Home / Tag Archives: Bible

Tag Archives: Bible

Early Civilization Spreads by Land and Sea

Civilization

Now Hiram, King of Tyre, sent his servants to Solomon, when he heard that they had anointed him King. . . And Solomon sent word to Hiram, “ . . . I purpose to build a house for the name of the Lord my God. . . Now therefore command that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me; and . . . I will pay you for your servants such wages as you set; for you know that there is no one among us who knows how to cut timber like the Sidonians [people of the city of Sidon].” . . . And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, “. . . I am ready to do all you desire in the matter of cedar and cypress timber. My servants shall bring it down to the sea from Lebanon; and I will make it into rafts to go by sea to the place you direct and I will have them broken up there, and you shall receive it; and you shall meet my wishes by providing food for my household.” So Hiram supplied Solomon with all the timber of cedar and cypress that he desired. while Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand cors [measures] of wheat as food for his household and twenty thousand cors of beaten oil. . . And there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and the two of them made a treaty. And King Solomon built a fleet of ships. . . And Hiram sent with the fleet his servants, seamen who were familiar with the sea. . . These words adapted from the Bible tell the story of trade agreements between two kings who ruled about 1000 B.C. You have probably heard of Solomon. He had the reputation of being the wisest king of ancient times. But …

Read More »

A House Divided 1833 – 1859

slavery

BEFORE ELI Whitney invented the cotton gin, Southern plantation owners were beginning to wonder if they should not give up their slaves. There was a good market for cotton; the English were buying all the cotton they could get to make into cloth in their new factories. It took too long to separate raw cotton from the seed and raising cotton simply did not pay. If the plantation owners stopped raising cotton, they would really have no need for slaves. Then after the invention of the cotton gin, raising cotton began to pay — and pay well! Cotton became the South’s big cash crop and the more cotton the plantation owners raised, the more slaves they needed. So, slavery grew in the South while it was dying out in other parts of the world. Slavery had been outlawed in the British colonies in 1833, in the French colonies fifteen years later; by this time, too, most of the Latin-American republics had liberated their slaves. The economy of the South was based on slave labour and the vast estates of the plantation owners, with their mansions, slave quarters and outbuildings, resembled the manors of feudal Europe. As a matter of fact, there was much in Southern society that resembled feudalism. The plantation owners formed a kind of aristocracy and lived the lives of country gentlemen; they owned most of the slaves and most of the land. The poorer Southerners also lived by farming, but their land holdings were small and they worked in the fields beside the one or two slaves they could afford. The South had little industry. In the North, on the other hand, while thousands of people still lived by farming, industry was growing day by day. The North needed free labour rather than slaves and Northerners began …

Read More »

The Monk from Wittenberg 1505-1546

ON A SULTRY JULY DAY IN 1505, a young law student, Martin Luther, was walking along a country road in Germany when a summer storm blew up. The air grew heavy and black clouds filled the sky. Before Luther could take shelter, thunder began to crash. A bolt of lightning struck the road almost at his feet. Thrown to the ground, he lay shaking, not certain whether he was alive or dead. “Help me, Saint Anne,” he cried, “help me and I will become a monk.” After a moment, Luther’s trembling stopped. He stood up, found that he was not hurt and continued his walk toward Erfurt, the town in which he attended the university. He did not forget his promise to Saint Anne. He spent a week or so thinking and making plans. Then he told his professors that he could come no more to their classes. He sold his books, bade farewell to his friends and went to the monastery of the Augustinian friars and said that it was his wish to become a monk. When Martin’s father, old Hans Luther, heard what his son had done, he was puzzled and angry. Hans had worked hard all of his life. Though his ancestors had been peasant farmers, he had managed to set himself up in a little business. But he was far from rich; he had scrimped and saved to send his son to school and to the university. He had long looked forward to the time when Martin would be a lawyer, a man of standing who would make his parents proud and earn the money to care for them in their old age. Now those plans were ruined. As a monk, Martin would never win fame or riches. Hans was furious and he wrote to Martin …

Read More »

The Church and the Empire A.D. 527-1261

empire

CHRISTIANITY, as the official religion of Byzantium‚ was under the control of the government. The emperor was the head of both church and state and high church officials in the East recognized him as the religious leader of the land. One of them wrote, “Nothing should happen in the Church against the command or will of the Emperor.” The church organization was similar to that of the state. As its head, but under the emperor, was the patriarch of Constantinople, who was appointed by the emperor. The appointment had to be approved by high church officials, but actually they never went against the emperor’s wishes. The emperor also had power to remove the patriarch from office. Under the patriarch were the metropolitans and archbishops, who had charge of large cities and important centers in the provinces. Then came the bishops and their staffs, which included the local priests. Unlike the priests of the West, those of the East were usually married. All the high-ranking officials of the church were unmarried and came from monasteries — places where monks and other religious men lived by themselves and spent their lives in prayer and service to God. MONASTERIES AND CONVENTS There were a great many monasteries in the East and many similar places for women, called convents. Many of these institutions helped the poor. Some provided hospitals, while others ran schools where the children of the poor could be educated. In time there came to be so many monasteries that they created problems for the empire. Many people went to live in them to escape from the army, or from the burden of public office. Monasteries became very wealthy, holding great tracts of land. Since they were usually not subject to taxes, the empire lost a large portion of its land-tax money …

Read More »

Byzantine Glory A.D. 610-1057

Byzantine

The period from 610 to 717 was one of the darkest in Byzantine history. During that time, the edges of the empire crumbled under the pressure of powerful enemies. A people from northern Italy, the Lombards, conquered more than half of Italy. In central Arabia, the Arab tribes had joined together under the religion of Mohammed and marched against their neighbors. They took the kingdom of Persia, invaded Palestine and in 658 captured Jerusalem. The conquering Moslems, as the followers of Mohammed were called, swept on and soon took over Syria and Egypt. They marched along the northern shore of Africa and took Carthage in 697, then sailed across the Mediterranean and captured Spain. By this time the empire seemed all but doomed. It had been reduced to Asia Minor, the Balkan Peninsula and southern Italy. Shortly after Leo III had been crowned emperor he was forced to defend Constantinople during the Arab siege of 717-718. Later he drove them back on the Taurus front. After saving the empire from the Arabs, he organized the country into military districts and placed a military government over each of them. This system, together with Justinian’s fortresses, made the empire’s defenses stronger than ever before. The empire reached the height of its glory under Basil I and his descendants, a period lasting from 867 to 1057. Most of the emperors of this period were brilliant military leaders and good administrators. Under them the empire regained its strength, beat back the Arabs in South Italy and in the East forced the Arabs back to the Euphrates, overran Cilicia and Syria, and pushed down into Palestine to the gates of Jerusalem. On the European side, Basil II crushed the mighty empire of the Bulgars. DIPLOMACY AND TREACHERY Byzantine emperors often used treachery to weaken their …

Read More »

The Growing Church A. D. 100-500

christian

AT THE beginning of the second century, the Christian Church was a loosely organized group of independent local churches. There had been no strong leadership since the days of the apostles, no recognized authority to whom they could turn to settle their differences concerning the faith. Paul’s epistles had cleared up many points for them, but new questions were constantly arising. The Roman church had been taking a leading role for some time. There were a number of reasons for this. According to tradition, both Paul and Peter had died in Rome. It was the only church in the western half of the empire associated with any of the apostles. The fact that it was located in the capital city of Rome naturally added to its standing. The churches of Asia Minor had lost strength as a result of false teachings and disagreements within the churches themselves. Jerusalem, having been destroyed in the Second Jewish War in the year 133, had practically ceased to exist. Furthermore, it was in Rome that the Apostles’ Creed was written and the New Testament authorized. Antioch was still an important centre, but no outstanding leaders came from it during the second century. By the end of that century, therefore, Rome was recognized as the church with the greatest influence in the Christian world. The church continued to grow in spite of the great general persecutions that began in the middle of the third century. These persecutions came in waves for a period of over fifty years. During the worst of them, Christians of Rome held their meetings in the catacombs, or underground cemeteries, where hundreds of tunnel and chambers offered them safety. DISPUTES IN THE CHURCH New questions of interpretation were constantly coming up to threaten the traditional faith. These questions usually had to …

Read More »

The Resurrection and the Faithful Few A. D. 29 – 35

resurrection

JESUS lived and died a Jew. Like the ancient Hebrew teachers, he urged people to love God and to love their neighbours. He left no writings of his own. His public ministry was short, possibly not as long as two years. It seems probable, therefore, that his influence on world history might not have been nearly as great had his story ended on the cross. The gospel story does not end with his crucifixion. He died on Friday. To speed the death of those crucified on Fridays, so that they could be buried before the Sabbath, the legs of the victims were usually broken. The soldiers broke the legs of the thieves hanging on either side of Jesus. But since Jesus seemed to be dead already they did not break his legs. To make certain he was dead one of the soldiers thrust his spear into the side of Jesus. One Joseph of Arimathea received permission from Pilate to take away the body of Jesus. This he did with the help of friends and placed the body, in a new sepulcher in a nearby garden. The grave was really a cave hollowed out of rock in the side of a hill. Over the entrance they rolled a huge stone. The following day being the Sabbath, nothing more could be done. Early Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and other followers of Jesus brought sweet spices to anoint his body. But they found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Puzzled and frightened, the others left the place, but Mary did not leave. While she was weeping by the side of the tomb Jesus suddenly appeared before her. That same evening in Jerusalem, Jesus appeared before a number of disciples gathered together in a locked room. The disciples were terrified, for they …

Read More »

The People of One God 3000 B. C. – 30 B. C.

On the plains of Mesopotamia, a young man stood gazing up at the stars that glittered from the dark sky of night. He was Abraham, a native of the Sumerian city of Ur. Abraham was a Hebrew, one of the many tribes of Semites said to have been descended from Shem, the son of Noah who had been saved from a great flood many years before. Like all people of his time, Abraham believed in many gods throughout nature. As he studied the pattern of the great stars for the god’s message, Abraham began to feel he was in the presence of a Lord God who was above all gods with idols and temples and sacrifices. Abraham felt, too, that this Lord God would take special care of those who lived up to his demands. Abraham became so devoted to this idea that years later he was inspired to leave Mesopotamia and start a new nation whose people would worship only the Lord God. With his family and tents and flocks, he made his way westward to the land of Canaan. After many setbacks, Abraham died there, content to know that his son Isaac would carry on the family. Isaac prospered and was followed by his son Jacob, whose life was such a struggle that he was honoured with the name Israel, meaning “struggler of god”. Jacob had twelve sons, each of whom founded a tribe and they and all their descendants became known as Israelites. One of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, became an important official in the Egyptian court and when a famine in the land of Canaan threatened to wipe out the Hebrews, they all joined Joseph in Egypt. This was the story told in the Bible and the traditions of the people who honoured Abraham, Isaac and Jacob …

Read More »
Translate »