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

Was Jesus Hangry When He Cursed the Fig Tree?

Jesus said that he was gentle and lowly of heart. But elsewhere in the gospels, we see Jesus doing some pretty non-gentle things, like supposedly killing fig trees in a rage fit. (Mark 11:12-14) Some skeptics have said this makes Jesus look like a petty punk. For example, here’s atheist Marshall Brain: “The son of God is hungry. He approaches a fig tree. The tree is out of season and has no fruit. Jesus wants fruit. So he kills the tree. What a total jerk! Why didn’t he wave his all-powerful hand and cause figs to appear? Or how about borrowing a raisin from someone and turning it into 5,000 baskets of figs? Only a true … Read more

Is the Blind Man’s Expulsion From the Synagogue in John 9:22 Anachronistic?

In John 9, Jesus heals a man who was born blind during the Sabbath. The Pharisees, being fanatical over the Sabbath, called the man’s parents on the carpet to find out who healed him. His parents refused to answer, telling the Pharisees to ask their son for themselves. We learn why in John 9:22: “His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.” Skeptics have pounced on this passage, saying that it’s a glaring anachronism. Here’s NT scholar and critic Bart Ehrman:  “This verse [i.e. John 9:22] is significant from … Read more

Did the Writer of Mark’s Gospel Make a Historical Blunder Regarding Jewish Divorce Laws?

If the Gospels contain legal and cultural errors of the times, we would be less inclined to think they’re trustworthy. But Mark makes several of these errors, or so the critics argue. One such example is in the area of Jewish divorce. In an article titled “Shredding the Gospels”, one skeptic says that Mark was pulling things out of the air. In Mark 10:11-12, Jesus forbids divorce: He answered, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” Verse 12 implies that Mark believed women had a right to divorce in Jewish law. They did not. Was Mark … Read more

Was the tomb opened or closed when the women arrived?

Was the tomb opened or closed when the women arrived?

The Apostle Paul says that Christianity’s truth stands or falls on the resurrection. (1 Cor. 15:17) But skeptics point out that the resurrection narratives in the Gospels have more holes than swiss cheese. Why are they riddled with contradictions? One of their go-to contradictions is this: Was the tomb empty or closed when the women arrived? New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman asks: “Was the stone already rolled away when they arrived at the tomb (Mark, Luke, and John), or explicitly not (Matthew)?”  (How Jesus Became God) Before we take the scholar’s word for it, let’s look at the texts ourselves And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us … Read more

Was Jesus Being Racist and Harsh When He Told the Woman at the Well That the Samaritans Didn’t Know Who They Worshiped?

There are some wonderful spiritual lessons in John’s story about the Woman at the Well. We learn that salvation comes to those who recognize their spiritual thirst. We discover that Jesus is the source of this salvation and that only he can answer our spiritual needs. And it doesn’t matter if we’ve marred our own lives with sin, Jesus is willing to accept anyone.  But some might complain that Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman were too harsh. They smack with religious and racial superiority. Here are the passages in question:  “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where … Read more

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