Welcome!

This blog grows out of my conviction that every aspect of our lives is sacred and is to be nurtured and celebrated as a good gift of God. Most of the posts will be the sorts of things you would expect from a historian and worldview teacher, but some are likely to be a bit surprising. Since God created all things good, including all aspects of human life, everything is interesting and important from the perspective of a biblical worldview. Everything under the Sun and under Heaven is thus fair game here. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter and Paganism

It’s that time of year again. A new set of claims that Easter is a pagan holiday is making the rounds. From some of the Richard Dawkins’ Fan Club, we get Facebook posts claiming Easter is actually the festival of Ishtar, the ancient Mesopotamian fertility goddess, whose name was supposedly pronounced “Easter.” According to them, Constantine took a pagan holiday and inserted it into the church calendar.

This is load of complete nonsense.

Let’s start off with looking at a dictionary, or even Wikipedia, for the origins of the word “Easter.” The source is clear: it comes from Eostre, an Indo-European goddess who was associated in Germanic territories with spring, and whose name was thus used to designate both the season of spring and spring festivals. In other words, the name has nothing to do with Ishtar, and the geniuses who put out that idea simply demonstrate their inability to do even the most rudimentary fact checking.

 Ah, but if the holiday is named after a pagan goddess, doesn’t that make it pagan? No. First, since the name was used for spring and spring festivals, it’s not so outlandish that the important Christian feast that occurs in spring might pick up the name. More to the point, though, variants on the name Eostre are used for the holiday only in Germanic countries. In Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Russian, etc., the word for the holiday is a variant on Pascha, the name for Passover (Pesach in Hebrew). And Greek and Latin Christians were celebrating the holiday long before Christianity made it into Germanic areas. So no, it isn’t a pagan holiday whatever the etymology of the English name.

All of this is to say that the holiday is, or should be, Christian. The holiday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, his victory of sin and the grave, and the hope of our resurrection as well. We need to quit getting hung up over specious comparisons to pagan names and holidays and look at the claims of Christianity and the content of the church’s celebration.

Unless, of course, your Easter celebration is about bunnies, eggs, and chocolate. If so, if you don’t focus your attention on the fact of the resurrection, it might as well be a pagan holiday for you. It certainly ceases to be Christian at that point.

******

An added note: a reader pointed out this article to me that questions even the existence of the goddess Eostre. His arguments are worth considering, though I suspect Eostre was an actual goddess connected to the Titaness Eos, the goddess of the dawn in Greek mythology. Hence the reference to Indo-European mythology in my article.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Read an EBook Week

This week, March 2-8, 2014, is Read an EBook Week at Smashwords, one of my online publishers. For this week, Portals: Entering your Neighbor’s World and The Image of God will be available for 75% off list, meaning $1.00 for the first and $1.25 for the second. If you don’t already have them, this will be a great time to pick them up. The books can be found on my author page, https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/GlennSunshine, and are available in any e-reading format. If you don't have an e-reader, you can download the Kindle app for free from Amazon, or you could download the book as a PDF. Use REW75 as the coupon code on checkout.

And while you're at it, you should check out the other very inexpensive or free books that are available on Smashwords.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

True Reason launches today

True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism, edited by Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer, launches today! It's a response to the New Atheists written by some of the top scholars and apologists in the English-speaking world. Authors include Gilson, Weitnauer, William Lane Craig, Chuck Edwards, David Marshall, Lenny Esposito, David Wood, Peter Grice, Timothy McGrew, Samuel J.Youngs, Sean McDowell, John M. DePoe, Randall Hardman, Matthew Flanagan, and yours truly, contributing a chapter on Christianity and Slavery. It's definitely worth your time.

Monday, January 13, 2014

New article: Hunayn ibn Ishaq

This article is a reminder that in the early days of Islam, relations between Christians and Muslims within the Caliphate were not as hostile as what we are seeing in the Middle East today. There is no doubt that Christians were second class citizens and faced many social, legal, and religious restrictions, but there were members of the Christian community that rose to prominence under the caliphs. One could only wish that the current Islamists who want to return to the days of the caliphate would remember their own history.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Of the Father's Love Begotten

This is, to my mind, one of the most profound Christmas hymns, one that gets to the heart of the mystery of the Incarnation. It was based on a poem written in the late fourth or early fifth century, translated, and set to a medieval plainchant entitled Divinum mysterium (the Divine Mystery). The following, taken from Wikipedia, gives the original Latin poem, its translation, and the metrical setting in English of the hymn.

May you have a blessed Christmas, and I hope that this poem may help you more fully comprehend the wonders of the Incarnation which we celebrate today.


Latin text by Prudentius (b. 348).
Translation by Roby Furley Davis, for the English Hymnal (1906).
Translation by J M Neale, extended by Henry W. Baker (1851/1861)
Corde natus ex parentis
Ante mundi exordium
A et O cognominatus,
ipse fons et clausula
Omnium quæ sunt, fuerunt,
quæque post futura sunt.
Sæculorum sæculis.
Of the Father's heart begotten,
Ere the world from chaos rose,
He is Alpha, from that Fountain
All that is and hath been flows;
He is Omega, of all things,
Yet to come the distant Close,
Evermore and evermore.
 
Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!
Ipse iussit et creata,
dixit ipse et facta sunt,
Terra, cælum, fossa ponti,
trina rerum machina,
Quæque in his vigent sub alto
solis et lunæ globo.
Sæculorum sæculis.
By His Word was all created
He commanded and 'twas done;
Earth and sky and boundless ocean,
Universe of three in one,
All that sees the moon's soft radiance,
All that breathes beneath the sun,
Evermore and evermore.
 
At His Word the worlds were framèd;
He commanded; it was done:
Heaven and earth and depths of ocean
In their threefold order one;
All that grows beneath the shining
Of the moon and burning sun,
Evermore and evermore!
Corporis formam caduci,
membra morti obnoxia
Induit, ne gens periret
primoplasti ex germine,
Merserat quem lex profundo
noxialis tartaro.
Sæculorum sæculis.
He assumed this mortal body,
Frail and feeble, doomed to die,
That the race from dust created,
Might not perish utterly,
Which the dreadful Law had sentenced
In the depths of hell to lie,
Evermore and evermore.
He is found in human fashion,
Death and sorrow here to know,
That the race of Adam’s children
Doomed by law to endless woe,
May not henceforth die and perish
In the dreadful gulf below,
Evermore and evermore!
 
O beatus ortus ille,
virgo cum puerpera
Edidit nostram salutem,
feta Sancto Spiritu,
Et puer redemptor orbis
os sacratum protulit.
Sæculorum sæculis.
O how blest that wondrous birthday,
When the Maid the curse retrieved,
Brought to birth mankind's salvation
By the Holy Ghost conceived,
And the Babe, the world's Redeemer
In her loving arms received,
Evermore and evermore.
 
O that birth forever blessèd,
When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Saviour of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face,
evermore and evermore!
Psallat altitudo caeli,
psallite omnes angeli,
Quidquid est virtutis usquam
psallat in laudem Dei,
Nulla linguarum silescat,
vox et omnis consonet.
Sæculorum sæculis.
Sing, ye heights of heaven, his praises;
Angels and Archangels, sing!
Wheresoe’er ye be, ye faithful,
Let your joyous anthems ring,
Every tongue his name confessing,
Countless voices answering,
Evermore and evermore.
 
O ye heights of heaven adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him,
and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing,
Evermore and evermore!
Ecce, quem vates vetustis
concinebant sæculis,
Quem prophetarum fideles
paginæ spoponderant,
Emicat promissus olim;
cuncta conlaudent eum.
Sæculorum sæculis.
This is He, whom seer and sibyl
Sang in ages long gone by,;
This is He of old revealed
In the page of prophecy;
Lo! He comes the promised Saviour;
Let the world his praises cry!
Evermore and evermore.
This is He Whom seers in old time
Chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets
Promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected,
Let creation praise its Lord,
Evermore and evermore!
 
Macte iudex mortuorum,
macte rex viventium,
Dexter in Parentis arce
qui cluis virtutibus,
Omnium venturus inde
iustus ultor criminum.
Sæculorum sæculis.
Hail! Thou Judge of souls departed;
Hail! of all the living King!
On the Father's right hand throned,
Through his courts thy praises ring,
Till at last for all offences
Righteous judgement thou shalt bring,
Evermore and evermore.
Righteous Judge of souls departed,
Righteous King of them that live,
On the Father’s throne exalted
None in might with Thee may strive;
Who at last in vengeance coming
Sinners from Thy face shalt drive,
Evermore and evermore!
 
 
Te senes et te iuventus,
parvulorum te chorus,
Turba matrum, virginumque,
simplices puellulæ,
Voce concordes pudicis
perstrepant concentibus.
Sæculorum sæculis.
Now let old and young uniting
Chant to thee harmonious lays
Maid and matron hymn Thy glory,
Infant lips their anthem raise,
Boys and girls together singing
With pure heart their song of praise,
Evermore and evermore.
 
Thee let old men, Thee let young men,
Thee let boys in chorus sing;
Matrons, virgins, little maidens,
With glad voices answering:
Let their guileless songs re-echo,
And the heart its music bring,
Evermore and evermore!
Tibi, Christe, sit cum Patre
hagioque Pneumate
Hymnus, decus, laus perennis,
gratiarum actio,
Honor, virtus, victoria,
regnum aeternaliter.
Sæculorum sæculis.
Let the storm and summer sunshine,
Gliding stream and sounding shore,
Sea and forest, frost and zephyr,
Day and night their Lord alone;
Let creation join to laud thee
Through the ages evermore,
Evermore and evermore.
Christ, to Thee with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be:
Honour, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

O Come, O Come Emanuel: Christ as Emanuel, God with us


O Antiphon for December 24
Latin:
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

English:
O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God. 

O Come, O Come Emanuel
Latin:
Veni veni, Emmanuel
captivum solve Israel,
qui gemit in exsilio,
privatus Dei Filio.
Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!
 
English:
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.
 
Scripture references: Isaiah 7:14

 

 

Monday, December 23, 2013

O Come, O Come Emanuel: Christ as King of the Nations


O Antiphon for December 23
Latin:
O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

English:
O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay. 

O Come, O Come Emanuel
Latin:
Veni, veni, Rex Gentium,
veni, Redemptor omnium,
ut salvas tuos famulos
peccati sibi conscios.
Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!
 
English:
O come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven's peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

Scripture references: Isaiah 2:4; 9:6