Know your Ancient Greek helmets

The ancient Greek helmet is a familiar motif when it comes to popular cultural depictions of Greek history and mythology. However, quite unsurprisingly, many of such portrayals often tend to favor stylized versions (or specific types) of the helmets, with one pertinent example relating to the overuse of Corinthian helmets as movie props. But as is the nature of history, it was practicality and effectiveness that often trumped the style factor. To that end, let us take a gander at the history and design of ten ancient Greek helmets that were developed over a passage of a millennium – from the Bronze Age (16th century BC) to the Late Classical Period (4th century BC).

More Here

15 Commonly Used English Words related to Mythologies

The term Avatar originally stems from the Hindu concept of a deliberate descent of a deity or god to Earth. In simpler terms, it is roughly synonymous to ‘incarnation’ in English; but a more literal translation would pertain to ‘manifestation’ (thus making the movie’s portrayal of altered meta-identities more accurate than you would think). As for the mythological relation, the Hindu God Vishnu (who forms one of the trinity of major gods within the religious system) is said to have ten avatars (Dashavatara), with Matsya, Lord Rama, Krishna and even Buddha considered among the earthly incarnations. MORE HERE

Food packages

Corona Food Bags

In March, when the Corona Crisis hit Egypt, we started handing bags with food. As you can understand, the poor people in Egypt are suffering more than usual, as many have seen their income decrease sharply. Income from tourism is nil, many construction projects and other work is stopped, so the people on the bottom of the ladder suffer most, with often no income at all.

We assist churches in Egypte to help their church members and to help Sudanese refugees in Cairo. The Corona-crisis is especially troublesome for Sudanese refugees because many of their women work in Egyptian households and are now told to not come; for most this means a complete loss of income.  The men often have menial jobs on a day-by-day basis.

So overall, the situation for most families is very desperate at the moment. We do what we are able to. By July 2020, we had been able to help 1387 families.

One woman told us the following:
“My husband works as a cleaner but he is sick. So I have to sit outside schools to sell small things like tissues and hairpins for girls, to help my husband. But after corona, the schools closed so I lost all income. The last months have been awful. We suffer. And mind you I have three small children myself. They were so happy to see you come with the food. One of my girls cried.”

Another woman told us:
“My children were so happy when they saw the food. Even chicken and meat! We have not had this for a long time, and after corona began it was even hard for me to buy just rice and tea. I am a widow. My husband died long ago, and we have always been able to survive on my small income. But due to corona, even my job as a cleaner is gone. I now depend on friends and family who help a bit. Your bag with food was a gift from God.”

Ostia Antica: The Harbor City of Ancient Rome

Ostia Antica (derived from os, the Latin for “mouth”) was the preeminent harbor city of ancient Rome, with its geographical location being around 19 miles from the ‘eternal city’. And while in modern circumstances, the site lies around 2 miles away from the sea, due to silting, the area is still home to a flurry of well preserved ancient Roman architectural specimens, frescoes, and mosaics. Taking advantage of these extant ‘legacies’ of Roman history, the resourceful folks over at Altair4 Multimedia have digitally reconstructed the ancient harbor city of Ostia Antica – and the glorious result is there to behold.


Reconstruction Of Constantinople: From 4th To 13th Century AD

Historically, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe from the 5th to early 13th century AD. To that end, it was Emperor Constantine who truly elevated the architectural ambit of the original settlement, by ‘re-founding’ it as Nova Roma (New Rome or Νέα Ῥώμη). This symbolic overture mirrored the entire shifting of the capital from original Rome to Byzantium in 330 AD, which was then called Konstantinoupolis (or city of Constantine).

read more here

The Great Pyramid Of Giza: 10 Incredible Things

The Great Pyramid of Giza from Ancient Egypt has always demanded awe and recognition from us ‘mortals’, and rightly so. The incredible architectural specimen was built in around 2560 BC and held the record for the world’s tallest structure for a whopping 3,800 years with its then-impressive height of 481 ft (146.5 m). But before we get into figures and statistics, the Great Pyramid is generally believed to be constructed as a mortuary monument for Khufu (or Cheops in Greek), who was the second Pharaoh from the Fourth Dynasty. And, in spite of such ‘monumental’ projects, the one portrait of this mysterious ancient king (with a myriad of conflicting accounts of his life) survives from only a tiny 3-inch ivory figurine that was discovered in the early 20th century.

Here more

Heavenly Participation

A great book I warmly recommend: Heavenly Participation, by Hans Boersma. I am reading it for a second time now – just to make sure I suggest what Boersma has to say.

“Postmodernity is little more than modernity coming home to roost. Both, I believe, are predicated on the abandonment of a premodern sacramental mindset in which the realities of this-worldly existence pointed to greater, eternal realities in which they sacramentally shared. Once modernity abandoned a participatory or sacramental view of reality, the created order became unmoored from its origin in God, and the material cosmos began its precarious drift on the flux of nihilistic waves.” Hans Boersema, Heavenly Participation: the weaving of a sacramental tapestry (Grand Rapids, 2011), p. 2.

Boersma proposes a rather radical realignment of theology – a realignment with how the church from the first till the 17th century ‘did’ theology. I love it.

Pompeii: History, Reconstruction and Architecture

Pompeii, the ancient Roman town-city near modern Naples, boasted an assortment of baths, houses, temples, public structures, graffiti, frescoes, and even a gymnasium and a port. But more than any of these antediluvian avenues, the city is best known for our fascination with disaster for over 400 years, after its rediscovery way back in 1599 AD. In fact, the site of Pompeii has been a popular tourist destination for over 250 years – thus merging an unfortunate episode of history and the innate level of human curiosity. However, beyond just the ‘popular’ impact of the disaster, there was the historical city of Pompeii – a thriving Roman settlement with over 11,000 in population. To that end, in this article, we will aim to present the history, reconstruction, and architecture of this ancient city that was influenced by various people of Italy, including the Oscans, Etruscans, Greeks, Samnites, and Romans.

Read more HERE.

Short history of Alexandria

Alexander the Great possibly christened around 70 settlements from Africa to Asia after his own name (along with at least one after his horse’s name). The small Egyptian port town of Rhacotis, with his natural harbor and proximity to the Nile delta, was one of those ‘chosen’ settlements, and it was thus rechristened ‘Alexandria’ in 331 BC. But of course, beyond just the new name, the tiny port was also reinvigorated with a brand new suburb constructed beside the old town – with the plan apparently conceived by Alexander himself. And this is what Strabo had to say about the city after almost 300 years of its (re)founding…

Read more HERE

10 Ancient Mesopotamian Gods And Goddesses

When it comes to the early historical scope of Mesopotamia, there were no singular factions or political entities that ruled the extensive lands between and around the rivers of Tigris and Euphrates (at least until the brief Akkadian interlude and the later ascension of the Babylonian and Neo-Assyrian Empire). However, the Mesopotamian city-states from after 3rd millennium BC did share their cultural traits and even languages, with the latter example pertaining to how ancient Sumerian heavily influenced Akkadian (of which Babylonian was a variant), the lingua franca of much of the Ancient Near East. The pantheon of the region was a religious extension of this ancient cultural overlap, and as such many of the Mesopotamian gods were commonly worshiped by Sumerians, Babylonians and even Assyrians alike.

Read more HERE

Knights Templar: Origins, History, And Military

Knights Templar (or simply Templars), mysteries and warfare – these three avenues had an obscured connection when it came to the mercurial times of the medieval Crusades. In fact, their full name ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon’ (or Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici in Latin) directly pertains to the enigmatic Temple of Solomon. And while the Templars did exhibit their fanatical martial prowess on the battlefields (a ‘quality’ conducive to Crusades), the moniker of ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ’ didn’t really do the organization any justice.

Read more HERE

Oldest church in Sub-Saharan Africa found in Ethiopia

In the dusty highlands of northern Ethiopia, a team of archaeologists recently uncovered the oldest known Christian church in sub-Saharan Africa, a find that sheds new light on one of the Old World’s most enigmatic kingdoms—and its surprisingly early conversion to Christianity. An international assemblage of scientists discovered the church 30 miles northeast of Aksum, the capital of the Aksumite kingdom, a trading empire that emerged in the first century A.D. and would go on to dominate much of eastern Africa and western Arabia.

Read more HERE:

History Of The Roman Legionary: 100 BC – 200 AD

Previously, we discussed in detail about the Early Roman army (753 – 146 BC) and how it evolved into the organized Roman legions that we perceive in both popular history and culture. To that end, much has been said about the arms, armaments, and tactics of the famed Roman legions. However, beyond the scope of just glorious battles and momentous results, there was a deeper intrinsic, humane side to the men who formed these legions – that was at once similar (and yet different) with cultures we can identify with. So without further ado, let us take a gander at the history of the renowned Roman legionaries, who were arguably at their effective best from circa 1st century BC till 3rd century AD..

Here more about this Roman Army

Desert Prayers

In the week of 20-25 October we prayed the Coptic Agpeya (also known as the Horologion) in Anafora. This Coptic Orthodox Retreat Centre in Egypt is based in what used to be part of the desert, west of the Delta. Bishop Thomas has almost singlehandedly transformed the place into a green oasis of I do not know how many acres.

The Agpeya is a cycle of seven daily prayers that have been prayed since the early times of Christianity. They carry the monks through the day, from sunrise to sunset (Prime to Compline) and then there is the midnight prayer.

What I find so striking is the enormous number of Psalms that is used in these prayers. And how they are linked with events surrounding the life and death of Jesus. They are very Christ-centered. And they are prayers of great humility: seven times per day the monks confess their sins, and their need for forgiveness. The Trinitarian character of the prayers is also striking.

These prayers can be prayed anywhere, but Anafora is certainly a wonderful place for it. We are surrounded here by God’s wonderful nature, by friendly people, by churches with amazing icons, by a very healthy organic kitchen, and more good things.

In The Netherlands we will, the Lord willing, set up a ‘Friends of Anafora’ organisation to bring people to Anafora and to bring Anafora to The Netherlands. Wait and see!

Reading the Psalms in a Christian Way

In our church in Arnhem and Nijmegen I have started a series of sermons on the Psalms of the Lectionary. I have made it my goal to read the Psalms ‘through the eyes of Jesus’. As the Psalms were to a large extent the “prayer book’ of Israel, Jesus must have prayed them all. How would he have understood these prayers, given his knowledge of the history of Israel and his own self-understanding?

The Early Church (until ca. 1700AD!) in general interpreted Old Testament texts in four different ways. Many Churches still do this!

Each passage in Scripture was assumed to have four meanings:
Literal: What the passage says about past events
Allegorical: What the passage can tell us about Christ
Moral: What the passage can teach us about how to live
Anagogical: What the passage tells us about our ultimate fate

An example of this is the crossing of the Red Sea.
It was literal because Moses and Israel actually crossed it.
It was spiritual because it represents our baptism and new life.
It was moral because we cross-over life’s difficulties (Egypt) into our personal earthly blessings (Promised Land).
It was eschatological because we look forward to the final crossing-over from death to eternal life in heaven.

The exegetes of the church were seldom rigid in trying to extract these four means from every text, but it was always in the back of their mind.

I think that the question of how Jesus understood the Psalms in regard to himself, fits very well in this scheme of interpretation of the Early Church.

Sadly, the Church has almost completely ‘delegated’ the task of exegesis to Academia. This is a great loss for the Church, as Academia per definition only looks at the literal meaning of text. And the Church has to a large extent, it seems, allowed Academia to dictate that the only real meaning, is this (supposed) literal meaning. This has made the Od Testament a historical book for many Christians, instead of the living Word of God that it was for Jesus, the Apostles and all exegetes in the Early Church.

Medical help for Sudanese people in Cairo

I was tempted to write: ‘for Sudanese refugees in Cairo’. But why define human beings as refugees? The Sudanese people I meet in Cairo are human beings in the first place, Christians, Muslims, men, women, fathers, mothers, husband, wives, children. People with dreams and aspirations.

And yes, they have escaped from Sudan. Often from the Nuba Mountains, in the southern province of South Kordofan in (North) Sudan.

These people often have petty jobs, as day laborors, or cleaners. Or they are teachers in their own refugee-community. Whule I live in Egypt, I have set up a primary school for their kids, and a social center.

And presently, I am involved in giving medical assistance to these Sudanese people. When disasters strike, and the families do not have enough money, I think peoiple are entitled to being treated in a worthy manner. They are humans, God’s creation, and worthhy of all support when they need it. As I hope for support when I need it.

So… Each year we help about 150 people – sometimes just by buying the medicine they cannot afford. Or by finding the right doctor for doing an operation. Or we pay for a serious operation. We do follow-up after operatons as well, like paying for chemo-therapy in case of cancer.

I pride myself in working with very able and commmitted people in Cairo. They make sure people get the best possible treatment, and they negotiate the lowest prices with doctors and hospitals.

Sadly, we sometimes have to slow down the help we givem simply because we work with very small resources. But we do what we can. Maybe you can also do something in the pecuniary realm? Feel free to contact me for more info, if you are interested to support this project financially.

I have resisted for a few years to set up an organisation in The Netherlands. There are already so many charitable organisations. But I have come to the conclusion that I have to – and I will, before the end of 2019. It is needed for accountability in the first place. To ensure that there is absolutely strong oversight over how money is handled.

And for your info, I do not get one cent from this ministry.

Reconstruction Of British People – From Neolithic Era Till 18th Century

Realm of History has focused on the facial reconstruction of British people, ranging from a Neolithic dweller of Gibraltar, Pictish murder victim, to an English king and a Scottish ‘witch’. Suffice it to say, these recreations – fueled by archaeology, detailed analysis of subjects, and technology, are supposed to be credible estimations of the facial structures at the end of the day (as opposed to precise representations).

A fascinating project from the Gibraltar National Museum culminated in the facial reconstruction of ‘Calpeia’ – the name given to a Gibraltar woman who lived in the Neolithic era, around 7,500-years ago. The name in itself is a celebration of the Classical name of the Rock of Gibraltar.

For the whole article, click here

Babylon: History And Reconstruction Of The Ancient Mesopotamian City

When it comes to the historically rich region of Mesopotamia, Babylon is arguably the most renowned of all cities. An ancient settlement that harks back to the dominions of Sargon of Akkad (circa 24th century BC), Babylon possibly started out as a small town in the backdrop of mighty cities like Ur, Uruk, and Nippur.

However, by the time of the ascension of Hammurabi the Great (the sixth king of the Amorite dynasty) in 1792 BC, Babylon became the major capital of the city-state of ‘Babylonia’, known as Mât Akkadî or ‘the country of Akkad’ in contemporary Akkadian. The very term ‘Babylon’ is of Greek origin and it is possibly a rough translation of Babillu (or bav-ilim in Akkadian)– which in Semitic pertains to the conjunction of two words Bâb (gate) and ili (gods), thus suggesting the location of Babylon as the ‘gate of the Gods’.

Read the article on Realm of History

Colosseum Of Ancient Rome: Historical Facts And Reconstructions

Unlike other ancient theaters, the oval-shaped, freestanding amphitheater was a Roman invention. And, as the jewel in the crown of such imposing Roman-made architectural specimens, the Colosseum holds its head high with the towering elliptical tiers that rise to 180 ft (55 m) from the heart of the city. From those very seats, the ‘bloodthirsty’ audience watched on the impeccably choreographed mock battles, exotic animal parades and their merciless slaughtering, and even those ‘legendary’ gruesome gladiatorial fights. But there is more to this exalted arena, than just the collective ancient display of viciousness and pomp. So, without further ado, let us check out some interesting facts that you may not have known about the Colosseum, complemented by some glorious visual reconstructions that recreate the amphitheater at its ancient peak.

Read the whole article on Realm of History

Why we need Icons in our Church

In this article I argue that the usage of icons is important and beneficial for the Church. We will listen to the arguments John of Damascus (ca. 675-749), the main theological defender of the usage of icons in the Church in the period between 726 and 843, when the Church was wrecked by internal disagreements over this matter.

The three treatises that he wrote on icons played a major role in the eventual defeat of iconoclasm, the movement that wanted to do away with all images in the Church.

This paper begins with a brief introduction of John’s life under Islam and of the iconoclast issue. After describing the three treatises of John, this paper describes the decision of the Seventh Ecumenical Council to support the usage of icons in Church. Then I will briefly describe how the iconoclast issue ended, before drawing some personal conclusion. Here the complete article

The Code Of Hammurabi: 10 Things You Should Know

This is how historian Stephen Bertman partly summarizes the character of Hammurabi, the sixth king of the Amorite dynasty, who ascended the Babylonian throne in 1792 BC –

Hammurabi was an able administrator, an adroit diplomat, and canny imperialist, patient in the achievement of his goals. Upon taking the throne, he issued a proclamation forgiving people’s debts and during the first five years of his reign further enhanced his popularity by piously renovating the sanctuaries of the gods, especially Marduk, Babylon’s patron. Then, with his power at home secure and his military forces primed, he began a five-year series of campaigns against rival states to the south and east, expanding his territory.

Suffice it to say, the great Hammurabi espoused the mentality of a keen ruler who gave equal importance to the opportunities of populist civic projects and military conquests. However, beyond just contemporary affairs, the name Hammurabi in our modern-times mostly pertains to that of an ancient law-giver – courtesy of a massive code of laws that dictated various facets ranging from labor contracts, properties to even household and family relationships. More here on Realm of History

Sumerians – the first ‘civilised’ Mesopotamians

    When we talk about the Sumerians, our popular notions mostly pertain to an advanced civilization of Mesopotamia. However, we should also understand that from the historical perspective, it is far more important to talk about the Sumerian culture (which by nature was heterogeneous), as opposed to a singular Sumerian political entity. That is because for the most part of their existence, the Sumerians, as a people, were divided into various city-states and kingdoms mostly within the confines of Sumer – the region of southern Mesopotamia.

    Read more here on Realm of History

6 Facial Reconstructions Of Ancient Egyptians

Historical facial reconstructions provide us with a glimpse into the past in a manner that we can visually connect to our ancient predecessors. However, it should be noted that most of these reconstructions, while guided by empirical evidence, are based on educated appraisements, thereby presenting approximations of the facial structure of the individual. Taking this into consideration, let us take a gander at six facial reconstructions of ancient Egyptians, from the period between circa 15th century BC to the 1st century BC.

Read more here

Evidence of Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem

Researchers digging at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s ongoing archaeological excavation on Mount Zion in Jerusalem have announced a second significant discovery from the 2019 season – clear evidence of the Babylonian conquest of the city from 587/586 BCE.

The discovery is of a deposit including layers of ash, arrowheads dating from the period, as well as Iron Age potsherds, lamps and a significant piece of period jewelry – a gold and silver tassel or earring. There are also signs of a significant Iron Age structure in the associated area, but the building, beneath layers from later periods, has yet to be excavated.

More here.

Animation of the Ancient Greek city of Corinth

Ancient Corinth was one of the most powerful and important of the Greek city-states, with the settlement itself boasting population of over 90,000 during the 5th century BC. Guarding the isthmus which connects mainland Greece with the Peloponnese, the strategic location of the city manifested itself throughout its history, with commerce, trade, navies and wars playing their crucial roles in the Corinthian scheme of things. The unique geography of the city (with fertile lands and natural springs) even enticed the later Romans, who destroyed the original settlement after their victory over the Achaean League in 146 BC. And Julius Caesar was then instrumental in ‘re-founding’ Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthiensis (‘colony of Corinth in honor of Julius’) circa 44 BC, thus leading to its subsequent revival as the provincial capital of Achaia.
HERE the whole article on Realm of History

15 Roman gods useful to know

Like many contemporary cultures, the ancient Romans tended to view their mythological tradition as being borne by history rather than legends, with the central themes related to politics, morality, and heroism. And since we are talking about history, while a perceptible scope of the ancient Roman gods and religion had its roots in native Italic traditions, a significant part of the institution (before Christianity) was inspired by the Greek mythology, partially fueled by the proximity of the Greek colonies in both Italy and Sicily (and later absorption of mainland Greece into the Roman Republic). Read the whole story here on Realm of History

Hitherto unknown Biblical depictions found at the Roman Era Huqoq Synagogue

The ancient synagogue at Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village in Israel’s Lower Galilee, has been the focal point of yearly excavations since 2011, led by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the space of nine years, archaeologists were able to unravel a series of stunning mosaics from the confines of the structure that harks back to the late Roman period (circa 5th century AD). And the interesting part relates to how the spectrum of the subject matter covered by these artworks is extensive, ranging from Biblical scenes (including stories of Noah and Samson), Greco-Roman divine entities to even historical scenarios like (possibly) Alexander the Great meeting a Jewish high priest.

HERE the complete article

Anubis: History And Mythology Of The Ancient Egyptian Jackal God

One of the most prominent gods in Egyptian mythology by virtue of the enigmatic visual flair, Anubis (or rather Anpu or Inpu in Egyptian language; Greek form – ‘Anubis’) is/was represented as a jackal-headed entity associated with the rites of embalming the deceased and the related afterlife. Now in spite of this popular modern visual motif, from the historical perspective, Anubis is one of the most ancient deities among the numerous Egyptian gods, with his name appearing in the oldest known mastabas of the First Dynasty (circa 32nd – 29th century BC). To that end, in this article, we will aim to focus on the origins and mythology related to the 5,000-year old Jackal God of the Underworld. HERE MORE

Minotaur: The Ancient Greek Bull-Headed Monster

As succinctly described by the Roman poet Ovid, Minotaur (Ancient Greek: Μῑνώταυρος, Latin: Minotaurus, Etruscan: Θevrumineś) is a ‘part man, part bull’ – thereby pertaining to a Greek mythical creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man, as depicted during the Classical times. Now in terms of etymology, the word ‘Minotaur’ is derived from Μίνως or ‘Minos’ and the noun ταύρος or ‘bull’, thereby meaning the ‘bull of Minos’.

Read further here on Real of History

15 Things You Should Know About The Crusades

The Crusades of the medieval times have rather proved to be a contentious subject matter, especially given its association to religious fanaticism. But beneath this veneer of political analogy (that tends to be exaggerated), we must understand that Crusades, while embodying a clash of cultures, also resulted in various spheres of cultural synthesis – via trade networks, adoption of habits and dresses, and even architecture. So without further ado, let us tread the path of objective history and present to you – 15 things you should know about the Crusades, from circa late 11th century AD to late 13th century AD. HERE THE REST OF THE ARTICLE ON REALM OF HISTORY

The Muslim Rulers Of Al-Andalus And Their Military

The 7th-8th-century Muslim forces of the Middle East espoused both mobility and tactical prowess, with their manpower mainly drawn from the already urbanized tribes of the Syrian heartland. However, as the Umayyad Caliphate expanded, the forces of the frontier regions were composed mostly of the mawalis (clients) – basically voluntarily-converted adherents of Islam from the non-Arab background, like the Persians in the Khorasan region and the Berbers in North Africa (Maghreb). And it was the latter who played an instrumental role in the conquest of the Iberian peninsula (in early 8th century AD) – most of which was under the control of the Christian Visigothic Kingdom.

In the century before the conquest of Iberia (Spain and Portugal), the Berbers of North Africa were a disparate people dominated by authoritative tribes with varying religious affiliations, ranging from indigenous pagan beliefs to even Judaism. By 7th century AD, the Eastern Roman grasp on this region had already dissipated, and the power vacuum was filled by the Arabs approaching from the direction of Egypt (who were rather aided by the small yet Romanized urban population). More here on Realm of History

10 Incredible Facts About The Code Of Hammurabi

This is how historian Stephen Bertman partly summarizes the character of Hammurabi, the sixth king of the Amorite dynasty, who ascended the Babylonian throne in 1792 BC –

Suffice it to say, the great Hammurabi espoused the mentality of a keen ruler who gave equal importance to the opportunities of populist civic projects and military conquests. However beyond just contemporary affairs, the name Hammurabi in our modern-times mostly pertains to that of an ancient law-giver – courtesy of a massive code of laws that dictated various facets ranging from labor contracts, properties to even household and family relationships. So, without further ado, let us check out ten such facts about the Code of Hammurabi that might drive away some of the misconceptions that have accumulated over the years. Click HERE for the 10 facts about Hammurabi on Realm of History




10 amazing Roman inventions

While military innovations did play their crucial role in the armies of ancient civilizations, it was undoubtedly the Romans (among few) who pushed the scope of progressive technologies and deep tactical developments that directly affected their battlefield effectiveness. To that end, ranging from weapons, formations to infrastructure, let us take a gander at ten incredible Roman military innovations you should know about.  More here on Realm of History

Augustine and his Critics: for sale

Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) is arguably the most controversial Christian thinker in history. His positions on philosophical and theological concerns have been the subjects of intense scrutiny and criticism from his lifetime to the present. Augustine and his Critics (270 pages) gathers twelve specialists’ responses to modern criticisms of his thought, covering: personal and religious freedom; the self and God; sexuality, gender and the body; spirituality; asceticism; cultural studies; and politics.
Stimulating and insightful, the collection offers forceful arguments for neglected historical, philosophical and theological perspectives which are behind some of Augustine’s most unpopular convictions.

I haver the book available for 10 euro. We can work out how to get the book to you.

Early Church Studies with the Coptic Orthodox Church

One of the project I am working on, is the development of a BA and MA study in ‘Early Church’ for the Coptic Orthodox Church. I feel honored that I was asked to do this.  

We began this project in August 2018 and hopefully I will be able to deliver the BA-stage ‘on a latter’ to the Church around August 2020.  

The BA-stage entails the development of about 55 courses of 12 lessons each.  This whole project will be delivered online. For each lesson we create reading materials for the students, an introductory video, questions to be answered, and each course ends with the student having to write a paper.

It is quite a challenge to find the right teachers! ideally, they are Coptic Orthodox, experts in the area of the course, Arabic speakers, and good teachers at the same time.  We have some very good experts for whom we can tick all boxes, but we also have to be creative here and there.

Thus far we have videod about 20 courses.  Language courses, like Coptic, Greek, Syriac, Latin.  We have also prepared courses on St Athanasius and St Kirollos, on the Apostoilic Fathers, on Monasticism, on the history of the Syriac Orthodox Church, on the development of liturgy, on the Creed, etc etc. 

In the coming months we hope to finalise at least 25 courses, and hopefully a few more.  On 1 October 2019, we want to allow 30 students to begin the study – as a sort of guinea pigs. We want to see, for instance, that the online system works smoothly.  We have to sort out how much staff we need per student, how to arrange the grading, etc etc.

And we will start the process of accreditation.  That will be a major hurdle to take! This is always in the back of my mind, and it is a good worry as it forces us from the outset to have good level teaching, and also to develop a proper administration for our course.

And right now, I do not even want to think yet about the next stage, when I have to begin with the development of the MA-phase of the project… But one thing I know: those MA studies will not be online only, and for that stage we will have to teach in English.  There are simply not enough Arabic sources and scientific books available to make a MA in Arabic viable… So we will have to work in English.  And for an MA, all teachers must have PhD’s as well.

Herod’s Temple: History And Reconstruction

There are very few historical ruins in the world that have held up their legacy so much so that they still play a significant role in the cultural consciousness of the people. The Second Temple of Jerusalem (or simply the Second Temple) undoubtedly belongs to this rare category of historical structures. And while the remnants of this temple complex, like the Wailing Wall, are confined to the perimeters of the present-day Temple Mount, the structure in itself probably reached its greatest extent (in dimensions) during the reign of Herod (circa 1st century BC). And that is why the Second Temple is often referred to as Herod’s Temple.

More on Realm of History Here

Astonishing animated reconstruction of Philae

Often thought of as the last active refuge of the native ancient Egyptian religion, the island temple complex of Philae (or Pilak, meaning ‘the end’ or ‘boundary’) was originally located near the massive First Cataract of the Nile in Upper Egypt. Probably comprising two islands, the conglomerate site of Philae (1,500 by 490 ft) was mythically related to the burial place of god Osiris – thus making it an important pilgrimage center for both Egyptians and the Nubians. Building upon this ambit of reverence, the later Egyptians, Greeks (Ptolemaic dynasty) and even Romans furnished their fair share of architectural features – which collectively translated to the magnificent ancient Egyptian island temple complex of Philae.  Here the animation.

And here more about Philae, on Realm of History.

Development of Roman Warfare – animated

History is witness to the triumph of the ancient Roman army, as evidenced from the Roman empire in its apical scope – which held sway over a major chunk of the known world, ranging from Spain to Syria (and Iraq), and from North African coasts and Egypt to most of Britain. And while this ancient military was known for its sheer discipline and incredible organizational depth (check out this superb video), the true strength of the Romans intrinsically pertained to their ability to adapt. This ambit of adaptability was demonstrated through logistics during the Second Punic War, where the Romans ultimately emerged victorious, in spite of (possibly) losing one-tenth to one-twentieth of their male population in a single battle (at Cannae). And complementing their unflinching capacity to bounce back from disastrous situations, was the evolution of Roman battle tactics over the centuries. To that end, most of the Roman tactical developments were actually ‘instigated’ by their foes, and as such many of the successes of the ancient Roman military system can be attributed to their inherent capacity to simply ‘react’.


Anubis: The Ancient Egyptian Jackal God

One of the most prominent gods in Egyptian mythology by virtue of the enigmatic visual flair, Anubis (or rather Anpu or Inpu in Egyptian language; Greek form – ‘Anubis’) is/was represented as a jackal-headed entity associated with the rites of embalming the deceased and the related afterlife. Now in spite of this popular modern visual motif, from the historical perspective, Anubis is one of the most ancient deities among the numerous Egyptian gods, with his name appearing in the oldest known mastabas of the First Dynasty (circa 32nd – 29th century BC). To that end, in this article, we will aim to focus on the origins and mythology related to the 5,000-year old Jackal God of the Underworld.

Read more HERE

Animation of a Roman Villa – a must see

From the historical perspective, the Roman domus (house) was oddly enough not exactly ‘Roman’ in its character; rather it was possibly inspired by a few older Mediterranean cultures including the Etruscans and the Greeks – as is evident with the architectural focus on the central courtyard. Now beyond origins and influences, a typical Roman domus served as a dwelling for the Roman familia, while being (sometimes) used as a ‘personalized’ center for business and religious worship. As can be deduced from these functions, the extensive domus were constructed for the higher middle class Roman citizens – and even then there were no standardized forms of the ancient dwelling-type (though ‘on an average’, there were probably 8 domus per city block). In any case, the resourceful folks over at Ancient Vine and Museum Victoria have given a go at virtually reconstructing the typical Roman domus of a ‘well-to-do’ family – and we daresay they have succeeded in portraying the dynamic internal layout of the Roman ‘domestic’ side of affairs. MORE HERE


For sale: Reading the Old Testament

This is a very useful book for anyone who wants to understand the exegesis of the Early Church (well, until ca. 1700AD). A must read and only €8.50  excluding postage.

The contemporary church dismisses Christianity’s foundational Scriptures at its own peril. However, the teachings of the Old Testament are less and less at the center of congregational preaching and conversation. The early church fathers–visionaries such as Augustine, Origen, and Tertullian–embraced the Hebrew Scriptures, allowing the Old Testament to play a central role in the formation of their beliefs. As today’s Christians struggle to relate to concepts such as the Jewish law and the prophets, pastors and laypersons benefit from looking through the lenses of these thoughtful pioneers. This latest volume in the Evangelical Ressourcement series helps the Old Covenant to come alive.

2,000-Year old mosaics found in Southern Turkey

Once again, Anatolia revealed its Greco-Roman legacy, this time in the form of beautiful mosaics possibly dating back to 1st century AD. The fascinating discovery was made quite fortuitously by construction workers in the southern Osmaniye province of Turkey, during a routine excavation in the Dere neighborhood of Kadirli – corresponding to the ancient Flavias (or Flaviopolis) district.


Animated Reconstruction of Temple of Philae

Often thought of as the last active refuge of the native ancient Egyptian religion, the island temple complex of Philae (or Pilak, meaning ‘the end’ or ‘boundary’) was originally located near the massive First Cataract of the Nile in Upper Egypt. Probably comprising two islands, the conglomerate site of Philae (1,500 by 490 ft) was mythically related to the burial place of god Osiris – thus making it an important pilgrimage center for both Egyptians and the Nubians. Building upon this ambit of reverence, the later Egyptians, Greeks (Ptolemaic dynasty) and even Romans furnished their fair share of architectural features – which collectively translated to the magnificent ancient Egyptian island temple complex of Philae.




Pre-Roman Samnite theater found in Pompeii?

It should be noted that while we tend to view Pompeii as an epitome of an idyllic provincial Roman resort-city, the settlement in itself passed through the control of other ‘earlier’ cultures, including the Oscans, Greeks, Etruscans, and Samnites. Pertaining to the latter, archaeologists from London’s Birkbeck College may have found evidence of a pre-Roman theater-like structure, possibly of Samnite origin, dating from circa 4th century BC. The concave traces of this building was coincidentally found next to a 2nd century BC theater that was preserved by the volcanic elements of the Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD.

In terms of archaeology, the various sections of Pompeii do reveal the remnants and influences of cultures like the Greeks, Oscans, Etruscans, Samnites, and even an uncategorized native Italic faction. To that end, some of the permanently settled areas in and around Pompeii date back possibly to 8th century BC. And by 5th century BC, it was the warlike Samnites who came down from the mountainous regions (of Abruzzo and Molise) to conquer large swathes of Campania, thereby making their presence felt in cities like Pompeii, Capua, and Nola.

Click HERE for the whole article

Reconstructions of the 7 wonders of the world

From the historical perspective, the list of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World comes to us from an incomplete manuscript known as the Seven Sights of the World (which incidentally only listed six monuments), possibly authored by Philo of Byzantium in circa 225 BC. The text mentioned the theamata (roughly ‘things to be seen’ in Greek) of the world, which basically translated to the incredible sights of the time. Interestingly enough, there were other ancient writers who referenced or even made their own lists of ‘sights to see’, including Herodotus, Callimachus of Cyrene, Diodorus Siculus, and Antipater of Sidon.

Read more HERE

NT Wright on Galatians: Bible Study Series in Arnhem and Nijmegen

We are doing a Bible study series in both Nijmegen and Arnhem.  These studies are from 1.30-2.30pm in Nijmegen, and from 3.30-4.30pm in Arnhem.

We are using a very good video series of the Bishop of Durham, Professor N.T. Wright, on the letter of Paul to the Galatians. And we obviously study that letter of Paul.

This series of studies last about 10 weeks, so it is not a lifetime commitment to participate and finish it! And you do not have to be a member of our church to attend.  But welcome anyway! You may want to combine worshipping with us, In Nijmegen we begin at 11am, and in Arnhem at 5pm.

Nijmegen: Van Hogendorpstraat 126

Arnhem: Adolf van Nieuwenaarlaan 3a









4,500-Year Old Ramp May Provide Insight Into The Construction Of The Great Pyramid

There are a few conjectures when it comes to the enigmatic construction process of the Great Pyramid of Giza. One of the oft-mentioned ones pertains to the ramp theory, which simply puts forth the scenario that the massive ancient structure was built by raising ramps (or mounds) all around it. Essentially, according to this hypothesis, once the foundation was laid, makeshift ramps were constructed around the core structure to haul and position the stone blocks on top of it. As the structure gradually rose in height, the ramps were raised higher to accommodate the building blocks.

Now while this sounds like a simple solution in theory, in practical circumstances, the inclined plane of these ramps would roughly require a mile of construction for the 480-ft pyramid. However, this time around, beyond engineering hypotheses, researchers have found actual evidence for a ramp at the site of Hatnub, an ancient quarry in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, near Luxor. In an excavation project carried out by jointly by the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology based in Cairo and the University of Liverpool, the archaeologists identified the remnants of an entire system that was used for hauling heavy alabaster stones at a relatively steep angle.

Read more HERE

Animation: Day In Life Of Roman Soldier 1st Century AD

Much has been said about the arms, armaments, and tactics of the famed Roman legions. Suffice it to say, they played their crucial role from the Roman Republic days of 3rd century BC to the nadir period of the Western Roman Empire in the 4th century AD. However, beyond the scope of just glorious battles and momentous results, there was a more intrinsic, humane side to the men who formed these legions that were at once similar (and yet different) to cultures we can identify with. The following TED-Ed animated video aptly presents the ‘personal’ equipment, trials, and tribulations of a Roman soldier during the nascent stages of the Roman Empire under the reign of Augustus (circa 15 AD).

See the animation by clicking HERE

Archaeologists find an ‘Unplundered’ Mycenaean Tomb In Nemea (Greece)

The Mycenaean cemetery at Aidonia in Nemea, while being discovered in the late 70s, was unfortunately found its looted state. The site once again came into the news in the 90s when jewelry originating from the cemetery was found to be sold in the international market. Fortuitously that time around, authorities were able to recover those priceless artifacts and successfully exhibit them at the Nemea Museum. And now, after two decades of archaeological works, researchers are once again welcomed by the historical ‘breadth’ of the Aidonia cemetery, this time in the form of an unlooted vaulted tomb of the Early Mycenaean period (circa 1650-1400 BC). Surprisingly enough, in spite of its unplundered nature, the Mycenaean tomb is actually one of the largest found in the necropolis.

Here the whole story on Realm of History

An Iconographic Treasure Unearthed in Jordan

In northern Jordan, a Roman-era painted tomb has been unearthed by the Department of Antiquities. An extraordinary document of religious, political, and social history that three historians and epigraphists have had an opportunity to examine, and are striving to interpret.
The archaeologists cannot bless roadwork enough. Especially in Jordan. It’s just that certain thrusts of the mechanical shovel, such as the one in late 2016 at the school entrance in the village of Bayt Ras, in the north of the country, have a knack for unearthing secrets from the depths of the past. In the present case, it is a Roman tomb that was dug into the side of a hill, and whose existence was just revealed by the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, after securing access to the site.

More HERE:


For sale: Augustine’s Intellectual Conversion (Brian Dobell)

I will send you this book for Euro 12.50 in The Netherlands, including postage.  Outside The Netherlands, Euro 17.50 including postage.  Worth it!  

This book examines Augustine’s intellectual conversion from Platonism to Christianity, as described at Confessions 7.9.13–21.27. It is widely assumed that this occurred in the summer of 386, shortly before Augustine’s volitional conversion in the garden at Milan. Brian Dobell argues, however, that Augustine’s intellectual conversion did not occur until the mid-390s, and develops this claim by comparing Confessions 7.9.13–21.27 with a number of important passages and themes from Augustine’s early writings. He thus invites the reader to consider anew the problem of Augustine’s conversion in 386: was it to Platonism or Christianity? His original and important study will be of interest to a wide range of readers in the history of philosophy and the history of theology.

For Sale: Cambridge History of Christianity (#1 and 2)

Four parts (reprint, original is part 1 and 2). The first two volumes of Cambridge History of Christianity series: Origins to Constantine and Constantine to ca. 600. These books provide a comprehensive overview of the essential events, persons, places and issues involved in the emergence of the Christian religion in the Mediterranean world in the first six centuries.

Expensive on Amazon! Here only 30 euro (including postage, Netherlands only) and internationally 25 euro (excluding postage).

For sale: How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind

I enjoy so many books of which I have two copies. This one was never read by me – so almost brand new. (I read my own copy – and Thomas Oden is a good read!

I mail it to you for 10 euro excl postage.

“Africa has played a decisive role in the formation of Christian culture from its infancy. Some of the most decisive intellectual achievements of Christianity were explored and understood in Africa before they were in Europe. If this is so, why is Christianity so often perceived in Africa as a Western colonial import?”

Enormous Roman Building Unearthed In Giza, Egypt

An enormous Roman era building has been uncovered at the Hod El-Demerdash archaeological site in Egypt, approximately 400 meters south of the Mit Rahina Museum in Giza. The edifice, discovered during excavation works, is around 16×14.5 meters in dimensions and houses several corridors as well as four different entrances, the researchers stated.

According to Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), the Roman structure was likely originally part of a residential complex in the area. Made of mud bricks and huge limestone blocks, the building’s inner staircases and outer walls were constructed using red bricks.

Here the whole article from Realm of History


Our Christian mess

We all come across Christians for whom the Christian faith seems so easy. You just believe A, B and C, and voila! And you only have to do this and that.

Sure, I believe A, B and C, but then, you review some of your views all the time. And I have to do this and that, but hey, here the real problem begins.  Our best intentions seem too often be thwarted by our worst behaviour.

Being a Christian means using the brain all the time, and at the same time coping with your own ignorance. It is about accepting that we depend on the grace of God, and nothing else. We do not love God and our neighbour as we should, and we always seem to love ourselves too much.

But we strive for better. Always to be thrown on our back again, and we get up again by the grace of God.