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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 ...
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65 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 ...
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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 ...
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25 votes
Accepted

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 ...
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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 ...
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17 votes

What is the historical basis for the Exodus?

I'll summarize what the Jewish Study Bible, 2nd edition says about the subject. This material is from the introduction to Exodus and two essays: "The Religion of the Bible" and "Archeology and the ...
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15 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 ...
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15 votes
Accepted

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. ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 1,116
13 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. ...
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12 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 ...
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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. ...
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11 votes
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How long did it take to copy a Bible during the early propagation of the Christian faith?

In the earliest years of the newborn Christianity, scribes wrote on single sheets of papyrus, formed into scrolls, or birch bark sheets. Towards the end of the 1st century a.d., parchment, made of ...
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11 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 ...
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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 ...
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10 votes
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Why was the Gilgamesh flood tablet such a sensation?

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

How do we know that prostitutes were very common/popular in Corinth around Jesus' time?

The best English translation of the relevant statement from Strabo (Book VIII, Ch. 6, Section 20) I can find is: And the temple of Aphrodite was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple ...
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9 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 ...
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9 votes

Is there an example of Egypt recording defeat?

There are a number of Egyptian defeats known to history - some of them come to us from contemporaneous accounts from neighboring civilizations, others from archaeological evidence, but many of them ...
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9 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 ...
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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"...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 1,118
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&...
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  • 73.7k
7 votes
Accepted

What is the age of the oldest written proof of Christianity?

The oldest Biblical manuscript is Papyrus P52 containing a fragment of the Gospel According to John. It dates to around 100-150 A.D., and is usually cited as from 125 AD. It has been alleged that a ...
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7 votes

Are there non-Biblical references to collecting foreskins?

I don't think they were collecting foreskins, and I believe this mistaken assumption is due to a mistranslation. This goes back to the meaning of the word "ערלה" ("Orla") in Hebrew also meaning ...
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  • 521

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