Nox's Wall of Text, Part 3.

Nox really wasn’t fooling around with this one! It’s that time again, folks: Prepare to be educated about the buybull and what’s wrong with it (except if you’re Daniel, who also has a giant Biblical brain). Take it away, Nox:

“(3)
If Matthew (assuming for a moment that the author of Matthew is the same person as the apostle Matthew) did not meet Jesus until Matthew 9:9, how was he able to create such a detailed transcription of the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5,6, & 7 (one of the 3 longest red letter passages anywhere in the 4 gospels)? And how does he know what Herod said to the jewish priests, or what the angel said to Joseph, or what the Devil told Jesus in the wilderness?

Even after Matthew hooks up with Jesus, the book tells us that Matthew was not with Jesus during the trial, the crucifixion, the transfiguration, or all those private talks Jesus had with Peter, James and John. The popular christian answer to this question is that “Matthew” and the other biblical authors were working under the inspiration and guidance of the holy spirit. But if this were the case, I have to wonder, why does Matthew get so much sh*t wrong?

Right out of the gate the first words in the first gospel are a bastardized reading of the old testament. Matthew devotes the first 17 verses of his first chapter to a genealogy (of Joseph for some reason) which retells a genealogy from 1st Chronicles 10 except it leaves out 4 generations of the Chronicles genealogy. Immediately after this Matthew (1:22) tells us that Jesus was born of a virgin and that this was a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14.

But if you read Isaiah 7, Jesus is absolutely ruled out of this prophecy. In fact Isaiah makes it very clear that the prophesied child would be born 600 years before Jesus (according to Isaiah 8, he was and his name was Mahershalalhashbaz). The “prophecy” in this case was not even that the virgin would conceive, the young woman conceiving was meant to be a sign of the prophecy. The prophecy itself was that King Ahaz of Judah would be successful in an upcoming battle (according to 2nd Chronicles 28, Ahaz lost that battle and was killed in the aftermath).

Right after this (Matthew 2:5) we get another fulfilled prophecy. Herod asks the priests where the messiah is to be born and they quote Micah 5:2 to him stating that he is to be born in Bethlehem. The 5th chapter of Micah does make mention of Bethlehem, but clearly states that the person who fulfills this prophecy must be a military leader. According to Micah this promised redeemer “shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian”.

By the time Jesus arrived, the Jews were a lot more worried about Romans than Assyrians. The next 2 prophecies come back to back in Matthew 2:15-18 claiming that Jesus living in Egypt is a fulfillment of Hosea 11:1 which is not a prophecy but a past tense statement about the Jewish exodus from Egypt (“When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt”). 3 verses after this Matthew tells us that Jeremiah 31:15 is a prediction of Herod’s slaughter of the innocents.

Jeremiah seems to think differently, and if one reads the chapter in question he is quite explicit that this is a description of the Jewish exile in Babylon (see the book of Daniel). In Matthew 2:23 we are told that Joseph moved to Nazareth “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene”. This one is not a mere misunderstanding. There is absolutely nowhere in the old testament that anyone is called a Nazarene, nor is it predicted anywhere that someone will later be called a Nazarene.

It is either a made up prophecy or it is attempting to quote Judges 13:5 where an angel tells Samson’s parents that their child (Samson, not Jesus) will be a Nazarite (Not even close to the same thing as a Nazarene). There are a couple dozen more of these scattered throughout the 4 books. Every one of them falls apart when you read the passage it claims to be quoting from.”

You can find the first two parts here and here.

Thanks again to Nox for the serious amount of wor and research that went in to his giant wall of text; I wish I could say that it inspired an original response from NAoC, but alas it hasn’t yet.

More to follow….

  • Sunny Day

    Nox made a bunch of good points I’m glad he wrote it and I learned a lot, but I’m also sad it intended target wasted totally wasted on NAoC.

    ” I could say that it inspired an original response from NAoC, but alas it hasn’t yet.”

    It’s obvious he’s/she is only superficially engaged on the subject and prefers to run away instead of actually engaging on any topic. It seems hes not even bothering to read anyone’s replies. He babbled about “opening their spirit” when told exactly what kind of evidence it would take for one of us to believe. The evidence he finally offered up was a story with virtually no corroboration about a guy getting his sight back.

    • Sajanas

      I hang out with a mostly non-religious group, and those that are religious never really engage, in fact, going to the point of just refusing to talk about religion. So I feel bad that such discussions might hurt their feelings or make them uncomfortable, but at the same time the cowardliness of it really bothers me. Its almost as if they admit they’ve got nothing and have lost their argument, but cannot bring themselves to change their fancy ideas.

  • Klaus

    Reading just this part, I can only conclude, that it sounds kind of desperate. I value the Bible as a historical document, giving us an insight into the life of ancient folk, but trying to take it literally makes me cringe. Large part of it is folklore that at one point in time was collected and written down.
    Much of it shows the desire of man to explain life and existence, as well as the need for guidance.
    But such are the stories that the Brothers Grimm collected – stories told over generations, and anyone, who knows human nature knows also, that these tales change in time and often have little left of what the actual origin was. And that also holds true for much of the New Testament – how else could you explain partially significant deviation on events?
    And for the actual content of this text – how could Matthew know?
    He couldn’t. Period. Either way!
    He sure wasn’t present when Herod talked to the priests, since it is quite naive to believe that Herod has members of the opposition around when discussing how to take them down.
    He wasn’t present when the Angel talked to Joseph or when the devil tempted Jesus.
    All of it is 2nd hand info, or more likely run through different sources before he gained that knowledge.
    That all is – like so much in religious discussions, either circular reasoning or wishful thinking.
    It all boils down that you have to believe it, which is the nature of any religion.
    When it comes to proving the believers point of view however, just believing it does not make it true.
    Not even the existence of Jesus as a real person has actually been documented outside of the Bible. And you should think, a guy, that is a thorn in the Roman Administrations side, that runs around and performs wonders, raises the dead and all that, would have gained some notoriety.
    But no. Nothing. Nothing at all – not even a mention anywhere.
    So for me this discussion or better this wall of text has much more of a desperate feel to it, then it is a sound basis for an actual discussion.
    Sorry.

    • http://theskippyreview.wordpress.com Skippy

      Are you saying that Nox’s explanation of the illogicality of Matthew is desperate?

    • Nox

      I think you may have missed my point. It isn’t that I think the bible is all supposed to be taken literally, or that I’m unaware of it’s poetic or literary qualities. It is that a lot of people do take it literally.

      This whole exercise was actually intended to debunk the idea that you are supposed to take the bible literally, and that the bible is literally accurate. In other words, the view of the bible which is held by the majority of christians, including the one this was addressed to. This segment addresses a central claim of christianity (that Jesus was predicted by prophets in the old testament).

      If you want to consider it folklore that’s fine. Much of it is folklore. You’re right about that part. And I’ve often said that while the gospels can’t give us much reliable information about Jesus, they can give us a lot of information about the people who wrote the gospels.

      But let’s keep in mind that this particular book of fables is believed by millions of people to be a literally accurate history of the origins of humanity. Most denominations of the world’s largest religion tell their members this is how the book is meant to be read. Evolution and heliocentrism were fought by the church because they contradicted a literal interpretation of the bible. More than half the people in the U.S. believe the bible is literally accurate and several christian lobbying groups have been quite successful in pushing through legislation (not church law, state law) based on a literal reading of the bible. In this context it is worth pointing out just how cringe inducing an actual literal reading of the text is.

      Dismissing a literal reading of the text as silly is fine if you want to dismiss evangelical christianity altogether. But if you want to have a discussion with evangelicals, it helps to speak their language. In case you don’t believe there are people who actually believe this stuff, you can see one here.

    • Sajanas

      More over, even if you church doesn’t teach you that the Bible is literally true, they all give you a story of Jesus that is essentially a blend of all the stories. But the Jesus of Matthew is not the Jesus of John, being heavily pro-Jewish in the former and anti-Jewish in the later. People assume that the Gospels are complimentary, when they are not, and assume that the interpretations that Christianity is built on are in supported by the Bible, which is really up for some debate. Jesus didn’t teach so much of an afterlife after you die, but of a resurrection and a judgment. Heaven and Hell were added in later, because that didn’t happen. Likewise with the Trinity. Christian religion is based on arguments that were won because of authority, not necessarily persuasiveness, and when you actually stop to examine the Bible thoroughly, not only does it show what a mess it is, but it shows just how little Christianity is shaped by its founder, and how arbitrary current Christian religion is.

      • Mart

        Anti-Jewishness came into pictures after Enlightenment. The whole Bible was written in Jewish context. There is not water-proof evidence for anti-Jewishness anywhere in the Bible as it was mainly written by Jews. Have you probably missed that Jesus was a Jew and John his very best friend! Jesus was called even a great Rabbi. So, these anti- and pro- classifications do not really hold water.

        • Nox

          The old testament was written in a jewish context (with a lot of sh*t ripped off from the babylonians and a few other local cultures). Parts of the new testament were written in a jewish context (or at the very least appear to have been written for a jewish audience). To say “the whole bible was written in jewish context” is anything but waterproof.

      • Francesc

        “it shows just how little Christianity is shaped by its founder”
        I’m confused. By its “founder” you mean Jesus, Paul or Constantine?

  • http://www.flofflach.blogspot.com Flo Fflach

    there can be a difference between an evangelical christian and a fundametalist one. it is the fundamental reading of the bible that does need to be shown up. a historical document has very little to say to any individual, especially on a spritual level. what does noah’s story tell you if read as historical fact? very little i feel.
    I’d say that not all points are a logical argument against Matthew as even today people write books about events where they were not present. Say I was involved in the peace movement from the 80′s I could write about the events from before my involvement.
    There are so many other gospels and writings that have not been included in the bible, what we have is just a particular snapshot chosen by men…some would say guided by god; but it always feels either arbitary or cynical.
    I never had a problem, when I was a bible based christian, squaring creation and evolution – genesis reads a little like evolution. intelligent design is daft.
    I am disturbed by the amount of people who take the bible literally. How do you have dialogue with them? But then there are evangelist fundamental atheists like Richard Dawkins.
    But do keep picking it apart. then only the poetry is left

    • Custador

      There can be, but there often isn’t.

    • Mike

      I guess you could stretch the use of the word ‘evangelist’ to apply to Dawkins, and maybe even describe him as militant. But which ‘fundamentals’ of athesim does he espouse? As far as I am aware, atheism is simply a lack of belief in God or gods….

      • http://www.flofflach.blogspot.com Flo Fflach

        I would say that Dawkins is absolute in his aetheism and his disbelief of things he doesn’t – that science doesn’t yet – understand. Such as dowsing for water. When I hear hm talk I have the same internal reaction that I would do to a person of fundametalist religious beliefs. he is an evangelist in some understandings of the word – very particularly a prothletizer. I think there are different understandings of evangelising [ with note to custador] and different approaches to the bible within christians who call themselves evangelist, the bible as authority is not always a literal, fundamentalist reading. Evangelise is to preach the gospel – tell the world the good news…and convert. I know people who certainly evangelise but don’t read the bible literally, that is within the anglican church. Mind you we could go round and round on meanings of words. It is good to put thoughts down and have them challenged.

        • Sunny Day

          – that science doesn’t yet – understand. Such as dowsing for water.

          Science understands exactly how dowsing dowsing for water works.
          It’s Bunk.

          • http://www.flofflach.blogspot.com Flo Fflach

            a lot of water drilling companies use dowsers round my way. it must work more times than not. my grandfather helped out a lot in finding old ditches. I don’t think it’s magic or anything daft like that I just think it is probably non concious attention to detail in landscape, experience, who knows even smell, but the hazel twig or rods or whatever act as a point of concentration. People think it’s magic when I can forecast the weather, I don’t have to think about it (probably can’t explain it), but it is experience, years of observing. I’m pretty pragmatic about things and don’t believe in supernatural powers, ghosts etc
            Scientist don’t know everything or even agree on everything but they do make quite a lot of sense of the world and I’m damn glad they do. But our experience of the world doesn’t always match what actually is. We say the sun comes up…
            I don;t find Richard Dawkins very questioning – I see little evidence of scepticism, that’s why i said what I said. Frankly I don’t see how you can prove or disprove some sort of god – whatever that means.
            But I do find the number of people who take the Bible as fact, the “literal creationists” a little frightening.

            • Mike

              If you read Dawkins, he is very sceptical; but he is an evolutionary biologist first and foremost (and at the top of his field) and reserves his most scathing attacks on the creatards who dismiss his whole field of work – plus most other scientific disciplines – on the basis of desert fairy-tales. These muppets should ideally be ignored, but as you say, they are frightening – and more than a little! – and in fact need countering, vigorously, wherever they are found. Deliberate ignorance does not deserve respect or consideration.

            • CoffeeJedi

              Ah! You’re actually a bit more of a skeptic than you probably thought. You’re finding naturalistic and human psychological causes for something that’s presented by many as “magic” or “supernatural”. Awesome! You’re drawing a conclusion using critical thinking and only staying within the realm of what we can know and discover. You didn’t have to invent some sort of magical, invisible powers of underground water, sticks, or the human mind; you worked within the framework of what we know to be real.

              So, all we as skeptical atheists do, is take that mindset just one step further, and apply it to EVERYTHING in the universe. When you apply those critical thinking skills to something like a god, the whole thing falls apart. That’s why we don’t seek to “prove” the non-existence of gods, that’s impossible; what we want is repeatable, testable evidence of deities without resorting to the invention of non-falsifiable constructs.

        • CoffeeJedi

          Science understands dowsing for water just fine, it’s called the ideo-motor effect. That’s combined with “confirmation bias”; wherein a person, in this case a practitioner of dowsing, remembers their successes but ignores the failures.

          If water dowsing was real, someone would have won the Randi Million years ago.

          • Custador

            Rather like those insane dowsing devices that were sold to Iraq that could supposedly dowse for explosives. Except they couldn’t do so unless the explosives concerned were in full view of the person doing the “dowsing”. Honestly, calling dowsing “something that science doesn’t yet understand [sic]” is absurd.

        • CoffeeJedi

          “I would say that Dawkins is absolute in his aetheism and his disbelief of things he doesn’t – that science doesn’t yet – understand”

          Oh, btw, that’s not fundamentalist atheism; that right there is called “skepticism”, and it’s a very powerful tool in routing out scam-artists and peddlers of garbage pseudo-science like water dowsers, homeopaths and ghost-hunters.

    • Sajanas

      There are people to this day that, on Good Friday, have themselves whipped and crucified in a recreation of the events described in Matthew or one of the other Gospels.
      Do you think they’d do such a recreation for a metaphor? Or a fictionalized account?

      • Yoav

        I don’t doubt that they believe it to be a real account, but that doesn’t make it so. Some Hindu women probably really believed that by being burned alive with their dead husband they are doing the right thing and will be reunited with him in heaven (other were probably forced into the flames). Some Muslims truly believe that by blowing themselves in a crowded bus they will be reworded with 72 virgins. Do you believe they will be willing to die for a fictional account?

        • Sajanas

          Exactly… its why I really find historical criticism so valuable. Religion is like a sausage, you don’t want to see how its made.

      • Peter Cross

        Do you think they’d do such a recreation for a metaphor? Or a fictionalized account?

        Ever been to a Star Trek convention? Or an SCA event? Cosplay?

        • Custador

          Ding!

      • http://filipinofreethinkers.org/ Twin-Skies

        Sajanas

        You are perhaps referring to the Crucifixion reenactments that happen in my homeland?

        It happens in the Pampanga province, to be exact.

        http://www.thecircumference.org/crucifixion-philippines

    • Nox

      “There can be a difference between an evangelical christian and a fundametalist one.”

      Can be? Absolutely. They are two different concepts, and in theory they do not rely on each other (except for that literal reading of the great commission). But as Custador mentioned, it’s a little harder to separate them in practice. There is a particular reason I used “evangelical” here instead of “fundamentalist”, and I don’t really think I was wrong to do this.

      I just couldn’t see “but if you want to have a discussion with fundamentalists” working there. Partially because few here would want to have such a discussion. But more specifically, I was trying to counter the assertion that pointing out what the bible actually says is “desperate” and not “a sound basis for an actual discussion”.

      Fundamentalists are easy to dismiss. Almost no one refers to themselves as fundamentalist (even those who do claim to believe the bible is literally true). But there is a huge group of mostly fundamentalist christians who refer to themselves as evangelicals (and it is a cornerstone for most of these people that as far as they know they do take the bible literally). Among more enlightened readers of the bible, it is a far too common assumption that almost no one anywhere actually thinks the Earth is 6,000 years old.

      “It is useful to know what the bible literally says if you want to engage with people who literally believe the bible” is a claim so self evident it doesn’t ever need to be said out loud. The claim I was trying making to Klaus is “it is useful to know what the bible literally says if you want to engage with the largest group of christians active in the U.S. today”.

    • Mart

      No-one has really defines as what they mean by taking the Bible literally. There are many genres in the Bible and all of them have different play rules of interpretation. Love language isn´t the same as some research document It is OK to exaggerate in love language and not in research facts.
      However, the “taking Bible literally” seems to mean for many of you accepting supernatural features of the Bible, which should be obvious since we talk about religion. What´s wrong in believing that there is supernatural element in the world? Can it really effect our daily lives, job, career etc differently. Does a pilot who is a Christian make other choices when choosing his route compared to his non-Christian work-mate? Even if I am a quite rational person, I have to admit that nothing of it is able to give me the meaning of life that only religion is able to do.

      • Yoav

        Taking the bible literally is claiming the world as created 6000 years ago in less the a week. The problem start when the literalists try to subvert the teaching of science in order to hide the fact that reality disagree. Literal reading of the line “His blood be on us, and on our children!” led to centuries of persecution against jews. Believing in the supernatural is what makes a suicide bomber push the button, what makes a JW refuse life saving blood transfusion, what make people avoid life saving medical care and go for faith healers and other snake oil peddlers, it what make people murder doctors and risk the life of women for the sake of an undefined ball of cells. You want me to go on?
        If you really believe your life is meaningless without religion, I can only pity you.

      • Francesc

        “Does a pilot who is a Christian make other choices when choosing his route compared to his non-Christian work-mate?”
        Of course, if he flies too high he may find God and He would definitively be pissed with him, remember what happened with Babbel’s tower!
        Or did you mean a pilot who believes choosen parts of the Bible, so that they don’t deny reality?

      • Nox

        http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/literal

        “However, the “taking Bible literally” seems to mean for many of you accepting supernatural features of the Bible.”

        Taking the bible literally means that the events described in the bible are purported to be real events. Taking the bible literally means that if the bible says something happened, the bible actually says said thing actually happened. It has nothing to do with whether the events are supernatural, and everything to do with whether they are metaphorical.

  • Mike