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Context is a podcast about the history behind current events in the Middle East. The history is provided through audio recordings of late, Dr. David Neiman, an expert in the history of the ancient near east who specialized in the Jewish background to the New Testament and the relationship between the Church and the Jews.


Dr. Neiman was a rationalist. He based his theses on historical records, linguistics and a deep understanding of the Bible – both old and new testaments and their origins. Through the rich history that has been preserved in these recordings, Context attempts to provide a different perspective on the issues facing the world today.


Some of the episodes you will find here include:




This first episode of Context explores the three elements that define the Jewish people. By understanding these elements and their roots, we can gain a better understanding of one of the central players in the conflict in the Middle East, the Jews.


Father Felix F. Talbot, SJ was a colleague of my father's in the theology department at Boston College, a Catholic university outside of Boston. My father often quoted him. "He likes to make up clever little devices to help his students remember things", my father told me.  "The lord, the land, the law" was the mnemonic device Father Talbot used to help his students remember the three elements that define the Jewish people; the concept of one god; a connection to the land of Israel, and the law of the Bible.


31.7780° N, 35.2354° E – The Dome of the Rock


If ever there was an energy vortex on the planet, it is The Dome of the Rock. The gold-domed building, known as the Dome of the Rock, is a shrine within the Temple Mount complex. Inside the building is an unadorned rock called the Foundation Stone, which is the peak of Mount Moriah. There is a hole in the rock that leads to an underground cavern called the Well of Souls. Around the rock an ornately decorated building was constructed. Jews believe it is the place where Abraham took Isaac for sacrifice.


Muslims believe that is was Ishmael who was chosen by Abraham for the same task.

Jews believe it is the site of the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary of the Jewish Temple.


Muslims believe that Muhammed ascended to heaven from that same spot.

King David purchased the site from Araunah, the former Jebusite king, for 600 Shekels after he conquered the city.


Before either religion it was an altar to the Canaanite god, El Elyon.


Christians have their own history of attempting to control this highly-charged geographical location. This podcast speaks to one of those events.


The Charter of Boleslav


This episode of Context was inspired by recent study that was conducted by Columbia University and published in the journal, Nature Communications. The researchers found that all Ashkenazi Jews are descended from a 350 person “bottleneck” that occurred a mere 6 to 8 hundred years ago.


The idea seems incredible, that the origins of such a large and successful segment of the Jewish people could be so recent. But the science corresponds perfectly with the history. In 1264 the "Charter of Boleslav" was signed. The Jews of Western Europe were invited to run the business of the Polish princes. The charter guaranteed certain rights and protections for the Jews and resulted in a long period of prosperity and growth in Eastern Europe.


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