People around the world are reviewing the events of last year, particularly reported by the media. How about reviewing events reported over 100 years ago? The British Library has made available, through subscription, millions of digitally scanned pages of British newspapers. Nostalgic seekers can peruse articles on women’s football, political rallies, the abolition of slavery, and that newfangled utility called electricity. Contemporary gurus (everybody) can now find lessons learned from many years past.
Another review of years past reveals the United Kingdom’s long presence in Yemen, which has just been reduced again with a closing of their embassy due to Al-Qaida threats. Bloody conflict in Yemen involving British armed forces is nothing new, from the Royal Marines taking the city of Aden in 1839, to fending off hundreds of guerrilla attacks in the 1960′s. The British, whether they like it or not, are now part of the Arabia’s long religious and violent history, replete with Roman colonies, Sabaean temples, and the birth place of Islam.
The Dead Sea Scroll’s tour to Canada is about to end, but the Jordanian government wants the ancient documents to remain in situ and not returned to the State of Israel. Jordan lays claim to the texts, arguing that the scrolls were found in Jordanian terratory. Israel, on the other hand, argues that the modern state of Jordan and the Jordanian people have no historical connection to the scrolls, given that they were produced by a 1st century Jewish group known as the Essenes. The Canadian government has announced that it will not be an arbiter in the matter, hence allowing Israel to return the texts to the famous Shrine of the Book near Jerusalem.
Christmas Day, again?
How many Christmas days are there? At least two in the largest Christian groups in the world. Western Christians, the Roman Catholic Church in particular, celebrates Christmas Day on December 25, while many Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Jesus’ nativity a whole thirteen days later, January 7. The disprepancy originates from the use of different calendars, each named after their founding father: in the east, Julian after Julius Caesar, and in the west Gregorian after Pope Gregory XIII.
On January 6 Christians around the world celebrate the holy day of Epiphany which recounts the finding of the infant Jesus by the wise men from the east. Who were the wise men? In all probability they were Babylonian or Persian pagan astrologers called magi, or what we might call today magicians. These ancient astrologers would have searched the heavens for important portents, special signs for future events. Not Jews? What better way to show that Jesus is for all people than to have non-Jews come to adore him.
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