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-Was Jesus a Real Person? Historical Evidence Beyond the Bible

by Dr. D ~ May 22nd, 2015

Gaius_Cornelius_Tacitus

          (Tacitus via Wikipedia)

I recently read one of the best summaries ever of all of the historical evidence for the real existence of the man called Jesus of Nazareth in a recent edition of the Biblical Archaeology Review (Jan/Feb 2015):

Did Jesus Exist? Searching for Evidence Beyond the Bible” by Dr. Lawrence Mykytiuk of Purdue University

It has become popular in secular and atheist circles to claim that Jesus never really existed as a real person in history. I have noted all of the conclusive historical evidence for his existence before on this site. However, Dr. Mykytiuk does a far better than I have ever been able to do in my past efforts. Please read his whole article- here is his conclusion after looking at the evidence:

1. He existed as a man. The historian Josephus grew up in a priestly family in first-century Palestine and wrote only decades after Jesus’ death. Jesus’ known associates, such as Jesus’ brother James, were his contemporaries. The historical and cultural context was second nature to Josephus. “If any Jewish writer were ever in a position to know about the non-existence of Jesus, it would have been Josephus. His implicit affirmation of the existence of Jesus has been, and still is, the most significant obstacle for those who argue that the extra-Biblical evidence is not probative on this point,” Robert Van Voorst observes.32 And Tacitus was careful enough not to report real executions of nonexistent people.

2. His personal name was Jesus, as Josephus informs us.

3. He was called Christos in Greek, which is a translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, both of which mean “anointed” or “(the) anointed one,” as Josephus states and Tacitus implies, unaware, by reporting, as Romans thought, that his name was Christus.

4. He had a brother named James (Jacob), as Josephus reports.

5. He won over both Jews and “Greeks” (i.e., Gentiles of Hellenistic culture), according to Josephus, although it is anachronistic to say that they were “many” at the end of his life. Large growth
in the number of Jesus’ actual followers came only after his death.

6. Jewish leaders of the day expressed unfavorable opinions about him, at least according to some versions of the Testimonium Flavianum.

7. Pilate rendered the decision that he should be executed, as both Tacitus and Josephus state.

8. His execution was specifically by crucifixion, according to Josephus.

9. He was executed during Pontius Pilate’s governorship over Judea (26–36 C.E.), as Josephus implies and Tacitus states, adding that it was during Tiberius’s reign.

<Read the whole article>

Dr. Mykytiuk also notes in the article that “ no ancient person ever seriously argued that Jesus did not exist.“… [N]o pagans and Jews who opposed Christianity denied Jesus’ historicity or even questioned it.” He was consistently treated as a real person in early Jewish Rabbinical writings albeit an apostate.

Anyone who has any question about the historical existence of the man Jesus should read this article. One might continue to disagree with the traditional Christian teaching about who Jesus was and is but the historical evidence clearly supports his existence as an historical figure none-the-less.            *Top

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-Actually It’s ‘Cultural Christians’ That Are Really In Decline

by Dr. D ~ May 16th, 2015


      (Photo: courtesy of TripAdvisor)

For years nearly every American (90%+) identified themselves as ‘Christian’ mostly because everyone they knew claimed it and besides as kids their parents took them to church at least at Christmas and Easter. In the mid 20th century after WWII everyone was considered to be a Christian unless they were Jewish. Now there are more ‘culturally acceptable’ options in America including ‘none of the above.’

Now only 70% of Americans according to the latest Pew Research are Christian so it appears that Christianity in America is in decline? I posted on this research a couple of days ago. In reality it is my contention that it is the ‘Cultural Christians’ who are actually in decline not those with real religious convictions and acted upon faith.

To prove my point, Evangelical Christians, which are more conservative and demanding of their members and still hold to traditional Christian theology and the teachings of the Bible, are actually increasing in number. While the more liberal Mainline Protestant Churches, which reflect the latest changes in American culture, are the ones that are in sharp decline. Most serious committed Christians who actually participate in their faith and attend churches have known all along that their community really didn’t include everyone who claimed to be part of it. It has never been true theologically and now the culture more closely reflects the truth.

A whole new generations of Americans have been raised up at the turn of the centuries with little or no real connection to Christianity never going to church as a child and experiencing only the cultural festivities (Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny}surrounding the religious holidays. There’s no real reason for them to claim to be Christians. Now it is fashionable to be ‘spiritual not religious’ whatever that means.

Meanwhile, 35% say they are Evangelical ‘born-again’ Christians which now represents half of all American Christians. Plus, over half of those folks attend church nearly every week. Also overall church attendance in America is still at 40% which is close to where it was at in the 1940’s.

So what is really on the decline? The cultural popularity of Christianity. This has been reflected in the American media for some time. Christians have been portrayed in negative ways on TV and in the movies. Also, the main stream news media reflects a bias against conservative Christianity since so few journalists are Christians anymore or actively participate in any religion for that matter.

So how will these trends play out in the future? Unless there is a new revival or another religious awakening in America, Christianity will continue to decline in cultural popularity since the core teachings of the faith no longer reflect the PC progressive ideals of the dominant American culture. The current issues of same-sex marriage and LGBT civil rights could well bring with it actual persecution of conservative Christians and churches in the near future. Christians will need to stand up for their faith and convictions in the future or religious freedom and liberty will decline in America. It is time to pray for America as never before.           *Top

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-Is Islam Compatible with Western Democracy?

by Dr. D ~ April 20th, 2015

DontVote-300x200

A few years ago we all witnessed on TV news the sight of thousands of protesters in Tunisia and later in Egypt calling for a change of government. The Western media and the Obama administration called it the ‘Arab Spring’ and celebrated it as a movement in favor of establishing Western style  democracies to replace the dictatorships running those countries at the time. However, when the regimes fell the people used their votes to usher in radical Islamic sharia compliant dictatorial governments that were far removed from any kind of democracy.

Meanwhile, Muslim political/terrorist groups like al Qaeda, ISIS, the Boko Haram (the name itself means: Western education is forbidden), and the Muslim Brotherhood (which the Obama administration seems to favor), have continued to tell us directly and in many different ways that Islam is not compatible with Western culture and Western style democratic government.

So how do the more ‘moderate’ Muslims living in Western countries feel about this issue? Just last week I found a recent poll that showed that 42% of Canadian Muslims believed that their faith was incompatible with the Western society they lived in. I believe in reality a far larger number actually feel that way. Even more proof can be found in the reports all over Europe of ‘no-go zones’ in Muslim immigrant communities where the police are not welcome and roving vigilante groups enforce some kind of neighborhood sharia compliance. It seems to be the younger generation of Muslims that are more radical and observant in their faith and more demanding of sharia provisions than their parents who originally immigrated.

Now comes this latest report from the UK that blatantly demonstrates that some Muslims in that country support a change of government and in the meantime are telling fellow Muslims not to vote. Here’s the story from the Daily Mail:

Posters (See above) telling Muslims not to vote in the election were plastered across an area of Cardiff yesterday.  …

The full message on the poster reads:

 ‘Democracy is a system whereby man violates the right of Allah and decides what is permissible or impermissible for mankind, based solely on their whims and desires.

‘This leads to a decayed and degraded society where crime and immorality becomes widespread and injustice becomes the norm.

‘Islam is the only real, working solution for the UK.

‘It is a comprehensive system of governance where the laws of Allah are implemented and justice is observed.’

<Read the whole article>

Response: The Western media, academic and progressive circles, and most government officials refuse to admit that there may be a real problem for Muslims to whole heartedly accept Western ideals and Western forms of government since they do not recognize and apply the Islamic sharia laws contained in the Quran and Hadiths of Muhammad.

Many have adapted and most Muslims are peaceful citizens. Nevertheless, given the choice undoubtedly many would prefer a society and government that recognized Allah and the teachings of the Quran. However, most would also prefer to live in a country that is safe, peaceful, with individual freedoms and a higher standard of living which is why they immigrated to the Western countries in the first place.

Ironically, Muslim dominated countries do not offer the same kind of stability and economic opportunity, so very few Muslims would choose to go back. Nevertheless, many hope that the culture and government where they now live in the West will eventually convert and become more ‘Islamic,’ failing to recognize that changes of that kind would probably bring on the same conditions they fled from in the first place.

In final analysis, I believe that it is an unsolvable dilemma for Muslims living in the West. Their religion contains provisions for society and government which cannot be implemented without completely destroying the current forms of democratic government. Therefore, only a more moderate, individualistic, and incomplete form of Islam can exist in Western countries without conflict and civil unrest. To say such a thing might be considered ‘Islamophobic’ but it is a truth that most do not want to face or admit.               *Top

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-On Easter and The Resurrection of Jesus

by Dr. D ~ April 4th, 2015

Here are links to some of the past articles we have featured on this site on Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ:

-Resurrection of Christ: Wright On!

Listen to this! New Testament scholar N.T. Wright is right on in this short video on the Resurrection (2:23)

 

-Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

Yes!

If not, as Paul says (I Cor. 15:14) the entire Christian faith is in vain.

Here’s a link to a great article on all of the facts concerning the resurrection of Jesus–a timely pursuit for the Easter season:

Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

by William Lane Craig, professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.

This is the best and most concise article that I have found on the Resurrection of Jesus.

 

-Was Easter Really Borrowed From a Pagan Holiday?

Here’s a good article by Anthony McRoy that contradicts the popular notion that the Christian celebration of Easter was borrowed from pagan sources:

“Was Easter Borrowed from a Pagan Holiday?”

McRoy provides historical evidence that the name ‘Easter’ was actually derived from the Old High German ‘eostarum’ which meant "dawn" and not from the name of a supposed pagan goddess.

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-“It’s Friday But Sunday’s Coming”

by Dr. D ~ April 2nd, 2015

Here it is again. My favorite message of all time for Good Friday is by Dr. Tony Campolo. It has become a tradition on this blog to post it every year on this day.

Here is a link to where the famous tape can be downloaded.

image

The whole tape is great but the best part is at the end when Tony Campolo recalls one Sunday when he had a little preaching competition with the head pastor at the church where he attends.

Dr. Campolo tells how he preached the perfect sermon in every way and had taken the congregation to ‘the heights of glory’. As he sat down beside his pastor, Dr. Tony patted him on the knee and simply said, “Top that.” The older black pastor looked at him and said, “Boy, watch the master.” Then Dr. Campolo recalls for us the very brilliant message which followed.

The following is a short printed version of the 45 minute sermon–the printed version doesn’t really do justice to the original, but you can at least get an idea what the last part is like:

It’s Friday But Sunday’s Coming—

It was a simple sermon, starting softly, building in volume and intensity until the entire congregation was completely involved, repeating the phrases in unison. The sermon went something like this.

It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s a coming.

It’s Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, “Father, forgive them.” It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Holy God who will not abide with sin pours out His wrath on that perfect sacrificial lamb who cries out, “My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” What a horrible cry. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. And at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil of the Temple that separates sinful man from Holy God was torn from the top to the bottom because Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s a coming.

And on that horrible day 2000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had destroyed the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday.

Now it’s Sunday. And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn’t the only thing that was shaking because now it’s Sunday. And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb. Yes, it’s Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone and the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots because it’s Sunday, and the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed.

It’s Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin and the grave. It’s Sunday. And now everything has changed. It’s the age of grace, God’s grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it’s Sunday.

At the end of the message the pastor shouts out:

It’s Friiidaaaay!

And the whole congregation responds:

But Sunday’s Coming!

*Top

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-Can An Atheist Actually be a Christian?

by Dr. D ~ March 31st, 2015

GOD

Can an atheist actually be a Christian? Sounds ridiculous, but here’s the report of a Presbyterian USA minister who does not believe in God but is actually offended by those who question whether he’s really a Christian. From the Christian News:

BEAVERTON, Ore. – A Presbyterian USA minister in Oregon who says that he doesn’t believe in God—and doesn’t require his members to believe either—remarked in a recent article that he is offended by those who assert that he is not a Christian. …John Shuck of Beaverton’s Southminster Presbyterian Church…

Shuck first came out as an unbeliever in 2011, generating controversy as to how one could serve as a minister and not believe in the Bible.

“The concept of ‘God’ is a product of myth-making and ‘God’ is no longer credible as a personal, supernatural being,” he wrote in a blog post on his site “Shuck and Jive.” “Jesus may have been historical, but most of the stories about Him in the Bible and elsewhere are legends.”

Shuck reiterated his unbelief in his article “I’m a Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in God” on Tuesday, as he asserted that “[b]elief-less Christianity is thriving.”

“We all have been trained to think that Christianity is about believing things,” he wrote. “Its symbols and artifacts (God, Bible, Jesus, Heaven, etc) must be accepted in a certain way. And when times change and these beliefs are no longer credible, the choices we are left with are either rejection or fundamentalism.”

But Shuck says that although he rejects the Bible as being literal, and denies the existence of Heaven and Hell, he takes offense when people tell him that he’s not a Christian.

<Read the whole article>

Response: Can an atheist actually be a Christian? John Shuck apparently believes so. I guess it all depends upon your definition of ‘Christian.’ After all, famous atheist Dr. Richard Dawkins has referred to himself as a ‘Cultural Christian’ on numerous occasions.

One can call themselves anything they like but it doesn’t necessarily make it so. In this case, pastor Shuck rejects the very foundation of Christianity which is built upon faith in God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible. Yet the Presbyterian USA denomination still recognizes him as an ordained minister.

It is my take and experience that there are many liberal mainline ministers that have similar views as Shuck without going so far as denying any belief in God. Nevertheless, many reject the major doctrines of Christianity and still maintain valid denominational credentials and positions. There is nothing that Shuck says that I didn’t hear from time to time in the mainline seminary I went to 30 years ago. This is so common in ‘mainline’ circles that it seems to validate what use to be considered ‘heretical’ teaching as acceptable and normal. What you end up with is a bunch of church folks who think that anything goes and now according to Shuck even atheism can fit under the umbrella of modern ‘Christianity.’

From my perspective, ministers and churches which deny the major beliefs and doctrines of the faith end up being nothing more than activist organizations or social clubs with names that may continue to reflect a historical connection to Christianity, like the YMCA, but in reality have become something very different.

What is a ‘Christian’ anyway? Followers of Jesus started being called ‘Christians’ early on (Acts 11:26) to differentiate them from other believers of the Jewish faith. The Christians believed that Jesus was the ‘Christ’: Greek for the ‘Anointed One of God’ -the Jewish Messiah. But if one doesn’t even believe in the God of the Bible than how can that name even apply.

Today many believe that they are Christians if they are members of a church or were raised in a family that celebrated Christmas or Easter. Since John Shuck is a recognized minister in the Presbyterian USA denomination he would seem to qualify to carry the name on this minimal cultural level along with Dr. Richard Dawkins who was baptized as an Anglican.

Nevertheless I find it hard to understand how one who rejects all of the traditional beliefs and major doctrines of the historical Christian faith and even the stated doctrines of his own denomination would even want to continue to masquerade as a ‘Christian’ leader. Preaching, praying, and administering rites and symbolic ordinances that he no longer even believes in.

Such a one should never be surprised or offended if his identity and commitment to the name of Christ is questioned. Particularly when he freely admits that, while he concedes that there might have been a historical Jesus, he doesn’t even believe in such a thing as a ‘Christ’ –the Anointed One of God.              *Top

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-The Biblical Origins of : “Live Long and Prosper”?

by Dr. D ~ February 28th, 2015

Leonard Nimoy passed away this week and on Facebook I literally read dozens of references to his famous saying in the Star Trek series and movies:

“Live Long and Prosper”

This familiar declaration could also represent the philosophy and hopes of many if not most people in America. Nearly everyone of us would like to prosper at what we do, plus have good health and a long life. It pretty much sums up the goals of many folks in this life.

View the video above where Leonard Nimoy talks about Spock’s famous greeting as having its origin in a Jewish blessing over a congregation. The famous hand sign also was taken from the same Jewish ritual. During the ritual, the hands of the elders (usually from the Cohen priestly family) that are held out to bless the congregation form the letter “Shin” as a symbol of “Shaddai” meaning “Almighty” (God). In fact the ‘blessing hands’ gesture has come to represent the Cohen family for hundreds of years and can be found on thousands of family tombstones. 

 bf360b5b356202a2b0b699122de294af

The Biblical Origins of  ‘Live Long and Proper’

It really not so strange that this saying would have its origin in a Jewish blessing since this adage is found throughout the Bible in numerous locations in the Hebrew scriptures and in the later Christian New Testament. Here are just a few:

Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess. -Deuteronomy 5:33

"so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." –Ephesians 6:3

“Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” –3John 1:2

Also the most often used Cohen priestly blessing comes from Numbers 6:23-27:

“Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

Summary

Throughout the Bible there are promises of good health and prosperity for those who love God and keep his commandments.  Some have turned this into the major theological emphasis of their faith. Fact is, not all believers will receive good health, long life and prosperity in this short life on earth but in the Kingdom of God there is no sickness, hunger, or death for all eternity.

“But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” -Matthew 6:33

*Top

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-Newsweek’s ‘Sinful’ Portrayal of the Bible

by Dr. D ~ January 8th, 2015

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The owners and editors of Newsweek Magazine decided to begin 2015 by resurrecting their failed magazine. For some reason they thought it would be a good idea to start over by trying to destroy the Bible and Christianity and by offending hundreds of millions of Christians.

They probably figured that the controversy would be good for publicizing their re-start. They could have done far better if publicity is what they wanted, they could have gone after the Quran and Islam and had their offices attacked rather than merely stirring up hundreds of written responses from Christians.

The offending cover article was entitled-  “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin” by Kurt Eichenwald. Eichenwald is known to be an accomplished award winning journalist and writer in the area of finance and business. But in this case he is far outside his normal area of competence and has chosen to write a scurrilous screed full of half truths and questionable research against the Bible with an obvious bias against conservative American Christianity. The real ‘sin’ is how he misunderstands and misrepresents the Bible, traditional Christian teaching, and millions of Christian believers.

Here’s how Eichenwald began his assault:

They wave their Bibles at passersby, screaming their condemnations of homosexuals. They fall on their knees, worshipping at the base of granite monuments to the Ten Commandments while demanding prayer in school. They appeal to God to save America from their political opponents, mostly Democrats. They gather in football stadiums by the thousands to pray for the country’s salvation.

They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers—fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words.

<Read the whole article>

For those of us who have seriously studied the Bible and the latest scholarship there is absolutely nothing new in what Eichenwald presents or claims. One can find them on nearly any atheist website opposing Christianity and the Bible. It is the fact that he represents himself as a journalist seeking the truth that is most problematic. In the process, he doesn’t bother to seek out or present any of the able responses that Christian scholars have made to any of those claims. It is a ‘hit piece’ against the Bible and Christianity and he obviously never intended to present the other side at all while disguising himself as an impartial observer which he wasn’t.

I have found two articles which I believe are the best of the best in responding to Eichenwald’s attack. The first is by Dr. Albert Mohler- “Newsweek on the Bible — So Misrepresented It’s a Sin.” Here are a few quotes:

But Eichenwald demonstrates absolutely no attempt to understand traditional Christian understandings of the Bible, nor ever to have spoken with the people he asserts “claim to revere [the Bible] but don’t read it.” What follows is a reckless rant against the Bible and Christians who claim to base their faith upon its teachings.

In a predictable move, Eichenwald claims to base his research on “works of scores of theologians and scholars, some of which dates back centuries.” But the sources he cites are from the far, far left of biblical studies and the most significant living source appears to be University of North Carolina professor Bart Ehrman, who is post-Christian. Even so, he makes claims that go far beyond even what Bart Ehrman has claimed in print. …

In the main, he argues that historic Christianity has been based on nothing but a lie…

Newsweek’s cover story is exactly what happens when a writer fueled by open antipathy to evangelical Christianity tries to throw every argument he can think of against the Bible and its authority. To put the matter plainly, no honest historian would recognize the portrait of Christian history presented in this essay as accurate and no credible journalist would recognize this screed as balanced.

<Read the whole article>

The second article is by Kyle Beshears- “Snoping Newsweek: Is the Bible Really that Misrepresented?” In his post Beshears ‘fact-checks’ some of the major assertions made in the Eichenwald article. Here are 2 examples:

NEWSWEEK WILL NOT PICK SIDES IN THIS ESSAY

Quote: “Newsweek’s exploration here of the Bible’s history and meaning is not intended to advance a particular theology or debate the existence of God.”

Claim: The article will not advance any specific theological position.

Answer: No, Eichenwald does in fact put forth many different theological positions in front of others, thus advancing them over others. For example, Eichenwald later writes, “The Trinity—the belief that Jesus and God are the same and, with the Holy Spirit, are a single entity—is a fundamental, yet deeply confusing, tenet. So where does the clear declaration of God and Jesus as part of a triumvirate appear in the Greek manuscripts? Nowhere.”

The view that Eichenwald has just put forth is called Unitarianism, which has been advanced over a different view called Trinitarianism.

TRANSLATIONS OF TRANSLATIONS, COPIES OF COPIES

Quote: “No television preacher has ever read the Bible. Neither has any evangelical politician. Neither has the pope. Neither have I. And neither have you. At best, we’ve all read a bad translation—a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times.”

Claim: The Bible we have today has been tainted due to it being translated over and over again as well as copied over and over again.

Answer: No, the Bible has not been translated over and over again. A translation occurs when an individual, knowledgeable in two or more languages, takes a text written in one language and proceeds to copy it into another language. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Greek, and some Aramaic. When the books were copied and passed on to later generations, they were copied in Hebrew, Greek, and some Aramaic.

Thus, when a Bible translator sets out to translate the original biblical languages into English, she is not doing so from Greek to Latin to Old English to modern English as Eichenwald has suggested. Instead, she is doing so from Greek to English. So, we are not reading “a bad translation—a translation of translations of translations.” …

<Read the whole article>

Both articles are well worth reading adding fact to Eichenwald’s scurrilous fantasy.  If this edition of the new Newsweek re-make is symptomatic of what is to come, I for one will never read another copy since it is obvious that the writers and editors cannot be trusted to be impartial, to do due diligence on research, or to seek any semblance of the truth.            *Top

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-Merry Christmas 2014

by Dr. D ~ December 25th, 2014

04567_Christmas_nativity_scene_at_the_Franciscan_church_in_Sanok,_2010

(Image via Wikipedia)


Merry Christmas to you and yours and may God truly bless you this Christmas Day.

The Real Christmas Story

When our children were growing our family had a Christmas Eve tradition to read about the ‘real’ Christmas story in the Bible.

You’ve probably seen a dozen or so ‘Christmas stories’ on TV in the last couple of weeks but the real Christmas story is found in Matthew (Matt. 1:18-2:18) and in Luke ( Luke 1:26-56, 2:1-40). However, Isaiah should never be ignored:

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Matthew gives us the story largely from the perspective of Joseph, including the dreams that he had and his family genealogy. In this gospel the ‘Kingship’ of Jesus is the major topic. Starting with the Davidic Kingly genealogy through Joseph and the coming of the Magi (Wisemen) who are looking for the new king. Also King Herod’s reaction is in Matthew.

The events in Luke are given to us from Mary’s view. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces the coming of the child. Mary’s genealogy is also given in Luke (Luke 3:23-38), she was also a descendant of David, but not in the ‘Kingly’ line. Chapter 2 begins with the Christmas story that everyone is familiar with:

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

However, nothing explains the real reason for the season better than John 3:16-17:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  -KJV

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-Is Religion Really the Cause of Most Wars?

by Dr. D ~ November 28th, 2014

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone make the comment that ‘most wars are caused by religion’ like it was self evident. With the rise of radical Islam in the Middle East, 9/11, not to mention past fiascos like the Crusades and The Inquisition, the claim seems rather intuitive and has become an icon of modern cultural truth that is accepted and unquestioned by millions. But is it really historically accurate?

I believe the facts of history disprove this popular notion. The major wars of the 20th century had political/ideological causes and most wars in the ancient world were caused by territorial expansion. Just how many conflicts were really caused by religion? Some were for sure but my reading and study of history has driven me to conclude that only a faction of the wars in documented human history really had a religious contribution or cause.

Now there is research published in a 3 volume work- "Encyclopedia of Wars" by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod that documents the entire history of human warfare and shows that only 123 out of 1763 or only 7% of the recorded human wars had a religious cause or basis.

Obviously 7% is far from ‘most’ and the historical research above really demonstrates that 93% of the wars were not caused by religion or a vast majority had different causes.  So what seems to be so self evident to so many is so far from the truth that it is surprising that it ever had any credibility at all. Yet this false assertion about religion will probably continue to receive popular acknowledgement and usage in our increasingly secular culture.

Here’s a link to an excellent and informative article from Huffington Post written on this same issue: 

“Is Religion the Cause of Most Wars?” by Rabbi Alan Lurie

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