It’s time: A bit of religious history reveals itself!

About to get my ‘geek on’ for a second, you will have to excuse me.

I admit it, I am a fan of religious history…

The drama, the good, the bad, the STORIES – Amazing!

Find it all very fascinating really, not just the history itself, which is interesting enough, but man’s relationship and ideas on said history that draws me in.

Enchants me.

How can it not?

VATICAN CITY (The Blaze/AP)The Vatican will be displaying 100 select documents from its Secret Archives at an unprecedented exhibit next year, including previously unpublished papers on its World War II-era pope.

The exhibit is the first of its kind and will likely shed light on some important questions surrounding the Church’s involvement and opinions surrounding World War II, the Armenian genocide and other important events and occurrences. According to the Archives’ web site:

The activity of the Archivio Segreto Vaticano pursues two main goals. One is to protect its documentary heritage and ensure its preservation, while the other is to provide scholars with research tools to enhance access to this treasure trove of Church activity conserved in documents spanning thousands of years.

The Vatican No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, unveiled plans for “Lux in Arcana: The Vatican Secret Archives Revealed” at a briefing Tuesday.

The exhibit, which runs from February to September at Rome’s Capitoline Museums, marks the first time such precious documents, manuscripts and parchments have been allowed out of the Vatican vaults for view by the general public. The occasion is the Archive’s 400th anniversary. [Read More]

The REAL Vatican Archives. Television footage behind the (closed) doors of one of the most mysterious places on earth. The Vatican Secret Archives. Television footage recorded at the occasion of the publication of the first illustrated book on the Vatican Secret Archives ever.

As much as so many like to fight any views or ideas about religion, it has left a lasting mark on both us and our history which will never be able to be erased.

Not even by the harsh sands of time.

(07-08) 03:44 PDT TEL EL-SAFI, Israel (AP)

At the remains of an ancient metropolis in southern Israel, archaeologists are piecing together the history of a people remembered chiefly as the bad guys of the Hebrew Bible.

The city of Gath, where the annual digging season began this week, is helping scholars paint a more nuanced portrait of the Philistines, who appear in the biblical story as the perennial enemies of the Israelites.

Close to three millennia ago, Gath was on the frontier between the Philistines, who occupied the Mediterranean coastal plain, and the Israelites, who controlled the inland hills. The city’s most famous resident, according to the Book of Samuel, was Goliath — the giant warrior improbably felled by the young shepherd David and his slingshot.

The Philistines “are the ultimate other, almost, in the biblical story,” said Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University, the archaeologist in charge of the excavation.

The latest summer excavation season began this past week, with 100 diggers from Canada, South Korea, the United States and elsewhere, adding to the wealth of relics found at the site since Maier’s project began in 1996.

In a square hole, several Philistine jugs nearly 3,000 years old were emerging from the soil. One painted shard just unearthed had a rust-red frame and a black spiral: a decoration common in ancient Greek art and a hint to the Philistines’ origins in the Aegean.

The Philistines arrived by sea from the area of modern-day Greece around 1200 B.C. They went on to rule major ports at Ashkelon and Ashdod, now cities in Israel, and at Gaza, now part of the Palestinian territory known as the Gaza Strip.

At Gath, they settled on a site that had been inhabited since prehistoric times. Digs like this one have shown that though they adopted aspects of local culture, they did not forget their roots. Even five centuries after their arrival, for example, they were still worshipping gods with Greek names.

Archaeologists have found that the Philistine diet leaned heavily on grass pea lentils, an Aegean staple. Ancient bones discarded at the site show that they also ate pigs and dogs, unlike the neighboring Israelites, who deemed those animals unclean — restrictions that still exist in Jewish dietary law.

Diggers at Gath have also uncovered traces of a destruction of the city in the 9th century B.C., including a ditch and embankment built around the city by a besieging army — still visible as a dark line running across the surrounding hills.

The razing of Gath at that time appears to have been the work of the Aramean king Hazael in 830 B.C., an incident mentioned in the Book of Kings.

Gath’s importance is that the “wonderful assemblage of material culture” uncovered there sheds light on how the Philistines lived in the 10th and 9th centuries B.C., said Seymour Gitin, director of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem and an expert on the Philistines.

That would include the era of the kingdom ruled from Jerusalem by David and Solomon, if such a kingdom existed as described in the Bible. Other Philistine sites have provided archaeologists with information about earlier and later times but not much from that key period.

“Gath fills a very important gap in our understanding of Philistine history,” Gitin said.

In 604 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded and put the Philistines’ cities to the sword. There is no remnant of them after that.

Crusaders arriving from Europe in 1099 built a fortress on the remains of Gath, and later the site became home to an Arab village, Tel el-Safi, which emptied during the war surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948. Today Gath is in a national park.

An Israeli town founded in 1955 several miles to the south, Kiryat Gat, was named after Gath based on a misidentification of a different ruin as the Philistine city.

The memory of the Philistines — or a somewhat one-sided version — was preserved in the Hebrew Bible.

The hero Samson, who married a Philistine woman, skirmished with them repeatedly before being betrayed and taken, blinded and bound, to their temple at Gaza. There, the story goes, he broke free and shattered two support pillars, bringing the temple down and killing everyone inside, including himself.

One intriguing find at Gath is the remains of a large structure, possibly a temple, with two pillars. Maeir has suggested that this might have been a known design element in Philistine temple architecture when it was written into the Samson story.

Diggers at Gath have also found shards preserving names similar to Goliath — an Indo-European name, not a Semitic one of the kind that would have been used by the local Canaanites or Israelites. These finds show the Philistines indeed used such names and suggest that this detail, too, might be drawn from an accurate picture of their society.

The findings at the site support the idea that the Goliath story faithfully reflects something of the geopolitical reality of the period, Maeir said — the often violent interaction of the powerful Philistines of Gath with the kings of Jerusalem in the frontier zone between them.

“It doesn’t mean that we’re one day going to find a skull with a hole in its head from the stone that David slung at him, but it nevertheless tells that this reflects a cultural milieu that was actually there at the time,” Maeir said. [Read More]

Nor should it be.

7 comments on “It’s time: A bit of religious history reveals itself!

  1. Absolutely brilliant post. Love it.
    I am history fan and any new detail about ancient history is a source of a great pleasure to me. Old Greece was a factor in the Mediterranean and Old Egypt. I am not surprised they play role as a Philistine.
    A lot of informations to think about. Thanks.

    • My favorite part of the post was that the catholic church is releasing some of their secret documents. I have SUCH a love/hate relationship with the Church. I was raised a Catholic, but as I grew older my belief in ANY organized religion began to wane as the true depth of the power of corruption in such an organization began to come to light through my education. Here is one group that for centuries DECIDED the life and death of men based solely on how it would effect THEIR power to rule. Like so many religions, on a philosophical level I get their original purpose, what they are ‘about’ however due to the corrupt ideals of man, they lost sight of their purpose, their reason of being. I have always been fascinated with the history of the Catholic Church. Fascinated. Bit of history here, not sure if you have ever read it, but did you know, NOWHERE in the bible does it actually state that if you die and go to hell (also not actually described anywhere in the Bible) your punishment is for all eternity? That was actually something the Catholic Church came up with, because if people actually thought they could repent and be freed one day from their punishment in hell, it would lessen the Churches power…hence the eternity in damnation was born and anyone who did NOT believe, was punished to death as a heretic.

      Everyone today, one who believes in a heaven or hell just takes it for granted that if they do bad things, go to hell, it will be for all eternity and they have no idea why.

      That, my dear friend, is the power of the Church…

      And why I can look at them as one half revolted at all the horrible things they have done over the years, and one half fascinated at the power they wield, even today…A power so many do not even realize still directly affects their life.

      So yeah, stuff like this? So very cool!

      • Thanks for your reply. I love when you go in the deep explanation mood and you give me more information about the subject.
        I grew up with the mantra that religion was an opium for the masses so I was offered very different view of the religion. I love stories and the history.
        it is obvious that Churches are political organisations more interested in this world’s powers. The sins of the souls are used for the manipulation and control. Only some enlightened people feel and know what is the truth and what is a pure soul. I love your views, they are based on love for the humanity.

      • I think for a large part, for those who do not care to get educated regarding all religions, not just their own secular views, it can very well be that way. But in seeing it this narrow way, they lack the broader scope, and seeing it for what it really is…Historically encompassing of man since his fruition. Over time, especially present time, the Church has lost a LOT of the pull it has relished in over the course of time, but underneath, almost in an insidious manner the power still lingers there, waiting to one day be awakened…And no matter how loud some today scream to the contrary? One day it will be. As for my views? I try to view religion on a broader plain one that takes into account the WHOLE idea and not just the parts I am comfortable with. Sometimes it works…*shrugs* Sometimes not so much, but I figure…

        Its an ever evolving process. And I how choose to learn, actively seeking knowledge instead of assuming I have all I need already. ;)

      • I see religion as one of the answers to the question who are we and why we are here. There are/was times in our life that only believe in the higher being can/could soothe us. It makes sense , there is somebody all knowing who will take care of us and our destiny. We are not alone. I think I understand the need for the religion, it is social need for us. Of course religion and the concept of God are different of the Church wo is lead by men. There lies the problem. These men think of themselves as a messengers of God’s will and the interpreters of the God’s intentions. With that I can’t agree. But I like to know everything about them and the religion. I read the Bible and I observed the Orthodox Church. I was blessed to see many sides and not to belong to any.
        You chose the way of enlightenment and i bow to you for that choice. “hugs’

      • As religion is something devised by MAN, I see it as more of a guide, a tool, but not the answer. The true answer I think is so far beyond our present capacity (much like many realms of physics) to understand, nevertheless I look…


        With the hope that one day, through seeking, I will be gifted with even the slightest glimmer and what TRULY is.

        Because what IS…

        Is ALL. ;)

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