Criticism of the Bible

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This article is about criticisms of the Bible as a source of reliable information or ethical guidance. For the academic treatment of the Bible as a historical document, see Biblical criticism.

The view that the Bible should be accepted as historically accurate and as a reliable guide to morality has been questioned by many scholars in the field of biblical criticism. In addition to concerns about morality, inerrancy, or historicity, there remain some questions of which books should be included in the Bible (see canon of scripture). Jews discount the New Testament[1] and Old Testament Deuterocanonicals, Jews and most Christians discredit the legitimacy of New Testament apocrypha, and a view sometimes referred to as Jesusism does not affirm the scriptural authority of any biblical text other than the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels.

Bible history issues[edit]

The Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible

The Hebrew Bible and Christian Bibles are works considered sacred and authoritative writings by their respective faith groups that revere their specific collections of biblical writings.[2] The limits of the canon were effectively set in the early church, however the status of the scriptures has been a topic of scholarly discussion in the later church. Increasingly, the biblical works have been subjected to literary and historical criticism in an effort to interpret the biblical texts, independent of Church and dogmatic influences.[2] The Hebrew Bible, upon which the Christian Old Testament is based, was originally composed in Biblical Hebrew, except for parts of Daniel and Ezra that were written in Biblical Aramaic. These writings depict Israelite religion from its beginnings to about the 2nd century BC. The Christian New Testament was written in Koine Greek. (See Language of the New Testament for details.)

Per the Development of the New Testament canon in the middle of the second century, Marcion of Sinope proposed rejecting the entire Jewish Bible. He considered the God portrayed therein to be a lesser deity, a demiurge and that the law of Moses was contrived.[3]

At the end of the 17th century few Bible scholars would have doubted that Moses wrote the Torah, but in the late 18th century some liberal scholars began to question his authorship, and by the end of the 19th century some went as far as to claim that as a whole the work was of many more authors over many centuries from 1000 BC (the time of David) to 500 BC (the time of Ezra), and that the history it contained was often more polemical rather than strictly factual. By the first half of the 20th century Hermann Gunkel had drawn attention to mythic aspects, and Albrecht Alt, Martin Noth and the tradition history school argued that although its core traditions had genuinely ancient roots, the narratives were fictional framing devices and were not intended as history in the modern sense.

In the 2nd century, the gnostics often claimed that their form of Christianity was the first, and they regarded Jesus as a teacher, or allegory.[4] Elaine Pagels has proposed that there are several examples of gnostic attitudes in the Pauline Epistles.[citation needed] Bart D. Ehrman and Raymond E. Brown note that some of the Pauline epistles are widely regarded by scholars as pseudonymous,[5] and it is the view of Timothy Freke, and others, that this involved a forgery in an attempt by the Church to bring in Paul's Gnostic supporters and turn the arguments in the other Epistles on their head.

The validity of the Gospels is challenged by writers such as Kersey Graves who claimed that mythic stories, that have parallels in the life of Jesus, support the conclusion that the gospel writers incorporated them into the story of Jesus[6] and also Gerald Massey,[7] who specifically claimed that the life story of the Egyptian god Horus was copied by Christian Gnostics.[8] Parallels have also been drawn between Greek myths and the life of Jesus. The comparative mythology of Jesus Christ examines the parallels that have been proposed for the Biblical portrayal of Jesus in comparison to other religious or mythical domains. Some critics have alleged that Christianity is not founded on a historical figure, but rather on a mythical creation. One of these views proposes that Jesus was the Jewish manifestation of a pan-Hellenic cult, known as Osiris-Dionysus.[9]

Christ myth theory proponents[10] claim that the age, authorship, and authenticity of the Gospels can not be verified, thus the Gospels can not bear witness to the historicity of Jesus.[11][12] This is in contrast with writers such as David Strauss, who regarded only the supernatural elements of the gospels as myth, but whereas these supernatural myths were a point of contention, there was no refutation of the gospels authenticity as witness to the historicity of Jesus.[13]

Critics of the Gospels such as Richard Dawkins and Thomas Henry Huxley note that they were written long after the death of Jesus and that we have no real knowledge of the date of composition of the Gospels.[14][15] Annie Besant and Thomas Paine note that the authors of the Gospels are not known.[16][17]

Biblical minimalism is a label applied to a loosely knit group of scholars who hold that the Bible's version of history is not supported by any archaeological evidence so far unearthed, thus the Bible cannot be trusted as a history source.[18][19] Whereas critics of the authenticity of the New Testament such as Richard Carrier and Paul N. Tobin argue that pseudepigrapha within the New Testament invalidates it as a reliable source of information.[20][21]

Translation issues[edit]

Some critics express concern that none of the original manuscripts of the books of the Bible still exist. All translations of the Bible have been made from well-respected but centuries-old copies. Religious communities value highly those who interpret their scriptures at both the scholarly and popular levels. Translation of scripture into the vernacular (such as English and hundreds of other languages), though a common phenomenon, is also a subject of debate and criticism.[22]

Translation has led to a number of issues, as the original languages are often quite different in grammar and word meaning. While the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy states that "inerrancy" applies only to the original languages, some believers trust their own translation as the truly accurate one—for example, the King-James-Only Movement. For readability, clarity, or other reasons, translators may choose different wording or sentence structure, and some translations may choose to paraphrase passages.

Because many of the words in the original language have ambiguous or difficult to translate meanings, debates over correct interpretation occur. For instance, at creation(Gen 1:2), is רוח אלהים (ruwach 'elohiym) the "wind of god", "spirit of god"(i.e., the Holy Spirit in Christianity), or a "mighty wind" over the primordial deep? In Hebrew, רוח(ruwach) can mean "wind","breath" or "spirit". Both ancient and modern translators are divided over this and many other such ambiguities.[23][24][25][26] Another example is the word used in the Masoretic Text [Isa 7:14] to indicate the woman who would bear Immanuel is alleged to mean a young, unmarried woman in Hebrew, while Matthew 1:23 follows the Septuagint version of the passage that uses the Greek word parthenos, translated virgin, and is used to support the Christian idea of virgin birth. Those who view the masoretic text, which forms the basis of most English translations of the Old Testament, as being more accurate than the Septuagint, and trust its usual translation, may see this as an inconsistency, whereas those who take the Septuagint to be accurate may not.

More recently, several discoveries of ancient manuscripts such as the Dead Sea scrolls, and Codex Sinaiticus, have led to modern translations like the New International Version differing somewhat from the older ones such as the 17th century King James Version, removing verses not present in the earliest manuscripts (see List of omitted Bible verses), some of which are acknowledged as interpolations, such as the Comma Johanneum, others having several highly variant versions in very important places, such as the resurrection scene in Mark 16. The King-James-Only Movement rejects these changes and uphold the King James Version as the most accurate.[27]

Ethics in the Bible[edit]

Main article: Ethics in the Bible

Certain moral decisions in the Bible are questioned by many modern groups. Some of the most commonly criticized ethical choices include subjugation of women, religious intolerance, use of capital punishment as penalty for violation of Mosaic Law, sexual acts like incest,[28] toleration of the institution of slavery in both Old and New Testaments,[29] obligatory religious wars and the order to commit the genocide of the Canaanites and the Amalekites. Christian Apologists support the Bible's decisions by reminding critics that they should be considered from the author's point of view and that Mosaic Law applied to the Israelite people (who lived before the birth of Jesus). Other religious groups see nothing wrong with the Bible's judgments.[30] One example that is often cited is the biblical law of the rebellious son:[31]

"If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his home town. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear of it and fear." (Deut. 21:18-21)

Other critics of the Bible, such as Friedrich Nietzsche who popularized the phrase "God is dead",[32] have questioned the morality of the New Testament, regarding it as weak and conformist-oriented.

Internal consistency[edit]

There are many places in the Bible in which inconsistencies—such as different numbers and names for the same feature, and different sequences for the same events—have been alleged and presented by critics as difficulties.[33] Responses to these criticisms include the modern documentary hypothesis, the two-source hypothesis and theories that the Pastoral Epistles are pseudonymous.[34]:p.47 Contrasting with these critical stances are positions supported by other authorities that consider the texts to be consistent. Such advocates maintain that the Torah was written by a single source, the Gospels by four independent witnesses, and all of the Pauline Epistles to have been written by the Apostle Paul.[citation needed]

However authors such as Raymond Brown have presented arguments that the Gospels actually contradict each other in various important respects and on various important details.[35] W. D. Davies and E. P. Sanders state that: "on many points, especially about Jesus’ early life, the evangelists were ignorant … they simply did not know, and, guided by rumour, hope or supposition, did the best they could".[36] More critical scholars see the nativity stories either as completely fictional accounts,[37] or at least constructed from traditions that predate the Gospels.[38][39]

For example, many versions of the Bible specifically point out that the most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses did not include Mark 16:9-20, i.e., the Gospel of Mark originally ended at Mark 16:8, and additional verses were added a few hundred years later. This is known as the "Markan Appendix".[40][41][42]

Mosaic authorship, authorship of the Gospels and authorship of the Pauline Epistles are topics that remain widely debated.

The Bible and science[edit]

Main article: Science and the Bible

The universe, as presented literally in the Bible, consists of a flat earth within a geocentric arrangement of planets and stars (e.g. Joshua 10:12–13, Eccles. 1:5, Isaiah 40:22, 1 Chron. 16:30, Matthew 4:8, Rev. 7:1).[43]

Joshua 10:12 On the day that the Lord gave up the Amorites to the Israelites, Joshua stood before all the people of Israel and said to the Lord: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon. Moon, stand still over the Valley of Aijalon.” 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped until the people defeated their enemies.

Eccles. 1:5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.

Isaiah 40:22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

1 Chron. 16:30 Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.

Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

Rev. 7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.

Modern astronomy has provided overwhelming evidence that this model is false. The spherical shape of the earth was established with certainty by Hellenistic astronomers in the 3rd century BCE. The heliocentric nature of the solar system was conclusively established in the 16th century CE. Many modern Christians and Jews assert that these passages are written as metaphorical or phenomenological descriptions and not meant to be taken literally.[44] This response is intuitive given the modern prevalence of the expression "the sun rises" despite that it is common knowledge in the English speaking world that the sun does not, in fact, rise.

Another common point of criticism regards the Genesis creation narrative. According to young Earth creationism, which takes a literal view of the book of Genesis, the universe and all forms of life on Earth were created directly by God sometime between 5,700 and 10,000 years ago. This assertion is contradicted by radiocarbon dating of fossils, as well as modern understanding of genetics, evolution, and cosmology.[45] For instance, astrophysical evidence suggests that the universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old.[46] Moreover, it would require an impossibly high rate of mutation to account for the current amount of genetic variation in humans if all humans were descended from two individuals several thousand years ago.[47]

The argument that the literal story of Genesis can qualify as science collapses on three major grounds: the creationists' need to invoke miracles in order to compress the events of the earth's history into the biblical span of a few thousand years; their unwillingness to abandon claims clearly disproved, including the assertion that all fossils are products of Noah's flood; and their reliance upon distortion, misquote, half-quote, and citation out of context to characterize the ideas of their opponents.

Science-faith think tanks such as the Biologos foundation and Reasons to Believe have sought to reconcile these scientific challenges with the Christian faith.

The Bible and archaeology[edit]

According to one of the world's leading biblical archaeologists, William G. Dever,

"Archaeology certainly doesn't prove literal readings of the Bible...It calls them into question, and that's what bothers some people. Most people really think that archaeology is out there to prove the Bible. No archaeologist thinks so."[48] From the beginnings of what we call biblical archeology, perhaps 150 years ago, scholars, mostly western scholars, have attempted to use archeological data to prove the Bible. And for a long time it was thought to work. William Albright, the great father of our discipline, often spoke of the "archeological revolution." Well, the revolution has come but not in the way that Albright thought. The truth of the matter today is that archeology raises more questions about the historicity of the Hebrew Bible and even the New Testament than it provides answers, and that's very disturbing to some people.[49]

Dever also wrote:

Archaeology as it is practiced today must be able to challenge, as well as confirm, the Bible stories. Some things described there really did happen, but others did not. The biblical narratives about Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Solomon probably reflect some historical memories of people and places, but the 'larger than life' portraits of the Bible are unrealistic and contradicted by the archaeological evidence....[50] I am not reading the Bible as Scripture… I am in fact not even a theist. My view all along—and especially in the recent books—is first that the biblical narratives are indeed 'stories,' often fictional and almost always propagandistic, but that here and there they contain some valid historical information...[51]

Tel Aviv University archaeologist Ze'ev Herzog wrote in the Haaretz newspaper:

This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom. And it will come as an unpleasant shock to many that the God of Israel, YHWH, had a female consort and that the early Israelite religion adopted monotheism only in the waning period of the monarchy and not at Mount Sinai.[52][53]

Professor Finkelstein, who is known as "the father of biblical archaeology", told the Jerusalem Post that Jewish archaeologists have found no historical or archaeological evidence to back the biblical narrative on the Exodus, the Jews' wandering in Sinai or Joshua's conquest of Canaan. On the alleged Temple of Solomon, Finkelstein said that there is no archaeological evidence to prove it really existed.[54] Professor Yoni Mizrahi, an independent archaeologist who has worked with the International Atomic Energy Agency, agreed with Israel Finkelstein.[54]

Regarding the Exodus of Israelites from Egypt, Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass said:

“Really, it’s a myth,”... “This is my career as an archaeologist. I should tell them the truth. If the people are upset, that is not my problem.”[55]


See also: Bible prophecy

The alleged fulfillment of biblical prophecies is a popular argument used as evidence by Christian apologists to support the claimed divine inspiration of the Bible. They see the fulfillment of prophecies as proof of God's direct involvement in the writing of the Bible.[56]

Messianic prophecies[edit]

According to Christian apologists, the alleged fulfillment of the messianic prophecies in the mission, death, and resurrection of Jesus proves the accuracy of the Bible. However, according to Jewish scholars, Christian claims that Jesus is the messiah of the Hebrew Bible are based on mistranslations[57][58][59] and Jesus did not fulfill the qualifications for Jewish Messiah.

An example of this is Isaiah 7:14. Christians read Isaiah 7:14 as a prophetic prediction of Jesus' birth from a virgin, while Jews read it as referring to the birth of Ahaz's son, Hezekiah.[60][61] They also point out that the word Almah, used in Isaiah 7:14, is part of the Hebrew phrase ha-almah hara, meaning "the almah is pregnant." Since the present tense is used, they maintain that the young woman was already pregnant and hence not a virgin. This being the case, they claim the verse cannot be cited as a prediction of the future.[61][62]

Prophecies after the event[edit]

An example of an alleged after-the-fact prophecy is the Little Apocalypse recorded in the Olivet Discourse of the Gospel of Mark. It predicts the siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the Jewish Temple at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD. Most mainstream New Testament scholars concede this is an ex eventu (foretelling after the event), as are many of the prophecies in the Old Testament such as Daniel 11.[63][64][65][66][67][68][69]

Another example is Isaiah's prophecy about Cyrus the Great. Traditionally, the entire book of Isaiah is believed to pre-date the rule of Cyrus by about 120 years. These particular passages (Isaiah 40-55, often referred to as Deutero-Isaiah) are believed by most modern critical scholars to have been added by another author toward the end of the Babylonian exile (ca. 536 BC).[70] Whereas Isaiah 1-39 (referred to as Proto-Isaiah) saw the destruction of Israel as imminent, and the restoration in the future, Deutero-Isaiah speaks of the destruction in the past (Isa 42:24-25), and the restoration as imminent (Isiah 42:1-9). Notice, for example, the change in temporal perspective from (Isiah 39:6-7), where the Babylonian Captivity is cast far in the future, to (Isaiah 43:14), where the Israelites are spoken of as already in Babylon.[71]

The success of Joshua[edit]

The Book of Joshua describes the Israelite conquest of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, the son of one of the aides to Moses. After Moses' death, God tells Joshua to conquer Canaan and makes predictions of his success.[72] Amongst other things, Joshua was to be given a vast dominion that included all of the Hittite land, and the advantage of facing no one who could stand up to him.

While the Book of Joshua delineates many successful conquerings, the Canaanites were not amongst those conquered and the Israelites did suffer defeat. Judah, a leader of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, is unable to dislodge the Jebusites from Jerusalem and was forced to cohabit,[73] while the Manassites, another of the twelve tribes, lack the strength to occupy several Canaan towns.[74] Other bastions of resistance dot the landscape.[75][76] Even after Joshua's death, the land is only partially conquered with the Canaanites remaining a significant external threat.[77][78][79] Critics argue that Joshua never lives to see the full territory God promises him and that the substantial resistance put up by the indigenous population violates God's promise of battles in which no enemy was his equal.

The destruction of Tyre[edit]

Tyre harbour
  • Ezekiel predicts that the ancient city of Tyre will be utterly destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and "made a bare rock" that will "never be rebuilt" (Ezekiel 26:1, 26:7-14). However, Tyre withstood Nebuchadrezzar's siege for 13 years, ending in a compromise in which the royal family was taken into exile but the city survived intact.

Apologists cite the text as saying that the prophecy states that "many nations" would accomplish the destruction of Tyre, and claim that this refers to later conquerors (Ezekiel 26:3), but skeptics[80][81] counter that this was a reference to the "many nations" of Nebuchadrezzar's multinational force (Nebuchadrezzar was described by Ezekiel as "king of kings", i.e., an overking, a ruler over many nations), and that subsequent conquerors didn't permanently destroy Tyre either (it is now the fourth-largest city in Lebanon). Ezekiel himself admitted later that Nebuchadnezzar could not defeat Tyre (Ezekiel 29:18).

  • Ezekiel said Egypt would be made an uninhabited wasteland for forty years (Ezekiel 29:10-14), and Nebuchadnezzar would be allowed to plunder it (Ezekiel 29:19-20) as compensation for his earlier failure to plunder Tyre (see above). However, the armies of Pharaoh Amasis II defeated the Babylonians. History records that this Pharaoh (also known as Ahmose II) went on to enjoy a long and prosperous reign; Herodotus writes that:

It is said that it was during the reign of Ahmose II that Egypt attained its highest level of prosperity both in respect of what the river gave the land and in respect of what the land yielded to men and that the number of inhabited cities at that time reached in total 20,000.[82]

The prophecy in chapter 29 dates in December 588—January 587. 20 years later, in the year 568, Nebuchadnezzar attacked Egypt.[83] F.F. Bruce writes still more exactly that the Babylonian king invaded Egypt already after the siege of Tyre 585—573 BC and replaced the Pharaoh Hophra (Apries) by Amasis:

The siege of Tyre was followed by operations against Egypt itself. Hophra was defeated, deposed and replaced by Amasis, an Egyptian general. But in 568 BC Amasis revolted against Nebuchadnezzar, who then invaded and occupied part of the Egyptian frontier lands.[84]

Flavius Josephus even writes in his Antiquities, citing the 4th century Greek writer Megasthenes that Nebuchadnezzar had control of all northern Africa unto present day Spain:

Megasthenes also, in his fourth book of his Accounts of India, makes mention of these things, and thereby endeavours to show that this king (Nebuchadnezzar) exceeded Hercules in fortitude, and in the greatness of his actions; for he saith that he conquered a great part of Libya and Iberia.[85]

On the other hand, Nebuchadnezzar makes no mention of this campaign against Egypt in his inscriptions, at least that are currently known. It is too simple to argue with Herodotus, especially because his credibility was ever since contested.[86] The forty years are not to understand as an exact number. This figure became a significant period of chastisement to the Hebrews remembering the forty years in the desert after the exodus from Egypt.[87]

The protection of the King of Judah[edit]

  • Isaiah spoke of a prophecy God made to Ahaz, the King of Judah that he would not be harmed by his enemies (Isaiah 7:1-7), yet according to 2 Chronicles, the king of Aram and Israel did conquer Judah (2 Chronicles 28:1-6).

In Isaiah (Isaiah 7:9) the prophet says clearly that a prerequisite for the fulfillment of the prophecy is that Ahaz stands firm in his faith. F.F. Bruce claims that this means Ahaz should trust God and not seek military help in the Assyrians, which Ahaz did.[88]

The death of the king of Judah[edit]

  • In predicting Jerusalem's fall to Babylon, Jeremiah prophesied that Zedekiah, the king of Judah, would "die in peace" (Jeremiah 34:2-5). However, according to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 52:9-11), he was put in prison until the day of his death.

Apologists maintain that Zedekiah did not suffer the same terrible death as all the other nobles of Judah did when Nebuchadnezzar killed them in Riblah. Jeremiah also told Zedekiah in his prophecy that he would have to go to Babylon, which the Apologists claim implies that he will be imprisoned. There are no historical records of what happened with Zedekiah in Babylon[89] and a peaceful death is not ruled out.[citation needed]

The death of Josiah[edit]

Apologists allege that the prophecy of Huldah was partially fulfilled because Josiah did not see all the disaster the Babylonians brought over Jerusalem and Judah. The prophetess clearly stated that because of Josiah's repentance, he will be buried in peace. But the king did not keep his humble attitude. As mentioned in 2 Chronicles (2 Chronicles 35:22), he did not listen to God's command and fought against the Egyptian pharaoh Necho. It is quite possible that he did this "opposing the faithful prophetic party".[91] Prophecy in the biblical sense is except in some very few cases never a foretelling of future events but it wants to induce the hearers to repent, to admonish and to encourage respectively; biblical prophecy includes almost always a conditional element.[92]

Map showing the borders of the Promised Land, based on God's promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:18-21: In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

The land promised to Abraham[edit]

Main article: Promised Land
  • According to Genesis and Deuteronomy (Genesis 15:18, 17:8 and Deuteronomy 1:7-8), Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites will unconditionally (Deuteronomy 9:3-7) own all the land between the Nile River and the Euphrates River for an everlasting possession. But a critic says it never happened, that they never owned all that land forever.[93]

An apologist's counter-claim would be that a reading of Davidic conquests tells of the Israelite occupation of all the promised lands. F.F. Bruce writes:

David's sphere of influence now extended from the Egyptian frontier on the Wadi el-Arish (the "brook of Egypt") to the Euphrates; and these limits remained the ideal boundaries of Israel's dominion long after David's empire had disappeared.[94]

Acts 7:5 and Hebrews 11:13 are taken out of context if used as evidence against the fulfillment of these prophecies. Stephen does not state in Acts that the prophecy was not fulfilled. Moreover, it does not seem any problem for him to mention side by side the promise to Abraham himself and that Abraham did not get even a foot of ground. This becomes understandable with the concept of corporate personality. Jews are familiar with identifying individuals with the group they belong to. H. Wheeler Robinson writes that

Corporate personality is the important Semitic complex of thought in which there is a constant oscillation between the individual and the group—family, tribe, or nation—to which he belongs, so that the king or some other representative figure may be said to embody the group, or the group may be said to sum up the host of individuals.[95]

The letter to the Hebrews speaks about the promise of the heavenly country (Hebrews 11:13-16).

The fate of Damascus[edit]

  • According to Isaiah 17:1, "Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins", but in fact Damascus is considered among the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world.

An apologist's response to this statement is that this verse refers to the destruction of Damascus as a strong capital of Syria. This was fulfilled during the Syro-Ephraimite War.

The prophecy perhaps dates from about 735 BC, when Damascus and Israel were allied against Judah (Isaiah 7:1). Damascus was taken by Tiglath-Pileser in 732, and Samaria by Sargon in 721.[96]

The passage is consistent with 2 Kings 16:9, which states that Assyria defeated the city and exiled the civilians to Kir.

The fate of Jews who stay in Egypt[edit]

  • According to Jeremiah 42:17, Jews who choose to live in Egypt will all die and leave no remnant. But history shows that Jews continued to live there for centuries, later establishing a cultural center at Alexandria. A Jewish community exists at Alexandria even to this day.[97]

According to apologists, a more thorough examination of the surrounding text suggests that Jeremiah is stating that no refugees who flee to Egypt would return to Israel except for few fugitives. Jeremiah 42-44 had relevance mainly to the group of exiles who fled to Egypt. It emphasizes that the future hopes of a restored Israel lay elsewhere than with the exiles to Egypt.[98]

The return of Jewish prisoners of war[edit]

  • Isaiah and Jeremiah (Isaiah 27:12-13, Jeremiah 3:18, Jeremiah 31:1-23, and Jeremiah 33:7) predicted the return of the exiles taken from Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BC. It never happened. Following the conquest of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians in 721 BC, the 10 tribes were gradually assimilated by other peoples and thus disappeared from history.[99] Unlike the Kingdom of Judah, which was able to return from its Babylonian Captivity in 537 BC, the 10 tribes of the Kingdom of Israel never had a foreign edict granting permission to return and rebuild their homeland. Assyria has long since vanished, its capital, Nineveh, destroyed in 612 BC.

Apologists, however, charge that Luke 2:36 states that Anna the Prophetess, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher, was living as a widow in the sanctuary ministering to God with and fastings and petitions night and day. Thus, at least some (tiny) portion of Israel returned, since it was unlikely that a lone female would return to the land of Israel unaccompanied by kinsmen as safe escort.

Although the exiled Israelites from the Northern kingdom did not return from Assyria, apologists state that it must be considered that these passages also contain the expectation of the messianic days. Theologians point out that in Isaiah 27:12-13 Euphrates and the Wadi of Egypt represent the northern and southern borders of the Promised Land in its widest extent (Genesis 15:18) and thus they refer these verses to the return of the Israelites to Jerusalem in the last days, in the messianic time. Israelites will be gathered from wherever they have been expelled from the north, Assyria, to the south, Egypt.[100] Jeremiah's prophecy of Israel's and Judah's return from the north in Jeremiah 3:18 is preceded by the request of Yahweh to the Israelites to come back (verse 14). After fulfilling this condition God will increase their number and none will miss the ark of the covenant (verse 16). All nations will then honour the Lord (verse 17). Consequently, Christian scholars refer verse 18 to messianic times when there will be a kingdom united as in the days of David and Solomon.[101] Jeremiah 31 should be seen in context with chapter 30. Some scholars argue that these chapters were written early in Jeremiah's ministry and refer to Northern Israel. Later these poems were updated and referred to Judah as well, probably by Jeremiah himself, when it was realized that Judah had passed through similar experiences to those of Israel.[102] The Book of Consolation (Jeremiah 30:1—31:40) reaches his final, messianic scope in the establishment of a New Covenant between Yahweh and the House of Israel and the House of Judah.[103]

The strength of Judah[edit]

  • Isaiah 19:17 predicted that "the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt". Assuming that the 'terror' implied was a large-scale military attack of Egypt, it never happened.

According to theologians, the statement that the "land of Judah" will terrify the Egyptians is not a reference to a large army from Judah attacking Egypt, but a circumlocution for the place where God lives; it is God and his plans that will terrify Egypt. Verse 17 has to be understood in its context. The second "in that day" message from verse 18 announces the beginning of a deeper relationship between God and Egypt, which leads to Egypt's conversion and worshiping God (verses 19-21). The last "in that day" prophecy (verses 23-25) speaks about Israel, Assyria and Egypt as God's special people, thus, describing eschatological events.[104][105]

The identity of the conquerors of Babylon[edit]

Christian apologists state that the prophecy in Isaiah 13:21 could possibly have been directed originally against Assyria, whose capital Ninive was defeated 612 BC by a combined onslaught of the Medes and Babylonians. According to this explanation the prophecy was later updated and referred to Babylon[106] not recognizing the rising power of Persia. On the other hand, it can be mentioned that the Persian king Cyrus after overthrowing Media in 550 BC did not treat the Medes as a subject nation.

Instead of treating the Medes as a beaten foe and a subject nation, he had himself installed as king of Media and governed Media and Persia as a dual monarchy, each part of which enjoyed equal rights.[107]

Jeremiah prophesied at the height of the Median empire's power, and thus he was probably influenced to see the Medes as the nation that will conquer Babylon. Several proposals were brought forth for "Darius the Mede" out of which one says that Cyrus the Great is meant in Daniel 5:31.

Jehoiakim prophecies[edit]

Apologists respond that this is not a prophecy but a statement. Daniel 1:1 is a problem of dating. But already F.F. Bruce solved this problem explaining that when Nebuchadnezzar, son of king Nabopolassar, was put in charge over a part of his forces, he defeated Necho in the battle of Carchemish 605 BC. In this situation his father Nabopolassar died. Before Nebuchadnezzar as heir apparent returned to Babylon he settled the affairs in the Asiatic countries bordering the Egyptian frontier, which means also Judah, and took captives from several countries as, for example, also from the Jews.[108]

  • Jeremiah prophesied that the body of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, would be desecrated after his death (Jeremiah 22:18-19, Jeremiah 36:30-31). However, his death was recorded in 2 Kings 24:6 where it says that "Jehoiakim slept with his fathers". This is a familiar Bible expression that was used to denote a peaceful death and respectful burial. David slept with his fathers (1 Kings 2:10) and so did Solomon (1 Kings 11:43). On the other hand, 2 Chronicles 36:5-6 states that Nebuchadnezzar came against Jehoiakim, bound him in fetters, and carried him to Babylon. Judging from the treatment Zedekiah was accorded when the Babylonians bound him and carried him away to Babylon (Jeremiah 52:9-11), one might justifiably argue that his body probably was desecrated after his death. Jeremiah, however, predicted that Jehoiakim's own people would be his desecraters, that his own people would not accord him lamentations appropriate for a king, that his own people would cast his body "out beyond the gates of Jerusalem".

Apologists proposal for a partial solution:

In the 7th year of his reign, in the month of Kislev (December/January 598/97), Nebuchadnezzar himself left Babylon and undertook the subjection of rebellious Judah. In that same month, King Jehoiakim died in Jerusalem. (On the basis of a comparison with 2 Kings 24:6,8,10ff, with the Babylonian Chronicle, Wiseman 73, lines 11-13, Kislev is the ninth month. In the twelfth month, Adar, Jerusalem was taken. Jehoiachin's reign falls in these three months.) It is not impossible that he was murdered by a political faction who thereby sought more mild treatment for their country. His 18-year-old son Jehoiachin was raised to the throne (2 Kings 24:8). Three months later Jerusalem was entirely surrounded by Babylonians. Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the city of Judah (al-ya-ahu-du), and on the second day of the month of Adar he comquered the city and took its king prisoner.[109]

Also F.F. Bruce writes that Jehoiakim died in Juda before the siege of Jerusalem began.[110] This would mean that Jehoiakim was desecrated after his death and in this way the prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled. The passage in 2 Chronicles 36:5-6 does not speak explicitly about Jehoiakim's death. Thus, it can be seen as a parallel to Daniel 1:1-2[111] which speaks about an event in the lifetime of the king of Judah (see paragraph above). 2 Kings 24:6, nevertheless, remains unclear.

  • Part of the desecration prophecy was that Jehoiakim would "have no one to sit upon the throne of David" (Jeremiah 36:30), but this too was proven false. Upon Jehoiakim's death, his son Jehoiachin "reigned in his stead" for a period of three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:8-9, 2 Kings 24:6-8). Also, there are biblical genealogies that purport to show Jehoiakim as a direct ancestor of Jesus (1 Chronicles 3:16-17, Matthew 1:11-12).[90]

Apologists say that if Jehoiakim had not been killed by his own people, on the condition that this supposition is true (see preceding paragraph), in all likelihood, Jehoiakim would have been put to death by the Babylonians. The Israelites anticipated what Nebuchadnezzar intended to do. In this case, most probable, Jehoiakim's son Jehoiachin would not have become king and Jeremiah's prophecy would have been fulfilled in its full sense. Jehoiachin's successor, Zedekiah, was no descendant of Jehoiakim, but his brother.

The double reckoning of Jehoiachin in Matthew 1:11-12 is made possible by the fact that the same Greek name can translate the two similar Hebrew names Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin.[112] In this way in verse 11 Jehoiakim and in verse 12 Jehoiachin is meant. The verse Jeremiah 36:30 says that Jehoiakim's descendants will not be kings in Judah anymore. This does not mean that he cannot be an ancestor of the Messiah.

New Testament[edit]

The Wailing Wall by night. According to Luke 19:41-44: As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you.

Jesus said in Matt. 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 19:44; Luke 21:6 that "no stone" of Jerusalem or of the Second Temple would be left upon another. This prophecy failed, as the wailing wall (a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple's courtyard,) still remains.

In reply, John Robinson writes that

it was the temple that perished by fire while the walls of the city were thrown down.[113]

The imminence of the second coming[edit]

See also: Second coming

Jesus prophesied that the second coming would occur during the lifetime of his followers and Caiphas, and immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE (referred to as abomination of desolation in Matt 24:15).

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. (Matthew 16:27-28)

"When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes." (Matthew 10:23)

..Again the high priest (Caiphas) asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?""I am", said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Mark 14:61-62)

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. "Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us", they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-and never to be equaled again. Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (Matthew 24)

(see also Mark 13:1-30, Luke 21:5-35, Mark 13:30-31, Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27, John 21:22, Matthew 26:62-64, Mark 14:62)

It may be argued that Jesus was not speaking of the second coming in Matthew 16:28 but instead referred to a demonstration of his or God's might; a viewpoint which allows the fulfillment of the prophesy through a variety of traumatic events, notably, the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 AD. The temple's destruction is held by proponents to demonstrate that God was on the side of the Christian people rather than that of the Jews. However, at that time only some of Jesus' disciples still lived.[114] In the same way Matthew 10:23 should be understood.[115] Note, however, that this view (referred to as Preterism) is not the majority view among American denominations, especially by denominations that espouse Dispensationalism.[116][117][118] Furthermore, it is a misunderstanding that Jesus meant Caiphas in Mark 14:62. The word "you will see" is in Greek "ὄψεσθε" [opsesthe, from the infinitive optomai],[119] which is plural and not singular. Jesus meant that the Jews, and not just the high priest, will see his coming.

This prophecy is also seen in the Revelation of Jesus to John.

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,... Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. (Revelation 1:1,7)

"Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book. ... Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." ... He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:7,12,20)

Despite the strongly repeated promises to the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 1:4,11) in the 1st century CE, Jesus has not come quickly or shortly according to critics.

Apologists respond that the word "soon" (other translations use "shortly" or "quickly") does not have to be understood in the sense of close future. The Norwegian scholar Thorleif Boman explained that the Israelites, unlike Europeans or people in the West, did not understand time as something measurable or calculable according to Hebrew thinking but as something qualitative.

We have examined the ideas underlying the expression of calculable time and more than once have found that the Israelites understood time as something qualitative, because for them time is determined by its content.[120]

...the Semitic concept of time is closely coincident with that of its content without which time would be quite impossible. The quantity of duration completely recedes behind the characteristic feature that enters with time or advances in it. Johannes Pedersen comes to the same conclusion when he distinguishes sharply between the Semitic understanding of time and ours. According to him, time is for us an abstraction since we distinguish time from the events that occur in time. The ancient Semites did not do this; for them time is determined by its content.[121]

In this way expressions of time, such as "soon", do not mean that the denoted event will take place in close future but that it will be the next significant event.[122]

The Apostle Paul also predicted that the second coming would be within his own lifetime, 1 Thessalonians 4:17:

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.


The philosopher Porphyry (232-305 CE), in his Kata Christianon (Against the Christians), a book burned and banned by the church in 448 CE writes of Paul:

Another of his astonishingly silly comments needs to be examined: I mean that wise saying of his, to the effect that, We who are alive and persevere shall not precede those who are asleep when the lord comes—for the lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout... and the trumpet of god shall sound, and those who have died in Christ shall rise first- then we who are alive shall be caught up together with them in a cloud to meet the lord in the air... Indeed—there is something here that reaches up to heaven: the magnitude of this lie. When told to dumb bears, to silly frogs and geese—they bellow or croak or quack with delight to hear of the bodies of men flying through the air like birds or being carried about on the clouds. This belief is quackery of the first rate.

The apologists answer for the passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is that Paul speaks about his own presence at the last day only hypothetically. He identifies himself with those Christians who will still live in the time of Jesus' return but does not want to express that he himself will still experience this.[124] That becomes fully clear some verses later in which he says that the Day of the Lord comes like a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). The comparison of the Day of the Lord with a thief is a word of Jesus himself (Matthew 24:43-44), which expresses the impossibility to say anything about the date of his second coming (Matthew 24:36).

Notable critics[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jackson, S H. (1824). The Jew; being a defence of Judaism against all adversaries, and the attacks of Israel's advocate [publ. by the American society for meliorating the condition of the Jews], ed. [really written] by S.H. Jackson. pp. 86, 90. Inquiry into the nature of any proposition is absolutely necessary ; particularly in matters offered for our [the Jews] conversion. And it is a very just observation of Mr. Basnage, who says, "We must prove the divine authority of the Gospel (to the Jews) before we engage in the particulars of other controversies." (History of the Jews, b. 7. c. 34.) And I add, till this is done, and the Jews admit the divine authority of the New Testament, nothing can be urged from thence for their conversion : for, in controversies, neither party can, with the least shadow of reason, make use of any authority which is not admitted or granted by the other. [...] I conclude that the writers of the New Testament could not be under the infallible guidance of God ; neither do I find that they published or gave out their writings as such. And if they did not declare themselves inspired, what authority could any one else have to declare them so? On the contrary, it very evidently appears that there was no scriptures, no writings, deemed canonical in what is called the first ages of ......ianity [Christianity], but the Old Testament ! (Image of p. 86 & p. 90 at Google Books) 
  2. ^ a b "Bible." The Crystal Reference Encyclopedia. West Chiltington: Crystal Reference, 2005. Credo Reference. 29 July 2009
  3. ^ Vincent L. Milner; Hannah Adams (1860). Religious Denominations of the World: Comprising a General View of the Origin, History, and Condition, of the Various Sects of Christians, the Jews and Mahometans, as Well as the Pagan Forms of Religion Existing in the Different Countries of the Earth; with Sketches of the Founders of Various Religious Sects. J. W. Bradley. p. 325. He [Marcion] further maintained that the law of Moses, with its threats and promises of things terrestrial, was a contrivance of the evil principle in order to bind men still more to the earth. (Image of p. 325 at Google Books) 
  4. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (2003). Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew. New York: Oxford. pp. 122–123, 185. ISBN 0-19-514183-0. 
  5. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (2004). The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. New York: Oxford. pp. 372–3. ISBN 0-19-515462-2.  Brown, Raymond E. (1997). Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Anchor Bible. pp. 621, 639, 654. ISBN 0-385-24767-2.  Scholars who hold to Pauline authorship include Wohlenberg, Lock, Meinertz, Thornell, Schlatter, Spicq, Jeremais, Simpson, Kelly, and Fee. Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, p. 622.
  6. ^ Graves, Kersey (1875). The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors: Or, Christianity Before Christ, Containing New, Startling, and Extraordinary Revelations in Religious History, which Disclose the Oriental Origin of All the Doctrines, Principles, Precepts, and Miracles of the Christian New Testament, and Furnishing a Key for Unlocking Many of Its Sacred Mysteries, Besides Comprising the History of 16 Heathen Crucified Gods. Freethought Press. pp. 22–23. 3. Here I desire to impress upon the minds of my clerical brethren the important fact, that the gospel histories of Christ were written by men who had formerly been Jews (see Acts xxi. 20), and probably possessing the strong proclivity to imitate and borrow which their bible shows was characteristic of that nation ; and being written many years after Christ's death, according to that standard Christian author, Dr. Lardner, it was impossible, under such circumstances, for them to separate (if they had desired to) the real facts and events of his life from the innumerable fictions and fables then afloat everywhere relative to the heathen Gods who had pre-enacted a similar history. Two reasons are thus furnished for their constructing a history of Christ almost identical with that of other Gods, as shown in chapters XXX., XXXI. and XXXII. of this work. (Image of p. 22 & p. 23 at Google Books) 
  7. ^ Massey, Gerald (1883). "The Kamite Typology". The Natural Genesis: Or, Second Part of A Book of the Beginnings, Containing an Attempt to Recover and Reconstitute the Lost Origines of the Myths and Mysteries, Types and Symbols, Religion and Language, with Egypt for the Mouthpiece and Africa as the Birthplace 1. Williams and Norgate. p. 13. The human mind has long suffered an eclipse and been darkened and dwarfed in the shadow of ideas, the real meaning of which has been lost to the moderns. Myths and allegories whose significance was once unfolded to initiates in the mysteries have been adopted in ignorance and re-issued as real truths directly and divinely vouchsafed to mankind for the first and only time: The earlier religions had their myths interpreted. We have ours mis-interpreted. And a great deal of what has been imposed on us as God's own true and sole revelation to man is a mass of inverted myth. (Image of p. 13 at Google Books) 
  8. ^ Massey, Gerald (1907). "Child-Horus". Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World: A Work of Reclamation and Restitution in Twelve Books 2. T. F. Unwin. p. 752. Christian ignorance notwithstanding, the Gnostic Jesus is the Egyptian Horus who was continued by the various sects of gnostics under both the names of Horus and of Jesus. In the gnostic iconography of the Roman Catacombs child-Horus reappears as the mummy-babe who wears the solar disc. The royal Horus is represented in the cloak of royalty, and the phallic emblem found there witnesses to Jesus being Horus of the resurrection. (Image of p. 752 at Google Books) 
  9. ^ Freke, Timothy and Gandy, Peter (1999) The Jesus Mysteries. London: Thorsons (Harper Collins)
  10. ^ Barnes, Harry Elmer (1929). The Twilight of Christianity. New York: Vanguard Press. pp. 390–391. Among the more eminent scholars and critics who have contended that Jesus was not an actual historical figure we mention Bruno Bauer, Kaithoff, Drews, Stendel, Felder, Deye, Jensen, Lublinski, Bolland, Van der Berg, Virolleaud, Couchoud, Massey, Bossi, Niemojewski, Brandes, Robertson, Mead, Whittaker, Carpenter and W. B. Smith. 
  11. ^ Drews, Arthur (1912). "Part 4, Section 1". The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus ... Translated by Joseph McCabe [from Die Christusmythe.]. London. There is no other source of the belief in an historical Jesus but the gospels. The credibility of the historical documents of Christianity finds no support outside themselves. (Part 4, Section 1. at Wikisource) 
  12. ^ Evans, Elizabeth E. (1900). The Christ Myth: A Study. Truth Seeker Company. p. 17. There is evidence that all the Gospels were borrowed from an earlier source, but whether that source was history or romance, and whether the author or the later compilers dressed up foreign and ancient materials in local and contemporary attire, cannot be known. The earliest "Fathers" of the Christian church do not mention nor allude to any one of the Gospels, but they do quote from some other work or works in language similar to and in substance sometimes agreeing with sometimes differing from, the canonical Gospels. (Image of p. 17 at Google Books) 
  13. ^ "New Foe Of Religion Arises". Chicago Tribune. February 6, 1910. Retrieved 30 August 2015. NEW FOE OF RELIGION ARISES--German Professor Maintains the Messiah Never Lived.--BIG DEBATES IN PUBLIC.--Women Overcome by Hysteria Interrupt Disputants.--[BY CABLE TO THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE.]--BERLIN. Feb. 5.—Berlin was this week the scene of one of the most remarkable theological discussions since the days of Martin Luther. It was provoked by Prof. Arthur Drews of Karlsruhe, who caused a public sensation by plastering the billboards of the town with posters propounding the startling question:--"Did Jesus Christ ever live?"  ...Prof. Drews appeared in Berlin under the auspices of the League of Monists, whose position, as their name denotes, is akin to those who express their creed in the formula, "There is no God but God; for hear, O Israel, the Lord, thy God, is the one God."-- The professor laid down his theories after the classic manner of old time university disputations. The gist of his position in large measure was like the mythical theory of David Strauss, which created a sensation fifty years ago. Strauss held there was verity in the historic Christ, but that the vast mass of miracle and supernatural wonders had been woven like wreaths around the head of Jesus. Drews goes further. He alleges there never was such a person as Jesus of Nazareth. 
  14. ^ Dawkins, Richard (16 January 2008). "The Argument from Scripture". The God Delusion. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 118. ISBN 0-547-34866-5. The Argument from Scripture: The fact that something is written down is persuasive to people not used to asking questions like: ‘Who wrote it, and when?’ ‘How did they know what to write?’ ‘Did they, in their time, really mean what we, in our time, understand them to be saying?’ ‘Were they unbiased observers, or did they have an agenda that coloured their writing?’ Ever since the nineteenth century, scholarly theologians have made an overwhelming case that the gospels are not reliable accounts of what happened in the history of the real world. All were written long after the death of Jesus, and also after the epistles of Paul, which mention almost none of the alleged facts of Jesus’ life. All were then copied and recopied, through many different ‘Chinese Whispers generations’ (see Chapter 5) by fallible scribes who, in any case, had their own religious agendas. 
  15. ^ Huxley, Thomas Henry (1892). "Agnosticism And Christianity". Essays Upon Some Controverted Questions. Macmillan. p. 364. Agnosticism And Christianity: Therefore, although it be, as I believe, demonstrable that we have no real knowledge of the authorship, or of the date of composition of the Gospels, as they have come down to us, and that nothing better than more or less probable guesses can be arrived at on that subject. (Image of p. 364 at Google Books) 
  16. ^ Besant, Annie Wood (1893). Christianity, Its Evidences, Its Origin, Its Morality, Its History. R. Forder. p. 261. (D.) That before about A.D. 180 there is no trace of FOUR gospels among the Christians.  ...As it is not pretended by any that there is any mention of four Gospels before the time of Irenaeus, excepting this "harmony," pleaded by some as dated about A.D. 170 and by others as between 170 and 180, it would be sheer waste of time and space to prove further a point admitted on all hands. This step of our argument is, then on solid and unassailable ground —That before about A.D. 180 there is no trace of FOUR gospels among the Christians. (E.) That, before that date, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are not selected as the four evangelists. This position necessarily follows from the preceding one [D.], since four evangelists could not be selected until four Gospels were recognised. Here, again, Dr. Giles supports the argument we are building up. He says : "Justin Martyr never once mentions by name the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This circumstance is of great importance ; for those who assert that our four canonical Gospels are contemporary records of our Saviour's ministry, ascribe them to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and to no other writers." (Image of p. 261 at Google Books) 
  17. ^ Paine, Thomas (1898). The Age of Reason: Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology. Truth Seeker Company. p. 143. But exclusive of this the presumption is that the books called the Evangelists, and ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and that they are impositions. The disordered state of the history in these four books, the silence of one book upon matters related in the others, and the disagreement that is to be found among them, implies that they are the production of some unconnected individuals, many years after the things they pretend to relate, each of whom made his own legend; and not the writings of men living intimately together, as the men called apostles are supposed to have done; in fine, that they have been manufactured, as the books of the Old Testament have been by other persons than those whose names they bear. (Image of p. 143 at Google Books) 
  18. ^ Maurice Casey Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?. T&T Clark. 2014. p.24.
  19. ^ Moore, Megan Bishop; Kelle, Brad E. (17 May 2011). Biblical History and Israel S Past: The Changing Study of the Bible and History. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-8028-6260-0. 
  20. ^ Carrier, Richard (2009). "Mark 16:9-20 as Forgery or Fabrication". Errancy Wiki. If Mark did not write verses 16:9-20, but some anonymous person(s) later added those verses, pretending (or erroneously believing) that Mark wrote them (as in fact they must have), then this Gospel, and thus the Bible as a whole, cannot be regarded as inerrant, or even consistently reliable. 
  21. ^ Tobin, Paul N. (2009). "The Bible". The Rejection of Pascal's Wager. Paul N. Tobin. Retrieved 8 September 2015. Many of the epistles attributed to Paul were not written by the apostle: Clearly, the epistles of Peter could not have been written by the apostle himself. Such epistles, which pretend to be written by prophets or apostles, are called pseudepigrapha. They were written in such a way so as to give the epistles enhanced authority. Pseudepigrapha are very common in Judeo-Christian history. The correct modern name for pseudepigrapha is not ghost writers but impostors. Even the theologians Robert Davidson and A.R.C. Leaney referred to them (I & II Peter & Jude) as "fictitious testaments". [...] Conclusions: What can we conclude from our study of the Bible? It is filled with scientific errors, contradictions and numerous other errors; Many of its myths are not even original, but were derived from earlier middle eastern myths; The authors are largely anonymous; ...In short, the Bible is not a "good Book". 
  22. ^ "Bible." The Columbia Encyclopedia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. Credo Reference. 29 July 2009
  23. ^ The Bible in the Syriac tradition, Sebastian P. Brock, p. 13
  24. ^ God's conflict with the dragon and the sea: echoes of a Canaanite myth, John Day
  25. ^ Understanding Biblical Israel: a reexamination of the origins of monotheism, Stanley Ned Rosenbaum
  26. ^ The Jewish religion: a companion By Louis Jacobs, p. 251
  27. ^ Eric Pement, Gimme the Bible that Paul used: A look at the King James Only debate online.
  28. ^ Genesis 19:30-36
  29. ^ "How Can We Trust a Bible that Tolerated Slavery?" Discovery Series, RBC Ministries. July 27, 2009.
  30. ^ [1][dead link]
  31. ^ Schulweis, Harold M. (2009). Conscience: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights. pp. 28–30. ISBN 1-58023-419-4. 
  32. ^ Saugstad, Andreas. "Nietzsche & Christianity" July 28, 2009.
  33. ^ "Contradictions from the Skeptic's Annotated Bible". Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  34. ^ Knight, George William, Howard Marshall, and W. Ward Gasque. The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary). William. B. Eerdmans, 1997. ISBN 0-8028-2395-5 / 9780802823953
  35. ^ Brown, Raymond Edward (1999-05-18). The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library). Yale University Press. p. 36. ISBN 0-300-14008-8. 
  36. ^ W.D Davies and E. P. Sanders, 'Jesus from the Jewish point of view', in The Cambridge History of Judaism ed William Horbury, vol 3: the Early Roman Period, 1984.
  37. ^ Sanders, Ed Parish (1993). The Historical Figure of Jesus. London: Allen Lane. p. 85. ISBN 0-7139-9059-7. 
  38. ^ Hurtado, Larry W. (June 2003). Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans. p. 319. ISBN 0-8028-6070-2. 
  39. ^ Brown, Raymond Edward (1977). The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. pp. 104–121. ISBN 0-385-05907-8. 
  40. ^ The role and function of repentance in Luke-Acts, by Guy D. Nave, pg 194 – see
  41. ^ The Continuing Christian Need for Judaism, by John Shelby Spong, Christian Century September 26, 1979, p. 918. see
  42. ^ Feminist companion to the New Testament and early Christian writings, Volume 5, by Amy-Jill Levine, Marianne Blickenstaff, pg175 – see
  43. ^ Driscoll, J.F. (1909). "Firmament". In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 26 May 2008 from New Advent. ("That the Hebrews entertained similar ideas appears from numerous biblical passages...").
  44. ^ The Galileo Controversy at Catholic Answers
  45. ^
  46. ^ "Cosmic Detectives". The European Space Agency (ESA). 2013-04-02. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  47. ^ Barbara Bradley Hagerty (August 9, 2011). "Evangelicals Question The Existence Of Adam And Eve". All Things Considered. 
  48. ^ Bible gets a reality check, MSNBC, Alan Boyle
  49. ^ The Bible's Buried Secrets, PBS Nova, 2008
  50. ^ Dever, William G. (March–April 2006). "The Western Cultural Tradition Is at Risk". Biblical Archaeology Review 32 (2): 26 & 76. 
  51. ^ Dever, William G. (January 2003). "Contra Davies". The Bible and Interpretation. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  52. ^ The Nature of Home: A Lexicon of Essays, Lisa Knopp, p. 126
  53. ^ Deconstructing the walls of Jericho
  54. ^ a b
  55. ^ Did the Red Sea Part? No Evidence, Archaeologists Say, The New York Times, April 3, 2007
  56. ^ Nathan Busenitz, John MacArthur. Reasons We Believe. Crossway, 2008. ISBN 1-4335-0146-5 / 9781433501463. Aug. 6, 2009: [2]
  57. ^ Why did the majority of the Jewish world reject Jesus as the Messiah, and why did the first Christians accept Jesus as the Messiah? by Rabbi Shraga Simmons (
  58. ^ Michoel Drazin (1990). Their Hollow Inheritance. A Comprehensive Refutation of Christian Missionaries. Gefen Publishing House, Ltd. ISBN 965-229-070-X. 
  59. ^ Troki, Isaac. "Faith Strengthened".
  60. ^ Glaser, Zhava. "Almah: Virgin or Young Maiden?" Issues—A Messianic Jewish Perspective. July 30, 2009.
  61. ^ a b "The Jewish Perspective on Isaiah 7:14". Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  62. ^ Why do Jews reject the Christian dogma of the virgin birth? The Second Jewish Book Of Why p.66 by Alfred J. Kolatch 1985
  63. ^ Peter, Kirby (2001–2007). "Early Christian Writings: Gospel of Mark". Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  64. ^ Achtemeier, Paul J. (1992). "The Gospel of Mark". The Anchor Bible Dictionary 4. New York, New York: Doubleday. p. 545. ISBN 0-385-19362-9. 
  65. ^ Meier, John P. (1991). A Marginal Jew. New York, New York: Doubleday. pp. v.2 955–6. ISBN 0-385-46993-4. 
  66. ^ Helms, Randel (1997). Who Wrote the Gospels?. Altadena, California: Millennium Press. p. 8. ISBN 0-9655047-2-7. 
  67. ^ Funk, Robert W.; Hoover, Roy W.; The Jesus Seminar (1993). The five Gospels: the search for the authentic words of Jesus: new translation and commentary. New York, New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0-02-541949-8. 
  68. ^ Crossan, John Dominic (1991). The historical Jesus: the life of a Mediterranean Jewish peasant. San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0-06-061629-6. 
  69. ^ Eisenman, Robert J. (1998). James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Penguin Books. p. 56. ISBN 0-14-025773-X. 
  70. ^ Simon John De Vries: From old Revelation to new: a tradition-historical and redaction-critical study of temporal transitions in prophetic prediction. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing 1995, ISBN 978-0-8028-0683-3, p. 126
  71. ^ Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard: Mercer dictionary of the Bible. Mercer University Press 1990, ISBN 978-0-86554-373-7, p. 414
  72. ^ Joshua 1:1-9
  73. ^ Joshua 15:63
  74. ^ Joshua 17:12-13
  75. ^ F.F. Bruce, Israel and the nations, Michigan, 1981, page 19.
  76. ^ Judges 3:5-6
  77. ^ Biblical peoples and ethnicity: an archaeological study of Egyptians, Ann E. Killebrew, pp. 152-154, 2005
  78. ^ International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, p. 1136
  79. ^ The Old Testament world, By John Rogerson, Philip R. Davies, 1989, p. 358
  80. ^ "The Tyre Prophecy Again". The Skeptical Review. March–April 1999. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  81. ^ "Ezekiel and the Oracles against Tyre". CRI/Voice Institute. 2006. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  82. ^ Herodotus, (II, 177, 1)
  83. ^ New Jerusalem Bible, Standard Edition published 1985, introductions and notes are a translation of those that appear in La Bible de Jerusalem—revised edition 1973, Bombay 2002; footnote to Ezekiel 29:1,19.
  84. ^ F.F. Bruce, Israel and the nations, Michigan, 1981, pages 94.
  85. ^ "Flavius Josephus, Antiquities Book X, chapter 11, first paragraph". Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  86. ^ John Marincola, Classical Association, Greek historians, Cambridge University Press, 2001, pages 37-39. ISBN 978-0-19-922501-9. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  87. ^ Frederic Charles Cook, ed. (2006-10-04). "Bible Commentary: Proverbs-Ezekiel—footnote to Ezekiel 29:10-12". Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  88. ^ F.F. Bruce, Israel and the nations, Michigan, 1981, pages 62-67
  89. ^ Siegfried Herrmann, A history of Israel in Old Testament times, London, 1981, SCM Press Ltd, page 284.
  90. ^ a b "Prophecies: Imaginary and fulfilled". Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  91. ^ F.F. Bruce, Israel and the nations, Michigan, 1981, page 84.
  92. ^ New Jerusalem Bible, Standard Edition published 1985, introductions and notes are a translation of those that appear in La Bible de Jerusalem—revised edition 1973, Bombay 2002; page 1189—introduction to the book of Jonah.
  93. ^ "Yahweh's Failed Land Promise, Farrell Till". Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  94. ^ F.F. Bruce, Israel and the nations, Michigan, 1981, page 32.
  95. ^ Greidanus, Sidney (1999). Preaching Christ from the Old Testament. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 198. ISBN 978-0-8028-4449-1. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  96. ^ New Jerusalem Bible, Standard Edition published 1985, introductions and notes are a translation of those that appear in La Bible de Jerusalem—revised edition 1973, Bombay 2002; footnote to Isaiah 17:1
  97. ^ "The Argument from the Bible (1996)". Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  98. ^ John Arthur Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1980, page 141.
  99. ^ "Ten Lost Tribes of Israel". Britannica Online. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  100. ^ Herbert M. Wolf, Interpreting Isaiah, published by Zondervan, 1985, page 146
  101. ^ New Jerusalem Bible, Standard Edition published 1985, introductions and notes are a translation of those that appear in La Bible de Jerusalem—revised edition 1973, Bombay 2002; footnote to Jeremiah 3:18
  102. ^ John Arthur Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1980, page 552
  103. ^ New Jerusalem Bible, Standard Edition published 1985, introductions and notes are a translation of those that appear in La Bible de Jerusalem—revised edition 1973, Bombay 2002; footnote to Jeremiah 30
  104. ^ Gary V. Smith, Isaiah 1-39, B&H Publishing Group, 2007, pages 360-363
  105. ^ John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1-39, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1986, pages 375-381
  106. ^ New Jerusalem Bible, Standard Edition published 1985, introductions and notes are a translation of those that appear in La Bible de Jerusalem—revised edition 1973, Bombay 2002; footnote to Isaiah 21:1.
  107. ^ F.F. Bruce, Israel and the nations, Michigan, 1981, page 96.
  108. ^ Daniel's First Verse by F.F.Bruce
  109. ^ Claus Schedl, History of the Old Testament, Volume IV, Translation of 'Geschichte des Alten Testaments', Society of St.Paul, Staten Island, New York 10314, 1972, pages 349-350
  110. ^ F.F. Bruce, Israel and the nations, Michigan, 1981, pages 88.
  111. ^ New Jerusalem Bible, Standard Edition published 1985, introductions and notes are a translation of those that appear in La Bible de Jerusalem—revised edition 1973, Bombay 2002; footnote to 2 Chronicles 36:6
  112. ^ New Jerusalem Bible, Standard Edition published 1985, introductions and notes are a translation of those that appear in La Bible de Jerusalem—revised edition 1973, Bombay 2002; footnote to Matthew 11:1.
  113. ^ John A.T., Robinson, Redating the New Testament, London, 1976, page 20
  114. ^ Dr. Knox Chamblin, Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary: Commentary on Matthew 16:21-28—see last 4 paragraphs
  115. ^ Theodor Zahn, F.F. Bruce, J. Barton Payne, etc. hold this opinion is the meaning of Matthew 10:23?
  116. ^ Riemer, Michael (2000). IT Was At Hand. p. 12. 
  117. ^ Garland, Anthony (2007). A Testimony of Jesus Christ—Volume 1. p. 114. 
  118. ^ Sproul, RC (1998). The Last Days According to Jesus. p. 156. 
  119. ^ Online Interlinear New Testament in Greek—Matthew 26
  120. ^ Thorleif Boman, Hebrew Thought compared with Greek, W.W.Norton & Company, New York—London, 1970, page 137
  121. ^ Thorleif Boman, Hebrew Thought compared with Greek, W.W.Norton & Company, New York—London, 1970, page 139
  122. ^ Witherington, III, The Paul Quest, InterVarsity Press, 2001, page 140
  123. ^ See also 1Cor7:29-31, 15:51-54 andRomans 13:12
  124. ^ New Jerusalem Bible, Standard Edition published 1985, introductions and notes are a translation of those that appear in La Bible de Jerusalem—revised edition 1973, Bombay 2002; footnote to 1 Thessalonians 4:15: "Paul includes himself among those who will be present at the parousia: more by aspiration, however, than by conviction."
  125. ^ Einstein: "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."
  126. ^ Brandt, Eric T., and Timothy Larsen (2011). "The Old Atheism Revisited: Robert G. Ingersoll and the Bible". Journal of the Historical Society 11 (2): 211–238. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5923.2011.00330.x. 

Further reading[edit]

  • The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy, by C. Dennis McKinsey (Prometheus Books 1995)
  • The Historical Evidence for Jesus, by G.A. Wells (Prometheus Books 1988)
  • The Bible unearthed, by I. Finkelstein and N. Asherman (Touchstone 2001)
  • David and Solomon, by I. Finkelstein and N. Asherman (Freepress 2006)
  • The Jesus Mysteries, by T. Freke and P. Gandy (Element 1999)
  • The Jesus Puzzle, by Earl Doherty (Age of Reason Publications 1999)
  • Not the Impossible Faith, by R. Carrier (Lulu 2009)
  • BC The archaeology of the Bible lands, by Magnus Magnusson (Bodley Head 1977)
  • godless, by Dan Barker (Ulysses Press 2008)
  • Why I became an Atheist, by John W. Loftus (Prometheus books 2008)
  • The greatest show on earth, by Richard Dawkins (Blackswan 2007)
  • The god delusion, by Richard Dawkins (Blackswan 2010)
  • 101 myths of the Bible by Gary Greenberg (Sourcebooks 2000)
  • Secret origins of the Bible by Tim Callahan (Millennium Press 2002)
  • The Origins of Biblical Monotheism by Mark S. Smith (Oxford University Press 2001)

External links[edit]