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May 18, 2009

Moon: Light for the Blind


From William Moon's book Light for the Blind, London: Longmans & Co., 1877.

"God gave me blindness as a talent to be used for His glory. Without blindness I should never have been able to see the needs of the blind."
- William Moon

William Moon lost his sight to illness in 1839, when he was 21. In 1845, he developed an embossed alphabet for his blind students. Omniglot says Moon was "soon swamped with requests for parts of Bible. " Moon type still has some readers today.

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May 15, 2009

Virtual Catacombs

Abb.3.jpg Scans of chambers in the Catacombs of Domitilla have been color-coded to show specific tombs. Photo by N. Zimmermann / OEAW.

The Catacombs of Domitilla, Rome's largest, extend over 9 miles. The network of tombs still contains bones, as well as frescoes that range from pagan to 4th-century Christian. Tourists have been able to see about a mile of the catacombs, but not quite like this: An team led by Norbert Zimmermann has been making a virtual 3-D model of the tomb over the last three years. "When the process is finished," reports the BBC, "it looks like an actual film of the particular room in question."

Paintings on walls, which have not been seen in nearly 2,000 years, are now visible - their colors vivid and clear.

"It is not a virtual image, it is not animation - what you are seeing is real data," says Mr Zimmerman.

I ask him why he did not just video the whole thing.

"Well, you could have filmed each room. But that would not have given you the ability to 'travel' through the catacomb in a way that the scanned images allow," he says.

"Its moving, 3D flexibility, gives you the chance to compare areas, to assess the ways the Catacombs were developed over time, to analyze how and why those who built them did what they did," he adds. "That's never been possible before."

The team plans to finish documenting the sections with paintings in 2009.

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May 13, 2009

Jesus Boat, Unearthed

boat-with-foam2.jpg 1st Century Galilee Boat, photos courtesy of Yigal-Alon Museum.

During an especially bad drought in 1986, the sea of Galilee receded from the property of Kibbutz Ginosar and exposed a boat. Yuval and Moshele Lofan, fishermen, discovered it and called in the archaeologists. The boat began to disintegrate as soon as it was exposed, so a team worked for 11 days to extract it from the mud without destroying it.

Most estimates say the boat is from about BC 50 to AD 50. It probably is quite similar to the type of boat Jesus and his disciples would have used during his ministry in Galilee.

The boat's discover seemed to be a spiritual sign to many. The Yigal-Alon Museum website says that at the time the boat was discovered, "A brilliant double rainbow crowned the skies over the Galilee. Extremely rare, many thought these rainbows and other simultaneous unexplainable events were signs from God."

In fact, one of the brothers who discovered it soon became a Christian.

Imago Fidei featured another photo of the boat during Lent. More after the jump.

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May 11, 2009

Infographic: The History of Martyrdom


The number of Christians killed for their faith has been growing since the beginning of Christianity, in AD 33. ©2001 World Christian Trends, William Carey Library, David Barrett & Todd Johnson

The exact numbers are listed after the jump.

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April 28, 2009

Currier & Ives: God's Words

10commandmentsCI.jpg By Currier & Ives, "Publishers of Cheap and Popular Pictures," c1876.

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April 14, 2009

Breakfast on the Beach

boat%20discovery.jpg Archaeologists unearth a first-century fishing boat on the edge of the Sea of Galilee. Photo courtesy of Yigal-Alon Museum.

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. "I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"
"No," they answered.

He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught."

Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

- John 21:1-14

March 26, 2009

He Resolutely Set Out


Photo of the Seventh Station, Gate of Justice in Jerusalem taken by the American Colony between 1898 and 1914. From the Library of Congress.

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
- Luke 9:51

When Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem, he set his face to die.

Remember, when you think of Jesus' resolution to die, that he had a nature like ours. He shrunk back from pain like we do. He would have enjoyed marriage and children and grandchildren and a long life and esteem in the community. He had a mother and brothers and sisters. He had special places in the mountains. To turn his back on all this and set his face towards vicious whipping and beating and spitting and mocking and crucifixion was not easy. It was hard. O how we need to use our imagination to put ourselves back into his place and feel what he felt. I don't know of any other way for us to begin to know how much he loved us. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

If we were to look at Jesus' death merely as a result of a betrayer's deceit and the Sanhedrin's envy and Pilate's spinelessness and the soldiers' nails and spear, it might seem very involuntary. And the benefit of salvation that comes to us who believe from this death might be viewed as God's way of making a virtue out of a necessity. But once you read Luke 9:51 all such thoughts vanish. Jesus was not accidentally entangled in a web of injustice. The saving benefits of his death for sinners were not an afterthought. God planned it all out of infinite love to sinners like us and appointed a time.

- John Piper, from "He Set His Face to Go to Jerusalem"


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