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Showing posts from December, 2015

Ancient Hangover Cure Discovered in Greek Texts

Hiding a hangover in ancient Egypt would've taken some work. Rather than popping an ibuprofen for a pounding drunken headache, people in Egypt may have worn a leafy necklace.
That's according to a newly translated and published papyrus written in Greek with the recipe for a "drunken headache" cure. The 1,900-year-old papyrus containing the hangover treatment is one of over 500,000 such documents found in the ancient Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus. See pictures and read complete article at --

2,700 year old Farmhouse from First Temple Era and Byzantine Church Found in Central Israel

A huge farmhouse from the First Temple period The sprawling 2,700-year old farmhouse has no less than 24 rooms surrounding a central courtyard, which is a common structure in the Middle East. Altogether the farmhouse area covers some 30 meters by 50. It was so well preserved that some walls were still standing to a height of more than two meters after nearly three millennia. See pictures, video and read article at -

Yeshua’s Traumatized Society

Yeshua was born into a society traumatized by violence. His life was framed by revolts. The uprisings after Herod’s death occurred in the year of his birth, and he was brought up in the hamlet of Nazareth, only a few miles from Sepphoris, which Varus had razed to the ground; the peasants’ strike against Caligula would occur just ten years after his death.
During his lifetime, Galilee was governed by Herod Antipas, who financed an expensive building program by imposing heavy taxes on his Galilean subjects. Failure to pay was punished by foreclosure and confiscation of land, and this revenue swelled the huge estates of the Herodian aristocrats.  When they lost their land, some peasants were forced into banditry, while others — Yeshua’s father, the carpenter Joseph, perhaps, among them — turned to menial labor: artisans were often failed peasants.
The crowds who thronged around Yeshua in Galilee were hungry, distressed, and sick. In his parables we see a society split between the very ri…

Early Third Century Christianity

The Church was a new phenomenon in the Roman Empire. Christians had exploited the empire’s improved communications to create an institution with a unity of structure that none of the other faith traditions had attempted by the third century. Each local church was headed by a bishop, the “overseer” who was said to derive his authority from Jesus’s apostles, and was supported by presbyters and deacons. The network of such near-identical communities seemed almost to have become an empire within the empire.
Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons (c. 130-200), who was anxious to create an orthodoxy that excluded aggressive sectarians, had claimed that the Great Church had a single Rule of Faith, because the bishops had inherited their teaching directly from the apostles. This was not only a novel idea but a total fantasy. Paul’s letters show that there had been considerable tension between him and Jesus’s disciples, and his teachings bore little relation to those of Jesus. Each of the Synoptic Gosp…

Once upon a time a Preacher, Professor & Rabbi . . .

Once upon a time a Preacher, Professor & Rabbi . . .” sounds like the beginning of a good joke, but in this case it is the beginning of a twenty-five journey. I am the preacher, Dr. Ike Tennison is the Professor and the Rabbi is Jeffrey Leynor. Our destination was to more accurately understand the words of our Bibles and the histories of our religions – Christianity and Judaism. We specifically wanted to focus on the first century CE when both of our religions were Jewish sects and part of Second Temple Judaism and learn more about how one of those sects – the Jesus Movement – became a universal Gentile religion, and the other – the Pharisees – became Rabbinic Judaism. What we discovered, however, is much more important than what we planned. Today, the social bonds that are required to hold Americans together and make it possible for our democracy to exist are breaking down and many of the problems we face – political, economic and religious – are the result. We believe that what…

Why Did the Magi Bring Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?

Were the gifts of the magi meant to save Jesus from the pain of arthritis? It’s possible, according to researchers at Cardiff University in Wales who have been studying the medical uses of frankincense. Since the early days of Christianity, Biblical scholars and theologians have offered varying interpretations of the meaning and significance of the gold, frankincense and myrrh that the magi presented to Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew (2:11). Read the complete article at --

How did the Romans celebrate ‘Christmas’?

It wasn’t until the late fourth century that the church fathers could agree on the date of Christ’s birth – unlike the pagan Romans, Christians tended to give no importance to anyone’s birthday. The big day in the Christian religious calendar was Easter. Nevertheless, eventually the church settled on 25 December as the date of Christ’s nativity. For the Christians, it was a holy day, not a holiday, and they wanted the period to be sombre and distinguished from the pagan Saturnalia traditions such as gambling, drinking, and of course, most of all, worshipping a pagan god! Read the complete article at --

Why the Magi got a bad press

There were not three Magi. The number is not specified. It is only stated that they brought three types of gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh. We can say with near certainty that there were not three but many thousands!The answers are clear once we understand the dilemma faced by the Roman State Church founded under Constantine in the 300s CE.It was excruciatingly painful for the priests of the Roman ‘Mother Church’ to explain why the Magi of Persia had worshiped the infant Jesus and the Roman Empire had destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. Parthia worshiped Jesus. Rome pillaged Jerusalem and destroyed the Jews. How could Romans justify a Christian heritage? The Roman Mother Church therefore blamed the Jews for the death of Jesus although the crucifixion was conducted by Roman soldiers, under Roman imperial authority and with Roman nails. Read the complete article at --

Unearthing the World of Jesus

Surprising archaeological finds are breaking new ground in our understanding of Jesus’s time—and the revolution he launched 2,000 years ago. The Gospels say that Jesus taught and “proclaimed the good news” in synagogues “throughout all Galilee.” But despite decades of digging in the towns Jesus visited, no early first-century synagogue had ever been found.  For historians, this was not a serious problem. Galilean Jews were a week’s walk from Jerusalem, close enough for regular pilgrimages to Herod the Great’s magnificent temple, Judaism’s central house of worship. Galileans, mostly poor peasants and fishermen, had neither the need nor the funds for some local spinoff. Synagogues, as we understand them today, did not appear anywhere in great numbers until several hundred years later. If there were any in Galilee in Jesus’s day, they were perhaps just ordinary houses that doubled as meeting places for local Jews. Some scholars argued that the “synagogues” in the New Testament were nothi…

For NONES TOV Values is a Place to Start

A Dallas Morning News article, "Having faith, if only for kids' sake," caught my attention. Did you know, that "No Religion" is now the fastest growing religious group in America, with 23% of the country identifying themselves that way? In her book, Losing Our Religion: How Unaffiliated Parents Are Raising Their Children, writer Ruth Graham looks at how contemporary "Nones" - people who report that they have no religious affiliation whatsoever - handle the question of moral and spiritual formation with their children. She says of herself that she's been a church member for most of her adult life, but years without regular attendance, her theology is "squishy" and she does not really pray. So what draws her soul? Read Rabbi Leynor’s complete blog at --

Jacob’s Descendants who Go to Egypt: The MT Versus the LXX.

A close look at the different references to Jacob’s descendants, and their number in both the MT and the LXX shows how the tradition of Jacob’s descendants developed over time. Genesis 46:8-27, inParashat Vayigash,lists Jacob’s descendants who came to Egypt; in the Masoretic Text (MT) they total 70, whereas in the Septuagint (LXX), they total 75.  In other words, the MT is missing five names found in the LXX.

The Real History Of Hanukkah Is More Complicated Than You Thought

Americans who know anything about the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah may have heard that it celebrates the victory of good over evil -- the triumph of light over darkness. But the real history of Hanukkah’s origins is more complicated. It is as much the tale of a Jewish civil war as it is about successful resistance against foreign interlopers.
● In 175 BCE Antiochus IV Epiphanes ascended to the Seleucid throne and initiated an explicit program of hellenization in the Jewish territory -- promoting the values of worldly knowledge, physical beauty, hedonistic indulgence and polytheistic spirituality.
● Antiochus’ measures were welcomed by some local Jews and Antiochus encouraged the development of the Greek educational system in Jewish society.
● A growing number of Jews began worshiping Greek gods, too.
The rising influence of hellenism was not immediately a source of open conflict within the Jewish community. But, eventually, Antiochus and his Jewish allies, including the high priest Menelaus…

The Closing of the American Jewish Mind

From the earliest years of my childhood, I always learned that the Jewish community valued intellectual debate. I witnessed this at every stage of my Jewish education. I grew up as the son and grandson of Conservative rabbis, attending services every week where the congregants and leaders engaged in vigorous discussions about the meaning of the liturgy. I studied at the Solomon Schechter Day School where my favorite class was Talmud, where our teacher Rabbi Lerner would carefully walk us through each line of text and demonstrate how every word and sentence could be dissected for new meaning. Rabbi Lerner taught us that the Talmud showed us how the Jewish people believed in debate for debate’s sake rather than trying to make everyone conform to the same opinion. That is the essence of Judaism. . .

We no longer seek debate, nor do many shuls even allow it to happen. We are having trouble being tolerant of the other side. Rather than having different sides of the Jewish community debate t…

“The Greatest Generation” Stood Up and Accepted their Challenge – Now It’s Our Turn!

How many more mass shootings? How many more political scandals? How much more corruption? How many more people killing in the names of their gods? How much more unbridled greed for profit at the expense of "We the People... and the Common Good?" Is this how we, Americans, are choosing to live in our nation today? Is this the legacy we want leave to our children and grandchildren? Was this the vision the Founders had for us? I've mentioned many times, in the work that I do, that I come in contact with those who remain from that the "GREATEST GENERATION." My parents of blessed memory and their friends were part of that group as well. I've spent many hours listening to their stories and being constantly amazed by such a diverse group of people and experiences who came "TOGETHER" to respond to the horrible evils that threatened to swallow the entire world! Read Rabbi Leynor’s complete blog at --…


I always loved Hanukkah, of course as a child, but also as an adult as well. There are warm memories of the sights, smells and feelings which return each year lighting the candles and giving the little gifts to family and friends. Growing up, we heard the story of the "miracle" of the cruise of oil that lasted for eight days. Later, it was interesting to study and learn about the real history behind the Hanukkah story. Read Rabbi Leynor’s blog at --

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day - The Awakening of the “Sleeping Giant”

Today is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Just before 8 a.m. on December 7, 1941, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii. The barrage lasted just two hours, but it was devastating: The Japanese managed to destroy nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight enormous battleships, and almost 200 airplanes. More than 2,000 Americans soldiers and sailors died in the attack, and another 1,000 were wounded. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress

On December 8th President Roosevelt said, “Yesterday the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked . . . No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very cer…

First ever seal impression of an Israelite or Judean king exposed near Temple Mount

Unprecedented King Hezekiah royal seal discovered in Ophel excavations brings to life Biblical narratives of Jerusalem’s First Temple period.  Dating back to 727–698 BCE, and measuring 9.7 by 8.6 mm., the oval impression – discovered amid Jerusalem’s noted Ophel excavations under the direction of HU’s Dr. Eilat Mazar. Around the impression is the depression left by the frame of the ring in which the seal was set.  The impression bears an inscription in ancient Hebrew script stating: “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah,” accompanied by a two-winged sun with wings turned downward, flanked by two ankh symbols symbolizing life. See pictures and read complete article at --