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Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 23

Καλημερα ο αναγνωστες. Τουτω εστι μαθημα εικοσιτρια εν τω "Νοουμεν Ελληνικα" κινηματογραφαις. Σημερον αναγινωσκω κατα μαρκον παντες κεφαλιον εν. Εχετε καλον χρονον.


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 22

Καλημερα ο αναγνωστες. Τουτω εστι μαθημα εικοσιδυο εν τω "Νοουμεν Ελληνικα" κινηματογραφαις. Σημερον εχω ασκησις γραμματικη. Ταυτα εστι κατα Μαρκον κεφαλιον εν και στιχος εν. Εχετε καλον χρονον βλεποντας.


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 21

Καλημερα ο αναγνωστες. Τουτω εστι μαθημα εικοσιεν εν τω "Νοουμεν Ελληνικα" κινηματογραφαις. Σημερον εχω ασκησις περι προσευχην. Ταυτα εστι η προσευχη Ιησου. Ταυτα προσευχη εχει το ονομα "Πατερ Ημων". Εχετε καλον χρονον βλεποντας.


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 20

Καλημερα φιλοι. Τουτω εστι μαθημα εικοσι εν τω "Νοουμεν Ελληνικα" κινηματογραφαις. Σημερον εχω ασκησις μαθηματικη. Εχετε καλον χρονον βλεποντας.


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 19

Καλημερα φιλοι. Τουτω εστι μαθημα δεκαεννεα εν τω "Νοουμεν Ελληνικα" κινηματογραφαις. Εχετε καλον χρονον βλεποντας.


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 18

Καλημερα φιλοι. Τουτω εστι μαθημα δεκαοκτω εν τω "Νοουμεν Ελληνικα" κινηματογραφαις. Αναγινσκω απο την Διδακην εν ταυτη ασκησις. Εχετε καλον χρονον βλεποντας.


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 17

Καλημερα φιλοι. Τουτω εστι μαθημα δεκαεπτα εν τω "Νοουμεν Ελληνικα" κινηματογραφαις. Εχετε καλον χρονον βλεποντας.


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 16

Καλημερα φιλολογοι. Ταυτα εστι μαθημα δεκαεξ εν τω "Νοουμεν Ελληνικα" κινηματογραφαις. Εχετε καλον χρονον.


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 15

Καλημερα φιλοι. Τουτω εστι μαθημα δεκαπεντε εν τω "Νοουμεν Ελληνικα" κινηματογραφαις. Ελπιζω συ φιλεις αυτοις. Και ελπιζω ινα βοηθεω παντες λαλειν και χαρειν τη Ελληνιστι γλωσσα. Αλληλοι γαρ κινηματογραφοι, βλεπετε τον τραπεζον υποκατω ο κινηματογραφαις δεκατεσσαρα. Εχετε καλον χρονον.


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 14

Καλημερα φιλοι. Τουτω εστι μαθημα δεκατεσσαρα εν τω "Νοουμεν Ελληνικα" κινηματογραφαις. Αλληλοι γαρ κινηματογραφοι, βλεπετε τον τραπεζον υποκατω ο κινηματογραφαις δεκατεσσαρα. Εχετε καλον χρονον.


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 13

Καλημερα φιλοι, here is episode 13 of my Νοουμεν Ελληνικα series. To see previous episodes, click the links in the table just below the video. Enjoy!


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 12

Hello friends, here is episode 12 of my Νοουμεν Ελληνικα series. To see previous episodes, click the links in the table just below the video. Enjoy!


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 11

Here is episode 11 of my Νοουμεν Ελληνικα series. As you may or may not notice, I have slightly modified the name of this series because of a slight conjugation issue. Like I said from post 1, I plan to make mistakes and if you are one who catches them, please, feel free to share them (just don't be a jerk about it). Anyway, thanks to fellow blogger Daniel Streett for the note! To see previous episodes, click the links in the table just below the video. Enjoy!

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Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 10

Here is episode 10 of my Νοουμεν Ελληνικα series. To see previous episodes, click the links in the table just below the video. Enjoy!

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Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 9

Here is the 9th episode in my Νοουμεν Ελληνικα series. To watch previous episodes, click the links in the table just below the video. As always, enjoy!

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Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 8

Here is the 8th video of my Νοουμεν Ελληνικα series. This one's a bit different. I hope you find it helpful. To view previous episodes, click the links in the table just below the video. And to make this video bigger, click the screen icon in the bottom right corner. Enjoy!

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Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 7

And...the seventh episode in my Νοουμεν Ελληνικα series is now live. To check out previous episodes, click the links in the table just below the video. As always, enjoy!


Tupac On Homelessness

I caught this in a documentary I was watching tonight on Tupac. He was only 17 when he said this but as was often the case, his words were insightful and had a prophetic ring of social justice to them. Check it out!


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 6

Good morning friends, here is the sixth episode in my Νοουμεν Ελληνιςκα series. Click the links in the table below the video to watch previous episodes. Enjoy!


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 5

The 5th installation of my Νοουμεν Ελληνικα series is below.  To watch previous episodes, click the links just below the video.  Enjoy!

Click the following links to watch previous episodes: Μαθημα 1, Μαθημα 2, Μαθημα 3 and Μαθημα 4.

A Video Response to "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus"

So, recently, a video has been floating around sites like Facebook that's getting quite a bit of attention. It is titled "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus". There are many errors in the video as far as I'm concerned and in my own video spoken word response, I point some of those out. Here it is:

*Update/Just a Note:* So much of western Christianity is about the self and feeling good and emotions. Yet, that's precisely not what Paul and the other early Christians were about. So, where does some of this come from? Well, partially from a philosopher named WFG Hegel, who saw the world in counterparts. Good/evil, black/white, etc. This is part of where we get the grace/law, grace/works dichotomies. Then, when you add the earlier Christian thinker Martin Luther into the equation, the one who misread Paul as an apostle who, like himself, was torn apart with internal conflict, you get the problematic view of justification. Where Luther did a lot of good, this, I believe, he got wrong. Unfortunately, it has stuck and it has become a popular view among modern Christians. Pitting grace against law/works is often done, as with Luther, on an emotionalistic basis. That was the gateway to Luther's interpretation: his emotions! He "felt" free from the Law and he "felt" good about himself finally. But the problem is, his reading was anachronistic to a great degree! Neither Jesus, Paul, nor any other ancient Jew (or early Christian for that matter) was anti-Law or held to a grace/works or grace/Law dichotomy promoted in the video I'm responding to. In fact, at the end of Galatians, Paul rejoices in the Law and can even refer to it as the Law of Christ. And that my friends, is precisely the problem with this video floating around! As I said to a friend, at least he tried. So, it's not that I'm being antagonistic toward him as much as it is that I am attempting to entering into conversation with him, attempting to help him understand the historical roots of where his views come from, something he may or may not know (but judging by the content of the video, he most likely doesn't). Certainly, my video is not nearly as nicely done (I don't have that kind of equipment) and will not get played or sent around as much as his (that's perfectly fine), but if I got him to watch it and to learn something, I will have felt like I did a good thing! And really, that raises another issue: The notion that if something is aesthetically pleasing or professionally done, it is good or even right. If we stop and think for a moment, however, we realize that this is not always the case.

Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 4

Here is the fourth episode in my Νοουμεν Ελληνικα series. Enjoy!

Click the following links to watch previous episodes: Μαθημα 1, Μαθημα 2 and Μαθημα 3.

Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 3

Here's the next episode of Νοουμεν Ελληνικα, enjoy!

Watch Μαθημα 1 HERE | Watch Μαθημα 2 HERE

Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 2

Here is the second installation of my new series titled Νοουμεν Ελληνικα. You can see the previous episode HERE. Enjoy!


Νοουμεν Ελληνικα - Μαθημα 1

Today I'm starting a new series called "Νοουμεν Ελληνικα" (We Understand Greek).  This, of course, is a play on words from all of my other "Getting Greek" stuff.  The videos will typically only be a few minutes in length.  The main goal is to help readers of the New Testament begin to bring ancient Koine Greek to life.  For the most part, the videos will be done completely in Greek.  From time-to-time, an English explanation may be given.  But the fact is, most people, likely even those who do not know any Greek, can watch some of these videos and understand what I am saying.  As I'm new at this, I'm sure there will be mistakes along the way.  If you catch them, you can certainly share them with me.  Anyway, the first lesson is below.  Enjoy!  More to come...


A Bethlehem Sunset (& Barbwire)

So, in just a few hours, I head off to the airport to return home.  My time in Israel has simply been amazing!  I came here alone, not knowing a soul, and made a lot of great friends.  I took no travel tours and managed to hike through the Old City and countless other biblical sites on my own (though, a new-found friend graciously helped me with transport from time-to-time).  I navigated the bus routes and shops, studied Greek like never before and experienced the Holy Land in so many special ways.  The mixture of rich cultural and topographical landscapes here in Israel has enriched my life.  

Tonight, I watched the sunset just a few feet up from the barbwire fence that separates the West Bank from Jerusalem.  The irony is that while I stood there in that place denoting such a historical divide, I was also watching the sunset behind Bethlehem.  Even more, I was standing in the very field where the shepherds were keeping the flocks by night during Jesus' birth.  It was here where the angels proclaimed "Glory to God in the highest and upon the earth peace to all people by God's good will."  Even though the sun will continue to set behind Jerusalem until the return of our Lord, the fact is, the sun will never set upon either the peace of God or the good will of God that comes to humanity through Jesus Christ.

So, as I prepare to leave this place, I am thinking on these things! As the sun sets wherever you live, perhaps you can think on these things as well.  Take a look at the images below, on the first one, look close to the left side, perhaps you notice the fenced in road that starts near the bottom of the page and follows the foot of the mountain around; that's what separates Jerusalem from the West Bank.  Then, take a look at the glow of the sun.  Try to imagine what took place here on the night of Jesus' birth thousands of years ago and let the peace that he brought really, truly sink deeply in to your soul.  And then let the call to follow the Prince of Peace, the one who brought peace without violence, renew your thought and spirit!  Amen and amen!

(Click the image to enlarge it.)

(This is an image from the Franciscan Cemetery in the Old City that I took today.  What a beautiful shot of the cross.)

Underground In Jerusalem: The Sanhedrin

Today was either my favorite or next to favorite day here in Jerusalem thus far.  Part of that was because studying Greek was so enjoyable (albeit intense) and part of it was because I got to explore more of ancient Jerusalem's underground world.  In fact, I think that my favorite or again, next to favorite, site that I've seen so far was the spot where the Sanhedrin met to carry out their vicious plot against Jesus.  This morning at about 8am Jerusalem time, I was sitting underground with a group of New Testament lovers reading the Gospel account of Jesus' night-time trial.  Of course, this is in all four Gospels but we were reading Matthew's narrative (Mt. 26.57-68).  I don't know if it was the lighting, being underground, or that the story is so scandalous in and of itself that got me--perhaps all of them!--but it was totally cool reading this story in the original language and then interpreting and discussing it in Greek too.  Quite amazing.  

I don't need to go into an essay on the Sanhedrin, certainly, you can find a lot of that data quite easily.  But I did want to share some of my photos (especially the panorama), because the place is just awesome!  So, below are some pictures I took this morning.  Enjoy!

(This is a panoramic shot I took of my Greek colleagues reading/discussing the Sanhedrin events, in one of the likely spots where the Sanhedrin met and brought accusations against Jesus.)

(This, as you can see, is just a picture of an ancient column in the meeting place.  I thought it was very cool, which is why I'm sharing it.)

(And here is a snapshot of me, reading Matthew's account and discussing it.  What a great time!)

See Dead Sea

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to head out to the Dead Sea area.  There are many things that the Dead Sea is most known for but two of them, at least in biblical circles, are 1) The Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran, which rests beside the sea, and 2) That the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, contains no types of animals (e.g. fish, snakes, etc.) and in it anything can float.  Legend has it that when Lot's wife fled from Sodom & Gomorrah in the Dead Sea region, Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt and this is how the Dead Sea became so salty.  King David, when fleeing from Saul, did so to Ein Gedi, another location in the Dead Sea region.  The Dead Sea also connects to the Jordan River, where Jesus and many others in antiquity were baptized.  Of course, it is also the region which is home to Masada, which I recently wrote about HERE.

In this brief post, I just want to share a few pictures of the Dead Sea region and give some very short descriptions.  So, just below are some of the shots I captured while trekking through this beautifully treacherous  landscape!

(This is me, taking the obligatory "tourist photo", standing in front of the infamous "Sea Level" sign, just up from the Dead Sea itself.  As you can imagine, the trip from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea is one mainly of descent!  From here, I will continue downward to the sea, which is below sea level.)

(Here is a snapshot of bedouin life in the Dea Sea region.  You can see in the center of the image, a group of sheep and goats being driven up the mountain by their herder.  You can see the bedouin camp, which consists of tarps and sheet metal and oh, as you might expect...satellite television!!!)

(This is an image of the mountain slopes all throughout the Dead Sea region.  As you can see, it is quite sparse and bare.  Pushing through this sort of topography for years on end would have likely been very difficult and strenuous, yet, many of our forebears' in the faith did just that!)

(In this photo you see yet another mountain range.  These mountains, however, are where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.  Just near the bottom / center of the photo, you can see a cave entrance (one of many).  A common misconception among Christians is that the Dead Sea Scrolls contain New Testament documents, which they actually do not.  However, they scrolls do cover most of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible.  Even so, understanding some of the Jewish context within and behind these scrolls does help one get a better grip on certain portions of the New Testament.)

(Here, I am on the road heading south of Jerusalem alongside the Dead Sea.  As you can see, it was a perfect day for this kind of travel.)

(Just another shot of the beautiful and rugged mountain ranges encircling the Dead Sea.)

(If you look closely, to the top and just left of center, you can see a portion of Masada, the fortress maintained by Herod during the time of Jesus.  Masada actually covered the complete top of the mountain as well as a large portion, three levels to be exact, of the northern side of the mount.)

(In this photo, taken from Masada, you can see the interesting mesas just between Masada and the Dead Sea.  The mesas are like table-top like natural structures, which are flat on top from being windswept.  They are very fun to explore and look at.  In the background you can see the Dead Sea and just behind it, the mountains of the country of Jordan.)

(Just one of many shots of the Dead Sea landscape.  If you look really close to the bottom and center of the photo you will notice another cave.  Throughout history, monks have attempted to spend their lives living in such caves.)

Just below is a very short video of a drive along the Dead Sea.


Jesus' Temple Temptation

This afternoon I had the privilege of walking through one of the newest tunnels being excavated in Jerusalem.  It  is a tunnel that runs from the west side of the City of David to the base of the temple, following along the temple's western wall.  It has been open a little less than a month and is supposedly going to continue being dug through over the next few years.  It seems, as of now, that it was used in antiquity as a water channel.  Anyway, I mention that here because once I came up out of the ground, I was standing beside the western wall.  Walking south a number of yards to the corner of the western and southern walls, I saw a very significant place, which in Greek is called το πτερυγιον (the edge, pinnacle or summit).

Below, you can see a photo that I took of το πτερυγιον.  This is the place where, according to Matthew's account, Jesus likely was tempted by ο διαβολος (the devil).  Here's what Matthew's account says in Greek, followed by my translation and then a photo I took today:  

"Τοτε παραλαμβανει αυτον ο διαβολος εις την αγιαν πολιν και εστησεν αυτον επι το πτερυγιον του ιερου"

"Then the devil took him to the holy city and he stood upon the highest edge of the temple"

The are several important things that could be said about this highest edge of the temple, particularly in the time of Jesus.  One, the most obvious perhaps, is that it is a place from which one can see everything around it; it is a bird's eye view of sorts.  Here, for example, is what Jesus may have seen (click images to make them larger):

Two, it is the place where, again, in Jesus' day, a trumpeter would announce the beginning and end of the Sabbath by playing the trumpet.  It is this second detail that is typically lost on readers of the Bible.  A recent archaeological find containing a Hebrew inscription which reads "to the place of trumpeting to" (which you can see just below) marks the southwest corner and pinnacle of the temple.  Here are a couple of images:

(This is the bottom of the inscription seen in the picture just before it.  The lip or edge here denotes the place where the trumpeter would have stood and possibly, where Jesus may have stood as well.)

The significance of this in one regard is that it functions to heighten the drama of Jesus' temptation story even more!  In the story recorded in Mt 5, Jesus is not simply standing in a place where he can see the city below him, he is also standing in a place that marks the beginning and ending of the Sabbath, the place from where God's Israel is called to rest in him.  In Matthew's story, Jesus announces from the highest edge "It is also written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"  The trumpeting call of Jesus is faithful obedience to God, an obedience that is not testing God or manipulating him but rather, trusting in him.  Could it also be suggestive of Jesus being Lord of/over the Sabbath?  Perhaps I am reaching here but these are just some initial thoughts I've had and I thought they'd be fun to share.  Certainly, there is much more to say but that's all for me from now.  What say ye?

Herodian Heights: Perched Upon Masada

Today in Israel was a very full day.  I started the morning by heading out of the city of Jerusalem and into the Judean wilderness.  I must say, the scenery was wonderful!  However, I imagine that after wandering around in the wilderness for 40 or more years, the "awe" might wear-off just a bit.  I went by Jericho and then, instead of heading on in to Jordan, I made a first stop at Qumran.  Following the coast of the Dead Sea, I made a stop at Ein Gedi and then south a bit to Masada.  I will show photos of the other places later but in this post, I just want to show some of the shots I took at Masada and say a few words about them.  Of course, I took hundreds of pictures, but, only a tiny fraction are shown here.  Enjoy!

(These two photos above are shots of Masada at a distance.  In the first one, just in the middle of the photo, if you look closely, you can see a white zig-zag path up and down the mountain side.  This is called "Snake Path".  It is quite the hike!  This path has been in existence for thousands of years (albeit with some modifications) as even Josephus tells us about it in his book Wars of the Jews.  In fact, it is from Josephus that we learn the most about Masada from when it comes to ancient literature.  In the second image, you can see the side of the mountain and if you look at the top and just left of the center, you can see portions of the rebel soldiers' barracks.  Masada has a long history and gives us a great idea of both the opulence and paranoia present in King Herod's life.  Herod poured loads of money into not only fortifying this as a base and military encampment but as a place of rest and pleasure.  Atop the mountain there is a swimming pool, elaborate palaces, large store rooms and much, much more.  Click the images to make them larger.)

(This is a model of Herod's northern palace.  As you can see, it consists of three levels.  These are known today as the upper, middle and lower terraces.  Within each terrace there are a number of significant rooms (which are closed-off to the general public) such as verandas, porticoes and a bathhouse.  The frescoes and columns within this areas are impressive and in Herod's day, would have been elaborately decorated, that is, they would not have had their plain, stone-like look that one sees today.  Herod is believed to have invited important guests to stay in the northern palace, where, of course, they were treated like royalty.  The remains of several bodies have been found in these areas, which are believed by archaeologists to be the ancient remains of persons who died in the siege of Masada in 72 CE.)

(Here you can see some of the frescoes and columns within the lower terrace.  To the right of this picture, interestingly enough, there also exists a Corinthian style column.  Several of the frescoes have been repurposed to illustrate their fine detail and rich artistry.  Again, it serves to illustrate the amount of riches with which Herod (the Great) was operating.)

(This is another shot from the lower terrace looking up.  I just happened to catch the sun at the right time and really liked the photo, so, I thought I'd share it.)

(This is simply another photo that I liked a lot.  It is of a small group of Tristram's Starlings perched upon one of the guard towers near the western palace.  The Starlings are eerie black birds with orange under their feathers and make a crazy noisy whistling sound. They can be seen throughout quite a bit of the Dead Sea region.  All around the mountainside they build cubby-hole-like nests with the rock walls to live in.)

( I am, also perched atop Masada.  I am standing on the upper terrace of the northern palace.  In the background you can see a portion of the Dead Sea.  The mountains just on the other side of the Dead Sea are Jordanian territory.  So, basically, within just a couple of miles is the border of the country Jordan.  About 20-30 meters north, the Dead Sea ends and meets up with the Jordan River.)

(This is a panoramic shot I took from the same spot as the photo above, that is, atop the northern palace of Masada on the upper terrace.  To the left, you see the desert mountains, in the middle you see the Dead Sea and behind them, again, Jordan.  What a sight to behold!)

(This is another panoramic shot.  This one is of the Masada mountain top.  To the right and just left of the center, one can find cisterns, a cave, rebel barracks and more.  Near the center of the picture but not really visible in this image is the western palace.  To the right of that one can find the tannery, scribal rooms and a synagogue.)

(This is a shot of the western palace.  Its remains certainly do not look as intricate as those of the northern palace, however, there is much to see here, including a bath house area and a two-tier room, one of which was believed to have been Herod's "throne room" (no, the "throne room" is not a restroom!).

(This may look like just any old pile of rocks and well, while it is a pile of rocks, they are actually a form of ancient ammunition.  The soldiers had stockpiled these types of boulders all around the mountaintop to hurl down at anyone who might attempt to take Masada by storm.  As we know, however, these boulders did not do the trick because Masada eventually met its end.)

(This is a shot of Masada from the top, looking east, down Snake Path.  In the center / left of the photo you will see a diamond or square-like shape.  This represents one of numerous ancient Roman garrisons, that is, places used to house soldiers.)

(Here is another shot from the top of Masada.  Here, we are looking east / south-east.  In the background you can see the Dead Sea as well as Jordan.  While the Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth, the Masada mount can reach upwards of 1,300 ft.)  More photos to come later!!!

(This is a brief video of a 2-minute ride down from Masada via cable car.  While these cable cars move very rapidly and descend almost 1,300 ft., as you can see, both the rapidity and the descent are hardly noticeable in this video.)