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advancement in knowledge

Freemasons are encouraged to make a daily advancement in knowledge. Some interpret this to mean memorising the ceremonies of freemasonry, others point to the seven liberal arts and sciences and the importance of education in the development of human potential to create useful and productive members of any society.

The ceremonies of freemasonry are derived from medieval craft guilds, which encouraged their members to make a daily advancement in their knowledge of their particular occupation. Proficiency and skill in using the distinctive tools of each trade was acquired patiently, step by step, after years of enterprise and perseverance. Medieval guilds supported the arts and cared from the welfare of their members.

Reading the English Bible became a popular pastime throughout the English speaking world after Anne Boleyn persuaded King Henry VIII to order that every church in the realm should have a Bible translated into English, chained to a bookstand for public reading. The Geneva Bible became the most widely read and influential English Bible of the 16th and 17th centuries. On the advice of John Calvin, it was the first Bible to divide scriptures into numbered verses. It was the Bible of choice for many of the greatest writers, thinkers and historical figures of the era. William Shakespeare’s plays and the writings of John Milton and John Bunyon were influenced by the Geneva Bible. When the Pilgrims set sail for America on the Mayflower, they took with them a Geneva Bible. There were more than 160 editions and it was printed for the last time in 1644.

It is the constant presence of the open English Bible, which mainly dictates that a lodge of freemasons is regular. A daily advancement in the knowledge of the English Bible is encouraged throughout the ceremonies of regular freemasonry.

Most of the English Bible was translated from Hebrew and relies heavily on the work of Martin Luther in translating from Hebrew to German. Luther knowingly and intentionally departed from the letter of the Hebrew text based on his understanding of the Hebrew languages and his knowledge of the commentaries of the Jewish Rabbis. Luther began his study of Hebrew in Erfurt, when he obtained a copy of "de rudimentis hebraicis" by Johannes Reuchlin, an excellent introduction to Hebrew for scholars competent in Latin. By making a daily advancement in knowledge, Luther developed the confidence to consider the different meanings of a word in different texts. Luther also drew on the twelth century writings of the Jewish Rabbis of Narbonne. Luther encouraged young people to learn the Hebrew language, because our ability to understand any literature is enhanced by studying it in its original language:

The Jews drink out of the original spring, The Greeks drink out of the stream flowing out of the spring, The Latins, however, out of the puddle

Like an ear of corn near a fall of water, the patient search to understand these Hebrew letters brings forth the sweet fruits of charity.

He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded ourforefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands (Psalm. 78:5-7)

Christians originally relied on the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, until Jerome produced a Latin translation known as the Vulgate. A thousand years of hand copying had introduced a range of errors into both the Greek and Latin texts. In contrast, the Jewish scribes had been more attentive to detail in preserving the letters of the Hebrew text prepared by scholars at Jamnia after the destruction of Jeruslaem and the Temple. Jamnia is the Greek name for Jabneel, which in Hebreww means, built by God. This town is near the ancient sea port of Joppa, which in Hebrew means beauty. To this place also the wood cut in Lebanon by Hiram's men for Solomon was brought in floats (2 Chr. 2:16) It was at Joppa, in the house of Simon the tanner, "by the sea-side", that Peter had his vision of tolerance.

Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.

Bible belongs to everyone without any discrimination or cultural or ideological barrier

The Vatican invited a multi-faith, multiethnic cross section of participants to a marathon reading of the Bible in the Holy Cross in Rome's Jerusalem Basilica, which was broadcast live on Italian state television. Readers included Orthodox clergymen, an Algerian female writer and five other Muslims, and the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, along with a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp and 14 other Jewish readers. The roster of about 1,300 readers features former Italian presidents, current Cabinet ministers, soccer stars, foreign diplomats, cardinals, intellectuals, actors and opera singers as well as ordinary citizens.

"In this way the word of God can enter homes to accompany lives of families and individuals. A seed that if well received will not fail to bring abundant fruits." Benedict XVI

The Church encourages the faithful to read and understand the Holy Scriptures. . . . The pope, therefore, intends to give a personal example . . . at a moment when the entire Catholic Church is reflecting and praying on the centrality of the Holy Scriptures in its life.

Pope Benedict XVI affirms Jewish reconciliation

"Today I have the opportunity to repeat that the Catholic church is irrevocably committed to the path chosen at Second Vatican Council for a genuine and lasting reconciliation between Christians and Jews,"

"As the declaration Nostra Aetate makes clear, the Church continues to value the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews and desires an ever deeper mutual understanding and respect through biblical and ideological studies as well as fraternal dialogues."

Pope Benedict XVI in Jerusalem at a meeting with Israel's two chief rabbis, as part of an eight day tour of the Holy Land to sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Benedict became the first pontiff to enter the Dome of the Rock, the third holiest site in Islam. May 2009

Proclaiming with clarity what we share on comon

At the beginning of his remarks, Pope Benedict XVI indicated that although much has "been achieved to create a sense of closeness and unity within the world-wide human family", yet "the boundless array of portals through which people so readily access undifferentiated sources of information can easily become an instrument of increasing fragmentation".

"The question naturally arises then as to what contribution religion makes to the cultures of the world against the backdrop of rapid globalisation. ... As believers or religious persons we are presented with the challenge to proclaim with clarity what we share in common".

"Lives of religious fidelity echo God's irruptive presence and so form a culture not defined by boundaries of time or place but fundamentally shaped by the principles and actions that stem from belief.

"Religious belief presupposes truth. The one who believes is the one who seeks truth and lives by it", the Pope added. "Together we can proclaim that God exists and can be known, that the earth is His creation, that we are His creatures, and that He calls every man and woman to a way of life that respects His design for the world. Friends, if we believe we have a criterion of judgement and discernment which is divine in origin and intended for all humanity, then we cannot tire of bringing that knowledge to bear on civic life. Truth should be offered to all; it serves all members of society".

"Far from threatening the tolerance of differences or cultural plurality, truth makes consensus possible and keeps public debate rational, honest and accountable, and opens the gateway to peace. Fostering the will to be obedient to the truth in fact broadens our concept of reason and its scope of application, and makes possible the genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today".

Pope Benedict XVI concluded: "Prompted by the Almighty and enlightened by His truth, may you continue to step forward with courage, respecting all that differentiates us and promoting all that unites us as creatures blessed with the desire to bring hope to our communities and world".

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