History

Dead Sea Scrolls discovery: Fragments thought to be blank reveal text

Four Dead Sea Scroll fragments long thought to be blank have revealed their text. The fragments, which are housed at the University of Manchester in the U.K., shed more light on the famous scrolls. Some 51 fragments were imaged front and back, with six identified for further investigation. Of these, four were found to have readable Hebrew/Aramaic text written in carbon-based ink. “The most substantial fragment has the remains of four lines of text with 15-16 letters, most of which are only partially preserved, but the word Shabbat (Sabbath) can be clearly read,” explained the University of Manchester in a statement. The text may be related to the biblical book of Ezekiel (46:1-3), it added. “One piece with text is the edge of a parchment scroll section, with sewn thread, and the first letters of two lines of text may be seen to the left of this binding,” the university said in the statement. The fragments were studied at King’s College London. “Looking at one of the fragments with a magnifying glass, I thought I saw a small, faded letter – a lamed, the Hebrew letter ‘L’,” said Professor Joan Taylor of King’s College London, in the statement. “Frankly, since all these fragments were supposed to be blank and had even been cut into for leather studies, I also thought I might be imagining things. But then it seemed maybe other fragments could have very faded letters too.” “With new techniques for revealing ancient texts now available, I felt we had to know if these letters could be exposed,” Taylor added. “There are only a few on each fragment, but they are like missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle you find under a sofa.” Experts from the Faculty of Theology of Lugano in Switzerland and the University of Malta also participated in the study. The first Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1946 and 1947 in the Qumran caves in the Judean desert. Further scrolls were found in subsequent years, up to 1956. In total, 1,000 ancient religious manuscripts were discovered. The delicate fragments of parchment and papyrus were preserved for 2,000 years thanks to the dark, dry conditions in the caves. The fragments held in the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library were given in the 1950s by the Jordanian government to Ronald Reed, a leather expert at the U.K.’s University of Leeds. “It was assumed that the pieces were ideal for scientific tests, as they were blank and relatively worthless,” explained the University of Manchester, in its statement. “These were studied and published by Reed and his student John Poole, and then stored safely away.” The collection was donated to the University of Manchester in 1997. The Dead Sea Scrolls continue to be a source of fascination. In 2018, for example, experts in Israel harnessed sophisticated imaging technology to reveal hidden script in some of the scrolls. The technology, which was originally developed for NASA, identified new letters and words, giving experts fresh insight into the historic texts. One of the fragments may even indicate the existence of a previously unknown manuscript, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority, which conducted the research. Also in 2018, researchers at Israel’s University of Haifa translated one of the last two parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Scrolls in the collection of the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. have also been in the spotlight in recent years. Research revealed the scrolls to be fake.

Fascinating!!     🙂

Opinion: Freedom hangs in the balance during this election season

There once was a time when the United States was known as the “land of the free.” There was a day when the Statue of “Liberty” stood guard on our eastern shores. There once was an hour, not that long ago, when our nation stood resolute in declaring the cause of freedom to be our supreme value, our bonding glue and our greatest cause. Today, however, as our intelligentsia shamelessly dismisses our constitutional rights while aggregating unto themselves more and more personal power, these seminal principles hang in the balance. Today, we stand at a precipice — a time of decision. During this election season, we must decide what kind of people we will be. What kind of nation will we leave our children? What is our highest good? What do we value most? Will we, henceforth, be a free people, or will we be safe? In the heat of any battle, we often feel as if the fight we face is unprecedented. But it is not. No, we have been here before. Consider the words of The Great Communicator of over a half-century ago. Not only were they incredibly prescient for his time, but they were eerily prophetic for ours: “[Today] … we are at war … If we lose … history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening … “We have come to a time for choosing. Either we accept the responsibility for our own destiny, or we abandon the American Revolution and confess that [those in] a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves. “Already, the hour is late. Government has laid its hand on health, housing, farming, industry, commerce, [and] education … Government tends to grow [and] take on weight and momentum, as public servants say, always with the best of intentions, ‘What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power …’ “We are being asked to buy our safety … by selling into permanent slavery [and giving up our] freedom because we are ready to make a deal with [our] slave masters. “Alexander Hamilton warned us that a nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master and deserves one. Admittedly there is a risk in any course we follow. Choosing the high road cannot eliminate that risk. “Already, some of the architects of [our safety] have hinted what their decision will be if their plan fails … [They believe it is better for us] to live on our knees than die on our feet … “If we are to believe that nothing is worth the dying, when did this begin? Should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery rather than dare the wilderness? Should Christ have refused the Cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have refused to fire the shot heard ‘round the world? Are we to believe that all the martyrs of history died in vain? “You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We can preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we can sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here [and] did all that could be done.” — Ronald Reagan, 1964 Yes, the history of the United States is grounded in the long, and often bloody, fight for freedom. Our highest good has never been the easy life of safety. We have fought wars for freedom. The Revolutionary War was a battle for freedom. The Civil War was a fight for freedom. We sacrificed the lives of thousands during World War I and World War II for freedom. None of these conflicts were “safe.” None of these battles were engaged for the fleeting promises of personal health. All were fought for the eternal principle of human liberty. It is reported that Dwight Eisenhower once said, “If you want security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking … is freedom.” Or to paraphrase Alexander Hamilton from above, “If you prefer safety for freedom, be prepared for a master because you deserve one.” On Nov. 3, all of us have a “rendezvous with destiny.” Will we vote for the safety of the former Soviet Union that the Democrats seem to hold in such high regard, or will we vote for the freedom promised by the American Experiment and its Constitution? May history, and our children, judge that we “justified our brief moment here” and “did all that could be done.”

Indeed..  That powerful slap upside our heads was written by Dr. Everett Piper, PhD.  Dr. Piper is the former president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, and author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery 2017).  Nov. 3rd will definitely be probably the most important elections in my lifetime, and freedom as we understand it WILL be hanging in the balance.  It already is..

‘The most dangerous place in the history of planet earth’ revealed

Scientists have revealed “the most dangerous place in the history of planet earth.” An international team of paleontologists says that 100 million years ago, ferocious predators such as flying reptiles and crocodile-hunters made the Sahara no place for the faint-hearted. The research is published in the journal ZooKeys. Experts based the study on 100 years of fossil vertebrate discoveries in an area of rock formations in southeastern Morocco, known as the Kem Kem Group. “This was arguably the most dangerous place in the history of planet Earth, a place where a human time-traveller would not last very long,” said lead author Dr. Nizar Ibrahim, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Detroit Mercy and visiting researcher from the U.K.’s University of Portsmouth, in a statement. Experts explain that 100 million years ago, there was a vast river system in the area, and fossils from the three largest predatory dinosaurs have been discovered at Kem Kem. These include the sabre-toothed Carcharodontosaurus, which was over 26 feet long and the raptor Deltadromeus, which was around 26 feet in length. The river system meant that there was a steady supply of fish for predators. “This place was filled with absolutely enormous fish, including giant coelacanths and lungfish,” said co-author Professor David Martill, from the University of Portsmouth, in the statement. “The coelacanth, for example, is probably four or even five times [larger] than today’s coelacanth. There is an enormous freshwater saw shark called Onchopristis with the most fearsome of rostral teeth, they are like barbed daggers, but beautifully shiny.” Experts from the universities of Detroit, Chicago, Montana, Leicester, Casablanca and McGill participated in the research, as did the Paris Museum of Natural History. In a separate study, paleontologists recently announced the discovery of a new species of meat-eating dinosaur in Utah. Last year, scientists also unveiled stunning research that sheds light on the 24 hours that followed the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Fascinating!!  For more, click on the text above.     🙂

Neanderthals ate dolphins and seals, researchers reveal

More than 80,000 years ago, Neanderthals were eating a wide range of food from the sea, according to the latest research, even hunting dolphins and seals. The study, which was led by the University of Gottingen in Germany, sheds new light on our extinct relatives. Excavation of a cave at Figueira Brava in Portugal provided evidence that Neanderthals looked to the sea for their food, as well as the land. “Their diet included mussels, crustaceans and fish as well as waterfowl and marine mammals such as dolphins and seals,” the researchers explain in a statement. A paper on the research has been published in the journal Science. Scientists were able to study deposits of calcite, a mineral, during the excavation of the cave, nearly 19 miles south of Lisbon. This meant that experts were able to date the excavated layers of the Figueira Brava cave to between 86,000 and 106,000 years, during the Neanderthal era. “The use of the sea as a source of food at that time has so far only been attributed to anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) in Africa,” the researchers explain. “Food from the sea is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other fatty acids that promote the development of brain tissue.” The findings increase our knowledge of Neanderthals. “The recent results of the excavation of Figueira Brava now confirm that if the habitual consumption of marine life played an important role in the development of cognitive abilities, this is as true for Neanderthals as it is for anatomically modern humans,” the researchers explained. The scientists have also noted that, more than 65,000 years ago, Neanderthals made paintings in three caves in the Iberian Peninsula. They also said that perforated and decorated seashells can be attributed to Neanderthals. In another recent study, experts analyzed seashells fashioned into tools that were discovered in Italy in 1949 to reveal how some Neanderthals had a much closer connection to the sea than was previously thought. In a separate study released last year, a team led by anthropologist Erik Trinkaus of Washington University reported that many Neanderthals suffered from “swimmer’s ear,” bony growths that form in the ear canal through regular exposure to cold water or chilly air. Experts have been gaining new insight into Neanderthals in recent years. In 2018, for example, archaeologists in Poland identified the prehistoric bones of a Neanderthal child eaten by a large bird. In another study released in 2018, scientists suggested that climate change played a larger part in Neanderthals’ extinction than previously thought. Last year researchers in France reported that climate change drove some Neanderthals to cannibalism. The closest human species to homo sapiens, Neanderthals lived in Eurasia for around 350,000 years. Scientists in Poland report that Neanderthals in Europe mostly became extinct 35,000 years ago. However, there are a number of theories on the timing of Neanderthals’ extinction, with experts saying that it could have occurred 40,000, 27,000 or 24,000 years ago.

Fascinating!!  …until they just had to throw in the climate change part, without explaining how, or backing it up.  Typical..

Who was St. Patrick and why does he still matter?

On March 17th, millions of people around the world will be mindful of St. Patrick’s Day. But who was St. Patrick? And why is a bishop who lived almost 1,600 years ago still important to us today? You may know Patrick as the patron saint of Ireland. You may have heard that he brought Christianity to the Emerald Isle. And you’ve no doubt heard all about the snakes and the shamrocks and other myths associated with him. But the real reason he still matters today is that his life demonstrates the call of God to share the Good News of the Gospel. And God still speaks to us today, if we’re willing to listen. Most of what we know about Patrick comes from his autobiographical Confession, which he wrote when a group of bishops in Britain tried to bring charges against him. The Confession begins with humility: “I am Patrick, a sinner, the most unsophisticated of people, the least among all the Christians, and among some, the most contemptible.” That humility was a way of life for Patrick, who was, in fact, British and not Irish. As the son of an official in the Roman Empire, he was born into privilege. But when he was just a child, he was kidnapped by the Irish and sold into slavery. In captivity, Patrick saw God’s hand in delivering him “out of a way of life where God didn’t matter for me.” Now a slave in a foreign land, overwhelmed by loneliness and starvation, he had a revelation: “There, the Lord opened up my understanding to my unbelief so that however late, I might become conscious of my failings and then remembering my need, I might turn with all my heart to the Lord my God.” After six years as a slave, Patrick heard a voice telling him to escape, and he miraculously made his way to freedom in Britain. For the next 18 years, Patrick dedicated his life to the church and became a bishop. Then he had another vision calling him back to Ireland to preach the Gospel. If you are a Christian of Irish or Scottish descent, you owe your Christianity to St. Patrick. You may also owe him your education. One of Patrick’s goals was for the Irish to become a people who could read the Bible. Patrick was known as a man of the Book, and the scriptures are scattered throughout his writings. In the fifth century, few could read, and many ancient writings, including the Bible, fell into disuse and were in danger of being lost. Patrick began a monastic tradition in Ireland that spread to the island of Iona in Scotland, and then on to continental Europe. Both the scriptures of the Jews, as well as the writings of the Greeks and Romans, were studied and copied in these monasteries, which became the forerunners of the modern university. St. Patrick was one of the first people in history to take a moral stand against slavery. In his Letter to Coroticus, he also condemned sex trafficking: “They who distribute baptized women as prizes….will be slaves in Hell in an eternal punishment.” The greatest message from St. Patrick is the call of God to preach the Gospel to every tongue, tribe and nation. In the Roman Empire of the fifth century, Ireland was considered the “ends of the earth.” Today, there are over 4,000 language groups that still don’t have even a portion of scripture available to them. Mission agencies agree that it is possible to complete the task of Bible translation, if not in our generation, then in the next. What is lacking are people who are willing to take up the task. And that is the lesson of St. Patrick. God still calls, and God still sends. God still wants to shake us “out of a way of life where God didn’t matter.” On March 17, the traditional day of Patrick’s death, let us celebrate the remarkable life of a slave who committed his life to God. With God’s help, Patrick changed a nation. Through Patrick’s example, may we realize that we can change nations as well.

Thanks to Gordon Robertson for that faith-based history lesson on the life of St. Patrick.  Gordon president and CEO of The Christian Broadcasting Network, is the executive producer of “I Am Patrick,” a docudrama on the life of St. Patrick from CBN Films. For more information go to IAmPatrick.com.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!     🙂

National Anthem Day — 5 things that might surprise you about the Star-Spangled Banner

It’s rare that a song that is so ubiquitous and connected to American culture (and its corresponding patriotism) would be so steeped in both controversy and intrigue. Most of us are aware of the basic history behind the “Star-Spangled Banner” – our national anthem, which was codified into law on March 3, 1931. Trapped aboard the British ship HMS Tonnant during Great Britain’s attack on Baltimore’s Fort McHenry in September of 1814, Francis Scott Key witnessed the relentless overnight bombardment of the American garrison on September 13-14, 1814. He was so moved by the experience – and so relieved to see “through the night that our flag was still there,” that the struggling poet penned the song’s (originally titled, “Defense of Fort McHenry”) now immortal lyrics. But why did it take over a century to be canonized into law as our national anthem and how did it all happen? Like America’s history itself, the song’s triumphant rise was dependent on both providence and the persistence and talent of many people. Click here to learn five things that might surprise you about the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

Even though the media is focusing on today being “Super Tuesday,” we’re proud to wish you a very Happy National Anthem Day!!  Thanks to Paul J. Batura for that outstanding piece!  Paul is a writer and the author of seven books, including, “GOOD DAY! The Paul Harvey Story.” He can be reached on Twitter @PaulBatura or by email at Paul@PaulBatura.com     🙂

Who was the first to live in the White House?

As the country gets set to commemorate Presidents Day, it’s time to reflect on the most famous address in the world: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington. That’s the White House — the president’s official residence in the nation’s capital. The first president, George Washington, chose the location in 1791, but never lived there. John Adams and his wife, Abigail, were the first occupants of the President’s House, moving into the unfinished structure in 1800. Fourteen years later, British troops burned it to the ground during the War of 1812. The original architect, Irish-born James Hoban, was appointed to rebuild the house, and President James Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth Kortright, took residence in 1817. The building’s South Portico was constructed during Monroe’s administration in 1824. The North Portico was built in 1829 under President Andrew Jackson. Construction of the Oval Office — the president’s work quarters — took place in 1909 when Howard Taft was president as part of a project to expand the executive wing. In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson’s wife, Ellen, planted the outdoor White House Rose Garden, the backdrop for press conferences, bill signings and special ceremonies. The White House Residence comprises 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms, and has six levels. Additionally, there are 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, eight staircases, and three elevators. Painters need 570 gallons of paint to cover the outside surfaces. President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901 on his presidential stationery. It remains the only private residence of a head of state open to public visitors without an admission charge.

And if you haven’t been, put it on your bucket list.  A tour of the White House, regardless of who the current occupant is, is definitely worth it.     🙂