Insight on the News
No Comfort for Quake Victims
● When the most violent earthquake to strike Europe in recent times rocked southern Italy last November, over 3,000 died. Scores in the village of Balvano died when their church collapsed near the end of a Sunday evening Mass. What kind of spiritual comfort did the parish priest offer his flock? “I don’t know why us,” he reportedly cried. “How can I explain to these people that God decided to take their loved ones during a Mass?”
However, what happened can be explained, and in a most comforting way. From the Catholic “Jerusalem Bible” we can learn what our “gentle Father and the God of all consolation, who comforts us in all our sorrows,” has to say to those bereaved through such disasters. No, God did not “take their loved ones.” Rather, all humans “are subject to time and mischance. . . . like birds taken in the snare, so is man overtaken by misfortune suddenly falling on him.” Knowing this, sorrowing relatives and friends may be further encouraged by Jesus’ uplifting promise: “Do not be surprised at this, for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graves at the sound of his voice” to enjoy a potentially happy future.—2 Cor. 1:3, 4; Eccl. 9:11, 12; John 5:28, 29.
Update on Christ’s Birth Date
● At least 10 planetariums in the Federal Republic of Germany, Greece and the United States revised their recent winter shows to reflect what they believe to be a more accurate year for Christ’s birth. For centuries, scholars had accepted the year 5 B.C.E. or earlier for Jesus’ birth. based on an eclipse cited by Jewish historian Josephus as occurring prior to the death of Herod the Great. Now John Mosley of Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory says that recent research offers “convincing demonstration that the lunar eclipse mentioned by Josephus . . . could not have been the eclipse of 4 B.C.”
The eclipse Josephus actually had in mind must have been one of two that occurred in 1 B.C.E. Therefore, as a report by United Press International states: “Herod actually died in 1 B.C. rather than in 4 B.C. as commonly believed. The issue is pivotal because New Testament records make it clear that Herod was alive when Jesus was born.” So instead of earlier dates, says the news service, the “research indicates that Jesus was born in the summer or early autumn of 3 B.C. or 2 B.C.”
Once again, the evidence brings authorities into agreement with the Bible’s historical record. Luke’s Gospel account says that Jesus “was about thirty years old,” when he was baptized by John, who began his work six months earlier “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar.” According to secular history, this was the year 29 C.E. Hence, placing Jesus’ birth at possibly “early autumn of . . . 2 B.C.” agrees with an age of “about thirty” at his baptism.—Luke 1:34-36, 60; 3:1, 2, 23.
To Avoid Rape—Fight!
● “The view that a woman who resists [a rapist] is more likely to be injured or killed is an old wives tale,” declared Detroit Police executive deputy chief James Bannon. “There has never been any evidence to back it up.” On the other hand, Dr. Mary Lystad, director of the National Center for the Prevention and Control of Rape, says new studies prove that “women who used an array of physical and psychological resistance such as screaming, hitting, biting, kicking and attempting to flee were more successful in avoiding rape.”
But women who merely cried or tried to talk their way out were more apt to be raped. In fact, the passive ones also were more likely to be seriously injured than were those who actively resisted the rapist’s advances. “The, thing not to do is act utterly passive,” warned Lystad. “A woman who behaves as if she is weak and defenseless appears to increase her risk of rape.”
Similar advice has long been available to Bible readers. In ancient Israel, the Law required a woman confronted by a rapist to scream, thus putting up active resistance.—Deut. 22:23-27.