“Strictly Speaking, the Gospels are Anonymous” (w/ YouTube)

CaseForChristAs Anonymous as Genesis

“…strictly speaking, the gospels are anonymous”

~ Craig Blomberg, The Case for Christ

This little boulder of information is so frequently passed over. Evangelicals stamp feet and insist that the gospels are eyewitness records. But these are curious eyewitness records indeed, though a person is unlikely to come away from The Case for Christ understanding the following:

  • The gospels never claim to be eyewitness records.
  • They never narrate in the first person.
  • They were written in the wrong language for Galilean disciples.
  • They recount a great deal that the disciples could not have witnessed.
  • But perhaps most disturbing – and perhaps the first flag we should have noticed – is that they are entirely anonymous.

And that makes the first four books of the New Testament a whole lot like the first five books of the Old Testament: they all have unfounded traditions about who wrote them; they were all written in the wrong language; they were all written in the wrong voice; and they all include information that doesn’t make sense for eyewitnesses. Yet we like to say that they are eyewitness records – because, hey, that sounds reliable.

~

A few more quotes to flesh out this interesting issue of anonymity:

“…what about the gospels, which, technically speaking, are formally anonymous?”

~ Michael Kruger

“…all the Gospels were written anonymously, and none of the writers claims to be an eyewitness. Names are attached to the titles of the Gospels (“the Gospel according to Matthew”), but these titles are later additions to the Gospels, provided by editors and scribes to inform readers who the editors thought were the authorities behind the different versions.”

~ Ehrman, Bart D. (2009-02-20). Jesus, Interrupted

 “The gospels (and Acts) are anonymous, in that none of them name an author.”

~Wikipedia, sourced from Stephen Harris

These quotations cover conservatives, liberals, everyone. If you consult any serious scholar – Christian or non-Christian: the gospels were written as “formally anonymous” documents. The titles simply were not affixed by the authors. The name traditions were attached later. The only real argument on the table is, how much later, and how accurately?

But surely these traditions were correct. Surely Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote our gospels. Right?

The Ascriptions are Wrong

Wishful thinking remains available for those who would embrace it. The Case for Christ offers the company line for those who require propping up, providing the “facts” according to an exclusively fundamentalist segment of scholars while posturing as some kind of objective investigation. The Ehrman Project provides quick answers to hush the disquiet of troubling thoughts. But for those who would dig, more complete and less rosy answers await.

On the evidence, there are a number of good reasons to conclude that the traditional ascriptions were incorrect and that, whoever wrote the gospels, they did not have firsthand knowledge of Jesus themselves.

Here is a brief 8 1/2 minute lecture excerpt from Bart Ehrman that gives the high points:

   ~

(NOTE: video is set to play from 48:30 to 57:06. Timings sometimes do not work correctly in IE. Recommend using Firefox)

Tradition!

The main takeaway from all of this is that the Bible itself does not tell us who wrote the gospels. For that, we need the parallel church traditions about these texts. As discussed on the Timeline of NT Books infographic, Irenaeus gives us our first record of who wrote the gospels, late in the second century (180 AD). That’s about 100 years after the gospels were written, or more. Nevertheless, it is disquieting for evangelicals to realize that eyewitness claims of authorship are actually non-Biblical.

The supporting rationale circles the same drain as other holy texts: we know the texts are reliable because they are eyewitness accounts. But we do not know that these texts are eyewitness records because they themselves say so, nor because they appear to be so. We only think this because a later religious tradition tried to make the texts sound as authentic as possible. Thus, tradition claims authorship, and authorship validates content, yet the content was the basis for the tradition in the first place. Mmm-hmm.

Meanwhile, the gospels themselves shrug at our rightly suspicious glances, looking back with a plaintive expression of dumb innocence: “Don’t look at me – I never claimed to be written by anybody special.”

But seeing the role of tradition in all of this, one has to cover the ears against the rising Catholic outcry: “we told you so.” The stories about Jesus represent later-written traditions as told by different communities of believers. Further, it is only on church traditions that we have any assertions about who wrote them (and they turn out to be highly suspect). Still more, it was the church fathers who decided what texts were authentic and which ones got into the Bible. And they did so based on which texts had more compelling traditions of authenticity. So yes. Religious traditions came first, and the Bible came later, at all points.

God’s Word

This dilapidated state of affairs is the expected outcome, since God’s texts have ever arrived by a circuitous route of dubious intermediaries. Here we owe ourselves and others a sanity check. On the Christian proposition, God himself had been here on earth for a good three decades. Yet he left us not a single written word. How likely is that? He could have written the gospel by his own hand. Or a few letters. Something. Anything. He was supposed to have been The Word. He very likely had a literacy that exceeded his immediate disciples. It seems like communication of the written sort would have been something he could probably have managed. Given that Christianity was destined to be a religion grounded in religious texts, it sure would seem to clinch the deal if God himself wrote a few lines here and there.

We do not have “God’s Word” in the gospels. If Jesus had actually written something by his own hand, and if he had been who the Gospel of John claimed, then we would perhaps have a case for such a claim. But no. We have gospels – stories about Jesus. These are stories about what Jesus said – not Jesus’ words. They are stories about what Jesus did – not objective histories about the life and times of the Nazarene. And they are told as hero tales, as recounted by… whoever the authors actually were.

Comments

  1. archaeopteryx1 says:

    I’d have settled for an email, but sky-writing would have worked too.

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    • LOL

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    • Sky writing? I wonder if it’s as good as Windriding? But think about it, it is sky writing in a way, and definitely about as solid. The great tragedy of Christianity is the relatively recent shift to a Bible cult. Some how these true to the Bible groups seem to totally miss the fact that for the first almost 400 years of their religion there was no Bible. I guess they are able to ignore that uncomfortable fact the same way they ignore almost 200 years of biological, geological, physical, and chemical research and discovery and insist the earth is only about 6000 years old and the entire universe was created in 6 days (the creator took the 7th off, remember?). And they know this because it’s written by Moses in the first book of the Bible. Probably jotted it down between wanderings on the Sinai. Of course I mean written by as being the person who held the pen to the paper and called for a refill of the ink well as needed.

      The greatest mystery to me as I discovered the world of Biblical literalism was how otherwise basically intelligent people living in a modern world could claim that the infinite source of all that is wrote this book back in the early iron age/late Bronze age and make that claim with a straight face? There’s a great Yiddish word for that, but I can’t spell it. maybe I could sky write it?

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      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        Mariah, it’s been well established that Moses, if he ever existed, did not write the five biblical books attributed to him. Those were written by at least four separate sources, writing between 950 and 500 BCE. The Torah (first 5 books) was finally put together in 400 BCE, about a thousand years after Moses was alleged to have lived.

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        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          Also, there’s no evidence, Mariah, that the Israelites had a written language before 1000 BCE.

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          • And to this list we may add that Moses would not have spoken Hebrew, since it did not exist at the time of the purported Exodus. He would have spoken a more primitive Canaanite, or somesuch, and that is not the language of our earliest Pentatuechal texts.

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            • archaeopteryx1 says:

              One would assume that his native tongue was Egyptian.

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              • I know about the Moses authorship problems, actually from reading here! And yes, I went back and read some of the modern Jewish scholarship on the subject (I do trust their scholarship on such things). As for the pre-Hebrew language thing, while I hadn’t thought about it. What was put together as the Torah was from oral “texts”, a common thing in the world. The pre-Hebrew/semetic language thing is fascinating, how much Babylonian/Sumerian (my timeline is off, I’m sure) migrated out of Iraq with the nomads that claim Abraham as their original clan leader? I’m doing a linguistics course now, I hope it goes into some of that. Since I have never been part of one of the Bible cults, I keep forgetting how it’s (supposed) perfection and literal presentation are such important pieces of their picture. Even in my college Biblical apologetics classes 50+ years ago we discussed the problems of moving an oral tradition into a written one, and the idea of Moses (who, if he was an Egyptian priest of his reputed era would probably have been at least partially literate) actually wrote (as in held the pen) the books wasn’t considered. Started the tradition maybe? sure, that works, but remember, the world of difference between the old Christianities and the newer bible cults is pretty vast.

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              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                Your Mesopotamian timeline isn’t that far off, Mariah, but if you don’t mind, let me help you with it. The Sumerians were the first organized civilization in Mesopotamia, they carried on a successful society for 4000 years before they were conquered by the Akkadiaans, a Semitic group that settled in Northern Mesopotamia, grew, then spread south. They, later were supplanted – during the time ascribed to Abraham – by the Amurrites (Amorites), whose god was Amurru. They ruled for 500 years.

                When I mention the time ascribed to Abraham, nearly any four sources will give you four different dates (2350-1750 BCE) – it’s not really that easy, pinning down the exact birthdate for a fictional character.

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    • What do you think of WLC’s postulation that given such sky writing, we’d eventually chafe at the ever-present, obnoxious reminder of God’s existence and the call to submission? (That’s my paraphrase, potentially misrepresenting him.)

      Yesterday, I watched a William Lane Craig vs. Richard Carrier debate on the historicity of the resurrection. Pretty sure that’s where I heard him say it.

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      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        I’ve run across that debate, on YouTube, but I’ve never taken the time to watch it. I likely will one day, but I don’t hold much stock in anything WLC has to say.

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        • Suppose I never mentioned the source. What do you make of the postulation?

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          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            What was it again? That we’d get sick from overexposure at too much god? Yeah, I do, even without the skywriting. I have enough church memories locked away in my head to last a lifetime, if I never walk into another church and risk Spontaneous Human Combustion.

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            • Church memories… May I ask your background? Are you a deconvert? Did you blog about it?

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              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                Just your basic US Bible Belt WASP, and I just gradually outgrew it.

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              • If you wish to indulge my curiosity: Do you think you were ever a “true believer”? Did you have a “born again experience”? At what age did you grow out of it? Did you research like many deconverts have done, or did you follow your “gut” out (like most follow it (nee HS) in)?

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              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                “Do you think you were ever a ‘true believer’?”

                Oh yeah, as a pre-teen, I recall looking at the intricate structure of a leaf, and musing, “How could ANYone not believe there wasn’t a god?” As far as “research” is concerned, I didn’t know then what research was, but I do recall our having a number of “National Geographic” magazines, and after gaping at the photos of bare-breasted African women, I perused articles on the world’s various religions, and do recall asking my Mom, how we knew, with all of the religions in the world, that we had the “right” one. Her reply was, “We just do, that’s all.” But neither of my parents were actually church-going, bible-beating Christians, so I can’t honestly say I overdosed on it, or was rebelling against my parents in rejecting it – as a teen, I just gradually stopped believing. All of my research, and there’s been plenty of it, came later.

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              • Interesting, thanks for sharing.

                What motivated you to do the research?

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              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                What motivated my research?the simple fact that all my young life, I’d been fed all these cutsey stories about talking snakes and donkeys, and animals boarding an ark, two by two, and such, and decided I wanted to find out what it was REALLY all about, so I read the Bible, cover to cover, something I know for a fact, my parents never did, and had some serious issues with what I read.

                “‘Scrutumini scripturas’
                (‘Let us examine the scriptures’)
                These two words have undone the world.”
                — John Selden —
                (1584-1658)

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              • Love the quote.

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      • @ratamacue0,

        I think WLC’s suggestion would be true for some people. But I also think that it falls down pretty hard. I actually thought we had the skywriting for the last three decades. I believed very much and really worked to submit to the call. My faith in Christianity was wrested from my hands by the prybar of God’s world + God’s character + God’s texts. These three explode away from each other in a cloud of incompatibility. And we get the clear markers everywhere of a man-made, not God-made, religion.

        In short, the scriptures cannot live up to their billing and their claims. A very common tale, where religion is concerned.

        But note the reaction of the Christian thought process to what I just said. For many, this would be an indicator that “you just never really believed,” or “you aren’t part of the elect.” And so, WLC is able to live on while doling out this pet rationalization of his. There is all the data in the world to suggest his view on skywriting is wrong – many people just like me. The explanation is bunk – an excuse really.

        But its a consistent bunk. Consider: the faith is based on confected proofs and lacks any real evidence. Apologetics depends mightily on making up your own evidences – which the rest of the world does not agree are facts at all. And so with this cop out. “But Dr. Craig, consider the many former believers…” Evidence that disputes his contention. No problem. We have a means by which to discard such evidence – they never believed or weren’t elect.

        The difference be (1) reason and (2) rationalization.

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        • “My faith in Christianity was wrested from my hands by the prybar of God’s world + God’s character + God’s texts. These three explode away from each other in a cloud of incompatibility”

          Ah, that seems to be one of the things that is influencing the Gods my own co-religionists call upon. So many of the Greek and Roman gods are carrying a lot of yucky history from the ancient myths, you almost want to dump them along with the Yahweh/Allah types. When you think about the mentality of the people who created these gods, you gotta wonder!

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          • Mariah, wow, I didn’t even remember writing that. Glad you liked it. Yes, you’re right – they made those gods in their own image. But maybe there is a good sign in all of this, because the god people are currently making en mass is a fluffy and cuddly Jesus, quite divergent from the historical character, and very divergent from Yahweh. Might be progress in that..

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      • @ratamacue0

        One more dimension… The evidence for faith is so often contrived, from inside the head. We know god is real because of our inner felt truth of experience or internal change, the voice of the HS, etc. So in response to the “eyewitness testimony” of many of the former faithful (like me), more evidence from inside their head is contrived… “Well, you never believed.” As though they are in any position to make such a claim about the thoughts of someone else. This is an illegitimate move wherever it happens, but all the “evidence” moves preceding it were illegitimate in the first place, so this is nothing but more of the same.

        They play the old game of “heads I win, tails you lose.”

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        • I appreciate the connections back to your own experience.

          I actually thought we had the skywriting for the last three decades.

          I think perhaps most Christians think so? (Romans 1:20.)

          But note the reaction of the Christian thought process to what I just said. For many, this would be an indicator that “you just never really believed,” or “you aren’t part of the elect.”

          I was never a 5-point Calvinist, so the second argument wouldn’t have ever come from me.

          The first I think is part self-assurance / writing you off, and part discomfort with…a lot of things. (The doctrine of eternal security vs. “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”; the notion that they might not have the corner on truth they think they do; etc.)

          There is all the data in the world to suggest his view on skywriting is wrong – many people just like me. The explanation is bunk – an excuse really.

          Your conclusion may be right, but I’m not sure I agree with this bit of reasoning. WLC’s argument seems to be regarding the “lowest common denominator”, i.e. being visible to all, it should coerce none.

          But its a consistent bunk. Consider: the faith is based on confected proofs and lacks any real evidence. Apologetics depends mightily on making up your own evidences – which the rest of the world does not agree are facts at all.

          I am uncomfortable with this. It seems to me that if the Bible’s / Christians’ claims are true, then the true seeker ought to be able to verify at least (1) God’s existence, and (2) the authenticity of (at least the core of) the message–with a high degree of confidence, and without requiring the subjective, inner prompting of the Holy Spirit as (subjective) authentication. Heart could follow head. Why would a good God allow the intellect He gave me to be a stumbling block to my desire to know the objective truth, which I desire to know, and He claims to present?

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          • “Why would a good God allow the intellect He gave me to be a stumbling block to my desire to know the objective truth, which I desire to know, and He claims to present?”

            A very sound question. But there are passages used as inquiry stoppers on a consistent basis. The Edenic myth. Leaning not on one’s understanding. Glorifying people who died for a belief that they could not support.

            In the end, the stopper on your question, however, is that our minds are corrupted, and therefore untrustworthy. Turns out there are good evolutionary reasons why our minds have the very real flaws they do, but this steers us away from “felt truth” models of epistemology even harder.

            That’s why for me it came to the conflict between two books: the book of the bible and the book of nature. Both supposedly had the same author.

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  2. Maybe being god inspired, god wouldn’t want any one person claiming authorship.

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  3. Timely. I had an evangelical over just last night trying to tell me how great Strobel’s book is.

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    • I can recall the slow realization that Strobel’s book was deeply dishonest. A non-believing journalist conducts an investigation into the truth about Jesus, interviewing a range of scholars across all the relevant fields, only to be converted. It sounds so good. Until you find out that Strobel managed to scrupulously avoid 100% of critical scholarship on the issue, sampling from a narrow band of dogmatically committed scholars in the field.

      A one-sided sham, pretending to be something it isn’t. A deeply dishonest work. Its the second clause of the courtroom oath where Strobel fails, since “the whole truth” doesn’t approach what his obscurantist book sets out to do.

      But man did it sell. I think pretty much everyone I went to college and church with had read it.

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      • Oh, believers love the “conversion of heathen” plotlines. It has Best Seller written all over it as it fulfills two purposes: 1) it presents easy to follow apologetics, and 2) is self-affirming and self-congratulatory.

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        • Easy to follow~ yes. Testimonials. Narrative. Parable. These appeal to multiple parts of the brain and tickle our emotions vs straight reasoning.

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          • Charity says:

            Matt, Jeremiah Camara often addresses modern day preachers and how they increase their following and bank accounts with their emotional stories. You can find his “Slave Sermons” on YouTube.

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      • Every time you hear someone in awe of Strobel’s Book, ask them to read “Farewell to God” by Charles Templeton. He was the “Billy Graham” of Canada and was a very close friend of Graham’s. He encouraged Billy Graham to further his education with him but Billy declined. Templeton through study eventually renounced his Christian faith and became an atheist until his death. He stated the more he learned the less he believed. Very interesting book !

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      • A very sweet lady I used to do my train commute with invited me to come to her wonderful church that had all these neat programs and cool stuff for everybody from little kids to senior citizens. She was a gentle and believing follower of Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusade here in SoCal. It was still early and my (still) caffeine deprived brain responded before the nicer parts of me could stop it, I asked her if Laurie needed a new Rolex? Bless her heart, she didn’t stop speaking to me, at least not later that week. It doesn’t seem to be noticed by any of his Inland Empire congregation that he now lives in Newport Beach. Duh.
        The moral of the story is that so much of the evangelical movement along with the anti-reality (science) movement is simply driven by the need for preachers to not have to get day jobs.

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        • Mariah, yes, the organization reacts to defend itself from outside threat. Its an organic self-preservation behavior, whether conscious or not, right down to the member level.

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    • How did you reply to your guest?

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      • The whole situation is a little difficult. I’m helping prepare her English for a dissertation. I’m being paid for this, so although both adults we have the “teacher/student” dynamic to consider, plus the larger academic objective. I knew right from the beginning that she was a fundamentalist, but didn’t mention religion once. A simple search of my name, though, brings any curious person to my blog. I have no doubt she’s not only seen my blog, but has read it… although she hasn’t admitted to this. Until two weeks ago we were doing fine; keeping our heads on the academic matters at hand, but little things she said made it clear she *wanted* to justify her belief as “rational;” a word which she repeated over and over… Then last week, somehow, the conversation got into Christianity. The really, really big problem here is that I know this stuff much, much better than she does, so I have to be very gentle in what I say, and how I say it. She, however, wants to talk about it, she wants to challenge me and practice her apologetics, but I’m trying my best to avoid it as its quite clear she has only been exposed to one side of the argument: the fundamentalist side. Simply put, under the situation of how/why we’re together it would be cruel to let fly. If, however, the setting was different I’d be happy to fully engage the subject, but as it is…

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  4. I have been exchanging comments with a blogger http://askthebigot.com/ . She appears to be a Bible Literalist. What she fails to understand is that for every scripture she uses to prove her point , there is usually a scripture to counter it. I think this is where “Apologetics” all began. It’s not defending scripture to a non-believer. It’s defending scripture from another scripture ! 🙂

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    • AskTheBigot… not off to a great start, is she?

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    • Excellent point, Ken. A most brilliant observation.

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      • Thanks again John ! I scored 2 compliments in 1 week. Most unusual for me ! 🙂 And YOU remembered my name too ! 🙂

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        • I’ve had to re-wire my brain a little. You see, I see the “K” in your avatar name, and then the “ief,” at which time my brain leaps to the conclusion that it’s Keith, and my fingers are already doing the bad work. I put up a neural road-block, which appears to be working, but i can’t promise a few blunders along the way if, for instance, I’ve had a little wine 😉

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  5. Ark happens to be there as an observer and hoping he will get to see fireworks. LOL

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  6. She’s a nice person who just happens to believe you get ALL direction for your life directly from the Bible.

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  7. Charity says:

    Hey Matt, this book, as well as Strobel’s other book, “The Case for Faith”, seem to be the “go to” books in attempting to convert skeptics. I’ve noticed the same for C S Lewis’ “Mere Christianity”. While my husband and I were still Christians we had all three of these books and have given them away to a charity since our deconversion.

    Apologetics seems to be nothing more than theologians apologizing for cruel or unusual Biblical passages. It reminds me of when I defend my husband or little boys for bad or misunderstood behavior. “Please excuse him, he’s had too much sugar.” or “I’m sorry, he’s had a bad day at work and needs some rest.” Still, I don’t dish out the excuses or explanations for my immediate family nearly as much as Christians do for their god. As I’ve mentioned on Debbie’s blog, I have a really hard time with the idea of human beings having to be accountable for our words and actions when the Trinity can do whatever they want, whenever they want.

    I also find books of this nature to be nothing but circular talk. Such authors as Strobel and even John MacArthur, answer questions with a lot of words and absolutely no real resolve. It seems as though they take simple inquiries and complicate them to the point to where the inquirer is confused and forgets his original concern. I believe this is an intentional tactic to stop Christians from asking further questions. I think that’s why so many Christians are convinced that books like “The Case for Faith” are great evangelistic tools. What they fail to realize is the skeptic’s desire to push through until he or she gets an answer.

    Then there’s John Bevere whose clear intention is to keep believers in a place of total surrender and submission to their spiritual authority. Bevere knows that due to the nature of his teachings there are countless pastors who will pay good money for his sources and speaking engagements.

    As always, thanks for the post and critical thinking. Great comments here as well.

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    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      “I have a really hard time with the idea of human beings having to be accountable for our words and actions when the Trinity can do whatever they want, whenever they want.

      Actually, Charity, the reasons for this belief are spelled out in the Book of Job – when Job loses his entire family, and is tempted to curse god, he responds with (I’m paraphrasing here), “Hey, he made us, he has the right to take us out!”

      My own philosophy is that if he made us for his sport and amusement, bad on him – better to just leave us the f**k alone and let us work things out for ourselves.

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      • Charity says:

        I know, Arch, tragic isn’t it? With a god like that who needs a devil? This is why my husband and I continue to evaluate the way we treat and discipline our children. We’re both horribly neglected and abused as children. He was raised Southern Baptist and I was predominantly Assemblies of God as a child. Such upbringings can cement the sadistic nature of God into your very core. We often have to sledgehammer our foundation of the oppression of God and the Bible. It’s not always pleasant, but it MUST be done.

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    • “It seems as though they take simple inquiries and complicate them to the point to where the inquirer is confused and forgets his original concern.”

      Man is this true. Run them off their feet, they’ll tire and go back to sleep.

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  8. Reblogged this on Christianity Simplified and commented:
    No one knows who really wrote the Gospels. This post explores that well with a variety of sources and analysis. Also there is talk about this question: If the Bible is God’s word, why didn’t Jesus write anything?

    Considering Jesus’ “lost years”, this is a good point. It’s not like Jesus didn’t have time to do some of his own writing before he started down the road leading to crucifixion.

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    • Jesus was referred to as “the son of a carpenter”, but did he ever have a job of his own ? If not, I think he could have penned / penciled / quilled / chiseled several complete sets of encyclopedias before he headed off to Calvary.

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  9. I’m curious, have you ever watched Timothy McGrew’s lecture, ‘Who Wrote the Gospels’? It’s been awhile since I’ve watched it, but he puts up an interesting substantiated argument for attributed authorship of the four Gospels. I’ve not had time to engage with them closely and I’ve not seen such thorough arguments engaged by any in the skeptical community. Do you have thoughts?

    Additionally, McGrew has resurrected some interesting 19th century arguments on unintended co incidents within and between the Gospels that he suggests are evidence of divine authorship/guidance.

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    • Sorry, McGrew’s lecture can be found on the Apologetics315 channel on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/gldvim1yjYM

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      • Had not heard of McGrew. Will watch hopefully on Monday.

        One thing I will say – the traditions of our ascriptions seem to be consistent. We don’t see copies of Mark floating around with other attributions. Whenever the attribution took hold it was early enough not to wind up with a number of competing attributions… or at least, none survived.

        As I see it, there are several possibilities for the attributions we have.

        1. They really were written, cover to cover, by the people whose names they bear. Seems very unlikely, for the reasons stated in this piece, as well as a whole second layer of “tells” in the texts.

        2. They started with stories that really do go back to their namesakes, but the gospels as we know them were written and completed later, by other people. I actually think this case sounds feasible. It would explain all points of data that scholars talk about, as well as the divergences. If the stories were in small pockets of believers, it explains why the different traditions wound up with divergent accounts.

        3. The namesakes had nothing to do with anything. They weren’t connected, except by popularity of the name, grabbed later by people who wanted to legitimize their accounts. However, regional popularity of different personalities begins to point back to number 2 again.

        There is a lot to the rambling tale of all this. For example, scholars on The Ehrman Project (TEP) will say that Mark would NEVER have been chosen as a namesake to bolster credibility. After all, look how DUMB Mark appears to be in the accounts of Acts. But this requires more thought. Maybe Mark was only lame AFTER Acts was written, and Acts was written a long, long while after. So Mark may have been popular and credible – a little too credible for Luke, who really did not agree with some parts of Mark’s gospel and edited them out systematically in his version. Again, much to all of this. And the banal answers given by TCFC and TEP are always so tidy. So convenient. So filtered.

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        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          “…grabbed later by people who wanted to legitimize their accounts.”

          This was common practice in those days – a letter, for example, was widely circulated, penned to Paul, from Seneca, noted Roman philosopher, praising Paul for his wisdom. It was never written by Seneca, who in all likelihood, had never heard of Paul. Instead, it was an effort on someone’s part, to legitimize Paul’s image and standing within his own community by an Iron Age Carl Rove.

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  10. This is an excellent and comprehensive site you might find interesting, Matt.
    Plenty of grist for the mill of you, that’s for sure!

    http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/matthew.htm

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    • Cool deal. I’ll look through it. Shame it isn’t formatted a little better.

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      • There is an awful lot to work through but simply by typing in the search box you can find pretty much anything and everything relevant.

        Humphrey’s perspective is enlightening, if somewhat flippant a lot of the time.
        His exposure of Paul and Acts is excellent and his presentation forces the reader to look at much of what is written as complete nonsense that will never stand up to genuine historical scrutiny.

        I am sure you’ll find enough stuff to consider putting together another excellent post!
        Have fun.

        Like

  11. archaeopteryx1 says:

    While this is inappropriate for this particular blog entry Matt, I looked all over for an email address for you, and couldn’t find one. I thought you might be able to use this for a new blog topic, if not, that’s OK too —
    http://crooksandliars.com/2014/04/catholic-nun-students-masturbation-makes

    (Feel free to delete this, once you have the URL)

    Like

    • archaeopteryx1,

      His email is at the bottom of the right column on the main page on the full site. (I can’t find it on the mobile site, either.)

      Like

    • Sorry for the hard-to-find email address. I moved it up to just under my picture on the right column. Hopefully that will make life easier for folks in the future.

      Thanks for the link. I’ll read it a bit later.

      Like

  12. @(Matt) Brisancian
    I liked the OP;I want to copy/paste its last portion on my blog “paarsurrey” from the words,

    “So yes. Religious traditions came first, and the Bible came later, at all points” to the end of the post.
    Please allow me.

    Thanks and regards

    Like

    • Absolutely – go right ahead. All I ask is that you put a link there to reference the source. 🙂

      Like

      • I will give the link.

        Regards

        Like

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          Yo, Paarsurrey – when will you be giving me your proof that there is no other god but allah? It’s been a couple of months now! Dog eat your homework? What’s the matter, can’t prove a negative? But you were trying to get Mak to do it, so why can’t you do it yourself? Maybe you just don’t have enough faith – try a few more trips to the prayer rug, THAT ought to do it!

          Like

          • Oh Arch, you’re relentless. : -)

            Like

            • archaeopteryx1 says:

              Why THANK you!

              He came onto Mak’s site and tried to pressure Mak into admitting he couldn’t PROVE there were no gods, so knowing that his Muslim mantra was, “there is no god but allah,” I turned it around on him and challenged him to prove that no other gods besides allah exist. Still waiting. He needs to know he can run, but he can’t hide.

              He doesn’t spend much time on Mak’s site anymore. His free ride is over.

              Like

  13. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Looks like something slipped through the Spam Filter – Matt, you should delete that post, and meanwhile, anyone who clicks on the link, risks getting their computer infected. Word to the wise – oh, and you too, True&? —

    It’s OK, Paarsurrey, YOU can click on it! After all, allah protects you with magic!

    Like

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      Spoke too soon – don’t see a link – maybe the spam filter deleted it, while letting the text through. Hmm.

      Like

  14. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Ever consider writing a book, Matt? I mean, if the Ark can do it, ANYbody can —

    In fact, my Cocker Spaniel is working on one as we speak, but it’s in dog language, so we’ll have to wait til the translation comes out.

    Like

  15. totally wicked e-liquid “Strictly Speaking, the Gospels are Anonymous” (w/ YouTube) – Jericho Brisance

    Like

Trackbacks

  1. […] watched a Bart Ehrman video over on Matt’s blog the other day and when it finished I clicked on another YouTube offering with Ehrman and apologist […]

    Like

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