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Doubting Jesus: A Catholic Biblical Scholar Responds to Skeptical Questions

A couple weeks ago, we launched an #AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Dr. Brant Pitre, who is one of today's premier Catholic biblical scholars. His latest book, The Case for Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ (Random House, 2016) seeks to debunk skeptical attitudes toward the Gospels put forward today by scholars such as Bart Ehrman.

Hundred of questions poured in and Brant answered as many as he could, sometimes grouping them together where the topics overlapped. Today we share his responses. Enjoy!
 


 

The Literacy of the Evangelists

Mike: Where/how did the gospel writers learn to write in Greek when they apparently spoke Aramaic and weren't educated men?

Brant Pitre: Great question! First, although a hundred years ago it was widely assumed that all first-century Palestinian Jews spoke only Aramaic, more recent scholarship has shown that the the linguistic situation in first-century Palestine was (at least) trilingual: there is evidence of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic being spoken (see e.g., Stanley Porter).

CaseForJesusSecond, as Richard Bauckham and other scholars have pointed out, although four of the apostles were “uneducated” fishermen (cf. Acts 4:13), at least one of the apostles was literate: Matthew, the tax-collector, who would have had to be able write tax-documents, probably in both Aramaic and Greek (cf. Matt 9:9; 10:3).

Moreover, from a historical perspective, the illiteracy of the Twelve apostles is largely irrelevant, since of course two of the four Gospels—Mark and Luke—are not even attributed to apostles, but to followers of Peter and Paul. There is certainly no reason to doubt that Luke or Mark could speak and write in Greek, and external evidence as early as Papias of Hierapolis (who knew the apostles personally) is clear that Mark acted as Peter’s scribe or interpreter while he was in Rome.

What about the apostle John? I see no reason to doubt that John was in fact “illiterate” (Acts 4:13). However, after decades of evangelization in Greek cities of Asia Minor, even if John couldn’t write in Greek himself, he could easily have ‘composed’ his gospel by dictating it to a secretary (or ‘amanuensis’) as even literate writers such as Paul, Cicero, and Titus Caesar (!) were known to have done (cf. Rom 16:22; Suetonius, Divus Titus 3.2). In fact, some ancient external evidence claims John’s Gospel was in fact dictated. For more on this, see The Case for Jesus, chapters 1-3.

Eyewitnesses to Jesus? The Memories of Jesus’ Students

Jim Jones: Name one person who met Jesus, spoke to him, saw him, or heard him and who wrote about the event, has a name, and is documented outside of the Bible (or any other gospels).

Brant Pitre: I’ll name two: (1) Matthaios, commonly known as “Matthew,” who was a Jewish tax-collector in Galilee who became one of Jesus’ mathetai or “students,” (commonly known as “disciples”) and was chosen by Jesus as one of the Twelve apostles (see Matt 9:9; 10:1-3); and (2) Iōannēs, commonly known as “John,” who was a Galilean fisherman who also became one of Jesus’ students and was a member of the Twelve (Mark 3:16-19; 14:17-25). According to the unanimous internal evidence of all extant ancient Greek manuscripts (e.g., Papyrus 4, 64, 66, 75, Codex Sinaticius, Vaticanus, etc.) as well as the unanimous external evidence of ancient writers outside the Bible (e.g., Papias of Hierapolis, Irenaeus of Lyons, Muratorian Canon, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius of Caesarea, etc.), two of the four gospels were authored by Matthew and John (although Greek Matthew was universally regarded as a translation of a Semitic original).

In fact, the Gospel of John itself explicitly states that it was “written” by the Beloved Disciple, an eyewitness to Jesus who was present at the crucifixion (John 21:20-24, cf. 19:35). As Jesus’ Jewish students, Matthew and John not only would have “met Jesus, spoke to him, saw him and heard him,” they would have lived with Jesus for up to three years, traveling with him everywhere and listening to him teach on a daily basis.

It’s not only Christian sources that attribute the Gospels to eyewitnesses. Even Celsus, the famous 2nd century pagan apologist and critic of Christianity, could not deny the fact that the Gospels were written by “Jesus’ own pupils and hearers” who left behind “their reminiscences of Jesus in writing” (Origen, Contra Celsus 2.13). Now, one can of course claim that the disciples were liars—and Celsus did—but there is not a shred of text-critical evidence that the Gospels were ever anonymous and no positive historical evidence attributing them to anyone but the apostles and their companions. For more on this topic, see The Case for Jesus, chapters 2-4.

Are the Gospels Biographies?

Jim: To my understanding, there is now reasonable scholarly consensus that the Gospels are best understood as belonging to the genre of bioi or Graeco-Roman biography. First of all, do you agree that this is a correct and useful classification? If so, what are some of the most noteworthy differences between that genre and the genre of modern historical biography? In particular, what liberties might we reasonably expect authors of bioi to take that a modern biographer would not, and what are some of the literary devices might we expect authors of bioi to use that modern biographers would not?

Brant Pitre: Yes, you are right about the scholarly consensus that the Gospels are ancient biographies or “lives” (Greek bioi), especially since the work of the British scholar Richard Burridge’s ground-breaking book, What are the Gospels? A Comparison with Greco-Roman Biography (2004). And yes, I think this consensus is correct. With that said, there are some important differences between modern biographies and ancient forms of biography like the gospels, or Plutarch’s or Suetonius’ “lives,” that we should keep in mind:

  1. Order: ancient biographies don’t have to be in strict chronological order, but can be more thematically arranged;
  2. Length: ancient biographies are often fairly brief, averaging between 10,000 and 20,000 words;
  3. Selectivity: ancient biographies often emphasize that they aren’t telling you everything about their subject (see e.g., John 21:25; Lucian Life of Demonax, 67; Plutarch, Life of Alexander, 1.1). They tend to selective rather than comprehensive.
  4. Exactitude: ancient biographers are not purporting to give verbatim “transcripts” of what a person has said or done, but rather the “general sense” of what was “really said” (cf. Thucydides, History, 1.22.1)
  5. Supernaturalism: ancient biographers—in contrast to modern naturalistic historiography—had no qualms about recording purportedly supernatural events in the life of the subject (e.g., the miracles of Jesus).

Finally, it’s important to remember that just because the Gospels are biographies does not mean that they are verbatim “transcripts” of what Jesus did and said. For more on the Gospels as biographies, see The Case for Jesus, chapter 6.

Fact, Symbolism, and Allegory?

VicqRuiz: Dr. Pitre, upon reading the Biblical account of an event, how to you determine whether it is (1) a factual account of something that happened in history as described, (2) a retelling of an actual event perhaps containing some symbolic or allegorical elements, or (3) a purely allegorical story designed only to explain a deeper truth?

Brant Pitre: The first and most important task in this regard is to establish the literary genre of a book. This means asking questions like: What kind of book is this? What are the closest ancient parallels in form and contents? What kind of book did ancient people think this was? And what did the ancient author think he or she was writing? What are the author’s intentions and the audiences’ expectations? Is the author intending to record a historical event? Or is the author intending to compose poetry, allegory, prophecy, parable, or midrash, etc.?

As I try to show in The Case for Jesus, a close comparison with ancient Greco-Roman biography shows that the literary genre of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is closest to ancient biographies (see above). To be sure, the gospels contain micro-genres such as parables, allegories, hyperbole, etc. For example, the parable of the Sower is clearly presented as an allegory which needs to be explained by Jesus to the disciples (Mark 4:1-20). But the macro-genre of the Gospels is closest to biography.

Moreover, I also show that the Gospels are not just any kind of biographies, but historical biographies, in which an ancient author shows an express concern for historical truth: as Josephus puts it in his biography of himself: “veracity” is “incumbent upon the historian” (Josephus, Life, 336-39). In other words, whether or not you believe their claims, the evangelists intend to relate accounts of actual events and even explicitly claim to be recording what Jesus actually “did” and said, based on the “testimony” of “eyewitnesses (Greek autoptai) from the beginning” (see Luke 1:1-4; John 19:35; 21:24-25). They do not see themselves as composing“folklore” or “myths” (Greek mythos) (cf. 1 Tim 3:4; 2 Pet 1:16). This just isn’t the right genre.

This does not of course mean that the gospels are “verbatim transcripts” of Jesus’ teachings, nor do they claim to be. But again, according to ancient standards, history should adhere “as closely as possible” to the “general sense” of what was “really said” (Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War 1.22.1). For more on this, see The Case for Jesus, chapter 6.

What about “Q” and the Order of the Gospels?

Bdlaacmm: Dr. Pitre, Does it matter which Gospel was written first? I often hear people say such-and-such a Gospel was the first written and therefore the "most reliable" (which in itself is kind of interesting, since no one today thinks a book written about WWII in 1946 is for that reason more reliable than one written in, say, 1985 - in fact, usually it's the reverse). The downside of such thinking is that anything in the other three Gospels is then downplayed or even "suspect". At this point, is it even possible to determine the order of composition?

Arthur Jeffries: What is your view on the existence of "Q"? Mark Goodacre, Michael Goulder, and other scholars have argued against its existence, mostly in academic papers (though several books have also been written). However, the consensus seemingly remains unchanged.

Brant Pitre: For well over a decade, I was a diehard “Q believer.” My first book on Jesus was even written using Q as a working hypothesis. Then I read Mark Goodacre’s 2002 book The Case against Q, and it changed my mind. I for one am troubled by the fact that Q only exists in the imagination of scholars; no manuscript has ever been found, and no ancient Christian ever refers to such a book. Even more importantly, as Goodacre shows, there is compelling evidence that Luke both knew and used Matthew’s Gospel, and if that is the case, then the need for Q simply vanishes.

With that said, over the years, as I have continued to study the Synoptic Problem, I have frankly become more cautious and agnostic about ever unraveling the precise literary relationship between the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. I agree with what the great scholar Joseph Fitzmyer stated some decades ago: the Synoptic Problem is “practically insoluble.” We simply may not have enough data to solve the complex question of literary order and relationship.

In any case, from the perspective of the quest for the historical Jesus, it’s important to remember that the literary question of the relationship between the Gospels (who copied from whom?) is just not as important as the historical question of authorship (who wrote the gospels?) and date (when were they written? within the lifetime of Jesus’ disciples?)

Think about it: if Mark is actually based on the eyewitness testimony of Peter, for basic historical questions, does it really matter who copied from whom? And if Matthew is really written by one of the apostles, for basic historical questions, does it really matter if he copied from Mark? And by the way—as I show in the book—the old argument that an eyewitness like Matthew would never use a non-eyewitness like Mark as a source is bogus. We have evidence of exactly that taking place amongst students of Socrates (cf. Hermogenes, Plato, and Xenophon).

In sum, all of the actual historical evidence we possess points to the Gospels being first-century biographies written within the living memory of the events by apostles and their followers. That is what matters most for those of us interested in the historical quest for Jesus. For more on Q, the Synoptic Problem, and the first-century dating of the Gospels, see The Case for Jesus, chapter 7.

Did Jesus Fulfill the Jewish Prophecies?

David Nickol: Did Jesus fulfill the Jewish prophecies of the Messiah? If the answer in Dr. Pitre's book is "yes," what are the Jewish prophecies of the Messiah that Jesus fulfilled? Also, what does it mean to "fulfill" a prophecy? Perhaps a better question would be, "What was predicted or foretold in the Old Testament about Jesus?" Or were the "prophecies" outside (and after) the Old Testament? (The word Messiah is not found in the Old Testament.)

GuineaPigDan: I guess I'll give one a shot. How come prophecies of Jesus weren't more specific, like just plainly saying "your Messiah will be Yeshua, born around 4BC and is also the 2nd Person of the Trinity and will be crucified, resurrected and end sacrifices." Having the Jews develop one idea of the Messiah but then suddenly told, "Psych! This other person was the Messiah" is a bit like reading a mystery novel where the reader didn't get a chance to guess the ending on their own.

Brant Pitre: These are both great questions. A whole book could be written on Jesus and Jewish prophecy; for now, just a couple of quick points.

First, David, I’m sorry to say that someone has misinformed you about the word “messiah” (Hebrew mashiach). This word is used dozens of times in the Old Testament—usually as a title for the “anointed” king (for example, see 1 Sam 2:10, 16:6; Ps 2:2; 89:39). Moreover, it actually occurs in the most explicit prophecy about the coming death of a future “messiah” (Hebrew mashiach) that we possess (Daniel 9:25-27).

And intriguingly—to answer your question, GuineaPigDan—this prophecy in Daniel 9 not only proclaims that the messiah will one day come and be killed, it actually foretells when this will take place: namely, some 490 years after the “going forth of the word” to restore and rebuild the Jerusalem Temple and before a final future destruction of the “sanctuary” and the city, in which “sacrifice and offering” will “cease” (Daniel 9:25-27). (Note the reference to the future ‘end’ of ‘sacrifice’ you mentioned.)

Indeed, as the first-century historian Josephus tells us, that is one reason the book of Daniel was so popular among first-century Jews, because Daniel gave a timeline for the fulfillment of his prophecies (Josephus, Ant. 10.267-68). A solid case then can be made that Daniel’s prophecies were expected by ancient Jews to be fulfilled sometime in the first century A.D.

Second, the book of Daniel wasn’t just a favorite among many ancient Jews; it seems to have been one of Jesus’ favorites as well. If you read the Synoptic Gospels carefully, you will see that Jesus’ two most frequently used expressions are (1) “the kingdom of God” and (2) “the Son of man.” Where does he get these expressions? Above all, from the book of Daniel’s oracles about the future coming of the “kingdom” of “God” (Daniel 2) and the coming of the heavenly “Son of man” (Daniel 7). Significantly, the earliest first-century Jewish interpretations of Daniels’ “Son of man” identify him as the Messiah (e.g., 1 Enoch, 4 Ezra). Once this is clear, Jesus' use of this expression to refer to himself becomes even more striking, since our earliest Jewish interpreters of Daniel also identified the fourth kingdom with the Roman empire. In other words, according to Daniel 2 and 7, the kingdom of God and the messianic Son of Man were expected to come not just ‘one day’ but sometime during the reign of the Roman empire.

So, GuineaPigDan, some prophecies are more vague, but some prophecies are quite specific—and it’s precisely these prophecies from the book of Daniel that Jesus chooses to refer to himself and to the kingdom he is bringing.

These aren’t, of course, the only kinds of “prophecies” Jesus sets out to fulfill. Jesus also engages in prophetic signs and actions that hearken back to the Old Testament, in which he ‘reenacts’ certain events from Jewish Scripture like the divine revelation of the name “I am” to Moses (see Mark 6) or the Cry of Dereliction from Psalm 22—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (see Mark 15), but reconfigures them around himself. This kind of fulfillment is more commonly referred to as typology or recapitulation.

There’s so much more to say. Put it this way: pretty much the entire second half of my book is devoted to examining Jesus, Jewish prophecy, and biblical typology. After reading, I don't think you’ll walk away thinking that “the Jews” had “one idea of the Messiah” and that Jesus had another. Check it out for yourself and see what you think of the evidence. See The Case for Jesus, chapters 8, 9, 11-12.

Was Jesus Wrong about the “End of the World”?

LanDroid: Huston Smith, in his classic book The World's Religions, wrote, "We know almost nothing about (Jesus); and of the little we know, what is most certain is that he was wrong—this last referred to his putative belief that the world would quickly come to an end." There are several passages where Jesus warns that some in his audience would see the kingdom of God in their lifetime. What are we to make of these incorrect predictions 2,000+ years later?

Brant Pitre: Important question, LanDroid. First, although I don’t go into this particular issue in The Case for Jesus, I’ve written a whole book on the Olivet Discourse (2005) and a lengthy article on Jesus’ prophecies of the destruction of Temple and the end of the world for the new Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (eds. Joel B. Green et al., IVP Academic, 2014, pp. 23-33). In that piece, I show that Jesus can’t have been “wrong” about the end of the world, since he expressly states that although “heaven and earth will pass away,” “not even the Son” knows “the day or the hour” (Mark 13:32).

Second, I find it fascinating that your question assumes that “the kingdom of God” is identical to the “end of the world.” What makes you think that? As I show in The Case for Jesus, when Jesus speaks about the Son of man and the kingdom of God, he is principally alluding to the book of Daniel, in which the “kingdom of God” does not refer to the “end of the world,” but the coming of a heavenly kingdom which will arrive sometime during the Roman empire, begin small like a little “stone”, and then spread throughout the world to become a great “mountain” (Daniel 2). In Daniel, the kingdom of God is a mysterious kingdom that has its origins in heaven but spreads throughout the whole world on earth while being ruled from heaven by the mysterious “Son of man.” This future kingdom will be ruled over by the heavenly being who is “like a Son of man” (Daniel 7) and who was identified as the “Messiah” by first century Jews (e.g., 1 Enoch, 4 Ezra).

In other words, far from showing that Jesus was “wrong” about the coming of the kingdom of God, I try to show that his prediction that the kingdom would come within the lifetime of his disciples is in fact precisely what happened. But people often misunderstand what the kingdom is. Albert Schweitzer’s great mistake was to collapse the kingdom of God and the “end of the world” into one as if they were two ways of talking about the same thing. See The Case for Jesus, chapter 8.

The Divinity of Jesus

Jason Sylly Crabtree: I'm an atheist. I believe Jesus existed, but what real support is there to the claim of his divinity (inside, and especially outside the Bible)?

Brant Pitre: This question is really at the heart of my new book. There’s no way to do it justice here. But I’ll say this: You’re probably familiar with the now common idea that Jesus only claims to be divine in the (later) Gospel of John, but not in the (earlier) Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. I spend three chapters in the book showing that Jesus does claim to be divine in the Synoptic Gospels, but he does it in a very Jewish way: using riddles, parables, and, most of all, allusions to the Jewish Scriptures to both conceal his divine identity from his opponents and reveal it to his companions and those who “have the ears to hear.” I look at six or seven episodes, but here I’ll just pick one: in Mark 14, Jesus is handed over by the Sanhedrin to the Romans to be crucified under the charge of “blasphemy.” Now, despite what many Christians assume, it wasn’t blasphemy to claim to be the Messiah. How else would you know who the king was? But it was blasphemy to claim to be divine.

And so the question is this: If Jesus isn’t claiming to be divine, then why is he charged with blasphemy in the context of a question about his identity? Far from not claiming to be divine in the Synoptic Gospels, the climax of these Gospels is precisely the explosive divine claims of Jesus and his subsequent execution. In other words, to answer your question: ‘What real support is there for the divinity of Jesus?’ There are four first-century biographies agreeing that Jesus speaks and acts as if he were divine and that he was in fact charged with blasphemy because of who he claimed to be.

What about the Resurrection?

Ignatius Reilly: The only evidence we have that [Jesus' resurrection] is historical in Mark is that a few women found an empty tomb. Maybe it was the wrong one. We also have the fact that nobody expected Jesus to rise, even though Jesus supposedly kept telling them his plan. The suggestion that the disciples did not understand Jesus when he told them about his resurrection seems like a way of covering over an inconvenient historical fact.

Rick Bateman: Why did the disciples/apostles wait until after Jesus had ascended to heaven to start preaching that he had risen? Wouldn’t it have been far more effective to start preaching while he was still around? For that matter, why didn’t Jesus continue preaching while he was still around (to anyone but the disciples)? For that matter, why did Jesus leave at all? Doesn’t it seem just a little convenient, not unlike the kind of explanations they might’ve come up with later if he hadn’t really come back to life at all?

Brant Pitre: These are great questions, and I can’t do them justice here. But I think they’re related, so I’ll try to make a couple of quick points to consider.

First, Ignatius, it’s simply not true that the “only evidence” for the resurrection we possess is the empty tomb in Mark. The empty tomb is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the early Christian belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus (since, obviously, tombs can get emptied in lots of ways besides resurrection.) As I noted above in the question on the literary genre and authorship of the Gospels, we have four first-century biographies of Jesus—attributed either to the apostles or their followers—that testify that (1) Jesus died and was buried, (2) the tomb was empty on Easter Sunday, (3) Jesus appeared on multiple occasions in his body to his disciples (including Matthew and John, to whom two of the four Gospels are attributed (see Matt 28; Mark 16:1-9; Luke 24; John 20-21).

Now, you can say that they’re all lying (as you suggest they may be), but you can’t claim we don’t have any evidence. Sure, it’s theoretically possible that all four authors are ‘covering up an inconvenient fact’, but it also possible (and I would argue much more plausible) that the disciples of Jesus really didn’t understand (or believe) what Jesus meant when he said he would die and rise again. After all, as dense as the disciples sometimes were, even they knew that ordinarily, dead people stay dead.

Second, Rick, the question of why Jesus doesn’t have the apostles start preaching before he ascends seems to be answered in the Gospels of Luke and John, which not only depict the apostles as too afraid for their own skins to go out and preach, but in which Jesus also spends those 40 days instructing the disciples about the mysteries of the kingdom and preparing them to be his “witnesses” (John 20; Luke 4).

Likewise, the question of why Jesus left all is a great question. It revolves very clearly about the meaning of the Ascension. Unfortunately, I don’t get into the Ascension much in the book. From one angle, it does indeed seem ‘convenient’ as you put it, if your goal is to cover up the fact that Jesus’ corpse was really mouldering somewhere in a tomb and never really raised. (So I ask you what I asked Ignatius: Do you think all four biographies of Jesus—including the two attributed to eyewitnesses—are deliberately deceiving their readers? If so, what’s your evidence?)

On the other hand, I would suggest that you consider the possibility that Jesus ascends into heaven precisely to fulfill the prophecy of Daniel, in which the “Son of man” ascends to the Ancient of Days to take his seat on a heavenly throne (contrary to what many assume, as James Dunn points out, the “Son of man” in Daniel 7 is ‘ascending’, not ‘descending’). It is, after all, the kingdom of “heaven.” But this doesn’t mean that Jesus ‘leaves’ (as you put it). Indeed, the whole account of the Road to Emmaus shows that the risen Jesus remains with his disciples in “the breaking of the bread.” (For more on this, see my 2011 book, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist.)

In the final analysis, it seems clear that throughout his public ministry and into his resurrection and beyond, Jesus does not go around shoving the mystery of his identity down people’s throats. To the contrary, he invites people to answer the question for themselves: “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29). In other words, he respects the freedom of his disciples and he wants them to trust him. In other words, he is not only giving motives of credibility (miracles, teaching, resurrection, etc.) for believing him (cf. John 10:38), he ultimately wants to call people to trust him, even when they can’t fully comprehend everything he says and does. This, of course, is what Christianity has traditionally referred to as “faith,” and this kind of trust is an essential part of any healthy relationship, including (and perhaps especially) a relationship with God. For more on the resurrection, history and faith, see The Case for Jesus, chapters 12-13.

 

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  • OverlappingMagisteria

    After reading, I don't think you’ll walk away thinking that “the Jews” had “one idea of the Messiah” and that Jesus had another.

    I suppose that remains to be seen if I read his book, but I think the challenge is pretty big. It certainly seems to me that the Jews at the time had a very different idea of who the messiah was supposed to be. It's one of the main reasons why so few Jews at the time became Christians.

    Even Jesus' own disciples didn't get it. In Matt 16, Peter accepts and affirms that Jesus is the messiah (Matt 16:16) but when told that Jesus is to die, he replies “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” (Matt 16:22).

    Dr. Pitre might think that Daniel 9 predicts that the messiah would have to be killed, but apparently the actual Jews at the time, even Jesus' disciples, didn't. I think this illustrates one of the problems with many prophecies: they aren't really as clear as they seem and can be interpreted to fit many different events afterward.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      OTOH, there were an estimated 10 million Jews in the Empire at the time, but by Late Antiquity there were only about one million, when over the centuries one would have expected a natural increase. The Romans surely did not kill all of them. The simplest explanation is that most of them did convert over time.

      • Ignatius Reilly

        Source?

        • Aquinas Rules

          See Rodney Stark "Cities of God", Chapter 5. If you google his name and Jewish diaspora or conversion, you should find a quote from that Chapter. I seem to remember he is pretty widely quoted as an authority on this subject.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Rodney Stark writes:

            It is important to keep in mind how greatly the Hellenized Jews of the diaspora outnumbered the Jews living in Palestine. Johnson (1976) suggests that there were a million in Palestine and four million outside, while Meeks (1983) places the population of the diaspora at five to six million. It is also worth noting that the Hellenized Jews were primarily urban—as were the early Christians outside Palestine (Meeks 1983). Finally, the Hellenized Jews were not an impoverished minority; they had been drawn out of Palestine over the centuries because of economic opportunities. By the first century, the large Jewish sections in major centers such as Alexandria were known for their wealth. As they built up wealthy and populous urban communities within the major centers of the empire, Jews had adjusted to life in the diaspora in ways that made them very marginal vis-à-vis the Judaism of Jerusalem. As early as the third century B.C.E their Hebrew had decayed to the point that the Torah had to be translated into Greek (Greenspoon 1989). In the process of translation not only Greek words, but Hellenic viewpoints, crept into the Septuagint.

            4-6 is a lot less than 10 million. I don't see anything about the Jewish population being at one million by the end of late antiquity.

            Rodney Stark would not attribute Chrisitianities rise to the idea that Jesus fit into their idea of what a Messiah would look like, which is the implication here. Stark believed that Christianity grew similar to Mormonism in America, and that there are sociological explanations (higher value placed on women, tight personal bonds among adherents, etc). Rodney Stark thought that the main source or early Christian converts were Hellenized Jews.

            Times change. Hellenized Jews converting in the second century does not mean that the Christian conception of a Messiah fit particularly well into 1st century Judaism.

          • Aquinas Rules

            You unfortunately found an excerpt where Rodney Stark mentions what other historians estimated the Jewish population to be in the 1st century Roman Empire. In another section of "Cities of God", Rodney give his own estimate of 6 - 9 million. The other problem is that Ye Old Statistician said the Jewish population went from 10 million down to 1 million. I don't know if he was quoting Rodney or another source, but Mr. Stark says in the same book that the Jewish population went from approximately 10% of the total Roman Empire down to 1%, not 10 million to 1 million. Also, the the population decrease took place over a number of years from the 1st century to the 10th century AD. So, its certainly conceivable that if you start with a population of 6 - 9 million Jews and they continue to multiply, there could have been 10 million conversions or even more over that period. Quotes from his book below.........
            "As the practice of inviting guests to worship makes clear, Jews in the Diaspora sought converts, and they seem to have been quite successful in doing so. The best estimate is that by the first century, Jews made up from 10 to 15 percent of the population of the Roman Empire, nearly 90 percent of them living in cities outside Palestine. This would have amounted to from six to nine million people."
            and.....
            "Population data lend further sup port to the assumption of a very large number of Jewish convert s. As noted, the Diasporan Jews constituted at least 10 percent of the total population of the empire, and perhaps as much as 15 percent. Medieval historians estimate that Jews made up only 1 percent of the population of Latin Europe in about the tenth century. Granted, some of that percentage decline was caused by the Islamic conquest of areas having substantial Jewish populations. Nevertheless, thefigures also suggest a considerable decline in the Diasporan population during that millennium, which is consistent with there having been a substantial rate of conversion"

            According to the "Acts of the Apostles" and some of the early Church Fathers, many 1st and 2nd century Jews converted to Christianity because they were convinced that the Messianic Prophecies were fullfilled in the person of Jesus. So, one could make a reasonable argument that the Christian concept of the Messiah was largely (not completely) compatible with 1st century Judaism.

      • Husky Fan in Mass

        Do you mean assimilation?

        • Mike

          what would assimilation look like?

          • Husky Fan in Mass

            A people would just disappear into a larger society.

          • Mike

            but wouldn't that entail conversion? unless they became pagan but most ppl stopped being pagan.

          • Husky Fan in Mass

            Yeah, but it wouldn't be such a big deal because their temple was destroyed and they probably lost "faith" in their old faith.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          Assimilation is a possibility, although Jews had an , aversion to paganism. They were also slaughtered in large numbers by general Trajan in the great revolts in Cyprus, Alexandria, and elsewhere, but that seems insufficient to account for the volume. Also, a fair number went into exile in Arabia; but again, the numbers don't seem to be there. Most exiles under the Romans just moved people around within the Empire. In Alexandria, there was hard feeling between the Christian Jews and the Jewish Jews -- about half of Christians were estimated to have been Jewish in Alexandria in the fourth century. Earlier, in the reign of Claudius, the Romans were unable to tell the difference and when quarrels broke out between Christian Jews and Jewish Jews in the synagogues, the Romans exiled both indifferently from Rome.

          I do recall reading once -- in C.D. Darlington The Evolution of Man and Society, iirc -- that a great many upper class Romans were flirting with and even converting to Judaism at one time, possibly because the austere morality reminded them of the old Republican virtues. The Great Revolt scotched that, but it raises the weird alt. hist. scenario of the assimilation working the other way round.

          • Steve Brown

            When the Portuguese arrived in India around the coast of Malabar, they discovered a Jewish community there who had been there quite awhile - judging from their language. Makes you wonder if they had been there as traders or as refugees from a by-gone era.

      • Scott O’Connor
    • Nathaniel

      Imagine you spend 2-3 years with someone, share many adventures, and come to love this person dearly. If this person all of a sudden told you they were going to die soon, I think it makes sense that a knee jerk reaction would be to say what Peter says("Never, Lord!") It would/did break the disciples hearts to think/see that their beloved friend would die soon. Even though Peter affirms Jesus as the messiah(Matt 16:16) and if we assume he knew and understood the prophecies of the old testament that the messiah would be put to death, I think it makes sense that when confronted with the fact, he would respond as he did in Matt 16:22. Not that he "didn't get it" he just couldn't deal with the reality.

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        I see what you're saying and it makes some sense. But Jesus' strong response to Peter ("Get behind me, Satan!") suggests (to me at least) that Peter is not just reacting emotionally.

        You're suggesting that Jesus reacts to his friend's broken heart by calling him Satan. That is quite a callous reaction!

        I'm suggesting that Jesus reacts to his friend's misunderstanding of God's mission by calling him Satan. This seems to be a bit more appropriate of a reaction.

        • Nathaniel

          I had not considered that OverlappingMagisteria. Perhaps Jesus was rebuking Peter for acting emotionally and not using his reason. It's like, in my own life, I often know what I am supposed to do(reason) but I don't follow through. That's bad. If we all lived like we think we should I think we'd all be a lot happier. Jesus is maybe rebuking Peter for letting his emotions get the better of him.

          Also Jesus knew what he had to do(die on the cross). Anyone that told him he didn't have to do this would be trying to mess with God's almighty plans(i.e. Satan)

          Let me know if they doesn't make any sense.

        • dconklin

          >You're suggesting that Jesus reacts to his friend's broken heart by calling him Satan. That is quite a callous reaction!

          No; Jesus recognized the source of what Peter said.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    In that piece, I show that Jesus can’t have been “wrong” about the end
    of the world, since he expressly states that although “heaven and earth
    will pass away,” “not even the Son” knows “the day or the hour”

    I know that quoting this verse is common among your average pre-millienialist Christian, but I am surprised to see a Biblical scholar cherry pick like this. Let's look at the verse in a bit more context (bolding mine):

    Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. - Mark 13:30-32

    Jesus is saying that it will happen within a time frame (this generation) but the exact date within the time frame is unknown. It's as if I told you "I'll come visit sometime this month, but I don't know what day or what time." If I haven't shown up after a year, you can be pretty sure that I was wrong. It would be pretty silly to say "But he never said what day he'd come!"

    • Will

      That answer does damage this scholars credibility in my eyes. Surely the man read the verse right before it. Let's keep going

      Mark 9:1 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with[a] power.”

      Matthew 24

      34 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

      Luke 21

      31"So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32"Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

      Paul clearly expects to be alive when God comes to set up his Kingdom (also in 1 Cor which I won't quote for brevity)

      14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.[i] 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died.[j] 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

      And then a made up excuse in 2 Peter that was written after the prophecy failed and all the apostles were dead. Chapter 3

      3 First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died,[a] all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!” 5 They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, 6 through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless.

      8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you,[b] not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.[c]

      So the excuse was that God was giving people more time to repent, and more time for the Gospel to spread. The early Christians knew full well this was a problem. Oh and the end of the world (current age) was to come right before the kingdom of God, from what can be cobbled together from the texts.

      • William, see above. You're making the same mistake that Brant sought to correct, namely equating "the coming of the kingdom of God" with "the end of the world." That's just not how first-century Jews would have understood that phrase.

        • Will

          Let me repeat Paul from 1 Thess 4

          14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.[i] 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died.[j] 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

          Paul declares that, by the word of the Lord himself, the dead in Christ will rise first. Then "we who are left alive" (which includes Paul) will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air. Let me quote a passage from Mark 13

          26 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
          28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he[e] is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

          If you can't see Paul, a first century Jew, clearly thinks this prophecy is about the resurrection of the dead, which will come right before God sets up his kingdom, I'm not sure what to tell you. Paul clearly says this comes straight from the Lord, who would be none other than Jesus. What do you think the author of 2 Peter was talking about (scholarly consensus says Peter didn't right it, besides if Peter was still alive, the time frame for the prophecy would not have passed so Peter never would have had a reason to write chapter 3).

          • Jim the Scott

            Proves nothing since it assumes your conflation of the Kingdom of God with the end but your own citation from "1 Cor 15" shows the Kingdom is something that exists prior and distinct from the End which Jesus gives the Father.

            The Kingdom is the Church not the End. Jesus gives Peter Keys Matt 16:18 and gives him Eliakim's "Father(Pope) over the people" office as Prime Minister "Master of the Household" job in Isaiah 22:20-24 (which is later cited in Rev). This is a office that serves the King of Judah of which Jesus is the final King. It is linked to his Church not the end.

            If I stopped believing in God tomorrow knowing what I know I would still reject this Edit (unconvincing)claim of yours.

          • Will

            I don't doubt that the beginning of the kingdom of God was in Jesus's lifetime as that does explain some other texts better, but that doesn't change the fact that Paul expected the resurrection of the dead in his lifetime (he makes it clear he thinks he will not die). Let's add Romans 8

            18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

            What glory was about to be revealed to the Christians, Jesus was long dead? He seems to expect to see creation itself set from from it's bondage and decay...that certainly doesn't fit your interpretation. Again, sure, the kingdom begins with Jesus's ministry as a "mustard seed" but what does Jesus mean that it will come "in power" in the lifetime of the apostles. Just his resurrection. Christianity didn't get many converts in the beginning.

            Rev 22

            12 “See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

            On a side note, I have yet to see anyone touch the excuse made in 2 Peter 3 (and I can quote a ton of scholars who say that the vast majority of scholars are confident this wasn't written by Peter)? Here is a Catholic one, since you would ignore any Protestant scholars (protestants often do the same thing to Catholic scholars which is a bit comical from my point of view).

            Most scholars agree that 2 Peter is pseudepigraphic, written long after Peter's death, but still drawing upon his authority.
            Much of 2 Peter quotes from the Letter of Jude, thus it must be written later than Jude.

            Tons of serious Bible scholars accept this interpretation and recognize it was a problem. Was C.S. Lewis a dispensationalist? Read what Lewis wrote about it here. He calls it the most embarrasing passage in the Bible. William Lane Craig, who is often referenced on this site, has a very different view, and mentions even more attempted solutions to the problem (at least he admits it's a problem). He doesn't mention the Pauline writing which blow his theory out of the water.

            You do realize the kingdom of God doesn't even appear in Mark 13 right? At issue it the return of the Son of Man, and the gathering of the elect, and the resurrection of the dead. The kingdom of God only affects Mark 9:1 in how one interprets "in power". It's a bit comical that I am simply not making the "mistake" you guys claim I am, though I should have done a better job clarifying that ;)

            Calling the Catholic Church the kingdom of God seems deeply problematic in a variety of ways. Considering all of the splits (including Eastern Orthodox and protestant, ect), the "kingdom of God" has been literally falling apart for a while now. It continually has been losing ground in the west, and Islam is spreading much faster in third world countries.
            It's fine with me if you ignore all this, however, I realize how important belief in an afterlife can be to people. Of course, and afterlife could exist even if Jesus wasn't God, and there is reason to believe he didn't claim to be God in the beginning, especially when you interpret "son of God" in the context of Judaism. The entire line of David were sons of God.

          • Jim the Scott

            You latest gives me even more reasons to doubt your interpretation.

            >I don't doubt that the beginning of the kingdom of God was in Jesus's lifetime, but that doesn't change the fact that Paul expected the resurrection of the dead in his lifetime (he makes it clear he thinks he will not die). Let's add Romans 8

            Moving the goal posts I see? 1 Cor 15 didn't work so now you are on Romans?.......It is clear Paul taught Christians to live as if the Second Coming could be in their lifetime but he clearly DIDN'T teach it would in fact come in their lifetime, Paul never overthrew "nobody knows the day and the hour" and it is clear Jesus didn't either. Romans 8 says nothing about the second coming happening in their lifetime.

            >What glory was about to be revealed to the Christians, Jesus was long dead?

            "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.....but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies."

            It says they are waiting but no promises anything WILL in fact happen in the short term. So the idea Jesus clearly fortold his Second Coming is simply wrong.
            Paul is speaking of the future, which is when this will happen but he nowhere claim it will happen in their lifetime. Of course since logically nobody but The Father knows the day and the hour it is not beyond the pale Paul would prepare his follows in case it does happen in his lifetime.
            Since he can't know that it won't only the Father knows this....

            But be honest Davis. Your argument is Jesus made a false prophesy to come during the Apostles lifetime based on your conflating the end with the Kingdom. That has been shown to be false. That Christians are to prepare because the end could happen at anytime is unremarkable. It's not the same as claiming "Yeh I am coming back during your lifetime".

            > He seems to expect to see creation itself set from from it's bondage and decay...

            He says he is waiting for what will happen in the indeterminate future. Not what will definitely happen in his lifetime.

            >that certainly doesn't fit your interpretation.

            Doesn't contradict it at all. Rather your interpretation is to assume the confusion between Kingdom and End of Days & read that concept into the text. It's not clear Romans 8 is telling us Jesus said he would return in the Apostles lifetime.

            >Again, sure, the kingdom begins with Jesus's ministry as a "mustard seed" but what does Jesus mean that it will come "in power" in the lifetime of the apostles. Just his resurrection. Christianity didn't get many converts in the beginning.

            The Kingdom is the Church not the End of Days. The Church can't be expected to be one billion people in the beginning.

            >Tons of serious Bible scholars accept this interpretation and recognize it was a problem.

            Argument from authority. There is good reason to doubt this interpretation. Citing Protestants is worst that citing Liberal Catholic NAB commentators who at least give other interpretations. So I am un-moved & would still doubt your view if I become an Atheist.

            >I have yet to see anyone touch the excuse made in 2 Peter 3?

            Easy, some lay people contemporaries of Peter inferred it could have happened in their lifetime and where wondering why it didn't & Peter being a good Pope set the record straight. Peter like Paul (neither know the day or hour) still prudently prepares his follows to always be ready in case Jesus does come again in their lifetime. It's good for their souls.

            >I probably should have made it clear I agreed that the kingdom of God began with Jesus ministry and the seeds he planted.

            Except the coming kingdom IS ONLY his Church not the End of Days.

            >You do realize the kingdom of God doesn't even appear in Mark 13 right?

            So like Andy Dick on a Saturday night you are try to have it both ways? You want to put Mark and Paul together to prop up this self-serving interpretation but divorce Matt from the equation & do a Sola Markus? How is this not argument from special pleading? So Protestant..........

            >Calling the Catholic Church the kingdom of God seems deeply problematic in a variety of ways. Considering all of the splits (including Eastern Orthodox and protestant, ect), the "kingdom of God" has been literally falling apart for a while now. It continually has been losing ground in the west, and Islam is spreading much faster in third world countries.

            God's Church is the Kingdom of God & that interpretation would fit the EO and many Protestants even those with a low-church view. Ask a Calvinist.

            >It's fine with me if you ignore all this, however, I realize how important belief in an afterlife can be to people. Of course, and afterlife could exist even if Jesus wasn't God, and there is reason to believe he didn't claim to be God in the beginning, especially when you interpret "son of God" in the context of Judaism. The entire line of David were sons of God.

            I don't ignore it. Rather I find your claim Jesus foretold his second coming during his lifetime to be wrong based on reason alone & the text you showed me. I don't have to even believe in God to think that.

          • Will

            Moving the goal posts I see? 1 Cor 15 didn't work so now you are on Romans?

            This is completely hilarious to me. I add more textual evidence and you call it moving the goalpost! I just wrote a bunch of insults, but I erased them. I have no desire to ever converse with you in the future, it's certainly a waste of my time, especially in light of past, terrible interaction. All you accomplish is getting on my nerves, I'm guessing that's part of your goal. If you post a reply to me again, I will respond with "please bother someone else."

          • Jim the Scott

            >This is completely hilarious to me. I add more textual evidence and you call it moving the goalpost!

            But you tried to subtract texts by trying to restrict your argument to Mark? I would at least want a rebuttal or acknowledgement of my argument against 1 Cor 15 before you bring Romans 8 into it.

            I'm sorry but I have argued in the past with too many a fundie who begs for "Biblical Proof" for the Papacy & calling the Pope Father where as I trod out Matt 16:18 compared to Isaiah 20:20-24 & instead of a response he rants "Oh yeh what about the sinlessness of Mary".

            So yeh I think you are moving the goal Posts.

            That is what I think.

            If I put you off personally....well too bad I am not going to let you slander Jesus by claiming He foretold his own second coming during his lifetime when He clearly didn't.

          • Will

            Please bother someone else. I certainly am NOT trying to slander Jesus, I think he was a great guy. I just think he got this wrong, it would have been great if he had it right, I'd love to live in the Kingdom of God, in power (as long as Jesus was ruling it and not human Popes who have been terrible in many cases, but the current one seems pretty decent). My insults are about your intellectual level, your misuse of logical fallacies and a general sense that you don't care to even try to understand what I'm saying. This is indicative of what you are trying to do:

            I'm sorry but I have argued in the past with too many a fundie who begs for "Biblical Proof" for the Papacy & calling the Pope Father where as I trod out Matt 16:18 compared to Isaiah 20:20-24 & instead of a response he rants "Oh yeh what about the sinlessness of Mary".

            You're here to make yourself feel superior to protestants. It's pathetic and unscholarly. I'd like to discuss issues with intelligent, scholarly people...you aren't one. If Jesus is really God, I would tend to think he's ashamed of you. I would be.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Please bother someone else. I certainly am NOT trying to slander Jesus, I think he was a great guy.

            Sorry no, I will not give you a pass to make a flawed argument against what I believe to be the truth. I don't care how much you dislike me. Do what Nickols does and try to come up with a better answer.

            >I just think he got this wrong,

            I think the same about you & your insults don't bother me since I am not some little snowflake who has to run and hide when someone calls him a name.

            Jesus was talking about establishing his Church not the Second Coming which he already said he didn't know (which is true given that knowledge was likely NOT infused into his Human Intellect).

            >You're here to make yourself feel superior to protestants. It's pathetic and unscholarly.

            I do believe Catholicism is superior to Protestantism because it is the full Truth and I WILL NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR THAT.

            But you have a left over Protestant mentality which is fine except it still leads too non-starter objections for Catholics.

            If you want me to not critique your posts then you must stop critiquing Christianity all together. Of course the later is not a reasonable request on my part and neither is the former on your part.

          • Will

            Lol!

            If you want me to not critique your posts then you must stop critiquing Christianity all together. Of course the later is not a reasonable request on my part and neither is the former on your part.

            So you want this website shut down! Let Brandon know! At this point, an old expression comes to mind.

            I enjoy talking to Brandon, though I often find his arguments weak (and I'm sure he thinks the same of mine). Michael Flynn (Ye Olde Stat) adds excellent historical information, though he can be condescending to "late moderns" which is pretty annoying. I've met a number of Catholics here that have given me a very positive view of Catholicism, especially in light of the bad mouthing of Catholics I experienced in protestant circles (though many, many protestants aren't like that at all). I think Aquinas was brilliant for example, and Aristotle was obviously a great philosopher. You are only damaging Catholicism, it's sad that you can't see that. I'm not saint either, but if you won't to help the Catholic Church, I'd recommend you stop comment. I could debunk many of your claims but this would go on forever, and Twain might be right, onlookers might not be able to tell the difference. I've said "please leave me alone", and you continue to post comment after comment.

            5 When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

            3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

            4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

            5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

            6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

            7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

            8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

            9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

            10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

            11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

            21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister,[e] you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult[f] a brother or sister,[g] you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell[h] of fire.

            Read that last. There is every reason to think Protestants are your brothers and sisters in Christ. You might be right, they might be in error, but considering the way you treat them, Jesus says you are liable for hell fire. Maybe you should hope Jesus is wrong (I certainly don't think hell exists) ;)
            I apologize for insulting you, but you really make it hard not too ( I am human after all but I try to do the right thing, which includes being honest about what I believe). Jesus has set a good standard here that even atheist psychologists agree with as being effective for appeasement and improved conversation. Anyway, I rest make case, if you think you've done a good job "defending Jesus" so be it.

            Edit to remove some unnecessary snark.

          • Jim the Scott

            >So you want this website shut down! Let Brandon know! At this point, an old expression comes to mind.

            What part of "Of course the later is not a reasonable request on my part and neither is the former on your part." is unclear to you?

          • Jim the Scott

            >I apologize for insulting you, but you really make it hard not too

            Same here but at hill's request I pulled my use of the word "weak" and replaced it with "unconvincing".

            You need to calm down.

          • Will

            Quick question, what do you make of this verses in John

            John 3:3-7 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

            Certainly I can see the Catholic Church, and I'm not born again. I can also enter a Catholic Church.

            John 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

            Certainly the Catholic Church is in this world.

            Now look at Matthew 25:1-13. One parable isn’t enough!

            ‘Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.” And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.” Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

            Doesn't this parable make the most sense if Jesus is the bridegroom and his return is when it's too late to light you lamp (i.e. get right with god). It even repeats the "you know neither the day nor the hour" from Mark 13, Matthew, and Luke.

            There's more, for sure, but again, the interpretation of the Kingdom of God has little relevance to Mark 13 (depending on how one wants to interpret it) and none at all to Paul's expectation of the resurrection that he claims was promised the "the Lord".

          • Jim the Scott

            These are not hard & they are not quick.

            John 3:3-7 To be Born Again is Baptism. That is unanimously taught by all the Church Fathers.

            Calvin was the first to claim it meant something other than Baptism.

            >John 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

            It's a supernatural originated Church not a political entity or nation state that will rival the Roman Empire.

            >Certainly the Catholic Church is in this world.

            So you are equivocating between "being in the world" with "being of it"?
            Rookie mistake.

            Matthew 25:1-13 is a parable about going to Heaven and salvation & preparing for Heaven not about establishing the Church or the second coming.

            The Kingdom of Heaven is part of the Kingdom of God but not the whole of it. God is ruler of more than Heaven dude.

            >There's more, for sure, but again, the interpretation of the Kingdom of God has little relevance to Mark 13 (depending on how one wants to interpret it)

            Well the Bible is not clear so the Bible is subject to many interpretations.

            That is the Catholic's starting presupposition. Your latent Protestant one is the opposite.

          • Jim the Scott

            One question for you since I was gracious enough to answer your many machine gun questions.

            "Then comes the end,[g] when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power."

            What do you think "Kingdom" means here since it is obviously to me at least something Jesus gives to the Father at the end 7 thus cannot be the end itself?

          • Will

            What do you think "Kingdom" means here since it is obviously to me at least something Jesus gives to the Father at the end 7 thus cannot be the end itself?

            I've already addressed this question. I said it makes sense that the kingdom started with Jesus ministry but isn't to come "in power" until the parousia. This if from Catholic apologetic.org

            Catholic Christians have always believed that Jesus Christ would come back to close the current period of human history in earth. The time when Jesus will return is given many names: the Day of the Lord, the Parousia, the end time, and the Second Coming of Christ.

            The Bible describes the events of Jesus' return in apocalyptic images.

            Mk 13:26-27

            And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds' with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather (his) elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.

            Mt 16:27

            For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.

            Acts 1:11

            They (two men dressed in white) said, "Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven."

            1 Thess 4:16-18

            For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words.

            The parousia will be unmistakable because it will be accompanied by unprecedented signs.

            Mt 24:27

            For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

            Some signs are general events concerning the evangelization of the world.

            Mt 24:14

            And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.

            Other signs are more proximate. Mark (Chapter 13), Matthew (Chapter 24), and Luke (Chapter 21) all describe the unmistakable signs with apocalyptic images.

            2 Tim 4:1-2

            I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word ...

            2 Tim 3:1-5

            But understand this: there will be terrifying times in the last days. People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious, callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, as they make a pretense of religion but deny its power. Reject them.

            No one knows exactly when this will occur.

            Mk 13:32

            (Jesus began his discourse ...) "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
            http://www.catholicapologetics.org/ap090500.htm

            This from CATHOLICAPOLOGETICS.ORG and they are saying EXACTLY what I've been saying this whole time, using the EXACT same verses. Don't you feel silly yet? You should.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I've already addressed this question. I said it makes sense that the kingdom started with Jesus ministry but isn't to come "in power" until the parousia. This if from Catholic apologetic.org

            Except the Kingdom is something Christ gives to the Father at the end of days. It's not the End of days itself. I don't see how to get past this to accept your interpretation?

            I'll skip over some of the bits I already know and get to the meat.

            >The parousia will be unmistakable because it will be accompanied by unprecedented signs.
            >Mk 13:26-27
            And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds' with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather (his) elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.

            He gathers his Kingdom(the Church/elect) and gives them to his Father but that doesn't mean the End is the Kingdom. It's merely the end.

            >Mt 24:14
            And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.

            Well that didn't happen at the end of the first century unless I believe the Mormons and Apostles went to Pre-columbian America.

            >Other signs are more proximate. Mark (Chapter 13), Matthew (Chapter 24), and Luke (Chapter 21) all describe the unmistakable signs with apocalyptic images.

            >2 Tim 4:1-2
            I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word ...

            2 Tim 3:1-5
            But understand this: there will be terrifying times in the last days. People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious, callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, as they make a pretense of religion but deny its power. Reject them.

            No one knows exactly when this will occur.

            Mk 13:32

            (Jesus began his discourse ...) "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

            http://www.catholicapologetics...

            >This from CATHOLICAPOLOGETICS.ORG and they are saying EXACTLY what I've been saying this whole time, using the EXACT same verses. Don't you feel silly yet? You should.

            But none of them tell us the coming of the Kingdom is the same as the End of days?

            That seems plain to me.

          • Jim the Scott

            additional.

            I read the link and you left out this part.

            The Catholic Church teaches that we should avoid pointless speculations about the time, the details of the signs, the nature of the difficulties, etc. The Church focuses instead on the need for living the Gospel so as to be prepared for the parousia whenever it happens.

            Mk 13:33,35-37

            (Jesus began his discourse ...) "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. ... Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"

            1 Pet 1:13-16

            Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, "Be holy because I (am) holy."

          • Will

            Of course he says you do not know the time, right after he says

            30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert;[f] for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.

            Verse 30 specifies that it will be within "this generation". It's like me saying, "It'll happen this year, but I don't know exactly what day or what time". I really don't see why this is so hard to understand, it's what OverlappingMag said and I added to it. I repeat again, I think you are right about the Kingdom of God, it doesn't change the problem of the "generation" specification of the parousia, or that Paul expected to see it (1 Thess 4) because of the "the Lord's promise". The parousia, ignoring the kingdom of God interpretation, is at issue. If you want to think the Kingdom of God is the Catholic Church and protestants have left it, I'm ok with that, but I really think you should take your protestant headhunt elsewhere. My Dad is a protestant preacher, so excuse me if I find it offensive. I'm not here bashing Catholics for being Catholic.

          • Jim the Scott

            "this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. " refers to the prophecies of Daniel as Pitre points out & thus applies to the Church not the End. The killing of the Fig tree is the destruction of the Temple and the OT Church superseded by the New.

            You are dogmatically wedded to this confusion of the Kingdom and the End of days.

            >If you want to think the Kingdom of God is the Catholic Church

            I said it applied to the Church and I conceded it could be used by Eastern Orthodox or low church Protestants. You are not following your own advice.
            You are not trying to understand.

            >, I'm ok with that, but I really think you should take your protestant headhunt elsewhere. My Dad is a protestant preacher, so excuse me if I find it offensive. I'm not here bashing Catholics for being Catholic.

            I don't understand why you think it is "bashing" Protestants for me to say I don't believer their religion is fully true but you seem to have no problem denying the resurection and the supernatural origin of Christianity in general and stating that belief?

            Why does the later not make you a "Christian basher" by your own standards?

            You can say Christianity is not true but I can't doubt Protestantism?

            weird......

          • Will

            It's also here, in general

            http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08552a.htm

            The very first thing I told you was that I now agree (thanks to research I did after talking to Brandon and Lazarus yesterday, and even though there are some scriptures like in John that seem, at first glance, to contradict this) that the kingdom of God started with Jesus ministry. It's obvious evidence that you aren't paying attention to what I'm writing? Should I get annoyed ask you to leave me alone? Wow!

          • Jim the Scott

            I am paying attention. Me thinks it is you who is not paying attention.

            You are reading the wrong part of the Catholic Encylopedia

            Try this

            Kingdom of God
            http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08646a.htm

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Things really start to go downhill once newadvent is referenced as a source for biblical scholarship.

          • Jim the Scott

            Then your argument is with Davis he started it.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            What grade are we in?

          • Jim the Scott

            Some grade where you go "Nay! Nay! The Catholic Encylopedia is for doody heads."?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I don't think anybody said that. I think somebody said that the Catholic Encyclopedia is a poor venue for biblical scholarship. I would suggest a little less snark and a little more substance.

          • Jim the Scott

            Saying using the CE as a scholarly resource is "going down hill" is kind of snarky. Especially when you don't give me a good reason why(other than Nickol saying it's racist sexist etc....).

            But all this is moot. Your boy Davis cited it first. I merely responded.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I'm stating facts. Significant developments have taken place in the past 100 years that cannot appear in the encyclopedia. It claims traditional authorship, that Matthew is a Greek translation, etc. it is a poor reference for current scholarship and a poor reference for current catholic scholarship.

            I wish SN Catholics would read mainstream scholarship as well as Pitre.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I'm stating facts. Significant developments have taken place in the past 100 years that cannot appear in the encyclopedia.

            So what? Your argument is with your buddy Davis who cited it to me.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            So you agree with me that The Catholic Encyclopedia is a poor reference for Biblical Scholarship?

          • Jim the Scott

            Rather I don't know or care and your argument is still with Davis for citing it first.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You cited it as well. I would think as a Catholic you would care what good biblical scholarship looks like. From your posts I can tell that you don't know what good biblical scholarship looks like.

          • Jim the Scott

            Davis cited it first. You would think you "rationalist" skeptics and Atheists would care what good scholarship looks like? I countered him using his source & I still don't know if it's a good source and I still don't care.

            Your argument is with Davis.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            My argument isn't with Davis, because Davis generally uses good sources, admits when he is wrong, and writes substantive posts, which I sometimes disagree with, but they are at least substantive. On the other hand, your contributions will most likely be the final reason as to why I leave this site. My problem is with you and the way you conduct yourself.

          • Jim the Scott

            Sorry but I don't care what you do & if you are too lazy to offer real supportive arguments for your friend (like showing me the Bible understands the coming of the Kingdom and the Second Coming as the same thing) and just want to make minor tangent complaints about the Catholic Encyclopedia as a pretense to attack me personally..well... I still don't care.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You are filling the commboxes with bad biblical scholarship, snark, and Catholic Triumphalism. We would perhaps enjoy your company more if you tried to make your contributions a little more pleasant and substantive.

            Now, there are multiple questions when it comes to Kingdom and the 2nd coming. 1) What did the writer of Mark believe? 2) What did Jesus say? 3) What did early Christians believe?

            edit: disqus

          • Jim the Scott

            >You are filling the commboxes with bad biblical scholarship, snark, and Catholic Triumphalism.

            As opposed to your bad biblical scholarship, snark and Atheist Triumphalism? Pot=Kettle=Black.

            >We would perhaps enjoy your company more if you tried to make your contributions a little more pleasant and substantive.

            This coming from the guy wasting everyone's time complaining about the Catholic Encyclopedia & then launched into a personal attack on moi?

            Hey at Jim hill's request I removed my objectionable language calling the argument "weak sauce" and replaced "weak" with the less objectionable "unconvincing". But so far all your contributions & that those of your friend have been personal attacks on me. Acts of revenge over something I did to you in the past.

            Grow up pal.

            >Now, there are multiple questions when it comes to Kingdom and the 2nd coming. 1) What did the writer of Mark believe?

            That begs the question and depends on your presuppositions?

            > 2) What did Jesus say?

            Ditto.

            3) What did early Christians believe?

            Double ditto.

            I am sorry but none of these "questions" are substantive. They are in fact non-specific and vague. Thus I judge them useless but I applaud your effort. Small as it is....

            The thing is Iggy. Catholics no matter how you slice it don't believe in the fundamentalist & or Protestant doctrines of Scripture alone, private interpretation or perspicuity. So unlike with fundamentalists you really can't polemic their religion reading your literalistic presupposition that Christ foretold his second coming in let us say Mark 13 because I have no problem with Christ using ambiguous language that is not clear.

            Thus I have no problem with the NASB notes giving "race" as an alternate secondary translation/interpretation of "generations" which blows up the polemic right there. I am fully comfortable with a Christ who is obscure in some things he says. When Paul says "All have sinned" I assume he has exceptions like Jesus and Mary. In a similar manner when Jesus says "Call no man Father" I am not surprised that is not absolutely literal when Paul calls himself a "Father" in his letters. Or Jesus makes Peter a Father in Matt 16:18 because he has given him an OT Davidic office Isaiah 22:20-24 & the keys.

            Thus if Jesus begins Mark 13 1-23 foretelling the destruction of the Temple then I have no problem believing that is his primary topic here and the second coming is merely an after thought. Also before he says "this generation" he refers to the fig tree which is his parable on the destruction of the temple thus I have no problem believing Jesus only means the disciples will see the destruction of the temple before their generation passes away since he later says "nobody know the day etc..but the Father alone".

            Jesus himself says he isn't always being literally clear Mark 4:10-13.

            Those are the breaks. Catholics are not Protestants. Learn that and upgrade your Atheist polemics.

            It's your interpretation of Mark 13 vs mine & well I choose mine & I would knowing what I know still choose it if I denied God.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            As opposed to your bad biblical scholarship, snark and Atheist Triumphalism? Pot=Kettle=Black.

            Nope. I can back up what I say with quotes from major scholars. I'm not being snarky - I'm asking you to be pleasant. I don't think a single non-believer on this site is enjoying your conversation. I'm not a triumphalist either. I don't care much about what people believe. I value our shared human experiences.

            But so far all your contributions & that those of your friend have been personal attacks on me. Acts of revenge over something I did to you in the past.

            Grow up pal.

            Nope my opinion of you has been formed from your postings over the past day or two. I barely recollect our past interactions. I believe you were unpleasant then as well.

            I am sorry but none of these "questions" are substantive. They are in fact non-specific and vague. Thus I judge them useless but I applaud your effort. Small as it is....

            No, these questions are fundamental to biblical scholarship.There is a difference between what the Gospel writers wanted us to believe about Jesus and what Jesus actually was like. If you look at the say the Gospel of Mark, you should first ask, what does Mark want us to believe about Jesus? Then we can proceed to the other questions.
            Did you read that link to N.T. Wright that David posted? Or do you not read Anglicans, even if they are highly influential biblical scholars?

            As for the rest of your rantings, try to respond to things that I actually wrote. Please don't ascribe to me the opinions of other atheists. I was once Catholic. I've read Catholic biblical scholars, as well as ones of other faiths. I don't really have a strong opinion on Mark 13. Still making up my mind. I'm just pointing out that you aren't being very scholarly in your approach.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Nope. I can back up what I say with quotes from major scholars.

            Which begs the question because any "conservatives" I might cite in opposition de facto become "not major scholars" in your eyes. That is just a silly game.

            >I'm not being snarky - I'm asking you to be pleasant. I don't think a single non-believer on this site is enjoying your conversation. I'm not a triumphalist either. I don't care much about what people believe. I value our shared human experiences.

            You pretty much are and I would add you are being passive agressive as well. I have avoided personal insults (& corrected a minor one) but you and your friend Davis can't say the same. That I have been aggressive in prosecuting my argument and principled in holding to my beliefs is not my problem. That is your problem.

            >Nope my opinion of you has been formed from your postings over the past day or two. I barely recollect our past interactions. I believe you were unpleasant then as well.

            If that is true then you would know I have not leveled any personal insults in my criticism outside of calling the arguments "weak" which at Jim Hill's request I changed to "unconvincing". It is your boy Davis who leveled the insults and demanded I not respond to his posts (therefore giving him free reign to offer any contra-Christian polemics unchallenged). But I will say too his credit he attempted an apology which I accepted. I don't see you correcting him? Have you? Am I missing something? Or is this just tribalism on your part which I think likely?

            >No, these questions are fundamental to biblical scholarship.

            No they are kind of vague. What does Mark mean? Well what is
            your interpretive lens? The teaches of the Church Fathers and
            early Chrisitan writers? Exegesis? The Talmud & Mishnah and
            ancient Jewish tradition? Or do you believe the language is
            somehow plain and perspicous? A Naturalistic view? Supernatural?
            Catholic? Reformed? Orthodox?

            Which of these suppositions to use & why?

            >There is a difference between what the Gospel writers wanted us to believe about Jesus and what Jesus actually was like.

            That is your naturalistic presupposition but how do I know that is true?

            >Did you read that link to N.T. Wright that David posted?

            Yes & it was pretty funny Wright's crack about how scholars are accused of heresy going against the "Church Fathers" and then he gives a list of the most notorious liberal & skeptical academics in Christianity as the "Father" and holders of sacred Tradition. Hysterical! Lovely satire of which I approve!

            OTOH for the likes of of someone who might think like you Iggy, Bultman or Lewis' on Mark 13 is a "Church Father" & I prefer Augustine or Aquinas.

            >Or do you not read Anglicans, even if they are highly influential biblical scholars?

            I don't treat them as infallible or binding authorities. Lewis was great but he debated an ex-Atheist turned Catholic female philosopher( Anscombe) on an earlier version of his Argument from Reason and she took him apart. Thus he had to go back and change and improve his argument. The new one is way better. But if Lewis can make a mistake I don't get how your boy Nickol citing him is suppose to automatically make me abandon the argument I already layed out?

            That is just tedious.

            >As for the rest of your rantings, try to respond to things that I actually wrote.

            Follow your own advice and we will get along splendidly. Enough of your double standards.

            >Please don't ascribe to me the opinions of other atheists. I was once Catholic. I've read Catholic biblical scholars, as well as ones of other faiths. I don't really have a strong opinion on Mark 13. Still making up my mind. I'm just pointing out that you aren't being very scholarly in your approach.

            I am still a Catholic with a skeptical mind and all you have given me is a non-scholarly passive aggressive appeal to my feelings.

            That never works with me buddy. Try argument. Like that Overlapping dude or even Nickols on his good days.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Which begs the question because any "conservatives" I might cite in opposition de facto become "not major scholars" in your eyes. That is just a silly game.

            No question begging has been done. You read way to much into what I write, and then construct strawmen. I have no problem with conservative scholars. What I have a problem with is when conservative scholars ignore mainstream scholarship in the service of an apologetic.

            You pretty much are and I would add you are being passive agressive as well. I have avoided personal insults (& corrected a minor one) but you and your friend Davis can't say the same. That I have been aggressive in prosecuting my argument and principled in holding to my beliefs is not my problem. That is your problem.

            Sigh. You haven't been aggressive or principled - you have been rude. Rude to Davis, rude to me, rude to Overlapping - you are consistently rude. Are you trying to bolster your poor arguments with rudeness and arrogance, because that isn't endearing you to anyone.

            If that is true then you would know I have not leveled any personal insults in my criticism outside of calling the arguments "weak" which at Jim Hill's request I changed to "unconvincing". It is your boy Davis who leveled the insults and demanded I not respond to his posts (therefore giving him free reign to offer any contra-Christian polemics unchallenged). But I will say too his credit he attempted an apology which I accepted. I don't see you correcting him? Have you? Am I missing something? Or is this just tribalism on your part which I think likely?

            Davis has been a positive contributing member to this and other forums for a very long time. I am complaining about your contributions because they are negative, toxic, rude, and unpleasant.

            No they are kind of vague. What does Mark mean? Well what is
            your interpretive lens? The teaches of the Church Fathers and
            early Chrisitan writers? Exegesis? The Talmud & Mishnah and
            ancient Jewish tradition? Or do you believe the language is
            somehow plain and perspicous? A Naturalistic view? Supernatural?
            Catholic? Reformed? Orthodox?

            Which of these suppositions to use & why?

            Your long list of questions shows you don't understand the point. Vermes writes:

            Since it is always an arduous, and often almost hopeless, task to try to establish the historical value of the Synoptic story, the plan here is not to attempt to reconstruct the authentic portrait of Jesus but, more modestly, to find out how the writers of the Gospels, echoing primitive tradition, wished him to be known

            Again, it is best to start with how Mark wanted Jesus to be understood. You are putting the cart before the horse.

            That is your naturalistic presupposition but how do I know that is true?

            Please educate yourself, because this is tiresome. It has nothing to do with any naturalistic presuppositions. It has to do with biblical scholarship.

            OTOH for the likes of of someone who might think like you Iggy, Bultman or Lewis' on Mark 13 is a "Church Father" & I prefer Augustine or Aquinas.

            Rudolf Bultmann is a major figure in biblical scholarship. Lewis not so much, but I have always enjoyed his books. Not sure why your preference for Augustine or Aquinas is relevant here. You listed four writers and thinkers - only one of them is a major biblical scholar.

            I don't exclusively read people who think like me. Please go away. I'm starting to really regret that I began writing this reply to you.

            I don't treat them as infallible or binding authorities. Lewis was great but he debated an ex-Atheist turned Catholic female philosopher( Anscombe) on an earlier version of his Argument from Reason and she took him apart. Thus he had to go back and change and improve his argument. The new one is way better. But if Lewis can make a mistake I don't get how your boy Nickol citing him is suppose to automatically make me abandon the argument I already layed out?

            Nickol wasn't trying to get you to abandon your argument. He was trying to get you to abandon your position that anyone that disagrees with you is severely lacking in common sense, but pointing to someone (Lewis) who has common sense and disagrees with your position. This is also another example of your rudeness.

            Follow your own advice and we will get along splendidly. Enough of your double standards.

            Nice try.

            I am still a Catholic with a skeptical mind and all you have given me is a non-scholarly passive aggressive appeal to my feelings.

            No, I have asked you repeatedly to be polite. You are that guy that everyone thinks is annoying and rude, but blames the group for his behavior and not himself. I'm not going to debate you on the bible until you stop being rude.

            That never works with me buddy. Try argument. Like that Overlapping dude or even Nickols on his good days.

            Nickols is one of the only reasons why I come to this website. He makes insightful and polite comments. You should learn from him.

          • David Nickol

            Nickol wasn't trying to get you to abandon your argument. He was trying to get you to abandon your position that anyone that disagrees with you is severely lacking in common sense, but pointing to someone (Lewis) who has common sense and disagrees with your position.

            This is almost exactly what I started to say in a draft of a reply to Jim the Scott, but decided not to engage with him further. If I were to say something more to him, though, I would say that addressing people as "buddy" and "dude," and referring to people as "your boy" is antagonistic and rude. But I remembered that some months ago I declared it was not productive to engage with Jim the Scott further, and I am now wishing I had remembered that earlier and stuck to it.

            Thanks for your kind words!

          • Jim the Scott

            >No question begging has been done. You read way to much into what I write, and then construct strawmen. I have no problem with conservative scholars. What I have a problem with is when conservative scholars ignore mainstream scholarship in the service of an apologetic.

            I read way to much into what you write? Pot=Kettle=black. Wow! I mean wow!

            You are the guy who kept hecktoring me about the scholarship of the Catholic Encyclopedia which your friend cited first. Plueez...

            >Sigh. You haven't been aggressive or principled - you have been rude. Rude to Davis, rude to me, rude to Overlapping - you are consistently rude. Are you trying to bolster your poor arguments with rudeness and arrogance, because that isn't endearing you to anyone.

            You assume I care about your tedious opinions of me? I don’t. Anymore then I care about your opinions on the Catholic Encyclopedia or Batman vs Spiderman. (it’s Batman BTW).

            >Davis has been a positive contributing member to this and other forums for a very long time. I am complaining about your contributions because they are negative, toxic, rude, and unpleasant.

            Davis has graciously apologized to me. He is a stand up guy & I wish him well in the warm environment he now resides in of which I am a little jelly towards him since I am freezing. I don’t know why you are here? Other than troll me over the CE or to keep beating a dead horse or your passive aggressive complaints over some ambiguous charges about rudeness. If there is something specific I have said you find offensive do point it out. But don’t bother me with vague generalities since I can’t in principle correct them. It is like teaching a pig to sing. It is totally futile and it bugs the pig.

            >Your long list of questions shows you don't understand the point. Vermes writes:

            Who is Vermes again and when did you mention him to me before now? My memory is fuzzy. Is it that fellow who compiled a book of translations of the Dead Sea documents because the name looks familiar and that is the only Vermes I am familiar with. My questions where specific & yours where vague and ambiguous. Plus if you get near a point(other than you are rude) let me know.

            >Since it is always an arduous, and often almost hopeless, task to try to establish the historical value of the Synoptic story, the plan here is not to attempt to reconstruct the authentic portrait of Jesus but, more modestly, to find out how the writers of the Gospels, echoing primitive tradition, wished him to be known

            That is an interesting statement but it hasn’t been proven to me to my satisfaction that it is a “hopeless take to try to establish the historical value of the Synoptic story etc. How do I know that statement is true? Who defines the “primitive tradition”? What are the opinions of those who disagree with Vermes?

            >Again, it is best to start with how Mark wanted Jesus to be understood. You are putting the cart before the horse.

            Which begs the question. Threw what interpretive lens and why.

            >Please educate yourself, because this is tiresome. It has nothing to do with any naturalistic presuppositions. It has to do with biblical scholarship.

            No you are an Atheist and you don’t believe any God exists that wrote this document thus it’s natural for you to assume there is a difference between what "Gospel writers wanted us to believe about Jesus" vs "what Jesus actually was like.” Since I am Catholic and I believe God wrote Mark via the Churches Teaching on divine inspiration I am likely to think this dichotomy of yours doesn’t really exist. So yeh your presuppositions have a lot to do with it.

            .Rudolf Bultmann is a major figure in biblical scholarship. Lewis not so much, but I have always enjoyed his books. Not sure why your preference for Augustine or Aquinas is relevant here. You listed four writers and thinkers - only one of them is a major biblical scholar.

            So Augustine and Aquinas aren’t “major biblical scholars” as defined by you? Well that vindicates my first accusation against you. Thanks for pleading guilty to that. Well done.

            >I don't exclusively read people who think like me. Please go away. I'm starting to really regret that I began writing this reply to you.

            Well I don’t for the life of me know what you are trying to accomplish? I debated Overlapping and Davis on wither or not Jesus really foretold his second coming in the lifetimes of this disciples and you have declined to enter the fray & wish to major in minors. That is it.

            >Nickol wasn't trying to get you to abandon your argument. He was trying to get you to abandon your position that anyone that disagrees with you is severely lacking in common sense, but pointing to someone (Lewis) who has common sense and disagrees with your position. This is also another example of your rudeness.

            Is that what you think he meant? Maybe he should have plainly said it? Because I took him to be arguing from authority. Lewis the Christian apologist said it therefore I should fall in line and accept it.

            Also I’m sorry but just because I find an idea lacking in common sense doesn’t logically follow I think those who hold it lack common sense entirely or are stupid. I know a lot of intelligent Positivists and Young Earth Creationists even though I believe both views lack common sense.

            >No, I have asked you repeatedly to be polite. You are that guy that everyone thinks is annoying and rude, but blames the group for his behavior and not himself. I'm not going to debate you on the bible until you stop being rude.

            Don’t debate me. See what I care.

            >Nickols is one of the only reasons why I come to this website. He makes insightful and polite comments. You should learn from him.

            He is an alright guy. But if you want to leave because I rub you the wrong way well. That is your problem. It is also futile because I really don't post here all that much if at all. Very rarely so why deny yourself what gives you pleasure over that? Use some commons sense buddy & I assure you I am not trying to be rude telling you that.

            peace.

          • David Nickol

            The online Catholic Encyclopedia is fine for some things, such as doctrines that have not undergone development recently, but it is over a hundred years old and cannot possibly be helpful in answering questions that have been raised since it was written. It is also anti-semitic, sexist, and racist by today's standards, sometimes laughably so. For example, from the entry for Negro Race:

            The negro has a religious nature. His docile, cheerful, and emotional disposition is much influenced by his immediate environment, whether those surroundings be good or evil. Catholic faith and discipline are known to have a wholesome effect on the race. Observing men and judges of courts have remarked on the law-abiding spirit existing in Catholic coloured communities. Some elements of the white man's civilization do not always tend to elevate the morality of the negro. The negro is naturally gregarious, and the dissipations and conditions of city life in many instances corrupt the native simplicity of the younger generation to the sorrow of their more conservative elders. (For a view of religion in these later times among the blacks in the native African home of the race, see AFRICA.) Contrary to a prevalent opinion, the negro, when well grounded in the Catholic faith, is tenacious of it. . . . .

            The entry is preceded by a note that reads, "This article was published in 1911, and is retained in the online edition for historical reasons only."

          • Jim the Scott

            >The online Catholic Encyclopedia is fine for some things, such as doctrines that have not undergone development recently, but it is over a hundred years old and cannot possibly be helpful in answering questions that have been raised since it was written. It is also anti-semitic, sexist, and racist by today's standards, sometimes laughably so. For example, from the entry for Negro Race:

            Um....dude your boy Davis cited CE to me first. So like I told Reilly you take it up with him. BTW I have stuff in my library written by white European Catholics and Protestants & secular types that is way more UnPC from the 19th century. Mark Twain was a secularist & might be said for his time was a rather progressive minded man but the usual PC types still try to censor and change his un-PC statements about Blacks in his writings.

            Even in modern types Lenny Bruce and the N-word joke. Nuff said.....

            One wonders what our modern discourse will look like to others in 200 years?

          • Will

            Lol, this is exactly what you said last time when you behaved this way. I recall that Paul Brandon Rimmer called it the "famous toddler defense" ;) I certainly plead guilty to responding more "in kind" this time, but from my last experience you learn absolutely nothing when someone responds to your antics peaceably, I figured a try a little more brute honesty. Learning...it's your friend. You would do well to emulate other Catholics on this site, especially Jim Hillclimber. You even have the same first name!

          • Jim the Scott

            Davis you cited the online Catholic Encyclopedia to me first & I cited it back. Your buddy Iggy complained 'Things really start to go downhill once newadvent is referenced as a source for biblical scholarship." & your other buddy Nickols complained to me that it was a "Sexist, racist and anti-Semitic' source. Well dude you still cited it first. Not me. Live with it.

            >I certainly plead guilty to responding more "in kind" this time, but from my last experience you learn absolutely nothing when someone responds to your antics peaceably,

            Rather you assumed hostility where there was none and I have held my cool and wanted to keep arguing but you kept getting more and more hostile and resorted to name calling.

            >I figured a try a little more brute honesty. Learning...it's your friend. You would do well to emulate other Catholics on this site, especially Jim Hillclimber. You even have the same first name!

            Jim convinced me to change "weak sauce" because he thought it was too hostile. I listened and changed it right away but really you have gone overboard with the insults to me. Jim Hilclimber agreed with my response to your claims about 1 Cor 15. The one you didn't address but changed the subject too Romans 8 which was "moving the goal posts".

            At this point dude you are too filled with anger and rage from the last time (which was a while ago) to even think straight.

            I suggest you just follow your own advice. Calm down.

          • Will

            Did you not notice I'm fine with your interpretation of the kingdom of God? Do you not notice that your link on the kingdom of God doesn't even mention Mark 13 and that Mark 13 never mentions the kingdom of God? Do you not notice that you haven't even touched 1 Thess 4? Do you not notice that newadvent directly refers to Mark 13 when talking about the Parousia? Do you not notice that NewAdvent also references 1 Thess 4 for the paraousia? Do you not notice how bad at this you are?

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

            I'm not skilled enough to help someone experiencing this effect, I wish I were. Have a good night. With regards to protestants, it is your insults and slurs, which you apparently don't notice either.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Did you not notice I'm fine with your interpretation of the kingdom of God? Do you not notice that your link on the kingdom of God doesn't even mention Mark 13 and that Mark 13 never mentions the kingdom of God?

            But it does mention a bunch of verses you cited about the "Kingdom of Heaven" and John which you tried to use to equate the Coming of Christ at the end with the coming of the Kingdom.
            That is the point. As for Mark 13 not "mentioning it" he does refer the Fig tree, the "Son of Man" and the destruction of the temple. So I believe Pitre's argument stands.

            > Do you not notice that you haven't even touched 1 Thess 4?

            What Darby Protestants call the "Rapture" happens according to the Fathers on the last day of the world. I don't see what that has to do with anything? Not a Protestant.

            > Do you not notice that newadvent directly refers to Mark 13 when talking about the Parousia?

            I never claimed Mark 13 makes no refer at all to the second coming. Protestant either/or mentality.

            >Do you not notice that NewAdvent also references 1 Thess 4 for the paraousia? Do you not notice how bad at this you are?

            But 1 Thes 4 doesn't equate the Kingdom of God with the Church?

            >https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

            >I'm not skilled enough to help someone experiencing this effect, I wish I were. Have a good night. With regards to protestants, it is your insults and slurs, which you apparently don't notice either.

            You are resorting to these petty insults because you have nothing of substance to say at this point.

            Geez and Hill thought I was being harsh for calling your arguments "weak".

            weird.....

          • Will

            You are resorting to these petty insults because you have nothing of substance to say at this point.

            Honestly I'm trying to help you out while venting a bit in frustration of your apparent inability or lack of desire to comprehend what I'm actually saying. What you write makes it clear that you do NOT understand what I'm, though you completely confident that you do in spite of my objections. I think you do, at least need to be aware of the Dunning Kruger Effect.
            I've always taken negative feedback seriously, even here. There have been many occasions I have admitted I am wrong, not presented something well. Case in point is that I have admitted that thinking the Kingdom of God began with Jesus's ministry (i.e. the Apostles) makes the most sense in it's various uses in different texts.
            You on the other hand, behave irrationally and aggressively toward everyone you interact with on this site, for the most part, and it's clear you hide your comment history for a reason. You also appear to believe that you a very competent here, even though you clearly are unable to understand what I'm saying. The belief of complete competence caused by actually being so incompetent that you cannot recognize your own incompetence is the essence of Dunning-Kruger. There is no feedback that you can regard as negative, it appears.
            I tend to cling (as most Bible scholars do) to Markan priority, and the proclamation of the Kingdom coming "in power" is specifically interesting. As one last note (and I have no desire to engage your "objections" that have absolutely no relevance to what I'm saying), I'd like to quote this from Catholic.com

            Here we see that the kingdom of God is in the here and now, present in and through the Church. Yet it is a mixed reality that will only be perfectly realized at the end of history. This current “mixed” state can be seen as the Church on earth which now grows in the field of the world with both weeds and wheat until the harvest when Christ says he will “tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned. But gather the wheat into my barn” (Matt 13:30).

            http://www.catholic.com/blog/matt-fradd/what-is-the-kingdom-of-god

            So the kingdom of God is only imperfect until the end of history...i.e. the end of the age (call it the end of the world if you will at the parousia). Doesn't that seem strangely close to Mark 9:1 with the kingdom of God coming "in power"? (No need to answer, the question is just for thought). The Greek word for "power" here is δυνάμει (dynamei) which is a pretty direct translation to the English word. The Christian Church never had any power until it became the official religion of the Roman empire so even by your interpretation Mark 9:1 is problematic, but this quote from Catholic.com indicates that the Kingdom is still not here "in power" until the end of history, depending on how one interprets the word. Combine this with the fact that you every admits (no matter how they interpret the text include Pitre in this very article) that Jesus says he "doesn't know the day or the hour" but only the father does. This means Jesus is not omniscient which presents a major problem for him actually being God. There are many, many verses that contradict the doctrine of the Trinity, but I believe I've spent too much time on this already. Farewell.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I've always taken negative feedback seriously, even here. There have been many occasions I have admitted I am wrong, not presented something well. Case in point is that I have admitted that thinking the Kingdom of God began with Jesus's ministry (i.e. the Apostles) makes the most sense in it's various uses in different texts.

            But the issue here is “Kingdom of God” doesn’t mean the end of days. You it seems can’t grasp that concept with all due respect and might be suffering from your own Dunning Kruger Effect. It doesn’t matter if you concede it might have started with the ministry of Jesus. That you think it is equated with the end is the error you advocate, that I object too, and your failure I submit to show this from the Bible is telling.

            >You on the other hand, behave irrationally and aggressively toward everyone you interact with on this site, for the most part, and it's clear you hide your comment history for a reason.

            I hide my history to avoid weirdos. I learned the hard way stakers who imitate your handle can be a little scary.

            Are you going to argue your case or are you going to waste time complaining about what you think you don’t like about me? Make a choice while we are both young. Or go back to ignoring me. Because I will not refrain from correcting what I think you get wrong and it’s unfair of you to ask that I not do so. But you can ignore me if I really rub you the wrong way. I’m going to show you how it’s done. From now on I will ignore anything that has the words “Dunning” in it and focus on the issues.

            >I tend to cling (as most Bible scholars do) to Markan priority, and the proclamation of the Kingdom coming "in power" is specifically interesting. As one last note (and I have no desire to engage your "objections" that have absolutely no relevance to what I'm saying), I'd like to quote this from Catholic.com

            Except I and the Catholics you are interacting with understand the Kingdom coming in power with the Church coming in power and we don’t understand that to mean the second coming. When the Church was established at Pentecost (not at the beginning of JC’s ministry BTW) She was established in power.

            >Here we see that the kingdom of God is in the here and now, present in and through the Church. Yet it is a mixed reality that will only be perfectly realized at the end of history. This current “mixed” state can be seen as the Church on earth which now grows in the field of the world with both weeds and wheat until the harvest when Christ says he will “tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned. But gather the wheat into my barn” (Matt 13:30).

            But when Jesus says , "Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” that does not mean the Kingdom that gathers in the barn has come & you have not shown that is the case.

            How do you not know it’s the Kingdom that is given birth at Pentecost with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit? Or better yet " But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”Acts 7:? There is more to choose from then merely the end.

            So I must reject your augment as specious. The end of days can’t be the only “coming in power” & I don’t see you have made the case.

            There I just disagreed with you. Can you response without freaking out or saying the word “Dunning”?

            >So the kingdom of God is only imperfect until the end of history...i.e. the end of the age (call it the end of the world if you will at the parousia). Doesn't that seem strangely close to Mark 9:1 with the kingdom of God coming "in power”? No need to answer, the question is just for thought)

            I will answer anyway. Absolutely not since there are other “coming in powers” to choose from.

            >(. The Greek word for "power" here is δυνάμει (dynamei) which is a pretty direct translation to the English word. The Christian Church never had any power until it became the official religion of the Roman empire so even by your interpretation Mark 9:1 is problematic,

            I find your implicit idea it can only mean “political power” specious since the Church’s primary powers are sacraments, binding and losing and formally teaching doctrine protected from error by the Power of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus said he would send us to lead us in all truth. So the problem here is, and I know you hate to hear this, but it won’t make it go away. You think and read these texts like an Evangelical Protestant. I submit that is a A-historical approach. The ancient Church was Catholic and or High Church not Protestant. That is evident from the writings of the first, second and third century Fathers long before Constantine. History is on our side wither you believe in Jesus or not.

            >but this quote from Catholic.com indicates that the Kingdom is still not here "in power" until the end of history, depending on how one interprets the word.

            Sorry but taken your citation literally at face value the Kingdom has not been Gathered into the Barn to it’s final perfection but it doesn’t logically follow she had no coming in power before that.

            >Combine this with the fact that you every admits (no matter how they interpret the text include Pitre in this very article) that Jesus says he "doesn't know the day or the hour" but only the father does. This means Jesus is not omniscient which presents a major problem for him actually being God. There are many, many verses that contradict the doctrine of the Trinity, but I believe I've spent too much time on this already. Farewell

            I would bet dollars to donuts you don’t understand the Trinity at least not in the Catholic or Eastern Orthodox sense and know how it fits in the realm of Classic Theism. But that is for another time maybe.

            Given the premises of Chalcedon & Pope St Leo’s Tome which was unanimously accepted by the Fathers of this eastern Council. Jesus has two natures divine and human. His Human nature by definition has natural human knowledge and infused knowledge of divine revelation infused by the Divine Will. Jesus only reveals to us what has been infused in his human intellect even though as God He knows all. Thus as God Jesus would clearly know the end but as Man his human intellect lacks divine knowledge by nature. The Incarnate Jesus is subordinate to the Father & He has not via the Divine Will infused the knowledge of the End into Christ’s human nature. Thus it is perfectly correct for Jesus to know all as God and say he doesn’t know the end..

            It's not hard.

          • Will

            But the issue here is “Kingdom of God” doesn’t mean the end of days. You it seems can’t grasp that concept with all due respect and might be suffering from your own Dunning Kruger Effect. It doesn’t matter if you concede it might have started with the ministry of Jesus. That you think it is equated with the end is the error you advocate, that I object too, and your failure I submit to show this from the Bible is telling.

            I know. I've told you over, and over, and over, that I am no longer equating the parousia with the kingdom of God anymore (even in my first response to you), but there is even Catholic reason to potentially equate it only with the kingdom of God coming "in power". Forget the kingdom of God altogether, Mark 13 and 1 Thess 4 do not mention it which I meticulously connect in my other post do not mention the kingdom. It is irrelevant, your obsession with the kingdom of God is nothing short of bizarre. You claim I can't grasp the concept when I've agreed with you, offered Catholic interpretations that match up and claim the kingdom isn't perfect until the end. In other words, if I don't grasp the kingdom of God, then you don't either because I'VE BEEN AGREEING WITH YOU, IN GENERAL, FOR QUITE SOME TIME NOW ON THE KINGDOM OF GOD. Again...Wow.

            For the record, I made straight A's through college and engineering school, made a 1420 on the SAT in 10th Grade when the highest score was 1600, and the tester on my college entrance exam said I had the highest combined math and reading score she had ever seen. I currently make a ton of money as one of the top engineers at my firm (so obviously I have excellent math skills which are useless in this context but I giggle when someone claims they can prove the resurrection mathematically). In other words, I know for a fact that I have well above average reading and abstract concept comprehension, though I'm still often wrong and no human being can ever be close to knowing everything. I'm not a Bible scholar, of course, but I certainly can talk intelligently about it (and have done so and impressed many pastors, although they are all protestant). Dunning-Kruger is not necessarily directly related to overall intelligence, but competence, so this is not the same as calling you dumb. I've experienced Dunning-Kruger when I was younger, but I've learned to quickly recognize it in myself (that's why I want you to be aware of it), and take steps to observe experts (so I know what actual competence looks like) in order to prevent it.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I know. I've told you over, and over, and over, that I am no longer equating the parousia with the kingdom of God anymore (even in my first response to you),

            Actually this is the first I heard of this from you. Because you kept saying you acknowledge "the Kingdom began with Jesus' ministery" but you still where equating it with the end in terms of Mark 9 talking about the Kingdom "coming in power" and later being part of the end. You citation of catholic.com reionforces this view. All this is related to the error Jesus fortold his second coming would occur in the Apostles lifetime.

            I have been arguing against all of this & you have been trying to waste my time and dodge with all this Kruger nonsense because you don't want to argue like an adult.

            Hey I might have been a jerk to you last time. But now this is all on you buddy.

          • Will

            Hey I might have been a jerk to you last time. But now this is all on you buddy.

            I considered asking you a couple of times to "please leave me alone" as a warning, perhaps you didn't notice. Afterward I received 3 more comments from you, and figured that meant "game on". I've certainly been a jerk, got a serious mean streak when I want to let it loose. I do think I'm applying Dunning-Kruger properly here, especially with the moving the goalpost situation, but I could always be wrong. This is also done in light of your conversations with others here, but that's enough of that, I've made my case.

            Actually this is the first I heard of this from you. Because you kept saying you acknowledge "the Kingdom began with Jesus' ministery" but you still where equating it with the end in terms of Mark 9 talking about the Kingdom "coming in power" and later being part of the end. You citation of catholic.com reionforces this view.

            So we agreed that the kingdom began in Jesus's ministry, do you agree with Catholic.com that it won't be perfect until the Second Coming (the Church certainly hasn't been perfect historically)? If so we agree almost completely on the Kingdom of God, though you are certainly entitled to disagree with the meaning of "in power" from Mark 9, I'm just connecting that to the idea that the Kingdom will be in stages, so to speak. As I've said, more than once, one can be agnostic to the kingdom and focus on the second coming in Mark 13 and 1 Thess 4. I've learned that bringing in the kingdom makes things more confusing (of course it was Pitre that did this in the beginning) especially when Mark 13 makes no reference. I've learned a number of things here, and I now believe you understand what I'm saying (I don't expect you to agree, just understand). I've been calm the whole time, and sometimes jolting people with some brutal honesty can be helpful. I'm pleased with the results, and apologize for the excessive snark. I hope you have a great day, it's beautiful where I live!

          • Jim the Scott

            >I considered asking you a couple of times to "please leave me alone" as a warning, perhaps you didn't notice.

            Which I kind of took as a passive-aggressive statement. I took it to mean "I wil say whatever I like unchallenged and you are forbidden to challenge me".

            I can never do that. You can ask me to be nicer & I will do it. You can retire from the field but I will alway defend what I believe to be the Truth & I will never apologize for it. Jim asked me to remove the term "weak" & I replaced it with "unconvincing". You went off the rails.

            >Afterward I received 3 more comments from you, and figured that meant "game on". I've certainly been a jerk, got a serious mean streak when I want to let it loose. I do think I'm applying Dunning-Kruger properly here, especially with the moving the goalpost situation, but I could always be wrong. This is also done in light of your conversations with others here, but that's enough of that, I've made my case.

            I don't think you have made your case BTW. Not at all. But we will have to agree to disagree then.

            >So we agreed that the kingdom began in Jesus's ministry,

            Since I identify it with the Church I would say no. It is my understanding the Church began at Pentacost with the coming of the Holy Spirit which gives spiritual power to the Church. Dude you do not understand classic Theology. You don't, so I don't know what it is you think you are referencing in classic theology when you identify the Kingdom beginning in Jesus' ministry.

            We Catholics have specific terms and I don't understand yours at best I have to convert your latent Evangelical Protestant theology into Catholic thought but there is still a language barrier.

            > do you agree with Catholic.com that it won't be perfect until the Second Coming (the Church certainly hasn't been perfect historically)?

            The final cause of the Church is entering the World to Come. Those who get to Heaven will be made perfect and sinless. But the Church does receive power beforehand.

            >If so we agree almost completely on the Kingdom of God, though you are certainly entitled to disagree with the meaning of "in power" from Mark 9,

            There is still a theological language barrer. But what can you do?

            > I'm just connecting that to the idea that the Kingdom will be in stages, so to speak. As I've said, more than once, one can be agnostic to the kingdom and focus on the second coming in Mark 13 and 1 Thess 4. I've learned that bringing in the kingdom makes things more confusing (of course it was Pitre that did this in the beginning) especially when Mark 13 makes no reference. I've learned a number of things here, and I now believe you understand what I'm saying (I don't expect you to agree, just understand). I've been calm the whole time, and sometimes jolting people with some brutal honesty can be helpful. I'm pleased with the results, and apologize for the excessive snark. I hope you have a great day, it's beautiful where I live!

            I accept your apology and you put up a spirited defense of your erroneous view [ ;-) ]. But the problem is I am convince the Bible is not perspicuous and that the Bible is at odds the concept.

            So statements like "If Jesus meant X he would have literally said X" don't move me.

            Also the word "all" is not often used in the Bible to exclude all exceptions.

            Peace. It is cold where I am but I am glad you are warm. I really am.

            Peace again.

          • Will

            At least we have one thing in common, we care passionately about the truth, though we obviously have radical disagreement about what that is. Truth is hard, it is so much easier to be wrong than right with a limited human mind. If God exists, it would be great if he'd show up and tell us exactly what' up. Sorry it's cold where you are, should be warmer soon :)

          • Jim the Scott

            Well the whole point of Christianity is He in fact did that even thought He isn't have too.

            OTOH from a Classic Theist position (& I seem to recall you are familiar with Classic Theism vs Theistic personalism? You might have mentioned that to meow was that Nickols? ) God doesn't have any obligations to us. He is metaphysically good and ontologically good therefore the source of all good and the goal of all things. Thus He is Goodness Itselfnot nearly a being who is good. But He is not morally good in the unequivocal way a human being might be & given his nature it is a category mistake to say He could be.

            But for more on that I recommend the writings of Fr. Brian Davies the Philosopher on God and evil if that topic interests you.

            Speaking for myself I will never ever go near a Theodicy again. A Classic Theistic God needs a Theodicy like a fish needs a Bicycle.

            cheers. Cold is not that bad...well maybe it is and I am a little Jelly now that you are warm.....just a little.

            Cheers again.

          • Will

            Oh, I think it's a good idea to explain "moving the goal post" to you. It's probably best done via example.

            Let's say I present Mark 13 with specific interpretation. You respond that you don't agree and would need evidence from another early source (such as Paul) to corroborate that interpretation. You have basically set a goal post. I then provide evidence from Paul, but then you say, that's not enough, and you need evidence from still an additional source...that is moving the goalpost. Here is a useful link.
            You are the first person I've ever seen that calls additional evidence (like Romans 8) to what I have already presented like Mark 9:1, 1 Thess 4, 1 Cor 15 "moving the goalposts. This indicates that you do not only fail to understand what moving the goalposts is, but you also lack the self awareness to even know that you do not understand what moving the goalposts is...so back to Dunning Kruger. In other words, you don't know enough to know that you don't know, apparently ;)

          • Jim the Scott

            I called it "moving the goal posts" because it is clear you can't seem to decide if you want to argue from Mark 13 alone or bring in other books of the Bible to interpret Mark 13. One minute you want one the next you want the other.

            Also you cited Mark 9:1 trying to equate "Kingdom of God" with the second coming. You cited 1 Cor 15 to support it. I quoted it & showed Paul in 1 Cor 15 clearly treated the Kingdom as something distinct from the End as something that the Son gives the Father not the goal of his coming. You didn't address my argument you switched gears and out of left field brought in Romans 8 & it just went down hill from there. You insulted me accused me of this Dunning whatever nonsense & basically have been acting hysterical.

            This has not been your finest hour buddy.

          • Will

            I called it "moving the goal posts" because it is clear you can't seem to decide if you want to argue from Mark 13 alone or bring in other books of the Bible to interpret Mark 13. One minute you want one the next you want the other.

            These are connected together I'm not "failing to decide what to argue from". I'm arguing from all of these passages combined. Even if I were abandoning Mark 13 for 1 Cor 15, ect., it would be approaching it from different angles, not moving the goalposts. In spite of my explanation, you still don't understand moving the goal posts apparently. I never thought it a hard concept to grasp.
            What I'm actually doing (not moving the goal posts) is establishing context of Mark 13 with Paul's writings (more than one place so it wasn't one isolated, random, slip of the tongue), 2 Peter, and even the Apocalypse of John. Establishing context is a core principle of hermeneuticswhich is the methodology of exegesis. Any piece of knowledge means nothing outside of it's context, in general. For example F=ma is just a few characters outside the context of Newtonian physics. Why I'm trying to argue is that most people interpret Mark 13 in the context of modern Christian beliefs and not in the context of first century Christian beliefs represented by Paul, and excused by the author of 2 Peter. The Lord's "promise" referred to by Paul and 2 Peter is the parousia, or second coming after which the kingdom of God will be perfect (or perhaps "in power") according to the Catholic scholar I quoted. I'll quote one more source from a scholarly Catholic paper below. Notice that they too, "move the goal post" (I'm sorry but this is hillarous but sad that you still don't get it after my careful explanation), by using Mark 13, Luke 9, 1 Thess 4 and 5, way more verses than I use, but I have a specific reason for sticking to only the earliest sources. Notice they ignore "This generation shall not pass until ALL is fulfilled" (ALL would mean the prophecy of the destruction of the temple, AND the coming of the son of man) and hone in on "no one knows the day or the hour". If Jesus had only meant the destruction he would have said just that, but it get's worse for you. Let me annotate it for you (my words in brackets)

            29 Even so, when you see these things happening {the destruction of the temple}, you know that it[d Mark 13:29 Or he] is near {some ancient authors replaced "it" or the parousia with "he", the son of Man} right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened{ALL these things would include the destruction of the temple which is a sign that the son of Man is "right at the door}. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away{Jesus is apparently dogmatic about the accuracy of this prediction}. 32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father {as we've said repeatedly, no one knows the exact time but Jesus is dogmatic about the generation}.

            1 Thess 4

            5 According to the Lord’s word {Jesus's dogmatic promise from Mark 13}, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord {he clearly expects those still alive to see the coming of the Lord}, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. {Compare directly to Mark 13 26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens." It is OBVIOUS that Paul is talking about the exact same thing regardless of the Kingdom of God.}

            I will not repeat the other verses from 1 Cor and 2 Peter but if you would actually pay attention, I can certainly use notations to show you how 1 Cor15 and 2 Peter 3 are directly connected to 1 Thess 4 and Mark 13. It's about the connection between the verses so they are interpreted in light of each other. Not only did I go to Christian schools through high school (part of a Christian College), I've read a number of books on Biblical scholarship. This, is how biblical scholarship is done, and Catholics were the first do do it this way ;)

            # 55- Catholic teaching on the Parousia or Christ’s “Second Coming.” (L)

            Most Christian denominations use the Nicene Creed in the liturgy and say “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” Catholic Christians have always believed that Jesus Christ would come back to close the current period of human history on earth. The time when Jesus will return is given many names: the Day of the Lord, the Parousia (Greek word), the end time, and the Second Coming of Christ. The Bible describes the events of Jesus' return in apocalyptic images. Jesus repeatedly and clearly foretold His second coming (parousia) at the end of the world. And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds' with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather (his) elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky (Mk 13:26-27). [Confer also Mt 16: 27, Mk. 8:38; Luke 9:26, Acts 1:11, 1 Thess 4:16-18.] According to the Gospel accounts, the Parousia will be unmistakable because it will be accompanied by unprecedented signs: “For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Mt 24:27). Some signs are general events concerning the evangelization of the world: “And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come” (Mt 24:14). Other signs are more proximate. Mark (Chapter 13), Matthew (Chapter 24), and Luke (Chapter 21) describe the unmistakable signs with apocalyptic images. [Confer also 2 Tim 4:1-2, 2 Tim 3:1-5.]

            The time of the Parousia: Only God knows exactly when the Parousia will occur. Paul, Mark and the seer John all seemed to expect an imminent Parousia in their lifetime. Were they, then, mistaken? In one sense, obviously, yes. The Parousia of the Son of Man did not happen in their time; it has not happened up to our day. In Mk 13:32 Jesus says, "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." [See also 1 Thess 5:2, 2 Pet 3:10.] The Catholic Church teaches that we should avoid pointless speculations about the time, the details of the signs, the nature of the difficulties, etc. The Church focuses instead on the need for living the Gospel so as to be prepared for the Parousia whenever it happens. Mk 13:33, 35-37: (Jesus began his discourse ...) "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. ... Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"(Cfr also 1 Pet 1:13-16).

            http://www.stjohngrandbay.org/wtdoc/55-_Catholic_teaching_on.doc

            See how this author connects the verses (err moves the goalposts) ;P

          • Jim the Scott

            >These are connected together I'm not "failing to decide what to argue from". I'm arguing from all of these passages combined. Even if I were abandoning Mark 13 for 1 Cor 15, ect., it would be approaching it from different angles, not moving the goalposts. In spite of my explanation, you still don't understand moving the goal posts apparently.

            Clearly I do. I showed you 1 Cor 15 doesn't apply. You didn't either acknowledge I am right or explain why I am wrong you just brought Romans 8 out of left field & ignored what I wrote. That is moving the goal posts. Live with it. I used this phrase & I WILL TELL YOU what I meant by it. K'ay?

            >Why I'm trying to argue is that most people interpret Mark 13 in the context of modern Christian beliefs and not in the context of first century Christian beliefs represented by Paul, and excused by the author of 2 Peter.

            But Paul merely reinforces the idea Jesus is at the Door and can come anytime but he never says Jesus will actually come within a generation. I notice you yourself acknowledged in an answer to Nickol behind my back that the Greek word for "generation" can be translated "race". Interesting, still nothing in Paul suggests he is teaching them that Jesus definitely will come in a generation. He never goes against the teaching that nobody knows the end but the Father and Peter addresses the issue in his own letters warning it is easy for the unlearned to misinterpret Paul.

            > The Lord's "promise" referred to by Paul and 2 Peter is the parousia, or second coming after which the kingdom of God will be perfect (or perhaps "in power") according to the Catholic scholar I quoted.

            But the Lord never promises he will in fact return in a generation. Rather the Lord foretold the Temple would be thrown down in a generation. Nor does Paul clearly teach that. Thus I am not obligated to believe this nonsense. That Paul teaches that Jesus teaches He will come again is trival and does not validate your false claim He will come in a generation. That is nowhere found in the teachings of Paul. You have to presuppose it and read it into his writings.

            Anyway I am going to skip over some of you verbosity and get to the meat.

            >I'll quote one more source from a scholarly Catholic paper below. Notice that they too, "move the goal post" (I'm sorry but this is hillarous but sad that you still don't get it after my careful explanation), by using Mark 13, Luke 9, 1 Thess 4 and 5, way more verses than I use, but I have a specific reason for sticking to only the earliest sources. Notice they ignore "This generation shall not pass until ALL is fulfilled" (ALL would mean the prophecy of the destruction of the temple, AND the coming of the son of man) and hone in on "no one knows the day or the hour". If Jesus had only meant the destruction he would have said just that, but it get's worse for you. Let me annotate it for you (my words in brackets)

            As I told Overlaping M, Paul says things like "all have sinned" does this mean there are no exceptions to his use of the word "all"? Or are we to believe from this statement that he understands Jesus to have sinned(& Mary if you are Catholic or Orthodox)?

            Sorry but elsewhere the Bible says Jesus is sinless thus we can count him as an exception to "all have sinned". So I don't see why we can't have exceptions to "until all is fulfilled". Especially since Jesus says right after that nobody knows the day..not even the Son but the Father only". So that is the except here in regards to "all".

            You are like the Jehovah's Witness that puts a lot of emphasis on "the Father is greater than I" but down plays "The Father and I are One". In this case you are putting the emphasis on "until all is fulfilled" and down playing "Nobody knows..but the Father alone". I am doing the opposite. But then again I am not surprised because I was taught to believe the Bible contains some ambiguity that requires tradition (2 Thes 2:15) and a Church with authority (1 Tim 3:15) to interpret it. You once believed in the Protestant doctrine of Perspicuity & Sola Scriptura and even thought you have abandoned your faith you still think that way.

            Admit it. There is no shame in it but it is obviously there.

            >{This generation shall not pass until ALL is fulfilled" (ALL would mean the prophecy of the destruction of the temple, AND the coming of the son of man)

            No it would exclude the coming of the Son of man because Jesus later clarifies that "nobody knows the day....but the Father alone". As I said "all" isn't always used in the Bible to be so inclusive as to not admit exceptions. There are always exceptions. "All have sinned" for example doesn't include Jesus. Jesus himself said "Call no man Father" but Paul saw fit to call himself a "Father" in 1 Cor 4:15. So that was not an absolute statement. In a like manner "all is fulfilled" must exempt the second coming since Jesus adds the caveat "nobody knows the day...but the Father alone". It can only refer to the Temple since it comes right after the reference to the fig tree which was a parable of Jesus foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Also this whole discourse Mark 1-23 starts with Jesus telling the disciples the Temple would be thrown down and them asking him "when will this all come to pass?". That is the primary focus of the narative & the second coming is of secondary focus.

            >If Jesus had only meant the destruction he would have said just that, but it get's worse for you. Let me annotate it for you (my words in brackets)

            Here you show your Protestant Fundamentalist presuppositions and colors. This presupposes the Reformation doctrine of Perspicuity. That the bible is clear and plain to the reader and contains nothing ambiguous or obscure (requiring Church or Tradition to clarify). Well the Bible nowhere teaches this concept you are implicitly using and contradicts it all over the place. Even Jesus ( Mark 4:10-13) Thus I am not obligated to use this anti-biblical presupposition of yours. Show me where Perspicuity is taught William then I might believe you. If not then in principle you can never make an argument that I will ever except since I already believe the Bible can be interpreted differently & I have no reason to prefer your interpretation over mine.

            >1 Thess 4

            >5 According to the Lord’s word {Jesus's dogmatic promise from Mark 13}, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord {he clearly expects those still alive to see the coming of the Lord}, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.etc

            Um William? Mark was written after Paul so how can Paul be referring to Mark 13? He may be referring to early teaching of Jesus but we don't know what form that teaching is in during Paul's time before it's put into Mark. Also his use of the term "we" can with ease be seen as nothing but a rhetorical devise for elect persons. Paul after all talks about disciplining himself lest he who preached to other should be case away. So Paul acknowledges he could lose his salvation. But if that is the case how can he be claiming here, as you infer, to be definitely one of those raptured when the Lord comes in a generation? Sorry but Paul is merely telling us what will happen on the Last day he is not saying definitely he and his followers will live to see the last days during the end.

            ># 55- Catholic teaching on the Parousia or Christ’s “Second Coming.” (L)

            >Most Christian denominations use the Nicene Creed in the liturgy and say “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” Catholic Christians have always believed that Jesus Christ would come back to close the current period of human history on earth. The time when Jesus will return is given many names: the Day of the Lord, the Parousia (Greek word), the end time, and the Second Coming of Christ. The Bible describes the events of Jesus' return in apocalyptic images. Jesus repeatedly and clearly foretold His second coming (parousia) at the end of the world. And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds' with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather (his) elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky (Mk 13:26-27). [Confer also Mt 16: 27, Mk. 8:38; Luke 9:26, Acts 1:11, 1 Thess 4:16-18.] According to the Gospel accounts, the Parousia will be unmistakable because it will be accompanied by unprecedented signs: “For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Mt 24:27). Some signs are general events concerning the evangelization of the world: “And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come” (Mt 24:14). Other signs are more proximate. Mark (Chapter 13), Matthew (Chapter 24), and Luke (Chapter 21) describe the unmistakable signs with apocalyptic images. [Confer also 2 Tim 4:1-2, 2 Tim 3:1-5.]

            Of course the evangelization of the world did not occur in a generation. What about the native Americans? Or native Australians?

            None of this happened yet. OTOH it could refer to the concept of "the promulgation of the Gospel" which referred to preaching the gospel to all nations that had Jews in it at the time. That was accomplished at the end of the first century.

            >The time of the Parousia: Only God knows exactly when the Parousia will occur. Paul, Mark and the seer John all seemed to expect an imminent Parousia in their lifetime.

            This only means they watched and waited because they knew it was a possibility. But that is not the same as having a dogmatic certainty it will occur in a generation as a definitive teaching the Lord delivered to them.

            > Were they, then, mistaken? In one sense, obviously, yes. The Parousia of the Son of Man did not happen in their time; it has not happened up to our day.

            Like Scotus to Aquinas or Benez to Molina or Jerome to Augustine I mildly disagree(well not all those guys were mild to each other but I digress). They where not mistaken to watch and wait. OTOH at worst they personally thought he was going to return in their lifetime but they never taught it as a doctrine. That seems obvious.

            > In Mk 13:32 Jesus says, "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." [See also 1 Thess 5:2, 2 Pet 3:10.] The Catholic Church teaches that we should avoid pointless speculations about the time, the details of the signs, the nature of the difficulties, etc. The Church focuses instead on the need for living the Gospel so as to be prepared for the Parousia whenever it happens. Mk 13:33, 35-37: (Jesus began his discourse ...) "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. ... Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"(Cfr also 1 Pet 1:13-16).

            I except this author's interpretation & that of the church. I reject yours. It's that simple. At best I will say the Bible is ambiguous enough that if you throw out Tradition(2 Thes 2:15) and Church authority (Matt 16:18) (1 Tim 3:15) you can make the Bible teach whatever you like. But we Catholics and our Orthodox brothers say that is a no no. That is the folly of Protestants.

            Which is why I bag on their false religious beliefs. Even if I can & morally must admire the personal faith of many of them.

          • DurwardKirby

            Jim & William, when you get this settled tell me honestly who's stronger, Batman or Spider-Man?

          • Jim the Scott

            Batman.

        • Will

          I need to add 1 Cor 15, Paul clarifies his thinking on the subject more:

          20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.[f] 21 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22 for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end,[g] when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God[h] has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.

          Christ the first fruits, then the resurrection of the dead, then the end of the word, that's when the kingdom of God begins, after he has destroyed every earthly authority. Paul says this plain as day, right here in his letter to Corinth (often quoted because he speaks of the 500 eye witnesses in the beginning of the chapter).
          He continues:

          51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die,[m] but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:

          “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

          55 “Where, O death, is your victory?

          Again he says "We will not all die", consistent with 1 Thess 4. Paul clearly expected all of this in his lifetime, by the word of the Lord. I'm simply going with what Paul, a first century Jew, says repeatedly :)

          Where, O death, is your sting?”

          • Jim the Scott

            >Christ the first fruits, then the resurrection of the dead, then the end of the word, that's when the kingdom of God begins,

            That does not seem correct.

            "Then comes the end,[g] when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power."

            So the "Kingdom" (i.e. that is the Church) is something that already exists prior to the end which Jesus gives to God the Father.

            edit (unconvincing) sauce dude.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I agree with your interpretation, and this is also what I have always understood to be the "standard" Catholic interpretation.

            As usual, Paul has overloaded his pronouns almost beyond comprehensibility, so it is genuinely confusing (and in recognition of that confusion, perhaps we should politely refrain from "weak sauce" comments). However, I think we have to conclude that "he" refers to the same person in all three of the following instances:

            Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

            We can conclude from the first sentence that "he" refers not to God the Father but to Christ. We can conclude from the third second sentence that Christ must reign over this kingdom of God until the end (with the implication, I would say, that this reign starts now), when death itself is defeated, and the kingdom of God is finally handed over to God. In other words, the kingdom is inaugurated now and Christ's reign of the kingdom begins now, but there is work for all of us to do within this kingdom (under Christ's reign) in order to bring this kingdom to its full and final glory.

            EDIT: see strikethrough

          • Jim the Scott

            >Paul has overloaded his pronouns almost beyond comprehensibility,

            You are not the first person to complain about Paul's writing style.

            As the first Pope said " just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.-2 Peter 2:15-16

            Catholics deny the Reformation doctrine of "Perspicuity" with good reason. Ironically some of the Atheists and non-believers pick it up.

            Cheers.

          • David Nickol

            As the first Pope said . . .

            For a host of arguments against Peter the Apostle being the author of 1 and 2 Peter, see the Introduction to 1 Peter in the New American Bible.

          • Jim the Scott

            You should look before you leap David.

            Quote "Some modern scholars, however, on the basis of a number of features that they consider incompatible with Petrine authenticity, etc..."

            Quote "Other scholars believe, however, that these objections can be met by appeal to use of a secretary, Silvanus, mentioned in 1 Pt 5:12. Such secretaries often gave literary expression to the author’s thoughts in their own style and language...etc"

            Quote"Still other scholars take a middle position. The many literary contacts with the Pauline literature, James, and 1 John suggest a common fund of traditional formulations rather than direct dependence upon Paul. Such liturgical and catechetical traditions must have been very ancient and in some cases of Palestinian origin"

            quote"Yet it is unlikely that Peter addressed a letter to the Gentile churches of Asia Minor while Paul was still alive. This suggests a period after the death of the two apostles, perhaps A.D. 70–90. The author would be a disciple of Peter in Rome, representing a Petrine group that served as a bridge between the Palestinian origins of Christianity and its flowering in the Gentile world."

            As I recall my NAB notes state "author" is a rather broad term in ancient times meaning the person is the originator of the ideas in the work.

            Still I don't see why it's "unlikely Peter addressed a letter to Gentile Churches in Asia minor while Paul was still alive"? That is never explained.

            Of course none of this has anything to do with the conflation of the "Kingdom" with the "End".

          • David Nickol

            You should look before you leap David.

            Are you suggesting I didn't read the introduction before I posted the link to it? I have read it a number of times, and it does indeed contain a host of arguments against Peter the Apostle being the author of 1 and 2 Peter. I think it is a fair reading of the introduction to say that its conclusion is Peter was dead when 1 and 2 Peter were written, that they could have been written anywhere between A.D. 70-90 (Peter having died in 64), and that they were written by a disciple of Peter in Rome.

            As I recall my NAB notes state "author" is a rather broad term in
            ancient times meaning the person is the originator of the ideas in the
            work.

            First, where does it say that in the NAB, and second, we are not talking about the meaning of author in ancient times. We are talking about the meaning of it today. You introduced a quote from 2 Peter with "as the first Pope said." It seems to me, reading what you wrote here and now in the 21st century, you are affirming that Peter the Apostle said (wrote) what you put in quotation marks.

            Of course none of this has anything to do with the conflation of the "Kingdom" with the "End".

            The Kingdom of God (or of Heaven) is one of the most complex concepts in the Gospels. I would have to put in a lot of time to say anything worthwhile about it, but off the top of my head, I would not say that the coming of the Kingdom of God should be equated with the end of the world.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Are you suggesting I didn't read the introduction before I posted the link to it?

            I suspected that because I don't for the life of me see how you thought this article would be convincing? It's not specifically a polemic against Peter's authorship. The commentator is obviously skeptical of direct Petrine authorship but not so much as to not include competing theories and declines to give reasons why said theories are unlikely.

            >I have read it a number of times, and it does indeed contain a host of arguments against Peter the Apostle being the author of 1 and 2 Peter.

            It gives some reasons and then shoots them down by bringing up Silvanus & then the author just dismisses out of hand any idea Peter could have written a letter to the Asian Church while Paul was still alive. Why? Would he have been afraid to step on Paul's toes? Paul didn't have that problem with Peter at Antioch. So why vice versa?

            >I think it is a fair reading of the introduction to say that its conclusion is Peter was dead when 1 and 2 Peter were written, that they could have been written anywhere between A.D. 70-90 (Peter having died in 64),

            Quote"Yet it is unlikely that Peter addressed a letter to the Gentile churches of Asia Minor while Paul was still alive. This suggests a period after the death of the two apostles, perhaps A.D. 70–90."

            Again look before you leap.

            The author states it's unlikely Peter would write a letter to the Gentile Churches in Asia. Fails to state why and concludes since this is unlikely dates the letter to 70-90AD and fails to explain why this date and not the earlier one put forth by a Church Father who was taught Christianity by Polycarp who in turn was taught by the Apostle John.

            Sorry but again if I deny the existence of God today (and by implication the divine origin of the NT) I see no reason much less "good" ones to doubt Peter wrote his letters threw his scribe or that he is not the author in any sense of it including the modern one.

            >First, where does it say that in the NAB,

            Somewhere(maybe the introduction?)....I have read the notes of my NAB years ago & I do recall it saying something to that effect from memory.

            >and second, we are not talking about the meaning of author in ancient times. We are talking about the meaning of it today.

            So? I was talking about why I found Davis' interpretation of Mark via his quote from Paul specious and I submit my argument stands. I cited Peter to show the ancient Christians didn't believe in this implied perspicuity mishigos some fundamentalist Atheist types implicitly hold too. That is all.

            >You introduced a quote from 2 Peter with "as the first Pope said." It seems to me, reading what you wrote here and now in the 21st century, you are affirming that Peter the Apostle said (wrote) what you put in quotation marks.

            I have no good reason to doubt Peter wrote it & your link gives me none. I offered no argument as to why any of the Apostles must have written them.

            Go argue with Pitre on that subject if you must.

            >The Kingdom of God (or of Heaven) is one of the most complex concepts in the Gospels. I would have to put in a lot of time to say anything worthwhile about it, but off the top of my head, I would not say that the coming of the Kingdom of God should be equated with the end of the world.

            Davis' argument from Mark depends on equating the coming of the Kingdom with the End. It fails for the reasons I stated.

          • Will

            Your obsession with showing fundamentalists to be "wrong" amuses me a great deal. Yes, I was raised by fundamentalist, but I didn't believe the stuff by the time I was in High School, so I don't think that makes an "ex-dispensationalist" per se (more of a doubting Thomas in a sea of believers). It's comical because these fundamentalists were intelligent, if deluded in many ways, but they were just as obsessed with showing Catholics to be wrong as you are. It reminds me of them :)
            Does anything major hinge on this for me? No. It still is fascinating to see the rationalizations and special pleadings involved here. I'm long past expecting to convince anyone of anything here positions end up being entrenched, and based on what other in the group believe almost entirely.
            Thanks for pointing out the handing over the kingdom part, however, that will make future use of this argument better.

          • Jim the Scott

            I bring it up because you should realize Catholics aren't fundamentalists. We are a different Animal. We see the bible very differently then you did as a fundamentalist. Thus some of your contra-religious polemics by definition are non-starters. It is not obsession it is often true in my dealings with skeptical critics.

            Clearly Jesus foretells the Kingdom coming during the Apostles lifetime but not his Second Coming. His Kingdom is clearly his Church.

          • Jim the Scott

            ps I cleaned up my posts.

          • Jim the Scott

            Question to you Mr. Davis.

            I seem to remember from my superficial reading of some of your posts you are some sort of non-Christian Deist. Are you an ex-dispensationalist? Because that would explain your misreading of Mark and Paul to me.

            Anyway peace to you.

      • Lazarus

        I'm going to give Dr. Pitre this one on points. He does make a very convincing case for this in his book, as Brandon referred to.

        • Will

          If Pitre makes that case that, in general, first century Jews had a different interpretation of the kingdom of God and the messiah's role in it, then I agree wholeheartedly. I do not agree that early Christians accepted the mainstream view of the kingdom of God. There is every reason to believe, especially with Paul's words (and we can add Romans 8:13-18) that early Christians had their own interpretation of the Kingdom of God, though there is reason to believe not all Christians had the same interpretation (Paul is clearly arguing against someone in 1 Cor 15 who denies the general resurrection of the dead). Paul even spells out the order of events near the end of 1 Cor 15. Out of curiosity, what first century texts does Pitre source? The later gospels are more ambiguous about the Kingdom of God than Mark, but they were also composed later. The apostles were beginning to die off when Mark was written, making the problem of the prophecy get "fixed" even in later gospels to a certain extent. Getting a snapshot of the earliest Christian ideas is hard because it requires great care in dating texts, and Paul clearly seems to be our best early Christian source. The apocalyptic message is all in Paul's writing, and we haven't even mentioned Revelations (which dates to late first century). Don't get me started quoting apocalyptic themes from Revelation, we'd be here for a while ;)

    • I agree with your analysis of Dr. Pitre's line there, OverlappingMagisteria. It may be a bit misleading. But I think you're missing the bigger point.

      The bigger point, as Dr. Pitre explained in the #AMA and in his book, is that there's no problem with Jesus' words since the kingdom of God *did* arrive within the lifetime of his disciples. What he prophesied actually came to pass.

      The questioner Dr. Pitre was responding to (LanDroid) quoted religion expert Huston Smith as saying that we know Jesus was almost certainly wrong about this prophecy. But, in fact, he wasn't--so long as you properly understand what he meant by "kingdom of God."

      Wouldn't you then agree that LanDroid's suggestion (that Jesus was wrong in this prediction) has been ably refuted?

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        I considered addressing that in my comment, but I didn't want it to get too lengthy. So thanks for asking :-)

        The Olivet Discourse contains a whole lot more that just the kingdom of God arriving. It talks about the sun and moon darkening and stars falling from the sky (Mark 13:24-25), The Son of Man returning on clouds and heralded by angels (Mark 13:26). Comparisons to the Noachain flood(Matt 24:38) and, as I quoted above that "Heaven and earth will pass away" (Mark 13:31). See also the bits that William Davis quotes in his response. I think the general message in this chapter and in others is not just an arrival of God's kingdom. But a destruction and renewal of the world with Jesus' second return. This is how the text reads and its the way early Christians read it.

        I am aware of Preterist and Partial-Preterist thought, but I think that they require stretching the text quite a bit. I understand the need for Preterism within Christianity - it one strategy to resolve this problem. I just don't think it succeeds.

    • Jim the Scott

      >Jesus is saying that it will happen within a time frame (this generation) but the exact date within the time frame is unknown.

      The first problem with that is some manuscripts render "generation" as "race" (meaning the Jewish people). That right away throws that interpretation out the window.

      Second problem if we assume those other manuscripts are wrong and "generation" is the original well from a purely naturalistic & anti-supernatural perspective the Gospels would have had to be written after the destruction of the Temple to retroactively put the prophecies of it in the mouth of Jesus but anyone can see at the time this Gospel was written post 70 AD and copied Jesus has not come back. Thus it seems more likely the author meant to exclude the prophecies of the second coming from "these things" in verse 30 with the statement in the later verses 'Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.'

      Otherwise it makes no sense having Jesus foretelling his second coming after the destruction of the temple and anybody can see He is not yet here.

      Third problem Verse 29 Jesus references the fig tree which was a parable of his foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Which further reenforces the idea Jesus was saying the Temple will be destroyed during the lives of his disciples not the his second coming would happen during their lifetimes.

      So I find your interpretation a tad bit un-realistic.

      • David Nickol

        The first problem with that is some manuscripts render "generation" as "race" (meaning the Jewish people). That right away throws that interpretation out the window.

        What do you mean by "some manuscripts"? Are you saying the original Greek for this passage is in doubt? Please clarify and cite a source.

        • Will

          If you are interested, the word used is "genea". In very specific contexts it can mean family, kind, or race, but it is only translated that way once in the NT (at least in the NASB, but I doubt it's different in any other translation).

          http://biblehub.com/greek/1074.htm

          The NRSV which is very meticulous about marking variant texts, has no note by the word.

          https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%2013

          In general the passage is pretty consistent throughout all of the early texts, compare it to the next chapter, many more foot notes.

          There are many reasons to think the Jesus was not omniscient, this is just one. Lack of omniscience does not mean he wasn't a divine messenger, but I think it's a problem for thinking he was God himself. The doctrine of the trinity has a host of problems, in my mind, even if God does exist (which I doubt but I certainly don't know). Tons of early Christians had problems with the Trinity. Just a couple notes on that, Mark 1

          9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved;[h] with you I am well pleased.”

          So Jesus needs to be baptized (born again) before the Spirit of God descends upon him like a dove. Basically God adopts him as a son of God (I can quote tons of verses explaining son of God in the context of Judaism and they were always human). Of course this is just the beginning, and I don't want to get too off topic. The idea of divine messengers were influenced in different parts of the world (Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed) seems more plausible to me than one religion having all the answers.

        • Jim the Scott

          9 Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, [o]recognize that [p]He is near, right at the [q]door. 30 Truly I say to you, this [r]generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31

          found here.
          https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+13%3A30&version=NASB

          Just click on the [r] using the NASB and it will take you too a footnote with the word "race".

          Which may be what "generation" means in this text. Meaning all the Jews in general not just those contemporary to Jesus

          additional edit: Or you can click on the [a] in my link.

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        Thanks for your reply, but I see problems with your three problems:

        1st problem: No... the manuscripts say "genea" in Greek, which means "generation." True, some bibles will translate this into "race" but the manuscripts do not actually say that. And as for translating it into "race," according to this footnote from the NAB on the Vatican website (bolding mine):

        The difficulty raised by this verse cannot be satisfactorily removed by the supposition that this generation means the Jewish people throughout the course of their history, much less the entire human race. Perhaps for Matthew it means the generation to which he and his community belonged.

        So that translation to "race" seems to be untenable.

        2nd problem: If Jesus said this around the year 30, and the Gospel of Matthew is written around the year 70, then that still falls within a generation. People from 30 AD were still around then. So, there would not really be an issue that Jesus hasn't returned yet, he still had some time before his deadline.

        Also, you say that when Jesus says "these things," he is referring only to the destruction of the temple, and not his return. What you neglected in your quotation, however, is that Jesus said "all these things." To me, "all these things" has a different meaning than "some of these things."

        3rd problem: Yes, the Temple was destroyed during their lifetime. And Jesus was supposed to return just after that. The verse right after the fig tree one is "Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door." So when the temple is destroyed, Jesus is right at the door... any minute now.... Jesus was not just speaking of the temple but of his return as well.

        I understand the need to reinterpret your way. But I don't think it really goes with the original intention of the text.

        • Jim the Scott

          >1st problem: No... the manuscripts say "genea" in Greek, which means "generation." True, some bibles will translate this into "race" but the manuscripts do not actually say that.

          But the NASB renders it "race" in the footnote. Thus it seems a valid interpretation and thus when "generation" is substituted with "race" the problem clearly goes away. This bit of doubt calls your argument into question but I believe the folly of it is strongest in assuming the "generation" interpretation. Catholics don't believe in the Reformation error of Biblical Perspicuity so such an obscure rendering is not beyond the pale.

          You botch the second point because in that I presuppose a naturalistic origin of Matthew & you ignore that point. That is I for the sake of argument only, agree with the Atheists the Gospel is a piece of fiction & thus the author is making stuff up. Which means he knows Jesus didn't really say this and others can see eventually Jesus will not really return now that the temple is gone. He could be trying to at best infer the possibility Jesus is coming in the disciples lifetime but "nobody knows....but the Father alone" would clearly be his failsafe when this doesn't happen. That seems obvious. It's as plain as a Bulgarian pin up.

          >To me, "all these things" has a different meaning than "some of these things."

          Except the Bible also says via St Paul "all have sinned" so must we say there are no exceptions to this, like Jesus for Christians in general and add Mary for Catholics and Orthodox in particular?

          So that renders your interpretation even more improbable. The term "all" is not always used in scripture in such an omni-inclusive manner as to exclude "all" exceptions. It is reasonable the end of days is an exception since not even the Messiah knows when it will be & it is a bit of a contradiction for him to say he doesn't know but knows. I am reminded of H. Camping dismissing this verse so he may predict the end of the world(& falling flat on his face) by saying "Yeh I don't know the day or hour but I can know the month and year". The natural interpretation must be the end of days is excluded from "all these things". Nobody knows but the Father who is silent on the matter.

          >" So when the temple is destroyed, Jesus is right at the door... any minute now.... Jesus was not just speaking of the temple but of his return as well.

          That justifies the theme he could return at anytime after this but it doesn't mean he must return at any particular time. Even within the lives of "this generation". Since these words follow his invoking the parable of the fig tree and his later caveat about not knowing when the end will come.

          Another absurdity with this interpretation is if the Messiah doesn't really know then he can hardly be trusted if he claims it will allegedly happen during the Apostles lifetime. How can he know that if he doesn't really know?

          >I understand the need to reinterpret your way. But I don't think it really goes with the original intention of the text.

          Rather if I assume the mind of an Atheist & that Matthew is a work of fiction (based on the life of a historical Jewish Rabbi) this interpretation just seems absurd for the reasons I mentioned. You have given me no compelling counter reason to think otherwise so I could in theory be comfortable disbelieving in God and saying this interpretation of yours is bogus.

          It reminds me of Protestants who cite Jesus saying "Call no man Father" and putting an absolute interpretation on it to attack Catholics for calling Priests and the Pope "Father". But it ignores the exceptions in the Holy Writ itself. Paul calls himself a Father in 1Corinthians 4:15 and If we compare Matt 16:18 with the parallel Davidic Monarchical office in Isaiah 22:20-24 we can see Jesus made Peter "father over the People" by giving him keys.

          Thus why can't there be exceptions to "all these things" especially since one doesn't have to go to another book in the Bible but it's clearly right there in the same chapter?

          Returning from the Abyss of Atheism to the towers of Catholicism your problem is you are implicitly assuming the Reformation error of perspicuity & I as a Catholic reject that mindset when reading Holy Writ. You seem to be channeling this fundamentalist error.

          So I think you need to re-think your unstated presuppositions.

          I submit my argument stands.

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            Yes. I know the NASB has a footnote that translates genea as "race." But, as I showed you, that translation is considered untenable by most scholars and even the Vatican. So I'm gonna go with what the best and brightest believe, rather than the translation that happens to be most convenient.

            As to the 2nd point, it does not matter whether we look at it from a naturalistic point of view or not. AD 70 is still within one generation. The author of Matthew likely believed that Jesus was coming real soon and so he had no qualms about writing that into his gospel. That applies whether or not he was putting words into Jesus' mouth or writing them word for word.

            Another absurdity with this interpretation is if the Messiah doesn't
            really know then he can hardly be trusted if he claims it will allegedly
            happen during the Apostles lifetime. How can he know that if he
            doesn't really know?

            My original comment and William have both explained it and I don't know how else to say it. Jesus claims a time-range, but does not know the exact day. It is not at all absurd to think that one can know a time range, but not the exact hour. Just because someone does not know one thing, does not mean they are entirely untrustworthy.

            As for dismissing the word "all" because of how Paul uses it... realize that Paul and the author of Matthew are two different people, so I'd be weary to use the linguistic conventions of one to interpret the other. When someone says "all this things" just after listing a whole bunch of things, I probably means that they mean "all those things".

            Your comments on the "Abyss of Atheism" and Protestants seemed largely tangential, so I will not address them.

          • Jim the Scott

            I am sorry I am sure you are earnest and a good person but I simply don't find your argument compelling.

            >Yes. I know the NASB has a footnote that translates genea as "race." But, as I showed you, that translation is considered untenable by most scholars and even the Vatican. So I'm gonna go with what the best and brightest believe, rather than the translation that happens to be most convenient.

            The note simply says Quote"The difficulty raised by this verse cannot be satisfactorily removed by the supposition that this generation means the Jewish people throughout the course of their history, much less the entire human race. Perhaps for Matthew it means the generation to which he and his community belonged." which just tells me the commentator prefers the "generation" literalistic translation/interpretation and not the secondary "race" one.

            You can argue from authority but I still have (even with this note) no good reason why the "race" interpretation is impossible. It seems it is at least possible (even if remotely) & with that alone there is reason to doubt this whole enterprise. Of course it's not my strongest argument (since it appears in the footnotes not the texts of actual translations) so it's moot.

            >As to the 2nd point, it does not matter whether we look at it from a naturalistic point of view or not.

            Then you are just dismissing my argument and not engaging it. That is not convincing that is just a dodge.

            >AD 70 is still within one generation. The author of Matthew likely believed that Jesus was coming real soon and so he had no qualms about writing that into his gospel.

            Logically I don't see how you can know the authors' subjective disposition with any certainty and if I presuppose he is taking the smeg and BS'ing us that doesn't eliminate him adding the caveat verse "no man know the day...only the Father alone" verse as a failsafe when Jesus doesn't show up in a generation. An assertion by special pleading on your part that you know his subjective disposition is not convincing. OTOH if we want to leave Atheist-ville and return to the Church even if the author of Matthew believed as you say, God who is also the Author may have meant it differently since He absolutely & Infallibly knows the second coming will not happen in a generation. Thus the primary author(God) has the controlling vote.

            >My original comment and William have both explained it and I don't know how else to say it. Jesus claims a time-range, but does not know the exact day. It is not at all absurd to think that one can know a time range, but not the exact hour. Just because someone does not know one thing, does not mean they are entirely untrustworthy

            Nor is it absurd to think He really only meant to tell us the Temple would be destroyed in a generation and that nobody knows the time of the end & the Second coming. Given this discourse, in verses 1-23, begins by discussing the coming fall of the Temple it is not out of bounds to suggest that is the primary focus of the narrative and the second coming is only of secondary focus.

            Not knowing something might not make you entirely untrustworthy but it is justified to still not trust you. Thus one can't trust Jesus if to use your interpretation He means to tell us He will return in a generation. Especially since that did not happen. He doesn't know when the end will come so how does he know he will or won't return in a generation?

            >As for dismissing the word "all" because of how Paul uses it... realize that Paul and the author of Matthew are two different people, so I'd be weary to use the linguistic conventions of one to interpret the other.

            Rather this shows the word "all" by nature is open to that convention & there is no reason to believe Matthew or Mark might not have used it that way like Paul does. Especially if we assume that whole lot was in league with each other. Not to mention that Paul wrote first so the Gospel writers have his literary example preceding them.

            >When someone says "all this things" just after listing a whole bunch of things, I probably means that they mean "all those things".

            But if they follow it with a contravening caveat then we might conclude there are meant to be exceptions. So I have no compelling reason to accept your interpretation here.

            >Your comments on the "Abyss of Atheism" and Protestants seemed largely tangential, so I will not address them.

            That merely is my flare for saying it doesn't matter if God exists or not or the Christian message is true or not. For me it seems untenable Jesus really meant to teach his second coming would come in a generation.

            Also I don't predispose perspicuity. You I submit at least implicitly & unconsciously do. That makes all the difference.

    • dconklin

      If Jesus literally meant "generation" the way we understand it and that the verses are to be tied strictly together then there wouldn't have been ANY Christians and the Jewish critics would have had all the "ammo" they would have needed to destroy it. So, I would suggest that we need to re-think what is being said in these verses.

      • Ignatius Reilly

        So you think people abandon their belief system based on one irrationality? Or perhaps they would reinterpret that irrationality.

        • dconklin

          It would be so illogical, that they'd chuck it. Far more likely, is that WE have misunderstood what was being said.

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        But there were critics of early Christianity who used this very issue. The author of Peter addresses them in 2 Peter 3:3-4 - "They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”" In other words, people at the time (2 Peter was written later) were saying "Hey, a generation has passed and Jesus hasn't returned." And they were saying it enough that the author of Peter has to provide a counter argument.

        I think you underestimate the ability of a belief to survive in the face of disconfirming evidence. Jehovah's Witnesses have also made numerous predictions about the end of the world (it was predicted to be in 1914, 1918, 1925 and 1975) yet they are still around and going strong. There is also plenty of "ammo" to "destroy" Mormonism and has been since its inception. Yet it survives just fine. Beliefs can be extremely tenacious.

  • Rudy R

    Where/how did the gospel writers learn to write in Greek when they apparently spoke Aramaic and weren't educated men?

    Wonder why Brant Pitre assumed the authors didn't learned Greek where usage of the Greek language was common. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are names attributed to the Gospels and not the actual authors. Most Biblical scholars would agree that the authors are unknown. And the authors may have never set foot in Palestine as well.

    • "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are names attributed to the Gospels and not the actual authors."

      Rudy, what evidence do you have to support this claim? As Brant shows in his book (over two chapters), the evidence is not just overwhelming in support of the traditional attribution of the Gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it is a consensus. In other words, we have no "anonymous" Gospel manuscripts and each Gospel is attributed to one, and only one, author.

      In his book, Brant ably debunks the now common idea of the "anonymous" Gospels. I suggest you check it out.

      • Rudy R

        Bart Ehrman, et al, are convinced the Gospel writers are anonymous and make a very convincing argument.

        • "Bart Ehrman, et al, are convinced the Gospel writers are anonymous and make a very convincing argument."

          I'm familiar with the argument, as is Dr. Pitre, and I don't find it convincing. Pitre spends nearly 20 pages analyzing it in his book. As I explained in another comment, Ehrman's argument is baseless and unsupported by the evidence:

          The textual evidence, as Brant outlines in his book, is 100% in support of the traditional attributions. I don't mean that as an exaggeration. I mean that, literally, every single early manuscript we have (including the earliest texts), attribute the Gospels to their traditional authors. We have exactly zero examples of manuscripts with no attribution--zero examples of "anonymous Gospels." All of the evidence leans in one direction."

          • Rudy R

            No historical method can lead to a 100% certain conclusion, especially when basing your conclusion using sources over 2000 years old. Most historical scholars wouldn't expect anyone to believe their work to have that high a probability. Based on your faith, it's understandable that you believe Dr. Pitre's scholarship to be stronger than Ehrman's, but dismissing Erhrman's scholarship out-of-hand shows you're closed minded on the subject. Especially when Ehrman draws the more probable conclusion as it pertains to scripture in the Gospels written in the third person and the Gospel author's chronicling Jesus' thoughts when he was alone. Again, 100% certainty is in the realm of faith and doesn't exist in science and history.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            What he said was that 100% of the empirical evidence, that is, of actual extant copies and references to such copies, ascribe them to the historical authors. None of them claim they were written by Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo instead.

            Naturally, tomorrow someone might discover a manuscript identical to Mark but explicitly written by Billy Bob Petronius and dated earlier than the Muratorian Canon, etc. Let me know.

          • David Nickol

            What he said was that 100% of the empirical evidence, that is, of actual extant copies and references to such copies, ascribe them to the historical authors.

            The evidence Dr. Pitre cites is that we have no ancient Gospel manuscripts that lack a title "The Gospel according to ______" or the equivalent. However, from his own information (given in a chart) the earliest Greek manuscripts of the Gospels are dated as follows:

            Matthew: 2nd century
            Mark: 4th century
            Luke: 2nd-3rd century
            John: late 2nd century

            That leaves plenty of time, certainly, for Matthew and Mark to have circulated anonymously and been given attributions only when there were two or more Gospel manuscripts in circulation. I note that the NAB says, "Although the book is anonymous, apart from the ancient heading 'According to Mark' in manuscripts, it has traditionally been assigned
            to John Mark . . . " And also, "The unknown author, whom we shall continue to call Matthew for the sake
            of convenience, drew not only upon the Gospel according to Mark but upon a large body of material . . . ."

            As I have pointed out a number of times, Dr. Pitre frequently contradicts the "mainstream" or "consensus" views. There is absolutely no guarantee, of course, that the contemporary scholarly consensus is correct. But Dr. Pitre does not (in my opinion) make convincing enough (or detailed enough) arguments to counterbalance all of contemporary scholarship.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            And the earliest manuscript of Tacitus' Histories dates from the 8th century, written mostly in a Carolingian hand, though some Merovingian forms appear. That gives more than enough time for the Histories to have circulated anomymously... But no one doubts it was actually written by Tacitus in the 2nd century.

            During the Great Persecution of Diocletian, a concerted effort was made under the Edict to round up and burn all the books of the Christians, so it's unsurprising that nothing older has so far been found. (The lapsi voluntarily turned over their sacred books to the authorities and for this were never forgiven by the Donatists, which later led to problems of another sort.)

            Obviously, come copies were hidden and saved. The Caesar of the West, Constantine, never enforced the Edict. But papyrus disintegrates over time and must be regularly recopied onto fresh media. (That's why we have Strabo's Geographia but not Eratosthenes': no one was going to waste valuable papyrus copying an obsolete geography when a newer one was available.) We have virtually no original manuscripts from those eras unless they had been copies in such numbers that probabilities ensured some survivals. Among Greek papyrus fragments in Egypt (where they tend to survive longer) some 80% are passages from Homer. There was a home library in a villa in Herculaneum that was carmelized by Vesuvius -- and there is some hope that MRI technology may someday be able to virtually read them. So far a few scrolls by a previously unknown writer have been identified. Otherwise, we are dependent on copies made long after the originals.

          • Will

            Umm, Tacitus's histories are written in the first person, specifying direct relationships to other people.

            http://classics.mit.edu/Tacitus/histories.1.i.html

            It is a very different genre than gospels. We know a lot about the gospel genre because we have found so many

            Gospel of Thomas – possibly proto-Gnostic; 1st to mid 2nd century; collection of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus, 31 of them with no parallel in the canonical gospels

            Gospel of Marcion – 2nd century; potentially an edited version of the Gospel of Luke or a document which predates Luke (see: Marcionism)

            Gospel of Basilides – composed in Egypt around 120 to 140 AD; thought to be a gnostic gospel harmony of the canonical gospels

            Gospel of Truth (Valentinian) – mid 2nd century; departed from earlier gnostic works by admitting and defending the physicality of Christ and his resurrection.

            Gospel of the Four Heavenly Realms – mid 2nd century; thought to be a gnostic cosmology, most likely in the form of a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples.

            Gospel of Mary – 2nd century

            Gospel of Judas – 2nd century

            Greek Gospel of the Egyptians – second quarter of the 2nd century

            Gospel of Philip

            Pseudo-Gospel of the Twelve – A Syriac language gospel titled the Gospel of the Twelve. This work is shorter than the regular gospels and seems to be different from the lost Gospel of the Twelve.[1]

            Gospel of Perfection – 4th century; an Ophite poem that is only mentioned once by a single patristic source, Epiphanius[2] and is referred to once in the 6th century Gospel of the Infancy

            Jewish-Christian gospels[edit]

            Main article: Jewish-Christian gospels

            Gospel of the Hebrews

            Gospel of the Nazarenes

            Gospel of the Ebionites

            Gospel of the Twelve

            Infancy gospels[edit]

            Armenian Infancy Gospel[citation needed]

            Protoevangelium of James

            Libellus de Nativitate Sanctae Mariae (Gospel of the Nativity of Mary)

            Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew

            History of Joseph the Carpenter

            Infancy Gospel of Thomas

            Latin Infancy Gospel (Arundel 404)[citation needed]

            Syriac Infancy Gospel

            Other gospels[edit]

            Gospel of the Lots of Mary (Coptic collection of 37 oracles; ca. A.D. 500)[3]

            Partially preserved gospels[edit]

            Gospel of Peter

            Fragmentary preserved gospels[α][edit]

            Gospel of Eve – mentioned only once by Epiphanius circa 400, who preserves a single brief passage in quotation.

            Gospel of Mani – 3rd century – attributed to the Persian Mani, the founder of Manichaeism.

            Gospel of the Saviour (also known as the Unknown Berlin gospel) – highly fragmentary 6th-century manuscript based on a late 2nd- or early 3rd-century original. A dialogue rather than a narrative; heavily Gnostic in character in that salvation is dependent upon possessing secret knowledge.

            Coptic Gospel of the Twelve – late 2nd century Coptic language work – although often equated with the Gospel of the Ebionites, it appears to be an attempt to re-tell the Gospel of John in the pattern of the Synoptics; it quotes extensively from John's Gospel.

            Reconstructed gospels[β][edit]

            Add to that the fact that Justin Martyr quotes the canonical gospels but only calls them the "memoirs of the apostles" the case for them originally being anonymous gets stronger. Add to that the forged ending to Mark which Papias and his followers could have been responsible:

            Papias relates, on the authority of the daughters of Philip, an event concerning Justus Barsabbas, who according to Acts was one of two candidates proposed to join the Twelve Apostles.[51] The summary in Eusebius tells us that he "drank a deadly poison and suffered no harm,"[11] while Philip of Side recounts that he "drank snake venom in the name of Christ when put to the test by unbelievers and was protected from all harm."[52] Another account accompanies this one, of the resurrection of the mother of a certain Manaem.

            This account is often seen as connected to a verse from the longer ending of Mark: "They will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them."[53] It was known in antiquity, however, that snake venom is not necessarily harmful when ingested.[54]

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papias_of_Hierapolis

            and many other issues from Papias who is the first to claim authorship, and you end up with a real credibility problem on the part of Papias. Considering the number of forged texts (including Petrine and Pauline epistles) you end up with a real credibility problem with the early Church. Credibility is big deal ;)
            I certainly think it's possible that Mark, the secretary of Peter wrote Mark's gospel, but it isn't clear. It's also possible that Tacitus's writings were tampered with, we would never know. It's certain, however, that the synoptic gospels were not independent accounts, the best solution to the clear cases of verbatim copying ends up with the others copying Mark. The fact that apologists still peddle them as independent accounts represents a serious lack of scholarship, or straight up dishonesty.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            The question regarded when the oldest manuscript dates relative to the supposed dates of authorship. The mere fact of a gap between the events and the oldest manuscript is meaningless because, as noted, no original manuscripts survive from that era. Nor is the gap between events and composition because the ancient Greek practice of historiography distrusted the written word (which could not be cross-examined and "looked in the eye") and favored the "living word" (eyewitness testimony). This is why bioi and historie tended to be written only when the eyewitnesses were beginning to die off.

            The Annals and the Histories indeed open in the first person. So does Luke.

            There was a lot of fanfic written in the second and third century.

            The gospel of the Ebionites was the Hebrew gospel written by Matthew. There were readers digests of the four canonical gospels, attempts to combine them into a single narraitve, and so on.

            Gnosticism was a generic movement of the time; there were gnostic Jews and gnostic pagans, too. In fact, a major feature was their efforts to combine all religions into a single mystical mish-mosh.

            Why do you suppose that the longer ending of Mark "could" have been "forged"? The account of Justin that Papias heard from the daughters of Philip could just as easily be explained by supposing that Justin, having heard the longer ending preached by Peter at Antioch, then dared to drink the poison and, having no sores or ulcers in his digestive tract, was unharmed.

            "and many other issues from Papias"

            which are primarily, one supposes, that he does not agree with 19th century German higher criticism.

            forged texts (including Petrine and Pauline epistles)

            You toss the term "forged" about with gay abandon. Did you know many of Rembrandt's paintings were not painted by Rembrandt? It was known in antiquity that II Peter was not written by Peter, but was likely written by a follower of Peter. Likewise the letter to the Hebrews was not written by Paul, although it was often ascribed to him. (Stylometric analysis shows it more closely relates to undoubted Pauline letters than to any other writings. But stylometric analysis is a weak reed.)

            Why do you suppose that the evangelists were unaware of one another? Two writings can be similar if they are both accounts of the same event, and especially if they are accounts of the same speech. How many different ways can you describe Pickett's Charge, esp. if paper is expensive and it must be written by hand in as few words as possible? Consider the methods used in Greek historiography of compiling anecdotes on cards and then arranging the cards in an instructive order. It is not impossible that such cards could circulate independently. Luke in particular claims that he has reviewed what everyone else has written before him -- and that would include Matthew and Mark. You mustn't imagine that these folks locked themselves away from one another in garrets.

          • David Nickol

            But no one doubts it was actually written by Tacitus in the 2nd century.

            I don't see the relevance here. No one is arguing that the Gospels weren't written by those to whom tradition attributes them because we don't have manuscripts bearing those attributions that go back to the first century. The argument we are dealing with here is that the Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John because our earliest manuscripts bear those attributions. Everyone agrees that the earliest copies we have bear those attributions. But our earliest copies are not very early. The arguments against the traditional arguments have nothing to do with attributions in manuscripts. They have very much to do with minute examinations of the texts themselves and comparing them each to the others. If we had earlier manuscripts with the same attributions, I doubt that it would make any difference.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            But our earliest copies are not very early.

            They are as early as any copies are ever likely to be, given:
            a) the rate of decay of papyrus manuscripts
            b) the book burnings specifically directed against Christian writings by Diocletian
            c) the even later provenance of the earliest copies of most other manuscripts of antiquity.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            This isn't why scholars think the Gospels are anonymous. This isn't why scholars think Tacitus wrote the works ascribed to him. The argument that all extant gospels give traditional authorship ignores the arguments of consensus scholarship. If Pitre wants us to believe he is correct he should argue against the reasons of consensus scholarship. Not ignore them.

            There are contemporaneous references to Tacitus's works by Pliny. There are no such existing references to the Gospels.

          • David Nickol

            The point here is that New Testament scholars believe the gospels circulated anonymously at some early point in spite of the presence of attributions on the earliest manuscripts we have, and in spite of what the Church Fathers say. One these counts, Dr. Pitre produces no new evidence, and he says nothing that New Testament scholars—the vast majority of whom agree about the anonymity of the Gospels—don't know full well.

            The conclusion of decades and decades of analysis of the Gospel texts themselves is that they are oral tradition committed to writing, and rather than being narrative accounts from eyewitnesses, they are cobbled together. I am going to copy here something I wrote two years ago in a thread, because I don't think I can say it better:

            Here is something that gave me an "aha moment" decades ago. I was reading Saint Mark by D. E. Nineham, a volume in the Pelican New Testament Commentaries, and got to Mark 2:23-24:

            One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck ears of grain. And the Pharisees said to him, Look, why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?

            When I read the first line of the commentary, it made me laugh out loud. It said,

            It is idle to ask what the Pharisees were doing in the middle of a cornfield on a sabbath day.

            The question and so many others like it had never occurred to me. It strikes me that looking at the Gospels as oral tradition explains why we run into passages like this, which seem more like dramatizations of differences in approaches to the law than specific incidents recollected by eyewitnesses. The commentary continued

            The process of oral tradition has formalized the stories, hence the considerable element of truth in the comment: "Scribes and Pharisees appear or disappear just as the compiler requires them. They are part of the stage-property and scenery, like 'the house' and 'the mountain.'"

            No one disputes Dr. Pitre's "evidence" for concluding that the Gospels were not anonymous. No one disputes what the Church Father said, and no one disputes the earliest manuscripts have attributions. But it is in spite of this that the majority of scholars conclude that the Gospels were first anonymous. There is not much to be gained by disputing Dr. Pitre's "evidence." Everybody knows it already. It is his interpretations and conclusions that the majority of New Testament scholars disagree with. What supporters of Dr. Pitre (such as Brandon) seem to want from those of us who disagree with them is to build the case, from the ground up, as to why the majority of New Testament scholars believe as they do. That is a rather tall task, since many of the conclusions of many decades ago are so widely believed that they are stated in popular works as facts.

            It is not clear to me that the burden is on those who disagree with Dr. Pitre and Brandon to prove them wrong. We will, no doubt, be accused of making an "argument from authority" in appealing to the consensus views of contemporary New Testament scholars. However, arguments from authority are perfectly legitimate arguments when the authorities cited really are authorities.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            If so, it was one of the shortest oral traditions in history. The scholarly consensus seems to be that Mark was written around AD 70 and the hypothetical Q was written about AD 40-50. These would be sooner after the life retold than virtually any ancient bios.

            And the only reason Mark is pushed back to 70 is because Jesus weeps over the coming destruction of Jerusalem, which did not happen until AD 70, and German literary critics of the 19th century could not come up with any reason why anyone could possibly anticipate such a thing knowing a) the chronic rebelliousness of the Jews and b) how Romans treated rebellious cities. (You don't need prophetic vision when two trains are rushing toward each other on the same track to forecast a collision.) Since the custom was to write bioi when the eyewitnesses were dying and could no longer be interviewed, it makes sense that Mark compiled his boss' stories into a bios after Nero had executed him.

            So if Luke and Matthew were using Mark and Q, Mark and Q must have already existed when these were being written. And Luke even tells us that he had consulted previously written accounts as well as other oral accounts by those where were there "from the beginning." Otherwise, it would be hard to account for the identical wording of certain passages.

          • David Nickol

            And the only reason Mark is pushed back to 70 is because Jesus weeps over the coming destruction of Jerusalem, which did not happen until AD 70, and. . . .

            Turning to one of my most trusted references (Dictionary of the Bible by John McKenzie, S.J.), I find under the entry for the Gospel of Mark the following:

            The date is not so well established. Irenaeus affirms that Mk was written after the death of Peter and Paul; Clement of Alexandria has a story that Mk was written at the request of Roman Christians while Peter was still living. Neither tradition can be tested. Modern critics are generally agreed that Mk was written in the decade 60-70; efforts to show an earlier or later date have not been successful. The question turns principally on the "apocalypses" of Mk 13; some think that it reflects the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. Most contemporary scholars believe that the event would leave much more distinct and numerous traces if it had occurred before Mk 13 was written.

            D.E. Nineham says in Saint Mark regarding the date of composition:

            Attempts to be more precise depend very largely on the interpretation of Chapter 13. A Jewish revolt which began in A.D. 66 led to the capture of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple by Titus in A.D. 70. It is generally agreed that these are are among the events prophesied in Mark 13 and a comparison of Mark's version of the prophecy with the versions of Matthew and Luke has led many scholars to think that, whereas their versions were written after the event and were modified to some extent to fit the known facts, Mark's version suggests a genuine prophecy recorded before the events.

            Interestingly, the NAB says the following:

            Traditionally, the gospel is said to have been written shortly before A.D. 70 in Rome, at a time of impending persecution and when destruction loomed over Jerusalem. Its audience seems to have been Gentile, unfamiliar with Jewish customs (hence Mk 7:3–4, 11). The book aimed to equip such Christians to stand faithful in the face of persecution (Mk 13:9–13), while going on with the proclamation of the gospel begun in Galilee (Mk 13:10; 14:9). Modern research often proposes as the author an unknown Hellenistic Jewish Christian, possibly in Syria, and perhaps shortly after the year 70.

            You say:

            Since the custom was to write bioi when the eyewitnesses were dying and could no longer be interviewed, it makes sense that Mark compiled his boss' stories into a bios after Nero had executed him.

            Since Paul is said to have died around 67, it seems we are quibbling about perhaps five years regarding when the Gospel of Mark was composed. If it was after the death of Paul, then it was after 67. So even claiming that Chapter 13 had to be after 70, it still could have been "shortly after the year 70" (as the NAB suggests is what modern research finds). Given that Jesus died in the early 30s, I don't see that a date for Mark in the late 60s is any more helpful to the conservative cause than a date in the early 70s. Five years or so doesn't seem worth quibbling about. We don't read the Gospels to find out what happened in the 70s. We read them to find out what happened in the 30s.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Right. IOW, while most of the eyewitnesses were still around. Sooner after the events in question than most other ancient bioi. Not after some long inchoate period of "oral traditions." Following the custom of Greek historiography, Mark even names some of the witnesses who are still available, such as Rufus and Alexander. (The practice was to name the source of the story in the text, so whenever a minor character is named, he is probably the one who told the story. It was the ancient version of the footnote.)

            The other stuff, about writing in Syria and so on, strike me as much conclusion built on little evidence.

          • David Nickol

            Right. IOW, while most of the eyewitnesses were still around.

            It would be interesting, first of all, to know what is meant by an "eyewitness" to the life of Jesus. I guess we can presume that 11 of the 12 apostles followed him for most of his ministry and lived past the resurrection. But would there have been anyone else qualified to write an "eyewitness" account of the public career of Jesus? (And what about all the material about events before the selection of the apostles?)

            The other stuff, about writing in Syria and so on, strike me as much conclusion built on little evidence.

            But sure it makes a difference where the Gospel of Mark was written. Let's say the date of composition is 67. If Mark wrote in, say, Damascus, approximately 35 years after the crucifixion, how many "eyewitnesses" would have been alive, and how many of them would have been available to Mark? Jerusalem and Damascus are about 135 miles apart, no small distance in those days?

            Mark even names some of the witnesses who are still available, such as Rufus and Alexander. (The practice was to name the source of the story in the text, so whenever a minor character is named, he is probably the one who told the story. It was the ancient version of the footnote.)

            To what were Rufus and Alexander allegedly eyewitnesses? The entire ministry of Jesus? Or the selection of Simon to carry the cross? Why are they not mentioned by Matthew, Luke, and John?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            would there have been anyone else qualified to write an "eyewitness"
            account of the public career of Jesus?

            Certainly. All sorts of people were firsthand observers of particular events and could testify that they were there and saw it for themselves. They didn't have to be apostles or one of the 72 disciples or one of the many women who followed him. These accounts would have been written down and collected by literate folks like Mark the scribe or Luke or Matthew the tax farmer. These concise little stories, recorded as chreias, are detachable and in many cases can be ordered as the compiler wishes.

            And what about all the material
            about events before the selection of the apostles?

            I understand Mary was there, and she later lived with John and Luke spent time with her in Ephesus. Then there was James his brother (or half-brother or cousin, depending on tradition) and the others.

            If Mark wrote in, say, Damascus, approximately 35 years after the
            crucifixion, how many "eyewitnesses" would have been alive, and how many
            of them would have been available to Mark?

            Mark acted as Peter's translator/scribe and wrote down the anecdotes as Peter remembered them. Perhaps when Peter was in Rome; but Peter was bishop in Antioch before he went to Rome and some of the work may have been done there. (Thriving mega-city Antioch, btw, strikes me as far more likely as the then-unimportant Damascus. Roman roads were actually quite good. And if people like Bartimaeus, Salome, Alexander, and Rufus became followers, then they very likely could have fled to Antioch with the others.

            Besides, the Jewish community in Jerusalem was in close touch with the Jewish community in Rome, where most scholars believe Mark wrote down Peter's memoirs, so really, Damascus would not be much of a stretch.

            To what were Rufus and Alexander allegedly eyewitnesses?

            That their dad was dragooned into carrying the cross. Such offhand references to otherwise incidental characters usually means in ancient terms "if you don't believe me, go ask these fellows. They were there." Mark certainly seems to have expected his readers to recognize them, and Rufus may well have been the same Rufus known to Paul in Rome.

            Why are
            they not mentioned by Matthew, Luke, and John?

            If these were compiled later as most seem to believe, the sons of Simon of Cyrene may have either died or become otherwise inaccessible to the communities for whom those gospels were written. It is quite common for Named Persons in the older narrative to drop out in the later ones; but in no case does an anonymous person in Mark acquire a name in the other three. There are cases where characters not mentioned in Mark get named in one of the others, and these likely represent testimonies accessible elsewhere. (An interesting case is that John names Peter as the man who cut off the ear of "the" servant of the high priest, and names the servant Malchus. Since John apparently was written after Peter was safely dead, this may indicate that Peter's identity was being concealed previously and to be "the" servant meant Malchus was high up in the Temple guards. No wonder Peter was so afraid to identify himself in the courtyard!)

          • David Nickol

            These are all interesting conjectures, but what is the evidence that your conjectures are to be believed over modern New Testament scholarship?

            Besides, the Jewish community in Jerusalem was in close touch with the Jewish community in Rome, where most scholars believe Mark wrote down Peter's memoirs, so really, Damascus would not be much of a stretch.

            Could you justify the assertion that I have put in bold? In my reading "most scholars" do not believe Mark wrote down Peter's "memoirs" (i.e., the Gospel of Mark, or perhaps a proto-gospel).

            Also, if Mark merely wrote down Peter's memoirs, why is the Gospel of Mark not called the Gospel of Peter?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Do you mean "modern" or "19th century" (i.e., what used to be called "modern")? To those of us raised in the sciences, the whole thing looks like a mass of speculation unsupported by empirical evidence -- or even ignoring what little empirical evidence there is.

          • David Nickol

            Do you mean "modern" or "19th century" (i.e., what used to be called "modern")?

            By modern I mean "contemporary." I mean the scholarship that resulted in the NAB or The New Oxford Annotated Bible, or the works of scholars like Raymond E. Brown, Joseph Fitzmyer, John P. Meier, J. D. Dunn, Pheme Perkins, John L. McKenzie, E. P. Sanders, Geza Vermes, and Gerhard Lohfink (most of whom Brant Pitre cites in The Case for Jesus, but very, very selectively).

            To those of us raised in the sciences, the whole thing looks like a mass of speculation unsupported by empirical evidence -- or even ignoring what little empirical evidence there is.

            To many people raised in the sciences, the idea of inerrant scripture written by authors inspired by the third person in a Triune God ignores not only empirical evidence but common sense.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            I recollect that when the stylometric methods used to determine multiple authorship of Genesis were applied to James Joyce, we learned that Ulysses was written by five distinct authors, none of whom had a hand in writing Portrait of the Artist... Typically, that ought to call the method into question. There were also the methods used by the Jesus Seminar in which any passages reflecting Church practices were disallowed as "genuine" because they reflected Church practices, a neat bit of circular reasoning. It all seemed a bit squicky. Then the "Signs" Gospel was "discovered" by pulling out of John everything that was a "sign" and claiming that it came from a precursor gospel. No need ever to find evidence that such a gospel ever actually existed.

            There are some amusing remarks here by an Oxford priest, ex-Anglican, specifically about Paul's epistles, that are interesting in a series of three posts:
            http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.com/2016/02/a-bluffers-guide-to-pauline-pseudonymy-1.html
            http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.com/2016/02/a-bluffers-guide-to-pauline-pseudonymy-2.html
            http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.com/2016/02/a-bluffers-guide-to-pauline-pseudonymy-3.html

            To many people raised in the sciences, the idea of inerrant scripture
            written by authors inspired by the third person in a Triune God ignores
            not only empirical evidence but common sense.

            I'm not sure how that follows, unless you are misconstruing "inerrant" and "inspired" in ways the tradition has never used them.

          • Mike

            sorry to interject but this addresses directly your q about why it's not the gospel of Peter:

            "Nor can it be said that the original Mark has been worked up into our present Second Gospel, for then, St. Mark not being the actual writer of the present work and its substance being due to St. Peter, there would have been no reason to attribute it to Mark, and it would undoubtedly have been known in the Church, not by the title it bears, but as the "Gospel according to Peter"."

            http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09674b.htm

            it also says that Mark wrote Mark and that he wrote it in Rome...so is this more of a Protestant v Catholic issue?

            "It is certain that the Gospel was written at Rome."

          • Mike

            i really know almost nothing about the history of the docs so i appreciate reading your posts on them.

          • David Nickol

            The textual evidence, as Brant outlines in his book, is 100% in support of the traditional attributions.

            Could you clarify what you mean by "textual evidence"? To me, that would mean the evidence within the texts of the Gospels. This is what Dr. Pitre would classify as "internal evidence." I think you are referring to "external evidence," probably what the Fathers of the Church wrote about the Gospel authors.

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        ...the traditional attribution of the Gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it is a consensus.
        ...
        In his book, Brant ably debunks the now common idea of the "anonymous" Gospels.

        Can you clarify who you are talking about regarding "consensus" and who holds the "now common idea?" My understanding is that the vast majority of scholars will state that the gospels are anonymous. Even the New American Bible, approved by the USCCB and hosted on the Vatican website says that the Gospel of Matthew is anonymous.

        It seems strange to say that traditional authorship is the consensus and within the same comment say that the contrary view is "the now common idea." I assume I'm misunderstanding you.

        • "Can you clarify who you are talking about regarding "consensus" and who holds the "now common idea?" My understanding is that the vast majority of scholars will state that the gospels are anonymous....

          It seems strange to say that traditional authorship is the consensus and within the same comment say that the contrary view is "the now common idea." I assume I'm misunderstanding you."

          You're right; I think you misread my comment. I agree that most scholars think the Gospels were originally anonymous (hence I wrote "the now common idea".) I'm just convinced, after surveying the evidence and their arguments, that they're wrong.

          By "consensus", I was referring to the evidence, not the scholars. The evidence, as Brant outlines in his book, is 100% in support of the traditional attributions.

          I don't mean that as an exaggeration. I mean that, literally, every single early manuscript we have (including the earliest texts), attribute the Gospels to their traditional authors. We have exactly zero examples of manuscripts with no attribution--zero examples of "anonymous Gospels." All of the evidence leans in one direction.

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            Got it. Thanks for the clarification.

          • Will

            I don't mean that as an exaggeration. I mean that, literally, every single early manuscript we have (including the earliest texts), attribute the Gospels to their traditional authors. We have exactly zero examples of manuscripts with no attribution--zero examples of "anonymous Gospels." All of the evidence leans in one direction.

            This is true, but how old is the oldest copy? 4th century. Papias was the first to claim authorship and he was of age until the beginning of the second century. Justin Martyr calls them "Memoirs of the Apostles" but quotes from the gospels. I haven't seen a good explanation for Martyr's lack of identification. I don't doubt Mark was written by mark the Evangelist myself, but I'm suspicious of the others (except for maybe Luke) and especially suspicious of John for a variety of reasons. John diverges greatly from the synoptics and seems to be primarily a theological, and not a historical work. As far as I know, everything earlier is just fragments, and I don't think any of the fragments include a title. If you you have information to the contrary I'd be interest, I'm not an expert on the earliest texts (though piecing this together is a fascinating bit of detective work :)

          • William, I highly recommend the chapters in Dr. Pitre's book which deal with the question of authorship. They provide exactly the information you're asking for.

          • David Nickol

            By "consensus", I was referring to the evidence, not the scholars. The evidence, as Brant outlines in his book, is 100% in support of the traditional attributions.

            I think this is an extravagant claim. The fact that all of the oldest manuscripts have attributions to the traditional authors is not proof positive that someone named Mark sat down and wrote the title "The Gospel According to Mark" on his first page. The oldest manuscript of Mark we have, according to Dr. Pitre, is from the 4th century. That proves nothing about the original manuscripts that circulated in the first century. It certainly makes sense that once multiple gospels were in circulation, new copies made of the manuscripts would be given titles to differentiate them. But just because we do not have an early copy of Mark with no title does not mean they never existed.

            Also, there are many reasons to doubt the traditional attributions, and it is easy enough to find them in almost any standard reference work. It is not just Bart Ehrman who claims the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and even John were anonymous. It's pretty much every New Testament scholar who would not be classified as "conservative."

            If you make an argument that everything you will be taught in school about economics, or physics, or psychology, or geology is wrong, you have to have extremely powerful arguments to back that up. Much the same goes for New Testament studies, it seems to me. The argument that all the old manuscripts we have bear traditional attributions is not much of an argument. New Testament scholars don't argue that the Gospels were anonymous because we have ancient manuscripts without attributions. The fact that all the ancient manuscript bear attributions is undisputed. No one would deny it. So it is not answering any arguments about the anonymity of the Gospels to cite as evidence that all the old manuscripts have attributions. Clearly there are many reasons for claiming the Gospels were anonymous that have absolutely nothing to do with the titles on the manuscripts. If you want to make a convincing argument, you have to deal with the reasons the traditional attributions, well known to all, are not accepted.

          • "I think this is an extravagant claim [that the evidence is 100% in support of traditional authorship]"

            I don't think so. It's simply a fact. If you disagree with the fact, you're welcome to provide evidence to the contrary. I didn't note any in your comment.

            "The fact that all of the oldest manuscripts have attributions to the traditional authors is not proof positive that someone named Mark sat down and wrote the title "The Gospel According to Mark" on his first page."

            Well, of course not. That would be silly. But it's also not what I said.

            While I enjoy dialoguing with you, David, it seems you have a pattern of misconstruing what I say and then dismissing it. It's happened several times here in the comboxes, and it's deeply frustrating.

            I never claimed that 1) the universal attribution in the earliest texts is proof positive of their traditional authorship, nor 2) that authorship necessarily entails the attributed author writing his name on the first page (or even physically writing every, or any, word in the Gospel attributed to him!) So those are both mischaracterizations of my position.

            But let me handle your first one. While I agree that the universal attribution of the earliest texts is not conclusive proof of authorship ("proof positive" in your words), to me the evidence is so overwhelming, so one-sided, that it's extremely persuasive. The evidence is about as strong as you can get.

            Let's look at the primary two options on the table, and then examine the evidence:

            Option 1 is that the Gospels attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were really authored by their namesakes. This option is supported by the fact that, as I noted, literally every early Gospel text we have, including the earliest manuscripts, carry these traditional attributions. This is universal across time and place, even when comparing manuscripts originating from several hundred miles apart. In other words, the evidence is just as you would expect if Option 1 is true.

            Option 2 is that we don't really know who wrote the Gospels (ignorance) or that we know, with fair certainty, that they were originally anonymous (closer to Ehrman's position.) The problems with either version of Option 2 are myriad. First, there are no examples of early anonymous Gospel texts--not just a few, but zero. None. You even admit this as fact. Yet this alone should cause the "anonymous Gospel" promoters pause. There is literally no positive textual evidence to support their position (and these are generally religious skeptics who are famous for demanding evidence.) Second, the four canonical Gospels are never attributed to anyone except the traditional authors. If they were originally anonymous and only later given titles, one would expect the Gospels to be attributed to a wide range of authors. But they weren't. The same four authors are always attributed to the same four Gospels. Third, if the Gospels were originally anonymous and later (mis)attributed, why would someone attribute at least two of them to non-apostles? It makes no sense. You would want to give the document the fullest authority possible, and thus you would assign all four to apostles. These last two points are things you would expect to see if Option 2 were true, but we don't see them. This casts serious doubt on Option 2.

            For all those reasons and more--Pitre covers several more problems with Option 2 in his book--Option 1 (i.e., the traditional position) is supported by, quite literally, all of the evidence while, as far as I can see, Option 2 has no textual or historical evidence to support it.

            "The oldest manuscript of Mark we have, according to Dr. Pitre, is from the 4th century. That proves nothing about the original manuscripts that circulated in the first century. It certainly makes sense that once multiple gospels were in circulation, new copies made of the manuscripts would be given titles to differentiate them."

            Assuming this were all true, and the earliest Gospel fragment we have (of Mark) is attributed to Mark, what reason would you have for thinking earlier editions of the text, for which we have no evidence, were originally anonymous? The logical position is to assume that earlier versions carried the same name as the earliest extant fragment.

            At best, a skeptic could say, "We can't be certain who wrote the original Gospels." Yet even that claim, I think, is far outweighed by the textual evidence and other considerations (as noted above.)

            What you could never logically support with evidence, given your assumptions above, is that the Gospels were, in fact, anonymous (or even likely anonymous.)

            (It's also worth noting that, as Pitre shows, we have early texts that predate our earliest version of Mark by nearly two hundred years....and all of those earlier texts are attributed to the traditional authors.)

            "But just because we do not have an early copy of Mark with no title does not mean they never existed."

            Of course not! But who is arguing this?? It's a silly argument from silence. Once again, you invent hypothetical positions that nobody here holds. Neither Dr. Pitre nor me nor anyone else here has said, "Since we don't have early anonymous manuscripts, they [certainly] never existed."

            We're not making deductive arguments from silence. We're making inductive arguments from evidence, as most arguments based on history and textual evidence must be. We're saying three things: all the evidence lines up in support of the traditional attribution, no textual evidence supports the "anonymous" theory, and we have a surprising lack of evidence that we would expect if the "anonymous" theory was true (e.g., conflicting attributions.) These three converging facts strongly suggest (while admittedly not proving, in a scientific sense) that the Gospels were rightly attributed.

            I guess I just don't see how an objective viewer could take in those three facts and still somehow conclude that the Gospels were definitely or likely anonymous. Neither you nor anyone else here has explained how that could be.

            "Also, there are many reasons to doubt the traditional attributions, and it is easy enough to find them in almost any standard reference work. It is not just Bart Ehrman who claims the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and even John were anonymous. It's pretty much every New Testament scholar who would not be classified as "conservative.""

            Note here the lack of real evidence or argument. This is simply an appeal to authority--and not just any authority, but one whom Dr. Pitre directly engages in over 20 pages of his book!

            Instead of just gesturing to this or that scholar--or even "pretty much ever New Testament scholar"--can we agree to trade in actual arguments and evidence, as I've done above? If you think one of those scholars has a good argument for the "anonymous" Gospels--you say "there are many reasons" and they are "easy enough to find"--I invite you to share at least one, so we can discuss.

            "If you make an argument that everything you will be taught in school about economics, or physics, or psychology, or geology is wrong, you have to have extremely powerful arguments to back that up."

            Once again, another straw man. Who has made such a sweeping claim as the hypothetical one you associate with the traditional position? Nobody here. This is simply a cheap attempt to smear the position by associating it with someone who says "everything [note: not some things, but literally everything] you will be taught in school" about several major subjects is wrong.

            Yet even supposing this association was fair, I did do what you requested: I offered arguments to back up my claims. You have not.

            "The argument that all the old manuscripts we have bear traditional attributions is not much of an argument."

            Of course not, but, once again, as is a running theme in your comments, this is not what I claimed. It's a mischaracterization. I suggested it's not an argument in itself but strong evidence for an inductive argument for the traditional attribution of the Gospels. You've yet to show why this is not the case.

            "Clearly there are many reasons for claiming the Gospels were anonymous that have absolutely nothing to do with the titles on the manuscripts."

            What are these reasons, which you describe as "many" and "clear"?? I mean that as a genuine question. This really gets to the heart of the issue: What reasons or evidence do you have that the Gospels were ever anonymously authored?

            "If you want to make a convincing argument, you have to deal with the reasons the traditional attributions, well known to all, are not accepted."

            I have, and Pitre has as well (at length in his book). Unfortunately, you seem unwilling or unable to either 1) explicitly put forward those reasons or 2) respond to our arguments against them.

          • Brandon you are wrong about this. The gospels are anonymous and there are reasons for concluding this. None of the gospels say who there authors were compared to the letters of Paul or the histories of Tacitus, for example.

            Firstly we should note that while you and Pitre have take the onus here, neither of you actually give the analysis leading to you conclusion. You just say that the earliest manuscripts attribute these texts to these people and that the internal and external sources confirm this.

            The problem with this is HOW they do this. They do not say "the gospel of Matthew" for example, but the gospel "according" to Matthew. This is not how authorship was attributed at the time when authorship was known. This is a strong signifier that the copyists of these early manuscripts were adding this attribution. And keep in mind that these earliest manuscripts are many many decades if not centuries after the event. Moreover, the various copies have significant grammatical variations in the attributions also signifying that the attributions were conventional, as opposed to historical.

            When it comes to external sources, it is true that these make the attributions beginning with Ireaneus, in 180 or so CE. But there are earlier references, in Ignatius and Polycarp, who make no such attribution. While Papias in two short passages notes that Mark and Matthew wrote some things down he in no way is identifying the manuscripts as those writings.

            I got most of this from a grad student's blog, which mainly cites Ehrman.

          • "Brandon you are wrong about this. The gospels are anonymous and there are reasons for concluding this."

            You and David keep claiming this. But simply claiming it doesn't make it true. You need to provide reasons to support this assertion, and until now I haven't seen any.

            "None of the gospels say who there authors were compared to the letters of Paul or the histories of Tacitus, for example."

            Ah! Finally an attempt to justify the "anonymous Gospel" theory. Unfortunately, it fails.

            Besides the fact that the Gospel of John does implicitly identify its own author (cf. John 21:20-25), your reasoning is flawed even if this claim were true.

            Just because the texts themselves don't say, for example, "This Gospel was written by Mark," that doesn't mean the Gospels were anonymous. As has been noted several times before, the earliest Gospel manuscripts we have all carry a title at the beginning of the manuscript with explicitly attributes authorship to the traditional evangelists.

            Thus your reasoning would be as strange as opening the cover of Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs and claiming, "We don't know who wrote this book because nowhere in the book does it say, 'I, Walter Isaacson, wrote this biography." One can simply look at the cover or first page and intuit the author. The same holds true for the Gospel manuscripts. When every manuscript we have testifies, on the very first line, who wrote it, we can have strong confidence in the authorship.

            "The problem with this is HOW they do this. They do not say "the gospel of Matthew" for example, but the gospel "according" to Matthew."

            I don't see a problem. As many have noted--and as I've noted in this very comment box--the ancient understanding of authorship didn't necessarily include someone putting ink to parchment themselves. Someone could "author" a book without ever writing a single word if, perhaps, he was dictating to a scribe or if someone else was summarizing the author's thoughts (ala a ghostwriter.) For the ancients, authorship simply referred to the source of the ideas or story. In this sense, it's perfectly fine to see "The Gospel according to Matthew" and infer that Matthew was the author of that Gospel, either directly or indirectly. Regardless of who put ink to parchment, the words in the Gospel stem from Matthew's own eyewitness testimony.

            "This is not how authorship was attributed at the time when authorship was known. This is a strong signifier that the copyists of these early manuscripts were adding this attribution."

            This is simply wrong.

            "Moreover, the various copies have significant grammatical variations in the attributions also signifying that the attributions were conventional, as opposed to historical."

            This is not true, and Pitre spends several pages in his book showing why. The variations in attribution are, in fact, minor and insignificant. For example, some ancient manuscripts say "The Gospel of Mark" while others say "The Gospel according to Mark." Skeptical scholars, such as Bart Ehrman, have pointed to this to say, essentially, "See! The attributions are different! Therefore we can't possibly know who originally wrote the Gospels!"

            But as should be obvious, the difference between "of" and "according to" is insignificant, relative to the attribution itself. The much more important fact is that all early editions of Mark attribute the text to Mark (and the same is true for the other three Gospels.)

            "I got most of this from a grad student's blog, which mainly cites Ehrman."

            Ah! Thanks for the admission--that explains a lot. These skeptical claims have been answered countless times, most recently in Pitre's book. Since it appears you haven't studied this issue in depth, after admittedly copying your points from a grad student's blog, I highly recommend you pick it up. It covers Ehrman's position fairly, extensively citing his work, before responding to each of his major points.

          • Brandon, you are not appreciating what I am saying. There are two ways copyists could have noted the source of the document. The way the earliest texts do it, is the way they did it NOT when they knew the author as in Tacitus, but when they were guessing, as with Homer. This is subtle but it means a great deal. It is the difference between picking up a book called "The Shinning, according to, or handed down by, Stephen King" as opposed to one that says "The Shinning, by Stephen King". The failure to appreciate this distinction is important and one you just gloss over.

            What you say is that this is simply wrong. It is you who just states things rather than reply to them.

            The grammatical differences in attribution support that this was editorial, call it minor if you like. While the meaning of "of" and "according to" may be similar or the same, the fact that they are different suggests they were not copied, but added afterwards.

            Sure all of the attributions after 180 ce have the same attributions. This makes sense, they needed to be called something and so they were labelled. But they were quoted in the hundred years before this and non such attribution was made.

            I say I found them in a grad student's blog to show you how easily these refutations are to find.

            The issues remain unaddressed. The attributions you cite are not internal evidence of authorship they are late, at least a hundred years late and they appear on copies of copies.

            But I agree with you neither of us are scholars with the background to assess these claims. We should defer to the majority mainstream view of experts. Perhaps Pitre will overturn this. So might Richard Carrier.

            But it is not as if you gave us an independent historian to explain the mainstream view on these things. You have given us a theologian who is defending a minority view.

            Here is the source I used and I looked up a number of the sources.

            https://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/why-scholars-doubt-the-traditional-authors-of-the-gospels/

            EDIT: While Mr Fergusson is a PhD candidate, his dissertation is on the authorship of the Gospels.

            https://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2015/10/03/a-good-blog-series-on-the-authorship-of-the-gospels/

          • The phrase "the gospel according to" has a doctrinal significance. What is being asserted is there is one gospel. This work tries to communicate that gospel. Yet it is limited by the perspective of the author. So they are saying it is not my story but it kind of is mine. The essence is not mine but the telling is mine. So he is saying, "I didn't write this" in the sense that it is bigger than he is. That does not imply "I didn't write this" in the sense of these are not his words.

          • This interpretation flies in the face of one I found online by a classics PhD candidate. He contrasted how Tacitus' histories are attributed compared to Matthew. If you are right we should find the same kind of attribution. But we don't.

            But I lack the training and resources to assess such interpretations.

          • Lazarus

            The gospel in this sense simply means "good news", I would suggest.
            They are all written interpretations of the claimed events.

          • Mike

            Gotta say, you are good Brandon!

  • Jim (hillclimber)

    Dr. Pitre,

    Thanks very much for responding to my question. Your answer seems very reasonable and in line with what I have read elsewhere.

    I would be very interested to see a fuller exploration of what it might have meant to "give a general sense" of "what really happened". For example, if I say, "I kissed her, and fireworks went off", and there were no real fireworks (but I did really kiss her), I may still have given an accurate "general sense" of what it was "really like" to be involved in the excitement and wonder of that moment. At least, it would be accurate so long as my audience and I had an understanding that I might freely use metaphor to convey the subjective dimension of "what really happened". And indeed, if the central purpose of my story is to convey a personal transformation that occurred in that moment, then it becomes relatively less important to determine whether my reference to fireworks was metaphorical or literal.

    I would be interested to see an exploration of this question that is not specifically focused on the Resurrection (since many of us have prior commitments on that specific issue), but instead explores the way that these things worked in other bioi.

    Thanks,

    Jim

  • Arthur Jeffries

    Thank you for answering my question Dr. Pitre. I had the same experience with The Case against Q as you. Mark Goodacre is a mainstream scholar (listen to his debate with Richard Carrier for instance) and his methodology is sound. Everyone who is interested in New Testament Biblical scholarship should read his work on "Q."

  • I think he dodged or misleads on the authorship of Matthew. He suggests the evidence is The Book of Matthew itself and that others later believed it was written by Matthew.

    The Book of Matthew doesn't say who wrote it. The citations referenced say there was a Matthew but does not say he authored any book. So that is no evidence of authorship. He notes external sources that I have not checked, but I believe they point to any evidence of authorship but express the view that Matthew wrote them.

    Similar with John.

    I do not think this view is largely shared by New Testament historians, for whom I understand the most common view is that the authorship of the gospels is unknown.

    • See my comments below on this question, which fully answer your musings.

  • To call the gospels biographies or history is a huge stretch. Only two of these books have anything other than a telling of a few years in someone's life.

    They each have a distinct theology they are advancing. I would think these are tellings of Christianity's origin story to express a theological view.

    • Jim (hillclimber)

      It is true that the gospels are propaganda, in the older, non-pejorative sense of that word. They are meant to awaken the reader to a new dimension of life, a new horizon of life. But that merely identifies the purpose of the gospels without describing the literary conventions that are employed in an effort to achieve that purpose, and without suggesting how much of their content might be historical. In principle, there is nothing inherently oxymoronic about accurate history serving as propaganda, as indeed the proper response to certain real events may actually be some sort of personal conversion. I think there is probably a sense in which all narrative history is (good or bad, founded or unfounded) propaganda of some sort. No one tells history simply as an exercise in reciting facts. We tell history with a purpose, so that we will live differently in light of that history.

      As to your objection that the gospels only cover a few years of Jesus's life, I think that Pitre (in this OP) and others have sufficiently caveated the term biography in this context (note his explicit reference to the selectivity of Greco-Roman biography).

  • Mike

    thanks for answering my q Brant. I've added your book to my amazon cart.

  • Jim Jones

    > According to the unanimous internal evidence of all extant ancient Greek manuscripts (e.g., Papyrus 4, 64, 66, 75, Codex Sinaticius, Vaticanus, etc.) as well as the unanimous external evidence of ancient writers outside the Bible (e.g., Papias of Hierapolis, Irenaeus of Lyons, Muratorian Canon, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius of Caesarea, etc.), two of the four gospels were authored by Matthew and John (although Greek Matthew was universally regarded as a translation of a Semitic original).

    What part of documented outside of the Bible (or any other gospels) did you fail to understand?

    • That Catholic Gamer Dude

      >What part of documented outside of the Bible (or any other gospels) did you fail to understand?

      The referenced works: as well as the unanimous external evidence of ancient writers outside the Bible (e.g., Papias of Hierapolis, Irenaeus of Lyons, Muratorian Canon, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius of Caesarea, etc.

      are all outside of the Bible canon and thus fulfill the criteria.

      • Jim Jones

        So Papias of Hierapolis, Irenaeus of Lyons, Muratorian Canon, Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius of Caesarea all met Jesus and wrote about it?

        Where can I read their descriptions of Jesus . . . and what sort of name is "Muratorian Canon"?

        • "So Papias of Hierapolis, Irenaeus of Lyons, Muratorian Canon, Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius of Caesarea all met Jesus and wrote about it?

          Where can I read their descriptions of Jesus . . . and what sort of name is "Muratorian Canon"?"

          No, you've misunderstood his comment. He's not saying those sources meet all of your criteria (since your criteria applies to persons, and not writings.) He's saying those sources meet your seventh criterion above, namely writers who document the persons in question (e.g., Matthew and John.)

          The Muratorian Canon is a collection of writings that, like the others, accomplishes the above: it mentions Matthew and John.

          • Jim Jones

            So, still no one? I'd even accept a critical book, like Lucian's caustic review of Alexander's Glycon. In fact, that would be great evidence since it would be from a critic.

            And Glycon got contemporary coins in his honor. You'd think the creator of the cosmos could do as much.

            But a 7th-century Latin manuscript? He jests. That's as reliable as "Robin Hood: Men in Tights".

          • "So, still no one?"

            I'm not sure what you mean by this. We've answered your challenge (providing not just one but two witnesses who met your criteria) and have also shown why your criteria is needlessly stringent in the first place.

    • "What part of documented outside of the Bible (or any other gospels) did you fail to understand?"

      Your original challenge to Dr. Pitre was to, "Name one person who met Jesus, spoke to him, saw him, or heard him and who wrote about the event, has a name, and is documented outside of the Bible (or any other gospels)."

      Dr. Pitre mentioned not only one, but two: Matthew and John. Although both figures appear in the Bible, they nevertheless meet all of your (very stringent) criteria:

      1. They met Jesus.

      2. They spoke to Jesus.

      3. They saw Jesus.

      4. They heard Jesus.

      5. They wrote about meeting Jesus.

      6. They have names.

      7. They are documented outside of the Bible (in places Pitre noted in his original reply.)

      I should add that your criteria is abnormally stringent. Historians almost never apply this tight of criteria to validate the historicity of other ancient figures. If they did, who would meet it?

      I also note the (all to common) rejection of the Bible as a historical source. Why should we exclude Biblical testimony when considering historical questions? Just because certain texts were collected into what we now call the Bible is no reason to reject them. In fact, just the opposite! Part of the reason the early Christians counted these particular Gospels as reliable, and not others, is because they were the most accurate.

      • Jim Jones

        You cannot connect them to the gospels, and the gospels are far from contemporary. There's no evidence placing them before 135 CE, say.

        • "There's no evidence placing them before 135 CE, say."

          This is simply misinformed. Even most skeptical scholars date all four Gospels within the first century (with the possible exception of John.) Dr. Pitre makes a powerful case in his book, however, for much earlier dating.

  • David Nickol

    First, David, I’m sorry to say that someone has misinformed you about the word “messiah” (Hebrew mashiach). This word is used dozens of times in the Old Testament—usually as a title for the “anointed” king (for example, see 1 Sam 2:10, 16:6; Ps 2:2; 89:39). Moreover, it actually occurs in the most explicit prophecy about the coming death of a future “messiah” (Hebrew mashiach) that we possess (Daniel 9:25-27).

    Thanks, Dr. Pitre, for responding to my question. I am afraid I garbled something that I read. You are, of course, correct that the Hebrew mashiach appears many times in the Old Testament. However, the word Messiah does not appear in the following translations of the Old Testament: The Revised Standard Version, The Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, The New American Bible Revised Edition, The New International Version, the Common English Bible (and many others).

    As I have noted elsewhere in another thread, in your book you quote Daniel 9:24-26 and give the citation as the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, "slightly adapted." Your "adaptations" are shown below with the original text you omit crossed out and your substitutions in boldface.

    24 “Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place [one]. 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one a messiah, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one a Messiah shall be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war; desolations are decreed.

    From my research into this topic, it appears that most modern translations (including Catholic ones) translate the Hebrew word mashiach as "Messiah" only when it refers, as a title, to the expected "anointed one" who would fulfill messianic expectations, which developed largely after the completion of the Old Testament. This is why we don't see Messiah as a title in modern translations of the Old Testament. Consequently, it seems to me you "adapted" Daniel by changing "anointed one" to "Messiah" in order to make explicit what you see in Daniel but which most modern translators and exegetes do not.

    I have searched a number of "mainstream" reference works, and I cannot find anything that supports your interpretation of Daniel in general or the "prophecies" in Chapter 9 in particular. To give just one example, the NAB identifies the anointed ones/"messiahs" in Daniel 9:25, 26 as follows:

    * [9:25] . . . Anointed ruler: either Cyrus, who was called the anointed of the Lord to end the exile (Is 45:1), or the high priest Jeshua who presided over the rebuilding of the altar of sacrifice after the exile (Ezr 3:2).

    * [9:26] An anointed one: the high priest Onias III, murdered in 171 B.C., from which the author dates the beginning of the persecution. Onias was in exile when he was killed.

    The Anchor Bible Volume The Book of Daniel by Louis F Hartman and Alexander A. Di Lella says virtually nothing to support your interpretations. Hartman and Di Lella are priests of the Redemptorist and Franciscan orders, respectively, and the volume bears a Nihil Obstat, an Imprimi Potest, and an Imprimatur on the copyright page.

    I have also found nothing so far that supports the chronologies in Daniel as you interpret them. For example, your calculations put the end of the 490-year period mentioned in Daniel, astonishingly, in 33 AD, the year Jesus is believed to have been crucified. But here is a quote from McKenzie's Dictionary of the Bible from the entry on the Book of Daniel:

    Seventy weeks of 7 years signify an even longer indefinite time and not an exact period; by no calculation can the term 490 years from the beginning of the Babylonian domination (605 BC) be brought into agreement either with the Maccabean or the NT period. In 7:25, however, the beginning of the 70 weeks is reckoned from the decree permitting the rebuilding of Jerusalem (537 BC), which ignores the 70 years indicated in Je. This would place the end of the period at 47 BC, a date of no significance. The author of the book had no information on the number of years which had elapsed between the fall of Jerusalem and his own time.

    In short, I have done a significant amount of research on your claims of the remarkable accuracy of prophecies in Daniel, using Catholic reference works, and I have found no support for your interpretation. I have not sought out sources to "debunk" Christian beliefs. I have just consulted "mainstream" scholarship, most of it from officially "approved" Catholic sources. And I just don't find anything resembling what you claim.

  • David Nickol

    Once this is clear, Jesus' use of this expression to refer to himself
    becomes even more striking, since our earliest Jewish interpreters of
    Daniel also identified the fourth kingdom with the Roman empire. In
    other words, according to Daniel 2 and 7, the kingdom of God and the messianic Son of Man were expected to come not just ‘one day’ but sometime during the reign of the Roman empire.

    I haven't been able to find much about the Jewish interpreters of Daniel. However, the real question, it seems to me, is not what Jews with messianic ideas and hopes thought of Daniel, but what Daniel really means.

    The references I have consulted (McKenzie’s Dictionary of the Bible, The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Matera’s New Testament Theology, Fitzmyer’s The One Who Is to Come, Dunn’s Jesus Remembered, and The New American Bible) present a much more complex picture of what Daniel actually would have meant to its authors/editors. And they do not support your timetable purporting to show that the four beasts in Daniel 7 place the coming of the “son of man” during the Roman Empire. You identify the four beasts in Daniel 7 as representing the following empires Babylonian (lion), Medo-Persian (bear), Greek (leopard), Roman (horned beast). Then comes the Son of Man representing the Kingdom of God. Since Daniel was written before the existence of the Roman Empire, to predict the existence of such an empire, and then the coming of one during the dominance of that empire, would be a prophecy. But in the notes to Daniel, the NAB identifies the empires and beasts differently: Babylonian (lion), Median (bear), Persian (leopard), Greek (horned beast). Here there is no timetable for the rise of the Roman Empire and the coming of a Messiah during that Empire.

    The same books mentioned above do not seem to support Jesus claiming to be the "son of man” that was allegedly predicted in Daniel. It should be noted, by the way, that “son of man” in Daniel is not a title. (“As the visions during the night continued, I saw coming with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man.”) It is an idiom that simply means “man,” much as the expression “every mother’s son” means “all men.” It is not particularly surprising that after a vision of four beasts, when a human-like figure arrives, he should be described as “one like a son of man.” The Jewish Study Bible translates the phrase merely “one like a human being.”

    There is no doubt that Jesus referred to himself as the son of man, or even that he was influenced by Daniel. But that does not mean Jesus was claiming “son of man” as a title, or that he was claiming to be the very figure described in Daniel
    as “looking like a son of man.” Dunn says

    We have to conclude as likely that Jesus made no attempt to lay claim to any title as such; also that he rejected at least one which others tried to fit to him. We can sharpen the point a little. It would appear that Jesus saw it as no part of his mission to make specific claims for his own status. The nearest we have to such a claim is his use of the non-title bar 'ěnoš, too ambiguous to be a demand for explicit faith in himself, more an expression of his own hope for vindication. [p. 761]

    Another title Dunn says Jesus did not claim for himself was “Son of God.” (To
    dumb it down considerably, my reading of Dunn is that Jesus felt very strongly
    that he was a son of God, but he did not claim for himself the title the son of God.

    So once more, I have found little or nothing to support your use of Daniel as containing explicit prophecies about Jesus and the time frame in which Jews expected the Messiah.

    • Ignatius Reilly

      But in the notes to Daniel, the NAB identifies the empires and beasts
      differently: Babylonian (lion), Median (bear), Persian (leopard), Greek
      (horned beast). Here there is no timetable for the rise of the Roman
      Empire and the coming of a Messiah during that Empire.

      Wouldn't an eagle be more appropriate symbol for the Roman Empire?

      When I was in college, I took a class which included a partial analysis of Daniel. I do not remember all of the details, but the professor made the case that the symbolism in Daniel is meant as a description of the time Daniel was written - during the Maccabees revolution. The horns were meant as symbols for the kings who ruled over the Jews and the last horn was meant as a symbol for the current ruler. The books purpose according to the professor was to tell the Jews to have faith in God, because he would watch over them in their time of trouble, just as he watched over them in the time of Daniel (made up story to show a moral point). My guess is that this is the scholarly consensus. Certainly most of the notes I have read on Daniel support this theory.

      It seems to me that Pitre is not really dealing with the current scholarship on these issues.

  • Having had some time to look into this, the stretches of interpretation is astonishing here.

    Pitre states that we can know that the Gospels according to Matthew and John were written by the apostles Matthew and John due to unanimous internal and external evidence.

    However there is no internal evidence the gospels do not at all, ever, say who wrote them. The references cited by Pitre show the Gospel according to Matthew saying only that there was an apostle named Matthew, it does not connect this person in any way to the authorship of the text. The Gospel of John says it was written by a beloved disciple, it does not name this disciple. While we might conclude that this disciple was the character named John, BUT. THIS IS NOT INTERNAL EVIDENCE! It is us externally making an inference. The Gospel according to John does identify its author it names an a anonymous disciple.

    As for unanimous external evidence, this is not the case. While writers in later centuries attributed the Gospels to these people, this is not external evidence. External evidence would be a letter to Matthew discussing his book, a gospel. Rather, what we have is people discussing an attribution. But this is by no means unanimous, there are earlier external references to these works and they are not named.

    Yes, they were attributed in the late second century by church fathers and since then everyone makes the same attribution. But since this attribution is not in our earlier references and when it appears, it is stated as an attribution, not authorship, it makes to conclude they were anonymous, and they were later attributed to certain people.

    So in fact rather than there being unanimous internal and external evidence of authorship. There is no internal or external evidence of authorship, but rather late evidence of attribution.

    This is not an atheist or skeptic position, this is the mainstream approach. This is what many bibles themselves include in their commentaries.

    • psstein1

      Scholars don't even agree if the "Beloved Disciple" of John is actually John or someone else. I think there are good reasons to suspect that the gospels weren't anonymous (see Martin Hengel's The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ), but I agree with your points more generally. Just because the early church was unanimous in affirming authorship does not mean that Matthew or John actually wrote it.

  • David Nickol

    With that said, over the years, as I have continued to study the Synoptic Problem, I have frankly become more cautious and agnostic about ever unraveling the precise literary relationship between the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. I agree with what the great scholar Joseph Fitzmyer stated some decades ago: the Synoptic Problem is “practically insoluble.” We simply may not have enough data to solve the complex question of literary order and relationship.

    I would like to put the above reference to Fitzmyer's "practically insoluble" quote in context by quoting more fully from Fitzmyer's The Priority of Mark and the "Q" Source in Luke, originally published in 1970. It is clear that although he says the Synoptic Problem is "practically insoluble," Fitzmyer (whom I unequivocally agree is a great scholar) is still very much committed to the Two-Source Theory. He says in his conclusion to the paper that "the Two-Source Theory is still the most attractive hypothesis." He is still convinced of Marcan priority and the existence of "Q." Fitzmyer is making the point that we should realize theories and hypotheses are theories and hypotheses, not that we should throw up our hands because absolute certainty may be impossible.

    By the way, Fitzmyer footnotes his "practically impossible" judgment as follows:

    I would qualify this opinion to admit that there may be some as yet undreamed-of application of data-processing by computers to the problem, i.e., some method not tied to the usual sort of literary judgments which have marked the history of Synoptic research so far.

    Here is the "practically impossible" remark in context:

    Second, the history of the Synoptic research reveals that the problem is practically insoluble. As I see the matter, we cannot hope for a definitive and certain solution to it, since the data for its solution are scarcely adequate or available to us. Such a solution would imply a judgment about the historical genesis and literary relationship of the first three Gospels, whereas the data for the historical and literary judgment of this nature are so meagre and of such a character as to preclude certitude. It is in the general context that I believe H.H. Streeter's oft-quoted statement ought to be repeated (and not apropos of some specific difficulty). Streeter wrote, " . . . we cannot possibly know, either all the circumstances of the churches, or all the personal idiosyncrasies of writers so far removed from our own time." I stress this point at the outset, because one finds often enough in recent discussions a straining after what is called "the truth" of the matter. I submit, however, that "the truth" of the matter is largely inaccessible to us, and that we are forced to live with a hypothesis or a theory. This means too that there are loopholes in the theory, and that the value of the hypothesis may have to be judged by criteria other than its sheer truth. [p. 4]

    Here are two paragraphs excerpted from Fitzmyer's concluding remarks at the very end of the paper:

    I have now come to the end of this survey of the questions of Luke's dependence on Mark and "Q." As is to be hoped, it represents largely the present state of the question and the chief reactions to it. There are undoubtedly items that should have been included, for one reason or another. Conceivably, the most recent attempts to solve the Synoptic Problem might be on the right track or might be more valid than the Two-Source Theory. However, they are deficient in so many details—some of which I have pointed out above—and raise at least as many problems as the ones they seek to resolve. Until a more convincing way is found to present one or the other of them, the Two-Source Theory is still the most attractive hypothesis.

    By the latter I mean chiefly the priority of Mark and the postulated source "Q" as the chief documents underlying the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke. However, I am inclined to allow for the influence of oral tradition, even at the redactional level, which is responsible for the canonical form of these Gospels. Indeed, I would be more incluined to admit this for Luke than for Matthew, i.e., for "L" than for "M." My only hesitation is that one has to distinguish between what might be "L" and what might be Lucan redaction. This distinction is not easily made. Recent studies, however, have made all of us more aware of Lucan characteristics and Lucan compositional devices. Allowance for these must be made in any re-evaluation of the sources "Q" and "L." [p. 28]

  • GuineaPigDan .

    I understand my question being shortened for brevity, but would it be ok adding an ellipses in the middle so readers would know what I originally wrote was a bit longer? My original comment-> http://www.strangenotions.com/atheists-what-question-would-you-ask-a-catholic-biblical-scholar/#comment-2483542309

    David Nickol has done a much more thorough job about Daniel 9 than I could, so I won't repeat him. But I think my question still stands. Trying to find Jesus hidden in a math riddle in Daniel is not "plainly saying" what the messiah is supposed to do. Would it have killed Daniel to just say "the messiah will come in year X and do Y?" Jews have their own interpretation about Daniel 9, just like how I mentioned in my original comment they have their own interpretations of Isaiah 7:14 not being about a future virgin birth and Isaiah 53 being about Israel and not the messiah. I could cite many other examples if I wanted, but it all still leads to the same thing. Why not just have a prophecy that says something clear and leaves no room about translation issues, larger context or anything else that might cause doubt? And apparently there are other verses, like Ezekiel 45:22 that say that sacrifices will come back in the messianic age, not a permanent end. http://outreachjudaism.org/outreach-judaism-responds-to-jews-for-jesus/

    After reading, I don't think you’ll walk away thinking that “the Jews” had “one idea of the Messiah” and that Jesus had another.

    So does this mean the Jews actually DID expect a messiah like Jesus to come, but then chose to reject him anyway? Why would they do that? Overlapping Magesteria already commented below how Jesus' own followers are described as not understanding that the messiah had to suffer and rise again. Maybe there were some Jews at the time that believed in a more peaceful and suffering messiah, but apparently that idea didn't catch on since several figures that were believed to be the Jewish messiah before and during the 1st century were leading violent rebellions unlike the ministry of Jesus (not to mention also if things like a virgin birth were expected of the messiah beforehand, then why didn't any of these other guys try to make that claim about themselves?). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Messiah_claimants#Before_the_Common_Era So it looks to me like the Jews had developed a very different set of expectations compared to what Jesus set out to do.

  • Ignatius Reilly

    First, Ignatius, it’s simply not true that the “only evidence”
    for the resurrection we possess is the empty tomb in Mark. The empty
    tomb is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the early
    Christian belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus (since, obviously,
    tombs can get emptied in lots of ways besides resurrection.) As I noted
    above in the question on the literary genre and authorship of the
    Gospels, we have four first-century biographies of Jesus—attributed
    either to the apostles or their followers—that testify that (1) Jesus
    died and was buried, (2) the tomb was empty on Easter Sunday, (3) Jesus
    appeared on multiple occasions in his body to his disciples (including
    Matthew and John, to whom two of the four Gospels are attributed (see
    Matt 28; Mark 16:1-9; Luke 24; John 20-21).

    The synoptics are not independent accounts. At best you have two independent sources that claim that Jesus died and was buried. Mark, the earliest source only notes that a few women found an empty tomb. If I get a chance later tonight I will pull a quote from Vermes on this.

    The scholarly consensus is that the Gospels are anonymous. I have yet to see anyone on here actually argue against that consensus, by actually referencing the consensus arguments.

  • David Nickol

    To those discussing the end times, here are some provocative (and funny!) comments by N. T. Wright, beginning with the first full paragraph on the linked page.

  • Jim the Scott

    As I re-read Mark 13 I can't for the life of me understand how anyone with an ounce of common sense can claim with a straight face Jesus was foretelling that his second coming would be in the lifetime of the disciples?

    Verses 1-23 clearly are about Jesus foretelling the destruction of the Temple.

    Verse 24 says the second coming comes after the destruction of the temple and tribulations about it, but doesn’t specify when 24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in [m]the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His [n]elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven."

    He doesn't tell us when "those days" specifically take place only they are after this tribulation of the Temple being destroyed.

    But then Jesus brings up the fig tree which was from a parable on the destruction of the Temple.

    28 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, [o]recognize that [p]He is near, right at the [q]door. 30 Truly I say to you, this [r]generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31

    But it seems to me “all these things” can only refer to the destruction of the temple since he clarifies in the next sentence.

    > Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 32 But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

    Since we can’t know & only the Father Knows when the Second Coming happens we must assume Jesus means to exclude his second coming in verse 24 from “all these things”. Also being 'near the door” only tells me Jesus could come at any time after the destruction of the Temple. It doesn’t mean he was telling us he would in fact come during the lifetime of the disciples. Also according to the notes in my Bible some manuscripts render “Generation’ as ‘Race” (likely a ref to the Jewish people as a people) which absolutely makes it impossible to claim Jesus was foretelling his second coming during the lifetime of the Apostle.

    Sorry but even if there is no God. I don’t see it. Jesus clearly wasn’t foretelling his second coming during the lifetime of his disciples.

    Also in that vain if I take a 100% anti-supernaturalist view here this view is even more silly & untenable. The Gospel would have to had been written after the destruction of the Temple because how could Jesus have foretold it's destruction otherwise? But clearly the author of the Gospel would have known Jesus has not yet come back thus how can he have him alleging (based on the goofy interpretation he foretold his second coming) he would come immediately after that? People can see that has not happened.

    No, common sense dictates given such naturalistic presuppositions that the phrase "Nobody knows etc...not the Son but the Father alone" is meant to exclude the prophecies of the second coming from the statement "his generation(or race) will not pass away until all these things take place."

    This is just common sense.

    • David Nickol

      As I re-read Mark 13 I can't for the life of me understand how anyone
      with an ounce of common sense can claim with a straight face Jesus was
      foretelling that his second coming would be in the lifetime of the
      disciples?

      I guess C.S. Lewis either lacked common sense, or he was wearing an evil grin when he wrote this:

      But there is worse to come. "Say what you like," we shall be told, "the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in
      so many words, 'this generation shall not pass till all these things be
      done.' And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the
      world than anyone else."

      It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. Yet how teasing, also, that within fourteen words of it should come the statement "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance grow side by side. That they stood thus in the mouth of Jesus himself, and were not merely placed thus by the reporter, we surely need not doubt. Unless the reporter were perfectly honest he would never have recorded the confession of ignorance at all; he could have had no motive for doing so except a desire to tell the whole truth. And unless later copyists were equally honest they would never have preserved the (apparently) mistaken prediction about "this generation" after the passage of time had shown the (apparent) mistake. This passage (Mark 13:30-32) and the cry "Why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34) together make up the strongest proof that the New Testament is historically reliable. The evangelists have the first great characteristic of honest witnesses: they mention facts which are, at first sight, damaging to their main contention.

      The facts, then, are these: that Jesus professed himself (in some sense) ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so. To believe in the Incarnation, to believe that he is God, makes it hard to understand how he could be ignorant; but also makes it certain that, if he said he could be ignorant, then ignorant he could really be. For a God who can be ignorant is less baffling than a God who falsely professes ignorance. The answer of theologians is that the God-Man was omniscient as God, and ignorant as Man. This, no doubt, is true, though it cannot be imagined. Nor indeed can the unconsciousness of Christ in sleep be imagined, nor the twilight of reason in his infancy; still less his merely organic life in his mother's womb. But the physical sciences, no less than theology, propose for our belief much that cannot be imagined.

      From The World's Last Night by C.S. Lewis.

      • Jim the Scott

        >I guess C.S. Lewis either lacked common sense, or he was wearing an evil grin when he wrote this:

        C.S. Lewis was not Catholic but a member of the false Anglican religion. So logically he could not be infallible or perfect and thus immune to mistakes. He never became Catholic which clearly was a mistake. His friend JRR Tolken certainly thought so in that when he moved from Atheism to Anglicanism he did not quite go far enough.

        Anyway Nickol nothing you quoted from Lewis above even begins to address any points or arguments I brought up. Thus I am re-enforced even more so in my belief that the idea Jesus foretold his Second Coming in the lifetime of His disciples is just silly beyond compare. Knowing what I know I would still believe this even if I became an Atheist.

        The Case is just not there.

        A few points to address Lewis.

        Chalcedon Christology which even Anglicans on paper confess tells us Jesus had two natures human and divine. As God Jesus naturally knew when the end of days would come but as man his human nature could only have finite limited knowledge and obviously Jesus only revealed to us knowledge the Divine Will infused into his Human nature to reveal to us & clearly the time of the End was not among that knowledge. Which is why Jesus can be as God Omniscience & as man profess ignorance.

        Given the ignorance of Apostles as to the day and time of the end of days and given Jesus gave as the only clue it would not happen till some unknown time after the destruction of the Temple. Reasonably it could be any day after that from 24 hours till 10000 or 100000 years or whenever. Thus the prudent teachings of the Apostles to watch and wait.

        It was hardly a failure just common sense. Jesus is always at the door and can come in at anytime. From tomorrow till the year 3000.
        "Coming soon" is relative to an Eternal Being.

  • Amrita Sharma

    here is certainly no reason to doubt that Luke or Mark could speak and
    write in Greek, and external evidence as early as Papias of Hierapolis

    http://www.wazifa786.com/authentic-wazifa-for-love-marriage/

  • David Nickol

    The following took a long time to write, and for those who can't bear to read it, what I claim to document is that although Dr. Pitre acknowledges that the Gospes are not verbatim accounts, when it suits his purposes he nevertheless uses them as if they were. And he very implausibly attributes to Jesus meanings that are literary allusions on the part of the Gospel authors (Mark, in this case). He also "doctors" quotes from the Revised Standard Edition Catholic Version (without making clear what his changes are) to bolster his case.

    Above, Dr. Pitre says:

    I spend three chapters in the book showing that Jesus does claim to be divine in the Synoptic Gospels, but he does it in a very Jewish way: using riddles, parables, and, most of all, allusions to the Jewish Scriptures to both conceal his divine identity from his opponents and reveal it to his companions and those who “have the ears to hear.”

    Chapter 9 of Dr. Pitre's book is titled "Did Jesus Think He Was God?" and argues as follows:

    As we will see, the evidence in the Gospels suggests that Jesus did in fact claim to be God. He did so, however, in a very Jewish way. That is, Jesus used riddles and questions that were intended to both reveal and conceal his identity at the same time.

    One case, Dr. Pitre argues, in which Jesus did make a claim to be God was in the events surrounding the famous incident of Jesus walking on water. Here is Brant Pitre's quotation of Mark's account, which he footnotes as "RSVCE, slightly adapted." I have taken the exact passage from the RSVCE and used strikeouts and bold to show Dr. Pitre's "adaptation." As in his "adapted" quote from Daniel (RSVCE, slightly adapted), he has changed the wording to suit his interpretation.

    Immediately he [Jesus] made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Beth-sa′ida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up into the hills to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were distressed in rowing, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw him, and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear. I am; do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,. for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

    As I have argued before, "adapting" quotes from the RSVCE without making clear which parts are RSVCE and which parts are "adaptations" leaves Dr. Pitre open to the charge of "doctoring" quotes to bolster his case. I am baffled as to why he did not just give his own translation, or quote the RSVCE passage verbatim and do something like the following:

    But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” [Greek: "Θαρσεῖτε ἐγώ εἰμι μὴ φοβεῖσθε." Literally: "Take courage. I am. Fear not."] And he got into the boat with . . . .

    In any case, his point is that Jesus is intending the apostles to make the connection to Exodus 3:14:

    God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” [Caps and small caps in the original rendered here as boldface.]

    By saying "I am," Jesus is allegedly revealing to the apostles, clearly if subtly, that he is claiming to be God.

    There seem to me a number of problems. First of all, Jesus did not speak Greek, so he did not say, "Θαρσεῖτε ἐγώ εἰμι μὴ φοβεῖσθε." In Armaic, does the word or phrase used to say "It is I" also reasonably translated as "I am"? I don't know, and Dr. Pitre doesn't say. But we have an important statement from Dr. Pitre on the nature of the Gospels. He says:

    On the one hand—and I cannot overemphasize the point—it does not mean that theGospels are verbatim transcripts of what Jesus said and did. . . . On the other hand, the historical character of the Gospels does mean that the authors intend to record the substance of what Jesus really said and did.

    Yet we have a claim from Dr. Pitre that depends on us having the exact wording of what Jesus said to a group of terrified apostles in the middle of a storm. And for the claim that Jesus making a reference to Exodus 3:14, we have to assume that not only did the apostles get the exact wording, but they somehow got it in Aramaic and that whatever the Aramaic was translates exactly into Greek so that it validates Dr. Pitre's point.

    To further make his case, Pitre calls attention to Mark's comment "He meant to pass by them." Pitre says,

    Where was Jesus going? The key to unlocking this otherwise baffling detail lies in Jewish Scripture. In the Old Testament, the expression "passing by" is repeatedly used to describe what God does when he appears to human beings.

    Now we have a case in which we are somehow to imagine that Jesus apparently deliberately conveyed the impression that he was going to pass by the apostles in the boat so that in Mark's account (but not Matthew's and Luke's), we would have the sentence, "He was going to pass them by," so that a connection could be made to Old Testament passages in which God is experienced as he passes by.
    Now, suppose we accept (and it is perfectly plausible—other fine exegetes have said similar things) that the statement of Jesus that can be translated "I am" and the detail of Jesus appearing to be passing by are allusions to the Old Testament. What clearly seems to me to be the most plausible explanation is that they are Mark's literary allusions, not subtle claims by Jesus that he was God. Particularly in the "passing by" argument, we have to imagine Jesus play acting that he was intending to pass by with the hope of his action being described in such a way that it would be an allusion to the Old Testament.

    But on top of all this, as I have shown above, Dr. Pitre truncates the account in the RSVCE, ending it with, "and they were utterly astounded." This leaves the impression that they were simply amazed at what Jesus had said and done. But the full quotation is, "And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened." So the apostles, after witnessing Jesus feeding the five thousand, walking on water, and calming a storm still don't get it! But we are supposed to believe that by saying "I am" and pretending to pass by, Jesus was subtly telling the apostles he was divine? The notes to the NAB say the following"

    [6:50] It is I, do not be afraid!: literally, “I am.” This may reflect the divine revelatory formula of Ex 3:14; Is 41:4, 10, 14; 43:1–3, 10, 13. Mark implies the hidden identity of Jesus as Son of God.
    [6:52] They had not understood…the loaves: the revelatory character of this sign and that of the walking on the sea completely escaped the disciples. Their hearts were hardened: in Mk 3:5–6 hardness of heart was attributed to those who did not accept Jesus and plotted his death. Here the same disposition prevents the disciples from comprehending Jesus’ self-revelation through signs; cf. Mk 8:17.

    The idea that "Mark implies the hidden identity of Jesus as Son of God" is quite reasonable. The idea that Jesus was, "in a very Jewish way," claiming to be God by pretending to pass by and by saying something in Aramaic that nicely translates into a Greek phrase that can be translated either as "It is I" or "I am" is, in my opinion, an enormous stretch.

    Assuming (for the sake of argument) that this incident took place exactly as described in Mark, it boggles the mind (or at least my mind) to think that Jesus would feed the five thousand, walk on water, and calm a storm while giving veiled hints that he was divine. If the apostles were incapable of comprehending three amazing miracles (feeding the five thousand, walking on water, and calming a storm)—and we are told they didn't get it in a sentence Dr. Pitre chose to omit—how are they going to comprehend what amount to literary references in the midst of a raging storm?

    • Will

      For context of the son of God in Judaism, I'll just quote wikipedia, it has a good writeup (it's not like we can't look this stuff up). Except for the "sons of God" in the very beginning of Genesis, the sons of God in Judaism are always human, never divine. I can but help to agree with this post about Pitre (courtesy of Andrew G) that some writers try to "do over" lay readers with apologetics.

      Exodus[edit]

      In Exodus 4:22, the Israelites as a people are called "my firstborn son" by God using the singular form.

      Psalms[edit]

      Main article: Psalms

      In Psalms 89:26-28, David calls God his father. God in turn tells David that he will make David his first-born and highest king of the earth.[16]:45[19]:150

      In Psalms 82:1-8, the Biblical judges are called gods and the sons of God.[35]

      Royal Psalms[edit]

      Main articles: Royal Psalms, Melchizedek and Priesthood of Melchizedek

      See also: Jesus and messianic prophecy § Psalm 110 and Jesus and messianic prophecy § Psalm 2

      Psalm 2 is thought to be an enthronement text. The rebel nations and the uses of an iron rod are Assyrian motifs. The begetting of the king is an Egyptian one.[16]:26 Israel’s kings are referred to as the son of the LORD. They are reborn or adopted on the day of their enthroning as the "son of the LORD".[19]:150[36]

      Some scholars think that Psalm 110 is an alternative enthronement text. Psalm 110:1 distinguishes the king from the LORD. The LORD asks the king to sit at his right hand.[37][38] Psalm 110:3 may or may not have a reference to the begetting of kings. The exact translation of 110:3 is uncertain. In the traditional Hebrew translations his youth is renewed like the morning dew. In some alternative translations the king is begotten by God like the morning dew or by the morning dew. One possible translation of 110:4 is that the king is told that he is a priest like Melchizedek. Another possibility is to translate Melchizedek not as a name but rather as a title "Righteous King".[39] If a reference is made to Melchizedek this could be linked to pre-Israelite Canaanite belief. The invitation to sit at the right hand of the deity and the king’s enemy’s being used as footstools are both classic Egyptian motifs, as is the association of the king with the rising sun. Many scholars now think that Israelite beliefs evolved from Canaanite beliefs.[16]:29–33[19]:150 Jews have traditionally believed that Psalm 110 applied only to King David. Being the first Davidic king, he had certain priest-like responsibilities.[40][41][42]

      Psalm 45 is thought to be a royal wedding text. Psalm 45:7-8 may refer to the king as a god anointed by God, reflecting the king’s special relationship with God.[19]:150

      Some believe that these psalms where not meant to apply to a single king, but rather where used during the enthronement ceremony. The fact that the Royal Psalms were preserved suggests that the influence of Egyptian and other near eastern cultures on pre-exile religion needs to be taken seriously. Ancient Egyptians used similar language to describe pharaohs. Assyrian and Canaanite influences among others are also noted.[16]:24–38

      Samuel[edit]

      In 2 Samuel 7:13-16 God promises David regarding his offspring that "I will be to him as a father and he will be to me as a son." The promise is one of eternal kingship.[16]:39–44

      Isaiah[edit]

      Main article: Pele-joez-el-gibbor-abi-ad-sar-shalom

      See also: Jesus and messianic prophecy § Isaiah 9:5 (9:5,6)

      In Isaiah 9:6 the next king is greeted, similarly to the passages in Psalms. Like Psalm 45:7-8 he is figuratively likened to the supreme king God.[19]:150[20] Isaiah could also be interpreted as the birth of a royal child, Psalm 2 nevertheless leaves the accession scenario as an attractive possibility.[16]:28 The king in 9:6 is thought to have been Hezekiah by Jews and various academic scholars.[16]:28[43]

      Jeremiah[edit]

      In Jeremiah Chapter 31 God refers to himself as the father of Israel and Ephraim as his first born son. Ephraim in Jeremiah refers collectively to the northern kingdom.[44]:43

      Book of Wisdom[edit]

      The Book of Wisdom refers to a righteous man as the son of God.[19]:157

      Book of Ecclesiasticus[edit]

      In the Book of Ecclesiasticus 4:10 in the Hebrew text God calls a person who acts righteously his son. The Greek reads slightly different here he will be “like a son of the Most High".

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_God#Judaism

  • bdlaacmm

    As to the Ascension, one of the most (to me) amazing passages in the New Testament is this: "While [Jesus] blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And [the apostles] returned to Jerusalem with great joy." (Luke 24:51-52)

    With great joy? They're joyful at the departure of Jesus? There's a lot going on here that I have to confess I simply do not understand. Maybe it's like the feeling one has at a college graduation ceremony. You've been nothing but a student pretty much your whole life, and now it's "show time".

    A lot to think about.

    • David Nickol

      Also we need to think about why the Ascension takes place on Easter Sunday in Luke's Gospel, but in Acts (also written by Luke), Jesus remains on earth for 40 days and then ascends. The NAB says in a footnote to Acts 1:3:

      [1:3] Appearing to them during forty days: Luke considered especially sacred the interval in which the appearances and instructions of the risen Jesus occurred and expressed it therefore in terms of the sacred number forty (cf. Dt 8:2). In his gospel, however, Luke connects the ascension of Jesus with the resurrection by describing the ascension on Easter Sunday evening (Lk 24:50–53). What should probably be understood as one event (resurrection, glorification, ascension, sending of the Spirit—the paschal mystery) has been historicized by Luke when he writes of a visible ascension of Jesus after forty days and the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost. For Luke, the ascension marks the end of the appearances of Jesus except for the extraordinary appearance to Paul. With regard to Luke’s understanding of salvation history, the ascension also marks the end of the time of Jesus (Lk 24:50–53) and signals the beginning of the time of the church.

      • bdlaacmm

        David,

        I don't see where Luke says the Ascension took place on Easter Sunday at all. In Chapter 24, Verse 50, he writes "then", after describing various post-Resurrection events. A lot can be elided with that word "then" - even as much as 40 days.

        There's no chronological problem here.

        • Will

          If you are Catholic, I'd simply admit that fact the various resurrection accounts simply can't be reconciled with one another and leave mental gymnastics like creating a new definition of "then" to sola scriptura types. Note that my favorite translation of the Bible,the NRSV doesn't use "then".

          50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.

          I can give arguments as to why the NRSV is a great translation, but let's look at the actual greek words.

          Ἐξήγαγεν δὲ αὐτοὺς ἕως πρὸς Βηθανίαν, καὶ ἐπάρας τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῦ εὐλόγησεν αὐτούς.

          Which directly translated is more like:

          He led moreover them out, as far as to Bethany and having lifted up the hands of him, he blessed them.

          http://biblehub.com/text/luke/24-50.htm

          There is no Greek word in that passage that is ever translated to "then", thus your argument is obviously wrong, and I would suggest that the RSVCE is a bit misleading. If you click the link you can examine each work in the verse yourself and see directly how they are used in other passages in the NT. Isn't the internet a wonderful thing for the truth (though increased access to the internet corresponds to lower rates of religion if that tells you anything).

          Let's try to get an answer to a simple question as an example of how contradictory the resurrection accounts are. Who saw Jesus first. They should have seen him in Galilee first because that's what Jesus said, according to Mark 14: 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”

          Well, according to Mark, a mysterious man in w robe (and it doesn't say the man saw Jesus), Mark 16

          As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.[a]

          Of course, Mark says the women didn't tell anyone, so did Peter and the disciples forget to go to Galilee? (I hope you know that the original Mark's Gospel ends with 16:8 different two different endings were added much later.) Let's see what Matthew says, chapter 28

          5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead,[b] and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

          So we go from a strange man, to an angel in the tomb, that's a big change in the story. What's the point of the angel when Jesus himself shows up right after. Why didn't Mark say anything about that? Seems awfully contrived to me. Both the man in Mark, and the angel in Matthew say he has gone to Galilee, but apparently they were both wrong, because Jesus was right there. Let's go to Luke 24:

          4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5 The women[b] were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men[c] said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.[d] 6 Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8 Then they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.[e]

          The Walk to Emmaus

          13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[f] from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad.[g] 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”

          So we go from a man, to an angel, back to two men in cool cloths, and now we have the women NOT seeing Jesus, and actually telling the disciples what Mark said they DIDN'T tell the disciples, and now some character named Cleopas first seeing Jesus? So did Mary see Jesus first or did Cleopas? Let's see what Paul says, back to 1 Cor 15

          3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters[c] at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.[d] 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

          So first he appeared to Cephas, according to Paul, not Mary, or Cleopas and the other guy. No mention of anything related to the gospel accounts. We have 4 stories, and they are all radically different, and it's not 100% clear that Cephas was the same person as Peter. In other words, we have no idea who saw Jesus first, and will never know. That's a pretty big problem to me, not even counting the dramatic variation in the written reports.

          • bdlaacmm

            Sorry, but you are reading wa-a-a-ay too much into Luke's account(s) of the Ascension. Even minus the "then" (And I'll admit it up front: I know not word one of Greek, so quoting from the original to me is like an argument from authority. I can't fact check your reading of the text, so quoting Greek to me just doesn't do it.), there's no immediacy implied in the Luke 24:50. In fact, the Gospels frequently play fast and loose with time scales and the order of events. That should be no problem when you take in account the literary conventions being used.

            But what simply cannot be denied is that there was a space of 40 days after the Resurrection when Jesus appeared to various persons, often on multiple occasions. Some of these were in the vicinity of Jerusalem - some were in Galilee. I don't see the four (five, if you count Paul) accounts being irreconcilable.

            And yes, I am a Catholic, and no, I do NOT believe in sola scriptura. But I DO believe that the Gospels do not contain factual error.

          • David Nickol

            (And I'll admit it up front: I know not word one of Greek, so quoting from the original to me is like an argument from authority. I can't fact check your reading of the text, so quoting Greek to me just doesn't do it.),

            It is actually very easy, even if you don't know Greek, to examine the Greek text of the Gospels and verify translations. WD gave you this link. Her is another.

            An argument from authority is only a problem when the authority cited is for some reason unreliable. Even if interlinear Greek translations were unavailable to those of us who don't speak Greek, there are experts in Greek who can answer questions about the language, and it only makes sense to quote them if there is an issue about a translation.

            But what simply cannot be denied is that there was a space of 40 days after the Resurrection when Jesus appeared to various persons, often on multiple occasions.

            Commenting on Acts 1:1 in the Anchor Bible volume Acts of the Apostles, Joseph Fitzmyer says in part:

            In this verse, Luke does not indicate when that "day" was. In Luke 24:50-53 he depicts the taking up as an event on the evening of the day when the empty tomb was discovered. In vv9-11 below Luke will depict the ascension itself as a visibly perceptible event occurring after an interval of "forty days." The ascension in these verses thus creates a notorious problem when it is related to Luke 24:50-53, raising the obvious question: When did the ascension really take place? Part of the answer to that question comes with a proper understanding of what the ascension really was . . . .

            On the ascension itself (Acts 1:9-11), Fitzmyer says:

            This account is, in effect, a narrative, or better a description of the exaltation of Christ that uses apocalyptic stage props to present in visible form Christ' final departure from his assembled disciples. Luke stresses the visible perception of Christ's leave-taking . . . . Thus the apostles become eyewitnesses of Christ's exaltation. The apocalyptic stage props are the clouds, the passing up through the heavens, and the message of angelic interpreters. The last appearance of Christ from glory thus ends with his final leave-taking from his assembled followers in a visibly perceptible way.

            Interestingly, Pope Benedict XVI in Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, always puts "Ascension" in quotation marks and regarding Acts 1:9 ("When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.") says, "The reference to the cloud is unambiguously theological language."

          • Jim the Scott

            What does any of this have to do with your claim the Ascension took place on Easter Sunday and not 40 days later?

            Where does the text say verse 50 took place on Easter Sunday and not 40 days later?

            BTW when Pope Benedict gives his solution(i.e. theological language) to this in his book where has he said this opinion of his is binding on us as a matter of Faith& morals that we are forbidden to disagree with him?

          • Jim the Scott

            I submit if I turned Luke 24:50-53 into the short Chapter 25:1-3 final "chapter" of Luke it is unlikely the skeptics would make this claim.

            You are correct. There is nothing in the text that denies a 40 day time period between Luke 24:49 and Luke 24:50. Regardless of "then".

            The problem I think is our skeptics are taking their interpretive cues from the Chapter and verse division in the text (which the Church put in during the 12th century).

          • Jim the Scott

            The best explanation is that the women initially said nothing (Mark 16:8) and then later told the disciples what they saw (Matthew 28:8, Luke 24:9). It would make sense that they were frightened and didn't know what to do or say. But then later, of course, they spoke up.

            Each Gospel omits details other Gospels fill in.

            You and Nickols really have to give up this Perspicuity nonsense. We don't do that here. We are Catholics.

            As for Cephas being Peter there is nothing in Scripture or Tradition that even suggests they where two different people and the Gospel of John clearly says Peter is Cephas.

            The three women (Matthew 28:9)--"And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him."

            Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9)--"Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons."

            The Disciples (Luke 24:15-18)--"And it came about that while they were conversing and discussing, Jesus Himself approached, and began traveling with them. 16 But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. 17And He said to them, "What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?" And they stood still, looking sad. 18And one of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, "Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?"

            Mary (John 20:14)--"When she had said this, she turned around, and *beheld Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus."

            Cephas and the twelve (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)--"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve."

            This is no contradiction at all. The answer is simple. The first one to see Jesus after His resurrection was Mary Magdalene just as it says (Mark 16:9). Then the others saw Him afterward. The context of the other verses don't present any problem at all.

            (Note I stole some of the responses above from a Protestant apologetics website. Let them do my dirty work for me)

            William he who lives by perspicuity dies by it. Where does verse 50 say those events took place on Easter Sunday & NOT 40 days later? Where does it explicitly say that? Your problem here is you seem to think because verse 50 in in chapter 24 which mentions the resurrection on the third day the Ascension must have happened on that day. But no verse in Chapter 24 explicitly says that.

            BTW you do realize chapter and verse divisions in the Scripture where added into the text IN THE 12th century?

            Isn't truth grand? Admit it William. You and Nickols, your entire polemic is based on treating Chapter 24 & the verse divisions as if they where put into the Holy Writ by the Apostles. They did not. That was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century when England was still Catholic.

      • Jim the Scott

        Easter Sunday is the resurrection not the Ascension.

        • Ignatius Reilly

          Depends on the account. In Luke's Gospel, Jesus ascends on Easter.

          • Jim the Scott

            Except Verse 50 nowhere says that it took place on Easter and verse 49 has Jesus telling the disciples to wait in the city.

            We don't know how much time passes between verses 49 & 50.

            You do realize the chapter and verse division put in the text was done in the 12th century?

            You Atheist Protestants and your perspicuity.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Sigh. It is a pretty uncontroversial point that Luke gives two different times for the ascension in his Gospel and in Acts. The 40 days is usually thought to be a theological point rather than a historical one.

            You should read some biblical scholarship or take a class or something....

          • Jim the Scott

            >Sigh. It is a pretty uncontroversial point that Luke gives two different times for the ascension in his Gospel and in Acts.

            Where again in verse 50 does Luke explicitly give the time or exclude it being 40 days? Come on Iggy while we are both young......

            >The 40 days is usually thought to be a theological point rather than a historical one.

            Maybe that interpretation is valid but I see no reason why there can't be a gap between verse 49 & 50?

            >You should read some biblical scholarship or take a class or something..

            Rather you should learn logic. A contradiction is to claim X and Not X are true at the same time and in the same relation. Saying A=B and A=C are not contradictions they are merely contrary. You only have a contradiction if you also say B doesn't equal C.

            It's that simple dude and I don't have to believe in God to believe I am right here & it seems I am.

            Show me how Luke says X and Not X at the same time and in the same relation in regards to the ascension?

            Need something more than special pleading guy.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Where again in verse 50 does Luke explicitly give the time or exclude it being 40 days? Come on Iggy while we are both young......

            Based on the flow of the passage, scholars believe that the referenced ascension takes place on the evening of Easter.

            Maybe that interpretation is valid but I see no reason why there can't be a gap between verse 49 & 50?

            The flow of the passage.

            Rather you should learn logic. A contradiction is to claim X and Not X are true at the same time and in the same relation. Saying A=B and A=C are not contradictions they are merely contrary. You only have a contradiction if you also say B doesn't equal C.

            Please. I've taken graduate level courses on logic. Your muddled logic lesson does not impress me.

            The problem is that you expect atheists to be able to disprove your assertions, when the best anyone can do is show you good reasons as to why you are wrong, which you then seem quite intent to ignore. There is no proof outside of mathematics.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Based on the flow of the passage, scholars believe that the referenced ascension takes place on the evening of Easter.

            Which would be valid if Act 1 was never written but here you all but concede there is nothing in Chapter 24 to explicitly claim the event of verses 50-53 didn't happen at a later time. You are trying to imply that it might have happened on the same day(given no contrary statement within the narrative) and at best it can be implied but it is not explicit.

            Thus there is nothing to exclude the claims of a later clarification that is given in Acts.

            >The flow of the passage.

            But the flow is hardly conclusive. At best it's implicit but by nature that can't be explicit or negate the claims of Acts 1 absolutely.

            >Please. I've taken graduate level courses on logic. Your muddled logic lesson does not impress me.

            Neither does your argument from special pleading impress me.

            >The problem is that you expect atheists to be able to disprove your assertions, when the best anyone can do is show you good reasons as to why you are wrong,

            I see no good reason other then the fact if Acts 1 was never written we might conclude the Ascension took place shortly after the resurrection.

            This "flow" business is at best an ephemeral subjective construct.

            > which you then seem quite intent to ignore. There is no proof outside of mathematics.

            No saying explicitly the Ascension happened only once and that it happened on the day of the resurrection & 40 days later is kind of a contradiction.

            Such explicit statements are not in the text of Luke 24.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Nothing is meant to negate the claims of Acts. Again 40 days is theological not historical. You are being quite the Protestant - interpreting the bible literaly and all.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Nothing is meant to negate the claims of Acts. Again 40 days is theological not historical.

            Where does Ott, the CCC or Denzinger or some authoritative papal statement or Council say the 40 days is theological not historical?

            Where does it bind me to that belief?

            > You are being quite the Protestant - interpreting the bible literaly and all.

            Since when is it not Catholic to ever interpret the Bible literally?

            You do realize we interpret John 6 literally? You are equivocating Perspicuity with interpreting the Bible literally.

            You are the typical ex-Catholic. Your knowledge of your former faith clearly has gaps.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Where does Ott, the CCC or Denzinger or some authoritative papal statement or Council say the 40 days is theological not historical?

            I don't think the Catholic Church has ever taught that the 40 days is theological and not historical. However, interpreting the 40 days as historical is anachronistic and not in line with how Jews used numbers in their Scriptures. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus was tempted for 40 days, and he ascended after 40 days.

            Where does it bind me to that belief?

            The Catholic Church doesn't bind you to any particular belief on this subject. However, critical analysis of the text suggests that you should not take the 40 days historically.

            Since when is it not Catholic to ever interpret the Bible literally?

            You do realize we interpret John 6 literally? You are equivocating Perspicuity with interpreting the Bible literally.

            I was teasing. Now look at you set up a straw man.

            You are the typical ex-Catholic. Your knowledge of your former faith clearly has gaps.

            Whenever a typical Catholic says this to me, I wish there was a game of Catholic Trivial Pursuit, so I could show them who really doesn't understand their faith. I went to Catholic elementary, Catholic college prep, and an elite Catholic university. Learning the ins and outs of Catholicism was pretty important in my formative years. I've forgotten more about the Catholic faith then you will ever know.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I don't think the Catholic Church has ever taught that the 40 days is theological and not historical.

            Agreed, but the issue is the claim Luke 24:50-53 contradicts Acts 1:7 by allegedly teaching the Ascension was on the same day as the Resurrection.

            The case has not been made conclusively. There is nothing in the text of Luke 24 to suggest the event of Luke 24:50-53 didn't really take place 40 days after the events that occur previous to verse 49.

            You as an Ex-Catholic should know better then to give the lame answers you have given thus far.

            additional edit:

            >The Catholic Church doesn't bind you to any particular belief on this subject. However, critical analysis of the text suggests that you should not take the 40 days historically.

            Nonsense, that might be the case if I am as you a total disbeliever in the supernatural & the resurrection. I have no compelling reason to not believe he literally rose & he literally went to Heaven 40 days later given the ambiguity in the text.

            OTOH even if I do take a naturalistic & anti-supernatural view I see no reason why the Author of Luke & Acts (because it is more than plausible they are the same person) didn't intend to keep Luke 24:50-53 deliberately vague so he could retroactively insert the 40 days for "theological purposes" without obviously contradicting the narrative & he never intended to teach Jesus went to Heaven on the same day as the resurrection in the first place.

            > I wish there was a game of Catholic Trivial Pursuit, so I could show them who really doesn't understand their faith.

            Define the meaning of hypostasis/divine person using the terminology of Aquinas? (Hint: read Garrigou-Lagrange)

            Who did Tertullian identify has the second Pope?

            Why was Pope Stephen VII re-named Stephen VI & what Papal Ruling was responsible & what was the name of that Pope?

            Can you answer any of the above questions off the top of your head like moi or do you have to use google?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Nonsense, that might be the case if I am as you a total disbeliever in
            the supernatural & the resurrection. I have no compelling reason
            to not believe he literally rose & he literally went to Heaven 40
            days later given the ambiguity in the text.

            Is it possible that he literally rose and he literally went to heaven 60 days later? I'm saying that the numbering is theological. This has nothing to do with my belief that the resurrection never happened. This is my trying to analyze the text as the author would have wanted it to be read.

            OTOH even if I do take a naturalistic & anti-supernatural view I see
            no reason why the Author of Luke & Acts (because it is more than
            plausible they are the same person) didn't intend to keep Luke 24:50-53
            deliberately vague so he could retroactively insert the 40 days for
            "theological purposes" without obviously contradicting the narrative
            & he never intended to teach Jesus went to Heaven on the same day as
            the resurrection in the first place.

            I don't think the day he went to heaven is important to the author.

            Define the meaning of hypostasis/divine person using the terminology of Aquinas? (Hint: read Garrigou-Lagrange)

            Haven't read him. Hypostasis usually is in reference to how Jesus is both fully Divine and fully human while still being one person.

            Who did Tertullian identify has the second Pope?

            Clement.

            Why was Pope Stephen VII re-named Stephen VI & what Papal Ruling was responsible & what was the name of that Pope

            I don't remember. I've always thought it was interesting that John XXIII took that name to repudiate an anti-pope.

            Can you answer any of the above questions off the top of your head like moi or do you have to use google?

            It really isn't very impressive that you can answer your own questions.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Is it possible that he literally rose and he literally went to heaven 60 days later? I'm saying that the numbering is theological. This has nothing to do with my belief that the resurrection never happened. This is my trying to analyze the text as the author would have wanted it to be read.

            This is a trivial objection. God could do what he wants. We have a text that says he went to heaven 40 days later and there is no reason not to believe 40 days passed between the events that terminate at Luke 24:49 & the event that happened starting at Luke 24:50.

            >I don't think the day he went to heaven is important to the author.

            That is a valid opinion but that has little to do with the claims of contradiction. In order to prove a conclusive contradiction one would have to show a clear statement in Luke 24 identifying the day of the resurrection as the day Jesus ascended into Heaven. It is hardly conclusive. Both from some manuscripts omitting references to Christ being taken into heaven in verse 51 and the ambiguity in the text even with those that do. As I said in the past if I made Luke 24:50-53 Luke 25:1-3 you would likely not make this objection.

            >Haven't read him. Hypostasis usually is in reference to how Jesus is both fully Divine and fully human while still being one person.

            Well your trivial pursuit skills may not be all that formidable . How did you not get the hint? A hypostasis is a person. Did you not see the “/“? You are clearly confusing that with the “Hypostatic Union” which is the union of the divine and human natures of Christ in His divine person. Anyway the correct answer is a hypostasis/divine person is a real divine relation subsisting in the divine essence. Or to put it another way a divine person is an opposing divine relation (opposing other divine relations) that subsists in the divine essence. It is a mysterious real relation in the Godhead but it is not any type of real physical or metaphysical distinction in the divine essence.

            >Clement

            Well done.

            >I don't remember. I've always thought it was interesting that John XXIII took that name to repudiate an anti-pope.

            Stephen II was elected Pope and died about 4 days later. However Stephen wasn’t a bishop at the time of his election and he died before he could be consecrated. Paul VI however reed via canon law you have to be a Bishop to really be Pope otherwise you are Pope-elect till you are made a Bishop.

            But points for knowing there was an anti-Pope John XXIII & that his choice was considered mildly provocative by some.

            >It really isn't very impressive that you can answer your own questions.

            It is even less impressive when you tout your own alleged knowledge of Catholic doctrine without any evidence. But you got the Clement thing.
            Good on ya.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            It is even less impressive when you tout your own alleged knowledge of
            Catholic doctrine without any evidence. But you got the Clement thing. Good on ya.

            I find it frustrating when Catholics assume that ex-Catholics just didn't know their faith well enough, otherwise the would never have left it. Ironically, this claim is often made by Catholic converts. Growing up the Catholic faith was very important to me. I received an excellent Catholic education, which I supplemented with lots of reading. I don't really care if this counts as evidence in your book or not. I don't care to dialogue with people who think that insulting a person's understanding of Catholicism is a good way to dialogue. Sadly, it is an all to common refrain.

            To a certain extent, I think this site is predicated on the idea that atheists would convert to Catholicism if only they properly understood it. All the apologist must do is offer good arguments (Aquinas), which refute the bad arguments (Dawkins). I think this fundamentally mischaracterizes the dynamic. The bad atheist arguments are unnuanced. The substance of the arguments are usually still valid objections, but need to be made rigorous.

            In the end, we could spend thousands of words listing objections and counter objections. We would probably agree on what the objections and counter objections are. I would simply find the atheist objections and counter objections more convincing than the Catholic objections and counter objections, while you would be the opposite. In the end, I do think non-belief is the correct answer and that careful thinking leads to non-belief, but at the same time I think the waters are muddy enough that I could be wrong and we could both be behaving rationally. So, I don't really put much stock in what people believe on the God question. Shared human experiences are much more important.

            On the other hand, I do think there are some arguments and some beliefs that are irrational. Although, I don't think I ever convinced a believer that one of their beliefs is irrational.

          • Jim the Scott

            Those are interesting thoughts but so far in this discussion I have seen nothing but weak arguments about esoteric subjects like "flow" and nothing substantial but appeals to authority. Specifically an arbitrary magestarium of "modern" scholars and silly appeals to the "racism of the CE" and other nonsense.

            As it stands Iggy I could in theory agree with you there is no God but your claims the author of Luke and Acts intended to teach the Ascension took place on the day of the resurrection and not 40 days later is simply weak sauce.

            Ambiguous charges on your part that I should "read more critical scholars" not withstanding.

            PS. For someone who doesn't want to dialog you do seem to want to answer me a lot. Where have you been for the past three days?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Those are interesting thoughts but so far in this discussion I have seen nothing but weak arguments about esoteric subjects like "flow" and nothing substantial but appeals to authority. Specifically an arbitrary magestarium of "modern" scholars and silly appeals to the "racism of the CE" and other nonsense.

            I wasn't the one that brought up the racism of the CE. I think it is a good reason as to why we shouldn't consider the CE authoritative, but that is really a minor point. With regards to Luke/Acts, most of the scholars I have read recently seem to think that is obvious that the Gospel and Acts differ in the time elapsed between the resurrection and the ascension. Usually it is mentioned offhandedly without need for any argument, as an example for a larger poin they want to make. Either way, I don't think it is an argument against Christianity or the Bible.

            As it stands Iggy I could in theory agree with you there is no God but your claims the author of Luke and Acts intended to teach the Ascension took place on the day of the resurrection and not 40 days later is simply weak sauce.

            I'm not sure if he intended on historicizing the time between the resurrection and the ascension. It is not my intention to argue that the writer has an opinion on the time period.

            Ambiguous charges on your part that I should "read more critical scholars" not withstanding.

            I was frustrated. Pax?

            PS. For someone who doesn't want to dialog you do seem to want to answer me a lot. Where have you been for the past three days?

            I don't mind dialogue and even debates, provided they are conversational and not disagreeable. I do not enjoy sophistical and contentious battles more concerned with obfuscation and point winning than understand other humans and understanding our place in the world.
            I work a lot of hours and I teach a night class, so that keeps me pretty busy. Don't always have the time/energy to respond. I picked up a live Talking Heads album at the local record store, so I'm listening to that and responding to various posts.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I was frustrated. Pax?

            Very well Pax, so I will forgo any more argument on the matter save to say I don't see it at all clear that the author did not venture a 40 day time period between the resurrection and the Ascension. Indeed my Oxford Annotated Bible NRSV seems to claim Luke 24:51 lacks the phrase "was taken up into Heaven" in some "authorities"/manuscripts. Give that verse is in question then it seems to me the opinion is even more improbable and i would need to see the reasonings of these scholars you cite for their opinion.

            The only thing I might see is the tendency among Critical scholars to see the books of the Bible as separate narratives isolated from one another in which case had Acts 1:7 never been penned it might be natural to assume the Ascension took place on the day of resurrection. But there still lacks an explicit statement in that 'chapter" so it is at best inferred with the afore mentioned supposition.

            Peace to you Iggy. I have moved on to something else. In the future I might return if one of you says something I find both interesting and completely wrong.

            Cheers.

    • Lazarus

      Joy because they know he's not dead, that they will see him again, that what he's promised is actually true, joy in anticipating what lies ahead for them, joy in looking forward to the work ahead. So many possibilities. Sorrow and sadness would have been quite inappropriate given what they had experienced.

  • Jim the Scott

    This latest claim that Luke 24:50-53 contradicts Acts 1 because Luke 24 allegedly claims the Ascension took place on the day of the Resurrection(even thought it nowhere explicitly says that) and Acts 1 does explicitly says the Ascension took place after 40 days has a few major problems.

    I think the major one is the skeptics are psychologically relying on the Chapter and verse divisions in the text(which where added by the Church in the 12th century) as cues to interpret Luke. Chapter 24 of Luke deals with the resurrection but there is no reason why we can't believe between verse 49 and verse 50 that 40 days passed.
    No reason at all.

    I submit if I turned Luke 24:50-53 into the short Chapter 25:1-3 final "chapter" of Luke it is unlikely the skeptics would make this claim.

    Something to think about.

  • Dhaniele

    Dear Dr. Pitre, you mentioned that the prophesy of Daniel puts the birth of the Messiah in the first century. I read somewhere that if you use the lunar year system for years, it comes out much more precisely according to our calculation for his birth year. Do you have any ideas on this?

  • Doug Shaver

    According to the unanimous internal evidence of all extant ancient Greek manuscripts (e.g., Papyrus 4, 64, 66, 75, Codex Sinaticius, Vaticanus, etc.) as well as the unanimous external evidence of ancient writers outside the Bible (e.g., Papias of Hierapolis, Irenaeus of Lyons, Muratorian Canon, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius of Caesarea, etc.), two of the four gospels were authored by Matthew and John.

    That's an intriguing interpretation of unanimity. Suppose I am addressing an audience of 100 scholars of English literature, and I say to them, "Please raise your hands if you believe that William Shakespeare, the man born in Stratford on Avon, was the actual author of the plays attributed to him," and 10 hands are raised. I then say, "Raise your hands if you believe somebody else wrote the plays," and no hands are raised. If I understand Pitre correctly, I am then justified in saying that my audience unanimously believes that Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the plays attributed to him.