Daniel’s End Times Prediction

Daniel’s End Times Prediction March 21, 2014

Daniel Prophecy 70 WeeksScholars are largely agreed that Daniel’s “prophecies” are actually prophecies after the event. This happens so often that it has its own scholarly name: vaticinia ex eventu.

The book was written in about 165 BCE (as discussed in Part 1 of this topic), not during Daniel’s sixth-century captivity. Though there may be debate on the issue, this late dating is not atheists’ flagrant attempt at avoiding compelling evidence for a miraculous prophecy in the Bible.

Dating of Daniel

More than just the “prophecies” failing after around 165 BCE point to this date. Daniel wasn’t included in the Hebrew Bible’s canon, which was closed around 200 BCE; it wasn’t referenced in the Wisdom of Sirach (c. 180 BCE), which referenced almost every other book of the Old Testament; and it makes errors in the oldest historical claims (for example, it claims that Darius the Mede conquered Babylon, though this king is unknown to history).

Daniel looks very much like other apocalyptic writings of the period such as Baruch, Esdras, and the books of Enoch. These works are not anonymous but are pseudonymous—falsely attributed to a respected figure of antiquity. A “rediscovered” old book from an ancient authority would carry much weight. Many of these books used Daniel’s trick of listing “predictions” from known history so that whatever had yet to occur would seem credible. Finally, these apocalyptic books all predict that our painful age will soon end.

Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy

Daniel 9:24–7 gives the famous prophecy that many think predicts the crucifixion of Jesus. I’ll summarize the claims that it makes, sometimes with a paraphrase, but feel free to check this against the actual text.

I. “Seventy weeks [“week” is used here to mean seven years, not seven days] are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.”

Equating a week with 7 years, like we call 10 years a “decade,” is seen in Greek literature, so this is a reasonable interpretation. The use of 70 comes from Jeremiah’s prophecy that the Judean captives taken to Babylon would return after 70 years.

So we’ve got a long and sinful period of time (seventy weeks of years is 70×7 = 490 years), but things will be great at the end.

II. “From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.”

When does the clock start? From the command to rebuild Jerusalem. When does it end? When the Anointed One comes. This isn’t a messianic reference, however, because “anointed one” can be applied to many people, including the high priest.

Pulling out the 7 weeks is confusing. Is it concurrent with the 62 weeks? If so, why even mention it (except to find a way to get to 70)? Or does the 62 weeks follow the 7-week period? If so, why not just add them together (except as an excuse to use the number 7, the number of completion)? No commentator has a great answer.

III. After 62 weeks, the Anointed One will be put to death.

IV. “The ruler who will come” will destroy (or corrupt) the city and the sanctuary.

V. War will be continuous, and then the end will be swift.

VI. This ruler will make a covenant with many for one final week.

VII. In the middle of this 7-year period, the ruler will prevent Temple offerings. “And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

Christian interpretation #1

Start the clock with the Decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild the temple, given to Ezra in 458 BCE (Ezra 7:11–26). From this date, count ahead 7 weeks and then 62 weeks (69×7 = 483 years). Remembering that there was no year 0, the math is: –458 + 483 + 1 = 26 CE. This is the beginning of the final week, starting when Jesus was baptized.

Halfway through this final week, Jesus (the Anointed One) is put to death, which finishes the “transgression” and brings in “everlasting righteousness.”

The final week ends in 33 CE, with the conversion of Paul and Cornelius and inaugurating the mission to the Gentiles.

Problem 1: There are loads of problems. First, the weeks are off. Even if you infer that the Anointed One will be killed after the 62 weeks which begins after the 7 weeks (which isn’t really what it says), that makes his death in 26 CE, too early. And the first point makes clear that the atonement happens at the end of the 70 weeks, not halfway through the final week. The Anointed One’s death can’t be the atonement, since they’re separated by that final week.

Problem 2: It has no explanation for the destroying “ruler who will come” and the “abomination that causes desolation.”

Problem 3: It makes no sense of the 7 week/62 week distinction. Why not just say 69 weeks?

Problem 4: The decree from Ezra 7 is just one of at least four plausible starting dates. Why this one?

Problem 5: It ignores the overwhelming evidence that the final week was roughly 171–164 BCE (see previous post).

Problem 6: Remember the last time we saw the phrase “abomination that causes desolation”? It was the sacrifice of pigs to Zeus in the Jewish Temple, as ordered by Antiochus Epiphanes. Bringing Antiochus in would address more than this—“the ruler who will come” to destroy, continuous war (the beginning of the Maccabean Revolt), the covenant (Antiochus made agreements with Hellenistic Jewish leaders, splitting them away from the traditionalists), and so on.

Part 2: a different Christian interpretation of this prophecy that claims consequences in our own day here.

  Faith isn’t a virtue;
it is the glorification of voluntary ignorance.
— Anonymous

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • MNb

    “it claims that Darius the Mede conquered Babylon, though this king is unknown to history”


    “It is very likely that the author of Daniel, who wrote in c.165 BCE, was influenced by the Greek view of history, and gave the Medes more importance than they deserved.”
    Cyrus the Great conquered Media several years before he conquered Babylon.
    Of course JL’s explanation only makes sense assuming Daniel was written in the Second Century BCE. Otherwise it’s weird.

  • Castilliano

    The comments are light, so I just wanted to say that I like this post and look forward to the next ones on the topic.
    Cheers, Bob.

    • Much appreciated. I have a couple of others (including a review of “God’s not Dead,” I hope), and then 2 more on Daniel. I look forward to your comments.

      • Castilliano

        I was just reading the IMDB site reviews on that this afternoon.
        It’s a battle between 1’s & 10’s in ranking it, but the funny thing is it’s a battle mainly between Christians. Even a YEC guy chimes in with a ‘1’ because of its horrible stereotypes and poor reasoning.
        Other Christians argue it’s the epitome of what drives people away from Jesus & Christianity. More in your vein, one telling point mentioned is that “Cosmic God” is addressed, but Jesus goes unargued. Huh…
        It warms my heart we have allies (of a sort) among Christians, but the blindness and fervor of the others (especially the Dominionists) is…unsettling.

        • I’m planning to see it Monday. I’m not expecting much, unfortunately.

        • MNb

          That’s a waste of time unless you plan to write a review about it.

        • hector

          A quick glance there showed me plenty of comments attacking atheists and attempting to make all the same stupid, flawed self-righteous arguments against atheism that christians always make. I quickly lost interest in finding the christian comments criticizing the movie. Thanks for doing it so the rest of us don’t really have to.

        • wtfwjtd

          I’m guessing that these same-old same-old arguments for the existence of god are the deist ones, and not theist. How in blazes do you make the leap from deism to the Christian God from those? A real leap of faith, I guess.

  • SparklingMoon

    Daniel’s End Times Prediction is also refered by Jesus himself to recognized
    the end time:
    “When yea therefore shall see the abominations of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet,stand up in the Holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand ).” (Matth. 24:15)

    According to the descriptions of the Bible prophet Daniel appears to have prayed, fasted and supplicated for a given period of time for the restoration of his people and land (Jerusalem). In answer to Daniel’s prayers,Gabriel appeared and said:

    “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon the Holy city,to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy”. (Dan. 9:24) Here Daniel prophesied the period between the time of the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the sealing up of prophecies and visions (for prophethood)to the Jews to be 70 weeks.

    Christian scholars agree that in the study of Biblical prophecy, the period of time called a “day” becomes a year when calculating the actual passing of time. This is further supported by the following verses: “Even forty days, each day for a year”. (Numbers 14:34) “I have appointed thee each day for a year”.(Ezekiel 4:6)

    This formula is generally agreed by scholars of Christianity. Henry James Foreman, in his book The Story of Prophecy, stated that in symbolic prophecy, a day is the symbol of a year. F. Hudgings, in his book Zionism in Prophecy, states that a solar year, of course, contains a fraction over 365 days, but in computing symbolic time, as it is set forth in the scriptures, students of prophecy find that the writer simply divides the year into twelve months of thirty days each. In other words, the time of a year in scriptural symbology refers to 360 solar years, each day representing a year.

    70 weeks times 7 days per week is 490 days which means 490 years. 490 years after the decree to rebuild the temple was issued, Prophet hood to the Jews would be cut off. The decree of the rebuilding of the temple of Jerusalem are.
    First Decree: 536 B.C. by Cyrus. (Ref. Ezra, Ch. 1)
    Second Decree: 519 B.C. by Darjus. (Ref. Ezra, Ch. 6)
    Third Decree: 457 B.C. by Artaxerxes. (Ref. Ezra, Ch. 7)
    Fourth Decree: 444 B.C. by Artaxerxes. (Ref. Nehemiah, Ch.2)
    The fourth decree was actually a computation of the third, as it was issued by the same king.

    The decree for the rebuilding of Jerusalem can be concluded to have happened in 457 B.C. and 490 years later prophethood would be cut off from the Jews. We simply deduct 457 from 490 and we get 33. This is the year in which Jesus left Judaea and since then no prophet has been sent to the Jews as had been informed by God Almighty in the prophecy of prophet Daniel.

    • SparklingMoon

      Daniel had prophesied the exact time of the coming of Messiah in this end times as we read:
      “Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spoke, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and how long the transgression of desolation, to give both sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?” “And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” (Dan. 8:13-14) This prophecy predicts 2300 days, which in turn becomes 2300 years. 2300 years from the last decree to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem brings us to the year 1843.

      It is clear beyond doubt that around 1844, Christians around the world expected the return of the Messiah. What leads these Biblical scholars to 1844 are also the following Biblical prophecies: “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be lead away captive into all nations: And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And there shall be
      signs …. .. of heaven shall be
      shaken.” “And then
      shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with we power and great glory”. (Luke 21:24-27)

      Verse 24 was indeed a frightening prophecy for the Jews as Jesus informed the Jews that they would be totally and thoroughly destroyed and banished from the land of Jerusalem. Jerusalem would then be
      controlled by the Gentiles for a set period of time. This came to
      pass in the year 70 A.D. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman Titus and the Jews were scattered and exiled. Around the year 132 A.D. the Jews, under the leadership of a man called Bar Cochba, tried to regain their freedom but were completely crushed by the army of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Jerusalem was devastated even more completely than before. The site of the city was ploughed under and a new city, named in honour of Hadrian was built upon the ruins. As stated in verse 24, many Jews fell by the edge of the sword, they fled, scattered and were lead away captive into all nations. Under Roman law, for a Jew to enter Jerusalem was a crime punishable by death. The first part of the prophecy of Christas in Luke 21:24 was fulfilled. The Jewish people lost their homeland as prophesied by Jesus. The Romans remained in control of Jerusalem until the year 637 when Muslim rule came into effect. During the period of their rule, Jews were still largely excluded from their homeland and the few remaining were being proscribed. Remarkable as it may seem, the restriction upon the Jews was lifted when Turkey signed the edict of Tolerance, allowing the Jews to enter Jerusalem. The date of this document is March 21, 1844.

      • Mark Martin

        so if you’re right about all of this, then where is jesus? shouldn’t he have come back by now if the prophecy is true?

        • Kodie

          Maybe he already came back and took a handful of people, and so that’s finished, there is no more.

        • hector

          That’s sort of the Doherty-Carrier mythicist theory of how Jesus was concocted in the first place. As far as I understand it, the idea goes that the Jews were waiting for a Messiah to come and free them from the Romans, but many Jews felt they had been waiting far longer than they should have, and while reading the scriptures for clues as to what was taking so long felt that they had found evidence telling them that the Messiah had already come. But instead of freeing the Jews from the Romans, he was offering something different and better. A new improved Messiah! He had come in the sense that he was a divine being related to God who was killed by the minions of Satan somewhere in the sky and was then resurrected, as a result of which people were being offered eternal life in heaven after they died, instead of a measly end to Roman rule on earth. And all this was thought to have happened already, but now people were just figuring it out and, wouldn’t you know, receiving revelations to confirm what they were figuring out.

          So I say leave it to some modern christian to argue that the rapture, second coming, what have you, has already taken place, it was just different (and hence way better!) than what christians thought it was going to be, and it happened in outer space, or some such thing. I’m sure they’ll work out the details in the usual way.

          The real question is will this satisfy the rubes? Probably not. It didn’t satisfy the Jews either, never winning them over and ultimately only thriving after it divorced from judaism.
          But I to wonder why modern christians seem so eager for the rapture/second coming to happen NOW anyway. Christianity’s promise of eternal life after death seemed to be all that was needed to keep christianity going. What more do they really want? Why is what happens on earth so important to them? Why do they care so much about the second coming when they think they are going to heaven when they die anyway? Stay tuned.

        • Kodie

          I wasn’t thinking this explanation would be satisfactory to anyone, just that it’s kind of funny if they’re waiting for the bus to pick them up but it already came.

        • hector

          I know what you were getting at. And you are right – who is to say that the rapture – as christians conventionally conceive it – hasn’t already happened and the christians we see around us right now were all, gasp, left behind. Funny stuff for sure.

          It just got me thinking about how a believer can always turn a spectacular fail into a win, which is one hypothesis for how christianity got started in the first place.

        • wtfwjtd

          Maybe that’s where all this interest in “prophecy” comes from; maybe we missed something, let’s go back and take another look at the scriptures, and see what we “missed”. So, let’s invent all this “rapture” business, embellish on it, and keep people’s interest.

          Funny thing is, the coming of Jesus to earth is mentioned like 40 + times in the NT outside the gospels, and nowhere is it called a “second coming”. It’s just referred to as his coming, or as a “revelation”–that is, something being revealed for the *first* time. So yeah, the idea of a “second” coming is a post-gospel invention, and was not something that Paul or the other NT writers came up with.

          “It just got me thinking about how a believer can always turn a spectacular fail into a win,”

          Christianity truly is the ultimate unfalsifiable hypothesis to the hard core believer, and the bible really is a sock puppet that will say whatever you want to believe it says.

        • hector

          Maybe Bob can give us a post (or maybe he already has) about why all this eschatology was so important to the writers of the gospel. It seems to me that christianity’s core message was ‘stop worrying about the Romans and about getting rid of them. The Messiah has come to offer you a much better prize – eternal life’. So I’m not sure why the eschatology had to be tacked onto that message.

          One explanation I can thing of off hand was that it was a further way to keep people’s minds focussed on the prize instead of the here-and-now, i.e. it’s especially foolish to worry about the Romans when God is going to bring an end to everything in the near future anyway.

          But them I’m reminded that Jesus talks about even heaven coming to an end, not just earth. There’s also uncertainty as to the difference between Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God. What’s that about?

        • Greg G.

          Paul discusses his eschatology in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, and Philippians 3:20-21. Nearly every concept in those passages can be found in Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13, Daniel 12:2, and Isaiah 25:8 pretty much in that order for each. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, he mentions what is supposed to happen with “we who are alive”, showing he expected it to happen in his lifetime.

          It seems to me that Paul thought that Jesus had been crucified and resurrected in the ancient past from his time but was coming back as the conquering Messiah any day now. Many Jews had been expecting that since Babylonian times due to the verses about God promising that David’s seed always would be on the throne and they continued writing prophecies that the Messiah would come to take it back. Daniel was another one of those for the Greeks. Paul, and presumably the other apostles as they had disagreements but not on this topic, expected the Messiah to conquer the whole world.

        • hector

          I originally included in my comment ‘perhaps eschatology was just expected because it was found in the earlier scriptures as well and needed to be addressed’ but I deleted that. It seems I might have been on the right track.

          So perhaps early christianity did still believe that the messiah was coming to kick the Romans out and it was only after a few decades had passed with no kicking of Roman ass (quite the opposite in 70 CE, in fact) that the idea took root that it was the after life, Kingdom of Heaven, however it was conceived, that was the true gift of the messiah and it was time to stop worrying about the Romans. Is it possible that the events of 70 CE were what inspired the writing of the gospels in the first place?

          I really should sit down and re-read the letters of Paul. It’s just that I find them tedious and I am always half asleep before I get very far. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting, Greg.

        • Greg G.

          Paul expected the dead to be raised first and then the living and they would all be changed. In 1 Corinthians 15:50, Paul says “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”

          Paul mentions the kingdom of God in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19:21 in a rant about sins. Mark gave a similar rant to Jesus in Mark 7:20-23.

          I found this footnote here:

          19Cf. W. F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity (Baltimore,
          1946), p. 287. The assumption of the “Consistent Eschatology” of
          Johannes Weiss and Albert Schweitzer is that Jesus’ idea of the kingdom
          of God is practically identical with the sort of kingdom found in these
          apocalypses. “The thoroughgoing application of Jewish eschatology to
          the interpretation of the teaching and work of Jesus has created a new
          fact upon which to base the history of dogma. . . . The Gospel is at its
          starting-point exclusively Jewish-eschatological” (A. Schweitzer, Paul
          and His Interpreters [English trans., London, 1912], p. ix).

          EDIT: I should add the relevant sentence that leads to that footnote:

          On the one hand, it is sometimes said that the period between 168 B.C. and 100 A.D. swarmed with eschatologists;[19]

        • hector

          So does this mean that Paul didn’t think of the dead as going to heaven right away but as first going through a period of being dead in the ground only to be raised up near the end times, kind of like suspended animation?

          I’ve never really understood what the Kingdom of God is supposed to be exactly. In some ways it just seems to be another term for what christians commonly refer to as ‘heaven’. But it seems odd that the all-powerful creator of the universe doesn’t actually include the earth as part of his kingdom. If earth is meant to be the “Kingdom of Man” in christianity then maybe christians need to re-think their indifference or opposition to environmentalism.

        • Greg G.

          1 Thess 4:15 “we who are living… shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.

          1 Thess 4:16 the dead in Christ will rise first.

          Paul gets this from

          Isaiah 26:19 Your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise.
          O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
          Daniel 12:2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake

          so he does get that the dead are in the ground.

          Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven…

          Everybody gets a new body:

          Philippians 3:21 He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.

          All the gospels use “kingdom of God”. Only Matthew and the Gospel of Thomas use “kingdom of heaven” but I suspect they are all referring to heaven.

          The ancient idea of the structure of the heavens was that earth was the lowest and there were levels of heaven above it. I think the structure from Genesis was 3 levels but the Greeks thought of 7. Doherty seems to think the first century Christians may have had the Greek version, which makes some sense since they wrote in Greek. Paul talks about trippin’ to the third heaven. I don’t know if he meant the Hebrew third heaven (the top) or the Greek third heaven (not even halfway to the top).

          One could look at the “earth” being the universe and heaven being a spiritual dimension but they didn’t see it that way 2000 years ago.

          Fundies think God gave them dominion over the earth and that means it was for exploitation without responsibility for maintenance.

        • wtfwjtd

          These passages also make clear why for several hundred years that fundies (and others) have been very resistant to the idea of cremation of the body after death, and also the idea of a “proper Christian burial” is held in high esteem. The idea here being, if your physical body was dismembered or destroyed, then there would be nothing substantial to resurrect. I think they have moved away from this idea in modern times, and made the resurrection dogma more of an ephemeral and/or symbolical event, rather than a literal resurrection of actually buried bodies.

        • Greg G.

          I heard that when Jesus was telling the disciples that there would be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, Bartholomew asked, “But what about those who have no teeth?”

          Jesus replied, “Teeth will be provided!”

        • A great story, but a hoax, I’m afraid.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks. I’d forgotten that part. I enjoy telling it for its own humor. Paul Harvey should have done it for one his “and now you know… the rest of the story” monologues.

        • wtfwjtd

          Hey Greg, wasn’t it Albert Schweitzer that basically stated that he thought that Jesus was a good match for his time, but that the time had now passed, and his message doesn’t really apply to the modern world anymore? That’s kinda what I was referencing to in my above comment on Kodie’s post.

        • Greg G.

          I haven’t read any of Schweitzer’s work but the theology section on his Wikipedia page agrees with you. I am more impressed with him just from the Wikipedia article. All they told us in school was the “Dr. Livingston, I presume” story. I learned on my own a few things but I see I have missed a lot.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, I was pretty surprised when I read that too, it’s not something that is given much attention it seems.

        • MNb

          Pssst – the “Dr. Livingston, I presume” story is not about Schweitzer, but about Stanley. Schweitzer is the hospital in Lambarene guy (I had a great-aunt working there for him).

        • Greg G.

          That’s right. Thanks. I got the answer right on the test in 5th grade when it mattered most, at least. 80) That was forty-mumble years ago.

        • Greg G.

          I found a prior instance of “the kingdom of God” in Wisdom of Solomon 10:10:

          When a righteous man fled from his brother’s wrath,
          she guided him on straight paths;
          she showed him the kingdom of God,
          and gave him knowledge of holy things;
          she prospered him in his labors,
          and increased the fruit of his toil.

          “She” refers to Wisdom.

        • Matt. 25 (parable of the sheep and the goats) refers to the “kingdom”:

          inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world

          Seems that the afterlife was a moving target during this time.

        • Greg G.

          I notice that the last verse of that parable

          Matthew 25:46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

          brings us back to Daniel

          Daniel 12:2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

        • Greg’s been more useful than I could be on this subject.

          Note, however, that the apocalyptic movement during the intertestamental period was a big deal. Daniel was just one of several books written during this time that spoke of an imminent end (there were other common traits, but that’s an important one for this post).

          What’s surprising, given the fairly recent Harold Camping fiasco, is someone confidently blabbing on about the end in just a few years, knowing that if that time comes without the end, he’ll look stupid. Somehow, that doesn’t seem to be a factor. And indeed, taking Daniel as an example, I guess they don’t look stupid.

        • wtfwjtd

          As Greg noted above, they may look stupid to us “outsiders” with their failed predictions, but they just sell more books to the faithful! Each end-time prediction is a profit opportunity from their gullible flock, there’s always a way to cobble together another “this time for sure” shtick. The more things change…

        • Pofarmer

          Any way you look at it, christianity started out as a religion of defeat.

        • wtfwjtd

          That really is a great description of Christianity these days isn’t it? The bus already came and went, and most don’t even realize it. Funny, a scholar/missionary named Albert Schweitzer said basically the same thing in the 19th century.

        • SparklingMoon

          , just that it’s kind of funny if they’re waiting for the bus to pick them up but it already came.
          It is not only Jesus but all other prophets like Lord Krishna, Zoroaster, Buddha, Confucius ,Lao-tzu etc. had made prophcies for their second coming or re-advent in later days in the form of Messiah and Muslims also have a wait for a Messiah according to the prophecy of Prophet of Islam.The time informed by all these prophets about this advent of Messiah( in their prophecies )is the same one; the mid of the 19th century (1850).

          Secondly, I think it is not funny but painful to know that a person for whom nations waited for centuries and he appeared on time but had been mostly rejected and denied by the people of his time as other prophets in their times. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had written: “Today my people do not recognize my status;The day will come when they will recall my blessed time with tears.” Jesus had also told a sign about his second coming in the form of Messiah: ”Then will appear the Sign of the Son of Man in the sky; and then will all the nations of the earth lament, when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with great power and glory.(Matthew, 24:30). ”The meaning of this verse is: Jesus (on whom be peace) says that a time will come when, from heaven, viz. as a result of the power of divine intervention, there would come into being knowledge, arguments and evidence which will invalidate the beliefs of Jesus’ divinity, his death on the Cross and his going up into heaven and coming again; and that heaven will bear witness against the lies of those who denied his being a true prophet. For example, the Jews and who,on the other hand, regarded him,because of his crucifixion, as a man accursed,for the fact of his not having suffered death on the Cross and therefore of his not being accursed would be clearly established; that then all the nations of the earth, who had exaggerated or detracted from his true status would become greatly ashamed of their error; that, in the same age, when this fact would be established, people would see Jesus’ metaphorical descent to the earth, i.e., in those very days the Promised Messiah, who would come in the power and spirit of Jesus, would appear with all the lustrous signs, and heavenly support and with the power and glory which would be recognized.” (Jesus in India)

        • Kodie

          Yeah, it’s funny that they’re waiting for someone to save them but nobody is coming. I don’t know why it’s not funny to you, maybe because you also believe similar things and I don’t. If religion wasn’t such a false and dangerous motivation, it would be 100% funny that there are people who believe there is such a thing as a heavenly savior who is coming to fix them and take them to a better vacation spot. Have you been to earth lately?

        • SparklingMoon

          It is not mistake of God but of those people who first change their religion and then expect to turn the plan of God according to their own wishes. For Example if Jews still waiting for Elijah prophet to come down somewhere above with the same physical body then it is their own mistake . Their forefathers had not accepted Jesus as a Messiah for the waiting of Elijah from sky. Jesus had cleared them the meanings of second coming of a previous prophet by telling that Elijah had been sent already by God in the form of ‘John the Baptist’ but they had not accepted this meanings of second coming. They as a result became deprive of to recognized the truth of Jesus. Jews are still waiting for Elijah that after him Jesus could be sent by God ( two thousand years had been passed away but no Elijah had been sent from sky to fulfill their unnatural wish ). Is it mistake of God or ?

          I mean,people should understand God and His plan by His revelation for their guidance. Christian are doing the same mistake as Jews had made. They are also waiting for the same old Jesus who should appear from sky with his same physical body. This unnatural conception about the coming of a previous prophet had made them deprive of to recognize the Messiah of time( who had been sent o by God on time according to His promise).The explanation of Jesus for the second coming of Elijah is a guideline for his followers to understand the meanings of his second coming in this time.

        • Kodie

          Your fairy tale beliefs are absolutely no different.

        • SparklingMoon

          Any Example?

        • Pofarmer

          Honestly, most of your stuff is so crazy, it’s hard to pick a jumping off point. You take the crazy of christianity, then do multiple appeals to authority, and ramp it up to eleventy,

        • SparklingMoon

          I am always there to explain If you have any question about the stuff you find something crazy. I think the difference between you and me is that I mostly consult holy books of different religions to find truth about all matters that relate to religion and you may be from the books of worldly writers.

        • Kodie

          That you know a lot of different brands of bullshit doesn’t mean you are closer to finding any truth in any matters that relate to religion.

          You know what the books say and you picked one you liked. It was not revealed to you, you just formed a strong, probably influenced externally, opinion about one of them. What is your opinion worth?

        • SparklingMoon

          The system of our world and its progression is closely related to opinions. Human progress has reached to this stage by the share of opinions as they help to improve human reason. All opinions are worth in the end that keep its foundation on laws of God as they are the only source of truth.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what you said, it sounds like you pulled it from your butt and it doesn’t make sense in English. Want to try again?

        • Since the books of science have a good track record and those of religion have none, I think reading the books of science makes more sense.

        • SparklingMoon

          You are right that books of science have a good track record but this record belong to physical world mostly and benefits and help in the matters of physical life. This record has no interest to talk directly about an other world that is a spiritual one but exists and works equally beside (or in other words is a foundation for) this physical world. Religion basically talks about this spiritual world and its close relation to human prosperity. It guides people to use this spiritual world also for their benefit .

          No doubt, the record of religious books is not clean and shows human interference but one thing is very important to note that this human interference has not deprived them from all truth as it is against the tradition of God to remove all sources of guidance for their people. There exist enough material still for a seeker to find truth. These holy books are not against science but it is human interpretations of their verses that has made them against science.

        • books of science have a good track record but this record belong to physical world mostly and benefits and help in the matters of physical life.

          Doesn’t Allah care about reducing misery in this world? He’s not lifting a finger to help out; it’s a good thing that secular thinking is doing so.

          This record has no interest to talk directly about an other world that is a spiritual one but exists and works equally beside (or in other words is a foundation for) this physical world.

          And, for the thousandth time, you make a bold claim, crying out for evidence, but you don’t back it up with anything. Why bother?

          There exist enough material still for a seeker to find truth.

          Agreed. And this seeker has concluded that religion is nonsense.

        • SparklingMoon

          And, for the thousandth time, you make a bold claim, crying out for evidence, but you don’t back it up with anything.
          A message for this crying for evidence in following words:
          ”As God has invested man with the faculty of reason for the understanding, to some degree,of elementary matters, in the same way God has vested in him a hidden faculty of receiving revelation. When human reason arrives at the limit of its reach, then at that stage God Almighty, for the purpose of leading His true and faithful servants to the perfection of understanding and certainty, guides them through revelation and visions. Thus the stages which reason could not reach are traversed by means of revelation and visions, and seekers after truth thereby arrive at full certainty. This is the way of Allah, to guide to which Prophets have appeared in the world. Without treading this path, no one has ever arrived at true and perfect understanding. But a poor dry philosopher is in such a hurry that he desires everything to be disclosed at the stage of reason. He does not know that reason cannot carry a burden beyond its strength, nor can it step further than its capacity. He does not reflect that, to carry a person to his desired excellence, God Almighty has bestowed upon him not only the faculty of reason but also the faculty of experiencing visions and revelations. It is the height of misfortune to make use of only the elementary means out of those that God has, out of His Perfect Wisdom, bestowed upon man for the purpose of recognizing God, and to remain ignorant of the rest. It is extremely unwise to let those faculties atrophy through lack of use and to derive no benefit from them. A person who does not use the faculty of receiving revelation and denies its existence cannot be a true philosopher, whereas the existence of this faculty has been established by the testimony of thousands of the righteous and all men of true understanding have arrived at perfect understanding through this means.

        • Kodie

          I mean,people should understand God and His plan by His revelation for
          their guidance. Christian are doing the same mistake as Jews had made.
          They are also waiting for the same old Jesus who should appear from sky
          with his same physical body. This unnatural conception about the coming
          of a previous prophet had made them deprive of to recognize the Messiah
          of time( who had been sent o by God on time according to His promise).

          You consider Christians more lost than delusional, for one thing. Instead of coming to a rational conclusion about these stories, you just think everyone is focusing on the wrong message or misheard and you are correcting them to your own brand of faith. You sound lost! AND delusional.

        • SparklingMoon

          I had asked about this comment you had written ‘Your fairy tale beliefs’ but! If you mean by fairy tales the second coming of Jesus or Elijah then I will say that neither it is a fairy tale nor followers of Jesus are delusional in this matter. They are not alone people in the world who are waiting for this Messiah. His coming is a very important issue of religious world of this time and the followers of about all great religions are eagerly waiting for this Messiah and their great expectations are connected to his coming.

        • Pofarmer

          He’s been supposed to be coming for 2000 years. It. Ain’t. Happening.

        • Kodie

          Yes, in response to a comment that I thought it would be funny if Jesus had already come and chosen a handful of people, and they are still expecting him to come for them. I think that’s hilarious. And I think it is delusional to think Jesus was coming, for them or for anyone else. It’s wishful thinking and a lot of theology has been based on rumors and legends and portrayed as facts that we need to respect. I don’t. It is childish, and I can’t believe there are billions of grown adults with some fixation or other on some other world and some other beings that control the happenings on this world from beyond. That’s like saying you believe there’s a monster under your bed, and Santa Claus keeps a list of who is naughty and who is nice.

          I’m not completely ignorant that the Messiah coming is a great expectation and important event in the lives of the religious; I am stating categorically that they are deluded. They have been expecting it for a while. They think it’s going to save them from … ? I’m not sure. Salvation is not what it is, it’s what it is salvation from, and that’s one thing – hell. A severe and cruel punishment for the bad luck of being born. Not for another thing, but most Christians seem to be pretty secure that they’re getting picked and rather able to distinguish between their right kind and another’s wrong kind. They think each other have misinterpreted and are dooming themselves, and that includes you. They would not hesitate to say exactly as you do about them – they have sadly interpreted their fairy tale wrong and only Sparkling Moon has the correct vision.

          You don’t even consider that none of these interpretations are correct. That they all sound like promises that can’t be kept from a being that isn’t there in a place that doesn’t exist, and apparently takes a special kind of person to get through the gobbledy-gook and have confidence in your favorite interpretation.

        • Greg G.

          You are correct when you point to the motes in the eyes of Jews and Christians but you are overlooking the beam in your own eye.

        • SparklingMoon

          For Example?

        • Greg G.

          For example, elsewhere in this article’s comments you said:

          It is a mistake to see the truth of Jesus and his teachings in the mirror of Paul who had no claim of having revelation of God and even his activities were rejected by the true followers of Jesus in the very beginning of his mission.

          In 1 Corinthians 7:10-12, Paul says:

          10 To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) –and that the husband should not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.

          Paul is trying to explain what the Lord said in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 to Gentiles who are not under the Hebrew law. So he is telling them that there is no provision for the women to separate from her husband.

          Mark 10:11-12 has Jesus saying the same thing to the disciples:

          11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.

          Matthew 5:31-32 and Luke 16:18 omitted the wife divorcing her husband because it couldn’t be done under Jewish law. It makes no sense for Jesus to have said that. Mark borrowed the line from Paul.

          In Galatians 2, Paul recounts an argument he had with Peter in Antioch where Paul called Peter a hypocrite because he continued to follow the Jewish food laws.

          In Mark 7:1-23, Jesus has a similar argument with the Pharisees. If that incident had actually happened, Peter would have agreed with Paul. This is another case where Mark put Paul’s words into Jesus’ mouth.

          Besides, it all started with the Pharisees questioning Jesus about his disciples not washing their hands and utensils before they ate. Jesus told them it didn’t matter because what went went into their stomach didn’t defile them because it passed on. This would have been a good time to teach the importance of food safety if Jesus was wise.

          Then there is the story from Mark 2:23-28 where some Pharisees accuse Jesus and the disciples of doing something wrong on the sabbath, though it isn’t clear exactly what, as if Pharisees had nothing better to do on a sabbath day but hide in a grain field. Jesus uses the example of 1 Samuel 21:1-9 to justify not that the sabbath was made for humans, not humans for the sabbath. Jesus expects that the Pharisees know the story but he does not. He claims that David shared the bread from the temple with his companions. If you read the back story, King Saul was paranoid and wanted to kill David so he was running away alone. He lied to Ahimelech about having companions. There’s nothing in the story that says David entered the house of God but the details show he did not. There’s nothing that says it was the sabbath, it only says that the bread that David was given had been removed from the tabernacle on the sabbath. If Jesus really made that argument, the Pharisees would say that consequences of what David did got everybody in the village slaughtered in the next chapter so it would be an object lesson for why one should obey the sabbath laws.

          It is actually Jesus of the gospels who mirrors Paul’s arguments where they make less sense than when Paul said them. Jesus’ arguments are wrong and they are dangerous to your health.

          Many of Jesus’ teachings can be found in the Old Testament and the deuterocanonical works. Why would a divinely inspired prophet go to all the trouble of having a ministry if all he can do is repeat what was already written long ago. Why not bring new knowledge? Why not say slavery is wrong?

          You can only pretend that the teachings of Jesus in the gospels were actually said by him. If we have to have knowledge of what is right and wrong before we can determine what Jesus said and what he wouldn’t have said, what would the point in trying to learn from the Bible if we have to know it to begin with?

          The beams in your eye, the Jews’ eyes, and the Christian’s eyes are that each of you must assume you know more than you actually know and that the other guy is wrong.

        • MNb

          “It is not mistake of God”
          Correct. God doesn’t exist hence can’t make mistakes.

        • Pofarmer

          Short bus.

        • Pofarmer

          I guess I need to read some criticism of “not the impossible faith”. But I think he lays out quite plausibly how and why christianity started a) among the gentiles and b) with not proof necesary

        • SparklingMoon

          It is claimed by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(1835-1908) in India: ”The light that illuminates the hearts also descends from heaven. Ever since God created man, He has ordained that, to unite mankind, He shall bestow the light of His awareness upon one of them at every time of need, and shall speak to him, and make him drink the cup of His love, and show him His chosen path, and grant him the eagerness to invite others towards the light, love and insight that has been given to him, so that they, too, may become part of him, and guard themselves against sin, and share his awareness, and attain the heights of piety and purity.

          In accordance with this time-honoured law, God has already foretold through His Prophets that, at the end of the sixth millennium after Adam-when a great darkness would envelope the earth, and the deluge of sin would inundate the land,and hearts would become devoid of love for God-He will breathe into a man the spirit of truth and love and awareness, just like in the case of Adam, without resorting to any physical means. And this man will also be called the Messiah because God shall Himself anoint his soul with His love.Let it be known that I am that Messiah. Let him who will, accept me.

          The actual mission for which God has appointed me is to remove the estrangement that has come between man and his Creator and re-establish a relationship of love and sincerity between him and his Lord. He has also appointed me to put a stop to religious wars by proclaiming the truth, to create religious harmony, to reveal the religious truths that have long remained hidden from mortal eyes, and to display the true spirituality that lies submerged under the darkness of selfish passions.”

          I am not of this world. But those, whose souls are akin to the next world,do and will accept me. He who withdraws from me withdraws from Him who has sent me. He who joins me joins Him from Whom I come. I hold a light in my hand. Those who come to me must receive their share of this light.” (Lecture Lahore by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian India.)

        • MNb

          “The actual mission for which God has appointed me ….”
          Given the average lack of response your mission is a failure. But with your god at your side I assume you will persist without bothering if anyone reads your drivel. I never read an entire post of yours because you’re irrelevant and boring. You produce nothing but baked air.

        • hector

          “Your mission, should you choose to accept it …” Mission impossible indeed.

        • Greg G.

          The actual mission for which God has appointed…

          That reminds me of Galatians 1:

          11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[d] that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

          15 But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son to me,[e] so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.

          Paul also made predictions about the Messiah coming within his lifetime. They didn’t work out either.

          No matter how convincing someone sounds when they claim they are making predictions based on this or that scripture, they should show their methodology. Combining cherry-picked verses into a narrative is a recipe for fertilizer.

        • SparklingMoon

          Paul also made predictions about the Messiah coming within his lifetime. They didn’t work out either.
          New Testament shows a great contradiction between the sayings of Jesus and Paul. True followers of Jesus should follow the teachings of Jesus as he was appointed by God for their guidance.The fountainhead of the sayings of a prophet is always the revelation of God and his prophecies are fulfilled by God Almighty himself as it is He Who informed His prophet about His future plan for human guidance .

          No doubt, according to the descriptions of New Testament Paul had struggled a much to delivered his message.The question is not what paul had struggled to do. The question is, what was the intention of Jesus himself? What was the design of God Who sent Jesus? This nobody can express better than Jesus himself.

          It is a mistake to see the truth of Jesus and his teachings in the mirror of Paul who had no claim of having revelation of God and even his activities were rejected by the true followers of Jesus in the very beginning of his mission. We can not take each and every word of Gospels as a revelation of God but the sayings of Jesus that are described in his own words in Gospels are a good source for a person to find truth about God and His plan.

        • Pofarmer

          Teh crazy is strong with this one.

      • Greg G.

        If you play with numbers like that, you can many, many dates. There probably hasn’t been a generation that hasn’t made claims of the scriptures saying the Messiah was on his way to earth since Babylon. Playing with different numbers, arbitrarily picking a start date, and interchanging the units can tune the date to whatever you want. Five thousand years from now, weeks won’t be years, they’ll be saying weeks are centuries. In seventy thousand years, weeks will mean millenia. They’ll still be waiting 80, 000 years from now.

        We remember Camping and Phelps who expected to see the coming of Christ. Some guy wrote a book titled 88 Reasons the Rapture Will Happen in 1988 . The sequel was called 89 Reasons the Rapture Will Happen in 1989 . Christians always think where Jesus said “this generation shall not pass” refers to their generation.

        EDIT: Edgar Whisenhunt wrote 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Happen in 1988 and the sequel. I had a couple of words incorrect in my memory.

        • Pofarmer

          I guess it only took one reason why not.

        • wtfwjtd

          Now that’s funny Greg, the guy already had the book written and its sequel, so he was sure to capitalize on a great opportunity!

          Bullwinkle: “Hey Rockie, watch me pull a rabbit outta my hat!”

          Rockie: “Again?”
          Bullwinkle: “This time for sure….”
          etc etc etc…

        • Greg G.

          I’m writing a book called 14 Reasons the Rapture Will Not Happen in 2014.

          1. 2000 years is two millenia. Seven is an important number in Judeo-Christian mythology. Two time seven is fourteen. Add the 2000 and you have 2014. There’s no justification for any of those manipulations. It’s just throwing out a few buzzwords and associated numbers combined in a way to get the numbers I targeted.

          2. The Book of Daniel says it will be 70 weeks but Psalm 90:4 says a thousand years in God’s sight is like a day. Seventy weeks is 490 days so the Messiah won’t be coming for nearly a half million (~488,000) years.

          If you want to see the rest, you’ll have to buy the book after I make up some more BS.

        • hector

          If only we still had the Sybelline Books. Then we’d be able to predict these things with real accuracy. *sigh*

        • You forgot this one: 2014 factors into 2 x 1007. 1007 factors into 19 x 53. 19 and 53 mean absolutely nothing in Old Testament numerology. Double that (to get back to 2014), and you got a whole lotta nothin’.

          Move along, people. Nothing to see here.

        • Greg G.

          Pretend that 70 weeks means 70 years, add that to 1953, and there you have it… the Rapture will be in 2023, and not 2014. QED

        • Publish!!

      • Greg G.

        Here’s a list of failed end of the world predictions, many based on the Bible. The Millerites predicted the end of the world in 1844. They considered the continuation of the world to be The Great Disappointment.

        • SparklingMoon

          The Millerites predicted the end of the world in 1844.They considered the continuation of the world to be The Great Disappointment.
          This time of 1844 actually relates to the prophecy Jesus had made about his second coming in the form of Messiah (in the beginning of 7th Millennium of religious evolution) and he had also told some signs, for his followers, to recognize this time . It is wrong to relate this end time to the destruction of our earth or solar system. Human beings are living on earth from million years and God, according to his tradition, used to send prophets for their guidance. It is a mistake to consider that God, had no relation to His people who were before six seven thousand years of out time or He had no care for their guidance. This Start and End time in religious evolution had accorded many many times on earth but had never brought any end to earth or earthly life. The end time relates to the end of 7 millennium.

          As there is a system of evolution works in all worldly affairs for progress as there runs a circle of evolution in religion also that completes in seven thousand years and starts again from beginning. According to all Divine scriptures, the seven millenniums have been divided as follows: ”First millennium: for the spread of guidance and virtue. Second millennium: for dominance of Satan. Third millennium: for the spread of guidance and virtue.( As in the middle of this millennium Prophet Moses appeared for guidance.) Fourth millennium:for the dominance of Satan. Fifth millennium:for the spread of virtue (this was the millennium in which Prophet of Islam appeared for the reformation of mankind ). Sixth millennium: for the release and dominance of Satan This millennium extends from the end of the third century of the Islamic era to the beginning of the fourteenth. ( from 950 C.E to1850 C.E ) Seventh millennium: for the supremacy of God and His Messiah, spread of virtue and faith and righteousness, establishment of the Unity of God and Divine worship, and dominance of every virtue.” (Lecture Lahore)

  • wtfwjtd

    Back in my fundie days, whenever it came to Daniel, I always though that trying to make sense of some of this “prophecy” stuff was always a stretch. However, I always thought the story of the lion’s den was cool, as well as the writing on the wall thing. And of course, the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and a Billy Goat was a real crowd-pleaser too. I mean, what’s not to like about that one?

    • MNb

      My personal favourite is Revelations. It’s the only Bible book I read in one go. Qua absurdity it beats Monty Python. You can take a random chapter and have fun:

      “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.”
      Until you actually try to make sense of it, of course.

      • And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God

        Phew! God, was that you? Dude, do that outside!

        • Greg G.

          Nobody could even enter after that one. What will heaven smell like in a few billion years with the Omnipotent Gaseousness? Who wants to spend eternity with contagious angels?

        • hector

          This leads to a more modern variation of the old dilemma about the infinite force and the immoveable object – Could God cut a fart so rancid that even He couldn’t stand the smell of it?

  • hector

    I was reading the OP over again just now and the discussion of death dates of Jesus reminded me that I am not at all sure how scholars date Paul’s letters. Does he refer to some specific datable historical event? Can someone fill me in or link to a source?

    • wtfwjtd

      The book of Acts has Paul before Agrippa…but, Agrippa’s own historian doesn’t record this, the book of Acts was written by the same dude that wrote Luke, so I’m not sure how useful that is. I believe there are references to Paul’s writing in some Christian literature around 100-120. Paul was assumed to have been deceased by the time of the war around 70, since he writes nothing about it. I believe this is one marker used to set a late date on Paul’s letters; I’m not certain what would set an early date on them.

      • hector

        Yeah I should clarify and say it’s the early date (terminus post quem) I am interested in understanding. I do get how the arguments for the late date (terminus ante quem) work.

        • wtfwjtd

          Please share if you find something of interest hector.

        • hector

          Is it possible that the terminus post quem dating is entirely circular? i.e. Paul is clearly writing after the resurrection. So the terminus post quem is based entirely on the arguments used for dating the resurrection, which arguments derive entirely from the gospels, which themselves are thoroughly mythical in character and irreconcilable on the question of jesus’ alleged birth?

          I did a quick check and found, for example, that Paul makes no mention of Pontius Pilate. So is it possible that Paul could have lived a century before the conventional death of Jesus in about 33 CE?

        • wtfwjtd

          Make no mistake, Paul knows nothing of an earthly Jesus, this is quite clear once you examine his writing closely. I am reasonably certain there is good reason to date Paul’s writing from around 50-70, aside from the gospel story I mean, but I can’t tell you at the moment what those reasons might be. An interesting subject…

        • hector

          Right. But even without referring to Jesus as an earthly being Paul could have written ‘these things happened in the time of Pontius Pilate’, which would explain why the Gospels bring Pilate into the story. Except that Paul never mentions Pilate.

        • Pofarmer

          So, where the hell did Paul get the eating of flesh and drinking of blood in the last supper? I’ve found it interesting that he mentions it first, But certainly wasn’t there.

        • Kodie

          I’m certainly not going to look at it now to back up my suspicion, but from what you all are talking about sounds a lot to me like he wasn’t at the party, but it was told to him so good, that when it came up, he used it to top someone else’s anecdote. This happened to my friend also, and it was, like, [gestures!], the whole blah blah blah! Isn’t that like your story only it happened to my friend instead of me?

        • Pofarmer

          Just doing a little wikipedia research, it almost looks like Paul bastardized a couple of existing Jewish rituals for a Gentile/Pagan audience that probably wasn’t familiar with them.

        • hector

          I looked this up and it seems clear to me that Paul acknowledges he wasn’t at the so-called Last Supper:

          For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (1 Cor 11:23-34)

          So, just as Carrier argues about all of Paul’s knowledge about Jesus, Paul obtained this knowledge from revelation. If Paul’s method of revelation was reading the scriptures and looking for new interpretations, then we should probably be able to find the passages in the OT that he is getting this from, and as it turns out, scholars have long noted a connection with Isaiah 53:12 and Exodus 24:8. Wikipedia refers to this in its article about the Last Supper.

        • hector

          Ugh I garbled the beginning and meant to say that Paul acknowledges that he didn’t hear about the Last Supper from anyone who was present. Not even Christians claim that Paul met Jesus while he was alive. That’s what the whole ‘road to Damascus’ story in Acts is about.

        • Kodie

          I was thinking about the legend of the last supper and decided it sounds a lot like parties of today that you hear about. The food was meh, someone forgot the dip, so this guy stands up and starts making a speech about being the king, I think he was high or something because he said the crackers were his body and the wine was his blood and stuff, and he basically made a scene. It went on until almost 5am, but then the cops came and busted us, it was nuts. So we slipped out the back door and scattered into the night. The dude who got left behind was, like, “what’s the trouble, officer? No, I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but we’ll try to keep it down.” And then this other guy must have had too much “blood” if you know what I mean, and started kissing on the guy who made the speech, and they hauled him off. It was raucous, dude! You should have been there!

        • Pofarmer

          The last supper as Bill and Tedd’s excellent adventure. I needed that laugh.

        • wtfwjtd

          Paul doesn’t call it “the Last Supper”, he calls it “the Lord’s Supper”, a very important distinction. He describes the ritual in I Cor 11. He also don’t talk about eating literal flesh or drinking literal blood; I believe Catholicism came up with that one from the gospel of John (6:53).

        • Greg G.

          Galatians 1:15-18 says he that after Paul had his revelation, he waited 3 years before he went to Jerusalem to stay with Peter. Galatians 2:1 says he made a second trip fourteen years later. The gospels mention that the week Jesus was crucified was a special sabbath. The Passover was based on the lunar calendar which is independent of the days of the week so perhaps the day of Passover was on a sabbath day. I think that the two times that happened while Pilate was in Judea was 30 and 33 AD. I assume that is how they arrive at the dates.

          The only thing I can find in Paul’s letters to date him independently is

          2 Corinthians 11:32 (NRSV)
          In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me,

          King Aretas held the position from 9 BC to 40 AD.

          Paul also mentions plans of traveling to Jerusalem so those letters would be prior to the destruction of the city presumably.

        • hector

          Interesting. I’m at the point where I don’t feel we can trust any dating that treats the gospels as history. So it’s looking like 9 BC is the terminus post quem.

        • Greg G.

          Here’s Richard Carrier, a Jesus doubter, claiming that nothing in the gospels can be taken as historical:


          Here’s R. J. Hoffman, who vigorously argues for a historical Jesus, saying that he doesn’t ” know too many New Testament scholars who would argue that the gospels
          are good history, and some (me among them) who would say that for the
          most part the gospels are totally useless as history.”

          Paul never speaks of Jesus in any way that doesn’t come form the OT, and almost always an out of context verse. That is what he seems to call revelation – finding long hidden mysteries in the scriptures. In 1 Corinthians 15, he gives a list of Christians who say it before he did but uses the same word “optanomai” to describe the other’s “appeared to” as his own which shows he didn’t think theirs was any different than his own and he knew at least two of them. He spent two weeks with Cephas yet he lists him as the first to see it. If Cephas was the first to find it in the scriptures, we can be certain that he was not an illiterate fisherman.

        • hector

          One thing that occurred to me: Even though the gospels should be rejected as history, the choice of the time of Pilate for the crucifixion narrative could, nevertheless, have been made because it was well known among the early church when Paul had lived, been active in the church, and died. If Jesus was a euhemerized god and never a man, this seems to be the best explanation for why Jesus ends up at that particular point in time. This would be an example of the gospel getting an incidental fact about history correct, i.e. that Pilate was governor of Judea when Paul became an active christian, even though the gospel should not be considered a work of history.

          But even from the historicist perspective, which would argue that Jesus was a real man who was really executed in the time of Pilate, I would hesitate to conclude that his execution can be dated with any confidence to specifically either 30 or 33 CE without outside corroborating evidence.

        • wtfwjtd

          I recently finished David Fitzgerald’s book “Nailed”, listing 10 Myths and why he feels Jesus never existed at all. Interestingly, he says that the gospel construction of the Pharisees as the top dogs in Palestine is an accurate portrayal of the late first century, but not for the early part of that century. Also, he notes that certain known historical works of happenings in Palestine have had passages in the 30-33 CE range mysteriously missing, as if someone was trying to conceal that Jesus was NOT mentioned in these histories when he plainly should have been. Like someone had went back and “corrected” certain passages so that the gospels couldn’t be shown to be bunk. It does make you think…BTW, I highly recommend the book, it’s very informative and an easy read.

        • hector

          Yeah I was just hedging. Basically no biblical scholar, only christian apologists, claim that the gospels were written as history. They are no more history than are the Odyssey and the Illiad, the Aeneid, etc.

        • wtfwjtd

          Wow! Being a king for 49 years is quite an accomplishment.

        • Paul makes no mention of Pontius Pilate

          Paul connects Jesus in no way to history. No Pontius Pilate, no King Herod, no census of Caesar Augustus, no dateable celestial event, and so on.

      • Pofarmer

        Would Paul being before Agrippa’s court smething that would have been recorded?

        • wtfwjtd

          The historian I was referring to was Agrippa’s Court historian, so in this case, yes. Apologists are forced, as always, to fall back on the argument that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”; which is true enough, to a point. Remember though, that Christianity makes BIG claims, and one of those is how far and wide the faith was known and how high-profile it was at this time. Given that claim, you would expect a catch like Paul to be a Big Deal no matter what, especially with a show trial like the book of Acts portrays. Since history records none of this, it makes either the claim that Paul was before Agrippa suspect, and/or the claim that Christianity was a widely-known faith at this time to be highly suspect. This much seems clear.

        • Absence of evidence is not proof of absence. But it can be pretty compelling evidence. If you’ve gone back to your key drawer three times and you still haven’t found your keys, that’s good evidence of absence.

        • wtfwjtd

          …and it’s a pretty weak argument when it’s the only thing you’ve got, in case after case. I’m beginning to think that the term “apologist” should be referring to the fact that these guys should be apologizing for the weak to non-existent evidence that they try and point to in support the official version of Christianity. It seems like in nearly every case all they’ve got is “well, the history that we have outside the Bible don’t contradict our version, therefore our version *must* be true”.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, but even when we do have contradictory evidence, like the census in the birth narrative, they still claim there narrative must be true.

        • I do enjoy a substantive Christian argument, but it’s like a joke book that you’re read a dozen times–there’s just nothing new here.

        • Pofarmer

          Also consider that the argument given for his release is weak tea indeed.

        • wtfwjtd

          I’ve re-read that passage of Paul before Agrippa since becoming convinced that Paul knew nothing of a physical Jesus, and it makes a lot more sense when read with this in mind. Notice, he says nothing of the supposed hundreds of witnesses of the resurrection, or even the 12 disciples, and he’s on trial for his life! In Acts 26:9, he opposed the *name* of Jesus of Nazereth–he opposed a religious construct, not an actual physical person. Another thing I find interesting, in Acts 26:23 Paul says that “the Christ…was the FIRST to rise from the dead…” This flatly contradicts the gospel narratives, and the only reasonable explanation is that Paul knew nothing of them.
          And of course you’re right, the argument for his (sort of) release is weak as water, and only seems to be a convenient excuse to get Paul on a sailing voyage for the sake of the story’s plot line.

        • hector

          In Acts 26:9, he opposed the *name* of Jesus of Nazereth–he opposed a religious construct, not an actual physical person.

          I always thought this meant he was persecuting followers of Jesus *after* Jesus’ death, i.e. people preaching in his name. I don’t see it as evidence that the Paul of Acts thinks Jesus was never a physical man.

          the Christ…was the FIRST to rise from the dead.

          The translations I have all say he was resurrected and became the first to proclaim the light. My translations could be wrong. But flatly contradicting the gospels doesn’t seem like an issue to me. The author of Acts is supposed to be the author of Luke, so he was free to contradict the gospels of Mark, Matthew and John. The question is does he contradict himself, i.e. Luke? Luke envisions a physical Jesus, so why would the only explanation for this be that his Paul envisions a non-physical one? We are talking about Acts here, not the Epistles.

          I agree that Paul doesn’t go to any length to convince Agrippa that Jesus was a physical man. But he doesn’t seem to think he has to, as he states that ‘these things are well known’ to Agrippa, which Agrippa doesn’t deny. The issue between Agrippa and Paul seems to be, for Luke, not whether Jesus was a man, as Jesus had been fully euhemerized at this point in time, but whether he was also God, which seems to be why Paul talks about his encounter with the risen Jesus as a god.

          the argument for his (sort of) release is weak as water

          Indeed. It was probably well known among christians that Paul had died in Rome so Luke had no choice but to set him free. That Agrippa frees him for no particular reason suggests either that a) the encounter between Paul and Agrippa never happened or b) if it happened it wasn’t a trial for Paul’s life but something much less that was jacked up into a trial by Luke to make Paul look more heroic and persecuted. When Agrippa says it’s too bad Paul asked for a trial before Caesar because otherwise we could let him go, makes no sense. Just let him go, since it was Paul who asked to be tried before Caesar, not Caesar.

          I accept the view that Acts is pure fiction but that alone doesn’t mean Paul and Agrippa never met. But there might be good arguments that they never did, which Greg C might be aware of.

        • wtfwjtd

          I guess it’s a fine point, and a matter of interpretation. But to me, if Paul believed Jesus to be an actual person, he would have started his narrative something like,”there was this man, Jesus, who made a bunch of converts, and I had to oppose him”… I’m just looking for the most logical construct here. Why would Paul be so vague and beat around the bush if he knew of an actual person to talk about?

          I still maintain that Luke flatly contradicts not only the other gospels, but himself: see Luke 6: 11-16, and Luke 8:40-53. OTOH, this could be read as direct evidence that Paul believed Jesus to have been crucified in the ancient past–long before these people were raised from the dead, or Moses, or Elijah. Either way, the traditional Christian spin is flatly contradicted in my book. As always, YMMV.

        • hector

          But we aren’t talking about Paul’s narrative, right? We are talking about the Paul who appears in Acts, a literary character based on the real Paul. So it’s Luke’s narrative, and Luke was a champion of Jesus as a god-man, which is obvious from his Gospel, which begins with a nativity scene.

          I don’t think Paul was vague and beating about the bush. As I said above I think the issue between him and Agrippa was Jesus’s divinity, not his humanity. By the time Acts came to be written Jesus was fully euhemerized.

          Maybe Luke does contradict himself but I just can’t see how an author who believes Jesus was a man, and who is writing a made up narrative about Paul spreading the word about this man, would get confused and have his Paul thinking Jesus was never a man.

          Richard Carrier doesn’t base his mythicist case on Acts. He dismisses Acts as pure fiction reflecting only the views of its author, not the views of the real Paul. The evidence that the real Paul didn’t think Jesus was ever a man is in the Epistles.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Richard Carrier doesn’t base his mythicist case on Acts. He dismisses Acts as pure fiction reflecting only the views of its author, not the views of the real Paul. The evidence that the real Paul didn’t think Jesus was ever a man is in the Epistles”.

          I totally agree with this hector, I believe we are on the same page here.
          I think you can chalk up that discrepancy in Acts as compared to Luke and the other gospels more as editorial fatigue. I still feel it’s an important point, and it’s an error that wouldn’t have been made had the writer been writing actual history, rather than making up a story to go along with another made-up story. It gets harder and harder to make things mesh the further one gets from the original invention, and that’s really the main point I am trying to make.
          Also agreed, it’s best to use Paul’s epistles for making the case for a mythical Jesus, the theory is on much firmer ground there.

        • The question is does he contradict himself, i.e. Luke?

          One example: In Luke, Jesus hangs around for a day after the resurrection. In Acts, it’s 40 days.

        • Pofarmer

          That one of my boys is planning to ask the priest why they celebrate the ascension 40 days after and not the day after or 8 days after.

        • Tell us how it goes.

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno. I find it hard to believe that religious leaders were being tortured and killed and pursued left and right in Jerusalem and Josephus totally missed it.

        • wtfwjtd
        • Pofarmer

          So, then, where I am starting to come down, is that Paul pretty much made up his history. Was he a lone wacko that happened to be aligned with a few dudes in Jerusalem? Kinda looks that way.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s a good question. I mean, if he really was persecuting people in a major way, how could he wait 3 years after his conversion to go to Jerusalem to meet with other Christians there? How was all this mayhem missed by historians at the time? Did the Pharisees even have the authority to imprison and execute large numbers of people for alleged religious differences? And so on.
          When you read his letters to the Corinthians, you realize that Paul is a man of many stories (maybe tall tales). The fact he considered himself equals with Peter and the other apostles shows he had a very high opinion of himself, and he didn’t think much of them either. No wonder early church historians had to delete, modify, and otherwise clean up early Christian history, I realize now it was a lot messier business to force all these various Christian factions together than I had realized.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, and then you also have the inconvenient fact that Christianity started as a Gentile religion, mainly. The Jews, who were right on top of everything, weren’t all that impressed, apparently, because there were still a ton of Jews on 70 A.D. I dunno, maybe I am getting overly cynical here. But the whole thing is looking more and more like Ancient Harry Potter.

          Jesus. A) No physical evidence.b) No writings attributed directly to him.c) No records outside of purposefully written hagiographies.

          Paul a)muddled and contradictory history b) story contradicted by apparent actual history and appears at least somewhat cribbed from Josephus.

          Gospels a) anonymous b)contradictory c) also cribbed at least partly from Josephus d) full of works attributed to earlier prophets.

          It’s hard to believe that 2 years ago, actually last Easter I was eagerly trying to decide which church to attend. Life is funny.

        • wtfwjtd

          Great summary Pofarmer! I know what you mean, I was still taking this stuff fairly seriously up until a few years ago. I had my reasons though, whenever your friends and especially family are heavy into this stuff it can make it very hard to back away. Some changing life circumstances, along with several family deaths, is what caused me to take a deeper look, and once I opened my mind and took a closer look it astonished me just how flimsy the basis of Christianity really is. Like Greg says, once you see it, you can’t really make yourself un-see it.

          Life is full of unexpected twists and turns for sure.

        • MNb

          “the inconvenient fact that Christianity started as a Gentile religion, mainly”
          On what evidence is this founded? This guy seems to disagree:


          “De werkelijkheid is dat er een pluriform jodendom was, met minstens vijf hoofdstromingen, waarvan er – onder druk van het Romeinse imperialisme – drie ten einde kwamen. De andere twee ruzieden daarna verder over de erfenis. Zowel het rabbijnse jodendom als het christendom claimden de ware erfgenaam te zijn.”
          “In fact there was a multiform judaism with at least five main branches. Due to Roman imperialism three were finished. Afterwards the other two quarreled on about the legacy. Both rabbinal judaism and christendom claimed to be the true heir.”

        • Pofarmer

          Well, maybe started as a Gentile religion isn’t exactly the correct phrasing. It grew more early on in Gentile areas, and was a very small movement in Jerusalem itself. Richard Carrier lays it out in “Not the impossible faith.”

        • hector

          ‘Started as a Gentile religion’ is far from the correct phrasing. Everything I’ve read or seen by Carrier (I have not read Not The Impossible Faith but I have read many of Carrier’s blog posts and seen his online lectures discussing it) says that it started out as a synthesis of Jewish and Greek religious ideas, carried out by Jews. Peter and Paul were Jews. Why else would there have been a debate in the early church about whether one had to be a Jew in order to be a christian if christianity hadn’t started out as a Jewish sect?

          Why would gentiles have started a religion based on the Jewish scriptures? Everything I have ever read on the topic says that gentiles had almost no interest in Jewish scripture *until* christianity came along. This makes as much sense to me as claiming that Mormonism was started by Buddhists.

        • wtfwjtd

          You know, that’s an interesting point. Christianity basically started as an extension of the Jewish religious traditions, by Jews and mostly for Jews, with some other stuff thrown in too. I wonder where and exactly when Paul got the bright idea to take it to non-Jews?

        • Pofarmer

          OH, hell. Who knows. Without getting to far into tin foil hat conspiracy theory, maybe Paul was trying to convert Jews, and not having any luck. Then he had a vision, nervous breakdown, whatever, telling him to take it to the Gentiles. Or, he just decided to pick his act up and take it on the road for whatever reason. I still think the whole “persecuting the followers” is just schtick.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s definitely the “why”, he found a much more receptive audience with the gentiles than with with them stubborn ol’ Jews. Even though the Jews supposedly “witnessed” the whole Jesus/12 disciples thing, they obviously weren’t impressed, and I get that now. Paul obviously had a lot of bad feelings against Peter and his buds; in fact, in Galatians 2, about the only thing they seem to agree on is to “remember the poor”.
          Yes, that “persecuting the church of God” thing does seem a stretch, I think Paul’s overactive imagination was running wild again.

        • avalpert

          No tin foil hat needed – just look at Joseph Smith’s early history in his attempt to rewrite a religion from within and the likely pattern becomes fairly clear

        • Pofarmer

          I was having a conversation this morning with a friend who is southern baptist and he was railing a little bit against the Mormons and the Scientologists and I urged him to go back a little further. Got a funny look.

        • When you consider than any element of the New Testament could be fiction–the disciples who followed Jesus, Paul’s persecution of the Christians, and so on–lots of explanations of the facts become plausible.

        • Pofarmer

          No, no, no. Yes, it was started by jews, but it grew fastest in the gentile areas. Most of the early converts to christianity were not jews, but pagans or other gentiles away from palestine. This is reiterated in another boom by Eric Hoffer on mass movements.

        • hector


        • wtfwjtd

          Isn’t it ironic, that people who were closest to the supposed life of Jesus–those living in Palestine–seemed to be the least convinced by the message of Christianity? Kinda makes you wonder…

        • Pofarmer

          Christianity fostered a sense of community at a time when the Roman Empire was starting to struggle. The Jewish areas already HAD as strong sense of community, so it would have been hard to have gotten just another mythic religion to take hold. Christianity was popular with the poor and dispossessed, those who society/other religions had already snubbed. I don’t think it’s all that incredible it took off at the time it did. What’s incredible is that people still buy it.

        • wtfwjtd

          David Fitzgerald’s book “Nailed” makes this very point. Along about the beginning of the 3rd century things took a decidedly negative turn in the Roman empire, with a lot of unrest and turmoil. Christianity was in the right place at the right time, as you point out, and it came out the winner when things finally started settling a bit near the begining to mid- fourth century. This is when we start to see wholesale re-writes of early Christian history, and disappearances of earlier bible manuscripts, in an effort to make the earlier days seem a lot more homogeneous than they really were. In fact, this is when the famous Josephus passage pops up, there wasn’t a single mention of it by anyone anywhere until the early 4th century, when Eusebius suddenly “found” it in his copy of Josephus’s work. And so on and so on….

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, this is when Eusebius and his cohorts conveniently “found” a lot of stuff.

          One interesting personal anecdote. I just finished reading “the five love languages” by Gary Chapman. It’s clear he speaks at a lot of church’s and such, but, overall,t he book isn’t overly religious. Towards the end he talks about a couple,and starts using a bunch of Jesus quotes (which can easily be countered with other Jesus quotes, btw) Then he starts talking about how much he likes “the book of Luke, written by a physician” and blah, blah, blah. Takes a very good book otherwise, and makes me want to gouge my eyes out.

        • wtfwjtd

          Seems like there is a whole lot of assuming going on when it comes to the religious crowd. I am considering reading a book titled “Cold Case Christianity” because I want to get as strong an argument from a Christian apologist as possible, as it’s supposed to be written by a big-shot retired police detective from L.A. However, in the “sample” bit I uploaded to my kindle, he starts right off the bat with a blatant mis-quote of Jack Webb, the late Dragnet guy. I mean, this guy is supposed to be convincing because of his objective methods and thorough investigation of the facts, and we haven’t even gotten to his main stuff yet and he already has shown he can’t fact-check even basic information. Kinda put me right off reading the rest of his book…I almost know it’s going to be a waste of time.


        • Pofarmer

          I tend to read something like that, either a book or a blog post, until I find the first obvious error like that, and then my brain just sort of locks it out. If they make those sorts of errors, how can you trust the rest of it, if maybe you aren’t terribly informed about it? And if I do a couple simple fact checks, and find them wrong on the facts, then it’s easy to just dismiss the rest of it and not waste the time. Although, I know that “Cold Case Christianity” is getting a name with apologists. I pretty much figured that he is as big a joke as Lee Strobel. Could you maybe find it as a free .pdf or torrent so at least you don’t have to pay for it?

        • avalpert

          I just skimmed a bit of the book here: http://books.google.com/books?id=GtQdNxDsXTsC&pg=PA136&lpg=PA136&dq=Cold+Case+Christianity+free&source=bl&ots=DZO8tZ3vn1&sig=XdyvmBdw3hFR79HKQuLrDZKar5Q&hl=en&sa=X&ei=2_UxU6XFDojesASquoLIAw&ved=0CEoQ6AEwBDge#v=onepage&q=Cold%20Case%20Christianity%20free&f=false

          Though it becomes clear quickly, page 112/113 lays out the false premise of the book – he is arguing against a strawman version of what is wrong with the Christian fairy tale. Either he was a very poorly educated atheist before or he never really was one.

        • wtfwjtd

          Thanks for that link avalpert, after looking at the preview that popped up on my screen, that book looks like a total waste of time. After much rambling and talking in circles, he gets to his “evidence”, what he calls the “eyewitness accounts of the gospels”, and Paul’s learning of Jesus from the other apostles. He’s already fast and loose with false claims, and we haven’t even gotten to the nitty-gritty yet. Sheesh.

        • Pofarmer

          “J. Warner Wallace is a cold case homicide detective, a missions leader,
          and a church planter. As a result of his work with cold cases, Wallace
          has been featured on numerous television programs including Dateline,
          FOX News and Court TV. Wallace’s visual presentations in the courtroom
          have revolutionized how capital offense trials are presented in Los
          Angeles County and across the country. A vocal atheist for many years,
          Wallace is now an apologist for Christianity and the founder of the
          PleaseConvinceMe.com blog and podcast with a master’s degree in
          theology. He and his wife have four children and live in southern
          California. You can learn more at http://www.coldcasechristianity.com

          This is from his Amazon bio. Dude has a Masters in theology and misrepresents biblical scholarship as much as he does?

        • wtfwjtd

          Sad, very sad!

        • Pofarmer

          What a stupid book. The very reasons he lists “slow communications” for example, are the very reasons that a religion could spread with no fact checking. And, there aren’t 12 accounts of anything, there are 4 gospels, and they are all different. Then there’s Paul, who is different again.

          And then this little Gem “there isn’t a single non-Christian piece of evidence that contradicts the martyrdom of the Apostles.” Really? Candida Moss says there is. Plus, he doesn’t seem to deal at all, in the little bit that I skimmed, the fact that there were, indeed, many different versions of Christianity initially.

          The sad thing is, it would take as many pages to fisk the damn thing as it occupies.

          Well, fuck. On page 79 he identifies the Gospel writers as eyewitnesses. This book is a complete and total waste of paper.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yeah, he pretty much lost me when he started off with the assumption that the gospels were eyewitness accounts as a given. After my laughter subsided a bit, I read a little more,and he makes more assumptions that are just as vapid.
          I hope, sincerely *hope*, that he didn’t play as fast and loose with the facts and evidence as a cop as he does in his book. If so, there’s several innocent people in prison. OTOH, I don’t even feel sure I know that he was a cop, since he’s the source for that info too.
          Definitely milksop for the believer, this wouldn’t be convincing to anyone else.

        • Pofarmer

          “don’t even feel sure I know that he was a cop, since he’s the source for that info too.”

          Somebody should check it out, just for fun.

        • And then this little Gem “there isn’t a single non-Christian piece of evidence that contradicts the martyrdom of the Apostles.” Really? Candida Moss says there is.

          My response would be: even if there were no evidence that contradicts the martyrdom, that doesn’t mean that the evidence in favor of that hypothesis is strong.

          Indeed, it’s very weak. Conclusion: we don’t have grounds for holding that belief.

        • I detest the “I was an atheist, so I know what I’m talking about” arguments.

          If he’d been an atheist like many of us here, he’d have higher quality arguments.

        • Pofarmer

          What he should say is that he was ignorant. Still is IMHO.

        • I had a tangential thought on this question of why smart apologists give such crappy arguments. Tell me what you think.

          They believe for non-intellectual reasons. From their standpoint, the reasons don’t much matter. But then there are knuckleheads like us who don’t get it.

          But no worries–since they begin knowing that they’re on the right side of the issue, they can toss out just about any argument that concludes, “And that’s why God exists” (or why we know Jesus resurrected or something similar). They may not sound all that convincing, but they’re still right.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t know. Let’s take my wife. Rn, BSN, CCU certified, etc, etc. She beleives that if she doesn’t receive the Eucharist regularly “her soul will die.” She beleives she needs to go to church as often as possible to “feel the love and presence of God”. She believes that she “Needs Gods grace continually to affect people in a positive way”. And yet she can’t understand why I might just have some reservations about bringing our children up with these beliefs?! WTF? Really? Religion is a mental disorder, is what I come away with. But, I’m not supposed to in any way intimate that I might think she’s a wee bit taking it too far.

        • John D. Rockefeller’s idea toward church was something like taking a shower. You feel grubby, and then you feel so much better about yourself after you’re done. Imagine someone who had no use for personal hygiene–maybe that’s somewhat parallel.

        • Kodie
        • avalpert

          It’s right up there with ‘we raised you so here is our parenting advice’ – at best it it represent the highly presumptuous perspective that I have been in your shoes because we share one very broad trait at worst it reflects the ignorant assumption that just because you did something you did it well.

        • Kodie

          I was going to say something about how much do all the Christians know about why they are Christians, but then if they go to church every week, they are getting their recharge. Most of the Christians I ever knew never went to church except on holidays and weddings. I think there are a lot of atheists who don’t know all the arguments or have a sense of critical thinking – it’s just that the idea of god does not ring true and it’s simply obvious (as obvious as god is to a Christian) on the surface that god belongs in the superstition pile. I went on like that for a while until probably the internet and my involvement in the kinds of message boards I went on. I did not get into the head-on arguments with Christians or know anything about logical fallacies until only a few years ago, although it turns out I was aware of some of the common ones, I just didn’t know it was a category. Atheists on the atheist blogs tend to focus a great deal of energy thinking and learning, and a lot of them are deconverts looking for answers and community. What I’m trying to say is not every atheist knows why or cares why they should logically arrive at that conclusion, because they aren’t looking for affirmation or community or interested in arguing with Christians.

          But what I really wanted to say was, turn it around and ask how many Christians have been convinced of their position by the arguments? How many know why they believe in god? A lot of Christians know the arguments they use inside and out, but there have to be many who are completely not involved and don’t care.

        • wtfwjtd

          “how much do all the Christians know about why they are Christians, but then if they go to church every week, they are getting their recharge.”

          Most folks around here that I know, are Christians for this very reason–the emotional and social aspects of it, not the intellectual ones. These aspects, along with the community and family aspects, would totally override any intellectual qualms they might have about keeping the faith. The smarter ones I have known deal with this by simply not thinking about it much, as you also point out.

        • wtfwjtd

          This guy sounds like the “atheist” in the movie you just watched–he was an angry theist, which to him is the same thing. No, No, NO, it’s ain’t *nearly* the same thing.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, he’s great pals with Strobel I’ve read, and it shows in his milk-sop version of his so-called “facts of early Christianity”. Like avalpert says, this guy may have called himself an atheist before being converted, but he sure as heck weren’t no atheist “just like me.” Why is it always the religious crowd that has to play fast and loose with facts and history, and end up being fundamentally dishonest? I guess the obvious answer is, in order to try and prop up their weak-as-water case for their blind faith.

        • I’ve read many of his blog posts and have been listening to his Please Convince Me podcast for years. He seems like a nice guy, and his approach is much less obnoxious than someone like Frank Turek or Wm. Lane Craig, but I have also been quite disappointed in his stuff. Very little good stuff.

          I haven’t read the book. But if you find anything challenging or clever, I’d be interested to hear about it.

        • MNb

          How do you know how many people in Palestine were convinced before say 70 CE and how many not?

        • avalpert

          The complete lack of documentation for a following suggests it was minimal – you have far more references to Bar Kokhbah than to followers of this resurrected messiah.

        • MNb

          That’s an irrelevant comparison. Simon ben Kosiba (I take Jona Lendering’s spelling; I hope you grant me some Dutch chauvinism) lived 100 years later. Plus he was involved in a war against the Romans – they had much more reason to pay attention to SbK.
          During Jesus’ lifetime there were other messias claimants. One of them is this guy:

          Not much documentation either.

        • avalpert

          But that is already more coverage in Josephus than you get of followers of Jesus among the Jews – he doesn’t mention a following of Jesus in Jerusalem at all despite all his detailed coverage of the period.

          I think this example does more harm than good to your stance here.

        • MNb

          Did I have a stance? Thanks for pointing it out – I wasn’t aware of it. I thought I was asking a few questions about “how do you know”. You might be right, but counting lines in Josephus strikes me as a dubious method, especially as “skeptics” often like to point out that the oldest cophy of FJ is from, what is it? 4th Century?

        • avalpert

          But counting line in Josephus is about all we have – I don’t usually like citing PhD’s in Theology for questions of history but it is the only academic piece I know of in the terrain because no historian would spend much time chasing these ghosts: http://repository.up.ac.za/handle/2263/13403

        • wtfwjtd

          Because by the few accounts we do have, Christianity wasn’t very widely known until the late 2nd into the 3rd centuries. Paul’s travels, such as can be believed, mostly take place outside this region–he seems to have ran into stubborn resistance among the Jews in Palestine, and so takes his road show to the gentiles in other areas of the Mediterranean.
          As you and others note, actual numbers of Christians seem hard to pin down. But even the most optimistic ones put the numbers very low.

        • MNb

          “it grew fastest in the gentile areas.”
          Again: what evidence do Carrier and Hoffer provide? You already know I thoroughly distrust Carrier’s methodology.
          Also: about which years are we talking? Before or after the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 CE? Do Carrier and Hoffer even discuss this event, which obviously was important for the religious developments in Jerusalem and environs?

        • Pofarmer

          Sources? You want sources? What is this, the inquisition?

          Seriously, though. Let me take a shower and see what I can find for footnotes.

        • MNb

          That would be nice, but take your time. I’m not in a hurry.

        • Pofarmer

          O.k, I don’t find a cite from hoffer, just a matter of fact statement that christianity didn’t really grow in the diaspora.

        • MNb

          Well, then I’ll wait until Jona Lendering has published his book (and I have bought and read it).

        • Pofarmer

          ALl right. Carrier has an extensive bibliography but I can’t really copy it right now.

        • Everything I have ever read on the topic says that gentiles had almost no interest in Jewish scripture *until* christianity came along.

          Robert Price talks about a group of gentiles (sorry–I’m forgetting what they were called) who were like fanboys of Judaism. They admired the Jewish philosophy but didn’t want to go the whole way (circumcision, Kosher rules, etc.). And they were welcomed by the Jews into the synagogue.

          Anyone remember the name?

        • Pofarmer

          Not sure the name, but Carrier talks about the same phoenomenan.

        • avalpert

          The concept of a ‘ger toshav’ (basically resident alien) is developed in the Torah so was probably well established at least by the time of the second temple. I don’t know if that was the term Price used or not but I wouldn’t really describe it as a fanboy as much as one who by circumstances is living in this territory and has agreed to adopt their rules for foreigners who live among them (in practical terms that amounts to the seven noachide laws).

        • I’m familiar with this concept. Reading the relevant passages about slavery makes a clear distinction between Jews, these resident aliens, and the Other (in declining order of value).

          But this isn’t what I was referring to. It just came to me: they’re God fearers.

        • It’s hard to believe that 2 years ago, actually last Easter I was eagerly trying to decide which church to attend.

          Welcome to the bracing world of Reality!

        • MNb

          “….. to force all …..”
          That was obviously one important reason to write the Gospels down and subsequently to revise them.

        • Pofarmer

          Plus, pick and choose what to include and exclude.

        • Paul says that “the Christ…was the FIRST to rise from the dead…”
          This of course flatly contradicts the gospel narratives

          I assume you’re referring to the zombie apocalypse in Matthew? That happened as Jesus died, which was a day and a half before Jesus rose.

          Good catch.

        • wtfwjtd

          Not just the zombie apocalypse of Matthew Bob, but several others– Luke 7:11-17, the widow’s son; Luke 8:40-53, Jairus’s daughter; the raising of Lazarus in John; and possibly other specific mentions, besides the generic ones. Note, at least two of these are in direct contradiction to the author of Acts and Luke’s own writing! Editorial fatigue of made-up stories shows that it is hard to catch all the inconsistencies.

  • SparklingMoon

    III. After 62 weeks, the Anointed One will be put to death.
    These words of revelation in the prophecy of Daniel ”the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing”(Daniel 9:26) has no message for the death of Jesus or any other person.

    This word ”the Ointed One ” in the verse (9:26) is actually used for holy place of Jerusalem as the same word in the previous verse (9:24) has been used used for Jerusalem ”anoint the Most Holy Place”

    The cut off this ”Ointed One” (Jerusalem ) is explained in the very same verse by the words: ”the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing and the people of the coming monarch will destroy the city and the Sanctuary,”

  • Jerry

    Problem 1: The Jewish calendar was based on a lunar year. They would have to add months every few years. This muddies the mathematics a bit. You also have to take into consideration the Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar. On top of that, the Jewish interpretation of Daniel doesn’t even add up properly, they’re missing 150 years! Their interpretation has a ~490 year span between the destruction of the 1st temple and the 2nd one!

    So it’s not a simple answer. The best explanation I’ve come across is offered by 3rd century historian Sextus Julius Africanus:


    3. It is by calculating from Artaxerxes, therefore, up to the time of Christ that the seventy weeks are made up, according to the numeration of the Jews. For from Nehemiah, who was despatched by Artaxerxes to build Jerusalem in the 115th year of the Persian empire, and the 4th year of the 83d Olympiad, and the 20th year of the reign of Artaxerxes himself, up to ibis date, which was the second year of the 202d Olympiad, and the 16th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, there are reckoned 475 years, which make 490 according to the Hebrew numeration, as they measure the years by the course of the moon; so that, as is easy to show, their year consists of 354 days, while the solar year has 3651/4days. For the latter exceeds the period of twelve months, according to the moon’s course, by 111/4 days. Hence the Greeks and the Jews insert three intercalary months every 8 years. For 8 times 111/4 days makes up 3 months. Therefore 475 years make 59 periods of 8 years each, and 3 months besides. But since thus there are 3 intercalary months every 8 years, we get thus 15 years minus a few days; and these being added to the 475 years, make up in all the 70 weeks.

    Problem 2: Titus is the ruler who comes. The abomination of desolation has me perplexed as well, but I think it’s most likely Jesus getting crucified.

    Sidenote: If we can get evidence for a first century manuscript (http://www.bricecjones.com/blog/the-first-century-gospel-of-mark-josh-mcdowell-and-mummy-masks-what-they-all-have-in-common) then this could further support the notion that Jesus quoted Daniel before the temple destruction, rather than after the temple destruction.

    Problem 3: You are correct. I don’t like this either. If I find an argument that satisfactory explains this I will forward to you.

    Problem 4: Good question. The problem for your side, however, is that it fits and it matches the criteria for the initiation event. So why can’t it be used?

    Problem 5: That interpretation is based on the faulty notion that greece is the beast with ten horns. I’ve already replied to this in your other post. Daniel 7 / Daniel 8 show similarities between all 4 descriptions of kingdoms with the second kingdom defined as Persia / Media. In other words, you shouldn’t assign Persia and Media their own beasts when interpreting Daniel 7.

    Problem 6: The abomination of desolation was probably Jesus getting crucified. Remember the Talmud’s mention of 40 years of unforgiveness?

    • adam

      “Sidenote: If we can get evidence for a first century manuscript (http://www.bricecjones.com/blo
      then this could further support the notion that Jesus quoted Daniel
      before the temple destruction, rather than after the temple destruction.”

      Sidenote: If my aunt had a penis she would be my uncle..

      There is just so much WRONG with the bible to use it as an historical reference for the STORIES that it weaves….

      • Jerry

        lol, even if he was petty and cruel, what are you going to do to Him after death… scold Him?

        • Kodie

          Way to miss the kitty cat’s point.

        • Jerry

          so is superposition real or not real? How does an electron cancel itself out? (double-slit experiment)

          My point is whatever feelings you have towards it (superposition) doesn’t matter, Its not going to change truth. So yes.. I get the point, but kitty cat’s opinion of God is moot.

        • Kodie

          So is yours. If your idea of god is good, conscious, intentional, working in your life, etc., you don’t know what you’re talking about, and I don’t care.

        • Jerry

          lol. then why did you join the conversation.

        • Kodie

          Because the conversation turned to how much nonsense you are.

        • Pofarmer

          You can’t simply assert “truth” . Sorry. Less butthurt, more evidence.

        • adam


        • Greg G.

          An electron doesn’t cancel itself out. When its probability is reduced for certain locations, its probability is increased in other locations.

        • Huh? Kitty cat makes the obvious conclusion.

          You can say, “God exists because magic,” but there’s no evidence behind it. We’re stuck evaluating evidence as best as our imperfect minds can do, and kitty cat’s conclusion is a logical following of the facts before us. Anything else is special pleading.

        • Pofarmer

          Nothing, same as you, cause he’s imaginary.

        • Jerry

          then don’t use that stupid insult for evidence. You’re just blaspheming for no reason.

        • Kodie

          What’s wrong with blaspheming? Who gets hurt?

        • MNb

          Adam did not provide evidence. He provided a logical argument. To be precise: a Reductio ad Absurdum – to show you that your position contains a logical contradiction. Ah, of course as the good apologist you are you don’t want to understand the difference.

        • adam


        • MNb

          I won’t exist anymore, so there won’t be anything to do.

        • adam


    • The Jewish calendar had a solar correction. Not, that doesn’t muddy the waters. And I’ve addressed that somewhere in this set of posts on Daniel.

      The best explanation I’ve come across

      Best because it explains the facts best, or best because it best supports your religious preconceptions? The latter seems to be your agenda, not following the evidence.

      The other posts discuss other interpretations.

      And how do you get past the evidence for 165 BCE as the date of authorship?

  • Jerry

    Let’s look at the Jewish defense of 70 weeks prophecy. The rabbi here explains how the Jewish calendar is based on the lunar calendar, and how months are added, etc…. EXACTLY like the 3rd century scholar Sextus Julius Africanus tells us.

    Jewish interpretation of 70 weeks – notice the use of punctuation to differentiate the Jewish to English interpretation with the King James Version. Remember, punctuation wasn’t added to the Jewish text (Masoretic text) until hundreds of years after Jesus!

    Final Note:

    The Jewish defense sounds very compelling until you actually sit down and do the calculations. The Jews are missing years.

    • How is it compelling? What’s compelling is Daniel being written in 165 BCE.


    Daniels 70 (Feasts of) week prophecy = The last 70 years of GOD’S 7000 year agenda (3983 BCE – 2017 CE).

    The commandment to rebuild “Jerusalem” was given at November 29, 1947.

    United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine: Wikipedia, URL:http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=United_Nations_Partition_Plan_for_Palestine&oldid=612939895 accessed 11.07.2014.

    Daniels 70 Feasts of week prophecy:

    Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks (70 Feast of weeks = 70 years, see Leviticus 23:15) are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (October/November 1947 – October/November 2017)

    Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem (Nov 29, 1947) unto the Messiah the Prince shall be 7 weeks and 62 weeks (69 years): the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times (October/November 1947 Oct/Nov 2016).

    Daniel 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks (1947 CE + 7 years + 62 years= October/November 2016) shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself (the 2 Witnesses of Christ instead): and the people of the prince (Antichrist) that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with
    a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

    Daniel 9:27 And he (Antichrist) shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (Oct/Nov 2016 – Oct/Nov 2017) : and in the midst of the week (April/May 2017) (he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

    For further information regarding: »ARMAGEDDON 2017« please go to e.g. http://issuu.com/eli.yah/docs/armageddon_2017.docx