So nice to see something that echoes my own thinking so exactly.
Kyle Davison Bair (Master of Divinity in The Bible & Teaching, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) wrote this piece on Quora and has kindly allowed me at my request to share it with my audience as a guest post, please check out his site and his books, which seem to be absolutely first rate.
This is going to be fun.
The darkness at the time of Jesus’ Crucifixion gives us solid proof — either of the Bible lying or the Bible recording a remarkable truth. The Bible describes two spectacular events on the day of Jesus’ Crucifixion.
Listen to how Mark describes the first: “And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour” (Mark 15:33 NIV).
If darkness covered the entire land, it would be visible to more than those in Jerusalem. Everybody around the Roman Empire should have seen something, if it was real.
The second event likewise would be visible everywhere. Joel prophesied it and Peter quoted it:
“This is what was spoken about through the prophet Joel: […] ‘I will perform wonders in the sky above […] The sun will be changed to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes. And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ […] Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him, just as you yourselves know.”
(Acts 2:16, 19–22)
A blood moon occurs during a lunar eclipse. As with the darkness, it should be widely visible, if indeed it happened during Jesus’ crucifixion — as Peter indicates it did.
If we find nothing in the historical record, then it appears the Bible lied.
But do find this in the historical record — well, then things get interesting.
So what do we find?
Thallus was one of the first to write about the darkness at the time of the Crucifixion, writing at about 52 AD/CE. His original work has been lost, but Julius Africanus, an historian who wrote around 221 A.D., quotes Thallus to disagree with him:
‘On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.’
Both of Thallus and Julius attest to the darkness as a real event, so much so that they can bicker about the cause.
Phlegon, a Greek historian and author of a detailed chronology in 137 AD/CE, wrote:
“In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (33 AD/CE) there was ‘the greatest eclipse of the sun’ and that ‘it became night in the sixth hour of the day [noon] so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea.'”
This one is especially handy, as it corroborates the exact year and time of day for the darkness, as well as and the earthquake.
Africanus also wrote a five-volume history of the world c. 221 AD/CE. His account is particularly noteworthy both for its length and for his credibility; he had impressed Roman Emperor Alexander Severus so well with his historical rigor that he was put in charge of the Emperor’s library in the Pantheon; in other words, he was the most well-known, influential, and well-resourced historian in the Empire.
While I quoted him briefly above to highlight Thallus’ contribution, Africanus’ full paragraph adds a great deal more detail:
“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Savior falls on the day before the passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun? Let opinion pass however; let it carry the majority with it; and let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun, like others a portent only to the eye. Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth—manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period.”
This one additionally is valuable given that it mentions the resurrection of the dead and again the earthquake, in addition to the darkness.
Tertullian (second century) also provides a remarkable attestation, writing:
“At the moment of Christ’s death, the light departed from the sun, and the land was darkened at noonday, which wonder is related in your own annals, and is preserved in your archives to this day.”
Not only does Tertullian attest to it, but he appeals to how well-recorded the event is in established historical archives of the time. This is perhaps the most significant attribution, given that he cites how extensively the event was recorded and appeals to the public records to prove his point.
The darkness, then, is well-established.
What then do we find about a blood moon?
It turns out that a lunar eclipse did happen on exactly the day the darkness was recorded: April 3, 33 A.D./C.E.
A view of the partial lunar eclipse on August 7, 2017 as seen from Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. Credit and copyright: Leonard Ellul-Mercer.
The precise data on the partial lunar eclipses of April 3, 33 A.D./C.E.
This blood moon during the day of Jesus’ Crucifixion was so well-known that writers in the early church appealed to it frequently.
Skeptics have long scoffed at these details in the Bible. But like most details in the Scriptures, when you dig into the research, you find the claims verified.
The Bible is not a book of cleverly-invented myths. It records real events that happened in real history. The more we press into the individual details, the more we find them verified.
Background to this
Bartosz Czekala made a bad faith review on his universe of memory website for hits. Even when all his premises were rebutted by a properly trained field linguist, Victor Berrjod, who has used the method to learn some of the world’s most challenging languages, he failed to remove the damaging review from his site. He has left the rebuttal there because he doesn’t care about the fact it shows him wrong, he cares about the hits to his site. He even claims that nothing persuasive was in it. So please, judge for yourselves.
Victor’s words in plain text, Bartosz’s words in italics
Thank you for your interest in the Goldlist Method! I see that your article contains a lot of misconceptions about it, so that even though your understanding of memory is accurate, you reach the wrong conclusion in the end. I’ll try to clear things up for you, since I have been using the GLM for many years and to great effect.
“But how do you know it’s effective? Is it actually based on any real science?”
This is a rhetorical question, but I will answer it anyway. You know it’s effective when it does what it is designed to do. And the GLM does do what it is designed to. And it is based on real science, namely on the forgetting curve. The two weeks are the core of the method; everything else is more or less optional.
“First of all, here is a great video which sums up what this method is all about.”
Christopher Huff’s video is indeed great, but it is intended as a tl;dr version of the full explanation, so it is good that you have included a link to a fuller explanation. However, it would have been even better if you had also included the link to David’s newly refined explanation so that readers could get it straight from the horse’s mouth. The new explanation seeks to clear up common misunderstandings that have become apparent and that he was not (and couldn’t have been) aware of when he first posted it.
“The author of the method maintains that:
1. The method allows you to retain up to thirty percent of the words in your long-term memory.”
This is only partly true. It isn’t the method itself that gives you a 30% retention rate. Rather, the method is based on the observation that, on average, people remember around 30% of the words after two weeks. This is illustrated by Ebbinghaus’s forgetting curve later in the article, so I will get back to this.
“2. It is also claimed that the process circumvents your short-term memory – you are expected to make no conscious effort to remember words. Thanks to this the information will be retained in your long-term memory.”
A better way to put it is that it is claimed that conscious memorization is discouraged because it is less effective for long-term retention (but indeed better for short-term retention). David does speak in terms of switching on and off memory functions, but he is not a memory scholar, so his hypotheses are not written in the standard academic terminology.
“1. It doesn’t circumvent short-term memory
One of the big claims of this method is that it is able to circumvent your short-term memory. Somehow, thanks to it, you are able to place all the information straight in your long-term memory.”
Well, around 30% of it, and the method is based on the retention rate, not the other way around.
“In other words, initiation of consolidation is under conscious control and requires the use of central attention. The mere fact of looking at a piece of paper and reading/writing words activates it.”
That’s right, but remember that what David calls ‘short-term memory’ is not the same as ‘working memory’. In GLM terms, the long-term memory is everything you still remember after two weeks, and anything you didn’t remember for two weeks is considered to have been stored in the short-term memory. In standard academic terminology, both of these would be considered ‘long-term memory’.
“Next, the items you learn undergo working memory consolidation.
Working memory consolidation refers to the: transformation of transient sensory input into a stable memory representation that can be manipulated and recalled after a delay.
Contrary to what the creator of this method believes, after this process is complete, be it 2 weeks or more, the short-term memories are not gone. They are simply not easily accessible.”
In practical terms, it doesn’t really make much of a difference whether a memory is gone or you are unable to access it. The result is the same: you have forgotten it.
“You probably have experienced this phenomenon yourself many times. You learned something in the past. Then, after some years, you took it up again and were able to regain your ability relatively quickly. It was possible because your memories were still there. They just became “neuronally disconnected” and thus inaccessible.”
Indeed. This is what is called ‘activation’ in GLM terms.
“What’s more, the Ebbinghaus curve’s numbers are based on the assumption that the learned material :
– means nothing to you
– has no relevance to your life
– has no emotional load and meaning for you
On the curve, you can see that if you memorize information now and try to recall after 14 days, you will be able to retrieve about 21-23% of the previously memorized knowledge. Mind you that this is the knowledge which is incoherent, bears no emotional load and means nothing to you.”
Exactly. So when the words (or whatever else you want to remember) aren’t random, but part of a language you want to learn, we would expect this number to be somewhat higher. And it does indeed seem to be around 30% on average.
“What happens when you start manually writing down words which interest you or when you are able to establish some connection between them and your life? Well, this number can definitely go up.
Keep in mind that your recall rate will also be affected by:
– frequency of occurrence
– prior vocabulary knowledge
So is there anything magical about the method and the number “30”?
Nope. It follows very precisely the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve which takes into account your short-term memory. Sometimes this number will be higher, sometimes it will be lower depending on your choice of words.”
That’s right. And this is what the GLM is based on.
“The Gold List Method is just a spaced repetition method with bigger intervals.”
That’s right, and for good reason. Normal spaced repetition systems try to catch words and bring them back as soon as you forget them, but by doing so, you end up reviewing a lot of words that you already know. In fact, based on the forgetting curve you probably know about 30% of the material essentially for life after having looked at it only once, and yet you will spend valuable study time reviewing it.
In the GLM system, you instead wait until you’ve forgotten all or almost all of what you won’t remember for life, and only then do your review. After two weeks, the forgetting curve is almost completely flat, so that is a good cut-off point.
“Even though the Gold List Method has initially the low activation energy, it starts growing considerably with each and every distillation.”
I’m sorry, what? Each distillation lessens it, if anything, because there are fewer lines for each distillation.
“Having to carry with you a couple of A4 notebooks seems also very impractical to me.”
The vast majority of distillations require only one book, and it does not have to be A4. Only the initial headlist and each transfer into a new book require more than one book.
“However, the biggest problem I have with this method in this department is that it suggests I only learn words I am interested in.”
No, it doesn’t mean that in the way you take it to mean. With any method you have to decide which words you are going to learn, e.g. all the words in your textbook, all the words of a certain frequency, etc. These words are the ones you want to learn, or in other words, the ones you are interested in learning.
“Good learning methods should work for any kind of vocabulary.s
And they should work particularly well for the vocabulary you’re interested in.”
Yeah, like the GLM. 🙂
Today I’ll be answering to great letters with questions in. I haven’t been able to answer all questions sent in, but these were both very good questions and admittedly in these cases you wouldn’t get to the answers from things I’ve said before now, which shows that both these guys have been paying attention, and they’ve given me a chance to add something new today that Goldlist Method users won’t necessarily have seen before and will be of potential use to quite a lot of people. If you agree, please be sure and give your 5 stars.
The following great comment appeared today from user Mistervilleneuve, who identifies himself as Jonathan, and I am motivated to answer it immediately, even though I’m painfully aware that another person also has asked for an answer – and has been waiting for ages. Hopefully I’ll do them both in this article, and my apologies to the second, who has had to have so much patience.
First Jonathan’s comment:
I teach English as a second language in the schools of the province of Quebec, Canada and I am also a passionate of languages. My first language is Quebecois French. I taught myself German and Russian to intermediate level and have plans to learn more.
I try to make my students as autonomous as possible, for instance instead of giving them words to learn I suggest them to write down new words they encounter on sticky yellow notes (Post-Its) and put them in view on their desk, and remove them only when they feel they know them by heart. I know that recopying words can have virtues if done right and I had a breakthrough in my mind when I discovered your Gold List videos on YOUTUBE. Your method is quite frankly the missing link I had been looking for for a long time. It ties together and gives the structure I needed to many ideas I already had about language learning. In fact, the GoldList method will now be integrated in my teaching.
I would like to better understand how exactly the self-testing should be done. I find that I am able to understand the words I want to learn (L2 to L1) but I have more difficulty to translate from my mother tongue to the language I want to learn (L1 to L2). This “one-way translation ability” has puzzled and eluded my problem-solving skills for a long time. My students also tell me that although they can understand English, when it comes the time to “produce”, they have trouble to find their words. They know they know them, but can’t recall them. And I am not any better, I can translate over a thousand Russian words, but give me the list in French or English and I am shamely not able to translate them all back in Russian.
Also, I have begun to learn Hungarian and I am developping a multiple-language learning method I like to call “Stepstones”. In essence, it is about using L2 to learn L3, then L3 to learn L4, etc. addition to everything else I use, I have a Gold List notebook of 360 pages, divided in 3 sections. The first section is the lists English–>Russian. The second section, the lists Russian–>German. The third section, the lists German–>Hungarian. I would be glad to have your educated opinion on learning more than one language at once. That being said, if by definition, a good method gives results and a better method gives the same results with less time and energy spent, I think you will not disapprove that I adapt your method to my own purposes.
I look foward to read your response, here or through email.
By the way, last Winter I spent 3 months in Voronezh to visit a Russian friend and if they say that Kiev is the city of beautiful women, Voronezh must be in very close second place
I’m delighted to see this reaction from someone who lives by language teaching to the Goldlist system. I have found that the number of language teachers among the small minority who don’t like the Method is quite high, and in a sense that is not surprising, as the method puts the student back in charge and not the teacher, in fact it reduces the role of teacher to coach. That is not a bad thing, we still need coaches, and sports people who achieve a lot in their fields do so because their coaches motivate them to keep going themselves, they don’t run the race for the runner. The runner doesn’t take a piggyback on the coach to get around the track, or if he did he would never become a top class athlete, but the way some language teachers conduct their lessons you will see quite the opposite.
I was reading James Heisig‘s introductions to his Remembering the Kanji books today. Not only are the Remembering the kanji books absolutely first rate as language tools (although I have done a friendly micky take in my article “Professor Huliganov’s Remembering the Romaji”, that doesn’t mean I don’t rate Heisig because I do) but also he is clearly another teacher who wants to put the student in the driving seat. And so are you, as is clear from your letters.
In fact, I was thinking of actually having Goldlist Method certification for language teachers who fulfill the following criteria:
1. They show an understanding of the Method
2. They undertake to attribute the Method to me and to make it available to all their students at no extra cost, or if they do find that it increases their revenues they should promise to share 10% of their increase with Multiple Sclerosis or Autism charities, or Red Cross disaster relief, or similar, marking their donation from Goldlist Method. The materials themselves should not be sold or attributed to anyone else
3. They undertake to enable the maximum independence to students, less teaching them the given language than teaching them to teach themselves language.
4. The qualification will be earned when twelve students of the teacher are willing to give a reference stating that the teacher taught them the method.
5. I will announce where the register will be kept, but it will enable the people who have qualified to be GoldList Method Accredited.
At the moment this is just an idea. I just think it will help along those language teachers who do the honorable thing by their students the way you do. I won’t be making any money from the initiative, but it will be a way of furthering what I think is best practice among language teachers.
Now to your very understandable question about self testing, and when to consider a word as “learned”.
I would suggest the following “rule” – a word is learned when the following things are true about it:
1. When you see the word in the target language, you know its meaning(s) – (as in all the meanings you are supposed to have learned so far, if there is a number of meanings – don’t worry if your study order doesn’t try and foresee all the possible meanings of a word – that’s not necessary and will only happen for those who are studying from a dictionary as a source, which in itself has positive and negative sides).
2. When someone says that word to you, you could write it down spelling it properly
3. From seeing it written down, you’d know how to pronounce it
4. You know all the unusual grammar exceptions applying just to that word, at least those covered in your study approach so far. So if you have, for instance, done English strong verbs as a general grammatical idea, you won’t consider “to tread” as learned until you can say “tread, trod, trodden” – but “to step” is learned as soon as you can say to yourself ‘that’s a weak verb’ when you use it.
If you know the word well enough to pass these 4 criteria, then you should be happy to distil it out.
In any event, you can always make two passes, firstly covering the target language side (that’s usually the left side) and see if you can get to the word from your learning language (I use that terminology as often it is good to use as the learning language for Goldlist another language than your own, it can serve as a great checklist for that language which was studied earlier. For instance, I use German – the Langenscheidt Czech-German pocket dictionary to be precise – for Czech, and this has become a great “Czech list” if you’ll pardon the pun, for the occasional German word which it turns out I still don’t know even after having achieved quite some fluency in German, and oll of this is pretty much like your “stepping stones” approach, which is excellent, especially if you need to learn languages that are related to each other) and then if the first pass doesn’t already render enough words for the distillation the second pass can be from target language to learning language, using the above criteria. (It’s a good idea to have them in mind for the first pass too, by the way) and then as a final option if passes one and two don’t give you enough to distil, you can combine woords in a number of ways. Some combination techniques will be included in the forthcoming book, but one thing I’ll give here as a plural is combining words to make fictional titles for notional novels, poems or other art works.
Between these two approaches you should be able to get to the point where the next distillation is going to be something like 60-75% of the preceding list. It doesn’t need to be exact and the less one distils on a given distillation, often it is easier to distil a larger proportion on the next distillation.
When I’m doing big projects on Goldlist Method, I usually plan the distillation and leave my “lumberjack marks” as it were, on the words to be left out or combined a few days before – or sometimes even weeks before – I actually come to do it. This gives an extra memory run. I wouldn’t even do the lumberjack marking run though until at least two weeks have elapsed since I made the list I’m working on. That’s the key secret of the goldlist, leaving that two weeks clearance each time so as not to be led astray by the flatterings of the short-term memory.
On the other matter you mentioned, I certainly agree about Voronezh. I fell in love there but it didn’t do me a whole lot of good. The activities of the then Soviet authorities didn’t help. If you’ve read my account at the end of the Polyglot Project by Claude Cartaginese, you’ll know something about that. You can find it in the boxfile on my LinkedIn profile.
Now to the second letter which I have shockingly neglected and have to put that right with an apology:
Youtube Channelowner “Stealthanugrah” wrote the following way back in May:
I was reading in the Polyglot project your whole crazy testimony, that is one crazy life. I am really blessed to know God got a hold of your life.
Anyways to the question, how do you suggest one memorize music for longterm usage? Musicians tend to forget music quite easily after a few months etc, I’m just curious to see how you would do it.
Here’s another, when gold listing, is it ok to use a language you are intermediate in to learn another one? I am conversant in French and I am learning Spanish, is it alright to be defining Spanish words with French definitions you don’t know, to kill two birds with one stone so to speak? I think that might’ve been a problem.
One more question, how do you feel about how churches memorize songs? You know how at church we just sing them from top to bottom and then it just comes out, but when we do that, these songs tend to lose the meaning in the words they hold (at least for me), how do you suggest we memorize songs, not to mention Bible verses. Should we goldlist Bible verses, because the word of God is something quite important no? If we gold list how much should we goldlist, 25 words? Someone told me instead of reading out all the words, why not shorten the verses so that you write only the first letter of each, (which really works but for short term I’m afraid).
Sorry for making this a bit long, I’m just really curious to see your perspective on all this, and I hope that you’ll answer this on your next blog post.
When we talk about the long-term memory of music, Brother, I think that in the main we remember the way tunes go. If we become very proficient at our instruments, we should be able to play from memory as we can sing from memory. In the main most people haven’t got such big problems singing songs from the long-term memory as they do when playing on a guitar or keyboard. If you are really in command of your instrument and of musical theory that should be the best way of ensuring that long-term memory works, and then the other thing would be to play them a little and often, for pleasure and not to try to learn them or cram them up for a concert. You will always need a bit of last minute practice just to “activate” to concert level, but as with language three days should be optimal for that, if you knew the piece well before.
Expecting always to be able to play without errors at the drop of a hat is a wrong expectation like being able to spark off fluently in a language someone hasn’t spoken for months. The long term memory is great as so many things fit in it, it seems fit to last us for a thousand years of memories, not just a hundred, but we have to accept that it’s neither natural nor necessary for everything in their to be active at once. The three day rule is part of the God given design of our minds, to activate something, to effectively bring about a change in our state of mind. It also reflects the way our Lord was three days as Jonah in the belly of the great fish. Our bodies are full of natural reminders of Biblical truths.
Your second question I think I answered above when talking to Jonathan – it’s a very good thing to use one language to learn another, and if the new language is related closely to a language you learned before then it’s more than a good thing, it is the best way to avoid interference and the deleterious effect of the new language on the old, as it will highlight for you careful attention the differences between the languages. You can use internet bookstores to get any number of books that speakers of your older studied language would use to learn the new one.
Now onto the use of Goldlist for spiritual purposes. I would contend that Churches, in simply singing the songs or hymns on a regular basis as well as in NOT trying to force people to learn them, but by rehearsing them out on a regular basis in a stress free way, actually give people the best chance of long-term memorizing them. If people want to learn a favoured hymn they can use the Goldlist method to good effect – indeed they could to learn a secular poem if they wanted to, but personally I’d advise any minister against imposing either the method or a tempo for it from the pulpit. If ever the day came where I learned that someone was imposing goldlist on someone else as a religious service, I would be deeply saddened by it.
When trying to learn any favorite hymn, you’ll find that most verses you know, it is a question of remembering the least favorite verses and also the seques to new ideas. In a rhyming couplet, I wouldn’t have to say too many syllables of a known hymn before someone who had sung it on numerous occasions could finish the couplet, but he or she might then have difficulty remembeing the bit that comes next.
The above also applies to Scripture. Memorising scripture gives the Christian a source of great strength and guidance, especially in the fight against sin. David says “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee”, and Dwight L. Moody said “either the Bible will keep me from my sin or my sin will keep me from the Bible”. The problem is really to decide which places to start. I personally don’t like to prefer any part of the Bible above another as God can use even the geneologies and the Levitical laws to speak to people’s hearts, and there is nothing that is not relevant to study, even things which we no longer strive to adhere to in the Age of Grace.
Writing out a thousand page book into the goldlist method and distilling it would be a very long process – far longer than learning languages, and there may well be easier ways to learn Scripture. You could record yourself reading it – maybe put up on YT to help others to, and then listen to it back. Or listen to someone else reading it, but on a regular basis. I’d be inclined to use Goldlist for the memorising of passages you especially want to know well, like the “Romans Road” verses for evangelism, some key psalms, or some of the more rich passages of where Christ is speaking such as the Sermon on the Mount, the High Priestly Prayer in John 17, or some of the beautiful doxology and sermons and passages from the letters of Paul, the peon to faith in Hebrews, the hard parts of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation that repay the most meticulous study. I would also suggest it for any parts where God has blessed you and you decided to memorise the passage but find it elusive.
You can also use it for study around the Bible, to learn names of protagonists, places, and the dates that things happened.
Don’t make a work out of it, though. It’s purpose should be to actually put LESS work into the memorising of things you were wanting to memorise anyway. And may God add His blessing to your study of His Word.
Incidentally, August 2011 starts tomorrow and I am going to make that a Blitz Month – with record numbers of postings – mainly of the older YouTube material that I was planning to have up here by now but time was not available. I hope that subscribers with enjoy this “Summer Special” – each of the films will be commented with a bit of extra information I didn’t put onto YouTube, as well as feature some of the most interesting comments received from viewers so far.
- New Article to Help ESL Teachers (jacobtullos.wordpress.com)
- So You Want to Teach English, Too? (socyberty.com)
- Make 2011 the Year You Learn a Language Online & Give Your Confidence a Boost with Online Language Classes at Verbalplanet.com (prweb.com)
- Related article: Police investigate Masonic Conspiracy about Dunblane killer Thomas Hamilton (Scotsman newspaper)
- Letters: Crisis of police management (guardian.co.uk)
- Ron Paul and Freemasonry (angelbabe43.wordpress.com)
- Is the US goverment supporting masons (wiki.answers.com)