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Mount Sinai And The Red Sea Crossing (Part 2): Digging For Truth Episode 73

Time for the follow-up episode about the Red Sea Crossing! Hear the rest of the conversation by clicking on the video linked below!
Source: Mount Sinai And The Red Sea Crossing (Part 2): Digging For Truth Episode 73
Produced by: Associates for Biblical Research
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Mount Sinai And The Red Sea Crossing (Part 1): Digging For Truth Episode 72

Where are the potential locations of the Red Sea Crossing? Find out the details of this debate by clicking the video linked below. Share your thoughts by leaving a comment as well!
 
Source: Mount Sinai And The Red Sea Crossing (Part 1): Digging For Truth Episode 72
Produced by: Associates for Biblical Research
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Digging for Truth: Noah’s Flood: A Worldwide Catastrophe (Part 1)

Join the fascinating flood discussion by checking out this episode by Digging for Truth! Click below to learn more about this catastrophic worldwide event!
Source: Digging for Truth: Noah’s Flood: A Worldwide Catastrophe (Part 1)
Produced by: The Associates for Biblical Research
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Renaissance Adds Impetus to Reformation, The 

Wars and epidemics were rampant in 14th-century Europe. Many became so disappointed with the Church’s ineffective response to the Black Plague that they became hedonists. However, the conflicts that ravaged Europe also brought about a renewal of interest in classical Greek and Roman thought. Modern historians call this period in Europe’s history the Renaissance. It lasted from AD 1300 up to 1600. It was a period of innovation in technology, arts, and literature. The accomplishments of the Renaissance thinkers would later add impetus to the Reformation (1517-1648) that was led by Martin Luther and other early Protestant leaders.  These events are recorded on the Bible Timeline with World History during that time.

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The End of the Medieval Period

Chaos and death reigned in 14th-century Europe. The rise of the Ottoman Turks ended the domination of the Greeks in Asia Minor. The clash between religion and politics, meanwhile, produced the Avignon Papacy and the Great Western Schism. Early reformers, such as John Wycliffe and Jan Hus (to some extent), emerged from the conflicts, such as the Hundred Years’ War and the Peasants’ Revolt. There was also no shortage of catastrophes in 14th-century Europe. These included the Great Famine (1315-1317) and the deadliest of all, the Black Death. By the time the Black Death had slowed down in 1353, Europe had lost almost a third of its people. But while these conflicts and calamities were happening, the seeds of rebirth and reform were also taking root.

The Renaissance

Florence, Italy is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance.

The Renaissance was a period in European history that spanned from early 1300 AD up to 1600 AD. Renaissance is a French word which means “rebirth.” It was a period of the Europeans’ revival of interest in classical Roman and Greek literature and art. The changes started in chaotic Northern Italy, and it gradually spread to other parts of Europe. This revival was possible due to the following factors:

* One contributing factor to the Renaissance was the profitable trade between the Northern and Central Italian cities and the East. Because of the trade, the Italian city-states became prosperous in spite of the turbulence of the Late Medieval Period. Florence and Milan became important financial centers. The rival maritime republics of Genoa and Venice emerged as two of the most prosperous.

The Venetians were natural sailors and traders who saw entrepreneurial opportunities everywhere. They conquered and ruled a part of the Byzantine Empire with the help of the Crusaders in 1204. Their reign lasted until 1261, but the Venetians were able to establish trading posts on the coast of the Black Sea and other ports in the East. After the collapse of the Latin and Byzantine Empire, the practical Venetians continued to trade with the Ottoman Empire. The Venetians imported Turkish grains, spices, cotton, and alum that they used for dyeing textiles. The Ottomans, meanwhile, bought Venetian luxury goods, paper, textiles, and soap.

Genoa was Venice’s main rival during the Late Medieval Period. The Genoese, like the Venetians, were skilled sailors and merchants. Genoa’s main products included wine, timber for ships, olive oil, and luxury goods. They sold these products for profit in Sicily, Spain, North Africa, and Egypt. In turn, the Genoese imported spices, cotton, and gold from their trading partners.

The maritime republics became wealthy because of trade with the East. Neighboring Italian cities such as Florence, Mantua, Pisa, and Milan also became wealthy commercial centers as years passed. Wealth was not something that only the pope, the monarchs, and the landowning nobles had. The trade allowed the merchant class to rise and become equal to the nobles in wealth.

* Because of their wealth, the merchant and banking families could now sponsor artists and writers. This was a second factor that contributed to the Renaissance. Prominent merchant class families, such as the House of Este of Ferrara, the Medicis of Florence, and the Gonzagas of Mantua, supported painters and sculptors. Some of the greatest Italian sculptors and painters who rose during the Renaissance period included:

Donatello
Fra Angelico
Masaccio
Gentile and his brother Giovanni Bellini
Mantegna
Botticelli
Leonardo Da Vinci
Michaelangelo
Raphael
Titian
Brunelleschi
Ghiberti

During the Medieval Period, religious education was considered more important than science or the arts. Most of the classical Roman and Greek literature were buried into obscurity during the Medieval Period. The Renaissance period, however, revived the people’s interest in classical Roman and Greek literature, philosophy, and history. This revival which would later give birth to the term “humanism.”

* However, this shift from religious education to humanism would have been impossible if not for the efforts of the scholars who sought Greek and Roman classics even in Europe’s most far-flung libraries. These determined scholars were part of the third major contributing factor to the Renaissance. The destruction of the Byzantine Empire was, in a way, a blessing for Western Europe. Greek monks who fled Constantinople in and after 1453 brought classical Greek texts to Western Europe.

The Italians Poggio Bracciolini, Giovanni Boccaccio, Coluccio Salutati, and Francesco Petrarch were the masters of the Renaissance. The Christian humanist of the Renaissance period, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, later influenced Reformation figures such as Erasmus of Rotterdam, Sir Thomas More, and Martin Luther.

The Renaissance in Italy reached Northern Europe in 1450. The Hundred Years’ War was near its end, while Europe’s population had recovered from the Black Death. Back in 1439, Johannes Gutenberg of Germany had invented a form of movable type printing press. Before the invention of the movable type, manuscripts were copied onto a parchment by hand. The task was tedious, and it made the books more expensive. Monasteries and noblemen were the only ones who could afford books before the invention of the movable type.

The movable type printing press, however, made the books more affordable. Ordinary Europeans who were literate and have enough money now have access to books. One of the first works published by Gutenberg was the Vulgate Bible. It was completed around 1454 or 1455, and the printing of the Bible would play a large part in the upheavals of the Reformation Period.

For centuries, Latin was the official language used by the church and the nobility for communication. The common people who lived during the Medieval Period did not understand this language. During the Renaissance, writers started to write in their own languages. They also wrote in a way that could easily be understood by their own people. Information became widely available and literacy rose among Europe’s upper class.

References:

Picture by: Steve Herseyhttp://flickr.com/photos/sherseydc/2954982676/, CC BY 2.0, Link

Bartlett, Kenneth R. A Short History of the Italian Renaissance. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013.

Fleet, Kate. European and Islamic Trade in the Early Ottoman State: The Merchants of Genoa and Turkey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Gagarin, Michael, and Elaine Fantham, eds. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome. Vol. I. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2010.

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Paschal II

Pope Paschal II was elected in 1099 which is where is recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History. He reigned as Roman pontiff until his death in 1118. He inherited the Investiture dispute from his predecessors Gregory VII and Urban II. The struggle also continued against the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV and his son Henry V. This long-drawn-out Investiture Controversy was solved not only in Italy itself or Germany but also in France and England during his reign.

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Early Life

Paschal II was born around 1050/1055 from a family of modest means in the Bieda de Galeata in the Romagna region. The son of a couple named Crescentius and Alfatia was christened Rainerius. As a boy, he was offered as a monk either in the Cluny Abbey or the scenic Vallombrosa Abbey in Florence. The young monk was appointed as an abbot of San Lorenzo fuori la Mura by Pope Gregory VII. In 1078, he rose once again to the clerical ranks with his appointment as cardinal priest of San Clemente. An additional appointment to a special mission in Spain was added by Urban II before his death in 1099.

Election as Pope and Investiture Controversy

Rainerius was elected in 1099 soon after Urban II’s death and adopted the name Paschal II. He was described as a capable administrator, but his reign was marred with the Investiture Controversy that Gregory VII and Urban II passed on to him when they died. Although the antipope Clement III had died in 1099, the surprisingly resilient Henry IV was still insistent on his right to appoint his own clerics. Three separate antipopes (Theodoric, Adalbert, and Silvester IV) were also elected by different factions to replace Clement. However, all three were subsequently deposed during the reign of Paschal II.

paschal_ii
“This illustration is from The Lives and Times of the Popes by Chevalier Artaud de Montor”

Paschal II asserted the Church’s right to appoint clergy and reinforced the ban on investiture on Henry and his supporters. Henry IV died in 1106, but before his death, his son Henry V rebelled against him and insisted on being crowned as king in his father’s stead in Rome. Paschal seized the chance to weaken the father further by building an alliance with the son. This backfired when Henry V also insisted on his right to investiture. The exasperated Pope issued repeated bans on Henry V’s for this defiance until the German prince marched to Rome escorted by his troops to insist on what he thought was his right.

Paschal knew he could not match Henry V’s troops and he was unwilling to resort to violence. The pope was then forced to concede to him and propose a compromise: waive his rights to appoint clergy and hold free elections instead. In exchange, the Church would give up all properties and other rights the Empire had given to it (the tithes would still be retained by the Church). Henry accepted these concessions, but these caused an uproar among the people when the terms were read aloud during his coronation. The people expressed their disapproval and halted the coronation; Henry then had the pope imprisoned for two months until Paschal was forced to grant him investiture rights to buy his freedom.

Henry’s coronation pushed through on April 13, 1111. He returned to Germany soon after, but Paschal was left to bear the brunt of the people’s anger over his concession. He offered to abdicate to pacify the people and to nullify the concessions, but for some reason, his abdication did not push through. He renewed the ban on investiture in 1116, but by then, it had already been solved by the kings of England and France. They agreed to refrain from investiture and be content with a vow of loyalty from the appointed cleric. Paschal approved this compromise when the news reached him.

Last Years and Death

Paschal’s last year as a pope was marred with riots which forced him to flee Rome around 1116. By 1117, he was forced to escape to Benevento when Henry V took advantage of the chaos in the city and returned from Germany who had him replaced with antipope Gregory VIII. Henry V was crowned by the antipope in 1117. Paschal attempted to come back to power but died in 1118 in Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome.

References:
Picture By Artaud de Montor (1772–1849) – http://archive.org/details/thelivesandtimes00montuoft, Public Domain, Link
Kelly, J. N. D., and Michael J. Walsh. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. New York, NY.: Oxford UP, 2010.
Mann, Horace K. The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages. Vol. VIII. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1925.
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England Converted to Christianity

After the Lombards had broken off the siege of Rome, the city regained a bit of peace under the administration of Pope Gregory. The temporary stability allowed him to focus his energies on spiritual matters. His first mission was beyond the shores of continental Europe: the former Roman territory of Britain. England later converted to Christianity in 597 AD according to the Bible Timeline.

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Christianity had declined on the island since the collapse of Roman rule and the invasion of the fierce Saxons from the coast of Europe. Villages and churches were razed as the Saxons rampaged through the southeast portion of the island. The few churches that remained intact on the northern part were now isolated from the pope’s rule. Kent and Sussex were then ruled by Saxon kings while the Angles ruled the northeast of the island, which meant that the priests sent by Pope Gregory would meet fierce opposition from the pagan tribes.

Into Britain

He sent a Benedictine monk he knew very well: a man named Augustine, who had served in the same monastery Gregory once led. Augustine, along with other monks, traveled through the Frankish territory of Gaul. The party had to turn back after they encountered the fierce tribes who lived beyond Italy. Augustine went back to Rome and begged Gregory to let him abandon the mission, but the pope declined the monk’s request; he encouraged Augustine and the monks with a letter to continue the journey and convert the Saxons, who held Britain.

England_converted_to_Christianity
“Map of the general outlines of some of the British kingdoms about 600”

After he saw that he had no choice but to obey, Augustine and his companions crossed the English channel in 597 AD and docked on the Isle of Thanet on the eastern coast of Kent. The place was ruled by Saxon King Ethelbert who initially viewed the monks with suspicion (and superstition) and told them to stay on the island in the meantime. Ethelbert married a Christian Frankish princess named Bertha years before, and he allowed her to practice Christianity freely in England; a situation that was agreeable to Augustine and the monks. The king was not enthusiastic about the arrival of the monks, but neither did he persecute them. According to the Venerable Bede, Ethelbert told the monks that,

“Your words and promises are fair, but because they are new to us, and of uncertain import, I cannot consent to them so far as to forsake that which I have so long observed with the whole English nation. But because you are come from far as strangers into my kingdom, and, as I conceive, are desirous to impart to us those things which you believe to be true, and most beneficial, we desire not to harm you, but will give you favourable entertainment, and take care to supply you with all things necessary to your sustenance; nor do we forbid you to preach and gain as many as you can to your religion.” -Ecclesiastical History of England

Ethelbert was baptized later in Christmas of 597 AD, and Pope Gregory sent more priests to England to assist in the conversion of the Saxons and Angles. With Ethelbert’s assistance, Canterbury became Augustine’s seat in England. He was the first bishop of Canterbury in the same year. By 604 AD, Christianity had gained a strong foothold in the land of the Saxons after the king of the East Saxons, Ethelbert’s nephew, converted to Christianity.

References:
Picture By User:Hel-hama – Vectorization of File:Britain peoples circa 600.png drawn by User:IMeowbotborder data from CIA, people locations from The Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd, 1926 edition, with clarifications supplied by en:User:Everyking per references used in en:Penda of Mercia. Anglo-Saxon coastline from Hill, ‘An Atlas of Anglo-Saxon England’ (1981) (the grey areas marked ‘sea, swamp or alluvium’ show where little Anglo-Saxon settlement occurred, because (according to Hill) there was at different periods either large areas of mud, marshland or open sea)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4684278
Venerable Bede. “Ecclesiastical History of England, by Bede.” : Book1. Accessed July 19, 2016. https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/bede/history/book1.html.
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Micah

Background 

The prophet Micah was born in the town of Moresheth-Gath, an agricultural town in southern Judah. His name means “who is like God.” He was active between 742 and 687 BC during the overlapping reigns of Jotham and Ahaz, as well as Hezekiah. Which is where he is listed on the Biblical Timeline Poster. Most of the situations Micah wrote about occurred during the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz, but his prophecies were written during much of Hezekiah’s reign which may have brought about the religious reformation he initiated.

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He lived around the same time period as the prophets Hosea, Isaiah, and Amos. While Micah came from and prophesied in the country, Isaiah lived and prophesied in Jerusalem. Samaria was on the verge of collapse because of repeated invasions of the Neo-Assyrian army during the writing of the book of Micah and Judah itself was not doing very well during the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz.

Micah_prophet
“Micah the prophet”

The Book of Micah

The prophecies of Micah are divided into three parts:

  • The condemnation against Samaria and Judah because of various sins the people committed.
  • The future punishment for these negative actions, including the doom that the Assyrian armies will bring about.
  • The hope for a restoration of Israel after their repentance.

Throughout the book, the condemnation, the punishment, and the hope for restoration repeatedly and consistently follow each other.

Condemnation:

Part I

  1. Accusations against Samaria and Jerusalem (1:2-5)
  2. Judgment against rich oppressors (2:1-5)
  3. Judgment against false prophets (2:6-11)

Part II

  1. Judgment against Israel’s oppressive and corrupt leaders who receive bribes; paid prophets (3:1-4; 8-11)

Part III

  1. Judgment against dishonest merchants and corrupt and violent wealthy people (6:10-12)
  2. Judgment against officials and judges who accept bribes and twist justice (7:1-6)

Punishment

Part I

  1. Destruction of Samaria, followed by Judah (1:6-7; v 9-16)
  2. Punishment for the wealthy oppressors (2:3-5)
  3. Eviction from their homes (2:10)

Part II

  1. Darkness and disgrace for false prophets (3:5-7); destruction of Jerusalem and Mount Zion (3:12)

Part III

  1. Economic ruin for dishonest merchants and rich yet corrupt people (6:13-15)
  2. Downfall of corrupt officials and judges (7:7-10)

Restoration

Part I

  1. Return from exile of those who were in captivity and restoration of those who remained in Israel (2:12-13)

Part II

  1. Restoration of Mount Zion, peace between the nations of the earth, and prosperity (4:1-5)
  2. Israel’s return from exile (4:6-8)
  3. The promise of a ruler from Bethlehem who will rescue the people from the Assyrians (5:2-6)
  4. Purification of the remnants of Israel (5:7-15)

Part III

  1. Forgiveness of sins and compassion on the people (7:14-20)
References:
Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1996
Picture By 18-century icon painter – Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi monastery, Karelia, north Russia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3235604
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Ezekiel

Background

Ezekiel, whose name means ‘God strengthens,’ was born in Jerusalem during a time of great upheavals caused by the invading Babylonian army. He can be found on the Biblical Timeline at the end of 600 BC. Ezekiel is introduced in the first chapter as ‘the priest, the son of Buzi’. He received one of his first fantastic visions of four-faced and winged creatures as well as ‘the appearance of the likeness of the glory of God’ while living in exile near the Kebar river in Babylon. His ministry started seven years before the final destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and covered the events between 590 B.C. and 571 B.C. He was already working as a priest when he was captured and taken to Babylon in 597 B.C.

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Daniel and Ezekiel were roughly the same age, although Daniel was already established in his prophetic ministry in Babylon by the time Ezekiel arrived (Ezekiel 14:14 and 20, 28:3). Ezekiel was married, the death of his wife is recorded in Ezekiel 24:15-27.

The Book of Ezekiel

Ezekiel
“Biblical illustration of Book of Ezekiel Chapter 37”

Destruction of Jerusalem

Ezekiel’s prophecies are divided into three parts:

  1. the condemnation of Judah and the total destruction of Jerusalem (chapters 1-24)
  2. the prophecies against foreign nations (25-39)
  3. the plans for rebuilding the new temple (40-48)

The first part consists of a series of prophecies concerning Judah. He was called by God to prophesy against the people by eating a scroll with laments written on it (2:8-10; 3:1-3). The prophecies of Ezekiel about the fall of Jerusalem were full of symbolism which included

* The drawing of a map of Jerusalem under siege on a clay tablet (4:1-3).

* Lying on his left side for 390 days for each year of Israel’s sins and 40 days on his right side for each year of Judah’s sins (4:4-8).

* The ration of bread baked with cow dung as fuel to symbolize scarcity and Israel’s impending captivity into the land of the Gentiles (4:9-17).

* The divine razor used by Ezekiel in cutting up his hair into three parts which symbolized the people who will die of famine and disease in the city, those killed outside the city walls, and those who will be scattered (5:1-13).

The last prophecies against Jerusalem can be read on the 24th chapter, while the 25th chapter up to the 32nd is series of messages against Judah’s neighbors. Those who received condemnation were the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines, the Phoenicians of Tyre and Sidon, and Egyptians.

Promise of Restoration

Ezekiel is not all gloom and doom. The last parts of his prophecies were promises of restoration. His fantastic vision of a valley full of dry bones connecting with each other and coming back to life is a symbol of hope for the people of Israel who will be freed from captivity and will return to Jerusalem in due time (37:1-14). He received a vision as early as the 14th year from the fall of Jerusalem (40:1) about God’s detailed plans for a new temple. Ezekiel also received instructions on the new borders and divisions of the land for each tribe. A sacred site will be allotted between Judah and Benjamin as the place where the new temple will stand. A river of healing will flow out from the temple to the Dead Sea.

References:
Curtis, Adrian, and Herbert G. May. Oxford Bible Atlas. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007
https://bible.org/article/introduction-book-ezekiel
Picture By Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18884417