Thursday, June 12, 2008


A 2000 year old date palm seed has successfully produced--you guessed it!--a date palm:
The little tree was sprouted in 2005 from a seed recovered from Masada, where rebelling Jews committed suicide rather than surrender to Roman attackers.

Radiocarbon dating of seed fragments clinging to its root, as well as other seeds found with it that didn't sprout, indicate they were about 2,000 years old — the oldest seed known to have been sprouted and grown....

[Dr. Sarah Sallon] hopes there's a chance to use it to restore the extinct Judean date palm, once prized not only for its fruit but also for medicinal uses.

What an amazing thing. A seed from the time when the Temple was still standing and apostles still lived and wrote. May Methuselah do well.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Archaeologists in Jordan have found an ancient church they argue is the oldest of them all:
"We have uncovered what we believe to be the first church in the world, dating from 33 AD to 70 AD," the head of Jordan's Rihab Centre for Archaeological Studies, Abdul Qader al-Husan, said.

He said it was uncovered under Saint Georgeous Church, which itself dates back to 230 AD, in Rihab in northern Jordan near the Syrian border.

"We have evidence to believe this church sheltered the early Christians -- the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ," Husan said.

These Christians, who are described in a mosaic as "the 70 beloved by God and Divine," are said to have fled persecution in Jerusalem and founded churches in northern Jordan, Husan added.

I'm skeptical of the 'oldest' claim, but it clearly is ancient. It will be interesting to see what they turn up.

Everyone knows Daniel: the fiery furnace, the lion's den, handwriting on the wall. Great stuff. It's those later chapters that can be a little trickier delving as they do into apocalyptic writing. As with New Testament apocalyptic book Revelation this has led to a lot of wild eyed speculation devolving into commonly accepted premillennial dispensationalism, an approach I reject.

On the other end of the spectrum are the standard commentaries that do reject the dispensational approach. Why not just get a couple of those, you might ask. Daniel is a prophetic book, one that is pretty explicit about its prophecies. So explicit, in fact, that many modern commentators reject outright that it could have been written during the period of the exile at all. Instead, they argue, the book was written later after the events it 'prophesies' as a retrospective. In short, these commentaries do not take Daniel as a historical figure seriously nor the early (ie, exile) date of the book seriously. As someone who does believe that the book was written by the prophet Daniel during the exile these commentaries are also of little use to me.

So what is a non-dispensational Biblical conservative to do as I seek to sail between Scylla and Charybdis?