About the site and author.

Ben C. Smith, amateur investigator into the era of Jesus and the apostles.


About the site.

Some of the projects that I present on this site will be simple collocations of data, while others will actually reflect my own judgments and opinions. As my goal is to go back to the original texts as often as I can, I trust that all of my projects will be of some use to the reader, even if my judgments and opinions are dead wrong. I myself treasure those books that grant me the most access to the original texts, regardless of whether or not I agree with the author on all points.

Sign up for my ezine, or newsletter, to receive site update information, as well as articles or links on the ancient texts. Take one of my ecourses for information on how to use the web to present texts written in ancient languages. Check out my ebooks for information that you can download to your own computer.

You may link to any page on this site.

My own links page is very general, usually linking to the index page of other sites rather than to pages nested deeply within the site. If you know of a good site on the Judeo-Christian tradition that I have missed, however, you can notify me using the feedback page.

Site conventions.

I generally adhere to the following conventions:

  • I use the reference format chapter.verse, with a period, instead of chapter:verse, with a colon, and do so across the board for any text that can be so subdivided. The reference of a work that spans volumes will have three elements, to wit, book.chapter.verse.
     
  • Anno domini, of course, is Latin for in the year of our Lord. It gives us the abbreviation AD. Throughout this web site I may refer to dates anno domini without any such reference. The year 30 will be presumed to mean AD 30, the year 70 will mean AD 70, and so on. Years BC will specifically be labelled as before Christ to distinguish them from years AD.
     
  • I use brackets [] and braces {} throughout the texts. Most of them derive from the source of the text transcription.
     
    Bracketed material is either the reconstruction of a fragmented manuscript or an adjacent passage that I have placed out of order for comparison and contrast. If the latter, the reference will be bracketed as well. The former needs no marker.
     
    Braced material is either the correction of an errant scribe or a distant passage that I have brought in for comparison and contrast. If the latter, the reference will be braced as well. If the former, the original text may or may not have contained the braced word or words. The fitness of the reading will tell. If the passage reads better with the braced material, then the scribe excluded it. If it reads better without it, then the scribe included it.
     
    Please note that some of the texts taken from the public domain may have brackets or braces that do not follow these conventions.
Technical notes.

This site is best viewed with Internet Explorer, JavaScript enabled. I designed the site with a monitor resolution of 800 by 600 pixels and a text size of medium, but other resolutions and text sizes have been tested, and ought to come out fine too.

I use WebLock Pro for source code and site protection on some pages.

Any of the usual Unicode fonts for polytonic Greek, such as...:

  • ...ALPHABETUM.
  • ...Code2000.
  • ...Palatino Linotype.
  • ...Athena.
  • ...Arial Unicode MS.

...will display all of the characters on this site except for some of the Coptic letters derived from Demotic (and those derived from Greek they will display in the Greek forms, not the Coptic, since Unicode does not distinguish the two languages). Only the TITUS Cyberbit Basic and Cardo fonts, so far as I know, will display them. TITUS Cyberbit Basic, as a matter of fact, will display all of the characters that I have used on this website. Cardo will display all but three of the archaic Greek letters. Both fonts are completely free.

My stylesheets for this site place Cardo in first place for ancient languages, then TITUS Cyberbit Basic, mainly because I think that Cardo is more legible. (For the character buttons on the TextDoctor I reverse this order because Cardo misses three of the archaic Greek letters.) Since, however, I myself write and format in unaccented Greek, Times New Roman will work for most of the pages. (I write and format in unpointed Hebrew, as well, but Times New Roman actually displays Hebrew vowel points splendidly.)

If you happen not to like the fonts that my stylesheets rank first, you are free to change your font viewing preferences using the PageCustomizer. Most of the pages on this site have a link to this tool in the links section toward the top.

You are encouraged to report any errors that you may find on this site, and to offer feedback.

The links on this site may be underlined or not, depending on whether or not you have already visited the linked page (and provided you are using a browser that supports cascading style sheets). Before you visit, the link will be underlined. After you visit, the link will show an underline only as you move your cursor over it. The color will remain unchanged.

For viewing or printing purposes, try browsing the texts and excavations in print mode.

About the author.

Information directly related to this site.

Neither this site nor its author is beholden to any religious denomination, creed or confession, order, or organization. Indeed, I tend to regard the better part of modern Christianity as only peripherally related to the ancient Jewish sect that sprouted from the soil upon which Jesus of Nazareth trod.

I find it essential to read the texts as if to actually learn from them. It is imperative, then, to reject all schools of thought that might serve to prejudice the reading before it even commences. Accordingly, I refuse to espouse inerrancy or infallibility as doctrinal stances. Whether these viewpoints are correct or incorrect is irrelevant. What matters is that they predetermine certain readings of the text, and thus prohibit, or at least inhibit, learning from the authors.

I strive to avoid, then, both apologetics and deconstruction on this site. I find myself leaning to the conservative side at times, and to the liberal side at times. It all depends on the evidence from the text. (Such is my goal, at any rate, though I no doubt achieve it imperfectly.)

I am strictly an amateur. I have studied Greek and Latin formally, and have taught myself just enough Hebrew to be dangerous. But do not mistake* what you find on this site for professional, peer-reviewed scholarship.

* I have remarked often enough to family and friends that, if I arrived at the judgment seat and God himself informed me that I had been wrong about 95% of what I held to be true, I would be just thrilled about the other 5%. (You mean I got 5% right? Booyah!) In context, this remark usually applies to philosophical or theological issues, but it bears keeping in mind for the information you find on this website, too.

Information unrelated or indirectly related to this site.

States I have visited:


I have visited 43 states (86%).

Create your own visited map of the United States or try another Douwe Osinga project.

My results on the World's Smallest Political Quiz:

Libertarian.

No surprise there.

Interesting notes or quotes.

Nota bene: I may agree or disagree with, or have no firm stance at all regarding, the quotations in this section. These are merely statements that I have found interesting for one reason or another.

Agent Fox Mulder, X-Files episode Redux (season 5 opener):

Let the truth be known though the heavens fall.

Rich Mullins, from the concert in Lufkin, Texas, on the last concert tour before his death:

Prooftexting is a very, very dangerous thing; I think if we were given the scriptures it was not so that we could prove that we were right about everything. If we were given the scriptures it was to humble us into realizing that God is right and the rest of us are just guessing. Which is what makes them so much fun to read, especially if you're not a fundamentalist. ....

If you really want spiritual nourishment you should read the scriptures. It'll confuse you to death practically, but you're gonna die anyway, so why not go out doing something good?

Rowland Crowcher, from John Mark Ministries:

Historically, the major creeds of the church have not included any notion of biblical inerrancy nor, in pre-Reformation creeds, any statement at all about Scripture. Throughout most of its history, the Christian church has looked upon the Bible as a source rather than as an object of belief.

....

Of course, in the final analysis, the practical question for Christians is not so much what we say about the Bible, but what we do with it. How committed are we to the serious study of the Bible? How regularly do we hear the Lord in a disciplined reading of and reflection upon God's Word? How obedient are we to the Bible's clear commands to live a godly, just and humble life? How willing are we to live _under_ the authority of God's Word (rather than, as critics, living solely _above_ the biblical text)?

Redemptoris Missio 10 (Pope John Paul II):

The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all. But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the gospel revelation or to enter the Church. The social and cultural conditions in which they live do not permit this, and frequently they have been brought up in other religious traditions. For such people salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his or her free cooperation.

For this reason the Council, after affirming the centrality of the Paschal Mystery, went on to declare that "this applies not only to Christians but to all people of good will in whose hearts grace is secretly at work. Since Christ died for everyone, and since the ultimate calling of each of us comes from God and is therefore a universal one, we are obliged to hold that the Holy Spirit offers everyone the possibility of sharing in this Paschal Mystery in a manner known to God."

Interview of Billy Graham by Robert Schuller, Hour of Power, May 31, 1997:

Schuller: Tell me, what is the future of Christianity?

Graham: Well, Christianity and being a true believer, you know, I think there's the body of Christ which comes from all the Christian groups around the world, or outside the Christian groups. I think everybody that loves Christ or knows Christ, whether they're conscious of it or not, they're members of the body of Christ. And I don't think that we're going to see a great sweeping revival that will turn the whole world to Christ at any time. I think James answered that — the apostle James in the first council in Jerusalem when he said that God's purpose for this age is to call out a people for His name. And that's what God is doing today; he's calling people out of the world for His name. Whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the nonbelieving world, they are members of the body of Christ because they've been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts they need something that they don't have and they turn to the only light they have and I think they're saved and they're going to be with us in heaven.

Schuller: What I hear you saying is that it's possible for Jesus Christ to come into a human heart and soul and life even if they've been born in darkness and have never had exposure to the Bible. Is that a correct interpretation of what you're saying?

Graham: Yes, it is, because I believe that. I've met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, have never heard of Jesus but they've believed in their hearts that there is a God and they tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived.

Schuller: This is fantastic. I'm so thrilled to hear you say that. There's a wideness in God's mercy.

Graham: There is. There definitely is.

Billy Graham according to McCall’s, I can't play God anymore, 1978:

I used to believe that pagans in far countries were lost if they did not have the gospel of Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that. I believe that there are other ways of recognizing God through nature for instance and plenty of other ways of saying ‘yes’ to God.

Carla Emery, The Encyclopedia of Country Living, page 238:

Now that system [of classifying greens] is too narrow and simple. There are so many leafy greens, so many odd ones; some are just slight variations on old themes, true, but others are wildly different. Back then I took my country roots and country-girl identity so seriously that I would have been insulted by the suggestion that I lean on Latin botanical classifications. I was inclined to hide the fact that I had had 8 years of college and an A in botany before I married Mike and we went back to our rural roots in the West. Then I liked hanging out with country old-timers who had another kind of literacy. I wanted so much to learn everything they knew that wasn't written down anywhere and get it recorded before they were all gone. I soaked up not only their verbal style but also some of their prejudices.

Now I'm not only older but, I hope, wiser, with more perspective on the sources and varieties of knowledge. Wise enough that I'm grateful for the labor of generations of humble, anonymous plant classifiers who have painstakingly sorted all these green leaves out into their respective families.

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, book 4, chapter 10 (Nice People or New Men), pages 110-111 of The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics:

There are people (a great many of them) who are slowly ceasing to be Christians but who still call themselves by that name: some of them are clergymen. There are other people who are slowly becoming Christians though they do not yet call themselves so. There are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ but who are so strongly attracted by Him that they are His in a much deeper sense than they themselves understand. There are people in other religions who are being led by God's secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it. For example, a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain other points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ's birth may have been in this position.

From Walt Whitman, Birds of Passage, With Antecedents 2:

I respect Assyria, China, Teutonia, and the Hebrews,
I adopt each theory, myth, god, and demi-god,
I see that the old accounts, bibles, genealogies, are true, without exception,
I assert that all past days were what they must have been,
And that they could no-how have been better than they were,
And that to-day is what it must be, and that America is,
And that to-day and America could no-how be better than they are.

Charles Spurgeon according to Harper's Magazine, Editor's Easy Chair, December 1858, page 134 (from Pyromaniacs):

In the course of his sermon Mr. Spurgeon presented the following picture of the Day of Judgment: "I think I see the judgment seat and the resurrection-day. A mother with her children are standing there. Three or four of her little babes are saved for endless glory. Their little bodies have put on immortality and life; and where are you who have been permitted to live longer? The stars fire falling from heaven, the sun is changed to darkness, and the moon into blood. But, lo! there is silence in heaven, and a voice is heard, 'Gather my elect from the four winds of heaven! Your mother is about to be taken into the company of the blessed forever. 'Mother!' shrieks the son, 'let me not be separated from you forever, Save me! Oh, save me! make intercession to the judge for me. He will hear thy cry, though he will not hear mine!' 'My son,' she will reply, 'I directed thy feet to God when thou wast young. On my breast you lay when my prayers went up to God for your soul. I taught you to lisp the name of Jesus, and your lips to utter his precious name. Do you not remember how, when you grew older, I taught you the way to heaven? But the time came when you scorned a father's prayers and mocked a mother's tears. But now your mother says, now, my son, it is changed. I can weep no more now, for I am glorified. I can pray no more for you now, for prayers are useless here. You are justly lost. You are damned, and I must say Amen to your condemnation.'"

Ann Coulter, This Is War:

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war.

Martin Luther, Table Talk (or Divine Discourses) CCCLIII (translation by Preserved Smith, 1907):

The anabaptists pretend that children, not as yet having reason, ought not to receive baptism. I answer: That reason in no way contributes to faith. Nay, in that children are destitute of reason, they are all the more fit and proper recipients of baptism. For reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but — more frequently than not — struggles against the Divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God. If God can communicate the Holy Ghost to grown persons, he can, a fortiori, communicate it to young children. Faith comes of the Word of God, when this is heard; little children hear that Word when they receive baptism, and therewith they receive also faith.

Martin Luther, Last Sermon in Wittenberg (second Sunday in Epiphany, January 17, 1546):

But since the Devil's bride, Reason, that pretty whore, comes in and thinks she's wise, and what she says, what she thinks, is from the Holy Spirit, who can help us, then? Not judges, not doctors, no king or emperor, because [Reason] is the Devil's greatest whore.

Isaac Watts, Divine Songs for Children, song 6 (Praise for the Gospel):

  1. Lord, I ascribe it to thy grace,
    And not to chance as others do,
    That I was born of Christian race,
    And not a Heathen, or a Jew.
  2. What would the ancient Jewish kings,
    And Jewish prophets once have given,
    Could they have heard these glorious things,
    Which Christ reveal'd, and brought from heav'n!
  3. How glad the Heathens would have been,
    That worship idols, wood, and stone,
    If they the book of God had seen,
    Or Jesus and his gospel known!
  4. Then if the Gospel I refuse,
    How shall I e'er lift up mine eyes?
    For all the Gentiles and the Jews
    Against me will in judgment rise.

From the closing arguments of attorney Eric Rothschild in the Intelligent Design trial in Dover, Pennsylvania:

Thankfully, there are scientists who do search for answers to the question of the origin of the immune system. It's the immune system. It's our defense against debilitating and fatal diseases. The scientists who wrote those books and articles toil in obscurity, without book royalties or speaking engagements. Their efforts help us combat and cure serious medical conditions. By contrast, Professor Behe and the entire intelligent design movement are doing nothing to advance scientific or medical knowledge and are telling future generations of scientists, don't bother.

From the decision in that same trial by judge John E. Jones, III:

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

Reportedly spoken by Mahatma (Mohandas) Gandhi:

I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.