Matthew’s Massacre of the Innocents: HIstory, Not Fiction

When we think about the Christmas story, we imagine warm and cozy scenes—Mary, Joseph, and the baby in a humble manger, angels, shepherds, and the wise men offering their gifts. But right in the middle of this heartwarming tale is a grim event. In Matthew 2:16, Herod, after learning about the birth of the Messianic king, orders the killing of all boys aged two and under in Bethlehem. It’s a disturbing part of Christ’s birth story, but not everyone believes Matthew’s account. Scholars and historians doubt this event for a few reasons. It’s not in Luke’s Gospel or any other historical records. Some think it was made up to fit a narrative, to portray Jesus … Read more

Did Luke Fabricate a Census to Get Jesus to Bethlehem?

‘Tis the season for the same old skeptics trotting out those tired arguments about the birth narratives. Here’s biblical scholar and popular TikToker Dan McClellan rehashing the whole “Luke invented a census” spiel. The story of Jesus’s birth, as found in Luke 1 and 2, is not historical….According to Luke 1, Jesus would have had to have been born, if not during the life of Herod, within about a year of his death at the latest. So, Jesus would have had to have been born by 3 BCE if Luke chapter 1 is historical. But chapter 2 introduces two critical problems. The first is that the author needs to get Joseph and Mary from Nazareth … Read more

Rebutting Dan Mcclellan’s Attempt at Debunking the Virgin Birth

You know it’s Christmas when you get your annual lump of coal with the whole ‘Matthew invented the virgin birth’ schtick. This time, it’s from TikTok’s favorite cynical biblical scholar, Dan McClellan: The virgin birth is a tradition that seems to have developed decades after Jesus’s death, primarily because of a poor translation of a passage from the Hebrew Bible…. The earliest writings we have about Jesus, the writings of Paul and the gospel of Mark, say absolutely nothing at all about any virgin birth. Paul’s really only concerned with the resurrected Jesus, and Mark’s story starts with the beginning of his ministry and his baptism. It’s not until after that that people are starting … Read more

Mark’s Gospel: The Case for a Peter-Driven Memoir

The Gospels’ authors are a topic of debate for those questioning the New Testament. Mark’s Gospel, early and rich in Jesus’ life story, lacks an eyewitness tag. How did Mark learn about Jesus? The church fathers largely agree that Mark served as a scribe or interpreter for Peter while he preached in Rome. In this post I’ll explore this evidence and see if it matches up with some internal clues. A couple of weak arguments against Petrine influence Before we move forward, let’s address a couple of common objections. Some people say that because Mark never explicitly says he got his information from Peter, it means he probably didn’t. After all, that’s a pretty big … Read more

MythVision’s Misguided Quest to Debunk Undesigned Coincidences Is Getting Weird

So I watched a recent episode of MythVision, in which they took another swing against the argument from undesigned coincidences. This time Derek was hosting Dr. Joseph AP Wilson, an adjunct professor at Sacred Heart University. Dr. Wilson has a lot of impressive credentials, holding a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Florida, an MS in Archaeology from Michigan Technological University, an MA in Religious Studies from the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, and a BS in Anthropology from Kent State University. After the previous Dr. Jef Tripp fiasco that happened on MythVision, I was hopeful that some lessons would have been learned. Um….yeah. Lessons were most certainly not learned; … Read more

Some Undesigned Coincidences in the Thessalonian Correspondence

In his well-known work, Horae Paulinae, William Paley presents a compelling case for the reliability of the book of Acts through a concept he termed “undesigned coincidences.” In this blog post I’ll look at several notable examples of undesigned coincidences between Acts and Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. Just to remind you, 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 puzzle.” (McGrew, Hidden in Plain View, pg. 18) So you might be reading a passage and it raises a question, but then … Read more

Analyzing Resurrection Discrepancies: Post-Conversation Musings with Hartke

During my recent friendly and enjoyable conversation with skeptic Matthew Hartke, I mentioned that I might have some “shower thoughts” after our discussion. We were talking about contradictions in the resurrection stories, and while I think I did an okay job defending my points, I got a bit stuck at one spot. We were discussing a chapter in Lydia McGrew’s book Testimonies to the Truth called “Unexpected Harmonies,” which explores the concept of reconcilable variations. In the 19th century, the apologist T.R. Birks (there I go quoting another long-deceased apologist) defined a reconcilable variation as follows: “The entire sameness of the narrative, in two or three distinct works, would weaken, and almost destroy the authority … Read more

Coinfidence in Undesigned Coincidences: In Defense of the “Why Philip?” example

A commonly mentioned example of an undesigned coincidence is about why, in John 6:5, Jesus asks Philip where to get food for the crowd before miraculously feeding the five thousand. The explanation relies on details from John and Luke. In John, we learn that Philip came from Bethsaida, while Luke independently says the feeding happened there (Luke 9:10). In Luke’s story, the place is mentioned, but Philip’s role isn’t. In contrast, John doesn’t specify the location but does mention that Philip is from Bethsaida and tells us about Jesus asking Philip. This makes sense as an undesigned coincidence if Philip knew the area well and its local food joints. It’s important to note that John … Read more

Countering The Amateur Exegete’s Green Grass Coincidence Critique

In Lydia McGrew’s book Hidden in Plain View, she presents a compelling argument for the trustworthiness of the Gospels, featuring numerous undesigned coincidences as supporting evidence that the Gospels and Acts were authored by individuals closely connected to the original witnesses of Jesus’ ministry. One of these coincidences centers on the mention of green grass in Mark’s Gospel, which corresponds with an account of it being Passover time in the Gospel of John. (If you’re unfamiliar, I discuss this coincidence in more detail here.) However, a well-read and bright blogger who goes by “The Amateur Exegete,” whose actual name is Ben, raises questions about this apparent coincidence, challenging its evidential value. For a full understanding … Read more

The Barabbas Story: Legend Or Reality?

The story of Barabbas, the insurrectionist released by Pontius Pilate in place of Jesus, is a familiar episode in the Gospels. However, biblical scholars and critics have raised doubts about its historical accuracy, pointing to several perceived inconsistencies. To begin with, critics claim that there is no historical record of such a practice, questioning whether it actually occurred. Furthermore, they argue that Pilate, known for his harsh and cruel character, releasing an insurrectionist seems highly inconsistent. Lastly, some skeptics suggest that the name Barabbas, meaning “son of the father,” might have been invented by the evangelists for symbolic and literary purposes. Let’s look at each of these arguments in turn. Understanding the Argument from Silence … Read more

Is Jesus Alive?