Byblos, Lebanon – oldest inhabited city in the world (7,000+ years)

Carbon-dating tests have set the earliest age of settlement at Byblos around 7000 BC, however it was not officially established as a city until sometime around 5000 BC.

Byblos is in Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast about 26 miles north of Beirut. “Byblos” is the Greek name. The first city built by the Phoenicians, Byblos is Greek for “papyrus.” The Bible was named for Byblos as it was known as “the papyrus book.”

Between the fourth and thirteenth centuries, Byblos bounced between Christianity and Muslim rule during the various crusades. From early 1500’s until 1918, Byblos was part of the Ottoman Empire. From 1920 until 1943 Byblos was under French Mandate, and finally in 1943, Lebanon – and Byblos – achieved independence.

Today, Byblos is a progressive city that embraces its cultural history. Tourism is now one of the major industries for this ancient port, and Byblos is re-emerging as a premiere Mediterranean destination.

via Sometimes Interesting

The first big controversy in Christianity? Whether Jesus was God or not

I recently listened to a podcast that brought up several interesting ideas about Christianity. The most important of which was a huge debate between Arius and Athanasius in 325 A.D., concerning the “Divinity of Jesus.”

Arius was against saying Jesus was God, while Athanasius believed Jesus definitely was. This debate had been raging for hundreds of years before these men, indeed all the way back to when Jesus was alive.

The reason why these two men come up? Politics. The Emperor of Rome, Constantine, called together all the Christian leaders of the day and asked them to pick one or the other. He hoped to stem the flood of fights and deaths that were occurring over the topic.

They agreed to banish Arius, condemning him as a heretic for his thinking (Jesus was not a God).

Of course, it didn’t work. The next Emperor brought back his ideas, now called Arianism, and condemned and exiled Athanasius.

Which was then followed by several hundred years of constant civil war over the topic.

Eventually the Arians were all killed or exiled and the dominant position became anti-Arian. Fast forward 1,500 years and today we have largely forgotten this debate. We take it for granted that Jesus was God.

But, a few churches persevere, like the Unitarians who “maintain that Jesus was a great man and a prophet of God, perhaps even a supernatural being, but not God himself.”

And, the debate rages on…