Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Lost Island of Ferdinandea

Once upon a time, in the waters not far off the coast of Sicily, there was an island called Ferdinandea. It was located right where the Mediterranean Sea narrowed between Sicily and Tunisia —a strategic position for any naval power who wished to control traffic in the Mediterranean. A tug-o-war for sovereignty, between four powerful nations, began as soon as the island was discovered, but it didn’t last long. Less than six months later, the island had sunk back into the sea. Now almost two hundred years later, the same territorial squabble is poised to begin again, as Ferdinandea island rises, inch by inch, towards the surface.

The story of Ferdinandea island begins on July 1831. It started with a series of tremors and a pungent smell of sulphur. Clearly, somewhere a volcano was erupting. Nothing unusual about that. Sicily is volcanic, and the residents were accustomed to eruptions, big and small. But there were no signs of eruption anywhere on the island.

10 Historical Records That Tell Another Side Of Bible Stories

The Bible isn’t just a religious book. The characters in the Bible lived through a real history that was shared with other nations, but we usually hear only Israel’s side of the story. The other nations of Biblical times were also keeping histories, which tell very different versions of the stories we’ve heard so many times. 

The Greek Historian Strabo Said Moses Was An Egyptian Priest 

The story of Moses and the Ten Commandments is one of the best-known stories of the Bible. With God’s help, the Bible says, Moses brought plagues upon Egypt until the pharaoh set the Jews free.
According to the Greeks, though, Moses wasn’t even Jewish. He was an Egyptian priest. Strabo tells us that Moses didn’t like Egypt’s institutions. He believed that God was in all things and so couldn’t take the form of an animal or a person. This wasn’t divine revelation. Here, it’s just presented as a philosophical musing.
In Strabo’s version, Moses didn’t talk to God or fight the pharaoh. Moses just convinced a lot of people that he was right, and they emigrated freely to Jerusalem.
After Moses’s death, Strabo wrote that Jerusalem was taken over by superstitious, violent people who brought in “tyrannical” laws like kosher diets and circumcision. “Their beginning was good,” Strabo wrote, “but they degenerated.” 

Esther’s Husband Is The Persian King Who Fought Leonidas And The 300 Spartans 

Usually, we just see the story of Esther as the Bible presents it. Esther married the king of Persia, and when the evil Haman plotted the genocide of the Jews, she persuaded the king to save her people.
That king, though, was a major historical figure. Esther’s husband was King Xerxes I, probably best known today as the bad guy from the movie 300. He was the Persian king who invaded Sparta and Athens after they refused to pay tribute and whose enormous army was held off by 300 Spartans.
If the story of Esther is true, it’s speculated that it probably happened while Xerxes was planning his invasion. So Esther’s father, Mordecai, would have been one of Xerxes’s advisers during the war. 

The King Of Moab Called The Israelites ‘Oppressors’ 

According to the Bible, King Mesha of Moab rebelled against Israel. With the help of God and the prophet Elisha, the Israelites fought off the Moabites and brought the war into Moab. Mesha sacrificed his own son as an offering to his gods, and the Israelites turned back home and willingly left Moab alone.
But we’ve found a version written by King Mesha that tells a very different story. According to Mesha, the Israelites were tyrants who “oppressed Moab many days.” Mesha asked for the freedom of his people, and Israel responded by threatening to destroy Moab.
Israel, Mesha says, attacked first, but he managed to fight them off. Then King Mesha and his men marched on Israel and took back several cities that Israel had stolen from them long ago. In Mesha’s version, the war didn’t end with Israel deciding to go home. Israel just lost. 

Hazael Says Israel Attacked Him First 

The Bible only gives a brief mention of Hazael, the king of Aram. It says that Hazael conquered Israel by divine will because God “was kindled against Israel.” Also, Hazael “oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz.”
We’ve actually found a stone inscribed by Hazael, though, that tells his side of the story. The stone is broken, so there’s a lot of dispute over what it really says. According to the most popular theory, the stone suggests that Hazael invaded Israel as revenge for their invasion of Aram when his father was king. Then Hazael executed the kings of Israel.
Hazael doesn’t deny, though, that he was oppressive. “I set their town into ruins,” Hazael boasts, “and their land into desolation.” 

Manetho Said That Moses Invaded And Conquered Egypt 

Every country has its own version of the story of Moses—including Egypt. Like the Greeks, the Egyptians say that Moses was an Egyptian priest of Heliopolis. Manetho insists that Moses’s real name was Osarsiph, but he changed it when he joined the Jews.
The story starts with Pharaoh Amenophis trying to cleanse the country of lepers after being told that leprosy was a divine curse. He put 80,000 lepers to work in a quarry and assigned Moses to take care of them.
Instead, a power-hungry Moses established his own laws and ruled over the lepers. Then he made an alliance with Jerusalem. With an army of lepers and Jews, Moses invaded and conquered Egypt, burning down their temples.”
It took 13 years for Amenophis to build up his army and chase Moses out of Egypt. This, Manetho says, is how Moses came to Jerusalem. 

The Egyptians Celebrated Laying Israel To Waste 

Archaeologists have found a slab engraved by Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah shortly after the reign of Ramses the Great that appears to talk about Israel.
The slab was written when Egypt’s world power was being tested by several smaller nations that were revolting against Egypt’s control over them. According to the slab, Merneptah had defeated them all and laid them to ruin.
“Israel,” it says, “is laid waste, and his seed is not.”
But the exact meaning of that sentence is unclear. Some believe that the Egyptians slaughtered the children of Israel to keep them from revolting, although it might mean that the Egyptians just burned the Israelis’ crops. If “seed” means “children,” though, the inscription proves that Egypt really did slaughter Israeli babies as in the story of Exodus. 

The Roman Historian Tacitus Said That Moses Was An Atheist 

Tacitus seemed to have a hard time piecing out the true story of Moses, but he did his best. Like the Egyptians, Tacitus said that Egypt was plagued by a disfiguring disease and that the pharaoh expelled the victims. In this version, though, the pharaoh sent them into the wilderness.
According to Tacitus, Moses was one of the diseased exiles and he hated God. He “urged his companions not to wait passively for help from god or man, for both had deserted them.” Moses led his group to Canaan and conquered it. Then he founded Judaism—not because he believed in it but as a political tool to keep his people loyal. 

The Jewish Talmud Calls Jesus A Sorcerer 

The Talmud gives its own version of the crucifixion of Jesus. It tells the story of a man called “Yeshu” who is generally accepted as the Jesus of the Christian faith.
According to the Talmud, before Jesus was executed, a herald was sent out calling him a sorcerer. “Anyone who can say anything in his favor,” the herald said, “let him come forward and plead on his behalf!” No one came forward to stand up for Jesus.
In the Talmud, a man named Ulla is quoted as saying of Jesus, “Do you suppose that he is one for whom a defense could be made?” Ulla goes on to condemn the people who defended Jesus, saying that the scriptures said that a person like Jesus should never be spared.
“With Yeshu, however, it was different,” Ulla said, “for he was connected with royalty.” 

Pliny The Younger Asked For Help On How To Deal With Christians 

The biblical Book of Acts describes a time when Christians were horribly persecuted by the Romans.
However, we have a unique insight into the Roman view of this in a letter from Pliny the Younger to Emperor Trajan. Pliny asked Trajan for help in dealing with Christians because Pliny didn’t know how far he should go.
He called Christianity a “depraved, excessive superstition” and said that his policy had been to give Christians the opportunity to “curse Christ.” If they did, Pliny let them go. But if they wouldn’t, he’d have them executed.
Pliny thought he was doing the right thing in letting Christians renounce their religion. “A multitude of people can be reformed if an opportunity for repentance is afforded,” he wrote.
Trajan approved. “They are not to be sought out,” he wrote back. “If they are denounced and proven guilty, they are to be punished.” 

The Romans Thought Christians Were  

The Romans hated the Christians. Tacitus called their religion “a most hideous superstition” and said that they were charged with “hatred against mankind.” Even when he criticized Nero for being too cruel to Christians, Tacitus still believed that Christians were “criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment.”
He wasn’t alone. Suetonius called Christianity a “mischievous superstition” and actually praised some emperors for keeping the Christians in line.
There’s a reason for all the hate, though. When the Romans heard that Christians ate the body of Christ, the Romans took it literally. Many Romans believed that Christians would break into ritualistic cannibalism and incestuous orgies during assemblies. 

10 Intriguing Nameless Biblical Characters

The Bible does not provide us with the names of many characters mentioned in it. We know something about their backgrounds and circumstances, but their actual names are not disclosed. Some of these “unknown” people played important roles in biblical stories, and many Jewish and Christian writers have felt the need to give them names.
Their names are disclosed outside the Bible. The historical credibility of this information is dubious at best. These books have more to do with the imaginations of their authors than actual historical accuracy. 

Cain’s Wife 

If we read Genesis 4.17 with an inquisitive mind, we will inevitably notice that the identity of Cain’s wife is a puzzle. Until then, there were only four people in the world: Adam, Eve, Abel (recently murdered by his brother), and Cain. So who is Cain’s wife, and where does she come from? The Hebrew Bible remains silent on this.
The answer is found in the Book of Jubilees, an apocryphal work possibly dated to the second century BC. In chapter 4 (verses 1 and 9), we learn that this woman was named Awan and that she is Cain’s younger sister: “And in the third week in the second jubilee, she [Eve] gave birth to Cain, and in the fourth she gave birth to Abel, and in the fifth she gave birth to her daughter Awan.” 

Noah’s Wife 

In Genesis 7, Noah’s wife is mentioned, but no name is provided for her. The Book of Jubilees (4.33) tells us that her name is Emzara. The Genesis Rabba, another nonbiblical text dating to the AD 300–500 period, provides us with a different name for Noah’s wife: Naamah. There are many other nonbiblical works that mention different names for Noah’s wife. In total, we have more than 100 names recorded. 

Moses’s Stepmother 

Exodus 2.10 tells us that when Moses was floating helplessly in a basket on the Nile, he was rescued by the pharaoh’s daughter while she was bathing. This woman is not named in the Bible despite the fact that she turns out to be an important character: She becomes Moses’s adoptive mother.
Although her name is mentioned in several texts outside the Bible, these different sources are consistent with each other. Some Jewish extra-biblical accounts identify this woman as Bithiah. In Chapter 27 of a fourth-century book named Praeparatio Evangelica written by Eusebius, she is named Merris. 

The Wise Men 

Neither the names nor the number of wise men who visited Jesus is disclosed in the gospel of Matthew (2.1–12). Western tradition says there were three wise men based on the number of gifts that they brought to Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Based on Syrian and Armenian traditions, the Eastern Church claims that there were 12 wise men. In an ancient work called the Book of the Bee (c. AD 1200), all 12 names are listed. We are told that four of them brought gold, four of them brought frankincense, and four of them brought myrrh.
The names of the three wise men are mentioned in a work called Excerpta Latina Barbari dated to c. 6th–8th century AD. In the original version, their names are Bithisarea, Melichior, and Gathaspa.
Later tradition changed their names to Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar. Christian Western tradition goes even further by assigning each of the wise men a cultural background: Balthasar from Arabia, Melchior from Persia, and Gaspar from India. 

Children In The Gospels 

There are a number of nameless children mentioned in the gospels. Matthew (18.2) reads: “And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them.” The Book of the Bee identifies this child as Ignatius, who later became the bishop of Antioch (Chapter 48).
In Mark 10.13–14, we read that some children were brought to Jesus so “that he [Jesus] should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.” The Book of the Bee identifies these children as Timothy and Titus and adds that both children became bishops when they grew up (Metzger and Coogan 1993: 547). 

The Woman Who Seeks Jesus’s Help 

In Matthew 15.22–28, we read the story of a woman from Canaan who asks Jesus to save her daughter who was possessed by a demon. This same story is presented in Mark 7.25–30. But this time, the woman is presented as Syrophenician.
Neither version of the story discloses the women’s names. A third-century text known as the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies says that the woman who asked for Jesus’s help was named Justa and her daughter’s name was Berenice. In the end, Jesus casts the demons out and Berenice is found recovered in her own bed (Metzger and Coogan 1993: 547). 

The Mother Of The Dead Man 

Luke 7.11–15 recounts an episode in the city of Nain where Jesus brings back to life a dead man who is being carried on his bier. The widowed mother of the dead man is among the crowd, and her name is not disclosed in the gospel.
Her identity is provided by an ancient book known as the Coptic text on Christ’s resurrection, where we read that the widow was named Lia or Leah. Interestingly, the authorship of this text is ascribed to Bartholomew, one of Jesus’s apostles (Metzger and Coogan 1993: 547). 

The Robbers Crucified Next To Jesus 

During the crucifixion, the gospel of Matthew (15.27) reports that two thieves were crucified on either side of Jesus. In Luke (23.39–43), we can even read a short conversation between Jesus and the thieves. One thief, usually known as the bad thief, demands of Jesus, “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.” The other thief, the good one, asks Jesus to “remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”
The names of these characters are not provided in the Bible. Several extra-biblical sources offer us different versions of their names (Metzger and Coogan 1993: 548). An apocryphal text known as the Acts of Pilate (aka the Gospel of Nicodemus) refers to them as Gestas and Dysmas (10.2).
An Old Latin Gospel says that their names were Zoatham and Camma. The apocryphal Arabic Gospel of the Infancy adds additional information on the lives of these thieves.
While Joseph, Mary, and Jesus (still an infant) are crossing a desert during the night, they meet the two thieves. The bad thief does not want to let the family go. The good thief offers the bad one 40 drachmas and his belt to let Jesus and his parents move on. At this point, Jesus anticipates their fates and confirms their names (Arabic Gospel of the Infancy, 23):
Thirty years hence, O my mother, the Jews will crucify me at Jerusalem, and these two robbers will be raised upon the cross along with me, Titus [the good thief] on my right hand and Dumachus [the bad thief] on my left; and after that day Titus shall go before me into Paradise
The Soldier Who Pierced Jesus’s Side 
In John 19, when the Roman soldiers attempted to break the legs of Jesus while He was hanging on the cross, they noticed that He was already dead. One of the soldiers pierced Jesus’s side (John 19.34).
The name of this Roman soldier is not mentioned in the Bible. The apocryphal Acts of Pilate tells us that the name of this soldier was Longinus (16.7). The spear is known as the Holy Lance.
Interestingly, Christian tradition claims that the Holy Lance was discovered during the First Crusade in Syria in June 1098. The story of this relic is confusing, and today, there are many relics that are said to be the Holy Lance. One of these is preserved in Rome at Saint Peter’s Basilica. 

The Soldiers Who Guarded Jesus’s Tomb 

In Matthew 27.65, Pilate agrees to assign a group of guards to watch over the tomb of Jesus to ensure that his body is not stolen. The names of the guards are not disclosed by Matthew.
The apocryphal Gospel of Peter (31), dated to the second century BC, does not provide the names of all the soldiers involved in this task, but it tells us that the guards were supervised by a Roman centurion named Petronius.
The Book of the Bee presents two versions on how many guards were watching over Jesus’s tomb. In chapter 44, there were five guards in total, who were named Issachar, Gad, Matthias, Barnabas, and Simon.
In the next verse, however, the Book of the Bee presents another version about the guards: “But others say they were fifteen, three centurions and their Roman and Jewish soldiers.”

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

This Woman Chose an Unusual Way of Dealing with Her Divorce (15 pics)

When Amanda Brignall separated from her husband at the age of 37, she decided to change her life and chose to undergo a dramatic makeover… 



The 5 Year Old Fashion Stud! (33 pics)

Meet Alonso Mateo. He is the most fashion forward kid around and he is only 5 years old.