CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

For the two of you who may be awaiting the third part of my series responding to the question of why God would create an atheist knowing that he would be sent to hell, I apologize. I had a series of other projects that have come up that have taken priority. I will be posting the third part (hopefully shortly), but in the meantime, a friend reminded me of an article that I thought would be of interest to those of the Apologetics bent, like me.

He initially directed my attention to the video called the Star of Bethlehem that makes the case as to what the Star of Bethlehem may have been. He stated that he had doubts about the video because it required that Jesus be born after 4 B.C., and he noted (correctly) that the present historical consensus is that Herod the Great died in 4 B.C.

This reminded me that I had seen an article a while ago that made a very strong case that Herod had to have died later than 4 B.C. In fact, the article makes the case that Herod had to die in 1 B.C. which would clear up many of the problems surrounding dating his death earlier.

The article entitled When Did Herod the Great Reign? by Andrew E. Steinmann (which can be linked from here) shows the following as its abstract:

For about 100 years there has been a consensus among scholars that Herod the Great reigned from 37 to 4 BCE. However, there have been several challenges to this consensus over the past four decades, the most notable being the objection raised by W.E. Filmer. This paper argues that Herod most likely reigned from late 39 BCE to early 1 BCE, and that this reconstruction of his reign can account for all of the surviving historical references to the events of Herod's reign more logically than the current consensus can. Moreover, the reconstruction of Herod's reign proposed in this paper accounts for all of the datable evidence relating to Herod's reign, whereas the current consensus is unable to explain some of the evidence that it dismisses as ancient errors or that it simply ignores.

I think one of the most fascinating parts of the paper relates to the dating of Herod’s death based upon the writings of Josephus who relates that Herod died after a lunar eclipse but before the Passover. As the author notes:

Unlike the dates for the beginning of Herod’s reign, Josephus simply relates that Herod died after a lunar eclipse, but before the Passover. Between 7 BCE and 1 BCE there were three total and one partial lunar eclipses:

Table 1. Lunar Eclipses Between 7 BCE and 1 BCE 
[The table lists the following four potential lunar eclipses:
March 23, 5 BCE – Total 29 days between the date of the Eclipse and Passover 
September 15, 5 BCE, Total 7 months between the date of the Eclipse and Passover 
March 13, 4 BCE, Partial 29 days between the date of the Eclipse and Passover 
January 10, 1 BCE, Total 92 days between the date of the Eclipse and Passover] 

Since the eclipse in March of 5 BCE would require Herod’s death to have taken place in April of 5 BCE, too early even for the Schürer consensus, that eclipse is not a possible candidate. While the eclipse of September of the same year is possible and has its defenders, it is highly unlikely. It would mean that Herod died in late 5 BCE. Since Josephus reports that Herod was nearly seventy years old shortly before his death, and that he was twenty-five years old when his father Antipater named him governor of Galilee in 47 BCE, it follows that Herod was born about 72 BCE.  He would have been only 66 or 67 in 5 BCE. Moreover, Josephus gives a detailed discussion of the events between the eclipse and the Passover during the year of Herod’s death (see discussion below), and seven months appears to be an excessive amount of time for these to have taken place, even if one discounts some of Josephus’ discussion of these events as tainted by Josephus’ rhetorical  and ideological tendencies.

The paper continues by examining each of the possible dates, and concludes that the only possible eclipse that could account for the facts given by Josephus. Steinmann states: “All of the events related by Josephus comfortably fit into the ninety-two days between the eclipse and the following Passover. Moreover, Herod would have been about 70 years old in early 1 BCE.”

Steinmann also examines the New Testament and the information available about the reigns of Herod’s heirs to develop additional evidence for the 1 BCE date for Herod’s death. He concludes the paper with the following:

The consensus about the reign of Herod that is built around Schürer’s interpretation of Josephus is fraught with difficulties. It fails to fit any of the verifiable chronological data external to Josephus and must resort to unlikely readings of Josephus’ chronological data and dismissal of other data as mistaken. A reexamination of the data demonstrates that Herod actually reigned from 39 BCE to his death in early 1 BCE.

A very worthwhile read. 

In part 1, I noted that a Rumplestiltskin phoned a radio station asking the following question:
Hey, Jim, I can prove that God doesn’t exist. God’s omniscient, right? Well I’m an atheist and that means that God knew when he created me that I would be going to hell, right?
Having laid the groundwork, it is first important to understand that Rumplestiltskin’s question has a lot of hidden premises. These premises, if spelled out, might read as follows:

Premise 1: Christianity teaches that God is a loving and good God.
Premise 2: Christianity teaches that God is omniscient.
Premise 3: Christianity teaches that people who are not Christians go to hell.
Premise 4: If God is omniscient, he knows which people will become Christians at least as early as the time that they are created.
Conclusion 1: God knew at the time that I was created that I would not be a Christian and would be going to hell.
Premise 5: A loving and good God would not create people knowing that they would go to hell.
Conclusion 2: God does not exist.

When spelled out, this is a reasonable argument even though I believe it is ultimately unsound. As you may be aware, an unsound argument is one where the logical form of the argument is valid, but the argument fails because one or more of the premises are untrue. As I pointed out in Part 1, different views within Christianity would answer this argument in different ways.

Here, one could first argue that the third premise is untrue. After all, one objection to Christianity both within and outside the church is to the concept of hell. For example, our own Jason Pratt is a Christian universalist who doesn’t believe anyone will go to hell. While I respectfully disagree, I recognize that many people who trust in Christ for their salvation hold that a loving and good God would not send someone to hell preferring the view that allows for universal salvation.  After all, the concept of hell as understood by many both inside and outside of Christianity as a place of wrath where God pours out his anger and condemnation on people for their sins. How can a loving and good God allow for that? And more importantly, if he knows everything that will happen, shouldn’t he know that any particular person will reject him and thus isn’t that tantamount to sending that person to hell? If all people are ultimately saved (or if people not going to heaven are annihilated), then Rumplestiltskin’s problem of sending people to hell simply vanishes.

(Incidentally, I noted that at one time in his Universalist forum Jason commented that the members of the CADRE tolerate him. I disagree. Jason is a brilliant man who I personally appreciate and am glad to have as a member of the CADRE. While I don’t speak for the CADRE as a whole – no one does – I view Jason’s universalism in the same way that I view the difference between people who believe that during communion the bread and the wine truly and physically become the body of Christ – not correct but not heretical.)

However, I am neither a believer in Christian Universalism nor am I a person who believes in the annihilation of the soul. Thus, I do not rely upon either of these options as ways to resolve this issue.

Now suppose that the individual is correct in all of the premises. The problem is that the conclusion may still not follow from the premises. Rather, at best the skeptic has shown that God may not be omniscient in the sense that that term is generally understood. Consider this: suppose God’s omniscience covers only those things that have happened and are presently happening. This would mean that God’s omniscience does not extend to those things that have yet to happen. To state it yet another way, God's knowledge may not extend to everything that has yet to happen. He may know everything that has happened, and God may know everything that is happening. But God may not know everything that will happen. Some in the church believe this to be the case. These people point specifically to where Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac at the direction of God, but when God stops him suddenly right before Abraham completes the sacrifice God says “Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” Genesis 22: 12. To those who hold this view, the verse demonstrates that God does not know in advance what will happen as the result of the free actions of human beings. Thus, Rumplestiltskin’s logical challenge does not disprove God if His omniscience is really of the kind where he does not know the future.  

As with the Christian Universalist and annihilationist views, I do not agree with this view. I reject it because in my view it fails to give appropriate weight to all of the verses in the Bible that speak of God’s foreknowledge and predestination such as Romans 8:29-30 and Romans 11:2. It will take longer than I would like to spend here to explain how I (and the vast majority of the church) resolve the conflict and what God means by “now I know” in Genesis 22.  But for purposes of this post, I want to express my acceptance of the widespread understanding within the church that God fully knows the future.

Another more broadly accepted alternative is found in the Calvinistic view that God is infinitely just and fair but in his justness and fairness God is the one who decides who will be saved and who will not. For example, Romans 9:15-18 reads:

For [God] says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.  For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

Under this view, God has created the universe not for us, but for Him. He chooses who will be saved and who will not. Consider the following from John MacArthur:
First of all, He's God and He has a right to do whatever He wishes to do. The question of why God does anything is the ultimate question that is generally not answered except to say this. Since right is whatever God does because God is the definer of what is right, shall not the judge of all the earth do right? I mean, we can't call that into question. So God only does what is right and what God does is what right is. And so, God does what He does because it's right to do it. If you're going to ask well why would God want to send anyone to hell? Why would God not choose everyone? The answer would be because it glorifies Him, cause that has to be the answer to everything, it glorifies Him. That's why Romans 9 says,"What if God desires vessels of wrath? What you have a right to question God? Shall the clay tell the potter how the potter is to behave and what he is to do? Whom he is to shape?" If God is glorified in His wrath, as well as in His grace, then He has a right to that. So the ultimate answer to that question is, God does what He does because it's right and He does what He does because it brings Him glory.
So, the answer from the Calvinist viewpoint (a viewpoint that I don’t fully share, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the correct interpretation of scripture) is that God chooses who to save and who not to save and it is not based on anything that we say or do. Our skeptical friend can complain that a loving God would not send him to hell, but the Calvinist view of the Bible would say (in line with Paul in Romans 9:20-21) that it is not appropriate for the pot to question why the potter would make it in a certain way. He can complain as he wants that God creating him knowing he would be an atheist is not fair, but he is not in a position to understand the ways of God. We may not be able to explain it, but God chooses who he will and is not required to answer to the atheist “why” he did it. In this view, the objection of our skeptical friend fails because he imagines that he knows more than God.

Thus far, I have noted that the skeptic’s argument may fail because Premise 2 (God’s omniscience includes future events), Premise 3 (Christianity teaches that people who are not Christians go to hell) and Premise 5 (God would not create people knowing that they would go to hell) are not necessarily true. But since I am neither a five-point Calvinist nor a person who believes that God’s omniscience is limited, how do I answer Rumplestiltskin’s challenge?  That will come in Part 3.

Two Major issues I'm going to address here: (1) Was Jesus wrong (in the Olivet discourse) in that he predicted the end of the age and his return with an army of angels in the sky within the life time of some listening to him in that day?  (2) Is it the case that all modern scholars agree with this?  As an extension of the no 2 I will also take up the issue about method, is it valid ethological procedure to speculate about the nature of the text's development without textual evidence to back it up?
.......A friend ask me about this passage:"If I demonstrate to your satisfaction that the historical Jesus believed in the end of the world within the lifetimes of his followers, what will that do to your faith?"
It wouldn't do anything to it because I have accepted that he could be wrong about he said he didn't know!  I think this is clearly the issue for most atheists becuase they are looking for a slam dunck victory over all of Christianity. What better way to get that than to show that the guy who forms the center of Christianity was not only wrong about soemthing but was a false prophet! Some of the atheists on CARM brought up the subject as an outgrowth of threads with titles like "prophesy blunders." One can easily find atheist mockery on this point.
......If Jesus was wrong about the his return being soon and in the lives of his hearers it does make him a false prophet. First because he did not say "thus says the Lord, this is what the Lord says..." it's not a prophesy just because a known prophet gives an opinion. It is only a prophesy if he says "this is actually the word god is giving me now.." Otherwise you would have a bunch of OT prophets getting stoned for stupid reasons. "He said it would be sunny today!" "he said roast lamb is good with mustard."
......Secondly he said he didn't know. In Mark 13 he says "no one knows the day or the hour" he includes "not even the son." In Acts Chapter 1:

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority
  He says he doesn't know and that it's not for us to know, how can he be held accountable for being wrong? Paul says in Philippians 2:6 that he divested himself of the glory of God and took the form of a servant. This may well have included voluntary limited omniscience. So he chose to be limited in his omniscience while in the flash life. Why? To be truly human to be one with us, as an example to us that he didn't have any special knowledge that enabled him to stay faithful that we ourselves can't have.
.......My position on the so-called "Olivet discourse" is basically that Jesus talked about the fall of the temple, he may or may not have talked about his return. If he did talk about his return he probably didn't say it would be in the life time of those there. If he did say it would be in their lifetimes it's not a disaster for Christianity becasue he also said he didn't know when he was coming back. I'm going to assume that assume he did not talk about the return or that if he did he wasn't including it in the immediate future becuase since he knew he didn't know he probalby would have not have been brash enough to assume.
......I had proposed what I call "the cross thread idea" that he said "this is that generation" (Matt 24) about the fall of temple not about returning in the sky with an army of angles. My assertion was that the redactors put that in. I am still convinced that's true, but if he did say that it was probably with a transition to a future time that the redactors left out because they could not conceive of the world goign on with no temple. The cross thread issue is important, that's just a hypothetical guess as to how the predictors worked. If it' snot the case that doesn't really matter. The real substance of my view is that he probably did not make a rash prediction.
......Now we have the  other issue about textual criticism and theological method. I will deal more with that a after examples of scholars supporting various aspects of my view, but I want to point out that some of these quotes back up my view on this second point, so I need to clarify it here. I have been told by the resident "professional scholar" Ben Hakkor on CARM that it's not permissible to speculate about textual criticism based upon the biblical text without specific manuscript examples from variant readings. Yet all the scholars I discuss below do exactly that. They all speculate without specific textual examples form variant readings, they are basing what they say just on the major canonical text. I mention of them for just that reason. None of them actually support the "cross thread' idea but none of them believe Jesus made a prophetic blunder. Hakkor said that no modern scholar agrees that he didn't, but here are several who agree that he did not. Even though they don't use my exact idea they basically shore up the substance of my position.
.......An article by Adams that shows two radically opposing view both of which are different form the "Jesus was a false prophet" or "Jesus was wrong" senerio. Adams argues Against the views of both N.T Wright and R.T. France that the Olivet Discourse is not about the end times at all.

Tyndale Bulletin 56.1 (2005) 39-61.
Edward Adams

This article defends the view that Mark’s sayings on the coming of the
Son of Man (Mark 8:38; 13:24-27; 14:62) refer to Jesus’ parousia,
against claims made by R. T. France and N. T. Wright. According to
France and Wright, these sayings call attention to the vision of Daniel
7:9-14, in which ‘one like a son of man’ comes into the presence of
God for the purpose of enthronement, and point to Jesus’ post-mortem
vindication, not his second coming. It is argued here that the Markan
passages in question link Daniel 7:13 with other Old Testament texts
and motifs, in particular, texts (such as Zechariah 14:3) and images
about God’s future coming to earth; the selective combination of
Scriptures and scriptural images and their application to Jesus
generates the essential concept of his parousia – his coming as exalted
Lord from heaven to earth at the end of history.
Adams may be right, or he may be wrong, in any case this is a different view, one worthy of consideration.
France, Jesus: 145. France accepts that there is a fully eschatological application of
the language in Matt. 25:31, but he insists that this saying does not envisage a descent
to earth; rather it presents a heavenly judgement scene (144). France is not the first to
argue that the reference in Mark 13:24-27 is to the ruin of Jerusalem. The view has a
long history, though it has never been more than a minority opinion: see G. R.
Beasley- Murray, Jesus and the Future (London, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1954):
167-71; M. Casey, Son of Man: the Interpretation and Influence of Daniel 7 (London:
SPCK, 1979): 172; France, Jesus: 229-31.
This is a summary of Richard Buauckham's idea. This is imorant because he is seen speculating about the text without a specific to prove his speculations, which on CARM Ben Hakkore says scholar don't do it so I must not do that. Here's a scholar doing it.

Richard Bauckham points out that ‘much early Christian thinking
about the Parousia did not derive from applying Old Testament
messianic texts to Jesus but from the direct use of Old Testament texts
about the coming of God’.17 To a significant extent, the New Testament
expectation of Jesus’ parousia is a christological specification of the
Old Testament and Jewish hope of God’s end-time coming.18 It is my
contention that Mark’s sayings on the coming of the Son of Man reflect
this wider pattern of transferring the hope of God’s advent to the
exalted Christ, and so express the essential concept of Jesus’ parousia

Lo, and behold, Buckham' s view asserts that the redactors change the focus from God to Jesus and put the emphasis of Jesus' parousia. Which is a less strident view than mine but somewhat working along the same lines becuase it puts the interpretation in the  hands of the redactors and says "Jesus did not say this himself." Of cousre it's ridiculous to say that I can't assert that the redactors' changed the focus because everything we see in the bible is the resutl of the redaction process.

Then there is the view of Luke Timothy Johnson who is a major scholar (Emory University) can be compared with any the other guy's quoted. Johnson argues that: (1) Luke's account is more conscious of hsitory and thus more careful about the order of events and time frames, while Mark is not careful at all and Matthew follows Mark. Thus the implication is dearly made that it was the authors and redactors of the Gospel who stuck in "this generation will not pass away" as a reflection of their understanding. (2) he also argues that generation doesn't mean what we think it does. Johnson's commentary on Luke (Luke's version of the Olivet discousre is in Luke  21:5-36).

Luke, as Johnson tells us, makes a transition from the fate of the city and the believers in it to the whole world. This transition is marked by the term "sign'

Luke Timothy Johnson (Luke, Sacra Pagina) notes:
The transition to this third part of the discourse is unobtrusive, marked mainly by the repetition of the term "sign" from 21:7 in 21:25. It quickly becomes clear, however, that the things now being described no longer concern the history of the believers or the fate of the city, but the worldwide experience of humans at the judgment: Luke speaks of the "distress and confusion among the nations" (v. 25), the things that are coming on "the inhabited world" (oikoumene, v. 26), on everyone inhabiting the earth" (v. 35). And if these indications were not clear enough, his description of "signs" are no longer those of wars and revolutions (v. 10) or even of earthquakes, famines, plagues and portents in the sky (v. 11) or armies around the city (v. 20), but entirely of cosmic events in sun, moon and stars (v. 25), the tumult of the ocean (v. 25), shaking of the heavenly powers themselves (v. 26). [p. 330]
He's alluding to prophetic passages such as Isaiah 13:9-10 or:Ezekiel 32:7-8 the drama is in havenly bodies and all the people of the earth. There's a clear line bewteen the two questions of Matthew, we've moved form the city of Jerusalem and temple to the whole world and the heavens,  a universal stage. This idea is echoed in the Adams article too that there's a transition from the immediate to the universe or hte future because the circumstances mirror each other, not becasue they occur at the same time.

Johnson divides Luke's account into three periods the third being the future. So once again we see a major scholar doing what Hakkor says I can't do, that is speculation based upon the existing without an addition extra canonical text back it up. Johnson seems to understand the emphasis shifted to the future so Jesus is not talking  about returning soon and he seems to understand it to be the redactors who have brought it to this focus.

He makes an interesting point in his work on Luke (326) when he points out that Luke presents Jesus as a successful prophet. Even by the standards of conservative dating the events of the fall Jerusalem would have been the post when Luke was redacted and published. Why then would they present these aspects of the prophesy that clearly were not coming true? The successful part pertained to the fall of the temple and the return was viewed as latter.

Edward Adams, N.T. Wright, France, G. R.Beasley- Murray, M. Casey, Richard Bauckham, Luke Timothy Johnson some of the scholars who seem to do what I'm not allowed to do and who take issue with the idea that Jesus was wrong. Thinking about the second issue of working method:
.......The whole edifice of modern text crit is based upon Q and there is no textual support for Q. We don't even have one tiny fragment of a Q document. It's all conjecture based upon the quotes form the canonical Gospels. It's exactly what he says I can't do. We see this all over the scholarly world. They do not have manuscripts of Q, there are none, yet they treat Q like it was a proved fact. They do not have any manuscript evidence of M, L or any of the other synoptic devices but they treat them like proven facts. That is a total violation of the working method Hakkore argues for and the entire basis of modern textual criticism relies on it. they go much further and subdivide Q into stages of development and make attributions about how much Jesus said. The Jesus seminar said only  eleven verses were Jesus actual words, eleven verses! Yet this Hakkore guy is telling me that I can't speculate about the text without textual back up and that it's ridiculous to thin the redactors changed something! That's nuts, the whole modern textual criticism is about the readcotrs changing the story! It's all about the redactors.
......Look at the theory of Helmutt Koester in Ancient Christian Gospels where he talks about how all four canonical gospels and Gospel of Peter are derived form one source the pre Mark passion narrative. There is no fragment of the pre Mark passion narrative. Kirby says it's the consensus now that tit existed. There's no manuscript of it now could there be. The manuscripts wither away when they are combined into new works becasue people stop copying the old one (Koester). We can't even expect to find one. We must work from the existing canonical text.
......When Charles Hedrick tallied up the number of lost gospels he included hypothetical gospels of which we have no fragments and that is included in the number of 34 lost Gospels. With Koester they don't have copies of the pre mark passion narrative what they have is readings from it preserved in the ms of latter versions. He's basing that upon the way latter things read as preservation of older copies. It's on that basis that Crosson suggests the cross Gospel. He doesn't have a copy of it. It's based upon the readings he finds in the canonical gospels and other gospels, they are specific copes of hte corss the gospel. He's hypothetically working backwards to speculate about it.
.....That is exactly the very same thing I was doing with the cross thread idea. I was speculating about prior nature of the text based upon readings in the current text. Hakkore tells me I can't do that that isn't done every example of a textual critic or a Bible scholar working I find is doing that.

the rest of the atheists are total hypocrites becuase they have time and time again spurned boat loads of scholars that I quote to back up my view. I had 45 schoalrs supporting my 8 levels of verification arguemnt and they would not look at the marital because one document was an outline. they tried to assert that an outline was not proof so that was grounds to ignore the documents that had the proof. the docs that combined the outline points with the quotes that proved the points they refused to examine becuase I had an outline. That makes no sense at all.
/......Time and time again they have ridiculed, mocked, derided, rejected, refused, spurned, criticized and just plain ostracized scholars that I've quoted merely becasue they back up a view they can't handle. When you quote the guys supporting their side it's so clear, so obvious. I'm violating some kind of canon not to just accept their word as a law. they have five whole schoalrs agreeing that Jesus was false prophet and an idiot he was wrong. Because I don't accept that that means that I'm fundie and I'm not being honest.
.......If it was my five guys they would revile them as always. Moreover, of the scholars they quoted not all really qualify as Christians. Hakkore sure doesn't he said he doesn't. Now he says he is one because it helps his case, when he first came back he said he was no longer a Christian. Two of them are notorious anti-Christian scholar such as Bart Erheman. He's a fine scholar and is willing speat out against ate hits and Jesus mythers when he feels it's necessary, and I admire him. He does have his biases. taking sides against Daddy is one of them. HIs father was a big shot fundie at Moody bible college so he's working his whole carrer to disprove Daddy's work.

The so called olivet discourse (from mount of olives) is held up by atheists as an example of a Jesus prophesy that did not come true. In it Jesus seems to say that the current living generation wont pass away until the son of man returns with angels in the sky to end the world. He also says this will occur at the same time as the destruction of he temple. A thread where the CARM atheists argue Jesus was wrong (a false prophest in fact becasuse his prophesy of the end times didn't come true). They quotes form five schoalrs to alleged "prove" this and none of them offer any real proof. All they offer is opinion. Only a couple of them are Chrsitains.

Jesus of Nazareth had expected to see the Temple destroyed, the Kingdom come, and the new Temple established in 30, at or as the climax of his own mission, and Mark’s community preserved the memory of Jesus’ proclamation of this belief.
--Paula Fredriksen. From Jesus to Christ, Second Edition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000): pg. 84

Jesus, the millenarian prophet, like all millenarian prophets, was wrong: reality has taken no notice of his imagination.
--Dale Allison, Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998): p. 218.

In the decades after Jesus’ death, then, the Christians had to revise their first expectation again and again. This makes it very probable that the expectation originated with Jesus. We make sense of these pieces of evidence if we think that Jesus himself told his followers that the Son of Man would come while they still lived. The fact that this expectation was difficult for Christians in the first century helps prove that Jesus held it himself. We also note that Christianity survived this early discovery that Jesus had made a mistake very well.
--EP Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (London: Penguin, 1995): p. 179-180.

[Jesus] believed that while some of his immediate followers were still alive, the Son of Man would appear in the glory of God, with God’s angels (now given to his charge), and those unfaithful are shunned, or “repaid.” Jesus could not have been clearer if he had said, “I predict the final judgment will occur within the next forty or fifty years.” Two millennia of apologetic attempts to make the text say otherwise have not been successful.
--Thom Stark, The Human Faces of God (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2011): pg. 174.

Everyone who has predicted the end of their world has intuited one aspect of Jesus’ teaching that appears to be historically accurate - the more popular strands of Christianity and the outspoken protests of numerous theologians notwithstanding. For those anticipating the imminent end of their own world have been able to base their expectations on the words of the historical Jesus, a first-century apocalyptic prophet who expected the imminent end of his.
--Bart Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999): pg. 245.

The point is that such treatments have found it impossible to deny that Jesus had expressed expectation for the imminent happening of events which did not happen. Jesus’ kingdom preaching cannot be disentangled from imminent expectation, with or without ‘apocalyptic’ features. Which also means that Jesus had entertained hopes which were not fulfilled. There were ‘final’ elements in his expectation which were not realized. Putting it bluntly, Jesus was proved wrong by the course of events. The discomfort for scholars who were also believers was softened by the thought that it made more ‘real’ the humanness of Jesus and that such a conclusion demonstrated their own dispassionate method and scrupulous honesty: this was not the ‘historical Jesus’ they would have wished to find!
Nor is this a conclusion I would wish to resist on my own part. I do not think the conclusion can be easily escaped that Jesus expected the kingdom to come with final outcomes which have not appeared; some may want to say not yet appeared.
--James Dunn, Jesus Remembered: Christianity in the Making, Volume 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003): p. 479.
.......That's a good batch of schoalry fire power. I do respect the scholars quoted, especially Ehrman. I am not intimidated by their credentials and  I know that the atheists on CARM have not the knowledge to defend their statements. I find it interweaving they present the evidence they just quote them as authorities. In other instances they always argue against my authoriteis that it's a fallacy to quote an expert. It is not a fallacy to quote an expert (unless he's not expert i that field). I agree this does give weight to their side. It's not proof. It's not enough to convice me that Jesus was wrong. What do we say to this gang? I do have response for this assembling of schoalrs. Even so I'm not intimidated by them. I know I'm right and I can easily find five scholars who oppose their view. The reasons why they hold that view or oppose it that matter not just the fact that they have letters after their names that matters.

We can crystallize two major issues: 

(1) there is no passage where Jesus says "the temple is destoryed and Messiah returns at the same time." As long as that is the case it's an open question if he was talking about that era or a future date for the return. 

(2) The hypocritical way the atheists regard scholarship when it stands for their view and when it stands against it. Other scholars disagree with their scholars. Will they look for reasons or will they just insist "those are fundies so they don't count?"

.......As to the first point I would use own ideological propaganda device against them:

There is nothing extraordinary about five liberal theological guys refusing to believe the Gospels. Especially when most of them are not Chrsitians. The extraordinary evidence I demand is a text that says "these two events, listed in the passage in Matt" will happen at the same time. That's the only circumstance under which this would prove that Jesus was wrong. This passe "the Olivette discourses" is in all three synoptic gospels. So I start with Mark. I think Mark is the key because it's first written, but Math supplies the one crucial fact that there are two distinct questions.
.......Of course the temple was destroyed in AD 70 and on the eve of 2013 the other part has not happened yet so therefore it was wrong. Bible wrong, Christianity not true, blah blah blah.

here's the passage found in Mark 13:

13 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’[a] standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.

20 “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

24 “But in those days, following that distress,

“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[c]

[b]26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it[d] is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
The Day and Hour Unknown

32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert[e]! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

.......I've emboldened v 26-27 becuase they say the Messiah will return with an army of angles in the sky, and it marks the introduction of end times events and that's where it becomes clear we are talking about the end times. My answer up to this point was to compare this to the passage in Matthew where Mathew makes it clear there are two separate questions. (1) when will the temple be destroyed (2) when will the Messiah return. I have argued that the redactors got the answers to these questions cross threaded. the real answer to when will the temple be destroyed is "this generation will not pass away." The answer to the return is "you will see angels coming in the clouds."
.......It's obvious this grouping is logical for three reasons:

(1) this is the way the early chruch understood events. They were Jews, they saw themselves not as a separate faith called "Christianity" but as Jews. they could not conceive of Judaism with no temple. so they assumed the Messiah would return (that means they had to assume he would go away) and temple be destroyed as part of the same event, the end of the age. So they mix the answers of two separate questions because they don't see them as operate.

(2) the answers go together in such a way that Messiah is part of the army in the air, if you look at the passage it links Messiah with the angles. "26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens" so then if we assume those go together then by default the gee national remark is the answer to the other question.

(3) there is no reason why these can't happen at two different times. Taken that way they work. there is no contradiction no failure it just hasn't all been totally fulfilled yet because it's not time yet.

.......What I'm saying is totally reasonable because if you look at this passage the only question is about the stones, or the temple. He answers that in v 14 "14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’[a] standing where it[b] does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." That is a reference to the destruction of the temple by Antiocus in the interdepartmental period. So he's using that as a symbol for the Romans, after all they were both foreign conquerors. He is saying the temple will be destroyed by the foreign the end of the passage he says no one knows the day or the hour so he let's himself off the hook form predicting a real time for it all. There's no failed prophesy here there's only the failure of atheist to understand what's being asked and what's being said.
.......They go nuts on carm over this answer becuase they just can't believe that anyone would be able to tell what has been added to a text. that's just ignorance because that's the whole point of textual criticism. Ben Hakkore says that I can't speculate about what the redactors did (draw conclusions form the text) I have to have another extra biblical text proves them doing it. The atheist are claiming that I have to have a bunch of guys with letters after their names to say it's ok to believe this.
.......Of course I've quoted scholars for various things many time. I have 45 scholars backing up my arguments on the 8 levels of verification of the Gospels. They didn't show respect to a single one nor did they get their own coutner schoalrs. They just asserted they were all fundamentalists and ignored them as idiots. In fact none of them were fundies I always use liberals. The 200 empirical studies on religious experienced they have mocked and ridiculed without reading a single one. So the demand for counter scholars is totally hypocritical. The assertion that they willing respect these scholars who just happen to agree with them is laughably transparent.
......Of cousre the atheists are doing the mocking thing because they can't answer the issues:

backup: Your "material" is never clearly stated and cited. Until you are willing to so what is expected of any high school senior you need to stop whining.
 how many think the things I've said here are not ceal?

after listing several things I say Decypher says "what scholar would agree with you?"

My Friend Ben Hakkore is a professional scholar so opinion is hte only one on the board that I really value in topis dealing with texts of the Bible.

 I have no idea what it is you're trying to say here and ask me. It has been suggested to you elsewhere that you take more time with your posts and I would second that advice... use full sentences, proper grammar, clarify ambiguous pronouns, watch your spelling, etc. When you don't employ these basic courtesies in writing... you frustrate your dialogue partners and run the risk of being misunderstood or simply ignored.
 He could have used that time to make a real arguemnt but instead decides to joins the ridicule.

The following issues are what the whole debate boils down to:

(1) the real issue was the temple and that's the question Jesus was answering (maybe there were two questions, since Mark came firs let's assume not).

(2) the redactors added the end times stuff because that's the way they thought, that's their conception of how it had to be.

(3) the temple was just destroyed the same year that this version of the Gospel was produced and began circulating so we can look upon the redactor's additions about end times as commentary spurred by recent events.

(4) in this version Jesus doesn't say "this generation will not pass away (unless I missed it but I looked and I don't see it). so in that case the cross thread idea is unnecessary. we can just assume that mark being first originally dealt with the temple the redactor added the end times stuff and Matt added the bit about the generation.

Next time I will deal with counter scholars.

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