Forgery in the Bible: Were 1 and 2 Timothy really forged? (Part 2)

In his letter to the Romans, we learn that Paul was accused of lying in order to bring more glory to God. Some slanderously claimed that Paul would say “let us do evil that good may result”. Paul, not known to mince words, responded tersely: “their condemnation is just!” (Romans 3:4-8) For Paul, lying in the name of God was definitely not OK, even if it was for a good cause. But that is precisely what the Pastoral epistles do, according to critical scholars like Bart Ehrman. Allegedly someone wanted to borrow Paul’s gravitas and so used his name to address some in-house church issues, particularly in 1 and 2 Timothy.  In my first post, … Read more

All peoples on Earth will be blessed through you: How only Jesus fulfills the prophetic promise God made to Abraham

In the Gospel of John, Jesus made the bold claim that Abraham was glad that he would see the day when he would come. (John 8:56) In other words, Jesus was saying that he was the promised heir of Abraham’s blessing. But what blessing is he referring to? According to Genesis 12:2-3, God said to Abraham:  “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Conservative scholarship attributes Genesis to Moses, who … Read more

6 ancient cities, 6 deadly accurate prophecies that prove the inspiration of the Bible

Most of you have probably seen the movie Groundhog Day. In the movie, weatherman Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) gets stuck in a time loop where he repeatedly relives the same day — Groundhog Day. Over the course of this weird experience, he falls in love with his producer Rita (played by Andie MacDowell). In trying to level with Rita about this phenomena, he has to demonstrate to her that he’s inexplicably reliving the same day over and over again. So how does Phil prove such an extraordinary claim? Through some uncanny foresight. Phil reveals personal particulars about the locals in the coffee shop. He then tells her about multiple, minute details about what’s … Read more

Was God being cruel for striking Uzzah dead for touching the ark of the covenant?

If you want to find a story where Yahweh looks like a merciless dictator, critics will say look no further than the story of David returning the Ark to Jerusalem. There was dancing in the streets as they were bringing the Ark back when all of a sudden the proverbial needle scratched off the record. Uzzah was struck dead for trying to keep the cart from falling when one of the oxen stumbled. Here’s the passage in question: “David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called … Read more

Forgery in the Bible: Were 1 and 2 Timothy really forged in Paul’s name? (Part One)

2 Timothy 3:16 says that all Scripture is “God-breathed.” Of course for Christians, this would include 2 Timothy, as well as the rest of the pastoral epistles. Skeptics find this verse to be ironic because many biblical critics think that the pastoral epistles were forgeries.  These letters claim to be written by the Apostle Paul, but they allegedly were really written sometime in the early 2nd-century, long after Paul was dead. Apparently the forger wanted to address some doctrinal issues and their own name wasn’t authoritative enough, so they borrowed Paul’s. So the “God-breathed” New Testament apparently contains some pious lies.  But are the critical arguments against the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles really … Read more

Did Jesus cleanse the temple twice? Was he throwing a temper tantrum?

Noted biblical scholar and critic Bart Ehrman says that the gospels have hopelessly irreconcilable differences. Therefore they can’t be trusted as reliable documents. One big difference would be the story of the cleansing of the Temple when you compare John and Mark (and the other synoptic gospels). Here’s Bart:  The Gospel of Mark indicates that it was in the last week of his life that Jesus “cleansed the Temple” by overturning the tables of the money changers and saying, “This is to be a house of prayer…but you have made it a den of thieves” (Mark 11), whereas according to John this happened at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry (John 2). Some readers have … Read more

Did the author of Luke make a geographical blunder in Luke 4:29?

Let’s just say that Jesus’ first sermon in his home city of Nazareth did not go over big. Reading out of Isaiah 61, Jesus announces that he’s the long-awaited Messiah that the prophet predicted. Rather than becoming a hometown hero, this offended the people who watched Jesus grow up to no end. Jesus then irritated them further, pointing to two different scenarios in the Books of Kings where rejected prophets healed and helped Gentile sinners before helping their fellow Israelites. (Luke 4:16-31) Luke tells us that this was the result: “And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built so … Read more

The Man Who Carried Jesus’ Cross: The Hidden Significance of Simon of Cyrene’s Sons

Simon of Cyrene met Jesus in the most unusual way. Mark and Luke tell us he was coming back from the country. Whether out of curiosity or just being stuck in foot traffic, Simon ends up being a bystander to Jesus making his way to Golgotha. Weakened from the flogging, Jesus could no longer carry his cross by himself. Whether Simon felt any sympathy for Jesus or not, Roman soldiers forced him to help Jesus bear the weight of the cross the rest of the way. Coming face to face with the Man from Galilee in such a fashion would likely leave a lasting impression, and so his inclusion in the gospels makes sense. But what … Read more

Did the author of Matthew’s Gospel make an ass out of himself when telling the story of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry?

The writer of Matthew is quick to connect Jesus to the Old Testament. You can’t read Matthew for long before he drops a reference from the prophets. But some critics say that’s he’s too quick to connect the dots, to the point where he makes himself out to be a dumb…well, I made the pun once as click-bait and this isn’t a Shrek movie, so we’ll leave it at that. One way Matthew allegedly parades his ignorance of the Old Testament texts in his version of the Triumphal Entry. To help me state this objection here’s Kristin Swenson of The Huffington Post: Mark and Luke agree that Jesus rode on a donkey, and that’s the … Read more

Does Mark make a historical blunder regarding the ritual of Jewish handwashing?

Critics love to say the gospels aren’t trustworthy because they’re full of historical blunders. One such alleged error that often gets brought up is that Mark goofs regarding ritual purification, namely the Jewish custom of handwashing. Here’s biblical critic Bart Ehrman: “Their ignorance of Palestinian geography and Jewish customs suggests they composed their works somewhere else in the empire…Mark 7:3 indicates that the Pharisees ‘and all the Jews’ washed their hands before eating, so as to observe ‘the tradition of the elders.’ This is not true: most Jews did not engage in this ritual.” Jesus, Interrupted p 287 Bart has a point. If you read the Mosaic law, this was to be practiced by the … Read more