BABEL The tower of Babel (Akkadian bab-il meaning gate of the gods) was a Sumerian city where an attempt was made to build a ziggurat to reach up to heaven. But God scattered the builders (Hebrew balal means confusion or mixing), and the tower was left unfinished (Genesis 11:1-9). Together with two other Sumerian cities (Erech and Accad) Babel was captured by NIMROD the Hamitic general from CUSH(the Horn of Africa). He probably looted it, or made it pay tribute, for him to build his great cities to the north in what became Assyria (Genesis 10:9-11). On or near this site (50 miles south of BAGHDAD) the city of BABYLON was built.

BABYLON The Sumerian city of BABEL was taken over by Hamites (see NIMROD). Under them the Sumerian language was replaced by AKKADIAN. Hammurabi (reigned 1792-1750 BC) made Babylon his capital for the empire of Sumer and Akkad including most of Mesopotamia. This was the golden age of Babylon when it became a great center of learning. He compiled his code of laws which was inscribed on a massive stele. A thousand years later Babylon became the center of an even greater Babylonian empire under Nebuchadnezzar II (king 605-562 BC). He took the people of Jerusalem into exile in Babylon (2 Kings 24:1-7, 10-17, 25:1-12). As they wept by the rivers Tigris and Euphrates (Psalm 137:1), they would have seen the hanging gardens of Babylon which were one of the seven wonders of the world. Babylon was toppled (539 BC) by the Persians (as predicted in Isaiah 13). Two hundred years later Babylon surrendered to Alexander the Great (331 BC) and he tried to restore it's architectural greatness, but he died of a fever there (323 BC). Some of Babylon's impressive gates are still visible, but the massive city was left in ruins (as predicted in Isaiah 14:22-23).

BABYLONIAN The AKKADIAN Hamitic language (see HAM) introduced as a result of NIMROD's invasion was called ASSYRIAN to the north and Babylonian in Sumer to the south where it slowly replaced the language of the SUMERIANS.

BACH, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750). His Toccata and Fuguein D Minor (1720) and the six Brandenburg Concertos (1721) are still supreme concert classics. From 1723 till his death he was cantor at the St. Thomas school in Leipzig. It was during those years that his strong Christian faith came out in his Saint John Passion (1723), Saint Matthew Passion (1729), and the Mass in B Minor ( 1733-38). His cantatas and oratorios must have influenced HANDEL as he wrote The Messiah (1741). Singing in four part harmony also encouraged the vast output of hymns in the METHODIST movement. Charles Wesley (1707-88) wrote over 5, 500 hymns, the first of which appeared in a hymn book dated 1739, and many of these were used in the evangelical revival of the nineteenth century. One could say that Bach made possible the vast output of hymnody and charismatic songs (see HARMONY) that characterizes our modern church. Bach's music was forgotten after his death, and was only rediscovered by Mendelssohn (1809-47) and others a hundred years later.

BAGHDAD A Persian Muslim, Abu Jafar (al-Mansur) toppled the Arab Umayyad Dynasty (661-750) and used 100,000 craftsmen to build Baghdad (762-66) as the seat of his CALIPHATE. Soon Arab influence gave way to "Persian titles, wines and wives, Persian mistresses, Persian songs, as well as Persian ideas and thoughts" (Anthony Nutting, The Arabs, Mentor Books, 1965, p.103). Soon Arabs became second class citizens. By careful administration as Caliph he laid a solid foundation for the Abbasid dynasty (750-1258) and appointed a Grand Vizier to run the empire. Under Harun al-Rashid (Caliph 786-809) and his son Mamun (Caliph 813-33) Baghdad became the glittering focus of world civilization. As a cultural center mathematicians, philosophers, musicians, artists and craftsman gravitated to the city, and its business enterprises operated from Kandahar in Afghanistan to Spain. Meanwhile Europe was still in the dark ages. All this came to an end after seven hundred years when Baghdad was destroyed by the Mongols under Hulagu Khan (1258). Baghdad's glorious past may have been one of the motivations of Saddam Hussain. When he attacked Kuwait, and would have gone on to take over Arabia, perhaps he dreamed of the Caliphate for his city? That might explain his hatred of the Americans.

BAGHDAD MOSQUES Mosque-building in Iraq became Saddam Hussein's grand obsession. He set out to make Baghdad the undisputed center of Islamic architecture, as it was under the Abbasids (see BAGHDAD). The Mother of All Battles Mosque on the outskirts of Baghdad has its outer four minarets in the form of Kalashkinov guns and the inner four minarets in the shape of Scud missiles. Inside the holy of holiest there is a copy of the Qur'an written by a calligrapher using Saddam Hussein's collected blood. A reflecting pool that encircles the mosque is shaped like the Arab world. Two or three miles beyond in a gigantic cluster of domes is the Al-Rahman Mosque, meaning "the most merciful," to be completed 2004. A mile or two further on is the Mosque of Saddam the Great. It is visible in skeleton form on the bulldozed plain that used to be Baghdad's airport, and is due to be completed in 2015 (John F. BURN, "Hussein''s Obsession: An Empire of Mosques", New York Times, December 15, 2002).

BAHA'I Mirza Ali Muhammed (1820-50) called himself the Bab (the gate). He staged armed uprisings against the Iranian government, and was executed for an attempt to assassinate the Shah. His disciple was Mirza Husain Ali (1817-92) also an Iranian who declared himself to be Baha-ullah, the universal prophet of God that the Bab had said would appear. He taught that the true way to peace in the world was by uniting all religions into one universal Baha'i faith. His followers were terribly persecuted by the Islamic authorities (e.g. Sansar 1921-22), their marriages declared invalid, cemeteries desecrated, and babies refused birth certificates. Modern Baha'is practice equality of the sexes, and insist on monogamy, working with the progress of science, and would ideally like a world government and judiciary, a universal language, and a single currency. In practice, though Baha'is claim to accept all religions, there is no room among them for the good news of the Gospels.

BAPTISM Every school needs to enrol those who are going to be taught. So John's Gospel makes it clear that John the Baptist and Jesus both used baptism to enrol their disciples (John 4:1). We also know from the Book of Acts that women were baptized on the same basis as men (Acts 5:14, 8:3, 12, 9:2, 16:14-15). As in our day, there were drop-outs : "Many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him" (John 6:66). This is the point of the parable of the Sower. Anybody was welcome to this school, so some were enrolled and never even showed for classes. Others began with enthusiasm, and then quit. Cares and concerns can easily choke off the learning process. In the school of the Holy Spirit some of us are painfully slow learners. Even Peter took two years to grasp who Jesus really was, and when the crunch came he denied he had ever been a pupil in that school. But that was not the end of the story. Soon he was preaching, and 3000 were baptized on one day.

BAPTISM FOR THE DEAD As an argument against those who deny the resurrection, Paul wrote: "Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?" (1 Corinthians 15:29). One explanation is that some were so impressed by the godly lives of those who had died that they were baptized to follow in their footsteps. Others explain that the believing but unbaptized members of the family of a believer could be baptized by proxy and so could be buried in a Christian cemetery. The text is used among the MORMONS as the basis for the practice of proxy baptism for any who have died, however long ago. The resultant interest in     GENEALOGY explains the vast computerized system of collecting family trees in the central Mormon temple in Salt Lake City.

BAPTISM, Infants The church is a school of the Holy Spirit, and baptism is the sign of membership. Some think that faith must precede the sign, which is why Baptists call it "Believers' Baptism." Others note that the Messiah used baptism to enrol disciples to begin learning with him (John 4:1), and Peter only came to faith some months after his baptism (Matthew 16:15-17). Baptisms in the New Testament seem to be immediate with no time to check the previous knowledge of the candidates (Acts 2:41). The Philippian jailor for example had an earthquake repentance at midnight, and he had his whole household were baptized before breakfast (Acts 16:25-33). Paul must have taught them after their baptism, as he did the household of Lydia (16:15). As in any school that has an open enrolment, this means that numbers will drop off after baptism (as pictured in the parable of the Sower, see John 6:66). So there is no reason why infants should be excluded from such a welcoming school. And as Jesus pointed out it is children who are the best learners (Mark 10:14).

BAPTISTS Though the baptism of believers was practiced among the ANABAPTISTS, that term is rejected by Baptists as suggesting the excesses of Thomas Munzer and the Peasants Revolt (1524-26). John Smyth (c.1554-1612) was a fellow of Christ's Church, Cambridge, and an Anglican minister. He became a Puritan preacher (1603), and led a company of exiles to Amsterdam (c.1608) where he first baptized himself, and then established the first Baptist congregation (1609). Membership consisted of those who had confessed their faith in baptism. Some of his followers returned to England and formed the first Baptist congregation in London (1612) under the leadership of a lawyer named Thomas Helwys (c.1550-c.1616). He was convinced that those baptized as babies in the Church of England (see BAPTISM, Infant) were not baptized at all, and they should be baptized as believers. . Twenty years later baptism by immersion, rather than effusion (sprinkling) was adopted. And the practice of believers' baptism by total immersion is now viewed as essential among the thousands of Baptist denominations all over the world. The congregation led by Roger Williams (c. 1604-83) in Providence, Rhode Island (1639) is usually counted as the first Baptist congregation in the United States.


BARFIELD, Owen (1898- c.1980) Barfield served in the Royal Engineers (1917-19), and after reading English at Wadham College, Oxford, he worked as a freelance writer for seven years. During that time he was influenced by Rudolf Steiner and joined the Anthroposophical Society. He then worked in his father's law firm (1931). Apart from his brother, Warnie Lewis, C.S. Lewis' best friend was Owen Barfield and from 1927 they went on three or four day walking tours together in the spring. His great contribution was to persuade C. S. LEWIS, and through him TOLKIEN, that myth and metaphor has always had a central place in our language and literature. When he was working in London (1931) he occasionally joined the INKLINGS when he came to Oxford. Barfield wrote Poetic Diction (1928) and a volume of essays, Romanticism Comes of Age (1945). Though he joined the Church of England (about 1946), he continued to believe in reincarnation (which C.S. Lewis said no Christian could possibly believe in) and he later wrote several books on Anthroposophy (1957-1971).

BASE COMMUNITIES Harvey Cox noticed the tremendous importance of the Base Communities which flourished in South America. He defined them by three characteristics. (1) Priests and nuns may be involved, but there is "a significant degree of lay control and direction." (2) The gatherings are centered on "an internal liturgical life of singing, prayer, the sharing of bread and wine." (3) And they are empowered by the "study and critical analysis of the real life secular situation in which the participants live in the light of the Bible's message." When he wrote there were an estimated 80,000 such groups in Brazil alone, and 200,000 and growing all over Latin America (Religion in the Secular City: Toward a Post-modern Theology, New York: Simon & Schuster Touchstone, 1984, p.108). LIBERATION THEOLOGY can be viewed as beginning with Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation: Politics and Salvation, in Spanish1971, New York: Orbis Books, 1973. It was a movement of middle-class people writing about and working for the poor. But the Base Communities were gatherings of poor people who were empowered by the Holy Spirit to see the implications of the Bible for their own liberation, beginning in small ways at a local level but soon having implications for the government of their country (see CHURCH, Freedom).

BASRA Just east of where the TIGRIS river joins the EUPHRATES is Basra on the stretch of the river called the Shatt-el-Arab which flows 60 miles down to the Persian Gulf. It is the only port of IRAQ and it is located just between Abadan (IRAN) and Kuwait. UR was located 60 miles up the Euphrates, and it was the gateway for the cities of the SUMERIANS (see ABRAHAM).


BELGRADE Located at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers. The Romans called this Celtic town Singidunum It was devastated by Attila the Hun (443) After being invaded by the Samatians, Goths, and Gepids it was taken over for Rome by the Emperor Justinian, then by Franks and Bulgars. The first King of Serbia was crowned in 1217 and during the reign of Stevan Dusan (1331-55) it became the dominant power in the Balkans. The Serbs have been staunchly Greek Orthodox ever since. The city became a vassal of the Turks (1389) and was incorporated into the OTTOMAN EMPIRE (1459) for over 400 years. The resultant Serb Christian hatred of Muslims eventually resulted in the war over Kosovo (1999) and the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Belgrade became the capital of free Serbia (1878) but it was captured by the Austrians in the first action of the 1914-18 war. In 1918 Belgrade became the capital of Yugoslavia. It was captured by the Germans (1941), but at the end of the war it became the capital of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia (1945). By the new constitution there was a separation of CHURCH and State, and church buildings and monasteries were nationalized. But the Serbian Orthodox Church still continued its dominance among ordinary people. After the break-up of Yugoslavia, Belgrade has remained the capital of Serbia.

BELLS When the tabernacle was set up Moses ordered the high priests to wear a ritual vestment. "On its lower hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, all around the lower hem, with bells of gold between them all around. Aaron shall wear it when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place before the LORD, and when he comes out, so that he may not die" (Exodus 28:31-35). The pomegranate with its beautiful red skin was a decoration, and it seems unlikely that a priest would die for not wearing bells. So it would be better to translate "so that people may know he has not died" (see Luke 1:21-22). Protestants rudely refer to "smells and bells"to describe the use of incense and bells in Catholic services. There the bell ringing is to draw attention to certain high points in the ritual. Bell towers to call people to church were common in Ireland by 550 AD. An early example may be the bell of St. Patrick (c.389- c.461) in Dublin. In England bells were rung from most parish churches by the time of William the Conqueror (1066-87). They are used to invite people to worship God, to celebrate the life and death of a parishioner, for weddings, and for other national occasions. When Muslims demanded the right to broadcast prayers from the minarets of mosques Maggie Thatcher silenced them with "Not till they allow us to ring church bells in Riyadh." Church gatherings of any kind are still illegal in Saudi Arabia!

BELOVED  Daniel had been "praying with fasting and sackcloth and ashes." Twelve times he explained how badly his people had sinned. But eventually the Lord God sent Gabriel : "Daniel, I have come now to give you wisdom and understanding. At the beginning of your supplication a word went out, and I have come to declare it, for you are greatly beloved" (Daniel 9:22-23). Like Daniel, we may think our nation, our church, our family is a mess, and our prayers are not being answered. But wisdom is to realize that God already has the matter in hand. The Lord God is of course the Lord who took birth among us. And he came into the mess of our world to persuade us that we too are greatly beloved.

BENEDICTINES About 500 AD Benedict of Nursia (c.480-c.543) withdrew from the licentiousness of Rome to a cave were he lived as a hermit. A community of monks gathered around him, and he established 12 monasteries of 12 monks each. Local jealousy forced him to leave and he founded the famous monastery at Monte Cassino (c.529), where he drafted the rule of St. Benedict. After the sack of Monte Cassino by the Lombards (c.585) his monks moved to Rome, and soon his rule was adopted by monasteries all over Europe (e.g. Cluny founded 910, Bec 1041, Clairvaux founded by Bernard of Clairvaux, 1115). They provided centers of spiritual life in the darkness of the MIDDLE AGES.

BERNARD DE CLAIRVAUX (1090-1153) joined with thirty young noblemen (1113) to become monks in the convent of the CISTERCIANS in Citeaux. From there he was sent to establish the monastery at Clairvaux. His saintly personality gained tremendous influence for his order. But he was also an austere rigorist. He drafted the rules of the Knights Templar (1128) who were organized to fight against the Muslims. He defended Pope Innocent II (1130) against the antipope Anacletus, and he secured the condemnation of Peter ABELARD (1079-1142). But then he was later lovingly reconciled to Abelard, and had him welcomed to the monastery at Cluny till he died. Bernard was sent to preach and encourage (1146) the second of the disastrous CRUSADES. So we can view Bernard as a beautiful example of monastic devotion combined with a harsh support for military and ecclesiastical interference. But in the model we offer on this site we are glad to follow his dictum : "Remove free-will, and there is nothing to be saved; remove grace and there is left no means of saving. The work of salvation cannot be accomplished without the co-operation of the two."

BEROEA When Paul and Silas had to flee from THESSALONICA they arrived two or three days later in Beroea (Berea, Greek beroia, modern Verria). Here the Jewish members of synagogue, together with some Greek women and men of high standing in the community welcomed Paul's teaching. They studied the Old Testament carefully to confirm the truth of the message (Acts 17:10-12). It seems that the whole synagogue may have become a Messiah believing church. But soon ruffians from Thessalonica arrived to start a riot, and the Christians quickly took Paul to the coast where a boat brought them down to Athens (Acts 17:14-16). This kindness would have saved Paul the two week 200 mile (320 km) walk down the Egnatian Way to Athens, and given him a much needed three day cruise down the coast. Timothy may have been left to establish the church in Troas (see Acts 16:11). But by the time Paul left Beroea Timothy arrived to join Silas, and they were able to remain behind to teach this enthusiastic new church (17:14). One of their members, Sopater of Beroea joined Paul's missionary team (Acts 20:4 see CHURCH, BLOOD STREAM ).

BESTIALITY According to Jewish law, judges were required to assign the death penalty in seven specific cases of sexual aberration (Leviticus 20:10-16). In each case the crime involved sexual penetration, and two or three witnesses were required to prove it (Deuteronomy 17:6). Which meant that capital punishment for sexual sins was very rare. Two of these seven crimes were the sexual penetration of a female animal by a man, or a woman who let herself be mounted by a male animal (Leviticus 20:15-16). What horrified Paul was that, as a result of the decline of Greek civilization since the Golden Age, these seven categories of sexual penetration (for which capital punishment was assigned by Jewish law) were blatantly practiced in Roman households (Romans 1:26-27). What is astonishing to us is that this was only the second step down in a declining civilization. The third step down was the public approval of these and other sins such as covetousness, murder, hatred of God, insolent pride, rebellion against parents, heartless ruthlessness, etc (Romans 1:29-31).

BETHLEHEM David, the much loved king of Israel, came from the village of Bethlehem (five miles south of Jerusalem). He was anointed among his brothers as king by the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:1, 13). About 700 BC there was a prophecy, "You, O Bethlehem of Ephratah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel" (Micah 5:2). It was quoted to King Herod as indicating the likely birthplace of the Messiah (Matthew 2:3-6, John 7:42). Jesus' mother Mary came from Nazareth, but her child was born in Bethlehem, and Joseph had this recorded in the census records there (Luke 2:2-4). This gave Jesus the legal right to reign as heir of the royal DAVIDIC LINE (Matthew 1:1, 16, see Psalm 89:3, Isaiah 9:7, 11:1, 16:5, Jeremiah 33:15-26). The population of ARABS is half Muslim and half Christian. The Church of the Nativity (built by the emperor Constantine in 325, destroyed by Samaritans in 529, and rebuilt in the same design a few years later), has survived numerous wars. It is cared for jointly byGREEK   ORTHODOXARMENIAN, and ROMAN CATHOLIC  monks. Located on Manger Square it is a major tourist attraction when there is peace.

BETRAYAL In every family there are those who no longer enjoy family gatherings. They can't stand the pettiness and bickering and fault finding. But they would never think of betraying the family. When does betraying begin? The aunt of one of my friends was determined to get for herself the inheritance of their helpless but very wealthy old father. She kept visiting him in hospital, buttering him up, and taking care of his needs. Then in the week before he died she got someone to witness a change in the old man's will so that she became the sole legal beneficiary. She carefully and deliberately betrayed the family. But her heart had turned away from the family to her own agenda long before she managed to get the will changed. There are similar stories of family betrayal, as for example in Thailand where a man sold his daughter into prostitution to pay for a more impressive house for his girlfriend. Or under Stalinist Communism in Russia when a Christian accepted a good position from the KGB in exchange for a list of his church members to be sent off to the Gulag death camps (taken from Sermons, John 13:21-30, on "Judas Psychology").

BETROTHAL In all ancient cultures the betrothal set out the terms of any dowry that should be paid and the legal rights of each party. It was often settled between the parents long before the marriage, as still occurs in India and the Middle East. But the contract only came into force when the couple were married, and that was defined as the time when the couple began sex together. We still retain the vestige of this idea in the legal argument that a couple are not properly married until the marriage is consummated. This concept of betrothal can be seen clearly in the way Matthew's Gospel explains the marriage of Jesus' mother. Mary is described as betrothed, presumably in an arranged marriage some time before. When Joseph wanted to cancel the betrothal contract he was told "Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife." He did as he was commanded and " took her as his wife, but Joseph "had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son, and he named him Jesus." (Matthew 1:18-19, 24-25) In this case the betrothal contract, which would give Jesus the legal right to the throne of David, was still in force. And we assume this was registered by the census officer in Bethlehem.

BHAKTI As opposed to the cold, impersonality of ADVAITA philosophy, Hinduism also offered a way of devotion to a personal god (usually Krishna or Shiva). He is viewed as full of love and pity for his devotees (see Religion: Origins and Ideas chapter 4). It is possible that bhakti emerged as a result of contact with Christian communities in South India. "The great Shankaracharya (c.800 AD) and the chief Alvars (singers) of Malabar were born and brought up amid these Syrian Christians, resulting as some believe in a Christian substratum to Tamil philosophy. There were other Christian communities in Mylapore near Madras, Ceylon and the Konkan, the first-named being near the birthplace of that great bhakti theologian, Ramanuja" (c.1017). Quoted from J. Nelson Fraser & J.F.Edwards, The Life and Teaching of Tukaram," Madras: Christian Literature Society, 1922. The modern expression of bhakti in the west is a personal devotion to Krishna as in the Hare Krishna groups (International Society for Krishna Consciousness). As a result of continuous chanting, they free themselves from their concerns about this life, and hope that Krishna will free them from REINCARNATION. In bhakti there is an interesting contrast between the cat model of salvation where the cat grabs the kitten by the neck, and the monkey model where the young monkey has to hang on tight to be saved (compare CALVINISM & ARMINIANISM).


BIBLE, Contradictions When we are convinced that the whole Bible is the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit has brought its many parts together to convey all we need to know about God, we look for unity rather than contradiction. Some apparent contradictions are metaphorical, as in the names of the eternal Son of God. He is both Shepherd and sacrificial Lamb, Rock and tender shoot, lion and little child, Lord and Servant. Some are paradoxes where the truth is discovered by holding the two truths together. Scientists know that light is both waves and particles, and these cannot be reconciled in logic. In our model of the TRINITY the three Persons are eternally held together by the perfect love of God. In a traumatic event true witnesses will see different aspects of what happened. Rather than throw out one side of an apparent contradiction in the Bible, wisdom lies in bringing it before God, and having the patience to see how it is reconciled by the Holy Spirit.

BIBLE, Inspiration Christians would agree with Paul that "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). But they quickly differ when it comes to explaining how the inspiration works. The dictation theory is that the Holy Spirit dictated the actual words that were originally given to each of the writers. This resembles a Muslim view that the QUR'AN was originally engraved on a tablet in heaven, and was dictated to MUHAMMAD by the angel Gabriel. Others assume that each person involved in the writing of the Bible was personally inspired to write according to the mind of God. They quote "No prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (2 Peter 1:21). Undoubtedly prophets were inspired by the Holy Spirit to deliver their message. But other parts of the Bible include names added to a genealogical list, or information based on previous historical records. The model we prefer is to view the Holy Spirit as the Creator of the whole Bible, using all sorts of people who had no idea they were involved in producing the Word of God. All that they wrote was woven together over hundreds of years to produce the Bible that all denominations of Christians agree to use.

BIBLE METAPHORS When people encountered the Word of God in various ways, they described its strange power as :

SEED The Bible is like seed in our heart to bring us to new birth (1 Peter 1:23)

MILK It is what a baby needs to begin growing (1 Peter 2:2).

SOLID FOOD It is also strong meat to strengthen us for tough situations (Hebrews 5:12-14)

HONEY is to sweeten the unpalatable experiences of life (Psalm 119:103)

LIGHT The Bible is like a lamp to find the way on a dark night (Psalm 119:105).

FIRE The Bible is like fire that removes the dross from metals (Jeremiah 23:29).

TREASURE TROVE The Bible is full of varied and rich treasures (Matthew 13:52).

HAMMER The human heart can be impenetrable. The Bible breaks it open (Jeremiah 23:29)

TWO-EDGED SWORD The Bible is effective in spiritual warfare (Hebrew 4:12).

BIBLE, Modern Versions The King James Version was published in 1611. The first revisions of this were 270 years later with the English Revised Version (1885), the American Standard Version (1901), the Revised Standard Version (1952), and the New King James Version (1982). It was J.B.Phillips' translation of St. Paul's Epistles, titled Letters to Young Churches (1947)  that revealed the huge appetite for God's Word in ordinary simple language. Completely new translations included the Jerusalem Bible (1966), the New American Bible (1970), the Living Bible (1971), the Good News Bible (1976), the New International Version (1979).

BIBLE SOCIETIES In the year 2002 The whole Bible became available in 405 languages, up 13 from the previous year. This does not seem much compared with about 6,500 languages spoken all over the world. But we should note that many of the remaining languages belong to small groups and tribes, and all the major nations of the world have the whole Bible available in their own language. The New Testament is now available in 1,034 languages compared with 1012 languages in the previous year. And some parts of the Bible have been translated into 2303 language compared with 2,287 a year ago. In addition to offering them the Word of God, the existence of the Bible in the tongue of a people "can affirm the identity of the whole community as a symbol of its status and culture. Among those who cannot read, it can initiate a literacy movement or add impetus to educational development." There are two Bible Society deposit libraries: the American Bible Society in New York and the British and Foreign Bible Society, which is housed in the Cambridge University Library. (From the United Bible Societies Scripture Language Report for 2002).

BIBLE TRANSLATION The Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek (the Septuagint - LXX for the 70 translators) by about 200 BC. The first translation of the Greek New Testament was into SYRIAC, the trade language of the area from Damascus to China. By 200 AD a first versionof the Syriac Peshitta was available to nourish the hundred of Syrian Christian churches which mushroomed to the east. By the same time an early Latin translation was available in North Africa. Unfortunately the New Testament was not translated into Arabic till long after MUHAMMAD had completed the QUR'AN. The Vulgate Latin translation used in Europe for fifteen hundred years was produced by JEROME(c.342-420 AD). Parts of the Bible were translated into Anglo-Saxon, but the first printed version of the New Testament into English(1525) was by William Tyndale (c.1494-1536). Ten years later Miles Coverdale (1488-1568) had completed the English Bible, which made possible the King James Version (Authorized Version) of 1611. The whole Bible is now available from the Bible Societies in over 600 languages, and among many tribes the Bible originated their written language. The Wycliffe Bible Translators keep producing the New Testament in the hundreds of tribal languages of the world.

BIBLE, Unity The oneness of the human body is not found by dissecting its pieces, but by knowing a living person over a period of years. In the twentieth century Bible scholars cut up the Bible into fragments, and studied these in detail. With vast learning they missed what the Divine author was about. Creative Bible study begins with the assumption that God the Holy Spirit was involved in bringing the 66 books of the Bible into being as the Word of God. This was over a long period of time and involved the work of dozens of different writers using many different styles. Robert Farrar Capon said it perfectly: "The Bible is not a collection of discrete passages, each of which has only the single meaning it possesses in its isolated spot; rather it is the vast and unified work of a genius of an author who is constantly cross-referencing himself. Like a first-rate novelist, the Holy Spirit 'buries bones' all over the place" (The Parables of the Kingdom, Zondervan,1985). That means that we can find any part of the Bible suddenly illumined as the Spirit connects it for us with another part. Or we could say that the whole Bible is created as a single explanatory model to introduce us to God and what he is about.

BIG BANG Most scientists believe our universe began suddenly from a high ENERGY source which exploded galaxies out in all directions. Some even call the source of that energy God. But that is a name without any personal content. In the first chapter of Genesis our world is viewed as a work of art, and God (Elohim, Dieu, Allah) is the name we choose to give the creative Artist. Those who view our world as a chance happening (see CAKE MAKING) are called Atheists. THEISM still does not tell us what the Artist is like. Does he care about us, or are we his lila (the Sanskrit word for a game). Does God have a purpose for us beyond death (see RESURRECTION). And if so how does he relate to us now? In the Bible God is defined as LOVE (1 John 4:16-19). But it is impossible to love as an eternal solitary being. Which is why God is pictured as a TRINITYof three persons held together by love. And that means that the immense energy of the big bang is love, and matter (stars, earth, sea, vegetation) is only its expression.

BINGO For many people a couple of hours of bingo with friends is a cheap way to pass the time. Whether they win or lose makes no great difference. We might want to suggest more creative activities, but it is important not to rush into condemnation. What is needed is a line beyond which compulsive GAMBLINGbecomes addictive and disastrous.

BIRDS Jesus said "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them" (Matthew 2:26). This is not to suggest we sit and do nothing waiting for God to provide. Birds are busy finding food, building nests, caring for their chicks. But having done what they can, they go to sleep without worry about the next day. Unlike the birds in his field, a farmer has to plough and sow for a harvest which is still several months ahead. And every farmer has to face the inevitable hazards of drought, pests, and market prices. So what did Jesus mean by saying "Do not worry about your life" (Matthew 6:25)? Having done what we can, we know that some things will go wrong beyond our control. But as we go to sleep we remember that God loves us more than any human Father, and he can bring good out of any disaster in our life. So before we go to sleep we thank him for providing for us today, and tomorrow we can again pray "Give us this day our daily bread."

BIRD WATCHING God is the original bird watcher. "I know all the birds of the air" (Psalm 50:11). Actually the Hebrew is "I know all the birds of the mountains." Ordinary bird watchers know the names of the birds in their city, but God knows the names of every bird in the forests of Lebanon and Hermon. This is not surprising because the LORDGod (the eternal Son of God) "formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name" (Genesis 2:19). As languages developed, the names of birds changed in every country, so. Ornithologists solved the problem by giving them a Latin nomenclature, but the LORD can identify both the species and the common or garden name. But he does not want us to have a merely scientific interest. "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26). Obviously birds get killed and eaten in due course, but their life is designed to be a joy to us. Birds know how to migrate over vast distances to find the food they will need, so they don't need barns to store their harvest, and they don't worry about the next day. "Give us this day our daily bread."

BISHOP In the New Testament the terms Bishop and Elder are interchangable. This was proved by the CHURCH OF ENGLAND Bishop of Durham Archbishop J.B.Lightfoot in his Dissertation on "The Christian Ministry " (Saint Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, London: Macmillan & Co., 1891, pp. 181-269). The Greek term episcopos was the ordinary word for an overseer, superintendent, and it is used for the Christian synagogue ELDERS (in Philippians 1:1; 1 Tomothy 3:2, Titus 1:7). By the second century the elders of the various congregations were called priests, and one of them became the Bishop of that city. Ignatius (c.35 - c.107 AD) was the second or third Bishop of Antioch. On his way to being martyred in Rome he wrote The Epistles of Ignatius which stress the importance of submitting to the Bishop in each city. In our day with the development of DENOMINATIONS each calling themselves a church, there can now be a Roman Catholic Bishop, an Anglican or Episcopal Bishop, and other Bishops of Orthodox, Methodist, Lutheran, and other groupings in a city. This appears to divide the church. But on this website we speak of one church in each city meeting under different names in many different locations. That means the term Bishop is now used for the head of a denomination in a city or group of cities.

BITHYNIA Among the Jews present on the Day of Pentecost were some from "CAPPADOCIA, PONTUS, ASIA Minor, PHRYGIA, and PAMPHYLIA" (Acts 2:9). Some of these must have taken the good news of Jesus the Messiah back to the Province of Bithynia which was the province next to Pontus. During his second overseas missionary journey Paul, accompanied by Silas, and joined by Timothy (Acts 16:1), traveled across present-day Turkey intending to go straight west on the main road to EPHESUS. But they were "forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia" so they turned north to the east of MYSIA, and "attempted to go into BITHYNIA, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas." Paul had probably wanted to make contact with Christians in Bithynia, but God had another sequence in mind. We do not know if the apostle Peter visited the area, but he wrote a letter to "the exiles of the Dispersion," and one of these churches was probably located in NICEA the capital city of the Province of Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1).

BLACK DEATH A first form of the Bubonic Plague began as black swellings the size of an egg in the armpits or groin, and death occured in five days. It appeared in India(1346), and a Genoese trading ship brought it by the next year to Messina (Sicily). It arrived in Marseilles (1348) and ravaged Europe for two years (1348-50). The second form was a violent infection in the lungs which killed the person in three days. There was no cure and over 23 million people died. The population of England was reduced by fifty per cent. In a bull of September 1348 the Pope called it a "pestilence with which God is afflicting the Christian people" (1348). Preachers ascribed the cause to the WRATH of God. Ordinary people blamed the Jews for infecting the wells, and in France, Germany, and Switzerland thousands were thrown into bon fires for causing the plague. When half the population of Paris died, the King demanded a scientific explanation and the Medical Faculty of the University of Paris"proved" that it was due to a conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars in the 40th. degree of Aquarius on March 20, 1345. And this became the accepted scientific explanation. But the plague kept reappearing in Europe for five hundred years. In England the PLAGUE devastated London (1665). Eventually it was shown that it was caused by rats carrying fleas that transmitted the disease. Plague is now controlled easily by a vaccine.

BLACK Voting Rights see KING, Martin Luther; POLITICAL EQUALITY

BLESSED Matthew and Luke offer us two versions of Jesus' Beatitudes (ways in which God blesses us). Jesus must have preached this paradoxical approach to life with variations in many situations. How can the poor, the hungry, those who weep, the hated and excluded (Luke 6:21-23) ever be called happy? Matthew records that Jesus qualified the literal meaning of these words by referring to being "poor in spirit" and "those who hunger and thirst for righteousness"(Matthew 5:3-12). The self-confident and self-satisfied cannot experience the power of the Spirit. It is the artist who hungers for supernatural inspiration who creates the masterpiece. And it is turning the other cheek to love enemies that makes us like God who is "kind to the ungrateful and the wicked" (Luke 35-36). Paul grasped the paradox when he heard the Lord say "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" and he concluded "Whenever I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). It was the weakness of the crucifixion that released the power of the resurrection. Which is why the Apostle wrote "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death" (Philippians 3:10). And Paul was very conscious of being blessed in his ministry.

BLESSING, Aaronic "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26). This was the blessing that the first Jewish high priest Aaron, and his sons were to use. The capitalized LORD indicates that this is a translation of the third person of the Hebrew verb to be (yiheyeh, or Yahweh, transliterated Jehovah). So it clearly refers to the second Person of the Trinity who called himself I AM when he spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:13-15). As John explained, "No one has ever seen God (the Father). It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known" (John 1:18). The Son's task is to keep coming into personal contact with humans to make the Father known. In some cases he was actually seen physically (Genesis 15:1-5, 17:1, 18:1, Exodus 31:18, Daniel 3:25). In the fulness of time he came and took birth among us. The name we give signifies the quality and characteristics of the person, in this case the LORD. The Aaronic blessing was a prayer that the priests were to use : "So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them" (Numbers 6:27). This is why ministers and pastors pray that the people they serve will experience the Son of God's personal protection, grace, and peace.

BLOOD Long before modern science discovered this, the Jewish priests knew that "the life of the flesh is in the blood" (Leviticus 17:11). Medical science can replace more and more parts of the body, but when our blood stops doing its work we are dead. This is why we describe murder as bloodshed, there are blood feuds and blood baths, and wars are fought with blood and sweat and tears. The Romans devised crucifixion as a slow very painful way to drain away a person's blood. But in times of persecution we say it is the blood of the martyrs that is the seed of the church. And these days we give blood to save the life of others. The night before Jesus died he said "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28). Which is why the early Christians wrote and sang about the blood of Jesus being shed for them.

BODY The word "body" is not defined by what looks like a human body. It can vary as much as the body of a caterpillar changes when it becomes a butterfly. For any kind of being its body is defined by the way it impacts its environment and others with which it communicates. Paul explains "There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earth is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory." But he adds, " If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body" (1 Corinthians 15:40-44). And theRESURRECTION of the body does not mean the resurrection of the same physical body, but resurrection into another kind of body that is suited for heaven.

BODY, Church members In three places Paul pictures the church as a body with a variety of different kinds of member (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-30; Ephesians 4:11-16, see CHURCH, Body). As in the various functions of a human body (bones, muscles, ears, eyes, nose, mouth, glands, stomach, liver, kidneys) there are men, women and children functioning in a variety of ways in a church. For each of these functions Christians are empowered by the Holy Spirit (see HOLY SPIRIT, Gifts). I used to teach that these gifts were exercised in one church congregation, and APOSTLESworked in the moving bloodstream (see CHURCH, Bloodstream) that planted and nourished the world-wide church (The Church: An Organic Picture, chapter 6-14). More recently we have seen that for Paul there is only one church in each city (see CITIES). Working together in hundreds of different ways Christians permeate the whole life of each city (like yeast Matthew 13:33). This suggests that in a city God does not differentiate among Christians by the labels of their DENOMINATIONSbut by the spiritual gifts that they exercise.

BODY-MIND Gilbert Ryle proved our essential body-mind oneness in The Concept of Mind, 1949. But that does not prove that we are extinguished when our present BODY is destroyed. Obviously we can not hear, talk, think, walk, love, or react to others in any way without some kind of body. In the Old Testament SHEOL (abode of the dead) people did not have a functioning body, but they awaited a resurrection. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit resurrected Jesus (Romans 8:11) into a resurrection body. And in the same text Paul assures us that we also will be resurrected by the Spirit into the resurrection body which is suited for us to enjoy the life of heaven (see My Android Helen). When we die we leave our corpse behind, as Jesus did. We will not be disembodied spirits (see BODY, Trinitarian).

BODY, Trinitarian In the section on BODY-MIND we saw that it is impossible to hear, talk, think, walk, love, or react to others in any way without some kind of a body. The Cappadocian Fathers pictured a dance of three eternal Persons who loved, and shared, and rejoiced together. That means each Person had a body (as defined under BODY). The three Persons of the TRINITY are not disembodied spirits. When the Father loves us, watches over us, comforts us, he uses his heavenly eyes and ears, lips and arms. Metaphorically he runs to welcome the prodigal home. That does not mean he has physical legs like ours, but it does mean he rejoices when we turn to him.. The Son of God who appeared and conversed with Abraham, Hagar, Moses, the prophets and psalm writers, could only do that through a body. And when the Holy Spirit inspires, empowers, gives wisdom, imparts gifts, speaks to us through others, he has the means to do that (as is pictured in Proverbs 8:1-31). The Holy Spirit can be resisted and grieved (Acts 7:51, Ephesians 4:30). The three Persons decided together to make us in their image (Genesis 1:26, 28). And they decided together that the eternal Son of God would use a human body to live among us for thirty years (Philippians 2:5-8). When he was crucified, the Holy Spirit gave him a resurrection body, and we will receive the same kind of body (Romans 8:11), obviously not organized by the flesh and blood of organic chemistry.

BOHEMIA The Romans called the land Boiohaemum because it was inhabited by the Boii Celtic tribe. About 450 AD a Slav tribe of Czechs took over control of the land. As a result of the work of Irish-Scottish monks the people became Christians. Two Greek monks were sent to them (863). Partly as a result of the new faith, PRAGUE Castle was built (870), Saint Vaclav (Wenceslas) was martyred (929), and a Bishop was appointed by the Pope (973). Vladislav II was crowned King (1158) of Bohemia. Prague was the capital of the Bohemian Kingdom and the Holy Roman Empire (1346-78, see John HUSS).

BONNHOEFFER, Dietrich (1906-45) After a brilliant academic career in theology, Bonhoeffer denounced the Nazi system when Hitler came to power (1933). For seven years he directed an underground Church Training College. As he continued to write and preach against what he saw was going on, he was imprisoned (1943), and was hanged by the S.S. as a traitor to Germany just before the end of the war (1945). In addition to being admired for his courage, Bonhoeffer is remembered for his "religionless Christianity" That did not mean atheism, but a faith that did not need a reliance on religious practices or theological explanations. His point was that Christianity does not depend on the premise of religion. What counted was voluntary simplicity lived totally for others (see Letters and Papers from Prison, 1953, 2nd. edition, 1956, American Edition titled Prisoner for God). Bishop John A. T. Robinson's Honest to God (1963) has many quotations from Bonhoeffer. Others took his ideas in a direction that Bonhoeffer does not seem to have intended when they announced a theology of the DEATH OF GOD.

BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER A first Communion Service in English (1548) was expanded with other services to form the First Prayer Book of Edward VI (1549) which became the first prayer book of the Church of England. The English Parliament issued the Second Prayer Book of Edward VI (1552) to take care of some objections by Reformers on the European continent. It was repealed by Queen Mary (1553) and reissued by Queen Elizabeth (1559). That book was superseded by the Directory for Public Worship (1645) under Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth (1649-60). The Book of Common Prayer authorized by the Act of Uniformity (1662) continued almost unchanged for the next 300 years. A revision was passed by Church of England Assembly (1927) but it was rejected in the House of Commons (1928). The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America accepted (in 1789) the Book of Common Prayer with minor changes but included prayers for the President instead of the Queen of England. Since 1976 the American Episcopal Church has used a combination of the 1928 book proposed in England with some alternatives in modern English. The Church of England also began using their Alternative Service Book (1980), as did the The Anglican Church of Canada with its Book of Alternative Services (1985). These all authorize the continued use of the Book of Common Prayer together with many modern forms of service.

BORE Voltaire said the secret of being boring is to tell everything. And the astonishing power of the Gospels is that they work with an incredible economy of words. They give us just us enough to make us look to the Spirit to know more (John 14:26). Someone else said a bore is someone who talks about himself when you want to talk about yourself. But what grips me is that everything Jesus said seems to talk about me. Which is why Dorothy Sayers wrote "The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore" ('The Greatest Drama ever staged"). Why then is church going such a pain to most people? Perhaps we explain too much again and again in too much detail. Jesus hardly explained his parables, which is why they grab us, make us think, and we see them in a different light each time we hear them. But most prayer book liturgies, and the liturgies of those who think they are praying freely, as well as the great mass of sermons, keep repeating the obvious. We find it hard to let people explore the unthinkable and ask the questions that really bother them.

BORN AGAIN Nicodemus needed to be born (again) into the family of God by experiencing the new life of the Spirit (John 3:3, 7-8). This is the result of receiving, or believing in, the Son of God (John 1:12, 1 Peter 1:23-25). The assurance that we are children of God is not by some physical sign or legal transaction but by the fact that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). This means that the new birth immediately effects a change in heart attitudes. "Everyone who keeps doing (Greek present continuous) what is righteous has been born of him" (1 John 2:29). "The person who has been born of God does not keep sinning" (1 John 3:9 literal translation). But that is only the beginning. It has not yet been revealed (we cannot yet conceive) what we will become in God's family (1 John 3:1-2, as in 1 Corinthians 2:9). But as the Spirit begins to create love in us, we know that the end result is that we will be like the Son of God. As Paul explained, it is by "seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, that we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

BOUNDARIES Jabez prayed "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border" (1 Chronicles 4:10). A boundary is the limit of our ownership or authority. For a farmer "I own fifty acres" is too little. He needs two hundred acres to make a living. A rock group hopes to move from the limit of one bar in town to a world-wide audience. For Paul the enlargement of his border was planting churches in all the cities from Jerusalem to Croatia (Romans 15:19). A woman with a happy marriage and six children might say "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage" (Psalm 16:6). A boundary can also be a restriction on our freedom. In jail it is the cell the prisoner occupies, and parole is an enlargement of space to move. So Jabez' prayer reminds us to see how exactly we long for our border to be enlarged, and express our longing to God. And when we have received what we need for our freedom, it is good to recognize it and thank him (see THANKSGIVING). As we grow older it is also good to see death, not as a boundary, but a huge enlargement of our border in HEAVEN.

BRAINWASHING In his Battle for the Mind; A Physiology of Conversion and Brain-Washing (1957) William Sargant showed how politicians and preachers have used brainwashing (thought control) as a means of forcing "the surrender of strongly held beliefs and the adoption of new beliefs" (pp.14, 79-80). He described the effect of dancing to the drums in VOODOO (p.93). Our website commends the investigation of alternative religions and ideologies and we offer a method for analyzing the explanations that are given (God of Many Names, chapters 1-4). In CONVERSION there is always a consideration of at least one of two or more alternatives. Prayer to Holy Spirit does not force a submission, but it enables the person to see the issues clearly. So when conversion occurs as a free choice without manipulation, we cannot fault the change of mind that is involved. It is only immoral when a person is converted as the result of psychological pressure (see PROSELYTIZING).

BRAND LOGO When I was a boy I loved Tate and Lyle's Golden Syrup. It had a picture of a dead lion with bees making honey from its carcase (Judges 14:8-9). It had the same label and tasted just as good when I had some last week. Canadians think Marmite is like axle grease, but I still relish Marmite from exactly the same old jars. Rolls Royce continues with its logo on the hood. But Morris and Hillman were unable to provide parts to fix their cars the same day, so they disappeared from Canada, as did BSA and Matchless motorbikes in competition with the Japanese. If Maytag cannot retain customer loyalty for washing machines that last a lifetime, and Colonel Sanders fails to deliver better chicken, or IBM cannot offer better service than Dell or Hewlett Packard, they will soon lose out. The Royal bank has a fine regal lion for its logo, but it explains "we have grown one customer at a time." The point is we need a brand logo, but we have to deliver what we profess to offer. The Christian logo is the CROSS, and our brand is Jesus the Messiah (compare Colonel Sanders) which flourishes because there are enough of us who are willing to deliver at any hour of the day or night his quality of the love of God to anyone anywhere. And we give it for free.

BRAZIL The Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) allocated a vast area occupied by aboriginal tribes to Portugal. By the importing of African slaves Brazil provided most of Europe's demand for sugar, and in 1800 Brazil had become more prosperous than Portugal. When Portugal was invaded by Napoleon (1808) the Portuguese royal family ruled the two countries from Brazil. The independent empire of Brazil was proclaimed (1822). It became a federal republic (1889), and the new constitution was based on the separation of church and state (1891, see the FIRST AMENDMENT in the United States). The newly created city of Brazilia became the capital (1960). In the face of opposition from the landless poor the big landowners and industrialists backed a miliary coup (1964), but President Figueiredo (1978-84) reestablished a democracy. There isFREEDOM OF RELIGION, but everyone is required to list themselves as belonging to one of the DENOMINATIONS. Though the Roman Catholics claim 76% of the population of about 165 million, other groupings have a far bigger influence, especially among the poor. The Episcopal Anglicans for example are organized under seven dioceses in Recife, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Porto Alegro, Santa Maria, and Pelotas. They are also growing rapidly up the Amazon valley from the city of Belem.

BREAD AND WINE In Bible times bread and wine (safer than polluted water) were the diet of ordinary families. The cheapest bread was made from barley (e.g. the five barley loaves the boy offered (John 6:9). It was rolled out flat (like chappatis or pita bread), and usually served with a small amount of fish for flavor (Luke 24:42 , John 21:9, and as in the feeding of the 5,000 and 4,000). The bread was leavened (Matthew 13:33), and unleavened bread was only used in memory of the Passover. Wheat bread was a luxury (choice flour, Genesis 18:6). New wine came right out of the wine vat (on a hot day fermentation began immediately) but the best wine (Luke 5:39) was kept in wine skins for several years. Wine was always served at a wedding (John 2:3, 10). The ceremonial serving of bread and wine goes back at least to the time of Abraham. "King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High" (Genesis14:18). It expressed the invitation of the Spirit to God's table. "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed" (Proverbs 9:5). This is why the Christian communion meal (called the Breaking of Bread, Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7) uses bread and wine (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 10:16, 11:23-26) to express the ideas of being welcomed to Jesus's family, remembering his cross and resurrection, and reconciliation with one another.

BREAD of life When Jesus called himself the Bread of Life his hearers would picture the pita bread that they ate every day (John 6:35) . He explained that this was metaphorical for eating the "living bread that came down from heaven." And he added that "whoever eats of this bread will live for ever" (John 6:51). This connects with the petition in the Lord's Prayer "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). This is both a prayer looking to God for the physical food we need and the spiritual food that nourishes our eternal life (John 6:57).

BREAKDOWN The fact that humans can suffer a nervous breakdown is often described in history. The INQUISITION knew that under torture even the strongest of humans have a breaking point. A confession and total admission of guilt can be extracted by BRAINWASHING. In his Battle for the Mind; A Physiology of Conversion and Brain-Washing (1957) William Sargant compared this with the methods used by some preachers. He referred, perhaps without understanding what was really going on, to John WESLEY's Journal of 1739-40 (p.18). We cannot deny that some hell-fire preaching is designed to effect the submission and conversion of hearers. But we also note that the results in the lives of early Methodists were very impressive.

BREASTPLATE To protect his heart, lungs, liver, and spleen, a Roman soldier wore a reinforced breastplate. The modern equivalent is a bullet proof vest. For Paul this piece of spiritual armor was "the breastplate of righteousness" (Ephesians 6:14). The word "righteousness" here is dikaiosune which does not mean we are already righteous, or made righteous, but it refers to the righteousness which the Holy Spirit is willing to work in us. In another epistle Paul writes about "the breastplate of faith (faithfulness) and love" (1 Thessalonians 5:8), which are two of the fruit which only the Holy Spirit can produce in us (Galatians 5:22). Obviously "righteousness" did not mean that Paul was convinced he was better than others. In fact he wrote to his assistant Timothy "Jesus the Messiah came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the foremost" (1 Timothy 1:15). But the assurance that the Holy Spirit can do in us all that we need, not only to fight, but to be perfected in faith and love gives us tremendous protection from the arrows and spear thrusts of those who oppose us.

BRIDLE Horses and mules need a bit in the mouth and a bridle to steer them in the right direction. Some think that is the only way to get people to behave. The Psalmist offers us a quite different way to learn from God. "I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle" (Psalm 32:8-9). Similarly in our day we shift from a legalism enforced by church discipline (see YOKE) to a free enjoyment of learning from the Messiah by the Holy Spirit. Which is why Paul was horrified when the Galatians were persuaded to move from enjoying the freedom of the Spirit back into legalism. "Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? For freedom the Messiah has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke (see YOKE) of slavery (Galatians 3:2 & 5:1). And in a later letter the apostle went on to explain "Now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit" (Romans 7:6).

BROW, Robert (b.1924) & Mollie (b.1926) live at 116 Rideau Street, Kingston, Ontario, K7K 2Z9 (613, 542-9838). They worked in Allahabad and Varanasi (Benares) in North India for eleven years, and came to Canada in 1964. They have four children, Rachel Bloomquist (Ottawa), Peter Brow (Vancouver), Timothy Brow (Toronto), and Susanne Stewart (Aurora), and ten grandchildren. For more detailed biographical information see Autobio 2000.Bob and Mollie write Word Thoughts jointly as a web resource for churches throughout the world, and the material can be used freely in any form without permission. Their joint book, Adultery: An Exploration of Love and Marriage (1993) still gets more accesses than any of the other materials on this site.

BUBER, Martyn Ich und Du (1923) was translated into English as I and Thou (1937, new translation and introduction by Walter Kaufmann, 1970). It has proved to be one of the most creative influences in both Jewish and Christian theology. Martyn Buber (1878-1965) was born in Vienna and received his doctorate at the university there at the age of 22. As a student he took part in the Zionist movement with Theodor Herzl and Chaim Weizmann. But a deeper interest became the revival of a mystical movement called the HASIDIM. After Hitler took over, Buber moved to Israel and taught at Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1938-1951). His I and Thou describes the experience of encountering God in a personal way as a Thou (not an It). That is certainly the experience of the Psalm writers (e.g. Psalm 3:4;5:1-3; 51:10-12; 77:1-3). The Bible describes sin as emerging from a conversation with Satan, or with oneself (pride, hate, lust, worry, despair, e.g. Galatians 5:19-21; James 1:14-15). In our Christian TRINITARIAN model, faith emerges in a conversation with God (thanksgiving, prayer). As opposed to a UNITARIAN model of God we have an "I and Thou" relationship with the LORD (KING, MESSIAH, SON OF GOD). We also have an "I and Thou" love relationship as a little child with the Father. And those who know the power of the Spirit (who was experienced by prophets and artists and leaders in the Old Testament period) find themselves in a very personal "I and Thou" experience of conversation with God the Holy Spirit.


BUDAPEST When the Roman armies took over the CELTS living in the area later called Hungary, they made Buda the capital of a Roman province (106 AD). Three hundred years later that Roman civilization was swept away by the GOTHS and then (441-43) by Attila the Hun (434-453, see HUNS). In the confusion that followed a group of MAGYARS led by Prince Arpad settled in Hungary and set up an empire around the town of Buda (896). King Geza, the great grandson of Arpad, married a Christian wife, and sent for missionaries to teach his people (973). Under his son Istvan (Stephen, reigned 997-1038) Hungary became a Christian nation. His successors had the right (till 1920) to found episcopal sees, and to administer the church in Hungary. The Universities of Pecs (1367, and Buda (1395) nourished the golden age of Hungary under King Matyas (1458-1490). The Muslim Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1494-1566) seized Buda (1541), and the city came under Turkish control for 150 years till it was again freed (1686) to grow and flourish. The united city of Buda, Pest, and Obuda had electric lights (1873) and a subway system (1896) before other cities in western Europe. Budapest retained some independence through two world wars till it was finally freed in the DAY OF THE LORD that toppled the IRON CURTAIN (November 1989).

BUDDHA Siddharta Gautama (c.560- c.480 BC) was born in India where his father was the Rajah (king) of the kingdom of Kapilavastu near the Nepal border. He was raised in royal luxury, and was married with a harem of beautiful dancers. But he continually felt dissatisfied with himself and the suffering of the world. At the age of 29 he left his wife and children and became a wandering ascetic in search of illumination. Finally sitting under a fig tree (bodhi "tree of enlightenment") he saw a way to escape the cycle of pain and reincarnation. He belonged to the warrior caste (kshatriya), and now with many others he rejected the Hindu caste system and the authority of the Brahmin priesthood (see Religion: Origins and Ideas chapter 3 on "The Sixth Century Revolt). In Varanasi (previously Benares) there is a stupa that marks the place where he preached his first sermon in a deer park. His preaching, based on losing all desire to attain NIRVANA, later became known as BUDDHISM. (from the name Buddha which meant "the awakened or enlightened one"). His disciples formed a SANGHA (community) but this was not a settled monastery, and he quickly sent his first sixty followers out to make the message known all over India. Later the residential sangha became an essential part of the new religion.

BUDDHISM Seven new models of religion emerged in the sixth century BC. They all rejected the need for priests, temples, idols, and even a Creator God.. Original Buddhism was taught by Gautama Buddha (c.560-480 BC). He retained the ancient Hindu theory of REINCARNATION. But he offered a way of escaping from the round of rebirths by losing the desires that hold us in the grip of this miserable cycle of suffering.. This could only be done by becoming a monk in a sangha (monastery) where the rigorous discipline of eradicating desires one by one (like weeds in a garden) could be practiced in a community with others. With the loss of every desire there is the experience NIRVANA when we lose our personality in the peace of the Absolute. Mahayana (the great vehicle) form of Buddhism was later offered as a popular alternative to the severe discipline of eradicating desires. Salvation from the round of rebirths was now by faith in Buddha or one of the Bodhisattva who have experienced the freedom of nirvana. In time this reintroduced temple worship, with Buddhist priests and statues of the Buddha. For a form of Buddhism popular in the West see ZEN BUDDHISM.

BUDDHISM, Hinayana As opposed to the mahayana (great vehicle) Buddhism of North India and China, the Buddhism of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was called hinayana (little vehicle). This is more accurately described as Theravada (the teaching of the elders). The Theravada explanatory model is much closer to the original teaching of BUDDHA (c.560 -c.480 BC) himself. Its goal can be analyzed (see God of Many Names, chapter 3 & 4) as NIRVANA. What prevents the attainment of that goal is trishna (desire, longing). And the way salvation is learning the FOUR TRUTHS in a SANGHA as a preparation for the tough discipline of losing all desire. Sri Lanka is still viewed as the centre of pure Hinayana Buddhism, but it also flourished in BURMA, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia. In those countries Mahayana Buddhism was brought in from China, and the Pagodas have statues of Buddha, which would not be permitted in strict Hinayana teaching.

BUDDHISM, Mahayana In Varanasi (old Benares) very close to the stupa in the deer park where BUDDHA (c.560 - c.480 BC) preached his first sermon there is a magnificent Buddhist temple with a statue of Buddha. Buddha himself would have been horrified at being worshiped in the form of an idol. As opposed to original Buddhism, which proved too severe for ordinary people, Mahayana (the great vehicle, which originated about 100 BC) deified Buddha (as Adi Buddha). He is pictured as taking birth in a series of Bodhisattvas before and after the incarnation of Buddha himself. The severely ascetic monastic life of the SANGHA was usually abandoned in favor of simple faith in Buddha and other Bodhisattvas. Faith was nourished by contemplation and prayers to a big statue of Buddha in a temple. Instead of losing all desire to merge in the Absolute, salvation was by faith and there was a personal heaven to be enjoyed. Mahayana Buddhism had originated in India, but it mostly disappeared under the influence of the GITA and Hindu BHAKTI. It flourished in China before the Communist revolution, and also in Korea, and Japan before it was weakened by secularism. Mahayana practices also came into BURMA from China, and as a result statues of Buddha are found in the Pagodas (temples) although in theory the country is usually described as committed to the Theravada (HINAYANA) form of original Buddhism.

BUDDHISM, Four Noble Truths Based on the original teachings of BUDDHA (C.560-C.480) a disciple should first learn that (1) suffering is the universal human experience. (2) The cause of suffering is desire or craving. (3) Desire can be systematically eradicated. (4) This can be achieved by the right DHARMA (wisdom, ethical conduct, mental discipline) which is best learned in a SANGHA (monastery). The result is the attainment of NIRVANA. By way of contrast we should note that the New Testament does not suggest the eradication of desire, but rather that it should purified (and intensified) by the Holy Spirit for the perfect love of heaven.

BUDDHISM, Sangha India had a long tradition of ascetics who engaged in meditation alone. But those who sought to attain Buddhist NIRVANA soon felt the need of a community to support them in this arduous task. The sangha (religious community or monastery) provided a place for undistracted contemplation. Unlike most Christian MONASTICISMthe sangha permitted men and women to come for shorter or longer visits to learn the DHARMA (Buddhist disciplines). Conversation was permitted, as long it did not descend to worldly matters, and everyone joined in the morning and evening worship. Boys would attend for their schooling. And many young men would shave their head, put on the saffron robe and spend a year or so in the monastery before returning to live in the world. .


BUDDHISM, Theravada see BUDDHISM, Hinayana



BUILDER A house builder creates a home to be lived in, but without a proper foundation it will collapse. Jesus pointed out that we also need a foundation for building our life . The impressive externals, fittings, and paintwork do not help when the storm hits us. It is only the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, who has the right to say: "Everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock" (Matthew 7:24-27)
That is why he said "Go and make DISCIPLES of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them everything that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20). To build a life that will survive the pressures of our world, we need to mind the specifications that Jesus gave about our relationship to God as Father, God as Son, and God as Spirit in the GOSPELS. That leaves us a huge amount of freedom for creativity, but without the foundation that he gives us we can have no confidence for this life, and certainly no assurance for our life after death.

BUILDING In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus stressed our foundation for life. "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be a wise man who built his house on the rock" (Matthew 7:24). But the kind of house we build is also important. As Paul explained, "If anyone builds on the foundation (Jesus the Messiah) with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw - the work of each builder will be visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire" (1Corinthians 3:12-15). Even spiritual gifts like speaking in tongues, prophetic powers, understanding mysteries, mountain-moving faith, and willingness to be burned at the stake, can turn out to be nothing. "Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love: (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13).

BULTMANN, Rudolph (1884-1976) Bultmann was a brilliant New Testament scholar, and he was one of the originators of the form criticism of the Gospels. After studying and teaching at various German Universities, he taught at Marburg for 30 years (1921-51). In his Jesus (1926, English translation 1934) he interpreted the Christian good news of Jesus as a form of EXISTENTIALISM. That meant the message of the Kingdom a call to authentic living. He then adopted a model in which "It is impossible to use light and wireless . . . and at the same time believe in the New Testament world of spirits and miracles." He therefore asserted that "The cosmology of the New Testament is essentially mythical in character" (Kerugma and Myth, 1961, p.1-5). The four GOSPELS need be "demythologized" to make sense to modern man (see Bishop Robinson's HONEST TO GOD). He therefore denied the incarnation, miracles, and resurrection of Jesus as historical facts. In his model these "myths" call us to faith which he defined as existential decision. He also assumed that the parousia (coming of the Messiah) which Jesus predicted (Mark 13, Matthew 24) did not occur in AD 70 (we offer another model to understand the parousia in Advent Comings of the Lord among the Nations). Bultmann's work proved that there is no such thing as unbiased New Testament commentary. Which is why Model Theology assumes that the model we adopt will influence our interpretation at every point. And, having derived our Christian Trinitarian model (see CREEDS) from the Bible, we will have no difficulty with any of the facts in the Gospels which Bultmann declared to be myths.

BUNYAN, John (1628-88) At the age of sixteen John Bunyan fought with Oliver Comwell in the English civil war that ended with the execution of Charles I (1649). He later joined an independent Puritan congregation (1653), and was ordained as a preacher (1657). With the Restoration of the monarchy under Charles II (reigned 1660-85) Bunyan spent the next twelve years in Bedford gaol for refusing to submit to the Church of England. During that time he wrote his autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666). During a second six months' imprisonment (1676) he wrote the first part of Pilgrim's Progress (published 1678). The persons that Christian encountered in the journey, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Mr. Legality and his son Civility, Mr. Talkative, Mr. Facing-both-ways, Mr. Greatheart, and the places he had trouble with, the Slough of Despond, the Hill of Difficulty, and Vanity Fair, have appealed to millions of Christians. The book has been translated into over 100 languages.

BURMA After three wars (1824, 1852, 1885) the British were able to make Burma a province of British India (1886-1937). The main purpose was commercial, and that was why they did not interfere with the people's popular religion. Where there were tribal people (e.g. the Karens) who became Christians in large numbers, the British authorities tried to discourage this.. Burma became a crown colony (1937) till the Japanese invasion (1942-45). It became an independent country on January 4, 1948, and it opted out of the Commonwealth. A sudden coup (1962) toppled U Nu's government which had been devoutly Buddhist. The new military leader, Ne Win, established a socialist state with a program of industrial development and nationalization. English was dropped and Burmese became the national language. The official policy (1963) was to make religion a partner in the state, and Buddhism was made the official state religion. "To be Burmese is to be Buddhist." As a result every town will have a Pagoda (temple with one or more statues of BUDDHA, which he would have abominated) for worship and a SANGHA where monks not only meditate and pray but teach the DHARMA (Buddhist disciplines).


BUTTERFLIES At a funeral children love the story of the caterpillar. He lived by crawling and chewing leaves on the branch of a tree. What worried him was that one by one hisfriends and members of his family went into a cocoon and died. One day he was sick, and lay on his back looking up at the sky. He could see strange and beautiful butterflies flying above him, but he did not know they were the friends and family members he was missing. Then the day came when he found himself being gripped by the cocoon of death. When he lost consciousness the next thing he knew was a different kind of energy, and his wings had grown. He shook himself free, took off, found a flower full of delicious nectar, and there around him were the other butterfly members of his family and other friends. Satan tries to make us believe death is the end, but of course it is only the beginning.

BYZANTINE EMPIRE The Roman Emperor CONSTANTINE (reigned 306-337) made BYZANTIUM the eastern capital of his empire, and renamed it Constantinople (330 AD). This empire included Greece and the Balkans to the north, the whole of TURKEY, and the eastern Mediterranean coast, including Jerusalem, down to ALEXANDRIA in Egypt. The Emperor Justinian (reigned 527-565) built the great Byzantine cathedral of Santa Sophia. He extended the Eastern Empire to include what had been the Roman empire in Italy and North Africa. The ARABS took over Jerusalem (638) and Egypt (640).The churches of western Turkey virtually disappeared after the Byzantine army was routed (1071) by the SELJUK TURKS who were Muslim. But the Greek speaking Byzantine Empire based on Constantinople continued to control the eastern Balkans, and Greece and its islands. The influence of the Byzantine empire finally ended with the fall of Constantinople to the OTTOMAN Empire (1453)

BYZANTIUM Founded by Greek colonists (657 BC) Byzantium was chosen by the Roman Emperor CONSTANTINE to be his eastern capital and he renamed it CONSTANTINOPLE (330 AD). As a result, the Christian churches of TURKEY were freed from Roman persecution. Constantinople continued as the Christian capital of the BYZANTINE Empire for 700 years. But when its army was routed by the SELJUK TURKS (1071) Christian churches virtually disappeared from Turkey.