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CONTRADICTIONS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

At http://home.inu.net/skeptic/ntforge.html

 

A well researched paper on the various inconsistencies when comparing the various books of the New Testament.

 

SOME FAMOUS NEW TESTAMENT FORGERIES1

Louis W. Cable

There is something feeble and contemptible about a person who cannot face life without the help of comfortable myths and cherished illusions.

 Bertrand Russell

The fraudulent nature of the New Testament is readily apparent to anyone who studies it objectively. The gospels have been shown to be fiction pure and simple while many of the so-called epistles of Paul are obvious counterfeits as are those of Peter and John. (See Who Wrote the New Testament? by Burton L. Mack.) In fact, forgery was so rampant throughout the early Christian establishment that Paul taught his followers to recognize his handwriting in an attempt to insure authenticity2. So to point out a few forgeries in this book of forgeries is like prosecuting a serial rapist for jay walking. However, the following stories are among those deserving special attention because they are often presented as factual history, particularly to the young.

In the following I deal almost exclusively with the gospels. Forgeries are rampant, however, throughout the entire New Testament, especially among the so-called epistles of Paul. For more information on this subject see, "The Pauline Epistles," "The First Bible" and "Are the Gospels True?".

The Virgin Birth - With the development in the last half of the twentieth century of the twin medical techniques, in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination, it became possible for a "virgin," a woman who had never had sexual intercourse with a man, to conceive and bear a child. But, could such a thing have happened two thousand years ago? No way!

In the gospels of Matthew and Luke, whose authors remain unknown, we are told at the beginning of the birth narratives that a young Jewish woman who had never had normal sex relations with a man did in fact become pregnant and after term she delivered a healthy baby boy. It is known euphemistically as "The Virgin Birth." Many Christians take it literally. Ask them why and they will in all probability say it is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, Isaiah 7:14 to be exact. Is their interpretation of the prophecy in question valid, or is it not? What follows is derived in part from the writings of Samuel Golding of the Jerusalem Institute of Biblical Polemics, Jerusalem, Israel.

Throughout all of Christendom the New Testament is considered to be the divinely inspired word of God. Therefore, its message is accepted without question. Messianic Jews have been taught by Christian missionaries that it is the fulfillment of the Tanach (Hebrew Bible). In short, the Old Testament prophets are supposed to have spoken about Jesus thus confirming his claim to be the long awaited Jewish messiah. One of the many "proofs" of this astounding claim comes from a misinterpretation of Isaiah 7.14 (KJV) which reads, Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel.

The verse which mentions a virgin can only be found in the KJV which is incorrectly translated. Other Bibles such as the NEB, RSV and the Jerusalem Bible (Catholic Version) do not give credence to the belief in a virgin birth. There are a few points worth noting as we compare the original Hebrew with the English translation of the KJV.

     a] In Hebrew the verse reads in the present tense, "is with child" and not the future tense as recorded in Christian Bibles (KJV.) In Hebrew it states she is pregnant, not will become pregnant. In fact, the Catholic Bible, Isaiah 7.14 reads as follows: "The maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son." Jesus was not born until seven hundred years after this sign was given, which certainly could not be described as "soon." The text reads 'is with child', therefore how could this woman be kept pregnant for seven hundred years until Jesus arrived?

    b] This is not a prophecy for some future date, it is a 'ot' (sign ). Whenever 'ot' is used in Hebrew it means something which will come to pass immediately. 'Ot' is used elsewhere in the Bible: This shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord (Isaiah 38.7-8), and "If they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign" (Ex 4.8-9). In each case the sign comes to pass immediately, not seven hundred years later.

    c] The name of the child was Emmanuel. Nowhere in the New Testament do we find that Jesus is called Emmanuel. The angel informs Joseph in a dream that Mary will give birth to a son and that he should be called Jesus (Matt. 1:20-21, Luke 2;21.) All the evidence indicates that we are dealing with two different individuals here, Emmanuel and Jesus.

     d] The text specifically says, 'the young woman' -'alma' whereas KJV changes the translation to 'a virgin '. The definite article is changed to the indefinite article, whereas the original text is evidently referring to the young woman known to both Isaiah and Ahaz, and not to some unknown person living far in the future. Here the prophet Isaiah is simply relating to the fact that the young woman is having a baby and that will be a sign to king Ahaz.

     e] The "sign" was given to King Ahaz and not to the people of Jesus’ day. It concerned the military situation of the time. The meaning is clear if the message is read in context and in its own historical setting (See 2 Kings 16.1-10).

      f] If Christian interpretation of Old Testament prophecy is difficult to swallow, it's nothing compared to what we are expected to take seriously in the New Testament. For example, in Matthew 1:20 we are told that Joseph, who was betrothed to Mary, was "told in a dream" all about the situation. In Luke 1 we are told that Mary was informed of the coming virgin birth in a private conversation with an angel. How can such ludicrous claims be historically verified?

       g] Skepticism of the virgin birth claim is further confirmed by the fact that extant early Christian writings neither mention it nor shows any awareness of it prior to the writing of the Gospel of Matthew sometime after 80 C. E. It appears nowhere in the authentic epistles of Paul nor in Q.

        h] The writer of Mark, the earliest of the canonical gospels, apparently had no knowledge of a virgin birth for the following reasons: 1) no birth narrative, 2) Mark's Jesus only became aware of his divine status when he was baptism, 3) when in Mark 10:17-18 a follower addressed him as "Good Teacher" Jesus replied, "Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God." thereby not only denying the virgin birth and the incarnation, but also the doctrine of the holy trinity, 4) in Mark 3:19-21 (NRSV) when Jesus arrived back in his home town people were saying that he had lost his mind - gone insane. Upon hearing this, his family became concerned and came to restrain him. So, here again is undeniable proof that the writer of Mark was unaware of a virgin birth because if such a thing had actually happened the last thing anyone, especially his mother, would have suspected was that her divine, virgin-born son was insane. The writers of Matthew and Luke, although they drew heavily from Mark, wisely omitted this revealing little detail. (See Matthew 12:46-50 and Luke 8:19-20.)    

The truth of the matter is that Christians have been misled by the clergy to believe that the child of the young woman in Isaiah 7.14 was no ordinary child but was none other than God himself clothed in a body of flesh, and that it was referring to none other than Jesus of Nazareth who was allegedly born some 700 years later. It's nothing short of absurd.

For more information on Old Testament prophecy and their alleged fulfillment see Examining the Christian Claim of Prophecy Fulfillment on this web page.

The Birth of Jesus - The birth of Jesus, as crucial as it is to the Christian belief system, is described in only two places in the entire Bible, the first chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew and the second chapter of the Gospel according to Luke. The miraculous virgin birth and the circumstances surrounding it were apparently not deemed worthy of mention by the writers of the Gospels of Mark and John nor by Paul who said simply that, "Jesus was born of a woman, born under the law" (Galatians 4:4). Why? Could it be that they never heard of it?

A key question is, "If Jesus lived, when was he born?" The accounts recorded in Matthew and Luke could hardly differ more drastically from each other in practically every detail. According to Matthew 2:1 Jesus was born during the reign of King Herod the Great who is known to have died in the year  4 BCE 3. Also, Herod issued that infamous order to "Slay all children in Bethlehem and in all the costs thereof, from two years old and under." So, that puts the birth of Matthew's Jesus at between 6 and 4 BCE. Luke, like Matthew, gives no definite date for Jesus’ birth saying only that it occurred when Quirinius was the governor of Syria (Luke 2:1-2). Quirinius became governor of Syria in 6 CE4. Therefore, if Luke is to be believed, Jesus could have been born no earlier than that date. So, there is an eight to ten year discrepancy between the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in regard to the date of Jesus' birth. Neither of them, it should be pointed out, support the conventional concept of the BC/AD dating boundary. So, what are we to believe concerning this most significant event other than that it is an element of a larger fiction concocted by the gospel writer's themselves?

In regard to Mary and Joseph, Jesus earthly parents, one would expect that they would be venerated throughout the New Testament, especially Mary since out of all of Israel she was the one selected by none other than God himself to be the mother of his son, or so we are told. However, this is far from the case. Outside of the two birth narratives, Jesus’ parents are practically ignored. Joseph is mentioned only three times, once in Luke 3:23 and twice in the Gospel of John, 1:45 and 6:42. In these passages Joseph is referred to as "the father" of Jesus. Mary, his mother, is also mentioned only three times outside the birth narratives, Mark 6:3, Matthew 13:55 (obviously copied from Mark) and Acts 1:14. In none of them is she referred to as a “virgin.”

In a book called the Wisdom of Solomon, Israel's most opulent king is quoted as having said, "When I was born I was carefully swaddled for that is the only way a king can come to his people." This line clearly shaped Luke's birth story of how the infant Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothe (2:7).

The only two accounts we have of Jesus’ birth are hopelessly contradictory and cannot be historically verified. They show all of the attributes of myth and fiction and therefore cannot be taken seriously. See also Scrutinizing the Scripture on this web site.

 Jesus' Genealogies - Of all the glaring absurdities, obvious fabrications and irresolvable contradictions plaguing the New Testament gospels the genealogies of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38) outdo them all. The authors of Mark and John wisely chose to ignore this subject. Having said that, I point out that the objective of the genealogies, to establish a direct family linkage from Jesus to King David, is an important one since Jewish prophetic writings makes it clear that the Messiah must be a direct descendant of King David (2 Samuel 7:16, Psalms 89:3-4 and 132:11-12,) although this requirement is brought into question by Jesus himself (Mark 12:35-37).4a  That, along with the Old Testament prophecy in Micah 5:2, is the reason the birth narratives of Matthew has Jesus born in Bethlehem, the city of David. In his epistle to the Romans (1:3) Paul tells us without proof that Jesus was in fact a descendant of King David. Because they were determined to fit Jesus into the Jewish messianic scriptural mold, the writers of Matthew and Luke separately concocted detailed genealogies each giving Jesus an elaborate, but phony, family tree directly linking him not only to King David but far beyond. The writer of Matthew starts with Abraham, the first of the Jewish patriarchs, and works forward through David to Joseph thence to Jesus while the writer of Luke outdoes him by going backward all the way to God.

Eddy4b tells us that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are believed to have been compiled in late first century Antioch, which at that time had a large population of extremely wealthy Jews to whom the matter of family ties were very important. The genealogies were included as a means of appealing to this particular population in an effort to convert them to Christianity which was at that time a Jewish sect. Because their writers neglected to include a birth narrative, the Gospels of Mark and John, managed to circumvent the genealogy problem. In addition, John was obviously written for a gentile audience where the trappings of a genealogy and a Jewish messianic birth were not that important.

There are, however, big problems with these genealogies raising a number of legitimate questions. As pointed out by Arnheim4c, there is a huge difference between the two genealogies, especially in the number of generations separating Jesus from King David. Matthew specifically tells us that there were twenty-eight generations, fourteen from David to the Babylonian Exile and another fourteen from the Exile to the birth of Jesus. The writer of Luke gives no figures, but a count of the number of names he mentions as Jesus' ancestors yields a total of no fewer than forty-one generations for the same period represented by Matthew's twenty-eight. For the thousand-odd-year period Luke's forty-one generations average out at just over twenty-four years apiece. Matthew's fourteen generations from David to the Exile average out to about twenty-eight and a half years each, but his last fourteen generations have a mean span of a whopping forty-one and a half years thereby rendering it totally unacceptable.

When the genealogies are compared, one can easily see that the lists are almost identical up to David. However, from David onward there is little similarity. For example, the writer of Matthew tells us (1:16) that Jacob is Joseph’s father where as in Luke 3:23 we are told that Heli is Joseph’s father. The major reason for the contradictory names given after David is that the account in Luke traces the genealogy through David's son, Nathan, while the one in Matthew traces it through Solomon. This would easily account for the wide divergence in names following David but raises a couple of crucial questions: (1) How could two sons of David father two completely different genealogies which merge together with the last two individuals, Joseph and Jesus? And (2) how could Jesus, or for that matter anyone else, have two contradictory genealogies4d?

The writers of Matthew and Luke are determined to bring Jesus' genealogy into line with Old Testament prophecy at the expense of rational credibility. In so doing they rely at length on the use of the mystical number seven or its multiples in order to invest Jesus' alleged ancestry with a false aura of divine destiny.

Only one conclusion can be drawn from the discrepancies between these two so-called genealogies of Jesus. Because they were both writing fiction, the authors of Matthew and Luke simply invented a lineage linking him with King David thereby fulfilling the requirement of Old-Testament prophecy. What they apparently failed to understand, however, is that by establishing Jesus blood tie to King David through Joseph they undermined the claim of a virgin birth4e, establishing Jesus as the true Son of God.  The twin claims that Jesus was born of a virgin and also descended directly from king David, both of which represent basic Christian doctrine, are by their very nature mutually exclusive.

Christian apologists, however, were not to take such a convincing argument lying down. So determined were they to find some means by which to counter such a devastating disclosure that they resorted, obviously out of sheer desperation, to the claim that the two genealogies were, in reality, not meant to be the same. Matthew's genealogy, they maintained, is that of Joseph while Luke's is that of Mary4f. Unfortunately for them, Luke's genealogy never mentions Mary. In fact, Luke’s author makes it quite clear that this is Joseph's lineage (3:23) and no one else’s. Joseph's name is mentioned in Luke's genealogy and Luke 1:21 and 2:4 show he was from the house of David. So one can reasonably conclude that it is his lineage, not that of Mary. The point is, in fact, moot because as a woman Mary could never have been qualified to be heir to the throne of David, so she couldn't pass on what she could never possess, even if she was of Davidic descent which she obviously was not.
In Numbers 1:18 it states that family pedigrees are declared by the house of their father’s. In the Hebrew culture genealogies were traced through males only. But, this creates an even bigger problem for Bible believers. According to the claim of the virgin birth, Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father. Mary was made pregnant with Jesus by none other than the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20, Luke1:35). So, the Bible believer finds himself or herself squarely on the horns of a baffling dilemma. If Jesus is not the biological offspring of Joseph, he has no link to David and is thus disqualified as the long awaited Jewish messiah. But, if Joseph is Jesus’ true biological father, the claim of Davidic ancestry is established but that of the virgin birth is shown to be an out-and-out scam.

The Three Wise Men - The story of the three wise men (a.k.a., the Magi) is one of the most enduring elements of traditional Christmas pageantry. But just how true is it? It appears only in the Gospel of Matthew (2:1-12) and the account leaves many unanswered questions. The writer of Matthew refers to them as “wise men” not as "kings" and neglects to tell us how many there were. The earliest designation of three appears in the writings of the church father, Origen (c.185 - c.254.) Why the number was settled at three is not known for sure, but it was in all probability due to there bring three gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh. As to their origin, we are told only that they came from “the east.” Where in the east? In verse 12 it says, "they departed unto their own country" implying that they all came from the same place. Was it Babylon, Persia, India, China? Early speculation had it that they came from Sheba in southern Arabia because that city was an important source of frankincense, and also because of the prophecy in Isaiah 60:6 (NRSV) which reads:

          
A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
           all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and
           shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.


But Sheba lies not to the east but to the south of Bethlehem. Therefore it was rejected..

Their purpose was simply to pay their respects to the child "who has been born king of the Jews." How did they become aware of such an awesome destiny? Well, they saw "his (natal) star at its rising." No explanation is given as to just what this means or why no one else reported seeing it, not even King Herod. The gospel writer goes on to tell us that this same star hung around long enough to guide the Magi to the Jesus. Such a claim qualifies as nonsensical at best because stars, essentially huge globs of burning hydrogen some of which are many times larger than the earth and thousands of light years away, are not known to perform such accommodating maneuvers.

The idea of a bright star miraculously appearing in conjunction with the birth of a great leader did not originate with this story. Ancient religions, especially Zoroastrianism, often chose to associate the coming of their godlike figures with such a device
4g
. The idea was to provide a mysterious accompaniment to their birth thus suggesting that Heaven itself had announced the coming of a future leader. The star said to have heralded the coming of Jesus appears to have followed this ancient tradition.

News of the birth of Jesus and his kingly destiny apparently came as a rude shock to King Herod who had big plans for a dynasty of his own. In an attempt to put an end to this threat, which he apparently took very seriously, Herod assembled all of the chief priests and scribes and asked them what amounts to an astonishing question, “Where is this future king to be born?” They said in Bethlehem, the city of David, as any one of that day, especially the king, should have already known. To back it up they quoted a confirming prophecy - Micah 5:2. This, in all probability, is the real reason for including this little tale, since the writer of Matthew was obviously obsessed with Old Testament prophecy fulfillment and has Jesus fulfilling them in practically every verse. Anyway, King Herod tried to entice the Magi into revealing Jesus’ location, but they had been forewarned "in a dream" of Herod’s dastardly plan and outwitted him by departing by another road. Following this brief and puzzling little episode the Magi, the first converts to Christianity, disappear from scripture never to be mentioned again. But there remains a question of timing.

Herod's infamous order included the slaughter of all boy babies "two years old and under." Why two years? Does that mean that Jesus was already two years old by the time the Magi got there and located him? Did their trip take that long?  Also, what about that accommodating star? Did it hang around Jerusalem for two years? If so, shouldn't there be some mention of it other than in the Gospel of Matthew?

Regardless of its origin the story of the Magi caught on and spread throughout Christendom. Along the way it was greatly exaggerated, embellished and altered so as to fit numerous ceremonial occasions. The earliest known artist's depiction of the Magi is in a 3rd century wall painting in Rome. In a 6th century Greek chronicle they are named Balthazar, Gaspar and Melchior. In modern Iran and Iraq, where the Persian civilization once ruled, practically every town has its legend in which it claims to be the place from whence the Magi came. One such legend was encountered by the 13th century explorer Marco Polo in the city of Sava in modern day Iran. He was assured by the local residents that the Magi not only came from Sava, but were originally buried there. According to legend they were unearthed by the dowager empress, Helena, in the 4th century and taken to Byzantium (Istanbul, Turkey). Helena also claimed to have located the original cross upon which Jesus die so here credibility in these matters is questionable. Centuries later , however, a box of bones said to be those of the Magi appeared in Milan, Italy. During the12th century Frederick Barbarossa sacked Milan and took the box of bones to Cologne, Germany where a Cathedral was built to house them. They remain there to this day. But the question is, “Whose bones are they, really?”

The Matthian account of the birth of Jesus and the events following, including the Magi, stands in direct contradiction to that recorded in the Gospel of Luke (2:8-20). Jesus' birth, according to the writer of Luke, was anything but a secret. An angel appeared to shepherds in the field announcing to them, "I bring you glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people." In addition, an angelic choir appeared in the night sky singing praises to God which probably woke up everybody in Bethlehem. The first people to pay homage to the new-born Jesus, according to the writer of Luke, were not the Magi but a bunch of shepherds from the surrounding fields.

What it all comes down to is that the endearing account of worshiping, gift giving Magi and their deep devotion to the new-born “King,” Jesus, is nothing more than an obvious hoax.

The Slaughter of the Innocents - In the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew we read the heart-rending account of the killing of babies. This story is known throughout Christendom as “The Slaughter of the Innocents.” King Herod, the writer says, was jealous of Jesus and plotted to get rid of him. But Jesus’ parents were forewarned “in a dream” and fled to Egypt. Meanwhile, Herod, unable to locate Jesus and unaware of his departure, ordered his army to "slay all male children in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under".

This brutal tale of infanticide is parroted regularly in pulpits and Sunday school classes amid much tearful sorrow and lamentation. But just how true is it? First, none of the other gospel writers ever refer to it. Second, it is not mentioned in any extant official documents of that day. Third, why was John the Baptist not killed since he was the same age as Jesus and living in that region? Fourth, Flauvius Josephus, an important first-century Jewish historian, chronicled the reign of Herod the Great in Book 18 of Antiquities of the Jews. In doing so he did not attempt to whitewash Herod’s character. He said nothing about a massacre of children which he most certainly would have had such a heinous crime actually taken place.

The writer of the Gospel of Luke tells a very different story. In Luke 2:39 it says that: "When they (Joseph and family) had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned unto Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth". This would include circumcision on the eighth day, the redemption of the first born on the 30th day and Mary’s purification on the 40th day. After that they returned to Nazareth. Apparently they did not feel threatened by Herod or anyone else, and no mention is made of a flight to Egypt.

The story of the slaughter of the innocents was obviously invented by the writer of Matthew. It was part of a fictional literary construct by which he could justify his claim that Jesus fulfilled certain Old Testament prophecies. But in doing so he had to stretch his imagination to the limit. First, in order to fulfill Micah 5:2 4h he had to have Jesus born in Bethlehem. Then he had to get him to Egypt and set the stage for his return thus legitimizing his claiming fulfillment of Hosea 1:115. So what did he do? Well, he conveniently put all the blame on old King Herod who is probably spinning in his grave right now. But the baby-killing story, although untrue, provided an additional dividend. Through it the writer of Matthew could lay claim to the fulfillment of yet another Old Testament prophecy, Jeremiah 31:156. The writer of Luke apparently felt no obligation to accommodate these prophecies. Therefore, he had no need to embellish his birth narrative with a sordid tale of baby killing.

Nazareth - Did Nazareth of Galilee, said in Mark 1:6 to be Jesus’ hometown and the place where he grew up, actually exist at that time or is it just another figment of the writer's imagination? No such place appears on ancient Roman maps of the era. The territory of Zebulun, which included Galilee, is defined in Joshua 19:10-16. Although several towns, including Bethlehem, are cited, no mentioned is made of Nazareth. This is strange indeed considering that Nazareth was destined to play such an important roll in the predicted coming of the long-awaited Jewish messiah.. Flavius Josephus, an important first century Jewish historian, gives the names of 45 towns in Galilee in the first century, yet Nazareth is not among them. The Jewish Talmud gives the names of 63 first century Galilean towns and again no Nazareth is listed. Scanning across 1500 years of Jewish and Roman texts and other sources we see no mention of a Nazareth. In fact, the first reference to such a place appears in Mark 1:9 where we are told that, "In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John (the Baptist) in the Jordan River." Mark, the oldest of the New Testament gospels, is recognized by many Bible scholars as pure fiction. So, is Nazareth just another factitious element of the Christian myth with no basis in fact?

Some Christian apologists have tried to claim Nazareth existed citing archaeological digs at one place or another on or near the alleged site, but they fail to understand that going back some 5000 years practically every spot of that land had a settlement on it at one time or another. Another apologetic claim is that Nazareth was too small to be listed. This defies logic in view of the fact that of the 63 towns and settlements listed for that relatively small area by three different accounts they all missed it.

Nazareth did not exist as a part of the Christian story until in the fourth century when the dowager empress, Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, journeyed through the Holy Land establishing the various holy Christian sites now visited by millions of awestruck tourists. According to the story, Helena was so dismayed not to find Nazareth that she selected a pile of ruins in the general area and decreed it to be the missing town. In evaluating Helena’s whimsical contributions to Christianity’s holy geography we must consider some of her other remarkable discoveries as well. For example, she dug a hole in the ground, and lo and behold, there she recovered the original three crosses, the ones actually used in the alleged crucifixion of Jesus and the two other lawbreakers. The one identified as the cross of Jesus was eventually brought back to Rome where it was carried into battle. The presence of this holy icon would, it was firmly believed, render the Roman army invincible. But unfortunately they forgot to tell the enemy because the Roman army was over ran and defeated, and the cross was taken and burned. So, no credibility can be placed in Helena's "discoveries."

It is also apparently of no concern to believers that Jerusalem was utterly destroyed at the last revolt and no structure was left standing much less anything specific to the Jewish religion. In that regard, the Jerusalem streets upon which the faithful now piously trod are claimed by professional tour guides to be the actual paths of Jesus. What the tour guides fail to tell them, however, is that they are now about 30 feet higher than the streets were in the alleged time of Jesus because they sit atop piles of ancient ruins. 

The Baptism of Jesus - Mark, the oldest of the canonical gospels, begins with the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. This ritual marks the beginning of Jesus' public ministry as well as his brief career as the long awaited Jewish Messiah. It also raises some embarrassing questions. Since the sole purpose of baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4), why was it necessary to baptize Jesus? Does it mean that Jesus, the virgin born son of God and child prodigy, was in reality just an ordinary sinner seeking redemption? Also, by subordinating Jesus to John the Baptist doesn’t it contradict the doctrine of the holy trinity.

The next question might be, “What did Jesus know and when did he know it?” According to Mark it is at the baptism that the adult Jesus, and presumably his family, learn for the first time that he is no ordinary mortal but is in fact the designated son of God. But in Matthew, Jesus’ divine son-ship was known even before he was born. A careful comparison of the events immediately following Jesus' baptism as described by Mark and as described by Matthew reveal a subtle but illuminating contradiction.

According to Mark (1:11) when Jesus was baptized a heavenly voice declares to him, "Thou art my beloved son.” Note that the voice addresses Jesus directly as if it were announcing something to him that he and his family were heretofore unaware of. In Mark there is no virgin birth of Jesus the result of the impregnation of his mother, Mary, by the Holy Ghost. The writer of Mark never disputes the obvious fact that Joseph is Jesus' biological father.

The writer of Matthew, writing some 10 to 15 years later, tells a very different story. In Matthew the divine son-ship is recognized well before the baptism in chapters one & two where Jesus' unique conception, virgin birth and exceptional childhood are revealed. So following the baptism the writer of Matthew (3:17) has the voice say something slightly different, “This is my beloved son.” Here the voice address others present since Jesus’ divinity is already well known by him and his family. According to Matthew, Joseph, the cuckolded husband of Mary, was not Jesus' real father after all. It is interesting to note that according to Paul who never mentions a virgin birth, Jesus was a legitimate descended from David according to the flesh (through Joseph) but was not officially recognized as the Son of God until after the resurrection (Romans 1:3-4.)

The point is that according to the writer of Mark there was no "virgin birth" of Jesus. God simply looked down and liked what he saw in this young man, Jesus, so following his baptism God "adopted" him right there on the spot, and that's where it all begins. The virgin birth theory was manufactured later by the writers of Matthew and Luke as a way of embellishing what is obviously a myth and nothing more.

Jesus in the temple -The only reference of Jesus life between his birth and his baptism as an adult occurs in Luke 2:41-51. When Jesus was 12 years old he went with his parents to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. While there, his parents lost track of him and did not find him for three days. As it turned out he wasn’t lost. Had been in the temple all that time questioning the elders, who incidentally were astonished at his depth of understanding. Upon locating him his mother rebuked him saying, "Your father and I have been looking all over for you.” Note that Mary refers to Joseph as his father. Had she forgotten all about her insemination by the Holy Ghost, or was that her way of admitting that Joseph was his real father after all? Jesus further confuses things by replying, “Why were you looking for me? Don’t you know that I must be about my father’s business?” So, the old question arises, “Who was the real father, Joseph or the Holy Ghost?” Anyway, the writer of Luke goes on to say that Mary and Joseph didn’t know what he was talking about. Now that is indeed strange. Had they forgotten all about the virgin birth and the angel Gabriel informing Mary that Jesus was the son of God?

The Adulteress - John 8:1-11, the story of the adulterous woman, is intriguing. Some Christians are quick to declare it to be a testimonial to Jesus’ compassion toward women. But is that true? First, it appears only in the Gospel of John. However, the oldest manuscripts do not contain it.7a  Second, it breaks the natural sequence of the narrative. Third, it does not appear in any New Testament manuscript prior to the fifth century7. Fourth, this story was long considered a forgery until the Council of Trent declared it "divine truth" in 15467b. For those reasons this story is considered by most New Testament scholars to be a late Christian forgery8. But let us set that bit of historical fact aside for the moment and consider the story itself and its implications.

To quickly review, it seems that one day while Jesus was teaching in the temple the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman before him who had been “caught in the very act” of committing adultery9. After reminding him that the Law decreed that she be put to death (Leviticus 20:10 and Deut. 22:22), they asked him, “What do you say?” After giving it some serious thought Jesus replied, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone at her.” As a result, no one cast a stone indicating that they were all sinners. Later Jesus tells the woman that although she's guilty of breaking the law he will not condemn her. With that he tells her to go and sin no more. On the surface this story does appear to confirm Jesus’ compassion for women. Upon more rational reflection, however, it reveals a glaring contradiction.

If Jesus was anything, he was a stickler where Mosaic Law was concerned. In Matthew 5:17-18 he says, “Do not think that I come to abolish the Law or the Prophets: I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say unto you, that until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law until all is accomplished.” In Matthew 5:19 he warns that, “Whosoever breaks one of God’s laws will be the least in the kingdom of heaven.” In Luke 16:17 he says, “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.” In John 10:35 he says, “Scripture cannot be broken.” Also, we must remember that according to the doctrine of the trinity, Jesus actually wrote these dastardly laws.

To be consistent, shouldn’t Jesus have recommended that the woman be put to death in accordance with the law? He could have effectively demonstrated his often professed dedication to the law by casting the first stone at her himself thereby putting his money where his mouth was. But maybe there is another explanation. Perhaps Jesus was not without sin.

When considered objectively, this little story presents some truly formidable problems for those Christian advocates of female compassion. First of all, it is not so much about compassion as it is about Jesus' credibility. As Elizabeth Cady Stanton points out in The Woman's Bible, it was conceived by the scribes and the Pharisees as a way to trap Jesus thereby expose him as a fraud. So, Jesus had to be very careful how he handled this situation. When asked what he would do with her had Jesus said the woman should either be killed or set free; he would have been assuming the power of the state. Had he refused to offer an opinion his credibility as "the son of God" would have been ruined. So, in a flash of political insight he took a chance. In order to save his own skin, he literally gambled with the woman's life. That, my friends, is immoral.  

The Cleansing of the Temple - All four gospels give an account of an indignant Jesus striding boldly into the temple for the purpose of forcefully cleaning out what he referred to as “a den of thieves.” Once there he proceeded to literally wreck the place. But this much repeated story has problems, big problems. First, none of the gospel accounts agrees with the others as to exactly what took place. According to Mark 11:15-18 he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow any one to carry anything through the temple. Matthew 21:12-16 repeats Mark but adds, “The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.” Luke 19:45, tells us only that he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought. In John 2:14-15 not only did he drive out the dove sellers and the moneychangers; he also drove out all those selling sheep and oxen. Then the writer of John tells us that he “Then made a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and the oxen, out of the temple and proceeded to pour out the coins of the money-changers and overturn their tables.”

The second problem is one of timing. When exactly did the temple cleansing take place? According to the synoptic gospels it was at the end of Jesus’ ministry shortly before his death. In John, however, it took place three years earlier at the beginning of his minister. Were there two cleansings?

A third problem surfaces when we realize that the gospel writers obviously had no concept of the true size of the temple. It was huge by the standards of those days covering in excess of thirty-five acres, enough space to accommodate thirty-four football field
10. In order, therefore, to actually carry out the acts as described in the gospels Jesus would had to have been accompanied by a large group of armed followers since armed guards were always stationed in the temple for the purpose of keeping things moving smoothly10a
. Yet, according to the gospel accounts Jesus acted alone.

The animal sellers and moneychangers, referred to by Jesus as thieves and robbers, were in fact operating legitimate business providing much needed services
10b
. First, they offered pre-approved sacrificial animals so the worshipers, some of whom had walked for long distances, would not have to bring their own. Second, for the purchase of these animals and other temple items only Jewish money could be used because Roman money, then if general circulation, was stamped with “adulterous” images of Caesar. So, there was a real need for the moneychangers as well as the animal sellers.

This story has to be pure fiction.

Divorce - Biblical pronouncements on divorce are so convoluted, contradictory, impractical and gender biased as to be downright nonsensical. Let us examine them beginning with Mark 10:11-12, where Jesus says, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery." This passage clearly states that both the husband and the wife have the right of divorcement. Once divorced, however, neither can remarry without committing adultery, a capital crime. No exception is made even in case of the death of a spouse. So, according to Mark both parties in the divorce must remain unmarried for the rest of their lives.

Jesus again speaks to the subject of divorce in Matthew 5:31-32, but here he says something entirely different, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement. But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery, and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." First, notice that in contrast to Mark, the right of a woman to divorce her husband is not acknowledged in Matthew. But, the man who is unwary enough to marry a divorced woman, joins her in committing adultery. The original husband, oddly enough, is held responsible for the whole thing. The clause, saving for the cause of fornication, is indeed puzzling because in this case to fornicate is to also commit adultery. Because adultery is a capital crime, the fornicating woman would automatically be put to death thereby making divorce unnecessary. Apparently the husband is free to fornicate to his heart's content.

The writers of Luke and John wisely avoid the problem by never mentioning divorce.

Paul gives his rules of divorce in Romans 7:2-3. In this short passages he says, "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law." According to these rules, which show, among other things, Paul's contempt for women, only men have the right of divorcement. A divorced woman can not remarry until her ex-husband dies because to do so would be to commit adultery. If she does, it clearly says that she will be called an adulteress. Again, I remind you that adultery carries the death penalty. The men involved are not held responsible for anything. However, Paul does make an exception for women in I Cor. 7:15 where he says that unbelief is grounds for divorce by either party. Paul was obviously unaware of Jesus' pronouncements on divorce as set forth in the gospels of  Mark and Matthew.

What does God have to say about divorce? Well, as usual he contradicts himself. In Malachi 2:16 God makes this uncompromising statement, "I hate divorce." However, in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 he shows a degree of toleration. Here it states, "When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife." Note that wives are not granted the same right. In contrast to Mark, Matthew and Paul a divorced woman is free to remarry right away without being labeled an adulteress. But, in agreement with Paul and Matthew, the right of divorce is granted to men only. This raises a question regarding Mark 10:12 in which women have the right of divorcement. Why would the writer of Mark have said such a thing? One possible explanation is that who ever wrote the Gospel of Mark was unfamiliar with Jewish law and customs. The passage reflects the Hellenistic culture where women have always had the right to divorce their husbands.  

The biblical divorce laws obviously reflect the whims of a changing culture. They have no practical relevance in today's world11

A Fish Story - In Mark 6:30-44 we are treated to the story of the loaves and the fishes, one of Jesus’ awesome "miracles." The author of Mark was so impressed with this story that he deemed it worthy of repeating, albeit with a few alterations, in 8:1-10. This story appears again in Matthew 14:13-21 and 15:32-38; Luke 9:12-17, and John 6:9-13. Since standard scholarship recognizes Mark to be the oldest of the canonicals, let us proceed from there.

It seems that one-day Jesus and his disciples found themselves out in the desert at sundown hosting a great multitude of followers. According to the Mark's chapter 6 version, the crowd numbered about five thousand. However, in chapter 8 the crowd has shrunk to about four thousand. With only five loaves of bread and two fishes (seven loaves of bread and a few small fishes in the chapter 8 version) Jesus succeeds not only in feeding the multitude, but there were twelve baskets full of leftovers (only seven baskets of leftovers in the Chapter 8 account.) But apparently his rather slow witted disciples forgot all about these two mind boggling performances because a few days later Jesus has to remind them of it (8:18-21.)

This story is often cited by Bible believers as a convincing testimonial to Jesus' awesome supernatural power. But, did it really happen or is this story just another tall tale inspired by certain Old Testament renderings? In that regard, a strong echo of this "miracle" occurs in 2 Kings 4:42-44 where we read: "And there came a man from Baal-shalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat. And his servitor said, “What, should I set this before an hundred men?”  He said again, “Give the people, that they may eat: for thus saith the Lord, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof. So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the Lord."

The famous story of the loaves and fishes and the so-called miracle related thereto is an obvious forgery.

The Triumphal Entry - Jesus’ much celebrated triumphal entry into Jerusalem, also known as Palm Sunday, took place five days before the Jewish celebration of Passover (Mark 11:1-11, Matthew 21:1-11, Luke 19:28-40). Passover begins on the 14th and 15th of the month of Nisan (late March or early April in the Christian calendar). Therefore, the triumphal entry had to have taken place somewhere between mid-March and the first of April. Mark, the oldest of the four canonical gospels, tells us in 11:8 that this event was accompanied by the spreading of “leafy branches that they cut from the fields” (NSRV). This poses a serious problem, “Where did the people get those leafy branches?” It’s much too early in the year for them. Is this a hint that the so-called triumphal entry, as important as it is to the Jesus story, is in reality something less than historical?

The writer of Matthew, who drew liberally from Mark, makes a small but important change. Recognizing Mark’s goof, Matthew’s writer simply omits any reference to leaves. This means that the people cut and waved bare branches (21:8). A branch without leaves might better be called a stick, and sticks are not normally thought of as instruments that can be spread or waved. It is the leaves that provide the cover on the ground on which the procession can move. It is the leaves that flutter when the branches are waved. So, we become more skeptical.

Turning next to Luke, whose writer also had Mark before him as he composed his gospel, we discover another interesting clue. Luke’s rendition of this story omits any reference whatsoever to the waving of the branches leafy or otherwise. According the writer of Luke the people only lay down their clothes (v. 36). Was the writer of Luke, like that of Matthew, suggesting that Mark's version didn’t add up?

In the version given in the Gospel of John (12:12-19) we are dealing with a different situation altogether. The writer(s) of John tells us that the people were not waving tree branches. They were waving Palm fronds. Since Palms are evergreen the season problem is solved. However, this version does present a serious contradiction with Mark’s and Matthew’s versions leaving us to wonder just which, if any, is correct.

In the fall of the year, the Jews celebrated the harvest festival, Sukkoth, also called the Feast of the Tabernacles or Booths. It drew pilgrims from far and wide who proceeded to march in procession round the Temple waving something called a "lulab," a bundle of leafy branches bound together and made up of myrtle, willow and palm. As they marched they recited Psalm 118 and cried out “Hosanna” (Lord, save us). There is little question that the Palm Sunday story is based largely on Sukkoth, the traditional Israelite harvest festival.

Add to this the fact that the apostle Paul appears to have been totally unaware of any “triumphal entry” as were the important first century Jewish historians, Philo Judaeus and Flavius Josephus, and there is ample reason to question the validity of this entire story.

Jesus, a rodeo trick rider? ~ The account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem is recorded in all four canonical gospels and is recognized as one of the principal accomplishments of his short ministry. But, there’s a problem!

The source of this story is Zechariah 9:9: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh upon thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass. (KJV) According to this prophecy, the king will come riding on a young donkey, i.e. a foal. The gospel writers claim that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy by way of his alleged triumphal entry into Jerusalem where, according to Mark, Luke and John, he does indeed come riding in on a young donkey. But, the writer of Matthew, apparently in his overzealous determination to prove prophecy fulfillment, apparently misread Zechariah 9:9 and in so doing creates what can only be seen as a huge embarrassment.

From Young’s Literal Translation of the New Testament. Mt. 21:2 ". . . you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me." 3 ". . . ‘The Lord had need of them and immediately he will send them." If there was only one animal, why didn’t Jesus say "it" instead of the plural, "them?" And all of this came to pass so that it might be fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet saying, (here Matthew repeats Zechariah 9:9.) Verse 7: and brought the donkey and the colt and laid upon them their garments and sat him thereon.

So according to the writer of Matthew, Jesus road triumphantly into Jerusalem astride two mounts, an ass and her colt. That must have been quite a sight. Maybe Jesus was an early forerunner of the rodeo trick rider.

The Accursed Fig Tree - Mark (11:12-14) tells us that on his way home after cleansing of the Temple, Jesus spied a fig tree in the distance and went to it seeking figs. This is strange indeed since fig trees do not bear fruit in late March when this is supposed to have taken place. Upon finding no figs Jesus became irate and proceeded to curse the fig tree. Now to curse a fig tree for not bearing fruit in March is not unlike kicking a dog because it cannot speak English thereby punishing it for the inability to do the impossible. Mark concludes this story by telling us that due to Jesus' curse the fig tree withered and died. By destroying a fruit tree Jesus broke God’s law (Deut. 20:19). The writer of Matthew (21-18-20) repeats this story but says that the unfortunate tree withered and died instantly. Although he mentions fig trees in a couple of places (13:6, 21:29) the writer of Luke wisely skips this story, as does the writer(s) of John. The concluding point emphasized in Mark and Matthew is that with enough faith one can literally move mountains. But, it’s indeed hard to get the connection.

The Son of Man - The term "Son of Man" appears often in the Old Testament as a synonym for man or humankind11a. In fact, outside of the second chapter of Ezekiel, where it is used to refer to the prophet, and the seventh chapter of Daniel where it is used as a reference to the coming of God’s avenger (7:13-14,) the Old Testament writers always used it in that way. In the New Testament the term appears often throughout the gospels. Otherwise it appears only four times (Acts7:56; Heb. 2:6; Rev. 1:3, 14:14.) It is noticeably absent from Paul's writings.

In the gospels, references to the Son of Man occur in two entirely different contexts. All but one, John 12:34, are direct Jesus quotes. At times, Jesus uses Son of Man as a clear reference to himself as in the following selected citations: Mark 2:10; Matthew 8:20; 12:8; 20:28; 26:2, Luke 6:22; 7:34; 9:56;19:10, John 6:53; 6:62; 13:31. In Matthew 16:13-17 Jesus asked the disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!" Strangely enough in John 12:34 this very same question is asked, but there it goes unanswered.

In other references to the Son of Man , however, Jesus is clearly not referring a himself but to the coming from heaven of a cosmic judge whose mission it will be to destroy the wicked and take the righteous up into heaven. The obvious source is Daniel 7 describing a vision in which four kingdoms appear that are represented as beasts coming up out of the sea each of which wreaks great havoc on the Earth. After the appearance of the fourth beast the visionary sees the Son of Man coming on the clouds of Heaven, coming to the rescue, so to speak. Other such references, again selected, include Mark 8:38; 13:26, Matthew 24:27; 25:31, John 3:13. Of the four non-gospel references noted above none identifies Jesus as the Son of Man. Now the question arises, “Why the contradiction?”

It appears likely that Jesus' words, or at least some of them, were later changed to make it appear that when he's talking about the Son of Man, he’s talking about himself. To the early Christians, Jesus was their rescuer, i.e., the long awaited Jewish Messiah. His triumphant return was expected at any moment. Therefore, to them he qualified as the Son of Man referred to in the book of Daniel. What about the sayings in which Jesus clearly is not referring to himself as the Son of Man? Those are not the kinds of sayings that Christians would in all probability have invented because it would go against their belief.. The obvious conclusion is that those sayings go back directly to Jesus. For that reason, many scholars think that they are statements that the real Jesus might have actually made. In the original he wasn't referring to himself, but later writers and copyists added words so as to give that impression.

The Resurrection of Jesus - The resurrection of Jesus stands as the central tenet of Christianity and, if true, the most important event in history. But there is a problem, “When exactly did the resurrection take place?” Surely such a significant historical marker is accurately documented. Or is it?

In the earliest reference we have to the resurrection (I Cor. 15:3-4) written between 55 and 60 CE, the Apostle Paul says that Jesus rose on the third day “in accordance with the scriptures." The problem here is that Paul refers to Old Testament scripture that is non-existent. No one has yet been able to locate it. Also, since Paul does not give the details of Jesus’ death, this information is of no use in fixing the exact day and time of the resurrection.

All three synoptic gospels assure us that Jesus will rise from the dead after three days or on the third day. In Mark the resurrection is predicted on three separate occasions (8:31, 9:31 and 10:34).  The writer of Matthew assures us Jesus will rise on the third day (Matthew 16:21, 17:23, and 20:19). The writer of Luke tells us in 9:22 and 18:31-33 that Jesus will rise after three days. Jesus died on Friday according to these gospels. In Acts 10:40 it says, “Him God raised up the third day.” So, if we count the days literally that would put the resurrection on the following Sunday.

In Matthew 12:40, however, the writer makes what amounts to an important change. Here he has Jesus say, "As Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the midst of the earth." That puts it in a more definite time frame. Because Jesus died at 3 pm on Friday, three days and three nights would move the resurrection to 3 pm on the following Monday.

In all probability the symbol of three days as the time between death and life came originally from the primitive concept of the "death and resurrection" of the moon that all ancient people observed. The moon disappears into darkness on day one, remains in darkness during the second day and then emerges anew as a glimmering sign of new life on day three.

The writer(s) of the Gospel of John contradicts the synoptic gospels by having Jesus die not on Friday, but on Thursday. Jesus was buried before sundown that same afternoon (19:42). In John there are no predictive statements as to how long it will be after his death before Jesus is resurrected as there are in the synoptic gospels. However, John does agree that the empty tomb was discovered early the following Sunday morning (20:1). Therefore, according the Gospel of John, the resurrection took place sometime after 3 pm on Thursday and before the following Sunday.

Let us check the gospel accounts of the discovery of the empty tomb to see if an accurate resurrection time can be established. In all four gospels when the women arrived at the tomb early (call it 6 am) on that fateful Sunday morning they discovered it to be empty. The resurrection had already happened. What is so confusing is that from his death at 3 pm on Friday to 6 am the following Sunday amounts to only 36 hours, a day and a half. According to the account in John, Jesus died at 3 pm on Thursday. From there to Sunday morning at 6 am amounts to 60 hours or two and a half days. In all four cases they are far short of the promised three days.

The obvious conclusion is that Christians are unable to come up with an accurate answer to the question, “When did the resurrection of Jesus, the “crown jewel” of the Christian belief system, actually take place?”

Peter’s Denial - Of all of the New Testament stories that of Peter’s denial (Mark 14:66-72 and parallels) is one of the most well known. In summary it says that following Jesus’ arrest by agents of the chief priest Peter is identified by three people as being one of Jesus’ followers. Peter vehemently denies this accusation rejecting Jesus in the process. After the third denial a cock crows, and Peter suddenly remembers Jesus predicting that he would deny him err the cockcrows. Peter wept. This story has provided the text for many sermons and Sunday school lessons, but did it really happen?

One of the main problems with the denial story lies with Jesus' prophecy. It's indeed hard to take this account seriously when different versions of it appear in all four gospels as follows:

Mark 14:30, "Truly I say to you, that you yourself this very night, before a cock crows twice, shall three times deny me."

Matt. 26:34, "Truly I say to you that this very night, before a cock crows, you shall deny me three times."

Luke 22:34, "I say to you, Peter, the cock will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know me."

John 13:38, "Truly, truly, I say to you, a cock shall not crow, until you deny me three times."

As one can see, Jesus allegedly says four different things, yet these are given as direct quotes. Why, for example, did the author of Mark, the oldest gospel, omit Peter's name while the writer of Luke, who obviously plagiarized Mark, includes it? Also, the writer of Luke assures Theophilus (1:4) that what he is about to tell him is the unvarnished truth yet when compared to the other versions he leaves out some very important details. The whole thing is obviously bogus.

Paul’s position as leader of the Christian community at Antioch was challenged by Peter. Paul discusses this dispute at length in the second chapter of Galatians considered by most Bible scholars to be one of the few Pauline epistle judged to be authentic. In Galatians 2:11-13 Paul openly accuses Peter of hypocrisy but fails to mention the denial. This is highly significant because it would have been a powerful weapon Paul could have used against Peter. Peter’s denial coupled with Jesus’ stern warning in Matthew 10:3312, would have easily won the day for Paul. So, we can only conclude that the denial story is a late Christian invention.

The Ordination of Peter - In Matthew 16:17-19 Jesus blesses Peter pronouncing him the "rock" upon which he will build his church while giving him the "keys to the kingdom." Peter, therefore, stands as Jesus' undisputed successor. In fact, Peter's recognition by the Roman Catholic Church as the first pope is based primarily on this passage. However, the evidence of forgery is undeniable. First, although it constitutes an essential element of the Christian religion, the ordination of Peter is mentioned nowhere else in the New Testament, not even in First and Second Peter, the epistles allegedly written by the great apostle. Second, excluding this passage, Jesus never attempted to establish a "church." Such a project would have been absurd in view of the fact that he assured his followers that the world would end and he would return in glory during their lifetime to establish the kingdom of God. In fact, the use of the word "church" suggests a level of organization not acquired until long after the event allegedly occurred. In that regard, it is interesting to note that throughout the four gospels the word "church" appears only twice thereafter, and both are in the same verse, Matthew 18:17. Third, and perhaps the most revealing, although Mark and Luke do not contain the ordination, they do contain duplicates of Matthew 16:16 and 16:20, the verses immediately preceding and following the ordination13. The so-called ordination of Peter is without a doubt a later insertion, i.e. a forgery.

The Long and the Short - Mark 16:9-20, also known as the "longer ending14," comprises one of the New Testament's most famous passages. Several important Christian doctrines appear with emphasis in this disputed passage. In verse 16 the ritual of baptism is officially recognized as a requirement for salvation. In verse 17 we are told that believers will cast out devils and speak in new tongues (glossolalia). In the first part of verse 18 Jesus assures his followers that they can handle deadly serpents and drink poison with impunity. In the last part of this verse he endorses faith healing. These verses are indispensable to the belief system of many Christians, particularly the fundamentalists. For that reason it will no doubt come as a shock to them as well as to others to learn that the longer ending is considered by most Bible scholars to be a late Christian forgery15.

G. A. Wells, in The Jesus Myth (page 18) tells us that the longer ending is without a doubt a later addition, a pastiche, gathered mostly from elsewhere in the New Testament. As originally written Mark ended abruptly at 16:8 with the women fleeing in fear and saying nothing to anyone. To counter this inadequate and frustrating closure a new ending was composed and added so as to present a more triumphant conclusion.

There is both external and internal evidence supporting the charge of forgery. Externally, the longer ending is absent in the oldest manuscripts such as Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus16. In these manuscripts the Gospel of Mark ends at 16:8. Also, the longer ending was apparently unknown to early church leaders such as Eusebius and Jerome17. The internal evidence compliments the external. For example, the passage begins abruptly without a subject, showing it to have possibly been lifted in context from another writing. The style and vocabulary of the longer ending show clearly that it was not written by the person who wrote the original Mark. The reference to Mary Magdalene in verse 9 does not fit with the reference to her in verses 1 and 8. Verse 8 tells us that the women, which must have included Mary Magdalene, said nothing to anyone, whereas in verse 10 it says they did go and tell about it. Also, verse 12, which reads, After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country, sounds suspiciously like a distant echo of Luke 26:13-35. In fact, the longer ending appears to have been based on traditions found in Luke and John18 both of which were written long after the original Mark.

Almost all Bible scholars recognize Mark as the oldest of the four canonical gospels. This conclusion is supported by several factors, not the least of which is that the writers of Matthew and Luke obviously plagiarized Mark. This plagiarism begins with the baptism of Jesus because that is where Mark begins. It ceases at the empty tomb, i.e. at Mark 16:8. Between these two events the three synoptic gospels are generally in good agreement. However, the birth narrative and the resurrection account are hopelessly contradictory in Matthew and Luke. That, scholars agree, is because when the original gospels of Matthew and Luke were being compiled, neither the birth narrative nor the resurrection account was present in any of their sources, including Mark. Therefore, Mark's resurrection account (16:9-20) must be a later addition.

In the original ending, when informed of Jesus' resurrection, the women simply run out of the tomb amid fear and trembling saying nothing to anyone. This ending appears to be in line with the then widely held belief in Jesus' eminent return as he promised in Matthew 10:23 and 16:28. However, as time went on and Jesus failed to appear, people began asking some embarrassing questions. In an attempt to correct this situation church leaders conspired to add a new ending to Mark that would bring it more in line with current Christian teachings.

The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible includes both the short and the long endings of Mark. This amounts to a dead giveaway. As originally written the gospel in question could have had only one ending. That ending had to be the shorter one.

The Johannine Comma - In First John 5:7-8 of KJV and some other versions there occurs what is known as the “Johannine Comma19.” These verses read as follows with the Johannine Comma underlined: For there are three that bear record in heaven, the father, The Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one, and there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. Although Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are associated in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19.) and in the apostolic benediction (II Cor. 13:14), this passage is the one most often cited as confirming the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, but does it? First, this epistle is judged to have been written not by the legendary apostle John, as is claimed, but by an unknown scribe sometime early in the second century20. Second, the Johnnine Comma does not appear in the earliest extant copies of the New Testament. Third, remove it and the passage reads logically. The Johnnine Comma can be traced no farther back than the eighth century21. In almost all recent versions of the Bible the Johannine Comma has either been greatly altered or eliminated altogether because it is an obvious forgery.

The Resurrection of the Saints - Matthew 27:52-53~ And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of their graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

This astounding account appears in Matthew's narrative immediately following Jesus’ death. That means the saints were resurrected sometime late Friday afternoon thereby contradicting Acts 26:23 which says that Jesus will be "the first to rise from the dead." Having risen, the saints did not go into Jerusalem until after Jesus was resurrected. The exact date and time of Jesus alleged resurrection is never given. It can only be assumed that it took place sometime prior to the following Sunday morning when the women discovered the empty tomb Therefore, we are to believe that these resurrected saints were content to just sit in their open graves from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. Be that as it may, however, this event, if true, ranks as the most electrifying miracle ever recorded. By rights it should consume whole chapters of contemporary history. Had it really happened, it would be reviewed at length in official government documents as well as in religious scriptures. It would have been the chosen theme of all New Testament writers because it would have proven their doctrine, their cause and their apostleship. Yet we find that it is mentioned only in an offhanded manner by a single gospel writer and totally ignored by everyone else. What is most revealing, however, is that both Mark and Luke contain in sequence the passages immediately preceding and following Matthew 27:52-53 almost verbatim.

The writer of Matthew did not bother to tell us who those resurrected saints were. Nor did he deem it important to tell us what happened to them afterwards. Did they return to their graves? If they did not, where are they now? According to the passage they appeared to many. But where are the eyewitness accounts? Did they go to claim their wives and property which they had owned at the time of their death? If so, how were they received? It is strange indeed that not another word was ever written about what undoubtedly ranks as the most amazing event in all of history. But why was such an outlandish statement included?

In Zechariah 14:4-6 it prophecies that when Israel is under attack God will come to the rescue and all the saints will come with him. Because the writer of Matthew was obsessed with the need to have Jesus fulfill Old Testament prophesy, he was compelled to somehow include saints. Because there were apparently no recognized saints living at that time, his only alternative was to resurrect some. So, out of sheer desperation he simply inserted verses 52 and 53 at the appropriate place in chapter 27. His clumsy attempt to deceive is obvious. This so-called miracle never happened.

Barabbas: The gospel writers tell us that at the feast of Passover the Roman governor always released a prisoner in accord with Jewish custom. In Mark 15:6-15 and parallels it says, “Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.” Pilate then gave the crowd a choice, “Shall I release Jesus or Barabbas22?” The crowd, in response to agitation by the chief priest and the elders, chose Barabbas.

The problems with this story are threefold. First, there is no historical verification that such a custom ever existed among either the Jews or the Romans. Josephus, the prominent first century Jewish historian, makes no mention of such a notable privilege as he certainly would have if it had been practiced.  Second, even if there had been such a custom, the Romans would have been very unwise to have observed it. The Jews were a subject people looking for an opportunity to throw off the Roman yoke. Therefore, to have released whomever the Jews designated could have lead to the release of a dangerous political prisoner intent on creating trouble for the occupying Romans. Third, there was in those days a Roman custom by which the emperor released a prisoner in conjunction with birthday festivals. This custom may have provided the inspiration for the Barabbas tale. At any rate, this story is highly improbable from beginning to end and is therefore judged to be a forgery. The intent of the story is to place the blame for Jesus execution on the Jews thereby exonerating Pontius Pilate and the Romans. This story is a vicious anti-Semitic lie, one of many such lies found in the New Testamen22a.

The Two Thieves?: All four gospels say that on the day Jesus was crucified two others were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. In the non-canonical Gospel of Nicodemus we even learn their names, Demas and Gestas. Two questions come to mind regarding this situation, “What was the nature of their crime, and why were they executed with Jesus?” As to their crime, John 19:18 does not say. Luke 23:32 refers to them simply as malefactor. However, Matthew 27:38 and Mark 15:27 identify them a thieves. The problem here is that thievery was not a capital crime under either Jewish or Roman law. So, why include such a fanciful story?

The reason for the two additional executions is not given in Matthew, Luke or John. In Mark, however, it is. Mark 15:27-28 reads: And with him they crucified two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, "And he was numbered with the transgressors." Now we understand. The two additional executions were included in order to further justify the claim of prophesy fulfillment. The prophecy in question is Isaiah 53:12 - He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. There you have it. Placed between two thieves he was indeed numbered among the transgressors. The last phrase of the prophecy, made intercession for the transgressors, explains why in Luke 23:41-43 one of the two fellow executionees defends Jesus and asks for his help whereupon Jesus says to him, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." It is interesting to note that in Mark 15:32 and Matthew 27:44 both of his fellow executionees curse and taunt Jesus and neither is saved.

This story has no credibility. It was obviously concocted as a means by which a false claim of prophecy fulfillment could be justified.

The Great Commission -  One of the most famous passages in the Bible is Matthew 28:16-20. It is known as the "Great Commission." In it Jesus directs his disciples to, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Simply tacked on to the end of the gospel probably by a mid-second century scribe, these are the words that launched a million missionaries. Although it appears nowhere else in the New Testament, the Great Commission does have its counterparts in Luke 24:47-48 and Acts 1:8. But, these commissions have little in common which indicates that they were created by the individual evangelists and cannot be traced back to Jesus22b.

The Great Commission is expressed in the writer's language and reflects his concept of a world mission for the church. Jesus, if he actually existed, probably had no idea of launching a world mission and certainly was not an institution builder. Jesus in fact contradicts the Great Commission in Matthew 10:5-6 where he instructs the twelve disciples to, "Go nowhere among the gentiles, and enter no town of the Samarians, but go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." He contradicts it again in Matthew 15:24 when he tells the Canaanite woman that, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

The three parts of the commission - 1) make disciples, 2) baptize, and 3) teach - constitute the program adopted by the infant movement probably in the early second century, and therefore cannot be seen to reflect direct instructions from Jesus himself. Instead, they are framed in language characteristic of the individual evangelists and express their views of how the mission of the infant church is to be understood. In addition, can you imagine how long it would have taken twelve men living in a three-mile-an-hour world to successfully complete such an assignment? But not to worry because in Matthew 10:23 Jesus invalidates the Great Commission by telling his disciples, “You shall not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes." He does it again in Matthew 16:28 where he assures his followers that "There are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." The irony is that the destruction of the culture and traditions, folkways and customs of millions of indigenous peoples throughout the world by zealous, intolerant Christian missionaries was inspired not by a divine edict but by an obvious hoax.

The Betrayal of Jesus - Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, ranks as the most hated and despised character in the Bible with the possible exception of Satan. Is such intense loathing justified, or is Judas the victim of biased reporting? Interestingly enough the sole source of information on Judas is the New Testament gospels and the Book of Acts all of which were written long after the events allegedly took place. He receives not a single mention in the writings of Paul, the Gospel of Thomas, the reconstructed document, Quelle (Q) or the Didache.

Judas first appears in the nineteenth verse of the third chapter of the Gospel of Mark, the oldest of the canonical gospels, where he is appointed by Jesus as one of the twelve apostles. In this passage we are tipped off in advance of Judas’ treachery. Matthew and Luke repeat Mark almost verbatim, however, the author of John adds something. In John 6:70-71 Jesus announces that one of the twelve, Judas, is a devil. In John 12:4-6 we learn of another of Judas’ character flaws. He was also a thief.

As was predicted, Judas went to the chief priests and offered to identify Jesus. They accepted his offer and agreed to pay him thirty pieces of silver which brings up another perplexing question. Why would the authorities pay to have someone pointed out to them whom they already knew? In Matthew 26:55 Jesus says to those who came to arrest him, "I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, yet ye laid no hold on me."

Judas proceeds to identify Jesus by way of that infamous kiss, and that’s the last we hear of him in the gospels of Mark, Luke and John. However, the author of Matthew doesn’t let it drop there. Apparently Judas’ conscience got the better of him because according to Matthew 27:3-5 he made a sincere attempt to repent but was denied forgiveness. In a gesture of frustration he returned the money and went and hanged himself. Matthew goes on to say that the chief priests and the elders used the money to buy a piece of land. Because it was bought with blood money, the land became known as "The Field of Blood."

In Matthew 18:21-22 when Peter came to him, and asked, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?” Jesus replied, "I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven." Wasn’t Jesus obligated by his own words to forgive Judas? But instead of forgiving him, Jesus openly cursed Judas when during Passover Seder (Matthew 26:24; Mark 14:21) he said, "But woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed for it would have been better for him had he never been born". Contrary to Peter, Judas never denied Jesus. While his action may not have been all together ethical, Judas, unlike Peter, committed neither apostasy nor blasphemy, the two unforgivable sins.

Had the Judas story ended with the betrayal followed by the suicide everything might have been hunky-dory, but the writer of Acts couldn't leave well enough alone. In 1:15-19 he tells us that Judas didn't give the money back; he invested it in real estate. We also learn that Judas didn’t commit suicide; his death was accidental. Because of the messiness of this accident, the property became known as (you guessed it) "The Field of Blood." So, did Judas commit suicide as the writer of Matthew claims or was his death an accident as we are told in Acts? Also, was this the same land that the priests bought, or were there two fields of blood? But, it gets worse.

Mark 16:14 and Luke 24:33 state that following his resurrection Jesus appeared to "the eleven." Who was missing? After all that had transpired one would just naturally think it was Judas. Apparently not, because in John 20:24 we learn that the missing apostle was Thomas. Therefore the eleven had to include Judas. To further confound the reader, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:5 that following his resurrection Jesus was seen by “the twelve.” This had to include Judas because it wasn't until after the ascension, some forty days after the resurrection, that another person, Matthias, was voted in to replace Judas (Acts 1:26). So, apparently Judas neither committed suicide nor died by accident. In Acts 1:25 we are told that Judas "turned aside to go to his own place."

Another clue confirming the absence of the Judas story in the earliest Christian documents occurs in Matthew 19:28 and Luke 22:30. Here Jesus tells his apostles that they will “sit on the twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” No exception is made for Judas even though Jesus was aware of his impending betrayal. The answer may lie in the fact that the source of these verses is Q (QS 62). Q predates the gospels and is considered to be one of the earliest Christian documents. It was obviously written before Judas and the betrayal story was invented by the writer of Mark.

For centuries Judas Iscariot has been held up as the archetypical traitor, the exemplar of treachery, the quintessential turncoat. This is strange indeed when one considers Acts 1:16. Here the apostle Peter tells us, "This scripture (Psalm 69:25) must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus." So according to Peter, Judas' betrayal was a part of God's grand plan all along. Not only did Judas serve as a vehicle through which key Old Testament prophecy might be fulfilled, it was by way of his betrayal that Jesus was able to complete his earthly mission. One might say that it was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it. Judas was in reality an enabler. Instead of hating and reviling him, Christians should appreciate Judas’ contribution as an indispensable element of the passion story.

The story of Judas Iscariot, although obvious fiction, has lead to some tragic consequences. Judas is deliberately portrayed as a caricature intended to confirm the very worst misconceptions about the Jewish people. As a result, for almost two thousand years the Jews have been unjustly persecuted and vilified because their forefathers were accused of slaying Jesus, a mythical god-man whose very existence remains highly questionable. How long must superstition with all its evils rule and curse the modern world? How long must people be held hostage to what is obviously a myth and nothing more?

The 21st Chapter of the Gospel of John - Did you ever, when reading a book or an article, come to what was obviously a natural ending before the piece actually ended? Frustrating, isn’t it? Well, that’s exactly what happens in the Gospel of John. This gospel is composed of twenty-one chapters but consider the last verse of chapter twenty:

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

This verse succinctly states the writer’s purpose. It was obviously intended to serve as a concluding remark23. Yet, the gospel goes on to chapter twenty-one. The forgery is in fact admitted in John 21:24 where the writer says,

This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and
wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true
.

The work we now call the Gospel of John, ostensibly written by "the beloved disciple24," is actually a composite of two lost gospels -- the hypothetical “Signs Gospel” plus another much-enlarged version thereof25. The Gospel of John dates from the close of the first or beginning of the second century26, long after the alleged time of Jesus. The addressees are Gentile Christians. The Jews are identified as enemies of Jesus (John 10:31). By the time the Gospel of John, as we know it today, was written, Jesus’ followers had been bared from the synagogues (John 9:22), an event which did not occur until the late eighties27. The final chapter is, without a doubt, a later addition28 whose purpose is to explain why the Parousia (second coming) did not occur as promised29.

Pronouncement about the Sabbath - Of all the problem passages plaguing the New Testament, Mark 2:23-28, Jesus' pronouncement about the Sabbath, surely ranks as one of the most troublesome. It reads as follows:

        "And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the Sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful? And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungered, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the showbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? And Jesus said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: Therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath."

Here the disciples were clearly breaking the law of the Sabbath as the Pharisee correctly pointed out. But Jesus defended them by saying that they were hungry and needed food. So their situation made an act that would otherwise have been wrong proper for them to do. This story has Jesus advocating situation ethics, an anathema to most Bible believers. Situation ethics denies the doctrine of absolutism so fundamental to the devout Christian. But there are other problems with this passage more serious than that of the application of situation ethics. Jesus here condones the breaking of the law - - 4th Commandment. It reads - Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work. How does this square with Jesus' famous statement in Matthew 5:17-19? While delivering the hallowed sermon on the mount he declares with passion, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven."

The writer of Mark obviously did not do his homework before composing this passage. He has Jesus make two statements that are inconsistent with the Old Testament story to which it refers. This story is found in I Samuel 21:1-6. In it the high priest is Abimelech not Abiather as Jesus says. Also according to I Samuel, David was not in the company of other men. He was alone. He only pretended to have others with him. It makes Jesus appear foolish

Jesus' last words - Near the end of the account of Jesus alleged suffering on the cross, his "last words" are recorded in all four gospels.

Mark 15:34 says that Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He then gave a loud cry (v37) and breathed his last.

Matthew 27:46-50 is a repetition of Mark’s version. Since Mark is the older, it is reasonable to conclude that the writer of Matthew was a plagiarist.

Luke 23:46 says that Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" and gave up the ghost.

John 19:30, says that when he had received the wine, Jesus said, "It is finished" and bowed his head and gave up the ghost.

Simple logic tells us that there can be only one set of last words. In neither case is Jesus being quoted out of context because these verses are independent of context. Translation errors can not be to blame because the words are quite clear and quite different. Also, since there are no first hand accounts, just who heard and recorded these alleged last words? If there is any truth at all here it is that one, and only one, of these quotes is correct, which means that the others are obvious inventions.

Angels30 (Greek angelos,"messenger"), celestial being believed to be a messenger, or intermediary, between God, or the gods, and humankind. The concept of angels is prevalent throughout both the Old and the New Testaments. These imaginary figures serve as God’s gofers. All religions are concerned with the relationship human beings have or may have with the supernatural realm. In ancient Greek religion, in Judaism and Christianity and in Islam this relationship is thought to involve angels—divine messengers sent to humans to instruct, inform, or command them. An angel can function also as a protective guardian, as a heavenly warrior, and even as a cosmic power. Moreover, the line between a good angel and a bad angel, or demon, is sometimes unclear. Hence, angels can be broadly described as personified powers mediating between the divine and the human.

Even in its commitment to monotheism—the worship of one God—ancient Israel was able to embrace the image of a council of gods by turning all but one of them into angels who serve the one God, much as earthly courtiers serve one king. This acceptance of a belief in angels was a development made relatively easy because both lesser gods and angels could be called sons of God. In traditional Israelite thought, angels were assumed to have the form of human males, and as a consequence they were sometimes mistaken for men.

After the period of Israel's Babylonian exile (597-538 BCE), Jewish thought about angels was considerably altered and enriched. Drawing on Mesopotamian iconography, artists and writers began to provide wings even for anthropomorphic angels, and an interest developed in the angels' garments, names, and relative ranks. In addition to the Mesopotamian influence, the Persian dualistic tradition (Zoroastrianism) added another dimension to the Jewish conception of angels by positing hostile and destructive angels who are rebellious against God. The Jewish Qumran sect, or Essenes, for example, saw the world as a battleground, the scene of a struggle between the Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Wickedness, the latter an angelic power opposed to God called Belial or the Devil.

Later developments in both Judaism and Christianity show a remarkable growth of angelic folklore, in part as the result of continuing the ancient practice of absorbing the gods of polytheistic religions by turning them into angels. Although belief in angels is amply attested in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, many biblical scholars nevertheless suggest that the concept was adopted not only as a literary device to personify the divine presence but also as a means of subordinating the gods of polytheistic religions.

In the early and mid-1990s there was a resurgence of popular interest in angels. This interest manifested itself in such diverse phenomena as the proliferation of celestial iconography on greeting cards and household objects, a spate of television specials devoted to encounters with angels, the appearance of "angelology" among the course offerings of alternative educational institutions, and the success of Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Angels in America."

666 - In Revelation13:18 we read, "Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six". The so-called "number" of each letter in a word can to assigned in such a way as to have it appear to stand for a number that, when added to the others in that word, yields a meaningful sum total. The solution in this case is the Roman emperor Nero because the numerical value of the Hebrew spelling of Neron Kaisar, an inscription found on Roman coins of Nero's time, is 666. So the beast referred to in Revelation 13:18 is none other than Nero who is known to have died in the year 68 CE. Fundamentalists naturally reject this explanation because if Nero was the beast, then according to the prophecy Jesus should have returned to destroy him which he obviously did not do.

Face to face with God? Has anyone ever seen God? In John 1:18 we are told, “No one has ever seen God.” However, in John 6:46 we learn that there’s an exception. Here it says, “No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God.” In 1st John 4:12 it says again, “No one has ever seen God.” The writer of 1st Timothy 1:17 tells us that God is invisible. In that regard, I remind you that the invisible and the non-existent look very much alike. In Exodus 33:20 God warns Moses,“ . . . no one can see my face and live.” Then God proceeds to contradict himself. According to Genesis 16:13 God appeared to Hagar, and she admits to having seen him. Hagar did not die. In Genesis 26:24 we learn that God appeared to Isaac yet he did not die. In Genesis 32:30 Jacob gets the best of God in an all night wrestling match after which he brags that he saw God face to face and lived. But to compound the confusion, in Exodus 24:9-11 we learn that Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and the seventy elders of Israel not only saw God, they had a lunch with him.

Conclusion - The New Testament is mostly fiction based on myths, unsubstantiated legends and out right lies. Its  hero, Jesus of Nazareth, is a mythological figure who in all probability never existed.

For additional information see Crucifixion Contradictions, Did Jesus Ever Live? and Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? on this web site.
______________________________________________

1 Compiled by Louis W. Cable.

2 Eddy, P. G., Who Tempered with the Bible?, Winston-Derek & Co. pg. 6.

3 Webster’s II New Revised University Dictionary, Biographical Entries.

4 The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1982, vol.4, page 12.

4a Price, Robert M., The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man, Prometheus Books, 2003, page 46.

4b Eddy, Patricia G., Who Tampered with the Bible?, 1993, pages 90-93.

4c Arnheim, Michael, Is Christianity True?, 1984, 13-16.

4d McKinsey, C. Dennis, The Encycyclopedia of Biblical Errancy, 1995, pages 97-99

4e Roberts, Paul W., In Search of the Birth of Jesus, 1995, page 8.

4f McDowell, Josh and Donald Stewart, Answers to Tough Questions Skeptics Ask About the Christian Faith, 1980, page 60.

4g But thou, Bethlehem Ephrath, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel.

4h Gillooly, Robert J., Free Inquiry, Vol.25, No 1, page 27.

5 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

6 A voice was heard in Ramah, lamenting and bitter weeping; Rachel, weeping for her children, refused to be comforted because her children were no not.

7 Teeple, H. M., The Literary Origin of the Gospel of John, page 197.

7a Ehrman, Bart D., The New Testament, Part 2, The Teaching Company, Ltd., 2000, page 209

7b Gaylor, Annie L., Woe To The Women, revised edition, 2004, page 101.

8 Wells, G. A., The Historical Evidence for Jesus, Promethus Press, pg. 225.

9 It is interesting to note that the man with whom the woman was committing adultery is never mentioned. This is indeed strange because the Law states that they shall both be put to death. So, here is another indication that this story as a hoax.

10 Funk, Robert W., and the Jesus Seminar, The Acts of Jesus, Polebridge Press, 1998, page 121.

10a Price, Robert M., The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man, Prometheus Books, 2003, page 295.

10b Remaberg, John E., The Christ, Prometheus Books, 1994, page 301.

11 The following was received from Samuel Golding of the Jerusalem Institute of Biblical Polemics: "Both during the alleged time of Jesus and up to the present day a Jewish woman is not allowed to divorce her husband under (halakhah) Jewish law. If a woman has a case against her husband she must go to the Bet Din (Rabbinical Court) and the rabbis will command him to give her a (get) divorce. A man can divorce his wife without a reason but he must pay her the amount stipulated on the ketubah (marriage certificate) and he is responsible for the upkeep of his children. On the get is written 'Go and be free to become another man's wife.'"

11a  See the Holoman Illustrated Bible Dictionary

12 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

13 Cable, L. W., On the Horns of an Eschatological Dilemma, The Freethought Exchange #13, page 19.

14 New Revised Standard Version.

15 The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 3, pg. 256.

16 Funk, Robert W., The Gospel of Mark, The Jesus Seminar, page 233.

17 Taylor, Vincent, The Gospel According to St. Mark, page 610.

18 Ibid, page 610.

19 Eddy, Patricia G., Who Tampered With The Bible?, 1993, Winston-Derek, page 27.

20 Mack, Burton L., Who Wrote the New Testament?, Harper-Collins 1995,pg. 205.

21 Eddy, P. L., Who Tampered with the Bible?, Winston Derek 1993, pg. 27.

22 There is a contradiction regarding the nature of Barabbas’ crime. Mark 15:7 and Luke 23:19 declare him to be a murderer. However, John 19:40 says he was a robber.

22a Acharya S, The Christian Conspiracy, Adventures Unlimited, 1999, page 43.

22b Funk, Robert W. and Roy W. Hoover,  The Five Gospels,  Polebridge Press, 1996, pg 270.

23 Teeple, Howard M., The Literary Origin of the Gospel of John, Religion and Ethics
Institute, Inc., Evanston, Illinois, 1974, pg. 160.

24 Encyclopaedia Britannica, The Fourth Gospel: the Gospel According to John, CD 98.

25 Helms, Randel M., Who Wrote the Gospels?, Millennium Press, pg. 101.

26 Mack, Burton L., Who Wrote the New Testament?, Harper/Collins, pg.178.

27 Helms, Randel M., Who Wrote the Gospels?, Millinnium Press, pg. 126.

28 John, the Gospel According to, Commentary on the Gospel, Encyclopaedia Britannica, CD 98.

29 Helms, Randel M., Who Wrote the Gospels?, Millennium Press, pg. 152.

30 Excerpted in part from Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2004 as written by J. Louis Martyn.

 

 

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