Artifacts & Biblical History

Chair of Moses, Chair of Peter

by Steve Ray on October 14, 2014

Click on the picture below to read the whole article

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St. Cyprian of Carthage (beheaded 257 AD) one hundred and fifty years before the New Testament writings were collected into one book called “The Bible”:

“The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven.’

“And again He says to him after His resurrection: ‘Feed my sheep.’ On him He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed the sheep; and although He assigns a like power to all the Apostles, yet He founded a single chair, and He established by His own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was; but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair.

“So too, all are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the Apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?”

To read the whole article and see all the pictures, click on the pictures above.

For my DVD “Peter, Keeper of the Keys” and my book “Upon this Rock: Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church, visit http://www.SteveRaysStory.com.

 

 

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Was Jesus Really Born at THAT Place in Bethlehem?

by Steve Ray on October 13, 2014

It is often asked: how do we know these are the real sites where Jesus and Mary lived and walked. The earliest Christians realized the importance of these sites and immediately viewed them as sites to be remembered and venerated. Small chapels were built and pilgrims came from around the world to visit these spots and to pray.

The spot marking the place where Jesus was bornthese spots and to pray.

 When Christianity became legalized, churches were built on these sites. Tradition, archaeology and the ancient witness confirms the authenticity of the sites. Below is a few examples relating to Bethlehem.

 In a very enlightening side note, Bethlehem was mentioned by St. John Chrysostom in his Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, written in ad 370: “. . . Since that birth [of Jesus], men come from the ends of the earth to see the manger, and the site of the shed.”

 The early Christians remembered and preserved the location and pilgrims like you visited even in the first centuries. Emperor Hadrian built pagan shrines over the holy places in 135 AD. He thought the memory of the sites and associated faith would be obliterated forever. But then Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity. His mother St. Queen Helena went to Israel, asked the locals where Jesus was born, where he was crucified…

Church of Nativity 100 years ago

They pointed to the shrines and showed her what they all still remembered well. Queen Helena knocked down the pagan shrines and what did she find? The remains of early Christian veneration. She built a huge church over the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, another over the place of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and a large church over the cave on the Mount of Olives where Jesus ascended into heaven.

There is a saying, “The water is cooler and clearer the nearer you get to the source.” Many of the Fathers of the Church – very close to the events mentioned in the Bible – speak with great certainty about the sites in the Holy Land. 

 The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, “The cave-stable is mentioned by Justin Martyr, Origen, and Jerome. After the Romans conquered Bethlehem anew (AD 135) the site of the Nativity was desecrated, probably under Hadrian (117–138; cf. Jerome Epistle 58.3). Jerome lived for thirty-three years in Bethlehem (AD 387–420). Here he helped found and direct pilgrim hospices, convents for women, and a monastery.”

 The Tyndale Bible Dictionary says, “The birth of Jesus possibly took place in a cave in the rocks outside the town. The early Christian writer Justin Martyr 9100–165) thought so, as did Origen (c. 185–254) some years later. Origen frequently resided in the Holy Land and wrote, ‘In Bethlehem you are shown the cave where he was born, and within the cave the manger where he was wrapped in swaddling clothes.’

Emperor Constantine and his mother Queen Helena

“Jerome later described the grotto over which the Emperor Constantine had built a basilica. In excavations in 1934–35, evidence indicated a second period of building in the reign of Justinian (ad 527–565), when Constantine’s basilica was extended beyond its original proportions. Steps lead down to the grotto, the rectangular shape of which suggests that Constantine’s builders reshaped the original. But there is no description of the grotto prior to the construction of Constantine’s basilica.”

 These places were remembered! We’ve known their locations for two thousand years. 

 Another Example: The Cave of Machpelah

The Cave of Machpelah was bought by Abraham about 1850 BC as a tomb in which to bury his wife Sarah. It now contains the remains of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah. It is now in Hebron, the city of Abraham. However, Abraham never owned any other land in Canaan before he died.

The Machpelah Cave over Sarah's tomb built 2,000 years ago

Abraham’s descendants were in bondage in Egypt for four hundred years. For an additional forty years they wandered in the wilderness. It was remembered in Genesis 49 – over 400 years later – when the Israelites returned from Egypt. The city of Hebron was built around Abraham’s tomb and King Herod build a huge monument over the graves of Abraham and his family which still stands today in the heart of Hebron. 

Abraham bought a plot of land called the Cave of Machpelah (Gen 35:16–20; 48:7; 1 Sam 10:2). Even today, the Cave of Machpelah is known and can be visited in Hebron. Visiting this site you see a place known for four thousand years!

Another Example: Rachel’s Tomb

 Notice a case in which we can see how important holy sites were and how they were carefully remembered. The Tomb of Rachel can be visited today in Bethlehem even though she was buried there about 3,800 years ago! 

Rachel's Tomb 100 years ago in Bethlehem

Jacob buried Rachel in Bethlehem and the location of the tomb was still known 800 years later when Israel returned from Egypt and after they lived in the land for over 350 years. Wouldn’t expect them to forgot its location over the subsequent eight hundred centuries? It is still there today and we filmed there for our David DVD. Notice the biblical verses below:

 “So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)” (Genesis 35:19) 

“And Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day” (Genesis 35:20) 

Eight Hundred years later, “[Samuel said to Saul]  When you depart from me today you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah” (1 Samuel 10:2).

 These are just a few examples from the Old Testament to show how these holy sites were venerated and remembered. The same can be said from the New Testament. Holy people have always remembered the holy sites.

 How much more so for Jesus the Son of God who became flesh! We can be very confident that the holy sites we see today, were the holy sites of old—the very places where God and the saints walked and where we can walk today.

Join us on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and I will be your guide. Visit Footprints of God Pilgrimages.

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Flint Knives and the Gospel

by Steve Ray on October 5, 2014

FlintKnife sm1.jpg

Ah, excuse me? What do flint knives have to do with the Gospel? A whole lot! Abraham believed God against all odds and as a reward he was given the special sign of the Covenant with God. And what was that wonderful sign between them?

In Genesis 17:10-11 God announces this sign to Abraham: “This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.”

Ouch! What kind of sign is that? But Abraham obeyed and at 99 years old, Abraham dropped his . . . well, anyway, he did the surgery and again demonstrated his faith and obedience to God. And so did all the men with him.

Next we read of Joshua’s bloody job after the hundreds of thousands of men with their families crossed the Jordan River to possess the Promised Land.

“At that time the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Make flint knives and circumcise the people of Israel again the second time.’So Joshua made flint knives, and circumcised the people of Israel” (Joshua 5:2-3).

In the early Church, many of the Jews insisted that all gentiles be circumcised before they were allowed to be Christians. The Apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the first recorded Church Council (Acts 15) said “NO!”  Thanks be to God!

These flint knives were made for me as a generous and remarkable gift by Mike Cook of Portland Michigan. He is a “flintknapper” and primitive skills enthusiast (and also a student of the Bible!). The large one has a handle made from the jawbone of a black bear!

They are beautifully crafted and will always be a gift I treasure and which I will use in my Bible studies and apologetic work. I am overwhelmed with his skill and kindness.

I have also provided his letter about his craft and the biblical wisdom regarding flint knives and circumcision. You can read it here. Enjoy — and thanks so much Mike!

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How the Ancient Hebrews Viewed the Universe

September 28, 2014

This is part of Logos Bible Software. I encourage every Catholic to get this Catholic and Bible Study software. Visit http://www.logos.com/steveray

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Finalizing My Book on Genesis…Here are a Few Favorite Paragraphs about Creation

July 5, 2014

Here are a few paragraphs from my new book on Genesis which is nearly done. Genesis 2:7 is foundational and crucial to the whole story of the cosmos, Man and salvation. God takes dust or clay from the ground and like a potter he fashions a human being. The scientific formulas used by God still [...]

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Questions I Answered on Catholic Answers Live – Link Now Available

June 25, 2014

It was one of the funnest and fastest shows ever! Great questions and lively discussion. Here are the questions I answered. The topic was “Abraham: Father of Faith and Works.” Here is the link for listening on-line and here for downloading as a podcast. 1) Did Abraham know that God wouldn’t have him actually go [...]

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One Thing I Know About Abraham: He was Sweaty all the Time!

June 15, 2014

We flew from Israel to Istanbul and then from Istanbul Urfa. We then boarded the van for the one hour drive to Haran. It was 100° and the van didn’t have air-conditioning or windows that opened. It was a stifling trip but paid off with what we found.  Haran is mentioned 19 times in the [...]

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Planting a flag in the Holy Land

June 6, 2014

Today we stood where Abraham first arrived in Canaan 4000 years ago. I built an altar and talked about Abraham and how that altar he built was like marking his claim in this land, putting his flag in the ground. In our DVD I’m going to show the astronauts planting the flag and the moon [...]

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Why Protestants Reject 7 Books of the Bible – the Short Answer

April 30, 2014

Gary Michuta is an expert on the canon of Scripture, especially in regards to the Deutero-canonical books, what the Protestants call the Apocrypha. You can read his book Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger to see what I mean. Recently a friend asked Gary for the short answer as to why the Protestants removed seven books from [...]

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Was Jesus Crucified Naked?

April 17, 2014

A gentleman heard me on Relevant Radio earlier. I had mentioned on the air that one of the great humiliations of a crucifixion was that a man was crucified naked. This thoughtful gentleman wrote to challenge my comments. Below is his e-mail and my response. Dear Mr. Ray, Please correct your description of the Passion. [...]

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Interesting Insights While Working on Abraham Script: Tent vs. Altar, Jews Sent Back to Square One

March 31, 2014

Two things struck me today as I am feverishly writing the script for our upcoming Abraham DVD (Footprints of God series). First, when God punished the Jews by sending them into exile in Babylon it was the ultimate punishment and insult. Babylon was the site of Bable and the confusion of languages. It was also [...]

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Amazing! Pope will Celebrate Mass in the Upper Room

March 27, 2014

This is quite incredible since it has not been done since Pope John Paul II received permission from Israel to celebrate Mass there on his visit to the Holy Land. Pope Francis will do the “not allowed”–he will celebrate Mass in the Upper Room. Seems odd, eh, that the place where the first Eucharist was [...]

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Pictures from Nazareth over 100 Years Ago (see the Virgin Mary :-)

March 25, 2014

Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation. These pictures are over a hundred years old from Nazareth. Not much changed between then and the first century. When you look at these old pictures and hundreds more I have in a book I purchased in Nazareth (written in Arabic), you can imagine Mary as [...]

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The Technology of Scripture Study: The Middle Ages (and a hilarious video at the end)

March 16, 2014

I am an ecclesiastical historian by training and a Bible software guy by trade. Which, I think, puts me in the unique position to write about the history of the intersection of technology and Scripture study in a series of posts. Written by my friend Andrew Jones PhD: We might start with a description of [...]

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New Research Supports Authenticity of Holy Shroud of Turin – Join Us on Shroud Pilgrimage Next Year!!

February 14, 2014

Scientists Believe Image Caused by Radiation from Earthquake in 33 AD ROME, February 13, 2014 (Zenit.org) – A group scientists in Italy have claimed that neutron radiation caused by an earthquake in 33 AD could have induced the image that many believe to be Christ on the Holy Shroud of Turin. They also believe the [...]

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Ziggurat of Abraham in Ur (Naziriyah Iraq)

January 8, 2014

I’ve added a short video clip so you can get an idea of the Ziggurat. I also added a few pictures. Great day shooting footage for the Abraham movie with brick makers, the temple that Abraham saw with his own eyes, and a lot more. Your browser does not support the video tag

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