Is the Story of Darkness During Jesus’ Crucifixion Pure Fiction?

Skeptics tell us that one of the reasons we can’t trust the Gospels is because they make so many historical gaffes. In particular, the evangelists tell us of far-out tales that aren’t corroborated by other contemporary historians. One of those stories is the darkness that happened during Jesus’ crucifixion, according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Here’s Mark’s version:  And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. Mark 15:33, cf. Matthew 27:45, Luke 23:44 We know from history that historians like Pliny and Seneca have carefully described much less exciting events in the same kind of remote regions. But they failed to note an eclipse occurring in … Read more

Did Mark Invent Jesus’ Trial Before the Sanhedrin?

Jesus before Caiaphas

Some skeptical Biblical scholars say that Mark’s account of Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin is pure fiction. There are several aspects of the hearing that doesn’t fit with what we know about Jewish customs regarding capital trials. Mark supposedly biffs it on several points:  The Sanhedrin couldn’t hold trials at night. (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:1) They could only have hearings in the temple, not in the high priest’s house. (M. Sanh 11:2) They couldn’t conduct court cases during Jewish holidays, and Jesus’ tribunal allegedly happened during Passover. (M. Sanh 4:1)  There was no 24-hour waiting period before sentencing. (M. Sanh 4:1)  The blasphemy charge requires the use of the divine name, and Jesus never uttered it. … Read more

Busting One of Bart Ehrman’s Favorite Bible Contradictions

Skeptics say that the gospels are riddled with contradictions and therefore are not reliable historical sources. And these same skeptics say that some of these contradictions are downright absurd. For example, agnostic NT scholar Bart Ehrman points out one of his favorite Bible contradictions in his book best-selling book, Jesus, Interrupted.  One of my favorite apparent discrepancies—I read John for years without realizing how strange this one is—comes in Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse,” the last address that Jesus delivers to his disciples, at his last meal with them, which takes up all of chapters 13 to 17 in the Gospel according to John. In John 13:36, Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?” A few … Read more

How Mentions of Money in Matthew’s Gospel Confirm Matthean Authorship

The Synoptics tell us that Matthew was a tax-collector by trade. So if his version of the Jesus story shows an unusual degree of interest in financial matters, we’re given a solid reason to think that the apostle is the genuine author. It wouldn’t likely be some later, anonymous non-eyewitnesses like the skeptical critics say.  As it turns out, this is precisely what we find to be the case. Matthew talks about moola more than any other Gospel writer, and it isn’t even close. When we add up the references to money in the Synoptics, here’s what we get:  Matthew – 44 Mark – 6 Luke -22 Luke’s total includes nine references in one parable … Read more

Animal Cruelty, Errors, and Contradictions: The Story of the Madman of Gadara

One of the weirdest stories in the Gospels is Jesus’ encounter with the Madman of Gadara. Here you have a demonized man living in tombs, naked, and cutting himself with rocks. Jesus cures the man but allows the evil spirits to enter into some nearby pigs, who end up drowning themselves immediately afterward. Not only does this raise some moral red flags about Jesus’ lack of concern for animals, but there are more problems with this story. Mark and Luke report this event happened in the country of Gerasenes. But Matthew says it was in the land of the Gadarenes. So right off the bat, there’s a contradiction. But it gets even worse. Gadara is … Read more

James was Jesus’ Brother. Deal With It, Mythcists.

James the brother of Jesus

It’s a pretty amazing historical fact that Jesus’ brother — who probably wore the Savior’s hand-me-downs — later in life converted to Christianity. What would it take to convince you that your brother was the Messiah? Suffice to say that would take some pretty miraculous evidence, right? The Gospel writers tell us that Jesus’ own family thought he was crazy and doubted his claims. (Mark 3:21, John 7:5) But after believing he saw the risen Jesus, James had quite the change of mind. (1 Corinthians 15:7) He became an apostle, led the Jerusalem church, and was even martyred for the faith. This is pretty compelling evidence for Christianity. Here is where Jesus-mythers try and burst our … Read more

Was Paul Silent About the Historical Jesus?

Paul argument from silence

Over 99% of historical scholarship acknowledges that Jesus was a real person. It doesn’t matter if that scholar is liberal or conservative, or Christian, atheist, agnostic or Jewish. The <1% of historians that believe Jesus is a myth are mostly atheists or agnostics. And it’s only the ‘internet infidel’ crowd that takes their arguments seriously.  One of the arguments that Jesus mythicists will often push is that Paul was mostly silent about the historical Jesus. Here’s GA Wells, one of the minority voices, who writes:  “Paul’s letters have no allusion to the parents of Jesus, let alone to the virgin birth. They never refer to a place of birth…. They give no indication of the … Read more

Without Training, the Church Will Create More Jon Steingards

Recently Jon Steingard made headlines after he announced over Instagram that he had lost his faith. Steingard was the lead vocalist of the Christian music group Hawk Nelson, which became popular in the early 2000s. Since they had so many fans, this obviously sent shockwaves over social media. In the post, Steingard gives several reasons why he no longer believes. He does ask some challenging questions when he writes, “If God is all-loving and all-powerful, why is there evil in the world? Can he not do anything about it? Does he choose not to? Is the evil in the world a result of his desire to give us free will? OK then, what about famine … Read more

No, Jesus’ Resurrection Is Not Like Elvis Sightings

“Oh, so you believe in that Jesus appeared to his followers after he died, huh? Do you believe Elvis is still alive too?” You often hear this kind of mockery from skeptics. Just as urban legends and conspiracy theories have sprung up shortly after Elvis’ death, the same is likely true of Jesus, and both are equally unbelievable.   The atheist philosopher Keith Parsons writes, “Like sightings of Elvis, such (resurrection) stories and bizarre experiences feed off each other and snowball.” But is that really the way resurrection stories spread? Rather than being all shook up over this rather dismissive objection, let’s see how fair this comparison is.  No, Elvis Isn’t Alive On August 16, 1977, … Read more

Is Paul’s Gospel Out of Step with the Teachings of Jesus?

According to some critics, Paul hijacked Christianity. He preached an entirely different Gospel than Jesus. We are asked why Paul’s teachings and tone are so different than what we read from Jesus in the four Gospels. Plus, there are times that Paul and Jesus are seemingly at odds with each other. Critics will say that modern Christians don’t believe in Christianity, but Paulinism. One natural response would be to say that Paul had a lot more to say about the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus wasn’t just going to come out and say what his death would accomplish, he was cryptic about it. But another response would be, “is their teaching … Read more

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