Gleanings: June 2016

Important developments in the church and the world (as they appeared in our June issue).
Gleanings: June 2016
Image: Michael Cordonsky / courtesy of Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority

Ancient Post-It Notes Boost Bible

The archaeological equivalent of sticky notes is causing secular scholars to re-assess the age of the Old Testament. Sixteen to-do lists inked onto pottery shards from 600 B.C. suggest that literacy in the ancient kingdom of Judah was more widespread than previously thought. Such ostraca “impl[y] that an educational infrastructure that could support the composition of literary texts in Judah already existed” before the Israelites were exiled to Babylon in 586 B.C., concluded researchers at Tel Aviv University. Most evangelical scholars already believe that Moses penned the first books of the Bible sometime between the 13th and 15th centuries B.C., based on references to literacy in the Old Testament. “They’re moving in the right direction,” said Walter Kaiser Jr., president emeritus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, of his secular peers. “I just say, ‘Keep going.’ ”

Canada: Attempt to export religious freedom office fails

Canada’s attempt to replicate its southern neighbor’s diplomatic advocacy for international religious freedom lasted only three years. The previous Conservative administration opened the Office of Religious Freedom (ORF) in 2013, modeled after the US State Department. But six months after the Liberal party won the latest elections, the four-person, $5 million ORF has been shuttered. Foreign affairs minister Stéphane Dion said his party believes religious freedom can be better promoted from within a broader human rights office. According to the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of Canadians say it is “very important” that people can practice their religion freely, compared with 84 percent ...

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