Bible Archaeology

Looters Shatter Museum of Ancient Egyptian Treasures

National Geographic:

Amid the deadly chaos that has erupted in Egypt, the country’s cultural heritage took a hit last week when looters ransacked the archaeological museum…

Rest here.

 

Church

Ordinariate Sisters Have a Permanent Home

The Hermeneutic of Continuity:

Here is the Press Release from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham:

Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary Move to Permanent Home

The new religious community of the Personal Ordinariate, the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, have a permanent home for the first time since they were received into the full communion of the Catholic Church on New Year’s Day. They are to move on Tuesday (August 27) into a convent in Birmingham which is the former home of the Little Sisters of the Assumption.

Mother Winsome, the Superior of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, said: “We are absolutely overjoyed to have been given the opportunity to live in this convent.  We have prayed long and hard and the Lord has opened up this way for us. It is a gift from God.”

The community, established as part of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham adopting the Benedictine rule, includes eleven sisters who had been part of the Anglican Community of St Mary the Virgin in Wantage Oxfordshire and one, Sister Carolyne Joseph, who belonged to an Anglican community in Walsingham.

With no endowments to keep them afloat financially, the sisters have been living for the last eight months as guests at an enclosed Benedictine abbey on the Isle of Wight. “The abbess and the community there shared their Benedictine life with us and welcomed us into their hearts in the most wonderfully generous way”, Mother Winsome said. “It has been a life of complete harmony and joy and it will be a wrench to leave. But we are pleased beyond measure that our journey of faith has taken this new direction”.

The provision of Benedictine hospitality through retreats is central to the community’s charism. Their intention is to earn a living at their new home by offering retreats and the ministry of spiritual direction.

The Benedictine Sisters on the Isle of Wight have been very kind in offering hospitality to the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is a mark of their generosity to the Church as a whole. The flourishing of contemplative orders is an indicator of vitality in any local Church and such communities have an impact way beyond the confines of their enclosure…

 

Church

Counting the Cost (Accurately)

Why tallies of Christian martyrs vary so widely.

Christianity Today has a look:

About 7 out of 10 Christians killed worldwide for their faith last year came from just one country: Nigeria.

So claimed a persecution report from Jubilee Campaign this spring. The report turned heads for its numbers, including almost 1,000 martyrs in Nigeria alone. Then, weeks later, Vatican officials warned the United Nations that the worldwide Christian death toll in 2012 was actually 100,000.

The disparate calculations called attention to martyrdom and how researchers measure it. Open Doors’ tally of 1,200 Christian martyrs in 2012 aligns more or less with Jubilee’s count. By contrast, the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) agrees with the Vatican on a number roughly 100 times that. (Religious freedom watchdogs commonly cite both figures.)

Much of the discrepancy hinges on how researchers define martyr, and how closely they double-check each death.

The standard definition of martyr is “believers in Christ who have lost their lives prematurely, in situations of witness, as a result of human hostility,” according to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s David Barrett and Todd Johnson in their 2001 research tome, World Christian Trends.

It’s the “situations of witness” aspect that gets tricky…

Read on here.

 

Church

Bishopess Katharine Jefferts Schori: Declining Numbers Maybe the Work of the Holy Spirit

?! Virtue Online:

Just when you thought you had heard it all, along comes The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori with a statement that the declining numbers of her denomination could be the work of the Holy Spirit to create “greater fruitfulness.”

Mrs. Jefferts Schori made this statement last Thursday in remarks delivered at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Church wide Assembly in Pittsburgh. “Some have judged our smaller numbers as faithlessness but it may actually be the Spirit’s way of pruning for greater fruitfulness,” said Jefferts Schori. “If we see ourselves standing at the foot of the cross, any such judgment will be far less important than our response.” Say what.

Between 2010 and 2011, ELCA membership went from about 4.2 million to just over 4 million, representing a loss of more than 212,000 members. During the same time period, The Episcopal Church had a decrease of over 28,000 members, causing the number of members in its domestic dioceses to dip below the 2 million mark. (Note: membership is not Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) which in TEC’s case is less than 700,000.

Jefferts Schori also told those gathered for the ELCA’s Church wide Assembly in Pittsburgh (which elected a woman presiding bishop) about the benefit of diversity in the Christian community. “Jesus has given us to one another – all of us – and we will not live faithfully if we forget who it is we see or seek in those others.”

Pick me up off the floor.

So now TEC’s aging population, who make up the bulk of the church and pay the bills, are being pruned by God to allow “greater fruitfulness.” Message to those over 65, close your checkbooks you have just been pruned. Which begs a second observation. Who and where is the next generation? Where are the Millenials or Generation X and Y, for that matter? Why are they not filling up pews? They are not coming because TEC has no message they want to hear. Dah. Orthodox Episcopalians whom Jefferts Schori might have in mind have mostly left the church, self pruned, not waiting another day to find themselves pruned by revisionists.

At least she admitted that the church is being pruned, a euphemism for dying. When the last church closes in about 20 years, regrettably, she won’t be around to turn out the lights.

 

Bible Archaeology

BAR Accused of Publishing ‘Defamatory’ Ad

A BAR advertisement has been labeled “defamatory” by 16 faculty members of Tel Aviv University’s Institute of Archaeology.

Via The Biblical Archaeology Society:

The ad, placed in repeated issues of BAR, features a picture taken at a lecture given by Tel Aviv University professor Yuval Goren reporting on his excavation at Tel Sochoh, about 29 miles southeast of Tel Aviv. In the picture, Professor Goren stands beside a screen showing a mechanical excavator, often referred to as a backhoe or bulldozer, in operation at the site.

In the latest version of the ad, the picture is headed: “Cater-Pillaging—The Stratigraphy of Tel Socoh,” a pun on the name of the Caterpillar company that manufactures bulldozers, backhoes and similar equipment, and characterizes Professor Goren’s excavation as pillaging.

The advertisement in BAR was paid for by Robert Deutsch, a leading Israeli antiquities dealer, a lecturer at Haifa University, a former member of the staff of Tel Aviv University’s excavation at Megiddo, a sometime BAR author and a recently acquitted defendant in the famous forgery trial in Jerusalem clearing him of all charges.

The use of mechanical equipment in a professional archaeological excavation is usually considered a cardinal sin, although it is permitted in some circumstances, such as the clearing of topsoil, not involving actual archaeological excavation.

Professor Goren maintains in a statement that his use of a backhoe occurred not on the tell at Tel Sochoh, but “in a valley south to it,” where he had found “waste remains of a ceramic workshop.”  His first attack on this area (Area B) was to measure standard 5x 5 meter squares, one of which can be seen in the picture, followed by careful excavation by hand. After a week of digging and finding nothing, Goren decided to finish the job with “a [mechanical] digger to make sure that no archaeological remains existed at what was apparently virgin soil.”

The statement by Tel Aviv University archaeologists states that “There was no use of a mechanical excavator on Tel Socoh. The slide shown in the ad illustrates work carried out in a wadi (valley) near the mound, as a sequel to a systematic manual excavation from the surface. . . This is a common method in archaeology.”

“Is it in the wadi?” Deutsch responds. “Or is it on the slope of the tell,” where it is clear from the picture that the excavation was begun in a standard five-meter square? Deutsch adds that if, as Goren claims, it is so common to use these mechanical diggers, why is it that in 20 years at Megiddo, the university’s major excavation where he worked, he never saw a bulldozer, “not on the tell and not on the lower terraces.”

Perhaps some of our readers who are better informed on archaeological practice will weigh in on whether bulldozers are justified—or common—in the circumstances described at Tel Sochoh.