Bishop Brian Marsh on the Traditional Anglican Communion Meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa

From his Lenten Message on Ash Wednesday:

22 February 2012-Ash Wednesday

Dear Friends in Christ,

I bid you all a Holy Lent!  During the next several weeks, many bishops and vicars-general of the Traditional Anglican Communion will meet outside Johannesburg, South Africa. We will gather in prayer, as we seek to discern God’s will for our communion. I ask that each of you individually, as well as parishes, hold us in your prayers. We hope that we may return invigorated and with a firm commitment to the Traditional Anglican Communion. I expect that we will make several decisions that will shape a future direction for the TAC.

I also fully anticipate that we will chart a course that is unambiguously Anglican and under leadership that will uphold and teach, by word and example, the faith of Christ crucified. You may be certain that I will do my best to ensure that any decisions provide for the spiritual safety of God’s faithful people.

Four of us from the Anglican Church in America will attend the meeting in South Africa: Bishop Stephen Strawn of the Diocese of the Missouri Valley, Archdeacon Alan Koller, Peter Thomas as well as me. During the time we are away, I have asked that the Diocese of the Northeast continue under the pastoral and parochial oversight of the Rural Deans. I have every confidence that Fathers Ley, Williams and Tutor will serve their deaneries well. Bishop Langberg will be available to them should they need immediate episcopal consult. If necessary, I will be available by email or cell phone.

Blessings to you all.

Your Brother in Christ,




Vatican Requests 1,500-Year-Old Syriac Bible Held In Turkey

The Huffington Post reports:

The Vatican has allegedly issued an official request to examine a 1,500-year-old Bible that has been held in Turkey for the past 12 years, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

The Bible reportedly contains early teachings of Jesus Christ and is written in gold lettering on animal hide in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, which was the native tongue of Jesus.

According to a report by National Turk, the Bible was seized from a gang of smugglers in a Mediterranean-area operation. The report states the gang was charged with smuggling antiquities, illegal excavations, and the possession of explosives.

Today’s Zaman reports that the Bible is under high security and that a Turkish daily newspaper, the Star, claims the book could be a copy of the Gospel of Barnahas — a controversial text which Muslims claim is an addition to the original gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — that was suppressed.

In it, Jesus is said to have predicted the coming of the Prophet Muhammad.

Due to its value as a cultural and religious artifact, even photocopies of the pages could be worth between 3 and 4 million Turkish Lira, or about 1,703,233 U.S. dollars.

Somehow, I don’t think Turkey will comply.


Bible Archaeology

Discovering the Jerusalem from the Time of Jesus

Every wondered what Jerusalem looked like 2000 years ago? Archeological finds in the Jewish Quarter yield clues.

The Jerusalem Post:

What did Jerusalem look like in Jesus’ days? For most of Christian history, this question remained shrouded in mystery.

When the Temple and city were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., the ruins remained buried for nearly two millennia – even after the Jewish People began to return to the Land of Israel at the end of the nineteenth century. During the war of Independence (1948), the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was largely destroyed by the Jordanians and it remained off limits to Jews for 19 years, until Israel retook the Old City during the Six Day War (1967).

After the Six Day War, during the renovation of the Jewish Quarter (1967-82), the ancient site was uncovered, revealing spectacular finds: a luxurious Second Temple period residential quarter in the Upper City of Jerusalem. Because of its grandeur and opulence, it was renamed the Herodian Quarter, also known today as the Wohl Museum of Archeology.

In the days when Jesus came up to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the Jewish festivals, the wealthy aristocratic and priestly families lived in the magnificent houses of the Herodian Quarter. It is easy to see why this area, built on a hillside overlooking the nearby Temple Mount, would have been particularly attractive to priests who ministered in the Temple every day.

Today, this is the largest and most important site from Second Temple times that can still be seen in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter. Perhaps even some of the priests and Sadducees whom the Gospels recall as disputing with Jesus, lived in these houses.

Descending three meters below the present ground level, we go back 2,000 years in time, to the upper city of Jerusalem in the Herodian period.

The archeological remains of the cellars of six luxurious homes – probably then two stories in height – provide a vivid picture of the inhabitants’ wealth. Numerous storage rooms, reservoirs, bathhouses and ritual baths, ovens, colorful mosaics, frescoes, elegant household items and other decorative adornments led archaeologists to conclude that the residents enjoyed a very high standard of living.

One unique find is the seven-branched menorah (candelabra) carved on one of the walls. This is the oldest explicit depiction of the menorah, and it was probably carved by a person who had actually seen the original menorah, still at use at that time in the Temple.

Throughout the museum there are displays of terra cotta tableware, imported amphorae for wine and delicate flasks. The presence of several ritual baths and many stone vessels are an indication that the residents were priests who strictly adhered to the Jewish laws of ritual purity, because stone vessels were not subjected to ritual impurity.

Comparative pictures in the museum show how the site developed over the years…

More here.