Dead Sea Scrolls suggest a much tinier Goliath, other problems
Details are being changed in Bibles around the world due to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Goliath, according to the scrolls, was "four cubits and a span" (six and a half feet) rather than the "six cubits and a span" (more than nine feet) of other texts. There's no Psalm 32, but there are 15 other psalms not found in today's Bibles. But more important is the conclusion of Eugene Ulrich, professor of Hebrew at the University of Notre Dame and chief editor of the Dead Sea biblical materials, that biblical books had various, contrasting editions—and that all were regarded in ancient times as Holy Scripture. "If Ulrich is on the right track, we've got some major thinking to do," says the Moody Bible Institute's John H. Walton. "If it could be demonstrated we have two biblical traditions arising independently of one another, instead of one being a revision or corruption of the other, then which one are you going to call God's Word?" Still, he thinks it's too soon to get too worried about Ulrich's conclusions.

Mexico now worrying about religiosity of its leader
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency says Mexico's 50,000 to 60,000 Jews are "cautiously eyeing" Vicente Fox, who is being inaugurated today as the country's president. "While many Jews voted for Fox, they remain concerned about Fox's conservative political party, considered to have an allegiance with the Catholic Church," reports Rhona Statland De Lopez. Fox is the country's first openly Roman Catholic president in more than a century. But though he has said he wants the church to be more a part of Mexico's national and civic life, waved the banner of our Lady of Guadalupe at a campaign rally, and was criticized for being too religious in his campaigning, Jewish leaders say they're not worried. "While to many the PAN [National Action Party] means Christian intolerance, Fox has promised religious freedom and a continuation of secular education. … He is in no way hand in glove with the church." Businessman Abram Shamai notes that Fox is also divorced and an irregular church attendee, and concludes, "We're not talking Joe Lieberman here." Still, that means that all three North American countries have had campaigns this year in which the candidates' religion has been criticized. Meanwhile, Fox's daughter, Ana Cristina Fox, is causing an uproar by supporting the ban all of Mexico's states have on abortion—and she thinks they should include cases of rape and incest. "I understand that to be raped must be really hard, especially if the result is pregnancy, but you can't forget you are carrying a life inside you … and at the hour you decide to abort, you are killing it," she told a Mexican magazine. She also works as a counselor to pregnant teens. Vicente Fox says he opposes abortion too but won't do anything about it politically.

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Florida Methodists refuse to help bail out National Council of Churches
Still angry over the National Council of Churches' involvement in sending Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba, Methodist churches in Miami with predominantly Hispanic memberships are withholding donations to a United Methodist Church fund used this month to help bail the NCC out of debt. "We are against any money to the NCC," said Miguel Velez, pastor of Miami's Coral Way United Methodist Church. "Most of our Hispanic churches are very concerned about the NCC's participation in the political arena in Cuba. It is an oppressive system." The NCC says it's no big deal. Meanwhile, World magazine notes that the NCC has bigger fish to fry: it might not be around this time next year. "The NCC is deep in red ink; it is still struggling to raise enough money to balance and close its books for 1999," reports Ed Plowman. "It spent $6 million more than it took in that year, $4 million from now-depleted reserves, including restricted funds that must be paid back. … The coming year's budget is based on projections of income ($1.05 million for the first six months) never before achieved."

Crosswalk closes below $1
Publicly traded Christian Web site closed at $1 a share Wednesday and at 25/32 (about 78 cents) yesterday. That's a 22 percent drop—and the first time the troubled stock has closed below a dollar. Now the company really has to worry—if a company's shares fall below the $1 mark for more than 30 days straight and does not recover within a certain time period, Nasdaq removes it from the exchange. The company has already been in turmoil, laying off staff workers, closing its Nashville office, and losing its chief operating officer.

Maybe Jesus was one of America's Founding Fathers after all …
The Cincinnati Post begins its article on a new contemporary Christian music Christmas concert this way: "Two dozen top contemporary Christian recording artists are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Christ by joining in the all-star musical drama 'Child of the Promise,' coming to Firstar Center Tuesday." The 200th anniversary of the birth of Christ, huh? Has the Jesus Seminar come up with a conclusion we haven't heard of yet? You never know what's going to happen when those guys start "joining" up.

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