Church

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.

 

Church

Who Was St Patrick?

Discovery has a look.

For thousands of years, Irish Catholics have traditionally celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by attending church in the morning and celebrating in the afternoon with a huge feast, honoring Ireland’s patron saint. Even though March 17 falls in the middle of Lent when Catholics were forbidden to eat meat, this was waived in Ireland for feasting — mostly on cabbage and Irish bacon, according to History.com.

But who was Saint Patrick? The truth is, much of his life is a mystery.

Rest here.

 

Church

10 Reasons to Know a Little Bit of Church History

Who was Athanasius? In what century did the Protestant Reformation occur? Why was Jonathan Edwards important? What was the Second Great Awakening? In most churches, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who could answer these questions. Indeed, the study of church history has fallen on hard times. But here are 10 reasons why the average believer’s walk with Christ would be enriched by learning a bit of church history.

Those reasons are here.

 

Church

The Shape of Rome

Ex Urbe:

The new Mayor of the city of Rome, Ignazio Marino, just announced his intention to destroy one of the city’s central roads, the Via dei Fori Imperiali, and turn the area around the old Roman Forum into the world’s largest archaeological park.  Reactions have ranged from commuters’ groans to declarations from classicists that this single act proves the nobility of the human species.

This curious range of reactions seems the perfect moment for me to discuss something I have intended to talk about for some time: the shape of the City of Rome itself.  We all know the long, rich history of the Roman people, and the city’s importance as the center of an empire, and thereafter as the center of the memory of that empire, whose echo, long after its end, still so defines Western concepts of power, authority and peace.  What I intend to discuss instead is the geographic city, and how its shape and layers grew gradually and constantly, shaped by famous events, but also by the centuries you won’t hear much about in a traditional history of the city.  The different parts of Rome’s past left their fingerprints on the city’s shape in far more direct ways than one tends to realize, even from visiting and walking through the city.  Rome’s past shows not only in her monuments and ruins, but in the very layout of the streets themselves…

Rest here.

It’s a fascinating and informative post.

 

Bible Archaeology

Relic of the Cross of Jesus Found?

Archaeologists conducting excavations at the Balatlar Church in the Black Sea province of Sinop have unearthed a stone chest with objects said to have a connection with Jesus Christ.

“We have found a holy thing in a chest. It is a piece of a cross, and we think it was [part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified]. This stone chest is very important to us. It has a history and is the most important artifact we have unearthed so far,” said the head of the excavations, Professor Gülgün Köroğlu.

“During the excavations, we have seen many things that we didn’t know about before. Sinop has gained a very good ancient site that we will show visitors,” Köroğlu said, adding that they had discovered the skeletons of over 1,000 people during the four years of excavations.

The works are continuing as part of an EU-funded Field Management Project, she said.

Source:  Hurriyet Daily News

Great find, but no indications as to how any link can be drawn to the True Cross of Jesus.

NBC has also picked up on the above story, with more details:

Turkish archaeologists say they have found a stone chest in a 1,350-year-old church that appears to contain a relic venerated as a piece of Jesus’ cross…

… Köroğlu, an art historian and archaeologist at Turkey’s Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, said the team suspects that the chest served as a symbolic coffin for the relics of a holy person — and that the fragments within it were associated with Jesus’ crucifixion.

She showed reporters at the site a stone with crosses carved into it. “This stone chest is very important to us. It has a history and is the most important artifact we have unearthed so far,” she said. The chest has been taken to a laboratory for further examination.

Köroğlu said her team has been working since 2009 at the church — which was built in the year 660, during the Byzantine era. She said the ruins of an ancient Roman bath were also found at the site, along with more than 1,000 human skeletons.

Fragments associated with Jesus’ cross were sent far and wide as relics in ancient and medieval times. According to legend, St. Helena — the mother of Emperor Constantine — found the cross in Jerusalem and distributed pieces of the wood to church leaders in Jerusalem, Rome and Constantinople (present-day Istanbul in Turkey).

Later in the 4th century, St. Cyril of Jerusalem said the whole world “has been filled with pieces of the wood of the cross.” St. Gregory of Nyssa said the wood had “saving efficacy for all men, though it is, as I am informed, a piece of a poor tree, less valuable than most trees are.”

The 16th-century Protestant theologian John Calvin famously joked that if all the pieces linked to the “true cross” were assembled in one place, “they would make a big shipload.” However, the Catholic Encyclopedia quotes the 19th-century French archaeologist Charles Rohault de Fleury as saying that all of the cataloged relics would amount to less than a third of the wood in a 3- to 4-meter-high (10- to 13-foot-high) cross. Relics linked to Jesus’ cross can be found in many churches, including the Shrine of the True Cross and the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Texas.