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

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

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

84 reasons why we know Luke was a traveling companion and eyewitness of the miraculous life of the Apostle Paul

Bart Ehrman claims that Luke wasn’t really a traveling companion of Paul. In his book Forged, Ehrman writes: “(The author of Acts) is simply claiming to be a traveling companion of Paul’s and therefore unusually well suited to give a “true” account of Paul’s message and mission. But he almost certainly was not a companion of Paul’s. On the one hand, he was writing long after Paul and his companions were dead. Scholars usually date Acts to around 85 CE or so, over two decades after Paul’s death. On the other hand, he seems to be far too poorly informed about Paul’s theology and missionary activities to have been someone with firsthand knowledge.”  (Forged: Writing in … Read more

Did Matthew Really Write the Gospel Attributed To Him?

If it could be shown that Matthew’s gospel was written by one of the twelve apostles, it would be a decisive weight in favor of the credibility of biblical history. After all, Matthew would have had a front-row seat to Jesus’ life and alleged miracles. Because of that, skeptics have challenged the genuineness of the authorship of Matthew. For example, here’s the famous agnostic Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman in an interview with NPR: “All the Gospels were written anonymously, and none of the writers claims to be an eyewitness…Whoever wrote Matthew did not call it “The Gospel according to Matthew.” The persons who gave it that title are telling you who, in their opinion, wrote … Read more

Answering Ehrman: Why We Won’t Lose or Abuse Free Will in Heaven

The problem of evil comes up a lot when talking to non-believers. If you haven’t got the question about why an all-good, all-powerful God allows evil, you need to step out more. Why are there suicide bombers, school shooters and people that eat Tide Pods? Why does God allow such pointless evils? The standard Christian rejoinder is that God gave man free will. He doesn’t want Stepford Wives, he wants people who can make free choices. Free will makes love possible, but it also makes evil possible as well. Now that’s not a bad response to the problem of moral evil. There’s a problem, though. Christians are also committed to the idea that the saints … Read more

6 ancient sources that prove the traditional authorship of the Four Gospels

Double standards are the worst. Have you ever been on the wrong side of a double standard? Of course, you have. To use an example, let’s say I have someone drop by my house unexpectedly. I have four kids so things are bound to get messy. Let’s pretend that there is an empty pizza box sitting on the counter, crumbs on the floor, toys are strewn about the living room and a pile of dishes in the sink. While this feels awkward for me, my wife is going to feel extremely uncomfortable and anxious about it. Why? Because she is far more likely going to get unfairly judged over it. Even in this day where sexism … Read more

Do the 3 accounts of Paul’s conversion in Luke contradict each other?

There are three accounts of Paul’s conversion to Christianity found in the Book of Acts. They’re all a little bit different, and because of that some critics have cried foul. Comparing the accounts, biblical scholar and skeptic Bart Ehrman writes: “the three accounts differ in numerous contradictory details…Clearly we are dealing with a narrative that has been molded for literary reasons, not with some kind of disinterested historical report.” Ouch. If Luke is a sloppy historian simply spinning some religious yarn then there’s a problem. If he can’t seem to keep from contradicting himself while telling and re-telling Paul’s conversion, this would cast doubt that he ever traveled with or even knew Paul very well at … Read more

18 Passages From Mark’s Gospel That Prove That Mark Had a High Christology

Biblical critics like Bart Ehrman say that the deity of Christ was a later invention that developed near the end of the first century. Bart and others of his ilk say that Mark, the earliest gospel, has a lower view of Jesus than John, who says he’s the pre-existent Word made Flesh. Quoting Bart: “If Jesus went around Galilee proclaiming himself to be a divine being sent from God…could anything else that he say be so breath-taking and thunderously important? And yet none of the earlier sources (read: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) says any such thing about him. Did they (all of them!) just decide not to mention the one thing that was most significant … Read more

Is Jesus Alive?