Archive for the ‘Scripture’ Category

Jesus, Hung on a Tree


(Vridar) – Neil Godfrey:

The French historian Marc Stéphane took up the question of the existence of Jesus and after engaging with the critical scholarship of his day, and after delicately warning devout believers that he was not seeking to undermine their faith but was endeavouring to write an argument from a point of view that believers were free to ignore, wrote his own perspective on the question:

  1. Gospel of Mark creates narrative of historical Jesus …
  2. Mark written 95-100 CE, aligned with Earl Doherty
  3. 1 Cor. 2:8: Satan and his archangels killed the Lord of Glory and hung him up on a cross …
  4. Ascension of Isaiah conforms with Jewish law that an executed criminal’s body would be hung on a tree …
  5. Jesus in Paul: “My God, my God, why have you cursed me?” …
  6. Mark had no historical material …
  7. Writing for a Roman audience …

vridar 2018/10/13 jesus

Marc Stéphane: La passion de Jesus. Fait D'Histoire ou Objet de Croyance




(Patheos::Godless in Dixie) – Neil Carter:

I went to see the movie Smallfoot, and I gotta tell ya, it hit me in the feels.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a cinematic masterpiece, and if you’re not much for animated flicks, you’re probably not going to care much for this one, either. But with four daughters I’ve been a parent of small-ish children for most of my adult life, so at this point I’ve become something of a connoisseur of animated films. And while this one isn’t a Pixar movie by any stretch, it’s written around a theme that’s near and dear to my heart:

It’s a movie about questioning everything and following the evidence wherever it leads. …

godlessindixie smallfoot

Smallfoot, 2018 animated film

Oral Tradition


(Vridar) – Neil Godfrey:

When I read Barry Henaut’s published thesis demonstrating that the way the parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark are told strongly suggests they were composed from the creative and literary mind of the author and owed nothing to oral traditions I was determined to find how scholars had responded to such a thesis. It seemed that most had never read it. Oral tradition continued to rule by default.

Then I read Thomas Brodie’s critique of the whole notion of oral tradition — not just its application to one part of a gospel. I wrote several posts outlining his arguments:

Brodie wrote before he “came out” as a “mythicist”. So what engagement with his arguments did his peers undertake?

Very little, it seems.

Oral tradition wins by default. It is necessary to explain how the Jesus narrative survived the forty odd year gap generally believed to separate the first gospel (Mark) and the crucifixion of Jesus.

So when I read Tom Dykstra repeating with approval the core of Brodie’s arguments in his third chapter in Mark, Canonizer of Paul, my attention was locked in. …

vridar 2014/12/29 oral-tradition

Henaut, Brodie, Dykstra

Deciphering the Gospels: Proves Jesus Never Existed


(Vridar) – Neil Godfrey:

Although the author is not a professional scholar the content of this book by R.G. Price has been deeply and competently researched and in substance holds its own with any scholarly publication. It is presented in an easy to read colloquial style.

The “deciphering” in the title does not refer to any secret code but to a comprehensive, easy to follow presentation of how much each of the gospel narratives (focusing principally on the first written gospel, Mark) owes directly to Jewish or Old Testament scriptures.

Not only does Price demonstrate the way the Jesus narratives have been molded by OT passages and themes but he gives readers a very plausible motive for the first gospel having composed the story it did. Written in the wake of the Jewish War of 70 CE the first gospel (“Mark”) follows those stories and prophecies in the OT that speak of the failure and destruction of the Kingdom of Israel (despite the work and miracles of the prophets). The gospel appears, as a result, to have been written as a lesson to Jews who have been defeated by the Romans and lost their temple: the Jesus figure has been created as a literary device to tell an allegorical story of how the Jews brought destruction upon themselves. …

vridar 2018/09/09 review

R. G. Price: Deciphering the Gospels - Proves Jesus Never Existed

Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity


(Vridar) – Neil Godfrey:

Don’t think of books. Think of open databases, literary projects, both earthly and heavenly archives. Ben Sirach, for example, becomes a generative character or figurehead from whom writings flowed like canals from a river. That’s how Eva Mroczek‘s Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity says we should understand the way ancient Jewish scribes (Second Temple and gospel era) thought of their writings and their literary environment.

Revelation originated from the heavens and could never be grasped in all its fullness by any mortal; there was always room for more understanding and knowledge of the spiritual. There were writings that only the chosen few saints had ever seen, writings preserved in the heavens. Enoch was secreted away and continues to write until the time of the end. …

vridar divine-revelation

Eva Mroczek: The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity

Paul, the True Founder of Christianity


(Patheos::Godless in Dixie) – Neil Carter:

Somewhere into the early church’s third decade, a new kind of church began to grow up around a dissenting voice among the teachers in the north, based in Syrian Antioch. A theologically educated leather worker from nearby Tarsus named Saul (or when he traveled to Greek speaking places, Paul) began telling a story which many at first found hard to believe.

He began telling people that he had seen the risen Jesus in a vision he had after being thrown to the ground in a kind of seizing fit, accompanied by a bright light that seemed to leave him blind for a couple of days. Many today see in his story the telltale signs of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, which produces seizures robbing their victims of sight in varying degrees, also causing them to “see” things that aren’t actually there. …

godlessindixie true-founder

Apostle Paul

Anti-Intellectualism and the Bible


(Patheos::Godless in Dixie) – Neil Carter:

To whatever extent Christianity is based on the Bible, it cannot be a consistently intellectual faith because the Bible is a fundamentally anti-intellectual book.

Consider the very first story in the book.  The Bible opens with an innocent couple placed in a garden containing a special tree at its center, a tree that would “open their eyes” and “make them wise.”  They were expressly forbidden from eating of that tree because it would make them “like us, knowing good from evil” (Gen 3:22; I’ll leave it to you to wrestle with the plural pronoun in that sentence).* Evidently a raised moral awareness was a big no-no (although wouldn’t they first need a sense of good vs. evil to even understand such a prohibition?).  The “bad guy” in this story is the one who encouraged them to gain such knowledge and for that he was cursed, becoming in himself the prototype for rebellious spirits for the remainder of the book. …

godlessindixie anti-intellectualism


The Flat Tire and the Gospels


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

Dan Barker, former fundamentalist child preacher and now co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has a simple challenge for Bible believers: “Tell me what happened on the original Easter Sunday. Just a simple chronology. Who went where and did what and said what and saw what? And in what order? Be sure to include everything mentioned in any of the gospels.”

Nobody can meet this challenge, because the gospels are horribly contradictory. (Don’t take my word for it, read them yourself: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21. Also Acts 1:3-12 and Paul’s tiny version of the story in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.)

What should we conclude from this? That 1 apostle got it right and the rest differed in a few of the minor details? No. This is the most important story in all of Christianity, and if the gospels were divinely inspired — as true believers invariably assert they were — then their ultimate author was God, who’s supposed to be omniscient, so the 4 stories should be entirely consistent.

If that were the truth. …

tippling the-flat-tire-and-the-gospels

Sermon on the Mount

Myth Education: Gilgamesh


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

In honour of the fantastic book on mythology by David Fletcher, we are running a few excerpt articles featuring some of the gods contained within the anthology.

Here is something on Gilgamesh, the famous Mesopotamian god. …

tippling gilgamesh

David Fletcher: Myth Education: A Guide to Gods, Goddesses, and Other Supernatural Beings

If Christianity Were True …


(Patheos::Godless in Dixie) – Neil Carter:

Defenders of the Christian faith spend a considerable amount of time trying to prove that something happened thousands of years ago. But that really shouldn’t be necessary because, if the claims of Christianity were true, the present day evidence for it should be all over the place. …

godlessindixie 2018/04/27 what-if

Sermon on the Mount