Posted by: edhensley | November 2, 2014

Slaves Ordered to Submit to Masters in New Testament

1 Peter 2 New International Version

18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin,
    and no deceit was found in his mouth.”[e]

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,”[f] but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Exodus 21, Leviticus 25:44-46, and other verses in the Old Testament are often cited as places in the bible where slavery was endorsed. The apologist often responds with the overused refrain, “But that was the Old Testament…”  However, there are places in the New Testament that endorse slavery as well.

First of all, slaves are ordered to obey their masters, even the harsh masters, even to the point of bearing “pain of unjust suffering”. Slaves who endure unjust pain are following the examples of Jesus!  It should also be noted that Isaiah 53 (often used incorrectly as a prophecy of Jesus) is here used to justify slaves suffering pain.

A typical modern apology of this passage can be found at https://bible.org/seriespage/12-submission-slaves-masters-1-peter-218-25.

(2) In the Bible, slavery is not commended, but neither is it condemned as a social evil the Christian master should cease to practice or the Christian slave should seek to overthrow

(3) Peter does not assume that all masters are cruel, but he does assume that some will be, and that this will result in the unjust suffering of many Christian slaves. Unlike Paul’s epistles, Peter does not address both slaves and masters. He addresses only slaves. In particular, he speaks to slaves who will be harshly treated by their masters. This is consistent with his theme of suffering righteously for the sake of Christ.

First, suffering which is pleasing to God must be innocent suffering. Peter has been speaking of righteous conduct in the midst of an unrighteous society. He is speaking here of suffering which is the result of godliness, not the result of sin. Who would praise a man for enduring suffering that is the result of doing wrong?

What wrongs would be especially tempting for a servant? The first would be disobedience; another would be disrespect, and yet another laziness.

Even the modern apologists admit that nowhere in the bible is slavery condemned. A suffering slave is “consistent with his theme of suffering righteously for the sake of Christ.” Being a suffering slave is being like Jesus, so why try to end slavery?

“Suffering which is pleasing to God must be innocent suffering”.  So the apologists is admitting that the Christian god is pleased when he watches innocent suffering, such as the suffering of the holocaust or the recent suffering of enslaved women at the hands of ISIS. Why should Christians try to end any type of innocent suffering if it is pleasing to god?

Both Old Testament and New Testament verses were used by the Confederate States of American to promote slavery. I will quote from The Views of the Baptists, RELATIVE TO THE COLOURED POPULATION In the United States IN A COMMUNICATION To the Governor of South-Carolina (http://eweb.furman.edu/~benson/docs/rcd-fmn1.htm), written by Reverend Dr. Richard Furman, founder of Furman University of South Carolina. Notice he quotes Leviticus 25:44-46 and mentions the New Testament. Bold text is my emphasis, not Furman’s.

On the lawfulness of holding slaves, considering it in a moral and religious view, the Convention think it their duty to exhibit their sentiments, on the present occasion, before your Excellency, because they consider their duty to God, the peace of the State, the satisfaction of scrupulous consciences, and the welfare of the slaves themselves, as intimately connected with a right view of the subject… for the right of holding slaves is clearly established by the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example. In the Old Testament, the Isrealites were directed to purchase their bond-men and bond-maids of the Heathen nations; except they were of the Canaanites, for these were to be destroyed. And it is declared, that the persons purchased were to be their “bond-men forever;” and an “inheritance for them and their children.” They were not to go out free in the year of jubilee, as the Hebrews, who had been purchased, were: the line being clearly drawn between them.*[See Leviticus XXV. 44, 45, 46, &c.] In example, they are presented to our view as existing in the families of the Hebrews as servants, or slaves, born in the house, or bought with money: so that the children born of slaves are here considered slaves as well as their parents. And to this well known state of things, as to its reason and order, as well as to special privileges, St. Paul appears to refer, when he says, “But I was free born.”

In the New-Testament, the Gospel History, or representation of facts, presents us a view correspondent with that, which is furnished by other authentic ancient histories of the state of the world at the commencement of Christianity. The powerful Romans had succeeded, in empire, the polished Greeks; and under both empires, the countries they possessed and governed were full of slaves. Many of these with their masters, were converted to the Christian Faith, and received, together with them into the Christian Church, while it was yet under the ministry of the inspired Apostles. In things purely spiritual, they appear to have enjoyed equal privileges; but their relationship, as masters and slaves, was not dissolved. Their respective duties are strictly enjoined. The masters are not required to emancipate their slaves; but to give them the things that are just and equal, forbearing threatening; and to remember, they also have a master in Heaven. The “servants under the yoke”…mentioned by Paul to Timothy, as having “believing masters,” are not authorized by him to demand of them emancipation, or to employ violent means to obtain it; but are directed to “account their masters worthy of all honour,” and “not to despise them, because they were brethren” in religion; “but the rather to do them service, because they were faithful and beloved partakers of the Christian benefit.” Similar directions are given by him in other places, and by other Apostles. And it gives great weight to the argument, that in this place, Paul follows his directions concerning servants with a charge to Timothy, as an Evangelist, to teach and exhort men to observe this doctrine.  

Had the holding of slaves been a moral evil, it cannot be supposed, that the inspired Apostles, who feared not the faces of men, and were ready to lay down their lives in the cause of their God, would have tolerated it, for a moment, in the Christian Church. If they had done so on a principle of accommodation, in cases where the masters remained heathen, to avoid offences and civil commotion; yet, surely, where both master and servant were Christian, as in the case before us, they would have enforced the law of Christ, and required, that the master should liberate his slave in the first instance. But, instead of this, they let the relationship remain untouched, as being lawful and right, and insist on the relative duties.

In proving this subject justifiable by Scriptural authority, its morality is also proved; for the Divine Law never sanctions immoral actions.

The Christian golden rule, of doing to others, as we would they should do to us, has been urged as an unanswerable argument against holding slaves. But surely this rule is never to be urged against that order of things, which the Divine government has established; nor do our desires become a standard to us, under this rule, unless they have a due regard to justice, propriety and the general good.

The result of this inquiry and reasoning, on the subject of slavery, brings us, sir, if I mistake not, very regularly to the following conclusions:–That the holding of slaves is justifiable by the doctrine and example contained in Holy writ; and is; therefore consistent with Christian uprightness, both in sentiment and conduct. That all things considered, the Citizens of America have in general obtained the African slaves, which they possess, on principles, which can be justified; though much cruelty has indeed been exercised towards them by many, who have been concerned in the slave-trade, and by others who have held them here, as slaves in their service; for which the authors of this cruelty are accountable. That slavery, when tempered with humanity and justice, is a state of tolerable happiness; equal, if not superior, to that which many poor enjoy in countries reputed free. That a master has a scriptural right to govern his slaves so as to keep it in subjection; to demand and receive from them a reasonable service; and to correct them for the neglect of duty, for their vices and transgressions; but that to impose on them unreasonable, rigorous services, or to inflict on them cruel punishment, he has neither a scriptural nor a moral right… That it is the positive duty of servants to reverence their master, to be obedient, industrious, faithful to him, and careful of his interests; and without being so, they can neither be the faithful servants of God, nor be held as regular members of the Christian Church. That as claims to freedom as a right, when that right is forfeited, or has been lost, in such a manner as has been represented, would be unjust; and as all attempts to obtain it by violence and fraud would be wicked; so all representations made to them by others, on such censurable principles, or in a manner tending to make them discontented; and finally, to produce such unhappy effects and consequences, as been before noticed, cannot be friendly to them (as they certainly are not to the community at large,) nor consistent with righteousness: Nor can the conduct be justified, however in some it may be palliated by pleading benevolence in intention, as the motive.

Posted by: edhensley | July 1, 2014

The Christian Fairy Tale vs. Scholarly Christianity

Tree of Christian sects form an Eastern Orthodox point of view.

Tree of Christian sects from an Eastern Orthodox point of view.

Most Christians know very little about there church history. They have no idea about the wide variety of beliefs of the early Christian sects, including the  Ebionites, Marcionites, Arionists, and Gnostics. Most have no idea about the history and development of the multitude of biblical canons or the forging of orthodox Christian theology. Many fundamentalist Christians are lead to believe the following fairy tale, which I will later contrast with the facts about early Christianity.

The Christian Fairy Tale

  • God, the creator of the universe, chose the Jews to be his people.
  • Jews were monotheistic (believed in only 1 god) from the start. Only rebellious Jews ever worshipped other gods.
  • God gave Jews the Hebrew Bible (which contains the exact same books as the Old Testament of the bible of my sect of Christianity) as a guide on how to please Him and live good lives. This included many animal sacrifices.
  • The Jews constantly disobeyed God.
  • The Jews were punished by having their kingdom(s) destroyed and by being scattered throughout the world.
  • Jesus was born around 0 A.D. (Anno Domini, in the year of our Lord) to the virgin Mary. (I will use CE, and BCE)
  • He is both the god of the Old Testament (OT) and is the son of the god of the OT. He is also the Holy Spirit.
  • Around the age of 30 he began his ministry.
  • Around the age of 33 he was sacrificed on the cross. He rose from the dead 3 days later and ascended to heaven.
  • His sacrifice atones those who believe in him for their sins. There is no need for further animal sacrifices or obedience to most OT diet and lifestyle laws other than sex restrictions.
  • True Christians will go to heaven for eternity when they die.
  • All others will burn forever in hell after death.
  • The early Christian church was united and had one perfect set of doctrines.
  • The New Testament (NT) is the perfect word of god that completes the OT.
  • Early Christians had no disagreement about the 27 books of the NT, which were established shortly after 33 CE.
  • The doctrines and canon of [insert name of Christian sect of childhood] have been the doctrines of Christians since the time of Christ.
  • Christianity is confirmed by the Dead Sea Scrolls and other archaeological evidence.

The above picture shows a tree of Christian sects from the point of view of the Eastern Orthodox church. Many other churches teach a similar history of Christianity, claiming that their particular sect is exactly like the original Christian church and all other branches are flawed. Notice that the Easter Orthodox part of the tree has beautiful green leavers while the other sects have ugly brown leaves. Also notice that the base of the tree is Jesus and the apostles in Jerusalem in 33 CE.

Here is a more generic tree of Christian sects from Wikipedia.

Tree of Christian sects from Wikipedia.

Tree of Christian sects from Wikipedia.

 

This tree is a little better, because it shows some divisions prior to the Catholic – Eastern Orthodox split. However, it still shows one base known as “Early Christianity”. Wikipedia also notes that “Protestantism in general, and not just Restorationism, claims a direct connection with Early Christianity.”  For example, the Church of Christ is one of many sects that believes they are most similar to the original Christian church.

A Mormon blogger to the Wikipedia tree of Christian sects and altered it to show that Mormonism restored original Christianity.

A Mormon blogger to the Wikipedia tree of Christian sects and altered it to show that Mormonism restored original Christianity.

 

None of the above trees are accepted by scholars (fundamentalist Christian or secular) as fully accurate. The tree of Christian sects below is from the University of California. It more accurately reflects the true nature of the development of Christianity. Most importantly, it represents the multitude of Christian sects that existed prior to the council of Nicea.

Tree of Christian sects from the University of California.

Tree of Christian sects from the University of California.

 

Notice that the base of the tree is very wide and has many arrows leading to the Imperial Church. These arrows represent the multitude of sects that existed prior to the Council of Nicea in 325 CE.

The following map (also from the University of California) shows many sects that existed at 325 CE, including the Ebionism in Jerusalem, Marcionism in Caesarea, Arianism in Alexandria, Gnosticism in Damascus, and others. The next section of this blog will focus on what some of these early Christian sects believed.

 

Map displaying Christian sects and their major areas of influence at the time of the Council of Nicea.

Map displaying Christian sects and their major areas of influence at the time of the Council of Nicea.

 

Scholarly Christianity

Judaism

  • Ancient Hebrews evolved from the ancient Canaanite Religion. El Elyon was the most high god of manygods.
  • Ancient Hebrews became monolithic. They believed in many gods, but Hebrews should only worship their god named Yahweh.
  • Ancient Hebrews evolved into monotheism around 6th century BCE, believing Yahweh was the only god.
  • Jews lived under the subjugation of many foreign rules, including Romans in the first century.
  • Jews rebelled against Rome in 66 – 73 CE. The Jerusalem Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE. Masada fell in 73 CE
Coins by Jewish rebels in 68 CE proclaim "Jerusalem The Holy."

Coins by Jewish rebels in 68 CE proclaim “Jerusalem The Holy.”

 

Roman coins around 73 CE show Jewish soldiers kneeling before Romans.

Roman coins around 73 CE show Jewish soldiers kneeling before Romans.

 

Depiction of the evolution of Old Testament texts. LXX is the Septuagint, MT is the Masoretic Text.

Depiction of the evolution of Old Testament texts. LXX is the Septuagint, MT is the Masoretic Text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Example of Jewish editing.

  • Deuteronomy 32 (New International Version):8 When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.[b] 9 For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance.

  • b: Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls (see also Septuagint) sons of God

  • Many scholars believe this passage in the DSS and LXX form supports polytheism. The Most High (Elyon) god divided mankind into nations, giving each son of god their allotment. The “Lord’s” (Jewish God’s) share were the children of Jacob.

Masoretic Text or Septuagint? 

  • The authors of the New Testament (NT) used the Greek Septuagint (LXX) when quoting OT books.
  • Catholics (46 books in OT), Orthodox (51 books), Ethiopians (46 books, or 50 splitting 1 & 2 Kings, etc), and others use the LXX.
  • Protestants use the Hebrew MT and have 39 book in OT.
  • Modern Jews use the Hebrew MT.
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS – Hebrew) are used by all sides to claim that the Septuagint supports their canons (set of scriptures considered holy).

Jesus Is Not An Important Person During His Time

  • Jesus was not important historically, as he was not mentioned by any contemporary historians, Jewish, Roman, Greek, or otherwise.
  • The general scholarly consensus is that Jesus was a Gallilean Jew born between 7 and 2 BCE. who condemned other Jews in particular of not following the laws or the spirit of the laws.
  • Jesus is believed to have been crucified by the Romans for rebellion against their authority around 30-36 CE.
  • There is a small minority of scholars who claim Jesus never existed. Some also claim Nazareth did not exist in the 1st Century.
  • My opinion is that Jesus was a Rabbi who was crucified by Rome. The supernatural deeds recorded in the bible are merely legend.

There were multiple versions of early Christianity with a variety of beliefs about the nature of Jesus and the relationship with Judaism and the OT. 

  • I will describe Ebionites and Marcionites,  Gnostics, Montanism, Arianism and proto-orthodox Christianity.
  • There were varieties within the above sects (especially Gnostics), and there were other sects not mentioned in this blog.

Ebionites – Very Jewish Christians From Jerusalem

  • Ebionites were very Jewish Christians.
  • They believed in 1 god.
  • They considered themselves Jews and obeyed the OT laws.
  • Only Christian sect recorded by Eusebius as keeping the Sabbath.
  • They believed Jesus was completely human and not divine.
  • They believed Paul was an arch heretic.
  • http://ebionite.org/ – Claim to be modern Ebionites.
  • Ebionites or similar groups such as Nazareans, were possibly the groups chastised by Paul for keeping the OT laws.
  • Matthew 5 was used by Ebionites to show that followers of Jesus should not abandon OT laws.
    • 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Marcionites – Very Anti-Jewish Christians

  • Marcionites were Gentiles who claimed Jewish practice was harmful for a relationship with god.
  • They were followers or Marcion, a real person in the 2nd century.
  • They believed in two gods, one Jewish and one Christian.
  • They believed Jesus was completely divine and not human.
  • They rejected the Old Testament as a book inspired by the inferior god of the Jews.
  • They believed Paul was the one true apostle of Christ.
  • Jesus revealed himself to Paul because the other apostles failed to comprehend true Christianity because they were too Jewish.

First Christian Canon Created by Marcion, Who Is Now Considered a Heretic

  • Marcion (a real person considered a heretic by Proto-Orthodox Christianity) created the 1st Christian NT Canon around 144 CE. It contained a version of the gospel of Luke and 10 of the 13 letters of Paul, namely Romans, 1st & 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st & 2nd Thessalonians, and Philemon.
  • Marion’s canon rejected the OT, Matthew, and John.
  • Proto-orthodox canons were a response to the canon created by Marcion.

Gnostics

  • Very spiritual and many widely varying subsets.
  • Believed Jesus was a spirit and did not suffer, but only appeared to suffer.
  • They believed in salvation through mysterious knowledge.
  • This world is full of ignorance and suffering; salvation comes not by making it better but by escaping it.
  • They had little church structure and taught equality of all members.
  • Coptic Gnostic texts were discovered in Nag Hamadi, Egypt, in 1945.
    • The Coptic Apocalypse of Peter:
    • “He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness. But look at him and me.”
    • Warns against those who “will cleave to the name of a dead man, thinking that they will become pure”.

First Listing Of Four Gospels Is A Response To Gnostics, Against Heresies

  • Around 180 CE, proto-orthodox Christian Bishop Iranaeus wrote Against Heresies to show the errors of gnostics.
  • The first time that 4 and only 4 gospels are listed as divinely inspired occurs in an argument against  Gnostics.
  • “It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the pillar and ground of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. From which fact, it is evident that the Word, the Artificer of all, He that sits upon the cherubim, and contains all things, He who was manifested to men, has given us the Gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit.” (Against Heresies, 3:11:8)
  • The reasons listed above to have four and only four gospels are considered humorous by many, including me.

Montanism – Early Pentecostals

  • 2nd Century Christian sect founded by Montanus.
  • Known as New Prophecy by followers, Montanism by critics.
  • Led to Cataphrygian and Phrygian groups that lasted until the 6th Century.
  • Prophetic movement that called on reliance of the Holy Spirit and a conservative personal ethic.
  • Parallels have been drawn to Pentecostals today.
  • Montanus, Prisca and Maximilla spoke via ecstatic visions.
  • Opponents claimed they were possessed by evil spirits.

Arianism – Much of the Nicene Creed is a Response to Their Claim that God and Jesus are Different

  • 3rd Century sect founded by Arius.
  • Arius asserted that the Son of God was a subordinate entity to God the Father.
  • The Son of God did not always exist, but was created by—and is therefore distinct from—God the Father.
  • Based on John 14:28 – …If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
  • How could Jesus “go to the Father” if he and the “Father” were the same person?
  • How could Jesus and the “Father” be equal if “the Father is greater than I”?
  • Deemed a heretic at Nicea in 325 CE
  • Much of the Nicene Creed was written as a response to Arianism.

Proto-Orthodox Christians – All of the above

  • All of the Above Christians.
  • Jesus was a) Human b)Divine c) All of the Above
  • Jesus is a) God the Father b) God the Son c) God the Holy Spirit d) All of the Above
  • Christians scripture includes a) the OT b) the NT c) All of the Above (but do not have to follow all OT laws)
  • Claimed ancient roots for their religion.
  • Rejected unappealing Jewish practices such as circumcision.
  • Had strong church leadership and hierarchy.
  • Communicated with one another.

Arsenal of the Proto-Orthodox

  • Stressed that they were unified and all the other sects were not unified (similar to Church of Christ , Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and other claims today).
  • Had their own versions of sense & nonsense, truth & error.
  • Claimed apostolic succession, as opposed to Marcion, Montanus, Arius.
  • Started developing creedsin response.
  • Wrote forgeries and falsifications of their opponents views.
  • Charged non-orthodox with reprobate activity.
Peter's conflict with Simon Magus by Avanzino Nucci, 1620. Simon is on the right, dressed in black.

Peter’s conflict with Simon Magus by Avanzino Nucci, 1620. Simon is on the right, dressed in black.

Proto-Orthodox Legends of Simon Magus

  • Simon Magus (a magician and new convert) in Acts 8 is chastised for seeking the power to give Holy Spirit to new converts.
  • Little more is said about Simon in the bible, but he is considered the source of heretical views in later writings.
  • Many claims of reprobate activity of non-orthodox Christians, including several involving Simon Magus.

 

Orthodox Christianity

  • Orthodox Christianity was forged over 3 centuries, culminating in the Council of Nicea in 325 CE.
  • The Proto-Orthodox Christians increased in power and started discussing their own canons and doctrines (partly due to influence of Marcion and the Gnostics).
  • The Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 CE.
  • Edict of Milan in 313 made Christianity legal.
  • Constantine Ordered the Council of Nicea(present day Iznik, Turkey) in 325 to settle disagreements on Christian doctrine.
  • The Nicene Creed and Constantinople Creed in 381 formalized Christian doctrine.
Painting The Council Of Nicea by F. Pavlovskyi, I. Maksimovych,and A. Galik and others at the Gate Church of the Trinity, Kiev, 18th Century.

Painting The Council Of Nicea by F. Pavlovskyi, I. Maksimovych, and A. Galik and others at the Gate Church of the Trinity, Kiev, 18th Century.

 

 

The Nicene Creed Is A Response To Heresy

We believe in one God,
the Father,
the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.

[The creed lines above claim that Jesus and God are the same, they are one, they are divine, and they are human – all responses to the “heretics”.]

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

[The creed lines in bold above refute the heretical claim by Gnostics and others that Jesus only appeared to die.]

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

[The creed lines above link the father, son and holy spirit as one. It states there is only one church, not multiple Christian sects.]

The New Testament – Forged Over Centuries

  • The Christian NT was forged over several centuries.
  • The “heretic” Marcion created the first canon. 
  • Lists and canons were created by several early Christians after Marcion.
  • Constantine ordered Eusebius to produce 50 bibles in 331. He had 340 scribes working for him to complete this task. No such bible exists today, but it is believed that this set influenced future canons.
  • The first list of the currently accepted 27 NT books was not until 367 CE in a letter from Athanasius.
  • Many Christians are led to believe that the New Testament was used by the Apostles in 34 CE.
  • Many Books Not In The New Testament Today Were Considered Scripture By Early Chritianities.
  • Many books in the NT today have been edited. Most changes are insignificant, but some are very significant.
  • There are more variations in early Christian manuscripts than there are words in the NT.
  • Today, Christian churches generally agree on the books of the NT.
  • See http://www.ntcanon.org/table.shtml for excellent information on the development of the New Testament.
Courtesy of Bart Ehrman.

Courtesy of Bart Ehrman. The Codex Sinaiticus is the oldest collection of the 27 books of the New Testament. It also contains the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas. Nothing indicates that these two books are considered of lesser value than the other 27.

 

Protestants, Catholic, and the Apocrypha

  • Christians still do not agree on books of the OT, and some sects accepts additional books.
  • Jewish leaders had there own synods which developed over centuries into today’s approved MT.
  • Martin Luther did not like some Catholic doctrines, many of which were supported by verses in Maccabees. He got rid of Maccabees by rejecting books in the LXX that were not in the MT in his bible. He published the NT in 1522 and the OT in 1534.
  • Luther also did not believe in the authority of NT books Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation.
  • The Catholic Church responded by approving the Deuterocanonical books in 1546. These books are now considered equal in authority to all previously canonized books. The vote was 24 yes, 15, no, and 16 abstaining. Only 44% of those present approved this important decision! It is now officially heretical to question the authority of these books!
  • Protestants started putting these books in an apocryphal (doubtful) section, as the 1611 King James Version (KJV) did.
  • Protestants have now removed these books completely, as the official 1895 KJV did.
  • Today’s official KJV is more recent than The Origin of Species!

Christian Canons Today Have Major Differences

Most Americans think in terms of Protestant and Catholic. However, there are many other Christian churches, including Ethiopian, Coptic, and Syrian. The websites below have many lists of accepted texts and can be used to compare the canons of various modern Christian sects.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Testament

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Testament

http://www.coptic.org/language/bible/bible.htm

http://www.peshitta.org/initial/peshitta.html

http://www.ethiopianorthodox.org/english/canonical/books.html

 

 

Posted by: edhensley | March 10, 2014

John And The Bed Bugs

This is a scene from The Acts Of John, St. John Raising Dusiana From The Dead, that was painted in a chapel around 1300 CE by Giotto. This is an example of the popularity and endurance of Christian Apocrypha.

This is a scene from The Acts Of John, St. John Raising Dusiana From The Dead, that was painted in a chapel in 1320 CE by Giotto. This is an example of the popularity and endurance of Christian Apocrypha.


The Acts Of John

60 Now on the first day we arrived at a deserted inn, and when we were at a loss for a bed for John, we saw a droll matter. There was one bedstead lying somewhere there without coverings, whereon we spread the cloaks which we were wearing, and we prayed him to lie down upon it and rest, while the rest of us all slept upon the floor. But he when he lay down was troubled by the bugs, and as they continued to become yet more troublesome to him, when it was now about the middle of the night, in the hearing of us all he said to them: I say unto you, O bugs, behave yourselves, one and all, and leave your abode for this night and remain quiet in one place, and keep your distance from the servants of God. And as we laughed, and went on talking for some time, John addressed himself to sleep; and we, talking low, gave him no disturbance (or, thanks to him we were not disturbed).

Assumption Of Saint John, also a scene from The Acts Of John by Giotto in 1320.

Assumption Of Saint John, also a scene from The Acts Of John by Giotto in 1320.

61 But when the day was now dawning I arose first, and with me Verus and Andronicus, and we saw at the door of the house which we had taken a great number of bugs standing, and while we wondered at the great sight of them, and all the brethren were roused up because of them, John continued sleeping. And when he was awaked we declared to him what we had seen. And he sat up on the bed and looked at them and said: Since ye have well behaved yourselves in hearkening to my rebuke, come unto your place. And when he had said this, and risen from the bed, the bugs running from the door hasted to the bed and climbed up by the legs thereof and disappeared into the joints. And John said again: This creature hearkened unto the voice of a man, and abode by itself and was quiet and trespassed not; but we which hear the voice and commandments of God disobey and are light-minded: and for how long?

This scene from the Acts of John shows John raising Dusiana from the dead is part of the Santa Maria Novella, painted in 1487-1502 in  Strozzi Chapel, Florence.

This scene from the Acts of John shows John raising Dusiana from the dead is part of the Santa Maria Novella, painted in 1487- 1502 in Strozzi Chapel, Florence.



I admit that the above passage is not in any modern bible. But passages such as this one were considered sacred by many Christians for centuries. This passage is a part of The Acts Of John. Although some might deem this story too silly to be in the bible, it is no more silly than a talking snake (Genesis) , a talking donkey (Numbers 22), dead people coming out of their graves and roaming Jerusalem (Matthew 27), or Paul shaking a poisonous snake into a fire (Acts 28).

During a recent discussion with a Christian apologist on this blog, it was claimed that Christians knew early on what texts were legitimate and which texts were apocryphal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The first New Testament Canon was written in 144 CE by Marcion, who was considered a heretic by the groups that would become orthodox. His canon included 10 letters of Paul and the gospel of Luke (allegedly written by Paul’s assistant), and it explicitly rejected the Old Testament, Matthew and John. Marcionites rejected the Old Testament, believed in 2 gods (1 Jewish and 1 Christian), Jesus was completely divine (not human at all), and that Paul was the one true apostle to whom Jesus appeared after his death because the 12 apostles were not leading properly (due to their being Jews). Marcion’s canon spurred the proto-orthodox Christians to start creating their own lists.

Around 180 CE, Christian Bishop Iranaeus wrote Against Heresies to debunk the theology of the Gnostics. It is in this book that we get the first selection of four and only four gospels. His logic is ridiculous.

“It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the pillar and ground of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. From which fact, it is evident that the Word, the Artificer of all, He that sits upon the cherubim, and contains all things, He who was manifested to men,has given us the Gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit.” (Against Heresies, 3:11:8)

The first complete listing of the 27 books of the New Testament did not occur until 367 CE in a letter from Athanasius. The oldest collection of these 27 books, the Codex Sinaiticus, also includes The Shepherd Of Hermas and The Epistle Of Barnabas. These two books are not noted to be of lesser consideration than the other 27 books.

Many gospels, letters, acts, apocalypses and other apocryphal Christian books flourished before and after the New Testament canon was finally established. The paintings above from 1320 and around 1487, show that some of these stories were popular thousands of years later.

In addition, there is the issue of Deuterocanonical books. At the time the New Testament was written, the Sepuagint (Greek translation of Hebrew Tanakh, or Old Testament) was considered authoritative. The authors of the New Testament quote from the Septuagint. Jewish leaders started abandoning the Septuagint around 100 CE for multiple reasons, including the desire to rely only on Hebrew texts and the desire to distance Judaism from a rival religion (Christianity) that used the Septuagint. The Masoretic text became the Jewish authoritative text in the middle ages.

To keep this short, Martin Luther did not like some Catholic doctrines that were in Maccabees, among other books. He placed all the books in the Septuagint but not in the Masoretic texts in an apocryphal (doubtful) section (he also doubted NT books Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation). He published his NT in 1522 and his OT in 1534. The Catholic church responded with the Council of Trent in 1546. They created the Deuterocacnon to declare that the books in Luther’s apocrypha were of equal status to the other canonized books. This vote was passed with 24 yes, 15 no, and 16 abstaining.  Only 44% of those attending voted to accept these books as equal, but that has been their status in the Catholic Church ever since. The Eastern Orthodox church also accepts these books (and a few more) as authoritative.

Catholics and Eastern Orthodox claim the Septuagint (LXX) is authoritative (it was used by the apostles; it is older; Jews did not have authority over holy texts after 33 CE, etc.). Protestants claim the Masoretic Text (MT) is authoritative (it is the official text of the Jews). Both sides claim the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) support their scriptures, but the truth is that the DSS shows a very fluid Old Testament up until about 100 CE. Some DSS texts match with MT, some match with LXX, some match with the Samaritan Pentateuch, and some show completely different origins.

Future versions of the protestant bible, including the 1611 King James, followed the pattern established by Luther. Official protestant bibles included the apocryphal books until they were officially removed in the 1895 version of the King James Version. In summary, the protestant bible is more recent than The Origin Of Species, but most protestant Christians have no idea about any of the things I have written about today.

Posted by: edhensley | December 24, 2013

Contradictions in the Christmas Story (Re-posted)

Matthew 1

The Genealogy of Jesus

1A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2Abraham was the father of Isaac,

16and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

17Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23″The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” —which means, “God with us.”

24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matthew 2

thebricktestament.com

thebricktestament.com

The Visit of the Magi

1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5″In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6″ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for out of you will come a ruler

who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”

7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

thebricktestament.com

thebricktestament.com

9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The Escape to Egypt

13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

thebricktestament.com

thebricktestament.com

16When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, andhe gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18″A voice is heard in Ramah,

weeping and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children

and refusing to be comforted,

because they are no more.”

The Return to Nazareth

19After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

21So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22Butwhen he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

thebricktestament.com

thebricktestament.com

The Shepherds and the Angels

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14″Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

thebricktestament.com

thebricktestament.com

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 

 

 

Jesus Presented in the Temple

thebricktestament.com

thebricktestament.com

21On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

22When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29″Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

you now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.

30For my eyes have seen your salvation,

31which you have prepared in the sight of all people,

32a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and for glory to your people Israel.”

33The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 3

23Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph,24the son of Matthat, the son of Heli, …

I decided to re-post a blog about contradictions in the Christmas story. The portion below this paragraph are the original. In addition to obvious contradictions, the story is contradicted by history (timelines of Herod and Quirinius discussed below) and contains events that should be recorded by other historians but are not (slaughter of the innocents, star of Bethlehem, census requiring people to register in the home of their ancestors 1000 years earlier, etc).

SuperGospel

These two stories contain many internal contradictions (they conflict with each other) and external contradictions (they conflict with know facts of history). I will demonstrate these contradictions to my Christian friends in the hope that they will become enlightened this holiday season.

As Dr. Bart Ehrman notes in his books, most Christians do not believe in a gospel, but rather they believe in a “super gospel.”  The Christmas story is an example of a story from a “super gospel.”  There is no gospel in the New Testament where both wise men and shepherds visit Jesus. The wise men visit in Matthew and the shepherds visit in Luke. By combining these two separate stories, Christians create a “super story.”  The authors of Matthew and Luke probably never imagined that their two books would be placed next to each other (and Mark and John) in a single collection of books. Each author took existing legends of Jesus and adapted the legends for their particular agendas.

Geneaologies

As previously noted (rarebible.wordpress.com/2009/06/21/who-is-josephs-daddy), the genealogies of Jesus are completely different. In Matthew, Jacob is the father of Joseph, but in Luke, Heli is the father of Joseph. The lists from David to Joseph are completely different.

Jesus is not Immanuel

Matthew 1:22 says the parents will name the baby Immanuel in fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. That verse, however is not a messianic prophecy but mentions a baby as a sign for Ahaz. Furthermore the Hebrew Masoretic text and most translations of the bible indicate that the virgin whill call the baby Immanuel. Mary does not do that, and nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus ever called Immanuel.  Please see the followig post for more information on that topic:http://rarebible.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/mary-loses-her-virginity-isaiah-7-in-the-new-english-bible/.

Herod (reign ended 4 BC) and Quirinius (reign started 6 AD) never reigned at the same time

Matthew claims Jesus was born during the reign of King Herod. Luke claims Jesus was born while Quirinius was governor of Assyria. However, Herod died 10 years before Quirinius became governor. Either Matthew or Luke is wrong on this issue, or they are both wrong. Only one the is certain: the Bible contains an error regarding the year Jesus was born.

Massacre of the Innocents not recorded in history

Matthew claims Herod killed all boys near Bethlehem who were 2 or under. No other gospel makes this claim. There is no evidence outside the Bible of any atrocity like this. Historians recorded many things about Herod. We know he was born around 74 BC, that he died in 4 BC, and that he expanded the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem (destroyed in 70 AD but 4 walls, including the famous wailing wall, exit today). It is recorded that he improved water sources, built water supplies, built Massada and Herodium, leased copper mines, killed his wife and two sons, and did much else. The massacre of the innocents is missing from any historical record. There are many amazing stories in the bible that are not recorded in historical records.

The senseless census is not recorded in history

There is a historical census recorded during the time of Quirinius.  However, that census and no other Roman census ever required anyone to return to their ancestral homes. If you think about it, why would anyone care where your ancestors lived 1000 years ago? And what if you had ancestors that came from multiple locations, as most people would probably have? If I had to return to my ancestral home of 1000 years ago, I would have to go to England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, and Spain at least.

Luke has no Trip to Egypt, Matthew has no trip to Jerusalem

In Matthew, Jesus is born in Bethlehem, they flee immediately to Egypt, and upon their return from Egypt they travel directly to Nazareth to avoid the son of Herod.

In Luke, Mary and Joseph start in Nazareth, travel to Bethlehem for a census, go to Jerusalem, and then return to their home town of Nazareth.

Many apologists try to create a super story in which they combine the travel of the two stories above into one journey. This is impossible. Luke specifically mentions circumcision on the eighth day and the required purification time. This refers to Leviticus 12, which states when a boy is born the mother is unclean for 7 days, the foreskin is removed on the 8th day, and she must not touch holy objects for 33 days (if Jesus were a girl, Mary would be unclean for 14 days and could not touch holy objects for 66 days).  Luke 39 notes that when this 33 day period was complete they returned to Galilee.  A trip to Egypt is not mentioned at all!

Posted by: edhensley | December 17, 2013

Contradiction When Jesus Curses a Fig Tree

thebricktestament.com

thebricktestament.com

Mark 11 (New International Version)

Jesus Curses a Fig Tree and Clears the Temple Courts

12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples[e] went out of the city.

thebricktestament.com

thebricktestament.com

20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[f] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” [26] [g]

[e]Mark 11:19 Some early manuscripts came, Jesus
[f]Mark 11:23 Some early manuscripts “If you have faith in God,” Jesus answered, 23 “truly
[g]Mark 11:26 Some manuscripts include here words similar to Matt. 6:15.

Matthew 21 (New International Version)

Jesus at the Temple

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Jesus Curses a Fig Tree

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Matthew 21 (New King James Version)

The Fig Tree Withered

18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.

The Lesson of the Withered Fig Tree

20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”

21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

It has been a few months since my last post. I have been doing more in promoting the atheist community in Louisville and Kentucky. These activities, such as the state fair booth and the Kentucky Freethought Convention, are about promoting something true and good (atheism), while this website is more about demonstrating that something (the bible) is not accurate. I enjoy promoting what is positive more than demonstrating something is in error.

However, after continuous comments from readers and noticing that this blog is constantly receiving 300 to 400 hits per day, I decided to have at least one new post per month. I have decided to blog about biblical contradictions as well as “bible verses rarely read on Sunday.”

In the two passages above, there is a clear contradiction on the timing of the withering of the fig tree. In Mark 11 Jesus curses the fig tree, drives out capitalists from the Temple, and his disciples notice the tree is withered the next morning. In Matthew 21 Jesus drives the capitalists out of the Temple, then he curses the fig tree and it “immediately” withers. Both stories can not be literally true.

Another problem is that all-knowing Christian god did not know that it was not the season for figs to appear on fig trees. Jesus “went to find out if it had any fruit“, which clearly means he did not know whether or not it had fruit. Another question raised is why did Jesus curse this tree? Was he angry at the tree? And one more claim of this verse is that if “if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”  If any Christian apologist can cause Mount Everest to be thrown into the sea, I will stop this blog and concede that the bible is the inerrant word of god. I am not worried about losing this challenge, but I still challenge all those who comment on this blog to prove me wrong.

Now I will get into another reason why I have not blogged so much. Christian apologists are some of the most dishonest people I have ever met. They are first and foremost dishonest to themselves. If they read these verses in the Koran, they would be the first to scream about how the Koran has a contradiction. But because they read this contradiction in the bible, they go to extravagant lengths to make up excuses for the contradiction.

Two examples of Christian apologies (the first two to pop up in Google) include Christian Courier (https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/790-fig-tree-incident-a-contradiction-the) and Answers in Genesis (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2012/07/17/contradictions-figuring-out). In regards to the timing of the fig tree withering, both of them talk about Mark being chronological and Matthew being “topical”. They claim Mark has the correct sequence of events in regards to what happens on what day and that Matthew is simply putting the fig tree lesson as a topic separate from the Temple events. However, let us review the Matthew verses to see if it is also implying a chronology.

12 Jesus entered the temple courts…17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night…18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city…Immediately the tree withered.

Both apologists are incorrect when they claim that Matthew was not listing events in a specific chronology. The author of Matthew uses multiple phrases to indicate a specific order of events, and the order of events in Matthew clearly contradicts the order of events in Mark.

The apologists make multiple assertions that are unsupported by the verses. They both claim that the tree does or could represent Israel.

Observing this fruitless tree, Jesus pronounced a “curse” (i.e., a withering judgment) upon the tree as a symbolic preview of that punishment which ultimately would befall the Hebrew nation (A.D. 70).

Many scholars believe the fig tree represented Israel, or at least her leaders in Jerusalem, since fruitless fig trees are often used symbolically in reference to judgment (Jeremiah 8:13; Joel 1:7). If this is accurate then Jesus was showing what would soon come to pass as God’s judgment would fall on the nation.

However, the verses say nothing about the tree representing Israel. As previously noted, Jesus “went to find out if it had any fruit”.  The bible does NOT say he want out to the tree to teach a lesson about Israel. These apologists are basically saying “the bible means what we say it means, not what it says.”

I included the New King James Version of Matthew 21, because it divides the fig tree story into “The Fig Tree Withered” and “The Lesson Of The Fig Tree Withered.”  Bible publishers do all kinds of things to make the bible echo the doctrines of the publishers, and they also do things to try to eliminate contradictions (i.e. Yahweh and Elohim are both translated as god in the flood story; sub-headings are added to Matthew and Luke nativity stories to mask contradictions; etc). This could be what the NKJV publishers did by separating these five verses (18-22) into two sections.

Lastly, regarding the ignorance of Jesus concerning fig trees, Answers in Genesis wrote

I can just imagine the disciples thinking, “That was strange. Jesus should know that figs come later in the season.” Of course, Jesus knew that—He created the fig tree.

However, the claims of the apologist are once again contradicted by the words of the bible: “Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit.” If he knew “that figs come later in the season”[Answers in Genesis] then he would not need to “find out if it had any fruit”[bible].

Last of all, I included some of the footnotes in the NIV verses to show examples of how manuscripts deviate from each other. There are hundreds of thousands of different variations of text in early New Testament manuscripts. I recommend reading Misquoting Jesus or Jesus Interrupted by Bart Ehrman for further information on manuscript variation.

Please keep the comments brief and focused on theses verses.

Posted by: edhensley | March 18, 2013

Goliath Killed At Least Two Times

David's stone hits Goliah, 1 Sam 17

David’s stone hits Goliah, 1 Sam 17

1 Samuel 17

English Standard Version (ESV)

David and Goliath

17 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six[a] cubits[b] and a span.He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels[c] of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him.

David decapitates Goliath, 1 Sam 17

David decapitates Goliath, 1 Sam 17

48 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.

50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistineand took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

  1. 1 Samuel 17:4 Hebrew; Septuagint, Dead Sea Scroll and Josephus four

  2. 1 Samuel 17:4 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

  3. 1 Samuel 17:5 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams

Elhanan kills Goliath

Elhanan kills Goliath

2 Samuel 21

English Standard Version (ESV)

18 After this there was again war with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Saph, who was one of the descendants of the giants. 19 And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, struck down Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.[c] 20 And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants. 21 And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimei, David’s brother, struck him down. 22 These four were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.

Elhanan kills the brother of Goliath

Elhanan kills the brother of Goliath

1 Chronicles 20

English Standard Version (ESV)

And after this there arose war with the Philistines at Gezer. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Sippai, who was one of the descendants of the giants, and the Philistines were subdued. And there was again war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair struck down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beamAnd there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants. And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, struck him down. These were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.

I chose the English Standard Version of the bible because it gives a literal translation of 2 Samuel 21. Other translations, including the King James Version, admit that the translators altered the phrase “struck down Goliath” to “struck down the brother of Goliath.”   Let’s look at the New International Version:

2 Samuel 21

New International Version (NIV)

19 In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jair[c] the Bethlehemite killed the brother of[d] Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s rod.

2 Samuel 21:19 See 1 Chron. 20:5; Hebrew does not have the brother of.

Notice that the footnote states “Hebrew does not have the brother of.  Yet, most translations, including the King James Version, add words that are not in the source texts! They add these words to prevent an obvious contradiction. If you take the original texts at face value, there is at least one contradiction, possibly 2 contradictions.

How do biblical literalists resolve these issues? First of all, some note that the giants in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles are different from the giant in 1 Samuel. In 1 Samuel, David is a young boy. He becomes king in 2 Samuel 2. So by 2 Samuel 21, much time has passed.  The giant from Gath named Goliath in 2 Samuel is a different giant named Goliath from Gath than the one in 1 Samuel. That is fine, except for the odd statement in ALL THREE PASSAGES that the shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam. So to avoid contradictions, biblical literalists claim that the giant named Goliath from Gath with a spear shaft like a weaver’s beam in 1 Samuel 17 is different from the giant named Goliath from Gath with a spear shaft like weaver’s beam in 2 Samuel 21.

But even if we permit giant Goliaths from Gath with spear shafts like weaver’s beams to be two different people, we still have a disagreement between 2 Samuel 21 and 1 Chronicle 20. These two stories are obviously the same story, 2 Samuel says Elhanan killed Goliath, and 1 Chronicles says Elhanan killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath. This contradiction is only corrected by rewriting the original text. This is one example of the many kinds of liberties translators take when creating an English (or any other modern language) version of a bible. Words are often added, removed, and altered in order to preserve doctrinal beliefs and traditional views.

Posted by: edhensley | January 2, 2013

Murder of Saul’s Descendants Pleases God

2 Samuel 21

New International Version (NIV)

The Gibeonites Avenged

During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”

The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.) 3 David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance?”

The Gibeonites answered him, “We have no right to demand silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to put anyone in Israel to death.”

“What do you want me to do for you?” David asked.

They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul—the Lord’s chosen one.”

So the king said, “I will give them to you.”

The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul,

because of the oath before the Lordbetween David and Jonathan son of

Saul. But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab,[a] whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite. He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the Lord. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.

10 Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night. 11 When David was told what Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done, 12 he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.

14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land.

 

God tells David that Israel’s famine is due to Saul’s treatment of the Gibeonites. David asks the Gibeonites what they need to atone for Saul’s atrocities, and they ask for 7 of Saul’s male descendants to be killed. David grants their wishes, and then God ends the famine.

As a child, I was told that Christianity was a moral religion, unlike the ancient and barbaric pagan religions that demanded human sacrifice. It was primitive savages who believed their gods would grant good crops if they killed people. This passage contradicts what the idea that the Christian god is not a petty tyrant.  I can understand killing someone who does something wrong (like Hitler). I can not understand how killing innocent children makes a god happy.

Posted by: edhensley | September 15, 2012

Contradictions on Women in Corinthians

1 Corinthians 11 (NIV)

I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

1 Corinthians 14 (NIV)

26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.

29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the lawsays. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.[g]

36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.

39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

[g] 1 Corinthians 14:35 In a few manuscripts these verses come after verse 40.

The bible is very unkind to women and has greatly contributed to gender discrimination. Yes, their are exceptions like Deborah in the Old Testament, who was a judge prior to the reign of kings in Israel. But most verses on women from Genesis to Revelation view them as inferior servants for men.

1 Cor 11 says that IF a women prays or prophecies, then she should cover her head.

1 Cor 14 says that “women should remain silent in the church…it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church.

How can a woman pray or prophecy if she is not permitted to speak? Apologists spin all over the place on this contradiction, but some biblical scholars have another explanation: 1 Cor 14:34-35 were inserted into the manuscripts by later scribes and were not a part of the original. There evidence is shown by footnote g above from biblegateway.com (and also in hard copies of the NIV). These verses appear in different locations in different ancient manuscripts. Also, the two verses on women in the middle of 1 Cor 14 have little to do with the rest of 1 Cor 14:26-40, which is about prophecy in the church. There is more continuity if the verses on women are removed.

It is a fact that New Testament texts were altered by scribes, often for doctrinal reasons. This is covered in “Misquoting Jesus” and “Jesus Interrupted” by bible scholar Bart Ehrman. There are over 200,000 variations of the New Testament in ancient manuscripts, which means there are more variations among manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.

My first wedding featured Southern Baptists, Holiness Pentecostals, and Mennonites. The Mennonites were very strict about women not speaking in church, keeping their heads covered, women never cutting their hair, and women not having authority over men. The Holiness Pentecostal women also did not cut their hair or have authority over men, but they could speak in church and they did not keep their heads covered. The Baptists pretty much ignored these verses, except they never let women be pastors in the churches. Baptists would say the verses do not say “women can’t get hair cuts at all”, but the Pentecostals would say otherwise, noting that Paul (the assumed author) adds “we have no other practice – nor do the Churches of God.”  That is a pretty strong statement! Yet most Christian sects permit short-haired women today. They simply ignore this verse.

What is worse is that these Christians make a huge deal out of the length of women’s hair. The Holiness Pentecostals sneer with derision at Pentecostals and other “so-called Christians” who let women cut their hair. Then they make excuses for letting women speak in church and not requiring women to cover their heads. Christians should either follow the entire bible or they should openly admit that they are doing whatever they want and then justifying the bible to fit their personal choices.

Then there is the matter of women’s relationship with men. This is a much more serious problem than the length of hair and wearing head covers. It is not be accident that the atheist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the agnostic Susan B. Anthony were the pioneers of women’s voting rights. Anthony said, “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.” Stanton said, “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation.”  I can not say it any better.

Posted by: edhensley | June 16, 2012

Ezekiel’s False Prophecy Against Egypt

Ezekiel 29

New International Version (NIV)

A Prophecy Against Egypt

Judgment on Pharaoh

29 In the tenth year, in the tenth month on the twelfth day, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all Egypt. Speak to him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“‘I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt,
    you great monster lying among your streams.
You say, “The Nile belongs to me;
    I made it for myself.”
But I will put hooks in your jaws
    and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales.
I will pull you out from among your streams,
    with all the fish sticking to your scales.
I will leave you in the desert,
    you and all the fish of your streams.
You will fall on the open field
    and not be gathered or picked up.
I will give you as food
    to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the sky.

Then all who live in Egypt will know that I am the Lord.

“‘You have been a staff of reed for the people of Israel. When they grasped you with their hands, you splintered and you tore open their shoulders; when they leaned on you, you broke and their backs were wrenched.[a]

“‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will bring a sword against you and kill both man and beast. Egypt will become a desolate wasteland. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

“‘Because you said, “The Nile is mine; I made it, ” 10 therefore I am against you and against your streams, and I will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush.[b] 11 The foot of neither man nor beast will pass through it; no one will live there for forty years. 12 I will make the land of Egypt desolateamong devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities. And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries.

13 “‘Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says: At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the nations where they were scattered. 14 I will bring them back from captivity and return them to Upper Egypt, the land of their ancestry. There they will be a lowly kingdom. 15 It will be the lowliest of kingdoms and will never again exalt itself above the other nations. I will make it so weak that it will never again rule over the nations. 16 Egypt will no longer be a source of confidencefor the people of Israel but will be a reminderof their sin in turning to her for help.Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.’”

Footnotes:
  1. Ezekiel 29:7 Syriac (see also Septuagint and Vulgate); Hebrew and you caused their backs to stand
  2. Ezekiel 29:10 That is, the upper Nile region

KING JAMES VERSION

10 Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.

11 No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.

This passage is interesting for a number of reasons. First of all, the prophecy has not come true. Egypt has never been uninhabited, especially not for 40 years. There are several ways apologists get around this. Some claim that the prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. Christians making this claim do not realize that this makes any prophecy that does not include an exact date as unfalsifiable.

Others claim that it was not all of Egypt, but only a certain portion of Egypt or other countries (Elephatine, Cush, Ethiopia, etc). They use confusion about verse 10. Notice the extreme differences in the NIV and KJV about the locations listed in verse 10. The NIV says “from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush”.  The KJV says “from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia”. There are 3 different locations in the NIV (Migdol, Aswan, and Cush) and two different locations in the KJV (Syene and Ethiopia). What is going on here?

Syene is the ancient name for Aswan. Cush and Ethiopia are essentially the same thing. But what about Migdol? Migdol is a term that can mean  tower (from its size or height), an elevated stage (a rostrum or pulpit), or a raised bed (within a river).  So is Migdol a town or a tower? Migdol has been translated both ways. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, the text should read “from Magdolon [the northern frontier city of Egypt] to Syene [the southern boundary].”  So I will go with the Jewish Encyclopedia that this refers to the northern frontier to southern boundary of Egypt. Verse 2 also says that this prophecy is against all Egypt, not just part of it. But there has never been any part of Egypt that has been uninhabited by people and animals for 40 years.

Apologies for this passage are all over the place, and are evolving. The recent events in Egypt are supposedly fulfilling this prophecy now (http://twelvebooks.wordpress.com/category/ezekiel-29/page/2/http://prophecyupdateradio.blogspot.com/2011/02/ezekiel-predicts-40-years-of-egyptian.htmlhttp://www.biblecodedigest.com/page.php?PageID=767, http://www.prophecydepot.net/2011/ezekiel-predicts-40-years-of-egyptian-deportation/).

 I will make a prophecy. 100 years from now there will be Christians claiming that world events are fulfilling biblical prophecies and that the return of Jesus is imminent. I believe that my prophecy has a better chance of coming true than the prophecy in Ezekiel 29.

Judges 3

New International Version (NIV)

12 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and because they did this evil the LORD gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel. 13 Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms.[Jericho]14The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years.

 15 Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a cubit [18 inches] long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. 18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way those who had carried it. 19But on reaching the stone images near Gilgal he himself went back to Eglon and said, “Your Majesty, I have a secret message for you.”

Ehud cannot pull his sword from Eglon.

Ehud cannot pull his sword from Eglon.

   The king said to his attendants, “Leave us!” And they all left.

 20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. 22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23 Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

Eglon's bowels discharge.

Eglon's bowels discharge.

 24 After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, “He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the palace.” 25They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.

 26 While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the stone images and escaped to Seirah. 27When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.

 28“Follow me,” he ordered, “for the LORD has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.” So they followed him down and took possession of the fords of the

Israelits kill 10,000 Moabites.

Israelites kill 10,000 Moabites.

Jordan that led to Moab; they allowed no one to cross over. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not one escaped. 30That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.

Shamgar

 31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.

I do not remember hearing this story in Sunday School, probably because of the level of gore. Once again, the Israelites were bad, so Yahweh let some other country rule them for a while (Moab led by Eglon). When the Israelites call on Yahweh, he gets a man to kill the enemies and free the Israelites.

This story is unique in that Eglon is so fat that Ehud’s sword is swallowed by the fat and can not be pulled out. It also includes the wonderful image of Eglon’s bowels discharging. This is another example of Yahweh getting men to do his killing for him. Sometimes he just kills evil people (Onan and Er), but most of the time he orders men to do his killing for him. Yahweh follows the killing of Eglon with the killing of 10,000 Moabites and later 600 Philistines.

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