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67 votes

What is the significance behind "40 days" that often appears in the Bible?

There seems to be a bit of pushback on Pieter's (correct) answer, so perhaps a bit more detail is in order. It is not at all uncommon in languages to have words that, while technically a specific ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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64 votes

What is the significance behind "40 days" that often appears in the Bible?

I believe it to be an euphemism similar to how today one might say something like gazillions for a large number. In a society that is mostly innumerate as well as illiterate, where neither pencils ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
26 votes

Do historians support the existence of brothers to Jesus?

Historians quite widely agree that there very probably was a historical person called Jesus. They do agree that this person provided the blueprint or projection space for the belief that centered on ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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25 votes
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Were lay people ever forbidden to read the Bible in the Christian world?

This question suffers under a couple of misapprehensions I think. The first one is that there's a single unitary "The Bible" out there somewhere. What we have is translations drawn from ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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22 votes
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Are there historic references to sorcerers and their scrolls?

It is pretty much correct to expect this roughly along the lines of Dungeons & Dragons, or any such games you might know. In the sense of the ritual involved and the outcomes (expected): one ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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21 votes

Did Egyptian civilization start from North to South or vice versa?

The direct answer is that in modern Egyptian geographical terms, they came from central Egypt. In ancient historical terms, from "Upper Egypt". First off, I need to address a misconception in the ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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16 votes

Are there non-Biblical references to collecting foreskins?

The practice of Circumcision was by no means unknown in ancient Egypt, although I'm not sure how widely it was used. A parallel to the Israelite practice of collecting the foreskins of slain enemies ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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15 votes
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What is the oldest inscription of Yahweh found?

This is only answerable with a certain amount of discussion. To illustrate the problem bluntly: you expect a date well before the exile, and "Yahweh" will be found absolutely nowhere there or then. ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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15 votes
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When during their construction did Bible-era Jewish temples become "holy"?

The point at which The Temple became holy would be from its dedication forward. The Temple was rebuilt a few times. Below is the dedication for the first temple. 1 Kings chapter 8 gives a description ...
David D's user avatar
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14 votes

What is the historical basis for the Exodus?

As a complement to other answers, and especially to nbubis' answer. Based to a large extent on the work of the Israeli archeologist Israel Finkelstein (a youtube video with him talking on this topic ...
cipricus's user avatar
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14 votes
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Can history shed any light on the "secret arts" of the Egyptian magicians who turned their staffs into serpents as claimed by Exodus 7:11-12?

Westcar Papyrus According to the World History Encyclopedia there are ancient Egyptian writings named the Westcar Papyrus and regarding magic and miracles dating as far back as approximately 2040 BC. ...
John Strachan's user avatar
13 votes

Were Moses & Abraham historical figures?

When considering historicity, Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac have traditionally been considered together as the "patriarchs". There used to be some historians who seriously argued that they lived during a ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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13 votes

What is the significance behind "40 days" that often appears in the Bible?

Biblically, Forty is a number associated with testing and trials https://www.thoughtco.com/biblical-numerology-700168 Jesus wandered in the wilderness 40 days, Israel wandered in the desert for 40 ...
David D's user avatar
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13 votes
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Why was the Gilgamesh flood tablet such a sensation?

In interested circles of archaeology the discovery of the Gilgamesh epos was a sensation as well. 'Old writings from the time of biblical history'. And obviously 'originals', not copies of copies. ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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13 votes

Why can't the gospel of Mark be as late as 110 CE?

The question needs a couple of frame challenges. Dating solutions for the gospel of Mark do range from ~40s–140s. It is correct to say that the most common/popular/conventional dating would put Mark ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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12 votes
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Was the Hebrew Bible modified and rewritten from Aramaic to Hebrew after the death of Jesus?

Question was heavily edited. Answer is therefore now in two parts. The second part actually depends on the first. 1 Original question Q Was the Hebrew Bible modified after the death of Jesus? Yes. ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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11 votes

What is the historical basis for the Exodus?

UCSD held a fascinating conference on the topic of the Exodus a couple of years back, which I highly recommend viewing - It contains a variety of views on the subject, along with both archeological ...
Nathaniel Bubis's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

Were women in 1st century Israel not trusted as witnesses in court?

In Jewish Law, women are not valid witnesses, as it states in the Mishnah (Shevuot 4:1): שְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת נוֹהֶגֶת בַּאֲנָשִׁים וְלֹא בְנָשִׁים The oath of testimony is conducted with men and not ...
ezra's user avatar
  • 1,315
10 votes

What was the estimated population living in Egypt around 1446 BC?

Population estimates A number of estimates have been made for the population of ancient Egypt but, as the article The people of ancient Egypt says, Egyptologists tend to dodge the issue of ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
10 votes

Did Egyptian civilization start from North to South or vice versa?

I understand why these statements may appear to be contradictory, but - as with many things - much of the confusion probably stems from the terminology being used. So, firstly, let's be clear about ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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10 votes
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What attributes did Yahweh have before becoming a monotheistic deity?

Early Israelite religion was not monotheistic, and it remained in that classification for at least several hundred years. YHWH was developed very slowly in a syncretistic process were he was ascribed ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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10 votes
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Were Egyptian monarchs referred to by the title "pharaoh" alone, without using their proper names, from around 1500 BCE until the 10th century BCE?

This is at least partly correct. Egyptian titulaturs for pharaoh and Egyptian royal titulary changed significantly over time and between dynasties. What is remarkable in this context is that 'pharaoh'...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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9 votes
Accepted

Is biblical Joseph story historically valid?

First: A warning. What you're going to get on this website is going to be the fruits of the Documentary Hypothesis and similar historical approaches. This often clashes with some folks' "fixed beliefs"...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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9 votes

When during their construction did Bible-era Jewish temples become "holy"?

Actually, in Jewish law, non-high priests are allowed in the Holy of Holies not only during the original construction, but when renovations or repairs are needed. Maimonides, in his code of Jewish law ...
Meir's user avatar
  • 1,275
8 votes
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Is the ancient altar with petroglyphs at the foot of Jabal Maqla Mt. Sinai?

The Big "Where?" Question It's nearly impossible to establish Jebel al Lawz as the location of Mt Sinai based solely on physical remains today. The petroglyphs at the site of Jebel al Lawz are almost ...
SeligkeitIstInGott's user avatar
8 votes

What is the significance behind "40 days" that often appears in the Bible?

Motivation for the answer I'll take a literary approach, aiming less at the surrounding historical context and more at an internal analysis of what "significance" the document's authors intended to ...
Luke Sawczak's user avatar
  • 1,275
8 votes

Is there an example of 19th century non-believer who fluently alludes to Scripture?

Well, I've found some citations, so now I have an answer: Samuel Clemens. This is an accepted Master's thesis that does a good job of explaining Clemens' lack of religion. An excerpt: ...perhaps the ...
Jurp's user avatar
  • 432
8 votes

Besides the Hebrews, were there any other ancient cults that used salt in animal sacrifices?

"Any other society in history" is a bit broad of a term to search for, but thus also easily found, when asking for example Pliny: In ancient Roman religion, mola salsa ("salted flour&...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.8k
7 votes

What attributes did Yahweh have before becoming a monotheistic deity?

Nobody really knows for sure. El/Elohim (which by the time of the writing of most of the Hebrew scriptures had become synonymous) has ancient Semitic roots, but Yahweh appears to be (nearly) unique to ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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7 votes
Accepted

What was the relation between the biblical king Herod and the Parthian king Orodes II?

Mostly we know details about Herod the Great from the Romano-Jewish historian Josephus, and a bit from The Bible. Before I get going, I want to address one thing that looks like a misconception here. ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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