Murder of the Innocents (Repost – 2013)

Small Passion: 16. Christ before Herod
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Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A cry was heard in Ramah– weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead.” (Mat 2:16-18 NLT)

The Murder of the Innocents is a seriously debated account found only Matthew’s Gospel. Recently, the National Geographic has come out with a theory that Herod did not commit these crimes as recorded in the Gospel. There is a simple explanation for the exclusion from history.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia,

The Catholic Encyclopedia in 1910 argued that the Matthew Gospel account “is not contradicted by the mere silence of Josephus; for the latter follows Nicholas of Damascus, to whom, as a courtier, Herod was a hero.” It also cited an 1897 book by A. J. Maas: “Cruel as the slaughter may appear to us, it disappears among the cruelties of Herod. It cannot, then, surprise us that history does not speak of it”.

Calvin’s rationale,

Josephus makes no mention of this history. The only writer who mentions it is Macrobius, in the Second Book of his Saturnalia, where, relating the jokes and taunts of Augustus, he says: When he heard that, by Herod’s command, the children in Syria under two years of age had been slain, and that his own son had been slain among the crowd, “I would rather,” said he, “have been Herod’s hog than his son.” But the authority of Matthew alone is abundantly sufficient for us. Josephus certainly ought not to have passed over a crime so worthy of being put on record. But there is the less reason to wonder that he says nothing about the infants; for he passes lightly over, and expresses in obscure language, an instance of Herod’s cruelty not less shocking, which took place about the same time, when he put to death all the Judges, who were called the Sanhedrin, that hardly a remnant might remain of the stock of David. It was the same dread, I have no doubt, that impelled him to both of these murders.

Finally, from the College Press NT commentary, which I believe actually helps in understanding how this even could have been passed over.

While the historicity of this event has been disputed by some, R.T. France has provided compelling evidence giving credibility to the Matthean account. Not only is the slaughter of the infants consistent with what is known about Herod, population estimates in and around Bethlehem, coupled with probable birth and infant mortality rates, have led to estimates of around twenty infants being slain by Herod. While not diminishing the tragedy of the situation, such a crime in the light of Herod’s other atrocities may very well have gone unnoticed by contemporary historical sources.

It was indeed a slaughter of the innocents, but it could very have been but a few children, perhaps as the commentary above, nor more than 20. This could easily have been buried in the heaps of historical events that surround Herod and indeed, could have escaped unnoticed since it was such a small number, albeit every murder is important.

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Nuclear War, Good For Something

Atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.

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Just a small one… a little bitty one…

To see what climate effects such a regional nuclear conflict might have, scientists from NASA and other institutions modeled a war involving a hundred Hiroshima-level bombs, each packing the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT—just 0.03 percent of the world’s current nuclear arsenal. (See a National Geographic magazine feature on weapons of mass destruction.)

The researchers predicted the resulting fires would kick up roughly five million metric tons of black carbon into the upper part of the troposphere, the lowest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere.

In NASA climate models, this carbon then absorbed solar heat and, like a hot-air balloon, quickly lofted even higher, where the soot would take much longer to clear from the sky.

Small Nuclear War Could Reverse Global Warming for Years?.

Well, if that is the only way…

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The National Geographic takes on the Gospel

From Bezel333:

“National Geographic sure has a knack of choosing the most liberal, non-supernatural thinking scholars to discuss anything that has to do with the Jesus of the Bible...take a look”

It seems to me, that they do this, during this time of year, for the marketing value. And so many people willingly believe this tripe instead of the physical evidence that surrounds the Gospel story. Not more than 20-25 years after this man Jesus lived, a coherent history was reported. Not more than 3 or 4 months after this man’s supposed death and subsequent resurrection, thousands of Jews who had never seen this particular man, but were at least nominally observant – they did travel from all parts of the world for the Passover – well, those Jews converted and became the backbone of the movement in this man’s name. They were challenged by the their families, their countrymen, and their religious teachers. They were beaten and murdered as they gathered in their homes to pray to this particular man.

Somehow, just somehow, based on empirical evidence, something had to have happened nearly 2000 years ago to drive these men and women to their deaths in the defense of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, this particular man of Galilee.  Something had to happen in the days before mass media to spread the gospel like wildfire among not just a few backwater towns in Palestine, but throughout the Empire and around the world in just a few decades.

HT

National Geographic Hates the Bible – King Herod innocent of the Innocents

Eight miles south of Jerusalem, where the last stunted olive trees and stony cornfields fade into the naked badlands of the Judaean desert, a hill rises abruptly, a steep cone sliced off at the top like a small volcano. This is Herodium, one of the grand architectural creations of Herod the Great, King of Judaea, who raised a low knoll into a towering memorial of snowy stonework and surrounded it with pleasure palaces, splashing pools, and terraced gardens. An astute and generous ruler, a brilliant general, and one of the most imaginative and energetic builders of the ancient world, Herod guided his kingdom to new prosperity and power. Yet today he is best known as the sly and murderous monarch of Matthew’s Gospel, who slaughtered every male infant in Bethlehem in an unsuccessful attempt to kill the newborn Jesus, the prophesied King of the Jews. During the Middle Ages he became an image of the Antichrist: Illuminated manuscripts and Gothic gargoyles show him tearing his beard in mad fury and brandishing his sword at the luckless infants, with Satan whispering in his ear. Herod is almost certainly innocent of this crime, of which there is no report apart from Matthew’s account. But children he certainly slew, including three of his own sons, along with his wife, his mother-in-law, and numerous other members of his court. Throughout his life, he blended creativity and cruelty, harmony and chaos, in ways that challenge the modern imagination.

That’s right, Herod is a misunderstood monarch, a kindly ole soul really, much like Santa Claus. Every holiday season – whether you believe that this is an actual holiday or not – National Geographic and other institutes of higher learner, such as the Discovery Channel, barrage us with anti-biblical accounts and understanding. I am waiting the big one – detailing that there never was a certain Jesus. This one portrays Herod as somewhat misunderstood and wrongfully attacked by the Jews and Christians.

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Documentary explores mystery of Islam's Koran – 08/04/2008 – MiamiHerald.com

Documentary explores mystery of Islam’s Koran – 08/04/2008 – MiamiHerald.com.

Documentary explores mystery of Islam’s Koran

Inside The Koran, 9-11 p.m. Tuesday, National Geographic ChannelSuppose you were strapping on a vest full of dynamite to blow up a market in Baghdad. Suddenly your cell phone rings — it’s your imam, telling you the Koran verse promising martyrs a reward of six dozen virgins has been misunderstood. Actually, your reward for blasting yourself to pieces will be a bunch of grapes. Do you still go through with it?

That’s one of the many conundrums posed by Inside The Koran, an excellent National Geographic Channel documentary airing Tuesday. Skipping nimbly past the twin pitfalls of political correctness and religious jingoism, Inside The Koran is full of penetrating insights into what it calls ”the world’s most ideologically influential text,” the holy book that guides a billion Muslims.

The question that drives Inside The Koran is the same one countless Westerners have asked as the tectonic plates of Islamic and Judeo-Christian civilizations have ground against one another with increasing violence over the past 30 years: How can Sufi pacifists and Shiite suicide bombers draw their inspiration from the same book? How can a woman be head of state in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation, but not even permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia, the home of its holiest sites?

The broad answer is that the Koran, like any religious writ, is full of ambiguities, vague metaphors and even outright contradictions. (Which Bible verse do you prefer: the one in Leviticus that says adulterers ”must be put to death” or the one in John that quotes Jesus saying, ”If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone”?) “The Koran is like a big store, like a big supermarket,” says one Islamic scholar interviewed in Inside The Koran.“In this book you are able to pick different answers. You are able to make peace according to the Koran. You are able to declare war according to the Koran.”

So the Koranic decree for women ”not to display their adornment” is interpreted by some Muslims as requiring that women cloak everything but their eyes, blotting themselves out of the world like ninja warriors. Others believe it only requires the hair be covered. And the mother of one young college-educated Egyptian woman who has recently adopted conservative garb plaintively wonders if the whole business doesn’t amount to putting words in Allah’s mouth: ‘God could have said, `Cover your hair.’ It wasn’t mentioned.”

Disputes about the necessity of head scarves may seem only a couple of degrees beyond arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. (Though women beaten by Saudi Arabian religious police for indecorous attire may disagree.) But Inside The Koran does not shirk from pointing out just how insanely far some Islamic religious authorities are willing to push their Koranic interpretations. The unearthly screams of a little African girl undergoing religiously mandated female circumcision rank as some of the most horrifying moments I’ve ever witnessed on television. The burning eyes of a fundamentalist theologian who says a disciplined program of genital mutilation would solve a lot of the problems of the West run a close second.

Not just the interpretive meaning of the Koran but also the literal one is subject to dispute. Muslims believe the entire Koran was revealed to the prophet Mohammed by the angel Gabriel in the seventh century. But it was turned into a book only after Mohammed’s death, compiled from notes taken by his friends and family.

The most fascinating segment of Inside The Koran concerns scientific investigation of the oldest known manuscript pages, discovered in Yemen in 1972. They were written in the early eighth century without diacritical marks, the little dots and accents that can change not only the pronunciation of Arabic but also its meaning. Some scholars, the documentary reports, believe anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of the words in the Koran have been misidentified.

So the Koranic sentence that’s been widely understood to promise martyrs an eternal romp with virgins — ”we have paired them with dark wide eyed maidens” — could, with insertion of diacritical marks, actually be “we will make you comfortable under white, crystal clear grapes.”

The scholar who makes that point uses a pseudonym and is shown only in shadows, a wise precaution given that a Palestinian historian of Islam was thrown out a second-floor window by his students for similar statements. As Inside The Koran observes, tolerance for theological disputes within Islam has sharply declined in direct proportion to the growing influence of Saudi Arabia and Iran, home to the religion’s small but radical Shia and Wahabi sects. As an Egyptian woman who believes that the Koran does not require her to cover her hair says, “Fifteen years ago I could have engaged in a discussion with men of religion over that. Today it is almost impossible . . . If you say that, it is blasphemous.”