Ancient warrior’s tomb and huge treasure hoard found in Greece

I am re-printing this article in full because I think this is a significant find.  Enjoy!

An undated picture released on October 26, 2105 by the Greek Culture Ministry shows an ivory comb, one of the items found in a 3,500 years old warrior tomb unearthed in the Peloponeese region of Greece
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An undated picture released on October 26, 2105 by the Greek Culture Ministry shows an ivory comb, one of the items found in a 3,500 years old warrior tomb unearthed in the Peloponeese region of Greece (AFP Photo/)

Athens (AFP) – US archaeologists in Greece have uncovered the skeleton of an ancient warrior that has lain undisturbed for more than 3,500 years along with a huge hoard of treasure, the Greek culture ministry announced Monday.

The treasure is “the most important to have been discovered in 65 years” in continental Greece, the ministry said.

The wooden coffin of the unknown soldier — evidently a person of some importance — was found on the site of the Mycenaean-era Palace of Nestor on Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula.

He had been laid to rest with an array of fine gold jewellery, including an ornate string of pearls, signet rings, a bronze sword with a gold and ivory handle, silver vases and ivory combs.

The jewellery is decorated in the style of the Minoans, the civilisation that flourished on the island of Crete from around 2000 BC, with the figures of deities, animals and floral motifs.

The archaeologists, Jack L. Davis and Sharon R. Stocker from the University of Cincinnati, have identified more than 1,400 pieces “whose quality testifies to the influence of the Minoans” on the later Mycenaeans.

The Mycenean civilisation spread from the Peloponnese across the whole of the eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd century BC.

The tomb, which stands at 2.4 metres (7 feet 10 inches) long and 1.5 metres wide, was unearthed during excavations begun in May near Pylos, on the site of the palace of Nestor.

Built between 1300 and 1200 BC, the palace’s ruins were discovered in 1939.

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Luke’s Centurions-Part 5-Luke’s Third Centurion

Luke’s Third Centurion appears in the Book of Acts 10: 1-8, 22-35, and 42-48:

1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.

3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:

6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;

8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.

22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.

25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.

26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.

27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.

28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.

33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

 

42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

A Centurion, a Roman Centurion, is Converted to Christianity-This is the headline from these readings.

As we have seen, the backbone of the Roman army was the centurions. So for a Centurion to be converted to Christianity was a very big deal. He is a key Roman official. He is, perhaps, the very symbol of the government.

Further, and extremely important, is the fact that during the time of Jesus, the headquarters of the Roman army in Judea was located at Caesarea, on the Mediterranean coast. Why was the army headquartered here? Caesarea  Maritima was the capital of the province of Judea. Jerusalem was not the capital. Caesarea was the administrative hub of the province of Judea. Being posted here meant that the centurion was crucial to the proper functioning of the government, whether his force was providing security, as the head of a 80 man century, or whether he was higher up than a century commander.

So the events related by Luke in Acts are happening at the provincial capital-the very seat of Roman power and government in Judea. Let that sink in: The first Roman official converted to Christianity happens right at the seat of Roman power.

The third Centurion is both the first Gentile and the first Roman converted to Christianity. And he is a Roman official.

The story starts with the centurion being told by an angel to send for Peter. He does not question it. He immediately does what he is told to do.   This is faith.  His faith has been shown in other ways. He is devout.  He fears the Lord.  He prays to the Lord. He has given alms to the poor.  He seeks baptism.

Conclusions:

Centurions led from the front. They led and inspired their men by example. They also sought to display the skill and courage that may have brought them to their rank in the first place. It is for these reasons that they often suffered a disproportionate number of casualties.

Remember that Centurions led by example. Again, remember that the most important and prestigious position an ordinary Roman citizen could hope to achieve was that of a centurion I think these facts are the clues which show why Luke is using these three stories of centurions, who are faithful, as a guide, as a map for other Gentiles to follow Jesus. Luke is saying follow the example of Centurions! If a Roman, if a Roman official, if a Gentile can believe in God, so too can you.

Luke’s Centurions-Part 4-Luke’s Second Centurion Continued

I ended my last blog with the question of how would a Centurion know what the average Jew might have thought about what was righteousness?   I think some of the answer lies in answering another question: “How long would a centurion have been in Judea?” How long was the enlistment of a legionary in the Roman legions during the Principate or during the early Empire? At first, it was 16 years, with, upon retirement, four more years to be served as a veteran at the end of the 16 years.  Later, the term was raised to twenty years, and then four years as a retired veteran.

A Centurion had to have served at least 10 years, but probably more.  This is more than long enough to have learned a great deal about the culture and the religion of the people with whom they lived on a daily basis.

The statement by the Centurion was the conviction of one who was himself a man of duty. To him, the one governing principle of his life was duty. He lived a large part of his life as a soldier,  obeying orders.He marched in rhythm and time.  He was part of a team.  Men’s lives depended upon him.  As he had obeyed, he demanded immediate and reflexive obedience with inflexible regularity.

Doing one’s duty was a value and a virtue in his world. This was the essence of  being a soldier.  He saw in Jesus upon the Cross a man being submissive to authority, even unto death.  This was a value he could understand, emphasize with, and was important to him.

What did the Cross do for the centurion? His statement is one We have no record of his life afterward, but this much at least is certain, that it commanded the respect and the confession of that which was highest in human gent overnment. And if we may follow the story along imaginative lines, it is more than probable that the King upon Whose brow the centurion placed the diadem of his loyalty, crowned him with the realization of his own highest ideals of life

Why did the Centurion react? His men did not. They seemed to have absolutely no pity for Jesus and his agony. They went about their task with cold precision. Here was a man giving his life without complaint, without pleading for mercy, and the Roman soldiers were casting lots for his meager possessions. Luke 23:36- “The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine”

But the Centurion was different.

  1. He would be a centurion, normally in charge of a hundred troops, he would be delegated to make sure that the crucifixion was carried out properly without any complications.
  2. He would be a career soldier who had worked his way up through the ranks by virtue of courage and intelligence.
  3. He would be expected to be cold and efficient. His first task would be to carry out the orders of his superiors.

Somewhere along the way, he became impressed with Jesus.

It could have been the way he held up under the anguish of the cross. It could have been the way he lovingly made allowance for his mother’s care. It could have been how Jesus prayed for their, and specifically his, forgiveness. He had almost certainly never heard such a prayer from a cross.

It was also, no doubt, because of the signs that took place during the crucifixion.

He went on to express a belief in Jesus’ innocence.

Luke 23:47- “So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!””

It could well be possible that this centurion was like the centurion earlier, and Cornelius in Acts chapter 10, in that he was a believer in the one true God. Notice that he “glorified God.”

One can’t but wonder about how coming in contact with Jesus affected the soldier’s lives.

We can be sure that their lives would never be the same after seeing the Son of God hang on the cross.

The cross of Jesus has the power to change the individual. The centurion began as a Roman officer overseeing a crucifixion, but ended the day acknowledging that Jesus was the Son of God.

Luke’s Centurions-Part 3-Luke’s Second Centurion

Luke’s Second Centurion is described in Luke 23: 36-38 and 44-49: 

36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,

37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.

38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.

Let’s look at what the Centurion said: “Certainly this was a righteous Man.”

There are other and important translations of this language:

New American Standard 1977 Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent.”

Douay-Rheims Bible Now the centurion, seeing what was done, glorified God, saying: Indeed this was a just man.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English When the Centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God and he said, “Truly this man was The Righteous One.”

How would a centurion know what righteousness means?

I think first we might first look at what did ‘righteousness’ mean to the average Jew of the time?  The average Jew would think righteousness is as set forth in Micah 6:8:

I will shew thee, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requireth of thee: Namely, to do right, to have pleasure in loving-kindness, a to be lowly, and to walk with thy God.

So to be righteous, one had to love kindness.  Loving kindness is loving mercy.  So a righteous man is one who loves or shows mercy. Loving righteousness is also the same as loving goodness.  Thus to be righteous, one has to love goodness.

What does lowly mean?

In the ancient Near East and the Greco-Roman world, being lowly or displaying meekness was held to be a virtue, and it placed a high premium on it. Kings, who described themselves as powerful, also described themselves as lowly. Most modern translations often replace the noun “meekness” by “gentleness” or “humility,” largely as a result of the pejorative overtones of weakness and effeminacy now associated with meekness. It was not a word of weakness in the ancient world.

Meekness is an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are wisely seen by the individual as only part of a larger picture. Meekness is not a resignation to fate; it is not a passive and reluctant submission to events. If it were a resignation to fate, there would be little or no virtue in that response. Meekness is the patient and hopeful endurance of undesirable circumstances which therefore identifies the person as externally vulnerable and weak, while inwardly resilient and strong. Meekness does not identify the weak but more precisely the strong who have been placed in a position of weakness where they persevere without giving up. The use of the Greek word when applied to animals makes this clear, for it means “tame” when applied to wild animals. In other words, such animals have not lost their strength but have learned to control the destructive instincts that prevent them from living in harmony with others.

Finally, what does it mean to ‘walk with God’?

In the ancient Near East and the Greco-Roman world, being lowly or displaying meekness was held to be a virtue, and it placed a high premium on it. Kings, who described themselves as powerful, also described themselves as lowly. Most modern translations often replace the noun “meekness” by “gentleness” or “humility,” largely as a result of the pejorative overtones of weakness and effeminacy now associated with meekness. It was not a word of weakness in the ancient world.

Meekness is an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are wisely seen by the individual as only part of a larger picture. Meekness is not a resignation to fate; it is not a passive and reluctant submission to events. If it were a resignation to fate, there would be little or no virtue in that response. Meekness is the patient and hopeful endurance of undesirable circumstances which therefore identifies the person as externally vulnerable and weak, while inwardly resilient and strong. Meekness does not identify the weak but more precisely the strong who have been placed in a position of weakness where they persevere without giving up. The use of the Greek word when applied to animals makes this clear, for it means “tame” when applied to wild animals. In other words, such animals have not lost their strength but have learned to control the destructive instincts that prevent them from living in harmony with others.

Finally, what does it mean to walk with God?

There are several people described as “walking with God” in the Bible, beginning with Enoch in Genesis 5:24. Noah is also described as “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God (Genesis 6:9). I think walking with God is the act of being side by side with God, as one might walk a country with a close and loving friend. As the friends walk, they talk and share their hearts and minds.  They are close together. They are only one with the other. They might laugh. They might look at the beauty around them. But in addition, walking with God I sharing the same values that God displays. Love for all mankind.

In my next blog, I will discuss how this Centurion might  have learned this.