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August 27, 2013

The Gospel of Matthew records that, shortly after Jesus was born, Herod the Great had all the baby boys in Bethlehem killed.

It was the Slaughter of the Innocents.

Some have been skeptical of this event and questioned whether it really happened.

For those who have studied history, though, it is very much in keeping with the character of King Herod.

Here's the story . . . 

Herod the Paranoid Tyrant...

August 13, 2013

Some year ago, I encountered a reference to the First Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) having addressed the canon of Scripture.

For a long time, I was unable to find any confirmation of this.

The surviving materials we have from Nicaea, which include the first part of the Nicene Creed, do not deal with which books belong in the Bible.

I ended up concluding that the idea the council addressed this subject was likely a myth, but recently I ran across an indication that it may...

July 16, 2013

In the book of Acts, St. Luke records the travels of the apostle Paul. At one point we read:

After this he left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, lately come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome [Acts 18:1-2].

This indicates that St. Paul arrived at Corinth shortly after the Emperor Claudius (pictured) expelled the Jews from Rome.

Would a...

July 2, 2013

That would be James the son of Zebedee.

He was one of Jesus’ core disciples. He—together with Peter and his own brother John—were the three privileged to witness the Transfiguration, for example (Mark 9:2), and this was not the only time Jesus singled out the these core disciples (cf. Mark 5:37, 13:3, 14:32-33).

When the names of the Twelve apostles are given, they’re always given in three blocks of four names (Matt. 10:1-4, Mark 3:13-19, Luke 6:12-16, Acts 1:13). This James,...

January 29, 2013

Today's Gospel contains an incident that many people in Jesus' day would have found rather puzzling.

Jesus' mother and his "brethren" (male relatives who, we know from other sources, were not biological children of Mary) show up to see him.

They can't easily do so because Jesus is inside a crowded house, and so they are forced to stand outside and send him a message. 

And a crowd was sitting about him; and they said to him, “Your mother and...