support.

Denise,Lucy’s mother,reports what happened as follows:

‘It was the day after her second operation when I turned to my husband Robert and said ‘we have to get her baptised. At that point I really thought she was going to die and I wanted to give her the best chance in the next life. We had no idea what we were doing but the hospital were brilliant and organised the whole thing for us in two days.

‘So five days after Lucy was first taken into hospital we were by her bedside saying prayers watching her about to be baptised. Then the moment the priest put holy water on Lucy’s head,her arm suddenly moved up. At first I thought she might be having a fit but within 24 hours she was taken off all the life support machines and tubes.

‘It could be she was recovering anyway,but the way it happened,even the nurses said it was a miracle.

When Lucy’s mother asked doctor’s why she had come back to them they said they couldn’t explain how it happened and to this day they don’t know how or why she recovered’.

Lucy,now 16 and a student at the Catholic Bishop Challenor School in London describes her recovery as follows:

‘‘I don’t know what to make of the way I came out of the coma. I’d never heard of anything like this before.

The doctors were saying it was a miracle,people who have brain haemorrhages usually don’t survive them. I think it was a miracle,I can’t think of any other explanation.’

Via the blog Protect the Pope, which adds,

Protect the Pope comment: It really shouldn’t surprise us that Lucy was saved from death by the sacrament of baptism,because as we believe the sacrament incorporates us into the life and love of the Most Holy Trinity through our participation in the life and death of Jesus,the eternally begotten Son of God.

Too often baptism and conformation have been reduced to mere sacraments of initiation,which of course they are,but they are also so much more than this,they are the intersection of the material world with the eternal world of God the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit.

Miracles still happen indeed!

Bible Archaeology

A Short Video on Masada

Breathtaking Masada, located on an isolated mesa in the Judean Desert, is one the most dramatic historic sites in Israel.

Via Arutz Sheva:

Masada is located on an isolated mesa in the Judean Desert, the steep and erect slopes to which rise to a height of more than 400 meters above the Dead Sea. The combination of cliffs and escarpments in a desert region has given the place a natural defense system.

Despite its natural fortification, King Herod encircled the flat top of Masada with a strong wall (which was made up of two parallel walls). This is not a trivial task, as the length of the peak of Masada is about 600 meters and its width, at the center, is 300 meters.

Masada was not just built by Herod as a fort, but a royal castle with large palaces, a sophisticated bath house and smaller palaces which were intended to serve Herod’s family.

The top level had four bedrooms and a semicircular balcony, from which there was a spectacular view of the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, and the Moab Mountains. A sophisticated and hidden staircase led to a middle level in which a large hall was built, surrounded by a veranda whose poles were placed at the edge of the cliff. The staircase went down to the bottom level, in which a large hall surrounded by vestibules was established. The walls of the hall were decorated with spectacular frescoes. A private bathhouse was built adjacent to the hall for the occupants of the northern palace.

At the peak were 29 large warehouses, each one 27 meters long. Excavations of the site found hundreds of pottery vessels in which huge amounts of food were stored. Thus, using a rare combination of natural conditions and human endeavors, Masada became a cliff that was almost impossible to conquer.

The great halls of the palaces were unsuitable for housing families, and thus became headquarters and public buildings.

The building near the north wall, which served as a stable in the days of Herod, was later turned into a synagogue. This is one of the Jewish people’s most ancient synagogues, known to be in use during the period of the second Holy Temple in Jerusalem, an unusual occurrence as synagogues became the accepted place to pray only after the destruction of the second Temple.

The Masada defenders also built two halakhic ritual baths, which conform to present day halakha. Since they date from the period before the Oral Law was written down in the Mishna, this is an indication of halakhic accuracy and continuity…

Read on here.

HT:  Ferrell Jenkins

Me at Masada:


Chinese Priests Detained Over New Bishop

More persecution of the faithful in Red China:

A number of priests and laymen in China’s underground Catholic church have been detained in the country’s northwest in a struggle over the appointment of a new bishop, overseas reports said Wednesday.

Catholic news agencies AsiaNews and ucanews said security officials rounded up men from the underground community in the city of Tianshui over the weekend. They are being held separately and are required to attend political study sessions for four hours each day, they said.

However, an official with the local government’s Religious Affairs Bureau said the men were merely taking part in a routine training session.

“There was definitely no detention at all,” said the man, who refused to give his name because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

AsiaNews and ucanews said the actions appeared to be aimed at persuading the men to support the official candidate to fill the bishop’s seat in Tianshui.

China has no formal relations with the Vatican and insists on the right to appoint its own bishops in defiance of Rome. Underground and government-recognized Catholic communities exist in tandem in China, with priests and laymen often moving between the two.

The news agencies said the two communities had generally good relations until recently, mirroring a rise in tensions between the Vatican and Beijing.

Abandoning an informal arrangement in which it had cooperated with Rome on appointing bishops, China has moved to unilaterally filling empty seats, sometimes with priests who have been rejected outright by the Vatican. Rome has called on Chinese Catholics to resist such moves, while Beijing has accused the Vatican of disrespect and gross interference in the country’s internal affairs and placed underground priests under increasing pressure to join the official Catholic Patriotic Association…