The Dead Sea Scrolls

Story of the Scrolls Worship at the sacred Jerusalem Temple had become corrupt, with seemingly little hope for reform. A group of devoted Jews removed themselves from mainstream and began a monastic life in the Judean desert. Their studies in the Old Testament Scriptures led them to believe that God’s judgment upon Jerusalem was imminent and the anointed one would return to restore the nation of Israel and purify their worship. Anticipating this moment, the Essenes retreated into the Qumran desert to await the return of their messiah. This community, which began in the third century BC, devoted their days to the study and copying of sacred Scripture and their theological and sectarian works. As tensions between the Jews and Romans increased, the community hid their valuable scrolls in caves along the Dead Sea to protect them from the invading armies. Their hope was that one day, the scrolls would be retrieved and restored to the nation of Israel. In seventy AD, Titus invaded Israel and destroyed the city of Jerusalem and its treasured Temple. It is at this time the Qumran Community was overrun and occupied by the Roman army. The scrolls remained hidden for the next two thousand years. In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd named Muhammad Ahmed el-Dhib was searching for his lost goat and came upon a

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The Gospel of Judas

Newspaper headlines all over the world reported that the lost Gospel of Judas has been recovered and translated. Reporters state that this gospel sheds new light on the life of Christ and His relationship with Judas who may not be the traitor portrayed in the New Testament Gospels. In fact he may be the hero! He is cast as the most senior and trusted of Jesus’ disciples who betrayed Jesus at the Lord’s request! This gospel further states that Jesus revealed secret knowledge to Judas instructing him to turn Jesus over to the Roman authorities. So rather than acting out of greed or Satanic influence, Judas was faithfully following the orders given to him by Christ. Does the Gospel of Judas reveal a new twist to the passion story of Christ? Are there new historic insights that should have Christians concerned? The Gospel of Judas was discovered in 1978 by a farmer in a cave near El Minya in central Egypt. Scholars date this Coptic text to have been written between A.D. 300 and 400.1 Most scholars believe the original text was written in Greek and that the original manuscript was written in middle second century.2 The authorship of this gospel is unknown but it is unlikely that Judas or a disciple of Christ wrote it. It represents Gnostic thought

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Tablet of Nabu

The Discovery A significant discovery related to Biblical history was made in the British Museum’s great Arched Room which holds nearly 130,000 Assyrian cuneiform tablets.1 Among the tablets, some of which date back nearly 5000 years, one tablet in particular, measuring only 2.13 inches wide or about the size of a small cigarette pack, was recently translated by Assyriologist and Professor from the University of Vienna, Dr. Michael Jursa. This cuneiform tablet was dated to 595 BC, or the 10th year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. When deciphered it named a high ranking official of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar named Nebo-Sarsekim. Nebo-Sarsekim is also named in the Book of Jeremiah 39:1-3. The passage reads: This is how Jerusalem was taken: In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it. 2 And on the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year, the city wall was broken through. 3 Then all the officials of the king of Babylon came and took seats in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer of Samgar, Nebo-Sarsekim a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer a high official and all the other officials of the king of Babylon. Jeremiah identifies Nebo-Sarsekim as a chief officer of Nebuchadnezzar who was with the

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Archaeology and the New Testament

There is an ongoing debate among scholars regarding the historical accuracy of the Bible. Some feel that the Bible is a fictitious work and should be read as a work of literary fiction. Others feel it is an accurate historical work divinely inspired by God. Archaeology has played a major role in determining the trustworthiness of the Bible. In a previous article, we discussed archaeological confirmations of the Old Testament. In this one, we will look at the archaeological discoveries that have confirmed the historical accuracy of the New Testament. There is a great deal of evidence outside of the Bible that confirms the account of Jesus as written in the Gospels. It is important to realize, however, that it is unrealistic to expect archaeology to back up every event and place in the New Testament. Our perspective is to look for what evidence exists and see whether or not it corresponds with the New Testament. Historical Confirmation of Jesus The first evidence comes from the four Gospels which, themselves, are proven to be accurate.1 Outside the biblical text are several witnesses as well. Jewish historian Josephus (37 A.D.–100 A.D.) recorded the history of the Jewish people in Palestine from 70 A.D. to 100 A.D. In his work, Antiquities, he states: Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise

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Historical Reliability of the Gospels

In an ABC News special, “The Search for the Historical Jesus,” Peter Jennings investigated the true historical background regarding Jesus Christ. Peter Jennings interviewed numerous scholars and historians and presented a documentary that led us to believe that the Jesus of the Bible is more of a legendary character of faith. He construed that the real historical Jesus was more than likely a man and a good teacher but not the divine Son of God. Unfortunately, Peter Jennings relied on and interviewed scholars from the Jesus Seminar, a group of very liberal scholars who have adopted an anti-supernatural or naturalistic view of the Scriptures. With this presupposition, they overlook the evidence for the historical reliability of the gospels. In this featured special, Peter Jennings states, regarding the gospels, “The New Testament has four different and sometimes contradictory versions of Jesus’ life. There is no reliable evidence about who the authors actually were. It is pretty much agreed they were not eyewitnesses. In fact the gospels were written forty to one hundred years after Jesus’ death.” Another assault comes from Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code. In the novel he states, “The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times,

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Archaeology and the Old Testament

Understanding Archaeology Christianity is a historical faith based on actual events recorded in the Bible. Archaeology has therefore played a key role in biblical studies and Christian apologetics in several ways. First, archaeology has confirmed the historical accuracy of the Bible. It has verified many ancient sites, civilizations, and biblical characters whose existence was questioned by the academic world and often dismissed as myths. Biblical archaeology has silenced many critics as new discoveries supported the facts of the Bible. Second, archaeology helps us improve our understanding of the Bible. Although we do not have the original writings of the authors, thousands of ancient manuscripts affirm that we have an accurate transmission of the original texts.1 Archaeology can also help us to understand more accurately the nuances and uses of biblical words as they were used in their day. Third, archaeology helps illustrate and explain Bible passages. The events of the Bible occurred at a certain time, in a particular culture, influenced by a particular social and political structure. Archaeology gives us insights into these areas. Archaeology also helps to supplement topics not covered in the Bible. Much of what we know of the pagan religions and the intertestamental period comes from archaeological research. As we approach this study we must keep in mind the limits of archaeology. First, it does

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God’s Future Program for Israel (Daniel 9)

No book in the ancient world or the modern is as enigmatic, yet essential, to unlocking the mysteries of the prophetic plan for God’s future program for Israel than the book of Daniel. The late seminary president and author Alva J. McClain once declared: “… with reference to its importance, I am convinced that in the predictions of [Daniel’s] Seventy Weeks, we have the indispensable chronological key to all New Testament prophecy.”1 Daniel’s great prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Dan. 9:24-27) is part of the division of his book that records visions of future earthly kingdoms, both human and divine (chapters 7-12). It belongs to the larger program of future restoration promised to national Israel as a comfort in her captivity (Isa. 40:1-66:24; Jer. 30:1-33:26; Ezek. 33:1-48:35). When the Persian Empire overthrew the Babylonians in 539 BC as predicted (Isa. 41:25-26; 44:26-45:3; Dan. 5:25-31), Daniel realized the day of Israel’s release was at hand. This was confirmed for him by Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jer. 25:11; 29:10) which had prophesied the exile would last for 70 years (Dan. 9:2). Recognizing that the ultimate fulfillment of restoration depended on national repentance (Jer. 29:10-14), Daniel sought to personally intercede for Israel through a prayer of penitent petition with its focal point of the restoration program – Jerusalem and the Temple Mount (Dan. 9:3-19). From

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A Brief History of the Jewish Temple

The history of the Jewish Temple begins and ends in prophecy. The Sanctuary (a term inclusive of God’s dwelling in all its forms) was prophetically revealed to Abraham in its sacrificial service and permanent location on Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:2, 14). Enlarging the Abrahamic revelation in similar terms, Moses receives prophetic instructions at the time of the Exodus for Israel’s relationship to the Sanctuary (Ex. 15:17). Later on Mount Sinai, he receives the heavenly blueprint for the Sanctuary and its vessels (Ex. 25:8-9, 40). This verse is important in that it shows that the divine ideal for the Sanctuary is God’s manifest Presence on earth among His people (vs. 8; cf. its Millennial expression – Zech. 2:10-12), and that the same celestial pattern (vss. 9, 40) was used for both the Tabernacle and the Temple (cf. 1 Chron. 28:11-19; cf. Rev. 15:5). The Tabernacle is distinguished from the Temple in that it was a portable and temporary dwelling place for God’s Presence (Ex. 40:36-38; cf. 2 Sam. 7:6) whereas the Temple was to be a permanent and eternal habitation (2 Chron. 7:16; Ezek. 37:26-28). In token of their mutually prophetic purpose, when the First Temple was built, the Tabernacle/Tent of Meeting was apparently included within it (1 Kgs. 8:4; 2 Chron. 5:5). It is King David who, meditating on the

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