Abraham is known as the father of the Israelite nation and the father of all believers. God told Abraham to leave his homeland in Ur and go to the promised land of Canaan. There, God entered a covenant with him (Genesis 12:1–3; 15:12–21). The Jewish people regard themselves as Abraham's descendants and as a special people chosen by God (Isaiah 51:1–2). From a spiritual standpoint, God promised Abraham, “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3).
Adam, the first human ever created by God, was made in God's own image (Genesis 1:26). After naming all of the animals, Adam fell into a deep sleep. God took his rib and created Eve (Genesis 2:19–22). They were commanded to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). Because of their later disobedience, eating fruit from the Tree of Life, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23).
The heretical theory that Jesus was in nature a man who became God by adoption.
A literary narrative in which persons, places, and events are given symbolic meanings.
A former Jewish high priest who was present at Jesus’ trial (John 18:13). Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the high priest at that time.
The early church historian Eusebius used this term for the disputed writings that were neither universally accepted (homologoumena) in the biblical canon nor universally rejected as authoritative.
Of or pertaining to a religious world view that anticipates the imminent end of the world.
A branch of prophetic writing that flourished in Judaism from about 200 B.C. to A.D. 140.
A body of Jewish religious writings published under the names of apostolic writers that dated from about 200 B.C. to A.D. 100. These books were not included in the official Hebrew Bible canon. The term apocrypha is from the Greek ta apokrypha, meaning “the hidden things.” These texts were deliberate fabrications and never had any serious claim to be in the Bible canon.
The West Semitic language of the Arame-ans (ancient Syrians) that was spoken in parts of Mesopotamia from about 1000 B.C. After the Babylonian captivity (538 B.C.), it became the common language of the Israelites and was the language Jesus spoke on a daily basis.
Athanasius (A.D. 296–373) was the Bishop of Alexandria from A.D. 328–373. He is considered the greatest theologian of his time.
Octavian, known as Augustus Caesar, was the first emperor of Rome (31 B.C.-A.D. 14). His leadership brought peace, the Pax Romana, to the Roman world, which had endured centuries of civil war. According to Luke 2, Octavian's decree ordering a census of “the whole world” was the reason Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem when Jesus was born.
The Greek word baptidzo means “to immerse.” This ceremony was first associated with John the Baptist, who baptized the Jewish people and Jesus (Mark 1:4; 11:30; Luke 7:29). On the Day of Pentecost, Christian baptism was commanded for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
This name means “son of the star” and refers to the leader of the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome (A.D. 132–135).
Through this legal process, the Roman Catholic Church determines whether a deceased servant of God is worthy of special recognition in a particular church, diocese, or region. A beatified person is called “blessed.”
This small town located about five miles south of Jerusalem was the birthplace of both King David (1 Samuel 17:12) and Jesus (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:5–6; Luke 2; John 7:42).
The English word Bible is derived from the Greek biblion, which means “roll” or “book.” A biblion was a roll of papyrus or byblus, a reedlike plant. It was widely used as a writing material in the ancient world. The sixty-six books of the Bible are divided into the Old and New Testaments.
The title of “bishop” describes the function of a presbyter or elder in the church. In Acts 20:17–28 and Titus 1:5–7, these terms are used interchangeably. The qualifications for becoming a bishop or elder are found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
Hugo Black (1886–1971) was the Supreme Court Justice credited for rewriting the First Amendment in the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education case. In his youth, Black was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He was anti-Catholic and feared religious influence in public life.
A hereditary name used by the Roman emperors to commemorate Gaius Julius Caesar, the great-uncle and adopted son of Octavian (Caesar Augustus), Rome's first emperor (Luke 2:1; 3:1; Mark 12:14; Acts 11:28; 25:11).
Joseph Caiaphas was the High Priest of Jerusalem during the reign of the emperor Tiberius Caesar and condemned Jesus in an illegal trial (Matthew 26:3; 57–66; John 9:49; 18:13–28; Acts 4:6).
The place outside Jerusalem's walls where Jesus was crucified (Luke 23:33). Calvary derives from the Latin word calveria, a translation that means “skull” (Matthew 27:33; John 19:17). Its location is best attested to being inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Generally, a standard by which religious beliefs, sculpture, architecture, or documents are judged acceptable. The word, from the Greek kanon, specifically refers to the books of the Bible, which are considered sacred and authoritative by the apostles and prophets of God and recognized by Christians.
A legal process in the Roman Catholic Church in which a deceased servant of God, who has already been beatified, is declared a saint. Such persons are entered into the canon or catalog of saints invoked at the celebration of Mass.
A town located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus stayed there during his Galilean ministry (Matthew 9:1, 9–11; Mark 1:21–29; 2:3–11; Luke 7; John 4:46–54).
A senior official in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.
A prospective cardinal is nominated by the pope and, since 1962, is raised to the office of bishop if it's not already held. Cardinals are required to reside in Rome unless they are diocesan bishops. They wear a special cassock and red skull cap and have the title of “Eminence.”
A transliteration of the Greek katho-likos, which means “throughout the whole” or “general.” This term has been used in a variety of ways during the history of the church.
An officer in the Roman army who was in charge of a century, a division of eighty soldiers.
Chalcedon, Council of (A.D. 451)
The fourth council of the church was summoned by the Eastern Emperor Marcion. This council safeguarded both the divine and human natures of Christ existing in one person (prosopon) and one substance (hypostasis).
Christ is a title, from the Greek word Christos, which, in turn, is a translation of the Aramaic meshiha and the Hebrew mashiah or messiah, which means “the anointed One.” It is not a proper name and is definitely not Jesus’ surname.
This name refers to Jesus’ followers. In Acts 11:26, Luke tells us that the name originated in Antioch. Here, believers in Jesus were first called (divinely called) Christians. Acts 26:28 records King Agrippa using the word Christian. The only other passage in the Bible where the word Christian is used is 1 Peter 4:16.
In the New Testament, the word church translates from the Greek word ekkle-sia, which designates a public assembly of people (Acts 19:32, 39, 41). The Church is not the building where Christians gather to worship, but Christians themselves.
Church and state
The phrase refers to an ancient differentiation between two institutions that both structure and define the lives of human beings. Despite what many believe, America's founding fathers didn't segregate religion from the national life.
Cicero (106–43 B.C.) was one of Rome's most famous citizens. He was an exceptional orator, politician, lawyer, and philosopher. Marc Antony ordered his execution. His head and hands were cut off and nailed to the speaker's podium in the Senate.
As the fourth Roman emperor (A.D. 41–54), Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome (Acts 11:28; 18:2).
A manuscript book of an ancient biblical text. Christians pioneered this process to replace the scrolls on which the Scriptures were originally written.
Cornelius was a Roman centurion associated with the Jewish synagogue in Caesarea. He became the first gentile convert to Christianity in A.D. 40 (Acts 10–11).
A council is a conference called by the leaders of the church to give guidance to the church. A council may be either ecumenical and thus represent the entire church, or it may be local, having regional or local representation.
In the method of execution known as crucifixion, the victim was nailed to a cross. Nails were driven into both wrists of the victim and one large nail was driven through both feet (the right foot on top of the left). It is one of the most painful, cruel, and barbaric forms of execution. Jesus was nailed to a T-shaped cross, called a St. Anthony's cross (crux commissa).
Roman soldiers smashed the crucified victims’ leg bones from their knees to their ankles with a small hammer to hasten death. This procedure was called crucifragium. Once the leg bones were broken, the victim could no longer push up to inhale and died of asphyxiation.
Darby, John Nelson (1800–1882)
The most influential British leader of the separatist Plymouth Brethren movement, Darby believed in a new idea called the secret rapture. By this, he meant that Jesus would come back to earth secretly and rapture (snatch) Christians from the earth and leave the non-Christians behind.
The youngest son of Jesse, David was a shepherd who became the second king of Israel (1000 B.C.). He created an Israelite empire (1 Samuel 16; 2 Kings 2) and was succeeded by his son Solomon.
Dead Sea Scrolls
These scrolls are a collection of ancient documents preserved in caves near Qumran on the northeast shore of the Dead Sea. The first scrolls were found by a young Bedouin boy who was herding his goats.
In Christianity, death is separation. Physical death is the separation of the soul or spirit from the physical body. Spiritual death is when the soul, the image of God, is separated from God (the soul is dead). Eternal death is the eternal separation of an individual from God and everything else in a place called hell.
This belief, associated with the Gnostic community, held that Jesus was pure spirit and only appeared to be physically human. It comes from the Greek verb meaning “to seem.”
The Ebionites were ascetics who chose poverty as a way of life. They were heretical in their teachings about Jesus because they denied his divinity. They rejected the Pauline letters, and saw Christianity only as obedience to a moral code.
A town near Jerusalem. The resurrected Jesus appeared to two disciples who were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the Sunday after the crucifixion (Luke 24:13–32).
Ephesus, Council of
The Council of Ephesus met to discuss whether the Virgin Mary should be called Theotokos (“mother of God”).
According to Josephus, the Essenes were one of the three major sects of Judaism in the first century A.D. They are usually associated with the Qumran area and with the Dead Sea Scrolls, but there is no evidence that they were ever at Qumran.
The name of the first woman, created by God from one of Adam's ribs, who “would become the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20). Eve was created because it was “not good for the man to be alone,” so God made “a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). This means that Eve was equal to Adam and that they were complementary to each other.
Organic evolution teaches that life comes from sterile nonlife and increases complexity and at some point in time generates successive replication—all by itself. This is called spontaneous generation, and also called abiogenesis.
The analysis and interpretation of a written text to discover the author's intended meaning.
The Church Fathers were the first Christian writers of acknowledged eminence from the second century through the sixth century A.D.
The Flood described in Genesis is a genuine historical event of catastrophic proportion that involved the “fountains of the deep” erupting and the canopy of water that surrounded the earth collapsing (Genesis 7:11). During the Flood, the mountains of the earth were submerged (Genesis 7:19–20). The Flood was a punishment for mankind's unrepentant wickedness (Genesis 6:5).
Galilee, Sea of
The major body of fresh water in northern Israel and the source of livelihood for many Galilean fishermen (Luke 23:5–7).
Gallio was a proconsul of Asia (the Roman province of Greece) who dismissed the charges brought against Paul by the Corinthian Jews (Acts 18:12–17).
A non-Jewish person, a member of the nations that are not in a covenant relationship with God (Yahweh). Jewish writers commonly refer to gentiles as “the uncircumcised” because they didn't bear this ritual mark of the covenant people.
The Greek word for “knowledge.”
This extremely diverse and heretical group was totally devoted to the destruction of Christianity. The followers believed that salvation is gained through a special knowledge (gnosis).
These false and heretical books were attributed to the apostles. They were recognized by the early church as false because they were written hundreds of years after the apostles died.
A collection of sacred writings written in Hebrew with some Aramaic. The Hebrew Bible was divided into three parts: the Torah or Law; the Prophets; and the Other Writings.
A theological statement that is contrary to the sacred writings of the Old and New Testaments.
Herod the Great
Herod the Great, also known as Herod I, was the Idumean Roman-appointed king of Judea (40–4 B.C.). He was the ruler when Jesus was born (Matthew 2:1).
The granddaughter of Herod the Great and the daughter of Aristobulus. She was the half-sister of Herod Agrippa I. John the Baptist condemned her for deserting her first husband and marrying Herod Antipas, who had divorced his wife to marry Herodias. Through her conniving, John the Baptist was beheaded (Matthew 14:1–12; Mark 6:17–29; Luke 2:19–20).
The Hittite Empire dominated Mesopotamia, Syria, and Israel from 1600–1200 B.C. The Hittites invented iron to make weaponry. They invaded Egypt and controlled the Egyptian people until about 1552 B.C., when Ahmose drove them out of Egypt.
Holy Spirit, The
The third person in the Holy Trinity or Godhead, which includes God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All three are the one God, but they are distinct persons.
This refers to the writings of the New Testament, which are universally recognized in the church as canonical.
The incarnation refers to the conception of God the Son (the pre-incarnate Christ) in a young virgin girl named Mary. Jesus didn't cease to be God when he took on a human nature.
A supernatural guidance exerted on chosen individuals (prophets and apostles) by God to ensure that they made no mistakes in what they said or wrote. The message, whether spoken or written, was free of error and included all that God deemed necessary for salvation and service.
Interpretation of the Bible
The biblical documents were written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic at various times between 1450 B.C. to A.D. 96. A proper interpretation of these documents requires an understanding of their different historical and cultural settings to determine the writer's intended meaning.
Irenaeus (A.D. 130–200) was a Greek father of the early church. He was the bishop of Lyons in Gaul.
The eldest of Jesus’ half-brothers named in the Gospels (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3), James did not believe that Jesus was God the Son (Matthew 12:46–50; Mark 3:31–35; Luke 8:19–21; John 7:3–5). He became a Christian after Jesus appeared to him after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7). A leader in the Jerusalem Church, James wrote the New Testament book bearing his name (Acts 15:13–34; 21:18–26).
Jamnia, Academy of
An assembly of rabbis and Pharisees who met in A.D. 90 to define Judaism after it had been devastated by the Romans in the destruction of Jerusalem.
Jerome (A.D. 347–419) was a biblical scholar and translator who aspired to introduce the best Greek learning to Western Christianity. Working from the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, he produced the Latin Vulgate. It took him twenty-three years.
The name given to God the Son when he was born to the virgin girl named Mary. The name is the English form of a Latin name which is derived from the Greek Iesous. This comes from the Hebrew name Yahoshua, or Joshua, which means “Yahweh saves.”
The name given to a descendant of the man Abraham and a member of the tribe or kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 16:6; 25:25).
John the Apostle
A Galilean fisherman, John was the son of Zebedee. Both he and his brother James were called by Jesus to be among his twelve apostles (Matthew 4:21–22; Mark 1:19–20).
John the Baptist
John (the Baptist) was the son of the priest Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5–24, 56–80). John preached a message of repentance to Israel (Matthew 3:7–12) and baptized (immersed) Jews in water (Matthew 3:6). He was the herald or forerunner of the Messiah. John pointed at Jesus and proclaimed him to be the long-awaited Messiah (John 1:29).
The husband of Mary and a legal father of Jesus, Joseph was a descendent of the Bethlehemite David (Matthew 1:20). However, he lived in Nazareth (Luke 2:4), where he was a carpenter (Matthew 13:55).
An important Jewish historian (A.D. 37–100), Josephus wrote two major works, Antiquities of the Jews and The Jewish War. The latter covered the revolt and destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 66–70. These texts provide valuable background material for first-century Judaism and the early Christian first century.
The religion and culture of the Jewish people. Jewish civilization includes historical, social, and political dimensions in addition to the religious. The word Judaism derives from the Greek Iou-daismos, a term first used in the intertestamental period by Greek-speaking Jews to distinguish their religion from Hellenism. In the New Testament, the word appears twice (Galatians 1:13–14) in reference to Paul's prior consuming devotion to Jewish faith and life.
The Latin name of the chief Roman deity and counterpart of the Greek Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. Some men of Lycaonia mistook Paul's friend Barnabas for Jupiter.
The common Greek language in which the New Testament was written and was the everyday language of the Hellenistic world.
A kustodian was a Roman military unit of sixteen soldiers and the deadliest fighting force in the ancient world. Their job was solely to guard, protect, and/or bring back to the Roman Emperor whatever belonged to the Emperor. Jesus’ body was guarded by a Roman kustodian.
Lamb of God
Twice in the New Testament, Jesus is called the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 35). Jesus is the sacrificial lamb who bears the world's sins and removes it by taking it on himself. He bears on himself alone the iniquity of all mankind and is led as a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53).
The Law refers to the Torah (“teaching; instruction”) or Pentateuch, the first five books of the legal material written by Moses. Namely, this is Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Left Behind Series, The
A collection of novels written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. These novels deal with the events following a secret rapture. The authors base their works on a relatively new (nineteenth century) theory of how Jesus will return at the second coming. The novels have sold over 75 million copies since first being published in 1995.
A medical doctor by profession and traveling missionary with Paul (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11). Many believe that Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts.
A common abbreviation for the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible made in Alexandria, Egypt in 286 B.C.
The theory that, through random processes over time, a kind of life (a species) changes into another totally different kind of life (species). For example, the single-celled creature became a multi-cellular marine organism, with fish evolving into amphibians, then into reptiles, and then into birds and mammals.
This town on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee is the home of Mary Magdalene (“of Magdala”; Matthew 15:39).
Mark was a Jew from Jerusalem who accompanied his cousin Barnabas and Paul on an early missionary journey (Acts 12:12–25; 13:5, 13; 15:37).
A witness for Jesus who dies for his or her faith. The first Christian martyr, Stephen, was stoned to death while Saul of Tarsus held the cloaks of those throwing the stones (Acts 22:20; Revelation 2:13; 17:6).
Justin Martyr (A.D. 100–165) was a defender of the faith who attacked false doctrine. He wrote the Apology and the Dialogue.
The young virgin girl who gave birth to Jesus. She was betrothed to and later married Joseph the carpenter. Her name is from the Latin and Greek Maria, from the Hebrew Miryam (Miriam). The angel Gabriel told her that she had been chosen by God to be the earthly mother of God the Son (Matthew 1:18–25; Luke 1:26–56; 2:1–18, 21). Her sister Salome was the wife of Zebedee and mother of the apostles James and John (John 18:25; Matthew 27:56). She was also related to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:36).
This stronghold was built by Herod the Great on a fortified plateau 800 feet above the Dead Sea. Masada was captured by Zealots during the revolt against Rome (A.D. 66). When the attacking Romans finally entered Masada (A.D. 73), they found only seven women and children alive. The others, 953 people, died in a homicide/suicide pact.
Medieval Jewish scholars who copied, annotated, and added vowels to the written text of the Hebrew Bible.
Masoretic Text (MT)
The standard text of the Hebrew Bible as given final form by the Masoretes in the seventh through ninth centuries A.D.
The territory between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers at the head of the Persian Gulf (modern Iraq). It was the cradle of civilization of the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, and Neo-Babylonian civilizations (Genesis 24:10; Judges 3;8–10; 1 Chronicles 19:6; Acts 2:9; 7:2).
This Hebrew term means “anointed one.” Jesus was the Messiah or “Christ” as expressed in Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:13–20; Mark 8:27–30; Luke 9:18–22).
The theory of change within preexisting kinds of life, which deals with heredity and variation. For example, there are changes with dogs, there are changes with cats, etc. There is no crossing over from one species to another—i.e., a dog will not produce a cat, a fish will not evolve into a reptile, a reptile will not become a bird, an apelike creature will not evolve into a human being.
The longest continuous mountain system on the earth. It is located on the ocean floors and stretches around the world for a distance of 40,000 miles. It is a place where plate divergence and volcanic and earthquake activity occur.
A collection of Pharisaic oral interpretations (Halakah) of the Torah compiled and edited about A.D. 200.
James Monroe (A.D. 1758–1831) was president of the United States from 1817 to 1825. He is known for the Monroe Doctrine, which became a major tenet of U.S. foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere.
The great Hebrew lawgiver and reformer, Moses was the son of Amram, a Levite, and Jochebed, and brother to Aaron and Miriam (Exodus 2:1–4). Adopted by Pharaoh's daughter and raised at the Egyptian royal court (Exodus 2:5–10; Acts 7:2), Moses delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 14–15).
Nag Hammadi Library
The Nag Hammadi Library was discovered in 1945 in Egypt. The library is a collection of ancient codices, many of which are primary Gnostic Scriptures that were written hundreds of years after the New Testament was written. The Gnostics were heretical in their teachings and forged documents by signing the names of persons from the first-century world to their documents.
A town in Lower Galilee above the Plain of Esdrelon (Megiddo) where Jesus spent his youth and began his ministry (Matthew 2:23; Luke 1:26; 4:16; John 1:46).
Nebuchadnezzar was the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire from 605–562 B.C. He conquered Jerusalem and rebuilt Babylon.
Nicaea, Council of
The first ecumenical council in the history of the church was convened by the Emperor Constantine in A.D. 325. The council met to heal the church, which had been ravaged by false teaching.
A leading Pharisee and member of the Jewish Supreme Court, the Sanhedrin. He visited Jesus at night and was taught about the “new birth” (John 3:1–21). He also defended Jesus against other Pharisees (John 7:45–52) and helped Joseph of Arimathea to bury Jesus’ dead body (John 19:38–42).
The pantibulum was the cross-beam that was fastened to a larger vertical wooden beam to form the Roman T-shaped cross.
The pope is the head of the Roman Catholic Church and considered the successor of Peter and the vicar of Christ. He is first of all the bishop of Rome. The word pope is derived from the word pappa. In the eleventh century A.D., Pope Gregory VII made official the title of pope.
Literally a “park” or walled garden, the name referred to the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8–17).
This word is commonly used to refer to Jesus’ suffering and death.
An annual Jewish observance commemorating Israel's last night of bondage in Egypt. On this night, the Angel of Death passed over Israelite homes marked with the blood of a sacrificial lamb to destroy the firstborn of every Egyptian household (Exodus 12:1–5). Beginning the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Passover is a ritual meal eaten on the date of Nisan 14 (sometime in March or April) and includes roasted lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs (Exodus 12:15–20; 13:3–10; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:5; 28:16; Deuteronomy 16:1).
The most influential apostle and missionary and the author of most of the New Testament. First known as Saul of Tarsus, he was a Pharisee and scholar who was also a citizen of Rome. He first persecuted the early church and held the cloaks of those who stoned the first Christian martyr, Stephen. He became a Christian after being blinded by a bright light while on the road to Damascus where he saw the risen Jesus. He was a missionary to the gentiles and may have been martyred in Rome by the Emperor Nero in A.D. 68.
The first five books of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah. The word comes from a Greek word meaning “five scrolls.”
A one-day celebration held fifty days after Passover at the juncture of May and June. It is also called the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10), the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16), and the Day of the First Fruits (Numbers 28:26). On the day of Pentecost, God the Holy Spirit was poured on the apostles assembled in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1–41) signaling the beginning of the Church.
This Hebrew word refers to an analysis or interpretation of Scripture and is applied to the commentaries (per-sherim) discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The most prominent of Jesus’ twelve apostles, Peter is also known as Simon, Simeon (Acts 15:14; 2 Peter 1:1), and Cephas (John 1:40–42). He was the son of Jonas or John (Matthew 16:17; John 1:42; 21:15–17), the brother of Andrew, and a native of Bethsaida, a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee (John 1:44). Though he denied knowing Jesus during Jesus’ arrest, Peter was a leader of the early Church.
A leading religious group in Judaism during the last two centuries B.C. and the first two centuries A.D. They were the “people's representatives” and were very strict in their observances of the Law. They believed in the physical resurrection and believed in angels. The apostle Paul was a Pharisee (Acts 23:6; 26:5; Philippians 3:5).
The most influential philosopher of Hellenistic Judaism, Philo was a Greek-educated Jew living in Alexandria, Egypt (20 B.C.-A.D. 50).
Pilate was the Roman prefect (also called a procurator) of Judea from A.D. 26–36. He presided at two of Jesus’ trials for sedition against Rome and sentenced him to death by crucifixion (Matthew 27:1–26; Mark 15:1–15; Luke 3:1; 13:1; 23:1–25; John 18:28–19:22; Acts 3:13; 13:28; 1 Timothy 6:13).
A prophet is a spokesman and law enforcer for God (Deuteronomy 18:9–22; Amos 3:7–8). The word prophet comes from the Greek prophetes, from pro (“before” or “for”) and phemi (“to speak”).
This term refers to the second major division of the Hebrew Bible. The Prophets are usually divided into the four major prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel—and the twelve minor prophets—Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi—according to the length of their writings.
Literally, this term refers to books falsely ascribed to important biblical people. It is a collection of religious books outside the Hebrew Bible canon composed from about 200 B.C. to A.D. 200.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered close to the ruins of this community near the northwest corner of the Dead Sea.
A Jewish title meaning “teacher.” Jesus was frequently addressed by this title (Matthew 23:8; 26:25, 49; Mark 8:5; 10:51; 11:21; 14:45; John 1:38, 49; 3:2; 4:31; 6:25; 9:2; 11:8; 20:16). John the Baptist was also called a rabbi (John 3:26).
Objects preserved as memorials of the earthly lives of saints, Mary, and Jesus, including their bodies and items that came into contact with them.
Boxes, caskets, or shrines that house the relics of the saints.
The return from physical death to life (Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2–3, 13). Jesus physically was resurrected from the dead. Because of his resurrection, Christians will rise physically from the dead (1 Thessalonians 4; 1 Corinthians 15).
The divine disclosure to all persons at all times and places by which one comes to know that God exists and what he is like. General revelation mediates the conviction that God exists and that he is self-sufficient, transcendent, immanent, eternal, powerful, wise, good, and righteous. Christians believe that everyone has an internal innate knowledge that God exists. General revelation also includes the external natural world and providential history.
The recorded knowledge given by God through his prophets and apostles concerning the specific events of redemption. Specific people, places, and events are provided to mankind, which includes God becoming a man in Jesus of Nazareth. The redemption provided by Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and appearances is written down for all generations in the Bible.
This Jewish group of the first century B.C. and first century A.D. was composed largely of wealthy and political influential landowners. They denied the physical resurrection, angels, and a judgment in the afterlife.
There are two biblical women named Salome. One was the daughter of Herodias and Herod (son of Herod the Great). She danced before her uncle, Herod Antipas, and at her mother's urging, she asked him for the head of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:3–11; Mark 6:17–28). The second was the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Samson was a judge (military leader) of Israel for twenty years (Judges 13–16; Hebrew 11:32). From the tribe of Dan and known for his great strength, he broke his Nazirite vow. He fought the Philistines and died when he destroyed the Philistine temple of the false god Dagon.
The Supreme Jewish judicial council from about the third century B.C. until the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
A roll of papyrus, leather, or parchment. The rolls were made of sheets measuring about nine to eleven inches high and five or six inches wide. These were sewn together to make a strip up to twenty-five or thirty feet long that was wound around a stick and unrolled when read (Isaiah 34:4; Revelation 6:14; Jeremiah 36). The Hebrew Bible and New Testament were written on scrolls.
The Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament made by seventy-two Jewish scholars in 286 B.C.
A Samaritan sorcerer, Simon tried to buy the miraculous power of the apostles from Peter (Acts 8:9–24). The sale of church offices is called simony after Simon Magus.
Along with Gomorrah, Admah, Zebo-lim, and Zoar (Genesis 13:10–12; 14:2; Deuteronomy 29:23), Sodom was one of the five cities of the plain. It was destroyed by God because of its wickedness (Genesis 19:1–29).
The long vertical piece of a cross that was secured into the ground and used by the Romans in crucifixion. A shorter cross-beam would be fastened to this stipes to form a T-shaped cross.
In Judaism, a gathering of no fewer than ten adult males assembled for worship, scriptural instruction, and administration of local Jewish affairs in a synagogue. The term may have originated with Moses or it may refer to “meeting places” in Psalm 74:8. Synagogues may have begun during the Babylonian exile when the Jerusalem Temple no longer existed (Ezekiel 11:16; 8:1; 14:1; 20:1).
Tacitus (A.D. 55–117) was a Roman historian. He wrote the Annals, a history of the Roman emperors from Octavian (Caesar Augustus) through Nero. Tacitus also wrote the Histories, a history of the Roman emperors from Nero through Domitian.
A huge collection of Jewish traditions consisting of two parts: (1) the Mishnah (written editions of ancient oral interpretations of the Torah) and (2) the Gemara (extensive commentaries on the Mishnah).
The basic laws of the covenant formed between God and Israel at Mount Sinai in 1440 B.C. In Hebrew, the commandments are called the “Ten Words.” The Ten Commandments are recorded twice in the Old Testament. First they were given to Moses in the Sinai Covenant (Exodus 20:2–17). The second time they appear is in the description of the renewal of the covenant on the plains of Moab (Deuteronomy 6:6–21).
One of the twelve apostles of Jesus (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18).
Thomas, also called Didymus (“twin”), was another of Jesus’ twelve apostles (John 11:26; 20:24; 21:2). He didn't believe that Jesus resurrected from the dead until Jesus personally appeared to him, which is the source of the phrase “Doubting Thomas” (John 20:24–29).
A placard or board, fastened to a stick, that had a condemned person's crime written on it. This was carried by a Roman soldier in front of the victim who was carrying part of a cross to the place of execution. The titulus was then nailed to the top of the cross. This was done at Jesus’ crucifixion.
Another name for the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.
Turin, Shroud of
A linen cloth bearing the double, head-to-toe image of a man who had been severely scourged, beaten, and crucified in the first century A.D. It is kept in Turin, Italy.
The twelve apostles of Jesus, who were personally chosen by him with a divine commission (Matthew 10:1–5; Mark 3:16–19; Luke 6:12–16; Acts 1:13–14).
Virgin birth of Jesus
The birth of Jesus resulted from a miraculous conception. Jesus was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of God the Holy Spirit without a human father.
Jerome's Latin translation of the Bible.
A dualistic religion established by the east Iranian prophet Zoroaster in the late sixth century B.C. This religion believed that the universe was a duality of spirit and matter, light and darkness, good and evil.