Artifacts & Biblical History

Here are a few paragraphs from my new book on Genesis which is nearly done.

Genesis 2:7 is foundational and crucial to the whole story of the cosmos, Man and salvation. God takes dust or clay from the ground and like a potter he fashions a human being. The scientific formulas used by God still elude us.

Imagine God making the first human brain from the chemical compounds he had already created as part of the earth. The intelligent design of the brain is beyond our comprehension, immensely complicated with intricate and precise electronics, hormones, connections, blood passageways, molecules, minerals, living cells and more.

And this amazing “machine” is able to learn, process and recall information, and even heal itself. It is more than a brain—it is also a “mind.” 

 Then God moves to the heart that will pump 40 million times in a year, 2.5 billion times in a lifetime of 70 years—without maintenance and without missing a beat. Right now, as I write this book, my heart has beat over 2,000,000,000 times since my birth.

Then on to the lungs which will take in necessary oxygen produced by the plants. Since my birth until now I have breathed 629,000,000 times! Then God shaped the liver, the kidneys, the glands, the reproductive organs, the stomach with its incredibly fine-tuned and intricate digestive system . . . 

 God did not just form a “machine” or an animal. He took this incredible body he had fashioned from clay and with his own breath he breathed into the nostrils the breath of life—like divine CPR. This is face–to–face, warmly personal, almost as the intimate kiss of God.

The body of clay came alive; it was animated. The created object was now a Man with body and soul; he became a living, spiritual being (CCC 362–363, 704).

The Man was dual in nature: body and soul, related to earth and heaven (1 Cor 15:45). The potter has made a Man for glory out of the clay of the earth! Man is the crown of the creation! The drama of salvation is under way, being directed and controlled by God himself. 

 Remember what Jesus does to the Apostles in the Upper Room (Jn 20:22)? How does this signify the creation of the new being—the Church?

Remember also that the wind of the Holy Spirit blew on Pentecost at the birth of the Church! You can already see a pattern forming: “For God so loved . . . that he gave” (cf. Jn 3:16)—an act of self–giving as well as of making; God invests himself in his new creation. This passage is rich with symbolic and typological meaning, ripe for the picking.

Pray for me as I work on finalizing this manuscript which is almost done! It will be published by Ignatius Press and available on Verbum Catholic Software.

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It was one of the funnest and fastest shows ever! Great questions and lively discussion. Here are the questions I answered. The topic was “Abraham: Father of Faith and Works.”

Here is the link for listening on-line and here for downloading as a podcast.

1) Did Abraham know that God wouldn’t have him actually go through with killing Isaac?

2) Why was Isaac willing to go through with this and let his father kill him?

Steve sacrificing a ram in Israel

3) Why wasn’t God disappointed with Abraham’s adultery with Hagar?

4) It seems strange to me that Catholics practice “offering it up” with their sufferings. What is all that about if Christ’s already suffered for us?

5) Why would God ask Abraham to commit a mortal sin? And why would Abraham believe that God would ask him to do that? How can you justify this sacrifice?

6) I don’t understand why Hagar was punished? What did she do wrong?

7) It seems like you are justifying Abraham’s affair with Hagar because of the customs of the time. Wouldn’t it be wrong for him to have intercourse with Hagar no matter what the customs of his time were?

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Rugged territory of Haran from above

We flew from Israel to Istanbul and then from Istanbul Urfa. We then boarded the van for the one hour drive to Haran. It was 100° and the van didn’t have air-conditioning or windows that opened. It was a stifling trip but paid off with what we found. 

Haran is mentioned 19 times in the Bible. Another name for the city was Paddan-aram. That name is used 15 times in Scripture, so Haran is actually mentioned 34 times in the Bible.

Haran is just east of the Euphrates River and a few miles from the border with Syria. The people here are Turkish but they all come from Arab blood, most from Syria. 

 We made a deal with the local owner of a historical site. We have the whole place to ourselves tomorrow with sheep, camels, a well and old buildings set in authentic fields from Abram’s time. Very exciting.  

Working on the script, adapting it for the actual site

We will be filming for the next two days. Work is difficult when it is 100° and very humid. I feel for Abram and poor Sarai living in tents with no showers, air-conditioning, refrigeration, running water …    Yikes!

But it is worth it to walk on the ground where Abram, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Leah and Jacob all walked 4,000 years ago, to smell the air they smelled, to feel the heat they felt, to sweat like they sweat, to ride camels here, and to walk in their footprints.

Abram (before he was renamed Abraham) moved here from Ur in Iraq and lived here for an unknown length of time until his father Terah died. It was a huge camel caravan route around the Arabian Desert. After he moved to Canaan (Israel) he sent his servant back here to find Rebekah to be Isaac’s bride.

I'll become good friends with the camels tomorrow

After Isaac’s son Jacob deceived his father and his brother Esau he fled to Haran (called also ) to save his life. But he found two wives there from his own family tree, had 11 sons and lived here with flocks of sheep for twenty years.

What a joy to walk where the patriarchs walked. They are saints if you didn’t know – just read the Catechism, paragraph 61.

 One thing we can know about Abram and Sarah: they were sweaty all the time and they smelled like sheep and goats. They were sunburned and tough!

Unique dwellings in Haran

Negotiating prices

 

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Planting a flag in the Holy Land

June 6, 2014

Today we stood where Abraham first arrived in Canaan 4000 years ago. I built an altar and talked about Abraham and how that altar he built was like marking his claim in this land, putting his flag in the ground. In our DVD I’m going to show the astronauts planting the flag and the moon [...]

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Why Protestants Reject 7 Books of the Bible – the Short Answer

April 30, 2014

Gary Michuta is an expert on the canon of Scripture, especially in regards to the Deutero-canonical books, what the Protestants call the Apocrypha. You can read his book Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger to see what I mean. Recently a friend asked Gary for the short answer as to why the Protestants removed seven books from [...]

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Was Jesus Crucified Naked?

April 17, 2014

A gentleman heard me on Relevant Radio earlier. I had mentioned on the air that one of the great humiliations of a crucifixion was that a man was crucified naked. This thoughtful gentleman wrote to challenge my comments. Below is his e-mail and my response. Dear Mr. Ray, Please correct your description of the Passion. [...]

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Interesting Insights While Working on Abraham Script: Tent vs. Altar, Jews Sent Back to Square One

March 31, 2014

Two things struck me today as I am feverishly writing the script for our upcoming Abraham DVD (Footprints of God series). First, when God punished the Jews by sending them into exile in Babylon it was the ultimate punishment and insult. Babylon was the site of Bable and the confusion of languages. It was also [...]

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Amazing! Pope will Celebrate Mass in the Upper Room

March 27, 2014

This is quite incredible since it has not been done since Pope John Paul II received permission from Israel to celebrate Mass there on his visit to the Holy Land. Pope Francis will do the “not allowed”–he will celebrate Mass in the Upper Room. Seems odd, eh, that the place where the first Eucharist was [...]

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Pictures from Nazareth over 100 Years Ago (see the Virgin Mary :-)

March 25, 2014

Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation. These pictures are over a hundred years old from Nazareth. Not much changed between then and the first century. When you look at these old pictures and hundreds more I have in a book I purchased in Nazareth (written in Arabic), you can imagine Mary as [...]

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The Technology of Scripture Study: The Middle Ages (and a hilarious video at the end)

March 16, 2014

I am an ecclesiastical historian by training and a Bible software guy by trade. Which, I think, puts me in the unique position to write about the history of the intersection of technology and Scripture study in a series of posts. Written by my friend Andrew Jones PhD: We might start with a description of [...]

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New Research Supports Authenticity of Holy Shroud of Turin – Join Us on Shroud Pilgrimage Next Year!!

February 14, 2014

Scientists Believe Image Caused by Radiation from Earthquake in 33 AD ROME, February 13, 2014 (Zenit.org) – A group scientists in Italy have claimed that neutron radiation caused by an earthquake in 33 AD could have induced the image that many believe to be Christ on the Holy Shroud of Turin. They also believe the [...]

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Ziggurat of Abraham in Ur (Naziriyah Iraq)

January 8, 2014

I’ve added a short video clip so you can get an idea of the Ziggurat. I also added a few pictures. Great day shooting footage for the Abraham movie with brick makers, the temple that Abraham saw with his own eyes, and a lot more. Your browser does not support the video tag

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Did the Wise Men Meet the Shepherds?

December 25, 2013

With Christmas today and Epiphany upon us (January 6) I thought I would post my article this Christmas season with bits of interesting information and details about Christmas, the Gospels and Epiphany. Did the Wise Men Meet the Shepherds?  A king was born. He was born unlike most kings. There was no pomp and circumstance; [...]

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Steve in Corinth: Why We Know the Bible is True; Talk at the Erastus Stone

December 9, 2013

This is one of those moments when I love taking excited Catholics to biblical lands. Last month we went to the sites of St. Paul around the Mediterranean. One of my favorite sites is the Erastus Stone off the beaten track at Ancient Corinth. Here is my 10-minute spontaneous talk about the truth of the [...]

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Google and the Vatican Work Together so you can Tour the Catacombs in Rome

November 27, 2013

Early Christian burial sites are now easier to see, both in person and via the Internet, thanks to 21st-century technology and collaboration between Google and the Vatican. “This is perhaps the sign of the joining of two extremes, remote antiquity and modernity,” said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi at a news conference Tuesday at the Catacombs of [...]

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How Big was Noah’s Ark

November 27, 2013

It was a big boat at a time when big boats did not exist. It was a feat of genius ingenuity. You can read the instructions for building in Genesis 6:14-22. We are also told that the ark is a picture of the Church and salvation. In the ark Noah passed through the waters which [...]

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