(This was originally posted in May of 2015, updated in Oct of 2022, and Nov 2023)
This first videois the whythe genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke are important. It is in Hebrew with English text underneath, so you may need a larger home computer screen for it. If the text moves too fast, there is a tool in the lower right of the YouTube video to slow it down. This helps. But this is a powerful video, a must watch. (Video Description) Is Jesus a descendant of the line of David? Or is His lineage full of contradictions as the Rabbis claim?? (This is my 2022 addition)
This is my original post, I will note the addition I will add to it after.
The “Genealogy” of Jesus
Norman Geisler explains the apparent contradiction between Matthew and Luke’s genealogies.
This is one of the more popular examples of a Biblical contradiction that is for the most part brought up by Muslims to show the Bible is a document riddled with problems. However, if one gives this document the same attestation as one gives to any other text of history, say, Livy’s History of Rome or Caesar’s Gallic Wars, then the alleged contradictions disappear. On this test John Warwick Montgomery writes that literary critics still follow Aristotle’s dictum that “the benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, not arrogated by the critic himself.” With this in mind, lets see what some have to say about this “contradiction.”
Matthew 1:1-16gives the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph, who was himself a descendant of King David. As Joseph’s adopted Son, Jesus became his legal heir, so far as his inheritance was concerned. Notice carefully the wording of verse 16: “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ [messiah]” (NASB). This stands in contrast to the format followed in the preceding verses of the succession of Joseph’s ancestors: “Abraham begat [egennesen] Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob, etc.” Joseph is not said to have begotten Jesus: rather he is referred to as “the husband of Mary, of whom [Gk. feminine genitive] Jesus was born.”
Luke 3:23-38,on the other hand seems to record the genealogical line of Mary herself, carried all the way back beyond the time of Abraham to Adam and the commencement of the human race. This seems to be implied by the wording of verse 23: “Jesus… being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph.” This “as was supposed” indicates that Jesus was not really the biological son of Joseph, even though this was commonly assumed by the public. It further calls attention to the mother, Mary, who must of necessity have been the sole human parent through whom Jesus could have descended from a line of ancestors. Her genealogy is thereupon listed, starting with Heli, who was actually Joseph’s father-in-law, in contradistinction to Joseph’s own father, Jacob:
And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli – Luke 3:23 [Mary]
And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary – Matthew 1:16 [Joseph]
Mary’s line of descent came through Nathan, a son of Bathsheba (or “Bathshua,” according to 1 Chronicles 3:5), the wife of David. Therefore, Jesus was descended from David naturally through Nathan and legally through Solomon.
The coming Messiah of Israel had to be able to prove this lineage as it was prophesied in the Old Testament that He would in fact be a descendant of David. The Jews kept meticulous records at the temple mount of all the genealogical records of the Hebrew people. This information was “public knowledge,” or, verifiable by even the Pharisees. The Romans destroyed these records in A.D. 70. (This is very important – prophetically speaking – because the Orthodox Jews [as opposed to the Messianic Jews] are still awaiting their Messiah, however, he cannot be traced to David or Abraham! A prerequisite for Messiah clearly stated in the Old Testament.) Also of importance is the fact that Luke is very close to Mary, remember that Jesus gave him charge of her while shortly before he died.
LUKE 3:23 —Why does Luke present a different ancestral tree for Jesus than the one in Matthew?
PROBLEM: Jesus has a different grandfather here in Luke 3:23 (Heli) than He does in Matthew 1:16 (Jacob). Which one is the right one?
SOLUTION: This should be expected, since they are two different lines of ancestors, one traced through His legal father, Joseph and the other through His actual mother, Mary. Matthew gives the official line, since he addresses Jesus’ genealogy to Jewish concerns for the Jewish Messiah’s credentials which required that Messiah come from the seed of Abraham and the line of David (cf. Matt. 1:1). Luke, with a broader Greek audience in view, addresses himself to their interest in Jesus as the Perfect Man (which was the quest of Greek thought). Thus, he traces Jesus back to the first man, Adam (Luke 3:38).
That Matthew gives Jesus’ paternal genealogy and Luke his maternal genealogy is further supported by several facts. First of all, while both lines trace Christ to David, each is through a different son of David. Matthew traces Jesus through Joseph (his legal father) to David’s son, Solomon the king, by whom Christ rightfully inherited the throne of David (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12ff). Luke’s purpose, on the other hand, is to show Christ as an actual human. So he traces Christ to David’s son, Nathan, through his actual mother, Mary, through whom He can rightfully claim to be fully human, the redeemer of humanity.
Further, Luke does not say that he is giving Jesus’ genealogy through Joseph. Rather, he notes that Jesus was “as was supposed” (Luke 3:23) the son of Joseph, while He was actually the son of Mary. Also, that Luke would record Mary’s genealogy fits with his interest as a doctor in mothers and birth and with his emphasis on women in his Gospel which has been called “the Gospel for Women.”
Finally, the fact that the two genealogies have some names in common (such as Shealtiel and Zerubbabel, Matt. 1:12; cf. Luke 3:27) does not prove they are the same genealogy for two reasons. One, these are not uncommon names. Further, even the same genealogy (Luke’s) has a repeat of the names Joseph and Judah (3: 26, 30).
Matthew and Luke each record a different Genealogy for the family of Jesus, so is this a Bible contradiction that cannot be resolved? This video addresses this Supposed Bible Contradiction.
This a a partial excerpt from a great article over
at APOLOGETIC PRESS, enjoy. Click to enlarge:
…First, Matthew reported the lineage of Christ only back to Abraham; Luke traced it all the way back to Adam. Second, Matthew used the expression “begat;” Luke used the expression “son of,” which results in his list being a complete reversal of Matthew’s. Third, the two genealogical lines parallel each other from Abraham to David. Fourth, beginning with David, Matthew traced the paternal line of descent through Solomon; Luke traced the maternal line through Solomon’s brother, Nathan.
A fifth factor that must be recognized is that the two lines (paternal and maternal) link together in the intermarriage of Shealtiel and Zerubbabel. But the linkage separates again in the two sons of Zerubbabel—Rhesa and Abiud. Sixth, the two lines come together once again for a final time in the marriage of Joseph and Mary. Joseph was the end of the paternal line, while Mary was the last of the maternal line as the daughter of Heli.
The reason Joseph is said to be the “son” of Heli (Mary’s father) brings forth a seventh consideration: the Jewish use of “son.” Hebrews used the word in at least five distinct senses: (1) in the sense used today of a one-generation offspring; (2) in the sense of a descendant, whether a grandson or a more remote descendant many generations previous, e.g., Matthew 1:1; 21:9; 22:42 (“begat” had this same flexibility in application); (3) as a son-in-law (the Jews had no word to express this concept and so just used “son”—e.g., 1 Samuel 24:16; 26:17); (4) in accordance with the Levirate marriage law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; cf. Matthew 22:24-26), a deceased man would have a son through a surrogate father who legally married the deceased man’s widow (e.g., Ruth 2:20; 3:9,12; 4:3-5); and (5) in the sense of a step-son who took on the legal status of his step-father—the relationship sustained by Jesus to Joseph (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 3:23; 4:22; John 6:42).
Notice carefully that Joseph was a direct-line, blood descendant of David and, therefore, of David’s throne. Here is the precise purpose of Matthew’s genealogy: it demonstrated Jesus’ legal right to inherit the throne of David—a necessary prerequisite to authenticating His Messianic claim. However, an equally critical credential was His blood/physical descent from David—a point that could not be established through Joseph since “after His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18, emp. added). This feature of Christ’s Messiahship was established through His mother Mary, who was also a blood descendant of David (Luke 1:30-32). Both the blood of David and the throne of David were necessary variables to qualify and authenticate Jesus as the Messiah…
Here is Dr. Archer getting into the technical aspects of another part of the genealogy lineage:
Does not Matthew 1:9 err in listing Uzziah as the father of Jotham?
Matthew 1:9, which gives the genealogy of Jesus through His legal father, Joseph, states, “Ozias begat Joatham.” These are the Greek forms of Uzziah and Jotham. Some are confused by this mention of Uzziah, because Jotham’s father is called Azariah in 2 Kings 15:1-7 and in 1 Chronicles 3:12. On the other hand, 2 Kings 15:32,34 calls him Uzziah rather than Azariah and refers to him as the father of Jotham. The same is true of 2 Chronicles 26:1-23; 27:2; Isaiah 1:1: 6:1; 7:1. The names are different. but they refer to the same king. `” zaryah (“Azariah”) means “Yahweh has helped,” whereas `uzzi-yahu (“Uzziah”) means “Yahweh is my strength.” The reason for the two names is not given in the biblical record, but the fact that he bore them both (perhaps Azariah was later replaced by Uzziah) is beyond dispute.
There are various reasons for the acquisition of second names in the case of Israel’s leaders. Gideon acquired the name Jerubbaal because of his destruction of the altar of Baal at Ophrah (Judg. 6:32; 7:1; 8:29, etc.). Rehoboam’s son Abijam was also called Abijah (cf. 1 Kings 14:31; 15:1,7-8 for Abijam and 1 Chron. 3:10; 2 Chron. 12:16 for Abijah). Jehoahaz son of Josiah also bore the name of Shallum (2 Kings 23:21 and 1 Chron. 3:15; Jer. 22:11). Jehoiakim, Josiah’s oldest son, was originally named Eliakim; but Pharaoh Necho changed his name to Jehoiakim (i.e., “Yahweh will establish” rather than “God will establish”), according to 2 Kings 23:34. Likewise Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim was also known as Jeconiah, and Zedekiah’s original name was Mattaniah.
WHAT IS NEW is the information I recently came across by THE BIBLE PROJECT (TBP). Their opening part of their Matthew video is informative in the genealogical aspect as to the deeper meaning.
But they got me on to another tangent as well. And it made me think, that to the Jewish mind at the time, it was like a flashing sign in the background of Matthews adept work. Here is a portion of the commentary by TBP:
Just think about the separated sections of the genealogy of Matthew. It is broken up into three parts that cover 14 generations each. But why 14?
Within the written language of Hebrew, the letters are also used as their numbers, and so each letter is assigned a numerical value. The name of David in Hebrew is “דוד,” and from here you just do the math. The numerical value of the first and third letter “ד” (called dalet) is 4. The middle letter “ו” (called waw) has a numerical value of 6. Put it into your mental calculator: 4+6+4=14, the numerical value of the name of “David.”
Matthew has created the genealogy so that it links Jesus to David both explicitly and in the very literary design of the list. In fact, Matthew wants to highlight this “14=David” idea so much that he’s intentionally left out multiple generations of the line of David (three, to be exact) to make the numbers work.
Wait, Matthew has taken people out of the genealogy?
Yes, but this is not a scandal. Leaving out generations to create symbolic numbers in genealogies is a common Hebrew literary practice, going all the way back to the genealogies in Genesis (the 10 generations of Genesis 5, or the 70 descendants of Genesis 46). Ancient genealogies were ways of making theological claims, and Matthew’s readers would have understood exactly what he was doing and why.
Matthew didn’t make numerical adjustments only. He also adjusted a few letters in some names for the same purpose. For example, he changed the names of Asa and Amon to Asaph (the poet featured in the book of Psalms) and Amos (the famous prophet). Matthew is winking at us here, knowing that his readers would spot these out of place names. The point, of course, is that Jesus doesn’t just fulfill Israel’s royal hopes, but also the hope of the Psalms (Asaph) and the Prophets (Amos). Jesus is from a line of kingly succession that also culminates the rich tradition of worship and prophecy of Israel. This way, readers are thinking about all of Israel and her history as they meet Jesus for the first time. The irony is that some modern translations haven’t gotten the pun, and so have changed the names back to their “original” referents. Ah, well.
Let me just break out here and note Ligonier’s comment of the number 14 being used. They simply state:
“fourteen” is likely intended as an aid for memorization.
This may be the only reason behind Matthew’s use of 14, but, I believe it is a bit more than justthat. I tend to side a bit with Hank Hanegraaff’s comments being added as “and another reason”…
Matthew employs the practice of gematria and orders the genealogy according to the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew letters in King David’s name (4 + 6 + 4 = D + V + D). Matthew highlights the most significant names in the lineage of Jesus, artistically emphasizing Jesus as Messiah, who forever sits upon the throne of David.
Some Christians may think this is “numerology” in some occultic sense, it is not that at all.
Though it does seem that there are some very legitimate and interesting Gematria relationships found in the Bible, we can also see that Kabbalists could take the phenomena too far in their esoteric and mystical explanations of Scripture.
I will “highlight” the portion below in one of the Biblical dictionaries noting this, as well as putting in the APPENDIXmore info on Kabbalism.
Here is Biblical critic, Bart Ehrman talking about this section (yes, I paid the man to open up this section for this post. I donated to an atheist critic, lol). The second theory here is the one I think is in Matthews wheelhouse:
…..I pointed out in the previous post that Matthew presents a numerically significant genealogy of Jesus in order to show that something of major significance happen every fourteen generations: from Abraham, the father of the Jews, to David, the greatest king of the Jews: fourteen generations; from King David to the Babylonian Captivity, the greatest disaster for the Jews: fourteen generations; and from the Babylonian Captivity to the Messiah Jesus, the ultimate savior of the Jews: fourteen generations.
It’s a terrific genealogy. But to get to this 14-14-14 schema, Matthew had to manipulate the names in a couple of places, for example, by leaving out some of the generations and by counting the final set of names as fourteen, even though there are only thirteen. And so, we might wonder whether the number fourteen, in particular, was for some reasons significant for Matthew. Why not 15, or 12?
Over the years interpreters of Matthew have puzzled over the question and have suggested two, in particular, that strike me as interesting.
First, in ancient Israel, as in a number of other ancient societies where numbers had symbolic significance, the number seven was supremely important: it signified perfection or even divinity (as you’ll notice when you read the book of Revelation, for example, where seven’s turn up a lot). The ancients divided the week into seven days, probably because they believed that there were seven planets. For some ancient Jews there were seven stages in a person’s life and seven parts to the human soul; there were seven heavens, seven compartments of hell, and seven divisions of Paradise and seven attributes of God. There were seven classes of angels. And so on. Consider the words of the famous first-century Jewish philosopher Philo: “I doubt whether anyone could adequately celebrate the properties of the number seven, for they are beyond words” (On the Creation of the World, 30).
If seven is a perfect number, a number associated with the divine, what then is fourteen? Twice seven! In cultures for which numbers matter, fourteen would have been a doubly perfect number. Did Matthew set up Jesus’ genealogy to show the divine perfection of his descent?
A second theory ties the genealogy yet more closely into Matthew’s own portrayal of Jesus. In ancient languages the numbers were typically represented by letters of the alphabet, so that in Hebrew, for example, Aleph was one, Beth was two, Gimel three, etc. When you hit ten, then the next letter was twenty, then thirty, and so on; and when you hit 100 the next letter was 200, then 300 and so on. Among other things, this meant that every word had a numerical value: you could just add up the letters. (In ancient Judaism, this method of interpreting words according to their numerical value was called “gematria.”)
Matthew in particular wants to emphasize that Jesus is the Jewish messiah, the “son of David.” And what does David’s name add up to? In Hebrew there are no vowels, only consonants (which makes reading it very interesting indeed! Luckily, in the middle ages, Jewish scribes added a series of dots to the consonantal letters to indicate the appropriate vowels, so that some of us who are not experts – like me – read Hebrew only with the vowels added. But originally there weren’t any). And so David is spelled D-V-D (Daleth-Vav-Daleth). The D (Daleth) is worth 4 and the V (Vav) is worth 6. So the numerical value of David’s name is … fourteen! Has Matthew emphasized the number fourteen in Jesus’ genealogy in order to stress his Davidic roots as the messiah of the Jews?
Okay, time to bring that big word Bart used, gematria, into the Biblical definition arena… many do not know the extent of the use of this was in Matthews day. Games were even played using it.
And I wish to note, my wife, who is an accountant/finance person, loves playing what game? Sudoku. You don’t think Matthew was a numbers guy? First a shorter Biblical dictionary definition then a more in-depth one. In this Tyndale Bible Dictionary excerpt, I include their commentary partial explanation to the significance of the number fourteen.
GEMATRIA* One of the rabbinic hermeneutic rules for interpreting the OT. It consisted of explaining a word or group of words according to the numerical value of the letters or by substituting and rearranging certain letters according to a set system. By that rule of interpretation, for example, some rabbis have argued that Eliezer (Gn 15:2) was worth all the servants of Abraham put together, for Abraham had 318 servants and Eliezer’s name equaled 318 (Gn 14:14). The name Babylon is arrived at in Jeremiah 25:26 and 51:41 by substituting the last letter of the Hebrew word for the first letter of the same word.
The pseudepigraphal Epistle of Barnabas interprets the 318 servants of Abraham (Gn 14:14) as pointing to Jesus’ death on the cross, because 300 is the numerical value of the Greek letter “t,” which is cross-shaped, and 18 the value of the first two letters of the Greek word for Jesus. In the book of Revelation the number of the beast is 666 (Rv 13:18). If the number seven is considered to be the perfect number in the Bible, and if three sevens represent complete perfection, then the number 666 falls completely short of perfection.
5. In verse 6 David is called “the king.”
From these data, it is obvious that Matthew does not intend to present a strict genealogy; the arrangement is contrived, and extraneous material is included, probably for some other purpose than merely to present Jesus’ forebears. Matthew’s arrangement of the names into groups of 14, probably guided by an interest in portraying Jesus to Jews as the promised king of Israel and rightful heir to the Davidic throne, gives a definite historical movement to the genealogy by dividing it into three periods of time. These respectively highlight the origin, rise to power, and decay of the Davidic house, the last point represented by the lowly birth of the promised heir to a carpenter of Nazareth.
The 14 names in each group may be an effort to call attention to the thrice-royal character of Mary’s son by focusing on the numerical value 14 of the Hebrew letters in David’s name (d=4, v=6, d=4). This number also happens to be twice the sacred number seven, so that the whole list is composed of three sets of two sevens each. It may be, however, that the contrived groupings were merely intended to aid in memorization.
Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale Reference Library (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 517, 519.
Here is The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary description which delves a little deeper on the subject of gematria for the studious researcher with limited resources:
gematria (gay-mah´tree-uh), the practice of assigning a numerical value to proper names or to related words and expressions. This was easily done in the ancient world because, in both Hebrew and Greek, letters of the alphabet were also used as numerals. It became commonplace for people to add up the numerical value of the letters that were used to spell any person’s name and to regard the sum of those numbers as “the number of (that) person’s name” (cf. Rev. 13:17–18). For example, if gematria were practiced with the modern-day English alphabet, an A would be equal to 1, a B would be equal to 2, and so forth. After the tenth letter, the eleventh (K) would be equal to 20, the twelfth (L) would be equal to 30, and so on until, with the twenty-first letter (U), multiples of 100 would be used. The proper name “Mark” would end up consisting of four letters with these numerical values: M = 40; A = 1; R = 90; K = 20. The sum of these numbers (40 + 1 + 90 + 20) would be 151, so in modern-day gematria, it could be said that the number of Mark’s name is 151. Today, this would seem like a code, but the whole process would have been less mysterious in the biblical world, when everyone already knew the numerical value of each individual letter. In any case, gematria became very popular in certain times and places. In the Greco-Roman world, during nt times, it often became the basis for jokes and riddles; for these to have functioned as they did at a popular level, most people would have to have known the numbers of their own names, as well as the numbers to be associated with other prominent people. Most Jews would have known that the letters in the name “David” (in Hebrew) added to 14 and most Christians would have known that the letters in the name “Jesus” (in Greek) added to 888. Likewise, the first readers of the book of Revelation probably knew that the letters in the name “Caesar Nero” (in Hebrew) added to either 666 or 616, depending on how it was spelled. Accordingly, Rev. 13:18 reveals the number of the beast to be 666 in some manuscripts and 616 in others.
The practice of gematria consists of assigning a numerical value to a word or phrase by adding together the values of the individual letters. This works in Hebrew and Greek, where the letters of the alphabet can also serve as numerals. In Greek, the marks signifying 6 and 90 were not used as letters in New Testament times.
In the Roman world, gematria became a basis for riddles, jokes, and games:
Graffiti on a wall in Pompeii reads, “I love her whose number is 545.”
As a political joke, Suetonius (Nero 39) indicates that the name “Nero” (Νέρων) and the phrase “killed his own mother” (ίδίαν μντέρα άπέκτεινε) have the same numerical value (1,005) when written in Greek. This was pertinent because the emperor was rumored to have murdered his mother.
In Christianity and Judaism, gematria could provide a basis for religious symbolism:
Rabbis noted that “Eliezer’ (אליעזר), the name of Abraham’s favored servant (Gen. 15:2), has a numerical value of 318, which is the total number of servants mentioned in Gen. 14:14. Thus, Eliezer was equal to all the rest of the servants combined.
The Hebrew letters in the name “David” (דוד) add up to 14, so that number could be accorded messianic significance: the messiah was to be the Son of David. This is probably why Matthew’s Gospel emphasizes that the genealogy of Jesus can be divided into three sets of 14 generations (Matt. 1:17).
The Greek letters in the name “Jesus” (′Ιησογυς) add up to 888, which some early Christians found significant: 8 surpasses 7 (the number for perfection) and heralds a “new creation” beyond what God did in the first 7 days (Gen. 1:1–2:3).
Many scholars think that gematria holds the clue to resolving the puzzle of 666, the number attributed to the beast in Rev. 13:18:
A popular spelling for the name of the emperor Nero adds up to 666 when written in Hebrew (קסרנרון = Caesar Neron). An alternate spelling (קסרנרו = Caesar Nero) adds up to 616, a variant reading for the number of the beast found in some manuscripts of Revelation.
A designation for the emperor Domitian that sometimes appeared on Greek coins also adds up to 666: Kai. Domet. Seb. Ge. (an abbreviation for Autokratōr Kaisar Dometianos Sebastos Germanikos = Emperor Caesar Domitian Augustus Germanicus).
Over time, most Jewish and Christian groups abandoned the practice of gematria, perhaps because certain groups used numerology in connection with magic and the occult. The practice still features prominently in kabbalah and other mystical traditions.
Mark Allan Powell, “Gematria,” in The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated), ed. Mark Allan Powell (New York: HarperCollins, 2011), 316.
How can we start to dissect what Matthew was writing? By looking at the time he wrote it, to whom he was writing to, the culture and practices we know of from that time and people group, etc:
Who was the writer?
To whom were they writing?
Is the choice of words, wording, or word order significant in this particular passage?
What is the cultural, historical context?
What was the author’s original intended meaning?
How did the author’s contemporaries understand him?
The above in the 2023 section goes a long way — I believe — to add more context to the issue of Matthews 14/14/14. So, all this to say that Matthew was throwing in that “flashing Neon Sign” that was saying three times:
David – David – David
This section is not important to the above… I am place carding this here as my first dealing with the topi/issue of Kabbalism. The WATCHMEN FELLOWSHIP has a good short definition of it:
Kabbalah: (Various spellings) Mystical Jewish teachings intermingled with teachings of gnosticism, Neoplatonism, magic and the occult. The word Kabbalah means secret oral tradition and was coined by an eleventh century Spanish philosopher, Ibn Gabirol. The philosophy developed in Babylon during the middle ages from earlier Hebrew speculation and numerology. An early Kabbalist, Moses de Leon, developed and systematized the philosophy in his thirteenth century work, The Book of Zolar (sometimes spelled Zohar meaning “Splendor”).
Here is the most accessible post on Kabbalism for the layman via GOT QUESTIONS:
Kabbalah, also spelled Kaballah, Qabalah, or Cabalah, developed between the 6th and 13th centuries among the Jews in Babylonia, Italy, Provence, and Spain. The word “Kabbalah” means “to receive” and refers to revelation from God received by Jews and passed to succeeding generations through oral tradition. The word was first used by mainstream Judaism but later came to refer to those who believed that only a select few were given the secret knowledge from God as to the “true” meaning of Scriptures. Kabbalah uses occult practices and is considered to be a cult.
Kabbalah closely resembles some of the beliefs held by the Greek Gnostics in that both groups believed that only a select few were given deeper understanding or knowledge. Also, Kabbalah teaches that “emanations” from God did the work of creation, denying that creation was a creative act directly from God (Genesis 1). With each descending emanation, the emanation became farther away from God. The final emanation took the personal form of angels.
Kabbalah, like all false doctrine and religions, denies the deity of Christ and the necessity of faith in Him as the only means of salvation (John 14:6). Jesus is God in the flesh, and He came to die for the sins of all who would believe in Him. If an individual trusts in Christ—that He is God (John 1:1-3) and paid for sin (Romans 8:3)—then that person is forgiven and becomes a child of God (John 1:12).
They have a lot in common with Gnostics I doodled this explanation of “emanations” during a very long conversation with actor Michael Berryman in discussion about [among other things] another modern day Gnostic religion, Freemasons:
Like Gnostics and Freemason and followers of the other New Age religions, Jesus is not Divine, God. Madonna is one of the more famous celebrities to “dabble” in it’s practices.
New York: `Material Girl` Madonna has been promoted to the highest level that can be achieved without being ordained, at the Kabbalah Church.
According to Ratethemusic.com, the singer, who is a staunch follower of the mystical Jewish religion, was promoted to an upper category of Kabbalah followers in a ceremony conducted by the Kabbalah Centre founder Rabbi Berg.
“Her teachers think she has reached the pinnacle of spiritual understanding. To Madonna this is the best achievement of her life,” a source said.
It was under Madge’s influence that celebrities like Demi Moore and Britney Spears became attracted towards Kabbalah.
There is a pretty good 1920 definition of this esoteric, “New” Age occultic tradition by Lewis Spence in his Encyclopedia of Occultism. He is not a Christian source FYI. (I PDF’ed It) It does get into the weeds a bit, and is dated.
The Christian Research Institute tackles it a bi in their article “What Is Kabbalah?“
The Messianic Movement is a broad term to refer to Jewish believers in Jesus. There are many Messianic movements today such as Jews for Jesus and others. However, within the Messianic Movement there are also some who teach heretical doctrines like the cults. Among some of these heretical doctrines is a denial of God’s compound unity (God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Dr. Tony Costa interviews Dr. Igal German in a series of questions related to the Messianic Movement. Dr. Igal German is a Jewish believer in Jesus.
Jesus is the center of history… in more ways than one!
Some Historical Reflections
Napoleon said this about Jesus:
I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.
H.G. Wells, the famous novelist and historian in his own right agreed:
I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.
Albert Einstein adds his intellect:
As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene….No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.
Church historian Philip Schaff concludes:
Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander the Great, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of school, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.
The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great religious mission. Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strong-minded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been worshipped, even with multitudinous idols.
All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances.
Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the comprehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.
(Robert Hume, The World’s Living Religions [New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959], 285-286.)
The Joy of the Resurrection by Dr. Gary Habermas
A SEASONED JOURNALIST CHASES DOWN THE BIGGEST STORY IN HISTORY – Is there credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God? Retracing his own spiritual journey from atheism to faith, Lee Strobel, former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, cross-examines a dozen experts with doctorates who are specialists in the areas of old manuscripts, textual criticism, and biblical studies. Strobel challenges them with questions like; How reliable is the New Testament? Does evidence for Jesus exist outside the Bible? Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event? Strobel s tough, point-blank questions make this bestselling book read like a captivating, fast-paced novel. But it is not fiction. It is a riveting quest for the truth about history s most compelling figure. What will your verdict be in The Case for Christ?
Sagemont Church Vimeo (January 8, 2018) – Lecture by Craig Hazen. Craig Hazen “Evidence For The Resurrection Of Jesus”
While this is cute, it is how skeptics view this passage… as myth.I DO NOT.
The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:52-53, HCSB)
On this Easter and a verse at church about the first-fruits and then ending with the new heaven and new earth… I remembered a book I read from many, many years ago. So I dug it out and excerpted the portion I was thinking of. Enjoy and happy “First-fruits”!
Grant R. Jeffrey, Heaven: The Last Frontier (Toronto, Ontario: Frontier Research Publications, 1990), 25-28.
The Firstfruits of Resurrection
The Bible uses the word “firstfruits” to describe this First Resurrection which leads to eternal life in Heaven. In Israel the Feast of Firstfruits happened in the spring of the year to celebrate the first fruits of the harvest. As the Jews brought these tokens of the bounty of the coming harvest to the Temple they were acknowledging that God was the provider of the harvest. This word “firstfruits” became a proper symbol of this first group of resurrected saints, a token of the great harvest when Jesus, the Lord of the Harvest, will come to gather the saints to meet Him in the air.
The writer of the book of Hebrews, after recounting the many acts of faith of Old Testament saints, told his readers about their life in Heaven. He declares “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). They still live! They have been transformed and are now in Paradise, watching our walk of faith. Many of those Old Testament saints participated in this first stage of the First Resurrection, when Jesus rose from the grave.
Matthew 27:52-53 describes the amazing and exciting events that happened after Jesus rose from the dead, during the Feast of the Firstfruits: “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His Resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”
The various writers who observed this miraculous resurrection recounted it in their histories of the day. Jesus Christ had risen from the dead and won victory over death, not only for Himself as the Son of God, but also for those saints who had died centuries before and for all who would believe in Him as their Lord and Savior for centuries to follow.
Writings by Christians of that time have been collected in the Ante-Nicene Library. They describe that more than twelve thousand of these Old Testament saints walked through Galilee for forty days, appeared in Jerusalem before many, and later ascended into Heaven when Jesus Christ ascended to His Father.
This undeniable fact of Christ’s Resurrection and the resurrection of Old Testament saints who identified themselves to many Jews created a ground swell of belief in the claims of Christ that He was the Messiah and the true Son of God. The Lord proved forever that His power of resurrection and eternal life was available to all who would receive His offer of salvation. God will not force you to accept eternal life, nor will He force you to live in Heaven if you choose not to claim this “indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15) as Lord and Savior.
These saints who rose from the dead when Christ arose were the “firstfruits” of the first resurrection to eternal life in Heaven. It is no coincidence that this seventeenth day of Nisan in A.D. 32 was the Feast of the Firstfruits. Other notable events connected with resurrection also happened on this anniversary.
On this day the ark of Noah rested on Mount Ararat and the human race was resurrected following the flood. Almost a thousand years later, on this anniversary, Moses led the people of Israel through the Red Sea to be resurrected as a nation from the bondage of Egypt. Forty years later, Israel crossed the Jordan on the seventeenth day of Nisan, and the people enjoyed the firstfruits of the Promised Land. In the sovereignty of God, He caused Jesus Christ to rise from the dead and to bring these saints with Him into new life on this same day, during the Feast of Firstfruits.
These resurrected saints had bodies that were real. Several documents from this era claim that among those raised by Jesus were the Temple priest, Simeon, who had once waited in the Temple to see the baby Jesus, and his two sons who lived in Arimathaea. The records state their resurrection was specifically investigated since they were well-known to the Sanhedrin because of their Temple service as priests. After so many centuries, it is impossible to ascertain the documentary accuracy of these ancient texts, but it is interesting to note that they confirm the details of the event which Matthew recorded in his Gospel.
These records in the Ante-Nicene Library claim that during the investigation each of the sons of Simeon was separately and simultaneously interrogated. They both told the same story, namely that Christ had appeared to them in Hades, preached to all, and that those who had earlier responded to God were miraculously given new bodies and resurrected when Christ rose from the grave.
Matthew’s record of this event is tantalising in both what it reveals and what it conceals. He states that these Old Testament saints “went into the holy city and appeared to many.” Remember that all the events involved with the death and resurrection of Jesus happened in Jerusalem during the busiest season of the year, the Feast of Passover. Every Israelite male who was capable made an effort to come to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. Deuteronomy 16:2 records this as a command of God. Each home in the holy city had upper rooms which were supplied without cost to fellow Israelites who came on these pilgrimages. Therefore, during this Feast of Passover, the population of Jerusalem had swollen to five times the normal number. Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, says in his Jewish Wars that, according to Roman records, the number of sheep sacrificed during the Passover was 256,500. Since one sheep would serve as a sacrifice for five people, the conclusion is that during the time of Christ up to 1,250,000 people would come to the city during Passover instead of the usual 250,000 city dwellers.
Both the New Testament and letters of first-century Christians record that these resurrected saints identified themselves to the people as historical, biblical characters. With 1,000,000 visitors already in the city, obviously these resurrected saints must have appeared different in some way from other men, or they would simply have been lost in the crowd. Possibly their faces were transfigured with God’s reflected glory as the faces of Moses and Elijah were on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Those saints who rose with Christ did not die again, according to the writings of the first century. They were raptured to Heaven when Christ was raptured. These saints are now enjoying a “better that is, a heavenly country…for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). These raptured believers are the firstfruits of the first resurrection, which is “the resurrection of life” (John 5:29).
Paul described this resurrection in his first epistle to the church at Thessalonica: “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” and if we are still alive on earth, “we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (4:14,17) in eternal life in the New Jerusalem forever. The rapture of the saints will be discussed in greater detail in the next chapter. Those who miss the first resurrection will also rise again, but they will partake of the dreaded second resurrection, which is a spiritual, eternal death in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15).
It is defended regularly by Early church fathers such as:
Ignatius to the Trallians (c. AD 70-115)
“For Says the Scripture, ‘May bodies of the saints that slept arose,’ their graves being opened. He descended, indeed, into Hades alone, but He arose accompanied by a multitude” (chap. Ix, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. I, p. 70).
Ignatius to the Magnesians (c. AD 70-115)
“…[T]herefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master—how shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He who they rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead” [Chap. IX] (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. I (1885). Reprinted by Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, p. 62. Emphasis added in all these citations).
Irenaeus (c. AD 120-200)
“…He [Christ] suffered who can lead those souls aloft that followed His ascension. This event was also an indication of the fact that when the holy hour of Christ descended [to Hades], many souls ascended and were seen in their bodies” (Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus XXVIII, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. I, Alexander Roberts, ibid., 572-573).
Clement of Alexandria (c. AD 155-200)
“‘But those who had fallen asleep descended dead, but ascended alive.’ Further, the Gospel says, ‘that many bodies of those that slept arose,’—plainly as having been translated to a better state” (Alexander Roberts, ed. Stromata, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. II, chap. VI, 491).
This does not include the *multiple times the phrase was quoted by later church Fathers (Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Cyril, etc). If one suggests that it was added to the text, they must first grapple with its extended use in these and other very early documents and decide how an error was placed within the text so early in transmission.
The below is most likely where the above responder got his quotes from:
This comes by way of an excellent dealing with the topic/Scripture, DEFENDING INERRANCY — via Dr. Norman Geisler titled:
(Emphasis in the original) BTW, this section is titled: “A Survey Of The Great Teachers Of The Church On The Passage,” as, “early Church Fathers” are not the only persons listed below.
Tertullian (AD 160-222)
The Father of Latin Christianity wrote: “’And the sun grew dark at mid-day;’ (and when did it ‘shudder exceedingly’ except at the passion of Christ, when the earth trembled to her centre, and the veil of the temple was rent, and the tombs burst asunder?) ‘because these two evils hath My People done’” (Alexander Roberts, ed. An Answer to the Jews, Chap XIII, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, 170).
Hippolytus (AD 170-235)
“And again he exclaims, ‘The dead shall start forth from the graves,’ that is, from the earthly bodies, being born again spiritual, not carnal. For this he says, is the Resurrection that takes place through the gate of heaven, through which, he says, all those that do not enter remain dead” (Alexander Roberts, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, The Refutation of All Heresy, BooK V, chap. 3, p. 54). The editor of the Ante-Nicene Fathers footnotes this as a reference to the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27:52, 53 (in Note 6, p. 54.), as indeed it is.
Origen (AD 185-254)
Despite the fact that Origen was known for his Neoplatonic spritualizing of some biblical texts, Origen declared that Matthew 27 spoke of a literal historical resurrection of these saints. He wrote: “Now to this question, although we are able to show the striking and miraculous character of the events which befell Him, yet from what other source can we furnish an answer than the Gospel narratives, which state that ‘there was an earth quake, and that the rock were split asunder, and the tombs were opened, and the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom, an the darkness prevailed in the day-time, the sun failing to give light’” (Against Celsus, Book II, XXXIII. Alexander Roberts, ed. Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4, 444-445).
“But if this Celsus, who, in order to find matter of accusation against Jesus and the Christians, extracts from the Gospel even passages which are incorrectly interpreted, but passes over in silence the evidences of the divinity of Jesus, would listen to divine portents, let him read the Gospel, and see that even the centurion, and they who with him kept watch over Jesus, on seeing the earthquake, and the events that occurred [viz., the resurrection of the saints], were greatly afraid, saying, ‘This man was the Son of God’” (Ibid., XXVI, p. 446).
Cyril of Jerusalem (c. AD 315-c. 386)
Early Fathers in the East also verified the historicity of the Matthew text. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote: “But it is impossible, some one will say, that the dead should rise; and yet Eliseus [Elisha] twice raised the dead,–when he was live and also when dead…and is Christ not risen? … But in this case both the Dead of whom we speak Himself arose, and many dead were raised without having even touched Him. For many bodies of the Saints which slept arose, and they came out of the graves after His Resurrection, and went into the Holy City, (evidently this city in which we now are,) and appeared to many” (Catechetical Lectures XIV, 16, Nicene Fathers, Second Series, vol. 7, p. 98).
Further, “I believe that Christ was also raised from the dead, both from the Divine Scriptures, and from the operative power even at this day of Him who arose,–who descended into hell alone, but ascended thence with a great company for He went down to death, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose through Him” (ibid., XIV, 18, vol. 7, p. 99).
Gregory of Nazianzus (c. AD 330-c. 389)
“He [Christ] lays down His life, but He has the power to take it again; and the veil rent, for the mysterious doors of Heaven are opened;5the rocks are cleft, the dead arise. He dies but he gives life, and by His death destroys death. He is buried, but He rises again. He goes down to Hell, but He brings up the souls; He ascends to Heaven, and shall come again to judge the quick and the dead, and to put to the test such words are yours” (Schaff, ibid., vol. VII, Sect XX, p. 309).
Jerome (AD 342-420)
Speaking of the Matthew 27 text, he wrote: “It is not doubtful to any what these great signs signify according to the letter, namely, that heaven and earth and all things should bear witness to their crucified Lord” (cited in Aquinas, Commentary on the Four Gospels, vol. I, part III: St.Matthew (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841), 964.
“As Lazarus rose from the dead, so also did many bodies of the Saints rise again to shew forth the Lord’s resurrection; yet notwithstanding that the graves were opened, they did not rise again before the Lord rose, that He might be the first-born of the resurrection from the dead” (cited by Aquinas, ibid., 963).
Hilary of Poitiers (c. AD 315-c.357)
“The graves were opened, for the bands of death were loosed. And many bodies of the saints which slept arose, for illuminating the darkness of death, and shedding light upon the gloom of Hades, He robbed the spirits of death” (cited by Aquinas, ibid., 963).
Chrysostom (AD 347-407)
“When He [Christ] remained on the cross they had said tauntingly, He saved others, himself he cannot save. But what He should not do for Himself, that He did and more thanthat for the bodies of the saints.For if it was a great thing to raise Lazarus after four days, much more was it that they who had long slept should not shew themselves above; this is indeed a proof of the resurrection to come.But that it might not be thought that that which was done was an appearance merely, the Evangelist adds, and come out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (cited by Aquinas, ibid., 963-964).
St. Augustine (AD 354-430)
The greatest scholar at the beginning of the Middle Ages, St. Augustine, wrote: “As if Moses’ body could not have been hid somewhere…and be raised up therefrom by divine power at the time when Elias and he were seen with Christ: Just as at the time of Christ’s passion many bodies of the saints arose, and after his resurrection appeared, according to the Scriptures, to many in the holy city” (Augustine, On the Gospel of St. John, Tractate cxxiv, 3, Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. VII, 448).
“Matthew proceeds thus: ‘And the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arise, and come out of the graves after the resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.’ There is no reason to fear that these facts, which have been related only by Matthew, may appear to be inconsistent with the narrative present by any one of the rest [of the Gospel writers)…. For as the said Matthew not only tells how the centurion ‘saw the earthquake,’ but also appends the words [in v. 54], ‘and those things that were done’…. Although Matthew has not added any such statement, it would still have been perfectly legitimate to suppose, that as many astonishing things did place at that time…, the historians were at liberty to select for narration any particular incident which they were severally disposed to instance as the subject of the wonder. And it would not be fair to impeach them with inconsistency, simply because one of them may have specified one occurrence as the immediate cause of the centurion’s amazement, while another introduces a different incident” (St. Augustine, The Harmony of the Gospels, Book III, chap. xxi in Schaff, ibid., vol. VI, p. 206, emphasis added).
St. Remigius (c. 438-c. 533) “Apostle of the Franks”
“But someone will ask, what became of those who rose again when the Lord rose. We must believe that they rose again to be witnesses of the Lord’s resurrection. Some have said that they died again, and were turned to dust, as Lazarus and the rest whom the Lord raised. But we must by no means give credit to these men’s sayings, since if they were to die again, it would be greater torment to them, than if they had not risen again. We ought therefore to believe without hesitation that they who rose from the dead at the Lord’s resurrection, ascended also into heaven together with Him” (cited in Aquinas, ibid., 964).
Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274)
As Augustine was the greatest Christian thinker at the beginning of the Middle Ages, Aquinas was the greatest teacher at the end. And too he held to the historicity of the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27, as is evident from his citations from the Fathers (with approval) in his great commentary on the Gospels (The Golden Chain), as all the above Aquinas references indicate, including Jerome, Hilary of Poitiers, Chrysostom, and Remigius (see Aquinas, ibid., 963-964).
John Calvin (1509-1564)
The chain of great Christian teachers holding to the historicity of this text continued into the Reformation and beyond. John Calvin wrote:
Matt. 27.52. And the tombs were opened. This was a particular portent in which God testified that His Son had entered death’s prison, not to stay there shut up, but to lead all free who were there held captive…. That is the reason why He, who was soon to be shut in a tomb opened the tombs elsewhere. Yet we may doubt whether this opening of the tombs happened before the resurrection, for the resurrection of the saints which is shortly after added followed in my opinion the resurrection of Christ. It is absurd for some interpreters to image that they spent three days alive and breathing, hidden in tombs. It seems likely to me that at Christ’s death the tombs at once opened; at His resurrection some of the godly men received breath and came out and were seen in the city. Christ is called the Firstborn from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18)…. This reasoning agrees very well, seeing that the breaking of the tombs was the presage of new life, and the fruit itself, the effect, appeared three days later, as Christ rising again led other companions from the graves with Himself. And in this sign it was shown that neither His dying nor His resurrection were private to himself, but breathe the odour of life into all the faithful (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, trans. A. W. Morrison. Eds. David and Thomas Torrance. Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1972, vol. 3, pp. 211-212).
Of course, there are some aspects of this Matthew 27 text of the saints on which the Fathers were uncertain. For example, there is the question as to whether the saints were resurrected before or after Jesus was and whether it was a resuscitation to a mortal body or a permanent resurrection to an immortal body. However, there is no reason for serious doubt that all the Fathers surveyed accepted the historicity of this account. Their testimony is very convincing for many reasons:
First, the earliest confirmation as to the historical nature of the resurrection of the saints in the Matthew 27 passage goes all the way back to Ignatius, a contemporary of the apostle John (who died. c. AD 90). One could not ask for an earlier verification that the resurrection of these saints than that of Ignatius (AD 70-115). He wrote: “He who they rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead”[Chap. IX]. And in the Epistle to the Trallians he added, “For Says the Scripture, ‘May bodies of the saints that slept arose,’ their graves being opened. He descended, indeed, into Hades alone, but He arose accompanied by a multitude” (chap.IX, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. I, p. 70). The author who is a contemporary of the last apostle (John) is speaking unmistakably of the saints in Matthew 27 who were literally resurrected after Jesus was.
Second, the next testimony to the historicity of this passage is Irenaeus who knew Polycarp, a disciple of the apostle John. Other than the apostolic Fathers, Irenaeus is a good as any witness to the earliest post-apostolic understanding of the Matthew 27 text. And he made it clear that “many” persons “ascended and were seen in their bodies”(Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus XXVIII. Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. I, ibid., 572-573).
Third, there is a virtually unbroken chain of great Fathers of the church after Irenaeus (2nd cent.) who took this passage as historical (see above). Much of the alleged “confusion” and “conflict” about the text is cleared up when one understands that, while the tombs were opened at the time of the death of Christ, nonetheless, the resurrection of these saints did not occur until “after his resurrection” (Mt. 27:53, emphasis added) 7 since Jesus is the “firstfruits” (1 Cor. 15:23) of the resurrection.
Fourth, the great church Father St. Augustine stressed the historicity of the Matthew 27 text about the resurrection of the saints, speaking of them as “facts” and “things that were done” as recorded by the Gospel “historians” (St. Augustine, The Harmony of the Gospels, Book III, chap. xxi in Schaff, ibid., vol. VI, p. 206, emphasis added).
Fifth, many of the Fathers used this passage in an apologetic sense as evidence of the resurrection of Christ. This reveals their conviction that it was a historical event resulting from the historical event of the resurrection of Christ. Irenaeus was explicit on this point, declaring, “Matthew also, who had a still greater desire [to establish this point], took particular pains to afford them convincing proof that Christ is the seed of David…” (Irenaeus, ibid., 573).
Some, like Chrysostom, took it as evidence for the resurrection to come. “For if it was a great thing to raise Lazarus after four days, much more was it that they who had long slept should not shew themselves above; this is indeed a proof of the resurrection to come” (cited by Aquinas, ibid., 963-964).
Origen understood it as “evidences of the divinity of Jesus” (Origen, ibid., Book II, chap. XXXVI. Ante-Nicene Fathers, 446). None of these Fathers would have given it such apologetic weight had they not been convinced of the historicity of the resurrection of these saints after Jesus’ resurrection in Matthew 27.
Sixth, even the Church Father Origen, who was the most prone to allegorizing away literal events in the Bible, took this text to refer to a literal historical resurrection of saints. He wrote of the events in Matthew 27 that they are “the evidences of the divinity of Jesus” (Origen, ibid., Book II, chap. XXXVI. Ante-Nicene Fathers, 446).
Seventh, some of the great teachers of the Church were careful to mention that the saints rose as a result of Jesus’ resurrection which is a further verification of the historical nature of the resurrection of the saints in Mathew 27. Jerome wrote: “As Lazarus rose from the dead, so also did many bodies of the Saints rise again to shew forth the Lord’s resurrection; yet notwithstanding that the graves were opened, they did not rise again before the Lord rose, that He might be the first-born of the resurrection from the dead” (cited by Aquinas, ibid., 963). John Calvin added, “Yet we may doubt whether this opening of the tombs happened before the resurrection, for the resurrection of the saints which is shortly after added followed in my opinion the resurrection of Christ. It is absurd for some interpreters to image that they spent three days alive and breathing, hidden in tombs.” For “It seems likely to me that at Christ’s death the tombs at once opened; at His resurrection some of the godly men received breath and came out and were seen in the city. Christ is called the Firstborn from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, vol. 3, pp. 211-212).
Eighth, St. Augustine provides an answer to the false premise of contemporary critics that there must be another reference to a New Testament event like this in order to confirm that it is historical. He wrote, “It would not be fair to impeach them with inconsistency, simply because one of them may have specified one occurrence as the immediate cause of the centurion’s amazement, while another introduces a different incident” (St. Augustine, ibid., emphasis added).
So, contrary to the claims of many current New Testament critics, the Matthew 27 account of the resurrection of the saints is a clear and unambiguous affirmation of the historicity of the resurrection of the saints. This is supported by a virtually unbroken line of the great commentators of the Early Church and through the Middle Ages and into the Reformation period (John Calvin). Not a single example was found of any Father surveyed who believed this was a legend. Such a belief is due to the acceptance of modern critical methodology, not to either a historical-grammatical exposition of the text or to the supporting testimony of the main orthodox teachers of the Church up to and through the Reformation Period.
Ninth, the impetus for rejecting the story of the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27 is not based on good exegesis of the text or on the early support of the Fathers but is based on fallacious premises:
(1) First of all, there is an anti-supernatural bias beginning in the 17th century and lying beneath much of contemporary scholarship. But there is no philosophical basis for the rejection of miracles (see our Miracles and the Modern Mind, Grand Rapids:Baker, 1992), and there is no exegetical basis for rejecting it in this text. Indeed on the same ground one could reject the resurrection of Christ since it supernatural and is found in the same text.
(2) Further, there is also the fallacious premise of double reference which affirms that if an event is not mentioned at least twice in the Gospels, then its historicity is questioned. But on this grounds many other events must be rejected as well, such as, the story of Nicodemus (Jn. 3), the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn. 4), the story of Zaccchaeus (Lk. 19), the resurrection of Lazarus (Jn. 11), and even the birth of Christ in the stable and the angel chorus (Lk. 2), as well as many other events in the Gospels. How many times does an event have to be mentioned in a first century piece of literature based on reliable witnesses in order to be true?
(3) There is another argument that seems to infect much of contemporary New Testament scholarship on this matter. It is theorized that an event like this, if literal, would have involved enough people and graves to have drawn significant evidence of it in a small place like Jerusalem. Raymond Brown alludes to this, noting that “…many interpreters balk at the thought of many known risen dead being seen in Jerusalem—such a large scale phenomenon should have left some traces in Jewish and/or secular history!” 8 However, at best this is simply the fallacious Argument from Silence. What is more, “many” can mean only a small group, not hundreds of thousands. Further, the story drew enough attention to make it into one of the canonical Gospels, right along side of the resurrection of Christ and with other miraculous events. In brief, it is in a historical book; it is said to result from the resurrection of Christ; it was cited apologetically by the early Fathers as evidence of the resurrection of Christ and proof of the resurrection to come. No other evidence is needed for its authenticity.
Michael Medved had Author Reza Azlan on about his newest book, “God, A Human History.” What a confused man… not just in his worldview, but even how he defines terms accepted by other faiths — in this case, inerrancy. Here are some of my posts regarding the issues herein:
“…inerrancy means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact…. that the Bible always tells the truth, and that it always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about.”
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 90, 91.
After noting the problems in Bart Ehrman’s book, TRUE FREE THINKER notes — using Bart Ehrman’s own methodology — just how many of these variants accumulated over time:
…I do not know how many copies Misquoting Jesus has sold but it is reported that “Within the first three months, more than 100,000 copies were sold.”
The way it works is as simple as it is deceptive: you multiply the 16 variants by how many times they have been reproduced. As the 16 have been reproduced 100,000 (in three months alone) you multiply these and so the total of variants in Misquoting Jesus equals: 1,600,000.
And that, boys and girls, is how Bart Ehrman manages to make sensational claims that gain him notoriety and quite a few shekels….
Which is why this Q&A with Ehrman is so powerful:
In the appendix to Misquoting Jesus, added to the paperback version, there is a Q&A section. I do not know who the questioner is, but it is obviously someone affiliated with the editors of the book. Consider this question asked of Ehrman:
Bruce Metzger, your mentor in textual criticism to whom this book dedicated, has said that there is nothing in these variants of Scripture that challenges any essential Christian beliefs (e.g., the bodily resurrection of Jesus or the Trinity). Why do you believe these core tenets Of Christian orthodoxy to be in jeopardy based on the scribal errors you discovered in the biblical manuscripts?
Note that the wording of the question is not “Do you believe…” but “Why do you believe these core tenets of Christian orthodoxy to be in jeopardy…?” This is a question that presumably came from someone who read the book very carefully. How does Ehrman respond?
The position I argue for in Misquoting Jesus does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.
Suffice it to say that viable textual variants that disturb cardinal doctrines found in the NT have not yet been produced.
Daniel B. Wallace, Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal Publications, 2011), 54-55.
In the appendix to Misquoting Jesus, added to the paperback version, there is a Q&A section. I do not know who the questioner is, but it is obviously someone affiliated with the editors of the book. Consider this question asked of Ehrman:
✦ Bruce Metzger, your mentor in textual criticism to whom this book dedicated, has said that there is nothing in these variants of Scripture that challenges any essential Christian beliefs (e.g., the bodily resurrection of Jesus or the Trinity). Why do you believe these core tenets Of Christian orthodoxy to be in jeopardy based on the scribal errors you discovered in the biblical manuscripts?
Note that the wording of the question is not “Do you believe…” but “Why do you believe these core tenets of Christian orthodoxy to be in jeopardy…?” This is a question that presumably came from someone who read the book very carefully. How does Ehrman respond?
The position I argue for in Misquoting Jesus does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.
Suffice it to say that viable textual variants that disturb cardinal doctrines found in the NT have not yet been produced.
Daniel B. Wallace, Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal Publications, 2011), 54-55.
So with all that in mind (one should familiarize themselves with the first part of this), can we then define what we mean by biblical inerrancy, of course my favorite definition comes from the main text I used at the seminary I attended. I will also give definitions from some other main text that other seminaries use as well.
“…inerrancy means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.”
In case you didn’t catch what that sentence meant is “that the Bible always tells the truth, and that it always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about.”
In the index in the back under “inerrancy” you find some of the following topics under that heading: allows for free quotation; allows for ordinary language; allows for round numbers; allows for textual variants; allows for uncommon grammar; allows for vague statements; human language doesn’t prevent. I will choose one example from this list so you can get the “gist” of what Grudem is saying:
A similar consideration applies to numbers when used in measuring or in counting. A reporter can say that 8,000 men were killed in a certain battle without thereby implying that he has counted everyone and that there are not 7,999 or 8,001 dead soldiers. If roughly 8,000 died, it would of course be false to say that 16,000 died, but it would not be false in most contexts for a reporter to say that 8,000 men died when in fact 7,823 or 8,242 had died: the limits of truthfulness would depend on the degree of precision implied by the speaker and expected by his original hearers.
This is also true for measurements. Whether I say, “I don’t live far from my office,” or “I live a little over a mile from my office,” or “I live one mile from my office,” or “I live 1.287 miles from my office” all four statements are still approximations to some degree of accuracy. Further degrees of accuracy might be obtained with more precise scientific instruments, but these would still be approximations to a certain degree of accuracy. Thus, measurements also, in order to be true, should conform to the degree of precision implied by the speaker and expected by the hearers in the original context. It should not trouble us, then, to affirm both that the Bible is absolutely truthful in everything it says and that it uses ordinary language to describe natural phenomena or to give approximations or round numbers when those are appropriate in the context.
We should also note that language can make vague or imprecise statements without being untrue. “I live a little over a mile from my office” is a vague and imprecise statement, but it is also inerrant: there is nothing untrue about it. It does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. In a similar way, biblical statements can be imprecise and still be totally true. Inerrancy has to do with truthfulness, not with the degree of precision with which events are reported.
Another definition comes from a newer systematic theological 4-volumn set, it reads as follows:
…the inspiration of Scripture is the supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit who, through the different personalities and literary styles of the chosen human authors, invested the very words of the original books of Holy Scripture, alone and in their entirety, as the very Word of God without error in all that they teach (including history and science) and is thereby the infallible rule and final authority for the faith and practice of all believers.
Another popular text in seminaries defines inerrancy in this way:
By “inerrancy” we mean that as a product of supernatural inspiration the information affirmed by the sentences of the original autographs of the sixty-six canonical books of the Bible is true.
By “true” content we mean propositions that correspond to the thought of God and created reality because they are logically noncontradictory, factually reliable, and experientially viable. Therefore, as given, the Bible provides a reliable guide for healthfully experiencing the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual realities that people face in time and eternity.
To grasp the truth that was given, as fully as possible, a passage of Scripture must be taken (interpreted) by a believer in accord with its author’s purpose; degrees of precision appropriate to that purpose at that time; and its grammatical, historical, cultural, and theological contexts (all under the illumination of the Holy Spirit who inspired it).
One of my favorites comes from large theological treatise, I will here only put his definition, however, the author goes on for about four pages defining some of the ideas and words used in that smaller definition:
We may now state our understanding of inerrancy: The Bible, when correctly interpreted in light of the level to which culture and the means of communication had developed at the time it was written, and in view of the purposes for which it was given, is fully truthful in all that it affirms.
One must also keep in mind the psychological foreboding that all of us have. The question is thus: in order to suppress our biases as much as possible, is there a construct and model in which one should view any literary work with in order to test it internal soundness? Besides what I will again post as some rules all persons should follow in order to limit his or her preconceived values and biases they bring to the table, C. Sanders, a famous military historian, in his Introduction to Research in English Literary History, lists and explains the three basic principles of historiography. These are the bibliographical test, the internal evidence test, and the external evidence test.
The bibliographical test is an examination of the textual transmission by which documents reach us. In other words, since we do not have the original documents, how reliable are the copies we have in regard to the number of manuscripts (MSS and the time interval between the original and the extant (currently existing) copies?
Internal Evidence, of which John Warwick Montgomery writes that literary critics still follow Aristotle’s dictum that “the benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, not arrogated by the critic to himself.” therefore, one must listen to the claims of the document under analysis, and do not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualified himself by contradictions or known factual inaccuracies. As Dr. Horn continues:
“Think for a moment about what needs to be demonstrated concerning a ‘difficulty’ in order to transfer it into the category of a valid argument against doctrine. Certainly much more is required than the mere appearance of a contradiction. First, we must be certain that we have correctly understood the passage, the sense in which it uses words or numbers. Second, that we possess all available knowledge in this matter. Third, that no further light can possibly be thrown on it by advancing knowledge, textual research, archaeology, etc…. Difficulties do not constitute objections. Unresolved problems are not of necessity errors. This is not to minimize the area of difficulty; it is to see it in perspective. Difficulties are to be grappled with and problems are to drive us to seek clearer light; but until such time as we have total and final light on any issue we are in no position to affirm, ‘Here is a proven error, an unquestionable objection to an infallible Bible.’ It is common knowledge that countless ‘objections’ have fully been resolved since this century began.” (see more)
Do other historical materials confirm or deny the internal testimony provided by the documents themselves? In other words, what sources are there – apart from the literature under analysis – that substantiate its accuracy, reliability, and authenticity?
Of course there will be people who refuse to use the tools that literary critics and legal scholars have devised to keep as much prejudice out as possible. My final story I wish to share with the reader explains what this looks like better than I ever could:
But even a sound epistemic system, flawless deductive reasoning, and impeccable inductive procedure does not guarantee a proper conclusion. Emotional bias or antipathy might block the way to the necessary conclusion of the research. That thinkers may obstinately resist a logical verdict is humorously illustrated by John Warwick Montgomery’s modern parable:
Once upon a time (note the mystical cast) there was a man who thought he was dead. His concerned wife and friends sent him to the friendly neighborhood psychiatrist determined to cure him by convincing him of one fact that contradicted his beliefs that he was dead. The fact that the psychiatrist decided to use was the simple truth that dead men do not bleed. He put his patient to work reading medical texts, observing autopsies, etc. After weeks of effort the patient finally said, “All right, all right! You’ve convinced me. Dead men do not bleed.” Whereupon the psychiatrist stuck him in the arm with a needle, and the blood flowed. The man looked down with a contorted, ashen face and cried, “Good Lord! Dead men bleed after all!”
Emotional prejudice is not limited to dull-witted, the illiterate, and poorly educated. Philosophers and theologians are not exempt from the vested interests and psychological prejudice that distort logical thinking. The question of the existence of God evokes deep emotional and psychological prejudice. People understand that the question of the existence of God is not one that is of neutral consequence. We understand intuitively, if not in terms of its full rational implication, that the existence of an eternal Creator before whom we are ultimately accountable and responsible is a matter that touches the very core of life.
And I would be remiss to note how the Christian world looks at what “the inspired Word of God” means to the individuals involved in the writing of Scripture. Do these lose their person-hood? Do they become automatons? Losing all ability to self, or control like automatic writing in paganism or the occult? These are important questions:
Orr says that inspiration “must be held to include the insight given by the divine Spirit into the meaning of the history, through which holy men are enabled to write it for the instruction of all ages.” But that is never taught in the Scriptures.
Dr. Edward Young, one of the most careful and devoted scholars on the matter of the inspiration of the Scriptures, makes a slip here, we believe. He strongly teaches the verbal inspiration of the Scripture but says:
According to the Bible, inspiration is a superintendence of God the Holy Spirit over the writers of the Scriptures, as a result of which these Scriptures possess Divine authority and trustworthiness and, possessing such Divine authority and trustworthiness, are free from error.”
He is right that the Scripture has divine authority and is free from error. I do not think, however, that the term “superintendence” is the proper word for the work of the Holy Spirit. The Bible never indicates that the Holy Spirit breathed on men or superintended men as they wrote. Rather, David said, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me” (II Sam. 23:2). And “God spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1). And the men of God who wrote were rather “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Pet. 1:21), or literally, “as they were borne along by the Holy Ghost.” Superintendence is too weak a word and leaves the initiative with men, with the Holy Spirit somewhere near and more or less supervising, checking. But according to the Scriptures, the initiative was with God the Holy Spirit and men are His instruments in writing the Scriptures.
Drs. Lindsell and Woodbridge say about the Bible writers:
They retained their own styles, personalities and self-command. Their personal powers were not suspended but sharpened. The Holy Spirit commanded the operation; but Moses, John and Peter remained Moses, John and Peter while writing. Because of the close, sustained, continuous, effective supervision of the Holy Spirit, the Bible is the inspired Word of God.
Now, the end the good doctors declare is correct. The Bible is the inspired Word of God. It is true that the writers were not automata. In some sense they did retain their own style and personalities and self-command. But the Bible never says that “their personal powers were… sharpened.” Whether or not their powers were sharpened we do not know. The unintended indication is that here, if men have enough illumination, enough supervision by the Holy Spirit, they could write the perfect Word of God. But that is not what the Bible teaches and surely not what Lindsell and Woodbridge intended to convey.
But Lindsell and Woodbridge correct themselves on the preceding page:
“Inspiration” is not mere “Illumination.” The Holy Spirit illumines one’s soul before he can understand spiritual truth (See I Cor. 2:10-12.) But when we speak of the inspiration of the Bible, we do not have in mind this sort of spiritual perception. We do not mean merely that the intuitive faculties of the writers were quickened, or their spiritual insights clarified. Their “inspiration” was different, not only in degree but also in kind, from the heightened powers of ordinary men, even of men known for their spiritual genius. The inspiration of the Biblical authors was unique: it was special, direct, reliable, life-giving, inerrant.
That is better. The Bible does not come from “the heightened powers of ordinary men, even of men known for their spiritual genius.” If “the intuitive faculties of the writers were quickened,” the Bible says nothing about it, and it is obviously not necessary to the kind of inspiration the Bible teaches. There is no evidence that the “intuitive faculties” of Balaam were quickened when by inspiration he gave a prophecy he did not want to give nor that the “intuitive faculties” of Caiaphas the high priest were quickened when he prophesied that Christ would die for the people, meaning something else. When God breathed out the words of the Bible, and the Bible discusses it, it never speaks of men’s “intuitive faculties” being quickened nor of their “heightened powers” nor that “their personal powers were… sharened.” I am sure that, without intending to do so and trying to someway explain the human color and imprint in the Scriptures, good men say about this more than the Bible itself says here.
Let us say it again: the Scriptures did not come from heightened powers or quickened senses nor by simple illumination of the Holy Spirit. God Himself gave the Scriptures and inspiration was far more than some superintendence or supervision of spiritually illumined men with heightened faculties.
All this defining and understanding above is key for any person to start dissecting Scripture (or as some would view it, scripture) on a level playing field with others who come to this conversation as well.
….This statement is not only wrong, but completely misunderstands its own argument; ironically, it makes the exact circular assumptions that it accuses believers of.
1. The “Bible” is not one book
When we are talking about “proving” or evidencing the truths of the Gospel message, we have to put our historian hats on (not our religious hats). The argument is meant to place Christians in this rather odd situation where they sound like they are saying the Bible is true because it says it is true. But the Bible is not one book. In fact, the term “Bible” is not in the Bible. The Bible is a collection of works that spans over a thousand years, written by dozens of authors, some who are connected, some who are not. All together there are sixty-six books in the Protestant Bible.
When we are talking about the claims of the “New Testament,” we are talking about the story of Christianity, the very foundation and apex of Christianity as it deals with the incarnation of Christ, who he was, and what he did. But even then, to say one can’t prove the New Testament with the New Testament is quite ill-informed and unreflective. The designation “New Testament” (along with its list of books) is not even in the New Testament. Like with the whole Bible, it is just a name given to a certain related corpus of writings that speaks about the story and implications of the advent of Jesus Christ. There are twenty-seven books in the New Testament.
If one were to look at this with a historian’s eye, to say we cannot use the Bible to prove or evidence the Bible is about the most misguided thing one could possibly say. What does that mean? Are you saying that we cannot use the testimony that the book of Matthew gives to evidence Mark? Or that one cannot attempt to piece together Galatians with the Book of Acts? Of course you can. In fact, you must. These twenty-seven documents, all written around the same time, all telling similar stories, must be used to prove or evidence each other. If not, the historian is not being a historian, but something entirely different.
2. One must assume the inspiration of the Bible to say the Bible can’t prove the Bible
You see, if a person says, “You can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible,” he probably doesn’t realize he is borrowing a bit from the Christian worldview in order to even make such an assertion. What is being borrowed? The idea of the basic unity of Scripture or the single-authorship of the Bible. The only way to say the Bible can’t prove the Bible is to presume the inspiration of Scripture. Otherwise, there is no reason to link the canon of Scripture together in such a way. For the non-Christian especially, the Bible should be seen as sixty-six ancient documents, all of which stand or fall on their own. In order to make them stand or fall together, one must assume a single authorship of some sort. At that point, the argument becomes self-defeating, as the very statement (“You can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible”) proves the Bible!
The significance of the distinction between inerrant autograph and errant apograph may be seen from another angle. What difference would it make, some have asked, if the autographs did contain some of the errors that are present in the copies? Is not the end result of textual criticism and hermeneutics by both nonevangelical and evangelical essentially the same? As far as the results of textual criticism and hermeneutics as such are concerned, the answer to this last query is yes. By sound application of the canons of textual criticism, most by far of the errors in the text may be detected and corrected. And both nonevangelical and evangelical can properly exegete the critically established text. But the nonevangelical who fails to make a distinction between the inerrancy of the autographs and the errancy of the copies, after he has done his textual criticism and grammatical-historical exegesis, is still left with the question, Is the statement which I have now reached by my text-critical work and my hermeneutics true? He can only attempt to determine this on other (extrabiblical) grounds, but he will never know for sure if his determination is correct. The evangelical, however, who draws the distinction between inerrant autograph and errant apograph, once he has done proper text-critical analysis which assures him that he is working with the original text and properly applied the canons of exegesis to that text, rests in the confidence that his labor has resulted in the attainment of truth.
Some critical scholars have suggested that the distinction between inerrant autographs and errant apographs is of fairly recent vintage, indeed, an evangelical ploy to minimize the impact of the “assured results of textual criticism” upon their position. This is erroneous. Augustine’s statement, which represents the opinion generally of the Patristic Age, is a sufficient answer to demonstrate that the distinction is not a recent novelty:
I have learned to defer this respect and honor to the canonical books of Scripture alone, that I most firmly believe that no one of their authors has committed any error in writing. And if in their writings I am perplexed by anything which seems to me contrary to truth, I do not doubt that it is nothing else than either that the manuscript is corrupt, or that the translator has not followed what was said, or that I have myself failed to understand it. But when I read other authors, however eminent they may be in sanctity and learning, I do not necessarily believe a thing is true because they think so, but because they have been able to convince me, either on the authority of the canonical writers or by a probable reason which is not inconsistent with truth. And I think that you, my brother, feel the same way; moreover, I say, I do not believe that you want your books to be read as if they were those of Prophets and Apostles, about whose writings, free of all error, it is unlawful to doubt.
Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 91-92.
 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 90.
 Ibid., 91-92.
 Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology: Introduction: Bible, vol. I (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2002), 498.
 Gordon R. Lewis and Bruce A. Demarest, Integrative Theology: Three Volumes in One, vol. I (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 160-161.
 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books/Academic, 1998), 259.
 Taken primarily from, Bill Wilson, ed., A Ready Defense: The Best of Josh McDowell (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993), 43.
 R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley, Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 69-70.
John R. Rice, Our God Breathed Book – The Bible (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Word Publishers, 1969), 72-74.
This next video is a very interesting video in that it is an argument on a Temple Library and the transmission of Scripture. Great presentation… shows that there are breakthroughs in Biblical history waiting to be correlated.
The Gospel Coalition (Januray 2015) – Lecture by John Meade. Meade speaks on the authenticity of the Bible. This video is part of ‘The Bible: Canon, Texts, and Translations’ playlist: YouTube Playlist.
This next video is a lecture from Masters Seminary, Theology I Lecture 08 “Authority and Canonicity of Scripture”
And a greatr study is with R.C. Sproul, and he makes a point that has eluded me a bit until now, and they are:
Roman Catholic View:
The canon is an infallible collecting of infallible books.
The Protestant view:
The canon is an fallible collecting of infallible books.
Dr. Andrews podcast is a newer find for me. I am currently listening to his series on the inspiration/inerrancy of God’s Word — AKA, the Bible. Enjoy, and be ready to write down some verses for you own study:
The following details a conversation that never really finished. The reason is because many who claim the mantle of Christianity (whether truly saved or not, only God knows) often times do not accept the words or positions given to them ~ clearly ~ in the Bible. And while we do not know the heart of those who claim to be Christ followers, when they start to rip out parts of Scripture, not accepting others, thinking portions of it has been changed over time, allegorizing still other portions of it… you can tell that someone else is sitting on the throne of their heart and not their savior.
I have a couple of neighbors who are dear friends, but one can only try to talk about baseball and movies and TV shows so much. Engaging in challenging discussions about worldviews and Christian accountability, is what I like. These lack of deeper conversations has really kept us neighbors, not sojourners to a better place.
I finally bit-the-bullet due to the many “interventions” on my FaceBook via this neighbor’s brother (who himself is a friendly acquaintance). I have become more bold with my neighbor and her brother in regards to topics that do not deal with cute, fluffy kittens. The internet already has enough of those.
Being a “Christian” means something… and it has never been a libertarian island of self. Never. So, one of these important worldview discussion came by way of the Pope recently saying — at least in sensationalized headlines — that God is not “a magician, with a magic wand.” I guess there was no “magic wand” involved in Jesus’ Resurrection either? CBS even went further to note that,
“Galileo Galilei could have used Pope Francis. The church branded the astronomer a heretic for arguing that the Earth revolved around the sun.”
I swear, people do not know history well. But that dumb historical statement on part of CBS is-neither-here-nor-there.
Another side-note is the Church’s activity in the “staus-quo” of accepting secular science (via Creation.com):
The heliocentric (from Greek helios = sun) or Copernican system opposed the views of the astronomer-philosophers of the day, who earned their livelihood by teaching Aristotle and Ptolemy, and so were biased against change. They therefore either ignored, ridiculed, destroyed, or hostilely opposed Galileo’ ’s writings. Many Church leaders allowed themselves to be persuaded by the Aristotelians at the universities that the geocentric (earth-centred) system was taught in Scripture and that Galileo was contradicting the Bible. They therefore bitterly opposed Galileo to the extent of forcing him on pain of death to repudiate his findings.
This was because:
The Church leaders had accepted as dogma the belief system of the pagan (i.e. non-Christian) philosophers, Aristotle and Ptolemy, which had become the worldview of the then scientific establishment. The result was that Church leaders were using the knowledge of the day to interpret Scripture, instead of using the Bible to evaluate the knowledge of the day.
They clung to the ‘majority opinion’ about the universe and rejected the ‘minority view’ of Copernicus and Galileo, even after Galileo had presented indisputable evidence based on repeatable scientific observations that the majority was wrong.
They picked out a few verses from the Bible which they thought said that the sun moved around the earth, but they failed to realize that Bible texts must be understood in terms of what the author intended to convey. Thus, when Moses wrote of the ‘risen’ sun (Genesis 19:23) and sun ‘set’ (Genesis 28:11), his purpose was not to formulate an astronomical dictum. Rather he, by God’s spirit, was using the language of appearance so that his readers would easily understand what time of day he was talking about.3 And it is perfectly valid in physics to describe motion relative to the most convenient reference frame, which in this case is the earth. See the sub-article Sunspots, Galileo and heliocentrism.
This plain meaning (the time of day) is perfectly satisfied by the language of appearance and does not demand the secondary deduction that it is the sun itself which moves. Indeed, this is exactly the same thing that scientists do today in weather reports when they give the times of ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’. They are using the language of appearance, and using the earth as the reference frame. A convenient figure of speech does not invalidate science; nor does it invalidate the Bible.
Likewise verses such as Psalm 19:6 and 93:1, which the writer(s) clearly meant to be poetic expressions, were given a literal meaning…
Theistic evolution is not compatible with the Bible. It just isn’t. And much like atheists and skeptics I deal with, I have come to the firm conclusion that while they have read an uncountable number of fiction books, they have never walked into a Christian book store and bought and read a single book by a person who specializes in making proper distinctions between Intelligent Design, theistic evolution, and evolution. Because neo-Darwinian theory is not compatible with the Christian faith, no matter H-O-W much one tries to fit the square peg through the round hole.
A Longer Presentation That Hash Out Theistic Evolution/Neo-Darwinian Failures
At any rate, I engaged in conversation to try and get a person[s] who is not use to having meaningful conversation about personal subjects such as faith to engage and engage in a way that their stated beliefs would have to have a logical conclusion. A consequence. If they cannot follow this deduction, then there is a cog in the wheel somewhere. You will see where.
What follows is that discussion [minus names to protect privacy and edited for aesthetic purposes and ease of use here ~ with commentary] where I try and get the people involved to latch onto the ideas of the Author of the universe, CLEARLY presented in the Bible. Here is the conversation, and note that if you are regular church goer how this conversation would have gone differently in your mind:
RT, I will do this here instead of on your Facebook. It will be a series of pretty easy questions. There is a point… but it requires honest dialogue. It may seem too simple and come across as demeaning… it is not meant to be. LKD may want to watch or be involved as well. It is partly based on this point in an aforementioned book, here is the page[s] I am thinking of (click to enlarge):
We ~ as Christians ~ should enjoy deep conversation about our Savior that yes, may even challenge our own opinions. It may not change them, but for heaven’s sake (*said like a gray haired older grandma with care and concern*), to insulate oneself from the basics of The Way that challenge assumptions presumed is not the road to growth.
SO, here is the first question: “Who is the founder of Christianity?”
Here is the first response, and it is one I am use to from atheists and skeptics, but I think pride plays more of a role here — something we all exemplify ourselves:
Nope. I am a Christian because I am “what” like?
You must think we are retarded. I said Paul because I heard a debate on that once.
Let me say that if I were to have this conversation face-to-face, LKD would realize how monotone and calm I am in asking this question. The keyboard is an amazing thing, something my wife (for instance) is not immune to. She will read an email to me but put here emotional assumptions or current feelings onto the text that the original sender probably had not in any way meant to convey. (We are reprobate creatures and battle tirelessly with our dual nature with guidance from the Holy Spirit… it is natural we put onto others this emotional state we are experiencing and not the best of intentions.) In previous conversations I have shared my “legal statement” to get this point across, I will place that here for clarity, then back to the conversation:
“By-the-by, for those reading this I will explain what is missing in this type of discussion due to the media used. Genuflecting, care, concern, one being upset (does not entail being “mad”), etc… are all not viewable because we are missing each other’s tone, facial expressions, and the like. I afford the other person I am dialoguing with the best of intentions and read his/her comments as if we were out having a talk over a beer at a bar or meeting a friend at Starbucks. (I say this because there seems to be a phenomenon of etiquette thrown out when talking through email or Face Book, lots more public cussing and gratuitous responses.) You will see that often times I USE CAPS — which in www lingo for YELLING. I am not using it this way, I use it to merely emphasize and often times say as much: *not said in yelling tone, but merely to emphasize*. So in all my discussions I afford the best of thought to the other person as I expect he or she would to me… even if dealing with tough subjects as the above. I have had more practice at this than most, and with half-hour pizza, one hour photo and email vs. ‘snail mail,’ know that important discussions take time to meditate on, inculcate, and to process. So be prepared for a good thought provoking discussion if you so choose one with me.”
I think the same thing is happening here so I circle back to my original introduction to reintroduce this idea:
I have already written in the OP (original post): “There is a point… but it requires honest dialogue. It may seem too simple and come across as demeaning… it is not meant to be.” I asked for honest dialogue. Do you feel like talking about Christ is a trap of some sort?
And no, I do not think you are retarded (nor do I think RT is dumb). But do I think some people, rather than coming to logical conclusions about important issues in a faith they aspire to in some way (even if it disagrees with their own opinions), obfuscate the issues at hand? Yes. Mark 8:38:
“For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation,the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
I know this is VERY simplistic — again — it is NOT meant to be demeaning. Professor Jay Wegter? You want to join in for some very simple talk about the faith? The question is “Who is the founder of Christianity?” A hint from H.G. Wells:
“I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. ____ _____ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”
Who was this mystery person Wells was talking about?
I’m going with The Trinity. God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit aka Ghost which I never cared for as a child.
Okay… I don’t don’t know why you won’t give a simple answer, but you sorta answered the second question. (the H.G. Wells quote did not encompass the doctrine of the Trinity, but simply placed Jesus Christ as this person.)
The next question is “who did Jesus claim to be, which eventually got Him crucified?
The only way to God. The Romans crucified anyone who they deemed as false kings.
He claimed to be God in fact. Right?
That takes me back to the Trinity which is God.
The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God.
In Matthew 22:43, citing Psalm 110, Jesus said, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’ [Messiah]?” Jesus stumped his skeptical Jewish questioners by presenting then with a dilemma that blew their own neat calculations about the Messiah “Lord” (as he did in Ps. 110), when the Scriptures also say the Messiah would be the “Son of David” (which they do in 2 Samuel 7:12.)? The only answer is that the Messiah must be both a man (David’s son or offspring) and God (David’s Lord). Jesus is claiming to be both God and human, at the same time!
See also John 8:58 and 8:59 — they were gonna kill Jesus for claiming equality with YHWH (God of the Old Testament)….
Theology 101 is fun.
I learned ALL of this starting 50 years ago and actively studied via Zion Lutheran Church and the Navigators for 20 years, you don’t forget this stuff.
[There was some small talk back-and-forth.]
Okay, continuing along the dialogue — and keeping it simple. Jesus is God, which is classically defined as:
▶ God is often conceived as the Supreme Being and principal object of faith. The concept of God as described by theologians commonly includes the attributes of omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere), omnibenevolence (perfect goodness), divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence.(Wiki)
He is part of the Trinity, was involved with creating man in “Our” image (Genesis 1:26), was part of the convo with YHWH [that is the Hebrew designation for God that practicing Jews cannot say, they will put in something else there, like Adonai] on earth speaking to YHWH in heaven (“Then the LORD [YHWH] rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD [YHWH] out of heaven.” Genesis 19:24) all the way to Christ Himself in John 8:58 saying he is the Great “I Am” from Exodus (Exodus 3:14), getting Himself “dead” eventually.
So yes, Jesus is God (omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, omnibenevolence) — correctly defined by LKD as part of the Trinity, God proper because of that.
Now, here are some Scripture, where God proper is commenting on nature. I do not want to focus on them all, but rather, want to, as people who understand who Jesus CLAIMED to be — and PROVED it by resurrecting his own body…
A SIDE-NOTE FOR THE WINNER OF THE SUNDAY SCHOOL (@LKD) POP QUIZ:
Here is the Trinity involved in raising Jesus from the dead: God raised Jesus from the dead: “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” (Acts 2:32 KJV); The Spirit raised Jesus from the dead: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:11 KJV); Jesus raised his own body from the dead: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.” (John 2:19-21 KJV)
…Okay, here is the portion… and I want you to ignore the age issue, but focus on Adam and Eve. And we can get to the depth in our understanding of where you differ from evolution in believing in where we came from (rocks, or the Creative Hand of God):
….Now, when we search the New Testament Scriptures, we certainly find many interesting statements Jesus made that relate to this issue. Mark 10:6 says, “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’” From this passage, we see that Jesus clearly taught that the creation was young, for Adam and Eve existed “from the beginning,” not billions of years after the universe and earth came into existence. Jesus made a similar statement in Mark 13:19 indicating that man’s sufferings started very near the beginning of creation. The parallel phrases of “from the foundation of the world” and “from the blood of Abel” in Luke 11:50–51 also indicate that Jesus placed Abel very close to the beginning of creation, not billions of years after the beginning. His Jewish listeners would have assumed this meaning in Jesus’ words, for the first-century Jewish historian Josephus indicates that the Jews of his day believed that both the first day of creation and Adam’s creation were about 5,000 years before Christ…. (http://tinyurl.com/n6eahjy)
[Added info of the prevailing views around Jesus and Moses: “In Christ’s day, the prevailing philosophy on origins included evolution and long ages of earth history. Their view, of course, was not Darwinian evolution, but it held that the earth and the universe, acting on itself by the forces of nature (which were given names by some) had organized itself into its present state, and was responsible for all of life. The same was true for the philosophy of Moses’ day, as he prepared the book of Genesis.”]… (ICR)
The most basic thing I want to glean from God’s (Jesus’) own lips is that he believed in a literal Adam and Eve — again, whether you think mankind (homo-sapiens) are millions of years old or thousands, Jesus makes clear that they were created, as He did in Genesis (making them in Our own image). I do not want to debate all the nuances you RT or LKD may have. Jesus Himself believed “a”, so you ~ by understanding ~ this have already tweaked the classical evolutionary story of “goo-to-you.”
SO THE QUESTION IS THIS: “Did Jesus believe in a historical Adam and Eve?”
This is where the conversation effectively ended. Many people do not want to submit all parts of their thinking under God. Jesus believed in a literal Adam and Eve. This goes against evolutionary theory as many understand it. They have no idea what Intelligent Design is and how it responds to many of the issues in an acceptance of an unBiblical theistic evolution.
An Aside for those that LOVE the Bible and their Creator — In talking to Dr Edgar Andrews (see his bio) he points out some verses as well:
…If you want to limit yourself to the words of Jesus Himself (as distinct from NT testimony as a whole) you have I think only two specific texts to argue from:
1) Matt 19:4 ‘And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ (repeated in Mark 10:6 “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’) In Matt. 19 it is important to notice the words that follow; “and SAID ‘For this reason …“, quoting Genesis 2:24. But this latter text doesn’t say ‘God said’ … which means that Jesus attributes the simple statement of Gen. 2:24 to God, thus testifying to the divine authorship of this verse and by implication the whole book of Genesis.
2) The other useful text is Mt 24:38 “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, etc”. Here Jesus testifies to the historical reality of the flood, Noah and the ark. Most theistic evolutionists believe that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are mythology and not to be taken literally or as historically true. (But this may not apply to everyone who accepts macro evolution).
In this interview with Simon Smart at the Centre for Public Christianity in Sydney, Dr. Darrell Bock explains that a proper understanding of oral tradition gives us good reason to trust that the Jesus tradition was accurately preserved in Scripture.