Genesis 4:13-15 explains that the mark was placed on Cain to protect him from anyone who might want to kill him in retaliation for his murder of Abel. The mark was not itself meant as a punishment.
Yes, Jews can be excommunicated. The Hebrew word for excommunication is herem. it involves the cutting of all religious, social, and business ties with someone considered dangerous to the community. One of the most famous cases of herem involved the seventeenth-century Dutch philosopher Spinoza.
Muslims of central and western Asia use prayer rugs to cover the ground while they pray. The rugs feature a distinctive arch-shaped design, a prayer niche, or mihrtib, on one end of the carpet. The mihrab must be pointed toward Mecca while the person is praying.
There are about 2,500 saints with feast days, 200 fewer than in the earlier years of the twentieth century. In 1969, the Vatican removed the feast days of over 200 saints from the liturgical calendar because they were of only regional interest or because there were no records of whether the saints had lived. Among […]
Parts of the Mishnah, a compilation of oral law, date back to earliest Jewish history. The Mishnah was completed by about A.D. 200. The Talmud, which records academic discussion and judicial thought, consists of two parts: the Mishnah and the Gemara, a commentary on the Mishna. The Palestinian Talmud was completed by about A.D. 400; […]
Muslims start their calendar from Friday, July 16, A.D. 622. This was the day that Muhammad and his early followers made their hijrah, or emigration, from Mecca to Medina. They were forced to leave Mecca because of opposition to Muhammad’s teachings.
In November 1908, the Superior Hotel in Iron Mountain, Montana, became the first hotel to have Bibles placed in all its rooms by the Gideons. The Gideons were an organization for Christian business travelers founded in 1899 by Samuel Eugene Hill. By 1975, the Gideons had placed more than 10 million Bibles in hotels, hospitals, […]
Christ was probably born in 6 B.C. We know because the Bible suggests that Christ was at least two years old when King Herod died. Herod, we know from other sources, died in 4 B.C.
Yes, a raven and a dove. In Genesis 8:7-8, they are the birds Noah sent out to see if the waters had begun to subside: And he sent forth a raven, which went to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. Also he sent forth a dove from him, to […]
Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad lies 45 miles inland from the Red Sea in southwestern Saudi Arabia. Its 300,000 inhabitants are all Muslims; non-Muslims are prohibited. Over 2 million Muslims annually make the pilgrimage to the city.
These are the eight elements that the Buddha thought were essential to enlightenment and liberation. They are the eight elements of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. They are: right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that cleanliness is next to godliness. It came from John Wesley (1703-1791), the British theologian who founded Methodism.
Tibetan Buddhists developed the prayer wheel as a substitute for the repeated recitation of mantras (syllables or verses of mystical power). The wheel is a hollow metal cylinder mounted on a rod, with the mantra written on a roll of paper inside the cylinder. The Buddhist turns the wheel by hand; each turn is believed […]
Nirvana is not a place but a state of bliss to which Buddhists aspire. In Sanskrit it means the “going out” of a light. Early Buddhists used the word to describe the extinction of the fires of cravings. Valhalla, in Norse mythology, is the heavenly hall of slain heroes. It also represents a state of […]
No comets, novae, or supernovae are recorded for 6 B.C., the estimated year of Christ’s birth. But there was one odd celestial event that stargazing Wise Men might have observed and thought to be the Star of Bethlehem. Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn came close together in a small triangle, as they do once every 805 […]
The secret fraternal order of Free and Acceptable Masons has its origins in communities of actual stoneworkers, the masons who built cathedrals in the Middle Ages. Eventually, lodges in need of new members started admitting non-masons, and from these lodges modern Freemasonry developed.
Noah’s Ark was 300 by 50 by 30 cubits, according to Genesis 6:15. One cubit equals 18 inches.
The Immaculate Conception does not refer to Christ’s being born of a virgin. Instead, it is the Roman Catholic belief that Mary was without original sin from the moment of her conception.
The official name of the celibate sect the Shakers is the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing. Derived from the Quakers, the “Shaking Quaker” sect was established in America in 1774 by Ann Lee and reached its height, in the 1840s with a membership of 6,000. Shaker refers to the involuntary movements made […]
Pope John, Gregory, Benedict, and Clement, in that order. There have been 23 Johns (and 2 John Pauls), 16 Gregorys, 15 Benedicts, and 14 Clements.
Islam is Arabic for “surrender,” or “submission,” to the will of God. A Muslim is “one who surrenders.”
The canonical hours are times of day set aside for prayer. As specified by church regulations, the divisions of the day are: matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers, and compline.
The Jewish spiritual movement was founded by Israel ben Eliezer, now better known as the Ba’al Shem Tov (Master of the Good Name). He was a healer and holy man who lived in the Ukraine (c. 1700-1760).
These personifications of war, the Four Horsemen, appear in the Book of Revelation 6:1-8. They are: Conquest, Slaughter, Famine, and Death, riding horses that are, respectively, white, red, black, and green.
As of the early 1980s, there were seven churches in the United States that ordained women: They were the United Methodist Church, the United Presbyterian Church, the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the Lutheran Church in America, the American Lutheran Church, and the Southern Baptist Convention.