Saturday, June 02, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Masoretic Text

Nash Papyrus (2nd century BCE) contains a portion of the pre-Masoretic Text, specifically the Ten Commandments and the Shema Yisrael prayerThe Masoretic Text (MT) is the Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible (Tanakh). It defines not just the books of the Jewish canon, but also the precise letter-text of the biblical books in Judaism, as well as their vocalization and accentuation for both public reading and private study. The MT is also widely used as the basis for translations of the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles, and in recent decades also for Catholic Bibles.

The MT was primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the seventh and tenth centuries CE. Though the consonants differ little from the text generally accepted in the early second century, it has numerous differences of both little and great significance when compared to (extant 4th century) versions of the Septuagint, originally a Greek translation (around 300 BCE) of the Hebrew Scriptures in popular use in Palestine during the common era and often quoted in the second part of the Christian Bible (known as the New Testament).

The Hebrew word mesorah (מסורה, alt. מסורת) refers to the transmission of a tradition. In a very broad sense it can refer to the entire chain of Jewish tradition (see Oral law), but in reference to the masoretic text the word mesorah has a very specific meaning: the diacritic markings of the text of the Hebrew Bible and concise marginal notes in manuscripts (and later printings) of the Hebrew Bible which note textual details, usually about the precise spelling of words.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Summer 2007 schedule of Larry and Susan Larry and Susan's Summer 2007 schedule

  • Alaska: 30 May to 9 June

  • Beloit: 10-19 June

  • Eastern Cape of Africa: June 20-6 September

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Theological Dictioanry word of the day: Legio X Fretensis
Herodium one of the fortresses of the Jewish revolt conquered by the X Fretensis.Legio X Fretensis (Latin: "Tenth legion of the sea strait") was a Roman legion levied by Augustus in 41/40 BC to fight during the period of civil war that started the dissolution of the Roman Republic. X Fretensis is recorded to exist at least until 410s.

X Fretensis symbols were the bull, the holy animal of the goddess Venus (mythical ancestor of the gens Julia), a ship (probably a reference to the battles of Naulochus and/or Actium), the god Neptune, and a boar. The symbol of Taurus may also mean that it was organized between 20 April and 20 May.

Octavian, later known as Caesar Augustus, levied a legion and gave it the number ten, as a reference to Julius Caesar's famous Tenth Legion.

In 36 BC, the Tenth Legion fought under Octavian against Sextus Pompeius in the Battle of Naulochus, where it earned its cognomen Fretensis. The name refers to the fact that the battle took place near the sea Strait of Messina (Fretum Siculum).

When Tarichacae and Gamala were conquered, the X Fretensis moved to Scythopolis (modern Bet She'an), just west of Jordan River. In the summer of 68, X Fretensis destroyed the monastery of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are believed to have originated. Its winter camp was at Jericho.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Ein Gedi
botanic garden at Ein Gedi, Israel, May 2006. ©Ester InbarEin Gedi (עין גדי; KJV Bible Engedi, NIV Bible En Gedi) is an oasis located west of the Dead Sea, close to Masada and the caves of Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Location 31°27′N, 35°23′E.

It is known for its caves, springs, and its rich diversity of flora and fauna. Ein Gedi is mentioned several times in biblical writings, for example, in the Song of Songs;

"My beloved is unto me as a cluster of henna flowers in the vineyards of Ein Gedi" (1:14). Accorded to Jewish tradition, David hid from Saul in the caves here;

"And David went up from thence, and dwelt in the strongholds of Ein Gedi" (1
Samuel 24:1).
A kibbutz, founded in 1956, is located about a kilometer from the oasis. It offers various tourist attractions and takes advantage of the local weather patterns and the abundance of natural water to cultivate out-of-season produce. Prior to the founding of the kibbutz, the Ein Gedi area had not been permanently inhabited for 500 years.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Theological Dictioanry word of the day: Copper Scroll
Copper Scroll found at Khirbet KumranThe Copper Scroll is one of the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Khirbet Qumran, but differs significantly from the others. While they are written on leather or papyrus, this scroll is written on metal: copper mixed with about 1% tin. Unlike the others, it is not a literary work, but contains a listing of locations at which various items of gold and silver are buried or hidden. It is currently on display at the Archaeological Museum in Amman, Jordan. The treasure it describes is worth at least one billion dollars.

History and origin
The scroll was found in 1952 in Cave 3 at Qumran, the last of 15, and is thus referred to as 3Q15. Two copper rolls were discovered off by themselves in the back of the cave. The metal being corroded, they could not be unrolled by conventional means. Professor H. Wright Baker, of the College of Technology at Manchester, England, cut the sheets into strips. It then became clear that the rolls were part of the same document. Low-quality photographs of the scrolls were taken and published. Scholars have found these to be difficult to work with, and have relied on a drawing of the text by scholar Józef Milik published in 1962. Another scholar, John Marco Allegro, published his translation in 1960. The scroll was rephotographed in 1988 with clearer precision, under an effort led by P. Kyle McCarter, Jr.

Writing style
The style of writing is unusual, different from the other scrolls. It is written in a style similar to Mishnaic Hebrew. There is an unusual orthography, and the script has the features resulting from someone writing on copper with a stylus.

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Essenes
Dead Sea Scroll fragmentThe Essenes (es'-eenz) were followers of a religious way of living in Judaism that flourished from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD. Many scholars today argue that there were a number of separate but related groups that had in common mystic, eschatological, messianic, and ascetic beliefs that were referred to as the "Essenes". There are also contemporary movements which identify themselves as Essenes, including the "Orthodox" Christian Essenes.

The main source of information about the life and belief of Essenes is the detailed account contained in a work of the 1st century Jewish historiographer Josephus entitled The Jewish War written about 73-75 CE (War 2.119-161) and his shorter description in his Antiquities finished some 20 years later (Ant. 18.11 & 18-22). Claiming first hand knowledge (Life §§10-11), he refers to them by the name Essenoi and lists them as the followers of one of the three "choices" in "Jewish Philosophy'" (War 2.119) alongside the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The only other known contemporary accounts about the Essenes are two similarly detailed ones by the Jewish philosopher Philo (fl. c. 20 BCE - c. 54 CE; Quod Omnis Probus Liber Sit XII.75-87, and the excerpt from his Hypothetica 11.1-18 preserved by Eusebius, Praep. Evang. Bk VIII), who, however, admits to not being quite certain of the Greek form of their name that he recalls as Essaioi (Quod Omn. Prob. XII.75), and the brief reference to them by the Roman equestrian Pliny the Elder (fl. 23 CE - 79 CE; Natural History, Bk 5.73).


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Qumran
Caves at QumranQumran (Khirbet Qumran) is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea in the disputed territory of the West Bank. The site was constructed sometime between 150 and 130 BC and saw various phases of occupation until, in the summer of 68, Titus and his X Fretensis destroyed it. It is best known as the settlement nearest to the hiding place of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the caves of the sheer desert cliffs. Location near 31°45′N 35°26′E

The Dead Sea scrolls comprise roughly 825-870 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible, discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves in and around the Wadi Qumran (near the ruins of the ancient settlement of Khirbet Qumran, on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea).

Since the discovery in the middle of the last century of almost 900 scrolls in various states of completeness, mostly written on parchment, extensive excavations of the settlement have been undertaken. Jewish ritual baths and cemeteries have been found, a large cistern, a large dining or assembly room, an alleged scriptorium, and a guard tower.