Thinking Out Loud

April 24, 2015

Damascus Road Blinding Light Identified

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:50 am

Some stories are just so… unique; they deserve more than just a mention on a link list; they deserve their own space…

Falling meteor may have changed the course of Christianity

The early evangelist Paul became a Christian because of a dazzling light on the road to Damascus, but one astronomer thinks it was an exploding meteor

NEARLY two thousand years ago, a man named Saul had an experience that changed his life, and possibly yours as well. According to Acts of the Apostles, the fifth book of the biblical New Testament, Saul was on the road to Damascus, Syria, when he saw a bright light in the sky, was blinded and heard the voice of Jesus. Changing his name to Paul, he became a major figure in the spread of Christianity.

William Hartmann, co-founder of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, has a different explanation for what happened to Paul. He says the biblical descriptions of Paul’s experience closely match accounts of the fireball meteor seen above Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013.

Hartmann has detailed his argument in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science (doi.org/3vn). He analyses three accounts of Paul’s journey, thought to have taken place around AD 35. The first is a third-person description of the event, thought to be the work of one of Jesus’s disciples, Luke. The other two quote what Paul is said to have subsequently told others…

…[click the headline above to continue reading]…

Not content to just leave it at that, the article also goes on to describe the nature of Paul’s blindness and subsequent healing:

Paul was also blinded, with one account blaming the brightness of the light. A few days later, “something like scales fell from his eye and he regained his sight”. Our common idiom for suddenly understanding something stems from this description, but Hartmann says the phrase can be read literally. He suggests that Paul was suffering from photokeratitis, a temporary blindness caused by intense ultraviolet radiation.

“It’s basically a bit of sunburn on the cornea of the eye. Once that begins to heal, it flakes off,” says Hartmann. “This can be a perfectly literal statement for someone in the first century who doesn’t really understand what’s happening.” The UV radiation at Chelyabinsk was strong enough to cause sunburn, skin peeling and temporary blindness.

So here’s today’s question: Do “discoveries” like this minimize or undermine the Biblical account for you, or are you content to simply see this as possibly the means through which God worked or even reinforcing the validity of the Bible narrative?

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