Difficulties! Gospels Cannot be Biographies!

Difficulties! Gospels Cannot be Biographies! January 30, 2020
Difficulties with Gospel Sayings and Doings of Jesus
Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

Difficulties abound for Western Bible readers expecting of the Gospels the kind of fact-precise, historically accurate material found in contemporary biographies.

Difficulties ahead for fundamentalists reading this! Biblical peoples—whether inspired authors or the characters they wrote about—lacked our historical interests. They didn’t obsess over the line dividing fact and fiction, historical exactitude, detailed precision and accuracy. Their interests were theological. As we have seen, if they could extrapolate from Jesus and arrive at wisdom that was of “the Spirit of Jesus,” then they might consider that gift a Jesus-saying.

This causes contemporary Biblical scholarship extreme difficulties in distinguishing a saying that did originate from the historical Jesus from something his later followers said and attributed to him. But it gets even more complicated once theological belief is mixed in. The difficulties worsen. And this applies also to the actions of Jesus found within the Gospels and elsewhere. Difficulties for scholars, and difficulties for average Christians in American pews, emerge.

Scholars like Richard Rohrbaugh explain that early Jesus group people from New Testament times did not distinguish between the actual sayings of the historical Jesus, the Galilean folk healer, and the sayings of the Spirit of Jesus in the first century Jesus Groups living decades after. With the doings of Jesus, we have something similar at work. Therefore the Gospels cannot be biographies or history books as we 21st century folks understand and use these terms. It is easy to demonstrate this, but to many American Christians, great difficulties lie in accepting it.

Difficulties with the Weekday of Crucifixion

Every Catholic will tell you Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Annually we observe Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion. For centuries Catholics and other Christians—Orthodox, Anglicans, and Methodists—have abstained from eating meat and have fasted on Fridays in commemoration of the Crucifixion. Fridays are the occasion of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. But from where do we associate Friday, rather than any other weekday, with Jesus’ sorrowful Passion?

Which Day Do the Gospels Say?

Turning to the Gospels, which are the primary sources for learning about Jesus, we see that in the Synoptics (i.e., “Mark,” “Matthew,” and “Luke”) that Jesus was crucified after Passover had begun. These Gospels tell us that this happened on a Friday. Jesus had already shared the Passover meal with his inner circle, the Twelve. This Passover meal had obviously occurred after the Passover lambs had been slaughtered—

Mark 14:12 [THURSDAY]
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.
Mark 14:17-18 [the Last Supper, in the Synoptics, is a Passover Meal—THURSDAY EVENING]
When it was evening [SAME DAY], he came with the Twelve. And as they reclined at table and were eating, Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”
Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” … At this they laid hands on him and arrested him …
As soon as morning came, the chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
Mark 15:25 [SAME DAY, FRIDAY]
It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.
Mark 15:33-34, 37 [SAME DAY, FRIDAY]
At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? … Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
Mark 15:42 [SAME DAY, FRIDAY]
When it was already evening, since it was the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath…

The Sabbath corresponds to Saturday. The day before, therefore, is a Friday. So, accordingly, the Synoptic Gospels (following “Mark”) hold that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, the day after a Passover Meal (which needed a slaughtered Passover lamb). This Feast then, according to the Synoptics, was celebrated on a Thursday. This then is the origin of our Holy Thursday and Good Friday observances.

Difficulties with "Mark" and "John"
Fellow Dying Inmate / All rights reserved
Difficulties in Gospel Materials
Fellow Dying Inmate / All rights reserved

Difficulties with “John”: Jesus Dies on a Different Day!

But hold on! We have a major disagreement in the Fourth Gospel we call “John.” According to that very different text, Jesus is crucified on a Thursday, just before Passover even begins. We know this because “John” reports that the lambs for the Passover meal were slaughtered at the same time Jesus is crucified (John 19:14)! Unlike “Mark” who says Jesus was crucified at 9 am (Mark 15:25), “John” says this happened at noon, which happens to be the exact time that the Passover lambs were slaughtered in those days. That means that the Last Supper in John 13:1—17:26 is just a farewell dinner and not a Passover Meal (in major disagreement with the Synoptics)!  Sorry American Bible readers, but this is impossible to reconcile.

A fundamentalist Christian, upon seeing stuff like this, begins performing the somersaults and back-flips of preposterous mental gymnastics, attempting to make squares fit into circles, to harmonize what can never be harmonized. Meanwhile many skeptical atheists reading this, thinking themselves modern historians, will look at these very real contradictions and laugh mockingly at the poor historiography of “John” and the Synoptic Gospels. “What maroons! They can’t even agree on the days of the week!”

Both Western groups are approaching this situation wrongly. Neither “John” nor the Synoptics ever intend to give readers anything like 21st century Western histories or biographies.

Difficulties Stem from Western Demands

Rohrbaugh informs us that “John” wants to communicate that Jesus is the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the “world” [Johannine antilanguage for the dominant society of first century Israel]—John 1:29. But how can he craft that theological expression? Luckily for “John,” historical chronology comes a distant second to his theology. So he easily reshapes events so as to have the crucifixion happening simultaneously when Judean families are killing their Passover lambs at the Temple. Voila! It works.

Notice “John” freely rearranges history to serve his theological needs. That’s true with all the Gospels, really. That’s true with all biblical authors, in fact. The Bible was not written for, by, or about Americans. Western concerns for factual precision and historical accuracy are nowhere to be found within the sacred Scriptures! To make anachronistic demands on these ancient authors and their audiences is stupid and unfair.

Difficulties with Cleansing the Temple

Consider the outrage of Jesus against those bastard money-changers in the Temple. All four canonical Gospels depict this (Mark 11:15-18; Matthew 21:12-17; Luke 19:45-48; John 2:14-25). When reading the Synoptic Gospels, we see that Jesus expels the money-changers from the Temple during the last week of his life. In doing this, Jesus publicly humiliates the Judaean elites. They respond in typical Mediterranean fashion—by using overwhelming force (that of imperial Rome) to crush Jesus. The Synoptics remember that this very public outburst of Jesus probably was the very act where Jesus stepped over the line and got killed for doing so.

And indeed, were a first century Galilean peasant in this honor-shame culture to actually did pull off such a stunt, it would have certainly guaranteed his death sentence. This being Jesus’ final public act which spelled his doom is therefore culturally plausible. Any fundamentalistic idea that he could get away doing such an infamy twice, or more, is absurd.

Difficulties with Plausibility
Fellow Dying Inmate (with inspiration from Donato Giancarlo) / All rights reserved

Again, “John” Disagrees!

But when we turn to “John,” we should be startled to learn that Jesus “cleansing the Temple” is the very first thing he does in public (John 2:14-25). He performs this slap across the face of Judaean elites immediately following the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12). This is the beginning of his career and political movement—and Jesus has three more years of adventures after that (because “John” speaks of three annual Passovers in his narrative, 2:13; 6:4; 13:1)!

Again watch what gets produced by 21st century Westerners seeing these impossible-to-harmonize contradictions. Olympic-level mental gymnastics from Christian fundamentalists and sarcastic dismissals from many with axes to grind against organized religion and Christianity. But their readings are tainted by Western lenses, 2,000 years thick. While there are definitely contradictions between the Gospels, there are no historical problems in “John” or “Mark,” “Matthew” and “Luke.” The problems lie in Western-enculturated brains.

“John” situating this story differently in his text is not due to his ignorance or historical inaccuracy. Rohrbaugh explains that this unnamed author of “John” simply hates Jerusalem, loathes the Temple, and detests everything to do with it. Because of his bitter anti-society animus, “John” moves this event to the beginning of his narrative. To him, the Johannine Jesus is all about overthrowing everything that has to do with that damned stinking-rotten Temple.

The Gospels Cannot Be 21st Century Histories

If you are reading these posts carefully, you should be seeing that the Gospels cannot be anything like historical accounts found in 21st century Western biographies. History and chronology get rearranged by the Gospels. Stories are borrowed freely and reshaped. Wordings are transformed. Things are contextualized anew according to the particularities of different Gospel audiences, those being different Jesus groups living in different Mediterranean places.

Rohrbaugh spells out what results from this. As we mentioned before there are 503 known Jesus-sayings in existence. But scholars have scant confidence in their certainty about these traditions. Which of these sayings were actually spoken by the historical Jesus? And which came later from his followers?

Difficulties with How Long Jesus’ Ministry Was

The Synoptic Gospels basically follow the same narrative pattern set down by “Mark.” Therefore in the Synoptics we read that the public career of Jesus or “the Jesus Movement” lasts only one year in length (really one dry season long).

But in “John” is a story about the ministry of Jesus lasting three years (really three dry seasons). Which is it? Was it one year (one dry season)? Or three years (three dry seasons)? Or something even shorter or longer?

“Mark” produced a chronology lasting one dry season. Both “Matthew” and “Luke” follow the Markan chronology. But “John,” the Gospel from Outer Space, does not follow that chronology whatsoever! So exactly how long was the Jesus Movement? We cannot be certain about this! We simply do not know.

Difficulties with Genealogies

Back in Advent and Christmas time, Messy Inspirations showed you that “Matthew” and “Luke” have genealogies that cannot be harmonized. They are very different! In “Matthew” (1:1-17) we read a genealogy that totals 42 names. Whereas in “Luke” (3:23-38) we read one with 67 names. More to it, the names don’t match!—how can someone have two different paternal grandfathers (compare Matthew 1:15-16 with Luke 3:23)?

Rohrbaugh says that neither genealogy is probably historical (neither was much in their Infancy narratives, by the way). They were made up, written not for 21st century Western concerns and obsessions, but for ancient theological reasons tied to Mediterranean cultural values of honor and shame. “Mark” and “John” give us no genealogies for Jesus. Rohrbaugh says that this fact speaks volumes to scholars as to the historicity of the Matthean and Lukan genealogies.

Difficulties with the “Slaughter of the Innocents”

Back in Christmas time, we learned that no other ancient document besides the Matthean infancy narrative (chapters 1-2) recounts a “slaughter of the innocents” and the Holy Family’s “flight into Egypt” (Matthew 2:13-23). That story says that King Herod the Great hatched a murderous plan to kill every baby boy two years old and younger in Bethlehem and its vicinity (Matthew 2:16).  Joseph takes Mary and the baby Jesus down to Egypt-land to escape. That story should sound familiar to readers of the Hebrew Scriptures. It’s strikingly similar to the one given about baby Moses (Exodus 1:15—2:10), who lived 1,400 years before Jesus.

But Rohrbaugh says that this same story was also told about the first ruler of the Akkadian Empire, Sargon the Great. He lived 1,200 years before Moses! Rohrbaugh explains that, by comparing the stories of Sargon and Moses and Jesus, it begins to look like these are three renditions of the same stock story in the repertoire of ancient Near East stories. Whenever storytellers from these lands want to make a point, they bring out the old story, dress it up, and apply it to a new hero.

No other Gospel or New Testament writer besides “Matthew” tells us this story about Herod wickedly trying to murder infants. Josephus hates Herod but is silent about this. Herod the Great was hated and writers preserved stories which celebrated his shame and loathsome character long after his death. For centuries a legend persisted about Herod preserving the corpse of his dead wife in honey so that he could continue engaging in sexual acts with her for a year after her demise!—but they say nothing about the infamous slaughter of infants. Rohrbaugh notes that scholars therefore begin to ask, “How does this story fit into ‘Matthew’s’ theological agenda?”

How Does This Story Fit the Matthean Agenda?

So a good question to ask is, “what exactly was the theological agenda of ‘Matthew’?” Rohrbaugh explains that “Matthew” considered Jesus to be the New Israel and the new Moses. In order to present Jesus as such, he plops a Moses-story into his infancy narrative. Did Herod the Great actually try to murder the historical baby Jesus? Did the Holy Family actually go to Egypt? Almost certainly not. But is this account theologically true? Yes it is.

All facts are true, but not all truths are factual truths. Rohrbaugh says that Jesus was, according to the Matthean Jesus group, the new and greater Israel and the new and greater Moses. This is why he employs the old story about Moses (and about Sargon)!—“Matthew” has reshaped it to bring that meaning forth.

But Rohrbaugh confesses that as far as Western scholarship is concerned, the problem has deepened. How can we tell which Jesus-stories correspond to what actually happened to the Jesus of history? And how can we determine which of these were borrowed or invented? This is difficult!

Difficulties with Accounts of the Virgin Birth

Why do only the authors we call “Matthew” and “Luke” write stories of the virgin birth? All twenty-six other New Testament writings are silent about this. Why? If you believed such a wondrous thing about Jesus’ birth, and you were writing about Jesus, how could you fail to mention it?

Rohrbaugh says that this raises a very important question—how do those “virgin birth” stories of “Matthew” and “Luke” serve theological agendas? It was so important to both “Matthew” and “Luke,” but not so much to “Mark” and “John” and Paul and others! Why? Were these other authors ignorant about it?

Let’s be honest—we hardly know anything about the exact historical situation of Jesus’ birth and youth. Was the historical Jesus actually born in Bethlehem? There are scholars like Rohrbaugh who find no reason to disagree that he was—but others think differently. Historically, his parents were called “Mary” and “Joseph.” How can we be sure about much more besides that?

Difficulties with the Resurrection Accounts

Clearly we can see tremendous difficulties for Western Bible readers produced by the theological activity at work in the Infancy Narratives of “Matthew” and “Luke.” So too we find difficulties when reading the various Resurrection accounts!

These Resurrection stories disagree on many details. Who exactly greets the women at the tomb? In “Matthew” it is an angel (Matthew 28:1-5). But “Mark” says it was a young man (Mark 16:1-5). And yet for “Luke” it has become two men wearing dazzling apparel (Luke 24:1-4). What actually happened? How can we know for sure?

Reading “Matthew” we learn that the women run and tell the disciples (28:8). “Luke” reports similarly (24:9). But not “Mark”—he says the women are afraid and shut up like clams, telling no one (16:8). Which of these reports best reflects what really happened?

Why do “Mark” and “Luke” omit the detail found in “Matthew” where the risen Jesus himself comes and meets his disciples (Matthew 28:9-10)? And why is it only “Matthew” who tells about bribing the soldiers (28:11-15)? You can’t find that story of the soldiers being bribed anywhere else in early Jesus group writings! Did “Matthew” include it for his own unique theological agenda? When you see this stuff, how can asking such questions not be legitimate inquiry? Ultimately we must remember that like “Mark” and “Luke,” “Matthew” is painting a theological portrait and not writing a 21st century Western history.

Difficulties with the Emmaus Story

Why is it that “Luke” alone tells of the Emmaus story (Luke 24:13-35)? Two disciples are walking away from Jerusalem on the Sunday following the Crucifixion. Along “the way” to Emmaus, they encounter the risen Jesus, but fail to recognize him. They invite this “stranger” to dinner. As the bread is broken their eyes open and they recognize Jesus—and he vanishes.

Rohrbaugh and other scholars describe this Lukan Easter tale as “a wonderful sacramental story.” It provides a glimpse into the worship of the earliest Jesus groups. They share bread and the wine communally. In a trance, their eyes open and experience the real presence of the Risen Lord and messiah by the power of the Holy Spirit (what cognitive neuroscience would term an altered state of consciousness experience).

But Western brains need to lock things down and control the stories they hear or read. Did it happen? Is this an historical account or BS? How about only partly historical and partly fantasy? Was it invented? Or was it synthesized from real experiences people had of the Risen Lord?  O, how the scales can fall from the eyes of Western readers when they realize that ancient authors told stories to convey ideas and not simply to give the facts of the day! But Western folks, Christian or other, will be Western folks. So we ask: what is historical and what is not?

Where did the Resurrection appearances happen? “Matthew” says they all happened in the Galilee. But according to “Luke” they all took place in Jerusalem and nearby. The original form of “Mark” (ending at 16:8) has zero appearances! The maverick antisociety Gospel called “John” lists some appearances in Jerusalem but others happening in the Galilee.

Difficulties with Jesus’ Pre-existence

The Gospels are all true and some of what they report actually happened. The Johannine Jesus is conscious of his pre-existence (John 17:5). But Jesus says nothing about pre-existing or “a life before his earthly life” in the Synoptic Gospels. The Jesuses found in “Mark,” “Matthew,” and “Luke” seem so different than the one found in “John.” They seem to have NO AWARENESS of any pre-existence. Why?

As mentioned earlier, according to “John” the Jesus Movement is largely set in Jerusalem (John 2:13-25) and lasts three dry seasons. But according to the Synoptic Gospels, the Jesus Movement is largely set in the Galilee, and lasts one dry season. Only at the end of Jesus’ ministry does he go up to Jerusalem (e.g., Luke 19:28-48). Why?

Difficulties with Jesus’ Teaching Style and Marvels

Why does the Johannine Jesus teach in long discourses but never parables? In the Synoptics Jesus always employs pithy sayings and parables. In the Fourth Gospel Jesus performs only seven “signs” or “works.” A few of these seven “signs” or “works” can be found nowhere else in the Synoptics (John 2:1-12; 9:1-42; 11:1-44). But in “Mark,” “Matthew” and “Luke,” Jesus performs many “mighty deeds” or “marvels” or “wonders. Why are these texts so different?

Further Difficulties

Why is there only a meager 15.5 percent agreement (or commonality) between the Markan Passion and the Johannine Passion accounts? That means that there is a huge 84.5 percent disagreement between both these Passion stories!

Consider also how Jesus is depicted in the Johannine Passion (John 18:1—19:42). There. the divine, pre-existent Jesus commands the soldiers approaching to arrest him, “Who are you looking for?” (John 18:4, 7) and he knocks them all down by exclaiming “I AM!” (John 18:5-6). And from the Cross, this triumphant Johannine Jesus, someone in absolute control of everything, cries out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30).

In contrast, how utterly human Jesus appears in the Markan Passion (Mark 14:32—15:47). There he cries out in great torment and stress before his arrest, “Abba! Father!” (Mark 14:34-36). From the Cross, the Markan Jesus cries, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).

More later…

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Ame

    One very big problem, actually three: 1) you assume like Postmodern Westerners do that the people if Jesus’ time counted days, months, and hours like we do. Widespread use of placeholder zero didn’t come about til long after the death of Jesus. And the hours of the day were not divided as 24 either. And really, not using place holder zero is still used today when counting time off/vacation days/sick days by the day rather than by the hour.

    2) for the Israelites/Judeans the day did not begin when you wake up upon sunrise. It began at sundown. So it’s very well possible for Jesus to have been crucified on Friday and still be regarded as risen after three days and nights.

    3) you assume the Synoptic Gospel writers’ colloquial use of “Passover” is literally the Passover sacrifice to make Jesus’ sacrifice line up with the slaying of Passover lambs. But Jesus’ crucifixion lined up with the Tamid lamb sacrifice. Passover lambs were about the Sacrifice of the covenant of Moses and nothing to do with sin sacrifice. The Feast of Unleavened Bread (colloquially, just called Passover) was 7 days long, culminating on the “Passover Seder” on the last “day” (what we regard now as Thursday evening, which is Friday for the Jews in this case, and Friday evening of course was the beginning of Sabbath). The first and last days of the Passover week (aka Chol HaMoed) were legal Holy days. The Tamid lamb, which happened EVERY DAY, including Friday morning and afternoon, was the sin sacrifice that Jesus signified. Would it have been more convenient for us if the Gospel writers had better make this distinction? Sure. But they didn’t know that the future of Jesus movement would become mostly gentile or even change how the days would be counted.

    Michel Hunt not only explains these things in detail in her Gospel and Holy Week studies, but in immense detail in her e-book: Jesus and the Sacrifice of the Tamid Lamb.

  • Dave Armstrong

    How are these sorts of articles that you write different from what atheists habitually do? I have answered well over a hundred such skeptical pieces from atheists.

    At least they are consistent . . .

  • Fellow Dying Inmate

    1) “you assume like Postmodern Westerners do that the people if Jesus’ time counted days, months, and hours like we do.”

    I do not, so that’s a straw man, perhaps innocently given, based on a misunderstanding you have. One can carefully comment on ancient peoples from a different culture with etic terminology so long as we respect their paradigms and emic terms.

    “Widespread use of placeholder zero didn’t come about til long after the death of Jesus.”

    Correct. That does not affect what is written in the OP above.

    “And the hours of the day were not divided as 24 either.”

    Twelve “hours” in sunlight and twelve “hours” in night-dark not being scientifically precise still were used to express a day-light period and a night-dark period correspond between our very different cultural consensus realities in such a way that my etic terms stand.

    “And really, not using place holder zero is still used today when counting time off/vacation days/sick days by the day rather than by the hour.”

    Irrelevant to our discussion.

    2) “for the Israelites/Judeans the day did not begin when you wake up upon sunrise. It began at sundown”

    Right! As the priestly myth (ca. 400 BCE) shows us, “There was [1st] evening, there was [2nd] morning, a day” Again, I am communicating for a Western audience using etic terms.

    “So it’s very well possible for Jesus to have been crucified on Friday and still be regarded as risen after three days and nights.”

    Many things are possible. I don’t know what you are arguing against here… someone else you have confused me for who insists that Jesus must be 72 hours maybe? That poor understanding of the “demands” of Matthew 12:40 is not a beef of mine. We are talking here about what “Mark” lays out. Look below at the graph.


    According to the Passion accounts found in “Mark” (14:26) and “Matthew” (26:30), Jesus and his inner circle of followers concluded their supper with a hymn and then went out to the Garden of Gethsemane. There Jesus prayed and after was arrested. The Synoptics represent this final meal of Jesus as a Passover. But according to “John,” Jesus shared his final meal with his disciples on the evening before Passover (John 13:1-2). According to the Johannine Passion, the crucified Jesus was dying about the same time that the lambs were being slaughtered in the temple for the feast of Passover. So the Johannine Jesus’ last meal with his disciples could not be a Passover meal.

    3) Hunt is wrong and this is an example of the mental gymnastics to which I refer above. It has nothing to do with the daily sacrificed lambs (see Exodus 29:38–42 and Numbers 28:1–8). The lambs being sacrified in these Gospel accounts is indeed the Passover Lamb. The rest is Olympic Level mental gymnastics = sophistry at the service of fundamentalist demands that everything must line up and work according to 21st century understandings of truth. Please understand that the Passover Feast celebrated in biblical times, while related to the Seder of post-Talmudic Judaism, is quite different from the familiar Jewish feast. Things like the candle-lighting ceremony, for example, are Medieval in origin—not only is it not found in Torah, but also is nowhere in the Talmudim or Mishnahim! The point is the evolution is ongoing.

    When we examine Passover and Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 critically, many important things come to light. In the sixth century, under Persian influence, a new feast is formed with old roots and is recontextualized by recent experience. Indeed, two feasts have been conflated into the feast of Passover: the first, a nomadic, springtime rite involving blood (which insures fecundity of the flock and wards off evil by smearing the blood on tent poles). The second, an agricultural harvest feast observed in the eating of unleavened bread. Many recontextualizations and reinventions have happened since.

    The Passover feast in the first century was a domestic religious feast celebrating the biblical exodus, the founding of the Israelite by the patron God of Israel. Originally it was a henotheistic springtime festival corresponding with the Barley harvest (the most common grain) and once was ancient Israel’s New Year festival (Exodus 12:1-2). But after Babylonian and Persian times, the New Years celebration was separated from Passover and placed in autumn imitating the Babylonian calendars. By the first century, the ceremony of Passover was well-defined, but it was not a Seder. That evolved later. Sorry, Scott Hahn.

    In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus’ final meal is a Passover feast. Here in this final meal with his disciples, Synoptic Jesus changes the ceremonial banquet of the Israelite Passover into a ritual banquet effectively symbolizing the meaning of his impending death (Mark 14:12-25). But in “John,” things are different. First, although it is around Passover time, the meal itself is not a Passover meal. Second, the Johannine Jesus’ final meal or farewell dinner is a ritual at which disciples become friends, and the Johannine Jesus reveals what he knows in prescience—the forthcoming.

  • Fellow Dying Inmate

    ‘How are these sorts of articles that you write different from what atheists habitually do?”

    Uh, faith?

    “I have answered well over a hundred such skeptical pieces from atheists.”

    Is this about you, brother? I find many of your “answers” unconvincing.

    “At least they are consistent . . .”

    Consistency? Well consistency will get you to Jonestown, Guyana, Dave. Inconsistency will grant you a decent life. You’ve got only of those, brother. Chill.

  • Dave Armstrong

    Faith in what? What do you still believe? What do you reject of the Catholic faith?

  • Ame

    That’s rich that you could you can say Hunt is wrong and making mental gymnastics when your knowledge of Judean/Israelite culture leaves much to be desired. Maybe you can get away with saying your students are wrong when they challenge you without doing much heavy lifting on your part because you do possess several degrees more knowledge than they do. However, when arguing with another scholar, at least have the open mind enough to at least read the woman’s book and review her 50+ bibliography, indices, glossary, and charts before coming to any sort of conclusion. If your mentors hadn’t taken you to task for such laziness in the past, then I will have to dread the current state of academia. Sheesh, she even has Scott Hahn’s endorsement even with their long and happy history of calling out when either is wrong or at least misguided about a topic.

    Here is her book:

    Or if you want to be intellectually stimulated, email her and talk to the lady yourself. It may take some time, but she will eventually reply:


  • Ame

    By the way, Talmudic Passover is 8 days. Of course it’s different than how Jesus celebrated it. There is no Temple and no lamb sacrifice now, not even lamb served. There was no Cup of Elijah back then either.

  • Fellow Dying Inmate

    The faith of Christ from God in me, that fundamental yes I’ve come to know in the Church, the Body of Christ. I reject fundamentalism and rationalistic ways of doing “apologetics,” not the Catholic faith. But why, Cardinal Bellarmine, should I talk with you like this? Do you want to know me or my beliefs? Are you getting a STAKE ready? 😉

  • The Gospels are all true and some of what they report actually happened.

    I like your approach. Thanks for the frank assessment. But as an atheist, I’m not sure where a believer would go with this. Why wouldn’t a Christian just toss the whole thing as a legendary story that has no solid grounding?

  • 2) How do you get 3 nights? Using our terminology, you’ve got all of Friday night and all of Saturday night. Then the resurrection. But that’s 2 nights.

  • Ame

    Not using our terminology here. And its not just Michel Hunt who argues this:


  • I looked at the chart. The problem remains, as far as I can tell. Aren’t we counting from Friday afternoon (death of Jesus) until Sunday morning (empty tomb)?

  • Dave Armstrong

    Thanks for confirming my point, Bob!

  • Ame

    Remember, no place holder zero when counting in Jesus’ time.

  • Fellow Dying Inmate

    Thank you, Bob. I appreciate serious and respectful atheists. We Christians need our holy atheist brothers. They remind us that our ideas of God are not God. A great prayer: God! God! Rid me of God!

    Why indeed? Well I would say that it does have solid grounding, besides the some historical facts parts. This is what puzzled the anti-theists of the post-Enlightenment period… why don’t they give it up? Why didn’t religion just up and die when all the critical research came out? It’s because the primary vehicles for religious faith–or ANY OTHER MEANING-GIVING system–have never been logic and figuring everything out. It’s been ritual. It’s been symbol. It’s been community. It’s been song and story shared together.

    We are too “either 100 percent one way or zero!” But such an approach is not reasonable. There is more to reality. Plenty of integers between and beyond. Faith is reasonable, but not rational. But being “not rational” does not mean “irrational.” It can mean supra-rational. It can mean non-rational.

    Reasonable = it makes sense to believe, not only to my logical mind, but also the the sum total or nexus of antecedent probabilities in my life (inclluding memories, emotions, culture, etc), which is lived out in community and dialogue, all of this informing my conscience to BE ABLE TO leap, not into darkness, but rather into an overwhelming light where there is always something I get and always something I don’t get. This is what Vatican I means by faith is consonant with reason. It makes sense to believe, and that life in Mystery we call Christ can be presented as convincing, better than life without.

    Rational = everything grasped by reasoning alone. This is what the fundamentalist “super-apologists” never get. For them, everything has to be clear and controlled, neat and understood. But as with life, in faith, there is always something you get and always something you don’t get. Your mind doesn’t solve all the Mystery. You are always diving in fresh.

    Christians should take confidence in that Truth presents itself in many ways. For our Body we call Church, the normative literature is the Bible, our Sacred and Inspired (not God-dictated) library. It’s a first word, not an only word, and not a last word. If it has any inerrancy, it must be a salvific inerrancy, together with all its contradictions, genocidal messes, slavery prescriptions, abuse of women, etc. All it’s parts disclose Holy and Absolute Mystery we call God. It’s ok. Humanity isn’t perfect. God doesn’t wait for us to be perfect before communicating with us. ANd God is the content of what is revealed, not just the revealer. Unlike what the fundamentalists think, the Bible has no cognitive inerrancy.

    Catholics and other Christians have nothing to fear with seeing that the Gospels evolved. This doesnt prove or disprove God. The Gospels were not written to be handed out to strangers to proselytize anybody. They are INGROUP documents for an ingroup audience. Their intended audience already believed in these updated memories about Jesus. They weren’t a salespitch.

    These people had a solid grounding. Jesus existed, lived, healed, pissed people off, and died. People witnessed and experienced Jesus risen. People grappled to put these experiences into words. Now we grapple to understand what they meant to communicate = to respectfully read them on their terms. It’s very difficult and we have a tendency for allegory-gone-wild. But the literal sense comes first = what the text was actually saying. But no matter how much the grappling, this neither creates faith nor destroys faith. Belief is an OUTCOME of faith. Faith > Theology > Belief. Neither beliefs nor theology can create faith nor destroy faith. It’s sad that the loudest voice in the room (various fundamentalisms) get perceived as the patent-holder of what is Christian faith.

    Why wouldn’t a Christian toss the whole thing away? They find meaning. It gives life meaning.

    Solid grouding… I ask my CHRISTIAN students “what is more real? A rock? or a mermaid?” I don’t care how they answer, what they answer. I only demand that they are consistent in their line of thought. The overwhelming majority of these Western personalities answer, “a ROCK.” Next question: “Why did you say that? Overwhelmingly they answer, “Because I can see a rock. Touch a rock. Feel a rock. Hold it. Observe it. Test it scientifically…” In other words their understanding of something being REAL is it being sensible, perceptible to the senses.

    Okay, so I ask them to be consistent: “What is more real? A rock? Or justice?” Those who do not lose it like Gollum from Lord of the Rings at this point sigh and admit honestly if somewhat downcast, “a rock.” So for these empiricists and materialists, a rock is more real than six million Jews murdered being an injustice. Christians in name only. Six million dead is an injustice? Nah that’s mere opinion. Have a nice day. Enjoy the meaning.

    Next question is: “which is more real? A rock? or God?” Again those who are consistent and honest answer, “a rock.” Right. So these Christians sure look like atheists. And serious ones, not the Gene Roddenberry, Seth Macfarlane kinds. The Camus and Nietzsche kinds.

    Myself? Through much grappling I have come to understand that real being can be material or immaterial. What makes a real being real is that it exists independent of a mind thinking it up. The other kind of being besides real being is mental being. A mental being is being thought of by a mind. It’s being is to be thought of. The mystery called “rock” is a real being. TO THE BEST I CAN SAY, mermaid is mental being. But the material being called “rock” and the mystery called “justice” are BOTH real beings. And God is Holy and Absolute Mystery, the Sheer Act of Being Itself. God is Is.

    All facts are true, but not all truths are facts. Truth is a bigger circle than factual truths. Our Western culture is the only one that can’t seen to grasp that. Alas.

    So people find meaning in religious tradition. Healing. Community. The first theological questions are “WHO AM I? WHO ARE WE?” not “WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE???” Who am I? / who are we? — these are the first theological questions. How could we ever hope to understand God, or Jesus Christ, or the Church, or anything else unless and until we grapple in those areas against the backdrop of the question of ourselves? The question of ourselves HAS to come before questions about God, Jesus Christ, and Church. When we raise the question of God, we are asking “Who am I? Who are we?” in terms of ultimacy. Holy and Absolute Mystery called “God” is addressing the ultimate ground for our being. Jesus Christ connects us with God in a human way.

    Faith answers the question of meaning (“Who and I? Who are we?”) by diving into the reality of God. For Catholic Christians, faith offers an understanding of God. This foundation understanding gives foundation and context for human life, described in terms of creation, redemption, incarnation, grace, the Church, moral responsibility, eternal life, and every great mystery and doctrine found in Christianity. The Trinity is where Christians and Catholics among them derive their meaning.

    We come to the SCriptures as with Jesus in his Body, the Church. It’s messy. The whole thing is messy. Like life. But the mess is solid and rich in meaning. Humans ALWAYS arrive at meaning. That is what healing means. Healing means restoration of meaning to human life. Jesus is a healer.

    i hope this is helpful.

  • Thanks for your comments. I don’t know if you want a dialogue or not, but I’ve responded.

    It’s because the primary vehicles for religious faith–or ANY OTHER MEANING-GIVING system–have never been logic and figuring everything out. It’s been ritual. It’s been symbol. It’s been community. It’s been song and story shared together.

    Sounds right to me. But maybe people like me insist on believing things for cause, not because they make us feel good.

    Reasonable = it makes sense to believe

    “Makes sense” because it is pleasing, not because it’s the logical conclusion of the facts?

    This is what Vatican I means by faith is consonant with reason. It makes sense to believe, and that life in Mystery we call Christ can be presented as convincing, better than life without.

    So Christian belief is useful, not that it’s correct.

    Christians should take confidence in that Truth presents itself in many ways.

    Are we defining “truth” the same way?

    If [the Bible] has any inerrancy, it must be a salvific inerrancy, together with all its contradictions, genocidal messes, slavery prescriptions, abuse of women, etc.

    It “must be”? But you have no evidence to back this up, right? You’re just saying it’s useful or helpful or valuable to think this way, not that this is where the evidence points.

    Catholics and other Christians have nothing to fear with seeing that the Gospels evolved. This doesnt prove or disprove God.

    It certainly undercuts the historical reliability of the message. But perhaps you’re redefining “God” to mean “a useful or emotionally satisfying feeling” or something similar.

    The Gospels were not written to be handed out to strangers to proselytize anybody.

    But some (not me) would say that the Great Commission applies to lay Christians today. They would say that the gospels are evidence arguing that their Christian claims are real.

    Why wouldn’t a Christian toss the whole thing away? They find meaning. It gives life meaning.

    You’re rejecting the popular fundamentalist approach to say that their Christian belief is well supported by evidence and that outsiders would also become Christians if they’d only consider the evidence. That’s good. Your approach makes Christianity a worldview or a community. As long as Christians don’t try to impose their beliefs or meddle in society, I’m content. What supernatural claims are you making?

    So for these empiricists and materialists, a rock is more real than six million Jews murdered being an injustice.

    Are you just playing word games? Some nouns are concrete (table, chair, car) and some are abstract (justice, perseverance, humor). Concrete/abstract aren’t synonyms for real/imaginary.

    Six million dead is an injustice? Nah that’s mere opinion. Have a nice day. Enjoy the meaning.

    Millions dead sounds like an injustice to me. You’re making a point about definitions that I’m missing.

    And BTW, I think the argument is stronger if you say 11 million people rather than 6 million Jews.

    Next question is: “which is more real? A rock? or God?” Again those who are consistent and honest answer, “a rock.” Right.

    Right. Why not believe in mermaids? Because there’s insufficient evidence to do that. Same with God.

    All facts are true, but not all truths are facts. Truth is a bigger circle than factual truths. Our Western culture is the only one that can’t seen to grasp that. Alas.

    But you’ve put yourself into the “It pleases me to believe X” camp. I’d rather believe because it’s true.

    So people find meaning in religious tradition. Healing. Community.

    Agreed. You know how you can be a Jew but not believe the supernatural stuff? That is, you’re a cultural Jew, not a religious Jew. I wish that were more of an option for Christians.

    The Trinity is where Christians and Catholics among them derive their meaning.

    Which sounds like crazy talk to someone like me. Many Christians quickly admit that the Trinity is a “mystery” so they can avoid having to defend it.

    We come to the SCriptures as with Jesus in his Body, the Church. It’s messy. The whole thing is messy. Like life.

    Life driven by evolution is messy. The message from an omniscient being shouldn’t be.

  • Fellow Dying Inmate

    Thank you for your response, Bob.

    ‘Makes sense’ because it is pleasing, not because it’s the logical conclusion of the facts?

    Makes sense in that it is reasonable, not pleasing. Gives meaning, but is not necessarily useful. Is criticism of power structures in one’s own own religious group pleasant or pleasing? Was it pleasing and useful for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, informed by the Gospel to speak out against Hitler’s Germany and hung for it? Or did this man derive meaning, healing (the restoration of meaning, not bio-medical cures)? I could list thousands of other examples. So let’s not confuse meaning with pleasure-deriving activities or usefulness.

    We all find meaning. Atheists too. Meaning is more than utility. So life in Christ (not just belief or intellectual assent or “faith in the impersonal”) gives meaning, not just usefulness.

    So Christian belief is useful, not that it’s correct.

    “Correct/Incorrect”—is that how you approach life?

    I would say that life in Christ, which includes the intellect but is much more besides, is much more than simply being “correct.”

    Are we defining “truth” the same way?

    Truth is conformity with reality. We all have different ways of looking at reality. No one owns the patent on that. Though reality is always the same, cultural interpretations of it differ. Every culture colors the way its members perceive and interpret reality.

    As far as the inerrancy of the Scriptures was concerned, I said “IF.” IF the Bible has any inerrancy, it must be a salvific inerrancy. It’s not a cognitive inerrancy. Do I have anything to back that up? Faith and hope are not matters of metaphysical certitude. The “certainty of faith” is a type of knowledge and trust that is mutable and corrigible. Like a great many things in human experience: we will get to that momentarily. The evidence I have is the sum total of antecedent probabilities that empower me to be able to make the leap of faith to begin with. Some of that evidence is historical, a lot is personal, all is touched by culture. So too science, my friend, and the knowledge derived from that. We all have baggage. We all look through lenses. So when we speak of evidence, we should take care about falling for the fantasy of “Immaculate Perception.” No one has that.

    I am in such a place in my life to trust the wisdom tradition of my Church that the Scriptures are inspired (does not mean dictated by God) and normative for our “clubhouse.” All of us trust in authorities, in sources of knowledge and wisdom that, although admittedly flawed, we depend on. Take science. Science is done in community. Science done as a community depends radically on being able to trust, and to trust in authorities, does it not? Doesn’t modern science depend on TRUSTING OTHER SCIENTISTS who trust one another. Otherwise such science (empiriological knowledge) could not exist, much less be shared.
    Can any scientist alive today perform every current experiment and follow every current argument? Can any scientist alive today try and repeat all that has been done up till now? No way, my brother.

    Like all people, like myself and my fellow Catholics, the scientist also must rely on others. If you could not trust anyone in any way, then there could be no science. Before I use microscope and telescope, I use my eyes to see, my sensorial brain, etc. If I cannot trust these, if my senses are untrustworthy, then I cannot trust anyone out there. That’s the death of science. Solipsism and science don’t make for a good marriage.

    Do you FEEL as if the earth’s surface is moving, due to rotation, at 1,000 mph? Do you feel the earth moving at 67,000 mph around the sun? And have you done the necessary experiments to verify the round shape of the earth (e.g., seen the earth from space or circumnavigate the globe while flying meanwhile watching to verify a continuous heading that would end in a vast circle flight round the earth)?

    No?? Nonetheless — you DO believe and say these things… right?

    Have you ever considered ON WHAT GROUNDS you believe and say the earth is rotating, and the earth orbits the sun, and the earth is round? If you haven’t, well, that is more than a matter of faith and reasonable trust in authorities. That is a matter of BLIND BELIEF = UNCONSCIOUS BELIEF, possibly ARROGANT BLIND BELIEF.

    Some of us disdain and ridicule peoples in earlier times that thought differently on these matters. After all, weren’t they ENSLAVED by rigid systems of doctrine that killed all possibility for independent thought? Ancient Christians and Muslims knew they were believing when they believed in their Scriptures and Quran. We are different. We are ignorant that often, when we say we KNOW, we are really just believing we understand… the ac, the automobile, the electric current in our walls, how the Internet works, and thousands of different essentials for our 21st century lives. Medieval Christians BELIEVED the Bible was the word of God. But they were CONSCIOUS that they BELIEVED this. And us 21st century western folks? We identify with the conclusions of the sciences of earth’s motions and shape SO MUCH that because we THINK that the earth goes round the sun and is round in shape that makes us SUPERIOR IN KNOWLEDGE to our Medieval predecessors. Are we really?

    Don’t confuse what I am saying here: the fact that the earth moves round the sun, rotates, and is round in shape, are all INDEED valid conclusions from the sciences, from physics. But let’s be honest. For THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE LIVING TODAY — including “educated” people in the US with COLLEGE DEGREES — these are not PERSONAL CONCLUSIONS at all.

    What is it then for the vast majority of contemporary people when they agree that the earth rotates, orbits the sun, and is round in shape? Really it is merely a part of an unrecognized belief system CONDITIONED into us during childhood.

    It is GOOD to trust the word of an expert in this highly specialized world… but it is a SERIOUS PROBLEM to not even be AWARE of the fact that you are trusting another’s word! The ancient Christian was aware that he took his Bible as the word of God on belief and trust. We arrogantly think we understand science and are really just blindly trusting in authorities meanwhile telling ourselves “WE KNOW.” I bring this up because of your questions about truth and making logical conclusions based on evidence.

    A brief excursus here on what constitutes evidence to base something on AND how science depends on trust in order to exist. Our sciences (from the Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge”) should be called “empirology.” The object of this kind of knowing is phenomena and their appearances. The method of this kind of knowing is observation, investigation and/or experimentation. Here the senses are served by reason. So this kind of knowing describes the facts—it is descriptive only. There are no prescriptives. It can and does inform prescriptives, as with ecological responses and ethics. But science itself is limited to the descriptive

    It would be a psychological problem most similar to religious fundamentalism to RIGIDLY believe that all knowledge is reducible only to modern empiriological science, to REFUSE to see knowledge in a broader sense (this is called scientism). Because of its investigative mode of inquiry, modern science gives us a knowledge necessarily limited to first-order questions. This way of knowing (science) is simply incapable of growing our understanding with respect to second-order questions relating to all branches of knowledge—the job of philosophy (metaphysics). To even DO modern science demands philosophy. Science depends on metaphyisics as “the science (knowledge) LOGICALLY before science” (empiriology). Just as you cannot have the concept triangle without (logically) first conceiving angle, so you cannot have science without first having philosophy.

    To unconsciously reject philosophy—or worse still, to EXPLICITLY reject it—means to reject the science of wisdom that alone allows one to consciously and intelligently assess one’s own thinking (to have a thought-out foundation to one’s own thinking). I bring this up because we want to get into evidence, epistemological foundations and such. You brought that up. If we reject the philosophical foundations, the roots of our thinking are left “hanging in the air,” ungrounded, blowing this way and that way in the wind of our wills. Blind belief simply is our ONLY choice.

    Blind belief, in turn, tends toward two poles: RELIGIOUS and ANTI-RELIGIOUS. When you look at it this way, you see that they are hardly different. They both lead to anti-rational attitudes. The religious pole leads to anti-rational fideism, reason is lost in an absurd “God”. The anti-religious pole leads to anti-rational subjectivism where reason is lost in an absurd “self.”

    You can think of fundamentalism in a very specific religious way or a very general way similarly as you can think of religion. As “scientism” (the belief that the only way to truth is through empiriological sciences) can be a religion, so rejecting Holy and Absolute Mystery via scientism can indeed be a fundamentalism.

    But some (not me) would say that the Great Commission applies to lay Christians today. They would say that the gospels are evidence arguing that their Christian claims are real.

    Yes, some fundamentalists would say that the Great Commission (which they tear violently out of context) applies directly to them. This is because fundamentalists, who claim to believe in an inspired Bible, really believe in an inspired reader. Their approach is wrong. The Bible is not cognitively inerrant.

    Supernatural is a funny thing. That distinction does not arrive until Origen (3rd century). That means no Scripture author had that in mind when he wrote the sacred texts. The Biblical God is not absent—therefore how can God “intervene”? Biblical cosmologies present one total, closed environment, sky vaults and earth and seas and underworld all touch and all make up one whole. There are no supernatural worlds. But we eventually came to that understanding. So long as we can reform the dualism of it, I’m fine with our clubhouse talk of “supernatural.”

    I affirm that there is more than meets the eye to the mystery of reality. I affirm that there is a beyond in our midst. When distinguishing between real beings and mental beings, or between real beings that are physical/material and real beings that are immaterial/spiritual, no, I am not playing wordgames.

    I am fine with you not finding sufficient evidence for the Act of Being Itself. We all are somewhere. Reality is not always pleasant. Or useful.

    What about the doctrine of the Trinity do you find crazy? The Mystery called “Trinity” is mystery. Not escape, but mystery. Not absurdity or irrational, but supra-rational. But the DOCTRINE of TRINITY the Church espouses is not mystery. I do admit that many Christians fail to make this distinction.

    The message? God—Holy and Absolute Mystery—is not only the “Messenger” but is the content of the message. Any articulation of that will necessarily be subject to the limitations of human language. Just like science—analogy and metaphor, culturally-limited, is all we’ve got my friend.

    Speaking of crazy, recall what you have heard about the so-called “nothingness” of atoms. An atom, we are told, is made up electrons and a nucleus. We are also told that most of the mass of the atom is in the nucleus; we are informed that the electron is point-like. We are made to imagine that if the nucleus were the size of a basketball, the “edge” of the atom would therefore be TWO MILES OUT. It then is stated and believed that the atom is composed mostly of space.

    It’s easy for us to draw the inference that many, many do—we are mostly composed of atoms, hence, we are mostly NOTHING. Because space is no thing, yes? Or is space a mystery that is SOMETHING?

    But that question does not get asked. At this point the “atom” is not longer scientific, but BAD philosophy—nihilism. “Our senses and common senses are liars! Untrustworthy!” we feel. Though we may never articulate it, the underlying thought is we are relatively unimportant and worthless — and this is all unchallengeable truth.

    We hear science says “man” is made of “atoms.” The typical “man” contains 10²⁸ “atoms.” The question “Is man ONE thing or is he 10²⁸ things?” is NEVER asked by science. It is not competent to ask second-order questions like this. We must turn to philosophy, to metaphysics, to address this.

    How does science arrive at “man” being 10²⁸ “atoms”? It goes a little like this (according to Dr. Anthony Rizzi): Imagine a typical “man” is all water shaped like a cylinder two meters in height and ⅟₄ meter in diameter (volume = .1 m³). Using density of water =1g/cm³ gives 100kg (220lbs) and weight of 18g/mole, “he” will then have 10²⁸ “atoms” as a body.

    Such physics calculations like this simple “order of magnitude” calculation are typical. Do you see how MUCH got abstracted away from what man REALLY is in this calculation? This exercise is an apt metaphor for what is done by the special sciences. They provide us with true and good results, but they leave MOST REALITY behind.

    Going beyond that, 1 ≠ 10²⁸. “Man” cannot be in the same way and at the same time both 1 and 10²⁸. Sure, there is the explicit belief that the ONE THING and the 10²⁸ THINGS do work together, somehow. But the question at the philosophical level is never addressed but rather left IMPLICIT.

    Sometimes bad philosophy, that is, philosophical error, comes in to “save the day.” In comes a reductionist philosophical position (like the “Nothing-but School” of folks like Carl Sagan who said “I Carl Sagan am NOTHING BUT a pile of atoms named Carl Sagan”). This reductionist error concludes that “man” is 10²⁸ things, and not really ONE THING.

    When this reductionism is the unconscious position taken, then by logical consistency, nihilism follows.

    Now I don’t try to refute nihilism—life has a thorough-going uncertainty, not that nihilism is provable to metaphysical certitude, mind you. Life altogether is worthless? Life is useless? Life is pointless? No value and no meaning in anything? Maybe.

    And yet I am capacity for such meaning—I intuit that, I live that, with fellow capacities all around in community. It is human NEED 1. to find meaning in life (this is eradicable) and 2. to participate in a community of shared meaning. Religious faiths address these needs. Faith is not rational—provable by reason alone. But faith is reasonable—it is not absurd to believe (it is consonant with reason).

    Nihilism, however, is unreasonable. Hence, it is bad philosophy. I can say that from the nexus of antecedent probabilities empowering me to leap into faith and keep leaping, keep trusting, keep growing in this mutable and corrigible knowledge.