(3551) The Bible tells parents to beat their children

Despite attempts by Christian apologists to insist that the Bible does not recommend that children should be physically beaten as a form of punishment, the truth it that it does, and repeatedly so in the Book of Proverbs. This represents an embarrassment for the faith in current times when even the lessor practice of spanking is losing favor as a tool of discipline. The following was taken from:


The Book of Proverbs, a work of wisdom literature that is included in the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (i.e., what Christians call the “Old Testament”), contains several verses that explicitly tell parents that they should punish their children for their misbehavior by beating them with a wooden rod. Some amateur hermeneuticists have tried to explain away these verses by inventing some rather ingenious new interpretations for them, but, philologically speaking, these interpretations all fall flat. The Book of Proverbs very clearly supports beating children.

The Book of Proverbs contains several notable verses advocating corporal punishment on children who have misbehaved. The most famous such verse is probably Proverbs 13:24, which reads as follows (as translated in the NRSV):

“Those who spare the rod hate their children,
but those who love them are diligent to discipline them.”

There are, however, other examples of verses in the text advocating corporal punishment, such as Proverbs 22:15, which reads as follows (as translated in the NRSV):

“Folly is bound up in the heart of a boy,
but the rod of discipline drives it far away.”

Here is Proverbs 23:13–14 (as translated in the NRSV):

“Do not withhold discipline from your children;
if you beat them with a rod, they will not die.
If you beat them with the rod,
you will save their lives from Sheol [i.e., the underworld].”

And here is Proverbs 29:15 (as translated in the NRSV):

“The rod and reproof give wisdom,
but a mother is disgraced by a neglected child.”

The Hebrew word that is translated as “rod” in all of these verses is שֵׁבֶט (šēbeṭ). Many interpreters have tried to claim that this word refers to a shepherd’s rod that is used to gently guide the sheep in the direction the shepherd wants them to go. These interpreters therefore maintain that the Book of Proverbs is not saying that parents should beat their children, but rather that parents should guide their children with moral instruction.

It is true that the word šēbeṭ can refer to a shepherd’s staff in some contexts, but that is emphatically not how the word is used in any of the verses cited above. In all the verses used above, the word šēbeṭ refers to a wooden rod that is used to beat someone across the back as a form as corporal punishment.

This is most abundantly clear in Proverbs 23:13–14, where the word is used with the verb “תַכֶּ֥נּוּ” (ṯak-ken-nū), a form of the verb נָכָה (nākāh), which can only mean “to beat” or “hit.” There is simply no reasonable way to construe this verse other than as a direction to beat children.

The word šēbeṭ is used a total of eight times in the Book of Proverbs and, every time it is used in Proverbs, even when it is not in the context of talking about children, it is clearly used in reference to corporal punishment. For instance, Proverbs 26:3 reads as follows (as translated in the NRSV):

“A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
and a rod [šēbeṭ] for the back of fools.”

Notice what the first two items on the list have in common; both are tools that are used for imposing corporal punishment. The inclusion of the šēbeṭ on this list only makes sense if the šēbeṭ in question is also a tool for imposing corporal punishment.

On top of this, the specific reference to a fool’s “back” only makes sense if we interpret the šēbeṭ as a rod that is used to beat the fool’s back. If the šēbeṭ were simply a shepherd’s staff meant to guide the fool gently in the right direction, it would not make much sense to specify that his “back” is the part of his body that is receiving this guidance.

This is another example where the Bible is losing its relevance for modern life. Civilization evolves and becomes better, fairer, and generally more compassionate over time while the Bible is stuck in a crude, somewhat unenlightened period of human history. What could have been at least some mild evidence for divine intervention would have been biblical guidance that would have foreseen the future and discouraged the use of corporal punishment.

(3552) Twenty-two options for god(s)

There is a general theory that if a god or a group of gods exist and that it or they are influencing world events, personal lives, and inspiring messages of holy texts, that there would be a general unity of belief regarding this reality. Instead, we have the following 22 viable options for people to embrace whatever they choose to believe. The following was taken from:


1) Polytheists say there are many Gods, even into the thousands. Adore all the Gods or as many as you can. Polytheists say, since there is not one of anything, why would there be just one God? For the polytheist, any arguments for one God may be used to argue for many Gods. Polytheism is an ancient view that’s still with us.

2) Henotheists admit many Gods too, but you may have time to adore only one, and that’s okay because these are not jealous Gods. Henotheism is an ancient view that’s still with us.

3) Kat-henotheists also acknowledge many Gods, but you may adore only one God at a time, moving from one God to another God at different periods of your life. Kat-henotheism is an ancient view that’s still with us.

4) Dystheists say there are many Gods, or one God, and not one of them is entirely good. Adore with caution. Dystheism is an ancient view that’s still with us.

5) Dualists acknowledge two equally powerful Gods, one very Good and the other very Evil. Adore the good God. The need for two Gods rests upon the world’s oscillation between beauty and ugliness, delight and dread, kindness and cruelty, irises and Ebola viruses. The existence of an evil God exonerates the good God from any responsibility for evil or bad events, or animal and human suffering. For instance, a bloody world of predators and prey would seem to taint a good God’s reputation for goodness; so why not blame an evil God for the theater of violence we see among animals and humans? In a family of Dualists you may hear the following exchange: Child: ‘Mommy, did the God of Compassion create the talon, the fang, the claw? Did the God of Love create the malarial mosquito?’ Mommy: ‘No, sweetie, the other God, the God of Cruelty made all those things.’ Religions with a devil belief—Christianity and Islam—can come close to Dualism when they enlarge the power of the devil, as was done for 300 years during Europe’s ‘satanic panic’ witchcraze—1400s, 1500s, 1600s. Dualism is an ancient view that’s still with us.

6) Monotheists declare there has only ever been one God. Adore that God. One God is a simpler idea than many Gods and preferable for that reason. Seven or eight distinct (and opposing) monotheistic religions claim this God and define God in many different ways, with many different hues. Each successive monotheism throughout history (seven or eight of them) purports to supersede previous monotheisms by offering new revelations in new holy books inspired by the one God. Monotheism is an ancient view that’s still with us (though not as ancient as polytheism).

7) Trinitarians affirm one God in three ‘persons’: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Ghost. Adore each person of the Trinity. God the Father is the Creator. God the Son came to earth in human form as Jesus and died on a cross for human sins. God the Holy Ghost ‘proceeds’ from God the Father and God the Son and sends messages to humanity through prophets and comforts believers on earth. Other monotheists suspect this isn’t mono-theism, but Christianity vigorously defends the oneness of three. Trinitarianism is an ancient view that’s still with us among Christians.

8) Pantheists state that God is identical to the many things of the physical-material world. The universe is God. You may adore God in your reverence for the universe. This is an ancient view that’s still with us.

9) Pan-en-theists claim that God is within the many things of the material world but distinct from the many things of the material world. God is both immanent to the material world and transcendent to it—God is within the material world and God is above it too. Adore this God in your esteem for the material world, or adore this God as something transcendent to the material world. Pan-en-theism is an ancient view that’s still with us.

10) Deists insist there is a God who created the universe but thereafter took no interest in it. You do not adore this God because this God cares nothing about you or little about you, either because he doesn’t know you exist, or because he cares about you as much as he cares about the life of an oyster (with due apologies to The World Parliament of Insects, Mollusks, & Affiliated Clam Culture). Deism is about 300 years old. The name ‘deism’ is seldom used nowadays but the belief behind it still exists, and many people who believe in God believe in a ‘distant’ God who does not really attend to what we are doing on planet earth.

11) Taoists say there’s no God but there is an impersonal Force called the Tao (pronounced Dow) that pervades the universe and may be tapped into and utilized by humans (similar to ‘The Force’ in Star Wars). Adoration is not necessary. Taoism is an ancient Chinese view that’s still with us.

12) Extra-Terrestrialists say that what humans have been calling ‘Gods’ are actually non-supernatural galactic beings visiting earth from outer space and using modest ingredients to un-miraculously originate life on our planet; these beings have been monitoring human developments ever since. Adore when met. Extra-Terrestrialism dates to the 1940s or so, and there are numerous ‘UFO religions’ nowadays.

13) Monists proclaim there is only one item in existence: God. God is everything, everything is God, and everything is only one thing, namely God. Variety is an illusion and all the words we have for the many apparent existent things are superfluous. Thin the dictionary to the letter ‘g’ and the word ‘God.’ (Pantheism is different from monism in that pantheism admits the existence of many things.) Monism is an ancient view, coming out of India, and it’s still with us.

14) Anatheists say God cannot be rendered into any image or concept because the God that can be conceived is not the real God. The real God is unknowable and certainly beyond a human’s brain to grasp. Adore this unknown and unknowable God. God is above human ideation and human words. All religions are flawed in that they cannot ‘apprehend’ God. Mystics in various religions make these kinds of claims and say they experience God immediately (‘without mediation’). That is, mystics claim to experience God without the mediation of religion, without holy saints, without holy buildings, or holy worship, or holy bells, books and candles, and even without thoughts and words. Mystics claim an ineffable experience of God, and a few mystics who are capable write inch-thick books describing it (!)—some of which are true works of literary art, studied by Ph.D.s university literature departments. Anatheism is an ancient view that’s still with us.

15) Apotheosis-ists (Euhemerists) say Gods were once humans who at some point achieved apotheosis, elevation to divinity. Adore the worthy ones. This idea was widespread in the polytheisms of antiquity. Heretical versions of Christianity claimed this of Jesus in ancient times. Some forms of Buddhism are here, and Mormonism is here with the notion that God was once a human like us. The concept of Apotheosis (human elevation to divinity)is an ancient view that’s still with us.

16) Misotheists follow Prometheus and hate all Gods because Gods are completely overbearing, pompous, fat-witted despots; and religion is a malignant cancer upon society. Adoration is inapt. Misotheism is an ancient view that’s still with us. In modern times it appeared in a few 20th-century communist nations that outlawed and suppressed religion, and it appears in strident anti-theists.

17) Atheists find no persuasive arguments or persuasive evidence for God and no convincing idea of God on offer in six thousand years; and they say therefore, there must be no Gods. Some Buddhists are here. The Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism is an atheist (showing that even a ‘religion’ can be atheistic). Atheism is an ancient view that’s still with us.

18) Agnostics means ‘not knowing’ and though these people remain unconvinced by every argument for God’s existence they prefer to withhold judgment as to whether God exists, saying ‘I don’t know if there’s a God’—because they are also not totally convinced by atheist arguments against God. But remember that agnostics are not any kind of believer in God and do not hedge their bet by attending religious services or by praying, just in case there’s a God. So, agnosticism is a species of unbelief. Agnosticism is an ancient view that’s still with us—though the term itself (agnostic) was invented in 19th-century England.

19) Skeptics doubt everything, not only avowals about God, but also all claims to all knowledge. Skeptics say we can doubt everything except mathematical conclusions and current reports about our own current state of consciousness (‘I am sad right now’). A Skeptic might say, ‘You claim to know God exists but you don’t even know if Charlemagne existed.’ Skepticism is an ancient view that’s still with us.

20) Freethinkers/Humanists may be atheists, agnostics or skeptics or even heretical believers in God but they prefer a positive self-designation, a positive label, and not a negative label for themselves. Freethinkers arose a few hundred years ago in Europe to face the restraints placed on thought by religious dogma, which even today in certain parts of the world religion cudgels free thought and free speech. Humanists, also a few hundred years old, affirm that all sense of value, worth, purpose, morality, goodness, and creativity comes solely from humanity, with no Gods to offer anything. Whatever goodness is found (even in the religions) is really only a product of human creativity and human goodness. For instance, by this view, no God ever gave humanity a moral rule because humans made the moral rules. The Humanist and the Freethinker often refuse to call themselves atheists (though they typically don’t believe in Gods) because they say no one should be required to label themselves based on dissent to other people’s beliefs. Theists (God believers) would seem to require that all people label themselves based on whether we all agree or disagree with theism, and if we disagree, then we should label ourselves ‘atheist’ (i.e., not theists). Humanists and Freethinkers say, ‘No thanks. We feel no need to label ourselves based on our rejection of your beliefs. We also reject astrology but we don’t feel any need to label ourselves as a-astrologists. We don’t believe in faeries either and we don’t label ourselves a-faerie-ists. And by the way, we don’t like the label unbeliever either, because everyone believes and disbelieves a lot of things and no one needs to label themselves an unbeliever because they disbelieve something. You ask if we believe in God? Yes, we believe God is a recurring character in world mythologies.’  The terms Freethinker and Humanist are about 400 years old.

21) Indifferentists or Apatheists are completely unconcerned about religion or God. They see religion as irrelevant to their life and of trivial importance. They would almost rather discuss anything than talk about religion. This is growing in our somewhat ‘post-religious’ Western world. It’s most common among young people age 30 and below. Ask them if they’ve ever thought about whether a God exists and they might say,  ‘I never gave it any thought.’

22) Ignostics advise us to give up the word ‘God’ and rub it from the world’s lexicons and never utter it again. Why? Because we have established over many thousands of years that we do not know what the word ‘God’ signifies, as indisputably displayed in humanity’s profound disagreements about God, evinced in this very roster of twenty-two. If a Martian from outer space were to land on Earth and ask the human race what God is, the Martian would hear only a cacophony of discordant voices—proof enough that humans don’t know what they’re talking about when they talk about ‘God.’ Ask an Ignostic ‘Do you believe in God?’ and the reply comes: ‘I don’t know what you mean by the question.’ Ignosticism is a 21st-century coinage combining two words: agnostic and ignorant.

It is fairly certain that in a world under the influence of an actual supernatural being, particularly an omnipotent one as espoused by Christianity, that there would be fewer than 22 views of the existence of such beings. It would be a much smaller number that could approach unity, especially if that god is imminently involved in peoples’ lives, as the Christian god is claimed to be. The plethora of forms of god-belief is evidence that no gods exist, or that if they do, they’re leaving us alone.

(3553) Christ dies with the death of miracles

Christianity is doomed. It will fall because it is built on a crumbling foundation formed by its claims of miracles. As humans come to realize that miracles are literally impossible, and we move into a post-miraculous world, Christianity will become another dead mythology that no longer belongs in any discussion of factual history. The following is an excerpt from John E. Remsburg’s book THE CHRIST A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidences of His Existence:

Jesus of Nazareth, the Jesus of humanity, the pathetic story of
whose humble life and tragic death has awakened the sympathies of millions, is a possible character and may have existed; but the Jesus of Bethlehem, the Christ of Christianity, is an impossible character and does not exist.

From the beginning to the end of this Christ’s earthly career he
is represented by his alleged biographers as a supernatural being endowed with superhuman powers. He is conceived without a natural father: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise:

When, as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. i, 18).

His ministry is a succession of miracles. With a few loaves and
fishes he feeds a multitude:

“And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and brake
the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men” (Mark vi, 41-44).

He walks for miles upon the waters of the sea:

“And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to
pray; and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them,
walking on the sea” (Matt. xiv, 22-25).

He bids a raging tempest cease and it obeys him:

“And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full…. And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm”
(Mark, iv, 37-39).

He withers with a curse the barren fig tree:

“And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee, henceforth, forever. And presently the fig tree withered away” (Matt. xxi, 19).

He casts out devils:

“And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil…. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him and hurt him not” (Luke iv, 33, 35).

He cures the incurable:

“And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off; and
they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed” (Luke xvii, 12-14).

He restores to life a widow’s only son:

“And when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and much people of the city were with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier; and they that bore him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he
delivered him to his mother” (Luke vii, 12-15).

He revivifies the decaying corpse of Lazarus:

“Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead…. Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already…. And when he had thus
spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth” (John xi, 14-44).

At his crucifixion nature is convulsed, and the inanimate dust of the grave is transformed into living beings who walk the streets of Jerusalem:

“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints, which slept, arose and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (Matt. xxvii, 50-53).

He rises from the dead:

“And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed…. And, behold, there was a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door…. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail”
(Matt. xxvii, 59, 60; xxviii, 2, 9).

He ascends bodily into heaven:

“And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Luke xxiv, 50, 51).

These and a hundred other miracles make up to a great extent this so-called Gospel History of Christ. To disprove the existence of these miracles is to disprove the existence of this Christ.

Canon Farrar makes this frank admission: “If miracles be incredible, Christianity is false. If Christ wrought no miracles, then the Gospels are untrustworthy” (Witness of History to Christ, p. 25).

Dean Mansel thus acknowledges the consequences of the successful denial of miracles: “The whole system of Christian belief with its evidences, … all Christianity in short, so far as it has any title to that name, so far as it has any special relation to the person or the teaching of Christ, is overthrown” (Aids to Faith, p. 3).

Dr. Westcott says: “The essence of Christianity lies in a miracle; and if it can be shown that a miracle is either impossible or incredible, all further inquiry into the details of its history is superfluous” (Gospel of the Resurrection, p. 34).

A miracle, in the orthodox sense of the term, is impossible
and incredible. To accept a miracle is to reject a demonstrated
truth. The world is governed, not by chance, not by caprice, not by special providences, but by the laws of nature; and if there be one truth which the scientist and the philosopher have established, it is this: THE LAWS OF NATURE ARE IMMUTABLE. If the laws of Nature are immutable, they cannot be suspended; for if they could be suspended, even by a god, they would not be immutable. A single suspension of these laws would prove their mutability. Now these alleged miracles
of Christ required a suspension of Nature’s laws; and the suspension of these laws being impossible the miracles were impossible, and not performed. If these miracles were not performed, then the existence of this supernatural and miracle-performing Christ, except as a creature of the human imagination, is incredible and impossible.

Alluding to Christ’s miracles, M. Renan, a reverential admirer of Jesus of Nazareth, says: “Observation, which has never been once falsified, teaches us that miracles never happen but in times and countries in which they are believed, and before persons disposed to believe them. No miracle ever occurred in the presence of men capable of testing its miraculous character….. It is not, then, in the name of this or that philosophy, but in the name of universal experience, that we banish miracles from history” (Life of Jesus, p. 29).

Christianity arose in what was preeminently a miracle-working age. Everything was attested by miracles, because nearly everybody believed in miracles and demanded them. Every religious teacher was a worker of miracles; and however trifling the miracle might be when wrought, in this atmosphere of unbounded credulity, the breath of exaggeration soon expanded it into marvelous proportions.

To show more clearly the character of the age which Christ
illustrates, let us take another example, the Pythagorean teacher, Apollonius of Tyana, a contemporary of the Galilean. According to his biographers–and they are as worthy of credence as the Evangelists–his career, particularly in the miraculous events attending it, bore a remarkable resemblance to that of Christ. Like Christ, he was a divine
incarnation; like Christ his miraculous conception was announced before his birth; like Christ he possessed in childhood the wisdom of a sage; like Christ he is said to have led a blameless life; like Christ his moral teachings were declared to be the best the world had known; like Christ he remained a celibate; like Christ he was averse to riches; like Christ he purified the religious temples; like Christ he predicted future events; like Christ he performed miracles, cast out devils, healed the sick, and restored the dead to life; like Christ he died, rose from the grave, ascended to heaven, and was worshiped as a god.

The Christian rejects the miraculous in Apollonius because it is
incredible; the Rationalist rejects the miraculous in Christ for
the same reason. In proof of the human character of the religion of Apollonius and the divine character of that of Christ it may be urged that the former has perished, while the latter has survived. But this, if it proves anything, proves too much. If the survival of Christianity proves its divinity, then the survival of the miracle-attested faiths of Buddhism and Mohammedanism, its powerful and nourishing rivals, must
prove their divinity also. The religion of Apollonius languished and died because the conditions for its development were unfavorable; while the religions of Buddha, Christ, and Mohammed lived and thrived because of the propitious circumstances which favored their development.

With the advancement of knowledge the belief in the supernatural is disappearing. Those freed from Ignorance, and her dark sister, Superstition, know that miracles are myths. In the words of Matthew Arnold, “Miracles are doomed; they will drop out like fairies and witchcraft, from among the matter which serious people believe” (Literature and Dogma).

In a world without television, cameras, and cell phones, the concept of miracles could seem more possible, but we are living in a hyper-documented existence today that could detect even faint signals of any miraculous phenomena. That we don’t see this causes us to ask the following question- what is more likely- that the natural order of the universe was overturned in the ancient past, or that people made up stories of the same? If the consensus lands on the latter, then Christianity is dead.

(3554)Apostles disappear without a trace

Christian tradition has it that all of Jesus’ apostles died as martyrs, but there is a big problem with that claim- although they all must have died by approximately CE 70, and almost all of the New Testament was written after that time, there is no scriptural mention of these executions except for Stephen, the replacement for Judas (not an original apostle). Additionally, the time and place of these alleged martrydoms was a period of great tolerance for various forms of religious belief. The following was taken from:


What became of the Twelve Apostles?

The New Testament, a portion of which is admitted to have been written as late as the latter part of the first century and nearly all of which was really written in the second century, is silent regarding them. Christian martyrology records their fates as follows:

St. Peter was crucified, at his own request head downward, and buried in the Vatican at Rome.

St. Andrew, after having been scourged seven times upon his naked body, was crucified by the proconsul of Achaia.

St. James was beheaded by Herod Antipas in Palestine.

St. John was “thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil” by Domitian, but God “delivered him.”

St. Philip was scourged and crucified or hanged by the magistrates of Hierapolis.

St. Bartholomew was put to death by a Roman governor in Armenia.

St. Matthew suffered martyrdom at Naddabar in Ethiopia.

St. Thomas was shot to death with arrows by the Brahmans in India.

St. James the Less was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple at Jerusalem and dispatched with a club where he fell.

St. Simon was “crucified and buried” in Britain.

St. Jude was “cruelly put to death” by the Magi of Persia.

St. Matthias, the successor of Judas Iscariot, if Christian traditionis to be credited, was put to death three times, crucified, stoned, and beheaded.

Nothing can be more incredible than these so-called traditions regarding the martyrdom of the Twelve Apostles, the most of them occurring in an empire where all religious sects enjoyed as perfect religious freedom as the different sects do in America today. Whatever opinion may be entertained respecting the existence of Jesus, the Twelve Apostles belong to the realm of mythology, and their alleged martyrdoms are pure inventions. Had these men really existed Christian history at least would contain some reliable notice of them, yet all the stories relating to them, like the story of Peter at Rome, and John at Ephesus, are self-evident fictions. In the significant words of the eminent Dutch theologians, Dr. Kuenen, Dr. Oort and Dr. Hooykaas,

“All the Apostles disappear without a trace.”

It is suspicious that stories of apostleship martyrdom escaped the attention of New Testament authors, but then suddenly appeared centuries late. Adding to the suspicion is that these stories were good marketing tools for the faith. And a corollary is to question why God/Jesus would not protect his closest followers so that they could continue to evangelize the world.

(3555) Tax collector identity

Christian apologists have tried to smooth out an apparent contradiction between the Gospels of Mark and Matthew regarding the name of the tax collector who became one of Jesus’ disciples. As explained in the following, this problem is not resolvable:


Consider too, that the traditional claim of Matthew’s identity has problems as well. In Mark, the tax collectors name is Levi. In Matthew it is Matthew. There’s no textual reason to think the tax collector had two names or if he did, why, that wasn’t communicated by the author of Matthew. Matthew could have simply referred to the tax collector, Matthew, also called Levi. It’s just as plausible that IF Jesus recruited a tax collector, named Levi, he abandoned the movement, but Matthew’s author liked the story so much that he substituted the name of an apostle for that of an apostate. More importantly, why does an eyewitness copy the story of his own calling from that of a non eyewitness? Matthew doesn’t tell the story that must have changed his life in his own words?

Compare Mark 2:14 with Matthew 9:9:

As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

Why not include the fact that Matthew was the son of Alphaeus if Levi and Matthew are the same person?

Christians have often referred to this disciple as having both names, Levi and Matthew, but the logic behind this claim is weak. Given the fact that the author of Matthew was copying Mark, it appears more likely that he didn’t like the name of Levi and substituted a name that he felt more comfortable with.

(3556) Inventing genocide

Sometimes a fictional story is invented to resolve an observation that has no other form of explanation. Such is the story in the Book of Joshua where the author documents a genocide of the Canaanite people, who were mysteriously absent from the population despite being prominent in ancient scripture. The following was taken from:


One explanation is that by the seventh century BCE there were no Canaanites left in Israel. The older stories must have talked a lot about these so-called Canaanites, but no such group existed by the time Joshua was being written. Therefore the author of feels the need to explain where they all went.

Here’s Robert Alter on the topic:

This gruesome story is intended as an explanation of a circumstance observed by audiences of the book in the seventh century and later—that by then a non-Israelite Canaanite population was only vestigially in evidence. Where, one might wonder, did all these peoples—seven in the traditional enumeration repeatedly invoked here—go? Joshua’s answer is that they were wiped out in the conquest, as Deuteronomy had enjoined. But the narrative of the genocide is a cover-up as well as an explanation. If the Canaanites seem to have disappeared, it was not because they were extirpated but because they had been assimilated by the Israelites, who had come to exercise political dominion over large portions of the land. There is good reason to assume that the Canaanites intermarried with the Israelites (a taboo for the Deuteronomist), had all kinds of social and economic intercourse with them, and shared with them many of their religious practices as well as many elements of their theology.

In fact, some modern scholars no longer want to use the term Canaanite because of how vague it has turned out to be. Here’s Mark S. Smith on that topic:

At this point the field can probably do little better than categorize Ugaritic, Amorite, and Canaanite material all under the rubric of West Semitic… In the end, perhaps we should drop the term “Canaanite” as a modern category of analysis and just pay attention to its ancient uses.

This is because the farther you go back the more indistinguishable these groups become. Canaanites were Israelites and vice versa. But in the minds of the author of Joshua and his audience, they were a separate peoples whose disappearance needed to be accounted for.

A modern-day equivalent is the purported genocide of the Nephites by the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon. This story was invented to explain why, although the lighter-skinned Jewish tribes had crossed into the Americas, only the dark-skinned Lamanites were there when the 15th Century explorers landed. When a group of people are missing, the best way to explain it is to say they were wiped out in battle.

(3557) Jesus never overturned the tables

There is so much consensus, from both religious and secular sources, that the story of Jesus overturning the tables at the temple is historical that a simple demonstration that it is most likely fictional is rather shocking. That is what is presented below:


I believe that the relationship between the temple cleansing scene in Mark and Hosea 9 is the single most important finding presented in Deciphering the Gospels. This is a simple and clear case of literary dependence that has significant implications on our understanding of how the Gospels were written, the historical validity of the Gospel narrative, and the validity of mainstream biblical scholarship. What I find so compelling about this particular issue is how concise, clear, and demonstrable it is. This isn’t a case of vague interpretation or debatable positions that have no ultimate resolution, etc., this is a clear demonstrable evidence-based answer to a problem.

So first let’s review the case I put forward in Deciphering the Gospels:

“We now arrive at one of the most important scenes for establishing our understanding of the Gospel called Mark and the other canonical Gospels. The reason that this scene is so important is because it is so widely believed to be historically true and it is seen as the justification for the Crucifixion. This scene is widely believed to be historically true because it exists in all four canonical Gospels, and it is not supernatural, so it is seemingly plausible. As we shall see throughout this book, however, the case against the historical validity of the temple-cleansing scene based on the literary evidence alone is overwhelming. So let’s start by looking at the literary allusion used to craft this scene.

Mark 11:
12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written:
“‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
19 When evening came, they went out of the city.
20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

This scene is clearly based on a passage from the book of Hosea, shown below:

Hosea 9:
1 Do not rejoice, O Israel; do not be jubilant like the other nations. For you have been unfaithful to your God; …
7 The days of punishment are coming, the days of reckoning are at hand. Let Israel know this. Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac.
The prophet, along with my God, is the watchman over Ephraim, yet snares await him on all his paths, and hostility in the house of his God.
9 They have sunk deep into corruption, as in the days of Gibeah. God will remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.
10 ‘When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree. But when they came to Baal Peor, they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved.
11 Ephraim’s glory will fly away like a bird—no birth, no pregnancy, no conception.
12 Even if they rear children, I will bereave them of every one. Woe to them when I turn away from them!
13 I have seen Ephraim, like Tyre, planted in a pleasant place. But Ephraim will bring out their children to the slayer.”
14 Give them, O LORD—what will you give them? Give them wombs that miscarry and breasts that are dry.
15 “Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal, I hated them there. Because of their sinful deeds, I will drive them out of my house. I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebellious.
16 Ephraim is blighted, their root is withered, they yield no fruit. Even if they bear children, I will slay their cherished offspring.’
17 My God will reject them because they have not obeyed him;

We can see in the Gospel text that the cursing of the fig tree, the driving out of people from the temple (house of God), and the hostility toward Jesus are all related elements that are drawn from Hosea 9. All of these elements and the order in which they are presented in the Gospel called Mark are necessary to make the association between Hosea 9 and the narrative.

Most important, however, is that if we accept the fact that the Markan narrative is actually a literary allusion, then it means this scene is not based on any real event that ever took place. It means that “Jesus” never cursed a fig tree, and “Jesus” never threw anyone out of the temple. None of this actually ever happened; this isn’t a historical event. The scene is merely a literary allusion, yet every other Gospel contains the temple-cleansing scene. If the cleansing of the temple comes from Hosea 9, not from a real-world event, then the fact that it exists in all of the other Gospels means that all of the other Gospels, including John, had to have ultimately gotten the scene from Mark, as we will explore in chapter 3.
that is most widely believed to be true, even by secular New Testament scholars. The fact that this scene is based on a literary allusion has not been recognized even by top theologians and Bible scholars.”

– R. G. Price; Deciphering the Gospels; pp 21-23

If the author of Mark used a scripture in Hosea as a template for his ‘biography’ of Jesus, then it means that the entire gospel is suspect and cannot be relied upon to be historical. What makes this case even worse for Christianity is that the temple cleansing story was seen to be firmly rooted in history because it painted Jesus in an unflattering light- against what otherwise was a unanimously flattering portrayal. If Mark copied Hosea, it brings into question  whether Jesus was even a real person.

(3558) Demons suddenly appear in the gospels

Something changes dramatically when one reads the Bible and then starts in to the gospels- all of a sudden there are demons popping up everywhere and they need to be cast out of their victims. Nowhere in the Old Testament do we read of anyone who is casting out demons.

There are several explanation for this:

(1) Demons did not inhabit people until Jesus appeared on earth.

(2) Demons existed in Old Testament times, but no one had the authority to cast them out until Jesus came around.

(3) Demons are mythical and only became objects of religious fantasy when Greek and pagan influences infiltrated the gospels.

Considering (1) above, it is possible but highly improbable that demons would have sequestered themselves off-planet until they became angered by Jesus’ earthly presence. Supposedly, they had been around for a long time beforehand as part of Satan’s army after the heavenly rebellion. So why would they not have been motivated to mess up the lives of the Israelites?

Considering (2) above, it would seem unlikely that, even if no one possessed the authority to command demons, their existence would have been felt and therefore they would have been discussed in scripture as a perennial affliction.

Considering (3) above, Occam’s Razor tells us that this it the correct explanation.

(3559) Double jeopardy

There exists a theological contradiction in the Bible regarding the process by which justice is meted out. For certain transgressions, punishment is applied both in this life and the next, representing a form of double jeopardy. It raises the question of why an earthly punishment is not sufficient in the eyes of God. The following was taken from:


There is a contradiction at the heart of some eschatological religions – or, at least, their interpretations – that I think can only be solved by recognizing that it is necessary to have a secular ethical system. The contradiction is this: an eschatological religion is one that has in it the claim that judgment and justice will be meted out at death, and yet some of them also call for a punitive justice system to be installed on Earth. Let’s call it the ‘Double Jeopardy Contradiction’. My argument is that only by separating religious and worldly conception of justice can this contradiction be resolved.

It is worth creating some examples, to demonstrate this Double Jeopardy Contradiction. The simplest examples are to point out the times that there are solely religious commands, and a worldly punishment prescribed. Exodus 31:15 says that someone working on the Sabbath should be put to death; Leviticus 21:13 says that the act of homosexuality should also be punished by death; Leviticus 24:16 punishes blasphemy with stoning to death; Heresy, in Deuteronomy 17:7 follows much the same path.

The Double Jeopardy Contradiction alludes to two ideas not yet established: that a guilty person is being punished twice, and that this is a contradiction at some point in the theology. The Double Jeopardy element, I think, is simple to establish; eschatological religions have the just punishment (or reward) for your actions saved up for the afterlife. Whatever you do will be justly met after death. That’s the entirety of your just punishment. Another parenthetical point I just want to sign post, but not get into, is the idea of the infinite punishment somehow being just; short of a tyrannical dictate of ‘because I say so’, it’s difficult to see how you could even imagine defending an infinite response to a worldly transgression. But, on top of this damnation, the transgressor also gets the biggest punishment humanity can mete out: stoning to death.

Once this Double Jeopardy is laid out – that the transgressor received the worst punishment that can be given in human form, a slow and painful death; and then given a further fully just punishment in spiritual form in the afterlife – the contradiction starts to lay itself out: if the spiritual punishment is full and just, then the commanded bodily punishment must push the total punishment received over the just level. And so God’s commands and acts, taken together, exceed that of a just response. Which is to say that it’s unjust to have both punishments.

To be punished both before and after death is a macabre facet of Christian theology that renders it highly unlikely to be the product of a benevolent god; a god who, being infinitely intelligent, would understand that humans are inherently flawed and cannot be expected to be perfect in any sense. Nevertheless, if punishment is needed, it should  be applied only once, and a real god would know that.

(3560) Omitted verses

The fidelity of the Bible is in question because there are many verses that were included in the King James Version that have been deleted from the New Living Translation and the New International Version. The reason for these omissions, other than simply wanting to remove them to improve Christianity’s image, is that they don’t appear in some of the older manuscripts that were unavailable to the King James Bible translators. The following lists some of these omissions:



What must be asked is how a book ghost-written by an omnipotent god, and fully in his purview as his central communication to humankind, could end up with disputed verses. Did God inspire the original authors and then removed himself from the stage, allowing human errors to dilute his ‘perfect’ message? No, this appears to be a human effort from the very start.

(3561) Where is Satan located?

Christians put up a defense shield if you ask them where God or Jesus is located. They will not answer this is any geographical sense, because they know that if they do, they are running into trouble trying to maintain the concept of God’s omnipotence. Pinning God to a certain location would preclude him from being able to control the entire universe in real time as well as being able to hear and answer prayers, some of which need an immediate response.

So the apologetic approach is to say that God is everywhere or is in some other dimension that allows him instant access to every cubic millimeter of the universe.

This might satisfy that problem, but what about Satan? Where is he located? They would be loathe to think that he, like God, occupies the entire universe. But if they concede that Satan is confined to a certain location, then how could he have any measurable power at all? How could he see what is happening in Sydney if he’s in New York? And really, how could Satan bother you unless he is physically in your room?

Christian apologetics are creative, if not logical. So what they might try to submit is the idea that Satan has an army of demons that he sends out on special missions. These demons supposedly can wreak havoc by commandeering peoples’ minds. And because religious fantasy has no bounds, they can claim that there are enough demons to blanket our planet and get into everybody’s business, so the fact that Satan, unlike God, is pinned to a certain location, his ‘employees’ are essentially everywhere doing his dirty work.

But still, even with his army of demons spread out over the entire planet, Satan is still at a competitive disadvantage to God who, all by himself, can control everything without having to resort to educating and training angels and hoping that they competently follow his instructions to carry out his mission. In game play, it is an impossible situation for Satan. He sends out a demon to possess someone but when the demon arrives, God is there (because he’s everywhere)… and how does it go when a demon goes up against God?

So although Christianity tries to characterize Satan as a formidable opponent to God, he is hopelessly pinned down in his little isolated place while trying to compete with an omnipresent god. It is not a fair fight.

(3562) Paul was not a Christian

Christian apologetics usually considers Paul to be the original Christian or someone who advocated that Jesus had started a new religion that was a departure from Judaism. This is not true. As explained below, Paul was merely introducing a modification of Judaism that would offer Gentiles some of the blessings of the Jewish god:


So to make a long story relatively short (but still a long comment!), Paul emphatically positions himself as a Jew. Christian was not a category for Paul and he was not trying to start or spread a new ‘religion’ to everyone. He was a Jewish teacher of gentiles (e.g., Gal 1.15-16; 2.7-8). He offered gentiles access to the power, blessings, and rescue of a foreign deity (i.e., the Jewish god) because, according to Paul, the actions of a powerful subordinate of that deity (i.e., Christ) had made it possible for gentiles to be included in the deity’s coming kingdom as faithful subjects. For Paul, Christ was the leader sent by the Jewish god to enact the final stages of his plan for the rescue of Israel. Like some other Jewish writers of the time, Paul claimed that one stage of that plan was the inclusion or gathering of the nations – and Paul represents himself as an agent God and Christ had sent to help bring about that stage of the plan. In other words, Paul’s message or “gospel” was fundamentally Jewish and ethnically specific. Gentiles could be included in the Jewish god’s rescue as gentiles, but it was the ancestral or ethnic promises to the Jews/Israelites to which Paul claimed he was offering gentiles access.

Think about Galatians. Paul’s competitors are other Jewish teachers of gentiles who likewise thought Christ was the leader sent by God to finalize his plan. But these teachers taught that gentiles who wanted to be included needed to keep the Jewish law because, after all, they were supposed to be subjects of the Jewish god (see Acts 15.1, 5 for other examples of such teachers). They apparently had other pretty simple, powerful, and ethnically specific arguments: e.g., if God’s promises that involve the nations being included were given to Abraham and his descendants (as Genesis says, repeatedly), then don’t these gentiles need to be like Abraham and his descendants and keep the Jewish law? This is how other Jewish writings of the time imagined Abraham’s ‘faith’; i.e., it was faithfulness to the Jewish law and being circumcised (e.g., Sirach 44.19-21; 1 Macc 2.52 in context of its lawkeeping message). Passages from Genesis (e.g., 26.5) even seemed to go in this direction. This wasn’t about the other Jewish teachers saying that gentiles needed to keep the law to “earn” salvation, but about what it looks like to be faithful subjects of the Jewish god.

Had Paul considered himself a Christian spreading a new religion separated from Judaism, he would have had a simple response. Something like: ‘No, you foolish Galatians, we are done with all that Jewish stuff. God has done something so new in Christ that Judaism, the law, and all that is irrelevant. Who cares about being descendants of Abraham, God has done something universal now!’

But this is precisely how Paul does not respond. Instead he presumes ethnically specific Jewish schemes like his competitors, but interprets them differently. Gentiles still gain access to the Jewish god’s promises to Abraham through Christ. In fact, Paul has a myth about how, through Christ, gentiles become descendants of Abraham so they can inherit the ethnically specific promises to him and his descendants (Gal 3.15-29; see also Romans 4). It’s just that Paul (like some other Jewish teachers of his time) did not think gentiles needed to keep the ethnic customs (i.e., law) of the Jews to be included in Abrahamic descent and God’s promises. Christ had made it possible for Abraham to have two different kinds of descendants (e.g., Rom 4.11-12): those who keep the law (Jews) and those who do not (gentiles). And this is quite literally what Paul says the purpose of Christ’s death was: not to start a new, non-Jewish religion that brings salvation to everyone, but to allow the blessings of Abraham to come to gentiles (see Gal 3.13-14) so they could receive the promises pneuma (i.e., “spirit”) and thus come to master their passions and live in ways required by the Jewish god and inherit his kingdom (see Gal 5.16-24).

As you can see, this is not some irrelevant issue of semantics, but gets at the core of how Paul presents what he is up to and how he depicts the significance of Christ. Paul’s difference from some of his fellow Jews wasn’t that he had converted to become a Christian, but that he thought their god had already sent his eschatological leader and that said leader was Jesus. This did not make Paul no-longer-Jewish. According to Paul, it made him a Jew who knew the truth about God’s plan. And it seems that other Jewish teachers likewise thought Jesus was God’s Christos even if they differed from Paul about what that means for how gentiles relate to the Jewish god after Christ. And none of them were “Christians.”

One final point – this helps explain why Paul, as best we can tell, continued to think that Jewish followers of Jesus should keep the Jewish law. This is presumed at points in Paul’s letters, but not elaborated upon for a simple reason: Paul is explicit that he writes to gentiles, and when he writes about Jews it tends to be in ways that are about demonstrating his expertise in the Jewish god’s plans so he can market himself as the legitimate teacher of gentiles about the Jewish god’s plans for them. While Acts is not a useful independent source for learning about Paul, interestingly it gets this part of Paul right. See Acts 21.17-26. He expects Jews to continue keeping the Jewish law.

For what it is worth, I did not come up with this way of understanding Paul. It goes by various names in NT scholarship such as the ‘Radical New Perspective’ or ‘Paul within Judaism’ movement. The earlier, better-known exponents of it were Lloyd Gaston and John Gager. Stanley Stowers’s A Rereading of Romans: Justice, Jews, and Gentiles (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994) became an influential refinement and presentation of this position, which has continued being developed by others. Paula Fredriksen’s new book, Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018), and Matthew Thiessen’s, Paul and the Gentile Problem (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), are recent examples. Pamela Eisenbaum wrote a popular book that translates this approach for non-scholarly audiences: Paul Was Not A Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle (HarperOne, 2009). Obviously all of us who advocate this general approach disagree with each other on various specifics, including some major issues. But these basic frameworks are shared: that Paul remained a Jew and Christian was not a category he worked with, that he wrote to gentiles, that his directives about not keeping the Jewish law were for gentiles and not Jewish followers of Jesus, and that he was trying to bring about the Jewish god’s plan for the rescue of Israel and envisioned gentile inclusion as a stage within that plan.

Paul has been misappropriated by modern Christianity, and had this not happened, Christianity would never have become a separate religion. Believers in Jesus would be followers of Judaism, or at least one specific sect of that faith.

(3563) Justifying eternal punishment

Christianity has a huge vulnerability because most theologians surmise that the Bible promotes the concept that sinful people will be forced to endure an eternity of painful punishment in hell. This implies that suicide will not be possible there. So Christian apologists must develop a rationale for why this situation is just- that is, they must do something to undergird the concept that ‘God is good.’ The following debunks the two most utilized excuses:


Eternal punishment in Hell is unjust. Typically in these sorts of discussions, the atheist will argue that a finite crime does not warrant infinite punishment. To this, the Christian usually responds in one of two ways. Let’s address both:

Christian Response #1: “God is infinite so the punishment must also be infinite”

According to this line of reasoning, when we sin against God, we are sinning against an infinite being. And as such, the punishment for a crime against an infinite being must also be infinite. In the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, “the higher the person against whom it is committed, the graver the sin. It is more criminal to strike a head of state than a private citizen, and God is of infinite greatness. Therefore an infinite punishment is deserved for a sin committed against Him.”

My Objection to Response #1:

We should be skeptical of this claim that “the higher the person against whom it is committed, the graver the sin.” While it’s true that striking the head of state is worthy of greater punishment, this is only because this action could potentially destabilize a nation and all the lives therein. It is not due to some inherent greater worth that the head of state possesses. Rather, we have created laws to protect those in authority to prevent the breakdown of the social fabric. This, however, is not applicable in the case of God. Surely God does not need protecting, and sinning against him does nothing to disrupt his position or authority over us. Sinning against God alone harms no one but ourselves. And the proper response to that, it would seem, is not punishment — but accountability and healing.

Christian Response #2: “You never stop sinning in Hell, so infinite punishment is warranted”

This argument says that in hell, it’s not as if you cease from sinning. You are still sinning against God in hell, so God (being just) must continue to punish that sin indefinitely.

My Objection to Response #2:

The only reason people continue to sin in hell is because they are being kept alive. A non-existent person cannot sin. God could punish sinners with total annihilation and then the cycle of sin-punishment would end. Sin only persists in hell because God would rather keep sinners alive to torture them instead of simply removing them from existence.

This points out an obvious flaw in Christian theology- a benevolent god would be content for sinful people to simply cease existing. The application of eternal punishment removes the mantra that ‘God is good’ and replaces it with ‘God is evil.’ This was an avoidable mistake, but it’s too late for Christianity to fix it.

(3564) No literal, unbiased translation

The mechanics of translating the Bible involve in many cases nothing more that guesses as to what the original author intended. Because Christians believe that God inspired the scripture, this means that the translators are having to guess what God intended. This seems like an ineffective way for God to communicate with humankind. The following was taken from:


There is no such thing as an absolutely literal, unbiased translation. Every translator has bias and every translator must make difficult decisions. That’s what the art/science of text criticism is all about.

For example, Song of Songs 1:5 says “I am black (waw) beautiful.” The conjunction waw can be translated in variety of ways, but most importantly for this example, it can be translated as “and” or “but.” So is the woman speaker saying “I’m black and beautiful” or “I am black but beautiful”? The translator must make a choice one way or the other.

Take another example: In Gen 1, the “ruach” of God hovers over the waters of creation. Ruach can be translated as wind, breath, or spirit. Which one of these did the author intend? There are decent arguments for each. Perhaps the author was purposely playing with the ambiguity?

If you want an absolutely literal translation, it’s going to be unreadable. There are some out there, like Young’s Literal Translation, that attempt to be as literal as possible. David Bentley Hart produced a really wooden translation of the NT recently. These are extremely wooden sounding and still have their own degree of bias (like DBH claiming to be absolutely literal and unbiased but refusing to translate “baptidzo” as “dunk” or “plunge”). I don’t recommend either of them.

Most of the scholarly community utilizes the NRSV (when not reading from the original languages, of course). It uses the most up-to-date manuscript evidence. It’s translation committee is made up of people of various faith traditions. It tries to render a text accurately, while also trying to preserve the poetic beauty of the texts.

Because language translations are inherently inaccurate, and the fact that the intrinsic meaning of words evolves in any given language, along with words that are added or discarded over time, it is a very inefficient process for God to inspire a book in an ancient language and then expect that it can be accurately translated into other, future, and evolving languages. Each step in this process dilutes the idea that was originally put into text and introduces more human bias and agenda. The final product reflects all of these defects and leaves modern humans guessing what the original author (or God) intended.

How would a real god deal with this problem? It would probably provide (miraculously) books that cover every language, along with updates over time addressing evolving languages, ameliorating morals and ethics, and the emergence of new technologies. The Christian god seems to be OK with large and growing ambiguities.

(3565) Prayer defects

Christianity extols the practice of prayer. It is a central uniting theme of the faith, heavily promoted (and hugely over-promised) by Jesus himself. But a simple analysis of prayer in conjunction with Christian dogma reveals that there are some serious problems. The following was taken from:


If you’ve puzzled at all about how prayer is supposed to work, you’ll have already thought of some of these problems.

    • God already knows everything. Your prayer can’t inform God of anything since he already knows it all.
    • Changing God’s mind. You can’t imagine that your petty suggestions could change God mind, or ought to. Your advising God is like a two-year-old advising the president. If God has a plan, it’s best that he stick with it and ignore your chatter.
    • Children and prayer. Encouraging a child to pray is like leaving a loaded gun on the kitchen counter. If prayer directs the actions of the most powerful force in the universe, it should be accessible only by responsible adults.
    • Gratitude for unfairness. What sense does it make to thank God for dinner when he didn’t provide food to the tens of thousands of people who starved today? Thanking God means that you approve the status quo.
    • God’s effort. We humans tend to see a spectrum of prayer requests. A good parking space is a small ask, and resurrecting someone who died in a car accident is a big ask. But for the God who spoke the universe into existence, they’re equally easy to provide. He could solve the Ukraine problem or undo the millions of deaths from Covid or even give us a new planet at no cost to him of material or effort.
    • “Pray without ceasing.” The nuns at a Franciscan convent in Wisconsin have been praying nonstop since 1878. That apparently hasn’t been in line with God’s Plan, because the number of nuns is dwindling. They now must recruit lay volunteers to help pray.
    • Jesus prayer illogic. Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). This is what an ordinary man would say at the precipice of a terrible ordeal. But, at least according to the story, Jesus was no ordinary man. He was one person of a single Godhead. The Trinity had a flawless plan, and Jesus knew what it was. If the best course of action was “[Let your will] be done,” why request otherwise?

Christianity needs a re-do on the subject of prayer. It would be best to excise all of the scriptures that suggest that you can get whatever you pray for. That’s for starters. Then admit that God does not listen to each and every prayer, and admit that prayer is only a way to conduct an internal dialogue with God (as if he was listening) and only as a means of expressing admiration or respect. If this was the blueprint for prayer, it would make a lot more sense than the mess that exists.

(3566) Leviathan

In the Book of Job, God is shown to be bragging to Job about an amazingly powerful creature that he made along with humans, supposedly to show his power and to make Job quake in fear of his grandeur. The creature that he describes, Leviathan, is clearly an animal that never existed on planet Earth, even though some Christians laughingly think God is talking about a dinosaur.

Job 41:18-34

His snorting flashes with light,

and his eyes are like the rays of dawn.

Firebrands stream from his mouth;

fiery sparks shoot forth!

Smoke billows from his nostrils

as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.

His breath sets coals ablaze,

and flames pour from his mouth.

Strength resides in his neck,

and dismay leaps before him.

The folds of his flesh are tightly joined;

they are firm and immovable.

His chest is as hard as a rock,

as hard as a lower millstone!

When Leviathan rises up, the mighty are terrified;

they withdraw before his thrashing.

The sword that reaches him has no effect,

nor does the spear or dart or arrow.

He regards iron as straw

and bronze as rotten wood.

No arrow can make him flee;

slingstones become like chaff to him.

A club is regarded as straw,

and he laughs at the sound of the lance.

His undersides are jagged potsherds,

spreading out the mud like a threshing sledge.

He makes the depths seethe like a cauldron;

he makes the sea like a jar of ointment.

He leaves a glistening wake behind him;

one would think the deep had white hair!

Nothing on earth is his equal—

a creature devoid of fear!

He looks down on all the haughty;

he is king over all the proud.”

Leviathan is not a dinosaur as we know that dinosaurs and humans never co-existed and that they did not shoot fire and smoke from their snouts, among other problems with the description. Therefore, Leviathan is a fictional animal that is being presented as being real in a long allegedly word-for-word soliloquy by God. This is a good reason, among many, to discard the entire book of Job as a piece of mythical fantasy.

(3567) Heaven entry criteria

There probably is nothing more important to the Christian faith than understanding the rules determining whether someone will be sent to either heaven or hell. After all, this is a permanent assignment… permanent in the sense of all eternity. However, these rules are anything but well understood. What is presented are only some of the theories:


    • One common solution is that only accepting Jesus guarantees salvation, but other people might also be allowed into heaven based on gods infinite wisdom and justice. This allows Jews, Muslims, Uncontacted Tribes, Unbaptised Babies and so forth to have a chance. I even saw one catholic arguing that atheists who were only factually mistaken (I.E. genuinely convinced god didn’t exist) would simply be corrected and spend some time in purgatory- only those who knew but were in denial would go to hell. I don’t think that’s well accepted, but it’s not a heresy.
    • Pre-emptive belief in the saviour. That is, the pre-Jesus Jews believed in a messiah would come and save them, and thus did accept Jesus, just in the other direction. It’s a little unclear how well this actually fits with Jewish theology about the messiah- the Jews have and had far more concrete things to be saved from then sin, you know?. But it’s popular among the evangelical right, likely because it lets them keep talking about how great Moses is while still being anti-Semitic today- current Jews rejected Jesus so they go to hell.
    • The harrowing of hell, where Jesus went to liberate those who would have accepted him had they known from hell. This usually also needs limbo, because it seems a little unfair for the righteous to suffer up to several millennia of constant torture until god gets around to it.
    • Limbo is a controversial theory, but it basically allows a “hell light”- Virtuous Heathens like the Jews still technically go to hell but they don’t get tortured. Their punishment is being denied heaven but otherwise they’re doing fine.
    • Inclusivism, in this context, is that idea actually, the Jews have accepted Jesus- they worship Yahweh, who is Jesus, and therefore go to heaven. They disagree on some of the details, but so do Protestants and Catholics. It’s love of and loyalty to god that matters. This isn’t popular among Christians or Jews (both for the reason they very much don’t think they accepted Jesus and it’s a little patronising to say they did) but it solves the problem at least.
    • Universalism is fuck it, everyone goes to heaven. Unpopular but solves this and other problems with hell.

Christianity, if real, certainly would not be this ambiguous concerning the most important element of its doctrine. There is so much wiggle room that no one can be sure of their eternal fate. After all, the unforgivable sin (blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, Mark 3:29) is so murky that no one can be sure they have not committed it. This is not the work of a competent deity.

(3568) A modern gospel

The gospels were written by non-eyewitnesses after all the actual eyewitnesses had died. So there is no reason why a person couldn’t write one today, using all of the information we have discovered over the past centuries in an effort to explain the most likely history of Jesus (assuming that he was a real person). The author of the piece below gives a middle-of-the-road ‘best estimate’ that is far more plausible than any of the canonical gospels:


Many Gospels were written, but only four were admitted to the canon by those who had acquired power. The remainder were discarded or destroyed.

I have written this Gospel myself. I was not present during the events it describes, but neither were the other Gospel writers. Mine is 1,600 years too late, but I am quite sure it would have been consigned to the Apocrypha even if it had been around in time.

The short answer to how Christianity began is that we can never fully know. The canonical gospels have been shown to contain substantial contradictions and they were written in Greek, 40 to 70 years after the death of Jesus by people culturally, linguistically and geographically far distant from where things had happened.

They were sourced from oral traditions, after any direct eye-witnesses were no longer alive. The tradition of careful historical accuracy did not yet exist and ancient writings are usually heavily biased polemics. It would be wrong, however, to regard the gospels as useless. It is beyond reasonable doubt that a person named Jesus existed and that he made an impression during and after his lifetime.

It is, of course, impossible to separate truth from fiction in the Gospels, but the oral stories from which they came are likely to have been enhanced to better promote evangelism as they were told and retold. The supernatural claims are obviously the least probable. We should remember David Hume’s advice that we should only believe a miracle if we can also believe that it would be more miraculous for the report of it to be either false or mistaken.

We can reflect with some certainty on the conditions in Palestine during Jesus’ short career. Most people would have been engaged in agriculture or a few basic trades and long-distance travel would be difficult and unusual. Records in pre-industrial England have shown that most people lived their entire lives without traveling more than 50 km from their birthplace.

It was probably the same in Palestine in those days. Communication was virtually non-existent and most people would hear only sporadic news of what was happening outside their immediate area. There would have been an educated elite, including Temple priests who promoted an Old Testament style of religion which included blood offerings and burnt offerings of animals (rather than humans by this time). Reading and writing skills in the general population would be low.

It is against this background that Jesus emerged as an orator who could attract crowds. He enrolled a team of helpers into his organization and he went on tour promoting the idea of an imminent Kingdom of God, which carried religious and political messages, both welcome to the ears of his listeners.

Imagine what it would have been like to be a member of this group. There would be a great sense of meaning and purpose. They were enlightening the people and were looking forward to a position of privilege when this Kingdom would arrive.

Scripture does not tell us about the finances of the group, but they must have been able to eat, drink and have other necessities. And, if they could raise some funds, they could probably raise a lot. They may well have achieved a better financial position than they had been accustomed to. Maybe Matthew’s tax collecting skills came in handy. The whole business must have seemed much more exciting than the humdrum occupations from which they had come.

After building up an intoxicating level of fame, it was time to take the enterprise to the capital.

We cannot be certain that Jesus entered on a donkey. It was known that there was an Old-Testament prophesy that the Messiah would do so, so Jesus may have done it to fulfill that, or the gospel writers may have inserted the story later for the same reason.

The little band was a relatively unsophisticated group from the country and it seems that they must have been massively naïve. To enter Jerusalem telling large crowds about the imminent Kingdom of God (which would, of course imply the end of Roman rule) was unbelievably rash. And invading the turf of the Temple priests did not make friends. It is not surprising that the Romans, with the acquiescence of the Jewish elite, eliminated Jesus.

Can we imagine what the mood would have been in Jesus’ support group on the morning after the crucifixion? The enterprise that they had built up seemed to be completely destroyed. There was nothing left to do but to avoid detection by the Roman authorities, disperse back to their areas of origin and revert to their old lives. Or was there any possible way to re-establish the formula that had been working so well?

To rationalise a story that showed their situation as other than a total defeat was not easy. But the idea of atonement is likely to have come early. The idea that the whole population was guilty of sin, and that God’s anger needed to be appeased by sacrifice, was already a long-established theme of Jewish religion.

By this time, human sacrifices were history and the victim was more likely to be an unfortunate goat. But what could be more believable than the idea that Jesus had chosen to offer himself as a sacrifice to appease God for the sins of the Jewish people? “He died for you, so you must be grateful and accept what we say!”

In addition to the atonement story, the followers probably realized that direct opposition to the Roman authorities was not a practical goal. Religion rather than politics was the way to go.

By this means, the Nazarene firm was back in business. Those running it would have found that more interesting as well as more profitable than going back to the day jobs. Initially, it was only a Jewish sect; Jesus had died for the Jews just as the regular Temple sacrifices were being made for the Jews. (The names Christ and Christian did not yet exist. That occurred only when these ideas moved into a Greek-speaking population.)

Had matters continued in this way, it is likely that the Nazarenes would have died out because they failed to make progress in the Jewish religious scene. But Paul arrived; he had been a persecutor of Nazarenes, but for some reason, he decided that it would be worthwhile to promote this new religion in the world outside Palestine.

Paul had to first modify the religion to make it more marketable. The Nazarenes insisted that all male converts had to have the foreskin of the penis cut off. It is not surprising that Paul thought that this would lose customers; he got rid of it.

Strict observance of other Jewish requirements was also dropped. Christianity spread rapidly and split into many different versions. It is difficult to know why, but it seems to have out-competed the prevailing polytheistic ideas of Greece and Rome.

For many decades the belief was only an oral tradition and it would be inevitable that the story was “improved” during that time to make evangelism more successful. For a preacher, it was much more satisfying to found a believing and financially contributing community than to be repulsed by an incredulous audience and thrown out of town.

It was probably during this time that most of the supernatural claims were added because they were persuasive selling points. The gospels were written late in the first century CE by unknown educated Greek authors assembling these oral traditions. They certainly had no contact with the Aramaic-speaking country folk who were the followers of Jesus.

Bearing in mind Hume’s view of miracles, we can guess how the supernatural claims became interpolated in the story, but the big one was the resurrection. This is described with much corroborative and sometimes contradictory detail in the gospels. We have no idea when this entered the narrative but, if it is not true, it is a big lie.

Yet it has all the characteristics of a fabrication. Jesus appeared on only a few occasions after which he made a spectacular ascent into the clouds. It is claimed that hundreds saw him, but we learn about that from only a few or perhaps only one.  If he had really come back to life, why did he not carry on his speaking tours as before, over the following years?

Of course, we must respect the fact that Jesus’ followers were in a state of emotional distress in the days following the crucifixion and the stories may have had an origin in hallucinations or dreams. Lies are often built on truths rather than being entirely original fiction. In some references, Jesus appeared to people who had known him well, but they did not recognize him; what could that mean? The reports of the resurrection fall a long way short of Hume’s criterion for belief.

The religion grew and continued to evolve spreading over the whole Roman Empire and beyond.  It diverged into mutually contradictory versions, most of which were later suppressed. New beliefs were invented like the Trinity in the 300s, purgatory in the 1100s and the Immaculate Conception in the 1500s. The doctrine of very extreme rewards and very extreme punishments during an eternal life were easily believed in a gullible world with no access to contrary evidence.

The church in time became totally powerful, obliterating classical culture and beliefs and suppressing all opposition. Temples were vandalized and statues were toppled and smashed. Classical science and philosophy went on the pyre. Opposition was met with punishment by death, a penalty extensively and ruthlessly carried out. Hundreds of thousands suffered the agony on being burned to death. This grip only slowly began to be loosened from the 1500s and some of its effect remains to this day. But with declining church power, new cults are forming again.

This picture, like any picture of these far-off events, can only be a conjecture, but it fits the evidence better than any other. It is more than possible to understand the information we have today without supernatural assumptions.

There is a continuum of ancient stories that ranges from impossible to implausible to possible to probable and finally to fact. Unfortunately, we will never have a truly factual account of the Jesus phenomenon. However, we can say that what the biblical gospels present is, for all intents and purposes, in the range of impossible and only a minor millimeter toward implausible. But the gospel account written above is securely in the probable range. So which one to take seriously is not a difficult decision.

(3569) Cult language

Everyone’s bible contain a passage that nobody follows and which delivers a remarkably inaccurate prediction. It is language straight out of a cult playbook, to squeeze people out of their livelihood and enjoyment of life so that they will devote everything to the cult. Here are the verses that Christians ignore or vainly struggle to reinterpret:

1 John 2:15-18

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not from the Father but from the world. The world is passing away, along with its desires; but whoever does the will of God remains forever.

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. This is how we know it is the last hour.

Christians believe that all scripture is god-breathed, meaning that they must accept that God deliberately placed these verses into his ‘holy’ book, and meant for his followers to obey. This means no love for persons, pets, art, vistas, food, movies, music, or any other thing ‘of this world.’

But it is all softened by the promise that the world was coming to an end very soon. So… you won’t be missing much. But no, soon is not 2000 years. And so what do Christians do?- they ignore this scripture entirely.

(3570) Pilate-Joseph of Arimathea conspiracy

If we accept the gospels as presenting at least some hint of true history, it is easy to construct a different (and more plausible) interpretation of the events that occurred during Jesus’ crucifixion and ‘resurrection.’

As the gospels suggest, Pontius Pilate was reluctant to have Jesus crucified, seeing no basis for doing so, and he particularly did not want to grant the Jews anything they were asking for- and they were asking for Jesus to be executed.

So Pilate concocted a scheme- a mock crucifixion, where Jesus would be scourged and then nailed to the cross. But to preclude his death, he would be taken down very early. He colluded with his friend Joseph of Arimathea and possibly a few of his soldiers to carry out this plan.

Joseph told Jesus to quickly feign death and that he would be able to take him off the cross that very afternoon (as stated in the scriptures, Jesus died a very early ‘death’ in only about 6 hours where most crucifixion victims stayed nailed for about a week) and take him to his private tomb where he could convalesce. Then, in the night, Joseph opened the tomb and Jesus was able to emerge. Joseph then gave him sustenance and care, warning him that his reprieve was tenuous.

Jesus, well aware that he was still presumably under a death sentence- even if Pilate didn’t want him dead, the Jewish elites did. Consequently, he realized that he must exit the area permanently. So he quickly met with his disciples, giving them final words of encouragement. They interpreted him as having risen from the dead. He then left Palestine and lived out his life in Western Europe or Northern Africa, and died a natural death.

His apostles, unaware of the scheme, believed that he had miraculously cheated death, which re-ignited their religious fervor to spread everywhere what Jesus had taught them. He had risen from the dead- a true miracle! And then… the rest of the story unfolded.

(3571) God, the abortionist

Most Christians are against abortion and consider fetuses to be human beings from the moment of conception. This despite carrying around a book that describes the god they worship to be the most prolific abortionist of all time. The following was taken from:


Earth population in 5000 BCE – 30 to 50 million human beings. Estimates of the # of women pregnant at any given moment in a world w/o birth control is about 2.5%. Assuming an Earth population of 50 million at the time of the Great Flood, this means God killed 625,000 fetuses. On purpose.

Christians cannot have any serious objection to abortion when their own god commits vast amounts of them in their own foundational text, and thousands more every day in the form of miscarriages.

Could it be they simply do not read their own foundational documents, or is it that they don’t care and simply want to exert control over women even though they have no biblical leg to stand on?

In addition, Numbers, Chapter 5, gives instructions on how to induce an abortion of an unfaithful wife. If it is true as Christians claim that we should derive our morals from the Bible, then abortion should be a freely offered service to women. Otherwise, if Christians persist in restricting abortion, then they must put their bibles in the garbage can.

(3572) Mark to John differences

It takes little brainpower to compare the first gospel written, Mark, to the last, John, to see that there are some devastating problems. The differences are stark and unexplainable. The following describes some of these issues:


In Mark’s gospel, Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist; in John’s gospel it doesn’t happen. 2) In Mark’s gospel, the words of the Eucharist are spoken at the Last Supper; in John’s gospel these words are omitted. 3) The huge monologues of Jesus in John’s gospel are missing from Mark’s gospel; how could Mark have missed all this Jesus-script? 4) The whole of Mark’s account of Jesus could have played out in just three or four weeks, while John’s gospel presents it as a three-year ministry.

It is commonly understood by most New Testament scholars that Mark’s gospel was written first, and John’s last—maybe forty or fifty years apart. This allowed for considerable theology inflation to have happened during those decades—and John excelled at theology inflation: he even has Jesus present at creation, which couldn’t have been further from the mind of Mark’s author. Again, each gospel author had his own agenda—and imagination. These major differences certainly cast down on the claim that these authors were inspired by a god to write “the truth” about Jesus.

These are only a few of the contradictions between these two gospels, but they are sufficient to conclude that this is an unrecoverable problem for Christianity. Unless there were two Jesus,’ either Mark or John is completely non-historical, and, of course, both might be as well. The people who decided which books belong in the New Testament were clueless of the predicament they placed Christianity in when they selected both of these gospels for inclusion. This mismatch rips deep into the heart of Christianity, and only those people who are ignorant of this problem can retain a comfortable faith.

(3573) Life origins gap narrows

Christian apologists generally agree that some degree of evolution (micro-evolution) occurs naturally, but they hold firm in crediting God for the origin of living matter. However, recent discoveries in Japan are beginning to show that life can originate without the need for supernatural support, and the ‘god of the gaps’ has become further pushed into a dark corner. The following was taken from:


Researchers at the University of Tokyo have for the first time been able to create an RNA molecule that replicates, diversifies, and develops complexity, following Darwinian evolution. This has provided the first empirical evidence that simple biological molecules can lead to the emergence of complex lifelike systems.

Life has many big questions, not least being where did we come from? Maybe you’ve seen the T-shirts with pictures going from ape to human (to tired office worker). But how about from simple molecule to complex cell to ape? For several decades, one hypothesis has been that RNA molecules (which are vital for cell functions) existed on primitive Earth, possibly with proteins and other biological molecules. Then around 4 billion years ago, they started to self-replicate and develop from a simple single molecule into diverse complex molecules. This step-by-step change possibly eventually led to the emergence of life as we know it — a beautiful array of animals, plants, and everything in between.

Although there have been many discussions about this theory, it has been difficult to physically create such RNA replication systems. However, in a study published in Nature Communications, Project Assistant Professor Ryo Mizuuchi and Professor Norikazu Ichihashi at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo, and their team, explain how they carried out a long-term RNA replication experiment in which they witnessed the transition from a chemical system towards biological complexity.

The team was truly excited by what it saw. “We found that the single RNA species evolved into a complex replication system: a replicator network comprising five types of RNAs with diverse interactions, supporting the plausibility of a long-envisioned evolutionary transition scenario,” said Mizuuchi.

Compared to previous empirical studies, this new result is novel because the team used a unique RNA replication system that can undergo Darwinian evolution, i.e., a self-perpetuating process of continuous change based on mutations and natural selection, which enabled different characteristics to emerge, and the ones that were adapted to the environment to survive.

“Honestly, we initially doubted that such diverse RNAs could evolve and coexist,” commented Mizuuchi. “In evolutionary biology, the ‘competitive exclusion principle’ states that more than one species cannot coexist if they are competing for the same resources. This means that the molecules must establish a way to use different resources one after another for sustained diversification. They are just molecules, so we wondered if it were possible for nonliving chemical species to spontaneously develop such innovation.”

So what next? According to Mizuuchi, “The simplicity of our molecular replication system, compared with biological organisms, allows us to examine evolutionary phenomena with unprecedented resolution. The evolution of complexity seen in our experiment is just the beginning. Many more events should occur towards the emergence of living systems.”

Of course, there are still many questions left to answer, but this research has provided further empirically based insight into a possible evolutionary route that an early RNA replicator may have taken on primitive Earth. As Mizuuchi said, “The results could be a clue to solving the ultimate question that human beings have been asking for thousands of years — what are the origins of life?”

If this research leads to where it appears it is going, the need for a god to explain any and all life on earth will be extinguished. Then all that remains for Christian apologists is to insist that God was needed to create the universe (Big Bang), but, uh oh, that issue is nearing a natural explanation as well.

(3574) How Satan evolved to absolve God of evil

Yahweh started out as a god who was responsible for both good and evil, but as time passed, this became a problem in the minds of the Jewish people- why would a good god be the author of evil.? So, by virtue of this sensibility plus influence from neighboring religions, eventually, belief rose in evil beings that were wreaking havoc. This then morphed into God’s arch rival Satan in the New Testament. The following was taken from:


According to the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament, God alone controlled all events and was responsible for all conditions within creation, both good and evil. This idea, however acceptable it was early in Jewish traditions, became confusing and frustrating, and led to the basic question of theodicy: How could a loving and benevolent God allow so much suffering and pain on earth?

The eventual answer to this question within the religion of ancient Israel was found during the Persian period, 539-332 BCE, the period in which Persia controlled the entire Near East, including Israel. Perhaps the earliest point in Satan’s history may have its roots in the Persian Empire, which in turn influenced ancient Judaism.

The ancient religion of Persia was Zoroastrianism, based on the teachings of a religious philosopher named Zoroaster who may have lived around 600 BCE. Among his teachings was the compelling idea of dualism. According to dualism, evil does not stem from the good God or spirit known as Ahura Mazda, “wise lord,” within the faith. Instead, there existed a separate evil being known as Ahriman, “fiendish spirit,” also known as Angra Mainya, “evil spirit,” that created death, disease, and lies.

People had to choose whether to follow Ahura Mazda on the path of good or Ahriman on the path of evil. The idea from Persia that God himself was separate from evil would have been an acceptable answer to the early Jewish theodicy question and would have explained how there could be such suffering in a world created by a loving God. From this was born the idea that God did not personally create suffering himself, but that he would instead use other lowly figures to complete such tasks with his approval. This idea would lay the foundation for Satan’s entrance into the world.

In 1 Chronicles, śaṭan is prototyped for the first time in the Bible as a separate entity. Chronicles is also one of the last books of the OT, written around 300 BCE (so at the end of just after the Persian period). This seems to suggest that śaṭan based on Zoroastrian concepts had evolved from being a simple term used to describe any kind of adversary, human or angelic, to a major source of malice or evil. This concept of Satan would continue to develop outside of the Jewish canon, in the period known as the intertestamental period.

The intertestamental period refers to the 300-400 years between the completion of the Hebrew Bible, and the beginning of the New Testament that saw a flourishing of religious writings, especially apocalyptic ones. The apocalypticism of the intertestamental writings included an attempted to further explain why there was such great suffering in the world. This was a period that saw the invasion of the Greeks in 332 BCE and the advent of Roman control of the Near East starting in 63 BCE, and the diminishment of independent Jewish control over their own lands around Jerusalem. Jewish population was divided between those who accepted and those who rejected the Hellenization of society. Roman occupation also led to an increase in violence which ultimately led to a major assault on Jerusalem, a great famine against the Israelites, and the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE.

It is during this period that Satan’s final development takes place before he emerges in the New Testament as God’s greatest adversary.

It should be obvious that if Satan is an actual being and is indeed God’s arch enemy that he would have been consistently described over the entire sweep of bible literature. That he ‘evolved’ over time is a big clue that he is a fictional being.

(3575) Immaculate Conception

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception, a claim that Jesus’ mother Mary was born free from original sin is a relatively recent example of what happened during the time between Jesus’s crucifixion and the authorship of the gospels. The following was taken from:


The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was announced by the Vatican in 1854. It states that when Mary was conceived, her soul was miraculously cleansed of original sin, thus guaranteeing that her son Jesus was also free of original sin. There is no evidence for this: it derives from theological speculation by theologians who believe in original sin.

So many times I have seen Immaculate Conception confused with the virgin birth of Jesus, though Catholics don’t make this mistake as often as Protestants do. But any Catholic who is asked to believe that Mary was conceived clean should press theologians who champion this aspect of the Vatican party line: how do they know this? Where is the data to back it up? They had to have their perfect Jesus, but how could that be possible if original sin had been passed on to him by his mother? Voilà: they added yet another unevidenced miracle, i.e., yet more magical thinking. If you want to find an outstanding example of stupid Catholic shit, this is it. It’s no longer 1854: how can anyone these days believe it?

If the fantasy of the immaculate conception had been conceptualized 1800 years earlier, in CE 54, it almost certainly would have appeared in the gospels (probably Matthew or Luke) and it would have been something that almost all Christians would believe (not as today- just Catholics and few Protestant denominations). It hypothetically could have read something like this:

Matthew 1:24-28 (not a real scripture)

“An angel appeared before Margaret and her betrothed husband Andrew and announced, ‘Margaret, you are blessed among women and will conceive a newborn forthwith, and this child will be free from all sin and blemish. Your womb will be washed pure and be filled with virtue. Your child shall be called ‘Mary’ and she will bear the savior of the world.”

Many such ‘doctrines’ arose between the time of the crucifixion and the writing of the gospels (40-80 years later), and these became part of scripture. The Immaculate Conception idea came along too late to enter scripture, but that hasn’t stopped Catholics from a literal belief in this fairy tale.

(3576) Sermon on the Mount written, not spoken

There are many problems with the Sermon on Mount, probably the most revered sermon delivered by Jesus in the gospels. First, it isn’t mentioned in two of the four gospels (Mark and John) and it conflicts between the other two (Matthew and Luke) in both wording and location.

Adding to the problems is that it gives advice that is unusable in the real world and would only apply if the end times were just a few weeks away. The style of this ‘sermon’ is clearly literary and not the way that a person (especially an Aramaic-speaking Galilean) would speak. Taken together, it is clear that this sermon was never preached. The following was taken from:


The Sermon on the Mount is found in the gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7. The author of Luke’s gospel broke it up, abbreviated it, and said that it took place on a “level place.” It is absent from the gospels of Mark and John. In just five verses in Matthew’s version, 5:28-42, we find several commands that Christians would choose not to obey, which I have bolded:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

Also, 6:19: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, and 6:25: Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?


The Sermon on the Mount is commonly considered the gold standard for ethical teaching, yet much in it is ignored by Christians. The author of Mark’s gospel probably had never heard of this sermon, and his focus was the imminent kingdom of God that Jesus was soon to bring to earth; John left it out because his major passion was Jesus, the guarantor of eternal life, i.e., belief in that was the key to salvation. We can see that each gospel author had his own agenda, and Matthew felt that Mark—from whom he copied extensively—had to be strengthened. But Richard Carrier reminds us that speeches for heroes in ancient epics were commonly made up; the Sermon on the Mount, he says, is

“…a well-crafted literary work that cannot have come from some illiterate Galilean. In fact, we know it originated in Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic, because it relies on the Septuagint text of the Bible for all its features and allusions…These are not the words of Jesus. This famous sermon as a whole also has a complex literary structure that can only have come from a writer, not an everyday speaker.”

Christians should jettison this speech from their bibles- it contains horrible advice that they don’t follow, and it is almost certainly not historical. Yet, they still extol it without giving it a penny’s worth of critical thinking.

(3577) Christian epistemology is laughable

The methods used by Christians to defend their beliefs, their epistemology, is dramatically deficient and holds no water. They don’t even think about using these same tactics in any other areas of their lives. The following was taken from:


According to one dictionary definition, “Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.” By what methods do you determine that your beliefs are true? If I ask, “What is your epistemology?” I expect an explanation: Do your ways of knowing about God hold up to critical scrutiny? Sound epistemology is especially important regarding religious beliefs.

It should be obvious that “I take it on faith,” or “My priest or preacher told me it’s true,” or “I learned it from my parents” are not sound epistemology. Most of the religions in human history have claimed legitimacy on precisely these inadequate foundations. Epistemology involves the search for reliable, verifiable, objective data that can support beliefs. “I feel it in my heart” is useless as a source of god-information. What you’re feeling is evidence for…what you’re feeling!

This is where Christianity fails. It has no reserve of provable evidence and instead relies on evidence-free faith. But what should be recognized, and what should end all of the speculation, is that if Christianity was real, it most certainly would have solid evidence in its support Only false ideologies require a faith-based epistemology.

(3578) Christian versus Flat Earth thinking

Most Christians scoff at people who believe that the earth is flat, but they unwittingly use many of the same thinking tools to defend their beliefs, especially creationism or guided evolution. The following was taken from:


Is the earth a flat disk? I hope we can agree that it’s not, that the earth is a sphere, and that flat earth thinking is bullshit. My last article was a dialogue with an imaginary flat earther, and while I tried to give as strong an account as possible, I hope it was obvious that my feet are firmly planted on a round earth.

With few exceptions, atheists and Christians are on the same page with respect to flat earth thinking. It’s a nice change to be starting with a point of agreement. Sadly, this beautiful concord is not to last, because I think Christianity is little more than flat earth thinking with centuries of patina.

There are surprisingly many parallels between flat earth thinking and Christianity. As you analyzed the argument from our mythical flat earth (FE) proponent, I hope you regularly got the sense of, “Hmm—that feels familiar.” That feeling probably pointed you to either Creationism or Christianity, and often both. Let’s look for those parallels.

1) Sufficient evidence

Who is the audience for the argument? Not a scientist, if the argument is coming from a flat earther or a Creationist*. If Creationists were trying to do real science, they’d be going to conferences and writing papers for secular journals, like the real scientists.

If you donate to a Creationist organization, will that fund scientific research? Of course not—it will be used to convince lay Christians that they’ve backed the right horse and to appeal for more donations.

The standard of evidence for the FE proponent, Creationist, or Christian is low. They want the available evidence to be sufficient, and they’re convinced before the argument begins.

2) Misdirection by focusing on minutia

The FE proponent had lots of odd arguments. While they might have been confusing, which could have been their purpose, they were trivial. For example, our FE proponent was all over the literal map with questions about long-distance flight routes in the southern hemisphere.

The same is true for Christians and their complicated claims like the Fine Tuning argument or Ontological argument. This is what you lead with? If there were an omniscient and omnipotent god who wanted to be known, he’d be known! The very need for apologetics proves that such a god doesn’t exist.

In Christian parlance, they focus on the gnat but ignore the camel.

3) Gish gallop

The Gish gallop is a technique named after Creationist debater Duane Gish. His style was to pile many quick attacks onto his debating opponent while ignoring attacks to his own position. Even if his opponent were familiar with each attack and had a rebuttal, to thoroughly respond would mean descending into long, tedious explanations that would bore the audience and wouldn’t fit into a formal debate.

We see this in the FE argument. It contained rapid-fire arguments about the amount of sun in Arctic, why the moon doesn’t rotate, flat map projections, gyroscopes, and so on. This focus on quantity over quality takes advantage of the typical person’s scientific ignorance.

You see this in the Christian domain when they talk about a cumulative case. That is, any one argument may not be sufficient, but look how many there are! But consider this when applied to pseudo-sciences like astrology or Bigfoot. Crappy arguments don’t turn to gold just because you have a pile of them.

And, as with Gish, a debate or article with a pile-up of one terse argument after another is still popular among Creationists.

4) Errors and lies

My goal in writing the FE position was a compelling argument, not a factual one. For a few points, I tossed out a claim that either I didn’t know was true or knew was false. I suspect this approach is common within FE arguments. If not that, then I can only conclude careless scholarship is the cause of the many errors.

I wonder how many times the typical FE proponent has been corrected. And I wonder how many corrections lead to that flawed argument never being used by that person again. In my case it takes just one such correction.

In the Creationist camp, Ray Comfort (to take one well-known example) has been schooled many times how evolution doesn’t predict a crocoduck. My guess is that he values the useful argument more than he is repelled by the broken one.

5) Always attack

The FE argument is a stringing together of arguments of the form, “Didya ever wonder about natural feature X? A round earth model is supposed to explain that? That’s crazy!”

It’s easier to attack a scientific model than to defend one when the audience is poorly educated in science. FE (and Creationist) arguments try to keep the opponent off balance, always on the defensive.

If they throw ten punches, only two of which land with any impact, that’s two more than they started with. A layperson poorly educated in the material and predisposed to root for the anti-science argument might give the decision to the attacker.

With an argument that intends to be scientific, the opposite is true, and a new theory is explained, supported with evidence, and defended. Not only should it explain what the old theory explains well (and a round earth and evolution explain a lot), it must explain additional puzzles that tripped up the old theory.

The Creationist hopes that no one notices their Achilles’ heel. An attack on evolution does nothing to build up any competing theory of their own.

6) Burden of proof

The FE proponent explicitly rejected the burden of proof, saying that they had common sense on their side. But no one would accept this. They ignored the Sagan standard, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” and rejecting centuries of scientific consensus is the extraordinary position.

It’s also in vogue for Christians to insist that both parties in its debates—the Christian and the atheist—are making claims, and so both must defend their positions. But while the atheist has the option to defend “There is no God” or “There is no supernatural,” that’s not necessary. Either of these could be the default position, leaving the burden of proof solely on the Christian.

I find it amazing that Christians will, without embarrassment, insist on this concession—aren’t they eager to share the Good News without prerequisite?—but here again, they know it’s easier for them to attack than defend.

7) Circular reasoning

The proponent of any theory could show how, starting with a set of widely accepted initial assumptions, an unbiased observer can follow the evidence and conclude with their theory. For example, think of a university course in physics where the professor starts with basic facts that everyone shares and uses evidence to gradually build from there.

FE believers and Christians often follow that approach backwards. They assume their theory and then show how their worldview is consistent with the facts of the world. The best they can do is show that their worldview isn’t falsified by reality and insist that the burden of proof is actually shouldered by their opponent. This is circular reasoning.

8) Appeal to common sense

The FE argument want you to use your eyes and trust your senses. Look at the horizon—it’s flat! Climb a mountain or look over the ocean, and the horizon is still flat. “If flat earth theory is wrong, it’s got to be the rightest wrong theory ever.”

The Creationist equivalent is to say that humans and worms and even bacteria are so complicated that they certain look designed. A Christian example is the Kalam Cosmological Argument, where the first premise has a twist on the common sense idea that everything must have a cause.

No, common sense isn’t reliable at the frontier of science. If it were simply a matter of following one’s common sense, someone like Isaac Newton would’ve resolved all of science’s loose ends centuries ago. Or even Aristotle, millennia ago. “Life is complicated—it must be designed” is common sensical but wrong. The same is likely true for the insistence that everything in nature had a cause.

The only reason that Christianity survives in a better light that flat earth claims is because we can’t take a direct photograph to show that it is wrong. Everything else lines up perfectly to show that both of these belief systems are not only poorly evidenced, but convincingly counter-evidenced.

(3579) Greek mythology infuses the Bible

The Bible contains a mythical story where the wife of Lot turns into a pillar of salt when she disobeys an angel and looks back at the conflagration of Sodom:

When [the angels] had brought [Lot and his family] outside, he said, “Flee for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the Plain. Flee to the hills, or else you will be consumed.” (Gen 19:17)

But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked, and she became a pillar of salt. (Gen 19:26)

It is nearly certain that this story was the result of an adoption of Greek mythology. The following was taken from:


Metamorphosis — the transformation of people into animals, vegetables, and minerals — doesn’t really happen in Near Eastern literature, but it’s everywhere in Greek literature. The evolution of this motif and its function in mythical stories can be traced from the works of Homer through to the later Greek poets, mythographers, and tragedians (see Irving, p. 7). The instances found in Homer, such as Circe transforming Odysseus’s men into pigs, tend to be amoral acts, but metamorphoses as moral punishment by the gods appear later on (Ibid, p. 8).

Quite a few transformations involve turning people into stone. One example that stands out to me is that of Battus, a man who is transformed into stone as punishment for breaking his promise to Hermes. This is a story that seems to have circulated widely among early poets (Ibid, p. 286). Many more examples of punitive transformations to stone, animals, and so on are provided by Irving in his book on the subject.

It’s also hard not to think of Medusa, the Gorgon of Greek mythology with snakes for hair whose face turned anyone who looked at it into stone.

At any rate, Lot’s wife being transformed into rock salt for disobeying God’s command clearly lives in the world of Greek mythology, even if the choice of salt was inspired by the local geography of the Dead Sea.

The fact that this story is presented as a factual historical event does great damage to the Bible’s authenticity, and this is magnified by the apparent influence of a foreign literary tradition.

(3580) New International Version translation scam

The New International Version of the Bible is very popular among many evangelical Christians, many of whom consider it to be infallible. What they don’t realize is that the translators took a great many liberties to smooth over contradictions or to steer the text in the direction of their theological agenda. The following was taken from:


The New International Version of the Bible, or NIV, was first published in 1978. Since then, it has become one of the most popular English Bible translations, and almost certainly the most popular one among Evangelical Christians. It is also one of the worst translations for anyone who is seriously interested in what the Bible says. Its translators are conservative Evangelical Christians who are committed to certain theological doctrines as well as to the inerrancy of the Bible, as is implied in its prefaces:

From the beginning the translators have been united in their commitment to the authority and infallibility of the Bible as God’s Word in written form. (TNIV, 2005)

Our work as translators is motivated by our conviction that the Bible is God’s Word in written form. (NIV, 2011)

However, the text of the Bible itself defies attempts to harmonize its diverse traditions and viewpoints, and its apparent meaning is frequently at odds with sectarian doctrine. The solution of the NIV translators, in many of the passages that challenged their doctrines and belief in inerrancy, has been to change the Bible itself — altering the offending words and phrases to say what they think it ought to have said. In most cases of mistranslated NIV passages, there is a clear “problem” with the original text related either to doctrine or to biblical inerrancy.

Even in instances where plausible explanations for an apparent contradiction are available, the NIV’s changes are still unwelcome because (1) they obfuscate the original text and make it unfairly difficult for readers to consider other interpretations, (2) other translations generally avoid making such changes, and (3) they usually appear to be theologically motivated.

❦ Matthew 1:4 — The NRSV correctly reads “Aram the father of Aminadab”. This appears to be a mistake on Matthew’s part, because Ram was the father of Aminadab according to 1 Chron. 2:10 (MT). The NIV corrects this verse to say “Ram” without so much as a footnote. (Note: The LXX says Ram and Aram were brothers, and that Aram was the father of Aminadab contra the MT, giving the NIV even less right to alter Matthew.)

Matthew 1:7 — The NRSV correctly reads “Abijah the father of Asaph”, which is what the oldest Greek manuscripts say. This appears to be a mistake on Matthew’s part, because Abijah was the father of Asa (1 Kings 15:8), not Asaph (a famous psalmist). The NIV corrects the verse to say “Asa” without so much as a footnote.

Matthew 1:10 — The NRSV correctly reads “Manasseh the father of Amos”, which is what the oldest Greek manuscripts say. This appears to be a mistake on Matthew’s part, because Manasseh was the father of Amon (2 Kings 21:18), not Amos, the famous prophet. The NIV corrects the verse to say “Amon” without so much as a footnote. (In fact, Matthew probably got his reading from an LXX variant. See my article on Matthew’s genealogy for more details.)

Matthew 2:11 — The NRSV correctly reads “and they knelt down and paid him homage.” The NIV has the magi worship Jesus instead of merely paying homage, most likely reflecting the piety of the translators and their audience: “and they bowed down and worshipped him.”  The NIV does, however, correctly translate the same word (proskuneō) as “pay homage” in Mark 15:19, where the soldiers pay mock homage to Jesus as king. [See BeDuhn, Truth in Translation, pp. 44–45.]

Matthew 4:13, 4:18, 8:24, 8:26, 8:27, 8:32, 13:1, 13:47, 14:25, 14:26, 17:27 — Matthew refers to the “sea” in all these verses, usually meaning the Sea of Galilee. Like English, Greek distinguishes between freshwater lakes (limne) and saltwater  seas (thalassa). To avoid the geographical mistake of calling this body of water, which is technically a small lake, a sea, the NIV translators replaced “sea” with “lake” or, on two occasions (8:26 and 8:27), with “waves”. The translators made similar changes to Mark and John (see entries for Mark 1:16 and John 6:16). (This change was brought to my attention by jps on his blog Idle Musings. For the reasons why the sea is an important part of Gospel theology, see my article, “Did Mark Invent the Sea of Galilee?”.)

Matthew 5:2 — The NIV takes surprising liberties here, omitting the phrase “he opened his mouth and…” found in all Greek manuscripts.

❦ Matthew 13:32 — To avoid giving the impression that Jesus could make a botanical mistake, the NIV (1984 version) has added the word “your”: “Though it [the mustard seed] is the smallest of your seeds”. The NRSV correctly reads “it is the smallest of all the seeds”. (Note: This mistranslation was fixed in the 2011 revision of the NIV.)

Matthew 21:7 — It is clear in the Greek that Jesus’ disciples bring a donkey and a colt, and after they put their cloaks on them, Jesus sits on both animals. Scholars recognize that this departure from Mark’s text was made in order to adhere more literally to the “prophecy” of Zechariah 9:9. The 1984 NIV translated this verse correctly, but the 2005 TNIV and 2011 NIV have altered it so Jesus sits on the cloaks rather than the two animals: “They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on.” At best, this is a misleading paraphrase. (Suggested by John Kesler in the comments.)

Matthew 26:6 — Both here and in Mark 14:3, the Greek says that Jesus visited the house of Simon the Leper in Bethany. However, the NIV adds the phrase “a man known as”, which is not found in the original text: “While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper…” This seems like an innocuous change until one realizes the likely reason it was made: to harmonize Matt. 26:6 and Mark 14:3 with John 12, in which the same events (the anointing of Jesus with expensive ointment) take place at the home of Lazarus in Bethany. The NIV’s addition provides a way out of the contradiction by suggesting that Lazarus was also “known as” Simon the Leper, though the text itself says no such thing. (Note: This mistranslation was fixed in the 2011 revision of the NIV.)

❦ Matthew 27:11 — In the Greek text, Jesus prevaricates when asked by Pilate if he is the king of the Jews, answering “you say so.” The NIV (up until the 2005 TNIV edition) replaced this with a boldly affirmative response: “Yes, it is as you say.” (Likewise in Luke 23:3 — see below.) The 2011 revision has mostly fixed this error, but for some reason puts Jesus’ answer in the perfect tense: “You have said so.”

Matthew 28:9, 17 — Here again, although the Greek text intends to convey homage and obeisance paid to Jesus by the disciples, the NIV cannot resist making the passage reflect the translators’ own piety and modern theology by having the disciples worship Jesus: “They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him” (verse 9). The YLT correctly reads “they did bow to him”.

Mark 1:10 — The Greek unmistakably says that the Spirit descended “into him” (Jesus), and critical exegesis of the text by scholars supports this meaning. However, due to the christological problems with this wording, the NIV and most other translations change it to “on him”.  (cf. Edward P. Dixon’s discussion of the phrase in ‘Descending Spirit and Descending Gods: A “Greek” Interpretation of the Spirit’s “Descent as a Dove” in Mark 1:10’, JBL Vol. 128/4, 771–772.)

Mark 1:16, 4:1, 4:39, 4:41, 5:13, 5:21, 6:47, 6:48, 6:49 — The NIV eliminates almost all Mark’s references to the “sea” in the interests of geographical correctness, as the Sea of Galilee is actually a small lake. However, Greek does distinguish between lakes and seas, and the meaning of “sea” is clearly intended by the author. In its place, the NIV writes “lake” or, on occasion (4:49 and 4:41), “waves”. In 5:13, the NIV omits one mention of the sea altogether, and in 5:21, it adds a second reference to “the lake” that has no equivalent in the Greek text. These changes eliminate the important symbolism Mark has established regarding the sea of Galilee. See the entries on Matt. 4:13 and John 6:16 for similar changes. (Brought to my attention by jps. See my article on the Sea of Galilee for related information.)

❦ Mark 4:31 — To avoid giving the impression that Jesus could make a botanical mistake, the NIV (1984 version) has him say that the mustard seed is “is the smallest seed you plant in the ground”, whereas the text actually says it is “the smallest of all seeds on earth”. This mistranslation was fixed in the 2005 TNIV. See also the entry for Matt. 13:32.

Mark 6:10 — In the Greek text, Jesus instructs his disciples: “Whenever you enter a house, remain there until you go out from there.” The NIV translators either found this too vague or wanted to harmonize it with the parallel in Luke 9:5, so they added the word town not found in the Greek: “stay there until you leave that town.” Although this is not the worst of changes, it does restrict the potential interpretations. (Cf. Matt. 10:14.) This entry was suggested by Pithom in the comments below, where you can find an interesting discussion of it.

Mark 7:19a— The Greek text says that what enters a man goes into the belly and then out into the sewer (aphedrōn). The NIV, perhaps finding Jesus’ words a little too vulgar, eliminates the word ‘sewer’ and substitutes it with the phrase ‘out of the body’.

Mark 7:19b — The NIV has a statement in parentheses here: “(In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)” In the Greek text, there is nothing equivalent to the words “in saying this, Jesus declared.” What it actually says is simply “[it goes out into the sewer] purifying all the meats” or, depending on the manuscript, “…purging all the meats”. There is no ‘Jesus’ or ‘he’ in the passage to serve as the subject of ‘purifying’, so it could be understood that the closest preceding noun, ‘sewer’, is what does the purifying. The NIV translators, however, embellish the text by turning four Greek words of obscure meaning into an event where Jesus offhandedly repeals the entire kosher code. Even on the chance this interpretation is correct, a footnote explaining what the Greek actually says would be appreciated. A good discussion can be found in Sid Martin, Secret of the Savior, pp. 94–95. (Suggested by Elizabeth Farah in the comments.)

Mark 10:1 — The Greek actually says that Jesus went to the “region of Judaea beyond the Jordan”. This is a fairly obvious geographical error, since crossing the Jordan would put Jesus outside of Judaea. The NIV translates away the problem by saying that Jesus first went to Judaea and then crossed the Jordan. (Note: Most other English translations do something similar.)

Mark 11:16 — In the temple cleansing episode, the Greek states that Jesus would not allow anyone to carry “a vessel” (skeuos) through the temple. The word is broad in meaning but almost certainly refers to the vessels and instruments needed for the operation of the temple. The NIV mistranslates this as “merchandise”, perhaps to avoid historicity issues, and in so doing eliminates the important symbolism involved. For a discussion of the text, see Beavis, Mark (Paideia Commentary), p. 169, and Michael Turton’s excellent online commentary.

Mark 14:3 — See note about Matthew 26:6 above.

Mark 14:12 — The NRSV correctly reads “On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed…” The NIV has, for reasons that are not clear, inserted the phrase “when it was customary” without textual warrant: “On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb…” It must be noted that the author of Mark is in error here, as the Passover lamb is actually sacrificed the day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Matthew is aware of this mistake and omits the mention of the Passover sacrifice in Mt. 26:17. Perhaps the translators of the NIV thought they could spin this passage by implying a custom at odds with standard Jewish practice. (If anyone else can think of another reason, please let me know.)

Mark 15:42 — The NRSV correctly reads “When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath….” This is an error, because the Jewish day starts in the evening, so it would already have been Sabbath. The NIV masks this error by altering the translation to read “So as evening approached….”

Luke 1:17 — In this loose quote by Luke of Malachi 4:6, the NIV authors unnecessarily change “fathers” to “parents” for the sake of gender inclusivity.

❦ Luke 2:2 note [a] — The NIV offers an alternate reading in a footnote: “this census took place before Quirinius was governor of Syria.” Grammatically speaking, “before” is not a possible reading of the Greek text. However, the notion of an earlier, historically unattested census is sometimes proposed by apologists in order to harmonize the date of Jesus’ birth in Luke (6-7 CE under Quirinius) with Matthew’s account (under King Herod prior to 4 BCE). The mistranslation offered by the NIV as an alternate reading is almost certainly intended to support such a view. (For a discussion of the Greek, see Carrier, “The Date of the Nativity”.)

Luke 2:22 — The 1984 NIV translated this verse correctly: “When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem….” However, the Torah only stipulated purification for the mother (see Lev. 12:1-7), and Luke appears to have misunderstood the Mosaic law on several points. The TNIV and 2011 NIV have altered the text, omitting the word “their” (Greek: αὐτῶν autōn) to hide the problem: “When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses…” (See Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, pp. 447–449, and my own article on Luke’s nativity. Credit to John Kesler in the comments below for suggesting this entry.)

Luke 2:25, 11:13 — The Greek text here quite clearly says “a holy spirit” (pneuma [ēn] hagion) in both these verses. However, the NIV (and nearly all other English translations) forces a trinitarian interpretation by translating it as “the Holy Spirit” with the definite article and capitalization.

Luke 3:33 — The NIV alters Luke’s genealogy here to match 1 Chron. 2:10 (MT) and the NIV’s alteration of Matt. 1:4 (see above). Our earliest Greek texts read “…Amminadab, son of Admin, son of Arni”, but the NIV says “…Amminadab, the son of Ram”. No Greek NT manuscript reads this way, although a small number of manuscripts read “Aram” as a harmonization with Matthew.

Luke 20:35 — The Greek text says that those who are worthy of resurrection “neither marry nor are given in marriage”, using the present tense. The NIV changes the verbs to the future tense to make it appear that Jesus is talking about marriage after the resurrection: “But those who are considered worthy of taking part…in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage.” For a thorough analysis of this verse, see Stewart Felker’s article, “The Most Embarrassing Verse(s) in the Bible”, as well as David E. Aune, ‘Luke 20:34-36: A “Gnosticized” Logion of Jesus?’, WUNT.1 303, 2013.

Luke 23:3 — In the Greek text, Jesus prevaricates when asked by Pilate if he is the king of the Jews, answering “you say so.” The NIV (up until the 2005 TNIV edition) replaced this with a boldly affirmative response: “Yes, it is as you say.” The 2011 revision has mostly fixed this error, but for some reason puts Jesus’ answer in the perfect tense: “You have said so.”

❦ Luke 23:45 — Luke describes the darkness during the crucifixion as an eclipse using the verb ἐκλείπω (ekleipō). However, a solar eclipse is astronomically impossible during Passover, which is a full moon festival; nor can a solar eclipse last for three hours. The NIV and most other English Bibles avoid the actual text of Luke and say simply that “the sun stopped shining”. The NRSV offers the correct translation in a footnote: “the sun was eclipsed”. (Suggested by Peter Gainsford in the comments; more info and citations in a blog post of his here.)

John 1:19 — The NRSV correctly reads ‘This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”’ The NIV here and throughout John changes “Jews” (Greek ioudaioi) to “Jewish leaders” to tone down the wording of these passages, which might be construed as antisemitic by some. (See “Which Jews Opposed Jesus?” by Joel Hoffman on the topic.)

John 3:22 — The Greek text says Jesus and his disciples went into the “land of Judea”. However, they were already in Jerusalem in the preceding verses, which is technically part of Judea. Seemingly to avoid this potential contradiction, the NIV instead says that they went into the “countryside of Judea”. As far as I can tell,  (γῆ) means “land” very generally and does not specify rural territory. According to J.F. McHugh (John 1–4, 2009: 244), John would have used chōra (χώρα) to denote the open country as he does in 11:54-55. Bart Ehrman writes at length on this mistranslation here on his blog. John Aston (Understanding the Fourth Gospel, 2007: 41) identifies this verse as one of John’s many aporias. See this article of mine for more on this characteristic of John. (Thanks to Joshua Loudermilk for suggesting this entry.)

John 6:3, 6:15 — It seems like a minor point, but the NIV twice ignores the definite article in the Greek and has Jesus withdraw to “a mountain” instead of “the mountain”. The same mountain is probably intended in both verses, but the fact that no descent is mentioned in between makes the passage a little confusing. Contra the Greek, the NIV’s rewording suggests to the reader that a separate mountain is intended in verse 15. The NIV further obscures the equivalence by calling the mountain “a mountainside” in verse 3 even though the same word, oros, is used in both verses. See this article for more details about this aspect of John.

John 6:17, 6:18, 6:19, 6:22, 6:25 — The NIV eliminates almost all John’s references to the “sea” in the interests of geographical correctness, as the Sea of Galilee is actually a small lake. The translators have replaced “sea” with ”lake” (6:17, 6:22, and 6:25), “waters” (6:18), and “water” (6:19). However, Greek does distinguish between lakes and seas, and the Sea of Galilee is deliberately referred to as a sea in the Gospels for important symbolic reasons. See the entries on Matt. 4:13 and Mark 1:16 for similar changes. (Brought to my attention by jps. See my article on the Sea of Galilee for more on the sea’s symbolism.)

John 6:63 — The NRSV correctly reads “it is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” The Greek word for spirit, pneuma, also means “breath” or “wind” and refers simply to the animating essence of living bodies. However, the NIV capitalizes “Spirit” and adds the definite article “the” in order to import trinitarian doctrine into the verse, which changes its meaning in a way not justified by the Greek: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” [See BeDuhn, Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament, pp. 145–146.]

John 10:34 — The NIV puts quotation marks around the word “gods” to imply that the word should not be understood in the normal sense. This also happens to be a quotation of Psalm 82:6, where the NIV does the same thing, without any textual justification.

❦ John 18:40 — Barabbas is described in Mark and Luke as a murderer who took part in an uprising. John 18:40, however, describes him as a robber (λῃστής, lestes) — the NRSV reads “Now Barabbas was a bandit.” The NIV has rewritten this verse, however, to reflect what is said in Mark and Luke: “Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.”

John 20:22 — Again, the NIV translates “a holy spirit” as “the Holy Spirit”, imposing a trinitarian interpretation on the text.

John 21:1 — The NIV changes the “Sea of Tiberias” to “Sea of Galilee” to harmonize John with the Synoptic Gospels. It provides the correct text in a footnote.

❦ John 21:5 — In this resurrection appearance, Jesus calls out to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, calling them “little children” (παιδία, paidia) and asking if they have any fish. For some reason, the NIV translates this as “friends” instead, but according to Greek lexicons,  this word refers only to young children or, in some cases, young slaves. It always means “children” where it appears in the Bible. Judy Stack-Nelson suggests that the NIV is trying to harmonize this verse with John 15:15, in which Jesus tells the disciples he will from now on call them “friends”, for which he uses an entirely different Greek word (φίλους, philous).

Acts 1:4 — The resurrected Jesus is described as commanding the disciples not to leave Jerusalem. However, this would contradict Mark and Matthew, in which the disciples are told to wait for him in Galilee. The NIV weakens the implications of Jesus’ command by adding the phrase “on one occasion” to the text: “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command.” This phrase is not in the Greek text.

Acts 2:13 — In this story of the outpouring of tongues, some of the crowd sneer at the preaching of the apostles, accusing them of being drunk on gleukous, that is “new wine,” or wine that is freshly fermented and has not turned sour. This is an unlikely accusation to make at Pentecost, which comes before wine harvest at a time when there is no new wine available. Accordingly, the NIV changes the text to read simply “wine”. None of the other translations I have consulted do this. (See Barrett, Acts 1–14, p. 125.)

❦ Acts 4:33-34 — The NIV has tampered with these verses in several ways. (1) The text says that “great favour [Greek: χάρις] was upon them all”, referring to the apostles who were preaching the resurrection. Scholars differ on whether this favour is that of the people or that of God. The NIV eliminates the former interpretation by adding “God’s” and uses paraphrastic wording with quite a different nuance: “And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all…” [See Barrett, Acts 1-14, p. 254.] (2) The Greek in v. 34 says that “everyone who possessed property or houses sold [it] and brought the value of what was sold” to the apostles. The NIV significantly tempers this reference to the sharing of wealth by adding the phrase “from time to time” not found in the Greek. (3) The NIV changes the location of the sentence breaks from the Greek, altering the relationships between the statements in this passage. Instead of favour resulting from the apostles’ preaching and property sharing eliminating poverty, the NIV’s new sentence division implies “God’s grace” being mainly responsible for lack of poverty (rather than communal sharing). [Credit to Julie Shreves for suggesting point (2) in the comments.]

Acts 5:32 — Here and in several other New Testament verses (John 14:26Ephesians 4:30 and 1 Corinthians 6:19), the NIV has translated the neuter relative pronoun ho as “who/whom”, even though “which” is the only grammatically valid translation, in order to emphasize the personhood of the Holy Spirit. Regardless of whether the NIV translators’ theology is correct, this is a biased and linguistically unjustifiable translation. [See BeDuhn, pp. 139–143.]

Acts 7:6 — See the entry on Genesis 15:13.

Acts 7:53 — The NRSV correctly reads “You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels”, but the NIV alters the verse slightly to obscure this strange view of angels: “you who have received the law that was given through angels”.

Acts 8:27 — The KJV correctly reads “Candace queen of the Ethiopians”. In the Greek, Luke gives “Candace” as the queen’s personal name. However, the word was actually the dynastic title of the Ethiopian queen mother. The NIV has altered this verse for the sake of historical accuracy, changing “Candace, queen of the Ethiopians” to “the Kandake (which means ‘queen of the Ethiopians’)”. This explanatory gloss is not in the biblical text and misrepresents what it does say.

Acts 9:7 — The Greek text says that Saul’s companions “heard the voice [of Jesus] but saw no one.” For some reason, the NIV translates φωνῆς (phōnēs), ‘voice’, as ‘sound’. Perhaps it is to mitigate the contradiction with Paul’s retelling in Acts 22:9, where he says his companions did not hear the voice. However, that verse has been fudged as well.

Acts 13:50, 17:5, 18:12, 18:28, 20:3, 20:19, 21:11, 21:27, 23:12, 23:20, 26:21 — The phrase “the Jews” (ho Ioudaios) appears frequently in Acts. Although it should not be taken to mean all Jews, it is often used to identify Paul’s opponents. However, the NIV has altered this phrase wherever it has negative implications. In most such instances, the NIV adds the word “some”, making the text read “some Jews” or “some of the Jews”. In 18:12, the words “of Corinth”, which are not in the Greek text, have been added. In 18:28 and 20:19, “the Jews” has been changed to “Jewish opponents” (the Greek does not say “opponents”). In 13:50 and 21:11, the phrase has been changed to “Jewish leaders” (the Greek does not say “leaders”).

Acts 22:9 — The NRSV correctly says that Paul’s companions “did not hear the voice” of the one speaking to Paul, but the NIV has changed this to “did not understand the voice” to hide the contradiction with the account in chapter 9.

Romans 2:6 — The NIV translates ergon (ἔργον) inconsistently throughout the epistles, using the direct translation “works” when the connotation is negative but other phrases when it is positive. The ESV here reads “He will render each one according to his works,” but the NIV says “…according to what they have done”. See the entries on James below for a fuller explanation.

❦ Romans 3:21–26 — The NIV engages in some theological trickery here. It changes “righteousness of God” to “righteousness from God” in v. 21, eliminates the mention of God from v. 22, and changes “righteousness” in vv. 25 and 26 (the same Greek word as in vv. 21 and 22) to “justice” in order to imply that this passage is talking about the righteousness of believers rather than the righteousness of God. (Note: the error in v. 21 was fixed in the 2005 TNIV, and vv. 25 and 26 were fixed in the 2011 revision of the NIV. The omission in v. 22 remains.)

Romans 7:18 — The NIV here translates σάρξ (sarx) as “sinful nature” even though this implies later Augustinian doctrine on original sin that is not intended by the original writer. In contrast, the NRSV correctly chooses to translate this tricky Pauline term more literally as “flesh”. (See this article by Jason Staples on the subject.)

Romans 7:25 — The opening line correctly reads in the NRSV as “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” For some reason, the NIV adds the phrase “who delivers me”, even though this is not found in the Greek text: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The rest of this verse is also suspect: the NIV translates “in the flesh” (τῇ σαρκὶ) as “in my sinful nature” even though this makes a theological statement about the meaning of “the flesh” not warranted by the Greek text. “So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”  (Note: Prior to the 2011 revision of the NIV, “flesh” [σάρξ] was translated as “sinful nature” dozens of times throughout the epistles. The translators have since acknowledged and corrected this error in most places, but this verse remains the same.)

Romans 16:7 (updated) — The NIV (1984 version) changes the female apostle Junia into a man, “Junias”, due to a bias against women being counted as apostles of early Christianity. (Note: This translation was fixed in the 2011 revision of the NIV.) Contributor AH, in the comments, has pointed out two further issues: (1) Paul says Andronicus and Junia are his syngeneis, his “relatives” or “kinsfolk”. The NIV translates this as “fellow Jews” which is not the only possible, or even most likely, meaning. (2) Paul calls the same duo his synaichmalotous or “fellow prisoners”, which could have any of several metaphorical and literal meanings. The NIV replaces this noun with a relative clause that goes well beyond what the Greek says: “[fellow Jews] who have been in prison with me”.

1 Corinthians 4:9 — The NIV adds a great deal of elaboration not found in the Greek text: “For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena.” The NIV’s additions are in italics. (See Bruce Metzger, The Bible in Translation, p. 80.)

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 — Paul here refers to the “body” (singular) of believers as the “temple” (singular) of the Holy Spirit — a topic he touches on elsewhere, for example in 1 Cor. 3:16-17. He uses this language, in part, to emphasize the unity and oneness of the Christian community (see Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, pp. 202-203). Unfortunately, the NIV changes “temple” and both occurrences of “body” in these verses to the plural form, which completely alters Paul’s theological message. These changes first appeared in the 2005 TNIV. (Suggested by Michael in the comments below.)

1 Corinthians 7:20–21 — The Greek of verse 21 by itself is ambiguous, but in context with v. 20 probably intends to say that slaves should remain slaves. (See John Chrysostom, Homily 19.) The NIV (and most other English translations) prefers to translate it with the opposite meaning—that Paul encourages slaves to gain their freedom.

1 Corinthians 7:36 — In this passage, Paul says that if a man feels strong sexual attraction to “his virgin” (Greek: parthenos), he may marry her, though it is better if he does not. The ancient Christian practice of unmarried men living in ascetic cohabitation with virgin girls and widows is probably the background to this teaching. [See Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, p. 324; and Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians.] The NIV, however, adds words not found in the Greek text to make the teaching be about betrothal: “If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to…”.

❦ 1 Corinthians 11:4–7a — The NIV offers a long footnote with an alternate translation of these verses, replacing multiple instances of “head covering” with “long hair”, which has no support in the Greek text. This appears to be an attempt to accommodate churches that do not require head coverings for women but want to think their practices are strictly in accordance with Scripture. (See Bible Researcher for a discussion of this passage.)

1 Corinthians 11:27 — The Greek text sternly warns that those who eat and drink in an unworthy manner will be “guilty [or liable] for the body and blood of the Lord.” The NIV changes the meaning of this statement and lessens its severity by making the transgressor merely “guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.” The words “sinning against” are not in the Greek. (See Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians p. 559–561, who states “to be ‘guilty of his body and blood’ means to be ‘liable for his death’.” The NIV’s alteration makes that interpretation impossible.)

1 Corinthians 11:29 — For reasons that are unclear, the NIV adds the words “of Christ”, which are not found in any manuscript: “For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ….”

1 Corinthians 14:12 — The Greek text literally reads “since you strive zealously for spirits” (πνευμάτων, pneumatōn), but the NIV changes “spirits” to “spiritual gifts”, which fits the theology of many Protestant denominations but is not what the verse actually says. (See Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, p. 515.)

1 Corinthians 16:13 — The Greek text literally exhorts readers to “be men”. The NASB, for example, reads, “be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” To avoid any gender specificity, the NIV has changed this to “be courageous”, but this takes significant liberties regarding how “act like men” ought to be understood.

❦ Galatians 1:8 — The Greek says “let him be accursed”, but the NIV reads “let him be eternally condemned!”, a theological interpretation that is not justified by the text. (Note: The 2011 version has changed this verse to say “let them be under God’s curse”, which is only somewhat better. The Greek does not say “God’s curse”, and this phrase is grammatically poor, lacking agreement between “them” and its antecedents. This might be an example of the 2011 NIV’s clumsy attempts at gender-neutral translation.)

❦ Galatians 1:16b — In the Greek, Paul says “I did not confer with any human being” at the beginning of his ministry. The NIV changes this to “my immediate response was not to consult any human being.” Nothing in the original text corresponds to “my immediate response”; rather, the NIV appears to be reinterpreting the text to harmonize it with the rather different account of Paul’s conversion in Acts.

Galatians 3:5 — This enigmatic verse literally reads “He, therefore, who is supplying to you the Spirit, and working mighty acts among you — [is it] by works of law or by the hearing of faith?” (YLT) The NIV gives a Protestant interpretation of this passage that obscures the actual wording and other potential interpretations: “does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?” (Note: Most other English translations have the same problem.)

Galatians 3:19 — The NRSV correctly reads “[the law] was ordained through angels by a mediator.” The NIV has changed this to say “the law was given to angels and entrusted to a mediator”, adding the word “entrust” and reversing the role of the mediator in Paul’s statement.

 Ephesians 2:3 — The NRSV correctly reads “we were by nature children of wrath”. The NIV has taken considerable liberties in its translation, echoing Protestant theories of sin and atonement in doing so: “we were by nature deserving of wrath.” The genitive could be translated as “destined for wrath”, but no equivalent to “deserving” can be found in the Greek, and “children” has been omitted. (Source: Larkin, Ephesians: A Handbook on the Greek Text, p. 30)

Ephesians 2:20–22 — The Greek says “you are being constructed into a habitation of God in spirit (en pneumati)”, but the NIV interprets this as “in the Spirit” (i.e. the Holy Spirit) without textual warrant. [See BeDuhn, p. 151.] Throughout the epistles, the NIV shows a theological bias to translate “in spirit” as “in the (Holy) Spirit” wherever possible.

Ephesians 5:33 — The Greek says that wives should “fear” (φοβῆται, phobetai) their husbands. However, the NIV and many other English translations change this to “respect”. None of the major Greek lexicons give “respect” as a possible definition for phobetai. The verb φοβέω usually indicates a relationship of authority and submission, not admiration, when used in the context of interpersonal relationships. (See Jean-Sébastien Rey, “Family Relationships in 4QInstruction and in Eph 5:21–6:4”, Echoes from the Caves: Qumran and the New Testament, p. 251)

Ephesians 6:18 — The Greek says to pray “in spirit” (en pneumati), perhaps meaning silently rather than out loud. However, the NIV interprets this as “in the Spirit” (i.e. the Holy Spirit). [See BeDuhn, p. 148.]

Philippians 2:6 — The NIV changes the Greek, which is correctly translated by the NRSV as “though he was in the form of God”, to say “being in very nature God”, a speculative interpretation of “form of God” that is unwarranted by the original text.

Colossians 1:15 — The NRSV correctly reads “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation”. The NIV has replaced “of” with “over”, even though this is not at a valid meaning of the Greek preposition pasēs. The obvious reason is to hide the problematic theology of Jesus being described as a created being.

Colossians 1:19 — The NIV has added “his” in front of “fullness”, to shape the interpretation of this verse in a certain way not indicated by the text: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.”  The Greek simply says “the fullness”.

❦ 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 3:6 — The NIV engages in some vocabulary trickery here. The word paradosis, meaning “tradition”, gets translated inconsistently in order to de-Catholicize the Bible’s theology. When the context is negative, as in the “human traditions” of Colossians 2:8 or the traditions of the Pharisees in Matthew 15:1–6, “tradition” is used. When the context is positive, as in these two instances — which read “the teachings we passed on to you” and “the teachings you received from us”, respectively — the NIV uses the word “teachings”. The NRSV, by contrast, consistently and correctly translates this word as “tradition”. (See this article at Shameless Popery for a discussion of the topic.)

1 Timothy 3:2 — The RSV correctly reads “Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife.” For some reason, the NIV has obscured the possibility of polygamy by changing it to “Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife”.

1 Timothy 3:16 — The NIV again mistranslates “in spirit” (en pneumati) as “in the Spirit” (i.e. the Holy Spirit), which is not warranted by the Greek text.

Titus 1:6 — As with 1 Tim. 3:2 above, the Greek text calls for elders to be “married to one wife”. The NIV has instead rendered it as “faithful to his wife”, which is not the same thing.

Titus 2:11 — The Greek literally says that “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people”, and reads as such in most translations (including the NRSV, ESV, NET, CEB, NLT, and NASB). Various Greek lexicons agree that σωτήριος (sōterios) should be understood as meaning “bringing salvation”. However, the NIV says the grace of God “offers salvation to all people”, which prevents the verse from being used in support of universal salvation. The qualifying verb “offers” is not in the Greek.

Hebrews 1:5 — The NRSV correctly reads “You are my Son; today I have begotten you”. The NIV has changed it slightly to read “You are my Son; today I have become your father”, perhaps to avoid the implication that Jesus was a created being. (See also Col. 1:15.)

Hebrews 4:14 — According to the Greek text, Jesus has “passed through the heavens”, which reflects typical first-century conceptions of multiple layered heavens through which one must pass to reach God’s throne room. The NIV, however, says Jesus “ascended into heaven”, obscuring the cosmology of Hebrews and making the text conform to modern, more acceptable views of heaven. Note: this error was introduced in the 2005 TNIV. [See To the Hebrews (Anchor Yale Bible) p. 80.]

Hebrews 5:7 — The Greek refers to Jesus “in the days of his flesh”. The NIV is needlessly paraphrastic, rewording it as “during the days of Jesus’ life on earth” even though the words “life“ and “earth” are not in the Greek. This limits the interpretations of this passage and the meaning of “flesh”, which need not be limited to Jesus’ physical life on earth. Cf. the discussion by David M. Moffitt in Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews, 2011, pp. 209ff. (Suggested by Scott McKellar in the comments.)

Hebrews 6:1 — The NIV for some reason changes “dead works” to “acts that lead to death”, forcing a narrow and probably incorrect interpretation on the text.

Hebrews 11:4 — According to the Greek text, Abel brought God “a better sacrifice” than Cain. However, the NIV has changed “sacrifice” to “offering” to harmonize it with the story told in Genesis 4, which mentions no sacrifices. This change was introduced with the 2005 TNIV.

Hebrews 11:7 — The Greek text says that “by this [the act of building the ark and saving his household],” Noah “condemned the world”. The NIV changes the effect of this verse somewhat by adding words that do not appear in the Greek: “by his faith he condemned the world….”

James 2:14 — The NRSV correctly reads “What good is it … if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?” The NIV harmonizes this verse with Protestant theology by adding the word “such” without textual justification: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” (Note: most other English translations also alter the passage.)  The NIV also deceptively translates ergon as “deeds” here, even though it translates the same word as “works” when the connotation is negative, in order to tone down passages that appear to promote works in addition to faith. (See also the entry on James 2:17–18 below.)

❦ James 2:17-18, 20, 22, 24-26 — The NIV translates ergon, meaning “works”, inconsistently throughout the epistles in order to push the Bible’s theology on faith and works in a Protestant direction. In negative contexts (e.g. Romans 3:27), the NIV translates it as “works” almost without exception. However, it avoids any positive association with the word “works” in verses like James 2:24, which has been translated, “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone”, and James 2:26, “so faith without deeds is dead.” The NRSV is more consistent and theologically neutral, translating it as “works” in all these passages. James 2:25 is a particularly egregious example: while the Greek text literally says Rahab was “justified (dikaioō) by works (ergon)”,  the NIV translation says Rahab was “considered righteous for what she did”, even though the NIV is happy to translate dikaioo and ergon as “justified” and “works” in passages like Romans 3:28 (“For we maintain that a person is justified (dikaioō) by faith apart from the works (ergon) of the law.”) Theology aside, the NIV’s translation of ergon as the phrase “what they do” in v. 24 is also a clumsy attempt at avoiding gender-specific pronouns.

James 2:25 — The Greek mentions the visit of ἀγγέλους (angelous), or “messengers”, to Rahab the prostitute. The NIV changes this word to “spies”, although that is not a valid translation of angelous. The only obvious reason for the change is to make this verse adhere more closely to the story in Joshua 2. (See the entry above for other problems with the NIV’s translation of this verse.)

1 Peter 1:17 — The NRSV correctly reads “If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds…” Because this verse suggests that people are judged by God according to their works, contra Protestant theology, the NIV changes the wording to mean something slightly different: “Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially…”

1 Peter 3:18–19 — The NIV again mistranslates “in spirit” (en pneumati) as “in the Spirit” (i.e. the Holy Spirit), which is not warranted by the Greek text.

1 Peter 3:21 — The NRSV correctly reads “And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”. Because this conflicts with Protestant theology on baptism, the NIV has changed “appeal to God for a good conscience” to “pledge of a clear conscience toward God”, which has a very different meaning.

❦ 1 Peter 4:6 — This enigmatic passage correctly reads in the NRSV as “For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead”. The possibility of salvation after death obviously conflicts with Evangelical theology, so the NIV has changed it to read “For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead.”

2 Peter 2:15 — Although our best and oldest manuscripts read “Balaam son of Bosor”, the 1984 NIV read “Balaam son of Beor” to harmonize it with Jude 11 and various Old Testament references to Balaam. For some reason, the TNIV and 2011 NIV have revised this verse to say “Balaam son of Bezer”, which is hardly an improvement, since no New Testament manuscript reads Bezer, and it’s not clear that an allusion to the Transjordan city of Bezer is intended.

Jude 7 (Updated) — The Greek states that Sodom, Gomorrah and the surrounding cities “serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” In other words, the fiery destruction of those cities serves as a warning for immoral behaviour. However, the NIV has subtly altered the verse to suggest it is individuals who suffer eternal fiery torment: “They serve an example to those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” This provides an explicit proof-text for a doctrine of eternal hellfire that is otherwise lacking in the epistles. Additionally, the Greek text describes their crime as “going after flesh of another kind”, which almost certainly means angels given the context, but the NIV has changed this to read simply “perversions”. This obscures the point of Jude’s argument and makes it easy to misapply the text to homosexuality, which is quite the opposite of lusting after “flesh of another kind”.

Jude 8 — The NIV has taken remarkable liberties with the text, changing “dreamers” (an allusion to Deut. 13) to “ungodly people” who act “on the strength of their dreams”. None of these words appear in the Greek.

Anybody reading this list without bias should take their NIV bibles and put them in the trash can.

(3581) Leaving religion does breed unhappiness

Recent data has continued to show that as nations become less religious, the population does not become more depressed. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. It should be noted that if Christianity is true, and that God answers prayers, then the most religious countries should contain the most contented population. This is not observed, and this is a significant problem for theists to consider. The following was taken from:


What happens when millions of people in a given society stop going to church and lose their faith in God? Does that society descend into despondency and despair?

Not according to the latest World Happiness Report, released this past week.

Based on an analysis of a host of sociological, economic, and psychological factors, the nation that is currently the happiest on earth – for the fifth year in a row – is Finland. Following Finland, in the top ten, are Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Israel, and New Zealand.

And it just so happens that all of them are among the most secular/least religious nations on Earth. Aside from outlier Israel – which is growing more religious as it grows more brutal and undemocratic – all of these top-10 happiest of nations have experienced dramatic degrees of secularization over the last century.

For instance, Norway has not only seen its church membership plummet to unprecedented levels, but for the first time ever, more Norwegians today don’t believe in God than do. In neighboring Sweden, church attendance is also at an all-time low, and nearly 65% do not believe in God, another all-time low. In Denmark, nearly half the population does not believe in God – also an all-time low. In New Zealand, back in 2001, about 30% claimed to have no religion, but today that is up to a record high of nearly 50%; in the Netherlands, almost 40% of the population attended church regularly back in the 1970s, but today it is down to only 15%, and for the first time in Dutch history, a majority of people claim to have no religion. In Iceland today, a whopping 0.0%  of people under 25 believe that the world was created by God. And as for the leader of the happy pack, Finland, back in 1900, 0% of Finns claimed no religious affiliation, but today, 30% are religiously unaffiliated, and only about one third believe “there is a God” – another all-time low.

To many observers, such dramatically low levels of religious involvement and faith should spell emotional dourness at best, existential disaster at worst. But neither outcome is the reality. Rather, high degrees of happiness reign.

Of course, happiness is a doggedly subjective concept. Personally, having lived in Scandinavia for over two years, I would not describe Nordic folks as “happy,” per se. Aside from our dear friends and relatives there who are warm and loving, I’d describe the average Scandinavian you pass on the street as fairly taciturn, earnest, private, and a tad aloof. But happy? Uh…no. Certainly not compared to all the extremely jolly folks that work at my local Trader Joe’s.

But given the variables included in the study – such as subjective measures of well-being, calmness, and feeling at peace – the rankings make sense, if by “happy” we don’t mean ecstatically joyful, but rather, experiencing a general sense of contentment. On that front, the strongly secular nations that are in the top-ten certainly deserve to be there: with their extensive systems of welfare-capitalism, they experience the highest degrees of freedom in the world, while also the lowest levels of inequality. They enjoy free or highly subsidized health care, childcare, elder care, education, and so forth. Their societies are extremely safe and humane. No wonder their citizens are the most content and happy in the world.

But what, exactly, is the relationship between these nations’ happiness and their secularity?

To assert that they are happy because they are secular is not statistically warranted; it would be a bald case of apparent correlation but not proven causation. That said, for those who persistently claim that religion is a necessary component of a healthy, happy society – insisting that if religious faith and involvement fade, the results will be deleterious – well, that position is demonstrably untenable; the data presented in this latest World Happiness Report, with highly secular nations consistently holding the top positions, render the argument that society needs religion in order for its citizens to thrive, as simply not true.

There are certainly many reasons that these nations experience such high degrees of happiness and well-being. In addition to their strong social welfare systems mentioned above, they enjoy economic prosperity, healthy democratic institutions, equal rights for women, highly educated populations, clean streets, well-manicured parks, thriving arts, low murder rates, and – at least in the Nordic world – copious amounts of herring. But whatever the various reasons are that produce such happy societies, they don’t seem to be religious or spiritual in nature. Bible study, church attendance, prayer, faith – clearly such things can decrease and diminish, without causing widespread anguish or depression. Indeed, it seems that just the opposite can be the surprising result.

This study provides evidence that happiness, fulfillment, peace, prosperity, and order are not dependent on (and appear somewhat inversely correlated) to religious belief. In a world where it is assumed that an omnipotent god is interacting with his followers on a personal level- this finding is very hard to explain.

(3582) Resheph and Deber

Although modern translators have worked hard to conceal the ancient Jewish belief in multiple gods, some of the evidence still peaks through the cracks. It is well established that the Jews once believed in two Semitic deities, Resheph and Deber, who were considered to be attendants or henchmen (dirty workers) to Yahweh. The following was taken from:


Bible translations often conceal the polytheistic context of Israel’s devotion to Yahweh in the Hebrew scriptures. Even as the Yahweh religion spread from its obscure Edomite/Kenite origins to become a unifying force across Samaria and Judah, acknowledgement of other deities and divine beings remained. Often, these deities might be represented as part of Yahweh’s divine council or personal retinue.

Habbakuk 3 offers a fascinating example of this, describing a scene in which Yahweh comes up from the south to engage in conflict with the waters of chaos.

God came from Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran. (Selah.)
His glory covered the heavens,
and the earth was full of his praise.
The brightness was like the sun;
rays came forth from his hand,
where his power lay hidden.
Before him went Deber,
and Resheph followed close behind.
(vv. 3-5)

Yahweh’s connection with the southern region of Teman is an interesting topic for another post. What’s interesting here is Yahweh’s military retinue in verse 5, Resheph and Deber. Though these names are typically translated as “pestilence” and “plague” in English Bibles, they are actually the names of two West Semitic deities.¹

Deber was a somewhat obscure deity, apparently the patron god of Ebla², but Resheph was from the big leagues. He is attested as early as the third millennium BCE, and he was one of the most popular gods of the Near East, venerated from the Anatolia to Cyprus to Egypt. In the texts of Ugarit to the north of Israel, Resheph is described as the gatekeeper of the sun goddess, the guardian of the the Netherworld. He is also the lord of battle, fire and diseases, which he spreads with his bow and arrows — hence his role as a warrior of pestilence in Habakkuk and the references to a bow and arrows later in the same chapter. The Pharaoh Amenophis II regarded Resheph as his personal military protector.³

Resheph was a smiting god. Sound familiar?

Resheph appears numerous times throughout the Old Testament, although it is hard to determine sometimes whether the authors had the personified deity in mind or simply the idea of “plague”. In Psalm 78:48-49, Yahweh appears to unleash Resheph and his other minions on the Egyptians:⁴

He gave over their cattle to Deber
and their flocks to the Reshephim.
He let loose on them his fierce anger,
wrath, indignation, and distress,
a company of destroying angels.

Deuteronomy 32:23-24 also refers to Resheph and the demon Qeteb as the means by which God punishes those who are unfaithful.

Resheph’s connection with Israel may have been even closer to home. According to a text from Ebla, Resheph was the patron god of Shechem, an important Canaanite city that eventually became the capital of Samaria (Israel).

Resheph was sometimes associated or combined with the dusk god Shulman as the deity Resheph-Shulman.⁵ Shulman was the patron deity of Jerusalem and formed the theophoric component of the city’s name itself — Jerusalem (“foundation of Shulman”), or just Salem as it is sometimes called in the Old Testament. Theophoric personal names that incorporate Shulman include Solomon⁶, Absolom (“Shulmon is my lord”), and Shalmaneser (“Shulman is foremost”), a name used by five Assyrian kings.

The takeover of Yahweh as Jerusalem’s patron god can perhaps be seen in Ezekiel’s vivid description of Jerusalem as Yahweh’s adopted daughter (Ezek. 16:3-14). Resheph may have been demoted, but he lived on in biblical memory as a powerful warrior who would accompany Yahweh and inflict plague upon Judah’s enemies.

Any evidence of ancient Jewish belief in gods other than Yahweh diminishes confidence in the Christian concept that Yahweh is the one and only god in existence, and furthermore erodes significantly the probability that he exists at all.

(3583) New Sermon on the Mount

If the Bible were being written today, the Sermon on the Mount might read something like this:

And Jesus said, “You have heard it said that he who believes in false gods must be condemned, but my Father looks to a person’s heart- does he love his wife, his children, does he provide for them, does he do good deeds for his friends? If he does these things, my Father will find favor with him and will receive him in his Kingdom.”

“And what about your slaves? Is is right for a person to own another person? No, your ancient scriptures have led you astray. No man, no woman, no child is beholden to another, no, they should all be free to live their lives unshackled. Do you own slaves? Free them. Do you not own slaves? Seek them not.”

“It has been said for wives to love their husbands and to obey them in all things. But I say to you that my Father sees a woman as an equal to a man. The wives and husbands should love each other and support each other, and lean on each other, and share all things and affairs equally. Your Father sees everyone as being the same perfection.”

“You have read that evil must be placed on the heads of the effeminate. But I say to you that love is love, and you should never begrudge a person’s love for another, whether man or woman. Your Father sees love, pure love, he does not ever desire for love to be punished.”

“If someone is of a different color than you, disregard that difference. Your Father loves all people equally, and so should you. Do not ever begrudge another because they look different than you. Know that the Father values all people in the same way.”

“You have heard that the rod must be used so that the child will not be spoiled. But I say unto you that striking a child is not what your Father desires. Gently guide them to know good, but a strike will teach them to strike others. Be the example for them to follow. Punish with a soft and understanding heart.”

“You have heard that my Father placed animals on the earth to serve mankind. But I say to you that you should treat them humanely, and never inflict pain, suffering, or death on them unnecessarily. If they are food, kill them passionately. If they are not food, treat them with loving kindness.”

Imagine how different the world would be if this sermon had made it into the gospels. Maybe if Jesus really was God, this is what he would have said.

(3584) Defending rape as Christians defend slavery

Christian apologists have worked double-time to excuse the Bible’s advocacy of slavery. In the following, it is shown that the same tactics used for slavery could also be used to justify rape:


Disclaimer: rape is bad. It is never acceptable. My arguments in favor for it are to show why the arguments and defenses are bad, not to claim rape is good

The topic of biblical slavery is popular now, so I thought I would throw my hat into the ring. Apologists tend to rely on specific defenses for why it was okay even if slavery is not moral here and now.

I think these people are disingenuous, and I want to highlight that by using the same logic to defend rape. If these arguments fail to make rape seem okay, then they must also fail to defend slavery.

regulations on it made it moral

This claims that biblical slavery was different from bad slavery because it was regulated. You couldn’t enslave just anyone. You couldn’t beat them too badly. You were supposed to be nice to them. Etc.

Let’s see if regulating rape in a similar fashion makes it seem moral.

You can rape people. But you have to be soft and gentle when you rape them. You can’t beat them too badly when raping them. You can only rape people from other nations. You have to be nice when you rape them, so no cussing them out or calling them a whore or whatnot. You gotta take care of the kid if the person you rape gets pregnant. You can’t rape the children of the people you initially raped.

Does rape sound okay now? No? Then slavery also isn’t okay with regulations.

sub argument: god knew they would have slaves anyways, so it was easier to regulate it than ban it

This basically says it was unrealistic to ban slavery at that time, so god regulated it and banned it later.

Banning rape outright is unrealistic. Boys will be boys, after all. Especially in ancient times when people were more violent. It just wouldn’t make sense to say rape is always bad.

Does rape sound okay now? No? Then biblical slavery also isn’t okay.

Their society needed it to survive

This argument says things about how their economy would collapse without something like slavery and whatnot.

Their society required rape. It would motivate soldiers to fight harder with the reward of getting to rape people when they win. It would produce more children which they needed to work the fields and whatnot. It would just be unrealistic to expect them not to rape and to do as well or better than surrounding nations that did rape as part of their culture.

Again, hopefully this obviously fails as an argument, and if it does, it fails for defending slavery too.

It was a different time, so we can’t say slavery was bad even though we say it is currently bad

We can’t say rape was bad. It is seen as bad now but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Different cultures and times view raping someone differently. For example, it was common for Spanish colonizers to rape natives. So it wasn’t wrong since it’s what their culture did at that time.

See why it doesn’t work?

tl;dr: for any defense of biblical slavery you consider offering, first stop and ask yourself if you would accept the same justifications for something like rape. If you wouldn’t, then the logic is faulty and it can’t defend slavery either

The Bible completely loses its relevance on the issue of slavery alone. Nothing else needs to be considered to put this book on the shelf forever to gather dust. It is a book that is past its time and it should no longer be considered a valid source of morality or ethics.

(3585) Christianity values death over life

Christianity is rooted in ancient Judaism, which is focused on the sanctity and value of this life and has very little concept of an afterlife or any reason why someone should look forward to death. Christianity changed that dynamic. The following was taken from:


White evangelical Christians refuse vaccines more than any other religious group. As a result, they make up a disproportionate number of those dying from COVID. How should we feel about this?

Some people feel a sense of sorrow over so much needless death and suffering. Others choose to respond with black humor or serves-’em-right mockery, pointing out that anti-vaxxers are literally killing themselves for the sake of their ideology.

However, you might come across a more unusual response: happiness.

I don’t mean that secular folk are celebrating far-right, Trump-loving theocrat-wannabes subtracting themselves from the electorate. No, I’m talking about happiness from fellow Christians, who are delighted that so many of their compatriots are dying.

It sounds too strange to be true, but it’s real. Witness a column in the Federalist by Joy Pullmann, with a title that I’m not making up: For Christians, Dying From COVID (Or Anything Else) Is A Good Thing.

Pullman is upset at Christian churches that shut down, or went virtual, to safeguard their members at the height of the pandemic. She describes this as “prioritizing obedience to men instead of to God” and says that it “contradicts numerous clear commands of scripture,” including the Third Commandment.

Notably, she isn’t arguing (as, for example, the deceased Greek Orthodox Bishop Kosmas did) that God will miraculously protect the faithful when they’re in church. She’s fully aware that, if churches had stayed open through the pandemic, more people would have gotten sick and died.

However, she argues this is a price worth paying, because for Christians, death is inherently good:

The Christian faith makes it very clear that death, while sad to those left behind and a tragic consequence of human sin, is now good for all who believe in Christ. A Christian funeral is a cause for rejoicing, albeit understandably through tears from those of us temporarily left behind.

…This is not a small or unclear doctrine. It is repeated over and over again in scripture. It flatly rejects the heathen idea that death is to be avoided at any cost.

For Christians, Dying From COVID (Or Anything Else) Is A Good Thing.” Joy Pullman, The Federalist, October 2021

This is a stark illustration of how belief in an afterlife devalues this life.

Pullman isn’t merely arguing that Christians shouldn’t fear death. She’s arguing that they should welcome death, to the point of fighting against rules and precautions intended to keep them alive. She goes so far as to say that wanting to stay alive is a heathen idea!

“Death cult” is an inflammatory term, and I don’t use it lightly. However, this is an instance where it’s literally appropriate. It’s a factual descriptor of a belief system that values death above continued life.

Most Christians are reluctant to look like they’re applauding the death of fellow believers, the way Pullman does. However, as macabre as her conclusion is, it follows logically from the tenets of Christian belief.

If you believe there’s another existence that’s infinitely superior to this one, why do you want to live in this world at all? Shouldn’t your aim be to die as soon as possible, so you can expedite your heavenly reward?

Of course, you can say that suicide is a sin, so it’s not allowed to directly harm yourself. Even so, why take any other precaution that runs the risk of extending your life? Why wear seat belts in cars or have smoke detectors in your house? Most of all, why would you ever go to the doctor? Why even pray for healing if you’re sick?

Belief in heaven makes this life pointless. Any pleasure or achievement in the here and now is only a pale shadow of what awaits in the next one. In fact, belief in heaven makes this life actively undesirable. The longer we live, the more chances we have to encounter temptation, fall into sin, and lose our salvation—the worst catastrophe imaginable. If heaven is the goal, then the younger we die, the better.

This idea is taken to an extreme by Christian apologists who say that fetuses which die before birth go straight to heaven, bypassing human existence entirely. In this belief system, that’s the best possible outcome. The second best outcome is children who die before the age of accountability. They may suffer, but they never have a chance to lose their salvation.

To be clear, I don’t think all afterlife beliefs are harmful. It’s understandable to fear extinction, or to wish for reunion with lost loved ones. It does no harm to hope, and I don’t condemn anyone who seeks comfort in that notion. The harm comes when humble hope transforms into arrogant faith, and people treat their belief in an afterlife as so certain that they value it above this life.

In contrast, the secular outlook reminds us that this is the only life we can be sure of getting. Being alive is a priceless opportunity, and we should treasure it and live to the fullest. If there is no other, then this is our one and only chance at happiness. To squander it in the name of faith is an incalculably tragic waste.

With Christianity, death (Jesus) became a means of salvation, this life became just a test for an eternal afterlife, and death (martyrdom) became a heroic act. The question is why would death become such an important concept to Yahweh when it had not been such in the centuries before Jesus. It almost seems like the Christian god is not the same god as the Jewish god.

(3586) Manipulating lifespans

In the Book of Genesis, genealogies are presented for the patriarchs that lived between Adam and Noah, giving the age at which they begat their first male child and their total lifespan. Sometime after this text was developed, the Noahic flood story was added. This created a contradiction because it resulted in some of Noah’s ancestor-hood to apparently survive the flood (their lifespan mathematically exceeded the year of the flood)- even though it is assumed that all but Noah’s family were drowned in this event. So Bible editors had to play games with the numbers to correct this problem, each taking a different approach. The following was taken from:

Some Curious Numerical Facts about the Ages of the Patriarchs

The three major surviving textual traditions of Genesis — the Masoretic Text (MT), Samaritan Pentateuch (SP), and Septuagint (LXX) — do not agree completely on the chronologies of the patriarchs. Three patriarchs differ between the MT and SP: Jared, Methuselah, and Lamech. All the pre-Noah patriarchs differ in the LXX from the MT (except Jared) and SP. When we look at SP in particular, it becomes fairly obvious what the reason for these variations is. Jared Methuselah, and Lamech — the three that differ from the MT — all die in 1307 A.M., the year of the Flood. The Flood is the key.

As I have remarked in previous articles, it is fairly well-understood that the story of the Flood was a later insertion into a patriarchal foundation story that didn’t have it. (For a recent paper on this, see Derschowitz 2016.) In an earlier text, Cain, the eponymous founder of the Kenite (Cainite) tribe, was the ancestor of an unbroken genealogy that included the founders of various industries practiced by the tribe — shepherding, metalworking, etc. His genealogy was replaced with Seth’s by the Priestly author, and precise lifespans were assigned to each patriarch from Adam to Noah and beyond.

According to research by Old Testament scholar Ronald Hendel among others (Hendel 2012), the insertion of the flood story in Noah’s day created a problem that later scribes couldn’t overlook: if you did the math, the long-lived patriarchs Jared, Methuselah, and Lamech all survived for many years past the Flood, even though the Flood story made it clear that all outside the Ark had perished.

The editors of the LXX, SP, and MT had basically two ways to solve the problem: either delay the year of the Flood by delaying the age at which the patriarchs begat sons, or have the patriarchs in question die sooner. Here’s what each of them did:

The LXX’s editor methodically added 100 years to the age at which each patriarch begat his son. Adam begat Seth at age 230 instead of 130, and so on. This had the result of postponing the date of the Flood by 900 years without affecting the patriarchs’ lifespans, which he possibly felt were too important to alter. Remarkably, however, the editor failed to account for Methuselah’s exceptional longevity, so old Methuselah still ends up dying 14 years after the Flood in the LXX. (Whoops!)

The editor of the SP adopted a simpler method. He just altered the lifespans of the three patriarchs that posed a problem. Adjusting their ages as little as possible, he had them die in the same year as the Flood.

The editor of the MT chose to keep the lifespans untouched (like the LXX), and he altered the age of begetting only for the three patriarchs affected, pushing back the Flood date as a result. He first added 100 years to Jared’s begetting, and then 120 years to Methuselah’s. This reduced the overlap to 94 years. By adding 94 to Lamech’s begetting, he completed the fix, placing Methuselah’s year of death in the year of the Flood.

Anyone who takes the Bible as being literal and perfect must confront this issue and realize that, first of all, humans never lived to be several hundreds of years old, and, second of all, when biblical editors arbitrarily switch numbers around, even if these patriarchs were long-lived, there can be no confidence that their lifespans are accurately documented. This is not how a god-inspired book would develop.

(3587) Evolution refutes a caring god

There are many Christians who believe in the fact (the scientific term ‘theory is not well understood) of evolution while still maintaining that Yahweh is a god who genuinely cares about human beings. The following essay reveals that these two concepts cannot exist side-by-side:


Humans in their current form have been around from 100,000-250,000 years. Let’s take the lower number. 100,000 years. Jesus showed up about 2,000 years ago. And while there are claims god was involved in human affairs earlier it’s really Jesus showing up that kicked off this whole new belief system. Either way, you wanna argue 10,000 years or 2,000 years its gonna be a moot point.

The reality is that all current evidence points to any supposed Christian god sitting around with its arms crossed, watching humanity struggle and doing nothing about it for the vast majority of human existence. Humans apparently were given the same amount of care as any other species who was trapped into the same evolutionary process…none.

Whether pre-homosapien where we developed our violent ways or after we reached this version of our species and our advanced brains began to impact the ways in which we could be terrible to each other to survive…this supposed Christian god’s indifference is apparent. No evidence of intervention. Just a supposed god letting it’s system do it’s thing.

It was only after decades (at best) or centuries (at worst) of homosapiens doing their worst to one another…the strong surviving. The weak perishing. Being fittest to survive no longer necessary meant physical mutation. A deeply violent, tribal species who spent more time hunting and raiding than anything else which could formulate the basis for some sort of progress away from this cycle. And then…2,000 years ago…suddenly here is Jesus with some news.

I often think about how frequently I hear someone talk about “Jesus’ love” and how my ancestors for the vast majority of time had no idea about Jesus or anything of the sort. They were on their own. Alone. Left to suffer. The product of a disgusting evolutionary system that is far from anything considered remotely moral.

If you want to say your Christian god loves humanity i cannot stop that. “God’s love” can be defined as whatever people want it to be. It’s pretty much subjective at this point. But to say that this deity designed evolution and cares about humanity? No. We know what care is and what it is not. Jamming the creatures it loves through a system like evolution does not show care…actually the exact opposite.

It is likely that this problem is one of the reasons why so many Christians fight hard against the science of evolution. They realize perhaps better than others the implications for Christianity if evolution is true. This attempt to defeat evolution is like lighting a firecracker to stop a hurricane- the effort is heading for an overwhelming defeat. Then, there will have to be some admissions that the nature of God is not quite what people of old thought.

(3588) Myth of the 12 tribes

Christianity has adopted the romantic notion that the patriarch Jacob had 12 sons who spread out over the holy land with each developing a local clan. Archaeological research has determined that this ‘history’ is mythical, and it sits as an example of how biblical authors were not reluctant to make up fictional stories to embellish their ancestral roots. The following was taken from:


The identity of Israel in the Bible is closely linked to the notion that the ancient nation was an alliance of twelve distinct tribes, each with its own territory. Reading the Old Testament in its canonical order, we encounter tales about Jacob the patriarch and his twelve sons who all moved to Egypt. Their descendants are depicted as remaining divided into distinct clans, which would later journey to Palestine, carve up the land, and then conquer their allotted portions.

History is not so simple, however, and neither are the traditions we find in the Bible itself. Not all biblical authors were aware of this storybook picture of Israel’s tribes, and many of the text’s later claims are rooted as much — or more so — in theology and politics as in history. Themes that have captured the imagination of exegetes for millennia, like the myth of the “lost tribes of Israel”, take on new significance when examined closely.

It should be obvious to anyone who has spent time thinking about it that tribes and countries are not actually founded by people of the same name. Stories about legendary founders and their genealogies serve to explain the storyteller’s present-day reality — who their allies and enemies are; why in one place they herd sheep, while in another they work metal; and so on. Often an ancestor originates as an unrelated folktale hero, and that character comes to symbolize an entire tribe or nation through a complex process of oral and literary development.

The stories of Jacob and his children, then, are not accounts of historical Bronze Age people. Rather, they tell us how much later Jews and Israelites understood themselves, their origins, and their relationship to the land, within the context of folktales that had evolved over time. The stories of Jacob and Esau, for example, illustrate the stormy relationship between Israel and Edom, its southern neighbour. The story about Jacob and his father-in-law Laban the Aramean in Genesis 31:51–54 serves to establish territorial boundaries between Israel and Aram (Syria). Jacob’s twelve sons provide a legendary basis for the twelve tribes of Israel and a framework for genealogies and folktales related to those tribes. One need look no further than the names themselves to see that most of them are not personal names, but the names of ethnic groups, geographical regions, and local deities. E.g. Benjamin, meaning “son of the south” (the location of its territory relative to Samaria), or Asher, a Phoenician territory whose name may be an allusion to the goddess Asherah.

Often, the way such these ancestral tales are incorporated clashes with the overall narrative as it now stands. For example, the story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers (Gen 37) is interrupted in the next chapter by a completely unrelated story in which Judah settles in Canaan, in the territory later associated with Judah, and starts a family there — a story that shows no awareness of the exodus tradition of migration and settlement.¹

The myth of the twelve tribes of Israel is another example of how the Bible in its present form presents an idealized vision of the past based on religious and nationalistic concerns, developed through numeric symbolism, fictional genealogies, and etiological tales. Careful reading can reveal many of the underlying traditions that preceded the text’s final form. There is always more than meets the eye.

The Bible injures itself when fictional stories are presented as factual history. The myth of the 12 tribes is one such example that casts suspicion over the entire Old Testament. It is unfortunate for historians and also for religious people that the authors of the Bible did not meet modern standards of historical fidelity.

(3589) Argument from future animal sacrifices

Old Testament prophecies predict that the animal sacrifice system of Judaism would be restored during the end times era. This is inconsistent with the Christian dogma that Jesus’ sacrifice permanently ended the practice of, or need for, animal sacrifice. The following was taken from:


Premise 1. If Christianity were true, the end times prophecies of the Old Testament would not predict a restoration of the animal sacrificial system for Israel.

Premise 2. The end times prophecies of the Old Testament do predict a restoration of the animal sacrificial system for Israel. (Jeremiah 33:17-18, Ezekiel 20:40, 45:15-17,20,22, Malachi 3:3-4, Isaiah 56:7, 60:7, Zechariah 14:21)

Conclusion: Therefore Christianity is not true.

Premise 1

If Christianity is true, then Jesus died as a once for all sacrifice for sin, which means there’s no need for any future temple sacrifices. Hebrews 10:1 says that the law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. The law would be far more than a shadow if the practice of atonement through sacrifice is restored in the future. Hebrews 10:4 says it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins, and verses 9&10 say that he sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for ALL. The New Testament teaches that the temple system has been done away with, which is why Paul says in the book of Acts that God does not live in temples made by human hands. So we should not expect the final restoration of Israel to include animal sacrifices if Christianity is true. Predictions of end times temple sacrifices are exactly what we would expect from the Hebrew prophets if they were not receiving divine inspiration from a God who was planning to send the messiah to die for the sins of the world.

Premise 2.

Also one sheep is to be taken from every flock of two hundred from the well-watered pastures of Israel. These will be used for the grain offerings, burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to make ATONEMENT for the people, declares the Sovereign Lord. All the people of the land will be required to give this special offering to the prince in Israel. It will be the duty of the prince to provide the burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings at the festivals, the New Moons and the Sabbaths—at all the appointed festivals of Israel. He will provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to make ATONEMENT for the Israelites. (Ezekiel 45:16-17)

You are to do the same on the seventh day of the month for anyone who sins unintentionally or through ignorance; so you are to make ATONEMENT for the temple. (Ezekiel 45:20)

In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’ For this is what the Lord says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel, nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices. (Jeremiah 33:16-17)

For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord, there in the land all the people of Israel will serve me, and there I will accept them. There I will require your offerings and your choice gifts, along with all your holy sacrifices. (Ezekiel 20:40)

On that day the prince is to provide a bull as a sin offering for himself and for all the people of the land. Every day during the seven days of the festival he is to provide seven bulls and seven rams without defect as a burnt offering to the Lord, and a male goat for a sin offering. (Ezekiel 45:22-23)

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord**, as in days gone by, as in former years**. (Malachi 3:3-4)

Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 14:21)

these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7)

All Kedar’s flocks will be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth will serve you; they will be accepted as offerings on my altarand I will adorn my glorious temple. (Isaiah 60:7)

Christianity rests on Judaism as its foundation. It cannot exist independently. When it has invented a doctrine that is not supported by Jewish scripture, this indicates that its foundation is sinking. The fact that OT prophecies predict future animal sacrifice inflicts a non-negligible injury to Christianity’s authenticity.

(3590) Anonymous gospels suggest ahistoricity

The fact that none of the gospel writers identified themselves or made any concerted effort to identify where or how they received their information is evidence that they did not intend for their accounts to be taken at face value. The following was taken from:


It really seems so strange to me that all 3 synoptic gospel authors made their work anonymous. I’ll exclude the gospel of John, since the exact nature of its anonymity is unusual to say the least.

What possible motivation could these actual authors have had for not naming themselves? The Christian community was quite small at the time, surely they would have been highly regarded for having written an account of Jesus. I could realistically see them using the account to claim some sense of leadership over the community. This might be a bit of a stretch, but I could even envision the gospels resulting in monetary compensation for the authors. The author of Luke even identifies a recipient and alludes to the fact that he relied on prior sources, but still doesn’t name himself. We see pseudepigrapha was common in the world and the motivation for it is quite clear but I’m struggling to think of what gain one could have for complete anonymity.

What is missing is something like this:

“This is the account of the life of Jesus by myself, Mark of Antioch. I have interviewed many of the witnesses to the ministry of Jesus, and traveled to Galilee and Judea, to see the places where he preached and performed miracles. I have gathered several documents as well. This is the result of many years of research…I have tried to make sure that what I have written is the true description of what happened.

Jesus was born in the town of Nazareth in the year…”

The anonymous nature of the gospels is a credibility problem for Christianity.

(3591) Sacrifice for one is more noble than sacrifice for many

Most Christians believe that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that they could escape hell after they die. But when we compare his sacrifice to others hypothetically made by humans, it can be seen in comparison to be of a much lower order of esteem, or even evanescent. The following was taken from:


The greater the outcome of ones sacrifice, the more obligatory it becomes. If you were tasked with deciding whether or not to sacrifice your life for the life of 1 person, it would be a morally spectacular act. If you were tasked with sacrificing your life to save 100 people who would otherwise die an early death, the act starts to seem like the obvious thing to do.

Now imagine your sacrifice not only spares those people from death in this world, but from an eternity in hell. If you can grasp the concept of eternity, it should be obvious to you that the decision to live and allow those people to be damned would make you a moral monster. Now, imagine that sacrificing your life guaranteed that every human who will ever live will be spared from hell, and upon your death, you too get to arrive in heaven.

It’s a pretty easy decision, and by my estimation, nowhere near as noble as, say, a fireman’s decision to risk his or her life by saving a single person from a burning building. So why do Christians pretend that the sacrifice Jesus made is unparalleled, and worthy of our eternal praise when no decent person would have done differently?

Sacrificing for billions of people as Jesus allegedly did compared to a human dying to save one other person’s life is not a close call. Jesus’ sacrifice is virtually nothing compared to that noble gesture. It is made even less laudable given that he knew he would return to his previous existence, none the worse, in a couple of days.

(3592) Paul only references cultish siblings

One of the evidences that biblical historians use to confirm that Jesus was an actual person (not a celestial figure) is that the epistles (letters of Paul) confirm that he had a brother, as in, a sibling from the same mother. This, of course, denies the Catholic view that Mary remained a virgin for her entire life. But Protestant sects have no problem with Jesus having a brother.

However, the scriptural evidence for Jesus having a biological brother, rather than just a brother in the sense of having a close kinship, is scant. The following is a comment from a reader of this website:

One of the biggest claims for the existence of Jesus, is that Jesus had a brother (specifically James from the Gospels). If we look at the claim though of evidence from the Apostle Paul’s genuine Epistles, we find this claim very misleading.

If we look at Paul’s letters we find 103 examples of Paul talking about siblings (sisters, brothers, brethren for example). 101 of those cases are talking about siblings in the fraternal way cults and many religions talk today.

The two remaining uses in Paul for brother though are ambiguous. Meaning that we can’t tell one way, or the other. However, the fact remains that since we can’t conclude one way, or the other if the uses for these two verses mean “blood brother”, or the way a cult would say it (brothers by baptism) then this can’t be used as evidence for Jesus existing.

Paul only talks about Jesus as a celestial being based on scripture. Paul believed Jesus was historical though and walked the Earth at some unknown time, but because of hundreds of years old scriptures and visions he claimed to have had.

Yet historicity advocates will claim that this is the best evidence for Jesus existing, because ‘Jesus had to have existed if he had a brother’.

The fact though that this claim is only 50/50 at best and since at no point is 50/50 actually evidence for anything, really does not make the argument for Jesus as good as they would like to pretend that it is.

Here in this link Dr. Richard Carrier responds to Professor’s Bart Ehrman’s criticism of Dr. Carrier’s own criticism of the claim as evidence.


Listed below are the many sibling verses taken from the comments of Fishers of Evidence: The Lord’s brother


Brothers listings

Part 1 of list of references to siblings in Paul

Sister: 2 occurrences

Romans 16:1

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.

Romans 16:15

Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them.

Brother ambiguous: 2 occurrences

1 Corinthians 9:5

Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?

Galatians 1:19

I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.

Referring to church members as brothers: 7 occurrences

1 Corinthians 6:6

But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!

1 Corinthians 7:12

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.

1 Corinthians 16:11

No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.

2 Corinthians 8:23

As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ.

2 Corinthians 9:3

But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be.

2 Corinthians 9:5

So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.

2 Corinthians 11:9

And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so.

Referring to a specific church member as brother: 14 occurrences

Romans 16:23

Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings.

1 Corinthians 1:1

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

1 Corinthians 16:12

Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.

2 Corinthians 8:22

In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you.

2 Corinthians 1:1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia:

2 Corinthians 2:13

I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia.

2 Corinthians 8:18

And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel.

2 Corinthians 12:18

I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit?

Philippians 2:25

But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.

Colossians 1:1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

Colossians 4:7

Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.

Colossians 4:9

He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.

1 Thessalonians 3:2

We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith,

Philemon 1:16

no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.


Part 2 of list of references to siblings in Paul

Referring to church members as brothers and / or sisters: 20 occurrences

Romans 8:29

For those God foreknew he also predestined t ? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

Romans 14:13

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

Romans 14:15

If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.

Romans 14:21

It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

Romans 16:14

Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them.

1 Corinthians 5:11

But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

1 Corinthians 6:8

Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters.

1 Corinthians 7:15

But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.

1 Corinthians 8:11

So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.

1 Corinthians 8:13

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

1 Corinthians 15:6

After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 16:20

All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Galatians 1:2

and all the brothers and sisters with me, To the churches in Galatia:

Philippians 1:14

And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

Philippians 4:21

Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings.

Colossians 4:15

Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

1 Thessalonians 4:6

and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.

1 Thessalonians 5:27

I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.

Addressing Philemon as brother: 3 occurrences

Philemon 1:1

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker—

Philemon 1:7

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

Philemon 1:20

I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.


Part 3 of list of references to siblings in Paul

Addressing audience as brothers and sisters: 62 occurrences

Romans 1:13

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

Romans 7:1

Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives?

Romans 7:4

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

Romans 8:12

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.

Romans 10:1

Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.

Romans 11:25

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in,

Romans 12:1

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Romans 15:14

I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

Romans 15:30

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.

Romans 16:17

I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.

1 Corinthians 1:10

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

1 Corinthians 1:11

My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.

1 Corinthians 1:26

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

1 Corinthians 2:1

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.

1 Corinthians 3:1

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.

1 Corinthians 4:6

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.

1 Corinthians 7:24

Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

1 Corinthians 7:29

What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not;

1 Corinthians 10:1

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.

1 Corinthians 11:33

So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together.

1 Corinthians 12:1

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.

1 Corinthians 14:6

Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?

1 Corinthians 14:20

Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.

1 Corinthians 14:26

What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

1 Corinthians 14:39

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.

1 Corinthians 15:1

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.

1 Corinthians 15:50

I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 16:15

You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters,

2 Corinthians 1:8

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.

2 Corinthians 8:1

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.


Part 4 of list of references to siblings in Paul

2 Corinthians 13:11

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Galatians 1:11

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin.

Galatians 3:15

Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case.

Galatians 4:12

I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong.

Galatians 4:28

Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise.

Galatians 4:31

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

Galatians 5:11

Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.

Galatians 5:13

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Galatians 6:1

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

Galatians 6:18

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Philippians 1:12

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.

Philippians 3:1

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.

Philippians 3:13

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

Philippians 3:17

Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.

Philippians 4:1

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Colossians 1:2

To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

1 Thessalonians 1:4

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you,

1 Thessalonians 2:1

You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results.

1 Thessalonians 2:9

Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

1 Thessalonians 2:14

For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews

1 Thessalonians 2:17

But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you.

1 Thessalonians 3:7

Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith.

1 Thessalonians 4:1

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.

1 Thessalonians 4:10

And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,

1 Thessalonians 4:13

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

1 Thessalonians 5:1

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you,

1 Thessalonians 5:4

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.

1 Thessalonians 5:12

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.

1 Thessalonians 5:14

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

1 Thessalonians 5:25

Brothers and sisters, pray for us.

As can be seen, the reference of James as being Jesus’ biological brother is ambiguous, and there is good reason to believe that the term ‘brother’ was used in this instance to denote a special relationship that James had with Jesus. In the end, the reference of James as being Jesus’ brother is negligible evidence to ground Jesus into factual history.

(3593) Delayed documentation of the war in heaven

Many Christians believe the story that Lucifer, or Satan, waged a war in heaven and that he was subsequently banished from heaven along with some of his angels, who then became demons. The problem with this story is that it was not documented until the 2nd Century (CE) in the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 12:7-9

Then a war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But the dragon was not strong enough, and no longer was any place found in heaven for him and his angels. And the great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

If this had really happened, presumably before humans were created (since the beguiling serpent in the Garden of Eden was supposedly Satan himself) then it seems strange that it was not put into scriptures in the Old Testament, the gospels, or even the epistles of Paul. Instead it was not placed into scripture until a book, Revelation (that came very close to being excluded from the canon), finally told this epic story.

If this heavenly war actually occurred, it has very significant implications for Judeo-Christianity, and thus to have it not appear in scripture in time for BCE Jews and First Century Christians to read about it makes no sense.

(3594) Second Life disproves Yahweh

The online virtual community ‘Second Life’ presents a template for what a world would be like if it was designed and run by the type of god envisioned by Christians. The stark differences between Second Life and our world should cause some concern for anyone hanging on to the image of Yahweh as a perfect, unlimited, infallible, benign, and loving god. The following was taken from:


The online environment Second Life helps disprove god. To explain we need to back way up:

Gods in religions prior to Christianity would be exempt from this. The Greeks, the Romans, and many others understood their gods to be flawed. To them, a world with suffering made sense because their gods were, well… angry or clumsy or vindictive, etc. But then along come religions like Christianity that insist their god is without any flaws. This then leaves them with the problem of suffering and trying to rationalize why a perfect god would create a flawed world.

A sizeable amount of Christian apologetics is the attempt to take the natural world that evolved to where it is through purely uncaring natural forces and do the mental gymnastics necessary to insist an all loving, all knowing, and all powerful god set it up this way on purpose.

My question then is why doesn’t our reality look like Second Life?

In Second Life you can fly, teleport, communicate instantly with friends and loved ones, and explore a (at least hypothetically) infinite universe. There’s no disease. Short of a server failing, there’s no naturally caused suffering; the number of babies that have drown violently in tsunamis in Second Life is zero.

There are no struggle for resources that leaves people cold and starving. There are amazing things to see and do. And people can make anything they want.

“But Coventry, you captivating cunning conquistador of cleverness” I hear you say “What about free will? What about original sin and the other canned answers that Christians and theists trundle out.”

Not to worry, my hypothetical counter-point. Remember that the users of Second Life all have free will themselves! So insisting that they lose free will when they go inworld isn’t an argument. Furthermore Second Life isn’t consequence free. Griefing is still possible and there are rules that if one transgresses then one can and will get banned.

And remember that Second Life was made by a group of fully human programmers. If there really was such a thing as an all knowing and all powerful and all loving god, imagine what a better version they could make! Instead, we see a universe with exactly what we’d expect to see if there was no god.

When human programmers outperform Yahweh, given their inherent limitations, it casts doubt on the Christian concept of God. We can confidently conclude that the entire suite of qualities that Yahweh is supposed to possess is overstated, He’s either not omnipotent, not benign, or non-existent.

(3595) Debunking Christian doctrine of eternal punishment

Christians have been brainwashed to believe that it is moral and just to torture people in hell for eternity, as the scriptures strongly suggest will happen to anyone who doesn’t follow Jesus. The two most popular arguments  defending this doctrine  are debunked below:


Christian Argument #1: “God is infinite so the punishment must also be infinite”

According to this line of reasoning, when we sin against God, we are sinning against an infinite being. And as such, the punishment must also be infinite. In the words of Aquinas, “the higher the person against whom it is committed, the graver the sin. It is more criminal to strike a head of state than a private citizen, and God is of infinite greatness. Therefore an infinite punishment is deserved for a sin committed against Him.”

Objection to Argument #1:

We should be skeptical of this claim that “the higher the person against whom it is committed, the graver the sin.” While it’s true that striking the head of state is worthy of greater punishment, it is not due to some inherent greater worth that the head of state possesses. Rather, we humans have created laws to protect those in authority due to the greater duty/role they play in society. This, however, is not applicable in the case of God. Surely God does not need protecting, and sinning against him does nothing to disrupt his authority or position over us. Sinning against God alone harms no one but ourselves. And the proper response to that, it would seem, is not to punish them indefinitely — but through accountability and healing, guide them away from the destructive nature of their sin.

Christian Argument #2: “You never stop sinning in Hell, so infinite punishment is warranted”

This argument says that in hell, it’s not as if you cease from sinning. You are still sinning against God in hell, so God (being just) must continue to punish that sin indefinitely.

Objection to Argument #2:

The only reason people continue to sin in hell is because they are being kept alive. A non-existent person cannot sin. God could punish sinners with total annihilation, removing them from existence, and then the cycle of sin-punishment would end. This option would minimize sin and eliminate the need for unnecessary suffering. God instead chooses the option that maximizes both (i.e. hell), which is in direct conflict with His nature as a morally perfect being.

Eternal punishment in hell remains an issue that strangles Christianity’s claim that their god is a benevolent, loving creature. (it is literally a turd in the soup bowl) All efforts to explain this blatant contradiction fail, and do so spectacularly. No real god would create a hell or even allow his ‘holy book’ to contain wording suggesting that such a place exists.

(3596) Why did burnt offerings cease?

Christians are eager to point out that animal sacrifices to absolve sin are no longer needed because Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. But what they miss is that many of the offerings in the Old Testament had nothing to do with forgiving sins, but were rather a show of thanksgiving to the Lord. So why Christians do not perform these rituals is questionable. After all, the scriptures make it clear that they provide a pleasing aroma for God to enjoy. Here is one scriptural example:

Exodus 29:15-18

Take one of the rams, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. You are to slaughter the ram, take its blood, and sprinkle it on all sides of the altar. Cut the ram into pieces, wash the entrails and legs, and place them with its head and other pieces. Then burn the entire ram on the altar; it is a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD.

In case the point is made that the pleasing aroma is meant for the Israelites, here is a later verse to the above:

Exodus 29:25

Then take them from their hands and burn them on the altar atop the burnt offering as a pleasing aroma before the LORD; it is an offering made by fire to the LORD.

So, why did these burnt offerings end? Was it because Christians thought of them as being ridiculous? Did they think it was insane to think that God was smelling the burnt animal flesh and thinking it was pleasing? No matter what, this question is salient- Jesus dying on the cross is an insufficient explanation.

(3597) How an evil god would design the world

If we assume that the universe was created and is being controlled by an omnipotent god and that this deity is evil, what evidence would be have to confirm that this god is indeed evil? The following is a best guess:


Well, He would be invisible to allow doubt

He would create a world filled with natural disasters, filled with disease.

He would allow war, rape, cruelty. He would design animals to eat each other.

He would allow rival religions to thrive and compete.

He would create an endless Hell to torture people , purely for having the wrong belief system

And without a blush of shame, He would call Himself good.

Imagine, such a God being worshiped.

This is more than facetious speculation, it is actually a good estimate of how a malevolently capricious god might design his human experiment. If Christianity is true, then we can make a good case that Yahweh is evil.

(3598) Science changes too much for Christians

Christians have been funneled into a mindset that established ‘truth’ is a static commodity, so when science keeps changing, it causes them to misinterpret that fact as an indication that it is unreliable. Of course, the opposite is true. It is the malleability of science, unlike the rigidity of religion, that allows for us to have confidence that it is zeroing in on an accurate description of reality. The following was taken from:


Science, by its very nature, is always changing. New discoveries are always being made and our understanding of the universe is constantly evolving. And I think it’s that constant state of fluidity that Christians have a hard time with. Everything they “know” about the universe is set down in a book that has remained mostly unchanged since the Council of Nicea. The “truth” they believe is set in stone and is immutable. In fact it is sciences ability to change that they’ll even attack, saying something was one way before and another way now, like make up your minds. This is especially true for long held scientific beliefs. For example, when Pluto was downgraded from planet to dwarf planet, it changed something that we all considered true for a long time. But because we learned more about the solar system we came to realize that the dwarf planet is a better fit for Pluto. You don’t really get that with the hardcore religious types. God always created the universe in 6 days and rested on the 7th. Noah always builds the Ark, Moses always parts the Red Sea, David always defeats Goliath and Jesus always dies on the cross. These thing can’t change for them. They are set in stone and you’re not allowed to question them, which is why history and archaeology can’t be trusted for them either.

It doesn’t matter if there’s an older Sumerian myth about the flood of the Tigris and the Euphrates; it’s still Noah. It doesn’t matter if the mistakes in translation changed sea of reeds to Red Sea, Moses split the Red Sea, it doesn’t matter that Jesus was given a typical Roman State execution for vandalism and disturbing the peace, it was the Jews (specifically the Pharisees) that are responsible for his death. And considering their refusal to consider anything different, they also seem to like to pick and choose the rules that they’re supposed to follow. Like God is super against male gay sex because of that one line in Leviticus, but eating shellfish is fine even though there’s like a page telling you not to do that.

Well at least they’re not using the instructions on how to treat your slaves to validate slavery anymore. Most of them.

Christians want everything to stay the same, they don’t want to question or investigate what they already ‘know.’ But science works in the opposite way- always challenging its current findings. This is one of reasons why Christians have an uneasy relationship with science, and it’s one of the reasons why secularists have a wary view of Christianity.

(3599) Analogy of the blacksmith’s hammer

Christian dogma paints itself into a corner when it assumes that God is perfect and that he created the world. By any logic, this implies that God is responsible for any imperfections. The following analogy was taken from:


A perfect creator cannot unintentionally create an imperfect creation, doing so means by definition that the creator is not perfect and any fault in the creation us due to the creator being imperfect.

However if they creator is perfect and intentionally creates an imperfect creation, all faults in the creation are to be blamed on the creator.

To ground this, a perfect blacksmith cannot unintentionally make an imperfect hammer, if he made such a thing unintentionally then he cannot be a perfect blacksmith as a perfect blacksmith makes no mistakes, any such mistake in the hammer is the fault of the blacksmith not the hammer.

If the blacksmith intentionally makes a faulty hammer, then those faults are set to be there and any failure of the hammer arising from those faults are to be blamed on the blacksmith.

So any failure of man is the fault of God, not man.

This effectively nullifies any justification for God to send anyone to hell. If he is omnipotent, he designed the situation that resulted in his judgment of hell-bound humans. So he is responsible for the eternal punishment that they will receive. Of course, this conundrum is easily overcome by realizing that neither this god nor his hell exists.

(3600) Silent historians

The question of whether Jesus was a real person is not as settled as some Christians might assume. There exists a problem because there were many historians who lived around the time of Jesus that probably should have mentioned his birth, ministry, and crucifixion, but didn’t. The following lists some of these silent historians.


Presently, some 40-90% of Westerners believe that Jesus was a real person, who existed, walking on the earth in the years 0AD (1955 AE) to 33 AD (1922 AE), ± a few margin error years.

People either believe Jesus was a wise religious teacher (or reformer) or that he the son of god. When we search the records of “real” historians of this period, e.g. Seneca the younger (4BC-65AD), Pliny the elder (23-79AD), author of a ten-volume encyclopedia, Plutarch (46-120AD), author of a 5-volume book on morals, however, we find NO mention of any Jesus, Christ, or Jesus Christ, as he is now defined, for nearly two centuries going forward, after his purported-to-exist “birth”. These real historians, in short, make NO mention of him! The are completely “silent” about him? The inquisitive mind asks why?


The following is a work-in-progress ranking of the chronological ordering silent historians; the so-called “Josephus point” (1861/94), shown highlighted, is when purported mentions by actual real historians, i.e. real people (not mythical Bible saints and characters), begins:

# Person EY DY Summary
(1998-1938 BE)
(43 BCM-17 ACM)
1963A -8 Pens a secular Greco-Roman version of “creation myth“, narrated exactly as in Genesis, in his Metamorphosis, but is not aware of any “baby Jesus”.
1932A 23 Traveled all over the world to make his multi-volume Geography (1932A/23), in which he published one of the first accurate maps of the world, adjacent, yet is unaware of any “Jesus” of Nazareth (or “Syria” as shown on his map) as reported in the Gospels?
Roman historian, who makes NO mention (Ѻ) of the birth of any “age 12” (1943/12) child prodigy named Jesus, who supposedly impressed all the temple priests with his vast learning.
Seneca the elder
1917A 38 Existed through the reigns of three significant emperors; Augustus, who ruled from 1983A (-27) to 1941A (14), Tiberius, who ruled from 1941A (14) to 1918A (37), the one in charge when “Jesus” was purported to have been crucified, and Caligula, who ruled from 1918A (37) to 1914A (41); author of an historical work, containing the history of Rome, from the beginning of the civil wars to his reaction end 1916A (39), posthumously published by his son Seneca the younger, who was tutor to emperor Nero, who ruled from 1901A (54) to 1887A (68); neither him nor his son make mention of an dying and rising Jesus?
Roman emperor who completed Dendera Temple, the place where the “Osiris resurrection” is depicted, in full detail, which is from where the story of the “Jesus resurrection” derives; there is no extant work of his mentioning any “Jesus” dying and rising under his reign?
Philo of Alexandria
1916A 39 In 1916 (39), he led an embassy from the Jews to the court of Emperor Gaius Caligula; spent time in Jerusalem (On Providence) where he had intimate connections with the royal house of Judaea; he wrote extensive apologetics on the Jewish religion and commentaries on contemporary politics. About thirty manuscripts and at least 850,000 words are extant. He offers commentary on all the major characters of the Pentateuch and, as we might expect, mentions Moses more than a thousand times. Yet, he says NOT a word about Jesus, Christianity, nor any of the events described in the New Testament. In all this work,Philo makes not a single reference to his alleged contemporary “Jesus Christ”, the godman who supposedly was perambulating up and down the Levant, exorcising demons, raising the dead and causing earthquake and darkness at his death. (Ѻ)(Ѻ)
Seneca the younger
1900A c.55 In 1900A (c.55), penned a 600-page treatise on Morals (Ѻ), but mentions NOTHING of Jesus, the presumed-to-be most moral and righteous person of all, nor of Christians or Christianity?
1888A 67 In 1888A (67), this so-called “da Vinci of his day”, made a trick ‘turning water into wine’ jug, using hidden compartments and syphons, that he used to fool onlookers into believing he had turned water into wine; in his vast writings, makes NO mention of any Jesus Christ; but his water-to-wine trick is later used in John 2:10 of the New Testament as having been a miracle purported to have been performed by a fictional Jesus (Ѻ).[2]
Apollonius of Tyana
Saintly first-century Neopythagorean philosopher, adventurer, and noble paladin; a magic-man of divine birth who cured the sick and blind, cleansed entire cities of plague, foretold the future, and fed the masses; was worshiped as a god and as a son of a god; despite such nonsense claims, he was a real man recorded by reliable sources; he makes no mention of Jesus; later real scholars posit, of note, that he was a model for the later fictional Jesus.
1887A 68 Depicted at Dendera Temple, on the interior eastern wall of the outer hypostyle hall, completed circa 1901A (54) to 1887A (68), placating the gods Osiris and Isis, in the presence of child god Ihy, son of Hathor and Horus; the parents of Horus; the synretism god Osiris-Horus is what later become reformulated into the ‘Christ’ figure.
Pliny the elder
(1932-1876 BE)
(23-79 ACM)
1878A 77 In 1878A (77), penned his Natural History of the World, a 10-volume, 37-book, all-knowledge comprising treatise, wherein he attempts to cover all subjects connected to nature; including: not only “resurrection and gods”, but also astronomy, mathematics, geography, ethnography, anthropology, human physiology, zoology, botany, agriculture, horticulture, pharmacology, mining, mineralogy, sculpture, painting, and precious stones, among other subjects, but does NOT mention Jesus Christ, the supposed to have existed most famous resurrected god son of all.[2]
1861A 94 In 1861A (94), is purported to have said the following about a was man named Jesus: (Ѻ)[2]

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”
— Josephus (1861A/94), The Antiquities of the Jews (§3.3) (Ѻ)

This passage, however, as William Smith, in his The Silence of Josephus and Tacitus (45A/1910), points out, was “unknown to” Origen (1725A/c.230), who had copies of Josephus, and also unknown to earlier writers, such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria, which points to the conclusion that this was “interpolated in” by a later post-Origen Christian hand; it is invented history, so to say.[3]

(1909-1835 BE)
(c.46-120 ACM)
1850A c.105 In 1850A (c.105), penned his Moralia, a 78-essay collection (15 volumes in English) of topics related to “morals” or “matters relating to customs and mores”, wherein he discusses all of the various dying and rising gods and god suns, in the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian world, e.g. Osiris, Dionysus, Horus, etc., but makes NO mention of Jesus Christ.[2]
Epicetetus, a noted intellectual influence to Origen and Godfrey Higgins, who was a secretary to Nero, from circa 1901A (54) to 1887A (68), is someone who should have known the famed “Jesus”, if he had existed, but did not. The main resurrected god of Nero, such as famously depicted at the Dendera Temple (1887A/c.68), however, was Osiris (not Jesus), on the walls of which Nero is seen placating Osiris and Isis, in the presence of child god Ihy, son of Hathor and Horus.[4] Epictetus doesn’t write about any Jesus Christ or any Jesus or Nazareth; latter commentators, e.g. Elizabeth Carter in her “The Moral Discourses of Epictetus” (45A/1910), argue that much of what we now call the moral philosophy of Jesus was stylize on that of Epictetus; Thomas Jefferson also puts the teaching of Epictetus in the same category of Jesus (who Jefferson thinks was real).
1845A 110 In 1845A (110), in his Annals, in reference to the Great Fire of Rome (1889A/66) (Ѻ), refers to the punishment of “Christians” by Nero:

“But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the Conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.”
— Tacitus (1845A/c.110), Annals (15:44) (Ѻ)(Ѻ)

and the execution of their founder “Christus” by Pontius Pilate:

(1895-1835 BE)
(60-120 ACM)
In the Paulkovic 126 (A57/2013).
Pliny the younger
In 1845A (c.110), in a letter to Trajan, who ruled from 1857A (98) to 1838A (117), comments (Ѻ), supposedly, on what to do about the growing numbers of “Christians”; wherein he reports that some have confessed to him, under the threat of torture and death, that they had been Christians for 25-years, meaning a sect of Jewish-derived “Christians” had existed since (1868A/87). He described them as a “degenerate sort of cult carried to extravagant lengths”.[5]
1845A c.110 In his Life of Nero (1845A/c.110), he mentions “Christians” as having been involved in a “new and mischievous superstition”; later he says the following:

“Those Judeans [Iudaeos] impelled by Chrestos [Chresto] to assiduously cause tumult, Claudius expelled out of Rome.”
— Suetonius (1842A/113), Life of Claudius (pg. #)

Dorothy Murdock (A52/2007) that these mentions of Chrestos and Christians is not at all clear, in respect to the Biblical “Paul” figure, who is not mentioned by Suetonius.

1827A c.128 Serapis (overview).png

Animal body | Shape of an animal

In 1827A (c.128), as emperor of Rome, reign: 1838A (117) to 1817A (138), while touring Alexandria, Egypt, he noted Christians were Serapis worshipers; telling his brother-in-law (Ѻ) about this:

“Those who worship Serapis are in fact Christians; and they who call themselves Christian bishops are actually worshipers of Serapis.”
— Hadrian (1827A/c.128), “Letter to Servianus”

Hadrian, however, never mentions any Jesus. (Ѻ)(Ѻ)

1817 138 Horus and Jesus.png

In 1817A (138), published Exegetica, a two-dozen volume treatise, supposedly, on the Christian gospels; in his “Acts of John” (5th century Armenian edition), produced by his followers, the Basilidians, Christ is described (Ѻ) as follows:

“Christ appeared, to his followers, in many different guises, NOT especially a human one.”
— Basilides (1817A/c.138), Exegetica (§: Acts of John)

The works of Basilides, later deemed heretical, were all burned during the 1555A (400) to 1155A (800) pagan purge (all heterodox or heretic Christian gospels where purged in this period).

1805A 150 Believed Christ or Jesus to be an “animal man” or to have an “animal body” (Hippolytus, 1730A/225)
1790A 165 Was a Greek cynic philosopher, cited by Baron Holbach (185A/1770), who, according to Lucian, who attended his suicide by immolation (1790A/165), “became a Christian so that he could gain wealth”. (Ѻ)
Marcus Aurelius
(1834-1775 BE)
(121-180 ACM)
1780 175 In his Thoughts (1780A/c.175), he discusses (Ѻ) how he thinks that “gods” and the “soul” exists, based on the “experience” of their power, but does not mention and god-man named Jesus; was later purported by Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History (1655A/300), that there was an alleged persecution (Ѻ) of a “Christian” at Lyon in Gaul (1778A/177) during his reign; this purported persecution, however, is debatable (Ѻ), e.g. it is not mentioned in Irenaeus 5-volume Adversus Haereses (1775A/180), and it is out his Stoic character.[2]
1780A c.175 Horus and Jesus.png

Believed Christ or Jesus to be an “animal man” or to have an “animal body” (Hippolytus, 1730A/225)

Roman-ruled Numidian Latin author (Ѻ), in his Metamorphosis (aka The Golden Ass), described how the Egyptian parade ceremonies, with Osiris, Isis, and Anubis, were performed in Rome publicly; is cited, along with Homer, Aesop, and Apollonius, as authors upon which later Jesus stories were possibly based (Ѻ); cited (pg. 266) by Budge, Volume Two (51A/1904).
1785A c.170 In 1785A (c.170), in his Passing of Peregrinus, gave one of the first secular, i.e. real person, accounts of the existence of Christians as a distinct actual faith common to a group of people who considered each other brothers; the gist of which is as follows:[6]

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. … You see, these misguided [deluded] creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains their contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.”

Lucian goes on to say that “anyone who knows the world can get rich tricking these simple souls.”[7]

1780A c.175 His Reason of Truth: The True Word (Λόγος Ἀληθής, Logos Alēthēs), various translated as The True Word (Ѻ) or The True Doctrine (Hoffmann, 1987), attempted to refute the validity of the newly forming sect of Christianity:

“You may see weavers, tailors, fullers, and the most illiterate and rustic fellows, who dare not speak a word before wise men, when they can get a company of children and silly women together, set up to teach strange paradoxes among them. This is one of their [Christian] rules: Let no man that is learned, wise, or prudent come among us: but if they be unlearned, or a child, or an idiot, let him freely come. So they openly declare that none but the ignorant, and those devoid of understanding, slaves, women, and children, are fit disciples for the god they worship.”
— Celsus (1780A/c.175), The True Word; cited by DeRobigne Bennett (79A/1876) in The World’s Leading Sages (pg. #)

this work was refuted, in an apologetic manner, by Origen (1725/c.230).

1730A c.225 Horus and Jesus.png

His Refutation of All Heresies, summarized all the then prevalent non-orthodox Christian views; one of which was the following:

“The body of Jesus was an animal one. On account of this, at his baptism the holy spirit as a dove came down – that is, the logos of the mother above, i.e. Sophia – and became a voice to the animal man, and raised him from the dead.”
— Hippolytus (1730A/c.225), Refutation of All Heresies (§6.30, pg. 237)[8]; summary of the views of the Italians Heracleon (c.175AD) and Ptolemaeus (c.185AD)[9]
(1750-1685 BE) (205-270 ACM)
Held heterodox Egyptian mythology like views on the “trinity” model.
John Remsburg
(108-36 BE)
(1848-1919 ACM)
46A 1909 In his The Christ: a Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence (46A/1909), chapter §2: Silence of Contemporary Writers, gives the following list of 42 silent historians:[4]

“Silent writers (list): Josephus, Philo-Judaeus, SenecaPliny the elder, Suetonius, Juvenal, Martial, Persius, Plutarch, Justus of Tiberius, Apollonius, Pliny the youngerTacitusQuintilian, Lucanus, Epictetus, Silius Italicus, Statius, Ptolemy, Hermogones, Valerius Maximus, Arrian, Petronius, Dion Pruseus, Paterculus, Appian, Theon of Smyrna, Phlegon, Pompon Mela, Quintius Curtius, Lucian, Pausanias, Valerius Flaccus, Florus, Lucius, Favorinus, Phaedrus, Damis, Aulus Gellius, Columella, Dio Chrysostom, Lysias, Appion of Alexandria.”

This list, which has since been cited by over a dozen noted religio-mythology scholars, has become known as the “Remsburg list”. Presumably, he chose to list “42 silent writers”, as a pun on the that the Bible lists 42 generations between Abraham and Jesus, which is a rescript of the original Egyptian version wherein 42 nome gods presided over the weighing of the soul of the deceased, in the Judgment Hall, between Ra and Horus. Remsburg comments:

“This is a list of writers who lived and wrote during the time, or within a century after the time, that Christ is said to have lived and performed his wonderful works. Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author, and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.”
— John Remsburg (46A/1909), The Christ (pgs. 18-19)

He then devotes the remaining 15-pages of this chapter to digression on details of each salient writer.

Many apologists hit back at this argument saying that silence does not necessarily mean absence. Although this is true in an absolute sense, it does nevertheless represent evidence of absence, as presented in the following syllogism:

If A happened, then B would have probably documented it.

B did not document A

Therefore, there is reasonable doubt that A happened.

Furthermore, if God intended for people to have confidence in the gospel story, it seems likely that he would have made sure that there were a lot of contemporary accounts to back it up.

Follow this link to #3601