The Historical Paul vs. The Legendary Paul?

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Skeptical critics argue that Luke wasn’t a traveling companion of Paul’s. Why do they say this? Let’s discuss one reason. NT scholar Uta Ranke-Heinemann asserts that in: “Acts and the epistles there are two Pauls. The historical Paul of the authentic epistles and the legendary Paul of Acts.” 1 In other words, don’t confuse the colorful Paul of Acts with the actual Paul we read about in his letters. This indicates that Luke didn’t have firsthand knowledge of Paul. He must have lied about being his traveling companion and embellished a bunch of stories. But is the Paul of Acts that different from the Paul we read about in his letters? I’d say no. Not … Read more

Is John’s Jesus Different Than The Synoptics?

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New Testament scholars often treat the Gospel of John like a red-headed stepchild. We’re often told that John presents a Jesus who is fundamentally different from the Synoptics. For example, here is the well-known NT critic Bart Ehrman:  …if Matthew and John were both written by earthly disciples of Jesus, why are they so very different, on all sorts of levels? … Why do they have such fundamentally different views of who Jesus was?… (interview with NPR 12/14/05) Ehrman certainly isn’t alone in his opinion here. Even Craig Evans, an evangelical New Testament scholar, concedes this point to Bart. He says: I suspect we (Ehrman and I) don’t have too much difference on John. My … Read more

Undesigned Coincidences: Sneaky Good Evidence That Luke traveled with Paul

New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman claims that Luke wasn’t really a traveling companion of Paul. In his book Forged, Ehrman writes: “(The author of Acts) is simply claiming to be a traveling companion of Paul’s and therefore unusually well suited to give a “true” account of Paul’s message and mission. But he almost certainly was not a companion of Paul’s. On the one hand, he was writing long after Paul and his companions were dead. Scholars usually date Acts to around 85 CE or so, over two decades after Paul’s death. On the other hand, he seems to be far too poorly informed about Paul’s…missionary activities to have been someone with firsthand knowledge.”  In a … Read more

An Undesigned Coincidence in The Book of Joshua

The Book of Joshua tells us about Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute who ends up becoming an unlikely champion of faith. Jericho was one of the main hubs of idol worship, being particularly devoted to the moon goddess Ashtaroth. Here centered the most offensive and shameful aspects of the Canaanite religion. Despite her rough background, Rahab recognized that the LORD was with Israel and would give them the Promised Land. So hid two men who had been sent to scout the city before their attack, helping them conquer the city.  A weighty argument for the authenticity of the narrative is discussed in JJ Blunt’s book Undesigned Coincidences. This is all the more important as its central … Read more

Christianity Has Spread Worldwide, Therefore Prophecy is Real

In Isaiah chapters 40 through 56, we find some of the most stunning prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures. The section is dubbed the Servant section because of its many references to a figure that God calls “my Servant”. I believe Jesus of Nazareth very clearly fulfilled these Servant passages, and no, I’m not primarily referring to Isaiah 53. But before we dive in, we should probably head off an objection upfront.  The Servant Is Not Strictly Israel The Servant is frequently identified with the nation Israel as a whole (Isaiah 41:8, 44:1 and 21, 45:4, 48:20, 49:3). Those who are skeptical of Christianity argue that Isaiah can’t possibly be referring to Jesus. But there are … Read more

Undesigned Coincidences in the Old Testament: Why David Was Betrayed By His Friend

I’m continuing a series on undesigned coincidences in the Old Testament. As a reminder, an undesigned coincidence is a notable connection between two or more accounts or texts that doesn’t seem to have been planned by the person or people giving the accounts. Despite their apparent independence, the items fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. An undesigned coincidence provides reason to believe that all of the statements that contribute to it are truthful.   Often the undesigned coincidence can lay between two different accounts, but sometimes the detail lies within a single book. In such circumstances it’s necessary for the connection between the details to be sufficiently obscure to render the details independent of … Read more

An Undesigned Coincidence in the Old Testament: King Hezekiah’s Treasury

There are many popular Undesigned Coincidences in the New Testament. In this post, I want to look at an undesigned coincidence in the Old Testament. But before we jump in let’s get a few of you up to speed. What the heck is an undesigned coincidence anyway? And why are they important?  In a nutshell, an undesigned coincidence is a case where two or more passages of Scripture interlock with – and frequently explain – one another. So you might be reading a passage and it raises a question, but then you turn to another account and it casually and subtly explains another passage. This isn’t what we’d expect from fictions and forgeries. Fictional stories … Read more

What’s With the Story of Elisha and the Bears?

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One of the strangest stories in the Old Testament comes at the end of 2 Kings 2 with Elisha, the bears and 42 children.  After God took the prophet Elijah up to heaven in a chariot, Elisha became his successor and received a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. Just your typical prophet stuff, no big deal. Shortly afterward, as he’s strolling along, this bizarre incident happens:  “He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them … Read more

Daniel Prophesied the Timing of the Messiah

How did Jesus see himself? As we learn about Jesus’ Jewish context in the first century, we find that he made some staggering claims. First of all, Jesus spoke constantly about God’s kingdom. The phrase kingdom of God or kingdom of heaven appears more than 100 times in the Gospels. Jesus begins his ministry in Mark by saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is near.” (Mark 1:15)  Okay, so what’s the big deal about that? And what does Jesus mean when he says the kingdom of God is “near”? Jesus was assuming that his audience would pick up on the ideas he was laying down. When a first century Jew heard … Read more

3 Shockingly Prophetic Ways Jesus Fulfills Passover

In the gospels, Old Testament allusions and fulfilments are all over the text. And without a doubt the early church used two kinds of arguments to argue for Jesus’ Messianic credentials: his resurrection and Messianic prophecy. One of these famous arguments from prophecy was to say that Jesus was our Passover Lamb, fulfilling the types and shadows found in Moses’ Law. And these details get strangely specific. Let’s take a look. The timing of Jesus’ death For starters, it’s virtually undeniable that Jesus died during Passover. This fact is reported by all four Gospels and Paul alludes to it when he calls Christ the Passover lamb. This isn’t a detail that the gospel authors could … Read more

Is Jesus Alive?