New Testament Manuscript Reliability: the Visual Edition

New Testament Manuscript Reliability: the Visual Edition January 10, 2019

poor evidence for new testament bible

Christian apologists say that our copies of the New Testament are backed by early manuscript evidence.

Not really. I’ve responded to that argument in depth here, but let’s revisit the argument visually.

Matthew manuscripts

Here’s the manuscript data for Matthew. Start at year 1 at the bottom of the chart. The years advance moving up, along the left side.

The crucifixion is at about 30 CE, and Matthew was written in about 80. The reddish bar representing this original Matthew, the document we’re trying to recreate, is at year 80 (on the left side). That bar is 1071 verses wide (see the verse count along the bottom).

Cross Examined blog at Patheos.com
Moving up the chart, the first manuscript data point is at the year 150, papyrus #104 (P104) with 7 verses.

Next are three more small manuscripts containing 9, 5, and 10 verses, dated to roughly 200.

At the year 250, we have four more, including Matthew’s largest early manuscript, P45, which has 62 verses.

In 300, we get four more, including our first uncial manuscript, U171, which has 15 verses.

(The oldest New Testament manuscripts are categorized as papyrus [written on papyrus] and uncials [written on parchment using capital Greek letters]. Minuscules [small Greek letters on parchment] and lectionaries [Bible selections used for church services] are additional categories, but those manuscripts aren’t old enough to be on our list.)

Finally, at the top, is Codex Sinaiticus from about 350 CE, which is our oldest complete New Testament.

There are lots more manuscripts containing Matthew, but none older than these. This is the data that attempts to support the argument that our copies of Matthew were built on a reliable foundation of early manuscript evidence.

These 12 pre-Sinaiticus manuscripts were once complete copies of Matthew, but time has eroded them down to just this. What would we learn about Matthew and the volatile message of the early church if these 12 manuscripts were complete? What would we learn if we had every early manuscript copy of Matthew? There might have been dozens. Maybe hundreds.

This chart helps illustrate what little we have to go on when trying to narrow the 300-year gap from originals to the fourth-century codices like Sinaiticus. New Testament scholars do impressive work when finding the likely earliest reading from contradicting sources, but they’re putting together a jigsaw puzzle that has all the pieces but no certainty that any of those pieces are correct. Seen another way, suppose a new papyrus fragment were uncovered that had the vocabulary of a Christian document but didn’t match any known New Testament or noncanonical document. Who’s to say that that’s not actually part of the New Testament but in so early and different a form that we just don’t recognize it?

Finally, let me repeat two caveats. The dates are just educated guesses, and the copies are fragmentary. P45, a few pages of which are shown above, doesn’t contain 62 complete verses of Matthew but contains fragments of 62 verses.

Manuscripts of Paul’s epistles

Let’s look at another section of the New Testament, the seven authentic Pauline epistles, and we’ll find a slightly different story. These epistles are Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon.

Cross Examined blog at Patheos.com

The big difference is P46, which has ninety percent of the verses in these 7 letters. While that’s an important contribution, let’s not read too much in it. Instead of one large early manuscript, as with Matthew, we have two for Paul. Remember that the apologist bragging point that started this series of posts was, “There are 25,000 New Testament manuscripts, making it the most reliable ancient document!” It doesn’t really work that way in practice, when only a handful of the oldest manuscripts form the Greek core that is used to make a modern translation.

As discussed in that earlier post, four manuscripts (P45, P46, P66, and P75) are early and large enough to give new insights into the complete New Testament that we have with Sinaiticus. Another 65 manuscripts that also precede Sinaiticus are useful but tiny (some can be seen in the charts above).

Acknowledgement: a thoughtful suggestion from long-time commenter epeeist pushed me to analyze the data visually.

Related posts:

[Why doesn’t God ever appear?]
We only ever seem to get the monkey,
never the organ grinder.
And the monkey always says,
“This is what I say my god wants.”
— commenter epeeist

.

Image from Wikimedia, public domain
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  • Lex Lata

    Nice presentation of the information.

    One additional thought. Although of course enormous quantities of original ancient documents have been lost or destroyed, we actually do have some number of written records (papyri, clay tablets, steles, etc.) that are thousands of years old. The diary of Merer, for instance, is a set of papyri written by an Egyptian middle manager over 4,500 years ago.

    Odd that the Almighty would see fit to allow such things to survive to this day, but not the original versions of the Most Correct Religion’s holy scriptures.

    • Greg G.

      We don’t need no steenkeeng documents. John 17:20-23 says Jesus prayed that the unity of belief of the True Believers™ would be so impressive that the whole world would believe. And that’s why everybody in the world have been Christian for over 1980 years.

    • Egyptian hieroglyphics and Sumerian stone tablets aren’t just far older, they’re original.

      Talk about cutting the Gordian Knot. But I guess that’s not how God rolls.

  • Greg G.

    Don’t forget that the 62 verses of Matthew in the Swiss cheese fragment of P45 was written by a cheapskate scribe who was miserly with parchment, ink, and editing.

  • Jim Jones

    > Matthew was written in about 80

    I stick by my current position. Around 350 CE.

    • Greg G.

      Origen wrote his Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew around 250 CE.

    • Fair enough, but you gotta give us an argument!

      • Jim Jones

        I’m pretty sure that’s the latest date since we have documents from then – apparently.

        • Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus are dated to 350-ish. But if you’re going to believe that, why reject the dating of the earlier papyrus manuscripts? It sounds like it’d devolve into a paleographers’ fistfight, not something I could follow.

        • Jim Jones

          For most ancient documents, I really don’t care. But given the murderous history of Christianity and the claims that it permits Christians to control the lives of others, I insist on them proving everything beyond a reasonable doubt.

        • Steven Watson

          Dates are irrelevant except relationally. Read Didache + G.Mk, I can’t do so and not get =G.Mtt. In the Nag Hammadi Codices you will find a tractate called Eugnostos the Blessed and another called The Wisdom of Jesus Christ. Eugnostos’s teaching is put into the mouth of Christ in the Wisdom. Much the same happens with Paul and the Gospels collectively. The Apostles clearly antedate “Jesus”; it matters not whether you put them BC or AD, 100 or 350.

        • I’m not following. Yes, we can look at dates relationally (what came before what), but we’d still have the question about manuscript dating. And why is it bad to lock down dates on an absolute timeline?

        • Steven Watson

          You can see the story chrystalising and see it is a fiction, it isn’t that it is bad, just that it is a distraction from the central issue. I date internally and relationally. What generally results is a squabbling fixation with the dates over everything else. I read Paul and his own words date him to the 50’s BC. I read G.Mk and from the gospels own words pretty much have to date it circa 125AD +/- seven years. There is evidence from the Early Fathers that Jesus lved under Claudius and from the Babylonian Talmud 80-70BC. Damn thing is a crap shoot of irreconcilables. We are some decades away from being able to study Christian origins in a scholarly fashion and from a neutral perspective I’m afraid.

        • Have you laid this out as a comprehensive hypothesis? I’d like to read more.

  • Some apologetics claim something similar about the OT, that all available copies since the same years we’re dealing with here are consistent and complete.

    It’s very difficult to take them seriously, especially their threats, with evidences as this.

    • I’d like to research the OT version at some point.

      Christian apologists point to the meticulous Masoretic approach, ignoring that that was used in the medieval period.

      They cite very little drift for Isaiah (or was it one chapter of Isaiah?) using a Dead Sea scrolls Isaiah, but I’d like to see the big picture.

      /random thoughts

      • Little of value would be gained, since these (or better said, that) is the kind of them obsessed with anything Jewish, up to considering them God’s chosen people, etc. until the claims of the Borg cube… er New Jerusalem popping up over Jerusalem and all Jews accepting Jesus as the messiah.

  • eric

    That’s a great first chart. The date estimation almost doesn’t matter; even if you backed everything up 50 or 75 years, the same point would come through.

    • Greg G.

      Thane of Drones provided this link elsewhere in this forum:

      https://www.thedailybeast.com/almost-everything-we-know-about-the-earliest-copies-of-the-new-testament-is-wrong
      Almost Everything We Know About the Earliest Copies of the New Testament Is Wrong
      by Candida Moss

      She cites Brent Nongbri, who has gone back and looked at how some of the early manuscripts were dated. There is a tendency to date manuscripts as early as possible. The paleography technique is often where they look for a second century sample that looks like the handwriting and ignore the fourth century samples.

      • epeeist

        The paleography technique is often where they look for a second century sample that looks like the handwriting and ignore the fourth century samples.

        Which is of course the same as the argument on C14 dating that Bob cited. Where you have a measurable that doesn’t change over a period of time your error bars become correspondingly larger.

        Aside: are you finding that the HTML buttons that have now been provided by Disqus sometimes insert tags in random places?

        • Greg G.

          Aside: are you finding that the HTML buttons that have now been provided by Disqus sometimes insert tags in random places?

          I haven’t had that happen on my laptop nor my cell phone. I use Chrome on both.

        • Do you select first and then click the button? That seems to work for me.

        • Greg G.

          If I am typing in the com box, I highlight it, then click the button. If I am copy-pasting, I click the button then paste between the tags as it is easier than paste, highlight, and click.

  • Philip Rand

    Your visualisation figure is interesting.

    It demonstrates that the Bible is designed to be information redundant, i.e. immune to message interference. In effect, the Bible is an information hologram.

    Your figure highlights the holographic nature of the Bible quite dramatically (trust epeeist to suggest the approach to you… his ideas always backfire!)

    • Greg G.

      “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” There is nothing holographic about that.

      Scholars have noted the existing manuscipts show more variations before canonization than after. We have no information how much change there was between the earliest manuscripts and the original autographs. It would be foolish to think there were no or even fewer changes in the period before the oldest manuscripts.

    • Interesting comparison, but kind of the opposite of a hologram, I think. The more you read, the more contradictions you find.

      • Philip Rand

        Yes. But, the reason you find contradictions in the Bible is because you are reading the Bible at a frequency different to the frequency the Bible was created.

        This explains the distorted image you perceive.

        Read at the correct frequency the image is clear.

        So, the Bible does behave like an hologram.

        • Greg G.

          It’s not the frequency that must be adjusted, it is the brightness that must be turned down to zero.

        • Otto

          When Christians all read the Bible at the same frequency be sure to let us know.

        • Philip Rand

          Harpozo

        • Otto

          You are a clown

        • Philip Rand

          No contradiction. My Otto is AUDI.

        • Otto

          Glad you agree. Now we have common ground.

        • Philip Rand

          No. Your photo is not a photo of a clown. More, of an air-filled dummy that pretends to be an otto-maton…

          Though, I would state there is much truth in describing your comments as from an Otto-maton (so predictable and re-active)….

          Perhaps, you should change your pseudonym to Turing Machine ?

        • Otto

          You can write plenty of words when when we are talking about you being a clown, but when I bring up a salient point about your statement that the Bible needs to be read with a certain ‘frequency’ (whatever that means) you post a one word “answer” that doesn’t answer anything. That is the behavior of a clown.

          You photo is of a knife in an apple….it should be a clown…because you are a clown.

        • Greg G.

          No. Your photo is not a photo of a clown. More, of an air-filled dummy that pretends to be an otto-maton…

          Hint: That is Otto Pilot, a character in the movie Airplane!

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          non sequitur again.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Yes. But, the reason you find contradictions in the Bible is because you are reading the Bible at a frequency different to the frequency the Bible was created.

          Then it’s good to know I’m doing something right since, at the rate I’m reading it, I’ll be done in about a thousand years.

          When I finish I’ll let you know what the Bible really means.

        • Philip Rand

          Kingdom

        • Doubting Thomas

          Phylum

        • Philip Rand

          No contradiction…

        • Doubting Thomas

          Good job. This response at least is somewhat relevant to my first comment.

          But you do realize your first response of simply writing “Kingdom”, especially since you took the extra time to italicize it, makes you look like an idiotic loon who isn’t interested in an actual conversation. Maybe this could be a learning experience for you?

        • Philip Rand

          You do not understand the Biblical verse your comment contained…. this is why Kingdom was apt… for non-cognitively you referred to it….

          Your own response was a counterfeit of the Biblical verse… this is what I find interesting….

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          non sequitur.

        • RichardSRussell

          In New York City in 1986, two then-unknown assailants attacked journalist Dan Rather, while repeating “Kenneth, what is the frequency?” Subsequently one of the attackers was identified as William Tager, who claimed that television networks were beaming signals into his brain. When he murdered an NBC stagehand in 1994, Tager was trying to force his way into an NBC studio with a weapon, in order to find out the frequency the networks were using to attack him, so that he could block it. (Throughout the 1980s-90s, an NBC broadcast engineer with WMAQ in Chicago named Kenneth Steininger was responsible for assigning frequencies for national news events and is thought to be the Kenneth referred to.) Tager was paroled in October 2010 and is believed to be living in New York City.

          Possibly under the name Philip Rand, but that’s just idle speculation on my part.

        • ildi
        • ildi
        • Doubting Thomas

          If I squint just right I see a gay person being stoned to death. Amazing.

        • Jesus Christ!

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Where’s waldo?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          That’s an assertion.

          Demonstrate it, with evidence and valid symbolic logic.

        • Philip Rand

          It can be demonstrated using Fourier transform operations for temporal signals.
          (p & (p->q)) -> q

        • Steven Watson

          Do you phase in and out of reality as well? 🙂

    • Jim Jones

      If you break a hologram the pieces still have all of the information, don’t they? The bible is the opposite – it’s like a joined up collection of many broken holograms.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        The same information, but decreasing detail and increasing noise.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Get back to us when you’ve managed to resolve all the textual contradictions.

      Here’s your assignment brief: http://www.bibviz.com

  • Ficino

    I haven’t studied those particular papyri, so just two general caveats:

    1. as has been presented here on CE before, there is danger of circularity in establishing a schema for dating undated papyrus manuscripts. The tendency has in some quarters been to skew too early, esp. to date too many NT papyri in second or third century when they may be later.

    See this caution by Christian scholar Larry Hurtado:

    https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/the-dating-of-nt-manuscripts-an-important-recent-analysis/

    2. it’s circular to take a fragment of a “sayings” text and conclude that it is a fragment of an entire, known Gospel because the words that survive on the fragment align with words in an entire, known Gospel. The words on P104 are parts of sayings of Jesus, i.e. portions of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants. We do not know that P104 is not a fragment of some sort of “sayings” gospel rather than a fragment of the canonical gMatt that we have. It is suspicious that verse 21:44 appears to be missing. So if the mid-second century date of P104 can stand, we cannot conclude from that fragment that gMatt in its present form was circulating at that time.

    On P104 see:
    https://glanier.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/personal-reflections-on-examining-an-ancient-papyrus-%F0%9D%94104/

    • Allen T Coffey

      That’s a great point. Xtians are always going to skew the data in their favor to present their claim in the best light possible.

      • Greg G.

        There is also the pride and glory of being talked about a lot as the discoverer of the manuscript. As a private venture, the market value increases with the larger size and earlier date. Pride and greed trump truth.

        • Which brings up another confounding issue: modern-day forgery. There’s big money in ancient artifacts, whether authentic or plausibly so.

        • Greg G.

          There seems to be something fishy with the first century Mark episode. It may be a legitimate 3rd century artifact but it was pushed as first century after it was known to not be so and not cleared up for six years.

        • Yeah, what were they doing during those six years?? Like old fish, bad news doesn’t get better with age. If they’d admitted the error, made their data public, and wrapped it up quickly, they’d have been seen as having more integrity.

        • al kimeea

          funny how many organizations fail to follow your sound advice…

        • TheNuszAbides

          One wonders how many encouraging donations they raked in meanwhile from desperately hopeful/rich patronage.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Much more compelling excuseexplanation than “an honest mistake” for that 1st-century-gospel-text clown show Numpty used to score cheap points debating Ehrmann.

    • Fascinating. It underscores how tricky it is for we outsiders to understand the issues (or, conversely, how easy it is for a clumsy or deceptive Christian historian to not give quite the whole picture so that we think the manuscript evidence is more substantial/reliable than it is).

  • RichardSRussell

    Thanks to epeeist for the suggestion to show the data in graphic form. I am very much a visual learner, and the charts were very helpful to me.

    • Philip Rand

      Yes. The graph does offer information. That is if one understands what to look for…. for example look at the frequencies of verse lengths…. can you see any relations? And does that give you any helpful information?

      Since you are a visual learner… the question to ask yourself is; do you see or observe visual space?

      My bet is that you only see

      • Greg G.

        When you use the word “frequency”, how are you using it? Are you using it in a New Age way, that is, how some folks borrow scientific terms, like “energy”, so it sounds intelligent but with no connection to reality?

        • that is, how some folks borrow scientific terms, like “energy”, so it sounds intelligent but with no connection to reality?

          But not “vibrations,” because that is always used in a scientifically grounded way.

        • Philip Rand

          Clearly, you have not heard of Zipf’s law… but, what is interesting is that your graph is continuous and not discrete.

        • Looks discrete to me.

        • Philip Rand

          No, you are mistaken, your graph is continuous and not discrete, i.e. a case of seeing and not observing.
          Zipf’s law holds for discrete random variables whereas your graph of your variable, i.e. Gospel of Matthew is continuous.

        • Zeta

          Philip Rand, long time no see. You crazy fraud.

          Where have you been after you were hounded out of Debunking Christianity sometime last year? Now you set your profile as private (it was public previously). Too scared to let people see the garbage you posted before? Some readers here may not be familiar with your laughable posts, so I decide to quote some of them here:

          1. The Bible is formal science and it is the predicate calculus of the system that gives a clear outline.
          Also the Bible satisfies Craig’s Theorem (look that up too)… that is why predicate calculus is applicable..

          The Bible satisfies Craig’s Theorem; it is therefore an axiomatic message system. This provides authentification of the Author.

          2. When the Bible is examined critically what becomes apparent is the broad information band-width contained within. The numerical structure is extremely sophisticated, blah, blah, blah.

          3. You talked about different types of Darwinism:

          1/ Quantum Darwinism: Hyper-space + local reality + 10 Dimensions
          2/ Biological Darwinism: Natural Selection + Biological improvement + Struggle for existence(5 Dimensions)
          3/ Universal Darwinism: Cosmos + Anthropic Principle + N-Dimensions

          Have you published any papers on these lately?
          Any papers at all on Information Physics since you claimed to be an expert in this field? Last time you refused to answer this question.

          4. The calculation to refute gravity is not difficult and is real….simply consider an atom in a container that is shielded from the external environment… it will rest on the bottom of the container… however, say after 6 million years… it is a dead certainty… you will find the atom floating within the container…. it is a simple calaculation [sic]…. look up Eddington….

          5, Atheism does indeed obstruct scientific progress; all atheistic arguments are counterfactual type arguments.

          6. Biologists don’t know math nor is their science driven by math (a further reason I don’t think evolution is a science)

          As I told you before, you are really an excellent disciple of Deepak Chopra who should be very proud of you.

        • Philip Rand

          I knew I had followers! Thanks Zeta.

          I was banned from Debunking Christianity because I made some comments concerning John Loftus ALWAYS wearing an hat, a real physical measurement of All hat, no cows. Interesting that epeeist alluded to the same saying…. I wonder if Loftus is a physical measurement of the saying epeeist did prefer?

          John Loftus did not like the hat comments…. so, he banned me… I thought it was quite funny…. he is sensitive about his hat.

          Thankyou for giving me the opportunity to relate this event.

          BE WARNED DON’T MENTION THE HAT TO JOHN LOFTUS.

          He will ban you!!!!!!!

        • Zeta

          Thanks for upvoting me, thus showing that I did not misrepresent you and your crazy comments.

          I believe John Loftus banned you because of your numerous inane and idiotic comments. You are insulting him.

        • Philip Rand

          John Loftus banned me because it was pointed out to him that he always wears a hat… that is an insult?

        • Michael Neville

          You were banned from Debunking Christianity for being an asshole who did nothing to advance the discussion but instead brought up irrelevancies like Loftus wearing a hat.

        • Max Doubt

          “You were banned from Debunking Christianity for being an asshole…”

          It’s almost like he’s proud of being an asshole. I guess if that’s all he’s got…

        • Philip Rand

          I have stated it on many occasions…

          Yes, I am an asshole, I drive an AUDI.

        • Otto
        • al kimeea

          nice find

        • ildi

          Did you have a mild stroke between this comment and the one you made about cows that you found so funny earlier?

        • ildi

          If you’re going to use Texan-isms at least get it right… All hat, no cattle

        • Greg G.

          Never buy milk from someone who thinks they are all cows.

        • Philip Rand

          Doesn’t change dramatically the intentionality of the statement though does it? Interesting, that…

          John Loftus is all hat, no cattle.
          John Loftus is all hat, no cows.

          Proven by the fact that John Loftus always wears an hat.

          But you are correct the intentionality of cattle/cows does slightly alter…

        • ildi

          That is because you see but do not observe

        • Philip Rand

          No. I observed the difference in intentionality.

          You simply see that the term: All hat, no cows does not match All hat, no cattle, i.e.

          JOHN LOFTUS IS ALL HAT NO CATTLE

          AND

          JOHN LOFTUS IS ALL HAT NO COWS

          I see that John Loftus always wears an hat BUT I observe the cause of him always wearing an hat.

          Observation is a measurement.

        • ildi

          I observe that you don’t understand this idiom.

        • Philip Rand

          Interesting…

          What is the idiom then?

          And what is the idiom being expressed by these two different idioms:

          1/ JOHN LOFTUS IS ALL HAT NO CATTLE
          2/ JOHN LOFTUS IS ALL HAT NO COWS

          p.s. I prefer shopping at aldi rather than ildi

        • John Loftus doesn’t always wear a hat. He is also a reasonable person and has some damn good patience with others as proven with his interactions with David Marshall, Don Camp, and others. You must have been a total asshole for him to ban you.

        • Philip Rand

          A reasonable person would not ban somebody on account of them pointing out that they always wear an hat.

          That was the point of my comments to John Loftus concerning John Loftus always wears an hat…. ALWAYS WEARING AN HAT IS NOT AN INDICATION OF A REASONABLE PERSON.

          John Loftus simply PROVED by censoring and then banning me for pointing out this relationship that he is NOT REASONABLE.

          Actually Apetivist something really interesting occurred right after John Loftus banned me from his site for commenting to him always wearing an hat. If you get back to me, I shall tell you….

        • Otto

          If you acted there like you act here I don’t blame him one bit. You come on someone’s blog and act like an arrogant jerk you get banned.

        • The Grim Reaper’s sickle may be making a repeat performance.

        • Greg G.

          I am picturing the Grim Reaper wearing a cowboy hat.

        • TheNuszAbides

          A ten-gallon cowl should do the trick.

        • Otto

          I am pretty blunt here, but when I go to other blogs I play by their rules, some people don’t understand that concept.

        • al kimeea

          hats off to you when it falls

        • Mssr. Rand has been shown the door, I’m afraid.

        • al kimeea

          No fear. He was deserving…

        • Steven Watson

          Shame. One of the more creative barking loons. It says much for the great quality of your blog that you attract a better class of numpty. 🙂

        • Wow! You’re ridiculous. I can see why he would say, “GTFO”. I have seen pictures of John without a hat. He doesn’t always wear a hat. You also didn’t touch on the point of you being an insufferable asshole. I’ve known John since 2013 and can tell you he is a very reasonable man and is patient often to a fault. If you strained his patience that says more about you than it does about him.

        • Phil
        • epeeist

          As I told you before, you are really an excellent disciple of Deepak Chopra who should be very proud of you.

          A disciple of Chopra? I should have guessed.

          I had a “discussion” with him (ends here) in which he tried to pretend that an off-the-shelf Lagrangian described how his god created the world.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          That’s a *serious* wall of nonsense…he’s a lively one, no?

        • Holy shit, is that guy deep! How lucky for us that he’s here.

        • al kimeea

          Well, it’s not like gravity was just laying there waiting for us to discover its secrets…

        • TheNuszAbides

          Information Physics

          No wonder he’s keeping the good stuff under a bushel …

          Gotta love #4 especially.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          If you’re going to invent your own language and definitions, don’t expect any help or approbation here.

        • Philip Rand

          Contradiction: (p & (p->q)) & ¬q

        • Otto

          Continuous bullshit still stinks

        • ildi

          Zipf’s law doesn’t apply to this graph because the common text isn’t identified by frequency of occurrence i.e., any hapax legomena.

        • Philip Rand

          Yes. As I stated Zipf’s law is not applicable for the reasons I stated. However, an analysis technique does exist that explains the occurrence frequency of fragments; from that one can infer the original.

        • epeeist

          His posts sound so sciencey don’t they? And chock full of truthiness.

          As opposed to being shite generated by a random word generator.

        • Philip Rand

          You cannot contradict them though, can you?

          Touché! …. Your épée is foiled yet again….

          Suppose, though you use a dueling sword… it is blunted! Not much point…. get it?

          You are your pseudonym!!!!!!!!!!!

        • epeeist

          You cannot contradict them though, can you?

          Attempting to contradict gibberish is a mug’s game. Especially when the gibberish is produced by someone who is incapable of solving a question that a 17-year old science can (so how long does it before the thrown stone hits the beach?).

        • Philip Rand

          It is interesting that you used that particular question. It was used in my Bayesian calculation concerning you being a physicist. The problem was fun.

          By the way…. your comment is not a contradiction. It is a temptation… I am aware of who owns your sword.

        • firebubbles310

          Not really contradicting gibberish is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter what your strategy is the pigeon is just going to knock pieces over and shite on the board. Winning doesn’t mean anything.

        • As opposed to being shite generated by a random word generator.

          Or a Deepak Chopra word generator

        • epeeist

          Or a Deepak Chopra word generator

          Thinking of this?

        • “Each of us projects onto nonlocal possibilities”

          “Imagination is the foundation of subtle destiny”

          “Existence is inextricably connected to objective potentiality”

          You’re welcome.

      • Susan

        do you see or observe visual space?

        I can both see and observe that you seem to have accidentally upvoted yourself.

        • Philip Rand

          Incorrect. It was no accident. Therefore, you see but, do not observe.

        • Awkward admission.

        • Philip Rand

          Incorrect. Not awkward at all…. you see but do not observe.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Since subtlety doesn’t appear to work on you: Self-upvoting is dishonest and narcissistic.

        • Philip Rand

          Self-upvoting is dishonest and narcissistic.

          If you’re going to invent your own language and definitions, don’t expect any help or approbation here.

          Atheists always contradict themselves: (p & (p->q)) ¬q

        • Michael Neville

          Upvoting yourself is considered to be both arrogant and rude. But then you’re an arrogant, rude Christian who whines about atheists. Go away, boy. Come back when you’ve got something useful to add to the conversation.

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          Thanks for visiting. It was very enlightening and you are super smart. Help yourself to cookies before you leave.

        • I have a comment to share, but I hesitate to do so. I anticipate being told that I see but don’t observe (or observe but don’t see–neither makes more sense than the other).

        • Otto

          There is no useful discussion to be had with him…that was apparent in 2 posts…unfortunately

        • Philip Rand

          Why don’t you make a comment concerning your graph?

          For example, I stated that your graph shows that your variable, i.e. Matthew’s Gospel as being continuous; you stated that your variable Matthew’s Gospel is a discrete, discontinuous variable.

          My evidence for my tabled assertion that your variable is continuous is shown by the continuous line that represents the variable.

          Using your graph, what is your evidence that the variable Matthew’s Gospel is a discontinuous variable?

          That would be a start….

        • Susan

          It was no accident.

          Which is exactly what I was implying and I assume most people here caught that.

          You see but you do not observe.

        • Philip Rand

          You are incorrect (again).

          Upvoting is a quantification, i.e. it is a real objective measurement.

          Implying & assuming is qualitative, i.e. it is not a real objective measurement, it expresses intentionality.

          You see? You are still demonstrating that you cannot observe.

          Give up…. you will lose…

        • al kimeea

          repeatedly

      • ildi
        • Susan

          That explains why cat videos have taken over the internet.

        • So that’s what the Beast looks like!

          Armageddon outta here …

        • Philip Rand

          Interesting. A wolf. What is intriguing is that the external environment is affecting you chaps.

  • kippy1957

    Fairy tales.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “Christian apologists say that our copies of the New Testament are backed by early manuscript evidence.”

    Even if that was true, all it would prove is that current copies of the new testament are accurate copies of earlier writings.

    It wouldn’t prove that anything in the writings actually happened.

    • Apply this same rule to all secular extant manuscripts…

      • MR

        Sure, scholars take everything that is written with a grain of salt. I’m listening to the History of Rome podcast and it’s littered with caveats. I think it’s understood that the recounting of any event, even today, isn’t necessarily a true and honest accounting of what may or may not have happened.

        • Lex Lata

          Exactly. In fact, I still remember my first classical history professor often prefacing shaky claims in the records of antiquity–e.g., unrealistic troop or ship numbers, improbable personal motivations, delightfully artful pronouncements delivered at the coolest possible moment.–with, “Now, take this with a MOUNTAIN of salt,” while enthusiastically miming a sort of large mound.

      • C_Alan_Nault

        Some secular documents claim Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar were gods. Historians accept that these men existed,they dismiss the claims of divinity.

      • … and what happens? You’re going to shake my confidence in Alexander or Julius? Have at it–nothing much depends on them.

        Jesus, however, is important to billions.

        • The question I asked has an obvious relevant parallel: We validate all historical events of antiquity by the surviving manuscript copies which describe these events. If you don’t accept that the events described in the surviving New Testament manuscript are true, do you use this same criteria to validate secular manuscripts? Or is the New Testament treated differently because it describes supernatural events that you cannot explain, and therefore disqualify?

          Second, specifically how do you know that the narratives about Jesus in the New Testament did not happen? What process are you using to make this conclusion? I have used all the tools that are known and in process today to validate all events of antiquity to determine if they meet the criteria for valid historical events. The New Testament meets or exceeds all of these standards.

        • Yes, I insist on the same standards.

          Those same standards include a rule that says, “If there’s supernatural stuff, that may be part of the story, but that didn’t really happen. It’s not part of history.”

          specifically how do you know that the narratives about Jesus in the New Testament did not happen?

          Which part? The part about him sleeping on a boat? Sure, that might’ve actually happened as described. But historians are very tough on miracle claims. There is no consensus view from historians that any miracle claim from any religious tradition actually happened.

          The New Testament meets or exceeds all of these standards.

          And the Mormon claims exceeds all that the NT claims. Given your passion for evidence, I think that means that you should join the LDS church.

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/03/7058/

        • MR

          Few people, let alone scholars, believe that every quote-unquote historical document contains nothing but the absolute truth. No religious believer believes someone else’s religious texts, even if they might accept some portion of it being based in some kind of truth. Only the religiously indoctrinated insist that their, ahem, narratives are the absolute truth. It’s hard to believe that he doesn’t understand his own fallacies, especially if he’s been following you all these years. Has it all gone in one ear and out the other? Or does he think we’re so stupid? Sigh, this is what indoctrination does to one’s brain.

        • I’ll never understand these guys …

        • Susan

          I’ll never understand these guys…

          I know, right?

          But it’s pretty simple. Start with an imaginary claim to which you are emotionally committed, and special plead your way from there.

          Accuse everyone who asks reasonable questions of thinking too much (instead of using your “heart” the way they say you should), or of being intellectually unsophisticated, or of being influenced by the devil.

          Or any combination of the above.

        • Cynthia

          My head hurts trying to figure out how someone can simultaneously be intellectually unsophisticated and “thinking too much”.

          I remember being genuinely confused when I first encountered the Christian apologetics types who seemed to get irritated with my questions. I was raised in a tradition where asking questions was a good thing – it showed that you were really thinking and engaging, so the harder the better.

        • Susan

          My head hurts trying to figure out how someone can simultaneously be intellectually unsophisticated and “thinking too much”.

          It always leaves me shaking my head. And the problem is always with the atheist. It can never have anything to do with christian claims not adding up.

          I was raised in a tradition where asking questions was a good thing – it showed that you were really thinking and engaging, so the harder the better.

          Most of the traditions with which I’m familiar like to say that asking questions is a good thing, but if you don’t accept inadequate answers for your questions, they start to get annoyed and see it as a character flaw.

          May I ask what tradition you were raised in?

        • Cynthia

          Jewish – a combination of denominations.

        • Susan

          Jewish – a combination of denominations.

          Now, I remember you. You were here a long while back.

          Your comments are always lovely and thoughtful and well-written.

          From what little I know, many Jewish traditions are less to do with obedience to a superstitious belief, and more about participation in thoughtful analysis, arguments and conduct.

          But I know very little.

          My experience with christian traditions is as I described in my earlier post.

        • Cynthia

          Thank you, that’s really nice of you to say.

          There is still stuff that you could call superstitious. I mean, my fairly rational parents were horrified that I set up Girl 1’s room before she was born and my MIL tied a red string around her wrist as a baby.

          But yeah, argument is allowed and even encouraged. The other thing is that belief by itself isn’t particularly valued. It’s the actions that count. I didn’t learn about groups that believe in salvation through faith alone until I was an adult, and it isn’t a natural way for me to think about religion.

        • Susan

          nice of you to say

          I’m just stating the obvious. I doubt I’m the only one here with that opinion. But, you’re welcome. 🙂

          There is still stuff that you could call superstitious. I mean, my fairly rational parents were horrified that I set up Girl 1’s room before she was born and my MIL tied a red string around her wrist as a baby.

          Superstitious thinking is very powerful. I’m astonished at how strongly I feel irrational things during, for instance, baseball season. Or even how, earlier when I mentioned that I have made it through this much of the winter without getting sick, how much it felt like I was putting the whammy on myself for saying it out loud.

          I assume these are Jewish superstitions you’re talking about. Every culture is full of them.

          argument is allowed and even encouraged. The other thing is that belief by itself isn’t particularly valued. It’s the actions that count

          All of that just sounds good.

          I didn’t learn about groups that believe in salvation through faith alone until I was an adult, and it isn’t a natural way for me to think about religion.

          How refreshing.

        • Cynthia

          Since the Super Bowl is coming up – I think there is a huge and interesting overlap between religion and sports.

          My biggest heresy is that I tell people that God doesn’t care which team wins.

          Consider playoff beards in sports. It is like a modern version of the Nazirite.

          I’ve visited the Hockey Hall of Fame, and that place is basically a temple to the hockey gods. I’ve seen winning a hockey series depicted as an epic struggle of good vs evil and/or a lesson on how perfect faith can result in a miracle.

          It gives a lot of insight into how a lot of people seem to have a natural inclination for “religious” thinking and rituals, even without an explicit belief in God behind it. I tend to think that the assumption of some atheists that everyone would suddenly be perfectly rational and peaceful and avoid tribalism without religion is disproven by sports fans.

        • Susan

          Consider playoff beards in sports.

          Exactly. But they’re harmless.

          I’ve seen winning a hockey series depicted as an epic struggle of good vs evil and/or a lesson on how perfect faith can result in a miracle.

          Yes, we love our myths. Stories in which doing the right thing gives us magical powers and just results.

          It gives a lot of insight into how a lot of people seem to have a natural inclination for “religious” thinking and rituals, even without an explicit belief in God behind it

          It does. It reminds us how irrational most of us naturally are. The problem is when we don’t recognize that when we try to claim those irrational thoughts are connected to external reality. Especially when we institutionalize it and impose it on others.

          I tend to think that the assumption of some atheists that everyone would suddenly be perfectly rational and peaceful and avoid tribalism without religion is disproven by sports fans.

          I agree and by many other things.

          But it’s a rare and naive assumption. I think many atheists can just see how the irrationality of religious claims and assumptions about reality can and does cause terrible problems.

          One claim at a time.

          Saying that I don’t accept that an incoherent deity with any combination of qualities exists, doesn’t mean that I am proclaiming myself a purely rational being, nor does it mean that irrational thinking is restricted to religion.

          We have climate change denialists, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, etc.

          But god claims are on that list.

        • Sample1

          Sport is also arguably tied to evolution perhaps even more so than religion, though I take your point about that. As someone who plays hockey, I can agree it’s loaded with superstition with goaltenders being veritable shamans. I long to pilgrimage to Ottawa Toronto and gaze upon those hockey relics. Me, an atheist.

          But sport among humans is also arguably an evolved analog for hunting. It’s about cooperation, exertion, planning and conquering. The same skills needed for hunting, only performed bloodlessly and, in hockey, shaking hands civilly after each game. Hunting to hockey, it happened.

          Is it really unfathomable that hunting for food could someday become globally obsolete? What would the inhabitants of such a future say if someone today said they couldn’t therefore be rational and peaceful?

          Suddenly is the word you used that doesn’t fit for me. Gradual seems accurate. And so does betterism. We don’t expect sudden rationality en masse nor peacefulness, but becoming a little bit more rational, a little bit more peaceful is attainable. It’s happening already. I’ve no doubt future generations would scratch their heads if told their more rational and peaceful societies aren’t possible without the irrationalities found in many extant religions.

          Religion is a tool, a kind of technology. And technologies are rendered obsolete all the time without negatively impacting progress.

          Just my .02

          Mike

        • Susan

          But sport among humans is also arguably an evolved analog for hunting. It’s about cooperation, exertion, planning and conquering. The same skills needed for hunting, only performed bloodlessly and, in hockey, shaking hands civilly after each game. Hunting to hockey, it happened.

          One could replace “hunting” with “war” just as easily. The tactics and principles involved in killing fellow earthlings. Human or non-human.

          Suddenly is the word you used that doesn’t fit for me.

          I agree. This is a tactic that snake oil salesmen often use against us. That we have this concept that if only there were no religion, then there would be a utopian world full of rationality and kindness.

          I know that’s not what Cynthia is trying to do but I think it’s useful that we address that sort of reaction.

          Gradual seems accurate. And so does betterism. We don’t expect sudden rationality en masse nor peacefulness, but becoming a little bit more rational, a little bit more peaceful is attainable.

          Yes. Of course. That’s the best we can do. And it means we can do better.

          Religion is a tool, a kind of technology. And technologies are rendered obsolete all the time without negatively impacting progress.

          Nicely put.

        • Sample1

          Agreed. I’m also perplexed that we have the word overachiever and that it is often used pejoratively. I was just texting about someone I know who is a practicing veterinarian and is now finishing up her JD. I can’t wait to call her a Double D (double entendre meant). And no, she won’t be offended, she’d laugh.

          But yeah, for others it’s described in an exasperated sense as if achievements can be on a too much spectrum. Boggles my brain. Maybe I should investigate the etymology for that word as perhaps I’m missing some cultural importance worth retaining.

          Mike
          PS: you may find it of interest but she has made observations about law and how one behaves and thinks in law as compared to how she was trained in science. Ironically, what would be considered fraud in science is par for the course and quite accepted for lawyerly thinking and practice. I’m not deriding law, just accepting the fact that the methods between scientific ethics and law ethics are sometimes opppositional yet both occupations “work”.

          Edit done

        • In reading many of these comments regarding disbelief in the New Testament narratives of Jesus, there is one fundamental agreement that stands out: Your readers don’t like or agree with the way in which God has chosen to reveal Himself.

          You want proof that God exists, but when He comes to earth and performs miracles to prove He is God, you don’t believe miracles are possible, therefore you conclude that Jesus is just a myth, and you reject Him.

          Since it is by human words that we communicate with each other, it is reasonable that if God exists, He would also communicate with us by human words. The God of the Bible said that He called men set apart for Him, to write His communication to us.

          In this communication, God said that He would send us a Savior who would give every person an opportunity to live in a perfect world where there is no sin, evil, suffering or death. He said that He paid the cost so that salvation is free to anyone who will believe. God placed this salvation in our hands, it is up to each of us, what we will do with it.

          Jesus arrived on earth at the precise time that God planned, lived a perfect life, offers His perfect life for us and takes away all our sins that prevented us from obtaining eternal life.

          You don’t like this plan, or you don’t understand this plan, so reject it, outright.

          I get that. God gets that. He knew you would reject Him, but He died for you just the same. He wanted you to know that whatever your choice, He loved you before the foundation of the world and He wanted you to be saved.

        • MR

          Once again condescendingly insulting to those struggling with their faith. They know what they are going through and you blame them in return. They don’t reject God. You’re the one rejecting their valid concerns. Every one of us knows of some loved one who has struggled with the question of the existence of God. Most everyone goes through it at some point in their life. Even Mother Theresa had her doubts. It’s pathetic to blame people for their doubts. Despicable.

          For those of you struggling with your belief, take note of this victim blaming. This is the modus operandi of the religiously indoctrinated. This is the tactic of someone who knows they have no convincing argument, no evidence. They will shame you and blame you into belief rather than admit they have nothing. Does he imagine you’re children to fall for such a stupid trick? This is what religion does to you. You know that your struggle is real. Rather than address your very real concerns, your very real doubts, he’d rather resort to accusing you of rejecting God! It doesn’t get more pathetic than that.

        • Your response was not in context with what I was writing about. The subject at hand was the reliability or believability of the New Testament narrative of Jesus. The topic of the article itself is “New Testament Manuscript Reliability.”

          Your atheist readers don’t believe that the New Testament is true, largely because the New Testament ascribes miracles to Jesus. I was not speaking of the doubts of people who do believe in Jesus but have struggles with their faith. Read the response again.

          “In reading many of these comments regarding disbelief in the New Testament narratives of Jesus, there is one fundamental agreement that stands out: Your atheist readers don’t like or agree with the way in which God has chosen to reveal Himself.”

          The people who I was referencing in this response are atheists who deny the existence of God, not people who are struggling with their faith.

        • MR

          First, they’re not my readers. Apparently you’ve mistaken me for Bob. Especially since you don’t seem to respond to anyone but Bob. Second, you’re not referring to the readers, your referring to the commenters, and you’re grossly mischaracterizing them. I’ve been reading Bob’s blog for years, too, and find it difficult to believe that you don’t know that and aren’t doing so intentionally. I, however, am referring to the readers because what you say applies equally to them (ETA: the silent ones as well as the commenters). And my comment is perfectly in context because I’m referring to your words:

          He knew you would reject Him

          People don’t reject something they don’t believe in or aren’t sure exists. Mischaracterization and victim blaming. Your comments are insulting and condescending.

          And again, I just want to say to those of you who are struggling to take note of his tactics. His words are dismissive of your struggle. He’d rather place the blame on you than provide a reasonable argument or, God forbid, evidence for God’s existence. He’s handwaving to 2,000 year-old questionable manuscripts as evidence when God supposedly is alive and well and active today and more than anything wants you to know him. Is it any wonder that we doubt? Is this what you would expect from a omnipotent, loving God? Passive-aggressive tactics from his followers and radio silence from God himself? Does this make any sense? If God existed, it seems to me unlikely that he would choose a man who uses such tactics to deliver his message.

        • We played wedding songs,
          and you didn’t dance,
          so we played funeral songs,
          and you didn’t mourn.

        • Greg G.

          You say that God tries to communicate to us through words. A god who tried to do that should be more eloquent and completely original. That passage comes from Matthew 11:17 (Luke 7:32 is similar). So why quote Aesop?

          The Fisherman and His Pipe
          A Fisherman who could play the flute went down one day to the sea-shore with his nets and his flute; and, taking his stand on a projecting rock, began to play a tune, thinking that the music would bring the fish jumping out of the sea. He went on playing for some time, but not a fish appeared: so at last he threw down his flute and cast his net into the sea, and made a great haul of fish. When they were landed and he saw them leaping about on the shore, he cried, “You rascals! you wouldn’t dance when I piped: but now I’ve stopped, you can do nothing else!”

          Why does the core plot of the gospels match up with the plot line of The Life of Aesop? Why do Jesus’ encounters resemble so many of Odysseus’ encounters? Why do so many of Jesus’ miracles look like those attributed to Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and Vespasian?

          I would expect the originality of a god thingy to be more than a midrash of the literature of the day.

        • MR

          Several commenters have provided excellent counter arguments that this gentleman has simply ignored. Instead he provides what amounts to a petty schoolyard taunt. “You wouldn’t sing and dance with us, you wouldn’t play our silly reindeer games.” But that’s all he has, isn’t it, a song and dance. No argument, no evidence, shallow threats and taunts. Is this what we should expect from a man who claims to speak for the Master of the Universe? What a disappointment.

          He doesn’t address your concerns, he attacks your sincerity. You know your heart. Many of us have indeed mourned over the loss of our belief. My own mourning period lasted about five years where I looked for answers, asking God, begging God to reveal himself, and you know what I got? People like Robert Clifton Robinson who wanted to blame me, who want to blame you when they can’t demonstrate that God exists. People who will demonize you when their apologetic arguments, lies and handwaving fail.

          They dance all right, they dance with their strawmen, they dance their apologetic game, all the while ignoring your valid arguments, mischaracterizing your position, mocking your doubts, and threatening you with hell when all else fails. He makes false accusations about Bob and atheists in general. Look how he dodges or simply ignores their valid arguments. It’s easier to try to cast their sincerity into doubt rather than defend his own position. But you know your heart, you know you are sincere, you know that loved ones who have gone through or may be going through a similar struggle are sincere, you know your doubts are real, and you know he lies.

          This is what religion has to offer you.

        • Thank you for you comments. I think I understand you a liitle better. From what you wrote, it does not seem that you are an atheist. You are angry at Christians who judged you unfairly when you had serious questions abot God. You are hurt by religion and this has placed you in a state of unbelief. Is this correct?

        • Susan

          Is this correct?

          No.

        • MR

          Their creepy, dirty games. It’s bizarre.

        • MR

          Once again notice how he shifts the blame. He accuses me of being angry or hurt rather than acknowledging the simple truth that one could come to the logical conclusion that God likely doesn’t exist. Blame the victim. This lie is what they will tell their followers in order to try to keep them in the fold, and sometimes it’s the lie they tell themselves. (If, however, he’s been following Bob’s blog for years as he claims, and I think that’s likely true, I’ve seen him before on the site, then it’s hard to believe that he isn’t simply playing the typical apologist game. What it must do to a man’s soul to twist himself in deceit while proclaiming a truth he can’t even demonstrate.)

          But, as I said, those of you who are struggling with your faith, look into your hearts. You know your own motivations, you know the motivations of your loved ones. It’s not hard to see through the deception that Robert is laying down. It’s not hard to see how he dodges everyone’s valid challenges. How he presupposes his God in each comment. He won’t even try to relate to your own position. He’ll just twist it into something he can wield as a weapon against you. This is what religion does to you. If God existed, he’s certainly not in this man. 2,000 plus years and still no evidence. Just apologetics and victim blaming.

        • I understand you better than you might imagine. I have been in Christian ministry for 44 years. The greatest hurt I have ever endured came from Christian friends. Misunderstandings took place, lies were told by them, I lost a beloved ministry because of what these persons did to me.

          It hurt deeply but I never gave up on Jesus because I understood that this is how people are, but Jesus never treats me this way. Jesus said that he did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. It is the worst of the worst that Jesus came to save; people like me.

          For this reason I never let the bad behavior of people or church move me away from Jesus. All of the books and articles I write are written for the sole purpose of helping people who are struggling with their faith. If I can help you in any way, I am ready when you are.

        • MR

          You don’t understand me at all. I don’t believe in God not because of anger or hurt; there’s simply no evidence. You believe because you were indoctrinated, like we all were, in a society that believed in a millennia old superstition because we trusted and believed the people we loved and they trusted and believed the people they loved before them. They passed down a superstition over the centuries because of love and trust and because they didn’t know enough about the world around them. Then, there are people like you who go on to indoctrinate yourselves for another 44 years. Just look at how you phrased your comment to Bob about seeking God. Those are the same words a cultist would use. They’re not the words of someone seeking truth.

          Again, to those of you struggling with your faith, notice how he clings to his deceit. He resorts to gaslighting. Ask yourselves, who believes in something because they are angry or hurt? Is that why you don’t believe? No, we believe in things when there is evidence for the existence of the thing, and we disregard belief when there is no evidence or when the evidence is far-fetched. Do you not believe in leprechauns or fairies because you are angry or hurt? It’s a ridiculous argument and a lie that he will hammer, hammer, hammer. Do you think a man so willing to deceive is going to give you an honest argument? Just look at the things he said so far, look how he dodges the arguments. Ask him what he believes and to support it, ask him why he believes, then watch him dodge and squirm and blame you for being angry or hurt.

          Apologetics. Gotta love it.

        • If you study those who claim to be atheists, a person will discover a common thread that runs through a majority, but not all. There was a moment when these persons saw someone who claimed to believe in God as a phony or hypocrite; a religion that behaved badly; a loss or hurt occurred, that caused these persons to decide that God must not exist.

          Rarely does the difficulty begin with a lack of faith, or the absence of evidence as primary causes. It is after these people are hurt and the heart is wounded that these struggling persons can no longer reconcile how a God of love could let these things happen. From this point, these persons stop church, bible study, and prayer. They devote themselves to opposing religion, God, and especially those who believe in God and share their faith.

          The people who only have evidence as their barrier to faith in God, can find evidence sufficient to believe, if they do the necessary work.

        • MR

          Except that people don’t lose faith for those reasons. We all know people can be hypocrites. Seeing someone be a hypocrite might cause someone to then question the real reason they believe, sure, but the reason they quit believing is lack of evidence. Why do you believe? At what age were you introduced to God? At what age did you accept God? What caused you to believe?

        • I grew up in a non-religious home where we never talked about God or went to church. I was a Rock musician in the 70’s with a touring band. Although I had everything that people said we need to be happy, I was empty. I thought that there had to be more to this world that living and dying.

          I studied science, philosophy, religion and then I began to read the New Testament. I had never read a bible or been to church. I was intrigued by Jesus because I had never known anyone like Him. The way He spoke and treated people was stunning to me. It was because of what I read about Him that I decided to continue this search to find out who He really was. I began to research the origin of the New Testament and how the Old Testament had predicted a Messiah exactly like Jesus. I couldn’t understand why, if He was the Messiah, the Jews rejected Him.

          I decided that I would start going to a church where they taught the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I wandered into Calvary Chapel in Southern California and listened to Chuck Smith teach verse by verse through the Bible. Hearing it all put together as a single story, It all began to make sense to me.

          In 1975, I decided that the evidence for Jesus was credible and the narratives of the New Testament seemed to be true. I didn’t have all the answers at that point, but I went forward with several other long haired young people and asked Christ to come into my life. The change was immediate and powerful.

          It took another 5 years or so before I had a good foundation in the Bible and could understand how and why it was written. I have spent the rest of my life researching, studying, and publishing books to help people find out who Jesus is.

          I am probably one of the worst examples of a good Christian there is. Maybe that is why I depend so much upon my relationship with Jesus. I have found peace in His words and a fulfillment in knowing Him that I have never found in the world.

          I have a special place in my heart for anyone who is struggling with their faith, doubts, or feels like ending it all. I believe that knowing Jesus is the only thing in this world that is really worth living for.

          If I offended you in any way, I am sorry. I only wanted to understand you and why you feel as you do.

        • MR

          If I offended you in any way, I am sorry. I only wanted to understand you and why you feel as you do.

          No, you haven’t offended me in any way, and, by the way, I don’t believe you. These are the same words a cultist would use: “I only wanted to understand you and why you feel as you do.” When you hear those words, people, grab your wallets!

          Nowhere in your narrative do spell out why you believed. You start right out seeming to accept the story as already true. That doesn’t tell me how you came to believe. What specifically made you think, “Oh, this is true.” I mean, there is nothing inherently true about the Bible. There’s simply no way to determine that a bunch of fantastical events happened two thousand and more years ago. If the gospel had never been seen before today and were suddenly discovered somewhere, no one is going to read them and think, “Wow, this is true! Wow, the way this Jesus guy treats people is stunning!” You say you were intrigued by Jesus because you had never known anyone like him? What? Are you sure you haven’t rewritten that portion in your head? Those are clearly words that someone who is indoctrinated would say. Were you really that naive? Or maybe you think we are? How old were you again? Your characterization of the story is what’s stunning.

          Ah, now here is a clue:

          Although I had everything that people said we need to be happy, I was empty. I thought that there had to be more to this world that living and dying.

          Typical Christian testimonial wankery, but a clue that you believed for emotional reasons. Christians who come to believe later in life always seem to have emotional reasons for believing. Is that why you project emotional reasons on others? That they’re angry, that they hate God? That would explain things.

          It was because of what I read about Him that I decided to continue this search to find out who He really was.

          So, yeah, we skipped right over the why you believe. You’re just stating that you believed and then you went on to indoctrinate yourself for the next 44 years.

          It all began to make sense to me.

          And yet you already believed. Talk about cart before the horse!

          In 1975, I decided that the evidence for Jesus was credible and the narratives of the New Testament seemed to be true.

          What evidence? Specifically? I mean this is what I’m looking for. And yet…, you already believed. Look at everything that came before. You were intrigued by Jesus, you were emotionally sucked in, you joined a church, you indoctrinated yourself and then, “Lo! I decided that the evidence for Jesus was credible and the narratives of the New Testament seemed to be true.” <– And look at that! Only seemed to be true. Ouch. Before the indoctrination, before church, before you actually believed that Jesus was God, what evidence convinced you?

          I don’t know, your story is just, as I said, typical Christian testimony wankery. It speaks of an emotional conversion and extensive indoctrination. It’s so cliché, it’s hard to even be believable. It’s like you all tap into a formula that sounds good and that works in your head, but when you say it out loud, you sound as ridiculous as someone trying to convince you that fairies exist.

          Tell me something. Do you think that it’s possible you could be wrong? I certainly don’t discount that I could be wrong. What about you? Could you be wrong? If not, how do you know that you’re not?

        • Although I had everything that people said we need to be happy, I was empty.

          Lots of people feel that way. If religion (whatever that means to you) makes you feel better, and you’re not hurting anyone with your beliefs, great. Others have taken different routes.

          It was because of what I read about Him that I decided to continue this search to find out who He really was.

          I hope you don’t pretend that your journey will be startling to most of us. Most of us were Christian at some point.

          I began to research the origin of the New Testament and how the Old Testament had predicted a Messiah exactly like Jesus.

          Where?

          I couldn’t understand why, if He was the Messiah, the Jews rejected Him.

          Are you joking? Because Christians view the data to fit it to their preconception that Jesus was the Messiah! No, Jews don’t see the Trinity in Genesis. No, Jews don’t see Satan and a premonition of Jesus in the Garden of Eden. And so on.

          I am probably one of the worst examples of a good Christian there is.

          What?? You’re a despicable sinner, too? Who’d have thought that that would be true of so many Christians??

          I have a special place in my heart for anyone who is struggling with their faith, doubts, or feels like ending it all. I believe that knowing Jesus is the only thing in this world that is really worth living for.

          So when atheists tell you that it’s actually freeing to drop the nonsensical baggage of Christianity, how do you respond?

        • Greg G.

          The people who only have evidence as their barrier to faith in God, can find evidence sufficient to believe, if they do the necessary work.

          Sufficient evidence for a gullible person is not sufficient evidence for a reasonable person. There are a few hundred things within my eyesight in my office that I have sufficient evidence to believe they exist, so my demand for sufficient evidence is not difficult to meet.

        • Oh, please. I’m taking a little extra care with your comments because you’re a fellow Robert, but seriously, you’re embarrassing yourself.

          When an atheist tells you why they’re an atheist, it’d be polite to take notes or try to understand or say, “Thank you.” Correcting them is impolite and makes them think that you’re a clueless and insensitive jerk. And, given your comments, that sounds like a good guess.

          Atheists actually know that God exists but are damaged somehow so they just say that they’re atheists? Nope. But here’s the good news: you’ve got a bunch of smart atheists right here. Talk to them and find out why they have no god belief.

        • Sample1

          Falling in love with a real person, for me, was the easiest thing in the world.

          But with your invisible person, you say that it takes work. Well, I should think fucking so!

          That isn’t love, more like a forced arrangement, long distance no less.

          Keep it.

          Mike

        • I never gave up on Jesus because I understood that this is how people are, but Jesus never treats me this way.

          Oh? And how does Jesus treat you? When you answer, please highlight how you know that Jesus isn’t just a feeling or projection of your own mind and that he actually exists. Given the evidence that most Christians give, Jesus is identical to a person who doesn’t exist.

          I expand on this relationship question here:
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/09/christian-claims-beyond-extraordinary/

          It is the worst of the worst that Jesus came to save; people like me.

          Makes God look pretty inept, doesn’t it, when this world is part of his Perfect Plan?

          If I can help you in any way, I am ready when you are.

          That’s a nice thought, but I doubt you have what you need to have to make a compelling argument: evidence. If God existed and he was eager for a relationship with us, he’d have a relationship with us.

        • If I can help you in any way, I am ready when you are.

          I could’ve reciprocated before, but that didn’t occur to me. My apologies.

          If you’re questioning your faith, the Clergy Project has a blog here (https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rationaldoubt ). There are lots of clergy who’ve had doubts, and they have provided support and advice to hundreds of such clergy people.

        • Pofarmer

          Of course Jesus doesn’t treat you that way. He’s in your head.

        • Kinda rude to tell someone what they actually are, don’t you think? Is your next trick telling us that we had bad father figures, so that’s why we’re atheists?

        • Some Christians like to argue how fantastic it is that they can lay their problems at the feet of Jesus and have faith that they’ll be addressed. Things get sticky when those problems aren’t gone and now they’ve got the additional problem of rationalizing God’s indifference.

        • MR

          I’ve seen it my entire life. They’ll just blame it on Satan, or democrats, or say when God closes a door he opens a window, that it’s a test, that… fill in the blank with Christian cliche. It’s always a win/win for the idea of God. Even when he doesn’t actually do anything. Or exist, even.

        • None of which they get from the Bible, of course. Seems to me that they’re being disrespectful if they refuse to let the Bible speak for itself. It’s like the Bible is the wife of a man with a ’50s attitude toward women. The Bible/wife says something, and the guy quickly says, “You see, what it/she really means is this.”

        • Sample1

          Testing. Ugh. So true. What does it say about someone testing another who doesn’t know they are under examination? Testing others is typically on the manipulation spectrum ranging from immature to sociopathy. Maybe there are some examples where secretly testing another is prudent (a baby sitter, military, etc.,) but for an Omni-Max god who is supposed to represent the paragon of personal relationships, well, it makes no good sense.

          Mike

        • MR

          Interesting you highlight this tonight as I was just discussing a dear friend who just terminated a relationship where every little thing was a minefield of testing: “Why are there pictures of your late wife in your house? She’s been gone three years. Why did you visit your ex-wife’s grave with your daughters? When are you going to be over her? I’m depressed; I’m suicidal; You don’t love me….” It was all me. me. me. God is like that I think. God is really “me” for people, their sense of right and wrong and the way the world should be, even if it falls short. Not my unrealistic expectations God’s fault; it’s the world and all it represents. Sigh.

        • People do that, but we have higher standards for God. (Well, atheists have higher standards for God.)

        • Sample1

          Sorrow for your friend or congratulatory depending on how he chooses to approach that. Pretty firm believer of right and successful breakups and divorces. And that it doesn’t have to have sadness dominate the experience though societies still typically pressure us to think that way. Even years later I still get an immediate reaction of gloominess if for whatever reason it matter of factly comes up. And then when it’s described as a good thing, surprise and moral confusion sometimes results from the enquirer. And then the subject becomes about their feelings and energy is needed to address those! It’s kinda ridiculous but oh well.

          God is essentially an invisible personage of the believer. And when he isn’t, there is someone in power who has the invisible personage of power to put the others back in place. I guess it’s invisible politics and law for directing human behavior.

          I don’t know if you were ever a believer but it’s a strangely satisfying experience to reflect upon “just what the hell was that all about” after it’s discarded, though for too many a lot of time is unrecoverable and that’s a bummer.

          Mike

        • MR

          He’s not taking it so great. He needs a relationship. Plus the embarrassment of having put it out there on Facebook and telling people in his church. He needs a relationship to, ahem, ground him, rather than being grounded so he can find a relationship. They both emphasized their relationship with church and God, but, you’re right, when you leave the god-thingy behind, it’s all so much clearer. “This is a relationship headed for disaster, and your belief in God ain’t gonna fix it, buddy.” Fortunately, it’s over, and–again nicely put–without the Jesus goggles you just want to say (but can’t), “Now, just what the hell was that all about?”

        • Susan

          We played wedding songs,
          and you didn’t dance,
          so we played funeral songs,
          and you didn’t mourn.

          We hawked snake oil
          and you weren’t buying.

        • Susan

          In reading many of these comments regarding disbelief in the New Testament narratives of Jesus, there is one fundamental agreement that stands out: Your readers don’t like or agree with the way in which God has chosen to reveal Himself.

          Don’t be silly. You just made a bunch of historical claims and when the historical method was pointed out to you, rather than admitting you’re being inconsistent, you instantly changed the subject to another canard.

          If there is something that stands out, it’s that you’re here to be a flashing billboard, not to support your claims or to honestly evaluate them.

          You want proof that God exists

          Basically, you are making a claim. How do you support it? If you attempt special pleading (as you have already done), then there is no reason to accept your claim. To continue to make further claims based on the original claim is dishonest.

          Since it is by human words that we communicate with each other, it is reasonable that if God exists, He would also communicate with us by human words.

          The only reasonable place to start is to assume that human words are being used by humans. They all look like mundane human claims about the supernatural that don’t add up. Just like all the other supernatural claims that humans make that you don’t consider seriously for a second.

          God said that He would send us a Savior who would give every person an opportunity to live in a perfect world where there is no sin, evil, suffering or death.

          Why not just create a world without evil, suffering and death to begin with? Why put countless life forms through suffering and death for hundreds of millions of years before anything remotely resembling a human existed? Why are countless non-human life forms suffering and dying to this day?

          It doesn’t add up. You are preaching from a book that humans wrote that is neither convincing nor inspiring and you are repeating standard apologetic canards to defend it. When problems with those canards come up, you change to the next canard and continue preaching.

          How about you address the link I gave you to the The Historical Method rather than move on to preaching to us.

          We’ve heard it all. I heard it all my life. I have no reason to believe it’s true.

          If you’re going to make claims about history, don’t change the subject.

        • Pofarmer
        • Your readers don’t like or agree with the way in which God has chosen to reveal Himself.

          You seem to be assuming God’s existence. I don’t. I’m criticizing, not God, but your story. It doesn’t make sense, and I’d be an idiot to accept a supernatural story that doesn’t make sense.

          You want proof that God exists

          No, just excellent evidence.

          but when He comes to earth and performs miracles to prove He is God, you don’t believe miracles are possible

          Did he perform miracles? Not that I know of. I didn’t see anything. And all you’ve got are ancient stories that are basically indistinguishable from the supernatural stories from other areas of the ancient near east. You seriously think this is compelling?

          You don’t like this plan, or you don’t understand this plan, so reject it, outright.

          If the plan makes no sense, I’m obliged to reject it. Isn’t that what you do when someone tells you a foolish story?

          He knew you would reject Him, but He died for you just the same.

          Right—Romans 5:19. See you in heaven.

        • MR

          Notice how he mischaracterizes everything. Since when is God a god of deceit? They undermine everything they say when they do this.

        • Phil

          God said that He would send us a Savior who would give every person an opportunity to live in a perfect world where there is no sin, evil, suffering or death.

          Tell that to all the babies that die horribly every day.

        • Susan

          We validate all historical events of antiquity by the surviving manuscript copies which describe these events.

          No. We might begin there. Where else could we? From reports.

          But you have to deal with the historical method.

          Which is a rough guideline of what historians are supposed to do.

          “History” vs “Bible History” is starting to look to me like the philosophy department vs. the philosophy of religion department.

          That is, that philosophers have to actually do philosophy while philosophers of religion get to assume their premise and proceed from there.

          Or maybe I’m just getting a skewed perspective because of apologists and people like you, who just repeat apologetics.

          =====

          Edit one minute later: The underlined “the historical method” is a link to a rough guideline of what historians are supposed to do. Please click on it.

        • Thank you Susan. I am aware of the Historical Method. I used this procedure in validating the narratives of the New Testament as actual historical events and published this material.

        • Susan

          I used this procedure in validating the narratives of the New Testament as actual historical events and published this material.

          That statement appears to be false based on your interactions here.

        • MR

          Appears to be? It’s clearly false! His method is to ignore or hand wave what doesn’t fit into his predetermined narrative. His method is a recipe for gullibility.

          And, I just knew there was a pitch coming. He’s ignored everyone’s valid arguments so he can promote his own material. He’s not interested in honest discourse here.

        • Pofarmer

          Which my published, he means wrote a bunch of stupid on his blog.

        • Susan

          published, he means wrote a bunch of stupid on his blog.

          Yes, another one of those guys.

        • Susan

          Or is the New Testament treated differently because it describes supernatural events that you cannot explain, and therefore disqualify?

          No. It is not. History cannot deal with supernatural claims or it would be rife with all of them.

          Are you willing to read history through all supernatural lenses or just yours (which are as mundane and unsupported as all the supernatural claims you dismiss)?

          Second, specifically how do you know that the narratives about Jesus in the New Testament did not happen?

          We don’t. It’s just that there’s no reason to believe that they did. They look exactly like all the other supernatural claims you don’t waste a moment’s sleep on. That is, how do you know that Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox, Babe, didn’t happen?

          What process are you using to make this conclusion?

          Evidence-based scepticism. Your supernatural claims aren’t special until you show they are. If you accuse me of scientism here, I’ll have to point out that you dismiss thousands of supernatural claims without showing a distinction between those and yours.

          You need to show a distinction (not a difference, I mean a distinction that makes them more real, not unique… they’re all unique). Until you do, then don’t expect your supernatural beliefs to be more historically valid than the thousands you dismiss.

          The New Testament meets or exceeds all of these standards.

          Bullshit. “The” New Testament doesn’t even begin to do that.

        • Greg G.

          We validate all historical events of antiquity by the surviving manuscript copies which describe these events.

          No, historical events are evaluated by the plausibility of the written words after all of the magic claims are omitted and how much archaeological support the claims have.

          If you don’t accept that the events described in the surviving New Testament manuscript are true, do you use this same criteria to validate secular manuscripts?

          Sure. The gospels are more like the Odyssey than a real life event. The epistles do not have the miracles or the preacher/teacher from Galilee and everything they say about Jesus seems to come from the Old Testament.

          Or is the New Testament treated differently because it describes supernatural events that you cannot explain, and therefore disqualify?

          Those accounts are treated exactly the way they are treated in other writings. They are treated as superstition and dismissed for being implausible.

          Second, specifically how do you know that the narratives about Jesus in the New Testament did not happen? What process are you using to make this conclusion? I have used all the tools that are known and in process today to validate all events of antiquity to determine if they meet the criteria for valid historical events. The New Testament meets or exceeds all of these standards.

          Have you considered that the Gospel of Mark is simply literature and compared it to the literature of the day? The miracles compare with stories from Homer and some other sources and even some of the plausible events are comparable to other writings but with some Old Testament passages blended in.

          The other gospels relied on Mark and added more such writings. Luke/Acts relied heavily on Antiquities of the Jews and Josephus’ autobiography. If it was just coincidence, we should see it throughout the Gospel of Luke but the “coincidences” are concentrated in the parts of Luke that do not come from Mark and Matthew.

        • Cynthia

          Accurate dating of a document is just a first step.

          A document is simply proof that someone wrote something down. That is the assumption that I use for everything, old or new.

          From there, you need to explore what motivated someone to write what they did.

      • Susan

        Apply this same rule to all secular extant manuscripts

        Yes. That’s what historians are supposed to do.

        Now, apply your rule to other cults.

  • Interesting data points, thanks. If you come across more in this category, please pass it along.

  • “The crucifixion is at about 30 CE, and Matthew was written in about 80.”

    How do you know this?

    • I don’t. Those are the popular assumptions.

      • Since you are using assumptions, how is it that you can invalidate a very early writing of the Gospels and other New Testament letters? Certainly there is far more evidence, that I have seen in the record, that helps us validate that the original autographs were written within a few years of the events which are described. There is nothing in the record that would preclude this “assumption,” other than speculation or conjecture that it did not happen, for the purpose of trying to invalidate the reliability of the New Testament.

        • I don’t recall invalidating anything. Elaborate.

          Then you need to go beat up the NT scholars, the consensus of whom are saying that Mark was written in about 70 and the others after that. Don’t whine to me about it.

  • My latest comment was marked as “spam,” and deleted.

    • MR

      M’eh. No one believes other similar manuscripts. You cherry pick these and decide they’re true.

      This is sufficient evidence… for any intelligent gullible person to believe the New Testament is true.

      FTFY

    • MR

      There have been many great comments on other subjects, thanks to those who responded to my remarks.

      Why don’t you go back and respond to all the great challenges that people have made to your comments. Why have you ignored them and run away from them?

    • epeeist

      It is highly likely that there were tens of thousands of additional copies of the New Testament letters that were also penned, which did not survive time and decay. This is a matter of basic logic.

      Additional copies possibly, “tens of thousands” is simply a made up number, unless you can show otherwise of course.

    • Greg G.

      It is highly likely that there were tens of thousands of additional copies of the New Testament letters that were also penned, which did not survive time and decay. This is a matter of basic logic.

      Maybe, maybe even probable, but they tell us nothing about the reliability of manuscripts. We have about 327 manuscripts from the mid-9th century and earlier. We have about 822 from the early 11th century and earlier. We have about 1540 from the early 12th century. Most of the manuscripts we have were produced in the last 800 years, centuries after the originals.

      Papyrus autographs (originals) found in Egypt, have survived up to 3,700 years due to the dry climate in Egypt.

      Understanding that in P46 (and others), we have good copies of entire letters of the New Testament from before 225, this is sufficient evidence that the original autographs were written not long after the events took place.

      Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer was produced much closer in history to the alleged events than P46 was to the alleged events. 225AD might be closer to the time the events were invented.

      P52 is a papyrus scrap that many claim is from the early second century. The extant letters match up precisely with the Gospel of John. However, there is a great deal of missing parchment from the scrap. One of the holes is too small to have had the complete text from that passage of John compared to the majority of manuscripts of John. One can guess what is missing but you don’t know what is missing. This is an example of the oldest manuscripts showing that the later copies are not necessarily valid.

      Scholars identify ancient writings as Bible manuscripts by how well they match up with later manuscripts. But if the manuscript happens to be like the original but the later manuscripts have completely rewritten a story, it will be rejected. The methodology is biased as self-confirming.

      This allows us to understand that the disciples were writing the events of Jesus on papyrus not long after the events took place.

      The gospels tell about a preacher/teach from Galilee. The early epistles tell none of that. The early epistles don’t say anything about Jesus that doesn’t appear to come from the Old Testament. The gospels seem to be blending OT writings with the literature of the day, both fictional and historical, to create the deeds of Jesus. It looks invented.

      You say, it didn’t happen. These surviving manuscripts says these events did happen. Since you weren’t there and the men who were, wrote these things, I believe them, not you.

      I look at the evidence to determine the genre of an ancient writing before I believe it.

      Rejecting the narratives of Jesus because they contain descriptions of miracles for Jesus, is not a valid argument.

      Yes, it is. It is the historical method. You make extraordinary claims, you need extraordinary evidence. Most of the miracles attributed to Jesus are similar to the miracles of Moses, Elijah, and Elisha. The spit miracles are like the miracles attributed to Vespasian at the Serapis temple.

      This is sufficient evidence (and there are many others) for any intelligent person to believe the New Testament is true.

      Toto has pulled back the curtain.

    • Lex Lata

      Hmm. Hard to know where to begin.

      1. Let’s start with this: “The appearance of the Codex before the end of 100, was used exclusively by Christians.” What specific Codex are you talking about?

      2. Glad you mentioned the Old Testament. I’ll reframe a question I posed (and you ignored) elsewhere: Do you think the OT account of Joshua stopping the sun in the sky for a day with his prayers at Gibeon is historically accurate?

      Thanks!

  • It is highly likely that there were tens of thousands of additional copies of the New Testament letters that were also penned, which did not survive time and decay.

    OK. How does this strengthen your case?

    Understanding that in P46 (and others), we have good copies of entire letters of the New Testament from before 225, this is sufficient evidence that the original autographs were written not long after the events took place.

    We have two time gaps: (1) from event to autograph and (2) from autograph to our oldest copies. How does an old copy inform us about (1)?

    More importantly, a single copy from 225 CE is abysmal evidence for something that you tell us is phenomenally important.

    The thought experiment in this post may help illustrate the problem:
    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/04/a-simple-thought-experiment-defeats-claim-that-bible-is-accurate/

    Jesus told the disciples that He would “bring to their remembrance” all things He said and did

    So this increases a historian’s confidence in the accuracy of the original? Uh, no, it doesn’t work that way. The document saying, “Trust me, I got this right” doesn’t increase our confidence.

    Then He told them to take what they saw and heard and send it to the whole world, which is precisely what history shows they did.

    A story spread. That doesn’t mean it’s what happened in the 30s CE.

    These things being understood, we have a reliable narrative of what took place during the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

    Yeah? Convince historians that all the supernatural stuff actually happened. Convince librarians to file the Bible (unlike the other holy books) in the History section.

    fulfill the Old Testament prophecies for Messiah.

    Like what?

    Wm. Lane Craig handwaves an argument that the Jesus story confounded OT claims for the Messiah. (And, because of the Criterion of Embarrassment, we should see that as more likely accurate.)

    He was was crucified, and rose from the dead on the third day.

    The Bible itself gets this wrong. The New Testament points to Jonah, which talks about 3 days and 3 nights. Jesus wasn’t gone for 3 nights.

    These events were predicted for the Messiah by the Hebrew prophets, the writers of the New Testament said Jesus fulfilled these prophecies, all over the N/T.

    How do you know the gospel authors didn’t just write in those “fulfillments”? They knew the OT, after all, and they could’ve identified passages they wanted to “fulfill” in their story.

    You say, it didn’t happen.

    I say that the supernatural tales are very easily explained naturally. If you say that it actually happened just like it says (healings, resurrections, walking on water), you need to make a case.

    These surviving manuscripts says these events did happen.

    And the Alexander Romance says that the sea drew back in in submission to Alexander. If you can have your evidence-less supernatural claims, I can have mine.

    Since you weren’t there and the men who were, wrote these things, I believe them, not you.

    So then you believe the Alexander Romance? How about Merlin being a shapeshifter? How about the Mohammed’s flight to heaven on a winged horse named Buraq?

    Rejecting the narratives of Jesus because they contain descriptions of miracles for Jesus, is not a valid argument.

    And yet you don’t lift a finger to support the literally incredible claims made for Jesus. Don’t whine when we make quite sensible demands for evidence.

    You say they’re true? Convince us.

    The men who wrote that Jesus performed these miracles, even though they saw Him do these things, did not believe in Him at first.

    C’mon, be an adult here, OK? They’re 2000-yo stories. You say they’re history? You’ve got a lot of explaining to do. Go.

    These men state repeatedly throughout the N/T that they saw these things with their eyes, heard them and are witnesses of these events.

    Oh, well, if it’s right there in black and white, I’ve just gotta believe it, right?

    This is sufficient evidence (and there are many others) for any intelligent person to believe the New Testament is true.

    Yeah? Show us how it’s done. Believe in the Book of Mormon to model this process for us. Tell us how that went, and maybe we’ll follow your lead.

    • Thanks Bob, I will respond when I get a break from my current project.

      • Susan

        I will respond when I get a break from my current project.

        In Croydon, no doubt.

        Take all the time you need, but when you come back, please respond to the points.

        Don’t hit the reset button.

        • Pofarmer

          He’s talking bubbles, nothing is going to change that, more than likely.

        • MR

          He doesn’t like being challenged on his beliefs, poor thing. The arguments sound good in his head until people point out the obvious holes. He just wanted to come here to promote his material, and y’all keep shooting holes in it!

        • TheNuszAbides

          If his greatest inspirations occur when he’s talking to himself …

      • MR

        Nobody believes everything that was in secular texts, either. People had agendas [among many other reasons why texts are untrustworthy]. Scholars know to take everything with a grain of salt. You should know that, too.

      • epeeist

        In string theory within quantum physics, scientists tell us that up to eleven dimensions may exist. John 20:26-28 records that after Jesus was resurrected, He appeared to the disciples suddenly within a room with a locked door. Quantum Physicists who ave examined this text state that in order for Jesus to appear suddenly in this room without going through a physical structure, this would require access to a sixth dimension.

        You can of course produce the Lagrangian for this, or at least some Feynman diagrams. Because if you can’t then I am going to assume this is just unutterable, made up bullshit.

        • Pofarmer

          Thing is, if he’s willing to go that far into the stupid to “win” an argument, why would you trust anything he says about anything?

      • Greg G.

        If the New Testament was a collection of secular texts, absent the miracles, their authenticity would be largely regarded as beyond all doubt, because of the shear number of surviving manuscripts. It is because of the miracles that are described in the N/T, that it is regarded as contrived and the great numbers of extant manuscripts becomes irrelevant.

        The Harry Potter series is a collection of secular texts. Take out the magic and it still looks like fiction. The sheer numbers of copies are irrelevant.

        We can reject the miracle accounts because that is the historical method. We can also reject the miracle stories because they appear to be based on the miracles in the OT, Vespasian propaganda, and other literature. We can then reject the other parts of the story because they appear to be based on other literature. We do not need to consider whether the impossibility of miracles because they appear to be plagiarism.

    • More importantly, a single copy from 225 CE is abysmal evidence for something that you tell us is phenomenally important.

      P46 is not a single copy, it is 13 N/T letters in 17 Manuscript copies. The crucifixion and resurrection are described repeatedly.

      Jesus told the disciples that He would “bring to their remembrance” all things He said and did.

      So this increases a historian’s confidence in the accuracy of the original? Uh, no, it doesn’t work that way. The document saying, “Trust me, I got this right” doesn’t increase our confidence.

      The reason that I included this detail is because many critics say that there is no way that the writers of the N/T could have remembered the detailed texts that they wrote. This fact; that Jesus spoke to these men and reminded them what happened so they could accurately write, is not going to be understood by anyone who does not know that the God of the Bible speaks to those who love Him and communicates with their minds.

      In John 3, a Pharisee of the Sanhedrin, came to Jesus to ask who He is. Jesus explained to Nicodemus that unless a person is born a second time, by the Spirt of God, they cannot know or understand the kingdom of God. I don’t know if you understand this, but it is nevertheless, what Jesus said. I have had this two way communication with the Lord since 1975.

      Just two days ago, I was walking at an outdoor mall and the Lord spoke to me and said that a woman nearby was in distress. I looked around and saw two women sitting together about 25 yards away. I walked closer and saw that one was crying. I said to her, “excuse me, I am sorry to interrupt your conversation. The Lord told me that you were in despair and to find you and tell you that he has heard your sorrow and He is with you now in your distress.” She began to weep and said, “my mother just passed away and I feel like I am not going to make it.” I stayed with her for awhile and encouraged her. She was visibly shaken that her sorrow was known by God and that He would send someone to tell her that He cared for her and she was loved.

      In the 44 years I have known Jesus, this has happened to me thousands of times.

      In 2010, I was on vacation on a remote island in the Philippines. While there, I walked among the poor fishermen to get to know the people. I saw more poverty than I imagined was possible. As I stood and spoke with the people of that village, I felt overwhelmed by their suffering and then the Lord spoke to my heart and said “Help Them.” I went back to the U.S., sold my home and moved to that Island. The next year a category 5 Super typhoon devastated the island and destroyed every home. I realized that when the Lord had spoken to me, that He knew what was going to happen the next year. He sent me there to be ready when their lives were devastated. Every home on that small island was destroyed and they had nothing, entire families sleeping out in the rain. We rebuilt 61 new homes for the people in our area. I would never have known this was going to happen or that I should go there to help these dear people who were unknown to the world, unless the Lord had spoken to me.

      I have told you this story, understanding that you will not likely believe me. Perhaps you will think that I was just imagining that the Lord spoke to me. The reality is that this has been a fundamental reality of my entire life and it is one of the reasons that I know that Jesus is real, personal, filled with love and cares about all of us. This fact that He does speak to those who love Him, is also how I know that when the New Testament records that Jesus promised to “bring to their remembrance, all things He had done,” so that they could write it down and tell the world all about Jesus, I know that it is true.

      I will continue to try and answer your other questions in the next post.

      • many critics say that there is no way that the writers of the N/T could have remembered the detailed texts that they wrote. This fact; that Jesus spoke to these men and reminded them what happened so they could accurately write, is not going to be understood by anyone who does not know that the God of the Bible speaks to those who love Him and communicates with their minds.

        Right—someone who’s not a Christian won’t take for granted that the Christian holy book is accurate.

        You’re saying that Jesus miraculously ensured that their memories were accurate decades later? Sure, you can believe that, but don’t expect us to.

        I stayed with her for awhile and encouraged her. She was visibly shaken that her sorrow was known by God and that He would send someone to tell her that He cared for her and she was loved.

        The takeaway for me from this story is that you had the sensitivity to see that someone was in distress and the concern to break through the typical barriers we all have in engaging with strangers to try to offer comfort. That’s a good lesson for all of us.

        The lesson is all in the natural world. I don’t need anything supernatural to understand or appreciate or learn from the story.

        In the 44 years I have known Jesus, this has happened to me thousands of times.

        OK. Is there anything I should take from this?

        Every home on that small island was destroyed and they had nothing, entire families sleeping out in the rain. We rebuilt 61 new homes for the people in our area. I would never have known this was going to happen or that I should go there to help these dear people who were unknown to the world, unless the Lord had spoken to me.

        There are 2 takeaways here. Assuming the story is correct, (1) Robert is a caring person and (2) his god isn’t (stronger words come to mind, but I’ll struggle to keep this G-rated).

        I have told you this story, understanding that you will not likely believe me.

        I don’t believe the supernatural claims, but I don’t need to. Natural explanations work fine.

        Your comments about your relationship with Jesus/God make me think of this post.
        https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/09/christian-claims-beyond-extraordinary/

        Perhaps you will think that I was just imagining that the Lord spoke to me.

        You have a worldview. God speaking to you makes sense in your worldview. No, I don’t think it actually happened like that; that was just your interpretation.

        I’m happy to believe in God, but I need evidence. “Robert thinks that God spoke to him” counts for nothing. Sorry. It’s also true that the Scientologist’s or Muslim’s or Mormon’s personal experience with the supernatural counts for nothing.

        This fact that He does speak to those who love Him

        Does he? Chat with the ex-Christians who spent months slowly slipping away from faith unwillingly, begging God to reveal himself. You’ll get an earful.

        how I know that when the New Testament records that Jesus promised to “bring to their remembrance, all things He had done,” so that they could write it down and tell the world all about Jesus, I know that it is true.

        You can imagine what I do with evidence-less claims: probably the same thing you do with the same kinds of claims from some other religion.

        • MR

          Evidence-less, emotionally-charged testimony is generally the realm of cults. One imagines that an all-powerful being would have various tools at his disposal, even reason, logic, evidence, common sense…, just showing up….

        • George Carlin noted that God was all-powerful, all-knowing, etc. … but just couldn’t handle money. Another challenge for him is simply existing. What we find so easy–proving our existence–is the toughest thing.

          And people think God’s got it so easy.

        • MR

          I noticed this in his post to me when I asked him what convinced him to believe. Rather than provide reasons or, you know, evidence. It was all me, me, me. Testimonial is what this guy is about, not evidence, and more specifically his own testimonial. This guy has a huge ego.

          Look at his post to me. “I grew up in a non-religious home…, I was a Rock musician…, I had everything…, I was empty, I thought, I studied, I was intrigued, I decided, I began, I have a special place…, oh, my God, Every single paragraph had “I” as the subject and almost every sentence!

          Look at his response to you…, he starts out giving a (weak) argument, but he just can’t help himself:

          “I was walking at an outdoor mall and the Lord spoke to me…,” I approached the woman, I comforted her, I encouraged her, I told her about God….

          Because there’s nothing creepy about preying on the emotional distress of others, amiright?

          “I was on vacation, I walked among the poor, I saw, I stood, I spoke, I felt overwhelmed, the Lord spoke to my heart, I sold my home, he sent me there.”

          Basically, he is his own God in his own story.

          I think he knows he can’t win on objective evidence so he has to turn to his own ego and rely on his honed skills of testimony [(44 years of indoctrination and indoctrinating others)] with hopes that we will believe him on his own merits. All he has is a “trust me” and a nod and a wink, along with some emotional driven testimony. There’s no evidence. It’s the kind of testimony that only the gullible fall for. It’s Susan’s snake oil.

          Caveat emptor

        • I noticed this in his post to me when I asked him what convinced him to believe. Rather than provide reasons or, you know, evidence. It was all me, me, me. Testimonial is what this guy is about, not evidence, and more specifically his own testimonial. This guy has a huge ego.

          Well, yeah. He’s a pastor. And you’re . . . not.

          “I was walking at an outdoor mall and the Lord spoke to me…,” I approached the woman, I comforted her, I encouraged her, I told her about God….
          Because there’s nothing creepy about preying on the emotional distress of others, amiright?

          If he won another soul for Christ, it was all worth it.

          Maybe he’d share with us some of the encounters that didn’t play out in textbook fashion. He must have many.

          All he has is a “trust me” and a nod and a wink, along with some emotional driven testimony. There’s no evidence. It’s the kind of testimony that only the gullible fall for. It’s Susan’s snake oil.

          Unfortunately, there are plenty of them.

        • Susan

          Testimonial is what this guy is about, not evidence, and more specifically his own testimonial.

          It sounds like an off-the-rack testimonial. I mean, come on. “I was in a 70s rock band”? How many times have I heard that from the catalogue?

          Now, this is a guy who came here to lecture us on the anti-christian bias of history, who has made no effort to address the methodology historians have to begin with, and when that fails, gives us off-the-rack testimonials.

          What sort of historian makes that move?

          No, he has something to sell and if one tactic fails, he just moves on to the next one.

          If he were honest, he’d just skip the history lesson and go to the testimonial. But he won’t. He’ll make the same unfounded “historical” claims next time. Every time. Until that tactic doesn’t work and then he’ll start in about our unfortunate experiences with the church. When that doesn’t work, he’ll tell us about how the Lord led him to good things.

          Basic human decency doesn’t seem to exist among apologists. They’ll lie and deflect as often as they have to.

        • MR

          Yup. He bails when he can’t take the heat, then jumps back to start a fresh thread for higher visibility with the same wankery, and now he’s plugging his book! He’s completely ignored countless challenges to his arguments, and just reboots with nonsense that has already been knocked down.. He’s left behind so many dead ducks, I can’t even find a place to sit down. Forty-four years of a life wasted on empty belief based in emotionally-driven testimonial drivel. Talk about sunken cost! I’m reminded of Shelia who realized in her 60’s she’d wasted her whole life believing in a fairy tale. Heck, I wore the Jesus-goggles for most of my own life. Just glad to leave the Old Stories behind when I did.

        • Greg G.

          He bails when he can’t take the heat,

          I just commented to Bob that RCR was doing a Brave Sir Robin.

        • MR

          “But let’s remain friends….”

          I think I threw up a little in my mouth when he said that. He’s obviously not here for honest discourse. “Thanks for letting me plug my books while ignoring all the hard questions.”

          Off to Croydon with you then.

    • Rob-To fulfill the Old Testament prophecies for Messiah.

      Bob-Like what?

      One of the reasons that I enjoy a discussion with you, Bob, is because you ask the right questions. Why Messianic Prophecy is important or even relevant to Jesus validity in the NT is exactly the argument more people should make.

      1. The NT repeatedly refers to hundreds of OT Messianic prophecies.
      2. The writers of the NT say that Jesus fulfilled all of these prophecies.
      3. The Messianic prophecies describe a Messiah who opens the eyes of the blind, makes the deaf hear, caused the lame to walk, raises the dead, etc (Isaiah 35).
      4. The writers of the NT say that Jesus performed these exact works of healing (Matthew 9:29-30, Matthew 15:30.)
      5. The writers of the NT said that this was part of the evidence that allowed them to conclude that Jesus is the Messiah (John 12:16, Luke 24:7-8).
      6. All of the extant manuscripts which contain more than fragments, tell this congruent story: Jesus fulfilling Messianic prophecy.
      7. This is sufficient proof that Jesus is the Messiah the OT describes.

      With nearly 25,000 surviving manuscripts, we would not expect this uniformity if the story was contrived. A majority of people are unaware of just how difficult it is to maintain accuracy, the greater the number of surviving manuscripts. The fact that the NT exists today after nearly 2,000 years, with 24,593 manuscript copies, and maintains a congruent story, is unparalleled in literary history.

      What should be the result of this many surviving manuscripts, from 13 regions of the world, is that we would find a dramatic increase in scribal errors. The greater the number of extant manuscripts, the greater the chance for errors.

      In anticipation of 24,593 manuscripts with a massive number of scribal errors that would severely erode the story of Jesus, we find just the opposite. The scribal errors, punctuation and spelling errors, as well as variant words, do not change or diminish the material story if Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Every important and fundamental part of Jesus’ story is told in all of the manuscript copies that have survived the time and decay of history. In the validation of Historical reliability, this is a phenomenal and singular artifact of the NT.

      What is important regarding the Messianic prophecies of the OT, and the fact that Jesus is described by the writers of the NT as fulfilling these, is that during the time that Jesus was fulfilling these Messianic prophecies, the men who would later write the NT, did not know that Jesus was doing this.

      When we read the words of Jesus, we find that on many occasions, He tells us that He is following a specific timeline that was determined for Him before the universe existed (John 7:6, Matt 20:18, Luke 18:31, John 19:11, John 17:24, Revelation 13:8).

      1. When the disciples urge Jesus to go to Jerusalem and announce that He is the Messiah, He tells them “My time has not yet come.” Jesus was waiting for one specific day, the day that the Hebrew prophets said that Messiah would come to Jerusalem and ride into the city.
      2. When the Feast of Passover arrives, Jesus tells the disciples to get the foal of a donkey so that He can ride into Jerusalem and fulfill the Messianic prophecies of Zechariah 9:9. and Psalms 119 (amongst others).
      3. Daniel was given the precise day that Messiah would arrive at Jerusalem in chapter 9 of his book; Jesus arrives on this precise day, the Feast of Passover, when the Lamb is offered as Jesus becomes “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” See “Prophecies of the Messiah,” Chapter 309.
      4. Throughout a majority of the 27 books of the NT, the writers constantly refer to events as fulfillments of Messianic prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. I documented 400 of these Messianic Prophecies in three of my books.
      5. The point of all this (aren’t you glad), is that everything that Jesus said and did in the NT, was all predicted in the OT. From Moses, Abraham, David, Isaiah, and many others, these 400 prophecies were a roadmap for Jesus to follow, and He did so with extreme precision.
      6. If we are to disregard the narratives about Jesus in the NT, then we must also disregard all that was written in the OT about the coming Messiah; for they are the very same person, doing the very same things.
      7. If the Prophecies of the Messiah are lies and the testimony that Jesus performed the miracles these prophets predicted are lies, we are facing the greatest global conspiracy in the history of the world. Both the OT and The NT tell this same story. In order to believe this was all contrived we would have to accept that this deception began 3,500 years ago and involves 40 authors, who penned 66 books, all working together to deceive us.

      I believe that this is evidence that the narratives of Jesus are true.

      • 1. The NT repeatedly refers to hundreds of OT Messianic prophecies.

        I remember a few. Not hundreds.

        2. The writers of the NT say that Jesus fulfilled all of these prophecies.

        Ditto. The first few chapters of Matthew have some. Where else?

        And note the gaping hole in this argument: some guy writes, “Hey, y’know that thing that was written long ago? Well, it just came true! Checkmate!” And that’s convincing? One natural explanation is that he just worked the fulfilment into his story.

        3. The Messianic prophecies describe a Messiah who opens the eyes of the blind, makes the deaf hear, caused the lame to walk, raises the dead, etc (Isaiah 35).

        Uh, OK. Cyrus the Great is anointed (the Messiah) in Isaiah 45:1. It wasn’t just Jesus called the Messiah.

        I have little interest in vague OT prophecies. God’s pretty smart—I’ll bet that he could have an accurate, surprising prophecy in the OT that we all agree was fulfilled. If you saw “prophecies” of this caliber from some other religion, you’d be as unimpressed as I am. God needs to up his game.

        4. The writers of the NT say that Jesus performed these exact works of healing (Matthew 9:29-30, Matthew 15:30.)

        See my observation above.

        7. This is sufficient proof that Jesus is the Messiah the OT describes.

        If this came from some other religion, you’d laugh. No, this isn’t convincing.

        With nearly 25,000 surviving manuscripts, we would not expect this uniformity if the story was contrived.

        (1) what uniformity?

        (2) who says it was contrived? I say it was legend.

        A majority of people are unaware of just how difficult it is to maintain accuracy, the greater the number of surviving manuscripts.

        The fact that the NT exists today after nearly 2,000 years, with 24,593 manuscript copies, and maintains a congruent story, is unparalleled in literary history.

        What’s compelling here? As my post illustrates, the gap between originals and oldest copies is enormous. And of course that’s just the beginning of your problems with making this argument work.

        What should be the result of this many surviving manuscripts, from 13 regions of the world, is that we would find a dramatic increase in scribal errors. The greater the number of extant manuscripts, the greater the chance for errors.

        The number of errors seems vast to me, but whatever. This doesn’t change the problem. We’ve got 200+ years between autographs and the first complete codices with very few manuscripts. Did you read my thought experiment post? That helps illustrate the problem.

        In anticipation of 24,593 manuscripts with a massive number of scribal errors that would severely erode the story of Jesus, we find just the opposite.

        Do you really not understand the problem? Who cares about 25,000 manuscripts? In the case of Matthew, illustrated above, you’ve pretty much got one manuscript, Codex Sinaiticus, as your primary copy. 200+ years, during much of which these documents weren’t considered scripture, is an enormous dark period.

        1. When the disciples urge Jesus to go to Jerusalem and announce that He is the Messiah, He tells them “My time has not yet come.”

        It’s just a story.

        2. When the Feast of Passover arrives, Jesus tells the disciples to get the foal of a donkey

        And the author of Matthew misunderstands. Whoops!

        3. Daniel was given the precise day that Messiah would arrive at Jerusalem in chapter 9 of his book

        Nope. You need to be a little more skeptical.
        https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/10/daniels-end-times-prediction-skeptical-approach/

        6. If we are to disregard the narratives about Jesus in the NT, then we must also disregard all that was written in the OT about the coming Messiah; for they are the very same person, doing the very same things.

        So you say. And yet the Jews read their holy book and don’t see Jesus in it. It’s almost like your Christian glasses are distorting the message that you read.

        7. If the Prophecies of the Messiah are lies

        Lies? Who says that? I say legend.

        • 6. If we are to disregard the narratives about Jesus in the NT, then we must also disregard all that was written in the OT about the coming Messiah; for they are the very same person, doing the very same things.

          So you say. And yet the Jews read their holy book and don’t see Jesus in it. It’s almost like your Christian glasses are distorting the message that you read.

          You make an excellent point, which makes my point: Although Moses told the Jews that God would send them a prophet like Jesus in Deut. 18, and warned them that they should listen to Him, when He arrived, they were more worried about their coveted positions of power and wealth than receiving the one God sent. The leaders of Israel were worried that if Jesus was recognized as the Messiah the Romans would come and take away the remaining power they still had and destroy the temple. In truth, these men were apostate Jews who did not want the Messiah to come, they were in it for the money and power, like many pretend religious people today. When the Pharisees saw Jesus perform the exact miracles Isaiah 35 required for the Messiah, they were terrified. They knew Jesus was Messiah, but they did not want a Messiah. It was not that Jesus did not meet the requirements or prove who He was, it was their hearts that did not want to believe that even when the Eternal God was standing before them, they wanted to kill Him and this is what they did.

          Isaiah warned the leaders 700 years before Jesus arrived that they would be blind to Messiah when He arrived: Isaiah 6:9-11, Jesus quotes this scripture to the Jews in Matthew 13:14-15 “And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,And seeing you will see and not perceive…

          Isaiah wrote that when Messiah comes He will be “despised and rejected…” by the leaders of Israel and they will crucify Him. Matthew 20:18-19 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”

          The prophets of the OT predicted this would happen and Jesus scolded the Pharisee and leaders of Israel for their failure to recognize their Messiah when He came. Jesus said that because they did not recognize the time of their “visitation, (by Messiah), their house (temple) would would be left to them “desolate”. Jesus said that not one stone of the temple would be left upon another. You can read the details of these events in my book: “These Things Were Written”

          Luke 19:43-44 “For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

          Matthew 24:34 “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”

          The context of Jesus’ revelation of Jerusalem’s destruction to the disciples, in Luke 19:29-21:24, is spoken directly after Palm Sunday, 32 A.D. Jesus is describing the judgment that will come upon Israel for her rejection of Him as the Messiah. The fulfillment of this prophecy occurred 38 years later, within one 40-year generation, in 70 A.D.⁠[1] Titus brought his army against Jerusalem, sacked the city and destroyed the Temple, burning it to the ground. Literally, not one stone was left upon another, just as Jesus had predicted.

          Luke 21:24 And they (those in Jerusalem and Judea, vs 20-21) will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

          The Jewish historian, Josephus, describes the destruction of Jerusalem and the murder of 1.1 million Jews, as well as another 97,000 Jews who were taken as captives of war. Thousands of other citizens of Jerusalem were sold as slaves, with many more being dispersed all over the world. This entire event is recorded by Josephus in the “Book of Wars,” Book 5, Chapter 22, Sections 1-3.

          [1] Numbers 32:14, the generation of those who complained against the Lord in the desert is describes as being 40 years.

          The idea that a Messiah would come to earth in fulfillment of hundreds of Hebrew prophecies is not a new or unfamiliar concept to the Jewish nation. They were also aware that God told them ahead of time that when Messiah comes, they will not recognize Him. They will “mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”

          Mark 10:33-34 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; 34 and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”

          After Jesus rose from the dead, He told the disciple that all He had done, was required of Messiah and He had fulfilled all the prophecies written for Messiah:

          Luke 24:44-48 Then Jesus said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.

          In these final words of Jesus to His disciples, we learn that Jesus came to full “all things written by Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Jesus said that these prophecies of the Messiah were written for Him. Jesus said that his death and resurrection were necessary, to fulfill all that God wrote concerning Messiah, and to fulfill His promise to send the world a Savior. We have, not only the corroborating evidence of the fulfillment of these prophecies in the NT, we have the original prophecies themselves, preserved in the historical record, by the OT scriptures.

        • Ah, if we could only have Robert’s correct view of things!

          When you get all the Judeo-Christian sects singing out of the same hymn book, I’ll take you a little more seriously. Your holy book is the Big Book of Multiple Choice.

        • 3. Daniel was given the precise day that Messiah would arrive at Jerusalem in chapter 9 of his book

          Nope. You need to be a little more skeptical.
https://www.patheos.com/blo…

          I read your post on Daniel, you made several errors, as is common amongst those who don’t understand what they are reading and how to investigate the historical record. If you want the true facts of Daniel’s prophecy, here the link to the prophecy on my site where I detail the entire prophecy of Daniel. It is extensive and requires study to understand. It is not for the faint of heart of the callous reader.

          See it here: https://robertcliftonrobinson.com/publications/the_prophecies_of_the_messiah/365-prophecies-by-book/daniel-2/daniel/daniel-prophecies-1-10/309-daniel-925/

        • What errors? I summarize two contradicting Christian interpretations below. Do these not cover the argument you make?

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/09/daniels-end-times-prediction/
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/09/daniels-end-times-prediction-take-two/

        • I looked at the article in these new links you provided. They also contain several errors that are often made by the untrained. In this article, it is stated:

          “Scholars are largely agreed that Daniel’s “prophecies” are actually prophecies after the event. These false prophecies were so common in antiquity that they have their own scholarly name: vaticinia ex eventu.”

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

          The Following is the historical evidence that impeaches this assertion:

          When Alexander the Great was conquering the world, he wanted his citizens to be united under one language. As the Greeks were the world power at that time, it was the Greek language that was spoken by a majority of people. The Hebrew language was forgotten, and fell into disuse. The Jews who were living in a province of Alexander’s kingdom, who wanted to read their Hebrew scriptures in Greek, requested that their ancient Hebrew scriptures would be translated into the Greek language. Between 285 and 246 B.C., Ptolemy II Philadelphus commissioned seventy Hebrew scholars to translate the Five Books of Moses into Koine Greek. This translation became known as the “Septuagint Version” (from the Latin septuaginta, “seventy”).

          This completed translation of the entire Hebrew Bible—known today as LXX—contained the entire text of Isaiah and Daniel, as well as all the prophets who are the subject of this book. For this reason, we know that the prophecies of Isaiah, some 131 in total, were in existence at least 300 years before Jesus fulfilled each one. In reality, Daniel wrote his prophecies during the period of 605-536 B.C.; Isaiah, 740-680 B.C.

          Critics have claimed that the reason why Isaiah, Daniel, and the other prophets of the Old Testament were able to write such stunningly detailed predictions is because they penned these prophecies after the events took place. This assertion is impeached by the presence of the Greek version of all these prophets hundreds of years before the events transpired.

          Starting with an incorrect date for when Daniel wrote this prophecy, proven by history, this article is inaccurate in every posit it makes. It was very easy for me to deduce that the writer or source of this material, does not have the proper training or understanding for what they are writing about. I see this quite often. If you want the true facts, read the link I gave you for my research on Daniel’s prophecy. It is just one of 400 Messianic Prophecies that I published in 2013: “Prophecies Of The Messiah”

        • You ask in your article:

          “When does the clock start? From the command to rebuild Jerusalem?”

          You used the date 458, which is not correct.

          “Start the clock with the Decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild the temple, given to Ezra in 458 BCE”

          From there, every date that is included in this article is off by years. It is not hard to get the correct dates for when the command started and who made it. It seems that you got this information from someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. I have validated this date from the secular records of the Persians,

          The command came in 445 B.C

          The reign of Artaxerxes I (Longimanus) is computed from 465 B.C., according to the history of the Persians.⁠[1] Xerxes I was murdered by Artabanus, the commander of the royal bodyguard of the king. He was the most powerful of the officials in the court of the Persian king. With the help of Aspamitres, a eunuch, Artabanus assassinated Xerxes I, bringing Artaxerxes Longimanus to the throne in 465 B.C.⁠[2]

          According to Nehemiah 2:1, Artaxerxes wrote the command for the Jews to return to Jerusalem in the 20th year of his reign.

          Nehemiah 2:1 And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before.

          Computing 20 years from Artaxerxes’ ascension to the throne in 465 B.C., we come to 445 B.C not 458. If you use this date, all your conclusions will be wrong, and they are.

          [1] R. Schmitt. of Iran “Artaxerxes. Encyclopædia Iranica. 15 December 1986. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
          [2] 1.Iran-e-Bastan/Pirnia Book, 1 page 873, 2. Dandamayev 3. History of Persian Empire-Olmstead pages 289-90

          From my book: “Prophecies of the Messiah”

        • “When does the clock start? From the command to rebuild Jerusalem?”
          You used the date 458, which is not correct.

          That’s the beauty of the Bible—you can shape it like clay to say pretty much whatever you want. There are four possible dates:
          Decree of Cyrus: 538–536 BCE (2 Chronicles 36:22–3)
          Decree of Darius Hystaspes: 521 BCE (Ezra 6:6–12)
          Decree of Artaxerxes to Ezra: 458 BCE (Ezra 7:11–26)
          Decree of Artaxerxes to Nehemiah: 444 BCE (Nehemiah 2:1–8)

          Show me that the Bible makes clear that the decree of Artaxerxes to Ezra in 458 (1) isn’t correct and (2) no other part of the Bible would suggest that it is.

          It seems that you got this information from someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about.

          Well, you’re partly right. I got that date from Ezra 7:11–26. The Bible is an unreliable source, I’ll admit, but that’s the domain we’re stuck in, right?

        • Lex Lata

          “They also contain several errors that are often made by the untrained . . . . Starting with an incorrect date for when Daniel wrote this prophecy, proven by history, this article is inaccurate in every posit it makes. It was very easy for me to deduce that the writer or source of this material, does not have the proper training or understanding for what they are writing about. I see this quite often.”

          Bob’s assertion about the dating of Daniel reflects the modern scholarly consensus. Your beef is with those scholars, not Bob, so I don’t know why you need it make things personal about his training and understanding. Meanwhile, on your website (from which a good chunk of your comments appear to be copy-pastes), you’ve made and repeated assertions that–

          –“no one disputes the authenticity and accuracy of the Iliad” (false on multiple levels);
          –56% of the world’s population was Christian by 300 AD (an absurd percentage);
          –“We have the secular record of the Roman government from the time when Jesus is alleged to have been in Jerusalem which names Jesus as crucified under Pontius Pilate” (please name this Roman government record from ca. 30 AD that we have; a link to an image of the specific manuscript would be even better);
          –“We have the archeological [sic] record of history which validates the flawless accuracy of the New Testament” (a false, sweeping, categorical proclamation that no professional historian or archaeologist would make about the New Testament, the Old Testament, the Iliad, the Histories of Herodotus, Caesar’s memoirs, or any other works from antiquity);
          –etc., etc., etc.

          Or as you might say, “true facts.”

        • Bob’s assertion about the dating of the book of Daniel reflects the modern scholarly consensus.

          Who are these “scholars?” The only persons who write these comments, that I am aware of, are those who don’t believe the Bible is true as their basic premise. These include, primarily atheists, and atheists Liberal Theologians, like Ehrman who don’t believe the Bible is true.

          The scholars who hold this position with me, are those who believe the Bible is the word of God and that the prophecies of Daniel are accurate.

          The material from articles on my web site are my own, unless indicated by citation. All my work is published under copyright and recorded with the United States Library Of Congress, either by my 31 books or over 2,000 articles. There are in excess of 20,000 pages of evidence on my site that is researched and proven.

          Feel free to try and impeach my findings at my web site, if you are able…

        • Lex Lata

          1. “Who are these ‘scholars?'” My statement about the scholarly consensus is based on Professor James Barr’s chapter on Daniel in my copy of Peake’s Commentary on the Bible: “It is almost universally held among scholars that the complete book as we now have it was written in the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-163 B.C.) . . . .” Barr was a renowned scholar of the Old Testament and Hebrew at Oxford. And again, your beef is with “liberal” guys like Barr, not Bob, whose training and understanding you impugned.

          2. “The scholars who hold this position with me, are those who believe the Bible is the word of God and that the prophecies of Daniel are accurate.” Sure. People who believe the Bible is the word of God believe much (even all) of it is accurate. That’s why, for instance, I suspect you believe the account of Joshua stopping the sun in the sky with his prayers at Gibeon is accurate, even though you’ve declined to confirm that twice.

          3. Not sure why you’re bringing copyright law into this. I didn’t state you were infringing anyone’s IP, just that your lengthy comments are largely copy-pastes from your own website. That’s true, no?

          4. “Feel free to try and impeach my findings at my web site, if you are able…” Let’s go ahead and continue here, since the conversation has already commenced, and since I prefer Disqus (plus, you seem eager to share your findings here (see item 3 above).)

          So which of the four examples I noted would you like to discuss first? The one about the Roman record that you say we have from ca. 30 AD strikes me as being the perhaps simplest to settle (either we have that record or we don’t), but I’ll let you pick.

        • Greg G.

          “It is almost universally held among scholars that the complete book as we now have it was written in the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-163 B.C.) . . . .”

          IIRC, Porphyry pointed this out to Christians in the third century.

        • Lex’s comment about the date is familiar to me but not yours. It’s interesting that that observation was made so early.

        • Helpful research!

        • Lex Lata

          Characterizing my surfing as “research” is being generous. But if you’re ever in the mood for low-hanging fruit, now you know where there’s an orchard full of it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I’m fairly sure Rob’s definition of “untrained” is “pattern recognition systems not sufficiently compromised.”

        • Yes, I’m familiar with the Septuagint.

          This completed translation of the entire Hebrew Bible—known today as LXX—contained the entire text of Isaiah and Daniel, as well as all the prophets who are the subject of my book, “Prophecies of the Messiah.” For this reason, we know that the prophecies of Isaiah, some 131 in total, and Daniel 2-10, which concern the Messiah, are13, were in existence at least 300 years before Jesus fulfilled each one.

          Nope. The entire OT wasn’t initially translated, just the Pentateuch. From Wikipedia: “It is estimated that the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or Pentateuch, were translated in the mid-3rd century BCE and the remaining texts were translated in the 2nd century BCE.”
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septuagint

          The citation for these dates is the Encyclopedia Britannica:
          https://www.britannica.com/topic/Septuagint

          Critics have claimed that the reason why Isaiah, Daniel, and the other prophets of the Old Testament were able to write such stunningly detailed predictions is because they penned these prophecies after the events took place. This assertion is impeached by the presence of the Greek version of all these prophets hundreds of years before the events transpired.

          Stunningly detailed? Yeah, call the predictions detailed if you want, but they weren’t accurate. I summarize that in a post (https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/09/liars-jesus-daniel-predict-future/ ). The “prophecies” are good up to a point, but when they talk about Michael in Daniel 12 (“There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then”), it falls apart. That’s the clue of when the book was written.

          Starting with an incorrect date for when Daniel wrote this prophecy, proven by history, this article is inaccurate in every posit it makes.

          Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around.

        • Nope. The entire OT wasn’t initially translated, just the Pentateuch. From Wikipedia: “It is estimated that the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or Pentateuch, were translated in the mid-3rd century BCE and the remaining texts were translated in the 2nd century BCE.”

          In your original article that you wrote and directed me to–you, stated: “The book of Daniel was written in about 165 BCE” This is not true.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a2d24d6f1266f937f0c69a0aa67dab411ccedd3439a3a2954d5b2d5f719097d2.jpg

          This is the referenced article:

          https://disq.us/url?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.patheos.com%2Fblogs%2Fcrossexamined%2F2017%2F09%2Fdaniels-end-times-prediction%2F%3A31mbpeET2Pzaz9IAkcH3ViKI2ZI&cuid=2306652

          Daniel was not originally written in 165, the same date you say that the Pentateuch was written. Daniel was translated from Hebrew into Greek in the Septuagint about 200-300 B.C., Meaning, the books of Daniel already existed prior to this translation from Hebrew to Greek by the 70 Hebrew scholars in 2-300 B.C.

          Are you saying that Daniel was only penned when the Pentateuch was translated? By your statement, this seems to be your conclusion.

          Also, your reference came from wikipedia, the most scholarly unreliable source on the planet. The information located on Wikipedia can be edited by anyone at any time. Scholars know that the information on wikipedia could be stolen from a source, just a work in progress that is not proven or accurate, or complete error, which this information is, a great deal of the time.

          I don’t agree with the 165 B.C. date from Wikipedia, because I know that the Pentateuch was written long before this date, from sources not provided by that wikipedia article. This tells me this this date at Wikipedia is from a source trying to make a later date of writing for Daniel, which is very common. The historical record bears the truth; Daniel wrote his prophecies during the period of 605-536 B.C, because he was in Israel during the time of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, near 606 B.C.

          Daniel opens his book by giving the reader the historical setting for the time in which he was writing; the first siege and capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.

          According to Daniel, this happened “in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah,” again, approximately 605 b.c. Parallel accounts are found in 2 Kings 24:1-2 and 2 Chronicles 36:5-7. The was during the capture of Jerusalem and the first deportation of the Jews from Jerusalem to Babylon, events we know the dates from history.

          According to Daniel 1:1, the siege and capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came “in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah.” History validates this date, and therefore places Daniel at the scene, accurately writing his text, including the prophecies of chapter 9.

          Daniel 1:1 During the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.

          2 Kings 24:1-2 During Jehoiakim’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded the land of Judah. Jehoiakim surrendered and paid him tribute for three years but then rebelled.

        • Daniel was translated from Hebrew into Greek in the Septuagint about 200-300 B.C., Meaning, the books of Daniel already existed prior to this translation from Hebrew to Greek by the 70 Hebrew scholars in 2-300 B.C.

          So you just ignore my point and double down on yours? How is this supposed to be compelling?

          Are you saying that Daniel was only penned when the Pentateuch was translated?

          I’m saying that Daniel was written in time for it to be translated into Greek in a later phase of the Septuagint translation process.

          Also, your reference came from wikipedia, the most scholarly unreliable source on the planet.

          My reference came from Encyclopedia Britannica, not the most scholarly unreliable source on the planet. Maybe read slowlier next time.

          According to Daniel, this happened “in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah,” again, approximately 605 b.c.

          Are you unfamiliar with Apocalypticism? This was a mindset that was popular during the intertestamental period. Books like Baruch, Esdras, Enoch, and Daniel were written during this time, and those people didn’t write them.

        • Bob, Thank you for the hearty exchange of ideas. I appreciate your arguments and respect your thoughts. Let us leave this here on the battlefield and remain friends so we can discuss more ideas on another day. Hope you have a great weekend.

          Rob

        • Susan

          Thank you for the hearty exchange of ideas

          That was not a “hearty exchange of ideas”. That was you coming here with a salespitch for an imaginary car, ignoring all the reasonable questions about your product, dismissing all the evidence against you, providing none yourself…

          And leaving your business card.

          It was also a blatant attempt to direct traffic to your site.

          I appreciate your arguments and respect your thoughts.

          You appear to have no interest in arguments or thoughts.

          remain friends so we can discuss more ideas on another day.

          Shiny, shiny snake oil salesman.

          How do you sleep at night?

        • Once there was a man who loaned some money to two people—five hundred dollars to one and fifty dollars to the other. Neither of these could repay him, so he forgave them both, and cancelled their debts. Which person do you suppose loved him more?

        • epeeist

          Which person do you suppose loved him more?

          Neither, both of them thought he was a mug.

        • Greg G.

          If the dude reports the forgiven debts on his taxes, he gets to deduct them from his income. But then the debts become income for the other two, so it increases their tax burden. If that is the case, I don’t think love is what they would feel.

        • Greg G.

          I see RCR did a Brave Sir Robin after this.

        • I’ll have to remember that comparison.

        • Lex Lata

          At least Bob got a farewell. I guess Robert and I aren’t friends. 🙁

        • I thought the “Wikipedia sucks” comment was particularly weak, especially since Wikipedia’s source was Britannica, which I noted.

          I’m not great at saying, “Yep, I was wrong,” but our Christian friends seem to be particularly averse to admitting it.

        • Bob, you wrote in your article:

          “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.”

          The principle of a prophetic week is first illustrated in the Book of Genesis Chapter 29. As Jacob desires Rachel’s hand in marriage, he does not have the dowry required to pay Rachel’s father Laban. The purpose of a dowry was Alimony in advance. If a man should desire to marry a young woman and later divorce her without any financial support, her dowry—kept in the stewardship of her father—would serve as her support. Therefore, Rachel’s father Laban brokered a deal with Jacob in which he would work for him as a servant for seven years to pay for Rachel’s dowry.

          After seven years, when Rachel should have come to Jacob on their wedding night, Laban instead, conveys his oldest daughter Leah into the darkness of the bridal tent. As the marriage is consummated, the next morning, Jacob realized that he has been with Leah, not Rachel. When he confronts Laban, Jacob learns that in their tradition, the oldest daughter must marry first before the younger. Laban tells Jacob to “fulfill the week” of Rachel, and he can have her also as his wife. At the end of verse 27, Laban defines how long this week will be by saying “serve with me still another seven years.” It is from Genesis 29 that we learn what the meaning is for “weeks of year.” One prophetic week is seven years.

          Genesis 29:27 Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years.

          Daniel chapter 9, verse 25 speaks of a “command” being given to “restore and rebuild Jerusalem”. This decrees by Cyrus in 2 Chronicles 36:22-23, and Ezra 1:1-4, both speak of Cyrus instructions in building “a house for God”, the temple at Jerusalem. Cyrus does not speak of “restoring or rebuilding Jerusalem”. This prophecy comes from the mouth of Daniel, and is directed at a future king, Artaxerxes, who will make this very command in 445 B.C.

          Daniel 9:25 “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.

          For this reason, both commands of Cyrus seem to apply to the first “seven weeks”, or 49 years, which we know from history, is the specific amount of time that it actually took to return and rebuild the temple at Jerusalem. The second period—sixty-two weeks of years, or 434 years, plus the 49 years to rebuild the temple, a total of 483 years—is the object of Daniels complete meaning and fulfillment for his prophecy in chapter 9:25; sixty-nine weeks of years.

          According to Haggai 2:18-19, on December 17, 520 B.C., the foundation to the temple was laid. The original command came by Cyrus 17 years before in 536 B.C. Although the words of a Persian king were considered the words of a living god and could not be ignored or changed once he spoke them, it took 17 years before the foundation of the temple was actually laid in Jerusalem. This is because God had determined that the Temple could not begin until the 70 years of the “Desolations of Israel” were concluded (see the chart above). The “Desolations” began in 589 B.C, and 70 years later, ended on December 17, 520 B.C. (See the charts above for a graphic illustration of this point)

          Haggai 2:18 “Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (December*), from the day that the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid—consider it: 19 Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.’ ”

          *April is the first month in the Hebrew calendar, the ninth month is December.

          The “Servitude” began in 605 B.C., and ended in 536 B.C., after 70 years. This was the date that Cyrus gave the command to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem.

          The “Captivity” began in 598 B.C., and ended in 536 B.C., after 70 years, seven years after the Servitude began.

          The “Desolations” began in 589 B.C., and ended in 520 B.C. According to the word of the Lord, seventy years were determined for Israel. Therefore, when Cyrus made his command to rebuild the temple in 536 B.C, there were still 17 more years remaining to complete the 70 years God required. The word of God is more powerful than the words of even the greatest king of the world…

          The section of Daniel’s prophecy is for a total of 69 times 7 years, or a total of 483 years. Encyclopedia Britannica records that Artaxerxes Longimanus issued the command to release the captives of Israel in Babylon, on March 14, 445 B.C.⁠1 So named “Longimanus” by the Greeks because his right hand was longer than his left.⁠2

          The Babylonian calendar was based upon a 360 days per year cycle. 360 days per year times 483 years, equals 173,880 days. Taking into account the calendar year change over from 1 B.C. To 1 A.D. because there is no “0” year. Adding 116 days for leap years.

          483 X 360 days = 173,880

          173,880 days plus 116 years for leap years, added to March 14, 445 B.C. We come to the date of April 6th, the year 32 A.D. This is the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem and declared for the first time that He is the Messiah. Jesus had waited for this specific day, the day Daniel predicted for Him.

        • 2. When the Feast of Passover arrives, Jesus tells the disciples to get the foal of a donkey

          And the author of Matthew misunderstands. Whoops!

          If you will study the text of the NT, you will discover that the disciples of Jesus did not understand that He was fulfilling these prophecies until after He was risen from the dead. This is what they wrote. “John 2:22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.”

          Remember that I told you that Jesus said that after He was risen, He would “bring to their remembrance all the things He had said and done, so they could understand and write.

        • If you will study the text of the New Testament, you will discover that the author of Matthew misunderstood the prophecy: “They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on” (Matthew 21:7). I’m envisioning Jesus as a circus acrobat–who says Passion Week can’t have a little fun?

          But I repeat myself.

        • 3. The Messianic prophecies describe a Messiah who opens the eyes of the blind, makes the deaf hear, caused the lame to walk, raises the dead, etc (Isaiah 35).

          Uh, OK. Cyrus the Great is anointed (the Messiah) in Isaiah 45:1. It wasn’t just Jesus called the Messiah. I have little interest in vague OT prophecies. God’s pretty smart—I’ll bet that he could have an accurate, surprising prophecy in the OT that we all agree was fulfilled. If you saw “prophecies” of this caliber from some other religion, you’d be as unimpressed as I am. God needs to up his game.

          The term: “The Anointed One,” is a well known, well documented term that can only be applied to Messiah, from the Jewish perspective. God did called Cyrus his anointed, and we also describe men who teach the word of God with power and authority as being “anointed by God,” but these alternate usages of the term anointed, do not mean these persons are the Messiah.

          An example of the knowledge the Jews had in the term, “Anointed One,” as applicable only to Messiah, is seen in the incident where Jesus returns to Nazareth and goes into the Synagogue to be the guest teacher for that Sabbath. Jesus is handed the scroll of Isaiah and opens it to the 61st chapter:

          Isaiah 61:1-62 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God…”

          Compare Isaiah’s words to those spoken by Jesus when He came to the synagogue at Nazareth and quoted from this verse, found in Isaiah 61:

          Luke 4:16-20 So Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.

          Notice that Jesus omitted the text: And the day of vengeance of our God…

          Why?

          At Jesus’ first arrival on earth, He was coming as the suffering Servant of God—the Lamb who would lay down His life for the sins of the world. At Jesus’ second appearing on earth, at the end of the seven-year Tribulation, He is coming as King of kings and Lord of lords.

          When Jesus finished reading the words of Isaiah Chapter 61, He rolled up the scroll and handed it back to the attendant. As He sat down, the eyes of all those in the synagogue were transfixed on Jesus. Then He said these words:

          Luke 4:21 Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.

          Those who had heard Jesus speak in the synagogue were utterly astonished. The words of these prophecies, from Isaiah Chapter 61, could only be fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah. By stating that this prophecy had been fulfilled as Jesus spoke, He was claiming to be the Messiah. Jesus said that He would fulfill the first part of Isaiah 61, the acceptable year of the Lord, during His first arrival; and then the day of vengeance of our God, at His return.

          Jesus revealed something to us that was hidden in verse 12 of Isaiah 61. There were two parts to the fulfillment of this prophecy.

          Isaiah 61:2 (Part 1) To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD; (Part 2) And the day of vengeance of our God…

          Part one: to fulfill the Acceptable year of the Lord—the time when God would pardon the sins of anyone who came to Jesus and believed upon Him as their Savior.

          Part two: would be fulfilled at the end of the seven-year Tribulation (the time of vengeance) when Jesus would return to earth with His church (Revelation 19) and rule over the whole earth for one thousand years as absolute King and Lord.

        • Please don’t click Post until you’re finished. I never know if the comment I get in email will be the same as the one I find online.

        • Sorry Bob. when I post the whole response, it goes to spam and disappears. If I post just a little, let it process for 5 minute, then add the rest, it stays. Any suggestions how to overcome this?

        • Like the Lord, the ways of Disqus are mysterious. If I uncover a sensible post in the spam folder, I’ll approve it. The problem, of course, is the delay that imposes. Sorry–it’s out of my hands.

      • Susan

        I beliebe that this is evidence that the narratives of Jesus are true.

        Didn’t you tell me that you are aware of and have used The Historical Method?

        Please show us that. Not the nonsense above.