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Five things you didn't know about Moses
April 14th, 2014
11:44 AM ET

Five things you didn’t know about Moses

By Joel S. Baden, special to CNN

(CNN) - Moses: the main character of the Torah, the paradigmatic law-giver and the star of multiple motion pictures.

As Passover rolls around again and Jews the world over retell the story of Moses’s big moment, it’s worth remembering that there are aspects of Moses that haven’t made it to the big screen or into public consciousness.

For example, here are five things you probably didn’t know about the Hebrew prophet.

1. Moses was probably Egyptian.

The most important piece of evidence for this is his name.

In the Bible, it is explained that his name is derived from the Hebrew word mashah, “to draw,” as in “to draw him from the waters of the Nile,” where he had been hidden as an infant.

Unfortunately, it is awfully hard to get from that verb to the name Moses, which would probably mean something like “the one who draws," which isn’t how the story goes.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Egypt • Holidays • Israel • Judaism • Moses • Opinion • Passover • Torah

Hollywood's religious revival
March 28th, 2014
01:22 PM ET

Does God have a prayer in Hollywood?

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Los Angeles (CNN) – Forgive Darren Aronofsky if he’s begun to identify with the title character of his new film, “Noah.”

Like the infamous ark-maker, the 45-year-old director has weathered a Bible-sized storm – and it’s not over yet.

Aronofsky’s epic, which stars Russell Crowe and boasts a $130 million budget (with marketing costs to match), rode a swelling wave of controversy into American theaters on Friday.

Despite fierce criticism from some conservative Christians, "Noah" was the top box-office draw last weekend, raking in $44 million in the United States.

Part Middle-Earth fantasy flick, part family melodrama, the film is an ambitious leap for Aronofsky, director of the art-house hits “Black Swan” and “The Wrestler.”

Both of those films were showered with praise and awards. “Noah,” on the other hand, has sailed into a stiff headwind.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Art • Bible • Business • Christianity • Media • Money & Faith • Moses • Movies

When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs
The Branch Davidians, a religious sect led by David Koresh, clashed with federal agents in 1993 in Waco, Texas.
April 28th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – An angry outburst at a mosque. The posting of a suspicious YouTube video. A friendship with a shadowy imam.

Those were just some of the signs that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, accused of masterminding the Boston Marathon bombings, had adopted a virulent strain of Islam that led to the deaths of four people and injury of more than 260.

But how else can you tell that someone’s religious beliefs have crossed the line? The answer may not be as simple you think, according to scholars who study all brands of religious extremism. The line between good and evil religion is thin, they say, and it’s easy to make self-righteous assumptions.

“When it’s something we like, we say it’s commitment to an idea; when it’s something we don’t like, we say it’s blind obedience,” said Douglas Jacobsen, a theology professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Courts • Culture wars • Egypt • Fundamentalism • History • Islam • Jesus • Leaders • Moses • Muslim • Quran

How religion has been used to promote slavery
Moses led the Israelites out of slavery, but he and other religious giants accepted slavery for others, scholars say.
March 29th, 2012
09:19 AM ET

How religion has been used to promote slavery

By John Blake, CNN

Editor’s note: The CNN documentary 'Slavery's Last Stronghold' airs on CNN International TV March 29, 30, 31 and April 22. Check local listings for times.

(CNN) - Which revered religious figure - Moses, Jesus, or the Prophet Mohammad - spoke out boldly and unambiguously against slavery?

Answer: None of them.

One of these men owned slaves, another created laws to regulate - but not ban - slavery. The third’s chief spokesman even ordered slaves to obey their masters, religious scholars say.

Most modern people of faith see slavery as a great evil. Though the three great Western religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – disagree on many matters, most of their contemporary followers condemn slavery.

Yet there was a time when Jews, Christians and Muslims routinely cited the words and deeds of their founders to justify human bondage, scholars say.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Church and state • Egypt • History • Islam • Islamic law • Islamic law • Israel • Jesus • Moses • Muslim • Uncategorized

April 18th, 2011
09:50 AM ET

Let my people go: Understanding the Passover Seder

CNN.com Religion Editor Dan Gilgoff explains the Jewish festival of Passover, which starts at sundown Monday and commemorates the Israelites' liberation from slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago.

Watch the video above to learn more about the Seder - the meal in which the story of Exodus is told - and the various symbols used during the holiday, including matzo (unleavened bread), bitter herbs, salt water and a lamb shank bone.

We'd like to hear from you: Tell us how you're celebrating Passover this year. Are you doing anything different at your Seder?

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Food • Holidays • Judaism • Moses

My Take: Are the Ten Commandments still relevant?
December 14th, 2010
02:12 PM ET

My Take: Are the Ten Commandments still relevant?

Editor's Note: David Hazony is the author of "The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life" (Scribner, 2010).

By, David Hazony, Special to CNN

Every time I walk into a house of worship I’ve never been to, the first thing I look for is the local version of the Two Tablets.

Synagogues and churches almost always have them: rocky towering things, sleek minimalist icons, retro-embroidery. Some have numerals representing the Ten Commandments, some a word or two, others nothing at all.

Public buildings often have them, too: The U.S. Supreme Court has a frieze that includes Moses and the tablets—like a piece from a majestic chess set depicting our civilization’s heroes, it suggests something powerful about where we’ve come from.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Belief • Egypt • Ethics • God • Moses

September 21st, 2010
02:52 PM ET

The science behind Moses and the parting of the sea


An illustration based on new research shows how wind could have moved and
split waters from two ancient basins.

The parting of the waters described in the book of Exodus that enabled Moses and the Israelites to escape the pharaoh's army is possible, computer simulations run by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado at Boulder show.

To test the theory that the biblical account may have depicted actual events, the researchers studied maps of the region, archaeological records and satellite measurements to find a topographical feature where such an event might have been possible. They settled on an area south of the Mediterranean Sea where some oceanographers say a branch of the Nile River drained into what was called the Lake of Tanis, a coastal lagoon 3,000 years ago.

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Culture & Science • Moses • Science

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.

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