Download these free e-books covering a range of Biblical and Archaeological topics. You can keep them on your computer as PDFs or read them on various mobile devices, via iBooks, Kindle, or other readers. Here is the link.
Okay, watched the Apple Keynote on the latest rollout of products, downloaded Yosemite and love it, will upgrade devices to iOS8.1 on Monday…life is good. For now I am sticking with our iMac, this Mac Book Air on which I am typing, the iPhone 5s, and my iPad Mini…but in 2015–I can see upgrading the devices. I just like what I have so much I am not ready to change. This story is so true…and the photo is absolutely classic. What a time we live in. There is no comparison to Apple in terms of design, function, and integration. Here is a nice review of the event and what’s new from Fortune magazine: http://fortune.com/2014/10/17/apple-tim-cook-iphone-ipad/
The program and all registration details are now out for the upcoming 17th Annual Biblical Archeology Bible and Archaeology Fest are posted. The line-up is pretty impressive. I love being called one of the “old favorites,” along with colleagues Mark Goodacre and Jodi Magness! Seriously though, this looks to me like the most fascinating list of speakers and topics in a long time. I must confess, I will have trouble pulling myself away from the ASOR, AAR, and SBL programs that run concurrently with the BAS Bible & Archaeology Fest–as I can’t imagine missing some of these! Check it out, click on images below for hyperlinks and more details.
Last night began the Jewish festival popularly known Sukkoth, the “feast of huts” or booths. The King James Version translated it as the “Feast of Tabernacles,” and that is how many thousands of Christians who observe it in some fashion refer to it most often today, see here for some biblical textual background from the Hebrew Bible.
What is all the more interesting about this day is that by some calculations (see Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology) Jesus was born on or very near the 15th day of the 7th month–based on the chronology given in the book of Luke. The calculations are complex but have to do with the time in which Zechariah, father of John the Baptizer, served in the Temple (Luke 1:8), as the “section” of priests in which he was part went on duty at a specific time of year. From that window calculations can be made as to the birth of John, followed by the birth of Jesus six months later. My own calculations based on a computer program I use puts the birth of Jesus in 5 B.C. very close to Sukkoth that year, or September 22nd on the Gregorian Calendar, corresponding to the Autumnal Equinox. So I suppose one could say tonight marks the original Christmas Eve and Jesus’ Hebrew birthday. For more details on these calculations see my article on a different take on “Silent Night,” here.
There is a fascinating Roman civic inscription dating to the year 9 B.C. that was passed by the cities of Asia to celebrate the birthday of the Emperor Augustus. It reads in part: “Whereas, finally, that the birthday of the god (i.e. Augustus) has been for the whole world the beginning of the gospel (euangelion) concerning him, therefore, let all reckon a new era beginning from the date of his birth, and let his birthday mark the beginning of the new year.” You can read the text in whole here.
It is surely more than ironic that the birth of Jesus, an insignificant Galilean peasant, living under the brutal boot of Roman occupation, just a few years later, did indeed lead to a new era, a kind of “birthday of the world,” that has paled into insignificance the birth of the celebrated Emperor Augustus.
So today in particular it seems has a double meaning, as the festival of Sukkoth for Jews and others who observe the Torah festivals, but for Christians, and really our entire society, the birthday of a new era, in that Jesus himself was born on or very near this day.
Segments of the evangelical Christian and so-called “messianic” Jewish worlds are getting all stirred up by the “Four Blood Moons” nonsense being peddled by John Hagee in his latest bestselling book by that name–which he ripped off from Mark Blitz of “El Shaddai Ministries.” Given Hagee’s notoriety the idea has gone “viral” among these various groups. Hagee has even recently appeared on FOX News with, you guessed it, Lauren Green, who seems to buy into his nonsense after checking it with “NASA” herself. Since I will be viewed by some as the skeptical academic “historian” I won’t bother to offer my own refutation but pass along here the critique of Chris White, a Christian believer with an interest in Bible Prophecy (“Bible Prophecy Talk), who thoroughly “debunks” the whole theory and tells you what its advocates either don’t know or are not telling you–with web links to the articles he cites and further documentation.