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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Have You Found Jesus?

If you're looking for Jesus you should be able to find him in the Bible... shouldn't you?

  1. How did Mary and Joseph know Mary was Expecting God’s son?
    • Joseph was told about it in a dream, so he decides not to divorce pregnant Mary. (Matthew 1:18-20)
    • An angel told Mary. (Luke 1:26-31)
  2. When was Jesus born?
  3. Where was Jesus born?
    • In the house in Bethlehem where Joseph and Mary live (Matt 1:18 – 2:23)
    • In a stable in Bethlehem to where Joseph and Mary have travelled to take part in a census (Luke 1:4 – 2:40)
  4. Who came to see Jesus when he was born?
    • Unspecified number of 'wise men' from the East (Matthew 2:1)
    • Unspecified number of shepherds (Luke 2:8)
  5. When did Jesus become God’s son?
    • When he was resurrected (Acts 13:32-33)
    • When he was baptised (Luke 3:22)
    • When Mary conceived him (Luke 1:35)
  6. When did Jesus cleanse the Temple?
    • The week before he died (Mark 11:15)
    • Right at the beginning of his three-year ministry (John 2:14-16 )
  7. How many ‘signs’ did Jesus do in Jerusalem?
    • Water into wine – the ‘first sign’ (John 2:11)
    • Many more signs follow (John 2:23)
    • Then he heals a centurion’s son – the ‘second sign’ (John 4:54)
  8. When was Jesus crucified?
    • The day before Passover at about noon (John 19:14)
    • On the day of Passover at 09:00 (Mark 15:25)
  9. Who asked Jesus where he was going at the ‘Last Supper’?
    • Peter – “Lord, where are you going?” (John 13:36)
    • Thomas – “Lord, we do not know where you are going.” (John 14:5)
    • Jesus – “... none of you asks me where I am going.” (John 16:5)
  10. What were Jesus’ last words on the cross?
    • “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
    • “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” in Aramaic. (My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?) (Mark 15:34)
  11. When was the land cast into darkness and the  curtain in the Temple ripped?
    • At the moment of Jesus’ death (Mark 15:38)
    • When Jesus was still alive (Luke 23:45)
So, if those claiming to be eye-witnesses to the events can't agree on anything, no use looking in their records to find Jesus.

Which leaves us with... precisely nowhere, because no contemporaneous historians noticed anything worth writing about, apparently.

No wonder Jesus' followers keep asking us if we've found him. (Tweet this)

Further reading:
Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them) by Bart D Ehrlman





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37 comments:

  1. Have you been visiting my office at work? The title of this great article reminded me of a cartoon that I have up on the wall. It is subtle, but it causes great amusement. You can see a copy here.

    http://media.photobucket.com/image/have+you+found+jesus%3F+/DawkinzArmy/have-you-found-jesus.jpg

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think Blogger is losing comments at the moment so will try again. Your entertaining and thought provoking post reminded me of a rather subtle cartoon that I have on my office wall. A copy can be found at http://andytoots.wordpress.com/2009/09/11/my-birthday-by-numbers/have-you-found-jesus/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Plama Engineer.
    It looks okay to me. To help avoid the inevitable religious spam and loving death threats, I've had to moderate the blog. Your posts were there, waiting to be released from limbo.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Plasma Engineer.

    BTW, I pinched your picture. :-)

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  5. "So, if those claiming to be eye-witnesses to the events can't agree on anything, no use looking in their records to find Jesus."

    Correct me if I'm wrong but most of the bible wasn't written by eye-witnesses and relied heavily on hearsay and third party accounts. Some background reading here would've been nice. Also, I don't really see that many problems with your quoted text? Moreover, anti-evolutionists frequently take text out of context to further their cause, I see the same thing happening here, so please get your facts straight before posting such nonsense.

    And just to be on the clear here, I'm 100% clear, after I was brought up by a very strict catholic mother, I've since became a converted atheist, i.e. don't really believe in all that stuff about a god in heaven and am also fully convinced that evolution does occur and the theory of evolution is as sound as it gets.

    I'm just disappointed that pro-evolutionist and atheist use the same lame tactics as they accuse those on the other side of things are using. That's just lame!

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  6. Dan CU.

    If you can think of a better way than directly quoting from the KJV Bible to show the KJV Bible is not a reliable source of information, perhaps you would share it with the readers of this blog.

    Many thanks in anticipations...

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  7. Methinks Dan CU didn't actually read the quoted scripture. Doesn't get more obvious than this.

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  8. #5 makes no sense?

    And #8... You must have missed Mark 15:42. Either that or you think that when it says the day of preparation in 15:42 it means the day AFTER preparation. There is no discrepancy there. #7 also makes no sense. I would pick the rest of it apart but i'm too tired. Your arguments are not very well rooted to say the least.

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  9. Anonymous.

    "When it says the day of preparation in 15:42 it means the day AFTER preparation".

    If only you had been there to help Mark get the story right there wouldn't be all those mistakes. What an opportunity God missed there, eh?

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  10. I want to apologize. Obviously something has happened in your life for you to despise religion and those who want to practice said religion. That's not what I'm apologizing for. I want to say sorry that so many fellow Christians feel the need to depute what you believe. I mean, that's wrong. You simply want to live your life as a believer in what can be proven, and there is nothing wrong with that. My husband is an atheist. I desire to live in a world that is to each their own. I suspect you wish the same. That being said, and at risk of greatly offending you, I would like for both sides of this, my Christian brothers, and men of science alike, to stop all the hate, and the persecutions. It not only displays unchristian behavior, but inhumane behavior as well.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous.

    Thank you for your smugly bigoted condescension. We probably don't need to work very hard to see what you use religion for.

    In fact, all that's happened in my very happy life is that no one has ever managed to produce a single shred of authentic evidence for any god, let alone the one you use as a cover.

    And, in the absence of that evidence, the intellectually honest position is not to be anything other than an Atheist, since there is no evidential reason to be anything else.

    ReplyDelete
  12. @RosaRubicondior


    I'm an athiest, but posts like this annoy the crap out of me. I agree with Anonymous, although she said it in a backhanded way. You're a hypocrite to call it condescension.


    What's your beef with religion? If it is only about evidence and intellectual honesty, then you should post something enlightening in science or philosophy. Something that both sides can enjoy and be inspired by instead of this hatefilled and I have to say ill-conceived attack on things other people hold dear. If it is truely enlightening and inspiring, then people will come around. If they don't, it's their choice and hopefully the next generation will.
    This is just plain childish.


    Not to mention that the post is flawed in so many ways. I looked up the passages you've mentioned. Most of them are out of context, misunderstood or just plain wrong. For example, you claim that Matt 1:18 says Jesus was born in a HOUSE in Bethlehem. The new international version, it says HOME. Home can be interpreted in many ways. In the King James version (which is may be in most common usage) it only mentions Bethlehem and has no mentiono of either house or home. Don't forget that these version are different translations, not different accounts. You would encounter the same problem with any translation, whether it's the Dao De Jing or Josephus.


    For a supposedly critical thinker who is 'intellectually honest', you sure make the post sound like propaganda. Which bible did you read from? Care to cite your source in the post like any good academic would? You say 'those claiming to be eye-witnesses...' but it's widely understood by historians and biblical scholars alike that all the gospel writers in the bible wrote many years after the death of Jesus. None of them were eye-witnesses, and they both wrote from a different time, in a different place independantly. Also if you did your research you'd know that your 11 little inconsistencies are dwarfed by a wealth of historically accurate events documented in the bible. You failed to mention those? Seems like a fairly strong bias to me for an intellectually honest position. Do some research into the Early Roman civilisation, or the campaigns of Alexander the Great and tell me how much historians agree on those, and when they don't completely agree, write a 11 point post on how Alexander of Macedon was fictional.

    So your argument simply comes down to this: There is no evidence of god. Therefore it is ok to belittle people who believe in it and ridicule the concept. Great, so you're a bigot. My friend's mum has a neurological denerative disease. His grandma, a devote christian is comforted by the fact that her daughter will go to heaven and this hell on earth will have a happy ending. Apart from this fact, like yourself, she has led a very happy life also. So how exactly does this post help someone like her?

    Oh, and by the way, the intellectually honest position that you're so adament about? It's agnosticism. If you are familiar with the scientific methodology, you might know that you can not make a positive statement about the truth of a matter based on a lack of evidence. Even Dawkins admits that his position isnt the most intellectually honest one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet if you were an AthEIsit, you would know how to spell AthEIst.

      Whenever anyone starts a comment with "I'm an AthIEst but..." it's the same thing as "I'm not racist but...." or "I don't want to offend you but..."

      Delete
  13. Makronic.

    I'm sorry you got so annoyed by direct quotes from the Bible. You need to refer your complaints to it's authors.

    ReplyDelete
  14. With so many people looking for Jesus you would have thought they might have found him by now? has anyone checked Bethlehem or the general area? maybe a poster campaign or his picture on the back of milk cartons?

    Just a thought..

    ReplyDelete
  15. See? That's the trouble with reading with limited or no context. Many things that make sense in context, make no sense, or seem contradictory otherwise.

    Or perhaps it is the trouble of reading for the specific intent of creating confusion or a false impression.

    I will say one thing, nobody who has sincerely sought the Lord by reading the Bible has ever come away empty.

    Regardless of your your and other attempts to mislead.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi JohnConstitution

    Thank you for pointing out the importance of context.

    Could you explain how context can resolve the widely differing accounts of the date of Jesus' birth, please? Should we understand that he was born more than once or that there was more than one Jesus?

    How does context explain the second miracle coming after many other miracle, please? (John 2:23 & 4:54)

    How does context explain Jesus apparently being crucified twice, once on Passover at noon and once the day before Passover at about 09:00, please?

    Lastly, how does context explain Jesus saying two entirely different things on the cross as his last words, unless there were two Jesuses?

    Those of us who struggle to understand the role of context in these things need to have these things explained to us.

    ReplyDelete
  17. @Makronic

    I fail to see how RosaRubicondior is being hypocritical in this post seeing how it was basically just a quoting the bible followed by the sentiments of ’we shouldn’t believe based on this’ so how was RosaRubicondior being condescending?

    Why should this post be something that “both sides can enjoy and be inspired by” there are problem within Christianity and RosaRubicondior tried to point one out with regards to biblical accounts so how is that not involved with “evidence and intellectual honesty”? The rest of what you say in this paragraph is nonsensical to me see similar to your issue over the supposed hypocrisy. I don’t see the how this is a childish hatefilled ill-conceived attack and why would it matter that people hold these things dear.

    If you see critical flaws and wish to point them out and have them acknowledged as you did that’s fine concentrate on those, on a side note about the “those claiming to be eye-witnesses” when I read this I didn’t take it to mean the gospel writers but the ones they got there information from, side note number two personally I wouldn’t have chosen this exact list but would’ve gone with the big name miracle clams that where supposedly witness by large groups of people to see how that faired.

    Once again I fail to see how this was belittling but even so how does ridiculing an idea make someone a bigot? As for your friends mother I’m sorry for her but I think you missed the point, I don’t think even the most strident atheists are advocating running though hospices shouting “there is no god give up hope of seeing your loved ones ever again, HA HA HA ha” but consider homoeopathy, should we not say it’s bunk if someone somewhere has an untreatable cancer and this is there last hope? You may lie to this person to spare there feelings but it is ridiculous and dangerous to do that for the public spear, imagine if doctors did that.

    Do I really have to go into the atheism V. agnosticism debate, I’m inclined to let people use what ever labels they choose as long as you define them but if you what to go that way then we’re all agnostic but then that still hasn’t answered the question of what you believe because if you really have no reason to even consider an idea as true why would believe it, hence atheism?

    Also you would have to provide a quote for the Dawkins thing because the only thing that I’m aware of that even comes close to what you said is when he stated that he was not 100% sure that there were no god(s) which is still far off from admitting “that his position isnt the most intellectually honest one.”

    ReplyDelete
  18. Rosa, first, Matthew, Mark, and John never claim to be written in chronological order, so counting miracles and such is bound to lead to confusion. If you follow Luke's account, it can be used to put the events of the other three gospels into order.

    Regarding some of your other questions, it is not always safe to say that either one account is true, or the other. Oft times, both can be reconciled given the fuller context.

    Listen, I am not an expert on the gospels by any means, but at least several books have been written that harmonize the gospel accounts. If you are interested in how the Gospels can all fit together, I would suggest one of those.

    ReplyDelete
  19. JohnConstitution.

    Thank you.

    Perhaps you could illustrate your comment about Luke's account being used to put the other gospels in order by showing how it explains Jesus apparently being born between 37 and 4 BCE and again between 6 and 12 CE and then, apparently, being crucified on two consecutive days.

    Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  20. First, I am not an expert of New Testament chronology. But I did hear a lengthy exposition on your third point, the actual day of Jesus' calcification. It was fascinating in its detail, and over 2 hours in length. Again, I must direct you to the experts for the answers you seek. I have neither the education nor the time to satisfy your requests. I am sorry.

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  21. There are a number of places where the Bible may seem ambiguous except to the most intense study.

    Then there are passages and themes throughout the Bible that are quite plain, no interpretation necessary.

    First, there is the idea that no man is justified by works before God, that all men have fallen short of God's Holy standard, and are under His judgement.

    Second,that God loves us enough that He sent His Son into the world to provide a payment for our sins, and to make us appear holy before God. This happened at the Cross.

    Third, that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive evermore. Further, whoever will accept the Gift of God, will share in Jesus everlasting life, and will live with God forever.

    According to Romans 10:9-11 : "9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”"

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    Replies
    1. @johnconstitution this is the sh*t that annoys me. John starts off with blasting rosa for taking a line out of context but simply taking one line out. That is what every theist, and you just did in this post. You saw a line that would get across the point you were trying to make, and you used it. If you want to do that fine. If you dont want others to do it, then dont do it yourself...or at least dont call someone else for doing what you do...hypocrite.

      Delete
  22. JohnConstitution

    >There are a number of places where the Bible may seem ambiguous except to the most intense study<

    Since you seem unable to illustrate your point about Luke 'putting the events in order' maybe you could explain how 'intense study' would resolve the problem of Jesus seeming, according to the Bible, to have been born at least twice between 10 and 49 years apart, and being crucified twice on successive days, please.

    After that we could maybe move on the resolving the four contradictory accounts of Jesus' supposed resurrection and the events which followed it, as related in the same Bible.

    Whenever you're ready...

    ReplyDelete
  23. Perhaps I mentioned that the explanation that nailed down the time of Jesus' burial required over 2 hours. Not only did he compare the events in Luke and Matthew, one for the time line, the other for a more detailed list of events, he also drew heavily on the old testament and his deep knowledge of the law to use as a lexicon for defining the terms used in the new testament accounts.

    If you are interested, I can give you the name of the person who did this exposition and info on how to obtain the materials I refer to.

    ReplyDelete
  24. JohnConstitution.

    Of course, I didn't mention anything about the time of Jesus' burial. What I referred to was the apparent double birth of Jesus, separated by 10-49 years, the apparent double crucifixion on two consecutive days, and the four often contradictory accounts of Jesus's resurrection and the events following it.

    Will you be explaining those soon or are we to have more prevarication and excuses for not doing so first whilst claiming it can all be explained?

    Afterwards we could maybe tackle the problem of a place being mentioned in Genesis which didn't exist until some time after the death of King Solomon, according to the Bible. More of that when we come to it.

    ReplyDelete
  25. In more than one of my posts I have provided examples of the degree of scholarly study required to obtain an accurate understanding of what the Bible teaches.

    Obviously, a cursory reading will not provide this. Obviously, reading with an eye toward finding contradictions will not provide this.

    If your interest is truly to find answers to the questions you have posed, you should do one of two things: Either engage in a course os study on your own, which could take years, er else seek out others who are engaged in such a course and ask their advice.

    On the other hand, if your intention is to mislead yourself and others regarding the truth of the Bible, you will have the Day of Judgement to receive your "reward".

    I sincerely hope and pray that your intent is not the latter.

    See, regardless of the contradictions that you think you have found, God loves you enogh that He died for you, and was raised from the dead to eternal life that you might share that life with Him for all eternity.

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    Replies
    1. yet another thing i love that theists do...people believe the bible bs without even reading the damn thing. other people read it, see and recognize the obvious discrepancies and use it as one of the reasons to dismiss it and the notion of god...and somehow, WE have missed something. The ones who have actually read it...actually are aware of the issues and that there is no way to make them fit..BUT if we bury ourselves in lectures and explanations, very wise men who know how to interpret supposed events from 2000 years ago will clear this up so you can have the same faith that people have who have never read the bible and believe if english was good enough for jesus, its good enough for them. Anyway you spin it...theists are right, right? I just love exercises in futility.

      Delete
    2. Hmm.. so the apparent "Word of God" needs hours worth of intense, in-depth scrutiny to simply understand what day this Messiah was born on?

      Had these people been on the juice at the time of writing this book?

      Surely the "Word of God" would clarify this in a clear, easy-to-understand way?

      That way, we can stop all this "what day was he born on" debate and get on with butchering some shellfish eaters!!

      Unless the authors were simply having a punt/guess?

      Sort of like when my ex-girlfriend used to ask me when the anniversary of our first date was.

      I'd just smile, have a guess and hope for the best.

      Maybe I could start my own religion?! Seems that fables, myths, fairy tales and guess work can go a long way... (and bring in some serious brass, eh Pope?)

      Delete
  26. JohnConstitution.

    Are these excuses to continue for much longer or will you soon be demonstrating the truth of your claims?

    If not, what do you advise we make of you so obviously bearing false witness? Do you not regard that as a sin when you do it?

    I wonder what your imaginary friend would think of you showing the world you believe that that's what it takes to get anyone to believe in it...

    Your resort to threatening me with your imaginary friend is noted, BTW, as is your sanctimoniously condescending bigotry. Do you find this tactic normally works for you or do you just use religion as an excuse for talking down to others?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thank you for an interesting discussion. But when these discussions begin to resort to personal attacks, I bow out.

    Goodbye.

    ReplyDelete
  28. JohnConstitution.

    Thank you for illustrating the tactics you seem to think you need to defend your superstition in the absence of any evidence, logic or reason.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Ahh, the old "context" argument.

    Why is it that skeptics and atheists can't pull a quote from the bible out of context that has a negative connotation towards God or Christian's faith, but Christians can pull however many positive quotes they want that defend their faith without reading the context?

    I've never understood religious people saying that you must accept atrocities/contradictions/bad things in their holy books in the context of the day in which they occurred while simultaneously claiming that the text continues to provide valid advice on modern living. How can you have it both ways?

    ReplyDelete
  30. 1. How did Mary and Joseph know Mary was Expecting God’s son? He spoke to both Mary and Joseph at two separate times in two different ways as you pointed out.

    2. When was Jesus born? Exact date is unknown, but what makes you think that Matthew 2:1 is talking about Herod the Great and not Herod Archelaus who was king of Samaria, Judea and Idumea from 4 BC – 6 AD? There are also some reports that Quirinius may have been governing in Syria for a time before 6-12 AD.

    3. Where was Jesus born? In Greek, Matthew 2:8,9 depicts Christ to be a "young child" not a "babe" as it says in Luke 2. In the Greek, "young child" is defined as a young boy or infant, around the age of a toddler. Therefore, the group of wise men came to Jesus Christ as a young boy. So the two events mentioned happened at different times which accounts for different locations.

    4. Who came to see Jesus when he was born? The maji (astrologers) came a few years after Jesus’ birth (see #3 above) when Jesus was a young boy. Those that came to see Jesus when he was born were the shepherds.

    5. When did Jesus become God’s son? Jesus was always God’s Son. Acts 13 is referencing a prophecy from hundreds of years earlier so it couldn’t be at the time He was resurrected. Luke 3 has God the Father saying “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” If you introduce your 10 year old child to someone by saying “This is my child that I am so proud of” does that mean they were not your child before you said that. Again, Luke 1 is only declaring what Jesus’ name will be, not saying that Jesus became God’s Son at this time.

    6. When did Jesus cleanse the Temple? Matthew, Mark, and Luke (The synoptic Gospels) record a cleansing of the temple that occurred at the end of Christ's Ministry, immediately after what we now call Palm Sunday. John seems to record another incident of the cleansing of the temple, one that happened near the beginning of His Ministry. I write, "seems" because John's Gospel is not strictly chronological. But the language of the preceding context and language of the text give more weight to the assertion that what we have here in John's Gospel is a separate cleansing incident. (http://www.orlutheran.com/html/bscleans.html)

    7. How many ‘signs’ did Jesus do in Jerusalem? We know that John was not written in strictly chronological order. The sign mentioned in John 2:11 was not done in Jerusalem, but Cana of Galilee. John 4:54 says “second sign…when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.” It isn’t saying His second sign ever.

    8. When was Jesus crucified? The day before Passover. Mark 15:25 says, “It was the third hour when they crucified him.” It says nothing about a date. If you look at verse 42 and following of the same chapter it says that Jesus was buried on the Day of Preparation (day before Passover).

    9. Who asked Jesus where he was going at the ‘Last Supper’? It is Peter. In John 14:5, Thomas is asking a different question in response to Jesus’ teaching in verses 1-4. John 16:5 is Jesus making a comment later in the conversation. So Peter is the only one who asked.

    10. What were Jesus’ last words on the cross? The passage in Mark doesn’t indicate that Jesus breathed His last breath after saying Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, but the passage in Luke it says, “having said this He breathed His last.”

    11. When was the land cast into darkness and the curtain in the Temple ripped? Darkness when Jesus was alive from 6th hour to the 9th hour according to verse given and Temple curtain ripped (top to bottom) at moment of Jesus death (9th hour) according the verse given. Even if it took the entire time from the 6th hour to the 9th hour for the Temple curtain to rip, we can say that it finished ripping or was ripped at the 9th hour which is the hour of Jesus’ death.

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    Replies
    1. I bet the authors of the Bible would have just loved to have you around so you could fill in all the missing details about which they appear to have been ignorant - which is strange really, if they were really there at the time.

      Makes you think, eh?

      Delete
  31. I believe Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written around 250AD, so weren't even written by said men. Quite often scripture like these were given the names of apostles to give them more authority with the people of that time. Seems to me people don't know their history when they say the bible is THE word of god.. don't they know that Constantine PAID other high priests to agree on a final canon that would unite the church in their beliefs? What about the scriptures they left out? The ones they deemed unimportant? Why do Christians omit scripture they say doesn't matter or isn't important in these modern days, yet stick with other scripture that is easy to live by? I thought god was eternal and unchanging? I thought his word was eternal and unchanging?

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thanks for a good blogpost.
    Interesting when christians tries to explain contradictions in the bible by using free fantasy and wishful thinking. It's kinda sweet, but shows clearly that apebrains are vulnerable to indoctrination at childhood.

    ReplyDelete

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