Ten Commandments tablet up for auction

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Tomorrow, you can bid to own the earliest known stone tablet carved with the Ten Commandments. The two-foot-square, 115 pound marble stone was discovered in 1913 near Yavneh, Israel. The inscription is dated circa 300-830 CE and the tablet is in one piece, so unfortunately it's probably not the original Ten Commandments delivered by God on Mount Sinai and promptly smashed by Charleston Heston. Opening bid is $220,000. From Heritage Auctions:

The details of the Yavneh Stone's discovery are related in an article by Y. Kaplan and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi in the 1947 Journal of the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society. According to Mr. Kaplan's account, this extraordinary artifact was rediscovered in 1913, during the excavation of a railroad line along the southern coastal plain of Palestine. The discovery was made near Yavneh, an historic city called Jabneel in the Hebrew Bible. The workmen who found it did not recognize its importance and either sold or gave it to a local Arab man of some means, who set the stone into the threshold of a room leading to his inner courtyard, with the inscription facing up. Due to foot traffic, several words on the center left side of the tablet were blurred over time.

In 1943, thirty years after his father acquired it, the man's son sold the stone to Mr. Kaplan, who immediately recognized its importance as an extremely rare "Samaritan Decalogue," one of five such extant stone inscriptions dating to before the Muslim invasion of the seventh century CE...

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) granted export approval for this piece in perpetuity to the Living Torah Museum in a letter dated 20 March, 2005.

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Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus – An exploration of prostitution as found in the Christian bible

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See sample pages of this book at Wink.

Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus is a strange, effectively touching, and surprisingly rigorous exploration of prostitution as found in the Christian bible. After doing extensive research on the subject, Chester Brown offers his graphical reimagining of the prostitute stories from the bible. Besides the tales of Rahab, Tamar, Ruth, and Mary of Bethany, we also get scenes from the lives of Bathsheba, Mary, Mother of Jesus, Cain and Abel, and others. Some of these stories seem out of place with the rest of the collection (e.g. Cain and Able and Job), with no apparent link to prostitution. But with them, Brown is sharpening one of his main points about following the spirit versus the letter of the law of religious obedience, a theme which runs throughout the book.

The meticulously rendered stories, eleven in all, have a strange, disarming innocence about them. There are moments of truly felt compassion and generosity encoded in some of these panels. But the comics are really only half of the book. The second half, over a hundred pages, contains all of the notes from Brown’s research. I found it an absolutely fascinating look, not only into the academic research and religious texts that he cites, but into his own thinking, and his confirmation biases. The whole book feels more like a captured thought process, a research notebook, than a typical narrative or expositional work. That’s part of what makes this book so unique and interesting to me, but it may turn off others for the same reason. Read the rest

Texas man finds fossils from Noah's flood in his backyard

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Wayne Propst says that the snail fossils he unearthed in his backyard landed there during Noah's Flood. According to 60abc, Joe Taylor, director of the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum in Crosbyton, Texas, "analyzed" the fossils and says that Propst is correct. Taylor is an expert in such matters, arguing on the museum web site that the "fossil record speaks of catastrophic events happening several thousand years ago rather than slow processes taking place over millions or billions of years as is held by the popular establishment."

James Sagiebiel of the University of Texas's Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory says Propst's fossils are 35-40 million years old. But what does he know.

"From Noah’s flood to my front yard, how much better can it get?” Propst said. Read the rest

Kentucky's Noah's Ark religious attraction to open next summer

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Christian ministry Answers In Genesis report that their massive Noah's Ark attraction will open next July in Williamstown, Kentucky. This is the same organization behind the infamous Creation Museum where cavemen frolic with dinosaurs. The 510-foot-long, $90 million wooden Ark will be the centerpiece of a Christian theme park. The state of Kentucky had originally given Answers In Genesis an $18 million tax break on the project but changed their mind "over concerns of 'religious indoctrination,'" according to the Associated Press. Answers In Genesis has filed a federal lawsuit to try to get the tax incentive reinstated.

I just hope the ark has room for the dragons and unicorns.

(Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!) Read the rest

The “Amen!” Game: 1970s Christian board game, scanned online for you to play

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Bible trivia version of Bingo from 1973.

Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly is annoyed that this Satanist is intelligent

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Megyn Kelly was prepared to argue with a moron when she invited the Satanic Temple’s Lucien Greaves on her Fox News program, The Kelly File. It soon dawned on her that Greaves was articulate and intelligent, yet she was unable to deviate from her script and as a result, she ended up looking foolish and had to resort to scolding him that she was lawyer, so her opinion had to be correct.

Greaves was the guy who proposed to erect a statue of Baphomet on the Oklahoma state capitol to “complement and contrast the 10 Commandments [monument on the capitol], reaffirming that we live in a nation that respects plurality, a nation that refuses to allow a single viewpoint to co-opt the power and authority of government institutions.” On Tuesday the Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered the removal of a Ten Commandments monument, and as a result Greaves decided not to erect the Baphomet statue.

Kelly attempted to get Greaves to acknowledge the validity of Attorney General Pruitt’s argument that the Ten Commandments have “historical meaning,” but he parried, saying that he would do so only if she acknowledged that Baphomet had a similar significance. “The image [of Baphomet] goes back to the 19th Century,” he said, “so it’s at least as old as Mormonism.”

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God is Disappointed in You

I’m not religious, and I have not read the Old Testament or the New Testament (I did read R. Crumb’s graphic novel of the Book of Genesis and enjoyed it). I’ve tried to read the King James version a few times, but I got bored and stopped very early on. Recently, Top Shelf sent me a copy of God is Disappointed in You, a new version of the Bible written in contemporary, casual language. It’s bound in textured fake leather like a regular bible, with gold edged pages and a ribbon bookmark. It has illustrations by New Yorker and Too Much Coffee Man cartoonist Shannon Wheeler, which piqued my interest. As soon as I started reading it, I was hooked. The author, Mark Russell, was able to make the stories come alive by telling them as if they happened today, using language that a smart, funny, middle-school student might use to recount the story of an epic playground fight.

I don’t know if people who take the Bible seriously will be offended by this book, but I suspect many of them will not. It is not a sarcastic put down of the Bible, but a fresh interpretation. I compared some of the stories in God is Disappointed in You with the stories in other traditional Bibles and Russell is not exaggerating or misrepresenting the content of the earlier versions. I asked my friend, a pastor and author who is a serious Bible scholar, what he thought of God is Disappointed in You, and said it was fantastic. Read the rest

Costco apologizes for Bibles labeled "fiction"

A pastor noticed that The Bible was labeled as "fiction" in a Los Angeles area Costco last week. He Tweeted the above photo of the book spurring Costco to publicly apologize. (KTLA) Read the rest

Christian dubstep

"Dubstep isn’t going to stop expanding into fresh sub-genres any time soon," writes Vice's Matt Shea. " ... [which] also made it inevitable that, at some point, someone was going to add wub-wubs to The Bible." Read the rest

76 things banned in the Bible, most of which are punishable by death

Milan - detail from facade of Duomo - Expulsion from Paradise. Image: Shutterstock.

An oldie but goodie single-purpose Tumblr listing things banned in Leviticus, the banny-est of all scriptures. The sex stuff you can imagine (no bonking animals, dudes if you are a dude, divorcées, your grandmother, or your own children), but here are some particularly weird non-sex items in the list:

• Eating any animal which walks on all four and has paws (good news for cats) (11:27) • Picking up grapes that have fallen in your vineyard (19:10) • Mixing fabrics in clothing (19:19) • Cross-breeding animals (19:19) • Eating fruit from a tree within four years of planting it (19:23) • Trimming your beard (19:27) • Getting tattoos (19:28) • Not standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32) • Mistreating foreigners – “the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born” (19:33-34) • Using dishonest weights and scales (19:35-36) • Blasphemy (punishable by stoning to death) (24:14) • Selling land permanently (25:23)
(HT: James Ball) Read the rest