How often have you visited a major museum and wandered around, staring at the artifacts, with little clue as to their relevance for your religious faith? Ever wondered about the Ancient Near East (ANE) where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived? What were the contemporary, cultural, political, and social contexts from which Israel emerged as a nation?
Understanding the geohistorical contexts of the Old Testament is instrumental to the study of the Bible. This guide will introduce the art and science of archaeology, their contributions to biblical studies as well as their limitations as a tool to reconstruct the past. Learn about the history of the ANE, their myths and religions, as well as the contemporary tensions between conservative-confessional and liberal-critical prejudices and biases in their interpretations of the Bible in the light of archaeology. It will also examine a selection of artifacts from the Met’s ANE collection relevant to the Bible with reference to their geohistorical and theological contexts.
In this lecture, we shall focus on the Persian Empire: its culture, langauge and influence on the writing of the Bible.
This event is free but please register for it. You are invited to make a donation to the ministry to make such public lectures available at no cost.
In 431, the 3rd Council of the Church led to great disagreement so that by the end of the 5th century, there were essentially 3 traditions of Christianity:
This lecture will outline how Christians from Persia led missions that reached China in 635 AD. In 1625, physical evidence of this was first discovered in Xian, China. Subsequently, more documents were found in Dunhuang, Gansu province and in the mighty Taklamakan desert of Xinjiang province.
How does this very early strand of Eastern Christianity that had little to do with Rome help us think about the early history of the faith.
Jesus conducted his ministry as a Jew in Galilee and Judea. These areas were influenced by the trade, culture, and political structures of the larger Greco-Roman world.
The cities of Sepphoris and Tiberias played a major role in spreading Greco-Roman influence in Galilee. Herod Antipas, the Roman client-king of Galilee during Jesus’ time, established them. He honored his boss, the Roman emperor, by renaming Sepphoris as “Autocratoris,” a Greek form of the Latin imperial designation “Imperator.” Herod also named Tiberias after the emperor Tiberius.
Roman cities exhibited and promoted features of Greco-Roman culture—architecture, teachers and philosophers, roads and bathhouses, temples and markets, and entertainment such as the Roman theater at Sepphoris. Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, was about four miles from Sepphoris.
How might Greco-Roman culture have influenced Jesus, Peter, James, John and Paul? Some have seen connections between Jesus’ actions, such as his working of miracles, and the broader culture, which included other miracle workers. There were certainly Jewish miracle workers, both in older biblical Jewish traditions (Elijah and Elisha) and in first-century Jewish traditions (Honi the circle drawer; Hanina ben Dosa). But there were also numerous miracle workers in the Greco-Roman world—healers and exorcists like Apollonius of Tyana. As with stories about Jesus, accounts show Apollonius raising people from the dead and demons crying out in his presence.
We shall dip into this amazing period in history to better understand the Bible.