Ok, so this is a weird post but hear me out.   Friday night Angela and I had a better than average night out on the town.  It was so good in fact that we decided we should share it with you.  If you are looking for something to do this Christmas with your special someone (and you live in or are visiting the Houston area) here is my suggestion.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is hosting a special exhibit from now through April called “The Birth of Christianity: A Jewish Story.”  The exhibit is a collaborative effort between Rice University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  It is an exhibit worth seeing if you are wondering what things were like in 1st century Judea when Christ was born.  The exhibit explores the ramifications of Helenism (Greek culture impressed by Alexander the Great in the 300’s B.C.) on the jewish culture. You will gain insight on Herod the Great, the Roman occupation, and  jewish religious sects like the pharisees, sadducees, and essenes. You will gain political, historical, religious, and cultural insights giving you a better understanding of the world Jesus entered as a baby, born in Bethlehem.  As an avid student of the Jewish roots of the Christian faith and having been to Israel 4 times to explore and learn, I can assure you this exhibit is worthwhile.

There are several pieces in the exhibit that absolutely blow my mind and deepen my faith.  You will see scrolls dating back to the 1st century.  You will view New Testament texts dating back to the early 2nd century A.D.  Not to mention the alabaster bath tub of Herod himself.  The archeological pieces will give you a solid flavor of life in the first century.  Perhaps my favorite piece in the entire exhibit is a simple ossuary.  On it is inscribed the name of a 1st century man. What so special about that?  This first century Jew is the son of a biblical character fairly prominent in the trial and crucifixion account.  In fact the obscure son is even mentioned in the Mark account.  Why is that so cool.  Because that kid whose ossuary I saw in the museum on Friday night, was an eye witness to the life, death, and probably resurrection of Jesus.  How cool is that?  So, I am anxious to read your comments. Who will be the first to comment and identify this interesting Bible character ?

After the museum, head over to Niko Niko’s on Montrose.  Niko Niko’s is a greek restruant.  Trust me the food is great and not too expensive.  Keeping with the motif of the evening, you will be eating mediterranean food very similar to the food of 1st century Isreal.  I suggest the “opa chicken” with a greek salad and hummus.  You can finish the night with a coffee and desert like you have never tasted (unless you are Greek, or Israeli, or Lebanese, or middle eastern).  In that case you will feel right at home.

You will spend about $70 on the whole night but it is well worth it.  Enjoy your date.  Let me know how it goes.

9 thoughts on “A Holiday Date Idea from the 1st Century

  1. Yes, we went to this exhibit over the Christmas break. My neighbor across the street who is really seeking the Lord wanted to go. My kids and her kids went with us. We talked a lot about the ossuaries. We talked about Simon of Cyrene-I thought he carried the cross for Jesus…is that right? I asked them if Jesus would have had an ossuary…they said, “yes” and then “no” and we talked about why or why not as our friends listened. It was a God moment for sure. We loved seeing Herod’s bathtub and there was an animated docent who told the kids that the people would put oil all over their bodies and scrape it off-they thought that was really gross! They were VERY excited about the Dead Sea Scroll fragments. VERY AWESOME and faith building!


  2. Brian:

    Just started reading your blogs. Thanks for thought provoking blogs. I don’t know if you have ever been to London and the British Museum. There is a room that contains ancient friezes that tell a story in the bible. (Assyrian assault – can’t remember where it is in the bible off the top of my head). Imagine how shocked I was to actually see a book of the bible as it was sculpted by the actual people who lived it. Sounds like I need to go to the Museum exhibit as well.


  3. Brian,

    Just wanted to drop you a quick note and let you know that Zoya and I went to the exhibit at the Museum Saturday (January 10th). You are right this is a most thought provoking and amazing exhibit and truly did enlighten me on the life and way of the jewish and early christian peoples of that time. i was truly overcome with parts of the exhibit especially the scrolls and the tablet that was written on. How incredible!

    Any way the answer to your question is Alexander. He was one of the sons of Simon the Cyrene.

    Afterwards we went to Nikos Nikos – What incredible food and atmosphere. Our favorite greek food is the gyro so that is what we had along with fries (how greek is that?) and a greek salad.

    Thank you for a wonderful idea for a date. Zoya and I thoroughy enjoyed the whole experience.


    Jim Rausch


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