A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

         We now turn to yet another  difficulty Christian apologists must be forced to contend with. And one which is not quite so readily apparent.

        In John 20:1, we learn that Mary Magdalene, traveling alone, made her way to Jesus tomb, “while it was still dark” on the first day of the week (i.e., “Sunday”), only to find it empty. But we also learn from Matthew 28:1 that Mary Magdalene, in the company of the “other Mary,” returned to the tomb, at daybreak; making it Magdalene’s third visit there. It is then when the pair is said to have encountered a lone angel sitting atop Jesus’ burial stone.

          Since Mary Magdalene’s earlier visit in John’s gospel took place “while it was still dark,” and her third visit takes place at the crack of dawn, it means Jesus would had to have arisen on Saturday, and not Sunday—this, despite John 20:1 stating it was “early on the first day of the week” when Mary first made her way to the tomb.

          The Greek text of Matthew 28:1 actually reads: τῇ  ἐπιφωσκούσῃ εἰς μίαν σαββάτων. Literally, “It being dawn toward   [the] first [day] of [the]* week.” (Emphasis mine.)

           We must remember that the Magdalene had traveled back to Jerusalem to tell Peter and the Beloved Disciple that Jesus’ tomb was empty, then returned with them both in tow to search for Jesus’ body. The time needed for such back-and-forth tripsin addition to her tomb activities, plus  the time needed to gather “the other Mary” and then return to the tomb for a third time at daybreak, simply does not permit a Sunday resurrection. There is simply too much traveling back and forth and other activities between Mary’s first visit in John 20:1 and this third visit at the crack of dawn in Matthew 28:1 for Jesus to have arisen on Sunday proper.

            Fact is, the claims of a Sunday resurrection actually rest on nothing more than Church doctrine and dogma. There’s no empirical evidence whatsoever to positively demonstrate that Jesus actually arose on Sunday rather than Saturday. There were no eyewitnesses to the event. And nothing in the gospel records can actually certify a Sunday rising. That being the case, we should honestly rule the Resurrection a Saturday  event rather than a Sunday one (assuming, for the sake of argument, that there even was  a “resurrection”). The latter being more of a matter of Church tradition rather than a matter of fact. And so, until proven otherwise, the Saturday resurrection stands. There is simply no irrefutable proof indicating otherwise.

Evangelists Caught Altering Text

           Previously we wondered why both Matthew and Luke changed Mark’s “After three days” to “On the third day” in their respective gospels. A vital clue, perhaps, is to be found in the text of I Corinthians 15:3-4. where the “apostle” Paul declares :

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

          The question is: What  specific verses of “scripture” is Paul actually referring to? His claim has confounded bible scholars for centuries due to the fact there are no Old Testament passages specifically stating any such thing. Nonetheless, Paul may have had in mind Hosea 6:2-3. where we read:

He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him. Let us acknowledge the Lord;
    let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
    he will appear
  (NIV)

          Knowing the propensity of the gospel writers to try and tie Jesus to Old Testament “prophecy” in as many ways as possible, Hosea 6:2-3 may have been just too  irresistible for Matthew and Luke to pass up and not try and conform it to the death of Jesus in some fashion.

          Best bet is that Hosea 6:2-3 was seen by both Luke and Matthew as yet another “fulfilled prophecy” regarding Jesus that could be extracted from the Old Testament, and so they decided to alter the text of Mark accordingly. Veritable proof of the likeliness that this did indeed occur lies in the fact that not only have both Jerome and Martin Luther believed Hosea 6:2-3 to be Old Testament prophecy at work, but so too many modern  day evangelical Christian writers! A survey of Bible commentaries reveals that list to be rather extensive. We provide a very brief listing of some of those commentators here. So there can be little doubt that both Matthew and Luke deliberately altered Mark’s wording in order to see in the death of Jesus, the fulfillment of  Old Testament prophecy―this, despite the fact that Hosea 6:2-3 is clearly referencing the nation of Israel and not a lone individual.

The “On the Third Day” Tradition

         Earlier, we mentioned that nowhere in the gospels does Jesus arise on the “fourth” or “fifth” day; a fact that Christian apologists claim “proves” Mark 8:31 must be interpreted as meaning ON the third day. And today, the “third day” tradition is practically carved in stone. But that is NOT what the text of Mark 8:31 maintains. Mark clearly  indicates Jesus would arise three days AFTER his death:

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and AFTER three days rise again. (NIV; emphasis mine)

        This is also the case in Mark 9:31, 10:34, Matthew 12:40, and 27:63. The Christian cannot simply choose to ignore verses of Scripture that do not “square” with their religious world-view. That’s being dishonest with the texts, and consequently, not dealing with the “truth” in a forthright manner. A hallmark of the Christian religion is that its members are to always tell the truth, not flee from it.

 Conclusion

         We have seen that there is no “legitimate” way Christian apologists can reconcile the contradiction between between Mark 8:31 and Matthew 17:23 and their corresponding parallel passages. So as it stands, not only do the two passages remain in a state of  irrefutable contradiction, but Mark 8:31 also puts on the lips of Jesus a “prophecy” which has proven to be patently false. And, in turn, proves Luke 1:37 ‘s declaration, “No word from God will ever  fail,” to be untrue as well. There is simply no escaping this fact.

          We’ve also reached the conclusion that Jesus did not arise on Easter Sunday, but during the evening of Saturday instead―assuming that there even was a “resurrection.” The preponderance of evidence for Saturday is just to strong to deny; and the ramifications of which are yet to be fully determined.

          Church tradition will, of course, invariably hold sway more often than not. The faithful will continue to believe what they want  to believe. The Christian apologists will hold firm to tradition. But that doesn’t make their beliefs “true,” nor tradition right. Neither faith nor tradition proves anything  true. Only the truth does that.

End of Part IV – The Conclusion

Part I Here     Part II Here     Part III Here

* http://biblehub.com/text/matthew/28-1.htm See also the NASB and Berean Literal Bible.

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part III – The Rebuttal Begins

        In Part I of this article, we addressed the fact that the website Apologetic Press rigorously defends the bizarre idea that “On the third day,” and After three days” both denote one and the same day. (And is not the only apologetic source to do so either.**) The Apologetic Press’ Eric Lyons writes:

“…as awkward as it may sound to an American living in the 21st century, a person in ancient times could legitimately speak of something occurring “on the third day,” “after three days,” or after “three days and three nights,” yet still be referring to the same exact day”*

      The two-step process taken in pursuing this line of defense was to first stress that time-keeping in ancient times was not nearly as precise as it is in the 21st century; and second, to emphasize the fact that we moderns are not familiar enough with the Jewish idioms of Jesus’ day to recognize no real problem exists. Eric Lyons states:

“The idiomatic expressions that Jesus and the Bible writers employed to denote how long Jesus would remain in the grave does not mean that He literally was buried for 72 hours. If we interpret the account of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection in light of the cultural setting of the first century, and not according to the present-day (mis)understanding of skeptics, we find no errors in any of the expressions that Jesus and the gospel writers used.”*

    Eric lists six examples of biblical time-keeping verses which he feels are similarly ‘contradictory” to those undergoing our scrutiny, but which upon close inspection, prove to provide no real problem for the skeptic either. The most pertinent one related to our examination is reproduced below:

  • In 1 Samuel 30:12,13, the phrases “three days and three nights” and “three days” are used interchangeably.

     What is imperative to keep in mind, however, is that in I Samuel 30:12,13, the Egyptian is recounting the events of his ordeal on the fourth day of the week―not the third. Below is the text as to what actually transpired:

“They found an Egyptian in a field [on the fourth day of his suffering] and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days And three nights.  David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?” He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. ” (I Samuel 30:12-13-NIV; emphasis mine)

       So there is no question that in this  particular instance, both “three days AND three nights” and “three days” are, indeed, perfectly interchangeable seeing as the Egyptian is recounting his ordeal on the fourth day. The text of Matthew 12:39b-40, however, is an entirely different matter altogether. Here are the actual words of Jesus himself:

“An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days AND three nights, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (NIV; emphasis mine)

       There is simply no valid reason whatever to doubt that Jesus was being as precise as possible in detailing his prophecy. Taking Jesus at his word then, it means the resurrection would had to have occurred on the “Monday” following Good Friday, and not Sunday. But before we explore this point any further, let us first examine the ramifications of trying to insist that “On the third day” and “After three days” both refer to the same exact day, and that any “perceived” disagreement is simply due to a modern “misunderstanding” of 1st-century Jewish Idiom.

A Conversation Between Two Apostles

        Envision the following scene: Jesus’ apostles, Peter and James, have  just met at a well on a very hot Sunday afternoon in the village of Nazareth:

Peter:     Did you hear? Timothy is getting married!

James:   Why, that’s wonderful  news!! When’s the wedding?

Peter:     Well, let’s see, Bartholomew told me it was to be on the third day of this week, so that  would make it Tuesday afternoon.

James:   Well I’ll make sure then, that I have my mule and I ready to arrive as early as I can after [those] three days, on Wednesday, so that I don’t miss any  part of the wedding ceremony.

So much for the skeptic’s “misunderstanding” 1st-century “Jewish idiom” argument.

End of Part III

   * https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=756

**  http://www.defendingyourfaith.org/Contradictions.htm

Part 1  Here          Part II  Here     Part IV Here

Next Time: Part IV: The Rebuttal Continues

Resurrection 6

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part II

     In Part I of this article, we focused on the Christian apologetic argument that “On the third day” and “After three days” are, in reality, one and the same “day.” This is a claim that is rigorously defended on the Christian website Apologetic Press.*  So now we will turn our attention to another angle Christian apologists have used to reconcile the apparent contradiction between “On” the third day, versus three days later. And that is to simply deny that there isn’t any  gospel evidence for a “fourth” day resurrection of Jesus at all!

     The Christian apologist, Andreas Köstenberger, whose work can be found at the website, Biblical Foundations** reports:

Regarding the Gospel evidence, we can observe at least two things. First, the Gospels uniformly attest to the fact that Jesus was crucified and subsequently rose “on the third day” (e.g., Luke 24:7; see also Luke 24:21 where the two disciples on the road to Emmaus tell Jesus that this is “now the third day since these things happened”; this later became part of the gospel message, as we can see in passages such as 1 Cor 15:4 and later still in the Apostles’ Creed). The Gospels nowhere say Jesus was crucified and rose “on the fourth day” or “on the fifth day”; it’s always on the third day.

     Technically speaking, this is true. No New Testament writer ever asserts that Jesus arose on the “fourth” or “fifth” day. But this is point we will be exploring more fully later in this article.

     A third method Christian apologists use to reduce the “On” the third day,” versus the “three days later” statements of Jesus to insignificance, is to either avoid any mention of the issue at all, or bypass “after three days” without drawing any attention to the passage whatsoever.

     Finally, we turn to our last example. And that is to plead that Mark was not actually marking the days from the day of Jesus’ death, but rather from the day he was apprehended and tried before the Sanhedrin. In other words, on the Thursday preceding  Good Friday! Bible commentator Matthew Poole states it this way:

“With the doctrine of his suffering, he joins also the doctrine of his resurrection the third day: so saith Matthew. Mark saith, after three days, [μετὰ] meta, which seemeth to be a difference between the two evangelists, and also a difficulty, when it is certain that our Saviour did not lie three entire days in the grave. But either Mark reckons the time from his first being betrayed and apprehended, so it was after three days; and Matthew speaketh only of the time which he lay in the grave, that was but part of three days; or else it was the fault of our translators to translate [μετὰ] meta, “ after,”  because indeed it often so signifies, whereas it sometimes signifies in, which had better fitted this text.“*** (emphasis mine)

     And so we conclude the Christian apologist portion of this article. Now it’s on to view the evidence from a very different perspective.

End of Part II

*       https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=756

**     http://www.biblicalfoundations.org/raised-on-the-third-day/

***   http://biblehub.com/commentaries/mark/8-31.htm

Part I – Here

Next Time:  My rebuttal.

 

Resurrection

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part I

     The New Testament actually provides two  answers as to when Jesus was to arise from the dead.

     In the one instance, Jesus tells his disciples:

“They will kill him [i.e.,the Son of Man], and ON the third day he will be raised to life.” (Matthew 17:23; NIV; emphasis mine)

and in another, Jesus says this:

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and ON the third day be raised to life.” (Luke 9:22; NIV; emphasis mine)

     Thus, it seems pretty clear that since Jesus was crucified on (Good) Friday, his resurrection was to take place on the following Sunday, i.e. the “third day.”

     But elsewhere we read this:

“He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and AFTER three days rise again.” (Mark 8:31; NIV; emphasis mine)

     The passage above is paralleled as well in Mark 9:31; 10:34; and Matthew 27:63.

     Now, interestingly enough, scholars fully recognize that Mark was the first written gospel, and that both Luke and Matthew used  Mark’s gospel as an exemplar as each was composing their  own version of events. So it seems rather odd that Luke and Matthew would both chose to alter the text of Mark to read “on the third day,” instead of keeping intact Mark’s original “after three days.” Why do such a thing remains quite the mystery; a mystery we will attempt to solve later in this article.

      Short of midway in Matthew’s gospel, we also find Jesus declaring :

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days AND three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40; NIV; emphasis mine)

    Thus, even Matthew’s gospel points to a fourth day! That leaves us with two clearly conflicting indications as to when Jesus was to arise from the dead. The question now becomes:  How have Christian apologists managed to ” resolve” this thorny issue?

The Christian Apologists Respond

      The most accepted explanation put forth by Christian apologists, when they’re brave enough to even tackle the issue at all, is that “On the third day,” and “After three days’ are to be actually understood to mean one and the same  day!

      Christian apologist, Eric Lyons, at the popular website, Apologetic Press,* argues that both phrases are simply Jewish “idiomatic expressions” used on the part of Jesus to signify the very same day. Eric first cites Matthew 27:63:

“Sir,” they [i.e., the chief priests and the Pharisees] said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again,” (NIV; emphasis mine)

which certainly finds full agreement with the statements found in Mark’s gospel. But then he adds the next verse, where we read:

“So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” (Matthew 27:64 – NIV; emphasis mine)

     What Eric does next is remarkable. He argues that since the tomb was to be “made secure” for just three days, and not four, it must surely mean that ON the third day, and AFTER three days both mean one and the same day. He writes:

“The phrase “after three days” must have been equivalent to “the third day,” else surely the Pharisees would have asked for a guard of soldiers until the fourth day. Interesting, is it not, that modern skeptics charge Jesus with contradicting Himself, but not the hypercritical Pharisees of His own day.”*

     Eric attributes the skeptic’s “misunderstanding” of scripture to a lack of understanding ancient Jewish idiom and how “days” were actually reckoned at the time. He writes:

“While to the 21st-century reader these statements [“On the third day” versus “After three days”] may initially appear to contradict one another, in reality, they harmonize perfectly if one understands the different, and sometimes more liberal, methods ancients often used when reckoning time.

     Eric then concludes:

“The idiomatic expressions that Jesus and the Bible writers employed to denote how long Jesus would remain in the grave does not mean that He literally was buried for 72 hours. If we interpret the account of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection in light of the cultural setting of the first century, and not according to the present-day (mis)understanding of skeptics, we find no errors in any of the expressions that Jesus and the gospel writers used.”*

End of Part I

Next Time: More Christian apologetics. And later, My rebuttal.

*https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=756

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Holy_Trinity

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (from Latin trinitas “triad”, from trinus “threefold”) defines God as three consubstantial persons, expressions, or hypostases: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit; “one God in three persons.”   (Wikipedia)

     Just substitute the word “Gods” for “persons,” and you actually have something more in line with what Trinitarian Christians are really  looking at: The God Jesus is God, but NOT God the Father; that they’re really separate from each other, but not really.

     Think “square-circles”!

    Trinitarian Christians are taught to believe that the three “persons,” or entities, that make up God are actually ONE entity. “He is three, and they are One” makes just about as much sense as believing in the existence of square-circles. If one could be brainwashed into believing that  sort of nonsense, it would prove they’re utterly brainwashed, wouldn’t it?

    Claiming that the Trinity is some sort of a “mystery” that the feeble mind of man  has to simply accept as the truth is flat-out nonsensical―and an insult to the rational mind. It is patent nonsense. It is as intellectually dishonest as it gets.

   Don’t believe so?  Let the Trinitarian Christian provide irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

*For more on this subject, see this.

On Prayer

August 30, 2013

 A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Jesus_Prayer_Hands

     Have you ever asked yourself why Christians feel the need to pray?

The faithful will tell you that they pray for a wide variety of reasons. They may pray to their God to praise Him for being so loving and wonderful, or merely to give “thanks” for the “blessings” He’s bestowed upon them. Some pray to confess their “sins” directly to God and thus make their remorse feel all that more sincere. Many pray to seek God’s Divine help or guidance in some matter. Many Christians even pray on the behalf of others. And many of the faithful pray to their God simply to “commune” with Him. Most Christians, however, pray in hope of receiving material goods of one form or another.

You may wonder how the faithful can come to praise God for being so loving and wonderful, or thank Him for “blessings” received when there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that God even exists. (This parallels, in a manner, Christians telling atheists that we “hate” God. Now how can anyone  be “mad” at or “hate” a God―or any other  imaginary creature for that matter―that we don’t even believe to be real? It is well-nigh impossible to do. Just try it sometime and see. Try truly  hating leprechauns, for example. Or try getting really, really angry at them. Can’t do it now, can you? But if you really can, well, you deserve genuine pity.

The brutal truth is that Christians are actually imagining  that they are communicating with deity. Equally brutal is the fact that they cannot possibly prove otherwise either.

Isn’t that  a mind-numbing realization we nonbelievers all have to accept!

On Group Prayer

Many non-Christians are troubled by the extent to which Christians will try and impose  Christian prayer on others. If it’s not in the public school classroom, it’s at graduation ceremonies, or during sporting activities and the like. And it is usually Christians using simple peer pressure to coerce others into participating even though genuine sincerity on the part of each participant may be entirely  lacking. Such group prayer ends up being nothing more than an “advertisement” for the Christian religion and a bold-faced attempt to indoctrinate non-Christians into the Christian faith.

Yet Jesus―purported to be none other than God in the flesh himself―absolutely opposed staged prayer and the like in his famed “Sermon on the Mount”:

““Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret  will reward you.

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others” (Matthew 6:1, 6, and 5, in that order; NIV; emphasis mine)

As for what prayer truly  accomplishes―other than fulfill some psychological or emotional need on the part of the worshiper―Christians are at a loss to prove.

And has anyone ever defined what group prayer is supposed to achieve that individual, personal prayer does not?

God Anticipates Your Needs

But there’s more: Jesus goes on further in the Sermon on the Mount to declare that “Your Father knows what you need [even] before you ask him ,” prayer-wise! (Matthew 6:8; NIV)

Well, if an all-knowing God already  knows what you would feel the need to pray for beforehand, what is the need for prayer at all? If it is simply to make make-believe God “punch-happy” and pleased with the level of attention and begging He is receiving, what a hoot! Does it make imaginary God unhappy  to deny prayer requests too?

Havoc-Wreaking God and Misfortune

God gets the credit when things go well for the Christian; so much so that Christians feel themselves individually “blessed” by God in a positive way. But then why is not God given the blame when things go disastrously wrong by these very same worshipers―excepting natural disasters? God, instead, gets to remain utterly immune from reproach―regardless  of how horrific the disaster! Now that’s retarded in my view. It’s just plain goofy. Is it not?

Look at the number of Christians throughout man’s history that have actually been killed in church or during a religious service of one type or another; killed while praising, adoring, and thanking Almighty God in worship!!  Now what on earth did thankful prayer achieve for those  Christians?!

Francisco de Curico church

Where was Almighty God to “protect” not only His houses of worship, but too, those worshiping inside  them, from destruction?

* A recent event reported (here).

What a bizarre form of “gratitude” God Almighty chooses to display to the faithful!!

Was not going to worship and pray that deadly day utterly tragic, not only for the victims, but for their friends, family members, and fellow worshipers alike? Would not the act of protecting all worshipers from harm in places of worship provide a proof that God actually exists?

So what do the grieving survivors, friends, family members, and fellow worshipers do after church-related deaths? Why, they gather together and pray to make-believe God all the more  fervently! Now how bizarre is that!!  It was their own “loving” God calling the victims “home,” so we are told, by murdering them! So what is further prayer supposed to accomplish?

We all know of people of faith who have prayed to God to thank him  for the fact that their hellish existence isn’t even more  hellish. But where was God prior  to these individuals suffering such hellish conditions? How much praying and veneration is required before God does something, anything, to aid his suffering earthly “children”?

Concentration Camp Inmates

Your [Heavenly] Father knows what you need before you [even] ask him.”

(Jesus in Matthew 6:8)

starving_kids

starving-child-1

Child and Vulture

So what went wrong?

awful1

Starving children just not praying fervently enough these days?

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part IV

     When last we left Mary Magdalene, she and “the other Mary” had returned to Jerusalem to inform Jesus’ immediate male disciples that they met the risen Jesus, and that he was to meet them in person in Galilee.

Angel at the Tomb

      In Matthew’s gospel, the two Mary’s first  encounter a lone angel, at dawn, sitting atop the entrance tomb stone who informs the pair that Jesus has risen from the dead. The angel then gets up off the stone and actually directs  the two to the empty tomb―perhaps even having to side-step the “dead-like” Roman guard unit lying incapacitated on the ground to do so (cf. Matthew 28:6). It is only now  that Mary Magdalene becomes aware that Jesus’ body is missing.

     What, then, are we to make of the fact that Mary Magdalene had already  encountered two angels inside the tomb AND  met the risen Jesus earlier―according to John, Chapter 20?

     It is vitally  important to realize that Matthew’s account patently  contradicts the Gospel of John as to how Mary Magdalene comes to discover the empty tomb.

     In John, chapter 20, Mary Magdalene sees that the entrance stone has been rolled back in the pre-dawn; discovers Jesus’ body is missing; then hurries back to Jerusalem to tell Peter and the Beloved Disciple of it. The three then rush to the tomb with the Beloved Disciple arriving first, but with Peter being the first to actually enter the tomb.

The-Empty-Tomb

     Notice that contrary to Matthew’s gospel there is no angel sitting atop the entrance stone outside the tomb, nor a Roman guard unit lying dazed and confused on the ground at any point thus far. Moreover, Mary Magdalene is certainly not “escorted to the empty tomb by an angel as in Matthew 28:6, now is she?

     Peter and the Beloved Disciple return to Jerusalem when Mary Magdalene, now standing just outside the tomb entrance, peers into the tomb. It is only now  that any angels appear on scene in John’s gospel. Two suddenly materialize inside  the tomb sitting on the slab where Jesus’ body once lay. Moments later, the risen Jesus appears and asks Mary why she is crying. He then asks who she is looking for. Notice that Jesus does not ask “them,” or who “they ” are looking for. John keeps it purely in the singular here. There is no mention whatever of any other follower of Jesus other than Mary Magdalene on scene. Since this is the case, I will argue that the very questionable “we” passage―used by Christian apologists to maintain that multiple  female disciples accompanied Mary to the tomb―in John 20:2,

“So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we  don’t know where they have put him!'” (emphasis mine),

is either an interpolation inserted by some early Christian attempting to portray at least some  semblance of harmonization with the other three gospels, or else Mary simply chose to use the first person plural for the first person singular in this instance.

     In any event, it is important to note that “we” does not fit the context of what preceded it in any way. And note too that the Oriental, the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions of this text read, “I  know not where they have laid him” (emphasis mine), not “we.”

     As stated, John’s gospel reports that both angels and the risen Jesus ask Mary Magdalene who she  is looking for. In Matthew’s gospel, however, the angel seated on the entrance stone already  knows who Mary is looking for and says  so prior  to the two Mary’s discovering that Jesus’ body is missing (cf. Matthew 28:6). So too, the angel inside the tomb in Mark 16:6:

“And he [the angel] saith unto them [Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome], Be not affrighted: ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.” (KJV)

(Memo to Christian fundamentalists:   You can’t make a square peg fit this round hole. You simply can’t. There is no way to squirm out of these contradictory accounts and remain intellectually honest in doing so. Your “faith” does not make these contradictory “empty tomb” accounts all magically become literally “true.” And no amount of wishful thinking will do the trick either.)

The Two Mary's and Salome - Mark 16:1

The Two Mary’s and Salome – Mark 16:1

     Yet Christian apologists will argue that the four evangelists have recorded mere snippets of what actually took place at the empty tomb: each from their own, unique perspective; with one gospel author adding some bit of information another evangelist fails to reveal; with one gospel author choosing to cite just part of an angel’s remarks, while another cites them in full; with one evangelist focusing on just the “lead” angel, while another feels they both deserve the spotlight.

     But try as one might, it is still  impossible to mesh all four empty tomb accounts into one flaw-free whole. It’s just not possible.

     Christian commentators, therefore, have resorted to two alternative means of “resolving” the matter. The first is to cry that Christians are in a “no-win” situation because we skeptics would cry “foul” if the four gospel accounts actually agreed with each other; citing that we would charge the evangelists with fraudulently “conspiring” to compose a fault-free set of reports.

     But that is sheer poppycock and every atheist knows it. The New Testament has far  greater problems than finding certain accounts suspiciously made to agree with one another. Besides, this “tack” does nothing to explain away the patent contradictions involved, now does it?

     The second approach is to actually agree  that trying to mesh the four empty tomb accounts into one cohesive whole is hopeless! So this  body of Christians argue that the contradictions matter not one whit: that it is far more important that the four accounts agree in general, and that  is what makes the preposterous accounts of Jesus’ resurrection “true“!

So much for the historical “accuracy” of the gospel accounts!

So much for “God” directing “flawless” scripture.

And so much for bible “inerrancy” too.

THE END

Part I (here)     Part II (here)     Part III (here)

Next Time: I’ll tackle the topic of “Prayer”.

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part III

jesus_stone_tomb_1

     We ended Part II of this series wondering aloud why none of Jesus’ disciples was prepared for his return from the dead. Not a single  one! And this, despite the gospel reports of Jesus  actually attempting to explain the Passion to his disciples on several separate occasions! (And one can only imagine how many attempts were made with the apostles on an individual, one-to-one basis!)

     Christian scholars, nevertheless, have  settled on three possible explanations to account for the disciples’ total lack of understanding:

     a) The first being that the disciples were simply too distressed to fully take-in what Jesus was so desperately trying to convey to them (as in  Matthew 17:22-23):

     “When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief” (NIV; emphasis mine).

     b) The second being that Jesus’ words were simply too incomprehensible to fathom (as in Mark 9:30-32):

     “They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it” (NIV; emphasis mine).

     c) And the third being that “God” deliberately chose to conceal Jesus’ fate from his followers (as in Luke 9:43-45):

     “And they were all amazed by the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said to his disciples, “Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of Man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying” (NIV; emphasis mine)

     My first response is to point out that in Mark, Jesus says he will be raised “on the third day” while in Matthew, he says “after  three days, meaning on the fourt day.

     As to the first argument, I would  point out that being “acutely” distressed by Jesus foretelling his imminent death does not necessarily dictate that his disciples would “fail” to comprehend what was told them; rather the reverse  can be argued, that the disciples did  understand Jesus―only too  well―and yet, only up to a point. What is completely overlooked is the “fact” that Jesus was simultaneously  assuring his disciples that he would be raised from the dead and be “glorified” by that “other” God, God the Father (see here), as well. Now, where is the joy and jubilation in that  being displayed anywhere in the gospels?

     And what are we to make of the disciples’ paralyzing fear in asking Jesus to elaborate further in regards to the Passion? Does that make any kind of sense to you ?

disciples-and-jesus

     The second explanation, if fully embraced, means that we have to accept that every one of Jesus’ disciples was actually so  dim-witted that even after the long hours Jesus spent with them trying to clarify precisely  what the Passion would entail, and all that time instructing them as to why  things must progress in the manner they would, that it still  all remained completely incomprehensible to them! If so, what does that tell us about the “intelligence” of “the (supposed) most supremely  intelligent being in all of existence”? He consciously hand-picked complete nincompoops to be his earthly followers rather than more “capable” individuals!

     As for the third argument: Are we really  to believe that God Almighty chose to deliberately  cloud the minds of Jesus’ disciples at the very same time  Jesus―God incarnate Himself―was attempting to instruct his disciples as to what was about to befall him? Really ? Now how retarded would that  be!

     Finally, note Jesus’ words in Luke 9:44, “Let these things  [in regards to the Passion] sink down into your ears.” Here, Jesus  is attempting to use sheer force of will to make  his disciples understand him. Are we, then, to accept that an incarnate God has not to ability to convince his own disciples of something so momentous even when employing supernatural power?

What kind of a “God” do Christians have running Trinitarian God’s Christian Universe anyway? Oh, that’s right: there are actually three “Gods” running it, aren’t there?

Next Time in Part IV: The conclusion. (here)

Part I (here)          Part II (here)

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part II

The Two Mary's - Artist

The Two Mary’s, An Angel, and Jesus

     Mary Magdalene is now breathlessly reporting all that she had seen and heard at Jesus’ tomb to the disciples in Jerusalem (cf. John 20:18). And it is here that she happens upon friend and fellow disciple, “the other Mary.” Together, they decide that yet another  visit to the tomb is in order and quickly prepare for the return trip; this marking the 3rd  visit by Mary Magdalene within the span of a mere hour  or so―that’s if  we were to rely on the combined gospel reports!

     It is still the pre-dawn when the two Mary’s arrive (Matthew 28:1)), and after a violent earthquake has just erupted.

     But note that it was after  the sun arose when the women arrived, according to  Mark16:2!

     An angel has come down from heaven and has rolled back the entrance stone to Jesus’ tomb (which had somehow  been rolled back  into place)! That missing Roman guard has now finally materialized and stationed at the tomb entrance―though shocked out of their senses as a result of witnessing a “real” angel roll back the entrance stone; so much so that they have become like “dead men” (Matthew 28:4).

Angel at the Tomb

     “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat upon it.  (Matthew 28:2; RSV; emphasis mine)

     This now third  angel (following the two that appeared inside the tomb earlier in John’s gospel)  knows that the two Mary’s are looking for Jesus. Yet, in spite of all that has already transpired in John’s gospel, proceeds to tells Mary Magdalene precisely what she already  knows: that Jesus has risen from the dead!

(Clearly, the telepathic communication system employed by imaginary God and His imaginary angels back in the “day” was simply not as “reliable” as it is today.)

     But what happens next is simply astounding. The angel gets up off the stone and escorts the two Mary’s to Jesus’ tomb. It is only now that Mary Magdalene is made aware that Jesus’ body is missing, according to Matthew’s gospel! Contrast this with John’s account (20:1-18), and the Christian fundamentalist has problems.

     By now, it should be rather obvious that the author of “Matthew’s” Gospel knew nothing  of Mary Magdalene’s pre-dawn visit to the tomb as recorded in the Gospel of John. But, more striking is the fact that Jesus’ imminent death and resurrection was a “talking point” Jesus himself repeatedly  stressed to his disciples (cf. Matthew 16:21-28; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:21-22; and parallels). Therefore, is it not incredibly odd that not one disciple is depicted as anticipating Jesus’ imminent return from the dead? Not a single one!

How is one to explain this?

     Moreover, it is only now  dawn Sunday. Jesus underwent the resurrection quite some time earlier. Ergo, we have Jesus’ “rising’ actually occurring prior  to only the second “dawn.”

     The apostle Paul claims in I Corinthians 15:3-5 …

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen by Cephas, then of the twelve.”

     But Jesus himself  “prophesied” the Resurrection would occur on the fourth day in Mark 9:31:

“He [Jesus] said to them,”” the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men,. They will kill him, and  after three days he will rise.”
(Emphasis mine, NIV)

and, by inference, Jesus again in Matthew 12:40 where Jesus God declares he will remain in the heart of the earth for “three days AND three nights,” thus equaling the fourth  day. (See also Matthew 27:63.) This being the case, one would assume that the disciples were already  fully, and gleefully prepared for Jesus’ return from the dead.

What happened?

Should we assume that the disciples were truly dim-witted beyond all belief? Or, could it be that the disciples never really  believed Jesus after all?  Even after  witnessing the multitude of “miracles” he is said to have performed right before their very eyes?

End of Part II

 Part I (here )

Next Time in Part III: The Christian response.     Part III (here)

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part I

     Picture the scene: Mary Magdalene has just arrived at the tomb of Jesus on “the first day of the week”―but while it is still  dark  (John 20:1).

      Mary is stunned to find the entrance tomb stone rolled back and the tomb itself empty. She is further stunned to find that not a single angel (or two) is to be found either inside or  outside the tomb as reported in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke!

Mary-Magdalene-Jesus-at-the-Tomb-Alexander-Ivanov

     But what Mary is really  taken aback by is the fact that there is no  Roman guard lying dazed on the ground as reported by the gospel author “Matthew.” How could that  be, she wonders? The gospels are supposed  to be error-free! (All said, admittedly, utilizing a wee bit of “artistic license” in this instance―Greywolf.)

Roman Guard at the Tomb

     So what to do? Why, Mary decides to return to Jerusalem and tell the apostle Peter and Jesus’ most beloved disciple that the tomb is empty, that there is no Roman guard posted, and that she has no idea where Jesus’ body is. Both apostles then race to the tomb, with Mary in tow, and discover she was telling the truth. The beloved disciple then actually comes to “believe” (verse 18), but exactly what   is unclear. Meanwhile, time moves on. Peter and the beloved disciple return to Jerusalem. Mary Magdalene, however, chooses to remain; perhaps to ascertain what happened to Jesus’ body.

As she peers into the empty tomb crying, she is startled to find not one but two  angels occupying the space above and below where Jesus’ body had once lain (and not  the single angel sitting atop the entrance stone as reported in Matthew’s gospel). They both  ask Mary why she is crying. She replies that someone  must have moved Jesus’ body but she has no idea as to where. (And all said without the slightest  trace of the shock, fear, and trembling that she is to later  display upon encountering “angels” in the gospels of Mark and Luke.)

     Suddenly, Mary is made aware that a figure is standing behind her. She turns toward the figure who too asks Mary why she is crying, but then questions who is it she is looking for. She mistakes the figure for a tomb area gardener who has undergone crucifixion (She must  have, for Jesus arose bodily, and not in “spirit” form, according to Church doctrine.) But once the figure says the name “Mary,” she realizes that the individual is not a previously crucified area tomb gardener after all, but dead Jesus brought back to life―and now in full-deity  mode! (He must  have been, for “Doubting Thomas” actually calls Jesus “God” after seeing him in this precise state later in John 20:28.)

Correggio(Antonio Allegri) (1489-1534)

      As a joyful Mary starts to embrace Jesus God, he admonishes her not  to because he has not yet ascended to God the Father, who, incidentally,  is not only Mary’s God, but his  God as well (verse 17). Never mind that Jesus is also  Godaccording to the countless Christians who believe in the so-called “Trinity” (but see my “Jesus God versus God the Father.”) And never mind that Jesus God, in a turn-around, does  later decide to get touchy-feely with Mary Magdalene, as well as  “the other Mary” (in Matt. 28:9), and  “Doubting Thomas” (in John 20:27), all before his ascension!

     Mary then returns to Jerusalem and reveals to Jesus’ disciples all  that had transpired at the tomb.

     Now where in blazes do you suppose that Roman guard disappeared to? They’re said to have been on station the entire night―if  we are to believe Matthew 28:13, that is.

End Of Part I

Next Time in Part II: The Roman guard finally surfaces!     (Part II here)