Entries Tagged 'Bible knowledge' ↓

Comment: God’s ‘End of Age’ Prophecies

The logic is familiar. There are an extraordinary number of personally stressful experiences combined with selected recalling of natural occurrences meshed with biblical quotations, written some 2000-3000 years ago, to provide incontrovertible evidence that the God’s end of age is upon us and only the faithful (our type of faithful) will survive. Here is the latest of this sort of tripe from the website http://www.worthydevotions.com/. I have highlighted the apocalyptic messages in case you missed the subtlety.

Alex McCullie
Storms are raging!

Psalms 112:6-7 Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.

This past weekend we celebrated the festival of Purim, the holiday which commemorates Israel’s amazing reversal in Persia during the reign of King Xerxes (Ahasuerus), when queen Esther and her uncle Mordecai together gained victory for the Jews and protected them from annihilation at the hands of the evil Haman.
Coincidentally” we experienced our own personal drama on Friday as the holiday was getting underway. A bolt of lightening struck just outside our house destroying the neighborhood’s transformer and cutting off our electric power. Then, later that day, as I was driving to the Dead Sea region to pick up a package, a river from the desert suddenly exploded out of nowhere, sideswiped my car, and nearly washed me into the Dead Sea. The force of the river was so powerful that it lifted the rear end of my car off the road, ripping off most of the bumper, while the front wheels struggled to maintain traction as I desperately maneuvered out of the cataract and forward to safety. For the next 7 hours I was stuck between two rivers as the rains that came down over Israel the night before inundated numerous valleys leading to the Dead Sea. I later spoke with a police officer who informed me that last month a driver in similar circumstances was carried into the Dead Sea and drowned!
I do NOT actually see these experiences as “coincidences” but as signs and portents of things to come. We will soon be facing serious unexpected storms which will shock and possibly dislodge us from the roads we are traveling on. But we are under Divine protection as our focus is on the Lord, and our devotion rests in Him. We may be badly shaken — but He will rescue and restore us!

The message in these days of earthquakes and tsunamis is clear: “Do not fear, for I am with you, even unto the end of the age”.
This devotional was provided by Worthy Devotions.

Comment: Atheist Bluffer’s Guide to the Bible – NT part 1

Defenders of Christianity often escape criticism by referring to atheist ignorance of true Christian beliefs. Even though their beliefs vary more than Christians like to acknowledge, we can have some “showy” knowledge of the New Testament to throw into the conversation. Christians are surprisingly ignorant of their own sacred texts.

The New Testament, essentially a new covenant with God, is a disparate collection of 27 books written in Greek somewhere between 70CE and 150CE. Most believe Jesus was executed about 30CE. The collection of books was canonised, made the measure of true Christian beliefs, some 300 years later. Our English translations come from scholarly reconstructions from Greek documents and fragments as well as later Latin and Coptic translations. Ironically the most popular English translation, the Authorised Version or King James Version, is considered one of the most unreliable.

Do we have the ‘original versions’?

No, we only have only copies of copies of copies and so on. P52 is the earliest fragment, in Greek, of John 18:31–33 and dated around 125CE. We also have later fragments or pages as well a limited number of books or codices, such as Codex Sinaiticus, dated around 350CE. These later codices contain writings that partially correspond to today’s New Testament. For example, Codex Sinaiticus contains the earlier Latin translation of the Old Testament (Hebrew scriptures), much of the New Testament, and extra non-canonical writings like Epistle of Barnadas, a very anti-Jewish text.

What were the first and last writings of the New Testament?

Interestingly, for most Christians, it was one of Paul’s letters, 1 Thessalonians, written around 50CE. The last was probably 2 Peter around 150CE. Most scholars agree that the Gospel of Mark was the first of the gospels, not Matthew as printed in the New Testament. Mark’s gospel was written around 70CE.

Who wrote the gospels?

Most scholars agree that the gospel writers are anonymous, despite the traditional church assignments to apostles or companions of apostles. We can speculate that they were reasonably well-educated Greek-speaking Jews living somewhere in the diaspora, Jews living away from ‘Palestine’. Jesus and his immediate followers would have spoken Aramaic, the common semitic language of Palestinian Jews since the Babylonian captivity some 500 years previous. Like 90% or more of local population, Jesus and his followers were probably illiterate.

More next time…

Alex McCullie