Pilgrimage Updates!

January 8-21, 2015 Holy Land Pilgrimage:

Registration is now open. Forms and brochures for the January 2015 Pilgrimage will be found here. 

Please view our photo gallery for a glimpse of some of our past pilgrimages.

Here is what a recent pilgrim had to say about our annual Holy Land pilgrimage!

 Thank you for a most wonderful, spiritual experience these past 2 weeks. The pilgrimage surpassed any expectations I had. Your teachings, Jeff, were so meaningful at each site. You are able to pull together all the history, the spirituality, the geography of the area, the archeological aspects, etc. so well to make the whole story make sense. You have challenged us to grow spiritually not only with questions to ask ourselves, but ways to ponder those question in our lives, and the wonderful "weapons" we have to tackle them, grow from them, and make necessary changes in our lives so that we may be better disciples of the Lord and spread the Good News to others. Certainly my times in adoration, and daily prayer will be enriched because of this Holy Land experience. ~~ Barb K

Please feel free to contact us at Cavins Tours phone number --763-420-1074.



Accordance Bible Software For The Macintosh!

Jeff Cavins and Accordance bible softwareSome of you have asked what bible software I use. I'm very much a Macintosh enthusiast so I use a program called Accordance Bible Software by Oaksoft. I have used many different applications but found this package to be the most flexible and powerful. One really nice thing about this application is that you can buy a Catholic module which has Vatican II, The Summa, The Council of Trent, the current Catechism, the Church Fathers, Canon Law and more.

It's nice to be able to search all the essential documents in seconds. Below you will find a synopsis of the application. For PC users I recommend Logos Software. Remember, if your in the market for a new computer, go Macintosh because the new Intel chip allows you to run either OSX for Mac or Windows for the PC.

Accordance Bible Software makes it incredibly easy to explore the text and background of the Bible. Here are a few of the ways Accordance can enhance your study of the Bible:

Dig into the Bible, not your Bible software

Accordance features an integrated and unobtrusive user interface that makes it easy to search the Bible. There are no hidden and confusing dialog boxes to deal with, because searching is built right into the window. Simply choose whether to search by verse or by word, enter your search, and click OK!

Compare multiple translations of the Bible

Accordance lets you display multiple Bible texts and translations side by side in the same window, making it easy to make comparisons.

Open right to the "page"!

The Resource palette gives you instant access to every book in your personal Bible study library, so that you can select a word or verse in the Bible text and go right to the appropriate section of a dictionary, commentary, or other study aid.

Look up the original Greek & Hebrew Cavins and Accordance

Pass your mouse over a word in an English Bible with Key (Strong's) numbers to see the Greek or Hebrew word which it translates. For a definition, simply triple-click the word you wish to look up.

See where it happened

Adding the Accordance Bible Atlas lets you instantly locate any place you read about on the map. Simply select a place name in the text of the Bible, then click the Map button on the Resource palette to find that place on a map. From there, you can customize the map by overlaying different sites, regions, and animated routes; create a 3-D map that you can fly through; or amplify to the Bible Lands PhotoGuide to see photographs of a location.

Do your own thing

Accordance lets you study the Bible the way you want to. Attach your own notes to any verse. Collect lists of verses for further study. Create your own custom user tools. Even highlight the text of the Bible in an assortment of colors and styles.


Build a Bible reference library


With well over 200 Accordance-compatible Bible texts and tools to choose from, it's easy to build an extensive library of Bible texts, Greek and Hebrew lexicons, dictionaries, topical Bibles, commentaries, and theological works. And with all of these immediately accessible through the Resource palette, it's easy to find the information you need.

Broaden your search


Of course, having an extensive library isn't much help if you don't know which book to consult, so Accordance lets you search your entire library in a single pass! Enter what you're looking for into the Search All window and click OK. You'll soon be given a list of every book in your library which contains your search criteria, and you can simply click on a book name to go there.

Narrow your search


Accordance also provides numerous ways for you to narrow your search so that you don't waste time wading through a lot of extraneous search "hits." In Bible texts, you can create your own custom search ranges, such as "Torah," "Gospels," and "Davidic Psalms." In Tools such as commentaries and dictionaries, you can choose from various search "fields," such as "Titles," "Contents," and "Scripture" to find exactly what you're looking for.

Look up parallel passages


Certain Accordance CD-ROMs include databases of parallel passages which can be accessed through the Amplify palette, so that you can quickly find every place an Old Testament passage was quoted in the New Testament, and every parallel account in the Gospels, Epistles, and Hebrew Bible.


Dive into the original languages


The Accordance Scholar's Collection CD-ROM contains grammatically-tagged versions of the Hebrew Bible, the Greek New Testament, the Greek Septuagint, and other texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. These texts enable you to build complex grammatical searches, to view a wealth of statistical information about your search, and to pass your cursor over any word to see its lexical form, parsing information, and English definition! For those working with the original languages, no other program even comes close to matching the capabilities of Accordance.


Benefit from the best in Biblical scholarship


With Accordance, you can access some of the most up-to-date and authoritative Greek and Hebrew lexicons, original language tools, Bible dictionaries, and commentaries currently available.

Search the Bible graphically


Sometimes you need to find complex grammatical constructions and subtle relationships between words. The Accordance Construct window makes this easy by enabling you to build such searches graphically. Define a construct to find the Granville-Sharp rule in Greek or the Intensive use of the infinitive absolute in Hebrew. You'll be amazed at how powerful, and how easy to use, the Construct window really is.


Living Lent #3 Cardinal Justin Rigali

Here is the third in a series of Lenten messages from Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia. Leave a comment below to show your appreciation to the Cardinal. You can also leave a comment on Youtube.


Theological Statement for the Great Adventure Bible Timeline Series

Cavins Great AdventureBecause the Bible Timeline is spreading so fast around the country, I thought it would be good to give Adult Education Directors a brief explanation of the methods we employ when teaching. Feel free to share this with your parish director.

The primary purpose of the Great Adventure Bible Study Series is to provide simple catechesis to Catholics on Scripture. Although its authors and instructors are well steeped in Catholic biblical scholarship, The Great Adventure is catechetical in nature and does not treat Scripture in an academic manner. The goal of the program is modest - namely, to introduce Catholics to Scripture and provide them with a basic biblical literacy.

Given its catechetical and evangelistic nature, The Great Adventure focuses on the final form of the text, using what is often referred to as a canonical or narrative approach to Scripture. This approach is common throughout the Catholic tradition. Hugh of St. Victor, for example, in his Didascalicon, writes that the best way to teach Scripture is to start with the narrative books of the bible so that the beginning student can grasp the overall story of the Bible before diving into more complicated matters. The list of books that Hugh suggests is nearly identical to the books used in the Great Adventure Bible Timeline study (The Didascalicon of Hugh of St. Victor. Book Six. Chapter Three.) In 1993, the Pontifical Biblical Commission in its document The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, observed that recent developments in biblical scholarship, have emphasized canonical criticism, i.e., the final form of the text. This approach, both ancient and new, is characteristic of our method.

Although the catechetical nature of The Great Adventure commends the synchronic methods of biblical interpretation, we also fully embrace the diachronic methods that are indispensable to understanding the final form of the sacred text. In order to understand the intentions of the human authors, whom God inspired, one must be attentive to their historical circumstances, culture, and modes of writing (see Dei Verbum, no. 12). As such, The Great Adventure series always seeks to use history and its related fields of study to shed light on the biblical text. The authors of The Great Adventure therefore recognize and employ diverse methods to help discover both the human and divine aspects of Sacred Scripture.


Twin Cities' Bible Studies

The John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization is a ministry of the Church of St. Paul in Ham Lake, Minnesota answering the call of Pope John Paul II to evangelize and catechize the faithful and those outside the Church, and dedicated to providing practical formation in the Catholic faith.

Jeff's Twin Cities' teaching schedule for '08-'09 will be posted in the very near future. If you have any questions about our studies, please contact Carol Locke at 763-576-9004 or email her at carollocke1@comcast.net.


An Empty Theory and an Empty Tomb!

As many of you know, James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici have produced a Discovery Channel Special about finding the bones of Jesus Christ. Respected Biblical scholar Ben Witherington III has addressed this TV Special in a column I found on beliefnet.com. Below you can read this fine article.

Why should we be skeptical of 'The Lost Tomb of Jesus'? Let us count the ways.

by Ben Witherington III

Remember the tale of the Titanic? How it was supposed to be impregnable, and how it would never be sunk?

Well, human hubris knows no bounds. On April 15, 1912, the leak-proof Titanic rammed into an iceberg and sank like a giant stone. Now, in one of the most interesting ironies in recent memory, "Titanic"-director James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici have produced a Discovery Channel special (with a corresponding book, of course) based on a claim that is sure to sink. Their contention? That archeologists have discovered the tomb of Jesus, his mother, brothers, wife, and his child Judah as well! Who knew!Why should we be skeptical about this entire enterprise? Let me count the ways.First, I have worked with Jacobovici-he was the producer of another Discovery Channel special on the James ossuary (a box for bones of the dead) with which I was involved. He is a good filmmaker, and he knows a sensational story when he sees one. This is such a story. Unfortunately, it is also a story full of holes and conjectures. It will make good TV, but it is bad history.

Second, this is merely old news with a new interpretation. We have known about this tomb since it was discovered in 1980. On Sunday, the Toronto Star quoted an interview with Professor Amos Kloner from bar Ilan University, who said, "It's a beautiful story but without any proof whatsoever." Professor Kloner knows that of which he speaks: he oversaw the discovery of the tomb in 1980, did extensive work on it in 1996, and came to negative conclusions regarding any links to the Jesus of the gospels. "There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb," he told The Jerusalem Post.

Third, the names on these ossuaries are very familiar early Jewish names. Jude and Joshua (Jesus) were two of the most common names in all of early Judaism. So was Mary. Indeed, both Jesus' mother and her sister were named Mary. This is the ancient equivalent of walking through a cemetery today and seeing tombs with the names Smith and Jones. No big deal.

Fourth, as far as we can tell, the earliest followers of Jesus never called Jesus "son of Joseph." It was outsiders who mistakenly called him that! Would family members such as James put that name on Jesus' tomb when they knew otherwise? It's highly improbable.

Fifth, the DNA angle is nonsense. No independent DNA control sample is available for comparison to what was garnered from the bones in this tomb. The most the DNA evidence can show is that several of these folks are inter-related. Big deal. We would need an independent control sample from some member of Jesus' family to confirm that these were members of Jesus' family. And anyway, mitacondrial DNA does not reveal genetic coding or XY chromosome makeup. The DNA angle has been thrown in to make this project carry the significance of real scientific fact. Not so much.

Sixth, the story is bad history in many ways. I'll list just a few of them.

  • The ancestral home of Joseph was Bethlehem, and his adult home was Nazareth. The family was still in Nazareth after he was dead and gone. Why in the world would any member of Jesus' family be buried in Jerusalem other than James and Jesus?
  • One of the ossuaries has the name "Judah, son of Jesus." We have no historical evidence of such a son of Jesus. We have no historical evidence he was ever married.
  • By all ancient accounts, the tomb of Jesus was empty-even the Jewish and Roman authorities acknowledged this. Now, it takes a year for the flesh to desiccate, and then you put the man's bones in an ossuary. But according to historical record, Jesus' body was long gone from Joseph of Arimathea's tomb well before then. Are we really to believe it was moved to another tomb, decayed, and then put in an ossuary? It's not likely.
  • In order to argue that Jesus remained buried after his death, you must accuse James, Peter and John (mentioned in Galatians 1 and 2, our earliest New Testament document) of fraud and cover-up. Are we to believe that they knew Jesus didn't rise bodily from the dead but perpetrated a fraudulent religion, for which they and others were prepared to die? Did they hide the body of Jesus in another tomb? The James in question here is Jesus' brother, who certainly would have known about a family tomb.

There are many more problems with this documentary. You can find a fuller account of these problems at my blog, both in the main post and in the comment boxes that follow.

Having worked with Simcha Jacobovici, I feel sorry for him. But I can imagine how these things happen. You get enthusiastic about a project, and you overreach with your conclusions. You know there are holes in your argument, but you keep them to yourself for the sake of making a big splash of publicity, and lots of money. Too bad. A peer review by a panel of scholars could have saved these folks a lot of embarrassment.

James Cameron has jumped on board a ship full of holes, presumably in order to make a lot of money before the theory sinks into an early watery grave. Man the lifeboats and get out now.

Ben Witherington is a professor at Ashbury Seminary in Kentucky and a columnist on Bible FAQs for Beliefnet. He is also the author of the recently published 'What Have They Done with Jesus?' (HarperSanFrancisco 2006).