Earliest Fragments of the Gospel of Mark Found?

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mummy maskI know it’s been a long time since I have posted. I am spending most of my time writing for my teaching ministry, Emet HaTorah. A recent discovery, however, has piqued my interest and I thought it would fit well here.

A recent report has just revealed that what appears to be the oldest extant copy of the Gospel of Mark has been discovered. It appears that it was discovered at least three years ago and both scientists and are working together to publish their findings in the months ahead. Up to this point the entire discovery has been hidden behind sealed lips. However, a little bit of the information has been leaked to the media.

The discovery actually comes from an unexpected location. The gospel fragment was discovered in secondary use as part of an Egyptian burial mask on a mummy of common status. The forthcoming report will reveal more details on its discovery and its contents.  Biblical scholar Craig Evans has been working as part of the team to unravel the mystery behind the text and hopes to publish his findings as soon as the scientific report has been made public. You can read more about the discovery here:

Counting the Omer Calendar 2014 + Stickers

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Counting-the-Omer-2014 Omer-stickers

Passover is on our heels! Therefore Shavuot is in hot pursuit! Here is a free activity download for 2014 to help your family both remember to count the omer between Passover/Pesach and Pentecost/Shavuot, as well as make it fun. I’ve created a calendar sheet and cut-n-paste “stickers” (bring your own glue stick -or- print to some crack-n-peel) to count the omer all the way to Shavuot.

Feel free to download these, print them out and use them for your family. Be sure to “Like” this page or post this link to your Facebook page as well as Tweet it to your friends so they will be able to enjoy it as well. Chag Sameach! Enjoy!

Israel Antiquities Authority Tries to Keep Ossuary Return a Secret

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James OssuaryCan you believe it’s been ten years since the IAA (Israel Antiquities Authority) seized the James Ossuary from  Oded Golan, claiming it to be a forgery? Well, if you haven’t heard (and you probably haven’t), the artifact has finally returned to its owner and all charges of forgery dropped. However, this was under the radar, so-to-speak, because the IAA had made an agreement with Golan to keep their major (and extremely expensive) blunder out of the press. However, Hershel Shanks of the Biblical Archaeology has released some notes about the recent “hush-hush” on the whole affair. You can read all about it here.

Discipleship Interview with The Grafted In Perspective

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This week I had the privilege of being interviewed by Gabriel Rutledge of The Grafted In Perspective podcast in regard to discipleship. Discussion includes my testimony, ‪Discipleship‬ and The ‪Gospel‬. I would love to hear your comments!

Abraham the Disciple-Maker

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Genesis 12:5 records an event early in the life of Abraham. It says,

And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan.

Although the ESV glosses over this unusual text, more literal translations such as the King James version reveal an underlying problem with interpretation. The King James says, “And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran” (emphasis added). The problem is understanding what they had “acquired” or “gotten” in Haran. The Hebrew behind this phrase is וְאֶת־הַנֶּפֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר־עָשׂוּ בְחָרָן — literally, “and the souls they had made in Haran.” This is the same verb used for the construction of the various components of the Tabernacle and its service. For instance, “They shall make an ark of acacia wood” 1 or “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold” 2 or “you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen.” 3 It is the same word found in the prohibition against idol making: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” 4 In light of this particular wording, that Abraham and Sarah “made” souls in Haran, the midrash tells us that these people were actually disciples or proselytes. 5 In other words, Abraham didn’t just purchase slaves or servants in Haran. He made disciples.

Whether these “souls” were full proselytes just whole-hearted followers of Abraham and his God is to be debated. However, the Bible specifically records just two chapters later that Abraham took 318 of these “trained men,” who were “born in his house” into battle against Lot’s captors. The Hebrew word for “trained men” means “follower” coming from the root, חנך (chanak), meaning “dedicated.” It’s the same root from which we get the word “Hanukkah” (Dedication). These “dedicated followers” were “born” into Abraham’s house. With these evidences it is not a stretch to say that because of their relationship with Abraham they experienced a spiritual rebirth which gave them the dedication to follow Abraham even unto death. Abraham invested into others. Abraham was a disciple-maker.

It was for this reason that the Almighty specifically chose Abraham to be called out from among his people. The LORD said, “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice” (Genesis 18:19). Please note: not only does is say that Abraham will teach his children, but that he will also teach “his household.” Abraham proved these words to be true not only with Isaac, but with his 318 disciples as well.

  1. Exodus 25:10
  2. Exodus 25:17
  3. Exodus 26:31
  4. Exodus 20:4
  5. Genesis Rabbah 84:4
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