Local Church Discussions  

Go Back   Local Church Discussions > Blogosphere @ LocalChurchDiscussions

Blogosphere @ LocalChurchDiscussions Each Blog is it's own thread. Please only one Blog per user! Guests are welcome to start their own Blog - Simply hit "New Thread" and Blog away!

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-31-2013, 01:13 PM   #1
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Timotheist exposed

Easter Sunday seems to be an appropriate day for me to initiate a private blog.

My journey after having left the LC has been a strange one. While I spent many years not going to any church immediately after leaving the 'recovery' in 1984 (maybe 1985), I continued to consider myself a believer. When I met my soon-to-be wife in 1996, I started attending her church, and have been attending one with her to this day.

Was there a benefit to going through this self-imposed exile of 12 years? I would like to think so, for when I picked up the Bible again after such a long time away, it was with a clear and open mind, almost completely void of any man's or denomination's teachings.

I began studying the Bible with a zeal like I had neer had before during the early years of my marriage. I started writing articles to record my findings. The beginnings of the "Heaven and Hellenism" thread posted elsewhere on this forum (under "Extras! Extras! Read All About It!") was originally written in the year 2000. When I look it over today there is not much that I would change about it, other than to clean up the grammar. The theme of the article is one I still believe in to this day: that Greek influences on the Christian movement gradually resulted in the unbiblical assertion of an immediate afterlife in heaven for the believer, and for an immediate descent into hell for the unbeliever.

I believe this not because W. Lee introduced the doctrine to me, I believe this because of my own research into the subject.

I will initiate this blog with my thoughts on the events surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. It is my desire to keep this blog closed, as i anticipate that some of what I will record will be taken as controversial for some, and my desire is to keep this thread on topic. I welcome private messages for discussions and may even be tempted to respond occasionally to threads in the main forum.

Yours in Christ Jesus,
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 03-31-2013, 07:46 PM   #2
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

Passover and Good Friday

I have often heard the question: if Jesus died late in the day on Friday and resurrected very early on Sunday morning, then how was He in the grave three days and three nights? The math does not add up unless you drop one of the nights and count both Friday and Sunday as two of the three days. But the number of hours between Friday evening and Sunday morning are at most 36 hours, or 1 ½ days.

Let’s investigate this question at length in this and the following posts.

Upon comparing the gospels of Mark and John, an honest reader will admit a contradiction regarding where the Passover occurred during the week of events:

Events according to Mark
1) The ‘last supper’ was the Passover meal. (14:12-18)
2) Jesus arrested that night in the garden.
3) Brought before Pilate the day after the Passover meal. (15:1)
4) Crucified the same day.
5) Taken down and buried, for the next day was the Sabbath (15:42)
6) The morning after the Sabbath, the first day of the week, the two Mary’s discover the empty tomb.
Events according to John
1) The ‘last supper’ occurred before Passover. (13:1)
2) Jesus arrested that night in the garden. (18:1-3)
3) Brought before Pilate the morning (still before Passover) (18:28)
4) Crucified the same day, during preparation for the Passover (19:14)
5) Taken down and buried, for the next day was a Sabbath (19:31)
6) First day of the week, one Mary discovers the empty tomb (20:1)
So was Jesus crucified just before the Passover meal or the day after?

Questions like this used to bother me, because I was trained to accept as a basic tenet of my faith that the Scriptures were inerrant. This was one tenet that both the Baptist ministers of my youth and W. Lee agreed upon. In the past, when questions of this type came my way, I felt duty-bound as a Christian to first try to resolve the apparent contradiction by clever arguments. And if that did not work, then I was to fall back on the good old standby excuse that we are dealing with a “transcription error”.

But now I look at these passages and I can now admit to myself that a clear contradiction exists in these two gospels, and that neither a clever argument, such as “there are actually two different suppers being described”, nor a simple transcription error suffice to explain away the contradiction.

So which narrative is correct? Is it even possible to determine which gospel has it right? And does it matter that we takes sides on this question?

I will do my best to address and answer these questions in the next few posts.

Yours in Christ Jesus,
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 04-01-2013, 10:47 AM   #3
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

Christ Our Passover
For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast. (1Co 5:7-8 NAU)
If one were to take sides based upon what seems appropriate, John’s narrative wins. For this means that Jesus was slain on the same day that the Passover lambs were being sacrificed in every house in Judea. The symbolism is perfect. In Egypt, while the Israelites stayed in their homes, death came to the households who did not have the lamb’s blood on their doorposts. They did not realize it at the time, but Jesus’ blood was saving them from the second death.

Mark’s narrative asserts that Jesus was crucified after the Passover meal on the day of Passover itself, the first day of the week of Unleavened Bread. This narrative is not as attractive from the standpoint of symbolism, but is it the correct narrative? Could John have made a mistake in his narrative because he thought it made better sense? As that is certainly a possibility, let’s do more investigating.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread commences on the 14th day of the first month of the Hebrew calendar. The Lamb is eaten on the evening of the 14th day and the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins:
18 'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. (Exo 12:18 NAU)
The first full day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread occurs on the 15th of the month and ends on the 21st, for a period of 7 days. Now this next passage is very important to this discussion:
16 'On the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you. (Exo 12:16 NAU)
Thus the first day of the feast, the day following the Passover meal, is a special Sabbath day. Like the regular Sabbath, no work is to be done on the 15th of the month. It is a holy day to the Israelites. For Jesus to have been killed on this day means that He was crucified on one of Judea’s Holy Days.

This piece of information places Mark’s narrative in jeopardy, for this is found in Mark’s gospel:
Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him; 2 for they were saying, "Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people." (Mar 14:1-2 NAU)
Yet according to this same gospel, Jesus was killed during the festival, on a Holy Day. It would not make sense to kill Him on one Holy Day, and then insist on taking the body down before twilight, because the next day was also a Holy Day.

As written, Mark is inconsistent with itself. John wins. Jesus was crucified on the 14th day of the month, the day before a special Holy Day, the 15th day of the month, marking the first day of the week of Unleavened Bread.

More on this to come,
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 04-01-2013, 11:39 AM   #4
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

Multiple Sabbaths in One Week

Now, armed with the knowledge that the 15th of the month is a special Holy Day, let’s go back to John’s gospel:
Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. (Joh 19:31 NAU)
The Greek word ‘megas’ is translated here as “high”. The Sabbath in question is a “Megasabbath”. Surely John is differentiating this Sabbath from a weekly Sabbath (the 7th day of the week.)

So there were two Sabbath days that week: the Megasabbath falling on the 15th of the month, and the weekly Sabbath falling on the 7th day of the week. Jesus was killed before the Megasabbath, and raised on the day following the weekly Sabbath.

Three Days in the Grave Explained?

Depending upon the year these events occurred, there would be any number of days between the Megasabbath and the weekly Sabbath (admittedly including zero). As we do not know which year these events occurred, let us speculate that the week went like this:
Wednesday the 14th – Jesus was crucified and buried as the Passover feast begins.
Thursday the 15th – The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a ‘megas’ (high) Sabbath
Friday the 16th – Jesus’ second day in the tomb
Saturday the 17th – Jesus’ third day in the tomb, the weekly Sabbath
Sunday the 18th – Jesus is risen!
The empty tomb was discovered early in the morning. Jesus may have been dead exactly three days and three nights, rising from the dead near twilight of the Sabbath (the start of the first day of the week according to the Hebrew reckoning), and exiting the tomb during the night.

John’s gospel is consistent with this timeline: whereas Mark’s gospel falls short. This also means that the traditional Passion Week also falls short. If this analysis is correct, Jesus was NOT crucified on “Good Friday”. Ultimately, tradition follows Mark’s narrative and ignores the clues found in John’s narrative.

Even more to come on this topic,
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 04-01-2013, 05:57 PM   #5
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

An aside

Witness Lee definitely sided with the ‘traditional’ (post Nicene) view of the Gospels: that they present a harmonious picture devoid of error. His footnotes clearly indicate he sided with the Synoptic version of the date of crucifixion (Friday). In true Lee fashion, he never mentioned the possibility of John’s alternate version of history. Was he aware of the difference? I suspect that he was. But the traditional view is that the Gospels are harmonious, inerrant, and consistent with each other, in spite of evidence to the contrary. I find it interesting that he had no footnote at all on John 19:31, where the “great” Sabbath (RCV) is mentioned. To me, that is like a “no comment”.

John and the Synoptic Gospels

For those who want to check out for themselves what I am suggesting in these posts, I would start with the Wikipedia article on the Gospel of John. The observation that John and Mark differ on the date of the crucifixion is of course well-known among scholars. The article asserts that for many centuries, Christian leaders deemed Mark to be more historically accurate than John, but that view has been tempered in recent years as new research comes to light. It is a good read.

I take it as fact that among the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Mark was written first, and that the authors of Matthew and Luke both used Mark as a starting point in writing their gospels. Mark is definitely the shortest of the three. Most notably lacking in Mark are narratives about the birth of Jesus, and neither is there much about events that occurred after the resurrection. In fact, the oldest versions of Mark abruptly ended at 16:8. The additional verses were added later. The gospels of Matthew and Luke each add material at both ends, and elaborate on events in between, making them much longer than Mark.

Both Mark and John were likely written during middle-to-late part of the first century AD, and Matthew and Luke toward the end of the first century.

[There are disagreements as to the authorship of all four gospels, and some point to evidence of multiple authors. I use the traditional names as a convenience.]

It is quite possible that all of Paul’s epistles predate any of these Gospels. This is why Paul’s epistles are so important to understanding the true message of the Gospel.

Timotheist’s Rules of Thumb regarding the Four Gospels

In my personal research of the four Gospels, I have come up with these general rules-of-thumb:
1) When Mark and John agree on something, then that is as close to the truth as one can get.
2) When Mark and John differ on something, I tend to take John over Mark (the date of the crucifixion being a prime example,)
3) When it comes to Matthew and Luke, the additional material must be considered on a case-by-case basis. If contradictions are found between the additional material and the original material, then the new material is suspect.
If the idea that the Gospels may contain errant material is too much for you to accept, then I do not judge. I came to this conclusion after many years of intense study and prayer. I needed to change my stance on inerrancy over time in order to survive, as my faith began to falter with each new piece of evidence to the contrary. Now that I am the other side of the issue, I personally feel much better, and my faith was restored.

My hope is that these posts reach out to like-minded people out there. If you are among those who do not agree with me, then please put me on ignore and never look back. But if you find these posts of interest, please give me the feedback.

Peace be with you,
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 04-03-2013, 05:26 PM   #6
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

Matthew and Luke

Upon examining Matthew 26 and Luke 22, we see that the timeline established in Mark is repeated almost verbatim in these two Gospels. The authors of Matthew and Luke made no attempt to change the timeline. So if Mark got it wrong and John got it right, then unfortunately the vote was three against one in favor of the wrong narrative. If it is hard for the Post-Nicene traditionalist to accept that an error exists in one Gospel, then it is even harder to accept that the error propagated into two of the others. Therefore, the Good Friday timeline remains in our Easter tradition today, in spite of many attempts over several generations suggesting that the case be reviewed.

How Did Mark Get It Wrong?

The questions to investigate at this point are “How did the error get introduced?” “Could the error have been introduced in a later manuscript?”

The answer to the 2nd question seems to be ‘No’. Mark is perhaps the most studied and researched book in the Bible, for up to four different versions of Mark have been found and analyzed at length. No article that I know of has suggested that the descriptions of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection were ever modified from version to version. So the error dates to the earliest known versions of Mark, and helps serve to explain why these errors propagated into Matthew and Luke.

So let’s address the first question: how did the error get introduced? Here one must speculate, but here is a plausible explanation that appeals to me:

Of course we know that at the last supper, Jesus commanded us to remember his death, using the bread and the wine as symbols of His sacrifice. In the future, it would be celebrated NOT on the day before He died, but rather on the day of His death, the preparation day preceding the Passover. This ritual served as a kind of “New Passover”. While the Jews were observing the traditional Passover meal, the Christians were observing the Lord’s table. Rather than sacrificing a lamb, they were celebrating a meal in remembrance of the Lord’s sacrifice.

So to me, it is a forgivable error for the author of Mark, having personally observed the Lord’s table over several Passovers, to make the mistake that the original “last supper” also happened at Passover. However, the original “last supper”, according to John, happened the evening before Passover. Of course this was necessary because as Christ was the real Passover, He was already dead by the time the Jews celebrated their observance that year.

Paul’s Reference to the Last Supper

I find Paul’s choice of words here interesting in light of this discussion:
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread… (1Co 11:23 NAU)
Paul refers to the event as “the night in which He was betrayed”. Is this circumstantial evidence supporting John’s timeline? If the Lord delivered His instructions the night that Mark asserts, might Paul have rather referred to the event as “His last Passover”?

Food for thought.
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 04-06-2013, 11:12 AM   #7
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

Based on my limited research, I tend to belief that the Gospels were written in this order:
1) John – the author asserts that he was there (the ‘other disciple’, ‘whom Jesus loved’)
2) Mark – author makes no claim of having firsthand knowledge, but surely written before Luke and Matthew.
3) Luke – Based on Mark.
4) Matthew – Also based on Mark, written independently, and likely in parallel with Luke.
Both Luke and Matthew elaborate on the events recorded in Mark’s gospel and both add unique material.

While there is nothing wrong with either elaborating on or adding to Mark’s narrative, what I have observed is a tendency for Matthew and Luke to go too far and thereby introduce credibility issues in particular areas. The following, for me personally, is an example where Matthew crossed the line.

I will lay out my case. You decide for yourself.

Miracles at the Crucifixion

Let’s walk through the four Gospels in the above order and examine the supernatural events that are asserted to have occurred on the day of Christ’s crucifixion.

John

The author who claims to be an eyewitness records only one strange event occurring at the crucifixion:
But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. (Joh 19:34 NAU)
Mark

Mark’s narrative on the crucifixion includes:
When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. (Mar 15:33 NAU)
And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Mar 15:38 NAU)
Following the rules I set for myself, I must be on the alert for additions that contradict an earlier author’s version of events. As these early Christians were very aggressive in spreading the good news about Christ’s death and resurrection, I am also on the watch for unlikely exaggerations that were handed down orally and that became ‘truth’ to the hearers of these messages.

Darkness falling over the land during the daylight hours of the crucifixion, even though John did not mention such a thing, is suspect, but it is frankly not that important of a thing to question. The assertion that the veil of the temple was torn in two is a miracle of heavier consequence, and John did not include this amazing event in his gospel. In cases like this, I look for confirmation in the epistles.

The author of the epistle to the Hebrews is unknown, but we do know that it was written very near to the time that Paul wrote his epistles, and likewise may predate the writing of the gospels. Found in this epistle is this little gem:
…He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh (Heb 10:20 NAU)
The author may be alluding to the miracle that occurred at Christ’s death, giving some weight to the assertion.

Therefore, I give Mark the benefit of the doubt. The veil being torn in half has so much meaning to it that is consistent with the message of the Gospel.

(Continued in the next post)
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 04-06-2013, 11:15 AM   #8
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

(Continuation)

Luke

Luke’s narrative in this case consistent with Mark:
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two. (Luk 23:44-45 NAU)
It is the tendency of Luke to insert explanatory phrases such as “because the sun was obscured” into the narrative. I love this about Luke. Many of these insertions were likely added because of questions that were being asked by the readers of Mark, and this gives us valuable insight into the issues being discussed at the time.

Matthew

Now we come to Matthew:
Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. (Mat 27:45 NAU)

And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. (Mat 27:51-53 NAU)
Really? An earthquake causing tombs to open and, three days later, a mass resurrection? I am sorry, but these events cross the line of credibility in my opinion. These events, if true, should not have been overlooked by the previous authors. Strike one.

In addition to this, the incredible event was never alluded to in the epistles. Strike two.

The event is inconsistent with the message of the resurrection. Christ is the firstborn from among the dead, and the resurrection of the saints will occur at His second coming. In this, the remainder of the New Testament stands very opposed to Matthew’s insertion. Strike three.

My conclusion: with a very high level of certainty based on this analysis, the event simply did not happen.

Recovery Version Footnotes

WL commented on this event in his footnotes. In support of the historical accuracy, he makes an argument that the firstfruit of the harvest would not be a single stem of wheat, but a sheaf of wheat. So Christ was raised as part of a group?

Lee also states that “Where [the resurrected saints] went after this we have no way to trace.” This is problematic. If Lee said they ascended to Heaven with Christ as part of a “sheaf”, that would of course be challenged. If Lee said they died again and returned to Sheol, then that also seems to counter the “sheaf” argument.

My explanation is much simpler. It did not happen, and Christ is the sole firstborn of the dead who alone has been harvested and collected by the Father until the general harvest occurs.
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 04-10-2013, 06:06 PM   #9
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

A second example

I will not be listing every concern I have with Matthew’s historical record, as there are many which can be identified following my self-imposed rules of thumb. But presented in this post is a typical example found nearby:
Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, "Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I am to rise again.'

"Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last deception will be worse than the first."

Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how." And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.

Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. (Mat 27:62-28:4 NAU)
Notice we have yet another earthquake, coupled with a questionable story not mentioned in any earlier gospel or epistle. Like the previously mentioned earthquake and the associated resurrection of saints, this falls into the same general category: an exaggerated version of events that likely evolved in legendary fashion, and that were handed down to the author by word of mouth. I do not fault the author for recording what he understood to be the truth: he without doubt was zealous for the gospel and as such I would assume he did not intentionally lie. However, his error was to over-embellish the narrative of Mark without properly researching the testimony of his fellow believers.

It is easy to imagine how this story about Pilate, the Pharisees, and the guards came into being: the reason is given in the story itself. Hearers of the gospel of the resurrection of Jesus would naturally be suspicious of the story, and would assume that the disciples simply stole the Lord’s body. This legend came into being to counter that argument.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Matthew

I must confess something at this point. I love Matthew’s gospel. The historical record is quite flawed, but the author’s focus on the King and the Kingdom is exemplary. His organization of the parables focusing on the kingdom of the heavens, and his focus on end-times prophecy make this a valuable addition to the New Testament. I am glad this work has been retained over the centuries for us to digest. I have learned a lot from this gospel, and see its value in spite of its exaggerations.
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 04-10-2013, 08:12 PM   #10
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

Picking On Luke

Up to this point I have been giving Luke a pass on his account of the death and resurrection of Jesus. In this post, I will introduce the most prominently suspicious difference in his narrative and follow up with the results of my personal investigation.

The Two Thieves

All four gospels mention that there were two other men crucified with Jesus. John mentions them in passing:
There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. (Joh 19:18 NAU)
Mark provides a little more detail:
They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. … Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him. (Mar 15:27-32 NAU)
Matthew, in this case, does not deviate from Mark’s account:
At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. … The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words. (Mat 27:38-44 NAU)
But now we come to Luke:
Two others also, who were criminals, were being led away to be put to death with Him. (Luk 23:32 NAU)

One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? "And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." (Luk 23:39-43 NAU)
Applying my rules-of-thumb, this passage is subject to investigation:
1) No such conversation is recorded in John or Mark
2) It even contradicts Mark’s account a bit, for Mark (along with Matthew) states that both men insulted Jesus
3) The repentant thief is not mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament
In order to be consistent in the application of my rules-of-thumb, I should side with the earlier gospels and find Luke in error from the standpoint of historical accuracy. I should find it unlikely that one of the thieves was repentant and that the other was not. However, the opposite could be true: that Mark got it wrong and Luke was correcting the record.

Setting up the Paradise Investigation

This account in Luke is unique in that it introduces a place in the afterlife called “Paradise”. These are the two most popular interpretations of what Paradise is:
1) Paradise is another name for Heaven (the most popular interpretation)
2) Paradise refers to a region of Sheol (a minority opinion embraced by W. Lee and others)
To this list, I must be fair and add a third possibility, based upon the above analysis:
3) Luke introduced an error into his gospel, and there is no place in the afterlife called “Paradise”
This topic will be the subject of the next series of posts, and I will defer the analysis of the Gospels until this important investigation is discussed.

Spoiler alert: ultimately I side with Witness Lee () and go with #2. I have come to the conclusion that, while the conversation on the cross may not have happened as Luke described, the doctrine of Paradise as a place in the afterlife is confirmed.
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 04-12-2013, 11:39 AM   #11
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

Luke’s Afterlife

Luke is rather unique in his portrayal of the immediate afterlife. He includes two passages in his gospel that are not found in the others:
1) The conversation with the thief, as introduced in the previous post
2) The story about Lazarus and the rich man in chapter 16
Both passages speak of an immediate afterlife that involves reward and punishment, and this seems counter to the well-established doctrine of a future resurrection and judgment consistently portrayed in the Old Testament, Paul’s epistles, and John’s Revelation:
  • The repentant thief is promised a reward of “Paradise” on that very day.
  • Lazarus is described as being carried by angels at his death to “Abraham’s bosom”, a place of “comfort”.
  • The rich man is described as going to “Hades”, a place of “agony”.
Neither passage speaks of resurrection and judgment preceding these desirable and undesirable states.

Was Luke Hellenized?

If you read my “Heaven and Hellenism” article, then you know that I believe that the mainstream teaching of an immediate place in heaven for the believer is a doctrine introduced into Christian theology by the Greeks. The Greeks scoffed at resurrection because they believed that upon death, the Greek would be immediately given an appropriate position in the afterlife.

So it is a fair question to ask: did Luke, influenced by the Hellenists, introduce these two stories to his gospel in error?

More to come,
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 04-12-2013, 01:43 PM   #12
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

My Struggle with Luke

For some period of time, I tended to believe that these two stories were errant material that should be excluded from Luke. It certainly would have been the easy way out, and I could make a pretty strong case in support of the position:
  • Where else in the Bible does it say that angels escorted anyone anywhere upon death?
  • Hades is the Greek translation for Sheol, and the Old Testament consistently refers to all souls going to Sheol upon death, good or bad. Here Luke calls the place of agony “Hades”, and the place of comfort “Abraham’s bosom”.
  • When did Hades become a place for only the unrepentant?
  • Where is “Abraham’s bosom”?
  • Christ went to Hades upon death, according to Peter (Acts 2:27). So is Hades a place of agony or is it Paradise?
  • If the rich man is already in agony, then why bother with a resurrection and judgment in the future?
  • Likewise, if Paradise is such a cool place, where one is already “with the Lord”, then for what purpose is there a later judgment for the believer?
If I were to exclude these two passages, my understanding of the afterlife would be as follows:
Sheol is simply a container for souls… an emotionless, quiet place where time is suspended until the resurrection. After the resurrection, rewards and punishments would be handed down accordingly. I could post an almost endless series of Scripture references to support this view.
But Luke paints quite a different picture… an immediate afterlife of at least two kinds, “comfort” and “agony”.

Did Luke Believe in a Future Resurrection and Judgment?

Apparently so:
"But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luk 14:13-14 NAU)

Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. (Luk 20:34-36 NAU)

"The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.
"The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Luk 11:31-32 NAU)
This is clear evidence that Luke was not a victim of Hellenization.

So if Luke’s description of the afterlife is correct, we must look for confirmation in both the New Testament and the Old.

Still more to come,
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 04-12-2013, 03:13 PM   #13
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

Paradise and the Septuagint

“Paradise” is a transliteration of the Greek word, “paradeisos”. Although the word appears only three times in the New Testament text, the word was in common use by the Christians and Jews at the time of Christ. Most in that era spoke Greek and used the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which was translated from the original Hebrew into Greek. In that version of the Bible, the word “paradeisos” appeared several times, starting with Genesis: for the word means “garden”, as in the “garden of Eden”.

Adam and Eve, as a result of the fall, were ejected from Paradise.

Paradise in Revelation

Revelation promises a return to Paradise in the future:
'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.' (Rev 2:7 NAU)
Today’s creation started with a place called Paradise, and the New Earth will be called Paradise. Both gardens have the Tree of Life in its midst.

Paradise in Paul’s Epistles

Yet Paul alludes to a visit to Paradise in this vision:
And I know how such a man-- whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows--was caught [away to] Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. (2Co 12:3-4 NAU)
It seems unlikely that Paul was taken to see the New Earth, for the New Earth does not yet exist. And it is also unlikely that he was taken back in time to see the Garden of Eden. So what and where is the Paradise, the “garden,” that Paul visited? And did Paul also see the Tree of Life?

If we are to accept what Luke tells us, then Paul was taken to the very place where Christ and the thief went to upon the day of their deaths. But since this passage of Luke is currently under suspicion, we must do some more digging.

We must turn to the Old Testament, the Septuagint, for the answer.
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 04-13-2013, 12:35 PM   #14
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

Paradise in Ezekiel

If you search the Septuagint for “paradeisos”, one chapter stands out: Ezekiel 31, where the garden of Eden is mentioned several times.

Ezekiel 31

The purpose of the chapter was to warn Egypt not to suffer the same fate as Assyria. In symbolic fashion, Assyria is likened to a great cedar tree in Lebanon, one that grew too large, becoming haughty and wicked. The Israelites who were in captivity in Assyria are likened to “trees of Eden” in the “garden (paradise) of God”. The following describes the fall of Assyria:
For they have all been given over to death, to the earth beneath, among the sons of men, with those who go down to the pit."
'Thus says the Lord GOD, "On the day when it went down to Sheol I caused lamentations; I closed the deep over it and held back its rivers. And its many waters were stopped up (Eze 31:14-15 NAU)
The “cedar tree” is described as being buried in an area of Sheol where “water” is not available. Note also that here Sheol is described as having a “pit”. The chapter goes on to describe that many of the “trees of Eden” (Israelites) were also killed when Assyria fell:
and all the well-watered trees of Eden, the choicest and best of Lebanon, were comforted in the earth beneath.
"They also went down with it to Sheol to those who were slain by the sword; (Eze 31:16-17 NAU)
Note that this describes Sheol as also having a “well-watered” area, a place of “comfort” for God’s people who perished. Ezekiel wraps up the chapter with this warning to Egypt:
"To which among the trees of Eden are you thus equal in glory and greatness? Yet you will be brought down with the trees of Eden to the earth beneath; you will lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with those who were slain by the sword. (Eze 31:18 NAU)
To paraphrase: “Be warned. You too can be brought down to Sheol, but I will place you with the Assyrians (the uncircumcised) in a part of Sheol that is not pleasant.”

Comparison to Luke 16

So in Ezekiel we see many parallels confirming Luke’s description of the immediate afterlife:

Sheol has two areas beside a pit. One is a place of comfort, where the “trees of Eden” lie in wait of the resurrection. The other area is not a place of comfort, distinguished from the other by being denied the comfort of “water”, and holds the souls of those who will be later judged. Compare this to Luke 16’s description of Sheol:
"And [the rich man] cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.' "But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.' (Luk 16:24-26 NAU)
Some Questions Remain

Ezekiel 31 provides partial confirmation of Luke’s description of the immediate afterlife, but we need to answer a few more questions:
  • Why is the area of comfort called “Abraham’s bosom”?
  • Why does Luke call one part of Sheol “Hades”, when “Hades” is the Greek word for “Sheol”, which denotes the entire area?
  • What is the “chasm”?
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 08-24-2014, 06:39 PM   #15
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

Abraham’s Bosom? (Luke 16:22)

A saying often used in the Old Testament when someone died was that he was “gathered to his fathers” (Gen 15:15 is the first such reference). As Abraham was the ultimate father to Israel, then I infer that this saying had a similar meaning to the earliest readers of his gospel. Therefore, Abraham’s bosom refers to the comforting part of Sheol, where the trees of Eden lie in wait of the resurrection. In other words: they are planted in a garden (paradise), well-watered and ready to spring forth with new life.

Why did Luke call only part of Sheol ‘Hades’? (Luke 16:23)

In Greek mythology Hades was an immediate (and ultimate) destiny in the afterlife for bad people. There were variations on this concept among the Greek religions, but the typical scenario involved some kind of ‘test’ which the dead soul either passed or failed. Failing the test meant banishment to Hades. (One can still see these Greek influences in Christianity today: for example, the myth that one must stand before St Peter and pass a test to enter heaven or go to hell.)

Perhaps in Luke’s generation it was simply hopeless to assert that Hades should encompass both areas of Sheol. He went along with the Greek definition of the term as a compromise, and associated Hades with the hot and dry part of Sheol. Thus the term “Abraham’s bosom” was introduced as a companion to Hades, yet was still consistent with the Old Testament.

What is the ‘chasm’? (Luke 16:26)

Luke describes the place for the dead as having three areas: Abraham’s bosom, Hades, with a chasm between them. This is partially supported in Ezekiel 31, where the dead are described as going “down to the pit”. Luke tells us that Sheol has an area even deeper than the areas where the human souls lie in wait of resurrection. What is this area?

In short, the answer is that it is the “Abyss”, and it is also a holding place for those awaiting judgment. But this prison is not for human souls: it is for angelic and demonic spirits. (Luke 8:31, Rev 20:3).
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; (2Pe 2:4 NAU)
The word translated “hell” here is the Greek word “Tartarus”, which is another word borrowed from Greek mythology. Tartarus was the deepest part of mythological Hades. Peter is asserting that “Tartarus” is a holding cell for angels awaiting judgment.

Conclusion

Although I find Luke’s assertion that Jesus related a story about Lazarus and the rich man to be suspect, I do not find the story itself to be in error. It has scriptural support from both the Old and New Testaments.
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 08-24-2014, 07:48 PM   #16
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

Switching Gears

Bear with me as I close out the discussion of what the gospels say about the crucifixion of Jesus, and back up to analyze another important passage that is common to all four gospels: the baptism of Jesus.

The Baptism of Jesus in Mark


Mark opens his gospel with a quick and to-the-point summary of the baptism of Jesus. This event is covered in the opening eleven verses of chapter one. Brevity is a trademark of Mark’s gospel, and the following bullets summarize what Mark states:
  • Mark opens with the prophecy in Isaiah concerning John the Baptist.
  • The Baptist heralds that he is the first of two, that the one coming is mightier than he.
  • Then Jesus appears from Nazareth and is baptized.
  • The Spirit descends on Jesus as he comes out of the water.
  • The voice from heaven announces “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

The Baptism of Jesus in John

John contains a much more verbose history concerning the events at Jesus’ baptism. It starts in 1:6 and continues until verse 34. Summarizing:
  • John is described as a witness to the One who is coming.
  • He quotes Isaiah when asked who he was.
  • John says “I did not recognize (know) Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.”
  • Again John says “I did not recognize (know) Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.'”
  • John says “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.”
  • Finally, John says “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
Comparing this passage to Mark, there is only one substantive difference:
  • Mark – A voice from heaven announces openly that Jesus is the Son of God.
  • John – The Baptist testifies that the Spirit told him privately to look for the sign of the Spirit descending upon the One, and that John in turn testified that Jesus is the Son of God.

John’s gospel implies that the sign of the Spirit descending was for him alone, whereas Mark implies the vision was witnessed by several people.

Which version is correct? I tend to side with John’s version, as I tend to doubt that a public miracle occurred at Jesus’ baptism. As noted earlier when I discussed whether an earthquake occurred at the crucifixion, I tend to be cautious of well-intended exaggerations in the gospels. But this is the only difference noted here, and we can be assured that Jesus was indeed baptized by John, and that the Spirit descended upon Him at that event, and that this event served to prove that Jesus was the Son of God.

Next I will look at Matthew's and Luke's accounts.
__________________
Timotheist

Last edited by Timotheist; 08-24-2014 at 07:50 PM. Reason: typo
Timotheist is offline  
Old 08-25-2014, 08:34 PM   #17
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

The Baptism of Jesus in Matthew

As I stated in previous posts, I believe that the authors of Matthew and Luke used Mark’s gospel as a starting point for their efforts, and that these were written many years later. Later on I hope to present evidence that these were written after Paul’s epistles.

It is not surprising to me to see that Matthew’s account of the baptism of Jesus follows that of Mark: some of the words and phrases are direct quotes of Mark. Yet there are some differences:
  • Matthew elaborates on what the Baptist preached to the Pharisees and Sadducees (starting with “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”)
  • Matthew records the following conversation between John and Jesus: "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."

I have no issue with the first embellishment in Matthew’s gospel, but the second embellishment stands in contrast to what is recorded in John. John asserts that John the Baptist, in his own words, stated that he did not know Jesus before the baptism, but rather that he was told to look for the sign of the Spirit to indicate who would be the One.

Matthew might be given a pass on this one, as perhaps he did not have John’s gospel available to him, and did not know he was contradicting another gospel. According to my rules, John gets the benefit of the doubt as his account was written earlier than Matthew, and I have found problems with Matthew in other areas (some of which I have already discussed).

So is this a big deal? Is it important for us to know if John knew Jesus or not before His baptism? Is it important to try and decide which account is correct? I hope to return to this question later.

The Baptism of Jesus in Luke

As with Matthew, Luke seems to use Mark as a template, but adds the following embellishments:
  • Luke pinpoints the year that John the Baptist began his ministry
  • Luke records additional discourses that John had with tax collectors and Roman soldiers
  • Luke also gives evidence that John knew Jesus before the baptism. In fact Luke states that John knew who Jesus was before either one was even born.

I have no reason to question the first two embellishments, but the third also stands in contrast to John’s gospel. Although not explicitly stated, Luke’s gospel certainly implies that John and Jesus knew each other throughout their childhood, as Mary and Elizabeth were related and knew each other.

So should I take the vote as two against one and believe that John’s gospel has the contradiction? If I did, I would be going against my rules of thumb, which have served me well up to this point. Again, I will ask the same question that is surely present in some of your minds: What’s the big deal? Who cares whether John and Jesus knew each other or not before Jesus’ baptism? Bear with me, as I continue with my analysis, and perhaps you will begin to see why I think this is a very important thing to discuss.
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Old 08-29-2014, 06:58 PM   #18
Timotheist
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 232
Default Re: Timotheist exposed

Timotheist’s Rules of Thumb regarding the Four Gospels

As it has been quite a few posts since I discussed my “rules of thumb”, I am repeating them here with a fourth step added:
1) When Mark and John agree on something, then that is as close to the truth as one can get.
2) When Mark and John differ on something, I tend to take John over Mark (the date of the crucifixion being a prime example,)
3) When it comes to Matthew and Luke, the additional material must be considered on a case-by-case basis. If contradictions are found between the additional material and the original material, then the new material is suspect.
4) Suspect material must be analyzed using both the Old Testament and Paul’s epistles to look for evidence that either confirms the passage or serves to help disprove it.
And why would I pick on Matthew and Luke? Both were written many years after Mark was written, and I have seen several examples where these authors took Mark’s gospel, added new material, and even modified some of Mark’s original text.

Analyzing the new material in Matthew and Luke

Unfortunately for the traditionalist view that the Synoptic gospels are harmonious and inerrant, there are many passages where Matthew’s and Luke’s added passages are not consistent with each other. The first example of this is seen when one compares the genealogies of Jesus that are recorded in Matthew and Luke.

Why the Genealogies?

Mark and John do not have genealogies for Jesus. Jesus’ parents are mentioned, but these authors did not spend much time on the subject. So why did the later authors add them? The answer is pretty simple: to show support that Jesus was the Messiah as promised in Old Testament passages.

Indeed, Matthew’s gospel opens with this: “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” It was important to these authors to provide evidence that Jesus was of the lineage of David, of the tribe of Judah.

Matthew’s genealogy follows the kingly succession from David to Jeconiah. Luke’s version traces the genealogy back to David but does not follow the lineage of the kings.

Which one is correct? I do not accept the typical apologist’s (Witness Lee included) answer that they both are, that one is Joseph’s lineage and the other is Mary’s, for both of them claim to be citing Joseph’s lineage. If I had to vote I would probably side with Luke, for Matthew may have been a little over-zealous in trying to force the lineage down the line of the Kings of Judah. But in the end, it is not important to decide which is right.
What is important is to realize the motivation the authors had for introducing new material to Mark’s gospel: they wanted to show evidence that Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies.
__________________
Timotheist
Timotheist is offline  
Closed Thread

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:04 AM.


3.8.9