Saturday, April 14, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: covenant
Rainbow by bluemist57, Adelaide, Australia Covenant, meaning a solemn contract, is the customary word used to translate the Hebrew word berith (ברית) as it is used in the Hebrew Bible
God's promise to Israel in both the Old Testament and the New Testament that He would redeem the nation of Israel, give Israel the land of Zion, and "appear in his glory" and "come out of Zion" when "all Israel shall be saved" (cf. Psalm 102:15-18, Romans 11:25-27).
While the word is used to identify treaties or similar contracts between rulers or individuals, the primary covenants mentioned in the Bible are the one between God and the Israelites (Old Testament) and the one between God and the Christian Church (New Testament).

This covenant was the basis for the Torah, and the claimed status of the Israelites as God's "chosen people." According to the terms of the covenant, Israelites understand that God had promised to undertake certain things on behalf of the people of Israel, and that the Israelites owed God obedience and worship in return.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Tel Dan Stele
Tel Dan SteleThe Tel Dan Stele is a black basalt stele erected by an Aramaean king in northernmost Israel containing an Aramaic inscription to commemorate his victory over the ancient Hebrews. Although the name of the author of the stele does not seem to appear on the available fragments, it is most likely a king of neighboring Damascus. Language, time, and location make it plausible that the author was Hazael or his son, Bar Hadad II/III, who were kings of Damascus and enemies of the kingdom of Israel. The stele was discovered at Tel Dan, previously named Tell el-Qadi, a mound where a city once stood at the northern tip of Israel . Fragment A was discovered in 1993, and fragments B1 and B2, which fit together, were discovered in 1994.

In the broken part of the stone below the smooth writing surface, there is a possible "internal" fit between fragment A and the assembled fragments B1/B2, but it is uncertain and disputed. If the fit is correct, then the pieces were originally side by side. The inscription has been dated to the 9th or 8th centuries BCE. The 8th-century limit is determined by a destruction layer caused by a well-documented Assyrian conquest in 733/732 BCE. Because that destruction layer was above the layer in which the stele fragments were found, it is clear that it took place after the stele had been erected, then broken into pieces which were later used in a construction project at Tel Dan, presumably by Hebrew builders. It is difficult to discern how long before that Assyrian conquest these earlier events took place.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Tribes of Israel
Map of the twelve tribes of IsraelIsrael had 12 sons, as follows: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. (Jacob was renamed Israel Gen. 32:27-29) The Tribe of Levi was set apart from the others in the sense that, the members of the Tribe of Levi were to be in charge of the tabernacle of the Testimony. (see: Num. 1).

The Tribe of Joseph is not usually listed with the Hebrew tribes although Joseph is one of Jacobs twelve sons, the eldest of Rachel. It is sometimes referred to as the House of Joseph. Rather, the two tribes founded by his sons Ephraim and Manasseh are listed separately.

Tribal Divisions
Politically, the Israelites were composed of thirteen tribes: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Benjamin. In parts of the Bible, Ephraim and Manasseh are treated as together constituting the House of Joseph, while the Levi have a special religious role and had only scattered cities as territory; whence traditionally either Ephraim and Manasseh were counted as one tribe, or Levi wasn't counted, so that together the tribes were the Twelve Tribes of Israel.


Theological Dictionary word of the day: Tabernackle
The Tabernacle (Reconstruction)The tabernacle (Exodus 25:8-10, 26:1-3) is known in Hebrew as the mishkan ("place of [divine] dwelling"). It was to be a portable central place of worship for the children of Israel from the time they left ancient Egypt following the exodus, through the time of the book of Judges when they were engaged in conquering the land of Canaan, until the time its elements were made part of the final temple in Jerusalem about the 10th century BC.

Hebrew mishkan

The Hebrew word, however, points to a different meaning. Mishkan is related to the Hebrew word to "dwell", "rest", or "to live in", referring to the "[In-dwelling] Presence of God", the Shekhina (or Shechina) (based on the same Hebrew root word as Mishkan), that dwelled or rested within this divinely ordained mysterious structure.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Book of IsaiahBooks of the Old Testament referred to as "the prophets":

Former Prophets
Joshua or Yehoshua [יהושע]
Judges or Shoftim [שופטים]
Samuel or Shmu'el [שמואל]
Kings or Melakhim [מלכים]

Latter Prophets

Major Prophets
Isaiah or Yeshayahu [ישעיהו]
Jeremiah or Yirmiyahu [ירמיהו]
Lamentations [מגילת איכה]
Ezekiel or Yehezq'el [יחזקאל]

Minor Prophets
Trei Asar (The Twelve Minor Prophets) תרי עשר
Hosea or Hoshea [הושע]
Joel or Yo'el [יואל]
Amos [עמוס]
Obadiah or Ovadyah [עבדיה]
Jonah or Yonah [יונה]
Micah or Mikhah [מיכה]
Nahum or Nachum [נחום]
Habakkuk or Habaquq [חבקוק]
Zephaniah or Tsefania [צפניה]
Haggai or Haggai [חגי]
Zechariah Zekharia [זכריה]
Malachi or Malakhi [מלאכי]

A Sefer Torah opened for liturgical use in a synagogue service Torah (תּוֹרָה) is a Hebrew word meaning "teaching," "instruction," or "law." It is the central and most important document of Judaism revered by Jews through the ages. It is written in Hebrew, the oldest Jewish language. It is also called the Law of Moses (Torat Moshe תּוֹרַת־מֹשֶׁה).

Torah primarily refers to the first section of the Tanakh–the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, but the term is sometimes also used in the general sense to also include both of Judaism's written law and oral law, encompassing the entire spectrum of authoritative Jewish religious teachings throughout history, including the Mishnah, the Talmud, the Midrash, and more.

The five books and their names and pronunciations in original Hebrew are as follows:

  1. Genesis (בראשית, Bereshit: "In the beginning...")
  2. Exodus (שמות, Shemot: "Names")
  3. Leviticus (ויקרא, Vayyiqra: "And he called...")
  4. Numbers (במדבר, Bammidbar: "In the wilderness..."), and
  5. Deuteronomy (דברים, Devarim: "Words", or "Discourses")


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Resurrection of Jesus
The resurrection of Jesus as depicted by Matthias GrünewaldAccording to the Trinitarian interpretation of the New Testament, Jesus was both human and God, so he had the power to lay his life down and to take it up again; thus after Jesus died, he came back to life. This event is referred to in Christian terminology as the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and is commemorated and celebrated by most Christians annually on Easter Sunday.

Most Christians, even those who do not interpret other parts of the Bible literally, accept the New Testament story as an historical account of an actual event central to their faith, though some do not accept a literal bodily resurrection, sometimes arguing for docetism. But it so seems that in the past, a large group of Christians known as the Gnostics, who were later declared heretics and partially exterminated, argued against its singular importance, and claimed that the New Testament supported their claims. Non-Christians generally view the story as legend or as allegory.

The New Testament
The primary accounts of the resurrection are in the last chapters of the Canonical Gospels: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21.

All the Canonical Gospel accounts agree that Jesus was crucified late on Friday afternoon and placed in a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea. On Sunday, after the Saturday Jewish day of rest, one or more of Jesus' female followers, one or more of whom were called Mary, returned to the tomb, to complete the burial rites. When they arrived they discovered that the tomb was empty, or more accurately it did not contain Jesus' body. They then conversed with (an) angel(s)/male youth who informed them that Jesus was resurrected/not there, and so they departed. According to the traditional ending of Mark 16, and the surviving versions of the other Gospels, the women returned with some of Jesus' disciples to confirm the emptiness of the tomb. However, ancient manuscripts of Mark 16 vary heavily after this point, some ancient manuscripts even halt at this point, and most scholars do not believe the traditional ending was the original one.