Tag Archives: Daniel Molyneux

Mona Lisa of Galilee

This is “The Mona Lisa of Galilee” a 2000-year old floor mosaic, called this because of the artist’s skill in capturing the subject’s beauty. It is located in Sepphoris. During Jesus’ childhood, Sepphoris was Galilee’s capital and largest city. Many mistakenly think Jesus grew up in a tiny rural village. But Nazareth was a suburb or Sepphoris, only three miles away. During Jesus’ childhood, Sepphoris was undergoing a tremendous building project. This is likely one of the main reasons Joseph and Mary moved their family to area. Sepphoris had plenty of employment for Joseph. Joseph and Jesus were not “carpenters,” as has been mistranslated. The correct translation is “builder.” Even the word “mason” would be a more accurate than “carpenter.” The Greek word used in the New Testament for Joseph and Jesus is “tekton”. From it we get our English words “technician” and “architect (meaning head builder)”. There is little wood in Israel, and homes are not built from wood. In Galilee, homes and other buildings were built of stone, such as black basalt. Herod Antipas rebuilt Galilee’s capital, Sepphoris, in Greco-Roman style. It is likely Joseph, and perhaps even Jesus, worked as builders in Sepphoris. Although I have little evidence to back it up, I wonder if Joseph, Jesus, and family, could have specialized in the construction of synagogues. We also have indications of Jesus’ familiarity with theatre in Sepphoris, because he frequently used the Greek word “hypokrites” meaning actor. In Greco-Roman theatre, the actors wore masks, hiding their faces. They were literally two-faced. So, when Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, he was calling them actors, hiding their true selves behind a false façade.Mona LIsa (2)

The Prodigal Son

Jerash (known in the Jesus’ time as Gerasa) – One of the Greco-Roman cities of the Decapolis (meaning “ten-cities,” but in Jesus’ day there were some 18 cities). In Jesus’ day Gerasa was approximately the same population as Jerusalem. But apart from the size and grandeur of the Jerusalem Temple, Gerasa was more impressive architecturally. Josephus tells us that Scythopolis (Beth-Shean) was the largest city of the Decapolis, and was less than 25 miles from Nazareth. In Jesus’ day, the contrast between Galilean towns, constructed of black basalt, homes having roofs of mud and sticks, would have been a striking contrast to the beauty and allure of the nearby Greco-Roman cities, with their theatres, athletic arenas, running water, indoor toilets, bathhouses, gymnasiums, beautiful streets, public buildings, and fleshly pleasures. Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son was a common problem for Israelite families, where Jewish boys were seduced away from Judaism and their families by the majesty and temptations that the pagan world offered. To illustrate this – when Jerusalem fell to the Roman legions and the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, it was a Jew who was second in command under Titus, Tiberius Julius Alexander, the Alexandrian Jew, was the embodiment of a Jewish prodigal.Jerash

Indiana Jones’ Petra

For all you Indiana Jones fans – here is a picture of Petra that figure so prominently in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In Jesus’ day, Petra was the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom, a rock city roughly the same size as Jerusalem (50,000). We climbed to mountain to see the “High Place” above Petra, where they sacrificed to Molech. Herod Antipas was married to the Nabatean king’s (Aretas IV- 9BC – 40AD) daughter, Phasaelis. Herod divorced her to married his brother’s wife, Herodias the mother of Salome. When Phasaelis learned that Antipas intended to divorce her, she fled to her father, King Aretas. Eventually Aretas went to war against Herod and defeated him. When John the Baptist denounced Herod for divorcing Phasaelis and marrying Herodias, this was not merely a moral statement, but worsened the political crisis Herod was facing because of his divorce and remarriage, leading to John’s imprisonment and execution.

petra

 

THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF RUSSIAN BOOKS IN THE WORLD

This is the Helsinki Cathedral (Lutheran).

Left of the Cathedral is Finland’s National Library.

I did not bother take a picture because it is covered in construction mesh for renovation. The National Library’s main building will reopen in January.

If one wants to do research with original Russian books, magazines and other sources, one is more likely to end up here, than in Russia.

Finland’s National Library is home to the world’s largest Russian/Slavic collection, because the Soviet Communists destroyed mass quantities of books in Russia and the Soviet Union in their efforts to rewrite history. The Russian Civil War and World War II also destroyed massive numbers of books in the Soviet Union.

The Librarian in the Finland’s National Library was extremely friendly and helpful. She invited us to come back when they reopen the newly renovated main building.

Finland remains one of my favorite places – great people, a great country, prosperous, clean, tech savvy, helpful, and friendly. What more could one want (well maybe warmer weather).

Daniel Molyneux

Daniel Molyneux’s website: www.angelofa.com

The Angel of Antioch on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Angel-Antioch-Daniel-Molyneux/dp/0692349634

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Daniel Molyneux in front of Helsinki’s Cathedral

WHAT IS THE BESTSELLING BOOK IN RUSSIA?

Trivia time… What is the bestselling book in Russia since the fall of Communism (besides the Bible)?

We went to Doma Knegy (House of Books bookstore) last week. I bought a book that looked interesting. Turns out it is the bestselling book in Russia since the fall of communism. First Published in 2011, within a year the book had sold more than 1 million hard copies and several million e-book copies.

Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) is the bestselling book in Russia since communism’s fall.

Everyday Saints is a 500 page book written by a Russian Orthodox monk (Archimandrite Tikhon), telling about his conversion to faith in Soviet Russia during the early 1980s while attending film school, his subsequent experiences as a Monk in the Pskov Caves Monastery, and the stores of various monks in the monastery.

It is a fantastic book. I highly recommend it.

Can you imagine a Christian book being the equivalent of “Harry Potter” in the Russian publishing world? This is truly AMAZING.

If you want to learn more about the persecutions of Christians during the Communist era, and about Orthodox spirituality, this is the book for you. It is available in an English translation from Amazon, etc. All proceeds go to build a church in memory of the millions of Christian martyrs killed during Soviet rule.

Daniel Molyneux

Daniel Molyneux’s website: www.angelofa.com

The Angel of Antioch on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Angel-Antioch-Daniel-Molyneux/dp/0692349634

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Everyday Saints

CHURCHES IN SAINT PETERSBURG By Daniel Molyneux

Photos of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, in Saint Petersburg, taken from our hotel room window.

The story of Kazan Cathedral, on Nevsky Prospect, across from Doma Knegy (House of Books bookstore), is really amazing. Kazan was closed by the communists after the Russian Revolution. In the 1930s the communists turned Kazan into the Museum of Atheism. But Kazan was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1990s. It is now the Primary Cathedral for Saint Petersburg, and the seat of the bishop for the Eparchy (diocese) of St. Petersburg.

Almost all churches in the Soviet Union were closed under Stalin in the 1930s, and again under Khruchev in the 1950s. (And virtually all priests and pastors were arrested, tortured, sent to the Gulags and/or killed. It is difficult to estimate how many millions of Christians were killed under the communists.) Even in the late 1980s only 20 churches were allowed to legally function in Saint Petersburg, a city of 5 million people.

Today, the number of functioning churches in Russia has multiplied by 10 fold since the fall of communism; and the number of monasteries has grown from only 1 to many 100s, with more churches and monasteries opening every day.

The most recent estimates are that 75% of all Russians now profess faith. In spite of its many problems and issues, Russia today is one of the most religious countries in the world.

Daniel Molyneux

Daniel Molyneux’s website: www.angelofa.com

The Angel of Antioch on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Angel-Antioch-Daniel-Molyneux/dp/0692349634

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Saint Isaac’s Cathedral Saint Petersburg Russia
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Saint Isaac’s Cathedral at night, Saint Petersburg Russia
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Kazan Cathedral, Saint Petersburg Russia

LOVING YOUR NEIGHBORS AND GIVING YOUR LIFE FOR THEM – St. Dimitri Klepinin

The Nazis began the mass arrests of French Jews in 1942. Many Jews came to Father Dimitri Klepinin asking him for baptismal certificates, to avoid being deported and sent to the Nazi death camps. Father Dimitri believed his Christian Faith demanded that he act saying, “I think the good Christ would give me that paper if I were in their place. So I must do it… If a man surprised by a storm takes shelter in a church, do I have the right to close the door?”

In February, 1943 he Father Dimitri was interrogated by a German Gestapo officer named Hoffman.

Hoffman: “If we release you, will you promise never again to aid Jews?”
Father Dimitri: I can say no such thing. I am a Christian, and must act as I must.”
Hoffman: (striking the priest across the face he screamed) “Jew lover! How dare you talk of those pigs as being a Christian duty!”
Father Dmitri: (raising the Cross from around his neck) “Do you know this Jew?”

         Father Dimitri was then sent to a prison camp. He was abused and ridiculed by the guards who shoved him shouting, “Jew! Jew!” In response Dimitri said, “Remember that Jesus Christ had to bear much greater humiliations.” 

A year later, Father Dimitri was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp, in Germany. His health broken, suffering from pneumonia, he died on February 9, 1944 and his body was burned in the Buchenwald crematorium.

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Saint Dimitri Klepinin