CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

I don't consider inerrancy a hill to die on, and as many will know, I've been on the offensive against certain persons (cough, cough) who refuse to budge from an entirely anachronistic vision of inerrancy which is modeled more after modern precision-literalism than it is any idea of what the Apostles would have said if you'd have asked them whether the text was inerrant. With that in mind, I'm now presenting an essay I wrote a few years back on an author named Rodger Cragun who insisted that inerrancy was not only wrong, it was also a heresy. Sadly, his arguments had more in common with what you might hear from a fundamentalist atheist than what you'd hear from a carefully pondering scholar like a Licona or a Blomberg.


A reader requested that we examine the book The Ultimate Heresy by Rodger Cragun. The peculiar stance of this book is that the concept of Biblical inerrancy is a heresy. Cragun, not surprisingly, has more than a few problems with his approach and overall theory.

First, Cragun spends an inordinate amount of time -- about half of the book -- showing from the Bible itself that the Bible is never called "the Word of God, " and showing that the phrase, when used, refers to something else, like a single specific prophecy.
Really now.
For those who may have missed it, I discovered that without Cragun's help some time ago:

The Bible as "Word of God." KNM has insisted that Skeptics have "always" as their "underlining (sic) issue" whether the Bible is the Word of God. I have replied that this is not my own focus in argument; I concern myself rather with whether the Bible's contents are true, logical, or practical. If it is on all counts, then it being the "Word of God" is simply, as it were, a cherry on top, but contributes nothing new in utilitarian terms.
A relevant observation here is that designating the Bible to be the "Word of God" is itself a post-Biblical phenomenon. An apostle or prophet who heard that phrase would not have thought of a book, but rather, of the transcendent thoughts and words of YHWH. It could certainly have not meant the whole Bible prior to its completion and compilation, and when the phrase “word of God” is used in the Bible, it always means some specific prophetic utterance, or some message (like the Gospel).
This would of course include what is within the contents of the Bible; but as well, "Word of God" implies a universality of application that simply is not true of much of the text. In precise terms, for example, the book of Zephaniah could be said to report the words of God TO Zephaniah concerning judgment on specific nations. As I have noted many times, this is symptomatic of modern Sunday School lessons that strive mightily to make even books like Leviticus applicable to modern life -- which is a mistake.
In that respect, while we may not necessarily find it fruitful to abandon "Word of God" as a designation for the Bible as a whole, and I would not advocate doing so because of the confusion it would cause at this late date, it does represent an anachronism that should be clarified. In a proper technical sense, the collection we call the Bible represents two collections of covenant documents, and so "Old Testament" and "New Testament" are actually more precise and helpful than "Word of God".
And so, as I have told KNM, the concern should not be, "is the Bible the Word of God." More than that, it should not even be whether it is "from God," but rather, the more basic questions of whether it is true, logical, practical, and so on as applicable. The former way is a carryover, I suspect, of the work of well-meaning evangelists and teachers (like Billy Graham) who were accustomed to being able to invoke the Bible as "the Word of God" and get immediate respect and authority. It worked well for a time, but it no longer does. But if we show that the Bible is true, then one is able to open the door to the possibility that God’s messages have in some way been transmitted in the text as a medium.
To illustrate, one might say that this posting is the “word of JPH” or “from JPH.” But the truth of the post does not in any way depend on it being MY word, as opposed to that of, say, Tekton ministry associates like Nick Peters or “Punkish." If you decide my "word" here is true -- you can worry about whether it is from me later...or even not at all, if you choose.  

Not that any of this matters, since it is hard to see what point Cragun thinks he is proving in the first place. While some modern preachers may use the shorthand phrase, "the Word of God," to refer to the Bible, only an infantile Christian would fail to see that to use this as an argument that the Bible is the Word of God is circular reasoning. Thus, in essence, Cragun spends about half his book knocking down an exceptionally infantile argument.

A far better "argument" for inerrancy -- though more of a common sense notion than an actual argument -- would be a syllogism Cragun presents all too briefly:

  • God is perfect.
  • What God thinks is perfect.
  • From that which God thinks He reveals to people.
  • What He reveals to people must therefore be perfect.
    Unfortunately, Cragun doesn't deal with this syllogism except to dismiss it as, "Aristotelian logic." The last I checked, though, logic did not function only in Aristotle's presence. Nor did the Hebrews have their own brand of logic proffered by someone else. Notions like cause and effect were not inoperable in ancient Israel. So, what Cragun thinks is the point in his citing of "Aristotelian logic" is hard to say.

    In the end, Cragun's screed against inerrancy is a straw man. Even if the Bible was not inspired, it contains multiple truth claims that would remain to be evaluated and argued for or against. As we shall see, however, arguing the virtues of individual passages is precisely one of the most difficult tasks for Cragun, and to that extent he is also using the shortcut of the designation of the Bible as the "Word of God" in much the same way as the fundamentalists he so decries.

    Another aspect of Cragun's case amounts to this, if I may dare to frame it in Aristotelian terms:

  • The Bible contains X horrible thing, and also some of these horrible things hurt my feelings or offend me.
  • Therefore the Bible is not inerrant.

  • Here again, however, robust failure is Cragun's chief methodology. The second half of the book contains many more examples than the first half, so we will save coverage of particulars for a little later. For now, let it only be said that in each case, Cragun ironically reads the Bible just like the very inerrantists he decries -- devoid of context and definition.

    We might also note an error from earlier in the book, one that exemplifies Cragun's ineptness as a researcher. In one place, Cragun makes the naive statement that, "Some of the bloodiest humanity's conflicts have been religious." [1] Really? In reality, religion has been behind very, very few wars. It was certainly not behind any of the major wars of the 20th century. Here, Cragun is like the ignorant stockbroker in Crichton's Timeline who has to be told that the Hundred Years' War wasn't religious, because everyone at the time was Catholic, and Protestants hadn't invented themselves yet.

    We should also mention another variation on Cragun's theme, which goes to the heart of why he thinks inerrancy is a heresy. Basically, he believes that inerrancy has caused people to enforce the Bible's horrible teachings, and indicates that if it were not for inerrancy, we wouldn't be doing intolerant things like opposing gay marriage. He also, rather foolishly, blames inerrancy for the creation of many divisions in the church. In this, Cragun has fallen for the naive approach of blaming the instrument for the acts of the person using the instrument. It does not occur to him that even a believer in an errant Bible can deem the Bible authoritative on select points. After all, even Cragun himself uses the Bible in an authoritative way to argue that it does not call itself "the Word of God." And so, Cragun's designation of inerrancy as a "heresy," even if correct, would be nothing more than a simple-minded band-aid solution that would shift, not erase, the problem that he alleges is occurring.
    A final point for this section is that Cragun tackles the sort of "inerrancy" that is also devoid of context, which we have previously condemned from authors as notable as Dr. Norman Geisler. How he would handle a more informed and contextualized rendition of inerrancy is difficult to say. The one thing we can say is that he is apparently too busy being offended to bother to look for alternatives. 
    Next we look at examples in which Cragun supposes he has shown that what is found in the text is incompatible with inerrancy. As we have noted, however, while what Cragun presents would cause problems for a hyper-fundamentalist view of inerrancy, it would have little bearing on a contextualized understanding of the doctrine. He also presents far fewer arguments than I expected him to provide -- in fact, what he offers amounts to three broad arguments:

    Jesus broadened or sometimes placed restrictions on the law. This shows that he didn't consider it inerrant.

    Cragun offers multiple examples of how Jesus either broadened or narrowed the OT law, but Cragun could have saved himself the trouble, and spared the reader pages of irrelevant examples. As has been noted in numerous contexts, the OT law was didactic, which means that it was never meant to be understood as a wooden, "follow to the letter", procedural handbook. Within that context, the adjustments made by Jesus (and rabbis, as Cragun notes) to the OT law are within the proper bounds of understanding that law as inerrant. 

    That Cragun fails to understand the didactic nature of the law is shown when he complains that, e.g., Deut. 22:13-22 does not consider that an unmarried girl might have a ruptured hymen for reasons other than that she had sexual intercourse before marriage. A didactic code leaves it to the discretion of local judges and officials to make such determinations.

    The NT misuses OT texts like Is. 7:14 as prophecies of Jesus.

    Yet again, Cragun unwittingly imitates the worst sort of atheist critic with this charge, and also unwittingly adopts his own fundamentalist hermeneutic of the text. As we have also pointed out in numerous venues, the NT's use of the OT is perfectly in accord with Jewish exegetical methods of the period, in which a text like Is. 7:14 is not seen as a prophecy of the future, but in which present events are seen as a re-enactment of Is. 7:14. That means that the NT is not using texts like Is. 7:14 "out of context," because the idea is that only that single verse is being re-enacted.

    There were a lot of different ideas about what should be in the canon.

    Again, like some of the worst atheists, Cragun appeals to "specter of diversity" arguments as though they have any relevance or merit, which they do not. All they would mean is that humans may not have recognized the contours of what was inspired as inerrant but not that the texts themselves weren’t inerrant. The contours of the canon would have no bearing on the matter, whether the text was inerrant or not.
    And that, oddly enough, is all Cragun has to offer before he once again returns to the prior non sequitur routine e.g., "inerrancy is a heresy because it has led to divisions." He also offers what he presents as a survey of the historical development of inerrancy as a doctrine, but even if it is 100% correct (and it may well be), it would still be a non sequitur to raise it as though it had any bearing on the truth of the matter.
    In contrast to the above, I would raise a point of agreement with Cragun. I would agree that 2 Tim. 3:16 would not really bear the exegetical weight put on it by some inerrantist commentators. Cragun spends a great deal of time on this verse, but as far as my views are concerned, all that he offers is moot.  
    We will close with a look at places where Cragun professes to find "loud dissent" with inerrancy within the text of the Bible itself. His first example, which he alleges to be "most decisive and destructive," fails to produce anything but another massive non sequitur. He notes that in Acts, after his vision of a sheet from heaven, Peter acknowledged he was wrong about something; namely, Gentiles in the Kingdom. From this Cragun concludes that he has demonstrated that Peter "could be in error." Oh? By that rubric, if I find one mistake in Cragun's text, we have thereby proved that he could never produce any text without errors -- no matter how short it is, or no matter what the conditions are. Indeed, by that logic, even if he writes "2 and 2 is four" he is immediately under suspicion of error. Cragun's error is again typical of the "all or nothing" mentality of the very fundamentalism he decries.
    Cragun's next argument is that because some prophets like Jonah were able to resist their prophetic call, they were only human. What bearing this has, again, on inerrancy, and on specific conditions associated with producing an inerrant text, is hard to say, but it would once again place Cragun under suspicion, even if he told us the sky was blue.
    Third, Cragun points out that some pagans, like Balaam, were inspired. Yet again, we're not sure what the point is. Apparently, Cragun thinks the only way someone could produce an inerrant text is if they were being inerrant on everything 24/7. I know of no one, not even a fundamentalist, who believes such a thing.
    Fourth, Cragun delivers some arguments against a mechanical view of inspiration. Since I don't hold to such a view, there is nothing for me to address, though there may be something there requiring an address by some fringe fundamentalists.
    Fifth, Cragun argues that church fathers did not "idolize" the Scriptures, but that is not really the point. What he needs to show is that the church fathers thought Scripture erred. As it is, he can come no closer to this than e.g., Jerome discussing problems in the text (such as Matthew referring to the "thirty pieces of silver" passage in Zechariah -- an issue, by the way, that is easily resolved under Jewish exegetical and citation procedures). Although Jerome discusses the problem, he does not say, "this is an error." What Jerome does do is suppose that e.g., Matthew might be charged with "falsehood" for such things as adding, "I say unto thee" to the translation of "Talitha cumi." But as Cragun admits, this sort of thing comes more of Jerome's perceived neurotic compulsion for detail than from any real problem.

    Thus concludes our look at Cragun, and all in all, he could have spared us the trouble of what amounted to his own exercise in neurotic compulsion.


    In recent parts of this series (which starts back here), I've been looking at how various subtle problems around the empty tomb in the Gospel narratives, just don't mesh well with the idea that GosMark's author invented the empty tomb. I've passed by the topic of today's entry a couple of times already, but now I'm going to focus a squinty eye on it more closely.

    (If I sound not that reverent to some parts of the topic, that's because per Part 1 I'm talking about why I would think GosMark's author did not invent the empty tomb even if I was an atheist.)

    6.) The canonicals, including GosMark, jump through hoops to make the blundering apostles relevant authorities to their readers, especially thanks to being eyewitnesses to the risen Jesus who posthumously reaffirms their authority, gives them spiritual power, etc.

    But in none of the accounts, including GosMark, and even including the preaching reports in Acts, are the apostles and their meetings with Jesus connected with the empty tomb. For that matter, there's only one part of one story where an appearance from Jesus is connected directly to the empty tomb at all, and that's Mary Magdalene in GosJohn. Not any of the authoritative disciples or twelve apostles, including Peter and the Beloved Disciple in GosJohn, who are the only Christian authorities (of some kind) ever shown in any proximity to the tomb.

    Moreover, none of the first meetings with Jesus in any canonical Gospel involve the apostles or other chief disciples. Granted, GosMark (setting aside any discussion of a lost ending) doesn't feature any meetings at all, but that hardly helps the problem! GosMark does admittedly imply, as far as it goes, an expectation that the apostles will be the first. Which would fit better with a theory that a belief in the risen Jesus started with dreams or visions of Jesus by group authorities (whether they parlayed those visions into authority or not) -- if Mark had actually shown something like that, instead of non-authorities (and women at that) discovering the empty tomb and meeting a young man.

    But the other three Gospels don't follow up on GosMark's implied expectation at all! -- not even GosMatt, which has a verbally identical implication from the angel at the tomb! Even GosMark's eventual longer ending doesn't follow up on that implied expectation at all! Mary Magdalene is explicitly said to be the first person to see Jesus, and the disciples still regard her reports as nonsense. Two unnamed disciples on the road, as in GosLuke's Emmaus story, are next; unlike in GosLuke, they also aren't believed, but also unlike GosLuke there is no attempt to interject a prior visit to Peter even at secondhand. When Jesus does appear, he harshly reprimands the apostles for their unbelief.

    (Since it might be mentioned, there does exist a super-minority variation of GosMark's longer ending, only a sentence or two in its total length, which suggests briefly that Jesus did appear to the disciples first, but only in a broadly vague and undetailed fashion. This super-minority version doesn't feature any of the details of the traditional longer Mark ending.)

    And yet the first appearances narrated in each Gospel (beyond the non-appearance in GosMark) do have topical connections to the tomb: Jesus appears to the women in GosMatt as they're fleeing the tomb area. Jesus appears to the disciples returning to Emmaus while they're "tossing back and forth" among themselves the empty tomb (and the shining men) reported by the women. (A few traditions, if I recall correctly, regard the other disciple here as the wife of Clopas, thus by a slightly differently spelled name in another account, one of the women at the tomb. I happen to like this idea a lot, but I know better than to hang anything on it.) Mary Magdalene is looking into the tomb when Jesus appears behind her (and she's still not expecting him, notably, but rather the groundskeeper).

    Whatever else this weird disjunction does or doesn't imply, it means the tomb is constantly treated, including in GosMark, as being completely or (for GosJohn perhaps) almost completely irrelevant to the authority of the apostles -- an authority which is being promoted by the same texts.

    Theories where Mark invents the empty tomb, necessarily involve roughly 40 years (maybe a lot more depending on when whoever-it-was wrote GosMark) of authoritative emphasis on the importance of the visions of the apostles, perhaps having developed by legendary accretion from mere dreams, which of course have nothing to do with an empty tomb or Mark wouldn't be inventing (per theory) the empty tomb but instead passing along received tradition about the empty tomb.

    This was (up to 2010), and maybe still is, essentially Crossan's sceptical argument, remember, as someone who thought Jesus was just buried as a common criminal to be dug up by wild dogs and vultures: no empty tomb historically, but sometime between then and Mark the tomb developed as a detail out of poetic imagery for consoling the earliest communities about what happened to him -- and Mark is passing those two details along (tomb and emptiness) and making up others.

    One would logically expect the resulting Gospels, then, to not even have a tomb; or if the tomb had developed out of authoritative dreams or visions, to focus on the importance of the tomb in the authorities' visions of Jesus. But none of the Gospels do, not even GosMark where, on the theory under examination, the tomb was supposed to be invented! Not even GosPete, which features ludicrous crowds of enemies to witness the Resurrection! -- the women are still the first allies to find the empty tomb.

    Even on an account like Crossan's, the empty tomb stories as they actually exist, don't make sense as extensions of non-tomb original visions. (Although to be fair, Crossan's mature theory doesn't exactly involve dreams or visions or hallucinations. It's about poetic language mistaken for actual history. But a tomb and its emptiness, figuratively speaking, shows up originally with that poetic image.) GosJohn, for example, ought to be about Peter and/or the Beloved Disciple waking up after a dream of Jesus (narrated in detail as such) and saying, hey, let's go see the tomb (if any such detail was even wanted or needed), and then finding Jesus' body gone, and then meeting Jesus there (perhaps), and going off to tell everyone that Jesus is risen and they've seen him, and he told them they're the ones to be in charge now for sure, and if anyone doesn't believe it they can go look at the empty tomb!

    But that isn't what happens. At all. Maybe because that would be indistinguishable from a stupidly transparent attempt, among disciples reportedly (in the same texts) sniping at one another over who's the most special and awesomest snowflake, at faking a resurrection to get power over the group! -- meaning it isn't very likely such a story would have survived until now, against huge competitive pressure from other super-special snowflakes.

    Let me emphasize, if it isn't obvious enough already, that any theory about the return of Jesus being based on dream/visions or hallucinations of the apostles, has to deal with any such visions being absolutely ignored, not only in regard to the tomb and its emptiness, but in regard to the first appearances of Jesus which in the canonicals are never to anyone in the group authority promoted by the canonicals. Regardless of any theories about the narrated appearances to the apostles and other major disciples (up to and including Saul of Tarsus eventually) being based on consolation hallucinations extrapolated to group visions, or on dream visions extrapolated to a group experience (mass delusions of belief being one thing, but group hallucinations about the same event being something else unknown to medical science) -- those theories all crash up against the rock of the tomb jutting out by itself in stark disregard of being the product of such fancies. Theories about those special snowflakes swirling around themselves waaaaay over there in the distance, just shatter in collision on that rock.

    I find it hard to overestimate the importance of this for our topic: this total disjunction between the authority of the disciples (even from the authority of St. Paul, whom we'll be getting to soon), and the empty tomb, would be enough by itself to convince me, not only that whoever wrote GosMark didn't invent the empty tomb, but that no one else invented it either at any time prior. Whatever might or might not have been invented, the empty tomb was not invented, including by GosMark.

    Dovetailing with point (1), not even counting anything else, just makes this purported invention more impossible as a historical fact (even if as a proposition taken by itself it isn't metaphysically impossible). Crossan's Cross Gospel theory is admittedly ingenious about avoiding a need to transition from authoritative visions about a risen Jesus to stories about an empty tomb (the women being the first allies to find the empty tomb would be later on his account, as inventions by GosMark long after the tomb imagery had become mistaken for a historical reality) -- because on his theory, there are no authoritative visions or dreams or hallucinations, just a poetic figure about an eschatological hope. The absence of the apostles from the scene doesn't run against the purpose of that figure, even though it's still weird that they wouldn't be represented at the validation of their own hope (even in a poetic figure).

    But his theory doesn't at all explain the hind end of polemic preserved at the end of GosMatt, where rival communities both appeal back to guard testimony that the body went missing shortly after death. On Crossan's account, those guards (inflated through legendary accretion to ridiculous numbers by the time his hypothetical "Cross Gospel" gets incorporated into the Gospel of Peter in the late 2nd century) are only a sort of poetic wishful thinking by the very first Christians about how someday their enemies will realize that Jesus was innocent after all. But there's no way to get from that to Jewish anti-Christian opponents appealing to a weak explanation provided by the guards themselves with enough authoritative clout to make the weak explanation seem feasible enough to use against the Christians.

    Counting everything else from point (2) onward so far, only locks Mark's non-invention of the empty tomb ever-tighter in my judgment.

    But I'm not done.

    Next up: disappearing acts

    [Below is a revised version of an article that originally appeared in the Fall 2004 edition of Vineline: Connecting the Vineyard Churches in Canada, a now-defunct publication. I remain indebted to Dr. Derek Morphew for the instruction I received during my time learning via the Vineyard Bible Institute.]
    Though it's been many years, I can still remember as a young Christian moving into our "new" church building (really an old building) in Austin, Texas. The formidable task before us was to clean it up and make it hospitable for our little Pentecostal church family and any prospective converts we could somehow persuade to visit. We had to build new walls, replace an old toilet, add a fresh coat of paint all around, and put up a new sign announcing our arrival. But before doing any of that, we had to clean up the place. A thick layer of dust covered not only the floor, but various papers, folders, coat hangers, soda cans, candy wrappers – and in every corner of the building, cobwebs. Those always caught my attention. I would see one of these long abandoned dusty spider webs, and wonder: Whatever happened to the spider?
    A somewhat similar question faces believers in the church today. Throughout even vibrant assemblies of sincere evangelical believers, some strange and very old doctrines are strung about the fringes and corners of the church. Who came up with these beliefs? Are they biblically valid? In an enlightening VBI course, The Spiritual Spider Web, Derek Morphew has grappled with these questions.[1] The following is a brief overview of Dr. Morphew's comprehensive teaching on Gnosticism, and why it should be of concern for believers today. After taking a closer look at the web, we may well conclude that the time has come for some theological "spring cleaning" in our own churches.
    Defining and Recognizing Gnosticism
    The term "Gnosticism" draws from the Greek word for knowledge, gnosis. Common to the many expressions of Gnosticism is a core belief in the spiritual significance of knowledge. This is knowledge of a distinctly metaphysical nature. Like its ancient counterpart, the neo-Gnosticism that lingers on in the church today is really a collection of many belief systems, from a variety of cultures and metaphysical disciplines, traceable to the New Testament period and before. One of the more distinctive characteristics of Gnosticism – a pronounced dualism of mind and body, physical and spiritual - was developed by Plato four centuries before Christ.
    In addition to the basic ideas of dualism and salvation based on knowledge are some other decidedly non-Christian philosophical and theological assumptions: An elitist, self-centered view of man, a "spiritual" or anti-incarnational view of Christ, an assumed spiritual hierarchy of believers, and a general super spirituality that (ironically) tends to breed immorality. The "spiders" who first weaved this web in the church in the first and especially into the second century, influential Gnostic teachers such as Simon Magus ("the sorcerer," Acts 8), Marcion and Valentinius, are long gone. Their influence unfortunately remains.
    Though all this philosophical "mumbo jumbo" may seem quite removed from traditional evangelical theology, the fact is that Gnostic teachings have trickled down through the ages of church history all the way to the present day. The often well-meaning believers captivated by these ancient doctrines rarely, if ever, come right out and say "I am a Gnostic." Indeed, they themselves are probably unaware of exactly how they came to embrace such beliefs. Because the "spider web" of Gnosticism by its very eclectic nature defies easy definitions, it is able to thrive in churches otherwise identifiable as solidly evangelical. Still, there are some signs that indicate a church community may be infected with neo-Gnostic influences. These include "super-spiritual" brethren who seem to always have a word from the Lord for everyone else; an emphasis on "special insights" reaching far beyond a justifiable reading of Scripture; a tendency to rank believers according to their spiritual gifts or office; and a seriousness about all this that seems to reject genuine humility as much as it does "the flesh."
    Gnosticism in Scripture
    For many of us, the preceding description of Gnosticism may call to mind certain Scriptures. I recall first reading the "Spiritual Spider Web" material and coming away impressed with how well it explained the substance of many New Testament epistles. Although Gnosticism didn't become a fully recognizable system until the second century, it remains clear that Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, for example, is loaded with references to emerging Gnostic ideas. Not only did a large faction of the Corinthian church promote the notion of superior wisdom, but they openly fawned over various apostles as superior beings (a habit that caused much division in the Corinth assembly). Paul laments further that they had endorsed "spiritual" truth to the extent that they were indifferent to bodily sins like fornication, and even denied the reality or importance of the physical resurrection of Christ. Read in this light, 1 Corinthians becomes a powerful apostolic commentary on Gnosticism – "that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:5).
    Similar arguments appear in the letter to the Colossians. Paul here specifically affirms that Christ himself is the creator of the universe of physical matter, and that in him the "fullness" of God dwells bodily (Col. 1:15-19; 2:9. Pleroma, or "fullness," was a favorite term of the Gnostics to describe the sum total of deities emanating in succession from the Ultimate or Supreme Deity). This appears to be an example of Paul, in Morphew's words, "out-Gnosticizing the Gnostics." He's beating them with their own language and assumptions. Paul's basic nuts-and-bolts theology was evidently a necessary corrective to the elaborate Colossian heresy, an empty yet super-spiritual "philosophy of men" that led to false humility, bogus visions and exaggerated experiences, and an extreme form of self-denial that somehow always managed to find an audience. Paul's pastoral letters likewise exhibit a certain anti-Gnostic apologetic character.
    John's writings are no less firm in their rejection of Gnostic assumptions. The prologue to John's Gospel declares plainly that "the Word became flesh." That is, the highest form of spiritual truth became physically embodied in a flesh-and-blood person. In 1 John the Apostle explicitly defines a belief in the Incarnation (historical reality and physical humanity) of Jesus Christ as the litmus test of the faith, and conversely, denial of Incarnation as the hallmark of the spirit of Antichrist (1 John 4:2,3). John furthermore consistently defines spiritual "knowledge" – a concept most coveted by the esoteric Gnostic intellect – in terms a practical, active, obedient relationship with God available to all men. In John's thinking, to know Christ is to know the truth (John 8:31, 32). Much the same could be said of other New Testament writings, notably 2 Peter and Jude.
    Contemporary Gnostic Manifestations
    Of course, all this would amount to little more than a curious lesson in Near Eastern history, except for the fact that Gnostic teachings still bear much influence in the church today. Morphew points out that, whereas the Pentecostal movement has a wide and varied membership, so that it would be irresponsible to describe it as Gnostic per se, nonetheless "certain traditions and emphases within Pentecostalism have definite links with Gnosticism." From the more overt Pentecostal deviations – such as the Branhamites, the Church of the Living Word, or the Way International – to more scripturally grounded renewal movements, the danger among Pentecostals and Charismatics is always to overemphasize or redefine the role of the spiritual.
    One of the salient features of Pentecostalism, for example, is an emphasis on spiritual gifts, which taken to an extreme results in the chaotic carnality first manifested in the Corinthian church and later embraced by heretics like Montanus. A Gnostic-like dualism of "flesh" and "spirit" is often used by Pentecostals as a standard by which to divide all of life into worldly and spiritual activities, hobbies, churches, ministries, songs, books, and even modes of dress. This sort of practical dualism tends to eventually spill over into personal "spiritual" versions of morality. Even pastors and evangelists with evident giftings may come to see no real problem with adultery or other sins committed "only" in the body.
    If and when this focus on the "spiritual' becomes entrenched enough, Scripture can become marginalized. As Bill Jackson has written (in the process of "setting the Vineyard in context"): "Movements that have embraced the ministry of the Holy Spirit through spiritual gifts such as prophecy and healing have often been relegated to the fringes of orthodoxy because they neglected the Word."[2] In the late E.W. Kenyon, Morphew has provided one example of a contemporary teacher seemingly taken in by Gnostic thought at the expense of sound doctrine. Kenyon greatly influenced such popular "Word-Faith" personalities as Kenneth Hagin and Hagin's disciple, Kenneth Copeland.
    I remember a few years ago skimming through some of Kenyon's works in a friend's library and thinking something was wrong with his theology, though it seemed highly structured and accompanied by plenty of biblical references. Morphew has helped explain the roots of the confusion. While presenting much commendable evangelical preaching material, Kenyon also holds to an ontological rather than relational understanding of salvation. In other words, a person is saved only by actually sharing in the very essence of God. For Kenyon and his many elitist followers, to "partake of the divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4), is to literally become deified, or at the least semi-deified.
    Other indications of Kenyon's distorted doctrine include a distinctively Platonic dualism, in which all knowledge is either spiritual ("revelation-knowledge") or carnal ("sense-knowledge"); a personal canon of Scripture remarkably similar to that of the second century Gnostic Marcion, which deems Paul's writings spiritually superior; and a view of Christ himself as a strictly "spiritual" redeemer whose work of salvation therefore took place in the spiritual abode of hell, rather than at the cross. This last tenet of Kenyonism is a serious error because it strikes at the very heart of the Christian message of salvation.
    Much more could be said, and for those interested I strongly recommend the course itself. However, let it at least be said that the purpose of Morphew's study is not to simply engage in some happy "heresy hunting." The contemporary church is divided enough as it is without our help. Rather, there resides in the examination and repudiation of false doctrine a higher calling, to identify and illuminate the truth. Theological refinement is a practice that serves church and individual alike. From this practical perspective The Spiritual Spider Web is not merely a critical academic exercise, but a means to further inform our own beliefs – those articles of faith that ultimately determine our behavior, the quality of our relationship with Jesus Christ, and the effectiveness of our witness.
    Like all erroneous teachings, neo-Gnosticism leads us to ask questions that typically lead us to reasonable answers. Dualism, for example, may seem sound at a glance, but further examination reveals that the biblical view of reality is inextricably holistic. There are no sharp divisions between body and soul, flesh and spirit. Those terms represent various concepts according to specific contexts, and should not be taken as descriptions of watertight categories of being. Sins may be committed in the mind as well as the body – in many cases both – while the body is the temple of the Spirit, to be respected precisely for that reason. The bread and wine we partake of in the communion sacrament is a reminder of Christ's body and blood, physical elements of his essentially spiritual sacrifice on our behalf. We discover then that sanctification involves the whole man, "spirit, soul and body" (1 Thess. 5:23).
    This discovery process reveals the value of apologetic theology. Jesus, Paul and Peter all warned of false prophets arising in our very midst and bringing destructive heresies with them. Apologetics therefore builds valuable defenses for the church against its own self-destruction. Unless consciously recognized and removed, the small seeds of Gnosticism may grow to bear much bad fruit even in our own congregations. In the meantime, as we learn, we are encouraged by Scripture not to revel in the false knowledge of the spiritual elite, but "to grow in the true knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). 
    [1] Morphew, Derek, The Spiritual Spider Web: A Study of Ancient and Contemporary Gnosticism (Vineyard Bible Institute, 2000).
    [2] Jackson, Bill, The Quest for the Radical Middle: A History of the Vineyard (Vineyard Press International, 1999).


    We've been doing this a while, starting back here at Part 1. Currently I'm looking at a number of problems that tend to cluster around the Gospel tomb accounts, and how their existence as problems doesn't follow cleanly from the proposal that GosMark's author simply invented the tomb (or even its emptiness). In the previous Part, that problem was women being the first witnesses to the tomb, in the sense of them being women at all.

    But there are more subtle problems associated with those women:

    4.) GosMark's invention of the tomb, and so of the women being at the tomb (or even his invention of the women, too), does not fit the embarrassing GosLuke material of the apostles deriding the women's report as "oblivion-gush".

    Peter is a partial exception in GosLuke; but the brief verse about him rushing out to check the tomb is late (and meant to clarify something in the Emmaus story itself about people, plural, so not just him, going out to check the tomb after the women return), and he still doesn't see Jesus there; or rather his (textually solid) verification that he has also seen Jesus (apparently alone, at some undisclosed location) happens off-screen and doesn't even get reported firsthand: other people pre-empt the Emmaus disciples on their return with the mere claim Peter has seen Jesus!

    (And yet, Luke still narrates in detail a unique first-appearance to Clopas-and-whoever, on the road to Emmaus, without even clarifying that Peter saw Jesus first after all! Why would Luke invent this, and not invent a private Peter visitation? -- why would Luke not put whatever little he wanted about the Peter visitation first? -- something that even the late addition about Peter running off to check the tomb doesn't do! GosLuke is as pro-Peter as any canonical text, though with the usual canonical harsh criticisms of Peter. This oddity, among other reasons such as linguistic forms, is why even sceptical scholars sometimes regard the Emmaus material as not only being primitive, predating any canonical composition, but even historical to some significantly real degree; even if they think it's a touched up hallucinatory vision of some kind. But I don't see that the Emmaus material in itself, even if it predates GosMark, affects the question of whether Mark did invent the empty tomb: the tomb itself is mentioned in the Emmaus block as existing and being empty, but I grant that theoretically this could have been part of the touchup from original material. Thus my merely parenthetical digression.)

    I suppose one could propose that this shape of the data echoes an original authoritative resistance to GosMark's innovation. But that proposal doesn't remotely explain why the author's contemporary authorities decided to void their own authoritative visions or whatever, ditching Peter's vision of Jesus to an off-screen after-the-fact second-hand report of exactly no details (only archived ten to fifteen years later on standard dating theories), in order to embrace this upstart's version; nor does the proposal explain why both GosMark and GosLuke (and the other canonicals for that matter) keep insisting on the subsequent authority of the same chief apostles despite their repeated blunders in the narratives (and Peter most especially).

    Things don't get any better when a woman from the tomb gushes about something else involving that tomb's emptiness, and disciples (including Peter) are more clearly shown believing her:

    5.) Mark's invention of the empty tomb does not fit with the GosJohn story of the women (Mary Magdalene and at least one unknown someone-else, presumably a woman as in GosMatt) finding the empty tomb and thinking something perfectly mundane if puzzling is wrong: someone has moved the body.

    This variation, while harmonizable, is simply bizarre if GosJohn is such a late production, and especially if it's supposed to represent a far development of an invented tomb story. What's the point of inventing this?!

    Not to disparage whoever else is with Mary (but so nearly not-mentioned, that there's a popular belief only Mary is mentioned in GosJohn as finding the tomb empty), because the other companions were never treated as personally important (although typically named) in other accounts.

    Not to disparage Mary, because she gets to see Jesus first by herself (and sees angels by herself for that matter -- her companion drops out of narrative sight completely once they report the missing body to Peter).

    Not to disparage Peter, because now he's actually shown at the tomb, and the first one inside -- although still not the first to believe Jesus is risen, but that's no worse off than other accounts.

    To promote the eyewitness author over-against Mary, because Mary was initially mistaken? But Mary still gets the first visitation from Jesus, and a far more personally focused one than the other first appearances in other accounts; and Peter is still emphatically meant to be the leader of the apostles after this -- more emphatically than in any other canonical Gospel. Besides which the implication is that if MaryMag hadn't shown up, looking for Peter (and not for the "beloved disciple" who just happened to be there), the Disciple wouldn't have been at the tomb at all.

    To promote the Beloved Disciple and/or Peter? -- by inventing Mary being mistaken about what happened to the body?! That only works by disparaging Mary in their favor, which very much doesn't happen; quite the opposite!

    To promote Mary Magdalene as the special authority people ought to be following? She disappears completely from the story afterward! -- and Peter is given authoritative (if penitent) priority, although the BD insists he himself has a right to be heard.

    Mary's mistake, as a mere development of a detail (the tomb and its emptiness) that, per hypothesis and standard dating theories, didn't even exist 30 years prior to GosJohn, comes out of nowhere and goes nowhere. It might explain, in a backhanded way, who that "young man" was at the tomb in GosMark, namely the beloved disciple (still lingering and thinking over his realization when another group of women connected to MaryMag arrives), but it doesn't go out of its way to do so; most commentators never even notice the potential link.

    In other words, Mary (and Company) thinking the missing body was merely a normal (though troubling) problem, is an independent variation about the tomb: not a tradition dependent on GosMark, thus not a tradition dependent on GosMark having invented the tomb (and the women's connection to the tomb).

    Granted, it isn't impossible that there could be independently invented tradition of something sheerly invented previously, even if it's impossible to make any clean guesses that fit the extant data, about the purpose of the invention. But the theory of GosMark's invention has always been, quite necessarily, bound up tightly with the idea that Mark's invention was so respected and admired that (so to speak) it memetically overwrote whatever had come before to create memetic variations of its new innovation. And there's no clear explanation why this independent variation, of the empty tomb being mistaken for a normal problem, would be breaking so nearly off the vine.

    As a clarification attempt at some things happening that confusing morning, the variation makes some sense; as a competitive variation of the Markan tomb story it makes no sense, and makes even less sense (if possible) as a developmental extension of the story.

    But then, if it's an independent clarification attempt, the tomb and its emptiness has another attestation independent of GosMark: and that weighs (even if only a little) against Mark inventing the empty tomb.

    Next up: let us consider exactly how awesomely special and important the subsequent authorities were in finding that empty tomb, shall we? No, I'm not entirely kidding -- it's really important...!

    In this debate you will see my opponent has some good arguments but they are of a speculative nature. He has no textual evidence in his favor. My side is backed by some textual evidence. My textual evidence:

    * There no copies of texts of Josephus not containing the TF. 

    *The brother passage (BP) uses a Greek phrase that means "so-called" or "alleged" in connection with Jesus as messiah: it refers to him as "the so-called messiah."

    *No one would go to the trouble to fabricate a passage or to alter or doctor it and then fail to make it strong enough to suit his purpose. No Christian would call Jesus the "so called" messiah.

    *Bowen will argue that the TF does not say "so called" and the same person tweaking the TF would surely Tweak the BP.  But they do actually agree. There are two other versions, Jerome's and Syriac, where the TF says "so called Christ." (Alice Wealey)

    *The best solution is that the original version said "so called" because Josephus was skeptical of Jesus' claim. No Christian would say that, so a Christian scribe tweaked the TF by taking that word out and adding some other things. He did not do the BP because it was obscure and he did not have a reference book. 

    The BP mementos Jesus as messiah (although sarcastically) in passing, indicating the reader is already familiar with him; that's because Josephus had already mentioned him in the TF.

    The only thing Bradly has for evidence is the facts of dating, allowing the possibility of his speculations.

    Perhaps Hinman believes that (JW) is obviously true and thus it is not in need of  supporting evidence or reasoning. Since (JW) is not obviously false and not obviously problematic,  I’m comfortable with attributing this argument to Hinman even though he did not clearly and explicitly state this argument in his post on Josephus.  I believe that this is a reasonable “educated guess” at the argument Hinman had in mind concerning the external evidence of Josephus.

    Hinman: I think I was pretty clear that my argument is that there is a historical core passage in the TF and that the BP is un tweaked. Jo spoke of Jesus as a man in history because he knew him to be such. He learned that from common knowledge including NT, Christian witness of other kinds, early Gnostic and Jewish polemics.

    It is also the case that Hinman provides very little evidence in support of his primary factual premise (1).  The link to more in-depth discussion of the Josephus evidence points to an article that makes no attempt to support premise (1):
    Hinman: Doesn't take much. The passage proves he existed if it's authentic but most historians think it is: there's no evidence against it.

    * Now at this point he's going to make an argument based upon the fallacy  of guilt by association. 

    QUESTION 3:  Is the “brother passage” in Antiquities Authentic?A. Christian Copyists Altered their Own Sacred Scriptures. We know that Christian copyists made many alterations to the Greek text of the New Testament documents, both intentionally and unintentionally, even though those documents were considered to be sacred scripture by many Christians.  Bart Ehrman provides several examples of alterations by Christian copyists to NT texts in his book Misquoting Jesus, and he makes the following relevant comment in the concluding chapter:…whatever else we may say about the Christian scribes–whether of the early centuries or of the Middle Ages–we have to admit that in addition to copying scripture, they were changing scripture.  Sometimes they didn’t mean to–they were simply tired, or inatentive, or, on occasion, inept. At other times, though, they did mean to make changes, as when they wanted the text to emphasize precisely what they themselves believed, for example about the nature of Christ, or about the role of women in the church, or about the wicked character of their Jewish opponents. This conviction that scribes had changed scripture became an increasing certitude for me as I studied the text more and more. (Misquoting Jesus, p.210) For examples supporting this view, see Chapter 2 (“The Copyists of Early Christian Writings”) and Chapter 6 (“Theologically Motivated Alterations of the Text”) of Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman.

    There is a great deal wrong here. First, though I do respect Ehrman he is not without biases. Using the term "scribe" is misleading. They did not have Christian scribes in the sense of temple scribes in Judaism. Their redaction of NT material was not carried out in a time when the material was considered scared. They had no idea they were editing sacred text. That came later with the canonization process. Redaction came in the formation process when the stuff was being written.

    Secondly, Ehrman never argues this is a reason to assume that the brother passage is redacted. To make that assumption just imposes an assumption not in evidence.

    Bowen: Surely, if Christian editors and copyists altered the texts of their own sacred scriptures, they would be likely to alter the texts of a Jewish historian as well.

    Hinman: (1) they weren't sacred scripture at the time they altered it.
    (2) they didn't "alter" it. They redacted it., huge difference. Redaction is editing. Altering is seeing a finished product and fabricating it by change. They weren't doing that, they were editing. They didn't say "let's change this to prove lies." They were re-organizing and incorporating new materiel. That's not the same as saying I'll just slip this in here that James was the brother of Jesus.

    B. Christians Clearly Altered (or Created) the Only Other Passage about Jesus in Antiquities 

    Hinman: the TF is not our only statement about Jesus in antiquity,

    Robert Van Voorst describes the views of modern scholars about the TF passage: While a few scholars still reject it fully and even fewer accept it fully, most now prefer two middle positions.  The first middle position reconstructs an authentic Josephan passage neutral towards Jesus, and the second reconstructs an authentic passage negative toward Jesus.  (JONT, p.93) The viewpoints in order of descending acceptance by modern scholars:
    1. Middle Positions (most scholars believe that Christians made a few alterations to the TF passage).
    1. Full Rejection (a few scholars believe that Christians created the whole passage, or that it is simply not possible to determine what parts of the passage were originally written by Josephus).
    1. Full Acceptance (a very few scholars believe the entire passage is authentic, that all of the passage was written by Josephus).
    All but a very few scholars have concluded that the TF passage was either partially or completely the creation of Christians.  There are only two passages that refer to Jesus in Antiquities, the other passage being the “brother passage”.  So, it is reasonable to conclude that Christians altered (or created) the TF passage, the only other passage about Jesus besides the “brother passage”.  This background information suggests that it is likely that Christian copyists also altered the “brother passage”.
    Hinman: That is a totally screwed way to look at it. It's glass half empty but it's also very misleading. He emphasizes that two of three groups support that the text was altered to make it sound like the majority opposes historicity of Jesus. Actually it's the opposite. We can divide scholars into three groups, two of the three think Jesus existed as a man in history and Joe wrote about him. Most of those who think the TF is totally fabricated might think Jesus existed. The majority think Jo wrote about him. 

    *Before going down this road let's observe that it has no bearing on the brother passage: no matter how much tweaking was put on the TF that does not prove the brother passage was tweaked.

    The statement that there's two mentions of Jesus in antiquity, that is utter tripe and we all know it. Celsus refers to Jesus and argues from him being flesh and blood; but by default, I agreed not to discuss the Roman passages they are not strong but to say they don't exist is a lie. Not saying they are good evidence but they exist and they do refer to Jesus:

    * Thallus (c. 50-75AD)

    *Phlegon (First century)

    * Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, c.93)

    * Tacitus (Annals, c.115-120)

    * Suetonius (Lives of the Caesars, c. 125)

    * Galen (various writings, c.150)

    * Celsus (True Discourse, c.170).

    * Mara Bar Serapion (pre-200?)

    * Talmudic References( written after 300 CE, but some refs probably go back to eyewitnesses)

    *Lucian (Second century)

    *Numenius (Second cent.)

    *Galerius (Second Cent.)

    (2) The vast majority of scholars still believe in the historicity of Jesus, they accept a core passage of TF that does include Jesus' existence.

    here is Tabor's core passage with emendations in capital highlights

    There are two passage in which first century Jewish historian Jospehus speaks of Jesus of Nazerath. The first passage is known as the Testimonium Flavianum (hense forth "TF").The second passage gives Jesus just a passing mention and it really about the high presit Annas, and his stoning of Jesus' brother James ('I'll call it the "James passage").

    (for my take on "James" passage go here

    The TF:
    Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man IF IT BE LAWFUL TO CALL HIM A MAN, for he was a doer of wonders, A TEACHER OF SUCH MEN AS RECEIVE THE TRUTH WITH PLEASURE. He drew many after him BOTH OF THE JEWS AND THE GENTILES. HE WAS THE CHRIST. When Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, FOR HE APPEARED TO THEM ALIVE AGAIN THE THIRD DAY, AS THE DIVINE PROPHETS HAD FORETOLD THESE AND THEN THOUSAND OTHER WONDERFUL THINGS ABOUT HIM, and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day" (Antiquities 18:63-64).
    A List of Scholar who accept at least some core passage.
    John P. Meier
    Raymond Brown
    Graham Stanton
    N.T. Wright
    Paula Fredrickson
    John D. Crossan
    E.P. Sanders
    Geza Vermes
    Louis Feldman
    John Thackeray
    Andre Pelletier
    Paul Winter
    A. Dubarle
    Ernst Bammel
    Otto Betz
    Paul Mier
    Ben Witherington
    F.F. Bruce
    Luke T. Johnson
    Craig Blomberg
    J. Carleton Paget
    Alice Whealey
    J. Spencer Kennard
    R. Eisler
    R.T. France
    Gary Habermas
    Robert Van Voorst
    Shlomo Pines
    Edwin M. Yamuchi
    James Tabor
    John O'Connor-Murphy
    Mark Goodacre
    Paula Frederiksen
    David Flusser
    Steve Mason
    Twentieth century controversy over the Testimonium Flavianum can be distinguished from controversy over the text in the early modern period insofar as it seems generally more academic and less sectarian. While the challenge to the authenticity of the Testimonium in the early modern period was orchestrated almost entirely by Protestant scholars and while in the same period Jews outside the church uniformly denounced the text's authenticity, the twentieth century controversies over the text have been marked by the presence of Jewish scholars for the first time as prominent participants on both sides of the question. In general, the attitudes of Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish and secular scholars towards the text have drawn closer together, with a greater tendency among scholars of all religious backgrounds to see the text as largely authentic. On the one hand this can be interpreted as the result of an increasing trend towards secularism, which is usually seen as product of modernity. On the other hand it can be interpreted as a sort of post-modern disillusionment with the verities of modern skepticism, and an attempt to recapture the sensibility of the ancient world, when it apparently was still possible for a first-century Jew to have written a text as favorable towards Jesus of Nazareth as the Testimonium Flavianum.
    Now he's going wild on the TF even I said that would not be any focus, That's because he has nothing on the brother passage, it's point blank proof Jesus existed and NO serious scholar thinks otherwise,


    C.  The Oldest Greek Manuscripts of Antiquities are from Long After Christians Altered the Text

    According to John Meier, “we have only three Greek manuscripts of Book 18 [which contains the Testimonium Flavianum passage] of The Antiquities, the earliest of which dates from the 11th century.”  (A Marginal Jew, Vol. 1, p.62).  But Eusebius quoted from the altered version of the TF early in the fourth century, so the Christian alterations were made in the second or third centuries:
    Hinman: Meier agrees with a core historical passage proving Jesus' historoicioty

    The first witness to this passage as it stands now is from Eusebius in about 323 (Ecclesiastical History 1.11). (JONT, p.92)
    This means that textual criticism is of no help in determining the authenticity of the TF:Because the few manuscipts of Josephus come from the eleventh century,  long after Christian interpolations  would have been made, textual criticism cannot help to solve this issue. ..We are left to examine the context, style, and content of this passage to judge its authenticity. (JONT, p.88-89).
    It's quoted in other places that are not a MS of Josephus such as Jerome's quotation and other early church luminaries. Jerome's quote takes it back to  400's.As I pointed out it's a mistake to think latter texts don't have earlier readings. Jerome's version is probably the original version because it says "so called Christ" in both TF and BP. It is also corroborated by the Syriac version. (Alice Wealy quoted in Roger Pearce PDF:

    a) Jerome's Reading.
    St. Jerome quoted from the TF as saying "he was believed to bethe Messiah," rather than "he was the Messiah." This has led many scholars to believe that Jerome knew of another, perhaps older version of the TF that read differently and lacked the "tweeked" parts of the passage.

    b)The Arabic Text.

    A Jewish scholar named Sholmo Poines foudn an Arabic Text that reads differently then does the recieved version of the TF.
    Josephus'Testimony to Jesus
    James D. Tabor
    (Testimonium Flavianum) Josephus, Antiquities 18. 63-64
    Tabor: "Professor Shlomo Pines found a different version of Josephus testimony in an Arabic version of the tenth century. It has obviously not been interpolated in the same way as the Christian version circulating in the West:"
    "At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon their loyalty to him. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly they believed that he was the Messiah, concerning whom the Prophets have recounted wonders."

    c) Syriac text.
    In the second major twentieth century controversy over the authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum, the erudite Near Eastern studies scholar, Shlomo Pines, tried to argue that the paraphrase of the Testimonium that appears in a Christian Arabic chronicle dating from the tenth century might be more authentic than the textus receptus Testimonium. 21 Reaction to Pines' thesis was mixed, but the most important piece of evidence that Pines' scholarship on Christian Semitic sources brought to light was not the Arabic paraphrase of the Testimonium that he proposed was more authentic than the textus receptus, but the literal Syriac translation of the Testimonium that is quoted in a twelfth century chronicle compiled by the Syrian Patriarch of Antioch (1166-1199). 22 It is this version of the Testimonium, not the Arabic paraphrase of it, that has the greatest likelihood of being, at least in some ways, more authentic than the textus receptus Testimonium because, as noted earlier, this version of the text agrees with Jerome's Latin version of the text in the same crucial regard. The medieval Syriac Testimonium that Pines uncovered is very strong evidence for what many scholars had argued since birth of the controversy over the text in the Renaissance, namely that Jerome did not alter the Testimonium Flavianum to read "he was believed to be the Christ" but rather that he in fact knew the original version of the Testimonium, which he probably found in Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiastica , which read "he was believed to be the Christ" rather than "he was the Christ."

    (2) No Textaul evidence

    No textual evidence supports the charge that Origin or Eusbius made up the passage.
    a) All copies we have contain the quote.

    If it had been forged we should have some copies that don't contian it.

    New Advent Encyplopidia:
    "all codices or manuscripts of Josephus's work contain the text in question; to maintain the spuriousness of the text, we must suppose that all the copies of Josephus were in the hands of Christians, and were changed in the same way."

    b) Passage known prior to Eusebius

    Nor is it ture that our first indication of the existence of the Passage begins with Eusebuis:

    Again, the same conclusion follows from the fact that Origen knew a Josephan text about Jesus, but was not acquainted with our present reading; for, according to the great Alexandrian doctor, Josephus did not believe that Jesus was the Messias ("In Matth.", xiii, 55; "Contra Cels.", I, 47).

    Back to Brother
    Examiniation of context, style, and content of the “brother passage”, however, cannot provide sufficient reason to be fully confident that no alterations were made to this passage by Christian copyists.  So, if small changes by copyists could make a big difference to the significance of this passage as evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, then premise (1) of Hinman’s argument would be cast into serious doubt.

    Hinman: That is nonsense. No major scholar agrees with that, wrong on call counts:


    The passage reads like it's referring to a passage already made which could be the historical core passage. He talks like he's already mentioned Jesus before.


    D.  Small Changes to the “brother passage” by Christian Copyists Would Make a Big Difference
    If the entire “brother passage” was invented by a Christian copyist, then obviously the passage would be a complete fake and provide no evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth whatsoever.However, if the passage was NOT completely fake, but has been modified slightly by the addition of a phrase or two, then the evidence provided by the passage could be seriously diminished or even eliminated.
    Hinman: (1) Obviously it depends upon what is being Tweaked. He has no proof that anythying is, it's total speculation. His only criteria is wouldn't this be damaging ot the Jesus myth cause so it must be made up"?

    (2) No major scholar credits this view with any seriousness because there is no evidence, the reason he phrases it as conditional is because he has no evidence,

    • If the phrase “the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ” was added by a Christian copyist, then the passage provides no significant evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, even if the rest of the passage was authentic.
    Hinman: Not likely that a Christian had this great sounding stuff lauding Jesus in the TF then turn around and sasy "the so called. Christ." No one would change it to support their guy then degrade him in that way,"

    • If the original passage mentioned “the brother of the so-called Christ” and a Christian copyist added the name “Jesus” to that phrase, then the passage would provide only weak evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, because “James” was a very common Jewish name, and because there have been many Jews who claimed to be the Messiah or who were believed by others to be the Messiah.
    Hinman: You would have to produce another candidate in that era to be messiah, brother of what messiah?

    • If the original passage included the phrase “the brother of Jesus” but said nothing about Jesus being “the so-called Christ”,  then this passage would provide only weak evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, because “James” and “Jesus” were both common Jewish names at that time.
    Hinman: which is total speculation Even if this were true it woudl not be too weak because there would be no other Jesus for it to be. He would have to be famous opr not worth pointing it out. Jesus who? He mentions brother  because the brother is known and thus noteworthy.

    • If the original passage included the phrase “the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ” but a Christian copyist added the phrase “whose name was James” to this passage, then the passage would provide only weak evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, because “Jesus” was a common Jewish name, and because there have been many Jews who claimed to be the Messiah or who were believed by others to be the Messiah.
    Hinman: there would be no point in adding it at this point unless they had a connection between this James and Jesus. Why pick this guy out to connect? Jesus was a common name but it would b e pointless to mention a common guy at this point, The only reason to bring his brother into it is if he would be known to the reader.

    The “brother passage” provides significant evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth only if the phrase “the brother of Jesus” AND the phrase  “the so-called Christ” AND the phrase “whose name was James” are all authentic, only if ALL THREE of these phrases were in the original text of Antiquities written by Josephus.

    Hinman: as long as it says Jesus in the original it's evidence, UNLESS you show an alternative Jesus but he had to be famous.

    E. The Difficulty of Determining the Authenticity & Significance of the “brother passage” given the Above Facts

    Hinman:  you have no facts, it's sheer speculation motivated by ideology

    Given that Christian copyists altered the texts of their own sacred scriptures, and given that Christian copyists have clearly altered (or possibly created) the TF passage in Antiquities, it is probable that Christian copyists also altered (or possibly created) the only other passage in Antiquities that refers to Jesus: the “brother passage”.

    Hinman: He continues with that  implication they so dishonest they would even change their sacred writings, Therefore they just running around changing everything, that is so ridiculously unfair and dishonest (1) not changing it they are editing (2) they weren't sacred when they did it, they were just accounts, they didn't change the content, (3) that still doesn't prove they got hold of the brother passage. if they did they would not say ":so called Messiah,"


    Furthermore, the most crucial evidence for determining whether any alterations were made to the “brother passage” is unavailable: the only Greek manuscript copies that we have were made many centuries after the TF passage was altered by Christian copyists (and presumably many centuries after the “brother passage” was altered, if it had been altered).  Finally, since the evidence provided by the “brother passage” would be seriously diminished if just one of the three key phrases had been added by a Christian copyist, this passage can be viewed as providing significant evidence of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth ONLY IF we can be very confident that NONE of the three key phrases was added by a Christian coyist.

    Hinman: Does this guy sell aluminum siding? This is the kind of tactic in college debate we would've  called "greasy." He asserts the Christian copyists changed as though it's an established fact but he knows damn well it isn't, He acknowledged it above he has no evidence at all. He's merely asserting it and the incidence is against it because if they did changed it they would have done a better job.

    Given that the general background evidence indicates that it is probable that a Christian copyist altered the “brother passage”, 

    Hinman: what? I can't believe I'm reading this. This guy has presented no evidence of any now he baldfaced refer to evidence! does he mean his fallacious assertion of guilt by association: Some Christian fabbed the TF therefore they must have Fabbed the BP too, is that what he;s calling "evidence?" That's nothing more than fallacy and don't forget my counter assertion that the reading doesn't warrant the assumption because had they tweaked it they would have made it more favorable to Jesus. Ah yes speaks of probable. but the probability is against for the reason I just said.


    and given that the crucially important evidence needed to determine whether this passage is completely authentic is unavailable (no early Greek manuscript copies of The Antiquities are available), 

    Hinman: what's he talking about? making more fictional evidence? He has presented no evidences  of any kind that woudl prove this, He speculated about it, That's not proof.

    and given that the addition of a single word (“Jesus”) or one phrase (“the brother of Jesus” or “the so-called Christ” or “whose name is James”) by a Christian copyist would seriously diminish the strength of the evidence that this passage provides for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth,  I see no rational way to be very confident that the “brother passage” provides significant evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth.  Considerations about context, style, and content of the “brother passage” will simply not be able to provide a rational basis for being very confident that NONE of the three key phrases was added by a Christian copyist.
    Hinman: I'm sorry my friend that is one of the least rational arguments I've ever heard. He is saying that because one word would change it seriously then that increasing the probability that it was changed, that is not rational. It could also be said of any quotation. Add not or take it away  from anything would damage the meaning,m therefore, everything is fabricated. One word is not so much easier to add than 10.

    F. IF the TF Passage Is Completely Inauthentic, THEN the “brother passage” is Probably NOT Completely Authentic
    The majority view among modern scholars who study Josephus is that the TF passage is partially authentic, but not completely authentic.  The majority view is that Christian copyists made a few significant additions or changes to that passage.  Given this view, I have argued that it is probable that the “brother passage” was also altered by Christian copyists.  So, that is one way in which a judgment about the authenticity of the TF passage impacts our judgement about the authenticity of the “brother passage”.
    Hinman: that argument depends entirely upon the TF being entirely fabricated. The odds of that are extremely low. As the Wealy quote told us the 19th century scholarship saw it as such out of an ideological party line but modern scholarship is vastly against it The majority  accept the historical core then a small contingent think there's no fabrication so the group that accepts it as entirely fabricated is extremely small.

    But there are other possibilities concerning the TF passage.  Some scholars argue that the TF passage is completely inauthentic, that all or nearly all of the passage was created by Christian editors or copyists.  If these scholars are correct, then that would make it very probable that the “brother passage” was not completely authentic. 
    Hinman: That can be eliminated because it's an extreme minority view flies in the face of the evidence. There are pre Eusbian versions and no MS exist without the TF.

     As Hinman points out,  the authenticity of the “brother passage” is evidence for the authenticity of the TF passage:
    Josephus refers to James by referencing Jesus as though he’s mentioned Jesus or the reader should know who he is.  Jewish scholar Paul Winters states: “if…Josephus referred to James as being ‘the brother of Jesus who is called Christ,’ without much ado, we have to assume that in an earlier passage he had already told his readers about Jesus himself.”
    In other words, if Josephus refers to “Jesus” in the “brother passage” without providing an explanation of who this “Jesus” person was, then this implies (or makes it very probable) that Josephus had referred to “Jesus” in the earlier TF passage.  But in that case, if the TF passage was completely inauthentic, as some scholar argue, then this would be significant evidence that the “brother passage” was NOT completely authentic. 
    Hinman: Good God one of the most convoluted pieces of reasoning I've ever seen. he is saying BP indicates by the way it reads that Jo refereed to Jesus before.From that he concludes that if the TF is inauthentic the BP is also, but we've already ruled that out as extremely unlikely.Since the historical core is much more likely it makes since to say that is the mention of Jesus so it's authentic

    [cut repetition of the same idea] 

    A similar issue arises even if we assume that the TF passage was partially authentic.  One of the two “Middle Positions” taken by modern scholars who study Josephus is that the original TF passage was neutral and Christian copyists simply inserted a few phrases.
    Hinman:  He's talking about the historical core passage

     The leading Jesus scholar John Meier argues for a neutral re-construction of the TF passage, in which the sentence “He was the Christ.” is removed (along with some other phrases and sentences) on the assumption that this sentence was added by a Christian copyist.
    Hinman: No big deal the Tabor versiomn took it out too but still includes reference to Jesus.

    But if this neutral reconstruction of the TF passage is correct, then the part of the “brother passage” that refers to Jesus as “the so-called Christ” is suspect, because the previous mention of Jesus in the TF did not use the term “Christ” to describe or identify the “Jesus” in that passage.  Since “Jesus” was a common Jewish name in that time, the absence of the term “Christ” in the TF passage would make it unclear that the “Jesus” in the “brother passage” was the same person as the “Jesus” in the TF passage.  Thus, it seems unlikely that Josephus would write about “Jesus the so-called Christ” and expect his non-Christian Gentile readers to know that he was referring back to the same “Jesus” that he had mentioned in the TF passage.

    Hinman: That is answered by the second Whealy quote already given above

    Alice Whealy, Berkely Cal.

    In the second major twentieth century controversy over the authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum, the erudite Near Eastern studies scholar, Shlomo Pines, tried to argue that the paraphrase of the Testimonium that appears in a Christian Arabic chronicle dating from the tenth century might be more authentic than the textus receptus Testimonium. 21 Reaction to Pines' thesis was mixed, but the most important piece of evidence that Pines' scholarship on Christian Semitic sources brought to light was not the Arabic paraphrase of the Testimonium that he proposed was more authentic than the textus receptus, but the literal Syriac translation of the Testimonium that is quoted in a twelfth century chronicle compiled by the Syrian Patriarch of Antioch (1166-1199). 22 It is this version of the Testimonium, not the Arabic paraphrase of it, that has the greatest likelihood of being, at least in some ways, more authentic than the textus receptus Testimonium because, as noted earlier, this version of the text agrees with Jerome's Latin version of the text in the same crucial regard. The medieval Syriac Testimonium that Pines uncovered is very strong evidence for what many scholars had argued since birth of the controversy over the text in the Renaissance, namely that Jerome did not alter the Testimonium Flavianum to read "he was believed to be the Christ" but rather that he in fact knew the original version of the Testimonium, which he probably found in Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiastica , which read "he was believed to be the Christ" rather than "he was the Christ."

    There is a good chance that the neutral view of the TF passage is correct.  But if that view is correct, then the TF passage did not refer to Jesus as “the Christ” nor as “the so-called Christ”.   But in that case, it seems likely that the phrase “Jesus the so-called Christ” in the “brother passage” was not written by Josephus, but was added later by a Christian copyist AFTER the TF passage was altered to refer to Jesus as “the Christ” (or after it was altered to refer to Jesus as “the so-called Christ”).
    Hinman: He has not evidence to establish that he is asserting it, but what I just quoted disproves it.

    Given that the vast majority of modern scholars who study Josephus have concluded either that the TF passage is partially inauthentic or that it is completely inauthentic,  that  either some parts of the TF passage were created by a Christian copyist or that the entire  passage was created by a Christian copyist, there is a good chance that the name “Jesus” was inserted into the TF passage by a Christian copyist.  
    Hinman He's fudeging the data, they have really concluded that the Jerome passage is the original and it says "so called." Look at it logically why would anyone  insert commendations
    into a text to gain support for their candidates for Messiah and the say "so called." Accept Jesus as your co called savior. no one says that. 

    [delete more useless repetition]

    QUESTION 4:  Is the Information in the “brother passage” INDEPENDENT of the NT writings?
    A.  Authenticity is NOT Enough

    One important question is about the source of the information that Jospehus presents in the “brother passage”.  If this information came either directly or indirectly from the Gospels or from other New Testament writings (e.g. the letters of Paul), then the “brother passage” does not provide evidence for the existence of Jesus that is INDEPENDENT from the New Testament.  If the “brother passage” does not provide evidence that is independent from the NT, then it does not count as external evidence for the existence of Jesus, but is merely an echo of the evidence from the NT.
    Hinman: First of all the old atheists that the Bible is just av pile of crap and can't be accepted as evidence on any level is just as washrooms Trump supporters. It's an artifact it tells us what they believed, Since there is no other candidate for famous Jesus (they had to mention him for a reason--common name but we know of no other Jesus who did anything note worthy) that info being supplied by Christians makes very little difference.

    He has no basis for establishing thiat he's only basing it upon the date of composition.

    B. Antiquities was Written AFTER the Gospels and the Letter of Paul to the Galatians
    Josephus wrote The Antiquities in either 93 or 94 CE.  Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians about  50 to 55 CE.  The gospel of Mark was probably written about 70 CE, and the gospel of Matthew was probably written about 85 CE.  Thus Josephus wrote the “brother passage” about 40 years after Paul wrote to the Galations, about 25 years after the gospel of Mark was written, and about a decade after the gospel of Matthew was written.  Each of these NT documents states or implies that Jesus of Nazareth had a brother named James, and that some Jews believed that Jesus was the Messiah or “the Christ”:
    55 CE:but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother. (Galatians 1:19, New Revised Standard Version)

    70 CE:Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.  (Mark 6:3, New Revised Standard Version)85 CE:Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?  (Matthew 13:55, New Revised Standard Version)Josephus could have learned the idea that there was a man named Jesus who was the brother of a man named James, and who was believed by some Jews to be the Messiah or “the Christ” from reading the letter of Paul to the Galatians, or the gospel of Mark, or the gospel of Matthew. 
    Hinman: Date of comp is the only thing he has  that passes for evidence, that proves nothing it only makes it possible not likely.

    [delete useless repetition] He lists a bunch of different ways that Jo could have learned it from Christian but that;s just more of the same non proof.

    C.  The Information in the “brother passage” could have Come from More than One Source
    Just as it is important to recognize that the TF passage could be partially authentic and partially inauthentic, so it is also important to recognize that the “brother passage” could be partially independent of the NT and partially dependent on the NT.  The death of James the brother of Jesus is not described in the NT, so clearly the basic story in the “brother passage” did not come from the NT.  However, it is possible that the idea that James was “the brother of Jesus” and that Jesus was “called the Christ” could have come from the NT, could be dependent on someone having read one or more writings from the NT.
    Hinman: He's just trying to evoke the "Bible is garbage and cam't be evidence 'prejudice of atheist circles. Let's say it's true where else is he going to hear about it? Apart from circles related to Christianity?: Who else would talk about it? There might be a mention in the Talmud.Why wouldn't he turn to Christian circles to learn about Jesus? Why would that then make it become untrue? 

    There is a apocryphal James literature such as the Apocrypha of James. Paul's mention of James establishes him as a famous person  on the embryonic church scene, of course if he wasv head of Jerusalem. This text secret book of James [apocryphon] is established by Ron Cameron [Sayings Traditions in the Apocryphon of James(HTS 34; Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press 1984] as independent of the New
    testament. It's saying gospel so maybe very early,.[Peter Kirby Early Christian Writings URL: ] [see aslko Helmutt Koester Ancient Christian Gospels 1992,  187-200]

    That establishes an independent tradition about ajames as leader and fist witness to resurrection that could be source Jo used.

    Josephus could have had a story about a man “whose name was James” from a non-Christian source who obtained this information independent of the NT.  But if Josephus wanted more information about this person named “James”, he could have obtained this additional information from a Christian source (who had read or heard Mark, Matthew, or Galatians), or from a non-Christian acquaintance who obtained information from reading Mark, Matthew, or Galatians or from conversations with a Christian (who had read or heard Mark, Matthew, or Galatians).  In this case, even if the entire phrase “the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ” was written by Josephus, this part of the “brother passage” would NOT provide independent evidence of the existence of Jesus, even though the passage as a whole does provide some historical information that is independent of the NT.

    Hinman: he is just writing fiction again. He has not one shred of evidence all he has is a mere possibility and even if it were true it wound still not mean it;s bad evidence, Crosson accepts the historicity of Jesus based upon the NT.

    D.  There is a Significant Chance that the “brother passage” is Partially DEPENDENT on the New Testament 
    Because there is a significant chance that both references to “Jesus” in Antiquities are either directly or indirectly dependent on the writings of the NT, the NT scholar Bart Ehrman concludes that these references to Jesus fail to provide significant evidence for the existence of Jesus:

    Hinman: There is no evidence. The only thing like evidence he has is that the dates of composition make it possible. They don't make it likely,

    My main point is that whether the Testimonium is authentically from Josephus (in its pared-down form) or not probably does not ultimately matter  for the question I am pursuing here.  Whether or not Jesus lived has to be decided on other kinds of evidence from this.  And here is why.  Suppose Josephus really did write the Testimonium.  That would show that by 93 CE–some sixty or more years after the traditional date of Jesus’s death–a Jewish historian of Palestine had some information about him.  And where would Josephus have derived this information?  He would have heard stories about Jesus that were in circulation.  There is nothing to suggest that Josephus had actually read the Gospels (he almost certainly had not) or that he did any kind of primary research into the life of Jesus by examining Roman records of some kind (there weren’t any).  But as we will see later, we already know for lots of other reasons and on lots of other grounds that there were stories about Jesus floating around in Palestine by the end of the first century and much earlier.  So even if the Testimonium, in the pared-down form, was written by Josephus, it does not give us much more evidence than we already have on the question of whether there really was a man Jesus.  (Did Jesus Exist, p.65)

    Hinman: Now he is just gainsaying the evidence, That could be true anytime for any historical writing. If we are going to strut Jo as a historian then we have to trust him on this tool Historians do trust him, he is known as the primary source for first cincture history, that is especially true for matters  involving Palestine,

    Ehrman believes that the references to “Jesus” by Josephus fail to provide significant evidence for the existence of Jesus even though it is Ehrman’s purpose in the book quoted above to refute Jesus Mythicists and to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was a real, flesh-and-blood historical person.  Ehrman does not reject these passages from Josephus in order to support the belief that Jesus is a myth; he rejects them because there is a good chance that the information about Jesus in those passages is DEPENDENT on one or more of the writings of the NT.
    Hinman: Bradley needs to quote that quote. I doubt that he has that right because Jo is one of the Major reasons that historians overwhelming accept the historicity of Jesus,

    Robert Van Voorst is an NT scholar who has also carefully studied the external evidence for Jesus, including the two passages by Josephus that refer to Jesus.  Van Voorst is much more positive about this evidence that Ehrman is,

    Hinman: see, historians love this guy

     but Van Voorst is honest enough to admit that his positive evaluation of the external evidence from Josephus rests on a somewhat shaky assumption, the assumption that the information Josephus had about Jesus was obtained INDEPENDENTLY of the writings of the NT:
    These items rule out Josephus’s obtaining this wording [in the TF passage], and probably the information behind it, from the New Testament or other early Christian writings known to us.  (JONT, p.102-103, emphasis added)The evidence only “probably” rules out the hypothesis that Josephus obtained the information about Jesus in these passages from the New Testament or other early Christian writings.  Van Voorst does not assert that the evidence “certainly” rules this out, nor that it “almost certainly” rules this out, nor that it “very probably” rules this out.   Thus, Van Voorst tacitly admits that there is a significant chancethat Josephus obtained his information about Jesus from the New Testament.
    Hinman: Most of Bradley's arguments have been based entirely upon not just probability but pure speculation

    Further comments by Van Voorst reinforce his admission of the shakiness of the assumption that the TF passage and the “brother passage” contain independent historical information about Jesus:Did this information [about Jesus] come indirectly from Christians or others to Josephus? We can be less sure about this [i.e. we can be less sure about ruling this out than ruling out that Josephus obtained the information about Jesus by reading some of the NT writings himself]althought the totality of the evidence points away from it.  (JONT, p.103, emphasis added)
    Hinman: Reading NT does not make it bad eviodence but it is by no means the case that he had to do this. 

    A more plausible hypothesis is that Josephus gained his knowledge of Christianity when he lived in Palestine.  He supplemented it in Rome, as the words “to this day” may imply, where there was a significant Christian presence.  Whether Josephus aquired his data by direct encounter with Christians, indirect information from others about their movement, or some combination of both, we cannot tell.  John Meier is correct to conclude that none of these potential sources is verifiable, yet the evidence points to the last option as the more commendable.  (JONT, p.102, emphasis added).
    Hinman: It is just as plausible that he had evidence, maybe supplementary from Rabbinical sources. The odds are he would have concluded them, there is also the Gnostic source already mentioned which is interdependent of NT.

    QUESTION 5:  Is the Information in the “brother passage” probably true?If I understand Hinman’s argument correctly, he is trying to provide evidence for an intermediate conclusion about a man named “James”:(2A) It is probable that there existed a man named “James” who was in fact the brother of Jesus of Nazareth.The fact that Josephus asserted that there was such a man, does not prove that there was such a man.  One can also challenge the assumption that the fact that Josephus asserted that there was such a man is sufficient evidence to show that it is PROBABLE that such a man exists.  Thus, the considerations of authenticity and independence are not sufficient by themselves to show that the “brother passage” provides significant evidence for the existence of Jesus.

    Hinman:He has no evidence to establish even the possibility of a myth, there is no reason whatsoever to assure this. Jesus myther argument from silence not withstanding,

    This really just amounts to gainsaying the evidence, (refusing to accept it).

    then he has one of his famous diagrams, here's the thing with the diagrams they look cool, I appreciate the attempt to clarify through cool looking diagrams I can never read them. when I blow it up they too blurry if I don't the writing is too small. This one is no acceptation.

    As to the finalpoint he makes om probability, the strength of the passage on Jess is as good as any passage by Jo.We have to accept the same truest level to that that would not anythings writings otherwise you are just biased.dogmatically rejecting the evidence because you don't like the conclusions.

    There is no counter evidence all  he has in they way of evidence is purely speculative.Since most historians accept the historical core passage with Jesus and base historicity on that we conclude that it backs it. Let's say there is a core passage about Jesus in the BP that is Tweaked to say "so called Christ" why else would they name a guy called Jesus brother of James? Only if Jesus was known for something but there is no other Jesus who is known for that era, lots of guys named Jesus but no one else known for anything,

    We don't have to take this passage by itself. Together with the Talmud and the two Apostolic fathers, it's good evidence.

    My position is the only one backed by actual textual evidence, The agreement between TF and BP in Jerome;s versiomn and it's Syriac agreement indicates that's the original passage Josephus wrote.Bradley has no such evidence.

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