The word Bible comes from the Latin after the Greek biblia, or “books.” Biblia is a form of byblos, meaning the papyrus paper exported from the ancient Phoenician port city of Biblos.
Also known as the Holy Bible, the Bible is a collection of writings complied over centuries, containing the Sacred Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. Although some fundamentalists don’t like to explore the idea, mature biblical scholars, using various archeological findings and scholarly techniques, generally agree that many books of the Bible attributed to one author were likely not written by that author; possibly they were written by many authors and compiled over time.
The debates are fast and sometimes furious. But to most sober-minded people, it seems that in many books, the Bible did not drop down from God into mind of a single prophet/author.
This assertion does not, however, necessarily mean that the Bible does not come from God. Not unlike the idea of intelligent design (vs. creationism), the evolution of the Bible could very well have been overseen or, if you prefer the religious word, inspired by the Lord.
Jews and Christians each use the word “bible” but the Jewish scriptures and the Christian Bible differ.
The 39 books of Jewish Scripture are written in Hebrew, except for a few passages in Daniel and Ezra, which are written in Aramaic.
The Old Testament (or Jewish Bible) recounts God’s involvement with mankind from creation to the beginning of the Israelite’s religion, up to around the 2nd-century BCE.
The Christian Bible contains the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament. The New Testament is regarded by Christians as a “new covenant” between God and his people, focusing on the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and the formation of his early apostolic church.
Several early texts competed for inclusion into the orthodox canon. The Old Testament was not decided upon until 100 CE, at the council of Jabneh. Disagreements continued until 1546, however, at which time the council of Trent declared several books as canonical which Protestants would later regard as apocryphal (texts not recognized as holy scripture but containing some merit).
The Old Testament used by the Roman Catholic Church is the Jewish Bible plus seven other books (and additions); some of the additional books were originally written in Greek, as was the New Testament.
The Old Testament used by Protestants consists of the 39 books of the Jewish Bible. The remaining, unused books and additions are called the Apocrypha by Protestants, which are generally known as deuterocanonical books by Roman Catholics. However, many Catholics use the word Apocrypha to describe all that lies outside their Authorized Bible.
An early indication of a canonical list matching today’s New Testament is found in the 39th Easter letter of Athanasius in 367 CE, designating 27 books of the New Testament in addition to the Old Testament canon.
The New Testament (Christian Scripture)
The Gospels and Acts
Acts of the Apostles
The Epistles or Letters
Book of Revelation or Apocalypse of St John
The Old Testament (Christian and Jewish Scripture)
Books of the Law (known as the Pentateuch)
Books of Poetry and Wisdom
Song of Solomon
Books of the Prophets
Additions to Esther
Wisdom of Solomon
Epistle of Jeremiah
Prayer of Azariah
Song of the Three Young Men
History of Susanna
Bel and the Dragon
Prayer of the Manasseh
† The Roman Catholic Church includes Tobit, Judith, all of Esther, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus and Baruch in its canon.
- Part I: Is the Bible the Inspired Word of God? (thesimplewomansdaybook.com)
- Facts You Didn’t Know About the Accuracy of the Old Testament (vineoflife.net)
- What’s Missing from “A New New Testament”? (orthodoxyandheterodoxy.org)
- HarperOne’s Bible e-book sale (bltnotjustasandwich.com)
- Reloading the Canon? (mtsweat.com)
- Outline for first bible study class – Comments? (grizzersbiblethoughts.wordpress.com)
- Biblica Cleans Up the Bible with New “Books of the Bible” Release (christianwritingtoday.com)
- Bible format – trying to understand it (revivers.wordpress.com)
- The Deutero-canonical books of the Bible: dispelling a Protestant myth. (1catholicsalmon.com)
- Contradictions in the Bible (richarddawkins.net)
The Bhagavad-Gita [Sanskrit: The song of the Lord] is a central scripture holy to Hindus that belongs to book VI of the epic Mahabharata. Believed by many scholars to be a more recent insert within the Mahabharata, the Gita synthesizes different, previously existing forms of yoga.
The main plot line revolves around Krishna urging Arjuna to fulfil the dharma (sacred duty) appropriate to his warrior caste (kshatrya). Taken literally, in the Gita this means Arjuna must slay kith and kin in the battlefield.
Krishna outlines additional dharmas appropriate for other castes, but Arjuna’s sacred task is to kill. Krishna further instructs Arjuna that his relatives will not really perish because the soul (atman) is eternal.
A gentler, psychological interpretation of the Gita sees the ‘killing’ in terms of the destruction of bad karma accumulated over past lives. These attributes manifest as outward aspects of the personality in the present life, not unlike that which Carl Jung terms the persona. Thus the ‘killing’ could be seen as the elimination or, perhaps, redirection of superficial and negative personality components that obscure awareness of the immortal soul (atman)
Because God’s grace is said to be central in overcoming negative past karma, some scholars believe that the Gita was written as late as 2nd-century CE, influenced by the teachings of Jesus Christ. Regardless of the precise date, Arjuna’s dharma seems to lie somewhere between Old Testament ideas concerning the problem of social justice (“an eye for an eye”) and the New Testament emphasis on spiritual salvation (“turn the other cheek”).
While some Christians may argue that the Gita’s message is clearly inferior to the New Testament’s prescription to love one’s enemies, this claim is complicated by the additional teaching of the so-called “Just War,” a teaching which is explicit or, perhaps, implicit to many Christian belief systems.
Having said that, it seems that a valid distinction may be made between what Jesus of the New Testament says we ought to do vs. what will happen.
Jesus of the New Testament says his followers ought not to be violent, nor to even think violently, even though conflict and war will inevitably break out among some members of the population. By way of contrast, the Krishna of the Gita essentially says killing is okay in certain circumstances. And this is something that Christ never advocates in the New Testament.
- Shrimad Bhagavad Gita in Hindi (full) (manishkamat.wordpress.com)
- #Review# : Bhagavad Gita (physicaln3dj6.wordpress.com)
- #Buy# : Jnaneshwari: Bhavartha – Dipika Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita (physicaln3dj6.wordpress.com)
- Everyday Bhagavad-Gita. ~ Vrindavan Rao (elephantjournal.com)
- Bhagavad Gita Post #1 – The background (pflead73.wordpress.com)
- #Buy# : The Bhagavad Gita or The Message of the Master (physicaln3dj6.wordpress.com)
- Mahabharata for a Yogi (artoflivingsblog.com)
- Rahul invokes the Gita, Buddha at CII meet (news.in.msn.com)
- Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 7 – Knowledge of Ultimate Truth (Gyan Vigyaan Yoga) (bhuwanchand.wordpress.com)
- Ahimsa: The Way of Nonviolence (thelastteahouse.wordpress.com)
Conversion is a total and complete change of allegiance, belief and practice from a secular to a religious outlook, or from one religious belief system to another.
This is the textbook definition. In actual fact, conversion is usually an ongoing process in which old elements of the personality (and related attitudes and beliefs) diminish and possibly die out while being replaced by new ones.
Alternately, aspects of the old personality may endure but be transformed and applied within a new outlook. For instance, a musician may at one time play predominantly for the love of music and to please people, self-aggrandize and make money. After a conversion experience he or she may play music to glorify God.
The term also has more popular uses, such as “I converted from meat eating to vegetarianism.”
In the New Testament we hear of some conversion experiences that are sudden and powerful, such as the persecutor of Christians Saul falling off his horse and becoming St. Paul. But these are typically rare. The norm seems to be a gradual conversion, characterized by moments of grace and spiritual dryness. Or perhaps an initially powerful conversion experience is followed by periods of dryness and grace.
When someone has a powerful conversion experience they usually claim to “know” instead of “believe,” which arguably could be an interpretive mistake. And new converts are often overzealous and intolerant of other forms of belief. At least for a while. If they’re inherently sensible, the school of life usually balances them out over time. But if they’re not sensible about their beliefs, converts may continue to be fanatical and, perhaps, alienate more than inspire others.
- Concepts and Dimensions of Conversion and Religious Experience (marbaniang.wordpress.com)
- Fear and faith: Derren Brown and the Confusion (pw201.livejournal.com)
- Conversion All-echoing (simonmarsh.org)
- Critically evaluate the relative merits of visions, voices, numinous, conversion, and corporate experiences for proving the existence of God (mentaltyranny.wordpress.com)
- Book of Acts Part 1 (brakeman1.com)
- Conversion (braggschurchofchrist.com)
- What is in the Word? (thomaspritchard.wordpress.com)
Also known as the Dioscuri, the Greek Kastor and Polydeuces figure in classical myth. The Roman Castor and Pollux are believed to have intervened in the battle of Regillus in 484 BCE , and recent temple excavations support this claim.¹
As the twin sons of Leda, they are often honored among the pagan gods at Sparta and Rome,² and represented on horseback. As Zeus‘ child, Pollux was immortal and an outstanding boxer.
Castor was the offspring of Tyndareus, mortal and an excellent horseman. At Castor’s death, Pollux beseeched Zeus to grant Castor immortality as he could not bear the thought of separation.
Zeus transformed them both into the constellation Gemini (the Twins). They appear as St. Elmo’s Fire to aid seafarers, and appeared in the New Testament as the image on a grain ship that carried Paul from Malta to Puteoli ³ (Acts 28:11).
And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.4
¹ Oxford Classical Dictionary, 1999, p. 303.
² Maas, Georgia S.. “Castor and Pollux.” Oxford Reference. Oxford University Press. . n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780195170726.001.0001/acref-9780195170726-e-217.
³ Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, 1987, p. 1024.
- Moon, twin stars, two planets greet early morning risers (earthsky.org)
- Castor and Pollux (themirrorobscura.com)
- Castor and Pollux at ENO (intermezzo.typepad.com)
- At last – massive online discounts for ENO Castor & Pollux (intermezzo.typepad.com)
The Dhammapada is a highly influential collection of 423 verses 26 sections within the Pali Canon of Indian Theravada Buddhism, traditionally ascribed to the Buddha himself. Basically an anthology of sayings, the Dhammapada deals with avoiding worldly desire and cultivating wisdom and joy.
In verse 78 we have the universal idea:
Don’t keep friends with ugly souls; avoid evil souls. Keep friends with beautiful souls; associate with those whose souls are good.
Within the New Testament (NT) story we find the rough parallel where Jesus loves his enemies but doesn’t allow them to destroy him before his allotted time to die (Luke 4:28-30, John 8:59). While some vulgar interpretations of the NT see this as cowardice or a shrinking away from the spiritually ugly, a more mature perspective sees it for what it is, namely, wisdom.
- The power of thought (thewondrousdharma.com)
- If you meet the evil one on the road… (evolutionsangha.wordpress.com)
- Psychologists rediscover what the Buddha taught (keiththegreen.wordpress.com)
- A Prayer (realityinprogress.wordpress.com)
- How Are You Meeting Every Situation? (realmanure.wordpress.com)
- Buddhist concepts.pptx [autosaved] (slideshare.net)
- Anders Behring Breivik used meditation to kill – he’s not the first | Vishvapani Blomfield (guardian.co.uk)
- Buddhism Series – the 7 Sets! – introduction (tiltedcandle.wordpress.com)
- International Buddhist Festival. (inkstainedteeth.wordpress.com)
- Merit, what and why? (keiththegreen.wordpress.com)
When translating the Old and New Testaments from the earliest sources, the idea of of God often appears as “Father.” From early Israelite history God is, in fact, regarded as a Father and the New Testament develops ideas firmly rooted in the Old Testament.
Feminist thinkers like Mary Daly have taken exception to the masculine depiction of the deity, arguing that women benefit from female images speaking to and further inspiring the female experience.
Many progressive scholars, male and female alike, argue that to see God in male terms tends to perpetuate patterns of worship that closely resemble a patriarchal religious monarchy.¹
¹ For a good analysis of this issue, see Paul E. Dinter, The Changing Priesthood: From the Bible to the 21st Century. Texas: Thomas More Publishing, 1996.
- The Goddess is Back and Sex is Sacred (sensualblissvoyager.wordpress.com)
- Mary, the virginal mother of God, and feminist theology (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- The Holy Trinity and Mary (theskepticalteenager.wordpress.com)
- Who Can Call God “Dad”? (leadinguptoeaster.wordpress.com)
Most world religions speak of an inextricable link between faith and morals.
In the religious sense, to have faith is to try to please God and this involves making the right moral choices. At least, this is one approach to faith. Another approach is that you can do whatever you want and God will forgive you—providing, most would add, that a sincere attempt to stop doing the bad thing is made somewhere down the line.
Any discussion of faith and morals will likely include a section on laws. In the Old Testament the Jewish people are faced with a variety of laws, said to be from God and also to preserve and enhance one’s relationship with God.
In the New Testament, Jesus really only speaks of two laws—love God and love one another.
In liberal democracies today, laws are said to be based on natural reason. However, their impetus arguably is supernatural—that is, an awareness (based on faith and informed by grace) that morality is essential to the human condition.
So the supposed separation of the “supernatural” and “legal” realms could be seen as somewhat artificial. That point aside, one could also argue that this kind of distinction is not necessarily the same as the separation of “Church” and “State,” mainly because organized religions by their very nature contain not just supernatural but also political dimensions, as does any kind of social group.
- Faith (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Faith and Action (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Ethics and Respect Thrive with an Absolute Separation of Church and State (randomreflectionz.wordpress.com)
- Rick Santorum Says Separation of Church and State Makes Him Want to Vomit: VIDEO (towleroad.com)
The (canonical) Gospels are the first four books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) containing the events of Jesus Christ’s life and his teaching. Essentially, they offer the message of salvation from personal sin through God’s forgiveness.
Non-believers often point out apparent contradictions among the different accounts while believers usually see them as presenting a holistic harmony, not unlike four-channel audio that amplifies a single message.
Wikipedia nicely outlines the etymology of the word Gospel:
The word gospel derives from the Old English gōd-spell  (rarely godspel), meaning “good news” or “glad tidings”. It is a calque (word-for-word translation) of the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, euangelion (eu- “good”, -angelion “message”). The Greek word euangelion is also the source (via Latinised evangelium) of the terms “evangelist” and “evangelism” in English. The authors of the four canonical Christian gospels are known as the four evangelists.¹
There are other so-called gospels that are not recognized by most Christian Churches as canonical.² They may, however, be acknowledged as offering some insights or points of interest concerning the total situation in the ancient world around the time of Jesus. On the down side, Church officials usually teach that non-canonical gospels might complicate things or distract otherwise genuine seekers, making it harder for them to find the true light of God.
Again, this is what most Christian Church officials will say. Contemporary Gnostics and New Age enthusiasts, however, would probably fire back that dried up and hypocritical Church structures and teachings would get in the way of their finding God, just as much if not more than a few allegedly misguided passages in a non-canonical gospel.
² For a list of these see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel#Non-canonical_gospels
- Gospel of Luke (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Gospel of Mark (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Gospel of John (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Gospel of Matthew (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Gospel Life (garrettventry.wordpress.com)
- The earliest gospels – Marcion’s gospel (according to P.L. Couchoud) (vridar.wordpress.com)
Although it appears first in the NT, it was written after Mark. Scholars date it from 60-100 CE. This would make it improbable but not impossible that Matthew, himself, wrote it.
Matthew is generally believed to be based on at least two sources: The Gospel of Mark and a hypothesized but entirely undiscovered document simply called “Q” (from the German quelle, meaning “source”).
Papias, said to be Bishop of Hieropolis (60-130 CE), apparently wrote that Matthew kept an account of the life and sayings of Christ. But Papias’ document has been lost. The early historian Eusebius (260-340 CE), however, mentions Papias’ book, The Sayings of the Lord Explained, which claims that Matthew wrote about Christ in Aramaic.
The Wikipedia entry sums up our current state of knowledge this way:
“Matthew” probably originated in a Jewish-Christian community in Roman Syria towards the end of the 1st century. The anonymous author probably drew on a number of sources, including the Gospel of Mark, the sayings collection known as the Q source, and material unique to his own community, as well as his own experience.¹
Regardless of who wrote it and how, Matthew tells us about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- What Matthew wrote and what did not? – Gary Cottrell’s overview (nomorefear.wordpress.com)
- Who Wrote the Oldest Gospel? Hint: The One Apostle Who Owned Ink and Parchment (cantuar.blogspot.com)
- Introduction To Gospel of Matthew: By Dr.WR ‘Dick’ Lockhart (chaplaingary.wordpress.com)
- Why Christ rose from the dead in four different ways (vridar.wordpress.com)
- Matthew 1:1-1 Posted By DR. WR “Dick” Lockhart (chaplaingary.wordpress.com)
Most scholars say that Mark is the oldest of the three synoptic gospels, written around 65-70 CE.
Its authorship is uncertain. A Papias, the Bishop of Heirapolis (60-130 CE) wrote that Mark had written an account based on St. Peter‘s memory of the life and sayings of Christ. But modern scholars only agree that it was probably written in Syria by an unknown Christian.
Mark deals with the life and teachings of Jesus from the time of his baptism by John the Baptist to his Ascention. Many of the specific events recorded in Mark, however, were not necessarily written in the actual order that they occurred. And it tends to concentrate on the last week of Jesus’ life, from his ride into Jerusalem to his death.
- Whose is Mark’s Gospel? (smoodock45.wordpress.com)
- Earliest Manuscript of the Gospel of Mark Validates Earl Doherty (vridar.wordpress.com)
- First-Century Manuscript of the Gospel of Mark (xcntrik.wordpress.com)
- Who Wrote Mark’s Gospel? (coffeehouseapologetics.wordpress.com)
- The Gospel of St. Mark is the Gospel of St. Peter (newtheologicalmovement.blogspot.com)
- The Action Gospel (prayereverywhere.wordpress.com)