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Showing posts from 2012

Final Day to Make a Year-End Donation for 2012

This is the last day to make a donation for 2012. If you have not made a donation yet or would like to add to your other tax-deductible donations of 2012 – make an online donation today before midnight. Our work is completely funded by individuals who understand the importance of our work. We sincerely appreciate your support. Thanks to everyone that has helped make the work of the Biblical Heritage Center possible. To donate, click on –

Stanford Appoints Atheist Chaplain

There's an atheist chaplain at Stanford. This is good news. John Figdor has a degree from Harvard Divinity School and he does what chaplains do. He counsels those in need and visits the sick. And what's more, he's welcomed as part of the Office of Religious Life. His appointment not only broadens the conversation about "belief" and "unbelief" but also exposes the confusion at the heart of that conversation. We are often talking at cross-purposes. As Figdor points out, "Atheist, agnostic and humanist students suffer the same problems as religious students - deaths or illnesses in the family, questions about the meaning of life, etc. - and would like a sympathetic nontheist to talk to."
Evidently he's part of a growing number of "faith-free" chaplains at universities. All the benefits of religion without the god bit. And here's where the conversation, with all its risk of confusion, gets interesting. For me, faith is all about …

Only a Few Days Left to Make a 2012 Year-End Donation

There are only a few days left for you to make a tax-deductible donation for 2012. With all of the uncertainty concerning what happens in Congress in the next few days, your decision to donate in 2012 could be important. The Biblical Heritage Center is funded by donations made by individuals. We are not associated with or receive funding from any religious institution or other organizations. This allows us the independence needed to follow factual evidence instead of defending any creed or doctrine. BHC relies on individuals who value factual information regarding their biblical heritage -- the Bible, beliefs, religious institutions, etc. If you understand and believe this is important -- please contribute and help us do our work. In order to make an online donation before the end of 2012 click on –

2,750-year-old Temple Discovered in Israel

The finds, dated to the early monarchic period and including pottery figurines of men and horses, provide rare testimony of a ritual cult in the Jerusalem region at the beginning of the period of the monarchy. The temple remains were discovered at the Tel Motza site, located to the west of Jerusalem. The walls of the structure are massive, and it includes a wide, east-facing entrance, conforming to the tradition of temple construction in the ancient Near East: The rays of the sun rising in the east would have illuminated the object placed inside the temple first, symbolizing the divine presence within. A square structure which was probably an altar was exposed in the temple courtyard, and the cache of sacred vessels was found near the structure.
For more information and pictures see the two articles below:…

2012 Corruption Perceptions Index of Countries and Territories

The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. A country or territory’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 - 100, where 0 means that a country is perceived as highly corrupt and 100 means it is perceived as very clean.  A country's rank indicates its position relative to the other countries and territories included in the index. This year's index includes 176 countries and territories. See complete list at --

Dead Sea Scrolls Are Now Online & Available to Public

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is very proud to present the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, a free online digitized virtual library of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Hundreds of manuscripts made up of thousands of fragments – discovered from 1947 and until the early 1960’s in the Judean Desert along the western shore of the Dead Sea – are now available to the public online. The high resolution images are extremely detailed and can be accessed through various search options on the site. Watch the short 4 minute introduction video at --
View the Dead Sea Scrolls at --

Remember the Victims of Sandy Hook School

I am a grandfather and I have a 6 year old granddaughter. I had CNN on when the first reports of the shootings started coming in. It literally hurt to hear the words that almost sounded unbelievable, because all I could think about was those little kids that went to school that day. CNN posted a list of the names of those who were murdered at school and comments about their lives. I urge you to read the list to honor and remember each of those special lives. It is posted at --

After almost thirty years of research about the Bible and Jesus I have concluded that the highest value of the biblical text and Jesus is, what we call Life 1st and it means doing acts of TOV, which we define as "acts that protect and preserve life, and enhance the quality of life." My prayer is that Americans of all or no religion, choose to make Life 1st our highest value and work hard to make our world a better…

Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity

Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity by James D. Tabor should be required reading for every Christian. I first met James in the late 1980s at a conference in Ft. Worth, Texas and I was impressed by the fact that he laid his cards on the table when it came to discussing the histories of Christianity and Judaism. James hasn’t changed. On the second page (xvi) of the preface of Paul and Jesus you will find:
“. . . the message of Paul, which created Christianity as we know it, and the message of the historical Jesus and his earliest followers, were not the same. In fact, they were sharply opposed . . .”
Anyone reading the New Testament Gospels and Paul’s Epistles critically knows that Tabor is correct. So, why will Paul and Jesus challenge the beliefs of millions of Christians? One reason can be traced back to the Niagara Bible Conference that published the “Five Points of Fundamentalism” in 1895. It stated the conference’s conclusion that there are five essential belief…

Please Help BHC

In 1999, when we began our work at the Biblical Heritage Center, our goal was not to just be an academic educational venture. It was to make the lives of people better and make the world a safer place for all people. We believe an important way to do this is by providing people with facts about their biblical heritages – from the writing of the books of the Bible to the religious institutions that base their authority on the Bible and the belief systems they have created.
The problem we face is that many of the facts that we discover do not agree with people’s religious beliefs.  We do not promise to save people, get them in heaven or save them from hell. We promise to give to provide the most accurate factual information we can find about their biblical heritages, which includes the religious and other authoritarian institutions that do promise to do those things. Our biblical heritages affect the quality of life, the way relate to each other, how we teach our children, and as we hav…

The first Jewish Hellenist

When we think about Hanukkah, we see it as a conflict between the Hellenists and the traditionalists. The Hellenists sympathized with the Seleucids, exercised in the nude in their gymnasia, and followed their culture and language to qualify as young Greek ephebes, or soldier- gentlemen. The young priests neglected their Temple duties and went off to the gymnasium and some even reversed their circumcision so as not to appear too Jewish. The Second Book of Maccabees is horrified at this (4:14 ff), and we do not sympathize with the youngsters, because the Seleucids also introduced pagan sacrifices into the Temple and tried to make the Jews adopt these practices. Matityahu was the first to refuse openly to do so, and when the Greek officer came to Modi’in and ordered Matityahu, as the local leader, to make the sacrifice and eat the entrails, he refused and, when another Jew rushed forward to carry out the order, Matityahu killed him and the officer and fled into the countryside with his f…

The Christmas Clues: A Glimpse of the Real Jesus & the Founders of Christianity

Christmas provides us with two clues that give us a glimpse of the real Jesus and the founders of Christianity. The first is the Theology of Christmas and the second is the Spirit of Christmas. The Theology of Christmas consists of beliefs and the Spirit of Christmas is defined by actions. Their origins provide us the very important clues.

Download or read the complete article at -

Government promises world won’t end on Dec. 21

The U.S. government wrote a helpful blog post on Monday titled, "Scary Rumors About the World Ending in 2012 Are Just Rumors." The post on says NASA scientists have received thousands of letters from people convinced that the world will end on Dec. 21, based on a misunderstanding of the ancient Mayan calendar that's been promulgated in doomsday message boards online. Some people think a giant comet will strike Earth that day, others that we are about to collide with another planet. A NASA scientist said he's received several letters from young people contemplating suicide because they believe the apocalypse is coming. "The world will not end on December 21, 2012, or any day in 2012," the post says.
Read complete article at --

What is Biblical Love?

On my journey of life I have been a minister and chaplain at a law enforcement center. The subject of what love means came up many times in both jobs. Some people gave their lives in the name of love, while some people beat or murder others whom they said they loved.

Is love a feeling or an emotion – or is it an action? It depends on what standard one uses to measure love. Many people measure love by how they feel or what emotions are triggered. They love a person, an animal, a dessert, a picture, a car, etc. – by how it makes them feel. If it makes them feel good, they love it. 

Read complete article by clicking on --

TONIGHT: Live Online Briefing: The Gaza War: Updates, Background and Analysis

Gil Elan, President of Southwest Jewish Congress, will discuss "Operation Cloud of Defense", Israel's current extensive military operation against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza.
Date: Tuesday, November 20 Time: 7:00 pm CST (8:00 pm EST & 4:00 am Israel)     The online briefing will include: latest news, background- the new threat, planning, Israel's goals, how it started, timeline, the US position, world reactions & terms for a cease fire.  
To join the online briefing click on - and follow the instructions below when you get to the WEBEX page:
(1) Enter your name and email address (2) Click "Join Now" (3) There may be a few WEBEX and/or Cisco screens that take a few moments to load. Wait for them to finish. (4) If asked - agree to download their free software. You'll need it for this and future online events. (5) Once connected you may see a box asking you to join a VoIP conference. Click "YES". (6) After that th…

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

I came across Rabbi Hillel’s famous saying today and I am always inspired by the profound wisdom it reveals. We all recognize the tensions revealed by Hillel in this short saying.
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when? “
(1) If I am not for myself, who will be for me? -- The bottom line is that your life is in your own hands. Don’t expect anyone else to do what needs to be done to make your life for you. When you encounter opportunities, do what needs to be done yourself to make them realities. If you don’t have opportunities – make your own! You must be for and take care of yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to do what you know needs to be done now.
(2) If I am not for others – This reminds us that we are surrounded by others and what we do or do not do affect their lives; just as what they do or do not do affect our lives. Think about how your life is affected every day by the actions of others. What would you have to e…

Wisdom of the Elderly

Today I was doing some research and came across something that I found very interesting and wanted to share with you. It is from Spiritual Activism: A Jewish Guide to Leadership and Repairing the World By Rabbi Avraham Weiss; © 2008 by Avraham Weiss; Jewish Lights Publishing, Woodstock, VT; pp. 90-91.
“Wisdom is a function not only of what one knows, but of life experiences as well. No one has more life experiences than the elderly. Yet it can be argued that by and large, the elderly in America are cut off from the rest of society. As Americans become older, society expects less of them. The elderly then come to expect less of themselves and, in time, they actually do less. One particular way we treat the elderly as less importance is by confining them to their homes, institutions, or retirement centers.
The Talmud speaks of two categories of caring – kibbud, or respect, and morah, or fear.
Kibbud is associated with physically providing for the elderly – feeding them, dressing them, and…

The Jewish Jesus & Baptism

Baptism is a very important Christian ritual today and has been from the very beginning. One of the famous New Testament characters is even named after it – John the Baptist. Since I was raised as a member of a Baptist church, for many years I thought that John the Baptist created our church and that we were the original Christian church because our named appeared in the New Testament. I could picture John preaching down by the Jordan River, holding an altar call, leading the people that came down to him in a salvation prayer, and then dunking them – one by one.
In this article we will discuss baptism. Our goal is to answer these questions about baptism: Why was it done?Where was it done?How was it done? Who did it?By whom was it done?
To read complete article click on --

Do You Want to “Come Near to God”?

Most will probably immediately answer, “Yes!” The next question is -- What do you do “to come near to God?” Today, the answers would probably be read the Bible, pray, sing worship songs, etc. In many churches, during the praise and worship period of the service, worship leaders declare that the “presence of the Lord is here; we can feel God’s presence.” It is not uncommon to hear people describe their relationship to God as though He was a “good buddy” they “hang out” with all the time. Today, “coming near God” seems to be a very common thing that requires very little effort or a special place.
This would sound very strange to ancient Israelites, Jews of the First and Second Temple periods, and the Jewish Jesus. They didn’t just “hang out” with God. They viewed Him with awe and “coming near” required a commitment, effort and an investment.  This may be why it was the first lesson Jewish children learned when the Temple stood and at the beginning of their education.
Read complete article…

ENCODE's 'junk DNA' findings renew debate about creation, evolution

New research findings on DNA have not only heightened interest in and enthusiasm for human genome research, but also fanned the flames of the debate between proponents of creationism or intelligent design and believers in Darwinism or evolution. Both sides are digging into their positions, but concede that the new debate hinges in part on the interpretation of the word "function." On one side are Darwinists who have bolstered their arguments against a creator in part with studies that show at most 5 percent of human DNA is "useful." On the other side are faith bloggers who for the past week have hailed, as a counterpoint, a new study that seems to show that 80 percent of DNA is "functional."
Read complete article at --

New Pew Poll Finds One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s new poll, released today, found that” One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation.” The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today. This is the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.
Interestingly, many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day.
The percentage of Protestants is also decreasing. In 2007, 53% of adults described themselves as Protestants, but surveys conducted in the first half of 2012 found that fewer than half of American adults say they are Prote…

The Differences Between TZADAQAH & Charity Are Eternal

I have been working on a chapter in our book that is about TZEDAQAH. It is the Hebrew word that is translated as “righteousness,” but which many rabbis, including Jesus, used to mean “alms giving.” TZEDAQAH is the single most important word in the teachings of the Jewish Jesus. That alone should make it the most important word to every Christian too.
Jesus said, “For I tell you that unless your TZEDAQAH surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Torah, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”[i]TZEDAQAH is the way into the Kingdom of Heaven, according to Jesus.
Jesus also said: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.[ii]. . Then they (the group on the left) will go away to eternal punishment, …

Ancient Papyrus Fragment About Jesus’ Wife

Harvard researcher Karen King today unveiled an ancient papyrus fragment with the phrase, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife.’” The text also mentions “Mary,” arguably a reference to Mary Magdalene. The announcement is sure to send shock waves through the Christian world. Below are links that provide information about the papyrus.
(1) The Inside Story of a Controversial New Text About Jesus
(2) The Naked Archaeologist, Simcha Jacobovici, comments on the “Jesus Wife” Papyrus Fragment.
(3) Dr. James Tabor - Morning After Thoughts on Jesus and his “wife”.
(4) Harvard Theological Review Hesitating on “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”?…

Abraham, the Land & His Descendants

What people believe about Abram/Abraham affects how they read the Bible and view events in the Middle East today. It has been this way for many centuries. It affects not only religious beliefs; it influences political and military decisions, too. What does the Bible say about Abram/Abraham and the land Yahweh gave him?
Read complete article at -

Many Biblical Ways to Get to Heaven?

Death is a real problem for humans. We know that it is in our future and a bunch of people would like to know what they can do here that affects what will happen there. The places people find most of their answers are religions. As most people know, all the answers are not all the same, and, according to many religions, choosing the wrong answer could have very bad consequences. This creates a huge “afterlife” market in which a wide range of “religious products” are offered. Maybe someone should set up an “Afterlife-Mart?” But, many people fail to take a serious look at the available options.If someone did set up an Afterlife-Mart the largest section would contain Christian options. Each would explain what one needs to do while alive to affect what happens after death.
Read the complete article at --

Who is getting rich as more & more students default on their loans?

New Blog From The Country Cogitator:

One man made $454,000 in a single year as a student-loan debt collector -- more than twice the pay of the U.S. secretary of education. . . His boss is doing well too. His compensation rose to $618,000 in 2004, $852,000 in 2008 and $1.1 million in 2010 -- & guess who pays for it? The students & the good old taxpayers. Read the blog at --

Dreams of a Future Temple: The 9th of Av and Dispelling Hatred With Love

On a trip to Israel, when I was 21 years old, I had my first religious experience. I was standing on a balcony overlooking the Western Wall (aka "The Wall") in the in the Old City of Jerusalem when it happened. At that point in my life I was not very fond of religion (I looked at religion as an irrational throwback to humanities primitive and fearful past), and I wasn't planning on having a religious experience. In fact, moments before as I was descending the steps to the Western Wall Plaza, where the Wall is located, I said to myself, "I am going to see a really big wall, made of really big bricks, that is really old, and nothing is going to happen." Upon entering the plaza I had decided I didn't even want to buy into the silly "religious" tradition of going up to the Western Wall, which is why when I got there I went only to the balcony. So what came next was a surprise to me.
Read complete article at --…

Comparison of Exodus 32 and Numbers 14

New article by Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor. Moses filled many roles in the wilderness context. He was a military leader, lawgiver, judge and prophet, but if it were not for his role as intercessor, Israel would not have survived the ordeals of the wilderness. I have found parallels of Moses’ intercession in Exodus 32:9-14, 32-33 and Numbers 14:11-24. Both of these episodes occur after a great breach by the Israelites. In Exodus this concerns the Golden Calf, and in Numbers the story of the spies.
Read the complete article at –

What got Galileo in trouble?

In The Fabric of Reality, physicist David Deutsch equates knowledge with better explanations. Accurate predictions, he writes, are a byproduct of explanation and very important. But Deutsch insists that explanation is more crucial to understanding than prediction. He notes that the 17th century Catholic Church hierarchy okayed the publication of Galileo’s heliocentric theory because they welcomed its predictive benefits. What frosted them – and led to the famous heresy trial, conviction, and recantation – was Galileo’s contention that universal mathematical laws based on empirical observation had more explanatory power than Holy Scripture. That, not prediction, is what upset the Church hierarchy. (On Value and Values: Thinking Differently About We In An Age Of Me, by Douglas K. Smith © 2004, 2011; iUniverse, Inc., Bloomington, IN; p. 51)

Waiting for the “End of the World” as We Know it

Dr. James Tabor wrote a very interesting blog about apocalyptic beliefs in the Jesus movement.
“The adjective “apocalyptic,” refers to the notion that the hidden realities of the unseen world are being revealed in an imminent and unfolding manner at the “end of the age.” It is not the “end of the world,” but rather a dramatic reversal and transformation of life as it is lived on planet earth.
The “apocalypse” (literally “the revealing”) is good news and bad news, depending on ones stake in the present and ones attitude toward the new future–a future that ushers in the “kingdom of God.” This reign of God involves a complete reversal of the failed and flawed “rule” of humanity over the planet. The Hebrew Prophets picture it as an ideal time of peace, in which justice and righteousness fills the earth, and evil no longer holds sway. It is well summed up by the urgent plea in the Lord’s Prayer:
Let your kingdom come! Let your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!
I am convinced that the …

Jesus as the Good Shepherd instead of the Universal Savior

How Christians view Jesus determines what they do. If you have been reading our articles and newsletters for very long, then you know there is a big difference between the Jewish Jesus we read about in the Synoptic Gospels and doctrinal Jesus created by generations of church theologians. The primary difference between the two is that the Jewish Jesus focused on what people are to do now, while the doctrinal Jesus focuses on what people will do in the hereafter.
One of the most revealing teachings of the Jewish Jesus is that he has come to fulfill the role of Ezekiel’s “Good Shepherd.” Pay close attention to what Ezekiel wrote about what the Good Shepherd will do.
The word of YAHWEH came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them: “To the shepherds – thus says YAHWEH; “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not shepherds feed the flock?You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the c…