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Since the publication of our last issue, Pentecost has come and gone. For Jews, the Pentecost season is a time to commemorate God's covenant with Israel and His revelation of Torah at Mount Sinai. Christians, in addition, remember the great Pentecost outpouring of the Holy Spirit that inaugurated the New Testament Church and wrote the Torah on the hearts of the first Christians.

On July 4, Americans celebrated Independence Day, a time of thanksgiving for the great blessings and liberties enjoyed in the United States. Chief among those liberties is freedom of worship. America from the beginning has provided a haven for religious minorities, giving many persecuted groups an opportunity to develop and flourish. This issue of Grace and Knowledge features an article on one such group: the German Seventh Day Baptists of the Ephrata Cloister, an experiment in communal living that played a prominent role in the early history of Pennsylvania.

This year on July 18, Jews observed Tisha b'Ab, a fast day that recalls the destruction of the Temple and the Babylonian exile. In this issue, Jared Olar continues our series on the Apocrypha with an overview of the book of Baruch, a short book that looks beyond the lamentation of Tisha b'Ab to the great hope of the promised future redemption of God's people.

In the midst of all these special days, we have been thinking this year about what it means to ``commemorate'' something. What is accomplished by ``remembering'' God's blessings, judgment, and deliverance? Our article on ``The Biblical Concept of Remembrance'' discusses this subject.

An upcoming date that will give us cause for reflection is September 11, the anniversary of last year's terrorist attacks on the United States. In the wake of that great disaster, many have pondered questions about the meaning of life and the existence of God. Included in this issue is a report on a ``God debate'' that was held recently at Miami University.

Modern readers who approach the Bible face an immediate possible stumbling block in the creation account of Genesis 1:1-2:4. Does this account actually claim that the creation of the entire universe took place during a period of six days just several thousand years ago? We believe the answer is ``no,'' and we favor instead the interpretive models that place the creation week of Genesis 1 long after the original creation of the universe. One such model, which sees the week described in Genesis 1 as a time of revelation about creation, is outlined in an article in this issue by Christian educator Steven L. Ross.

Finally, this past year has been a memorable one for the American motion picture industry. Recent movies have included the first installment of a series based on J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. In this issue, Jared Olar gives an introduction to the Christian symbolism of Tolkien's works.

We hope you will find much inspiration along with information in Issue 12 of Grace and Knowledge. As always, we look forward to hearing your comments.

Doug Ward



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