Artifacts & Biblical History

Since we are on the Mount of Olives today I thought I would address a common concern.

One of our past pilgrims wrote to me expressing an apparent contradiction in the Bible about what I had said in Israel. The wording in the two verses below is what caused the confusion.

Acts 1:12  “[After the Ascension] they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.”

Luke 24:50–51  “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.”

So, did Jesus ascend into heaven from the Mount of Olives or from Bethany?

Church of Pater Noster

On pilgrimages, I take my groups to the top of the Mount of Olives to the Church of Pater Noster (the “Our Father”) where Jesus taught his disciples to pray in “the Grotto of the Teaching” — a cave beneath the front of the church. It is here that the oldest traditions inform us that Jesus was raised into heaven. Here Constantine built a church in the early 300’s. Here we celebrate Jesus’ departure and pray the Rosary’s 2nd Glorious Mystery of the Ascension.

Muslim Chapel of Ascension

There is a Muslim mosque five minute’s walk away (called the Chapel of the Ascension) that most Protestants visit but I don’t patronize Muslim sites and don’t accept this as the authentic place of the Ascension.

No one knows the exact square inches where his feet left the ground. But the Church of Pater Noster has the oldest tradition, is on the Mount of Olives and very near Bethany.

If we had had the time, and there was not the big wall separating Jerusalem from Bethany like it does Jerusalem from Bethlehem, in a few minutes we could walked into Bethany from the the top of the Mount of Olives. We used to walk people there to go into the tomb of Lazarus. That is how close Bethany is to the top of the Mount of Olives.

However, I can’t do that with groups anymore because there’s a big wall that keeps us from walking from the Mount of Olives into Bethany.

Bethany is on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives about 2 miles from Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. At the time of Jesus there was nothing on the Mount of Olives but olive trees (even until the late 1800’s, see picture black and white picture from about 1900). If you left from Jerusalem, heading to the Mount of Olives, it was perceived you were headed to Bethany.

 The picture shows that even until the turn of the 20th century there was nothing outside the old walls of Jerusalem. That meant there was just trees and open space between Jerusalem and Bethany. Bethany, though not seen on this map, was on the Eastern slope of the mount.

The other two maps show the proximity of Bethany, the the top of the Mount of Olives and the short distance from the walled city of Jerusalem. Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.  He obviously saw no contradiction in referring to both places as the general location of Christ’s ascension.

It is easily explained this way. First, some suggest that he went as far as Bethany to say good-bye to the family he loved – Lazarus, Mary and Martha, then came back to the top of the mount and departed to heaven. However, there is no need to stretch things that far. Being on the eastern slope of the mount, Bethany is virtually on the Mount of Olives, especially from the perspective of Jerusalem.

If someone asks me where I’m from, I always say “Detroit.” But those who have been to my house know I really live 40 miles east of Detroit in Ypsilanti. But since no one knows where Ypsilanti is – I say “Detroit.”

If there is nothing but trees and bare land on the Mount of Olives and you’re heading east from Jerusalem, people would say you are going to Bethany. Jesus left Jerusalem and went over toward Bethany to ascend into heaven.

So if the geography is understood there is no conflict. Scripture can be trusted.

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You would not have wanted to be with St. Paul today because February 10 is the Feast Day of the Shipwreck of St. Paul on Malta. I have been on ships in the Mediterranean many times and I make a practice each time of going out on the deck on a stormy night and imagining….

So I am reposting this blog from our recent trip to Malta where I found the place of St. Paul’s shipwreck.

One of my favorite things is to discover the events and places of the Bible and to share them with others. The Bible is true and the more we learn of it the more we are grounded in the Catholic Faith.

Today I went out in search of the place of St. Paul’s Shipwreck in Acts 27-28. It was great fun and I thought I would share this adventure with you.

Much to do on this Catholic Island and this is only one of my adventures on video from Malta.

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The_Ressurrection_of_ChristI am doing a show on Catholic Answers Live tonight (Wed., 1/16/19). The topic is OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS. Tune in at 6:00 PM Eastern at www.Catholic.com. You can listen to the podcast later too.

Adam and Eve have liturgical feast days, so do Isaiah, Jeremiah, King David and many others.

The Roman Martyrology (1600) lists saints recognized up to that point including many saints not in the Church’s general calendar. Some that it remembers are Habakkuk (Jan. 15); Isaiah (July 6); Daniel and Elias/Elijah (July 20 and 21); the seven Maccabees and their mother (Aug. 17); Abraham (Oct. 9); and King David (Dec. 29).

We in the West have not discussed it much, but the Eastern Churches remembers them every year.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,

“The patriarchs, prophets, and certain other Old Testament figures have been and always will be honored as saints in all the Church’s liturgical traditions” (CCC 61).

48340dc324c6ca26bea274dc480c6789Here is an interesting article in the newsletter of the Association of Hebrew Catholics.

It not only explains the “sainthood” of Old Testament heroes, but gives a list of the dates for various prophets, kings, and virtuous men and women before Christ.

For the article and the calendar, click here.

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In answer to the question on air about the redemption of Adam and Eve, I promised a bit of information. The Catechism 489 states, “Throughout the Old Covenant the mission of many holy women prepared for that of Mary. At the very beginning there was Eve; despite her disobedience, she receives the promise of a posterity that will be victorious over the evil one, as well as the promise that she will be the mother of all the living.

Another quote CCC 635 “Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began.… He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him—He who is both their God and the son of Eve.… “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son.… I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.”

Soshestvie-vo-ad(Picture to right: Jesus raises Adam and Eve from their graves. Notice they are wearing halos. Notice a similar picture at the top of the post.)

One Journal I own states it well, though I don’t agree with the article overall:

“In this first dispensation, there is a clear illustration that the only way of salvation is by the grace and personal provision of God. After the judgment section of Chapter 3, the literal translation states that the Lord God himself “made garments of skin for Adam and for his wife, and He caused to clothe them.” The Lord God initiated and was the causative agent (Hiphil stem—“cause to”) of the personal redemption of Adam and Eve by providing a method of restoring the personal relationship with Him. Some conclude that the personal faith of Adam was expressed by naming his wife, Eve (living or life-giver), and believing that (strong textual emphasis) “she, she will be (the) mother of all living.” This act would have verified that he believed in the future promise of God (3:15) and in the prospect of continued life after judgment (3:20). In a similar way, having acknowledged that the Lord was the source of her first born son, Eve confirmed her personal faith in the Lord and His previous promises of children (3:15–16; 4:1).

“Considering that this was a possible theophany of God, the full impact of the statement may be realized. This would be Christ himself who had performed this sovereign act of divine grace for Adam and Eve, another Old Testament verification that Christ was involved providentially in the affairs of mankind from the beginning!”

Conservative Theological Journal Volume 2 2, no. 7 (1998): 455–456.

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UNESCO Adds the Baptismal Site of Jesus to the World Heritage Sites

January 13, 2019

Happy Feast Day of the Baptism of Our Lord! Since we will be at the actual site of Jesus’ baptism in two weeks with a bus full of pilgrims, I thought I would share this post again. This is an exciting development which helps establish the authentic baptismal site of Jesus. With the involvement of UNESCO […]

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Debunking 4 Biblical Myths Accepted by Many as True

December 29, 2018

There are three “truths” I have been asked about many times. Often people tell me these as though they’re explaining to me something I’ve never heard before. However, in each case, there is no historical, biblical or actual basis to any three of them. In each case they started being taught in recent times and […]

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Pilgrimage with Steve Ray 100 Years Ago – Imagine with Real Photos

December 28, 2018

Step into a Time Machine and imagine what it would be like going back in time on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Steve and Janet Ray 100 years ago! I have used actual pictures from over a century ago to re-create what it may have been like. I hope you enjoy! And, I […]

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Was Jesus Born on December 25?

December 24, 2018

Yes, Christ Was Really Born on December 25: Here’s a Defense of the Traditional Date for Christmas   by Dr Taylor Marshall The following is adapted from Taylor Marshall’s new book: The Eternal City: Rome & and Origins of Catholic Christianity. This is a long article and quite convincing. I have only given Objection 3 to […]

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My New Book Now Available! “The Papacy: What the Pope Does & Why It Matters”

December 21, 2018

  My new book is available today. My friend Dennis Walters and I have been working on it for a while and we hope you enjoy it. You can see and order it here. You can buy it now as a Christmas bundle with free shipping and other of my new items.   Topics include: […]

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Did the Wise Men Meet the Shepherds?

December 18, 2018

With upon us, I thought I would post my article this Christmas season with bits of interesting information and details about Christmas, the Gospels and Epiphany. Join us in Bethlehem for Christmas this year from December 26-January 4 or any of six times in 2015. Visit www.SteveGoes.com. Did the Wise Men Meet the Shepherds?  A […]

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How Big was Noah’s Ark

December 5, 2018

It was a big boat at a time when big boats did not exist. It was a feat of genius ingenuity. You can read the instructions for building in Genesis 6:14-22. We are also told that the ark is a picture of the Church and salvation. In the ark Noah passed through the waters which […]

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Flint Knives at the Heart of the Gospel

November 14, 2018

Ah, excuse me? What do flint knives have to do with the Gospel? A whole lot! Abraham believed God against all odds and as a reward he was given the special sign of the Covenant with God. And what was that wonderful sign between them? In Genesis 17:10-11 God announces this sign to Abraham: “This […]

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What Does the Word Catholic Mean? A History of the Word “Catholic”

October 29, 2018

As a Protestant, I went to an Evangelical church that changed an important and historical word in the  Apostles Creed. Instead of the “holy, catholic Church,” we were the “holy, Christian church.” At the time, I thought nothing of it. There was certainly no evil intent, just a loathing of the Catholic Church and a […]

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The Sign of the Cross: It’s History, Meaning and Biblical Basis

October 28, 2018

SIGN OF THE CROSS By Steve Ray The Sign of the Cross is a ritual gesture by which we confess two important mysteries: the Trinity and the centrality of the Cross. It is the most common and visible means by which we confess our faith. The Sign of the Cross is made by touching the […]

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St. Paul and the Cretans

October 25, 2018

Today we are touring the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. St. Paul was here at least twice that we know of. He did not have a very flattering impression of the Cretans. This is what he wrote to Titus.

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St. Paul Walks Passed the Brothal

October 23, 2018

Every time I visit Ephesus I show my tour group my favorite things in this ancient city. We are here today with 80 pilgrims. We filmed here for our Paul and Mary DVDs and have brought groups here on numerous occasions. One of my favorite things to show people in Ephesus is the Billboard for […]

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Free Timeline of the 1st Century

October 22, 2018

The past is shrouded in a fog for most people. What was really going on in the 1st century during and after the live of Christ and the birth of the Catholic Church? Here is a simple Timeline of First Century Christianity. I created this to give you an overview on one page. I created the […]

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