Fr Stephen Smuts

What Is the Oldest Hebrew Bible?

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What is the oldest Hebrew Bible? That is a complicated question. The Dead Sea Scrolls are fragments of the oldest Hebrew Bible text, while the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex are the oldest complete versions, written by the Masoretes in the 10th and 11th centuries, respectively. The Ashkar-Gilson Manuscript falls in between the early scrolls and the later codices…

Bible History Daily seeks to answers the question.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

November 2, 2015 at 16:18

All Souls Day

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Today is All Souls Day, a holy day set aside for honouring and remembering departed loved ones. Parishioners have an opportunity to write the names of relatives in a Book of the Dead, and the names therein are read out from the Altar.

Many people use the day to meaningfully express their sorrow over the loss of a loved one. All of us have, during the course of our lives, lost someone who is dear or near:

  • A Dad
  • A Mom
  • A brother or sister
  • Ouma / Oupa (usually our first encounter with death)
  • An Aunt or Uncle
  • An extended family member
  • A neighbour
  • A friend
  • Or a colleague.

The heartache of losing someone you love is really like no other pain.

Today I will be remembering the following dear departed, as well as their relatives who are still here. Should you wish to add a name to the list, please feel free to do so in the comment section, and I will say a special prayer for you and bring to remembrance that soul.

Names from the Book, we commemorate:

  • Bishop Trevor Rhodes
  • Francis Hammond
  • Joseph Hammond
  • Reynold Hammond
  • Irene Allaman
  • Billy
  • Gordon
  • Edward
  • Xavy David
  • Lois David
  • Ashley David
  • Pierre Brink
  • Martha Ockhuis
  • Martha Meyers
  • Anna Meyers
  • Petrus Meyers
  • Gilbert Meyers
  • Hannes Meyers
  • Errol
  • Eva
  • Moses
  • Sindi
  • Kathy Sass
  • John Sass
  • Peggy Anthony
  • Alec Fortuin
  • Oliver Fortuin
  • Leah Would
  • Louis Would
  • Baby Louis
  • Rae Landman
  • Willem Landman
  • Bernard William Adams

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

November 2, 2015 at 15:51

All Saints Day

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Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

November 1, 2015 at 14:13

“Jesu, Grant Me This, I Pray”

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Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

November 1, 2015 at 13:54

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On Blog Stats

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Just to say, it’s great to see the blog Stats are up again! Thank you for visiting. The traffic indicates that things are busy indeed. So far, this is how we are doing today:


Visits per country: The most popular (which are reflected in the stats) are:


The list continues…

Even when I wasn’t blogging (for about a year), the Stats never actually dropped anything under a 100 views a day. Most of the postings here are reiterations of the Gospel, Christianity, Biblical Archaeology, Church news and so on. I tend to try and keep things positive or, at least, neutral, and avoid ranting and negativity! There is enough of that out there – and even on some so-called ‘Christian’ blogs. Venom. Sarcasm. Hatred. Vindictiveness. The familiar Gospel for All Saints Day (today) is quite pertinent:

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


But I digress. Since this blog started in 2011, this is where we now stand:

All time

Heading to the 7 digits.



Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

November 1, 2015 at 13:45

Russia Fights for Christianity in Syria, the US Fights Against It

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So says the American Orthodox Institute:

Russian President Vladmir Putin and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kyrill

The everyday signs in America show a growing contempt for Christianity. The exact opposite trend is happening for Russia and its leaders—a return to Christian roots.

Read on here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

November 1, 2015 at 12:31

Posted in Church

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Confused About Syria? Who’s Fighting and Why

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Tens of thousands are still fleeing this ancient part of the world.


Syria is a country of mountains, deserts and fertile plains, bordering Lebanon, the Mediterranean Sea, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, and Israel. The country is largely populated by Sunni Muslims, but is also home to many other ethnic and religious groups: Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, and Circassians, Christians, Shiites, Alawites, Druze, Mandeans, Salafis, and Yazidis.

The war in Syria has killed over 250,000 people and displaced over 12 million. Just today, tens of thousands are reported to be fleeing Aleppo with just the clothes on their backs, due to a  government offensive on rebel-held areas south of the city.

Although it began as a civil war, it has become much more and divided much of the Middle East, drawing in the United States and Russia. To better understand how Syria arrived to where it is today, Vox put together this simple video.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 31, 2015 at 21:42


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