Thursday, 27 March 2008

ancient palatial garden

At Jerusalem dig, archaeologists get a peek at palatial gardens

(Publication Date: 03-26-2008)

By Karin Kloosterman
Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- Ancient kings, armies, prophets and pilgrims have made their mark on the ancient hills of Jerusalem and have left behind some of the world's most important archaeological finds. But with every stone overturned, puzzling questions about the history of modern Western civilization come to light.

This is especially true at the Tel Aviv University-owned site of Ramat Rachel, an archaeological site from biblical times. For that reason, Jewish and Christian archaeologists, theologians and volunteers come to dig there year after year.

Clues revealed by last year's dig, such as elaborate underground water tunnels, pools, pipes and gutters, suggest that this year's dig, July 20-Aug. 15, could give answers about the rulers who once lived there, said the site director and Tel Aviv University archaeologist Oded Lipschits.

The site, Lipschits said, is the location of an ancient palace replete with an impressive garden, which was built during the end of the First Temple period in the seventh century B.C.

"This is the only palace from the time period of the kingdom of Judah, and today it is a venerated site for all world religions," he said.

For Jews, this palace is believed to have been standing during the time of the Judean kings Hezekiah, Manasseh and Josiah. Christians believe it to be the site where Mary came to rest on her way to Bethlehem. An ancient octagonal church, "Katisma," built around the holy rock down on the slope of the hill commemorated her resting place and is also known as the seat of Mary.

Some scholars believe this church inspired the construction of the golden Dome of the Rock, also an octagonal structure built around a holy rock on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, one of Islam's most sacred spiritual centers.

Ramat Rachel is a modern name for the kibbutz on the high hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem, from which one can see Rachel's Tomb nearby in Bethlehem, West Bank, as well as modern and ancient Jerusalem and mountains surrounding the city.

The excavations at Ramat Rachel first began in the 1950s. Today Lipschits directs the site in conjunction with Manfred Oeming, a professor at Germany's University of Heidelberg. Every year, the dig attracts more than 100 volunteers and scholars from Israel and throughout the world.

A majority of the volunteers are Christians and include priests, theology students, nuns and archaeology students. Daily Scripture readings are made available to volunteers at the site.

All areas of the site are open to the public, and visitors to the archaeological park get a sense of the site's 3,000-year-old history. They can touch the original walls and fortress of a Judean king and find traces of later inhabitants of Persian, Hellenistic and Jewish descent.

Also on the site are the remains of a Jewish village from the Second Temple period, with numerous Jewish ritual baths, and the remains of the 10th Roman Legion, which built an elaborate villa there and a large Roman bath. During the Byzantine period, the site was home to monks and pilgrims who grew olives and grapes. During the Early Muslim period, there was a large farm on the site, and its remains are being excavated.

One of the most impressive elements of the site, said Lipschits, is an ancient royal garden. It is one of a few palatial gardens of its kind in the world.

Lipschits explained the significance: "The Assyrians and Babylonians believed that gardens represented spirituality. The name for garden in Hebrew represents a protected place, surrounded by a wall or a fence. This is exactly the meaning of the old Persian word 'pardes,' and this is why the Greeks, when translating the Bible, choose this word to describe the Garden of Eden story.

"From here, it was a short jump to the use of 'pardes' to describe paradise," said Lipschits.

"In a way, we are excavating paradise at Ramat Rachel," he said. "This is the only known garden in Judah from the biblical world, and excavating it is fascinating. We explore its plan and think about the connection between the garden and the attached palace."

In his ongoing research, Lipschits draws parallels between the ancient palatial garden at Ramat Rachel and the Western interpretation of heaven. At the site, he also is researching exotic trees, bushes and flowers imported from across the ancient Near East.

A team is analyzing seeds, pollen and soil. Lipschits said team members hope the garden may give a deeper understanding to imagery and symbolism found in the Bible.

Lipschits also is completing a book of stamp impressions bearing the name of the province "Yehud" from the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, when the Jews left Babylon to go back to their homeland. He wrote "The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem," and continues to author publications in partnership with Boston College and David S. Vanderhooft, a theology professor there.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

i was tagged

Tag is a Meme of fives. have been tagged by pearlie. what i have to do is answer the questions and tag 5 other people. rules are simple as below:

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves
3. At the end of the post the player than tags 5 people and posts their names, than goes to their blogs and leaves a comment, letting them know they done got tagged and to ask them to play and read your blog.


What was I doing 10 years ago? March 1998 -

1. on march 26th 1998, i was teaching NT4 (Exegetical methods) class in the seminary from 8-11am

2. on the same day, attended a STM Souvenier magazine committee meeting at 4pm

3. in march 10 years ago, i would have started teaching for over 2 months in the seminary on a full-time basis

4. on march 19th, had lunch at 1pm with 2 pastoral colleagues, rev paul george, who took over as pastor of wesley methodist church seremban from rev hwa chien (pastor) and myself (associate pastor), and rev hwa chien, who was trac president. 10 years later, both of my colleagues are no longer in the ministry with me as they both passed on to higher glory - hwa chien on 24th november 2001 in a untimely motor accident and paul george on 23rd december 2004 from a massive heart attack. sigh! and here i am still toiling on.

5. on march 27th 1998, my faithful madza car road tax expired. the car, manufactured in 1983 and bought by us second-hand in 1988, continues to be in faithful service to her earthly masters in 2008. she receives a lifetime award for 25 years service tommorow on 27th march 2008 (which reminds me to renew her road tax tommorrow).

5 things on my to-do list today -

1. preparing sermon for sunday service at canaan baptist church bukit jalil

2. preparing pastoral group for mission trip to kuala lipis, raub and bentong churches on 5-6th april

3. teach OT survey in the morning and Elementary Hebrew 1a in the afternoon

4. edit articles for MATS Journal vol.2 (malaysia association of theological schools) for publication

5. finish up my thesis!!!!!

Snacks I enjoy ~

1. groundnuts, peanuts, nuts, any type of nuts!!

2. chocolates and whatever kind they come in!!

3. sour preserved fruits

4. yoghurt drinks/lassi

5. meat floss/dried sweet meat (especially the ones made by my wife!!)

Things I would do if I were a billionaire ~

1. continue to work in the seminary without pay (less obligations to you-know-who)

2. continue to write my books (but with many resources available. maybe even fly over to uk to tyndale house and stay for 6 months to do research for book!!!)

3. employ like-minded people to work in my team to write and produce quality made-in-malaysia christian books and sell them CHEAP!!

4. freely give as freely received. so, invest further and generate more to start more scholarship funds for deserving students irregardless of race, religion and status.

5. get a harley davidson motorbike (or a few!!) and ride cross-country roadhog style!

Five of my bad habits ~

1. too ambitious to start many book projects (too short a life to live to finish my The Old Testament Made Simple Series)

2. movie buff (if i can, watch movies all day!)

3. perfectiontist streak (much less as one grows older and mellowed)

4. too detailed and meticulous in my marking of papers (from students' view point)

5. too computer and internet-addicted (ha!)

Five places I have lived ~

1. working days - petaling jaya (1978) when i first started work in shah alam.

2. studying days - kuala lumpur (1980) when i studied in the seminary

3. church days - parit buntar 1984, butterworth (1985-86), kuala lipis (1987-90), teluk intan (1991-93), kampar (1996), seremban (1997)

4. studying days in trinity theological college (1994-95) - johor jaya in johor baru

5. seminary days - seremban (1998-present)

Five jobs I've had -

1. first job was in august(?) 1978 in a research laboratory as a r&d assistant in nylex shah alam. my task was to do research into plastics.

2. second job was as a pastor in the methodist church in july 1984. first church was parit buntar perak for 6 months.

3. third job is a OT lecturer in seminari theoloji malaysia in january 1998.

4. fourth job? maybe as a missionary somewhere in the world. this is the third phase of my life in the full-time ministry where i would want to end up.

5. fifth job? in heaven of course studying the Bible!

I tagged the following people:

1. chee keat

2. silvester martin

3. daniel ng

4. claude mariottini

5. philip sumpter

Monday, 24 March 2008

be careful of what you read in the news about archaeological discoveries

a lot of recent archaeological discoveries in jerusalem have made things rather interesting. see previous posts.

yet there are always the bad apples like the talpiot tomb jesus' ossuary etc. see cbs 60 minutes where they further debunk the issue.

here is one christian dvd from the site below where the author/director claims to have discovered the actual site of mount sinai where the ancient israelites encamped. they even claim to have found the altar of the golden calf etc. these so-called self-styled indiana jones archaeologists are giving the christian faith and archaeology a bad name. a lot of christians swallowed thse stuff as if there are the truth. if they are, how come the academic world is not abuzzing? some years ago, the other other self-styled indiana jones archaeologist from australia claims to have discovered pharaoh's chariots under the Red Sea and the dvd even purport to show underwater pictures of gold inlaid chariot wheels etc.


Epic myth becomes burning truth...2004 Crown Award Winner for Best Music (Bronze)

Mountain of Fire will take you on a video journey to Mount Sinai in Arabia and show you incredible footage of the ancient camp of the Israelites and Moses!

You will see the altar of the Golden Calf, the sacrificial altar, the cave of Elijah, and closeup video of the Split Rock out of which came a river of water! The water erosion around this rock is worth the price of the DVD--just to see it!

The production of this video cost around a quarter-million dollars. It’s fabulous!

Robert Cornuke authored 4 books and produced this DVD documentary of Mount Sinai in Arabia. You will enjoy learning of his historic achievements.

Format: DVD - All Region What's a Region Code?
Also Found In: Documentary, Crown Award Winners,
UPC/ISBN Number: 816735496137
Languages: English
Closed Captions: Yes
Public Performance Rights: Dean River Productions
Product Release Date: Wednesday, January 1, 2003
Length/Run Time: 46 Min.
Produced By: Dean River Productions
Directed By: John Schmidt
MPAA Rating: NR

Sunday, 23 March 2008

oldest dated christian text

Found at last: the world's oldest missing page

Fifth-century Christian text turns up under floor in Egypt, bringing early church martyrs to light

The Levantine Foundation

The fragments as they were discovered

Sunday, 17 February 2008

A year after the Romans packed up their shields in AD410 and left Britain to the mercy of the Anglo-Saxons, a scribe in Edessa, in what is modern day Turkey, was preparing a list of martyrs who had perished in defence of the relatively new Christian faith in Persia.

In a margin he dated the list November 411. Unfortunately for the martyrs, history forgot them. At some point, this page became detached from the book it belonged to. Since 1840, the volume has been one of the treasures of the British Library. It is known only by its catalogue code: ADD 12-150

The missing page has always been a fascinating mystery for scholars and historians. Now, after an extraordinary piece of detective work, that page has been rediscovered among ancient fragments in the Deir al-Surian monastery in Egypt. It is, according to Oxford University's Dr Sebastian Brock, the leading Syriac scholar who identified the fragments, the oldest dated Christian text in existence.

"It is a list of martyrs and it must have been added to the main book at the last minute," he said. "There were three fragments from the last page. It was a distinctive handwriting, and it was very exciting to identify it. It is very important to complete the book. Many of the names on this list we have not come across before. So it gives us a lot of clues about that half of that century. Rome at the time was officially Christian, so the rival Persians would have persecuted Christians."

The fragments were among hundreds discovered beneath a floor in the Deir al-Surian, which is itself a treasure trove of ancient books. Dr Brock and his colleague, Dr Lucas Van Rompay of Duke University in North Carolina, are now working on the first catalogue of the many manuscripts that are more than 1,000 years old.

Elizabeth Sobczynski, founder of the Levantine Foundation, which supports the conservation of the mon-astery's manuscripts, is raising money to build a state-of-the-art library to preserve the remaining ancient books. "I found four fragments, and joined three of them together," she said. "These fragments survived for so many centuries, which is amazing .... They could so easily have been swept away."