Saturday, June 09, 2007

A folio from P46, early 3rd c. New Testament manuscript useful in discerning the early Christian canon Theological Dictionary word of the day: timeline of Christianity
The purpose of this chronology is to give a detailed account of Christianity from the beginning of the current era to the present. Question marks on dates indicate approximate dates. For "Old Testament" chronology, see History of ancient Israel.

Era of Jesus
The year one is the first year in the Christian calendar (there is no year zero), which is the calendar presently used (in unison with the Gregorian calendar) almost everywhere in the world, because of the current dominance of the Western world. Traditionally, this was held to be the year Jesus was born, however most modern scholars argue for an earlier date and later dates, the most agreed upon being between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Old Testament
Tora Scroll, Germany about 1830. Part of the exhibition in the Jewish Museum Westphalia, Dorsten, GermanyThe first of the two main divisions of the bible, containing the books of the old or Mosaic Covenant, and including the historical books, the prophets, and poetical books.

The Old Testament or the Hebrew Scriptures (also called the Hebrew Bible) constitutes the first major part of the Bible according to Christianity. It is usually divided into the categories of law, history, poetry (or wisdom books) and prophecy. All of these books were written before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, who is the subject of the subsequent Christian New Testament. The Bible of Jesus is the Old Testament, specifically according to the Gospel of Luke 24:44–45 "written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms ... the scriptures". According to historians, the Old Testament was composed between the 5th century BC and the 2nd century BC, though parts of it, such as the Torah, date back much earlier.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: New Testament
Christ on the Mount of Olives with the angel holding the cup (suffering)That portion of the Bible containing the life and teachings of Christ, including the gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Pauline epistles, the General epistles, and the Revelation of John.
The New Testament (Καινή Διαθήκη), sometimes called the Greek Testament or Greek Scriptures, and sometimes also New Covenant (which is the more accurate translation of the original Greek), is the name given to the part of the Christian Bible that was written by various authors c. AD 48–140 and gradually collected into a single volume over the next few centuries. Some minor groups commonly refer to the New Testament as the B'rit Chadashah, Hebrew for New Covenant, or the Apostolic Writings.

The New Testament is twenty-seven separate works: the four narratives of Jesus Christ's ministry, called "Gospels"; a narrative of the Apostles' ministries, which is also a sequel to the third Gospel; twenty-one early letters, commonly called "epistles" in Biblical context, which were written by various authors and consisted mostly of Christian counsel and instruction; and an Apocalyptic prophecy, which is also technically the twenty-second epistle.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Talmudical Hermeneutics
A page from a medieval Jerusalem Talmud manuscript. Found in the Cairo GenizahTalmudical Hermeneutics (Hebrew: approximately, מידות שהתורה נדרשת בהן) refers to the science which defines the rules and methods for the investigation and exact determination of the meaning of the Scriptures, both legal and historical. Since the Halakah, however, is regarded simply as an exposition and explanation of the Torah, Talmud hermeneutics includes also the rules by which the requirements of the oral law are derived from and established by the written law. These rules relate to:

grammar and exegesis
  • the interpretation of certain words and letters and superfluous words, prefixes, and suffixes in general

  • the interpretation of those letters which, in certain words, are provided with points

  • the interpretation of the letters in a word according to their numerical value (see Gemaṭria)

  • the interpretation of a word by dividing it into two or more words (see Noṭariḳon)
    the interpretation of a word according to its consonantal form or according to its vocalization

  • the interpretation of a word by transposing its letters or by changing its vowels
    the logical deduction of a halakah from a Scriptural text or from another law


Monday, June 04, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Biblical canon

The Biblical canon is an exclusive list of books written during the formative period of the Jewish or Christian faiths; the leaders of these communities believed these books to be inspired by God or to express the authoritative history of the relationship between God and his people (although there may have been secondary considerations as well).

There are differences between Christians and Jews, as well as between different Christian traditions, over which books meet the standards for canonization. The different criteria for, and the process of, canonization for each community dictates what members of that community consider to be their Bible.

At this time, all of the below canons are considered to be closed; that is, most adherents of the various groups do not think that additional books can be added to their Bible. By contrast, an open canon would be a list of books which is considered to be open to additional books, should they meet the other criteria. Each of the canons described below was considered open for a time before being closed. Generally, the closure of the canon reflects a belief from the faith community that the formative period of the religion has ended, and that texts from that period can be collected into an authoritative body of work. Certain non-mainstream churches (such as the Latter-day Saints) which accept a Bible as part of their formally adopted sacred literature may also include other works in the totality of their canon. See Sacred text for examples.

The relationship between the closing of the canon and beliefs about the nature of revelation may be subject to different interpretations. Some believe that the closing of the canon signals the end of a period of divine revelation; others believe that revelation continues even after the canon is closed, either through individuals or through the leadership of a divinely sanctioned religious institution. Among those who believe that revelation continues after the canon is closed, there is further debate about what kinds of revelation is possible, and whether the revelation can add to established theology.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Theological Dictioanry word of the day: Bible
A Bible handwritten in Latin, on display in Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, England. This Bible was transcribed in Belgium in 1407 for reading aloud in a monastery.The writings of the old and new testaments, as accepted by the Christian church as a divine revelation: in certain churches embracing also parts of the Apocrypha (not in the canonical Hebrew Scriptures nor in the Authorized Version).

If one takes a thoughful, unbiased look at the Judeo-Christian texts (Old and New Testaments, in any language), eliminating all presuppositions, they will discover that they all point to one thing: the Messiah.

Jesus is the Messiah.

Speaking to the serpent, God said,

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." -Genesis 3 (3:15)
The Bible is the most widely distributed book in the world. Both Hebrew Scripture and the Christian Bible have been translated more times and into more languages (more than 2,100 languages) than any other book. It is said that more than five billion copies of the Bible have been sold since 1815, making it the best-selling book of all-time.

Because of Christian domination of Europe from the late Roman era to the Age of Enlightenment, the Bible has influenced not only religion but language, law and, until the modern era, the natural philosophy of mainstream Western Civilization. The Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution in Europe and America brought skepticism regarding the divine origin and historical accuracy of the Bible.