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Ancient Fragments of Moses’ Song of the Sea

Posted by Mats on 28/06/2010

http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240361

by Dewayne Bryant, M.A.

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On February 26, 2010, the Associated Press reported that two pieces of a biblical manuscript had been reunited after being separated for centuries (Demirjian). The fragments date to the 7th century A.D., a period during which almost no Hebrew manuscripts survive. This exciting discovery has once again drawn the world’s attention back, not only to one of the earliest books of the Hebrew Bible, but one of its earliest sections.

The two portions together contain the Song of the Sea from Exodus 15:1-20. The song was sung just after the crossing of the Red/Reed Sea (Exodus 14). The song celebrates God’s victory over the Egyptian military, which was the strongest at the time in the ancient Near East. The Exodus event is so momentous in Jewish history that it has often been called the “Gospel of the Old Testament.” It was the foundational salvation event in Hebrew history that gave birth to the Jewish nation.

Scholars studying the manuscript believe that they were not only written by the same scribe, but were once part of the same scroll. This is remarkable given the fact that manuscripts from the Hebrew Bible dating to the period between the 3rd and 8th centuries A.D. are extremely rare. To the casual observer, these two Hebrew manuscripts may be little more than historical artifacts from a distant age and culture. But to believers, these manuscripts are yet another signpost pointing to the historical veracity of Scripture.

Scholars generally recognize the Song of the Sea as one of the oldest compositions found in the Hebrew Bible. The Song of the Sea is written in archaic Hebrew, consisting of a hymn (vss. 1-3), a short narrative (vss. 4-12) and a closing note on the victory (vss. 13-18). Its archaic appearance is important, since the first few books of the Bible are under fire by some scholars who claim that they were not written until very late in Israel’s history.

The antiquity of the song is attested by several elements. Alan Cole identifies the word for “praise” in verse 2 as a haepax legomenon (a word that appears only once in the Bible), arguing that it “is one of the many archaisms of the song” (Cole, 1973, p. 131). Additional examples include archaic suffixes on the Hebrew verbs “destroy” (vs. 9) and “swallowed” (vs. 12), and the phrases “holy habitation” and “sanctuary” in vss. 13 and 17, respectively (pp. 131-132).

A consensus of scholars have dated the song no later than the 10th century B.C. W.F. Albright dated the composition to the 13th century B.C. (1957), while, more recently, Brian Russell has dated it to about 1150 B.C. (2007). Widely respected scholars Frank Moore Cross and David Noel Freedman date the song no later than the 10th century. Writing in 1997, Freedman flatly states,

I am as firmly convinced today as I was forty-five years ago that early [Hebrew] poems really are early. While it is true that many, perhaps most, serious scholars date this poetry across the whole spectrum of Israelite history…I believe that the whole corpus belongs to the earliest period of Israel’s national existence, and that the poems were composed between the twelfth and tenth-ninth centuries B.C.E. I have encountered neither compelling evidence nor convincing argument to the contrary, or to make me think otherwise (Cross and Freedman, 1997, p. x).

While scholars generally date the song very early, many still date it several centuries after the time of Moses. However, there is solid evidence that supports the belief that Moses could have written the song himself. This includes Egyptian language in the song, which would be only natural since Moses would have been trained in an Egyptian school called the k3p, or “the Royal Nursery,” where foreign-born princes were educated. [NOTE: Despite the use of the word “nursery,” this school was a prestigious one—some prominent Egyptian government officials listed their attendance in the Royal Nursery in their “resumes” recorded on the walls of their tombs. Cf. Acts 7:22] This connection is strengthened by the fact that the language in Exodus 15:4 includes the formal Egyptian phrase “of the choicest” and the word often translated “captains,” both of which have Egyptian parallels (Craigie, 1970, pp. 84-85). In order to use this language, whoever wrote it must have been trained in Egypt. This provides a perfect fit for the biblical account of Israel’s presence in Egypt.

An unfortunate tendency among modern critics is to date everything in the Bible as late as possible, arguing that it was the Exile, not the Exodus, which served as a starting point for ancient Hebrew literature. Archaic verbal forms and the parallels cited by scholars above obviously militate against an assumption that is actively—and wrongly—dismissive of the ancient evidence. The Christian belief that the book of Exodus is ancient is both well-founded and well-supported. Thanks to a remarkable discovery by a trained eye, that fact is once again confirmed to the world.

REFERENCES

Albright, William F. (1957, reprint 1994), Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan: A Historical Analysis of Two Contrasting Faiths (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns).

Cole, R. Alan (1973), Exodus (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press).

Craigie, Peter (1970), “Short Notes: An Egyptian Expression in the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:4),” Vetus testamentum, 20[1]:83-86, January.

Cross, Frank Moore, Jr. and David Noel Freedman (1997), Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, and Livonia, MI: Dove Booksellers).

Demirjian, Karoun (2010), “Ancient Bible Manuscript Fragments Reunited,” Associated Press, February 26, http://news.discovery.com/history/bible-manuscript-fragments-reunited.html.

Russell, Brian D. (2007), The Song of the Sea: The Date of Composition and Influence of Exodus 15:1-21 (New York: Peter Lang).

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Archaeologists Find Oldest Paintings of Apostles in Roman Catacombs

Posted by Mats on 26/06/2010

AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito

A cameraman films a painting discovered with the earliest known icons of the Apostles Peter and Paul in a catacomb located under a modern office building in a residential neighborhood of Rome, Tuesday, June, 22, 2010. Restorers said Tuesday they had unearthed the 4th-century images using a new laser technique that allowed them to burn off centuries of white calcium deposits without damaging the dark colors of the original paintings underneath. The paintings adorn what is believed to be the tomb of a Roman noblewoman and represent some of the earliest evidence of devotion to the apostles in early Christianity.

ROME — The earliest known icons of the Apostles Peter and Paul have been discovered in a catacomb under an eight-story modern office building in a working-class neighborhood of Rome, Vatican officials said Tuesday.

The images, which date from the second half of the 4th century, were discovered on the ceiling of a tomb that also includes the earliest known images of the apostles John and Andrew. They were uncovered using a new laser technique that allowed restorers to burn off centuries of thick white calcium carbonate deposits without damaging the dark colors of the original paintings underneath.

The paintings adorn what is believed to be the tomb of a Roman noblewoman in the Santa Tecla catacomb and represent some of the earliest evidence of devotion to the apostles in early Christianity, Vatican officials said in opening up the tomb to the media for the first time.

Last June, the Vatican announced the discovery of the icon of Paul — timed to coincide with the end of the Vatican’s Pauline year. At the time, Pope Benedict XVI also announced that tests on bone fragments long attributed to Paul “seemed to confirm” that they did indeed belong to the Roman Catholic saint.

On Tuesday, Vatican archaeologists announced that the image of Paul discovered last year was not found in isolation, but was rather part of a square ceiling painting that also included icons of three other apostles – Peter, John and Andrew – surrounding an image of Christ as the Good Shepherd.

An Atztec tomb, the oldest known paintings of Peter and Paul, the graveyard of the gladiators, the world’s oldest shoe and more. The latest discoveries from the ancient world.

“These are the first images of the apostles,” said Fabrizio Bisconti, the superintendent of archaeology for the catacombs, which are maintained by the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology.

The Vatican office oversaw and paid for the two-year, euro60,000 restoration effort, which for the first time used lasers to restore frescoes and paintings in catacombs. The damp, musty air of underground catacombs makes preservation of paintings particularly difficult and restoration problematic.

In this case, the small burial chamber at the end of the catacomb was completely encased in centimeters (inches) of white calcium carbonate, which under previous restoration techniques would have just been scraped away by hand. That technique, though would have left a filmy layer on top so as to not damage the paintings underneath.

Using the laser, restorers were able to sear off all the layers of calcium that had been bound onto the painting because the laser beam stopped burning at the white of the calcium deposits, which when chipped off left the brilliant darker colors underneath it unscathed, said Barbara Mazzei, the chief restorer.

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The Ancients Could Have Moved the Saturn V Rocket!

Posted by Mats on 09/11/2009

Job 38:36

Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?

We look at Egypt’s pyramids and wonder how the ancients built these great structures. Such questions are really about the source of man’s intelligence and creativity. Were intelligence and creativity created within us by an ultimately intelligent and creative God, or are these a result of blind evolutionary forces?

In the ancient city that the Greeks called Heliopolis, the Romans converted an ancient Greek temple into a temple for Jupiter. The original temple must have amazed even the Roman builders. It is 2,500 feet long, making it one of the largest stone structures in the world. Twenty-six feet above the foundation of this structure are three of the largest stones ever moved by man. These limestone blocks measure 10 feet by 13 feet by 60 feet long. They weigh 1.2 million pounds each, three times the size of any stone used in the pyramids!

Not only were the stones raised 26 feet into the air, but also they were moved from a quarry that is three-quarters of a mile away. At the quarry is an even larger stone weighing two million pounds that would have crushed any logs used to roll it to the temple. The first time in recorded history that man ever moved anything so heavy was when NASA moved the giant Saturn V rocket to the launch pad on its now-famous giant tracked vehicle.

The reason that these ancient people could have moved the Saturn V rocket is that intelligence comes from our Creator, not chance evolution.

Prayer: Dear Father, I thank You that You didn’t use evolution to create me. Amen.

References: Science Frontiers: Some Anomalies and Curiosities of Nature, William Corliss, “Unbelievable Baalbek,” pp.17-18.

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Do ancient writings mention events that are in the Bible?

Posted by Mats on 21/09/2009

http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/topic/history

Are lineages (genealogies) recorded in the Bible historically accurate?

What is the truth about the technology of ancient people? Why are they so often depicted as “cavemen” when we can see remnants of civilizations that were very advanced (such as pyramids)?

Historically, what happened at the 1925 Scopes Trial? Does the movie “Inherit the Wind” accurately describe these events?

Where did evolutionary ideas come from?

Who were the men who opposed the idea of long ages in the early 1800s?

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