The Biblical Hero Who . . . Killed His Daughter???

01/08/2013 Comments (35)

Jephthah made a tragic vow, and to fulfill it, he would have to kill his daughter. What are we to make of this?

The book of Hebrews has a whole chapter about Old Testament men (and women) who achieved great things by faith.

One of them had his daughter killed--as a human sacrifice.

What are we to make of this?


Hebrews on Jephthah

NOTE: This post is part of a series on the "dark passages" in the Bible. Click here to see all of the posts in the series.

Hebrews 11 discusses various Old Testament figures who had faith in God and did amazing things. Toward the end of the chapter, we read:

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets--who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received...READ MORE

Filed under dark passages, jephthah, old testament

9 Things You Need to Know About Epiphany

01/03/2013 Comments (14)

The magi followed the star and found Baby Jesus. What are we to make of this mysterious event, and does it mean astrology is okay?

On January 6 the Church celebrates the feast of "Epiphany."

This feast commemorates the mysterious visit of the magi to the Baby Jesus.

Who were the magi? What led them to visit Jesus? And what lessons should we--and shouldn't we!--learn from this incident?

Here are nine things you should know . . .


1. What does the word "Epiphany" mean?

"Epiphany" means "manifestation."

It comes from Greek roots that mean "to show, to display" (phainein) and "on, to" (epi-).

An epiphany is thus a time when something is shown, displayed, or manifested to an audience.


2. What is the feast of the Epiphany about?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The Epiphany is...READ MORE

Filed under bethlehem star, epiphany, liturgical year, liturgy, magi, star, star of bethlehem, wise men

Was It Okay for Jacob to Lie to His Father?

01/02/2013 Comments (19)

Jacob deceived his father to keep God's promises on track. Was this right?

The book of Genesis records an instance in which Jacob deceives his father, Isaac, by pretending to be his brother.


He does this so that he can inherit his father's blessing.

All of this seems to happen in fulfillment of God's plan for Israel.

Does that make it right?

Here's the story . . .


Jacob and Esau

NOTE: This post is part of a series on the "dark passages" in the Bible. Click here to see all of the posts in the series.

Here is how the book of Genesis describes the birth and early life of Jacob and his twin brother, Esau:

Genesis 25

[22] The children struggled together within [Rebekah]; and she said, "If it is thus, why do I live?" So she went to inquire of...READ MORE

Filed under bible, esau, isaac, jacob, lying, rebekah

9 Things You Should Know About How the Church Celebrates January 1

12/30/2012 Comments (30)

On January 1, the Church celebrates several things connected with Mary and Jesus. What are they? And why do we celebrate them now?

January 1 is an important day in the Church's liturgy.

There is a lot that we commemorate on this day!

What we are celebrating, and why we are celebrating it now, can be a little confusing.

Here are nine things you should know . . .


1. What exactly are we celebrating on January 1?

According to the Universal Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar [.pdf]:

1 January, the octave day of the Nativity of the Lord, is the Solemnity of Mary, the holy Mother of God, and also the commemoration of the conferral of the Most Holy Name of Jesus [Norms, 35f].


2. Didn't this day used to signify something else?

Yes. Pope Benedict explains:

It was Pope Paul VI who moved to...READ MORE

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A Mysterious Incident from Jesus' Childhood

12/27/2012 Comments (12)

Mary and Joseph knew the agony of having a missing child. What are we to make of this mysterious incident, and what does it tell us about Jesus' future?

This Sunday we celebrate the mystery of the Holy Family.

What was it like for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to live together?

Each is a very remarkable person! Put all three together and . . . wow.

Today we have reality shows about interesting and extraordinary families, but they didn't have reality shows back then.

Fortunately, we are given a glimpse into the domestic life of the Holy Family.

And it's a glimpse provided by the Virgin Mary herself . . .


Missing Child!

This episode in the life of the Holy Family begins on a holiday: specifically, the feast of Passover.

Luke records that the Holy Family went up to Jerusalem each year for the feast of Passover, apparently in a...READ MORE

Filed under finding, infancy narratives, jesus, joseph, liturgical year, mary, temple

Did the slaughter of the innocents really happen?

12/26/2012 Comments (101)

Matthew records that Herod the Great slaughtered the holy innocents in his efforts to kill Jesus. What evidence do we have for this?

On December 28, the Church commemorates the slaughter of the holy innocents.

These are the baby boys in Bethlehem that Herod the Great had slaughtered in an attempt to kill the Baby Jesus.

But many people today challenge the idea that this ever took place.

"We have no record of it!" they say.

Actually, we do . . .


Who Was Herod the Great?

Herod the Great was the king of Judea at the time Jesus was born.

He had the title "king," but he was not an independent ruler. Instead, he was a client king of the Roman empire who had been named "King of the Jews" by the Roman Senate.

This meant that he was a local ruler who ultimately answered to Rome and who owed his throne to the...READ MORE

Filed under apologetics, bible, dec 28, december 28, herod, holy innocents

How to understand the "Christmas Proclamation"

12/25/2012 Comments (8)

Many parishes use the "Christmas Proclamation" on Christmas Eve. What is this proclamation and how can we understand what it says about when Jesus was born?

If you attended Mass on Christmas Eve, you may have heard the "Christmas proclamation."

This is a beautiful, poetic announcement of the birth of Christ.

It says when Jesus was born, dating it from nine different events.

But the ways that they dated events in the ancient world are different than the ones we use today.

Here's how you can understand the Christmas proclamation when you hear it read . . .


About the Christmas Proclamation

Scott Richert notes:

This Proclamation of the Birth of Christ comes from the Roman Martyrology, the official listing of the saints celebrated by the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. Traditionally, it has been read on Christmas Eve, before...READ MORE

Filed under christmas, liturgical year, liturgy

9 things you need to know about Christmas

12/22/2012 Comments (59)

This is the actual Grotto of the Nativity under the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Why is there so much confusion today about Christmas and what it means?

There's a lot of confusion about Christmas.

Is it a day? Is it a season? Is it based on a pagan holiday? What is its real meaning?

Here are 9 things you should know about Christmas . . .  


1. What is "the real meaning of Christmas"?

Although many voices in pop culture suggest that the true meaning of Christmas is being kind to each other, or being with our families, or something like that, the real meaning of the day--and the season it begins--is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty...READ MORE

Filed under christmas, liturgy, pagan, twelve days

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About Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin
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Jimmy was born in Texas, grew up nominally Protestant, but at age 20 experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, he started an intensive study of the Bible. But the more he immersed himself in Scripture the more he found to support the Catholic faith. Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church. His conversion story, "A Triumph and a Tragedy," is published in Surprised by Truth. Besides being an author, Jimmy is the Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to Catholic Answers Magazine, and a weekly guest on "Catholic Answers Live."