More Matthew Make-Believe

Don Camp and other Christians contest that Matthew’s gospel was constructed by snippets from the Old Testament. Those snippets, they say, however unrelated to the use to which Matthew puts them, are prophecies about Jesus, written centuries before his birth. This is the direction of travel: from ancient text to fulfilment in the first century. They refuse to see that for random verses in the scriptures to foreshadow later events involves significant amounts of magic.

Don talks about the bible authors’ use of foreshadowing, which is a recognised technique in literature. A single author in control of their text from start to finish can plant hints early in the narrative that only come to fruition much later on. Don cites Neil Gaiman’s use of the technique, but then equates the use of foreshadowing by a single author over the restricted amount of time it takes to complete a novel, to its apparent use in the bible. But there’s no equivalence. Yes, the bible is largely fiction too, but that’s where similarities end. In the case of the bible, we have to believe that over many, many years, multiple authors set about planting clues – prophecies – for events that would not occur until centuries later. But this just doesn’t work; not without a controlling agent, like a single author who creates and manages the entire narrative. Of course, Don believes that as far as the bible is concerned, that single author is YHWH. He’s not alone in this wishful thinking; there is a whole industry dedicated to arguing that God controlled the subconscious of everyone who contributed to the biblical texts.

But this scenario makes no sense. In the first instance because many of the so called prophecies are nothing of the sort. As we’ve seen, some are random lines in a story about something else entirely. Lets’ look at another example of that, again from Matthew’s gospel:   

In Hosea 11.1 YHWH is being made to boast about how he rescued the Israelites from Egypt:

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

God’s ‘son’ in context and as plainly stated, is Israel (note the use of parallelism again.) All the verse is saying is that YHWH brought his son, Israel, out of captivity of Egypt, which is itself a fiction. Nothing more; nothing about the future. Yet years later, Matthew (2.16-18) rewrote the verse as an event in the young Jesus’ life:

So (Joseph) got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,  where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Matthew expects us to believe that what the Hosea verse really means is that the baby Jesus would flee to Egypt and would be ‘called out’ again only when it was safe. That is, after Herod stopped massacring baby boys, another event that never happened but is itself a rewrite of Exodus 1.22. Only Matthew has this preposterous Egypt story, because only Matthew invented it. Luke simply has Mary & Joseph returning to their home in Nazareth.

Matthew is dishonest on two counts. He knows the original line is not a prophecy and he also knows his fable about the family’s escape to and return from Egypt is not a fulfilment of prophecy. And he knows this because it didn’t happen. He made it up.

Secondly, even if we grant that the bible contains what appear to be more precise prophecies, a God who has engineered their inclusion is mere speculation. One cannot offer up fulfilled prophecy as evidence of that God’s existence and then argue that prophecy comes to be fulfilled only because God is its controlling agent. That is circular reasoning. In any case, most, if not all, of these less indistinct predictions are the very ones that have never been fulfilled. We’ll take a look at some of these next time.

So, which is more likely? A supernatural entity who controls the entire narrative of a collection of books written over centuries, who hides unlikely clues to the future in a select number of verses, or a first century author who plunders ancient scriptures to find snippets that he thinks might parallel his hero, and then rewrites them to furnish his narrative?

An interfering but non-existent God looking forward or a duplicitous author looking back? Even Don knows which it is.

117 thoughts on “More Matthew Make-Believe

  1. This is the very same “technique” that common, modern snake-oil evangelists use to keep their sheeples in the fold; dole out the sermon in small snippets, then tell them what it means and how it was foreseen by the prophets in the Hebrew Bible, no difference at all. It is also read TO a group of sheeples that have no interest or curiosity about what they’re being taught or asked to believe. Five minutes after leaving the sermon they’re catching up on SportsCenter or the Home Shopping Network. They put more effort into this nonsense then they do their religion. Not unusual at all.

    Don is a classic case of cognitive dissonance; he knows what he knows no matter how incorrect it is; it’s right in his mind, that all he needs to know. He can spew out misconceptions, misunderstandings, implausible claims – impossible claims; none of it matters to him. He NEEDS to believe what he believes already and no one is going to change that. Move on to the next guy!

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  2. Neil: [Christians] refuse to see that for random verses in the scriptures to foreshadow later events involves significant amounts of magic.

    Don Indeed it does take “significant amounts of magic.” We don’t think it magic, however. We don’t believe in magic. We believe in God.

    Neil: we have to believe that over many, many years, multiple authors set about planting clues – prophecies – for events that would not occur until centuries later.

    Don: So far so good, Neil. I think you may be getting it.

    Neil: But this just doesn’t work; not without a controlling agent, like a single author who creates and manages the entire narrative.

    Don: Yes. Yes.

    Neil But this scenario makes no sense. In the first instance because many of the so called prophecies are nothing of the sort.

    Neil then cites Hosea 11:1 in which God through Hosea says “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” He notes that what Hosea was referring to was God calling Israel out of Egypt. Well, Neil is right. The passage does not directly have to do with Jesus, but that is how foreshadowing works. It almost always, in whatever place we find, it is not clear about what it foreshadows.

    In this case, Matthew some 700 plus years later identifies the object which is foreshadowed. It is Jesus and his sojourn in Egypt and return to Judea after the death of Herod. Neil is not convinced.

    Neil: Matthew expects us to believe that what the Hosea verse really means is that the baby Jesus would flee to Egypt and would be ‘called out’ again only when it was safe.

    Don No. Hosea and Matthew both expect the passage to be read as referring to Israel coming out of Egypt. But Matthew sees in it a parallel with the experience of Jesus, and because he sees Jesus as representative of Israel and recapitulating the experiences of Israel, though without failure. Matthew. therefore, sees the passage as foreshadowing an event in Jesus’ life that most would not have noticed – unless they put Hosea and Jesus together. That is how foreshadowing works.

    But of course, Neil, thinks Matthew’s story about Jesus in Egypt is all made up anyway. But then one has to wonder how Matthew made any connection at all with Hosea or why he would even include a story of the family in Egypt to escape Herod when it did not happen. The story really is not essential to the Jesus narrative.

    What it is, however, is a rabbinical reading of the Old Testament called remez or sod (which clearly identifies Matthew as trained in rabbinical methods of interpretation).

    A remez is simply a hint of a deeper meaning. A sod is a deeper level of understanding. It is what the Jews consider prophecies.

    But that is not Neil’s coup de grace, so to speak. It is this:

    Neil: One cannot offer up fulfilled prophecy as evidence of that God’s existence and then argue that prophecy comes to be fulfilled only because God is its controlling agent.

    Don: Why not? If only God could foretell the future or leave hints in the text that would only be understood when the events happen, why not recognize this as God’s signature. It is what he says through Isaiah in Is.46:10 “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.”

    It would only follow logically that God can do this because he is the controlling agent. It is not circular reasoning as Neil claims.

    Of course, Neil comes to all this as a non-believer. God is not real. So what other explanation can he offer but that Matthew made it all up? I come as a believer, and I have no trouble seeing God as the controlling agent.

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  3. It actually cannot be computed. The two options are equal. The only reason you think the
    supernatural option is unlikely is because you have decided a priori that there is no supernatural. That presupposition makes your conclusion a good example of confirmation bias. Except there is no evidence for your scenario, so it is merely speculation.

    I was reading Nahum yesterday. From the internal evidence Nahum wrote his prophecy about Assyria (Nineveh) sometime after 663 B.C. because he refers to the Assyrian capture of Thebes and before 612 B.C. because he prophesies Assyria’s destruction. It was not a long range prophecy but far enough in advance for the prophecy to be meaningful. If after 612 it would have been pointless. And he was right on target because Babylon captured Nineveh and destroyed the city as Nahum predicted. And that wound was fatal. Nineveh never recovered.

    Nahum is only one of many prophecies we see fulfilled in history. If a prophet can foretell an event as precisely as Nahum did, why not foretell Jesus? It is certainly evidence of God’s involvement.

    For that reason, I think Matthew’s recognition of those hints and more direct prophecies a better explanation for his use of those prophecies in his Gospel than your explanation that he just made them up.

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      • You guys, I hate to see you wasting your valuable time and energy with Don. You don’t have to be a genius – or even bright – to point out all the irreconcilable parts of the Bible and/or the gospels. All you have to do is read it, they are all right there. Don will not do that, instead making up his own thoughts and ideas in order to preserve a myth that he believes to be true. Many people dismiss ideas and beliefs when they discover evidence against them; Don just refuses to accept it. As Nan said recently, he isn’t alone, there are MANY others just like him.

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      • This is the case, RaPaR. Don suggests we are the ones demonstrating confirmation bias when in fact, I’d love Christianity to be true so that I could live forever secure in the bosom of Abraham, but all of the evidence – all of it – tells me otherwise.
        It is very clear that Matthew and the other gospel writes made up much of what they say about Jesus. They actualised in fiction scraps and stories from the Old Testament, Paul’s teaching and the rules and beliefs of the early cult. Everyone who studies the Bible without the bias of faith recognises this. Naturally, Don doesn’t. He will not see what he doesn’t want to see.

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      • Neil: It is very clear that Matthew and the other gospel writes made up much of what they say about Jesus.

        Don: Shouldn’t you start with Mark?

        However, since I obviously think otherwise, I’d like you to convince me with evidence and perhaps reference to the literary features of the Gospels that would indicate fictionalization. I have asked for that many times over the last few years. I have read Richard Carrier et al. watched his videos and have yet to hear any real evidence or been pointed to any reference by contemporaries to what must have been quite an enterprise for these writers. So, I am genuinely curious. Maybe you have a blog.

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      • Don, as Neil says above, you just don’t want to recognize the evidence. If you actually have “read Richard Carrier, et al” you could not have avoided the various inconsistencies, outright disparate stories and versions of stories that simply can not be reconciled. If you did, it’s because you have “scales over your eyes” and just do not want to have your faith shaken to its’ very core.

        No, I will not even consider teaching you anything as you already know much of it. It would be a terrible waste of my time since I already know you wouldn’t accept it. I will ask you to do your own teaching. Compare the stories of the so-called “Last Supper” at the beginning of the Passion narrative as told in Matthew, Mark, and Luke and John. Tell us precisely WHEN the dinner took place, and WHEN Jesus was crucified.

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      • Yes. I have actually read Carrier.

        RaPaR If you actually have “read Richard Carrier, et al” you could not have avoided the various inconsistencies, outright disparate stories and versions of stories that simply can not be reconciled.

        Don: I am not sure that disparate stories are the mark of fictionalizing. They can just as well be the mark of differing memories or a result of our not understanding the practice of the Jews.

        But Carrier, and I suppose you as well, place an unwarranted standard on the scriptures, that of verbal inspiration and inerrancy. I don’t see that as a standard the scriptures themselves declare.

        Re: the last supper and the Passover. I am aware of the critiques. I worked through that seeming inconsistency sometime in the past. It has to do with the way the Festival of Unleavened Bread was celebrated. (Passover in Jesus’ day was a relatively small part of the week-long festival.) And it is complicated with the way days were determined. For Jews, a day began at sunset, for example.

        You can find some of that information including the unexpected placement of the Passover meal on the fifteenth day of the month rather than on the fourteenth on Jewish websites. This one, for example. https://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/3283921/jewish/Why-Is-Passover-on-Nissan-15-Not-Nissan-14.htm

        Yehuda Sherpin explains why the Passover meal is on the fifteenth rather than the fourteenth as the Old Testament commands. It is because the fifteenth is considered an extension of the fourteenth. It is a long day. That interesting twist explains the differing accounts in the Gospels.

        So, there is really no inconsistency. But you do need to read carefully with the practice of the long day in view.

        I regard Jesus’ celebration to be based on the instructions in Exodus, even when the Jewish culture had changed things.

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      • Ok then it’s quite fine that the gospels are NOT inerrant as many Christians would argue. We may just excuse these inconsistencies and irreconcilable differences to this very “unwarranted standard” put on scripture by atheists and other non-believers!

        Don, you are one weird Christian. I don’t see how you come to believe one story over another when the gospels tell stories differently or in ways that can not be reconciled? There are a number of them, pick up a book by Prof Bart Erhman and see. They are not “seemingly” they are hard-core, discrepancies that none to be reconciled.

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      • RaPaR: Ok then it’s quite fine that the gospels are NOT inerrant as many Christians would argue.

        Don: Pay attention to the distinction I made. But yes, it is okay if there are mistakes of insignificant fact, though I know none that are significant theologically and I have carefully followed the critiques of skeptics. Perhaps the greatest question is Luke’s reference to the enrollment for taxes that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. But regardless why they went, all the data we have points to Bethlehem as Jesus’ birthplace. We don’t have to rely on Luke.

        RaPaR: They are not “seemingly” they are hard-core, discrepancies that none to be reconciled.

        Don: Why don’t you identify one that is significant for you. I would be just talking past you to Ehrman otherwise.

        BTW non-believers and atheists are not the only ones who hold to those standards. You are only picking up the standards that fundamentalists created. I have as much trouble with them as with your repeating them. The standards must be biblical, not theological constructs used to argue against the liberalism of the 19th century.

        There have been a lot of additions to biblical theology over the centuries. I recommend a book on historical theology. Historical Theology by Gregg Allison is a good one. It was my privilege to teach a course on historical theology some years ago. This book was most helpful. Most additions are corrected over time, though it does take time.

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      • Luke’s reference to the tax event during the term of Augustus is no “question”, it is a flat-out false writing device used to get Jesus to Bethlehem. There is no extra-biblical evidence of it anywhere and it wouldn’t make sense even if there was. The distance between Joseph and his “ancestor” David (of all people) is roughly ONE THOUSAND YEARS, yet we’re to believe that Joseph pulled up stakes with his PREGNANT wife and moseyed off across the country to Bethlehem? If you had to return to your homeland of a thousand years ago where would you go? Any ideas? Hint: You would have to reference 23 & Me to find out!

        Furthermore this story is not individually attested, it only appears in Luke. This is a complete fabrication but I’m sure you’ll find a way to give it some credence so you can continue the fairytale!

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      • Bethlehem. Matt. 2:1, 5, 6, 8, 16 all report that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. If I remember correctly, you all do agree that Matthew wrote before Luke. See also John 7:42. There was certainly the expectation that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, as per the prophets.

        Ark: If you had to return to your homeland of a thousand years ago where would you go? Any ideas?

        Don: I would have a problem. Joseph did not. The distance at most was only one hundred miles. Being of the line of David Joseph would have had some pride in Bethlehem as David’s city.

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      • What the gospels writers wrote was specifically BECAUSE the scripture mentioned that the messiah would come from Bethlehem, ergo they HAD to find a way to get Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. Please Don, try not to be so closed minded. Your comment that Joseph would know where his relatives were from a THOUSAND years earlier is just plain mind-numbing. You don’t get it, you never will, there’s no sense in discussing it. Scripture is your CLAIM, it cannot be your PROOF also. That is plain ridiculous.

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      • Really? Joseph would not know where his relatives came from? His relatives had lived this land that measured about 100 miles by fifty for more than a thousand years. They had kept exceedingly detailed genealogical records for more than that time saved for them in the books of Kings and Chronicles, and probably detailed genealogies of their specific families. even today many Jews know what tribe they came from; it is often indicated by their names. And Joseph would not know?

        Does that sound impossible? Even the American Indians knew their ancestry, especially that of the heroes, for as far back and without writing. And they remembered big events such as the Missoula floods that happened 10,000 years ago.

        Relative to David, who was first king of the united kingdom and the king from whom the Jews expected the eternal king to come, particularly detailed and very public records were kept. That is reflected in even the scriptures you refer to. And Jospeh would not know?

        Bethlehem was the ancestral home of David. That is clear in the books of Samuel and Kings. It was not just a random town that Micah mentioned (Micah 5:2). It was David’s city and the city from which the ruler Micah predicts will come. Why? Because he will be a king in David’s line.

        So, of course, the Gospel writers (Matthew and Luke) are interested in how Joseph and Mary got to Bethlehem and fulfilled their destiny. And so too were those who collected and kept the memories of Jesus’ birth alive and from whom Matthew and Luke got their information. The Gospel writers did not have to make anything up. It was all there for them. The evidence of one birth narrative prior to the Gospels is found in how the two Gospel accounts dovetail. They were derived from one original narrative. http://biblicalmusing.blogspot.com/2020/01/two-stories-about-jesus-birth.html

        The Gospels did not exist in a vacuum. Thery existed in the context of a people who were very tuned to the scriptures and genealogies and who kept their own family histories religiously. Dropping a fictional story on them would have immediately been found to be fiction. It was not. No one argued that Jesus was not born in Bethlehem. No Jewish writing challenges that. Until the New Biblical Scholars got ahold of it some 1800 years later. Then everything was up for grabs. The ancients must find that amusing.

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      • The biggest problem with all your claims related to the birthplace of Jesus (or any other claims about him, for that matter) is your conviction that he is the promised HEBREW mashiach. He is not.

        Any passages cited by the New Testament writers that purportedly come from the Hebrew scriptures are simply misguided efforts to “prove” Paul’s claims related to the airy-fairy experience he had on the road to Damascus.

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      • As any historian will tell you, there was NO census, none, nada, zilch, zippo, negatory, nothing. Nothing in the historical record; Roman or otherwise, indicating such. Never happened. You can do all the logical & linguistic gymnastics in the world, won’t matter. No such thing ever happened. It was just a writing device used to get them to Bethlehem where Jesus almost certainly was NOT from (Jesus of Nazareth!)

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      • According to Augustus Caesar’s own account he ordered three empire-wide censuses. One in 28 B.C. shortly after he was declared Emperor, one in 8 B.C. and one in 14 A.D. Luke mentions the one ordered in 8 B.C. saying that Augustus made a decree that all the world should be listed. “Res Gestae Divi Avgvsti” http://classics.mit.edu/Augustus/deeds.html#71

        8. When I was consul the fifth time (29 B.C.E.), I increased the number of patricians by order of the people and senate. I read the roll of the senate three times, and in my sixth consulate (28 B.C.E.) I made a census of the people with Marcus Agrippa as my colleague. I conducted a lustrum, after a forty-one year gap, in which lustrum were counted 4,063,000 heads of Roman citizens. Then again, with consular imperium I conducted a lustrum alone when Gaius Censorinus and Gaius Asinius were consuls (8 B.C.E.), in which lustrum were counted 4,233,000 heads of Roman citizens. And the third time, with consular imperium, I conducted a lustrum with my son Tiberius Caesar as colleague, when Sextus Pompeius and Sextus Appuleius were consuls (14 A.C.E.), in which lustrum were counted 4,937,000 of the heads of Roman citizens.

        The 8 B.C. census may be the one Luke mentions as it seems it was an Empire-wide census.

        In addition, there were local censuses, some for the purpose of determining the numbers and property of the people within a province. The census of Quirinius in 6 B.C. was the occasion for Quirinius taking control of Judea after a problem with the Herodian Tetrarch. It resulted in a rebellion among some in Judea.

        It appears from history that every new governor might have taken a census of the people in his province and that this was so ordinary that it elicited little comment. \

        In the years just before Herod the Great’s death, Herod made a military incursion into the south that was condemned by Augustus and resulted in Herod being essentially demoted and the Romans by means of the Governor of Syria who, if I recall correctly was Verus, taking more direct control. That is recorded in Josephus. That may have been the occasion for the census that we find in Luke.

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      • Don, Don, Don, where do you come up with this stuff?

        Even if August ordered a census taken, he would NEVER have required people to return to the homes of their ANCESTORS!!!!!! Never, ever wold that have been a requirement. Do you know the incredible chaos that would have created, millions of people scrambling all over the empire for a requirement that makes no sense whatsoever. AND, btw, None of the censuses you mentioned would have qualified as Luke’s, 8 BCE would have been too early, and 14 CE would have been too late, so what is your point? The point is Joseph would NOT have been required to “return” to Bethlehem for the “census” that never took place.

        Your idea of something “making perfect sense” is whatever sense you want/need it to make then, voila! It makes sense!

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      • I wrote an analysis of the passage and provide a solution here .http://biblicalmusing.blogspot.com/2022/04/making-sense-of-census.html

        The long and short of it is that Caesar did not require the whole Roman world to return to their ancestral homes. It was a special Jewish requirement and then only for Jews living Herod’s kingdom. It was not required by Verus either, he would have been uninterested. It was Jewish; they were more interested in family relationships than in numbers.

        Actually, 8 B.C. is not too early. That is the date Augustus made the decree, not the date it was carried out in any place but perhaps Rome. The Roman world was wide and communication of the decree would have taken months to reach Syria. Then there would have had to have been preparation for the taking of the census. Plus, in many case, disturbances in the provinces delayed the census. That was the case in Herod’s kingdom. It was both in chaos because of a dispute between Herod and his son and a recent demotion of Herod due to his misguided incursion into the South. Verus even went to Judea to settle the argument between Herod and his son and to establish his authority Herod’s kingdom. All this is recorded by Josephus.

        It may have been at that time that the registration was made. The whole account by Luke fits the situation perfectly. And it is not too early. It came close to the end of Herod’s life two years after this son in question died. which would have placed Verus’ trip to Jerusalem somewhere around 6 B.C. and that date does not present a problem in the timeline of Jesus’ life.

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      • BTW the answer is not that the author endorsed Nazareth as the birthplace. (You may not have a subscription that allows you to see the whole article.) He implies that Nazareth is attached to Jesus not because it was his birthplace but because of his later association with Nazareth. King doesn’t really take a position on the birthplace.

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      • Many, many scholars believe that Jesus was really born and from Nazareth, hence “Jesus of Nazareth”. After really reading the accounts, (I mean, open minded lay) it is commonly thought that Jesus needed to be born in Bethlehem according to Micah. In other words, the myth was spun around the man, not the other way around.

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      • We only have the Gospels for information on this subject. The two Gospels that speak tell us differently. Bethlehem. Some scholars have nothing else to do but to find and write papers on trivia. It is the same in my field of English literature.

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      • Yes, quite, ‘only the gospels’. No-one else, no historian, no contemporary of Jesus, no Roman record offers us any information about Jesus whatsoever. What does this tell you, Don?

        Even after manipulating historical data around Augustus’ census as you do, the nativity stories are still left with significant problems: Herod’s massacre of the innocents, for which there is absolutely no evidence; the wand‘rin’ star that later guided the magi (ditto); the role of dreams in Matthew; the family’s flight to Egypt; the presence of angels in Luke; Mary’s treasuring of memories that she never mentions again even when her son is being maligned. These are aspects of story, not history.

        To say it’s only recently that such problems have come to light is of course disingenuous. Anyone who pointed them out prior to the Enlightenment would’ve been burnt at the stake for heresy!

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      • What it tells me is that you have no fact to stand on.

        The rest of your post is just atheist grumbling. The only argument you put forward is that since there is no God there can be no miracles. That has no traction with theists.

        We have a fairly large body of information about Herod in this time period. He killed his sons. He pursued and killed any of his opponents he could find. His hold on the kingdom was in decline. Most his contemporaries considered him deranged and brutal. The logic of history tells us that the slaughter of the innocents was in character with all of his other acts in his final years.

        The flight to Egypt (only about two hundred miles away) and return not to Bethlehem but to a place in the north that can only be described as a nothing village, as archaeology has found it to have been, makes sense. To which you offer what argument or reasoning?

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      • Don, you’re a lost cause. You defy logic and reason at every turn to continue to believe in a fairy tale. I’m tapping out, I have other believers that need saving!

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      • ‘It was in keeping with his character.’ No doubt. But did it happen? No, it didn’t.

        Unless we all subscribe to your explanation that it was all a miracle, we haven’t a leg to stand on? Shame on you. This is argument at its most pitiful.

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      • Don just doesn’t get it; the Bible is his CLAIM, it can not ALSO be his evidence. The Bible isn’t evidence for anything.

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      • RaPaR: Jesus needed to be born in Bethlehem according to Micah. In other words, the myth was spun around the man, not the other way around.
        Yes, this is absolutely right. It really is the only rational explanation. The alternative entails the use of magic, which, no matter how much it’s dressed up as prophecy or foreshadowing, is no explanation at all.

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      • Referencing an online biblical ‘magazine’ is your source of proof?

        Further, when discussing what the BIBLE says, why is it necessary to turn to apologists, etc. to “interpret” what something means? It would seem Christians are unable to simply “take God’s word” on what “He” reportedly said.

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      • Nan, Don wouldn’t know a “fact” if it hit him over the head! His arguments are groundless dogma which he then uses to support his argument. We call that circular nonsense. Worst part is he’s not even aware of it.

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      • The most recent conversation has had to do with Luke 2:1-3. I have not appealed to any biblical magazine. That was someone else.

        But interpretation? That is what we all are doing. Any time we are dealing with another language interpretation is necessary. That would be true of modern Spanish as much as ancient Greek. Our English translations are the products of interpretation. But that is equally true whether we are translating a Spanish language story or news report or a Greek report. In every case attention must be paid to grammar and syntax. The whole process is to determine what is the word of God. Once that is determined, I take him at his word.

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      • You are quoting my blog. I think the only appeal or rather citation was to an online Greek grammar and to Augustus Caesar’s writing. Neither of those are magazines.

        And I do choose to accept what is written.

        Speculation seems to have for you all an evil connotation, as if it were just wild guessing. But speculation is part of the scientific method – hypothesis – which when tested yields knowledge. You all have been testing my hypotheses. But the interesting thing is that no one seems to be willing to have their skeptic hypotheses tested.

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      • One of the problems historians have is the complete lack of contemporary evidence for the bible character Jesus of Nazareth
        When one considers all the deeds this character was supposed to have been responsible for it makes it highly unlikely he existed.
        Remember ,I am of course referring to the character as described in the bible and believed by his followers.
        The is complete lack of contemporary evidence has to be viewed in light of the claims made, and in gJohn his deeds were so many and so week known they could not be contained in all the books or whatever the exact wording is.
        As for Nazareth….
        While this is a contentious issue, there is no archaeological evidence of its existence in the time frame when the bible character was supposed to have been about his business.
        You might find the Nazareth Farm Report most intriguing.
        And the etymology of the word ‘Nazarene’ is clouded.
        In truth, ordinary common sense should inform us that if the claim that this character was who Christians claim he was, and did all the things claimed of him, not least the raising of Lazarus, then there should be some record of him from at least one independant contemporary source.
        And there were a number of people writing during this period.
        And if course the Romans kept records
        However, there is nothing. Not a single contemporary reference to anyone that fits the description of the character featured in the gospels.
        From an outsider’s perspective that would be considered most odd.
        From the perspective of one such as yourself who has devoted a large part of his life to belief in the veracity if the tales, I for one would consider such a void in the historical record I might very well consider I had been conned.

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      • Ark Lack of contemporary evidence.

        Don We’d all like to have contemporary evidence. But Wait! Wouldn’t the report of someone who knew Jesus be contemporary evidence? Wouldn’t his disciples qualify?

        Given that, we do have contemporary evidence and more and better evidence than for almost every personage of ancient world. Take Herod the Great, for example. What contemporary evidence do we have? Or Pilate. In some instances the only evidence we have is Josephus, and he was not a contemporary eyewitness. Do you doubt the evidence that comes from a generation later?

        So, even if the writers of the Gospels were not personal witnesses of Jesus, we still have better evidence for Jesus.

        Ark Nazareth.

        Don Do a google search. There has been archaeological work that has uncovered buildings of the first century. Here is one. https://www.nazarethvillage.com/about/research-and-archaeology/
        “Archaeological excavations carried out by the University of the Holy Land (UHL) with Dr. Stephen Pfann as leading archaeologist. This land was shown to be quarried and farmed in the Late Hellenistic-Early Roman Period (2nd Century BC to 1st Century AD).”

        Ark: And there were a number of people writing during this period.

        Don: Name one.

        Ark: From an outsider’s perspective that would be considered most odd.

        Don: There is no one we know of who was on site in the three year period of 27-30 A.D. who wrote anything at all related to Judea. In fact, the Gospels are pretty much the only thing we have even close to that time. BUT when you think about it, the Gospels provide a huge amount of information about the geography, cities, culture, and people of historical significance. Luke, who wasn’t on site in those years wrote about the scene a few years later and he provides a wealth of detail superior in many ways to almost everyone else writing.

        So I as one who has devoted much of my life to the veracity of these reports, I am amazed at the depth of information, the multiple witnesses to the events, and the well-recorded development of the church in the years following.

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      • John the Baptist?
        You have evidence?
        And remember, we are discussing the Jesus character as described in the bible, not merely the ordinary smelly human itinerant Rabbi.

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      • Name one.

        I suppose the most well known would probably be Philo. I’m sure you’ve read some of what he wrote, yes?
        Lived before and during the claimed ministry of the character Jesus of Nazareth.
        And please understand we are not discussing some smelly itinerant seditious rebel, crucified by the Romans, but rather we are talking about the character as described in the bible; the born of a virgin, miracle worker mentioned in the anonymous gospels. The instant viticulturist , walking on water, corpse – raising, feted and mobbed Passover ass- riding resurrected individual whose fame was known far and wide.

        This person just happened to pass through this period in history completely unnoticed by every contemporary and especially the Romans.

        Why do you think this character did not receive a single mention by anyone?

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      • I reiterate: I am not asking why the itinerant Rabbi of no fixed abode or ability, who may have wandered around Galilea with a motley crew of illiterate half wits, and was later apparently crucified for sedition – as who would give such a character a second glance?

        No. I am talking about the larger than life, terribly famous, virgin – born, son of god / Yahweh who strode around the territory raising dead people, walking on water, ruining the livelihood of at least one pig farmer, demonstrating an early fast food production business of fish and bread then got himself purposely executed to show how cool he was by resurrecting three days later then wandered about without a single mention by anyone..
        THIS is the character we are discussing

        Liked by 2 people

      • Ark: I am talking about the larger than life, terribly famous, virgin – born, son of god / Yahweh … [etc. etc. etc.]

        Don: Except that almost no one saw him as that. Not even his disciples at first. For most in the crowds, he was a curiosity whose message they really did not get. For the religious elite, he was a pain in the arse. For the political elite he was a weird preacher who had gotten himself labeled a heretic by the people who really mattered. He was thus expendable.

        Only after the resurrection did the disciples really begin to put things together. If you recall, after the resurrection Jesus spent some time explaining what the OT had to say about him. It took some time.

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      • There is another reason why Jesus is not mentioned. He intentionally avoided notoriety. He said himself that he had come to the lost sheep of Israel. In Tyre and Sidon he avoided notice. The world would wait until he had revealed himself to Israel and offered the kingdom of God to them. So, he avoided Herod. He spent most of his time in Galilee not Jerusalem. He actually did not seek crowds; they sought him. He lived for the final presentation of himself as king the week before Passover, knowing that even so he would be rejected. He knew that the cross lay before him, and it was for the cross he was destined, not public acclaim.

        So, by God’s design there were no world-renowned recorders of the events of his life. God was interested in the proclamation of those who really knew who he was.

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      • Certainly not the character described in the bible.
        Once again, why do you think/ what was the reason the character described in the gospels as per my comment – the well known miracle worker etc – was not mentioned by anyone?
        Could you give a straightforward answer please without asking another question in return?
        I don’t enjoy that style of apologetic back and forth
        Thanks

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      • Neil: what was the reason the character described in the gospels as per my comment – the well known miracle worker etc – was not mentioned by anyone?

        Don: I think there are a number of reasons.

        First, I repeat that he was mentioned by really a lot of people. Not only the Gospel writers but Paul, the writer of Hebrews, and James but also many others who wrote – perhaps even Thomas – but their writing was not collected in the canon. But I suppose what you mean is why not by anyone who was not a fan of the guy.

        1) No one who was writing the history of the times was there to notice Jesus. Philo might be the only one to qualify as a chronicler of then time, but he made only a brief trip to Judea and we don’t know whether that was before or after Jesus. And his comments are very, very brief.

        2) They weren’t interested or found mentioning Jesus inconvenient. Josephus is in that category. He could not have missed the growing sect that was getting notice across the Roman Empire. But he does not mention Christians or Jesus, unless the brief mention that everyone debates is the exception. That is remarkable. But it is explainable by Josephus’ object in writing. He was intent upon rehabilitating himself in the eyes of the Jews and presenting to the Roman Emperor a benign picture of the Jews. Jesus and the growing church that was causing a stir was not a convenient subject. In fact. I wonder if Domitian did not ask why Josephus overlooked them.

        3) Histories are usually written about big events or people of great significance, usually political or military figures. Looking back we might think Jesus would qualify, but at the time bigger things were brewing. Like the growing tensions and chaos in Judea that would end in a war with Rome. That’s why Josephus expends quite a bit of ink on Pilate and all then myriad other players in Jewish history of then time. That was whole build up to war was big, and that really was Josephus’ topic related to the first century. The reality was that Jesus wasn’t news. He for most onlookers was just another prophet and preacher, of which there were many, and maybe a contender for Messiah, of which there were also many. He didn’t create any rebellion. He didn’t command armies. He wasn’t vying for king. He was a nobody. And he dies as many others did, on a cross.

        We think otherwise, but put yourself back in the first century. Unless you were one of the followers of Jesus or in the crowd, you might not have noticed.

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      • HA! This sums it up perfectly … The reality was that Jesus wasn’t news.

        And if push were to come to shove, that reality would be true today had it not been for Paul wanting to make a name for himself.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You seem to be misunderstanding, Don
        Once again,NOT the ordinary smelly itinerant Rabbi but the purported reknowned, miracle worker featured in the anonymous gospels whose works were known far and wide, according to the author)s of gJohn.
        The instant viticulturist and water walker, and raiser of dead people, whose triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey or two donkeys was greeted by fawning multitudes laying palm fronds to line his way. The character who was crucified at the insistance of certain Jews and who resurrected and walked around completely unnoticed by Roman authorities and was later carried off into space to heaven.
        Why was THIS character not mentioned or noticed by anyone, especially the Romans?

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      • Hmmm. I just followed the link and it came up as a commentary (“Making Sense of the Census”). There was no reference to it being part of a blog. Nonetheless, referencing your own work is hardly a validation of what you have already stated.

        Speculation is just that. Speculation (i.e., “expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence; supposition”). An hypothesis is a bit more grounded in that it’s generally considered a theory (i.e., “A well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world”).

        And what is there to “test” for those who don’t believe? Should they test “God”? Now that would be rather tricky since such a being doesn’t exist … which is exactly why atheists would consider such an exercise a futile effort.

        Liked by 1 person

      • And yet, Don, you castigate me for speculating! I guess your speculation is a hypothesis of the scientific kind (that a god did it all is really scientific!) whereas mine and the scholars I’m referencing is ‘wild guessing’. Got it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Don made the following comment to Ark: Except there is no evidence for your scenario, so it is merely speculation.

    He probably doesn’t realize it, but this is the crux of everything HE has presented related to this faith.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I scoured my comments then realised on this post I hadn’t made any.
      I must have made a lasting impression on Senor Don.
      I do have that effect on people.
      It’s my chiselled good looks and bon vivante / Joie de Vivre style of approach to Christian Apologetics.
      I mean, who doesn’t like talking about about everybody’s favorite genocidal meglomaniac Yahweh/ Jesus
      of Nazareth?

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  5. I notice that you’ve deleted the discussion of Luke 2:2 and the census of Qiriinius. I’d suggest that there is an even simpler reading that makes perfect sense.

    The Greek is αὕτη ἀπογραφὴ πρώτη ἐγένετο ἡγεμονεύοντος τῆς Συρίας Κυρηνίου.

    A literal translation is “This census [was] before Quirinius was governing Syria.

    The verb “was” is not written in the sentence, but that is common when it is easily determined.

    The word in question is πρώτη or prote meaning either first or before. Both are acceptable.

    So, the simple grammar and syntax suggests the reading I’ve given. The reason many commentators do not choose that solution is that Luke does not use πρώτη in that sense otherwise in his writing. But that is hardly definitive. The fact is that πρώτη is used in Greek quite often with the meaning of “before.”

    Since there is no indication of two censuses under Quirinius and because Quirinius was not governing Syria at the time of Herod the Great a “first” census is unlikely. Only a “before” census fits both history and the grammar of the sentence.

    So why mention Quirinius? Because Luke’s first readers might well have remembered the census of Quirinius since it resulted in a minor insurrection that is mentioned both in Josephus and Acts.

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  6. You know, I continue to be amazed how Christians seem to know everything that Jesus was doing and thinking … totally based on their assumptions of events that were included in a two thousand plus year old book. It’s one thing to “quote scripture,” but to add one’s own personal take on what was written is really quite mind-boggling. And to top it off … when one considers the MULTITUDE of extra-curricular OPINIONS about the entire event … ?? Phew!

    And yet … and yet … Tom’s view or Dick’s view or Harry’s view are all “spot-on.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nan:>/b> I continue to be amazed how Christians seem to know everything that Jesus was doing and thinking … totally based on their assumptions

      Don: No, based on the evidence provided by those who were there. What you all here do is take the information we have off the table, which leaves you almost nothing. And then declare there is nothing and everything Christians say of Jesus is assumption. Luke, John, Peter, and Matthew must be amused.

      It is a nice trick if you can pull it off. But I don’t think you can.

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      • No, Don. It is YOUR trick that you continue to try and pull off. You weren’t there and no amount of speculating or referencing supposed events from a two thousand year ago story is going to provide authentic and indisputable “evidence.” Sorry.

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      • What evidence are you referring to?
        Please be specific.
        Note: The gospels are not regarded as evidence of the character worshiped by Christians.

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      • Ehrman believes in the bible character worshipped by Christians?
        You are shitting me!

        The gods,I am horrified. When did dear old Bart stop being agnostic / atheist and re-convert to Christianity?
        What terrible news. Bart has become Christian again.
        SMH

        Liked by 1 person

      • OI did not say Ehrman believed in the Christ. I said that he was convinced by the historical method that he was a real live person living in the early first century and that pretty much all the information about him as a first century man is accurate. I recommend his book Did Jesus Exist? I am proud to have an autographed copy and recommend the book to everyone. I just wish he had applied the historical method to the question of his miracles. I think he might have added even more to his portrait Jesus.

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      • At no point in this dialogue have I suggested the ordinary man Yeshua did not exist, or that he was a myth.
        We are talking about evidence for the god man you Christians believe existed and when the question of scholars arose you cited Ehrman.
        You really need to stop being a wheedling little Arsehat and try to practice more honesty and integrity. Alien concepts for you perhaps but well worth the effort of making them part of your character.

        Ehrman considers there was someone named Yeshua, but has no truck with the god man beliefs you cling to.

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      • I did not say Ehrman believed in the Christ. I said that he was convinced by the historical method that he was a real live person living in the early first century and that pretty much all the information about him as a first century man is accurate. I recommend his book Did Jesus Exist? I am proud to have an autographed copy and recommend the book to everyone. I just wish he had applied the historical method to the question of his miracles. I think he might have added even more to his portrait Jesus.

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      • Quite frankly, I don’t put stock in ANY scholar in the field of “interpreting” the bible. However, I will concede that if you’re a bible reader and BELIEVE its far-fetched stories, then I’m sure “biblical” scholars are helpful to support those beliefs and/or overcome the several and many hiccups that exist in scripture.

        Full disclosure: I researched (and quoted) many of these scholars when writing my book — primarily to demonstrate the many and several fallacies that exist within the Christian faith.

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      • Serious scholars?
        Oh my!
        So we are now discussing the definition of evidence.
        Fair enough.

        How would you differentiate the various ‘evidence’ claims of Christians and Muslims?
        Let’s use the Christian claim of the Walking on water miracle and the Muslim claim of the Winged Horse Mohammed rode on.

        Please lay out your criteria including the position of historians and the historical method

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      • A miracle is virtually by definition beyond the scope of the historical method. (I wonder if you followed my definition of miracle earlier?)

        Was it preceded by prayer and/or did it contribute to the furtherance of God’s purpose? Did it point to Jesus? By those criteria, Muhamed’s miracle does not qualify.

        By the way, Ark, you have a talent of insulting pretty much half the world with your characterization of Jesus – and I would have to include Muhamed – in one descriptive sentence. Well done! Don’t you realize that half the world today and much more than half including our ancestors live or lived in the conditions you described for Jesus? Do you really think only people with running water are intelligent?

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      • “Your” definition of a miracle?
        Hilarious! The arrogance and ignorance of that statement
        Tell me, where are you planning on taking your next holiday? On Ken Ham’s Ark?
        It is plain to any rational person reading along that you are simply an indoctrinated fundamentslist, with little emphasis on fun but quite a lot on mental.

        Throughout this entire dialogue you have not addressed the prime issue, that of the historicity of the miracle working , instant viticulturist god man featured in the anonymous gospels.

        As you are well aware of what I am referring to your avoidance of the issue suggests you are being plainly disingenious.
        My characterization of the character Yeshua is almost certainly accurate.
        I don’t recall making mention of his intelligence or lack thereof.
        However if he was as I have portrayed – just a misguided ordinary man – he was likely somewhat delusional. That he was crucified for this and his acts if sedition is evidence of the brutality and lack of tolerance on behalf of Roman authorities.
        (Ironic that over the next thousand plus or so years the religion started by the character ‘Paul ‘ displayed a similar lack of tolerance and oft times degrees of brutality and savagery to match the Romans. )
        In a couple of aspects, you and he have things in common.
        However, you probably have access to a bar of soap and for your own good you have the opportunity of consulting with a mental health professional.
        I recommend you avail yourself of their expertise.

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      • Ark: he was crucified for this and his acts if sedition is evidence of the brutality and lack of tolerance on behalf of Roman authorities.

        Don: He was accused and condemned by the Jewish authorities for blasphemy.,/b> as the Babylonian Talmud also indicates. But that is not a crime as far as the Romans were concerned, so the Jewish leaders accused him of sedition. That got their attention.

        Ark “Your” definition of a miracle?

        Don: Yes, but derived from the miracles described in the Bible related to Jesus. Your definition is somewhat different I imagine. But if you are to judge the miracles in the Bible, you must judge them for what they are, not as what you would like them to be. Few of them were contraventions of the natural order by an onlooker 2000 years later and are often described as natural events, though I think critics strain to do so. . Few miracles today would be seen as absolute contradictions of the natural order. Healing is usually described as spontaneous rather than an miracle by skeptics. That puts them beyond the usual “investigations.” They are, as I said, miracles because they met the criteria in my previous post.

        Sorry to disappoint you.

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      • Oh, you don’t disappoint ,Don, you are the epitome of the indoctrinated fundamentalist .
        The entire blasphemy assertion is nonsense,for which you have no evidence.
        .
        Nothing more need to be said re your garbage of miracles . Again no evidence
        Sorry.
        You failed again.

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      • Oh, come on Don, really? You’re supposed to know something about the Bible? But then I forget, you only know what you want to know, no room for any disparity.

        If J was suspected of blasphemy, as you say, the Romans would not have been involved at all; they couldn’t care less if someone thought they were a god. Now, saying you were the rightful king of Judah/Israel against the choice by Rome would be another situation altogether and he would have been up on a cross in next to no time at all.

        And also, BTW, he would NEVER have been taken down ever. Certainly not by Pilate, whom Christian writers had to whitewash out of culpability so as not to offend Constantine and the rest of the Roman church supporters. This is why the whole “Joseph of Arimathea” had to be invented by the gospel writers in order to get J into a tomb from which he can then be “resurrected”. Pilate was brutally cruel, even to his own soldiers whom he routinely had scourged to death. In fact, he was called back to Rome by Tiberius who then died wile Pilate was on his way back. He arrived to meet his new emperor Caligula. And history doesn’t know what happened to him after that; he’s never heard from again. Gee, go figure….Caligula and a missing governor……one can only imagine.

        Just more examples of weaving the mythology around the man. This is all so silly. I wish we expended 1/1000th of the time we waste on this nonsense to finding a cure for childhood cancer, or breast cancer. We would have eradicated it by now!!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hmmm — does this remind you of a certain Russian leader? Pilate was brutally cruel, even to his own soldiers whom he routinely had scourged to death.

        I love your last paragraph. So. Much. Truth.

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      • RaPaR: If J was suspected of blasphemy, as you say, the Romans would not have been involved at all

        Don: Thanks RaPaR, that is excactly what I said. And it is exactly what the Gospels say.

        RaPaR: Now, saying you were the rightful king of Judah/Israel against the choice by Rome would be another situation altogether and he would have been up on a cross in next to no time at all.

        Don: Exactly again. And that is what the Gospels say, except you overlook the tensions between Pilate and the Jews. You can read about that in Josephus if you are interested. That made Pilate reluctant to cave into the Jew’s demands.

        RaPaR: BTW, he would NEVER have been taken down ever.

        Don: How do you know that?

        I am experiencing a little time travel whiplash with your explanation of why all this happened. It is creative, however. It is so much easier to just follow the narrative of the Gospels. Parsimonious, I think, is the word. No need for historical gymnastics.

        I am glad you are at least reading the Gospels. Good things can come from that.

        Re: Pilate. Josephus has quite a lot to say about him. As I read that it appears that he was in a pretty acrimonious chess match with the Jews and their strategy of taking their grievances to the Emperor. By the time we get to his final years as governor, Pilate was limited by what the Emperor demanded and already in a bit of trouble, and thus his somewhat passive aggressive dealing with the Jews regarding Jesus is perfectly understandable. Jesus meant nothing to him. He was simply an expendable pawn. He didn’t believe he was a threat, but Pilate was trapped by the Jews’ accusations. He knew the Jews were playing him. But he couldn’t let that pass, even if he was reluctant to give in to them. So he did the necessary, but minimally. He got his jabs in wherever he could.

        One of those was the sign on the cross, a regular feature of crucifixions, that called Jesus the King of the Jews. They didn’t want that or like it, but Pilate was in control at that point. It was his play. The other was allowing the body of Jesus to be buried by a friend. The Jews weren’t happy with that either. But it was Pilate’s play. At the end of the game, it turned out to be a stalemate. Pilate lost control of the Jews, but the Jews’ irascibility resulted in Rome coming and cancelling their ticket.

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      • You know, Don, what you write makes sense. And if a person was so inclined, they would absorb it and run with it. Problem is … the ENTIRE STORY is just that. A story. The undeniable fact is that the bible itself contains little to none of your “explanations.” All this must be found elsewhere –or made up– in an effort to have everything, well, make sense.

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      • Au contrair my delusional friend. It is YOU that is making everything up; I have studied this for years and years and I would debate you anywhere at anytime. You are a believer in the most juvenile and ridiculous mythology and it shows every times you open your mouth.

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      • Well, I am a believer, you have that right. But not as irrational as most atheists who somehow believe against all evidence the most extremely improbable explanation for a materialist fundamental reality. I admire your courage to go out on a limb.

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      • Every gap in human knowledge has eventually been filled with a naturalistic
        / scientific .explanation.
        Please tell us of one thing your religion has explained?

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      • “Believe against all evidence” is the punchline to that joke. There is really no “evidence” per se as one would normally expect. The NT was written anonymously, by people that were NOT eyewitnesses, regurgitating oral tales or simply making them up out of whole cloth. Plus we have no contemporaneous copies of it at all; only centuries old copies of copies of copies of copies, ad infinitum. As Ehrman would say, there are as many versions of the NT as we have copies….

        What you really need to dig into Don is not the NT really but how the NT came to be in it’s present form. That is what reduces it from “divinely inspired” in to mythological nonsense. Studying the Bible and the history of it’s making has created more atheists than anything else I can think of.

        Liked by 1 person

      • What you really need to dig into RaPaR is how the universe and you yourself came to be in its present form. In other words, examine the basis of your own worldview.

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      • Thank you, Don, presently in process and for some time I’m afraid. This is how I came to my present beliefs. No invisible man in the sky snapping fingers and such. I’ll take science anytime…

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      • Will you? Take science, that is. On the surface science is based on observation and description of HOW things work. Dig deeper and you’ll find that science tells us nothing about WHY things are the way they are. It tells you nothing about why you are the way you are. In fact, as Richard Dawkins recently admitted, you and I are the result of a crap shoot. Any of a mind-bending number of chance events, if one were changed, would have made you and me different. And that difference could be as insignificant as a gene that made you allergic to milk or me a mongoloid. Both would have changed our lives.

        Dawkins is speaking as a biologist, of course. But an astrophysicist would say the same thing about the present configuration of the cosmos. It could have been anything. And there were an unbelievably large number of possibilities. A psychologist or a sociologist could say the same about you and me related to their fields of study. Nothing is absolutely determined. There are too many possibilities. The flutter of a hummingbird’s wings in the Amazon could result in a hurricane in Florida – or not.

        Science is helpful to a point. But it has no ability to tell us why we are here or what life is about.

        Dawkins is okay with that apparently. He advice is to enjoy the crazy improbability of who you are and your place in time. (Easy for him to say. He was born with arms.) A happy fatalist is what I’d call him, and very lucky. But I have never been satisfied with that. I want to know why and what it is all about. I found that God answered those questions and put everything else into perspective.

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      • RaPaR: What you really need to dig into Don is not the NT really but how the NT came to be in it’s present form.

        Don: That is a wonderful attempt to shift the focus off oneself to unimportant trivia. The genius and the power of the Bible is that it speaks to one’s own heart and lays bare the hidden things. That truth telling is what brought me initially to believe the message and then trust the Messenger. I found the Bible knew me better than I knew myself, and what it knew about me was not pretty. BUT it also pointed me to a Savior. Fortunately I did not become trapped in the slough of cynicism before I came to the wicket gate.

        Liked by 1 person

      • A series of invented fictions does not know anything about me, Don, nor indeed you.

        Shakespeare offers far more insight into the human condition than the Bible but even so, the only way his work speaks to me is if I make the effort to apply what he’s saying to my circumstances. Much of the time I don’t, I simply enjoy whichever play I’m watching for the story, character development etc, not for how I can use it to make me a better person or whatever. The same can be said of Marvel’s canon.

        Fiction can teach us something about life but it doesn’t mean it is anything more than fiction. That you allowed the Bible’s fiction to influence you is testimony to your own efforts, underscored by your underlying insecurities and poor self-image.

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      • Neil:A series of invented fictions does not know anything about me, Don, nor indeed you.

        Don:>/b> Let’s say for the moment it is all invented fiction. As a student of literature you know that good literature reveals truth about life as powerfully or perhaps even more powerfully than a psychologist’s paper presented in a professional journal. It does require contemplation, however. Shakespeare can be enjoyed simply as the entertainment of an evening, or his insights can be contemplated more deeply. (I think Shakespeare is most often taught as an example of creatively crafted literature and in context of his time. That misses the meat. )

        I myself enjoy a rousing thriller or a sci-fi space western. But even more I appreciate a film that probes the motives and interactions of the characters. I go away thinking about that for days. If I were so inclined to read the Bible as fiction, I would find the truth it expresses about life and about me pretty compelling. And even more, I would find the truth it illustrates explains very well the world I live in. As I said, that is what attracted me in the beginning to the message and the Messenger.

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      • There’s no doubt the bible contains many truths about human nature. But to attribute it’s contents to a supernatural entity is fallacious and ill-conceived. And THIS is why atheists and non-believers continue to counter those who are unable to see past the teachings of deluded and misguided sages of old.

        In many ways, it is really no different than being taken in by the sales folk that promote the infamous snake oil.

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      • The depth of the truth was what first convinced me. As I grew in understanding and as my understanding was challenged – thanks for that – I came to realize that the truth was not only deeply true about me but true about those who also went through the same experience and whose lives were portrayed on the pages of the scriptures. The coincidence was too great to account for it by the snake oil salesmen argument.

        I read this morning in Ephesians chapter 4 verses 17-32 about the character of kingdom of God people and the character of the kingdom. In my mind nothing the world’s thinkers have ever come up with compares to the beauty and practicality of that picture. That alone recommends a deeper reality, a reality that must include and be derived from God. Materialism provides nothing. Except the current chaos we are experiencing.

        In particular, Jesus perfectly lived the principles of the kingdom of God, and he did so in the same unfriendly world I live in. He was considered a misfit if not worse. In reality he was the picture of God’s design for life. Yup, he was crucified for it, but I’ll choose that above self-destruction, which is basically what we see playing out around us. So choose whom you will serve. As for me, I will serve the Lord.

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      • Don; YOU were the person how we knew that blasphemy was not the charge against J. I don’t know why you’re saying it was your point?

        “Don: He was accused and condemned by the Jewish authorities for blasphemy.,/b> as the Babylonian Talmud also indicates. But that is not a crime as far as the Romans were concerned, so the Jewish leaders accused him of sedition.”

        If you’re referring to the entire charade described by John with Pilate running back and for the between the crowds and J, you’re dreaming. That certainly never happened. Pilate wouldn’t have needed ANYONE’s “permission” to execute a Jew for insurrection. He also would NEVER have released a murderer of Roman citizens as “Jesus Barabbas” would have been. That story is ENTIRELY woven out whole B.S!

        Liked by 1 person

      • You should look into openings in the history dept of your local University. I am sure they would be interested in someone with your expertise.

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      • Been there, done that. Although i would recommend the same for you except you can teach mythology since you seem to know soooooo much about it.

        Try reading something written by a HISTORIAN not a delusional theist.

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      • Ark: he was crucified for this and his acts if sedition is evidence of the brutality and lack of tolerance on behalf of Roman authorities.

        Don: He was accused and condemned by the Jewish authorities for blasphemy as the Babylonian Talmud also indicates. But that is not a crime as far as the Romans were concerned, so the Jewish leaders accused him of sedition. That got their attention.

        Ark “Your” definition of a miracle?

        Don: Yes, but derived from the miracles described in the Bible related to Jesus. Your definition is somewhat different I imagine. But if you are to judge the miracles in the Bible, you must judge them for what they are, not as what you would like them to be. Few of them were contraventions of the natural order by an onlooker 2000 years later and are often described as natural events, though I think critics strain to do so. . Few miracles today would be seen as absolute contradictions of the natural order. Healing is usually described as spontaneous rather than an miracle by skeptics. That puts them beyond the usual “investigations.” They are, as I said, miracles because they met the criteria in my previous post.

        Sorry to disappoint you.

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