Is Jesus Plagiarized from Pagan Myths?

Also see my: Is Jesus a Copycat Savior?

PART ONE: Since its release in 2007, Zeitgeist: The Movie has been seen by millions. Most people remember the second part of the film, which discusses 9/11, but the first section is of special interest to ancient history buffs. In this review, Dr. Miano looks at the history claims made by Peter Joseph, the writer of the movie, to see if they are in keeping with the facts.

PART TWO: In this second part of a review of Zeitgeist: The Movie, we consider the claims made about the myths of Attis, Krishna, Dionysus, and Mithra (Mithras) to see just how similar to the narratives about Jesus of Nazareth they are. Was the writer of the film suffering from parallelomania?

Prager Makes A Common Mistake In Regards To Jesus’ Divinity

Originally posted July 2014 ~ small facelift today

Listening to the Dennis Prager Show the other day, Dennis said two things that caught my attention. They are:

a) he likened Jesus to other Messianic figures;
b) he said the Gospel of John was the only place Jesus called himself “Divine,” God.

I combine the Dennis Prager audio, a similar statement by Bart Ehrman, and then Josh McDowell’s rebuttal. To be clear of what is below.

  1. First, that Jesus refers to himself as Deity (GOD) in the Gospel of Mark;
  2. Second, how did ancient rabbi’s view Isaiah 53;
  3. Then I show Jesus referenced himself as Diety in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

While I deal with two points, the third (Psalm 110) deals both with Jesus being different than past Jewish Messiah’s, as well as showing Prager’s statement about the Gospel of John to be wrong.

So lets deal with this two fold then. I will deal with “B” first, as it is a short response, needing only one example to show Prager’s assumption to be wrong (and remember, he loves truth for truths sake). He seemingly accepts the typical attribution to the age of the books by modern Biblical critics because he accepts their premise that John is the only book Jesus claims divinity. Then, using the attributed idea that Mark is the oldest book and is itself from “Q” material, any claims of Divinity in it should be THAT MUCH MORE powerful (early).

Verses Josh Goes Over: Mark 2:1-12 & Mark 14:60-64

So, that short, succinct, recapping of a challenge I the university class room by a professor is just one example to show a clear claim to Divinity by Jesus in another Gospel other than John.

Now to the larger response, “A.” Jesus is not, was, not, like any other Jewsish pseudo Messiah, He, yes He, is much different. Why? Because he alone has fulfilled the Messianic prophecies in Scripture.

Isaiah 53

The first thing that came to mind about this comment from Prager is how Jewish people/culture have changed the book of Isaiah over time to mean something different than the earlier Rabbis believed. Here, we get into some reading, I will of course put some video to it as well… but a serious subject requires a bit of reading, and I was impacted by Chuck Smith’s and Mark Eastman’s work on the subject, “The Search for Messiah,” of which the following is from…. again, it is long (13-pages to be exact).

This post is meant for the serious student, or Dennis Prager:

In the book of Isaiah there are a group of passages called “The Suffering Servant Songs.” These four vignettes are found in Isaiah 42:1-7; Isaiah 49:1-6; Isaiah 50:4-9; Isaiah 52:13-53:12. We will focus on the fourth suffering servant song since it is the most disputed portion of Isaiah.[1]

“Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently, He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men; So shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; for what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider. Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare his generation? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people he was stricken. And they made his grave with the wicked; but with the rich at his death, because he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief. When You make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied. By his knowledge My righteous servant shall justify many, for lie shall bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, and lie bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

From the time of the development of the written Talmud (200-500 C.E.) this portion of scripture was believed to be Messianic. In fact, it was not until the eleventh century C.E. that it was seriously proposed otherwise. At that time Rabbi Rashi began to interpret the suffering servant in these passages as reference to the nation of Israel.[2]

One of the oldest translations of the Hebrew scriptures is known as the Targums. These are Aramaic translations of very ancient Hebrew manuscripts that also, included commentary on the scriptures. They were translated in the first or second century B.C.E. In the Targum of Isaiah, we read this incredible quote regarding the suffering servant in Isaiah 53:

“Behold, My servant the Messiah shall prosper; he shall be exalted and great and very powerful. The Righteous One shall grow up before him, lo, like sprouting plants; and like a tree that sends its roots by the water-courses, so shall the exploits of the holy one multiply in the land which was desperate for him. His appearance shall not be a profane appearance, nor shall the awe of an ignorant person, but his countenance shall radiate with holiness, so that all who see him shall become wise through him. All of us were scattered like sheep… but it is the will of God to pardon the sins of all of us on his account…Then I will apportion unto him the spoil of great nations… because he was ready to suffer martyrdom that the rebellious he might subjugate to the Torah. And he might seek pardon for the sins of many.”[3]

According to this commentary, the Messiah would suffer martyrdom, he would be, “The Righteous One” and would provide a way for God to forgive our sins. This forgiveness would be accomplished, not because of our goodness, but on account of the righteousness of Messiah. As we shall see, this is the very message of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament!

A reading from a Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah prayer book contains this passage:

“Our righteous anointed is departed from us: horror has seized us, and we have none to justify us. He has borne the yoke of our iniquities, and our transgression, and is wounded because of our transgression. He bears our sins on his shoulders, that we may find pardon for our iniquities. We shall be healed by his wound, at the time that the eternal will create the Messiah as a new creature. 0 bring him up from the circle of the earth. Raise him up from Seir, to assemble us the second time on mount Lebanon, by the hand of Yinon.”[4][5]

In this beautiful prayer, a commentary on Isaiah 53, we discover several of the ancient beliefs on the mission of God’s righteous Messiah:

1) He would apparently depart after an initial appearance: “Our righteous anointed is departed.”

2) The Messiah would be the one who justifies the people:[6] “Horror has seized us, and we have none to justify us.”

3) The Messiah would be wounded because of our transgressions and would take upon himself the yoke or punishment of our iniquities.[7] 

“He has borne the yoke of our iniquities, and our transgression, and is wounded because of our transgression.”

4) By his wound we would be healed when he reappears as a “new creature.”

“We shall be healed by his wound, at the time that the eternal will create the Messiah as a new creature.”

In the Babylonian Talmud there are a number of commentaries on the suffering servant in Isaiah 53. In a discussion of the suffering inflicted upon this servant we find the following statement:

“This teaches us that God will burden the Messiah with commandments and sufferings as with millstones.”[8]

In another chapter of Sanhedrin we find a discussion on the name of the Messiah. In this remarkable portion of the Talmud we read:

“There is a whole discussion in the Talmud about Messiah’s name. The several discussants suggested various names and cited scriptural references in support of these names. The disciples of the school of Rabbi Yehuda Ha’ Nasi said ‘The sick one is his name,’ for it is written, ‘Surely he has borne our sicknesses and carried our sorrows and pains, yet we considered him stricken, smitten, and afflicted of God.'”[9]

In the Midrash we again find reference to the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah 53. In characteristic fashion we read one rabbi quoting another in a discussion of the Messiah’s suffering:

“Rabbi Huna in the name of Rabbi Acha says: ‘The sufferings are divided into three parts: one for David and the fathers, one for our own generation, and one for the King Messiah, and this is what is written, `He was wounded for our transgressions.”‘[10]

In a portion of the Midrash, called the Haggadah (a portion which expounds on the non-legal parts of Scripture) in the tractate Pesiqta Rabbati[11] we read an interesting discussion of the suffering of the Messiah:

“And the Holy One made an agreement with the Messiah and said to him, ‘The sins of those which are forgiven for your sake will cause you to be put under an iron yoke, and they will make you like this calf whose eyes are dim, and they will choke your spirit under the yoke, and on account of their sins your tongue shall cleave to your mouth. Are you willing to do this?’ Said Messiah before the Holy One: ‘Perhaps this agony will last many years?’ And the Holy One said to him: ‘By your life and by the life of my head, one week only have I decreed for you; but if your soul is grieved I shall destroy them even now.’ But the Messiah said to him: ‘Sovereign of the world, with the gladness of my soul and the joy of my heart I take it upon me, on condition that not one of Israel shall perish, and not only those alone should be saved who are in my days, but also those who are hid in the dust; and not only should the dead of my own time be saved, but all the dead from the first man until now; also, the unborn and those whom thou bast intended to create. Thus I agree, and on this condition I will take it upon myself.'” (Pesiqta Rabbati. chapter 36)

Another section of chapter 37, Pesiqta Rabbati, says the following:

“The Patriarchs will one day rise again in the month of Nisan and will say to the Messiah: ‘Ephraim, our righteous Messiah, although we are your ancestors, you are nevertheless greater than we, for you have borne the sins of our children, as it is written: `Surely he has borne our diseases and carried our sorrows; yet we regarded him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our sins, bruised for our iniquities, upon him was the chastisement that makes us well, and through his wounds we are healed.’[12] Heavy oppressions have been imposed upon you, as it is written: ‘As a result of oppression and judgment he was taken away[13]; but in his day, who considered that he was torn from the land of the living because of the transgressions of my people?’ You have been a laughing stock and a derision among the peoples of the world, and because of you they jeered at Israel, as it is written, You have dwelt in darkness and in gloominess, and your eyes have not seen light, your skin was cleaving to your bones, and your body withered like wood. Your eyes became hollow from fasting, and your strength was dried-up like a potsherd, as it is written.[14] All this happened because of the sins of our children, as it is written: ‘And Jehovah laid on him the iniquities of us all.’ ” (Isaiah 53:6)

In these fascinating portions of the Midrash we see language which closely parallels Psalm 22.[15] he writer specifically ties together the sufferings of the pierced servant in Psalm 22 (tongue shall cleave to your mouth… dried up like a potsherd) with the servant in Isaiah 53, whose sufferings provide a way for the children of Israel to be saved. The fact that the writer of this portion of the Midrash would tie the sufferings of the servant in Psalm 22 (the pierced one) and Isaiah 53, the despised and rejected one, is nothing less than astonishing. Clearly at least some of the rabbis of the ancient Midrashim believed that the Messiah would suffer and that the sufferings found in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 belong to the same person.

In the eleventh century C.E. the rabbinical interpretation of Isaiah 52-53 began to change. Rabbi Rashi, a well-respected member of the Midrashim, began to interpret this portion of scripture as a reference to the sufferings of the nation of Israel. However, even after this interpretation took root, there remained many dissenters who still held onto its original, Messianic view.

In the fourteenth century Rabbi Moshe Cohen Crispin, a strong adherent to the ancient opinion, stated that applying the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 to the nation of Israel:

“distort[s] the verses of their natural meaning…As then it seemed to me that the doors of the literal interpretation [of Isaiah 53] were shut in their face, and that ‘they wearied themselves to find the entrance’, having forsaken the knowledge of our Teachers, and inclined after the ‘stubbornness of their own hearts’ and of their own opinion, I am pleased to interpret it, in accordance with the teaching of our Rabbis, of the King Messiah, and will be careful, so far as I am able, to adhere to the literal sense: thus possibly, I shall be free from the forced and farfetched interpretations of which others have been guilty. This prophecy was delivered by Isaiah at the divine command for the purpose of making known to us something about the nature of the future Messiah, who is to come and to deliver Israel,”[16]

Rabbi Isaac Abrabanel (143 7-1508), a member of the Midrashim, made the following remarkable declaration regarding the suffering servant of Isaiah 53:

“The first question is to ascertain to whom this prophecy refers, for the learned among the Nazarenes expound it of the man who was crucified in Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple, and, who according to them, was the Son of God and took flesh in the virgin’s womb, as is stated in their writings. Jonathan ben Uzziel interprets it in the Targum of the future Messiah; and this is also the opinion of our learned men in the majority of their Midrashim.”[17]

Two centuries later we find the comments of another member of the Midrashim, Rabbi Elijah De Vidas, a Cabalistic scholar in sixteenth century. In his comments of Isaiah 53 we read:

“The meaning of ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities,’ is, that since the Messiah bears our iniquities, which produce the effect of his being bruised, it follows that who so will not admit that the Messiah thus suffers for our iniquities must endure and suffer them for himself.”[18]

We have also the writings of the sixteenth century Rabbi Moshe el Sheikh, who declares in his work “Commentaries of the Earlier Prophets,” regarding the suffering servant in Isaiah 53:

“Our rabbis with one voice accept and affirm the opinion that the prophet is speaking of the King Messiah, and we shall ourselves also adhere to the same view.”[19]

These remarkable references from the ancient rabbis leave no doubt that the suffering servant in Isaiah 52:13­53:12 was indeed believed to be the Messiah. Even more remarkable is the fact that the suffering servant of Isaiah is connected with the suffering servant of Psalm 22. Finally, we find the ancient rabbis claiming that the suffering and death of the Messiah would have the effect of freeing us from our sins. This is in complete agreement with the Christian concept of the Messiah!

Even without these ancient references, there are several other reasons why the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 could not be the nation of Israel.

First, the suffering servant is an innocent person without sin:

“And they made his grave with the wicked; but with the rich at his death, because he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” Isaiah 53:9

Israel has an admittedly sinful past; the Hebrew scriptures even admit this fact. Psalm 14:2-3 says:

“There is none that does good, no not one.”

I Kings 8:46 says:

“…for there is no one who does not sin.”

Ecclesiastes 7:20 says:

“For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.”

Secondly, the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 suffers on account of the sins of others.

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4)

Thirdly, the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 is willing to suffer.

“He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)

In the entire history of their nation, the Jews have never suffered willingly.

Finally, the suffering servant’s end was death.

“Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, and lie bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)

The nation of Israel has suffered much, but she has never died. In fact, the nation of Israel was re-gathered back into the land after nearly 1900 years of world-wide dispersion, an event unprecedented in world history.

“Let Israel now say; Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth; Yet they have not prevailed against me.” (Psalm 129:1)

Finally, listen to the words of nineteenth century Jewish scholar Herz Homberg;

“This prophecy is disconnected with what precedes it. According to the opinion of Rashi and lbn Ezra, it relates to Israel at the end of their captivity; the term `servant’ and the use of the singular number referring to the individual members of the nation. But if so, what can be the meaning of the passage, ‘He was wounded for our transgressions?’, etc.? Who was `wounded?’ Who are the ‘transgressors’ Who `carried’ the sickness and ‘bare’ the pains? And where are the sick? Are they not the same as those who are ‘smitten’ and who ‘bear?’ And if ‘each turned to his own way’, upon whom did ‘the Lord lay the iniquity of them all?’ The Ga’on, Rabbi Sa’adyah, explains the whole Parashah of Jeremiah: and there are indeed numerous parts of Scripture in which we can trace a great resemblance to what befell Jeremiah while persecuted by the false prophets. But the commencement of the prophecy, ‘He shall be high and exalted and lofty exceedingly’, and similarly the words ‘with the mighty he shall divide the spoil’, will not admit of being applied to him. The fact is that it refers to the King Messiah, who will come in the latter days, when it will be the Lord’s good pleasure to redeem Israel from among the different nations of the earth…and even the Israelites themselves will only regard him as `one of the vain fellows’, believing none of the announcements which will be made by him in God’s name, but being contumacious against him, and averring that all the reproaches and persecutions which fall to his lot are sent from heaven, for that he is ‘smitten of God’ for his own sin. For they will not at first perceive that whatever he underwent was in consequence of their own transgression, the Lord having chosen him to be a trespass-offering, like the scapegoat which bore all the iniquities of the house of Israel. Being, however, himself aware that through his pains and revilings the promised redemption will eventually come at the appointed time, he will endure with a willing soul, neither complaining nor opening his mouth in the siege and distress wherewith the enemies of Israel will oppress him (as is pointed out from the passage here in the Haggadah).”[20]

Here we have in the clearest term possible the belief that the prophet was speaking of King Messiah. Furthermore, Homberg states that the Messiah, when he comes, will be rejected “as one of the vain fellows, believing none of the announcements which will be made by him in God’s name.” Finally, he sees the rejection and death of the Messiah accomplishing the role of the trespass-offering for the sins of the people. The Messiah suffers not because of the sins of himself, but on account of the sins of the people. Through Messiah’s suffering and death “the promised redemption will eventually come!”

As we will see, in his understanding of Isaiah 53, Herzog has pointed out the very heart of the Christian message!


FOOTNOTES


[1] Messianically applied in Targum of Jonathan, written between first and second century C.E.

[2] See The Messianic Hope, Arthur Kac.

[3] See comments on Isaiah 53 in Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Appendix IX.

[4] Yinon is one of the ancient rabbinical names of the Messiah.

[5] See The Messianic Hope, Arthur Kac, The Chapter of the Suffering Servant.

[6] To justify is to make one acceptable and righteous in the sight of God.

[7] i.e. Our individual sins.

[8] Talmud, Sanhedrin 93b .

[9] Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b.

[10] The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim, Appendix IX.

[11] Compiled in the ninth century, but based on writings from Talmudic times from 200 B.C.E.- 400 C.E.

[12] A reference to Isaiah 53.

[13] A reference to the death of the Messiah.

[14] A reference to Psalm 22:15-16.

[15] In fact, there is no other portion of scripture that parallels the language in Pesiqta Rabbati chapter 37 as closely as does Psalm 22.

[16] A Commentary of Rabbi Mosheh Kohen Ibn Crispin of Cordova. For a detailed discussion of this reference see The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, preface pg. x, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer, KTAV Publishing House, Inc., New York, 1969.

[17]The Messianic Hope“, by Arthur Kac, pg. 75.

[18] ibid, pg. 76.

[19] ibid, pg. 76.

[20] From the exposition of the entire Old Testament, called Korem, by Herz Homberg (Wein, 1818). 

Mark Eastman and Chuck Smith, The Search for Messiah ([Co-Published] Fountain Valley, CA: Joy Publishing, 1996; Costa Mesa, CA: Word for Today, 1996), 16-28.

Dr. Erez Soref – The Messiah Is The Purpose Of The Torah

Psalm 110:1-7 ~David’s Son and David’s Lord

THE PRIESTLY KING

A psalm of David.

1 This is the declaration of the Lord to my Lord:

“Sit at my right hand

until I make your enemies your footstool.”

2 The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion.

rule over your surrounding enemies.

3 Your people will volunteer

on your day of battle.

In holy splendor, from the womb of the dawn,

the dew of your youth belongs to you.

4 The Lord has sworn an oath and will not take it back:

“You are a priest forever

according to the pattern of Melchizedek.”

5 The Lord is at your right hand;

he will crush kings on the day of his anger.

6 He will judge the nations, heaping up corpses;

he will crush leaders over the entire world.

7 He will drink from the brook by the road;

therefore, he will lift up his head.

In Matthew 22:41-46 (Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44), 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!

Here is the Matthew 22 verses:

41While the Pharisees were together, Jesus questioned them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose Son is He?” “David’s,” they told Him. He asked them, “How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls Him ‘Lord’:

The Lord declared to my Lord,
‘Sit at My right hand
until I put Your enemies under Your feet’?

“If David calls Him ‘Lord,’ how then can the Messiah be his Son?” No one was able to answer Him at all, and from that day no one dared to question Him anymore.

It is bullet pointed thus:

  • Double-question by Jesus (42a)
  • Answer by Pharisees (42b)
  • Second double-question by Jesus (43–45)
  • Silence (46)

Richard B. Gardner, Matthew, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1991), 329.

MATTHEW HENRY notes the importance of this verse as a call to reflect on WHO Jesus is:

22:41-46 When Christ baffled his enemies, he asked what thoughts they had of the promised Messiah? How he could be the Son of David and yet his Lord? He quotes Ps 110:1. If the Christ was to be a mere man, who would not exist till many ages after David’s death, how could his forefather call him Lord? The Pharisees could not answer it. Nor can any solve the difficulty except he allows the Messiah to be the Son of God, and David’s Lord equally with the Father. He took upon him human nature, and so became God manifested in the flesh; in this sense he is the Son of man and the Son of David. It behoves us above all things seriously to inquire, What think we of Christ? Is he altogether glorious in our eyes, and precious to our hearts? May Christ be our joy, our confidence, our all. May we daily be made more like to him, and more devoted to his service.

Walter A. Elwell also notes that Only a person who recognizes Jesus as both God and man could understand and answer the question of verse 45.”

Jesus is truly the son of David (1:1–17), but not merely so. For he is preeminently the Son of God (16:16) and thus David’s Lord. As Jesus now reveals, the Old Testament itself (Ps. 110) witnesses to Messiah’s deity, to both the distinction of person and the identity of being between God the Father (“the Lord”) and God the Son (“my Lord”). The Pharisees do not acknowledge Jesus’ messiahship, much less his deity. Only a person who recognizes Jesus as both God and man could understand and answer the question of verse 45.

Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, vol. 3, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), Mt 22:41.

See also Hebrew University professor Israel Knohl’s supposed discrepancy with this idea and Jesus’ genealogy, HERE. Also, a great excoriation of this Psalm comes via The Rosh Pina Project, and, while it is a longer article, his opening is worth the posting here:

This is the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament (about one-third of quotes from the Tanach come from this Psalm.) For example Psalm 110:4 in Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:3, 11, 15, 17, 21, 24, 28). Words about sitting at God’s right hand are echoed in Mark 14:62, Acts 2:34ƒ and Hebrews 10:12ƒ.

Psalm 110 is also a very disputed psalm. There was a time when few did not consider this a Messianic Psalm, today the few are those that continue to affirm the Messianic nature of this Psalm.

Modern Liberal scholars who presume that foretelling prophecy does not exist approach this text with a bias. They say it must all speak of a contemporary situation from the time of the writer. There is some truth to the fact that this must have meant something at its time of writing. But, there is implicit in this a failure to accept the essential futuristic foretelling aspect that defines prophetic writing as prophecy.

The fact that the Psalm starts with נְאֻ֤ם יְהוָ֨ה “ne’um Adonai“, a classic prophetic phrase, firmly fixes the prophetic nature of this Psalm.

Since the Rosh Pina Project is down, see JESUS PLUS NOTHING’s post

Agnostic (Bart Erhman) Debates Atheist About Jesus’ Existence

Originally Posted December 2015

VIDEO DESRIPTION: Non-Christian agnostic historian, Bart Ehrman, is invited on to an atheist radio show apparently in the hope that he will argue against Jesus being an historical person. However, much to this atheist surprise and disappointment, Ehrman argues why no serious historian (including himself) denies Jesus’ historicity!

BTW, you can read Reginald Finley’s [the Infidel Guy] “clearing the air” about this clip and his whole show.

🤡 He feels compelled to buffer the idea that Jesus REALLY existed. 🎪

Happy First Fruits

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.

Robert Hume

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.)

RESURRECTION PRESENTATIONS

The Joy of the Resurrection by Dr. Gary Habermas


Lee Strobel

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Lecture by Dr. Craig Hazen | “Evidence For The Resurrection Of Jesus”

Answering Skeptics


Matthew 27:52-53


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 countryfor 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).

Some Early Church Father’s Take:

This gem comes from BIBLICAL HERMENEUTICSAsk A Question section

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:

*TO WIT…

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 deadand 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;5 the 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 than that 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 somewhereand 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).

CONCLUDING COMMENTS

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.

(MUCH MORE TO READ!)

Some more various views from commentaries can be found here:

The Resurrection: Was Jesus a Pagan Copycat? (Habermas v. Callahan)

(Originally posted March 31st, 2015) Christian historian and scholar Gary Habermas debates atheist Tim Callahan on the resurrection of Jesus. Callahan claims the resurrection of Jesus was influenced by pagan and Greek mythology, like Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, etc. Of course, Callahan’s views are typical among so many young gullible atheists influenced by Richard Carrier and Robert Price. Habermas rips his claims to shreds in this debate.

Is Jesus a Copycat Savior?

(Originally posted December of 2015, Refreshed June of 2022)

In this inaugural Cold-Case Christianity video broadcast / podcast, J. Warner re-examines an atheist objection related to the historicity of Jesus. Is Jesus merely a copycat of prior mythologies like Mithras, Osiris or Horus? How can we, as Christians, respond to such claims? Jim provides a five point response to this common atheist claim. (For more information, please visit www.ColdCaseChristianity.com)

Here are three segments of a pretty thorough refutation of the “copy-cat messiah” myth many in the gen Y and X generation have been influenced by.

Full Video Response HERE

I wish to point something out.

Very rarely do you find someone who is an honest enough skeptic that after watching the above 3 short videos asks questions like: “Okay, since my suggestion was obviously false, what would be the driving presuppositions/biases behind such a production?” “What are my driving biases/presuppositions that caused me to grab onto such false positions?” You see, few people take the time and do the hard work to compare and contrast ideas and facts. A good example of this is taken from years of discussing various topics with persons of opposing views, I often ask if they have taken the time to “compare and contrast.” Here is my example:


I own and have watched (some of the below are shown in high-school classes):

• Bowling for Columbine
• Roger and Me
• Fahrenheit 9/11
• Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price
• Sicko
• An Inconvenient Truth
• Loose Change
• Zeitgeist
• Religulouse
• The God Who Wasn’t There
• Super-Size Me

But rarely [really never] do I meet someone of the opposite persuasion from me that have watched any of the following (I own and have watched):

• Celsius41.11: The Temperature at Which the Brain Dies
• FahrenHYPE 9/11
• Michael & Me
• Michael Moore Hates America
• Bullshit! Fifth Season… Read More (where they tear apart the Wal-Mart documentary)
• Indoctrinate U
• Mine Your Own Business
• Screw Loose Change
• 3-part response to Zeitgeist
• Fat-Head
• Privileged Planet
• Unlocking the Mystery of Life

Continuing. Another point often overlooked is the impact the person who suggests the believer watch Zeitgeist thinks it will have.

Now that Zeitgeist has been shown to be very unsound and the history distorted, does the skeptic apply the same intended impact back upon him or herself? In other words, what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. Remember, the skeptic expects the Christian to watch this and come face-to-face with truth that undermines his or her’s faith, showing that they have a faith founded on something other than what they previously thought, an untruth. However, this intended outcome backfires and crumbles. The skeptic then has a duty [yes a duty] to apply intended impact onto one’s own biases and presuppositions and start to impose their own skepticism inward.

Christian historian and scholar Gary Habermas debates atheist Tim Callahan on the resurrection of Jesus. Callahan claims the resurrection of Jesus was influenced by pagan and Greek mythology, like Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, etc. Of course, Callahan’s views are typical among so many young gullible atheists influenced by Richard Carrier and Robert Price. Habermas rips his claims to shreds in this debate.

A small excerpt from Mary Jo Sharp’s chapter, “Does the Story of Jesus Mimic Pagan Stories,” via, Paul Copan & William Lane Craig, eds.,  Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics (pp. 154-160, 164). Mary Jo has a website, CONFIDENT CHRISTIANITY.

OSIRIS

1. Osiris
While some critics of Christ’s story utilize the story of Osiris to demonstrate that the earliest followers of Christ copied it, these critics rarely acknowledge how we know the story of Osiris at all. The only full account of Osiris’s story is from the second-century Al) Greek writer, Plutarch: “Concerning Isis and Osiris.”[4] The other information is found piecemeal in Egyptian and Greek sources, but a basic outline can be found in the Pyramid Texts (c. 2686-c. 2160 BC). This seems problematic when claiming that a story recorded in the second century influenced the New Testament accounts, which were written in the first century. Two other important aspects to mention are the evolving nature of the Osirian myth and the sexual nature of the worship of Osiris as noted by Plutarch. Notice how just a couple of details from the full story profoundly strain the comparison of Osiris with the life of Christ.

Who was Osiris? He was one of five offspring born of an adulterous affair between two gods—Nut, the sky-goddess, and Geb earth-god.[5] Because of Nut’s transgression, the Sun curses her and will not allow her to give birth on any day in any month. However, the god Thoth[6] also loves Nut. He secures five more days from the Moon to add to the Egyptian calendar specifically for Nut to give birth. While  inside his mother’s womb, Osiris falls in love with his sister, Isis. The two have intercourse inside the womb of Nut, and the resultant child is Horus.[7] Nut gives birth to all five offspring: Osiris, Horus, Set, Isis, and Nephthys.

Sometime after his birth, Osiris mistakes Nephthys, the wife of hisbrother Set, for his own wife and has intercourse with her. Enraged, Set plots to murder Osiris at a celebration for the gods. During the festivi­ties, Set procures a beautiful, sweet-smelling sarcophagus, promising it as a gift to the attendee whom it might fit. Of course, this is Osiris. Once Osiris lies down in the sarcophagus, Set solders it shut and then heaves it into the Nile. There are at least two versions of Osiris’s fate: (a) he suffocates in the sarcophagus as it floats down the Nile, and (b) he drowns in the sarcophagus after it is thrown into the Nile.

Grief-stricken Isis searches for and eventually recovers Osiris’s corpse. While traveling in a barge down the Nile, Isis conceives a child by cop­ulating with the dead body.[8] Upon returning to Egypt, Isis attempts to conceal the corpse from Set but fails. Still furious, Set dismembers his brother’s carcass into 14 pieces, which he then scatters throughout Egypt. A temple was supposedly erected at each location where a piece of Osiris was found.

Isis retrieves all but one of the pieces, his phallus. The body is mum­mified with a model made of the missing phallus. In Plutarch’s account of this part of the story, he noted that the Egyptians “presently hold a festival” in honor of this sexual organ.[9] Following magical incantations, Osiris is raised in the netherworld to reign as king of the dead in the land of the dead. In The Riddle of Resurrection: Dying and Rising Gods in the Ancient Near East, T. N. D. Mettinger states: “He both died and rose. But, and this is most important, he rose to continued life in the Netherworld, and the general connotations are that he was a god of the dead.”[10] Mettinger quotes Egyptologist Henri Frankfort:

Osiris, in fact, was not a dying god at all but a dead god. He never returned among the living; he was not liberated from the world of the dead, on the contrary, Osiris altogether belonged to the world of the dead; it was from there that he bestowed his blessings upon Egypt. He was always depicted as a mummy, a dead king.[11]

This presents a very different picture from the resurrection of Jesus, which was reported as a return to physical life.

HORUS

2. Horus
Horus’s story is a bit difficult to decipher for two main reasons. Generally, his story lacks the amount of information for other gods, such as Osiris. Also, there are two stories concerning Horus that develop and then merge throughout Egyptian history: Horus the Sun-god, and Horus the child of Isis and Osiris. The major texts for Horus’s story are the Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, the Book of the Dead, Plutarch, and Apuleius-all of which reflect the story of Horus as the child of Isis and Osiris.[12] The story is routinely found wherever the story of Osiris is found.

Who was Horus? He was the child of Isis and Osiris. His birth has several explanations as mentioned in Isis and Osiris’s story: (1) the result of the intercourse between Isis and Osiris in Nut’s womb; (2) conceived by Isis’s sexual intercourse with Osiris’s dead body; (3) Isis is impregnated by Osiris after his death and after the loss of his phallus; or (4) Isis is impregnated by a flash of lightning.[13] To protect Horus from his uncle’s rage against his father, Isis hides the child in the Delta swamps. While he is hiding, a scorpion stings him, and Isis returns to find his body lifeless. (In Margaret Murray’s account in The Splendor That Was Egypt, there is no death story here, but simply a poisoned child.) Isis prays to the god Ra to restore her son. Ra sends Thoth, another Egyptian god, to impart magical spells to Isis for the removal of the poison. Thus, Isis restores Horus to life. The lesson for worshippers of Isis is that prayers made to her will protect their children from harm and illness. Notice the outworking of this story is certainly not a hope for resurrection to new life, in which death is vanquished forever as is held by followers of Jesus.[14] Despite this strain on the argument, some still insist that Horus’s scorpion poisoning is akin to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In a variation of Horus’s story, he matures into adulthood at an accel­erated rate and sets out to avenge his father’s death. In an epic battle with his uncle Set, Horus loses his left eye, and his uncle suffers the loss of one part of his genitalia. The sacrifice of Horus’s eye, when given as an offering before the mummified Osiris, is what brings Osiris new life in the underworld.[15] Horus’s duties included arranging the burial rites of his dead father, avenging Osiris’s death, offering sacrifice as the Royal Sacrificer, and introducing recently deceased persons to Osiris in the netherworld as depicted in the Hunefer Papyrus (1317-1301 BC). One aspect of Horus’s duties as avenger was to strike down the foes of Osiris. This was ritualized through human sacrifice in the first dynasty, and then, eventually, animal sacrifice by the eighteenth dynasty. In the Book of the Dead we read of Osiris, “Behold this god, great of slaughter, great of fear! He washes in your blood, he bathes in your gore!”[16] So Horus, in the role of Royal Sacrificer, bought his own life from this Osiris by sacrificing the life of other. There is no similarity here to the sacrificial death of Jesus.

MITHRA

3. Mithras
There are no substantive accounts of Mithras’s story, but rather a pieced-together story from inscriptions, depictions, and surviving Mithraea (man-made caverns of worship). According to Rodney Stark, professor of social sciences at Baylor University, an immense amount of “nonsense” has been inspired by modern writers seeking to “decode the Mithraic mysteries.”[17] The reality is we know very little about the mystery of Mithras or its doctrines because of the secrecy of the cult initiates. Another problematic aspect is the attempt to trace the Roman military god, Mithras, back to the earlier Persian god, Mithra, and to the even earlier Indo-Iranian god, Mitra. While it is plausible that the latest form of Mithraic worship was based on antecedent Indo-Iranian traditions, the mystery religion that is compared to the story of Christ was a “genuinely new creation?”[18] Currently, some popular authors utilize the Roman god’s story from around the second century along with the Iranian god’s dates of appearance (c. 1500-1400 BC).

This is the sort of poor scholarship employed in popular renditions of Mithras, such as in Zeitgeist: The Movie. For the purpose of summary, we will utilize the basic aspects of the myth as found in Franz Cumont’s writing and note variations, keeping in mind that many Mithraic schol­ars question Cumont, as well as one another, as to interpretations and aspects of the story.[19] Thus, we will begin with Cumont’s outline.

Who was Mithra? He was born of a “generative rock,” next to a river bank, under the shade of a sacred tree. He emerged holding a dagger in one hand and a torch in the other to illumine the depths from which he came. In one variation of his story, after Mithra’s emergence from the rock, he clothed himself in fig leaves and then began to test his strength by subjugating the previously existent creatures of the world. Mithra’s first activity was to battle the Sun, whom he eventually befriended. His next activity was to battle the first living creature, a bull created by Ormazd (Ahura Mazda). Mithra slew the bull, and from its body, spine, and blood came all useful herbs and plants. The seed of the bull, gathered by the Moon, produced all the useful animals. It is through this first sacrifice of the first bull that beneficent life came into being, including human life. According to some traditions, this slaying took place in a cave, which allegedly explains the cave-like Mithraea.[20]

Mit(h)ra’s name meant “contract” or “compact.”[21] He was known in the Avesta—the Zoroastrian sacred texts—as the god with a hundred ears and a hundred eyes who sees, hears, and knows all. Mit(h)ra upheld agreements and defended truth. He was often invoked in solemn oaths that pledged the fulfillment of contracts and which promised his wrath should a person commit perjury. In the Zoroastrian tradition, Mithra was one of many minor deities (yazatas) created by Ahura Mazda, the supreme deity. He was the being who existed between the good Ahura Mazda and the evil Angra Mainyu—the being who exists between light and darkness and mediates between the two. Though he was considered a lesser deity to Ahura Mazda, he was still the “most potent and most glorious of the yazata.”[22]

The Roman version of this deity (Mithras) identified him with the light and sun. However, the god was not depicted as one with the sun, rather as sitting next to the sun in the communal meal. Again, Mithras was seen as a friend of the sun. This is important to note, as a later Roman inscription (c. AD 376) touted him as “Father of Fathers” and “the Invincible Sun God Mithras.”[23] Mithras was proclaimed as invin­cible because he never died and because he was completely victorious in all his battles. These aspects made him an attractive god for soldiers of the Roman army, who were his chief followers. Pockets of archaeologi­cal evidence from the outermost parts of the Roman Empire reinforce this assumption. Obviously, some problems arise in comparing Mithras to Christ, even at this level of simply comparing stories. Mithras lacks a death and therefore also lacks a resurrection.

Now that we have a more comprehensive view of the stories, it is quite easy to discern the vast difference between the story of Jesus and even the basic story lines of the commonly compared pagan mystery gods. One must only use the very limited, general aspects of the stories to make the accusation of borrowing, while ignoring the numerous aspects having nothing in common with Jesus’ story, such as missing body parts, sibling sexual intercourse inside the womb of a goddess-mother, and being born from a rock. This is why it is important to get the whole story. The sup­posed similarities are quite flimsy in the fuller context.

Just three excerpts from Edwin Yamauchi’s book, Persia and the Bible, These three pics are a bit unrelated… but the topic is on Mithras and their dating of the reliefs known to us. If you take the time to read Dr. Yamauchi’s chapter linked, you can see the connection to the above portion by Mary Jo. (The entire chapter on MITHRAISM can be read HERE.)


FOOTNOTES FROM BOXES “A” “B” “C”

[4] Plutarch, “Concerning Isis and Osiris,” in Hellenistic Religions: The Age of Syncretism, ed. Frederick C. Grant (Indianapolis: Liberal Arts Press, 1953), 80-95.

[5] In some depictions, Nut and Geb are married. Plutarch’s account insinuates that they have committed adultery because of the anger of the Sun at Nut’s transgression.

[6] Plutarch refers to Thoth as Hermes in “Concerning Isis and Osiris.”

[7] Plutarch’s “Concerning Isis and Osiris” appears to be the only account with this story of Horus’s birth.

[8] This aspect of the story, which was a variation of Horus’s conception story, is depicted in a drawing from the Osiris temple in Dendara.

[9] Plutarch, “Concerning Isis and Osiris,” 87.

[10] N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection: Dying and Rising Gods in the Ancient Near East (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 2001), 175.

[11] Henri Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion as the Integration of Society and Nature (Chicago: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 190, 289; cf. 185; cited in Mettinger, Riddle of Resurrection, 172.

[12] For the purposes of this chapter, I use the following sources and translations: E. A. Wallis Budge’s translation of the Book of the Dead; Plutarch’s “Concerning Isis and Osiris”; Joseph Campbell’s piecing together of the story in The Mythic Image; as well as other noted interpreta­tions of the story.

[13] The latter two versions of Horus’s birth can be found in Rodney Stark, Discovering God: The Origins of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Belief (New York: Harper Collins, 2007), 204. However, Stark does not reference the source for these birth stories.

[14] The development of Isis’s worship as a protector of children is a result of this instance; Margaret A. Murray, The Splendor That Was Egypt, rev. ed. (Mineola: Dover, 2004), 106.

[15] Joseph Campbell, The Mythic Image (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974), 29, 450.

[16] Murray, The Splendor That Was Egypt, 103.

[17] Stark, Discovering God, 141.

[18] Roger Beck, “The Mysteries of Mithras: A New Account of Their Genesis,” Journal of Roman Studies 88 (1998): 123.

[19] Roger Beck, M. J. Vermaseren, David Ulansey, N. M. Swerdlow, Bruce Lincoln, John R Hinnells, and Reinhold Merkelbach, for example.

[20] More corecontemporary Mithraic scholars have pointed to the lack of a bull-slaying story in the Iranian version of Mithra’s story: “there is no evidence the Iranian god ever had anything to do with a bull-slaying.” David Ulansey, The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 8; see Bruce Lincoln, “Mitra, Mithra, Mithras: Problems of a Multiform Deity,” review of John R. Hinnells, Mithraic Studies: Proceedings of the First International Congress of Mithraic Studies, in History of Religions 17 (1977): 202-3. For an interpretation of the slaying of the bull as a cosmic event, see Luther H. Martin, “Roman Mithrraism and Christianity,” Numen 36 (1989): 8.

[21] “For the god is clearly and sufficiently defined by his name. `Mitra means ‘con-tract’, as Meillet established long ago and D. [Professor G. Dumezi] knows but keeps forgetting.” Ilya Gershevitch, review of Mitra and Aryaman and The Western Response to Zoroaster, in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 22 (1959): 154. See Paul Thieme, “Remarks on the Avestan Hymn to Mithra,”Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 23 (1960): 273.

[22] Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra: The Origins of Mithraism (1903). Accessed on May 3,2008, http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/mom/index.htm.

[23] Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum VI. 510; H. Dessau, Inscriptions Latinae Selectae II. 1 (1902), No. 4152, as quoted in Grant, Hellenistic Religions, 147. This inscription was found at Rome, dated August 13, AD 376. Notice the late date of this title for Mithras—well after Christianity was firmly established in Rome.


Another good source is: “Jesus Vs Mithra – Debunking The Alleged Parallels

Dr. William Lane Craig

On Thursday, April 10th, 2014 Dr William Lane Craig spoke on the “Objective Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus” at Yale University. Dr. Craig is one of the leading theologians and defenders of Jesus’ resurrection, demonstrating the veracity of his divinity. This is the biggest claim in history! After the lecture, Dr Craig had a lengthy question and answer time with students from Yale. In this video, Dr Craig answers the question, “What about pre-Christ resurrection myths?”

Dr. William Lane Craig answers the question: Is Jesus’ life parallel to the story of Osiris and Horus?

The Genealogies of Jesus | A Supposed Contradiction, Explained

(This was originally posted in May of 2015, updated in Oct of 2022, and  Nov 2023)

This first video is the why the 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)

2022

This is my original post, I will note the addition I will add to it after.

2015

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 1:1-16 gives 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.

Here is Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe in their book, When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties, explaining the dealio:

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.

Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982), 316-317.

The above comes from:

RECOMMENDED:

2023

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 just that. 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.

A word of warning however, the Kabbalistic tradition does take this to an occultic level. For instance, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) has this notation to their “Gematria” post:

  • 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 APPENDIX more info on Kabbalism.

gematria

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?
  • Why did he say it that way?

(See my post on hermeneutics)

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


APPENDIX


KABBALISM

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.

(RELIGION NEWS BLOG)

  • 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?
  • Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) has quite a few articles to dissect Kabbalism.

A decent covering of the topic:

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.

Evidence OUTSIDE the Bible for Jesus (Bill Maher Added)

(Updated Graphics Below – JUMP)

(For video description and links, GO HERE)

More videos/articles like this:

Shattering the Christ Myth (J. P. Holding) — Buy Holding’s book, Shattering the Christ Myth; Tektonics.org articles on Jesus Mythicism and CopycatsJesus Never Existed?: Give Me a Break! (with Paul L. Maier); Jesus of Testimony (a documentary defending the historical existence of Jesus); Debunking Robert M. Price ~ 6-Part Series (leading Christ Mythicist is refuted by Phil Fernandes); Debunking Richard Carrier ~ 2-Part Series (another leading proponent of the Jesus Myth theory); The God Who Wasn’t There, Refuted (Tektonics); Jesus Legend (by Greg Boyd) — Buy Boyd’s book on the, The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition — and his book, Lord or Legend?: Wrestling with the Jesus Dilemma; Is Jesus a Legend? (Phil Fernandes) — Part 1 and Part 2; Is the Movie Zeitgeist Accurate? ~ Larry Wessels and Steve Morrison || Dr. Mark Foreman || and Michael Boehm.

See my pages on the topic of mystery religion and Jesus:

Here is some information from a wonderful book, Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus, in my “Evidence” paper:

  • The fact that the early church fathers lived at the same time as these 500 [+] witnesses who saw the resurrected Christ and his ascension (believers: Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Papius, Polycarp, Quadratus.) (Non-believers [some were contemporaries]: Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, Emperor Trajan, Talmudic writings [A.D. 70-200], Lucian, Mara Bar-Serapion, the Gospel of Truth, the Acts of Pontius Pilate.)

Even if we did not have the New Testament or Christian writings, we would be able to conclude from such non-Christian writings as Josephus, the Talmud, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger that: 1) Jesus was a Jewish teacher; 2) many people believed that he performed healings and exorcisms; 3) he was rejected by the Jewish leaders; 4) he was crucified under Pontius Pilot in the reign of Tiberius; 5) despite this shameful death, his followers, who believed that he was still alive, spread beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of them in Rome by A.D. 64; 6) all kinds of people from the cities and countryside – men and women, slave and free – worshipped him as God by the beginning of the second century (100 A.D.)

Michael J. Wilkins and J. P. Moreland, eds, Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 221-222

This is the MEAT from a larger — must read — article via STAND TO REASON:

Hostile Non-Biblical Pagan Witnesses
There are a number of ancient classical accounts of Jesus from pagan Greek sources. These accounts are generally hostile to Christianity and try to explain away the miraculous nature of Jesus and the events that surrounded his life. Let’s look at these hostile accounts and see what they tell us about Jesus:

Thallus (52AD)
Thallus is perhaps the earliest secular writer to mention Jesus and he is so ancient that his writings don’t even exist anymore. But Julius Africanus, writing around 221AD does quote Thallus who had previously tried to explain away the darkness that occurred at the point of Jesus’ crucifixion:

“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” (Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1)

If only more of Thallus’ record could be found, we would see that every aspect of Jesus’ life could be verified with a non-biblical source. But there are some things we can conclude from this account: Jesus lived, he was crucified, and there was an earthquake and darkness at the point of his crucifixion.

Pliny the Younger (61-113AD)
Early Christians are also described in secular history. Pliny the Younger, in a letter to the Roman emperor Trajan, describes the lifestyles of early Christians:

“They (the Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”

This EARLY description of the first Christians documents several facts: the first Christians believed that Jesus was GOD, the first Christians upheld a high moral code, and these early followers et regularly to worship Jesus.

Suetonius (69-140AD)
Suetonius was a Roman historian and annalist of the Imperial House under the Emperor Hadrian. His writings about Christians describe their treatment under the Emperor Claudius (41-54AD):

“Because the Jews at Rome caused constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he (Claudius) expelled them from the city (Rome).” (Life of Claudius, 25:4)

This expulsion took place in 49AD, and in another work, Suetonius wrote about the fire which destroyed Rome in 64 A.D. under the reign of Nero. Nero blamed the Christians for this fire and he punished Christians severely as a result:

“Nero inflicted punishment on the Christians, a sect given to a new and mischievous religious belief.” (Lives of the Caesars, 26.2)

There is much we can learn from Suetonius as it is related to the life of early Christians. From this very EARLY account, we know that Jesus had an immediate impact on his followers. They believed that Jesus was God enough to withstand the torment and punishment of the Roman Empire. Jesus had a curious and immediate impact on his followers, empowering them to die courageously for what they knew to be true.

Tacitus (56-120AD)
Cornelius Tacitus was known for his analysis and examination of historical documents and is among the most trusted of ancient historians. He was a senator under Emperor Vespasian and was also proconsul of Asia. In his “Annals’ of 116AD, he describes Emperor Nero’s response to the great fire in Rome and Nero’s claim that the Christians were to blame:

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.”

In this account, Tacitus confirms for us that Jesus lived in Judea, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and had followers who were persecuted for their faith in Christ.

Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD)
Sometime after 70AD, a Syrian philosopher named Mara Bar-Serapion, writing to encourage his son, compared the life and persecution of Jesus with that of other philosophers who were persecuted for their ideas. The fact that Jesus is known to be a real person with this kind of influence is important. As a matter of fact, Mara Bar-Serapion refers to Jesus as the “Wise King”:

“What benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as judgment for their crime. Or, the people of Samos for burning Pythagoras? In one moment their country was covered with sand. Or the Jews by murdering their wise king?…After that their kingdom was abolished. God rightly avenged these men…The wise king…Lived on in the teachings he enacted.”

From this account, we can add to our understanding of Jesus. We can conclude that Jesus was a wise and influential man who died for his beliefs. We can also conclude that his followers adopted these beliefs and lived lives that reflected them to the world in which they lived.

Phlegon (80-140AD)
In a manner similar to Thallus, Julius Africanus also mentions a historian named Phlegon who wrote a chronicle of history around 140AD. In this history, Phlegon also mentions the darkness surrounding the crucifixion in an effort to explain it:

“Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth to the ninth hour.” (Africanus, Chronography, 18:1)

Phlegon is also mentioned by Origen (an early church theologian and scholar, born in Alexandria):

“Now Phlegon, in the thirteenth or fourteenth book, I think, of his Chronicles, not only ascribed to Jesus a knowledge of future events . . . but also testified that the result corresponded to His predictions.” (Origen Against Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 14)

“And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place … ” (Origen Against Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 33)

“Jesus, while alive, was of no assistance to himself, but that he arose after death, and exhibited the marks of his punishment, and showed how his hands had been pierced by nails.” (Origen Against Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 59)

From these accounts, we can add something to our understand of Jesus and conclude that Jesus had the ability to accurately predict the future, was crucified under the reign of Tiberius Caesar and demonstrated his wounds after he was resurrected!

Lucian of Samosata: (115-200 A.D.)
Lucian was a Greek satirist who spoke sarcastically of Christ and Christians, but in the process, he did affirm that they were real people and never referred to them as fictional characters:

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account….You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.” (Lucian, The Death of Peregrine. 11-13)

From this account we can add to our description and conclude that Jesus taught about repentance and about the family of God. These teachings were quickly adopted by Jesus’ followers and exhibited to the world around them.

Celsus (175AD)
This is the last hostile ‘pagan’ account we will examine (although there are many other later accounts in history). Celsus was quite hostile to the Gospels, but in his criticism, he unknowingly affirms and reinforces the authors and their content. His writing is extensive and he alludes to 80 different Biblical quotes, confirming their early appearance in history. In addition, he admits that the miracles of Jesus were generally believed in the early 2nd century! Here is a portion of his text:

“Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god.”

Celsus admits that Jesus was reportedly born of a virgin, but then argues that this could supernatural account could not be possible and offers the idea that he was a bastard son of a man named Panthera (an idea borrowed from Jews who opposed Jesus at the time). But in writing this account, Celsus does confirm that Jesus had an earthly father who was a carpenter, possessed unusual magical powers and claimed to be God.

Hostile Non-Biblical Jewish Witnesses
In addition to classical ‘pagan’ sources that chronicle the life of Jesus and his followers, there are also a number of ancient hostile Jewish sources that talk about Jesus. These are written by Jewish theologians, historians and leaders who were definitely NOT sympathetic to the Christian cause. Their writings are often VERY harsh, critical and even demeaning to Jesus. But there is still much that these writings confirm.

Josephus (37-101AD)
In more detail than any other non-biblical historian, Josephus writes about Jesus in his “the Antiquities of the Jews” in 93AD. Josephus was born just four years after the crucifixion. He was a consultant for Jewish rabbis at age thirteen, was a Galilean military commander by the age of sixteen, and he was an eyewitness to much of what he recorded in the first century A.D. Under the rule of roman emperor Vespasian, Josephus was allowed to write a history of the Jews. This history includes three passages about Christians, one in which he describes the death of John the Baptist, one in which he mentions the execution of James and describes him as the brother of Jesus the Christ, and a final passage which describes Jesus as a wise man and the messiah. Now there is much controversy about the writing of Josephus, because the first discoveries of his writings are late enough to have been re-written by Christians, who are accused of making additions to the text. So to be fair, let’s take a look at a scholarly reconstruction that has removed all the possible Christian influence from the text related to Jesus:

“Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, (but) those who had first loved him did not cease (doing so). To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared” (This neutral reconstruction follows closely the one proposed in the latest treatment by John Meier, Marginal Jew 1:61)

Now there are many other ancient versions of Josephus’ writing which are even more explicit about the nature of his miracles, his life and his status as the Christ, but let’s take this conservative version and see what we can learn. From this text, we can conclude that Jesus lived in Palestine, was a wise man and a teacher, worked amazing deeds, was accused buy the Jews, crucified under Pilate and had followers called Christians!

Jewish Talmud (400-700AD)
While the earliest Talmudic writings of Jewish Rabbis appear in the 5th century, the tradition of these Rabbinic authors indicates that they are faithfully transmitting teachings from the early “Tannaitic” period of the first century BC to the second century AD. There are a number of writings from the Talmud that scholars believe refer to Jesus and many of these writings are said to use code words to describe Jesus (such as “Balaam” or “Ben Stada” or “a certain one”). But let’s be very conservative here. Let’s ONLY look at the passages that refer to Jesus in a more direct way. If we do that, there are still several ancient Talmudic passages we can examine:

“Jesus practiced magic and led Israel astray” (b. Sanhedrin 43a; cf. t. Shabbat 11.15; b. Shabbat 104b)

“Rabbi Hisda (d. 309) said that Rabbi Jeremiah bar Abba said, ‘What is that which is written, ‘No evil will befall you, nor shall any plague come near your house’? (Psalm 91:10)… ‘No evil will befall you’ (means) that evil dreams and evil thoughts will not tempt you; ‘nor shall any plague come near your house’ (means) that you will not have a son or a disciple who burns his food like Jesus of Nazareth.” (b. Sanhedrin 103a; cf. b. Berakhot 17b)

“Our rabbis have taught that Jesus had five disciples: Matthai, Nakai, Nezer, Buni and Todah. They brought Matthai to (to trial). He said, ‘Must Matthai be killed? For it is written, ‘When (mathai) shall I come and appear before God?’” (Psalm 92:2) They said to him, “Yes Matthai must be killed, for it is written, ‘When (mathai) he dies his name will perish’” (Psalm 41:5). They brought Nakai. He said to them, “Must Nakai be killed? For it is written, “The innocent (naqi) and the righteous will not slay’” (Exodus 23:7). They said to him, “Yes, Nakai must be kille, for it is written, ‘In secret places he slays the innocent (naqi)’” (Psalm 10:8). (b. Sanhedrin 43a; the passage continues in a similar way for Nezer, Buni and Todah)

And this, perhaps the most famous of Talmudic passages about Jesus:

“It was taught: On the day before the Passover they hanged Jesus. A herald went before him for forty days (proclaiming), “He will be stoned, because he practiced magic and enticed Israel to go astray. Let anyone who knows anything in his favor come forward and plead for him.” But nothing was found in his favor, and they hanged him on the day before the Passover. (b. Sanhedrin 43a)

From just these passages that mention Jesus by name, we can conclude that Jesus had magical powers, led the Jews away from their beliefs, had disciples who were martyred for their faith (one of whom was named Matthai), and was executed on the day before the Passover.

The Toledot Yeshu (1000AD)
The Toledot Yeshu is a medieval Jewish retelling of the life of Jesus. It is completely anti-Christian, to be sure. There are many versions of these ‘retellings’, and as part of the transmitted oral and written tradition of the Jews, we can presume their original place in antiquity, dating back to the time of Jesus’ first appearance as an influential leader who was drawing Jews away from their faith in the Law. The Toledot Yeshu contains a determined effort to explain away the miracles of Jesus, and to deny the virgin birth. In some places, the text is quite vicious, but it does confirm many elements of the New Testament writings. Let’s take a look at a portion of the text (Jesus is refered to as ‘Yehoshua’):

“In the year 3671 (in Jewish reckonging, it being ca 90 B.C.) in the days of King Jannaeus, a great misfortune befell Israel, when there arose a certain disreputable man of the tribe of Judah, whose name was Joseph Pandera. He lived at Bethlehem, in Judah. Near his house dwelt a widow and her lovely and chaste daughter named Miriam. Miriam was betrothed to Yohanan, of the royal house of David, a man learned in the Torah and God-fearing. At the close of a certain Sabbath, Joseph Pandera, attractive and like a warrior in appearance, having gazed lustfully upon Miriam, knocked upon the door of her room and betrayed her by pretending that he was her betrothed husband, Yohanan. Even so, she was amazed at this improper conduct and submitted only against her will. Thereafter, when Yohanan came to her, Miriam expressed astonishment at behavior so foreign to his character. It was thus that they both came to know the crime of Joseph Pandera and the terrible mistake on the part of Miriam… Miriam gave birth to a son and named him Yehoshua, after her brother. This name later deteriorated to Yeshu (“Yeshu” is the Jewish “name” for Jesus. It means “May His Name Be Blotted Out”). On the eighth day he was circumcised. When he was old enough the lad was taken by Miriam to the house of study to be instructed in the Jewish tradition. One day Yeshu walked in front of the Sages with his head uncovered, showing shameful disrespect. At this, the discussion arose as to whether this behavior did not truly indicate that Yeshu was an illegitimate child and the son of a niddah. Moreover, the story tells that while the rabbis were discussing the Tractate Nezikin, he gave his own impudent interpretation of the law and in an ensuing debate he held that Moses could not be the greatest of the prophets if he had to receive counsel from Jethro. This led to further inquiry as to the antecedents of Yeshu, and it was discovered through Rabban Shimeon ben Shetah that he was the illegitimate son of Joseph Pandera. Miriam admitted it. After this became known, it was necessary for Yeshu to flee to Upper Galilee. After King Jannaeus, his wife Helene ruled over all Israel. In the Temple was to be found the Foundation Stone on which were engraven the letters of God’s Ineffable Name. Whoever learned the secret of the Name and its use would be able to do whatever he wished. Therefore, the Sages took measures so that no one should gain this knowledge. Lions of brass were bound to two iron pillars at the gate of the place of burnt offerings. Should anyone enter and learn the Name, when he left the lions would roar at him and immediately the valuable secret would be forgotten. Yeshu came and learned the letters of the Name; he wrote them upon the parchment which he placed in an open cut on his thigh and then drew the flesh over the parchment. As he left, the lions roared and he forgot the secret. But when he came to his house he reopened the cut in his flesh with a knife an lifted out the writing. Then he remembered and obtained the use of the letters. He gathered about himself three hundred and ten young men of Israel and accused those who spoke ill of his birth of being people who desired greatness and power for themselves. Yeshu proclaimed, “I am the Messiah; and concerning me Isaiah prophesied and said, ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’” He quoted other messianic texts, insisting, “David my ancestor prophesied concerning me: ‘The Lord said to me, thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.’” The insurgents with him replied that if Yeshu was the Messiah he should give them a convincing sign. They therefore, brought to him a lame man, who had never walked. Yeshu spoke over the man the letters of the Ineffable Name, and the leper was healed. Thereupon, they worshipped him as the Messiah, Son of the Highest. When word of these happenings came to Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin decided to bring about the capture of Yeshu. They sent messengers, Annanui and Ahaziah, who, pretending to be his disciples, said that they brought him an invitation from the leaders of Jerusalem to visit them. Yeshu consented on condition the members of the Sanhedrin receive him as a lord. He started out toward Jerusalem and, arriving at Knob, acquired an ass on which he rode into Jerusalem, as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah. The Sages bound him and led him before Queen Helene, with the accusation: “This man is a sorcerer and entices everyone.” Yeshu replied, “The prophets long ago prophesied my coming: ‘And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse,’ and I am he; but as for them, Scripture says ‘Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.’” Queen Helene asked the Sages: “What he says, is it in your Torah?” They replied: “It is in our Torah, but it is not applicable to him, for it is in Scripture: ‘And that prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.’ He has not fulfilled the signs and conditions of the Messiah.” Yeshu spoke up: “Madam, I am the Messiah and I revive the dead.” A dead body was brought in; he pronounced the letters of the Ineffable Name and the corpse came to life. The Queen was greatly moved and said: “This is a true sign.” She reprimanded the Sages and sent them humiliated from her presence. Yeshu’s dissident followers increased and there was controversy in Israel. Yeshu went to Upper Galilee. the Sages came before the Queen, complaining that Yeshu practiced sorcery and was leading everyone astray. Therefore she sent Annanui and Ahaziah to fetch him. The found him in Upper Galilee, proclaiming himself the Son of God. When they tried to take him there was a struggle, but Yeshu said to the men of Upper Galilee: “Wage no battle.” He would prove himself by the power which came to him from his Father in heaven. He spoke the Ineffable Name over the birds of clay and they flew into the air. He spoke the same letters over a millstone that had been placed upon the waters. He sat in it and it floated like a boat. When they saw this the people marveled. At the behest of Yeshu, the emissaries departed and reported these wonders to the Queen. She trembled with astonishment. Then the Sages selected a man named Judah Iskarioto and brought him to the Sanctuary where he learned the letters of the Ineffable Name as Yeshu had done. When Yeshu was summoned before the queen, this time there were present also the Sages and Judah Iskarioto. Yeshu said: “It is spoken of me, ‘I will ascend into heaven.’” He lifted his arms like the wings of an eagle and he flew between heaven and earth, to the amazement of everyone…Yeshu was seized. His head was covered with a garment and he was smitten with pomegranate staves; but he could do nothing, for he no longer had the Ineffable Name. Yeshu was taken prisoner to the synagogue of Tiberias, and they bound him to a pillar. To allay his thirst they gave him vinegar to drink. On his head they set a crown of thorns. There was strife and wrangling between the elders and the unrestrained followers of Yeshu, as a result of which the followers escaped with Yeshu to the region of Antioch; there Yeshu remained until the eve of the Passover. Yeshu then resolved to go the Temple to acquire again the secret of the Name. That year the Passover came on a Sabbath day. On the eve of the Passover, Yeshu, accompanied by his disciples, came to Jerusalem riding upon an ass. Many bowed down before him. He entered the Temple with his three hundred and ten followers. One of them, Judah Iskarioto apprised the Sages that Yeshu was to be found in the Temple, that the disciples had taken a vow by the Ten Commandments not to reveal his identity but that he would point him out by bowing to him. So it was done and Yeshu was seized. Asked his name, he replied to the question by several times giving the names Mattai, Nakki, Buni, Netzer, each time with a verse quoted by him and a counter-verse by the Sages. Yeshu was put to death on the sixth hour on the eve of the Passover and of the Sabbath. When they tried to hang him on a tree it broke, for when he had possessed the power he had pronounced by the Ineffable Name that no tree should hold him. He had failed to pronounce the prohibition over the carob-stalk, for it was a plant more than a tree, and on it he was hanged until the hour for afternoon prayer, for it is written in Scripture, “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree.” They buried him outside the city. On the first day of the week his bold followers came to Queen Helene with the report that he who was slain was truly the Messiah and that he was not in his grave; he had ascended to heaven as he prophesied. Diligent search was made and he was not found in the grave where he had been buried. A gardener had taken him from the grave and had brought him into his garden and buried him in the sand over which the waters flowed into the garden. Queen Helene demanded, on threat of a severe penalty, that the body of Yeshu be shown to her within a period of three days. There was a great distress. When the keeper of the garden saw Rabbi Tanhuma walking in the field and lamenting over the ultimatum of the Queen, the gardener related what he had done, in order that Yeshu’s followers should not steal the body and then claim that he had ascended into heaven. The Sages removed the body, tied it to the tail of a horse and transported it to the Queen, with the words, “This is Yeshu who is said to have ascended to heaven.” Realizing that Yeshu was a false prophet who enticed the people and led them astray, she mocked the followers but praised the Sages.

Now in spite of the fact that the ancient Jews who wrote this did their best to argue for another interpretation of the Life of Jesus, they did make several claims here about Jesus. This passage, along with several others from the Toledot tradition, confirms that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, healed the lame, said that Isaiah foretold of his life, was worshipped as God, arrested by the Jews, beaten with rods, given vinegar to drink, wore a crown of thorns, rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, was betrayed by a man named Judah Iskarioto, and had followers who claimed he was resurrected and ascended, leaving an empty tomb!


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Here are some pictures via a Facebook Group (HERE):

“Cold Case” Resurrections ~ J. Warner Wallace

J. Warner Wallace’s presentation to the Mars Hill Apologetics Group of North Coast Calvary Chapel. J. Warner is a cold case homicide detective and he hosts the PleaseConvinceMe Podcast (www.pleaseconvinceme.com).

Was Jesus a Revolutionary? Reza Aslan vs. Anthony Le Donne

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