Artifacts & Biblical History

Did the Bible Always have Chapters & Verses?

by Steve Ray on August 23, 2019

IMG_8656No! The chapter and verse divisions in the Bible are relatively recent additions to the Bible. Originally it was written in Hebrew and Greek and there were NO chapter and verse divisions–in fact, most of the time there was not even spaces between the words!

Interestingly, in the book of Hebrews the writer is quoting the Old Testament and because it did not have chapters and verses and he was working out of a cumbersome rolled scroll, the writer said “Somewhere it says . . .”  (Heb 2:6, 4:4).

Here is a paragraph from my book St. John’s Gospel:

“The different divisions of the material within the NT books are not ancient. The chapter divisions are usually attributed to Cardinal Hugo de San Caro, who in A.D. 1248 used them in preparing a Bible index, but he may have borrowed them from the earlier [Catholic] archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton.

The modern verses derive from Robert Estienne (Stephanus), who, according to his son Henry, made the divisions while on a journey on horseback from Paris to Lyons. They were first published in Stephanus’ Greek Testament of 1551 and first appeared in an English translation of the NT in William Whittingham’s version of 1557. The first complete Bible in English with our verses was the Geneva Bible of 1560” (Achtemeier, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, 699).

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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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The birth and presentation of Mary is described in the early 2nd century document known and loved by the first Christians. It is the source for the names of Mary’s parents Joachim and Anna. It is entitled “The Protoevangelium of James.”  It is fascinating.

I have only provided the first 1/3 of the document. The second part is about Joseph and Mary’s betrothal. The third about the birth of Jesus.

The Protoevangelium of James 
The Birth of Mary the Holy Mother of God,
and Very Glorious Mother of Jesus Christ

In Honor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 8.

IN THE RECORDS OF THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL was Joachim, a man rich exceedingly; and he brought his offerings double, saying: There shall be of my superabundance to all the people, and there shall be the offering for my forgiveness to the Lord for a propitiation for me. For the great day of the Lord was at hand, and the sons of Israel were bringing their offerings. And there stood over against him Rubim, saying: It is not meet for thee first to bring thine offerings, because thou hast not made seed in Israel. And Joachim was exceedingly grieved, and went away to the registers of the twelve tribes of the people, saying: I shall see the registers of the twelve tribes of Israel, as to whether I alone have not made seed in Israel. And he searched, and found that all the righteous had raised up seed in Israel. And he called to mind the patriach Abraham, that in the last day God gave him a son Isaac. And Joachim was exceedingly grieved, and did not come into the presence of his wife; but he retired to the desert, and there pitched his tent, and fasted forty days and forty nights, saying in himself: I will not go down either for food or for drink until the Lord my God shall look upon me, and prayer shall be my food and drink.

2. And his wife Anna mourned in two mournings, and lamented in two lamentations, saying: I shall bewail my widowhood; I shall bewail my childlessness. And the great day of the Lord was at hand; and Judith her maid-servant said: How long dost thou humiliate thy soul? Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand, and it is unlawful for thee to mourn. But take this head-band, which the woman that made it gave to me; for it is not proper that I should wear it, because I am a maid-servant, and it has a royal appearance. And Anna said: Depart from me; for I have not done such things, and the Lord has brought me very low. I fear that some wicked person has given it to thee, and thou hast come to make me a sharer in thy sin. And Judith said: Why should I curse thee, seeing that the Lord hath shut thy womb, so as not to give thee fruit in Israel? And Anna was grieved exceedingly, and put off her garments of mourning, and cleaned her head, and put on her wedding garments, and about the ninth hour went down to the garden to walk. And she saw a laurel, and sat under it, and prayed to the Lord, saying: O God of our fathers, bless me and hear my prayer, as Thou didst bless the womb of Sarah, and didst give her a son Isaac.

3. And gazing towards the heaven, she saw a sparrow’s nest in the laurel, and made a lamentation in herself, saying: Alas! who begot me? and what womb produced me? because I have become a curse in the presence of the sons of Israel, and I have been reproached, and they have driven me in derision out of the temple of the Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like the fowls of the heaven, because even the fowls of the heaven are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like the beasts of the earth, because even the beasts of the earth are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like these waters, because even these waters are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like this earth, because even the earth bringeth forth its fruits in season, and blesseth Thee, O Lord.

4. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by, saying: Anna, Anna, the Lord hath heard thy prayer, and thou shalt conceive, and shall bring forth; and thy seed shall be spoken of in all the world. And Anna said: As the Lord my God liveth, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister to Him in holy things all the days of its life. And, behold, two angels came, saying to her: Behold, Joachim thy husband is coming with his flocks. For an angel of the Lord went down to him, saying: Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God hath heard thy prayer Go down hence; for, behold, thy wife Anna shall conceive. And Joachim went down and called his shepherds, saying: Bring me hither ten she-lambs without spot or blemish, and they shall be for the Lord my God; and bring me twelve tender calves, and they shall be for the priests and the elders; and a hundred goats for all the people. And, behold, Joachim came with his flocks; and Anna stood by the gate, and saw Joachim coming, and she ran anti hung upon his neck, saying: Now I know that the Lord God hath blessed me exceedingly; for, behold the widow no longer a widow, and I the childless shall conceive. And Joachim rested the first day in his house.

images5. And on the following day he brought his offerings, saying in himself: If the Lord God has been rendered gracious to me, the plate on the priest’s forehead will make it manifest to me. And Joachim brought his offerings, and observed attentively the priest’s plate when he went up to the altar of the Lord, and he saw no sin in himself. And Joachim said: Now I know that the Lord has been gracious unto me, and has remitted all my sins. And he went down from the temple of the Lord justified, and departed to his own house. And her months were fulfilled, and in the ninth month Anna brought forth. And she said to the midwife: What have I brought forth? and she said: A girl. And said Anna: My soul has been magnified this day. And she laid her down. And the days having been fulfilled, Anna was purified, and gave the breast to the child, and called her name Mary.

7. And her months were added to the child. And the child was two years old, and Joachim said: Let us take her up to the temple of the Lord, that we may pay the vow that we have vowed, lest perchance the Lord send to us, and our offering be not received. And Anna said: Let us wait for the third year, in order that the child may not seek for father or mother. And Joachim said: So let us wait. And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. And they did so until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed her, and blessed her, saying: The Lord has magnified thy name in all generations. In thee, on the last of the days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel. And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her.

Ann-Joachim-Mary-233x3008. And her parents went down marveling, and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel. And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of the priests, saying: Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, test perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord? And they said to the high priest: Thou standest by the altar of the Lord; go in, and pray concerning her; and whatever the Lord shall manifest unto thee, that also will we do. And the high priest went in, taking the robe with the twelve bells into the holy of holies; and he prayed concerning her. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him, saying unto him: Zacharias, Zacharias, go out and assemble the widowers of the people, and let them bring each his rod; and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be. And the heralds went out through all the circuit of Judaea, and the trumpet of the Lord sounded, and all ran.

Click here for the rest of the document

 

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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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Bloody Martyrdoms in Lyons – Feast Day of St. Irenaeus

June 28, 2019

In honor of the feast day of St. Irenaeus today I have reposted a blog from several years ago when we were filming our documentary on Apostolic Fathers, Handing on the Faith. Here is the story… “We finished getting all our work done in Lyon for St. Irenaeus. It was very cold and windy — with snow hampering […]

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Last Days of Sts. Peter and Paul in Rome

June 28, 2019

Happy Feast Day of Sts. Peter and Paul…. Join us in Rome, Assisi, Manoppello, and Lanciano the first week of December this year, in preparation for Christmas! (Click here for more info!) When I take my pilgrims to Rome one of my main objectives is to introduce them to the saints – especially Peter and […]

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How Much Can a Camel Drink? – as he bites me!

June 13, 2019

Since we will soon be in Jordan and Israel again riding camels, I thought I would post some fun and interesting facts – and a movie of the camel trying to bite me. I recently wrote the Bible Study on Genesis for www.CatholicScriptureStudy.com. In chapter 24 Abraham sends his unnamed servant to find a bride […]

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When Is the Word “Love” First Used in the Bible?

June 8, 2019

When is the first time the word love is used in the Bible? It is great fun to ask a million questions when you open the Bible. Good questions serve to unlock the treasure chest revealing untold riches. Since the Bible is a book and books are made of words, it is great fun to […]

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Did Jesus Ascend into Heaven from Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12) or from Bethany (Luke 24:50)?

May 30, 2019

Today is Ascension Thursday. The Ascension always falls on a Thursday, 40 days after Resurrection Sunday. Then 9 days of praying in the Upper Room (1st Novena) and on the 50th day from the Resurrection the Holy Spirit fell on Pentecost. Pentecost means “the fiftieth day.” One of our past pilgrims wrote to me expressing […]

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How We REALLY Got the Bible – the Facts Simply Presented (print this out, hand it out)

May 16, 2019

This is just one page of Bob Sullivan’s excellent little tri-fold handout to explain how we got the Bible. It is from the Catholic and historical perspective without all the Protestant biases and twisting of history. I think you enjoy the whole thing which you can see here. You can print this out, fold it […]

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The Technology of Scripture Study: The Middle Ages (and a hilarious video at the end)

April 30, 2019

“I am an ecclesiastical historian by training and a Bible software guy by trade. Which, I think, puts me in the unique position to write about the history of the intersection of technology and Scripture study in a series of posts.” Written by my friend Andrew Jones PhD: “We might start with a description of […]

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Lovely Jewish Music from Biblical Times

April 27, 2019

I LOVE the sound of the shofar (ram’s horn) used in Jewish life and worship. This is a beautiful Jewish prayer and the shofar is in the first 1.5 minutes of the video. The “shofar” trumpet or ram’s horn is mentioned over 130 times in the Bible. Moving Jewish prayer worth listening too – putting […]

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How the Ancient Hebrews Viewed the Universe

April 25, 2019

This is part of Verbum Catholic Bible Software. I encourage every Catholic to get this Catholic and Bible Study software. Visit http://www.verbum.com/steveray. Use Promo Code STEVERAY10 for a 10% discount.

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Entering the Empty Tomb; A Contrast – Now and Back Then

April 19, 2019

It looks different today, but the place is the same. It is darker now, covered with a dome that blocks the sun. There is no grass, no hillside, no trees waving their leaves nearby. Instead there are the hushed voices of hundreds of people, the Muslim call to prayer echoing in the distance and the […]

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Passover Lamb: A True Story

April 12, 2019

Contributed by my son Jesse Ray a while ago but worthy of reposting… I arrived on the scene with my gun and stoically loaded in some self-defense rounds (although I was clearly not in danger). I did not lavish the idea of slaughtering a lamb, but my friend and new-farmer, Pat, called and sheepishly asked for […]

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Real Stations of the Cross discussed on Relevant Radio

April 2, 2019

Steve Ray joined John Harper on Morning Air (Relevant Radio) to discuss the origin and the meaning of the Stations. Also insightful comments on each individual Station. Join the 20-minute discussion with the link provided. Steve’s discussion starts at the 26:00 minute mark.

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