Questions about the historical background and context for events recorded in the Bible.

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What did it mean to “rise before the aged” in ancient Hebrew culture?

We read an ordinance in Leviticus: You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old; you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.—Leviticus 19:32 (NJPS) In English, "rise" can ...
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1answer
940 views

Are the Rabbinic rules of hand washing before eating bread related to their ruling that the scriptures were unclean?

In trying to understand why the Pharisees insisted on washing their hands before eating bread (Mark 7:5). I have come across some interesting reasons but have not yet come to a conclusion about why ...
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3answers
1k views

Interpretation of Genesis 1:26?

I am under the impression that the Trinity is a Christian idea, and that the Jews did not view God as "three in one and one in three". How, then, was the following passage interpreted by the people ...
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2answers
290 views

Is oral history like the telephone game?

Bart Ehrman argues that the gospel texts are not historically reliable beginning with this analogy: It is [oral circulation] that causes special problems for historians who want to know what ...
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1answer
463 views

How would stoning of an adulterer actually be carried out under the Law of Moses?

How would stoning of an adulterer actually be carried out under the Law of Moses? In John Chapter 8 there is the familiar story of how Jesus prevented a stoning of a woman who had committed adultery. ...
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1answer
201 views

Daniel 8:15-27 :“… Kingdom of greece …”

I was reading Daniel 8:15-27, where it says: .... the ram you saw that had two horns represents the kingdoms of Media and Persia. The goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the prominent horn ...
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1answer
2k views

Is Deuteronomy 22:28 talking about rape?

Some folks assert that this passage describes the Torah's sole punishment for rape: If a man comes upon a virgin who is not engaged and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are discovered, ...
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6answers
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Why should an altar be made with uncut stone?

God told Moses that the altar must be made of unhewn stones: And if you make for Me an altar of stones, do not build it of hewn stones; for by wielding your tool upon them you have profaned ...
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2answers
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How should the story of David's concubines be read?

There's a small story of ten concubines spread across Samuel: And a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom.” Then David said to all his servants ...
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1answer
141 views

Is there a published version of the Bible, where the text is ordered chronologically in the order it was written?

Has there been a published version of the Bible where the text was ordered in the order it is best assumed that it was written? I'm not interested in a version that is ordered in a chronological ...
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2answers
797 views

Did Luke use Josephus as a source?

Richard Carrier summarizes an argument made by Steve Mason in his book Josephus and the New Testament that Luke knew of Josephus' Jewish War (79 CE) and Jewish Antiquities (94 CE). At it's core, the ...
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1answer
63 views

What exactly does מִכְנָס (miknac) mean?

Researching a related question, I came across passages like: You shall also make for them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; they shall extend from the hips to the thighs.—Exodus 28:42 ...
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1answer
497 views

How did David trick Achish?

I got to this section this week and I feel like I'm missing something: David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Gizrites, and the Amalekites—who were the inhabitants of the ...
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2answers
643 views

Did Jesus wear pants?

While researching this question, I came across an article I'd rather not link to1 that asserted that Jesus wore pants. The particular bit of evidence they cited was: Then I saw heaven opened, and ...
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2answers
319 views

Does the “lost leaf” theory for Mark's abrupt ending fail if written on a scroll?

I really like this explanation of Mark's rather abrupt ending: There are three possible explanations for Mark ending at 16:8: (1) The author intentionally ended the Gospel here in an open-ended ...
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3answers
8k views

Why did the witnesses lay their coats at Paul's feet?

During the stoning of Stephen, according to the book of Acts, "the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul," who later converted to Christianity and took the name Paul. ...
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2answers
376 views

In Matthew 14 Jesus walks on the water. What are the similarities between this account and the ancient Egyptian writings about Horus?

In Matthew 14 Jesus walks on the water. What are the similarities and differences between this account and the ancient Egyptian writings about Horus from Pyramid texts in 25th Century BC? For ...
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2answers
204 views

How does the Genesis account of the Tower of Babel compare with other traditions about the tower?

I'm aware there are number of accounts of the Tower of Babel in Midrash, from the Islamic traditions, Kabalah, Josephus and the Jubilees. For the most part, these accounts seem to derive from ...
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1answer
5k views

What are the similarities and differences between the Genesis creation account and other creation stories of the time

(Operating under the assumption that Genesis was authored by Moses, and its intent is a polemic against other origin stories and their view of the deity at the time). The Enûma Eliš is said to have ...
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1answer
175 views

Does the Shibboleth story help us date the book of Judges?

This story has always fascinated me: Judges 12:4-6 (ESV) 4 Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought with Ephraim. And the men of Gilead struck Ephraim, because they said, “You are ...
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1answer
245 views

What is the order of events of Nahum and Jonah?

I was reading the book of Nahum and it was speaking about Ninevah. Is the book of Nahum foretelling the destruction of Ninevah, for which the people of Ninevah averted by repenting of their sins, or ...
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1answer
182 views

Can we date Mark without first committing to an interpretation of the Olivet Discourse?

Most scholars believe Mark is the earliest biography of Jesus. (Paul's writings and perhaps one or two other New Testament letters are earlier, but they include very little biographical material ...
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4answers
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When did Jesus change his view on preaching to Gentiles?

In John 10:16 Jesus says (ESV quoted): And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. The ...
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2answers
378 views

How big were the nomadic clans of the patriarchs?

According to the book Genesis, 70 people came down with Jacob to dwell in Egypt after contact was made with Joseph: And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two souls; all the ...
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3answers
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What happened to the 500 witnesses in 1 Corinthians 15?

This week I taught Sunday School from this text: For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was ...
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2answers
479 views

Was it typical to cast lots like in Acts 1:26?

At the beginning of Acts, the eleven decide that it is appropriate to replace Judas. To do so, they narrow down the list of candidates to two men: Joseph and Matthias. Then they pray, "Show us which ...
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6answers
668 views

How should we understand the “Cleansing of the Temple”?

As a preface, I was talking with some good friends last night and this passage came up. On of my friends contributed an interpretation that made my blood boil. He was clearly wrong and clearly ...
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2answers
233 views

Did Jephthah have pets?

Judges 11:29-40 tells the story of Jephthah's victory over the Ammonites. Before the battle he promises, "whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the ...
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2answers
10k views

Who were the Hellenistic and Hebraic Jews of Acts 6:1?

In Acts, it talks about a division in Judaism that I had not heard of before: Acts 6:1 (NIV) In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained ...
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1answer
235 views

What was the roof likely made of in Mark 2:4?

We were talking about this last weekend and I've been curious about it. Mark 2:4 (NIV) Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by ...
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3answers
551 views

How does the Noah's Ark narrative relate to the Gilgamesh flood account?

How does the Noah's Ark narrative relate to other the Gilgamesh flood account? For reference, the Biblical flood account is in Genesis 6-10 and the Gilgamesh flood account is on Tablet XI. The ...
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1answer
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Who were the “chief priests” and “Sanhedrin” in reference to the people trying to kill Jesus?

Mark 14:55 (NIV) The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Wikipedia has shown me that ...
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2answers
562 views

How consistent were Augustine's hermeneutics?

St. Augustine of Hippo seems to have had considerable influence on the field of hermeneutics. His work in the field seems to be a bit of a landmark in the history of how hermeneutics is done. However ...
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2answers
6k views

Was “Τετέλεσται” actually stamped on paid bills and debt certificates in the first century?

I've often heard some really cool explanations around the meaning for the greek word Τετέλεσται in the New Testament where Jesus said, "It is Finished". I love what I've heard, and have even preached ...