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Jesus in the News

27 December 2021

It's Christmas and Jesus themed stories usually accrue at this time of year. Very often involving the identification of the star that guided the 3 wise men. This year it is a bit different. It is the implications of an archaeological discovery – see www.express.co.uk/news/science/1540162 … and it involves British archaeologist Ken Dark. He is better known  for his books on the environment and the landscape of Roman Britain. He must be getting a bit long in the tooth but his new book has picked up on some recent research at Nazareth in the Holy Land. He has in fact written a new book, or is one of the contributors to 'The Sisters of Nazareth Convent: a Roman period, Byzantine and Crusader site in central Nazareth'. Ken Dark's specialism is the Roman era, so that explains his interest. The book describes how the site was first investigated by the sisters of the convent. They claimed it was the house of Jesus – or, at least where Jesus was born. The idea was dismissed by archaeologists in the 1930s. Ken Dark has revived the idea, as further research has been carried out, down to a 1st century AD building, partially cut out of bedrock. It may have been a dwelling place. It may not. A Byzantine period church was built on the site above it, which Ken Dark suggests was the long lost Church of Nutrition, built to commemorate the place where  Jesus was raised as a child. This is mentioned in a 7th century AD manuscript of Adomnan, who visited the Holy Land. The church was burnt down around 1200AD and was not used for religious purposes again until the Sisters of Nazareth had their convent built there – around seven centuries later. The Byzantine church appears to be the one seen by Adomnan and possibly dates back to the 5th century AD.

In direct contrast to the spirit of Christmas the next story at https://phys.org/news/2021-12-disturbing-viking-ritual.html … we are told the cruel Viking torture ritual, the blood eagle, could well have been anatomically possible. It is sometimes thought to be mythic in concept as it is found in epic poems and sagas that have been passed down. It involves separating a victim's ribs from their spine to symbolise an eagles spreading wings. The lungs are than pulled out through the opening while the victim is still alive, and breathing.

At https://phys.org/news/2021-12-frankincense-myrrh-revered-ancient-theyre…. … we are back to a Christmas theme. Frankincense and myrrh, were brought to the manger of Jesus, along with gold, as nativity plays still repeat. Frankincense and Myrrh were used extensively in pre-Roman period temples throughout the Greco Roman era, and likewise, no doubt, in Persia as well. That is of course why it was a gift from the  wise men, or magi. The Greco Roman world consumed vast quantities of the stuff. It all came to an end with the rise of Christianity – which turns the claim at this story upside down. The story is not about the past – but about the pending extinction of the trees that provided frankincense and myrrh. Rather than blaming it on the modern environment, and climate change, they should have picked up a history book. No doubt Islam had no need of the stuff either. Hence, its slow demise over the last two thousand years.

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