The number 666 in the book of Revelation and early Christian history meant something other than what it does in contemporary popular culture, including in conspiracist and apocalyptic interpretations.
We tend to imagine angels as human beings with white wings clothed in white robes—but in the Bible, angels could be flying heavenly snakes or winged bulls with human faces.
For reasons that are not fully clear, Christian apocalypticists in the three centuries after Revelation were concerned more with visions of heaven and hell, although the end of history was always in sight.
The city of Bethlehem, located several kilometers south of Jerusalem, was an Israelite town where David was anointed king of Israel and, according to Christian tradition, was also the birthplace of Jesus.
One goal of this guide is to encourage awareness of the pedagogical rewards and academic relevance of teaching about the Bible. Another goal is to provide teachers with some awareness of the academic, social, and legal issues to consider well before a Bible elective begins. This guide offers a FAQ (frequently asked questions) format for teachers of Bible courses and their communities, school boards, and administrators to consider prior to designing and offering a course. It also touches on the approaches and insights in biblical studies that are widely accepted among scholars, but that may be new to teachers, students, and parents alike. Awareness of scholarly methods and goals and how they differ from religious understandings will provide additional means to judge the content and legality of Bible electives.
How do the laws of ancient Israel compare to those of ancient Mesopotamia? In this lesson we explore this question by comparing material from a part of the biblical book of Exodus known as the Covenant Code and laws found in the much older Code of Hammurabi, which is recorded in an inscription from Babylonia. The lesson focuses specifically on the legal notion of talion —punishment should be measure-for-measure the same as the crime. Or, as Exodus 21:24 puts it, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. As it turns out, parts of the Code of Hammurabi reflect a very similar principle. Students compare laws from the two sources that are literally about eyes and teeth as well as other types of bodily injury. What exactly constitutes equal punishment for different types of injury? Is financial compensation acceptable in lieu of actual, literally equal punishment? Should the penalty for causing injury or death vary depending on the class or status of the victim? As these texts illustrate, laws reflect the broader culture of the society that produced them —especially the values and assumptions of the elites who set those laws.
In the ancient world circumcision was practiced by Israelites, Egyptians, and others (Jer 9:25-26) but was rejected by Greeks and Romans.
Although there is no term for disability among the cultures that produced the biblical texts, there were standards of bodily normativity, standards which when combined with the realities of ancient life, meant that a majority of ancient persons had bodies that would be classified as different or deviating from the normative body in some way.
Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that celebrates the rededication of the Jerusalem temple, following its profanation by the Syrian-Greek king Antiochus IV, by the Maccabees.
God is holy by being separate from all creation and by being loving, a holiness that the people of Israel is to reflect in its human way of life.
This lesson on Jesus and his teachings focuses on two biblical texts, the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew and the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke. It asks students to consider the historical context of the two sermons, the influence of Hellenistic Judaism on the authors of the two Gospels, and the challenges of using such literature to reconstruct history. To get the students started engaging with the texts, the lesson asks students to compare two artistic depictions of the sermons. It then moves to a close reading of both sermons using a guided reading graphic organizer and a resource developed by Advanced Placement called a SOAPStone graphic organizer. Using these tools to engage with the sermons will sharpen students’ critical reading skills as well as give them methods they can use when they read other demanding texts. Coming from two of the earliest accounts of Jesus’ teachings, these passages stem from a time when Hellenistic Judaism and nascent Christianity were both shaping portrayals of Jesus. Hence, the lesson includes resources to help students analyze how each sermon reflects its ancient cultural context and to consider the larger question of how scholars arrive at interpretive and historical conclusions when they have limited sources from which to draw.
Love commands in the Bible include actions of justice and favor to other humans as a way to show one’s love of God.