Friday, October 25, 2013

Dating Historical Bible Events – Progress Update

Recently, we’ve been working on a series of articles tentatively entitled “The Bible in History” emphasizing the historicity of the Bible; that is to say that the events portrayed as literal episodes really happened and the associated characters were real people that physically existed, as opposed to being myths and legends as critics like to charge. Because these biblical narratives are real, we can date them along the historical timeline along with extra-biblical secular events. Unlike modern historical books however, events in the Bible are not tied to a chronological calendar dating system. Still, there is enough internal (within the Scriptures) and external evidence to date most characters and events with reasonable accuracy.

At the moment, the series will consist of a main article, currently in progress and subtitled simply as “Dating Bible Events”. This article will discuss various methods and challenges of establishing a Biblical timeline within our modern calendar system. There will also be several spin-off articles on subjects such as the date of the Exodus and Conquest and the life of Christ, both in progress.

Part of the series has already been completed and uploaded. We first mention the article Biblical Genealogies - Interpretation Challenges and Bible Inerrancy Issues. This was uploaded to our Bible Genre section in May, but it also contributes. It was written prior to the “Dating Bible Events” series, but contains much info that contributes to the current articles.

A major challenge we face in translating the dates of Bible events is the various calendar systems themselves, so we composed a Calendar Systems series consisting of an introduction and five parts that we uploaded last week. This sub-series not only examines the various calendar and dating systems, but provides much background on the various political and historical backgrounds for the various nations and time periods in which they developed.

The introduction contains a table of contents with links to all chapters. In part 1, we examine the basic types of calendars and dating systems along with their common components. In Part 2 we explore the political and historical context of Israel, Egypt, Babylon, the Roman Empire and other major nations in which the various calendar systems developed during the biblical era and the early church period.

If you think that “BC” stands for “Before Christ” and “AD” for “After Death”, and thus wondered how the years between Christ’s Incarnation and Crucifixion are dated, you might want to check out Part 3. Here, we discuss the origin and significance of our modern dating system (aka Anno Domini system). In part 4, we look at the historical events that led to its acceptance by Christendom in the midst of the church-state power struggles between the papacy and the Roman political leaders from the eighth to the fourteenth centuries. We then consider the development of alternative naming conventions to the Anno Domini system by unbelievers.

In our fifth and final installment, we focus on the historical events that led to the development and adoption of our modern Gregorian calendar system to replace the Julian calendar. We also summarize the methods and process of converting dates between different calendar systems and add some final thoughts on the Anno Domini system as it relates to the Christian era.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Face to Face with Christ my Savior

In the June 2013 issue of Turning Point magazine, Pastor David Jeremiah relays a story about pastor and author Robert J Morgan’s visit to Vietnam. During the trip, Pastor Morgan met a local elderly pastor who had been previously imprisoned for his faith. When asked how the pastor endured those many years of hardship, he stated “My two 333's got me through”.

He then explained that the first 333 was Jeremiah 33:3, in which God promises “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (NKJV). The other comfort was song number 333 in the Vietnamese hymnbook. The elderly pastor didn’t know the English title so he began singing it in his native language. Pastor Morgan immediately recognized the tune as “Face to face with Christ my Savior” written in 1898 by Carrie Elizabeth Ellis Breck (1855-1934).

As told in Pastor Morgan’s book, Then Sings My Soul - Volume 1, the tune that he recognized was originally meant for another hymn. Its composer was Grant Colfax Tullar who was named after Ulysses S Grant and Schuyler Colfac, the president and vice-president of the US in the year of Tullar’s birth (1869). Years later, Grant was leading the music at a revival in Rutherford NJ. One afternoon, he sat down at the piano in the local pastor’s house and penned a song and music, “All for me the Savior suffered; All for me He bled and died.” The local pastor, Rev Charles Mead reportedly sang the song at the evening service. Due to the events of the following morning however, “All of Me” would never be published.

Read the entire Face to Face with Christ my Savior article, including the hymn's lyrics.