Holy Sepulchre needs more repair or it might collapse

Domes_of_the_Church_of_the_Holy_SepulchreRestoration work on the shrine built around the likely spot of Christ’s tomb has been completed.  (See this and this and this.)  But researchers have found that the shrine and the surrounding complex have been built on unstable ground.  Without more work, there could someday be a “catastrophic” collapse.

The “edicule,” the small building around the tomb that has been restored, preserves the remnants of a cave.  It was once part of a quarry that had been turned into grave sites for wealthy Jews.  (Note the confirmation of what the Bible says about Joseph of Arimathea, who offered the grave that he owned for the body of Jesus.)  A number of those other grave sites have also been discovered on the property.  The quarry is also thought to have been the site of “the Place of the Skull,” the Golgotha where criminals were executed.  This is why the Church of the Holy Sepulchre complex also includes the reported site of the crucifixion.

The site over the ancient quarry is honeycombed with other caves and tunnels from the mining.  The current structure is also built on top of tons of rubble, not only from the quarry but from layers of  building and rebuilding over the centuries.  Plus, the graves were dug into a slope.  Drainage problems and damage from so many visitors are compounding the problem.

Researchers are proposing a six million euro project to shore up the buildings and to stabilize the foundations.  The construction work would be accompanied with more archaeological excavation.
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Work on Jesus’ burial site completed

Aedicule_which_supposedly_encloses_the_tomb_of_Jesus-LR1We blogged about the excavation and renovation of Jesus’ tomb at our post “See the Place Where They Laid Him.”  Now, just in time for Easter, the renovation work and the preservation of the site at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem have been completed.

The shrine had been in danger of collapse, but it has now been reinforced and protected.

When researchers opened the actual tomb, they removed a marble slab that had been put over the rock shelf on which the body of Jesus would have rested.  The slab dated from the Middle Ages. Underneath, they found yet another marble slab. This one dated from the 4th century, which would have been when Constantine’s mother Helena identified the site and built the first shrine over it.

Experts who put the site back together cut a window into the marble slabs so that the bare rock where Jesus’ body lay before His resurrection can be seen.

Photos of the restoration work are copyrighted, so go here for a bird’s eye view of where our Lord’s body was laid.

Photo of Aedicule, which encloses what is thought to be Christ’s tomb by Jlascar (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlascar/10350934835/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Saying Christ is the only way to God is “abusive and criminal”?

coexist-1211709_640Two British street preachers were arrested for publicly reading the Bible, particularly the parts about Jesus being the only way to God.

In their trial, the prosecutor said,“To say to someone that Jesus is the only God is not a matter of truth. To the extent that they are saying that the only way to God is through Jesus, that cannot be a truth.”

The prosecutor apparently thought that those teachings were just quirks of the King James translation of the Bible, rather than basic doctrines of Christianity.  He said, “to use words translated in 1611 in a very different context, in the context of modern British society, must be considered to be abusive and is a criminal matter.”

The court agreed, sentencing the two Christians to a fine of £2,016 each ($2,452.42). [Read more…]

A new Bible translation from Lutherans

I recently blogged about the new Bible translation, the Christian Standard Bible.  I didn’t realize until alerted by commenter MarkB that a new translation led by Lutherans is also in the works, the Evangelical Heritage Version.

This comes from an independent venture known as the Wartburg Project.  Those doing the work are scholars from the Wisconsin Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  The publisher will be Northwestern Publishing House, the publishing arm of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS).

For how the new translation will be different from other translations, check out the  FAQ’s on the website and the distinctives.

The plan is for the completed Bible to be released this Fall, in time for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation on October 31.  You can download The Gospel of Matthew and the Book of Psalms  on Kindle for 99 cents at Amazon, or free if you have Kindle Unlimited. You can also get free downloads of the lectionary readings  and the passion history.Do you see a problem with a “Lutheran Bible”?  Is that too much like the Jehovah’s Witnesses having their own Bible so as to give support for their own idiosyncratic teachings?  The American Translation by William F. Beck is another Lutheran translation, but its clarity of expression has won it non-Lutheran fans. The Wartburg Project insists that the Evangelical Heritage Version is not sectarian but can be used by all Christians.

That was certainly the case with Luther’s translation.  When Luther was in hiding at the Wartburg castle, he translated the Bible, known at the time only in Latin,  from the original Hebrew and Greek into vernacular German.  William Tyndale, who studied at Wittenberg, emulated Luther’s translation (including its phraseology) by translating the Bible into English.  Tyndale was burned at the stake for doing so–in Brussels at the behest of  the Anglican King Henry VIII, not the Catholics, as I had long assumed–but his Bible (and thus Luther’s Bible) had a great influence on the King James translation that would come.  The Bible began to be translated into many other languages.  The Wartburg Project evidently seeks to be part of that tradition.

After the jump is an excerpt and link to the project’s website giving the “Rubrics” for the new translation.

Here is why I am excited about the Evangelical Heritage Version:  At the Christian Standard Bible post, I complained about how so many contemporary translations get rid of the Bible’s ambiguities and figures of speech in their zeal to explain what the verse “really means.”  I want what the text says.   That includes the poetic and stylistic features of the original.

According to these Rubrics, the translators of the Evangelical Heritage Version agree with me!  I put the Rubrics that show the translators’ literary sensitivity in bold. [Read more…]

A new Bible translation

A new Bible translation has been published:  The Christian Standard Bible.

This is a thorough scholarly revision of the Holman Standard Bible.  It’s published by LifeWay, the Southern Baptist publisher, but the new version reportedly has had input from scholars from 17 different denominations, including Lutheran, and the translation was scrutinized for any denominational bias.

The new version employs what it calls an “Optimal Equivalence” approach to translation, rendering sentences literally except for when they would be confusing for modern readers, in which case a more dynamic equivalent approach is used.

You can read the Christian Standard Bible online.  Here are some verse comparisons

For more information, go to the website.  Check out the FAQs.

What do you think about this translation?  I’ll give you some of my thoughts after the jump.

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Mortification of the flesh

Lent has traditionally been a time to practice “mortification of the flesh.”  That’s another concept we don’t hear too much about today.

But isn’t that Catholic?  An example of that medieval asceticism that the Reformation reacted against?  Not at all.  Reformation Christians also emphasized mortification.  In fact, it’s enshrined in the Lutheran confessions:

“We teach this about the putting to death of the flesh and discipline of the body. A true and not a false putting to death [mortification] happens through the cross and troubles, by which God exercises us . . . .There is also a necessary voluntary exercise. . . .This effort [at mortification] should be constant.”

Philip Melanchthon,“The Apology of the Augsburg Confession,” Article XV, in Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), pp. 193-194.

This is pretty much the opposite of the “prosperity gospel.”  God gives us the crosses we have to bear and the troubles of our lives in order to “exercise” us.  Such problems and sufferings drive us to prayer, to greater dependence on God, and thus to the growth of our faith.  Furthermore, we voluntarily mortify ourselves–not doing what we want, depriving ourselves of certain pleasures, denying ourselves for our neighbor–in a “constant” effort at self-discipline.

More on mortification, including its Biblical and theological basis, after the jump.  [Read more…]