Events in the Bible, the wider cultural background of those events, and the biblical text itself, all have a historical dimension.

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How are concubines different than wives?

In the Hebrew Bible, a marriage ceremony is never actually described. Priests and their attendants (Kohanim and Levites) are responsible for work in the sanctuary, such as sacrifices and offerings, ...
15
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2answers
5k views

Did Moses have an Egyptian name?

Moses got his name from Pharaoh's daughter: When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of ...
15
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2answers
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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 ...
12
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4answers
7k views

Why does Jesus tell his mother his “hour has not yet come”?

Very early on, John tells a story that is unique to his gospel: On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding ...
12
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6answers
788 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 ...
12
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1answer
284 views

Where, and how, did Josiah die?

The death of Josiah is reported differently in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. The Kings account is brief: [WEB] 2 Kings 23 : 29 In his days Pharaoh Necoh king of Egypt went up against the king of ...
11
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7answers
8k views

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 ...
11
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2answers
7k 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 ...
11
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2answers
290 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 ...
11
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1answer
160 views
+50

Statistically, how similar is the NIV to other translations such as the RSV?

In "The advantages of the ESV" by Wayne Grudem, he states that the 2001 edition of the ESV is "92% RSV, 8% modified, or 60,000 words" (from the RSV): This sounds like strong confirmation of the ...
11
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2answers
763 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 ...
11
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273 views

What evidence exists that supports the understanding of the Exodus as a deliverance metanarrative and not as a historical narrative?

Marcus Borg has proposed a "historical-metaphorical" reading of Exodus (particularly the narrative of the event itself) in which deliverance and salvation are established as key themes in a grand ...
10
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3answers
12k 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. ...
10
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2answers
4k 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, ...
10
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1answer
311 views

What was the lesson Elisha wanted to teach Joash using the arrows?

In 2 Kings 13:14-17 we find that, Joash - the king of Israel, took a bow and some arrows as Elisha told him. And the 17th verse: Elisha said, “Open the east window,” and he did so. Elisha said, ...
10
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2answers
9k views

What does Jesus mean by “vain repetition” or “babbling” in Matthew 6:7?

What ancient tradition of prayer is Jesus critical of in Matthew 6:7? In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. (NABRE) But ...
9
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3answers
669 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 ...
9
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1answer
618 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. ...
9
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4answers
2k 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 ...
9
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2answers
5k views

What was the purpose of giving Jesus vinegar to drink?

What was the purpose of giving Jesus vinegar to drink ? (Mark 15:23, Matthew 27:34) Some think it was a way to mock Jesus, but others argue that the "vinegar" (with gall) was the diluted wine drunk ...
9
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2answers
765 views

How strong was Midian's army?

When Israel took vengeance on Midian they sent 12,000 troops (Numbers 31:4) and prevailed: אֶלֶף, לַמַּטֶּה, אֶלֶף, לַמַּטֶּה--לְכֹל מַטּוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל, תִּשְׁלְחוּ לַצָּבָא. Of every tribe a ...
9
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1answer
207 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 ...
8
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2answers
511 views

Was Luke's birth narrative written in response to Marcion's version of the gospel?

This site suggests that Marcion's version of The Gospel of Luke - a version which includes no birth narrative - was written before the version of Luke that includes the birth narrative, and that the ...
8
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2answers
554 views

What is an “anachronism” in Biblical Hermeneutics?

I have run across several definitions as it relates to "anachronism" in Biblical Hermeneutics and I am confused: An anachronism in word studies takes place when we read a definition of a word ...
8
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2answers
289 views

Who is the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7?

Ezra 7:7 mentions a Persian king Artaxerxes: Some of the Israelites, including priests, Levites, musicians, gatekeepers and temple servants, also came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King ...
8
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3answers
420 views

Who was Nimrod?

In the middle of an otherwise repetitive genealogy in Genesis 10, one man is especially singled out: Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter ...
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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 ...
8
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2answers
486 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 ...
8
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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 ...
8
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1answer
340 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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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 ...
8
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3answers
241 views

What is the judgment in Psalm 1?

The ending of Psalm 1 provides great hope for those who delight in the instruction of the Lord: Not so the wicked; rather, they are like chaff that wind blows away. Therefore the wicked ...
7
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5answers
4k views

Why did the Samaritans worship God in Mount Gerissim rather than Jerusalem?

In John chapter 4, Jesus has a discussion with a woman of Samaria: The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in ...
7
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6answers
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Before the Tower of Babel did all speak Hebrew as the original human language?

I find it fascinating that rabbinic literature suggests that Hebrew was the original human language. I have seen Christian authors also argue the same. For example, from the Jewish Encyclopedia: ...
7
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5answers
3k views

Jesus is both the good shepherd and the gate - Is it the same parable or two different?

In John 10 Jesus use two images. First he is the gate for the sheep. John 10:7-10 (NIV): Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come ...
7
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3answers
4k views

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 ...
7
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2answers
586 views

Locations of the graves of the Patriarchs

The Book of Acts at 7:16-17 states that Jacob died and was "carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem." But Genesis ...
7
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2answers
622 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 ...
7
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2answers
4k views

Why were the Ten Commandments written on two tablets?

When Moses is given the Ten Commandments they are apparently written on two tablets: He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on ...
7
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2answers
388 views

Is Luke's “Theophilus” An Actual Person or an Allegorical Person

I've always wondered if there's any persuasive evidence either way for Theophilus whom Luke addresses in Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1 being an actual person or an allegorical personification? I mean my ...
7
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1answer
118 views

Have any of the books mentioned in but not included in the Old Testament been preserved?

At various places in the Old Testament, the authors refer to books not included in the Bible. A few examples: And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness ...
7
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1answer
498 views

What about the noncanonical books quoted in Jude?

The book of Jude contains many quotes and references to the Old Testament. However, there are two quotes which seem to be from elsewhere. The first is attributed to The Assumption of Moses. Jude ...
7
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1answer
164 views

Just how overpriced was Efron's burial cave anyway?

In Genesis 23 Avraham pays 400 shekels to Efron for a burial cave for Sarah (and, later, other family members). This seems to be an enormous amount of money and Rashi suggests it's even worse than it ...
7
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1answer
423 views

Did the apostles travel with their wives?

I was doing some research for an answer and came across this verse: This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take ...
7
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1answer
255 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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1answer
3k views

What does it mean to be a Nazirite?

In Numbers 6, God gives the rules for being a Nazirite. This person is set apart for service to God. There are rules they must follow and actions they must take or refrain from. They must not eat or ...
6
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2answers
729 views

What did Moses do at Horeb in the first place?

I was reading Exodus 3:1: Now Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to the mountain of ...
6
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2answers
367 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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2answers
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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 ...
6
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3answers
442 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 ...