The Historical Paul vs. The Legendary Paul?

ornate bas relief in vault representing saint disciples

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

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

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

brown and black animal shape artwork painting

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

D.O.U.B.T.S.: An Evidential Filter for Miracle Claims

When it comes to miracles, Christians are often accused of special pleading. We’re quick to accept Christian miracle claims, but we suddenly turn into Richard Dawkins when it comes to miracle claims made by other religions. Why should skeptics start investigating the resurrection of Jesus when we don’t give other miracles the time of day? The truth is that there are dozens of different religions and thousands of miraculous claims out there. So how can the Christian hope to use miracles as an argument for their faith?  But the fact that there are miracle claims in other religions doesn’t require us to dismiss all miracle claims out of hand. Nor is it necessary for us … 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

Why Was Paul and Mark Silent About the Virgin Birth?

It’s Christmas time, and I can already hear the choruses. No, I’m not talking about Christmas carolers. I’m referring to the chorus of biblical critics and skeptics poo-pooing the Christmas narratives found in the Bible. A favorite argument of skeptics is that there’s scant mention of the virgin birth in the New Testament. It’s Matthew and Luke against the world.  For example, here’s an older quote from NT scholar Geza Vermes: “Considering the importance of the Virgin Mary in Christianity, the historian is struck by the scarcity of supporting evidence in the New Testament. St Paul never speaks of the virginal conception. All we learn from him is that Jesus had a Jewish mother.” And … Read more

Holy Koolaid Ruins Christmas

In his video 12 Contradictions in the Bible, Holy Kool-Aid includes the standard list of complaints against the Christmas narratives. Leave it to the skeptics to try and stuff a lump of coal in the stockings of Christians every year. Let’s see what Thomas has for us: Two of the four canonical gospels even tell the story of Jesus’ birth. And these two accounts are irreconcilably different. In both stories, Jesus is born in Bethlehem. But in Matthew, after Jesus’ birth, King Herod hears about baby Jesus described as the future king of the Jews. He feels threatened and has every baby under the age of two slaughtered while Jesus’ parents Mary and Joseph escape … Read more

Artless Similarities: More Evidence for Gospel Reliability

While reading the gospels, you’ll notice similarities between the characters portrayed across the different stories. Parallels between the gospels concerning character depictions are unlikely to be the result of mere chance. And these correspondences seem so casual and subtle that it’s unlikely they were designed that way. Philosopher Tim McGrew calls these ‘artless similarities.’ In an earlier video, we saw this kind of unity of character with Jesus between John and the Synoptics. But let me give another example with two somewhat lesser-known characters in the gospels — Mary and Martha. We find their stories in both Luke and John. For this evidence, I’m drawing from Peter J. Williams’ excellent book Can We Trust the … Read more

Is Jesus Alive?