“There was a wise man who was called Jesus…Pilate condemned him to be crucified…His disciples…reported that he appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive.” —Josephus (about AD 37-100) Antiquities of the Jews. Understanding Jesus, p. 279.
Some Christians have trouble believing in a fiery hell. They say they can’t imagine Jesus lighting the eternal flame, forever barbecuing the people he died to save. They ask if instead of reading literally the Bible descriptions of hell, they should be reading this literally: “God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (Colossians 1:20 NLT). 100 Tough Questions about God and the Bible, p. 83.
Philistines stole Israel’s most sacred object, the Ark of the Covenant, which held the Ten Commandments. Then sent it on tour as a war trophy. “A plague of tumors” broke out everywhere it went. Philistines sent it back to the Jews, with an offering: a chest of gold rats and gold lumps that looked like tumors. Scholars speculate that the disease may have been the rat-carried bubonic plague, with produces tumors on the skin. Complete Guide to the Bible, p. 89.
The sons of Israel’s high priest, Eli, “slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting,” (1 Samuel 2:22, NIV). The men, Hophni and Phineas, also pilfered top-grade meat they were supposed to sacrifice to God. They died in a battle. They carried to the front line the Ark of the Covenant, which held the Ten Commandments—treating it like a magic box that would win the day. Philistines won the battle and stole the Ark. Who’s Who and Where’s Where in the Bible 2.0, p. 197.
A roll of quarters, a bag of wine, and five bushels of barley is pretty much what Hosea had to pay to get back his wife who had run away and perhaps sold herself into prostitution. It was six ounces (170 grams) of silver, not quite the weight of an eight-ounce (227 grams) roll of quarters. You can read the story in Hosea 3. Who’s Who and Where’s Where in the Bible 2.0, page 198.
In one fleeting sentence, Paul says people are “being baptized for those who are dead,” (1 Corinthians 15:29 NLT). No one today seems to know why. One guess: relatives getting baptized for a family member who converted but never got the chance to declare their faith by getting baptized in public. Think: Dad picking up the high school diploma for a son who died. 100 Tough Questions About God and the Bible, p. 116.
Some scholars say Jonah’s fish tale was a fish tale, not fact. Unlike most prophecies, there’s just one prophecy in Jonah—and it doesn’t come true. Also the style of writing with its jarring conclusion, which leaves the readers scratching their head, resembles some of Jesus’ parables—fictional stories with a message. 100 Tough Questions About God and the Bible, p. 139.
From one law—don’t work on the Sabbath—Jewish scholars created hundreds of laws to define work, so people would know what not to do on the “Sabbath day of complete rest,” (Exodus 32:15 NLT). No cooking, great for the ladies (cold meals planned ahead, like a picnic). No lighting a fire, bad news for a winter’s day when the pilot light goes out. Understanding Jesus, p. 145.