Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Did Pilate have Jesus executed?

How could Pilate have executed just Jesus and not rounded up others at the same time? The standard claim is that Pilate knew that if he extinguished the ringleader, the movement would cease (That worked out well, didn't it) History records what Pilate's second in command reported to him shortly after Jesus was executed.

However only one side of the conversation has been handed down through time.

'That Jesus business? All taken care of, as per your instructions.'

'Yes, there are groups of 500 plus Christians gathering together to say that their leader is still alive.'

'Do about it? Nothing, sir.'

'Their leader walks around Jerusalem freely. We could pick him up any time, but what would be the point?'

'But it isn't him, sir. It's his brother.'

'Somebody called James. No, I never heard of him either, sir.'

'He does look a lot like him, sir. It must be a family resemblance.'

'No sir, the public doesn't regard you as a laughing stock'.

'No sir, I can't see how anybody would regard your authority as undermined.'

'No sir, I am not incompetent. We picked up this Jesus guy and killed him, just as you said.'

'Of course it was the right guy. One of the gang members identified him.'

'No sir, it will never happen again sir.'

'Kill them all, sir? Yes sir, straight away sir.'

Saturday, December 15, 2012

William Lane Craig on school shootings

I think William Lane Craig summed it up best when he wrote 'The claim is that we have no basis for saying that any evil we experience is not justly permitted by God.'

Read more at William Lane Craig on the death of children

Monday, July 23, 2012

R. Joseph Hoffmann on the evidence for Jesus

In an excellent article, scholar and prolific blogger, R. Joseph Hoffmann summarised the evidence for the historicity of Jesus that can be got from Paul's letters.

Professor Hoffmann shows that people who think they can find members of Jesus's family in Paul's letters or in Josephus are simply misguided.

Professor Hoffmann wrote

It is sometimes pointed out that Paul makes reference (Galatians 4.4) to Jesus having “been born of a woman, under the law,” but it is widely believed that these words are an insertion into the text of Galatians: Marcion, our earliest witness, does not know them, and as Hilgenfeld once noted, if his opponent, Tertullian, could have quoted them against Marcion, a docetist thinker, to prove the essential humanity of Jesus, he would have. We are left with the bare fact that Paul knows nothing of the human family of Jesus.

Professor Hoffmann continued :-

It is known by scholars, however, that Christian references in Josephus’s work are pious additions. In the case of the Jamesian reference, the hand of the Christian editor is especially badly disguised by the addition of “who is called Christ” following the use of the name “Jesus” in discussing the trial of a certain James.

It is an echo of the same device used in the Testimonium Flavianum (Antiquities 18.3), sometimes cited as a proof of the existence of Jesus but today normally regarded as a Christian forgery. If we purge the Christian interpolation, it is clear that the James mentioned by Josephus, who is delivered to stoning, is the brother of a significant Jewish leader and contender for the priesthood, Jesus bar Damneus, whose name appears in the same passage.

In Antiquities 20.9.4, a Jesus bar Gamaliel succeeds Jesus the son of Damneus in the high priesthood. Josephus does not mention – at all – the James known from New Testament sources. The James sentenced to stoning is a completely different man.

Professor Hoffmann continues :- The basis for the suggestion that James is the brother of Jesus depends on early references in Paul, especially Galatians 1.19. There is no doubt that James was regarded by Paul as a significant player in the Jerusalem community, together with Peter and John (Galatians 2.9, repeated in the legendary primacy-catalogue of Mark 9.2ff.). But his use of the word adelphos, as many scholars recognize, refers to James as a member of the brotherhood, as in Galatians 2.4; 3.15; 4.12, or as when he speaks of “false brothers” in Gal 2.4,5. James, according to Luke, uses the same language in calling Paul “brother,” (Acts 21.20) and the community the “brotherhood” (20.17).

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The resurrection of Jesus

The earliest Christians believed Jesus was still alive, but that his body had been left behind. The earliest reference to the resurrection is in 1 Cor. 15. There we learn that the Corinthians accepted the resurrection of Jesus, but still disbelieved that a dead body could rise. This is impossible to explain, if they had been taught that Jesus dead body had risen. After all, modern Christians have no problem with the idea that God can raise dead bodies, because they have heard stories of how the body of Jesus was raised. The Corinthians worry is easy to explain if they believed that Jesus was a god. Jesus had been a spirit before he became a human , and became a spirit again after he died. Gods can do that. However, we are not gods, and so the Corinthians wondered how we could follow Jesus , when our bodies , like the body of Jesus, would stay in the ground. The Corinthians knew that God could breathe life into dead matter. God had breathed life into clay and created Adam as a living person. So if they believed God could make dead matter live, why did they believe God would choose not to make their dead bodies alive? They must have had good evidence that God had not made dead matter alive in the case of the resurrection. They must have had good evidence that the dead body of Jesus had not been made alive. Only this explains their wondering how they would be resurrected, as it appeared to them that God did not want to make dead bodies live again. So far this is speculation, although reasonable speculation. If the Corinthians believed God could make dead matter live, and had heard stories of the dead bodies of Jesus, Lazarus, the daughter of Jairus etc, being made alive, how could they doubt that God would make their dead bodies live again? Answer. They had not heard these stories, and had good evidence that a resurrection did *not* involve a dead body being made alive. We have to turn to 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul answers the objections of the Corinthians. Paul calls the Corinthians idiots for wondering how dead bodies would be raised. And he immediately stresses that dead bodies are dead. ‘You fools! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed.’ If Paul thought the Corinthians were idiots for wondering how dead bodies could be raised, when it was child’s play for God to raise dead bodies, he would have told them so. He could have used such passages as Ezekiel 37, or talked about how God breathed life into dead matter to make Adam. Instead, he thinks the Corinthians are idiots for wondering how dead bodies could be raised, as they have totally missed the point about a resurrection. Dead bodies will not be raised. Instead, we will get a new body, made of spirit. The Corinthians were as idiotic for wondering how dead bodies would be raised in the resurrection, as somebody would be idiotic for wondering whether we still have to take our library books back after the resurrection. Such questions were irrelevant, which is why Paul never answers the questions of how corpses could get back missing limbs, or how a corpse destroyed by fire could be reconstituted from smoke and ash etc. Paul goes so far as to contrast , Adam, with Jesus. ‘The first Adam became a living being, the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.’ The Corinthians were idiots for not realising that we would follow Jesus and leave our dead bodies behind. We are made from the dust of the earth, but like the resurrected Jesus, we will be made from heavenly material. The whole chapter only makes sense when we take seriously Paul’s view that it is idiotic to wonder how a dead body could be raised. It won’t be raised. It is a non-problem. Paul says clearly ‘You do not plant the body that will be’, and talks about different kinds of bodies. Paul says there is first the natural body and then the spiritual body. The Corinthians presently have their natural bodies, and then they will have spiritual bodies. Here is an analogy for how Paul writes. If you wonder how a magician can produce an egg from your ear, after you have seen him crack the egg open, then you are an idiot for not realising that there are two eggs. Paul writes the same way. Why wonder how a dead body can be transformed into a resurrected body, when there are two bodies? In 1 Cor. 15, Paul stresses how there are different bodies made of different materials. Why stress that there are different bodies, if he is trying to tell us how the magician put the egg back together again? English translations of 1 Corinthians 15 often mask Paul’s idea that after our natural body has died, we will get a body made of spirit. Just like Jesus, we will become ‘a life-giving spirit.’ People of that time believed that celestial things were made of entirely different substances to earthly things. Paul shares that view and emphasises it in 1 Corinthians 15. This makes no sense if he is supposedly teaching the Corinthains that their resurrected bodies would be made from flesh and blood, which is what the Gospels claim Jesus resurrected body was made of. It does make sense if Paul is teaching that the resurrected body would not be made from the flesh and blood of our earthly bodies. Paul is very explicit in 2 Corinthians 5 that we will leave this present body behind and receive a heavenly body. A new body to replace the old body. He often uses a clothing analogy. At the resurrection we will get a new set of clothes. This means that the old set of clothes will be discarded. The earliest reference to the resurrection, Paul’s writings, clearly indicate that the earliest Christians did not believe Jesus flesh and blood body rose from the grave.

Friday, May 25, 2012

William Lane Craig talks about Nazis - not all bad?

In a recent article, William Lane Craig talks about how people can avoid Hell and enter Heaven if they choose to become a Nazi.

In Craig on Nazis William Lane Craig writes 'Paradoxically, being a Nazi may have been the best thing that happened to Heinrich, since it led to his salvation.'

Craig continues 'Of course, one may wonder about those poor people who suffered in the death camps because of Heinrich.'

But I'm sure that Heinrich will take heart from Craig's recommendation that the best thing that could happen to him was to become a Nazi.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Richard Carrier reviews Bart Ehrman and 'Did Jesus Exist?'

The review can be found at Richard Carrier on Bart Ehrman When you consider that Bart was once capable of truly outstanding scholarship, as in his book 'The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture', it is staggering to see what sort of book he is writing now.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Another basic error in Bart Ehrman and 'Did Jesus Exist?'

On page 153 of 'Did Jesus Exist?', Bart Ehrman claims that in Greek mythology, Alcmene gave birth to the immortal Zeus.

This is a rather basic error, unless Bart thinks Zeus was his own father.

Bart Ehrman on Judas in 'Did Jesus Exist?'

Bart Ehrman in his new book about mythicism writes on page 108 of 'Did Jesus Exist?' about the death of Judas.

Matthew and Luke contradict each other about Judas...


(wait for it, wait for it)


They contradict each other, so what can we conclude from that?


Time's up.

Here is the answer....

It must be true!

Because Matthew and Luke contradict each other, they must be speaking about real events.

It is astonishing that a scholar like Bart Ehrman can write what he did on page 108.