Posted by: edhensley | March 12, 2012

Judah and Tamar – Incestuous Ancestors of Jesus

Judah having sex with daughter-in-law Tamar.

Judah having sex with daughter-in-law Tamar.

Genesis 38 (NIV)

Judah and Tamar

 1 At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. 2 There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; 3 she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. 4 She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. 5She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him. 6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was

 wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.

 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill

  your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death also.

 11Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household.

 12After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him.

 13 When Tamar was told, “Your

Judah wants Tamar burned to death!

father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.

 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.”

   “And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked.

 17“I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said.

   “Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked.

 18He said, “What pledge should I give you?”

   “Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. 19After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again.

 20 Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. 21He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?”

   “There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said.

 22So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’”

 23Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.”

Judah wants Tamar burned to death!  24About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.”

   Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”

 25As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.”

Judah says Tamar is more righteous than he is.

Judah says Tamar is more righteous than he is.

 26Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

 27 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 28 As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29 But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez.30 Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.

There are so many moral problems with this story that I do not know where to start. I guess we should recap last week’s bible story from Genesis 38:1-10. God kills Er, son of Judah, because Er is evil. Judah orders Er’s brother Onan to impregnate Er’s wife, Tamar. Onan refuses to impregnate her, so God kills Onan.

Judah has one more son named Shelah who is not yet grown, so Tamar can not marry him yet and goes to live with her father. Notice that Judah says Shelah may die like his brothers, which means God may kill Shelah like he killed Er and Onan.

Then the story gets even stranger. A long time passes. Judah’s wife dies. Tamar is not married to Shelah so she disguises herself and waits by a temple. Judah thinks she is a temple prostitute, asks her to have sex with him, and she does in exchange for a goat, keeping his seal, cord, and staff as promise of payment.

Tamar gets pregnant. Judah learns his daughter-in-law is pregnant from prostitution and demands she be burned to death. Then he learns she is pregnant by him and declares her more righteous.

Let’s start with temple prostitution. In Hebrew there are two different words used for prostitute, kedeshah and zonah. In Genesis 38:21 and 22, the word kedeshah is used. A kedeshah is a “holy prostitute”, most often associated with the worship of Asherah or Astarte (aka Ishtar), the Syrian Venus. Asherah is known to have been a wife or consort of Yahweh based upon multiple inscriptions found on ancient relics (see Dever, William G. (2005), Did God Have a Wife?: Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israell; also Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts).

irregardless of the nature of the shrine prostitute, Judah wants to have sex with her and does. When he finds out Tamar is guilty of prostitution, he wants to burn her to death! Talk about a double standard!

Judah and Tamar do not seem very moral in this story. However, according to Matthew 1, they are the ancestors of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.

 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
   Isaac the father of Jacob,
   Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
 3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
   Perez the father of Hezron,

As previously noted, the genealogies of Joseph in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are so contradictory that some Christians claim Luke’s genealogy is actually that of Mary rather than Joseph (even though the bible says Joseph and shows no evidence of Mary). Either way, the bible shows in Genesis 38 and Matthew 1 that Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, is the progeny of an incestuous relationship between Tamar and the whore mongering father of one of the 12 tribes of Israel, Judah. What a wonderful example of Christian morality!

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  2. Just because a story is in the Bible doesn’t mean it’s an example of good morality. To the contrary, examples of bad morality litter the whole of the Bible to teach the readers truths (not that the Bible is just a moral story book, either). Judah is one of the brothers of Joseph who sold him into slavery and almost murdered him. Later, when Joseph is reunited with his brothers as acting Pharaoh, he said, “What you meant for evil, God used for good.” So we can tell that #1, Judah is not supposed to be an exemplary man of character to say the least, and #2, God uses wrong-doings for good purposes.

    So when Jesus’ hereditary line is chock full of sinful people, why should we be surprised? If nothing else it stands as a stark contrast to Jesus’ character. And in this sense, it also stands as an example of God bringing good out of the bad.

    And a word on the lines of Jesus from Matthew and Luke, taken from Hank Hanegraaff. (even though this post is not mainly about this subject)
    “Matthew, writing to a primarily Jewish audience, emphasizes that Jesus Christ is the seed of Abraham and the legal heir of David, the long awaited King of Israel who would ultimately restore his people from exile. As such, Matthew records 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 from David to the exile, and 14 from the exile to the Christ. Matthew, a former tax collector, skillfully organizes the genealogy of Jesus into three groups of 14, the numerical equivalent of Kind David’s name (4+6+4).” (this was a practice very common in the early first century) “Thus Matthew’s genealogy simultaneously highlights the most significant names in the lineage of Jesus and artistically emphasizes our Lord’s identity as Messiah who would forever sit upon the throne of David.”
    “Furthermore, Luke, writing to a primarily Gentile audience, extends his genealogy past Abraham to the first Adam, thus highlighting that Christ, the Second Adam, is the Savior of all humanity. Additionally, calling Adam ‘the son of God’ and strategically placing the genealogy between Jesus’ baptism and the desert temptation, Luke masterfully reveals Jesus as ‘Theanthropos’-the God-man. It is also instructive to note that while Luke’s genealogy stretches from the first Adam to the Second, only mountain peaks in the lineage are accounted for. Thus, it is impossible to determine how many years elapsed between the creation of Adam and the birth of Jesus.”
    “Finally, just as there are different emphases in the genealogies, so too there are different explanations for the dissimilarities between them. Matthew traces his genealogy through David’s son Solomon, while Luke traces his genealogy through David’s son Nathan. It may be that Matthew’s purpose is to provide the legal lineage from Solomon through Joseph, while Luke’s purpose is to provide the natural lineage from Nathan through Mary. It could also be that Matthew and Luke are both tracing Joseph’s genealogy-Matthew, the legal line, and Luke, the natural line. As such, the legal line diverges from the natural in that Levirate Law stipulated if a man died without an heir, his genealogy could legally continue through his brother. Obviously, the fact that there are a number of ways to resolve dissimilarities rules out the notion that the genealogies are contradictory.”

    • You fail to acknowledge the immoral acts of your god. Your god kills one man for being immoral and another for refusing to impregnate his dead brother’s wife. Your god’s actions against Onan are immoral. If your god were consistent, he would kill Judah for having sex with a whore. So much more to this sick story than a couple of people being bad.

      You apology for the Matthew and Luke genealogies is flawed as well. Where in Matthew does it say that the genealogy is a legal line, and where in Luke does it say it say the genealogy is a natural line? NOWHERE! This is a clear example of how apologists can make up garbage for obvious contractions and then claim they have resolved a contradiction.

      Other apologists have said Luke’s genealogy is really that of Mary, and others have said that “son of” does not really mean “son of” but could mean descendent of (grandson, great-gradnson, etc). Of course, when David has a son named Solomon and a son named Nathan, it is hard to reconcile that obvious contradiction with this method. It is also difficult to explain the “14 generations” aspect of the genealogy of Matthew. Why say that if the genealogy skips generations.

      Basically, your apologist feels comfortable MAKING STUFF UP. Nowhere does it say one genealogy is legal and one is natural. Would you let an apologist for the Koran make stuff up in order to explain a contradiction? You need to start reading the bible as if you are reading the koran, The Origin of Species, or any other book.

    • Why would either mt or lk find it necessary to make up a geneology? Are they so pathetic they think they can lie about Jesus lineage to God and he wont know any better? Or are they lying to the reader because they can? Perhaps the entire story is one big lie? Why does it matter who is Jesus ancestors, the at doesn’t make him a better person in anyway. king david was an ancient Hitler prototype, killing at any opportunity. According to the bible more than half his own people died due to his actions making life as a citizen a very dangerous time. Given David was at one time a ttraitor who went about killing and stealing from his fellow jews with support and help from the Philistine king one has to wonder how an enemy and traitor becomes a hero.

    • Great! Thanks very much.God does not throw overboard anyone willing to repent. Moreover, the Bible is very factual, giving the bad and the good. It also teaches that God gives people many chances to shape up. He may make some more accountable than others but everyone partakes in His favour up to different levels.

      • The bible is not very factual, in that it that it thinks a bat is a bird, among other mistakes.

  3. If my God treated all people in the way they deserve, then no one would be alive. No one, not me or anyone, can understand the intense wrong done by just one sin against an infinitely Holy, perfect God and lawgiver. The Bible says that the sentence of any sin is death. By that law, God is not immoral to punish by killing, and He shows grace by sustaining life that is sinful. You cannot judge God’s or any being’s actions that were committed under one set of laws with your own set of rules.

    You’re right that Matthew and Luke do not say legal or natural line. Going by your line of logic however, neither Matthew or Luke are giving legal or natural lines because they did not say that they are. Basically, hereditary lines are either legal or natural (or some other form, if you can think of them). Different audiences would care about legal or natural, and these two could also be used to give insight into the author’s point.

    I guess I operate under the assumption that the Bible makes sense and that it’s authors and readers were/are not stupid. Anyone at anytime, including Matthew, had access to records that would show every generation from Abraham to Jesus as recorded by the Talmud. I assume that not only did the heredity of Christ make sense to Matthew and the early Christian and Jewish audience, but that if it didn’t, he could have been easily defaced as an non-credible source.

    I do like your suggestion to read everything as if you are reading something you want to disprove, and I hope you do the same. But if a proponent of some theory postulates a credible hypothesis to make something coherent, I don’t call it making something up, I call it critical thinking.

    • First of all, Matthew and Luke did not write the gospels attributed to them. You know very little about the bible. I suggest you read the book “Who Wrote The Gospels” by Randel Helms, as well as any of the books on early Christianity by Bart Ehrman (Lost Christianities, Jesus Interrupted, Misquoting Jesus).
      Secondly, the Talmud does not provide any evidence of a genealogy from Abraham to Jesus. You are making stuff up. Here is a website that discusses how Jesus or Yeshu is mentioned in the talmud, and there is no genealogy. By the way, Jesus or Yeshu was a common name in that time, just like Jesus is a common name in Mexico today.
      Last of all, you are not using “critical thinking” when you admit “I guess I operate under the assumption that the Bible makes sense.” This latter statement shows you are NOT using critical thinking. Your assumption is preventing you from thinking critically.

      • When I say I am working under the assumption that the Bible makes sense, let me be more specific. I work under the assumption that when someone intelligent writes something, they have a point they are trying to make, and I read their work trying to figure out their point.
        As far as the Talmud containing genealogies, I was referring to it in the broader sense as Jewish tradition of law and history. I was wrong to say “as recorded by…” I should I have used Tanakh, which would have contained the major genealogies to a certain extent past King David. The written Talmud does not contain non-major genealogies. But the Messiah was supposed to come from the line of David, and for this reason and in a strong patriarchal society, it is more than reasonable to think that genealogy down to Joseph was kept.
        And I guess I am supposed to be surprised that there is more than one person named Jesus in the world? The textual evidence for Jesus in the Talmud is weak and unreliable, but the Talmud is also not the major text used to support Jesus outside the Bible, either. The major external sources are Josephus Flavius in Antiquities, Cornelius Tacitus in Annals, Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, and Plinius the Younger.
        I would very much disagree with Matthew and Luke not being written early (and most likely by the names Matthew and Luke). First of all, about Bart Ehrman (the following is from a blog post on
        “Bart Ehrman was mentored by Bruce Metzger of Princeton University who was the greatest manuscript scholar of the last century. In 2005, Ehrman helped Metzger update and revise the classic work on the topic– Metzger’s The Text of the New Testament.
        What do Metzger and Ehrman conclude together in that revised work? Melinda Penner of Stand to Reason writes,
        Ehrman and Metzger state in that book that we can have a high degree of confidence that we can reconstruct the original text of the New Testament, the text that is in the Bibles we use, because of the abundance of textual evidence we have to compare. The variations are largely minor and don’t obscure our ability to construct an accurate text. The 4th edition of this work was published in 2005 – the same year Ehrman published Misquoting Jesus, which relies on the same body of information and offers no new or different evidence to state the opposite conclusion.
        Here’s what Ehrman says in an interview found in the appendix of Misquoting Jesus [paperback] (p. 252):
        Bruce Metzger is one of the great scholars of modern times, and I dedicated the book to him because he was both my inspiration for going into textual criticism and the person who trained me in the field. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. And even though we may disagree on important religious questions – he is a firmly committed Christian and I am not – we are in complete agreement on a number of very important historical and textual questions. If he and I were put in a room and asked to hammer out a consensus statement on what we think the original text of the New Testament probably looked like, there would be very few points of disagreement – maybe one or two dozen places out of many thousands. The position I argue for in ‘Misquoting Jesus’ does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.”
        I don’t mean to say that there are no textual variants in present day Bibles (1 John 5:7-8, Matthew 6:9-13, and John 8:1-11 being good examples of texts that were not in the original works). But like Ehrman says above, the Bible can be reconstructed, for the most part, to its original form. And textual criticism would point to early sources as well. Aside from internal evidence that these books of the Bible were written by someone who lived pre-destruction of the Second Temple, there are many reasons to conclude the books were written early. The oldest complete New Testament was found in 350 A.D.-Codex Sinaiticus. The Chester Beatty Papyrus II, containing many of Paul’s writings, is dated to within a century of his autographs. Phillip Comfort states that we can piece together most of the New Testamnet using fragments dated within two centuries of the death of Christ. There is so much more-I would really suggest reading “Has God Spoken?” by Hanegraaff. The great thing about his book is the huge body of academic work cited. I would definitely be willing to send you a copy if you would like.

      • Thank you for admitting you were wrong about the Talmud.

        When you read the Koran or the Book of Mormon, do you also work under the equivalent assumption that “when someone intelligent writes something, they have a point they are trying to make, and I read their work trying to figure out their point” ? Your originaly admission that you ASSUME the bible MAKES SENSE is your more honest admission and is probably why you fail to think critically.

        Regarding the Codex Sinaiticus, you omitted a very important fact. It contains the 27 books of the New Testament plus the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermes. Both books were considered a part of that Codex and were not in any since meant to be separate from the others. Yet we do not include them in the New Testament because mortal men took votes to decide what would be in your god’s book. Can you explain why books in the EVIDENCE YOU CITED (Codex Sinaiticus) are not in the current New Testament?

        If you read all Bart Ehrman’s books, you would know he describes the long, arduous, centuries old process of orthodox Christianity being derived from multiple Christianities. Many early Christians (Ebionites, Marcionites, Gnostics, etc) believed a wide variety of ideas about God, Jesus, etc. Some believe Jesus was divine only and some believed only a man. Some believed Yahweh and Jesus were separate Gods. Some believed the Old Testament was not from god, other believed it was from god. Orthodox Christianity was forged, culminating with the conversion of Constantine in 312, the Council of Nicea in 325 to establish what is and what is not orthodox, and the establishment of the 27 books of the New Testament by Athanasius in 367. In the first and second centuries, Christians were much more divided in their ideas of god than the protestant-Catholic-orthodox-Mormon-Jehovah Witness, etc, divisions today.

        Your external sources include “Josephus Flavius in Antiquities, Cornelius Tacitus in Annals, Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, and Plinius the Younger”. Antiquities was written about 94 CE, Annals in 116 CE, and Pliny the Younger wrote his letters about Christians (not Christ) while governor from 111-113 CE. You can not provide one bit of external evidence from 0 – 33 CE on Jesus because no evidence exists. Also, the “Testamonium Flaviam” quote is widely considered a fraud by scholars. 1st-2nd century Christians mentioned Josephus but did not mention the quote until Eusebius in the 4th Century.

        ALL historians who lived near 0-33 CE did not say anything about Jesus, including Claudius (BCE 10 – CE 54), Philo of Alexandria (20 BCE – 50 CE), Seneca the Elder (54 BCE – 39 CE), Marcus Velleius Paterculus (19 BCE – 31 CE), Plutarch (46 – 120 CE), and numerous others.

      • The short answer is “yes” I do read their works under the assumption that they have a point they are trying to make. If something does not make sense, then there could be a reason that I do not understand, probably cultural or historical, that the author had to write it a certain way. However, if the passage does not have a reasonable explanation for why it does not make sense, I find it much harder to believe. One example would be the Book of Mormon’s total lack of archaeological and anthropological evidence of any of the people mentioned in it. I also believe there is a geographical reference to the Land of Moron that has not real place. And there is no evidence for the language of “reformed Egyptian.” Here, we are talking about possible reasons for listing only certain generations and listing two different family trees, both of which have reasonable explanations.

        We need to try and keep this conversation confined to certain points. I only say that because at one point, you said that the books were not written by Matthew and Luke. I gave you evidence that they were written early and by people who knew the times and geography personally. But now you did not respond to that, and you threw in another separate argument of how the canon was “decided.” I’m not saying those are important, but we are all over the place here.

        I agree that Christianity was divided at the beginning, and you mentioned the major divisions-Gnosticism (today’s favorite because of the Da Vinci Code), Arianism, and Marcionism. The historic Christian belief is that the Holy Spirit guided the “selection” of the books. Criterion for including certain writings included being written by apostles or an apostle approved writer. The problem was that a lot of writings were written pseudonymously. It is important to note that, as quoted by Bruce Metzger, “The canon is a list of authoritative books more than it is an authoritative list of books. These documents didn’t derive their authority from being selected; each one was authoritative before anyone gathered them together.” There was some controversy over books like Philemon, 3 John, and James, but the gospels and epistles were immediately recognized as divinely inspired by church fathers. John’s disciple, Polycarp, had a disciple, Irenaeus. The former two collectively quote 23 of the 27 New Testament books as if they were authentic, and in some cases they say that they were, such as the four gospels.Through Eusebius, we know that Papias (60-120) affirmed the authorship of Matthew and Mark. And no one doubts the works of Paul. It is interesting to note that even if every single copy of the Bible had been wiped out, the entire New Testament (minus eleven verses) could be reconstructed only by the quotes of the early Church Fathers from the 2nd and 3rd century.

        Some books, such as the Epistle of Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermes, the Secret Book of James, the Gospel of Thomas, the Apocalypse of Paul are not included as canonical, for many reasons. 1) they did not agree with the four gospels or the works of Paul. 2) they could not be confirmed to be apostolic or Paulian writings. All the Christian writings were slowly analyzed due to non-centralized Christianity and Christian persecution. The 27 books were “officially” declared in Hippo 393. F.F. Bruce stated, “One thing must be emphatically stated. The New Testament books did not become authoritative for the Church because they were formally included in a canonical list; on the contrary, the Church included them in her canon because she already regarded them as divinely inspired, recognizing innate worth and generally apostolic authority, direct or indirect.” Also, since I mentioned the Da Vinci Code, remember the scene when they were talking about the council of Nicea-what they came away with was that the council was divided on so many issues with so many people. In reality, the “votes” were in many cases almost unanimous.

        Take the Gospel of Judas for an example. Location: The Gospel of Judas lacks evidence that it was written by someone familiar with the geographical setting that existed in Palestine prior to 70 A.D. Essence: The Gospel of Judas is very esoteric and difficult to follow in juxtaposition to the four gospels which are eminently understandable due to close proximity with their historical subject. Judas’ meaning is that the physical is evil, which is a strictly Gnostic belief in early Christianity. Author: Judas was written pseudonymously. There is no internal or external evidence to suggest Judas wrote the book. Years: The text has been carbon dated to 280, and it was not quoted before then. Because of these reasons, the book fell out of authority.

        As far as evidence for Jesus is concerned, to throw away all of the evidence that does not come from the time period in question is ludicrous. This means that even the Bible, since there are no texts existing from 0-33 AD, would be thrown out as a source on Jesus. It is wrong to throw out the New Testament as a historical source to begin with. But this line of thinking means that the works of Homer, Demosthenes, Herodotus, Plato, Tacitus, Caesar, and Pliny would have to be thrown out as actually written at their times because of the length of time between the autographs and the originals. Homer’s earliest surviving copy is 500 years after his life, and Caesar’s copies are 1000 years after his life, but we do not consider them false. I have a feeling you would never believe that evidence was from 0-33 even if it was found. Also, you cannot throw away the external evidence I gave you, in addition to the very historical works of the four Luke’s and John’s gospels, in addition to the evidence shown in the Christians’ lives who were persecuted in the early church. The story of this historical Jesus is just not made up. His purpose to save you and I from our slavery of death has survived to this day under God’s direction.

      • Thanks for admitting that there are no historians prior to 94CE who wrote about Jesus or the church. I did not claim that you needed texts dating back to 0-33 CE. You could have copies of texts supposedly back to that time. However, you have failed to provide any. None of the texts you cited is even believed to have been written prior to 94CE.

        Historians wrote about what was important in their time. ALL historians during the alleged life of Jesus did not deem his story to be important enough to record. This includes newsworthy events such as the zombies in Matthew 27 that were “seen by many”, as well as the trial and crucifixion of somebody seen as important. The fact that not even one historian recorded anything about Jesus during his life shows that his life and deaht were unimportant. It was only after the Christian churches started growing that historians started writing about them.

        Earlier you mentioned the Codex Sinaiticus as evidence of the accuracy of the New Testament. I pointed out that it contains two books (Epistle of Barnabase and the Shepherd of Hermes) NOT in the New Testament. Now you admit “Some books, such as the Epistle of Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermes, the Secret Book of James, the Gospel of Thomas, the Apocalypse of Paul are not included as canonical, for many reasons. 1) they did not agree with the four gospels or the works of Paul. 2) they could not be confirmed to be apostolic or Paulian writings.” I want you to realize that you are now claiming YOUR evidence (Codex Sinaiticus) either does not agree with the gospels or is not apostolic.

        The bible is also filled with archaeological and anthropologica errors. For example, Matthew 2 says Jesus would be called a Nazarene to fufill what was said through the prophets. However, nowhere in the Old Testament or any Jewish apocrypha is there any mention of Nazareth or Jesus being called a Nazarene. There is no archaeological evidence to support the claims of Joshua’s military campaign, the global flood, and numerous other events. 2 Peter mentions Tartarus (translated as Hell), which is a non-existent place of Greek mythology. Jude refers to the apocrypha book The Testament of Moses (devil fighting archangle Michael over the body of Moses) and quotes directly from the First Book of Enoch, which contains so much mythology that no person in their right mind would ever quote it as a reference. Yet the bible does.

        I think your earlier admission that you ASSUME the bible makes sense has clearly been shown to be true. You have been shown to have contradicted yourself numerous times.

      • It is amazing the disconnect between what I am saying and what you are hearing. I have provided evidence that the copies we have can reproduce it’s originals to a high degree. I have provided some evidence, not all that exists, but some that the testimony is early (before 70 AD). That’s not too shabby concerning the oralist culture and what early Christianity went through. I completely disagree with your statement that none of the books have been written before 94.

        Mentioning the Codex Sinaiticus was used as an example to show how early the New Testament books had been written and compiled and an example of what textual critics use to make sure that the words in the New Testament we have are the same as the autographs. Mentioning it was not supposed to show how the BOOKS we have in the New Testament were chosen or that these are the true books.

        References made by Peter, Paul, Jude, and all of the writers of the New Testament were made to makes sense to their audience to demonstrate truths or what they were trying to say-another example of seeing the point of the authors-which you keep misunderstanding me as saying “assume true before analyzing.” You should actually read the Bible for what it is trying to say instead of reading for the point of contradicting itself before you actually understand it. Read it and analyze it like historical literature.

        Finally, again, read “Has God Spoken?” and see all of the sources for archaeological and historical evidences to read more in depth.
        I hope we both continue to seek the truth wholeheartedly. I know you will think this is a horribly stupid statement-but pray for understanding when you read the Bible, and you will get it. I will be praying for you as well.

      • I think you have contradicted yourself enough, so I hope to bring this to a close.

        First of all, I said you provided no HISTORIANS who mentioned Jesus or the Christian church prior to 94 CE. I did not say there were no books in the New Testament written until 94 CE. ALL historians prior to 94 CE did not write one word about Jesus.

        Second of all, how can you use the Codex Sinaiticus to claim “the words in the New Testament we have are the same as the autographs” when in fact it contains two entire books that are considered non-canonical?

        I was raised to believe that the bible was the inerrant word of god, as did Bart Ehrman, Charles Templeton, Dan Barker, Robert Price. I and many clergy and bible scholars (I am not a scholar, but know more about the bible than 99% of Christians) came to the conclusion that the bible is filled with actions of an evil god and contradictions within the scriptures and with external evidence. The reason why non-religion is the fastest growing religious demographic in America is because people are investigating the claims of religion and finding them to be without merit.

        I want to thank you for your comments. I will use this blog to show how deceptive apologists can be. Apologists sound impressive to naive Christians who have no idea what an Ebionite was. But when examined upon detail, the apologists claims are shown to be full of contradictions, as your claims have been shown.

        You said, “Matthew and Luke are both tracing Joseph’s genealogy-Matthew, the legal line, and Luke, the natural line” then later you admitted, “You’re right that Matthew and Luke do not say legal or natural line.”

        You said, “Anyone at anytime, including Matthew, had access to records that would show every generation from Abraham to Jesus as recorded by the Talmud.” Later you admitted “The written Talmud does not contain non-major genealogies.”

        You said, “there are many reasons to conclude the books were written early. The oldest complete New Testament was found in 350 A.D.-Codex Sinaiticus.” You later admitted that the Codex Sinaiticus contains two books not in the New Testament that are either “1) they did not agree with the four gospels or the works of Paul. 2) they could not be confirmed to be apostolic or Paulian writings”.

        You said, “The major external sources are Josephus Flavius in Antiquities, Cornelius Tacitus in Annals, Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, and Plinius the Younger.” But you did not reveal the dates of these writings, the earliest of which occurred in 94 CE, over 60 years after the death of Christ. You fail to provide any external source within 60 years of the time of Jesus.

        There are so many other flaws in your arguments, that to the naive Christian sound impressive, but upon inspection reveal primitive thinking. I had to discuss one more. You link John to Plycarp to Irenaeus to brag about the list of 23 books of the bible by Irenaeus. You fail to mention his most famous quote, the whole reason why there are four gospels today and not the hundreds that existed at his time.

        Irenaeus wrote in Against Heresies, “The Gospels could not possibly be either more or less in number than they are. Since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is spread over all the earth, and the pillar and foundation of the Church is the gospel, and the Spirit of life, it fittingly has four pillars, everywhere breathing out incorruption and revivifying men. From this it is clear that the Word, the artificer of all things, being manifested to men gave us the gospel, fourfold in form but held together by one Spirit. As David said, when asking for his coming, ‘O sitter upon the cherubim, show yourself ‘. For the cherubim have four faces, and their faces are images of the activity of the Son of God. For the first living creature, it says, was like a lion, signifying his active and princely and royal character; the second was like an ox, showing his sacrificial and priestly order; the third had the face of a man, indicating very clearly his coming in human guise; and the fourth was like a flying eagle, making plain the giving of the Spirit who broods over the Church. Now the Gospels, in which Christ is enthroned, are like these. (3.11.8)”

        So we have four gospels because there are “four zones of the world…four principal winds… For the cherubim have four faces…” They never taught me that in Sunday School, but once I read this I had to laugh at how much stupidity there was in this decision in 180 CE. My Sunday school teachers made it sound like Peter and Paul were carrying around the King James version of the bible in 34 CE. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      • Man, are you kidding me?!?!?!? I hope you show this to as many people as you can, because there is such as disconnect between are two understandings of what is being said here. Just to comment on your last post, the Codex Sinaiticus is not and could not be the only writing to affirm the New Testament autographs. It is an example of a writing that is early and copious. Textual criticism uses many different copies (the New Testament has over 5000 of these) to see what the autographs looked like. Have YOU ever read any books on textual criticism? If you had, either you would understand what I was trying to say, or I am doing a poor job of explaining.

        You make it sound like I was lying to you by saying that Matthew and Luke COULD be using natural and legal lines. You are the one being deceptive here to make it sound like that. Just because the books don’t say they are natural or legal, doesn’t mean that they aren’t. If you were consistent and made everyone speak to the detail you are requiring, you wouldn’t get anywhere!!

        I was wrong about the written Talmud-but I told you I was mistakenly using the Talmud to mean oral history and tradition, which would contain important information concerning the Messiah’s line. It also wouldn’t be written down after the destruction of the temple because of the paradigm shift that occurred in Judaism, and because of the family specific history for Joseph.

        i still don’t know what the problem is with stating the historians that I did. You said it yourself-why would any historian write about something that was not important to them-and until the Christians grew in number, they certainly weren’t important. And the most important thing a historian could write about before 93 was the destruction of the temple and the rebellion of the Jews-not a man who claimed to be God in a far off place whose major following didn’t occur until after his death.

        Your last statement is the most ridiculous of them all! Do you know anything about poetry or metaphor or symmetry in writing? That is what Irenaeus is using here! He was using what he thought was the truth in order to make a point that it is aesthetically pleasing that we have four gospels. He and his contemporaries used the standards described about to discern between authoritative works. Yes, he was wrong to say 4 winds of the world, great job for noticing that! That is not the point. If you can’t understand what I am saying here, then no wonder there is a disconnect. I’m done here, as far as writing, but I’ll continue to pray and seek the truth.

      • I am glad you are done writing. I am tired of you telling falsehoods (the Talmud contains genealogies from Abraham to Jesus). Christians may believe them, but not modern bible scholars.

        The Codex Sinaiticus does not confirm the New Testament autographs any more than the Nag Hammadi scrolls, the Gospel of Peter, and the Gospel of Judas. Of course, you would not claim they verify the New Testament because they are not orthodox. Your claims, like those of many apologists, of verification of the New Testament autographs are based primarily on orthodox Christianity is true, all else is false. They doctrines confirm the New Testament, and the New Testament confirms the doctrine. Classical circular reading. If you had read all of Bart Ehrman’s books you would know that. He goes into

        I am not being deceptive. I am only showing YOUR quotes followed by YOUR later quotes. It is YOUR fault that your arguments are inconsistent.

        In your 4th paragraph you agree with me that Jesus or the church were not important until 94 CE. This is NOT what is presented by apologists. Accepting as fact statements in 94 CE about events in 33 CE is like accepting Mormon church accepting evidence of events that happened in 1830 based only on writings from 1890 or later. Just because a claim is written in a book does not make it a fact. You seem to not be aware of that.

        Irenaeus did not present any logical reason for 4 gospels and only 4 gospels. In addition, Irenaeus claimed the Shepherd of Hermas was “scripture”, but you later claimed it either disagreed with the 4 gospels or was not apostolic. Since Irenaeus established what the 4 gospels were, would not he know if the Shepherd of Hermas contradicted them? Just another point on the complete lack of clarity during the 300 year period that determined what books (of the hundreds of gospels, acts, letters, and revelations) that would end up in the New Testament.

        I hope that you will become enlightened and realize your current delusion. Until then, keep searching for the truth!

      • My complete respect, Edhensly… Trying to have rational discourse with irrational beings must be like jelly wrestling snakes.

  4. Ed, your knowledge is admirable and your patience, incredible. I hope you are rewarded for your efforts to inform and empower the individual to free thought, even if that is not your intention. Keep up the good work

    • Lol…Mark, thanks for trying, but “When arguing with fools, don’t answer their foolish arguments, or you will become as foolish as they are.” I learned some interesting things here, and thank you for showing some restraint when dealing with someone who obviously is trying to escalate things. Oh, I probably won’t visit this page again (just web surfing) but Ed, feel free to vent some of that caustic steam, I hope you find some peace!

      • Nobody by the name of Mark replied to this blog post.

  5. These stories are not meant to teach morality. In fact, most of the OT is not meant to teach morality, it’s a realistic account into how messed up people are. I don’t know who ingrained that lie into your head, but it’s a sad trend in churches to reduce christianity to a moral teaching religion… = (

  6. To the author of this wordpress article: Thank you for tackling a difficult subject. The historical information is quite extensive. .it is unfortunate that what was intended as an exposition must evolve into an argument with traces of the ad hominem. It must take great courage to share your faith. This has been a thoroughly instructive article (comments by EdHensley et al. included).


    The above article from Fuller Theological Seminary may provide some insight into the cultural, historical, and linguistic lens’ of the story of Judah and Tamar. As someone who has lived in the Near East, there are still traces of this culture that remain. From a “Western” perspective, it is easy to criminalize and judge the stories of the OT. The article linked in this comment box attempts to provide a context for temple prostitution and Levirate marriages. From this standpoint, Tamar is NOT unrighteous.

  8. After reading your stun and even rereading this story in the bible I’m actually compelled more to agree with God here..
    The actual ‘Duty’ is still being fulfilled by the father himself(which is to procreate with the widow) and the Daughter-‘in-law'(remember, they’re not really related), who knew it was the Father of her passed husband so she really hadn’t committed prostitution anyway, after having lost their own husband and wife.
    Judah has no idea that it his his son’s widow but still commits the act if sleeping with what he believed was a prostitute. This in turn and in fact does make home less righteous in this scenario..
    Don’tcha Think..?
    I Do

    • No, I do not agree. It is not logical to assume that every male deserves an heir. The child of a brother or father is not a child of the dead male anyway. The whole story is ridiculous.

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