Pastoral Bible Institute News

The Bible Student Library CD ROM

We are pleased to announce the availability of a new CD ROM containing a number of books and references of interest to Bible Students. It contains substantially all of the writings of Charles Taze Russell, plus hundreds of books, magazines, tracts, and other publications one might find in Bible Student homes. It can be used on Windows-based and Macintosh computer systems. The cost is just $25, postpaid. If you are reasonably comfortable with CD ROMs and computers, use the back of the insert sheet found in every issue of this magazine to obtain this product. We regret that our home office cannot give technical support.

Advertising Program

Our first four-color full-page ad offering a subscription to this magazine with a copy of the video "For This Cause" for just $10 on a send-no-money-basis is scheduled to run in the February issue of Bible Review. It will not appear in Christian History as we previously announced.

Letters

We would like to suggest a topic for a future issue of The Herald: "Evidences of Divine Inspiration of the Bible," covering specific past prophetic fulfilments (the fate of Old Testament cities, Jesus' birth and numerous specific parts of his ministry and manner of death), end of the age, present fulfilments (return of Israel, increase of knowledge, time of trouble, etc.), harmony of its message though penned by so many different writers at different times, its preservation in spite of continued efforts to burn, ban, distort and destroy it, as well as archeological finds that clearly substantiate the existence of cities and peoples mentioned in the Bible that higher criticism had rejected for years. This matter comes up time and again in our discussions with [others]. We pin all our hopes on the testimony of the Bible. We walk by faith, but we have many evidences that provide a strong foundation for our faith!

Elaine Redeker, California

[Note: the editors will seriously consider this suggestion.]

Around the World

Western countries have allowed their deterrent capabilities to erode drastically since the end of the Cold War, David Ivry, an adviser to Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai, warned. While attention and resources are focused on economic and social issues, there has been a general decline in budgetary commitments to defense and security issues, he said. Democratic states are attempting to compensate for their reduced deterrence with international treaties, which he called "a form of life assurance." In contrast, he said, "the defense budgets of non-democratic states have been unaffected." There has been no change in the agenda of these countries, despite increasing poverty and unemployment. Such states, he said, joined non-proliferation treaties to abuse them and to acquire technology that would otherwise be prohibited. "It is an illusion that advances are being made through treaties," he warned. He points to the experience of Iraq, Iran and North Korea, noting that "we can expect more surprises in the future."

--Jerusalem Post, 10/20/98

The world's population is expected to increase nearly everywhere on the globe next year—even in Africa where AIDS is cutting life expectancies dramatically, according to U.N. figures. Even though fertility continues to decline as the 21st century approaches, the global population, which stood at 5.9 billion in mid-1998, is expected to reach 6 billion in 1999, the U.N. Population Division said. Last year, AIDS killed 2.3 million people worldwide, while 30 million were living with HIV, the virus that causes the disease.

—Los Angeles Times, 10/29/98

Israel

The number of Jews in the world is steadily declining. Three million out of the estimated 10 million to 13 million Jews worldwide have only one Jewish parent. A full 50 percent of the Jews in North America—still the largest Jewish community in the world —are expected to marry a non-Jew. Over the last 50 years, identification with Israel has been a major component of Jewish identity in the Diaspora in general <%2>and in North America in particular.<%0> It is no coincidence that the weakening of this identification has been accompanied by erosion of Jewish identity. The extent to which ties to Israel have been waning among US Jews over the past generation has been well documented in a recent study conducted by Hebrew University sociologist Steven M. Cohen. While faith in God, ritual observance and religious commitment appear to be stable, only 20% of those surveyed think it is essential to support Israel. While Holocaust remembrance is still high on the agenda of the American Jewish community, the passage of time erodes the centrality that the Holocaust can command in the collective consciousness. The vast rallies for Soviet Jews, once a staple of Jewish activism in America, are no more, because the Soviet Union, before its collapse, opened the gates. But the single biggest factor of all might be the fact that so few American Jews have ever spent any time at all in Israel. A single visit to Israel, more than anything else, is a decisive indicator of lifelong attachment to Jewish identity, according to the study. "It is not that people are turning against Israel, but they are moving to a more neutral position in their consciousness," Cohen said.

—Jerusalem Post, 10/98

According to a World Jewish Congress study the total number of Jews worldwide is about 13.5 million, with the U.S. still home to the largest population—5.6 million. However, Israel, expected to have 4.9 million Jews by the end of the Jewish year, will become the largest Jewish community within a few years, the report said. Of the 13.5 million, about one million are Orthodox. According to the report, anti-Semitism is down worldwide. Jews today are found in more than 100 countries. Large communities include France (600,000), Russia (400,000), Canada (360,000), Ukraine (280,000), Great Britain (280,000) and Argentina (220,000). According to the Statistical Abstract of Israel, the total population is just under 6 million, representing a 740 percent increase since 1948. Just since 1990, Israel's population has grown by almost 30 percent, mostly due to the roughly one million immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Today, Israel's population is still growing at a rate of 2.5 percent per year, considerably higher than most Western countries.

—Jerusalem Post, 10/98

The agreement between Israel and the PLO Authority (PA) was supposed to be a two-day meeting, but turned into a nine-day one. The PA has agreed to amend the PNC Charter to eliminate portions calling for the destruction of Israel. In Israel, response from right-wing groups, Religious Parties, and Jewish Settlements was one of condemnation. On the Palestinian side, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder of the Islamic group Hamas, dismissed the deal as a "sellout." In his statement condemning the agreement, he said that no deal between Israel and the PA will stop Hamas terrorism aimed at Israel "until the Israeli occupation of Palestine has come to an end." Yassin admitted that a new crackdown (including the CIA working with the PA to crack down on Islamic militants) could perhaps restrict the activities of the Hamas military wing temporarily, but would not prevent attacks against Israelis. "It cannot erase Hamas," said Yassin. "It is an illusion to think the agreement will put an end to our military work."

—Israel Wire, 10/23/98

Editor's note: President Clinton's words regarding peace agreements in the Balkans apply here: "Confirmation doesn't necessarily mean commitment."

Islam

What is happening in Afghanistan now is nothing short of a war on women and girls. Most of the country is under the control of the Taliban, an extremist Islamic movement that has thrown a blanket of absolute oppression over the lives of all females. Women are not allowed to work outside the home. Girls are not allowed to go to school. No female is permitted to leave her home unless a close male relative accompanies her. Homes and other buildings in which women or girls might be present must have their windows painted so no female can be seen from outside. Women who leave their homes must be completely covered by a <M>burqa, an all-encompassing garment with a small mesh opening through which the wearer can see and breathe. Violations of any of the Taliban's edicts are treated summarily and brutally. It is like a reprise of some dark, medieval period. Women who ventured from their homes unaccompanied or improperly clad have been whipped, beaten and at times killed. Very few medical facilities are available to women and women are so frightened of being flogged or beaten in the streets they often are reluctant to seek help. Women and girls who do not have male relatives to support them have been left destitute.

—New York Times, 10/4/98

More than 150 members of the 270-seat Iranian parliament have signed a petition describing the fatwa sentencing author Salman Rushdie to death as a "divine order." "The verdict against Rushdie the blasphemer is death, today and tomorrow, and to burn in hell for eternity," the members of the conservative-dominated parliament said. Rushdie published a book condemning the atrocities of the Islamic regime in Iran several years ago.

—London Daily Telegraph, 10/5/98

Christendom

With news of recent hate crimes flooding the media, Daniel Plasman's newly released novel, "Lovely are the Messengers—The Ironies of Friendship, Religious Persecution and Fatal Misuderstanding," points the finger directly at religious extremists. Based on real life events, his book details the relationship between widespread hate messages and their result. "I am convinced the rise of incivility and hate crimes in our society is related to the growing trend of using religious conviction as justification for inhuman treatment of those with whom we disagree," said the author. The book explores religious extremism and the growing eruptions of hatred and intolerance. "Some organizations and people in the religious community are blatantly dishonest with the Bible. In voicing moral issues people quote scripture passages that promote their cause while ignoring passages that speak counter to their cause," said Plasman.

—PR Newswire, 10/26/98

Moscow is attempting to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses from the city. The case marks one of the first attempts to use a new law to limit the activity of a foreign-based religious sect. The law, which restricts foreign missionary activity in Russia, was passed last year to proscribe the many proselytizing religions that have established a presence since the fall of communist rule. The Jehovah's Witnesses claim to have 100,000 adherents in Russia. The Russian Orthodox Church plans to testify against the Witnesses. It has been losing converts to foreign missionary groups. Galina Krylova, the Witnesses' chief lawyer, said the case would test the willingness of Russian courts to enforce the law. "This is the first time a religious organization faces liquidation under this law," she said. The prosecution's case charges that Witnesses' literature violates the law by claiming their faith to be "the only true religion; all others are declared to be false, and their imminent end is predicted." The law opens the way for court action against religions termed nontraditional for Russia.

—Washington Post, 9/30/98}

Economics

The International Monetary Fund said that Europe's single currency has no proper framework for crisis management, and the European Central Bank would not be ready to handle a large-scale financial crisis. This is especially troublesome at the dawn of European unity. The risks of financial system instability are higher now than they have been for some time. The international financial system is in a fragile state, and monetary union will create its own set of risks. As well as the macroeconomic adjustments, the single currency will transform the banking sector, intensifying competitive pressures, and sparking a process of consolidation.

—Financial Times 9/23/98

Rampant public corruption continues to plague many developing nations, weakening democratic institutions, stifling economic growth and deepening poverty, according to a study by Transparency International, an international good-government advocacy group based in Berlin. The study is based on the

perceptions of business executives and financial risk analysts as well as the general public. The ten most corrupt countries listed in the study were Cameroon, Paraguay, Honduras, Nigeria, Tanzania, Indonesia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Russia. The least corrupt country in the study was Switzerland.

—Wall Street Journal, 9/23/98

Science

The earth's climate abruptly warmed to end an ice age 12,500 years ago, according to researchers whose finding may force a reevaluation of the history of dramatic swings in the planet's climate. Such rapid shifts in the climate on a global basis would make it very difficult for humans to adjust, said James White, a climatologist at the University of Colorado in Boulder. White, co-author of a study to be published in the journal Science, said the Antarctic ice cores show a temperature increase of about 20 degrees Fahrenheit within a very short time. Ice cores from Greenland show that at the same time there was a temperature increase of almost 59 degrees in the North Polar Region within a 50-year period. The findings, White said, increase the urgency for researchers to understand climate shifts because it appears they could be abrupt and happen all over the earth at roughly the same time.

—Associated Press, 10/2/98

Indonesia's economic crisis is breeding an ecological one. Throughout Indonesia nature is being pillaged, as a nation hit by economic calamity falls back on land and sea to survive. Rare animals are being sold for food. Unique ecosystems are under threat. Indonesia is home to more plant and animal species than any country in the world, except Brazil. But what matters most to conservationists is the extraordinary number of these species that are endemic to Indonesia, meaning that they live nowhere else. Of Indonesia's 515 mammal species, 36% are endemic. Of its 1,519 bird species, 28% are endemic. Hungry Indonesians are overrunning government-protected forests, decimating the wildlife, clear-cutting ancient hardwoods and replanting rain forests with ecologically damaging food and cash crops. Tigers, elephants, rhinoceroses, and other animals are all being slaughtered to bring in needed cash. "What's so bad," says Rob Lee, a biologist with the Bronx Zoo, "is the rarest animals fetch little more than the most common wild-pig meat."

—Wall Street Journal, 10/26/98

The fate of the world's protective ozone layer depends mainly on the actions of developing countries and Russia. These countries account for 80 per cent of production of chlorofluorocarbons, the most prevalent ozone-eating chemical, and 100 percent of halon production, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said in a report released in September. Environmental experts expect the ozone layer, which shields the earth from damaging solar radiation, to be at its thinnest in the next few years, and then to recover slowly to more normal levels. However, UNEP cautions that this will happen only if developing countries and Russia play their part, for which they will need financial help.

—Financial Times, 9/17/98

10 million: Size, in square miles, of the hole in the ozone above Antarctica.
7.3 million: Its size last year
3.6 million: Size, in square miles, of the United States.

—Time, 10/19/98

Book Review

Secrets of Jerusalem's Temple Mount, Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer, Biblical Archaeology Society, Washington D.C., 116 pages.

Those world leaders who want to make Jerusalem an international city overlook the importance that Mount Moriah in the city of Jerusalem has played in biblical history. It was probably the site of Abraham's intended sacrifice of Isaac. It was probably the site of David's altar to the Lord upon his inauguration as King of Judah. Undoubtedly to the orthodox Jew, it is most important as the site of Israel's Temple, first erected by King Solomon, destroyed in 586 BC, rebuilt 70 years later, and refurbished by Herod the Great, only to be destroyed for good in 70 AD. Few archaeological sites hold the fascination of the Temple Mount. Yet little is really known of their presence there because all excavations on that site are forbidden. Under the control of Jerusalem's Arab rulers, the Temple Mount houses one of the most breathtaking buildings from the ancient world—the Dome of the Rock—which at one time was an integral part of Israel's holiest site.

Leen Ritmeyer is a Dutch architect who lived in Jerusalem for 16 years and was greatly responsible for the excavation on the south side of the mount that began in 1967. He left Jerusalem in 1989 to pursue a Ph.D. in Archaeology. His dissertation given in 1992 was, of course, on the Temple Mount. This book is a glimpse of the grandeur he saw. It is an insightful interpretation by the skilled hand of an architect. He translates the evidence into a vision of the past. Using photos, drawings, and words, Ritmeyer and his wife Kathleen conduct the reader on a tour around the wall surrounding the Temple Mount. They employ archeological and literary evidence to reconstruct the ancient appearance and function of all the major features of the wall and its gateways during the Second Temple period—the time when Jesus walked in its shadow.

For those who have visited Israel this will be a fascinating book. It includes a tour through the Jerusalem of Jesus' day and helps the reader understand how the huge reconstruction work on the temple was accomplished by Herod the Great. Ritmeyer's identification of the location of the original Temple is well documented and culminates with a supposition about where the Holy of Holies stood in Solomon's day.

—Len Griehs