(Page 2) JESUS' SINLESSNESS. Although some of the NT (New Testament) says Jesus was sinles

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(Page 2) JESUS' SINLESSNESS. Although some of the NT (New Testament) says Jesus was sinless, eg. 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:l5, elsewhere it is strongly hinted that he had sinned. Why else would he be baptised by John (Mark l:9) when John was baptising "for the forgiveness of sins" - Mark l:4. This was clearly embarrassing for the early church, ie. John's Gospel omits the baptism altogether. The absolute foundation of Christian faith is that Jesus died and this is the only thing that provides a satisfactory ransom/atonement/sacrifice for sin; however, J N D Kelly, a conservative theologian states (Early Christian Doctrine):- "It must be admitted that....the Apostolic Fathers as a whole are not greatly preoccupied with sin, and their writings exhibit a marked weakening of the atonement idea. Although satisfied that Christ died for us....they assign a relatively minor place to the atoning value of his death..."(p.l65). VIRGIN BIRTH. Christians have always argued for Jesus' virgin birth, but also argue he was descended from David. Nevertheless, this overlooks that if virgin born, Jesus' 'father' Joseph, albeit descended from David, would have had no connection with his conception, and his only human connection would have been through/by/with Mary; however she was of the Aaronic line (ie. she was related to Elizabeth who was of Aaronic descent - Luke l:6, l:36). As Aaron was of the tribe of Levi, but David was of Judah, then Jesus, if virgin born, could therefore not be of Davidic descent and could not therefore be the messiah which demanded Davidic descent. Furthermore, this would contradict all the New Testament statements that Jesus was a descendent of David - Matthew l:l, 12:23, 15:22, Mark l0:47, Romans l:3, Revelation 5:5. NB. Jesus didn't take on 'David's line' through Joseph being his 'adoptive father' as Rom l:3 makes it quite clear that Jesus was of David's 'seed' (semen). So there is a problem; Jesus was either of David's line - but that means he wasn't virgin born (ie. Joseph having to have been responsible for his conception), or he was virgin born, but that precludes him being of the Davidic line (because only Mary was involved in his humanity and she was not of the Davidic line) - so he couldn't have been the Messiah/Christ as the New Testament teaches. NB. The virgin-birth story is only found in two of the twenty-seven New Testament writings, and in Luke, the style of writing indicates the part that relates the story was written after the following 22 chapters by a different author, and added on to the beginning of Luke afterwards. Furthermore the Catholic Jerusalem Bible admits that Matt most likely had its virgin birth story added to it also. In fact Luke conflicts sharply with Matthew, eg. (i) Luke has the birth in the time of the governor Quirinius (Luke 2:2, 3-7), whilst Matthew has it in the time of Herod, but the rule of these two never coincided or overlapped. There is no substance in the argument that the Ramsay inscription regarding Quirinius as dummvir 'proves' he was governor in Herod's time, (ii) Matthew states that the family fled from Judea immediately to Egypt after the birth (2:4-l4) and stayed there; Luke has the family calmly going to Jerusalem in Judea after the birth and then up to Galilee (2:21-22,39). (Page 3) The only reason that Matthew's author seems to have the story is bec- -ause he misunderstood an OT (Old Testament) statement (Isa 7:l4) that he read as messianic (which it isn't) and referring to a virgin birth (which it doesn't). With regard to Isa 7:l4, it is simply the story of Isaiah saying to king Ahaz of Judah that by the time that a young girl had conceived and her baby was born, the present threat from Syria would be over - 7:l4-17. There is NOTHING messianic about it at all. As, in this, the child was to be called Emmanuel which means 'God with us', but the name 'Jesus' (actually, this is Greek for the Hebrew Jehoshua) means 'Yahweh is salvation', Jesus was therefore not called by the name Emmanuel and did not fulfil this 'prophesy'; however Matt's author misunderstood this and therefore couldn't have been been the apostle of that name as he was not a Palestinian Jew (nor an eyewitness as he had to use Mark as a background to write his Gospel). Also, he makes other errors, eg. in 27:9-l0 he says he is quoting Jeremiah, but in fact he's quoting Zechariah ll:l2-l3. As Isa 8:3-4 says how Isaiah went immediately and impregnated his wife and the prophesy is again made saying that before the child could even talk, Syria would by smashed by Assyria, it is generally accepted the Isa 7:l4 prophesy relates to Isaiah's own wife/child and does not have any messianic connotations. In reality there is nothing miraculous in Isaiah's saying; he is only saying a woman (or in the Greek - a virgin) would conceive. It doesn't take too much to realise what has to happen for a virgin to conceive a child. He doesn't say that a girl who would give birth to the child would still be a virgin after conception. The author of Matthew was using the Septuagint 'LXX' - the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible compiled in the second century BC for the Greek-speaking Jews of the Diaspora - ie. living outside Palestine. It is generally accepted that some parts are very good, but in others it is faulty, eg. Daniel is such a poor translation in the LXX, the Jews wouldn't even use it. The Hebrew word in Isa 7:l4 for the woman/'virgin' is "almah" and means NOT a virgin, but a young woman; it is in the LXX that it is rendered 'virgin' and there is the additional fact that in the Greek the root doesn't even necessarily mean a girl who has not had sex, but 'denotes fullness or the like - fully developed". The word actually used here has nothing to do with the virgin state. As the Gospel writers used the LXX, they could not have been Palestinian Jews (ie. the apostles as stated in the Gospels) or they would have obviously used the Hebrew text and not made such errors. It is very apparent that the Gospel writers were NOT Palestinian Jews - they were either Jewish Christians of the Diaspora or Gentile- Christians. In the case of Mark's author there has to be doubt whether he had even set foot in Palestine in view of the historical, chronological, geographical and theological errors he makes about first cent. Palestine. (Page 4) But this is where it continues to be manifestly absurd. Jesus was supposedly a true Jew - a direct descendent of Abraham through David (Matthew 1), the Jewish Messiah, the Son of David (Matt 21:9), the 'lion of the tribe of Judah' (Rev 5:5) and yet whenever he quoted the Old Testament, he quoted the GREEK LXX version ! Furthermore, in some cases the Hebrew original of the LXX text he is quoting would not support the argument he is making, ie. because of the LXX's inaccuracies. In Mark 7:l-23 Jesus does this, but although it seems the LXX would support the point Jesus is making to the Pharisees, the Hebrew original would not. So we are asked to believe that Jesus - a true Hebrew Jew - chose to use the Greek translation of the Old Testament and furthermore, was unaware of the fact that he was using a passage that in reality was faulty and in the original would say something completely different, and be quite inappropriate for his argument, but according to the Gospels, he floored his orthodox Jewish opponents with this - a mistranslation of their own scriptures - and they did not challenge this ! The same applies with James (supposedly Jesus' brother and leader of the Jewish-Christian community in Jerusalem) in Acts 15 - he uses the LXX to support his argument, although the Hebrew original says something quite differ- -ent and would not support his argument, and yet all the Jews in the audience didn't comment on this !!! Obviously as the writers of the Gospels & Acts were not Palestinian Hebrew-speaking Jews, they had to use the LXX but didn't realise the errors they were making. THE TEACHING OF PAUL. Apart from Paul teaching a very different theology from the Jesus of the Gospels. It is interesting to note that he recomended celibacy (1 Cor 7:1,7,8,25-26,29,32,38) because he believed the end was imminent - 1 Cor 7:29,31. The very fact that the first Christians believed that the end of the world was imminent over 1900 years ago shows the validity of their teachings. The nearness of the end of the world is stated elsewhere, eg. Hebrews 1:2, 10:37, James 5:7-9, 1 John 2:18,28, 3:2. The author of Revelation makes it clear that he thought all the things of which he wrote (eg. the end of the world) were imminent, eg. l:l,3, 3:ll, 22:7,12,20. NB. The encouragement of lifelong celibacy is echoed by Jesus (Matthew l9:l2) and in Revelation l4:3-4 although virtually all present-day Christians convenienly ignore this. Paul's teachings about women are distasteful to say the least, eg. they were to obey their husband and were creately solely for man - 1 Corinthians 11:3,7,8,9, women were to keep quiet and subordinate and if they needed to know anything they should ask their husbands - 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, wives should be subject to their husband's rule because he is their head - Ephesians 5:22-24, women are to keep silent and not have authority over men. Mankind's separation from God and the misery that has followed this was all caused through the first woman being tricked - 1 Timothy 2:11-15, women were to be 'trained' to be domesticated and submissive to their husbands - Titus 2:4ff. The author of 1 Peter also stated that wives were to submit to their husbands - 1 Peter 3:l. (Page 5) With regard to Paul, the New Test picture of him is so irreconciliable it raises serious doubts about the value of the New Testament writings. For example, when comparing Acts and Galatians the following arises:- Acts Galatians (1)Paul converted on the way to (1)Paul is converted (l:l6). Damascus (9:l-8). (2)He goes to Ananias in Damascus (2)He does not go to Jerusalem, and stays there 'several days' Jerusalem, but to Arabia (l:l7) (9:20) and then Damascus(l:l7) (3)After 'some time'*, Paul goes (3)After 3 years, Paul goes to to Jerusalem (1st visit) Jerusalem, meeting only Cephas (9.23,26) and meets and James there (1:18-19), the apostles there (9:27). staying only l5 days. (4)Paul preaches in Jerusalem, (4)He then goes to the but due to threats to kill him, regions of Syria and he is sent to Tarsus (9:30). Cilicia (1:21). (5)Relief to Jerusalem (2nd visit) (5)l4 years later, Paul goes and Judea taken by Paul to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Barnabas (11:30) and Titus (2:l). (6)Paul goes to Jerusalem (6)Paul confronts Cephas at (3rd time) (12:25)** Antioch (2:ll). (And then no further info). * The 'some time' in Acts 9:l9 is not clear as to how long this was; different translations render this 'some time passed' (Jerusalem), 'after a number of days' (Moffatt); the literal Greek is "'many' with the view of being sufficient"; however it is difficult to reconcile this with the three years of Gal 1:l8 with Acts that indicates it was only a very short time before he went to Jerusalem. Acts also fails to mention the missionary work of Paul in arabia that he mentions in Gal. ** It is not clear whether l2:25 is a return to Jerusalem, or a return to Antioch from Jerusalem; if the former, and the Acts 15 visit is the Gal 2:1-10 one, then in Acts it would be the fourth visit, whilst Paul states it was only the second. Furthermore if the Gal 2:1-10 visit is the same as the Acts 15 visit, then it is remarkable that Paul has a dispute with Peter/Cephas after this (Gal 2:11ff) about the relationship with Gentiles as according to Acts 15, the Apostles had worked out a decree on this very matter and this would have already been binding on Cephas/Peter when Paul confronted him at Antioch; also, why does Paul make no reference to the decree then in arguing with Peter ? Apart from the obvious conflicting statements, a number of further problems arise, eg. Paul's method of counting in Gal. is not absolutely clear, ie. whether his l4 years in Gal 2:1 is 14 years after his starting point in Gal (ie. his conversion) or 14 years after the first Jerusalem visit 3 years after his conversion which he had mentioned immediately beforehand (ie. a total of 17 years after his conversion). (Page 6) It has to be noted that in Gal. Paul does not say where his conversion took place, nor the manner of this; although he admits to persecuting the church (Gal 1:13), he never admits to the violent almost-psychotic picture that is drawn of him in Acts. Many commentators believe the Gestapo-like activities of Paul, as detailed in Acts would be totally impossible under Roman rule and is Acts' author's way of reducing Paul's stature, and thereby increasing Peter's in the eyes of the church. It is possible that the Acts l5 story relates to the problem Paul describes in Gal 2:11-14. If this is so, the Acts 11:30 Jerusalem visit would be the visit described by Paul in Gal 2:1-10. However most agree that Acts l5 = Gal 2:1-10. Numerous others problems arise when trying to reconcile the two accounts, eg. Acts has Paul in Jerusalem and Judea in his early life (21:l7 then 22:3) and as a persecutor of the church there (7:58, 9:1-2,13,21, 26:10) which makes Paul's comment that (Gal 1:22) he was not known by sight by the churches in Judea even after his time in Jerusalem, Syria and Cilicia (1:17-21) impossible. Gamaliel in Acts 5:35-37 refers to the revolt by Theudas that actually did not occur until 10 years later and then goes on to say 'After him Judas the Galilean' revolted when in fact he led a revolt long before this in AD 6. Also, Josephus, the Jewish historian, words his account in such a way to imply this order and some view this error arising through Acts' author copying Josephus and being careless. If he did use Josephus' writings, this moves the date of writing to the very end of the 1st century, and in using Josephus (and other sources) it means he could not have been an eye-witness to the events of which he writes. Haenchen comments that "Not until Justin Martyr* can a knowledge and use of Luke's two works be established..." (*mid- second century AD).(p.8). JESUS. The Jesus of the Gospels is hardly the character that Christians like to present, eg. he used violence - John 2:l5 (and apparently encouraged it; before his arrest he told his disciples to buy a sword; this was used immediately afterwards - Luke 23:36,49-50; if he was the omniscient Son of God, he would have known this was to happen). His purpose was to break up families - Matthew l0:34-35, Luke 12:51- 53. He taught the gospel was not available for certain races - Matthew l0:5-8, l5:24. He was ignorant of the Scriptures he quoted - Mark 2:26 (In fact the priest was Ahimelech, not Abiathar - see l Samuel 21:l,6). He was cruel to animals - Matthew 8:l-4 ('the offering' Jesus commanded was a bird being sacrificed - Leviticus l4:2-5), 8:28-34. He treated his mother with contempt - John 2:4, He suffered fits of temper, not justified by the situation - Matt 21:l8- l9, 23:l3-33 (In the John 7 outburst, in John 7:37, the Greek is 'to screech like a raven'). He was hypocritical - Matthew 5:22 (Compare his action in Matthew 23:l7), Matthew 6:l4 (Compare Matthew l0:l4- l5), Matthew 7:l (Compare John 5:30, 8:26). He lacked sympathy for other people's suffering - Matthew 8:21-22. He rejected his own family - Matthew 12:46-50, Mark 3:32-35. He had contempt for other religions and their adherents - Matthew 12:30, 23:2-33, John 8:44,55. He deliberately taught in a way so people would not understand him (and therefore be saved from going to eternal hellfire)- Mark 4:9-l2. He encouraged people to desert their families - Matthew l9:29, Mark l0:29. (Page 7) He taught people to hate* their families - Luke l4:26 (*The Greek here means 'active ill-will' or 'persecuting spirit'). He taught that suffering was to show God's glory - John 9:l-3. He ignored a woman pleading for his help: only after she asked him three times did he condescend to help - Matthew l5:22-28. He taught that ill-health and human suffering was the result of sin, or for the purpose of glorifying God - Mark 2:5,ll,l2, John 5:8-l4. And furthermore, he clearly seemed to have thought that his second coming/the end of the world, ie. the final judgement (etc, etc) was only a short time away, eg. he told the high priest that he would see his return - Mark l4:61-62, he told three disciples that they would see his return - Matt l6;28, he told the disciples he would return before they had preached throughout Palestine - Matt l0:23. Furthermore, when Jesus told his disciples about the end of the world (Mark l3:3-27), he told them that the generation living at that time (ca. 30 AD) would still be alive when "all these things", (ie. the Second Coming, the Final Judgement, the end of the world, etc, etc) took place (Mark l3:30). Despite saying all this, only seconds later he then told the disciples that no one - including himself - knew when the end would come (l3:32). Also, he foretold that he would be buried for 3 days and 3 nights in Matthew 12:40 - but Friday evening (Mark l5:42-46) to before Sunday daybreak (John 20:l-2) is not 3 days and 3 nights. Mark 15:42 states he was buried after sundown on the Friday, ie. the sabbath (this is Saturday in Jewish reckoning - something quite impossible to have happened. The Gospels repeately say how Jesus' death etc 'fulfilled' the Old Test scriptures (eg. Luke 24:27), but nowhere in the Old Test does it say the messiah is to be killed, buried and resurrected after 3 days. With regard to the end of the world etc, Jesus stated that there would be an "abominating sacrilege" (Matthew 24:l5, Mark l3:l4) which would cause a tribulation (Matt 24:l6-28, Mark l3:l5-23) and IMMEDIATELY after this (Matthew 24:29), he would return to usher in the Final Judgement (Matthew 24:29-31). Now Luke has in the parallel passage, the "abominating sacrilege" as the Fall of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20; as can be seen by Luke 21:21-23, the author of Luke does equate "the abominating sacrilege" with Jerusalem's destruction). However, Jerusalem's destruction (particularly as described in Luke) occurred in 70 AD - isn't Jesus' return (which was supposed to occur "Immediately" afterwards), somewhat overdue ? ACCURACY. There are actually numerous fictional stories in the Gospels, (ie. stories of occurrences that defy historical possibility), eg. the Jews going to Pilate on their sabbath day - something quite impossible (Matthew 28:62). Note how Matthew (26:l7-l9), Mark (l4:l2-l6) and Luke (23:8-l3) say that it was the Passover (this was eaten on the evening of l4 Nisan) that Jesus ate at the last supper. However in John, after the meal, after the arrest, after the trial before the Sanhedrin, the Passover still had not started (John l8:28) and even after his appearance before Pilate the next day, the Passover still had not begun - John l9:l4. This was deliberately done by John's author to have Jesus executed at the same time that the Passover lambs were slaughtered (the day before the Passover) to fit the idea in John l:29,36 that Jesus was a sacrificial lamb. (NB. Lambs were NOT offered up as sacrifices for sin; only rams and goats were - yet another error by the New Testament authors). (Page 8) If the Gospel writers could juggle things around with so much ease, how can their accounts be reliable ? Each Gospel either contains details known to be incorrect (eg. that Herod was a king in Mark in Mark 6:l4 when in fact he was only a petty tetrach - this is corrected in the other two Synoptic Gospels), or they contradict one another. How can they be reliable historical documents ? For example, the Synoptics have Jesus clearing the Temple at the end of his ministry (Mark ll:l5-l7 and par.), but John has this at the very beginning (2:l3-16). John has Jesus travelling back and forth between Galilee and Jerusalem, but the synoptics have him in Galilee and making the one journey south to Jerusalem ending in his execution. SALVATION. Whilst there are Biblical texts that say one has to be a Christian to be 'saved' and furthermore only a small number of people will be 'saved', eg. Matt 22:l4, Luke 13:24, there are texts that refer to Jesus taking away everybody's sins - not just Christians, eg. John l:29, and that Jesus will save the whole world, eg. John 4:42, l John 4:l4. It is also said that belief in Jesus is necessary for salvation (eg. Acts 2:21, l6:30,31, Romans l0:9), but in contrast, there are texts that say a person's lifestyle and (good) works will save them and it is on how a person lives that they will be judged/rewarded, eg. Psalm 62:l2, Proverbs 24:l2, Matthew 7:21, l9:l6,l7, l6:27, Luke l4:l3,l4, John 5:29, Acts l0:35, l Corinthians 3:8, 2 Corinthians 5:l0, l Peter l:l7, James l:27, Revelation 20:l2,l3. NB. The original meaning of "sin" was a negative event. In Hebrew, the commonest word for sin is 'hattat' or 'het' - derived from the root meaning 'to miss', ie. it was falling below an expected standard, or failing to do something, ie. like missing the target; in fact the verb appears in the Old Testament with this original meaning, eg. Job 5:24, Proverbs 8:35f. However, Christians teach that sin is active rebellion against God, a positive action that separates man from God - humans burden themselves with sin, but if they are Christians, Jesus 'takes their sin away'; according to the meaning meaning of the word 'sin' - in its original context, it is nothing of the sort. Sin is not something a person does, but rather, the reverse. HISTORICAL ACCURACY The first two centuries of Christian history demonstrate the type of person responsible for establishing the church. The ultra-conservative 4th cent church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, who was only keen to portray the church in a good light, had to admit that Papias (bishop of Hierapolis ca. l30 AD) was a "man of exceeedingly small intelligence" (H.E. III.39.13) and yet it is from this man that the church derived most of its information about two of the Gospels that were accepted into the canon. Another example of historical inaccuracy is the story of the number of early Christians martyred; Gibbon ('Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire', chapters l5-l6) has unquestionably shown that these figures have been exaggerated out of all proportion and the numbers involved were considerably less. In fact, even the stories about the persecution of Christians appear to be embellishments to the point of fraud, eg. the supposed persecution of Christians by Nero is yet another example of this; whilst Christians claim that a considerable number of Christians were martyred by Nero, this is based on Tacitus who refers to this (50 or so years afterwards), but the first clear mention of this by a Christian was by Melito of Sardis in ca. l70 AD. (Page 9) If it had been such a widespread terrible persecution, Christian writers would have surely made specific mention of it earlier than l70 AD. It is highly improbable that there would have been that many Christians living in Rome in Nero's time anyway so early on. Tacitus only mentions it, apparently embellishing the story, because he wanted to paint a bad as possible picture of Nero. It appears the famous persecution by Nero of Roman Christians was sporadic, localised and very short lived, but blown out of all proportion by later Christians. THE RESURRECTION. In the case of the resurrection stories, contradiction abounds. This is evident if one looks at the four Gospels, ie. Matthew(Mt), Mark(Mk), Luke(Lk) and John(Jn), and also Acts(At). Who went to the tomb ? Mt-2 Marys, Mk-2 Marys and Salome, Lk-at least 5 women, Jn-Mary Magdalene, What was seen ? Mt-Earthquake with angel sitting outside on the recently-moved stone; Mk-Stone already moved and a young man sitting inside; Lk-Stone already moved with two men standing inside; Jn-Stone moved; no one seen on lst visit, but two angels sitting inside on 2nd. When did the woman/women go ? Mt-Towards dawn; Mk-Very early; Lk-At early dawn; Jn-Still dark. What did man/men/angel/angels say ? Mt-Jesus was risen; disciples to go to Galilee; Mk-As Mt; Lk-Jesus had risen: Jn-Asks why Mary is crying. What do the women/woman do next ? Mt-they run away but meet Jesus who repeats angel's instruction; Mk-They flee AND SAY NOTHING TO ANYONE and this obviously contradicts the other three in which the women do go and tell the disciples (original Mk ended at l6:7); Lk-They go and tell disciples; Jn-Mary meets Jesus and they talk. What is lst conversation with the risen Jesus ? Mt-Women on way from tomb; Lk-The two disciples on road to Emmaus; Jn-Mary Magdalene. The time between the resurrection and ascension ? Mt-At least the time to reach Galilee (60-70 miles north); LK-clearly one day only (see 24:l3,33,36,50 - it is made very clear that Jesus rose, made all his appearances and ascended back to heaven on the same day); Jn-at least a week accepting John 20 as the original end, but with the John 21 appendix, this means it was even longer as this has a Galilean appearance; At-40 days. Lk precludes any journey to Galilee as it has everything happening in the area of Jerusalem with the conclusion being the ascension from nearby Bethany. Clearly, Mt and Lk used Mk, and had to make up the story after that Gospel's ending at l6:7 - hence the obvious divergences. What is important to note is Mark l6:7, ie., that the women 'said nothing to anyone' - all three Gospels contradict this by them telling the disciples. Furthermore, it is obvious that the first Christians believed Jesus was raised as a spirit-being and not bodily, eg. 1 Cor 15:44,45,50, 1 Pet 3:18. (Page 10) TRANSMISSION OF TEXT. There was actually a long dark tunnel period between the writings of the NT (New Testament) writings and them being treated as Holy Writ. The first earliest papyri is Rylands P52 dated ca. l40 AD but this only has just 6 verses of John. In fact the first complete MSS of the NT are 4th century (Sinaiticus and Vaticanus). All NT writings were apparently written in Greek - not the language that Palestinian Jews would have used. There was clearly tampering with the text in this tunnel period - Eusebius admits this was so - H.E. 29.6-7. The differences between the Byzantine, Alexandrian and Caesarean texts show copyists changed the text (eg. Acts 2:l7 in the Western text). The 3rd cent Christian writer Origen condemned those Christians for "their depraved audacity" in changing the text and Jerome told Pope Damascus of the "numerous errors" that had arisen in the texts through attempted harmonising. In 1707 John Mill of Oxford listed 30,000 variants in the different N.T texts and at the beginning of this century with further discoveries of manuscripts, the scholar Hermann von Soden listed some 45,000 variants in the N.T texts illustating how they were altered. Even in the one 4th cent Codex Sinaiticus containing all the N.T, Professor Tishendorf the discoverer, noted that it had been altered by at least three different scribes. Therefore this shows the present-day Bible is not a "inerrant copy" of the original writings, and secondly cannot be "God's inspired word" as presumably if this were so, he would have ensured such alterations could not have been made. THE TESTIMONY FOR JESUS. The church has failed to show any proof that the Gospels were in existence before 125 AD. This is demonstrated if one looks at the second century Christian writings:- The author of 1 Clement, an anonymous letter, usually dated as ca. 96 AD, and attributed to Clement writing from Rome to the church at Corinth, does not appear to be aware of any written Gospels. On two occasions he refers to what Jesus had said; in chap. l3, he repeats the words of Jesus, very similiar to those in the Gospels, although they are not quotations. In chap 46 he brings together two unconnected Markan statements (9:21 and l4:21) and he appears to be quoting loose sayings which were circulating, but in not in a fixed form; this view is strengthened by the fact that he never refers to Gospel stories, or sayings, when it would be very appropriate, applicable and would support the argument he is making; instead he quotes or refers to the O.T. Ignatius, ca. ll0 AD, mentions the Gospel although it again appears he is referring to the Gospel message, rather than written documents. He gives much more information about Jesus' life, but as he refers to things not found in any of the four canonical Gospels, eg. the story of Jesus speaking after the resurrection, (Smyrn. 3) which is apparently from the Gospel according to the Hebrews and not from the canonical Gospels, and he describes the Bethlehem star in a way that is not found in Matthew (the only canonical Gospel to mention this), it is not altogether clear what written Gospel was available to him. He does refer to other N.T. writings (eg. l Cor, Gal, Eph), but there is no firm indication he knew of any written Gospels.......... In his letter to the Philippians he uses terms found in Matt and Luke although it is noteworthy that the author of l John, facing the same Docetic problem as Ignatius, but at an earlier time, clearly did not have the biographical information about Jesus, which was available to Ignatius. The Epistle of Barnabas ca. l30 AD, uses OT references to support its contents when NT ones would have been far more appropriate. He refers to a passage in Matt 20:l6b and 22:l4 and surprisingly for this early date calls it 'Scripture'; this is quite unique. However, 20:l6b appears to have been an interpolation and if it was a loose saying, it is more likely the author is using Matthew's source, rather than Matthew itself. The author chose to use the apocryphal Enoch when writing about the end (instead of Mark l3), and in referring to the crucifixion he refers to the Psalms, not the Gospels. The Epistle (chap. 7) has a saying attributed to Jesus not found in the Gospels. (Page 11) Polycarp, ca. l30, apparently knew Matt and/or Luke and improves upon Clement's "quotations", but apparently didn't know of John's Gospel. Papias, ca. l40 AD, mentions Matthew and Mark in written form, but not Luke or John and he also made use of non-canonical apocryphal literature indicating that Matt and Mark were not seen a sole source of the gospel message. Justin Martyr, in the middle of the second century, refers to written Gospels which were deemed as authoritative as the O.T, but he does not name them, nor state their number so it is not known what he was referring to. He too, used non-canonical material. It was only by ca. l70 AD that Tatian was using all four Gospels for his Diatessaron harmony and about a decade later Irenaeus was arguing for acceptance of the four canonical Gospels, and only those. Therefore it appears that the writings that give Jesus a historical place only appeared in the closing years of the first century and even these took quite some time to be established anbd accepted. Therefore with regard to Jesus of Nazareth being some kind of historical person, surely one is justified in asking why there appears to be so little said by this figure that is original; for example, a good deal of the Sermon of the Mount goes back to the Old Test or lst cent BC apocryphal writings, eg. the Book of Enoch. Secondly, why there is the astounding silence over biographical - or chronological - details about Jesus' life until ca. 90 AD. Paul, in the period before this time, never invokes his words when they would be invaluable in supporting his argument, and this is not only with Paul, but elsewhere, eg. l Peter. The authors of Romans l3:l-3 and l Peter 2:l3- l4 certainly couldn't have been aware of the story of Jesus appearing before Pilate in view of what they say. This silence continued over into the end of the lst century; in fact when the author of 1 Clement wrote, he seems to suffer from the same problem as Paul and others - total ignorance about Jesus and the Gospels; obviously as is so clearly demonstrated, Christians always used scripture or suchlike to support any argument they were making, so is it somewhat bizarre that Clement does not do this. In chap. 3-6 he lists Abel, Joseph, Moses and David as examples of people who suffered through jealousy - but surely Jesus would have been the ideal example of this - Matt 27:l8/Mark 15:l0 ??? When he speaks about people preaching repentence in 7-8, he uses Ezekiel and Isaiah as examples - but again surely Jesus would have been the ideal example to use - Luke 13:3, Matt l8:3 ? In 9-l2 he lists examples of faith - but yet again they're all Old Test - surely an example from the Gospels would be more appropriate ? In l6 he refers to Jesus' humility and one would expect him to refer to his birth in a stable or suchlike, but instead he quotes from the Old Test again (Isa 53). In chap l7, he speaks about examples dressed in animal skins who announce the coming of Christ. Obviously that would have to John the Baptist (Matt 3:4) - however he does not do this, but rather lists the Old Test prophets Elijah and Ezekiel. And so it goes on...... It is very clear that although the Gospels emerged in the last decade of the lst century AD, they took a long long time to be circulated and/or accepted which is strange if they are accurate reports of Jesus' life. (Page 12) With regard to the eyewitness testimony for Jesus' existence, there is certainly a problem. It is amazing that anything up to 70(100 ?),000 people saw Jesus, but no one made an eye-witness record of it. Mark was obviously not an eyewitness due to his host of errors concerning chronological, historical, geographical and theological matters in lst. cent Palestine; Matt and Luke have to use Mark as their base (which they obviously wouldn't have needed to do if they were eyewitnesses) and in John (Which even the church only hesitantly accepted into the canon) reports things that couldn't have happened eg. Jesus' speech about drinking blood to a Jewish audience in John 6; it has to be rejected if the Synoptics are acceptd as it conflicts with them, eg. his dating of the Temple-clearing and the last supper etc in relation to the Passover. He also reports situations eg. expulsions from the synagogue (l6:2) that didn't occur until after 90 AD (ie. Rabbi Gamaliel II's official cursing prayer of the 'Minim' in ca. 90 AD). In the case of Paul, he gives virtually no detail about Jesus' earthly life, other than he was a descendent of David, was crucified and was raised by God. If Romans, a genuinely Pauline letter, and the longest, is examined to discern Paul's reference to Jesus' earthly life, the silence becomes most apparent:- (l)Jesus was a Jew/descended from David (l:3, l5:8,12); (2)Jesus was human (8:3); (3)His blood was shed (3:25, 5:9); (4)Jesus suffered/died/was crucified (5:6,8,10,l5, 6:3,4,5,6,8, 8:l7, l4:l5); (5)Jesus rose from the dead (l:4, 4:24,25, 6:4,5,9,l0, 8:ll,34, l0:7,9, l4:9): As can be seen, the same few details are repeated over and over again; in the letters that are genuinely accepted as being written by Paul there is no specific reference to the parents of Jesus, and certainly not a virgin birth; his place of birth or the area in which his ministry took place is not mentioned either; 'Of Nazareth' is never used; the details Paul supplies give no indication whatsoever of the time or place of Jesus' earthly existence. Paul never refers to Jesus' trial before a Roman official. He does not appear to even know who crucified Jesus - in l Cor 2:8 he refers to the death of Christ by 'rulers of the age' - this hardly fits a tinpot prefect called Pilate; this term really denotes supernatural spirits - 2 Cor 4:4, Col 2:l5 *. Paul never refers to Jerusalem as the place of Jesus' execution and never mentions John the Baptist, nor Judas, nor Peter's denials (This would have been quite pertinent in combatting Cephas/Peter at Antioch - Gal 2:ll-l7. Paul's position was apparently being threatened by Peter and despite calling him a hypocrite, he does not allude to his three denials of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, eg. Mark l4:30 par). The only chronological reference to Jesus in the Pauline corpus is in l Tim 6:13 and this letter is widely accepted as post-Pauline. Furthermore it appears to be a non-Pauline insertion from a baptismal creed. (* Although some argue that Paul's reference in l Thess 2:l4-l5 shows he knew that the Jews crucified Christ (this of course is incoorect - the Romans did), this reference is clearly to God's vengeance on the Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD - therefore it has to be an interpolation as l Thess was written ca. 55 AD; however insistence that Paul wrote this statement originally would preclude Paul being the author as it would have to be after 70AD, but Paul died before this date. (Page 13) Paul also fails to mention any of the miracles Jesus is reported to have accomplished in the Gospels; Paul suggests that miracles might be expected wherever a Christian mission went, for he includes the working of them among 'the gifts of the Spirit' (l Cor 12:l0,28) and himself claimed to have won converts by 'the power of signs and wonders' (Rom l5:l9). Among the signs of a true apostle, he lists 'signs and wonders and mighty works' (2 Cor 12:12); the striking feature is that he fails to mention that Jesus is reported as having done on an extensive scale in his earthly life. Another striking feature is that whilst the Synoptic Gospels portray Jesus as an ethical teacher, there is no suggestion of this in Paul's letters; Paul is certainly not indifferent to ethical problems and on several occasions his letters contain a sizeable amount of ethical instruction. On only one occasion does he represent Jesus as having made an ethical injunction and this is in l Cor 7:l0 when Paul discusses the subject of divorce. The Gospel 'parallel' to this is Mark l0:ll-l2 (Matt is simply following Mark), but there is a difficulty even here as some reject this is authentic as Jesus refers to women divorcing their husbands - something that was not possible in Palestine. Some have argued that this statement was assigned to Jesus through Paul quoting a Christian prophet (himself ?) through whom the risen Lord was speaking and it was then utilised by the author of Mark who placed it in the mouth of Jesus whilst on earth, but was careless in not realising that its context was Gentile rather than Palestinian. It is clear from such early Christian writings as the Didache that as late as the end of the first century Christian prophets were viewed as being channels of communication for the risen Lord. Paul was content to suffer weakness, insults, humiliation, persecution and hardship (2 Cor l2:l0) adding that he entreated the readers by the 'meekness and gentleness of Christ' (2 Cor l0:l). He stated that he imitated Christ (l Cor ll:l) and that his whole existence was 'to know nothing....except Jesus Christ and him crucified' (l Cor 2:2) and then goes on to say he was with his readers in 'weakness, much fear and trembling' (l Cor 2:3). If this is Paul's 'imitation' of Christ, then it is a far cry from the Jesus of the Gospels and particularly the picture of Jesus portrayed in John. It appears Paul thought Jesus led a humble inconspicuous life that went completely unnoticed by the world. Other situations arise in Paul's writing that suggest knew very little about Jesus' supposed earthly life. He clearly was unaware of Jesus' command not to go to the Gentiles (Matt l0:5) in Rom ll:l3, and in Rom 8:26 he states 'for we do not know how to pray as we ought' suggesting he knew nothing of Jesus instructions of how to pray in Matt 5:7-l3, Luke ll:l4; the instructions regarding baptism by Jesus in Matt 28:l9 were also apparently unknown to Paul (l Cor l:l7). The person of Paul was that of someone who believed that God was now revealing secrets or mysteries; these term arise frequently in Paul's letters, eg. l Cor 2:7, l3:2, l4:2,, l5:51, with 'revealed' or similiar arising frequently also, eg. Rom l:l7,l8, 8:l8, l6:25, l Cor 2:l0,l3, 3:l3, 2 Cor 12:l. Paul believed that he had seen the risen Jesus (l Cor l5:8) and he had spoken directly to him (2 Cor l2:8-9); he had experienced ecstatic states (2 Cor l2:l-4, l Cor l4:l8) and God was now revealing previously-hidden information (l Cor 2:l0,12-13, 7:40). (Page 14) A question therefore arises, did Paul's rather scant knowledge about Jesus arise through his belief that the risen Lord was now communicat- -ing with and through him, alongwith other Christian prophets, or from information gleaned from earthly companions and eyewitnesses of the earthly Jesus. One passage in which Paul clearly refers to a hist- -orical event in Jesus' earthly life, ie. the last supper, is 1 Cor 11:23-26. However even this passage begins "For I received from the Lord...." and again, suggests this information was transmitted directly from the risen Christ, rather than from the apostles; an inevitable question arises, ie. why this should be as Paul had met the apostles (Acts 9:27, Gal 1:18-19, 2:2,9) and would have been given this information by them - that is of course if these "apostles" had in fact accompanied the earthly Jesus rather than being as Paul, ie. Christians receiving information direct from the risen Lord, but that is what the situation appears to have been. Reference to Jesus' resurrection, rather than his earthly life appears in l Cor l5:3-8, when Paul lists the resurrection appearances (apparently in chronological order); these bear no resemblance to the Gospel ones and reference to an appearance to 'all the twelve' whilst the Gospels report Judas' suicide before the resurrection again suggests a lack of information; his mention of an appearance to five hundred brethren at one time (l5:6) is quite extraordinary as it would be inexplicable for the Gospel writers to have omitted this event if they had known of it. The empty tomb, nor Jerusalem itself is ever mentioned by Paul; his several visits to Jerusalem, recorded in both Acts and Gal. surely would have brought him into contact with the empty tomb; the failure to mention the empty tomb, which surely would have had great significance for Paul due to his preoccupation with Jesus' death and resurrection, may have been due, unlike the Gospels reporting a physical resurrection, to a belief in Jesus being raised as a spirit (l Cor l5:44,45,50). The l Cor l5:3-8 passage does not link Jesus to any specific historical time; it simply reports that he died, was buried, was raised, and had appeared to a number of people alive in Paul's time. There is no suggestion whatsoever that these appearances occurred immediately after his death/resurrection. Whilst the Gospels have Jesus appearing as a resurrected physical human being to his apostles and Acts having Jesus appearing in a totally different form to Paul (ie. after his ascension), there is no such suggestion here; Paul does not differenciate in any way between the earlier appearances in l Cor l5:3-7 and the one to him (l5:8). It appears from this that he believed all those listed in l5:3-7 had experienced the same vision as he had done - they are certainly not made to be companions of Jesus in his earthly life and Paul appears to think of the others who are listed as experiencing a supernatural vision as he had done. The reason for Jesus now appearing was apparently because of the approaching end which was imminent (l Cor 7:29, l5:23-24, l Thess 4:14-17, etc, etc). The baffling silence is accounted for in a number of ways; the conservative Catholic theologian Xavier Leon-Dufour says of the matter, "....Why do these epistles...pay so little attention to the events in the public life of our Lord, and why do they not frequently cite his actual words ?..... To some Paulinists the earthly existence of Jesus...was meaningless as it is seen as a convenient way of teaching simple-minded men about the spiritual experience of the first Christians...Some go further and maintain that Christianity is not essentially concerned with a unique happening in past time, but is a vision in which an experience is crystallised......". (Page 15) Dufour believes there are some passages where there is an 'echo' of Jesus words, eg. l Thess 4:l5-l7, but some argue that rather than this (and a few others) being an 'echo' of Jesus' words, the situation was that the messages imparted by Christian prophets 'speaking in the name of the risen Lord' in Paul's time were collected and fed back into Jesus' time and put on his lips during his earthly ministry. It is argued that Paul had no need to refer to events in Jesus' earthly life when writing to Christian comunities as they would have already known the Gospel story; however, Paul's constant failure to invoke the words of Jesus to support his arguments suggests it was rather a case of being unable to do this, rather than not needing or wanting to do this. Kummel maintains (Theology. p.244) that Paul's letters are "addressed exclusively to Christians and only go into the questions which were in dispute or which in Paul's opinion required special emphasis...". However the problem is not resolved as easily as this. There are several occasions when Jesus' words are so very applicable, but Paul simply ignores them, eg. in l Cor 7, Paul argues about the value of celibacy, but the words of Jesus in Matt l9:l2 are totally relevant - but he makes no reference to them. To say either that Paul was only concerned with Jesus' death, resurrection and present role in heaven, and not so much his earthly life, or that his readers already knew Jesus' life and Paul had no need to repeat details of this simply does not explain Paul's astonishing silence. Other examples of Paul's failure to invoke Jesus' words are:- Rom 2:l, l4:l3/Matt 7:l, Luke 6:37; Rom l2:l4,l7/Matt 5:44, Luke 6:38; Rom l3:9,Gal 5:l4/Matt 22:39-40, Mark l2:31, Luke l0:27; Rom l3:6/Mark l2:l7; Rom l4:l4/Mark 7:l8-l9; l Cor 6:7/Matt 5:39-40; l Cor l5:35-55*/Mark l2:25; l Thess 4:9/John l5:l7. (* In l Cor l5, Paul uses the O.T. rather than Jesus' statements in the Gospels ie. l5:45 (Gen 2:7), l5:54 (Isa 25:8) and l5:55 (Hos l3:l4). Paul argues that the 'spirits of this age' will be put down at Christ's second coming (l Cor l5:24-25) - he appears to be ignorant of the fact that spirits were overcome by Jesus in his earthly life (eg. Mark 3:ll) and furthermore this was when Satan himself was judged and cast out (John 12:31). It is very clear that Paul was greatly influenced by the Wisdom tradition and the expectations of Jewish belief that arose in the first century BC. In fact a striking similarity can be found between Paul's letters and this literature. A summary of some parts of the Wisdom of Solomon, the Book of Enoch, Proverbs and Ecclesiasticus, which mention Wisdom, 'the virtuous man', the Lord and the 'Word' produces the following (these all pre-date Christianity). Wisdom is the sustainer and governor of the universe (Wis. 8:l, 9:4) who comes to dwell among men but is rejected by most. l Enoch states that after being humiliated on earth, wisdom then returned to heaven. In Wisdom there is mention of the 'just man' also, who is persecuted and condemned to a 'shameful death' (2:20); he is tested and then has immortality bestowed upon him (3:5); he is called a son of God (5:5). In l Enoch, the son of man shall bring salvation to the Gentiles; when he comes, he will come with angels and everyone will worship him; he will then destroy sinners. (Page 16) In the upshot, Paul's view of Jesus appears to be wholly based on this line of thinking. In the case of l Cor 1:23-25, this comes very close to actually calling the supernatural personage that became Jesus, 'Wisdom'. In view of what information is available, it seems what little Paul knew about Jesus appears to be was based on (a)Current Jewish beliefs concerning wisdom, etc, (b)Revelations that he believed he was receiving from the resurrected messiah who had died in the past and was now revealing himself just before the end of the age. Furthermore there seems to be no pagan evidence for his existence either. Reference to his existence doesn't occur until well into the second century and even then the writers seem to be merely repeating Christian statements about Jesus (eg. Tacitus in 120 AD). What is really striking is that thee same ignorance about Jesus' earthly life is found in most other N.T writings, eg. in l Pet, readers are told to love one another, have unswerving faith and put away malice - but the writer never quotes Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount - instead he quotes the Old Testament. With regard to Paul and the origins for Jesus, it does seem that Jesus' 'teachings' overall were borrowed from the O.T. and occasionally elsewhere. It does also seem that messages received 'from the risen Lord' by Christian prophets in trance were fed back into Jesus' earthly life. The Didache, a Christian writing of ca. lst century (probably from Syria) writes of Christian prophets; "Welcome them as the Lord...Every missioner who comes to you should be welcomed as the Lord....While a prophet is uttering words in a trance, you are on no account to subject him to any tests or verifications - this is the sin that shall never be forgiven.......They exhibit the manners and conduct of the Lord.....". Here it can be seen these prophets were treated with the same respect as Jesus himself; what they said was treated as coming direct from Jesus and was not to be questioned. Furthermore this feature is found elsewhere, eg. B.E.Beck (Senior Tutor and Methodist minister, New Testament Studies, Wesley House, Cambridge), in his Reading the New Testament Today, "....Sayings attributed to Jesus in the gospels were used by Christians without acknowledgement, but the possibility cannot be ruled out that the reverse process has occurred - maxims in general use, from whatever source, have been mistakenly attributed to Jesus, eg. Matt 6:34, 7:6. Apparently Christian prophets spoke in the name of the risen Lord, that is, on his behalf. Were such sayings treasured as those of the earthly Jesus ? Was any real distinction made between them when both were felt to express the mind of the Lord who had now risen and was still acting through his church ? If the distinction was not sharply drawn, what was to prevent a saying of the Lord, delivered through a prophet, being attributed to the Lord in his earthly ministry ?......". Again, in the book by Ernest Best (Professor of Divinity and Biblical criticism, University of Glasgow) (1 and 2 Thessalonians), he states, "....There were many prophets among the early Christians; such prophets may have passed on sayings of the exalted Lord to his church, and the church have made little distinction between these sayings and those of the earthly Jesus; confirmation of this may be seen by the ascription by Paul of sayings of Jesus to the Lord.....". (Page 17) As Paul and indeed other N.T. writers say little or nothing about Jesus' earthly life and Paul's knowledge of him appears to have come directly through revelations and ecstatic states (See 2 Cor ll:1, Gal l:12); at the end of the day it appears that Paul and a few others* believed there were getting messages from the crucified and now-risen Christ who had lived on earth 'sometime in the past' and was now revealing himself as the close of the age dawned (See l Cor 7:29, l0:11). * Note how the post-resurrection appearances listed in l Cor l5:5-8 (which flatly contradicts the Gospels) does not differentiate between the appearances to those listed in l5:5-7 and the one to Paul, but in fact the Gospels and Acts have Jesus' appearances to some of those in l5:5-7 in a physical body and before his ascension, but to Paul it was a wholly different experience, ie. a blinding vision (eg. Acts 9:3-5), but the way in which the l Cor l5 list is worded certainly suggests that Paul believed the others who had seen the risen Lord experienced it in the same way he did - ie. by direct revelation. He seems to know nothing of any idea that they had ever seen the earthly Jesus. A number of theologians have commented upon this. Paul's letters are usually dated 50-60 AD, but by the time the Gospels were written (after ca. 90 AD), these people were made to be companions of Jesus whilst he lived on earth - and yet there is no such mention of this whatsoever in pre-90 AD writings; Paul certainly never suggests this - to him, they were like him - receiving messages from the risen Christ who had lived 'sometime in the past'. In Gal 2:11 Paul has a fierce argument with Peter, but he makes no reference to his denials of Jesus as the Gospels relate which would crush Peter's arrogance here; in the same way, Paul has to labour over the problem of unclean foods (eg. Rom l4:l4-l5, l Cor 8:7-13) but why didn't he just invoke his Lord's words as in Matt 15:10 ? Simply because they were never said - but rather, a Christian prophet received this information supposedly from the risen Lord and the words were fed back to his earthly life which by 90 AD had been located ca. 30 AD. The reasons for this are numerous, but very briefly, it was necesssary to have John the Baptist there to 'fulfil' a supposed Old Test prophesy (Malachi 3:l) and it is a historical fact that John the Baptist did live ca. 30 AD (Josephus the Jewish historian writes of him - but it is to be noted that he never mentions any Jesus associated with him), and have him executed by a foreign power; how- ever, unlike the feeble indecisive muddler that the Gospels portray Pilate as, in fact he was a merciless butchering tyrant and again, it seem sensible to presume this Christ-figure had lived in the time of his prefectship. As far as Jesus being connected with Nazareth, most commentators (even Christian ones) admit he was called this by error - ie. his title was Jesus the Nazarene which had nothing to do with Nazareth but only meant 'Holy' or 'devout' or 'Separated one'. Although the word 'Nazareth' is only mentioned ONCE in Mark (in l:9), the translators have unfortunately translated ALL the references as 'of Nazareth' when actually most of them do not say 'of Nazareth' but say 'Nazarene' (l:24, l0:47, 14:67), which, as stated, refers to Jesus' sect or way of life, rather than a geographical location anywhere. Matt and Luke used Mark and interpreted this as meaning 'of Nazareth', when quite clearly it didn't. One reason for this 'change-of-meaning' was no doubt due to seeing Jesus as a rebel against orthodox Judaism (which he is pictured as), and the South (ie. Judea) was seen as fairly conservative, but Galilee in the North was notorious for producing rebels (eg. Judas the Galilean led the famous 6AD revolt). (Page 18) Therefore, logically they presumed he must have come from there. Also, and finally, commentators admit there are 'difficulties' in bridging the gap between the two terms, ie. how 'of Nazareth' is obtained from the original 'Nazarene' term. Furthermore it appears these Christian prophets (called 'apostles' - surely evidence that 'apostle' originally meant someone receiving direct revelations from Christ in heaven and NOT someone who had been a companion of the earthly Jesus) were not all transmitting the same information from him - 2 Cor 11:4,5,13. It has to be borne in mind is that there were apparently "many Jesus'" - ie. different Christian prophets were getting different revelations from the figure they believed to be this person - this is why Jesus contradicts himself in the Gospels, eg. in Matt 5:l6 he says "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works....", but only seconds later (Matt 6:l) he says "Beware of practising your piety before men in order to be seen of them" - and he then goes on to say all good works must be done secretly and not to be observed by other people. How could one historical person have spoken like this ? It can only be explained by statements from different sources (ie. Christian prophets relaying on revelations they believed they were receiving) and this being combined into the one figure of Jesus. With regard to Paul's consistent and continual failure to locate Jesus in any chronological period, some argue that his reference to James being 'the Lord's brother' by Paul in Gal l:19 indicates that Paul knew that Jesus' life was in that period of time, but it does appear far too much had been built up upon this one isolated statement, ie. some question whether this statement had a theological, rather than a sociological meaning, viz. it is a term to denote something other than a literal flesh-and blood brother. In fact Robertson suggests that the term really referred to a group of messianists that had a particular school of thought; Brandon suggests it could simply mean a 'principal servant' (which of course would suit the leader of the Jerusalem church). It does appear that in Paul's time 'brother/brethren' was a very common term for members of a particular group of people, rather than members of a family. 1 Cor 1:11-13 does imply that such groups existed within the church - it does seem from this that there were particular groups of people, eg. those who were a 'Christ-party', and a member of this could be called "the Lord's brother". Furthermore, as the Gospels also have Jesus referring to his non- family disciples as 'brethren' eg. Matt 28:9-l0 and John 20:l7, it does appear that a blood relative is not necessarily meant by the term 'brother/brethren' in the N.T. Some go as far as believing that Jesus' family, as briefly referred to in the Gospels, were in fact 'created' by the Gospel writers purely for anti-docetic reasons. It is also strange that the author of Acts never mentions the James of Acts l5 as Jesus' brother, although he presumably knew Mark which named James as a brother of Jesus. As a footnote, following on from the comments challenging Jesus' historicity above, it is necessary to comment on the argument that proposes that as Josephus and Tacitus, both non-Christians, refer to Jesus, this surely proves he was a historical personage. These references are very brief fleeting statements concerning a Jesus by (1)Josephus (XVIII, 3.3), ca. 95 AD and (2)Tacitus (anals. xv, 44) ca. 120 AD. However with regard to these, it must be asked, (Page 19) (1)Josephus. (i)Why do no Christians up to the 4th cent. refer to Josephus' priceless remark that 'Jesus was the Christ' ? (ii)Why does the Christian apologist Origen (l85-254 AD) state categorically that Josephus did NOT believe that Jesus was the Christ in view of the statement that calls Jesus by this very title ? (iii)How could a strict Pharasaic Jew make such a statement ? (iv)Why is it written in the same style as Luke ? Surely this suggests rather than being written by Josephus it was taken from this Gospel ? (v)Why does it look like an insertion in the narrative and appears to interrupt the flow, not following on from what is said before and not leading into what is said afterwards ? (vi)Why doesn't Josephus say more about Jesus if he did really believe 'he was the Christ' ? (vii)How it is that a whole host of eminent Christian theologians/scholars who firmly believe in Jesus' historicity reject the passage ? (viii)Why should this be genuine when other copies of Josephus's Antiquities have been discovered that are heavily interpolated with Christian references ? (ix)The very fact that it does appear to be a Christian interpolation surely suggests there was a problem, as why should Christians feel there was a need to even do this ? (2)Tacitus. It is never clear why this is even referred to; this was written nearly a century after Jesus' supposed existence - it is hardly 'contemporary'. If he is quoting a historical fact, then why does he make the same error that Christians also made about Pilate, ie. calling him a procurator when really he was a prefect. Trilling - an orthodox Christian - comments that Tacitus was saying what 'could have reached him from any educated contemporary' and 'is no more than what could be learned anywhere in Rome'. In fact when Pliny wrote to Trajan (ca. 117 AD) he admits that his information about Christians came through actually questioning Christians - not by using any historical record or common knowledge. Tacitus is undoubtedly doing the same. Tacitus does not refer to Jesus as 'Jesus' but 'Christ' - ie. the title ('Anointed/Messiah') that Christians gave Jesus. He could have hardly found this reference in any records he consulted (which would have therefore read:- 'We executed the Christ today' !). Again it is obvious he is only repeating what he had heard Christians believed. The situation is adequately summed up by Professor Fuller, Professor of New Testament, Union Theological Seminary, New York. (A Critical Introduction to the New Testament):- "Of the 27 books of the New Testament only the authentic Pauline epistles are, strictly speaking, the testimony of an apostolic witness. And even Paul...was not a witness of the historical Jesus. Since the earliest witnesses wrote nothing...there is not a single book in the New Testament which is the direct work of an eyewitness of the historical Jesus..." (page 197). THE GOD OF THE BIBLE. The Biblical picture of God can hardly be reconciled with Christian teaching that "God is love", eg. All forms of life destroyed because of one imperfect species - Genesis 6:5,7, 7:23. Human sacrifice commanded by God - Leviticus 27:28,29. God agrees that Jephthah sacrifices his daughter as a thanksgiving - Judges ll:29-40. (Page 20) God sends ten plagues on Egypt because Pharaoh won't release the Hebrews, but he deliberately hardens Pharaoh's heart so he refuses to release the Hebrews making these plagues necessary in the first place - God admits this is so he can perform 'his wonders' (Exodus ll:9), ie. wholesale mass slaughter of life in Egypt - Exodus 7:3-4,l3-l4, l0:l,20. God sanctions slavery and a man selling his daughter - Exodus 21:2- 6,7. Death demanded for heresy - Deuteronomy l3:l,2,5,l4,l5. God says that if a man strikes 'his slave', male or female, and they do not die immediately, the man shall not be punished because 'the slave is his money (ie. property)' - Exodus 21:20-21. God orders people to slaughter their own relatives because they rejected Moses' religion; 3000 killed. Moses tells the killers that God would bless them for doing this by making them ordained for his service - Exodus 32:27-29. A person to kill their own family for a difference of religion - Deuteronomy l3:6-l0. God demands death for anyone not circumcised - Genesis l7:9-l4. God demands the sick are to be driven out of the community - Numbers 5:l-4. God burns people to death for complaining - Numbers ll:l. God kills 24,000 people by a plague because one of them brought a Midianite woman to his tent - Numbers 25:6-9. The curses of God upon the Hebrews (eg. eating their own children) - Leviticus 26:l4-39, Deuteronomy 28:l5-68. God arranges the Midianite slaughter - Judges 7:2,9,22. (Note: Numbers 31:l-l8 states that God instructed the mass slaughter of Midianites, and the Lord "slew every male", alongwith their rulers (31:7), and the Midianite women and children and animals were captured; Moses then demanded all the males, including babies and the women were to be slaughtered, but the young girls could be "kept alive for yourselves" (31:l8). This story records the extermination of the Midianites, but later on, God AGAIN instructs the slaugher of the Midianites (Judges 6:l6), It is the same with the Amalekites - they are "ALL destroyed" in l Samuel l5:8, but they are destroyed yet again in l Samuel 27:8-9 and everyone - men and women - are killed; however, they are killed (- for the 3rd time) in l Samuel 30:l,l6-l7 except for 400 young men. At long last, they are are finally killed off in l Chronicles 4:43 when the 'remnant' were destroyed. The Spirit of God comes upon Samson and he murders over a thousand people - Judges l4:l9, l5:l4-l5. The Psalmist praises God for his 'steadfast love' but then details his slaughtering in the past - Psalm 136:l0-21. God deliberately deludes people so they will not be saved - 2 Thess 2:ll-l2. A girl not found to be a virgin was to be killed - Deuteronomy 22:l3- 21 (Note the same did not apply to men !). God kills a baby for its father's wrongdoing - ignoring the father's pleas - 2 Samuel 12:l5-20 God kills 70,000 men - 2 Samuel 24:l5 Moses orders the extermination of the Midianites - men, women, children, and babies, but the young girls can be kept alive for their captors' "use" - Numbers 31:l-l8. (NB. most of the Pentateuchal battles were ordered by Moses - however he was only God's mouthpiece (Numbers 12:6-8). He also has an important role in the New Testament - Matthew l7:l-4, Hebrews 3:2,5, ll:23-29, Rev l5:3). God has a friendly meeting with his arch enemy Satan - whom he doesn't even recognise - Job l:6-7, and they have a wager (Job l:8-12) over how much suffering it would take before righteous Job will reject God. Job then has his whole family killed and livelihood ruined (l:l3-l9) and then is afflicted by a loathsome plague (2:7-8). (Page 21) These are just a few of the many many examples which could be listed. The Bible presents an interesting picture of God, ie. a god who never changes (Malachi 3:6) but actually does frequently change his mind and even regrets what he's done ("repents") - Genesis 6:6,7, Exodus 32:l4, l Samuel l5:35, 2 Samuel 24:l6, l Chronicles 21:l5, Jeremiah l8:8,l0, 26:3,l3,l9, 42:l0, Ezekiel 24:l4, Joel 2:l3, Amos 7:3. Although it is to be noted that Numbers 23:l9 and l Samuel 15:2 say that God never repents. It states God is "spirit", ie. non-physical (John 4:24) and yet he is always called 'him' or 'he' as if he had a male body, and then it states that although spirit, he has feet (Psalm l8:9), arms (Jeremiah 27:5), wings (Psalm 36:7), hands (Job 27:ll), eyes (Deuteronomy 8:3), a mouth (Isaiah l:20), ears (2 Chronicles 6:40), nostrils (Exodus l5:8) and legs (Genesis 3:8). He also uses a razor - Isaiah 7:20. He also occasionally roars (Joel 3:l6) and sometimes he even whistles (Isaiah 5:26). Although he has never been seen (John l:l8), he has actually been seen (Isa 6:l), and he even revealed his rear to Moses (Exodus 33:21-22)....... THE PRESENCE OF EVIL. Christians argue that it is through Adam's sin that evil exists and furthermore it is because of his transgression that all humans must die; this is clearly taught by Paul in Rom 5:12,17,18 and is the central theology of Christianity; however, this wholly contradicts 2 Kings 14:6, Ezekiel 18:20, Jeremiah 31:30 that state a person will NOT suffer for an ancestor's wrongdoing. If the God of the Bible is truly God, then there is a dilemma; for God to be God, he has to be omnipotent, responsible for the creation of everything; this includes evil; if he did not create evil, then he was not wholly creative, and therefore cannot be God. In fact the Bible does actually say God commits evil, eg. Exodus 32:l4, 2 Sam 24:l6, 1 Chron 21:l5, Jer l8:8, 26:3,l3,l9, Jonah 3:l0. Furthermore he sends lying spirits (l Kings 22:23, 2 Chronicles l8:22) and deliberately deceives people (2 Thessalonians 2:ll). And not only this, he admits to being responsible for the creation of evil and misery - Isaiah 45:7, and that he has deliberately made people so he can destroy them - Proverbs l6:4. He condemns killing (Exodus 20:l3) but orders it (Exodus 32:27); he encourages wisdom (Proverbs 4:7) but condemns it (l Corinthians l:l9); he protects the righteous (Proverbs 12:21) but does not (Hebrews ll:36-37); he cuts off the wicked (Proverbs l0:27) but does not (Job 21:7-9); he commands respect for parents (Exodus 20:l2) but encourages hatred for them (Luke l6:9); he blesses peace (Matthew 5:9) but brings war (Matthew l0:34, Revelation l9:ll). It continues by saying God will keep the earth (Ecclesiastes l:4), but will destroy it (2 Peter 3:l0); is invisible and unseen (John l:l8, l Timothy 6:l5-l6) but has been seen (Amos 9:l, Deuteronomy 5:24); he lives in dazzling light (l Timothy 6:l5-l6), but lives in darkness (l Kings 8:l2)...... (Page 22) THE GOD OF LOVE ? Christians maintain that God cares for the world, he is personally involved in it, he has sent his prophets, he has even taken on human form himself and lived and died as a human being, he has sent his Holy Spirit, his Word (the Bible) and manifests himself through his church; however, how is it that so much suffering prevails in the world ? The Bible has Jesus comparing humans' compassion with God's; he supposedly pointed out that even a human being 'evil as they are' would not let their child starve or suffer (Matthew 7:9-13) so (therefore) we can look forward to much more more from God. This is the real nonsense; no human being would allow the suffering that goes on in the world today to continue if they could stop it, but an omnipotent god does nothing... What is one supposed to make of a deity that allows so much suffering to go on which even a mere frail feeble inconsistent 'evil' human would stop if they could ? THE CHRISTIAN LIFE One example of Christian teaching not being dervived from the Bible is how Christians say a great deal of the Bible gives instructions regarding a happy married life. In reality, this is not so at all. As far as "Jesus' teaching about the 'sanctity' of marriage" or even family life, the Gospels say very little on this. Jesus' teaching regarding divorce arises in Matthew l9:3-l2 and Mark l0:2-12; Luke and John omit this passage. In Mark, Jesus speaks to his Jewish audience about a woman divorcing her husband - l0:12 - however no such thing was possible in Palestine ! Here the author of Mark betrays the fact that (i)he was not an eyewitness to the events he writes of (ii)that he was not a first century Palestinian Jew (who obviously would not make such an error) ie. Christians maintain the author of Mark is the same John Mark mentioned in Acts 12:12. However it is clear just from this that he was a Gentile, writing for a Gentile (Rome ?) audience. He makes numerous errors in his Gospel about Palestinian life, geography, customs and theology. (iii)the Gospel writers freely adapted their material to emphasise the point they were trying to make. ie. their narratives are not reliable accounts, but rather editorial compositions/redactions. Mark also allows no reason for divorce - l0:l2, but the author of Matt does have Jesus saying one reason was acceptable for divorce (ie. unfaithfulness) - ie. l9:9. Presumably by the time Matthew was written, Christians (particularly Gentiles) were finding Jesus' instruction in Mark impossible to follow, so Matthew's author introduced an escape clause. Matt's author omits the statement about women divorcing their husbands as he clearly realised what an error this was (he actually tidies up other errors in Mark). In 1st century Palestine, adultery was not a crime against the woman, but a crime against her husband (!!!). Mark is therefore wrong in l0:ll and Matt (in l9:9) therefore corrects this and omits the 'against her'. The statement that Christian life is the basis of a happy fulfilled family life, is certainly not based on Jesus' teaching. In fact Jesus says very little on this subject. One of the occasions he does refer or rather, allude to family life is when he lists some of the Ten Commandments to the man asking about acquiring eternal life, and repeats the commandment of honouring parents. (Page 23) This appears in Matthew l9:l6-22 where the enquirer is a young man (l9:20) and in Luke l8:l8-23, but here he is a ruler. In Mark (l0:l7- 22) he is clearly not 'young' as he recalls his youth in l0:20. This is a typical example of how the Gospels do not agree with each other. In Mark, Jesus lists off some of the Decalogue (l0 Commandments) including 'Honour your parents', but he also lists 'Do not defraud' (l0:l9) as one of the Commandments. However, this is not one of the Ten Commandments. (These are found in Exodus 20:l-l7, Deuteronomy 5:6-21). Note how Matt (l9:l8) and Luke (l8:20), correct this error in Mark (they correct others also elsewhere in Mark). This again is an example of how Mark's author was not a Jew (who would at least know the l0 Commandments), how he has Jesus saying things which could not have been said, and how the speech cannot be authentic; furthermore, it shows how Matt and Luke's authors freely changed Mark where they saw a mistake; their compositions cannot be reliable accounts either. There is also the factor that it is somewhat inappropriate for Jesus to preach about the honouring of parents when he also advocates, for example, hating one's family (Luke l4:26), that his purpose was to break up families (Matthew l0:34-36, Luke 12:51-53), not even burying them when they die (Matthew 8:21-22) and deserting one's own family (resulting in a reward) (Luke l8:29-30). JESUS' TEACHINGS. Although Christians maintain Jesus' teaching was very new and revolutionary (eg. Matt 19:3ff), this is just not so. Most of it is borrowed from the Old Testament and contemporary faiths. Here he is simply repeating the strict divorce ruling of Rabbi Shammai. The famous 'Golden Rule' of Jesus in Matt 7:l2 (Do to others as you would wish them to do to you) is also far from unique; this is found in various teachings predating Christianity (eg. Confucius, Rabbi Hillel); it is even found in its negative form in the Old Testament Apocrypha - Tobit 4:l5. Much of Matthew's 'Sermon on the Mount' (not found in Mark, nor John and broken into pieces and scattered through his Gospel by Luke's author) contains a good deal borrowed from pre- Christian religion, eg. Matt 5:9 is found in the pre-Christian Book of the Secrets of Enoch (52:ll) and Matthew 5:34-37 is also found there (49:l). In chap. 42 of this pre-Christian book, there are beatitudes which rememble the Gospel ones both in number and form. THE ACCURACY OF THE GOSPELS.. I appreciate there will be some repetition of things already stated herein, but the notes below essentially relate to the inaccuracy of the four canonical Gospels. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- On examination of passages arising in the four Gospels, it can be seen that the narrative is composed to suit the theological viewpoint of the evangelist. When comparing a narrative with its parallel in another Gospel, or when a narrative only appears in one Gospel, it becomes obvious that the evangelists had their own beliefs and attitudes, and these sometimes become obvious. It is clear that the authors of the Gospels shaped, remoulded, selected and adapted the material available to them to suit their purpose. From this it can be seen that the evangelists selected and adapted the material available to them, so they could write with a special purpose and objective in mind. (Page 24) Matt's author, using Mark as a source, wanted to show Jesus' mission was to the Jews, as their own messiah, but the author of Luke, also using Mark as a source, wanted to picture Jesus in a way that his Hellenistic readers would understand and relate to. The author of John, possibly using Mark as a source, or the source of Mark for some of his information, wrote from a highly individual viewpoint and in this Gospel, the writer's personal interpretation and authorship becomes most apparent. Before the resurrection in Matt however, Jesus is shown as being solely for the Jews; Jesus is pictured as the Jewish messiah, the descendent of Abraham and the Son of David; his life fulfilled the OT prophesies and expectations. On occasions the OT texts are wrestled from their context and used very artificially in Matt. Whilst pro- Jewish, the author writes against certain Jewish groups which he felt particular hostility towards. In Luke, Jesus is the saviour of the world - to Jew, Samaritan and Gentile. Luke's author makes it clear that from the very beginning, not only Israel, but the world was blessed by Jesus' appearance on earth. (2:l4,32). In Luke, Jesus' coming was vital in world history and history, both past and present had to be shaped around the years of Jesus' life on earth. Jesus' coming in Luke influences history as is shown by Jesus' comment in Luke l6:l6 that the law and prophets were only 'until John'. From this point a new phase in history begins. Luke's author was clearly sympathetic to the poor and outcast; he includes material that teaches this and which is only found in Luke, eg. the woes against the wealthy (6:24,25), the story of Lazarus and the Rich man (Luke l6); there is one case where Luke is detailing the same material as Matt, but a clear change is made to uphold his view towards the poor - "Blessed are the poor in spirit....Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness..." (Matt 5:3,6) but in Luke this is "Blessed are you poor....Blessed are you that hunger now..." (6:20,21). Here, one of the evangelists has deliberately changed the wording to suit either his spiritual theology (Matt) or his social theology (Luke). In Luke there is the call by Jesus to care for the outcast with the promise of reward for doing this (l4:12-l4) and there is also Jesus' teaching that the despised classes (in this case a tax collector) were more sincere and pleasing to God than the so-called religious teachers (l8:l0-l4). It has been argued that the Gospels contain 'pillar passages', ie. statements that conflicted with early church theology and belief which created problems for the early church, but despite this, the fact that these were included shows that the evangelists faithfully recorded these and that they wrote a reliable account of Jesus' life. One such passage is Mark 3:21 where it is stated that Jesus' family went out to 'seize him' because of the accusations of insanity. At first sight this does appear that the author has included something that puts Jesus' family in a bad light and it certainly clashes with the church's belief that Jesus' family later became members of the church (eg. Acts l:l4) and were later held in high esteem. However, some commentators believe this is not necessarily connected with mental instability, and furthermore, the author may have had in mind the 'prophesy' of Isa 53:3 that the servant would be despised and rejected of men; indeed Jesus does remind the disciples that he would suffer contempt (9:l2). In Mark there is the statement that Jesus could not work miracles because of unbelief (6:5) and indeed Matt (l3:58) modifies this, and Luke omits it altogether, but this is not necessarily a passage that reduces Jesus' stature; Mark repeatedly emphasises the need to believe in Jesus for his power to be able to manifest itself - eg. Mark 5:34, l0:52. (Page 25) Because some passages were included in the Gospels and these may have embarrassed the church does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the evangelists recorded an accurate historical account of Jesus' life; this is particularly so in view of the situation in the early church which was not uniform and was very fluid. The principal motive of each evangelist in producing a 'Gospel' was for the preaching of the early church; the Gospels were not intended to be for general and public circulation and reading. It is clear that they did write as theologians and not historians and therefore they cannot be viewed as trustworthy (ie. reliable and accurate) historians. In John, hostility against Judaism reaches a peak; by the end of the first century, Christianity was no longer deemed to be just a schism within Judaism; by this time there was an official cursing of the Christians ('Minim') in the synagogues. The Gospel of John therefore coincides with the mutual feeling between the Jews and early Christians at the time of being written. In John, the Jews are pictured as slow, dull-witted, aggressive and hypocritical, deviating from the original faith. They are prepared to murder (l2:l0-ll) and are pictured as ignorant of God's word (5:38-40), without God's love (5:42), accused by Moses (5:45), potential murderers (8:40), children of the devil who was a murderer and liar (8:44) and they are even reported as making several attempts to kill Jesus (8:59, l0:31). The author puts words into their mouths which could not have been spoken; the statement of 'We have no king but Caesar' by the chief priests (l9:l5) would have been a denial of all Jewish theology and history apart from the fact that a Jewish leader making this statement would soon encounter the fury of the nationalist Zealots. The author comes very close to preventing Jesus from being a Jew himself when he writes of Jesus speaking to the Jews of 'your father Abraham' (8:56), 'your law' (l0:34). He continues his polemic in having the Jews even asking for leg-breaking after Jesus had died (l9:31) which results in Pilate instructing this even though it conflicts with Mark which describes Pilate as being unaware of Jesus' death (l5:44-45). John also writes about the expulsion of Christians from the synagogues and the possibility of executions (9:22, l6:2), which did not exist in the time that Jesus supposedly lived, but did exist in the closing years of the first century when the Gospel was written (ie. the official cursing of the 'Minim' inserted into the synagogue service under Rabbi Gamaliel, ca. 85 AD). Another indication that the evangelists have composed stories about Jesus without historical foundation is their interpretation of what they considered to be Old Testament 'prophesies'. Because the author of John understood the Hebrew parallelism of Psa 22:l8 as two completely separate actions, he has the soldiers carrying out two separate actions (l9:23-24). The other evangelists who did not misunderstand this, only have one action in the disposal of Jesus' clothes (Matt 27:35, Mark l5:24, Luke 23:34). In the same way, the author of Matt misunderstood the parallelism of Zech 9:9 and had two animals involved in Jesus' entry into Jerusalem (21:2-7) when in fact there is only one animal being spoken of. The other evangelists do not make this mistake and therefore only have one animal - Mark l:2-7, Luke l9:30-35, John l2:l4-l6. From these examples it can be seen that the evangelists, rather than being historians, were only interested in the theology of what they were writing about. In these two cases they have deliberately introduced details to 'agree' what they felt to be an OT prophecy. (Page 26) One commentator admits that the whole of Jesus' trial is based on O.T. prophesy; therefore rather than the Christian statement that the life of Jesus 'fulfilled' O.T. prophesies (although in reality few are actual 'prophesies'), the very reverse is true - Jesus' earthly life was built up on these 'prophesies'. John gives the picture of the Logos in full control of every situation with his power being considerably greater than the Synoptics, eg. whilst the Synoptics record resurrections of people who had only just died (eg. Matt 9:l8), Jesus resurrects a man who had been dead for four days (ll:l7), the blind man healed was not like the man who had once seen in the Synoptics (Mark 8:24), but had been blind from birth (9:l), Jesus carries his own cross (l9:l7) and does need not this to be carried for him as in the Synoptics (eg. Matt 27:32). Again, the theological view of John's author completely overshadows any desire to present a historical account; his account is to show that Jesus was the Son of God and historical facts are not relevant. In the same way, the author of Matt is keen to show that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, while the authors of Luke and Mark are more concerned with portraying a Jesus who would be acceptable to Gentiles. Mark, almost certainly the first Gospel, includes a number of errors which not only show that the author was not an eyewitness to the events he so vividly describes, but also that details such as features of the Jewish religion, geography and chronology were only secondary to his purposes. Mark (1:2) has a quotation from Malachi 3:l and Isaiah 40:3, but he attributes both to Isaiah (furthermore he interfered with the poetry by changing the location of the wilderness), there is a chronological error in naming Abiathar as the high priest (2:26), Herod is called a king when he was in fact a tetrach and this is followed by an error about Philip's wife (6:l4,l7), he attributed a custom of the strict Pharisees to all the Jews (7:3), his mention of Dalmanutha in 8;l0 indicated he was not very familiar with Palestine, there is a reference by Jesus to women divorcing their husbands, a custom not possible in Palestine (l0:12), together with an error over the timing of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (l4:l,12). On occasions, the author seems to be quite confused about Palestinian life. The errors contained within Mark were 'corrected' by the authors of Matthew and Luke, and sometimes by later copyists, particularly when they involved important theological points. It was the same situation with each of the four evangelists; each one had a particular motive, each one had a specific theological belief and each one had a certain group of people in mind for whom their Gospel was intended. On occasions, the reason for relating a story not found in the other three Gospels, or for making a drastic change in it is not altogether clear. All four Gospels have the story of Jesus being anointed by a woman; Matt (26:6-l3) and Mark (l4:2-ll) have this after the entry into Jerusalem, but John has this before, while Luke has it long before the arrival in Jerusalem during the early ministry (Luke 7:36- 50). Whilst Luke has the woman anointing Jesus' feet as does John (l2:3), Matt and Mark have the woman anointing Jesus' head. Other minor differences occur, eg. Jesus tells Peter of his denials after leaving the room where the last supper was eaten, on the way to Gethsemane in Matt (26:30-35) and Mark (l4:26-31), but in Luke (22:33-34/39) and John (l3:37-38/l8:l), Jesus tells him before leaving. (Page 27) In Luke, Jesus is assaulted before the questioning by the Sanhedrin and the questioning takes place the following morning (22:63-71), but in Matt (26:57-68/27:l) and Mark (l4:53-65/l5:l) the assault is immediately after the questioning and this all takes place before the morning. Presumably there was a reason for the differences which occur in all four Gospels, but they have been lost in time. Differences such as these may arise because of the evangelist wishing to convey a particular point which is not obvious, or they may simply arise because of the way the material/tradition was transmitted and reached the evangelist. When certain passages are examined, it can be seen what the evangelist had in mind and furthermore, what he personally viewed as important. The author of Matt wanted to show that Jesus' mission was to the Jews. In l5:21-28, Jesus' objection to healing the Gentile woman's daughter is much more obvious than in Mark (in Mark, the only time Jesus is called 'Lord' is by this woman - 7:28; here Mark has used the story, which in Matt is anti-Gentile, to show that it was a Gentile who recognised who Jesus was). Matt also adds that Jesus said that he had only come 'to the lost sheep of the house of Israel'. The author of Luke, not only pro-Gentile, but endeavouring to portray Jesus as humane, omits the whole story. Jesus instructed his disciples not to go anywhere near Gentiles or Samaritans, but to go to 'the lost sheep of the house of Israel' in Matt l0:5-6, but Mark does not include this (6:7ff) and nor does Luke (9:lff). Luke contradicts this by saying that Jesus wanted to enter Samaria. but was prevented from doing so by the inhabitants (9:52- 53); also in Luke, Jesus heals a Samaritan (l7:ll-l6), and Jesus' mission to the Samaritans, which is precluded in Matt, goes even further in John when Jesus goes into Samaria and many are converted there (4:4,5,39-42). It is generally accepted that the seventy disciples sent out in Luke l0:l was a Gentile mission. Not only did the authors of Matt and Luke correct the errors in Mark, and the author of John reinterpret the oral and written material that was the basis for the Synoptic Gospel account, they also clearly made considerable changes to Mark. Although some corrections and changes are to make the account more authentic, the principal cause for the changes is clearly theological. This can be traced in all four Gospels, from beginning to end. Matt begins with a genealogy tracing Jesus back to Abraham through David (l:l-16) - to show Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, but Luke has this going back to Adam (3:23-38) to show Jesus' coming was to save all mankind and not just Israel. This fact is announced just after the birth in Luke also - 2:28,32. The author of Mark begins his Gospel very abruptly, whilst the author of John begins his Gospel by stating that Jesus was the pre-existent Logos, and it is this portrayal that runs throughout John. (Page 28) To the end of the Gospels, the personal theological belief, manner and motivation of each author still manifests itself; in Mark the resurrection narrative ends as abruptly as the Gospel begins; the resurrection appearances are not detailed possibly because the whole message of Mark is faith. In Matt, the last appearance by Jesus to the disciples is on a mountain; this may be an attempt to connect Jesus' departure with Moses' (NB. In Matt, Jesus teaches about the law on a mountain - 5:l,l7-42, which recalls Moses receiving the law on the mountain; in the Lukan parallel, Jesus did not teach on a mountain, but rather 'he came down and stood on a level place' and this did not relate to the law - 6:l7-49; this in itself is an example of how the evangelists adapted material to illustate a theological point). The author of Matt endeavoured to show throughout his Gospel that Jesus did not come to 'end' Judaism, but rather, was a fulfilment of it. In Luke, Jesus' departure is in the area of Jerusalem where the disciples have to remain, ie. where it all began. In John, the emphasis was to instil faith in those who already believed, but felt distanced from Jesus by being second or third-generation Christians. (20:29,31). What has to be borne in mind is the fact that the evangelists were not only producing their narratives from isolated disconnected sayings and stories, many of which had survived down to their time only through oral tradition, their narratives were also related to the Jesus they believed in, pictured through their own personal experience; their account was also shaped for the people for whom it was intended. The Gospels would also reflect the evangelists' own culture and background. They also had to deal with factors which had only emerged during their time, eg. why Jesus had not returned, why Judaism had rejected its Messiah, how Christianity could be related to Judaism, how Christianity could show that Jesus was the one foretold in the Old Testament, and as the church became distanced from the time that Jesus supposedly lived, the rising importance of the disciples/apostles. The evangelists cannot therefore be viewed as trustworthy historians as they saw historical information only as a basis for the 'Good News' they were attempting to declare. This information only served as a background for the story they wanted to tell. As the Gospels are not biographies of Jesus' life, but rather, compositions for preaching and/or to satisfy the need of a particular Christian community, their value as "historical" documents is 'nil'. The source of Matthew and Luke, although there is still disagreement over this, appears to have been a mixture of, (a)the Q document; in fact the authors of Matthew and Luke may not have used the same document, ie. due to difference in time and area, one evangelist may have seen a different (eg. expanded) Q document; the term 'Q' is also used to denote oral as well as written tradition, and, (b)Mark; it appears they most probably used the canonical Mark, and not an earlier edition, and, (c)their own sources. Both Gospels mainly follow the order in Mark. In the case of Luke, more than one-third is material not found in Mark, but almost one-third of Mark is not found in Luke. The non-Markan material is principally inserted into two places in Luke, ie. 6:20- 8:3 (the small insertion) and 9:51-l8:l4 (the large insertion) although there is non-Markan material found in the sections that do repeat Mark (eg. Luke 3:23-4:l3, 4:l6-30). (Page 29) In the case of Matthew, half of Matthew is not found in Mark, whilst over a half of this material is found in Luke; the remainder appears to be Matthew's author's own material. This has to led to numerous questions, eg. whether the evangelists wrote their accounts, but then expanded them when coming across Mark (Kummel considers this unlikely with Luke due to the Markan omissions), or whether their special material was actually found in Q, but because the other evangelist chose not to use it, this results in it appearing to be material only available to them. It is also argued that the special material in some cases was not written, but oral tradition; some have gone as far as suggesting that the material found in only one Gospel, without parallel in another could even be the author's own thoughts, ie. they composed stories that they believed would teach the readers about a certain subject they considered important, eg. Luke's story of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke l6). A brief examination of both Matt and Luke will show that the authors were sympathetic to certain ideas, and introduced these into their Gospels, either by simply rephrasing or rearranging the material, or by using stories that supported their particular ideas. Matthew's author clearly wished to show that Jesus' mission was only to the Jews (l0:5,6, l5:24); in the case of the Canaanite woman (l5:22-28), Jesus' hostility is far greater in Matt, than in Mark (7:24-30), but Luke's author chose to omit this altogether. In Matt the Gentile mission was really only authorised after the resurrection (28:l9); it is at this point where the pro-Jewish line is concluded; after the crucifixion the Jews are pictured as being particularly hostile - eg. approaching Pilate to authorise a guard on the tomb (27:62-66) and the Jews bribing guards to say the disciples had stolen the body (28:ll-l5); the historicity of both incidents has been questioned. Before the resurrection in Matt however, Jesus is shown as being solely for the Jews; Jesus is pictured as the Jewish messiah, the descendent of Abraham and the Son of David; his life fulfilled the OT prophesies and expectations. On occasions the OT texts are wrestled from their context and used very artificially in Matt. Whilst pro- Jewish, the author writes against certain Jewish groups which he felt particular hostility towards. In Luke, Jesus is the saviour of the world - to Jew, Samaritan and Gentile. Luke's author makes it clear that from the very beginning, not only Israel, but the world was blessed by Jesus' appearance on earth. (2:l4,32). In Luke, Jesus' coming was vital in world history and history, both past and present had to be shaped around the years of Jesus' life on earth. Jesus' coming in Luke influences history as is shown by Jesus' comment in Luke l6:l6 that the law and prophets were only 'until John'. From this point a new phase in history begins. Luke's author was clearly sympathetic to the poor and outcast; he includes material that teaches this and which is only found in Luke, eg. the woes against the wealthy (6:24,25), the story of Lazarus and the Rich man (Luke l6); there is one case where Luke is detailing the same material as Matt, but a clear change is made to uphold his view towards the poor - "Blessed are the poor in spirit....Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness..." (Matt 5:3,6) but in Luke this is "Blessed are you poor....Blessed are you that hunger now..." (6:20,21). Here, one of the evangelists has deliberately changed the wording to suit either his spiritual theology (Matt) or his social theology (Luke). In Luke there is the call by Jesus to care for the outcast with the promise of reward for doing this (l4:12-l4) and there is also Jesus' teaching that the despised classes (in this case a tax collector) were more sincere and pleasing to God than the so-called religious teachers (l8:l0-l4). (Page 30) On occasions it is inevitable there would be a clash between the two evangelists; whilst it would be possible to argue a certain point that is also argued in the other Gospel, or perhaps omitted altogether, on occasions the beliefs of the evangelists do conflict. Whilst Matt has Jesus telling the disciples to avoid Gentiles and Samaritan towns, but to go only to the 'lost house of Israel' (l0:5,6), Luke has Jesus attempting to enter a Samaritan town, but not doing this only because of Samaritan hostlity due to his intention to reach Jerusalem (Luke 9:51-53). He also heals a Samaritan, and Luke's author elevates the Samaritan by pointing out that he was the only one who expressed gratitude (Luke l7:ll-l9); there is also the story, only found in Luke, about the 'good Samaritan' who is also elevated above the priest and the Levite (l0:30-37). In contrast to the Jewish-only mission of Matt l0, not only does Luke omit mention of the exclusiveness of this mission (9:l-6), but it also has a second mission which is usually understood as a mission specifically for the Gentiles in l0:l-l7 (ie. the number of seventy (or seventy two - as some MSS have) disciples is significant; the Jews believed this was the number of Gentile nations). Luke's author stresses the success of the Gentile mission by having Jesus say that he had seen Satan cast down when the seventy/seventy-two returned (l0:l8). Luke's author also amended the Passion narrative; the assault upon Jesus is made by the prison guards and before his appearance before the sanhedrin which takes place the next morning (22:63-7) unlike Matt's account of Jesus being beaten at the sanhedrin hearing which took place at night. Luke's account appears more authentic and historically accurate. Luke's author rearranged the materal as he saw fit - eg., Jesus' anointing occurs at in the early stage (7:36-50) unlike Matt (with whom Mark and John agree) who detail this in the last days in Jerusalem (Matt 26:6-l3). The trial/death of Jesus in the Gospels looks suspect as although his crime of blasphemy could be punished on a Feastday, there was no permit to execute theives on a Feast day, but the Gospels say thieves were executed with him. Yet more evidence of the ficticious character of the Gospels. Luke's author also makes other changes, eg. the statement by Jesus to the high priest which in Matt 26:64 has Jesus saying that the high priest would see his return is amended to remove any likelihood of this in Luke (Luke 22:69). The cryptic "abomination of desolation" in Matt (24:l5) is made into Jerusalem's fall in 70 AD, but as Jesus' return was supposed to be "immediately" after this (Matt 24:29), Luke introduces a unspecified time-period between the Fall and the Parousia ("the times of the Gentiles" - 2l:20,24). Luke takes on the appearance of a travel narrative (9:51-l9:27), and in this Gospel, the author has the material in a different order (when compared with Matt), and he presumably did this where it would have the most impact and be more appropriate. Here is an example of redaction where the author has consciously adapted his material to suit his theological motive, ie. Jerusalem is the starting point for not only Jesus, but also the church, ie. Jesus' presentation in Jerusalem, his boyhood visit there, his journey there as part of his ministry, concluding with his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension in the area with the disciples being instructed to wait there for the Spirit. It is because of such endeavours, a conflict is inevitable between Luke and Matt, ie. the infancy and the resurrection narratives; where both evangelists had a free hand (ie. before Jesus' ministry began - Mark 1:1 - and after the visit to the tomb - Mark l6:8 - the evangelists were no longer obliged to follow Mark, and at these points the difference becomes the most noticeable. (Page 31) There are other factors which arise in Matt and Luke that show rather than being "historical documents", ie. authentic reliable accounts of historical events, they are compositions where the theological purpose took priority. Matt in not explaining references to Jewish customs indicates it was written for a Jewish audience not requiring explanations; he stresses the importance and validity of the Law and also uses Jewish expressions alongwith rabbinic colouring. Luke however is presenting a Gospel to deal with problems peculiar to his situation; for his Gentile readers, he improves Mark's Greek, he also makes changes where necessary, eg. the attitude of Jesus' family to Jesus, the non-fulfilment of the promise of an imminent parousia. The author of Luke and Acts also developed a picture in his writings that showed Christianity presented no threat to the Romans. Therefore they are not accurate accounts, but are purely personal interpretations and presentations of a new faith. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- The observation that Acts and Gal. cannot be reconciled as to Paul's ministry has already been commented upon. Just as a postscript, there is another problem; this is the date of Paul's conversion. Using Acts and Gal together, the following is arrived at:- (1)Paul's conversion (Acts 9:3ff, Gal l:l6)--------------------31 AD. (2)lst visit to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26, Gal l:l8). This was 3 years after conversion (Gal l:l8)------------------------------------------34 AD. (3)2nd visit to Jerusalem (Acts l5:2-4, Gal 2:l-l0). 14 years after lst Jerusalem visit------------------------------------------------48 AD. (4)Paul visits the churches (through Syria and Cilicia to Derbe and Lystra, through Phrygia and Galatia to Troas and Macedonia, through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica (3 weeks-Acts l7:2), to Beroea, then Athens and onto Corinth (Acts l5:40-l8:l). Say 1 year--------------------------49 AD. (NB. This is known as "Paul's second missionary journey"). (5)Paul arrives in Corinth (Acts l8:l); after l years (Acts l8:ll) he then appears before Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia (Acts l8:l2-l6) (NB. Paul leaves Corinth in Acts l8:l8)----------------------------------------------Summer 51 AD. NOTES:- (Nl). With regard to (5), an inscription from Delphi includes a letter from the emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) and in this there is a ref to Gallio as proconsul; the date is the 26th acclamation of Claudius and as the 22nd, 23rd and 24th were all made in 52 AD and the 27th was before August 52 AD - the 26th would therefore be in Spring/Summer 52. The term of office as a proconsul was just one year - beginning in the late Spring or early Summer; therefore as Gallio's time is factually known, the Acts story in chapter 18 can be located in Spring/Summer 51 or 52 - most likely 51. Therefore in dating Paul's life up to Acts l8, it leads up to this specific date as it is absolutely definite. No one disputes this. (Page 32) (N2)In l8:2, Paul meets two Jews who had been expelled from Rome; this edict of banishment was in 49 AD and supports the date given in (4). (N3)Taking Acts and Gal as being accurate, yet more problems arise:- (a)Is the 3 years of Gal l:l8 to be dated from Paul's conversion or his returning to Damascus ? (b)How long did the missionary work in (4) take ? The above includes a year. (c)When does the l4 years in Gal 2:l begin - his conversion (his starting point in the passage) or the lst Jerusalem visit mentioned just before ? Summary:- It appears from the above table that Paul's conversion took place in the year after Christ died and yet much was supposed to have occurred between these events, ie. all that is included in Acts l:l - 9:l. Furthermore the minimum times possible have been allowed in the above so there cannot be any accusation that it has been formulated in a way to presuppose anything. For example, in (4) - it would be most unlikely all this travel- -ling could be done in just one year. If it was (say) two years because there is a fixed point (ie. (5).) as 51 AD which is known to be correct and can't be altered, the starting point has to be moved back to fit in the extra year into the schedule and Paul's conversion is then dated as 30 AD. However that would mean Paul was converted by seeing the risen Christ before he even died. The same applies with Gal l:l8 - if the 3 years begins from Paul returning to Damascus and not the conversion, there would have to be time also included for Paul's antics in Arabia (Gal l:l7) and being included in the time before 51 AD would again would push Paul's conversion back to something like 29 AD. In fact some Christians do state Jesus' death was 33 AD and this would mean Paul was converted by seeing the risen Christ (ie. 29 AD) before Christ had even started his three-year ministry (30 AD) let alone had died and risen. Dating Paul's conversion as 31 AD and Christ's death in 30 AD creates many problems, ie. it is known that the Jewish Passover (8th April - the Jewish l5 Nisan) fell on a Saturday in the year 30 AD; but the Synoptics make it clear that Jesus was crucified on the Passover but the following day was Saturday and they therefore date the Passover as a Friday. The Passover began on Thursday evening (the Jewish day begins the previous evening) and ended Friday evening - ie. Mark l4:l2 to l5:42. In sum, the different narratives cannot be reconciled and appear to be divorced from historical fact. It should also be mentioned that with regard to working out when Paul was converted, that whilst just l year for Paul's 2nd missionary journey was given, others say it was longer, eg. the ultra- evangelical New International Version (Bible) in its schedule of Paul's life says it was 2 years (ie. this then makes Paul's conversion 30 AD). Furthermore they date the time between Christ's ascension and Paul's conversion (ie. Acts l:l-9:l) as SEVEN YEARS. If this figure was used above then it would make Paul's conversion remain as 31 AD (this cannot be changed or made later), but Christ's death/ascension would be 7 years earlier, ie. in 23 AD. However, this cannot be so as Luke (3:1) states that Christ's ministry began in the fifteenth year of Tiberius and as there is no doubt about the time of his rule, the l5th year is definitely 28-29 AD. The question that has to be asked is why the New Test writers have this tremendous difficulty in locating Jesus in a chronological setting ? (Page 33) N.T WRITINGS. There is also the question of the writings in the New Testament canon which were not accepted/used by the early Christians (James, Hebrews, Revelation) but are now accepted, and that Christians reject the writings the early Christians did accept and used (eg. Hermas, Barnabas, the Didache). This in itself shows the church is not interested in sustaining the 'original faith' and has chosen the writings that suits its own teachings. This is all apart from the fact that the church did not even agree to the 27 writings now in the N.T. until Athanasius' Easter Letter of 367 AD, but even then, the dispute continued right on to the 9th century. The Epistle of Jude in the New Test itself uses quotations from two Old Test books not accepted by Christians as being inspired ! ..................................................................... In sum, "There is no evidence for the theory that God is a moral being; what we observe of his laws and operations here indicates strongly that he is not " (Dean Inge). "Religion...can exercise a severe crippling and inhibiting effect upon the human mind, by fostering irrational anxiety and guilt, and by hampering the free play of the intellect". (Dr J C Flugel). "There are matters in the Bible, said to be done by the express commandment of God, that are shocking to humanity and to every idea we have of moral justice....". (Thomas Paine). "There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the life of Jesus. The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the kingdom of God, who founded the kingdom of God upon earth, and died to give his work its final consecration, never had any existence.. He is a figure designed by rationalism, endowed with life by liberalism, and clothed by modern theology in a historical garb....". (Dr Albert Schweitzer. The Quest for the Historical Jesus). "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him; let us worship God through Jesus if we must - if ignorance has so far prevailed that this name can still be spoken in all seriousness without being taken as a synonym for rapine and carnage. Every sensible man, every honourable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror...........". (Voltaire) - E - N - D - ********************************************************************** **********************************************************************


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