July 2019

A Page from my New Book on Genesis

by Steve Ray on July 31, 2019

This book has been on the back burner for quite a few years. But I took five weeks off this summer to finish it. About 12 hours a day since June 28 and I am almost done. Just putting the finishing touches on it this week before leaving for the Family Conference in Wichita, two TV shows on EWTN, speaking in Indianapolis and two buses to Poland (yikes!)

Genesis is such an exciting and foundational book. When I am completely finished with it I will miss Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Feel like they are friends after all this research and writing. Well, if I have been a bit quiet over the last month, now you know why.

Here is a section of the book introducing Abram before he leaves Ur in modern-day Iraq. Our filming in Iraq several years ago for our documentary “Abraham, Father of Faith & Works” helped a lot.

Introduction to Abraham

Scripture now funnels the narrative down to one particular line within Shem’s family tree. There were ten generations from Adam to Noah followed by ten generations from Shem to Abraham which are provided here to arrive in our story to a major milestone in the history of salvation—the great patriarch and “the father of us all.” (Gen 10:10–26; Rom 4:16)  Again we see the new chapter in the story with the often repeated “These are the descendants of Shem. (11:10). In his line from Shem to Abram we find the name Eber. (11:16)   Êber in the Hebrew means “on the other side of.”  The ancestors of Israel are described as those who ‘dwelt of old time beyond the River’ (êber ha-nâhâr = ‘on the other side of the Euphrates river’). See Josh. 24:2.”  From his name comes we get the word Hebrew. 

In verse 27 we find again the formula which announces a new phase in the story. A new funnel to direct us toward the line of the Messiah.  “Now these are the descendants of Terah. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot.  Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans” (Gen 11:27–28). Haran means mountaineer, Nahor means snorting, and Abram means exalted father.

We have arrived at a huge juncture on the road of salvation history. We are now introduced to Abraham though that was not the name he was born with.  His given name was Abram.  Only later at the age of ninety-nine will God change Abram’s name to Abraham.  We must also remember that Abram was not a Jew, per se, since at this point Jews did not exist. The word Jew comes from Judah—one of the twelve sons of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham.  Abraham was also not an Israelite since Israel was a new name given to Abraham’s grandson Jacob (Gen 32:28). To outsiders Abram was referred to as a Hebrew from the name Eber as we just discussed.

Abram was born in the city of Ur in Mesopotamia, between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, also known as the land of the Chaldeans. (Acts 7:2).  Even today Christians from Iraq are called Chaldeans.  The ancient site of Ur is located at Tel el–Miqayyar in Iraq, about 250 miles southeast of Baghdad, near the Persian Gulf.  “The city of Ur is one of the oldest and most famous in Mesopotamia, with a recorded history of over two millennia…. Findings at the tell point to the Early Dynastic III period (2600–2500 B.C.) and the Third Dynasty (2111–2003 B.C.), especially under Ur-Nammu and Shulgi, the first two kings of the Third Dynasty, as the high points in the city’s history. It was during Ur-Nammu’s reign that the famous ziggurat began to be constructed. …  Ur was the center of Mesopotamian worship of Nanna/Sin, the moon god, the same god who was said to reside in Haran, the city to which Terah and his family migrated when they left Ur.”

Still standing in the archaeological site at Ur is the massive ziggurat, a square–shaped multi–leveled temple. While recently visiting Ur in Iraq we climbed to the top of this amazing ziggurat. Even after significant erosion of the the last 4,000 years it is not difficult to image the splendor that entranced the people of Abram’s time. Mesopotamia is a flat land with no natural “high places” to ascend for the worship of the gods. The people of Mesopotamia made bricks to build their own “high places” which were called ziggurats, derived from an Akkadian word meaning to “build higher.” This ziggurat known by Abram was built to worship the god of the moon named Nanna-Sin in the 21st century B.C. The massive step pyramid was 210 ft. in length, 150 ft. in width and 100 ft. in height. The erosion makes it difficult to estimate the full hight. Projections suggest it was a hundred feet high. Saddam Hussein rebuilt portions of the ziggurat including the steps running up the face of the pyramid.

Famed British archaeologist Sir Leonard Wooley uncovered hundreds of tombs near the ziggurat some of which contained the remains of kings and queens with all their royal retinue. Wooley referred to the royal tombs as the Death Pits because the royal personages were surrounded by the skeletons of their entourage carefully arranged to accompany the royalty on their journey into the afterlife. Some tombs had over seventy skeletons strategically arranged around the king or queen, some of whom had declared themselves to be divine. The people of Ur practiced human sacrifice. “In the corridors and in the wells, funerary chariots are found with their teams of equids, their drivers and a whole group of servants and musicians that must have accompanied the king in death. Sometimes more than 80 bodies have been found, certainly sacrificed before the funeral.”

When God called Abram, Abram was a pagan—an uncircumcised gentile living in an opulent land a thousand miles from Canaan. Abram’s ancestors, and certainly Abram himself worshiped Nanna–Sin, the patron god of the city.  Ur was an upscale, wealthy urban center during Abram’s time. The musical instruments, pottery, jewelry and other treasures discovered attest to the wealth and elegance of the city….

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Dear Mr Steve Ray:

First, I would like to thank you SO much for your YouTube video about Peter, The keys, seat, etc., that led me to the catholicconvert.com site!!  I learned a TON of cool stuff just from your video, and by participating on the message boards, I am learning more, and gathering many online resources for readings that are extremely interesting to me as a guy who is 46, and who will be a Catholic but one year this coming Saturday vigil!

I LOVE your apologetics stuff.  I may be tooooo into apologetics for my own good, but since the rest of my side of the family are almost all Pentecostal, with a few Baptists mixed in, I want to be able to at least explain, or if necessary, defend my faith, just because mine is more correct! :)

I used to think that crucifixes were almost sacrilegious because Jesus isn’t on the cross anymore, that all Catholics were going to hell, and many other erroneous things.  I totally feel like someone took a spiritual blindfold off of me and I am finally seeing the TRUE light of God.  So awesome, and so very exciting.  I can’t seem to learn enough, fast enough to suit myself.

Anyway, my own conversion story is attached.  I wanted to just cover the main points.  If you think more information in it would be helpful to others who are still locked into the Pentecostal realm, I’d be happy to put in illustrations and explanations of how damaged I was because of those people, who, when I was in RCIA, told me if I was going to be Catholic to just stay away.  Thankfully we’re “cool” now.

I pray that you are blessed in all of your endeavors and that you and your family are well and stay that way until the Second Coming (not the 3rd and 4th ones I thought would happen).

Enjoy Sean Smiddy’s Story.

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Steve Ray discusses the Catholic Church’s history of martyrs who refused to deny Christ.

poly2Questions Covered:

  • 18:20 – How can you historically prove that the writings of the martyrs are theirs? Do most Protestants believe that these writings existed and were true? 
  • 21:55 – How can we defend the bad practices of popes in the early Church?     
  • 32:00 – My sister in law is a Born Again Christian and she always ask what the basis is for why the martyrs are saints, and she singled out Maria Goretti, the rape victim. How can I respond? 
  • The phones were not working so Steve discussed martyrs and told stories of the martyrs and martyrdom to make the issue really come alive.

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From Evangelicalism to Feminism to Catholicism: A conversation with Abigail Favale

July 19, 2019

Everyone loves conversion stories. Great to see delightful and intelligent folks like Abigail join us. Reaffirms our own convictions. An interview with Catholic World Report. Enjoy! ****************************************************** Intro: Dr. Abigail Rine Favale graduated from George Fox University with a philosophy degree in 2005, and then earned her doctorate at the University of St. Andrews in […]

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ProLife and to the Moon

July 18, 2019

Short, less than one minute prolife video from womb to the moon.

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Finalizing My Book on Genesis…Here are a Few Favorite Paragraphs about Creation

July 17, 2019

Here are a few paragraphs from my new book on Genesis which is nearly done. Genesis 2:7 is foundational and crucial to the whole story of the cosmos, Man and salvation. God takes dust or clay from the ground and like a potter he fashions a human being. The scientific formulas used by God still […]

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Jews as Proof of God’s Existence & Faithfulness

July 16, 2019

Winston Churchill wrote “Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.“ He is absolutely right! I have often said they are remarkable people –gifted in a […]

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Are you Choosing the Narrow Gate?

July 15, 2019

Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13–14) What kind of choices are […]

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LGBT Study Shows an “Erosion” of Support by Millenials

July 8, 2019

USA Today reports: The young are regarded as the most tolerant generation. That’s why results of this LGBTQ survey are ‘alarming’ Susan Miller, USA TODAY Published 9:00 a.m. ET June 24, 2019 | Updated 9:34 a.m. ET June 24, 2019 Young people are growing less tolerant of LGBTQ individuals, a jarring turn for a generation traditionally considered embracing […]

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Sympathy for Cradle Catholics Who Can’t Explain or Defend the Faith

July 5, 2019

I thought of a helpful illustration to explain why “cradle Catholics” are often unable to explain and defend the Catholic faith. The example has its weaknesses, but it does help get the point across. As an American I asked myself this question: if some one trained to attack America intellectually approached me on the street […]

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Gotta Daughter? You’ll Love This Song! My Story with my 2nd Daughter

July 2, 2019

I have to admit I laughed — but also had a great sense of DAD-NESS when I heard this song. How did I discover it? My lovely then-21-year-old daughter Charlotte came in with a smile and said, “Dad, want to hear a song that reminds me of you?” I did and we listened to it […]

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