Did Herod Really Order the Massacre of the Innocents, or Did Matthew Just Make Up a Story?

When we think of the Christmas story, our minds go to some dingy, yet warm and cozy places. We picture Mary, Joseph and a swaddling baby in a manger. We see angels, shepherds and the Magi bearing gifts. I can almost hear “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” now. But smack dab in the middle of the Christmas story is a grim and gory tale. In Matthew 2:16 we read of Herod learning of the Messianic king’s birth, feeling threatened and then ordering the slaughter of all the male children 2 and under in Bethlehem. It’s a grizzly story, but it’s a part of the account of the birth of Christ nonetheless. But not everyone believes … Read more

Is Bart Ehrman right when he says Ephesians and Colossians were Forged?

Out of the 13 letters of Paul found in the New Testament, skeptical critics like Bart Ehrman will only grant that 7 of them are genuine. (Those would be Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon, in case you were wondering) That leaves Christians in a precarious situation — either throw out six books in their Bible or acknowledge that the New Testament contains some pious lies. Whoever wrote these letters passed themselves off as Paul.  They didn’t practice what they preached when they admonished believers to “put away falsehood”. (Eph. 4:25) But if Ehrman’s arguments turn out to be weak and there’s good evidence that Paul wrote all of the letters, then … Read more

Is Bart Ehrman Right When He Says That 2 Thessalonians is a Forgery?

When Christians read Paul’s letters, they don’t treat them like any old letter. Paul’s epistles are part of God’s inspired word. But out of the 13 letters of Paul, skeptical critics like Bart Ehrman say that only 7 of them were truly written by the apostle. That would be 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1+2 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon, and Romans, in case you were wondering. The rest are forgeries. If true, this is corrosive for the believer’s trust in the Bible. Ehrman lays down some unwelcome practical application for the faithful regarding forgery in the Bible: “…the authors of these lies were no doubt like nearly everyone else in the world, ancient and modern; they too probably … Read more

Is There a Contradiction in the Lists of Jesus’ Twelve Disciples? No, The Names Provide Surprising Evidence for the Gospels

The late Christopher Hitchens said, “The New Testament is a work of crude carpentry, hammered together long after its purported events, and full of improvised attempts to make things come out right.” One example of this alleged makeshift handiwork is the names of the Twelve. If the gospel writers can’t get the names of Jesus’ disciples straight, how can we trust them with other details?  On the face of it, it looks like Matthew and Luke contradict: Matthew 10:2-4: “The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, … Read more

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