CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

It's amazing how stories get recycled from time to time. Eight years ago, I reviewed a claim made in a book by two biblical scholars, John Kaltner and Stephen L. McKenzie of Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, named The Uncensored Bible: The Bawdy and Naughty Bits of the Good Book. In my blogpost, I reviewed the claim that Eve was created out of the penis of Adam and not the rib as commonly thought. In my analysis, I concluded,

The Hebrew word tsela is the word translated in Genesis 2 as "rib". The word tsela is never used after Genesis 2 to describe any part of the human body at all. It is used, instead, in many places (with the majority being found in Exodus) to describe the "sides" of things. It is also translated in other places as corners, boards and chambers. A complete list of the uses of tsela can be found in the link to the word. What is notably absent is any usage in the Bible of the word as "an 'appendage' jutting out from a central structure". It isn't that it can't be seen as an "appendage" -- it is the "jutting out" part of the description that I find problematic.

My original response was entitled “Adam’s Rib – or Not?” 

Today, I opened up my Google mail, and much to my surprise I found a new article making the same claim as Kaltner and MeKenzie made in their book.  The article is entitled “Eve Was Created From Adam's Penis: Bible Scholar” by Rossella Lorenzi, and this time follows the argument of another scholar, ZIony Zevit, who published his theory in the Biblical Archaeology Review.  Lorenzi writes:

Ziony Zevit, distinguished professor of Biblical Literature and Northwest Semitic Languages at the American Jewish University in California, argues the Biblical story has been wrongly interpreted since a mistranslation confused rib with baculum, or penis bone.
 * * *
 “This Hebrew word occurs some 40 times in the Hebrew Bible, where it refers to the side of a building or of an altar or ark, a side-chamber, or a branch of a mountain. In each of these instances, it refers to something off-center, lateral to a main structure,” Zevit wrote.
 Tsela was first translated as rib in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible dating to the mid-third century B.C.
 It would have then lost its original meaning, which according to Zevit relates to “limbs lateral to the vertical axis of an erect human body: hands, feet, or, in the case of males, the penis.”
 “Of these appendages, the only one lacking a bone is the penis,” Zevit wrote.

Oh, brother. This is the same argument, and I don’t see it as being any more convincing today than I did eight years ago. But I guess that one way to ring out the New Year is to bring up an old argument and pretend like it's new. Nice job, Biblical Archaeology Review.

 photo bizarro_atheists.jpg


Kyle Roberts, Professor of Theology at  United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, writes about "Dr. Steven Davis, Christian apologetics professor who, after becoming an atheist, recently resigned his position at Manhattan Christian College. He had been at MCC for 15 years and prior to that was a pastor for 14 years." [1] There is an interview of  Davis in which he enumerates five guiding principles that helped him decide  for abandoning the faith. I will comment on these reasons and upon the observation Roberts makes about them.  First, Roberts expresses admiration for Davis in that he had the guts to own up to his true feelings about his life's career and commitment of faith that has grown cold. Roberts expresses the notion that this is more honest than living a lie. Of course it is and I have to kind of admire that too, although he threw away security, his income and someth9ing he worked away his youth to achieve in the first place. Why did he seem convinced about God in the first place. Think of 1st John, "they went out from among us because they were not really of us."

On the other hand it's heart breaking to see this happen. It's always easy to answer other people's doubts, not so easy to get them to accept the answers, It's also easy to think "all he had to do was read my book." Really all the answers, facts, and logic are of no avail when someone wants to leave the faith., Who are we to say their reasons are not equal to my answers? Years ago (sometime around 2001-04) when the CADRE [2] was still just a band of message board warriors, we lost an apologist, gave up the faith right in the middle of our heated battles. The irony was he had been touted by a member who brought him into the group. "my friend is a fine apologist, he'll give those atheists what for..." Our arguments were getting better, the atheists were getting stupider (to hear us tell it) and so on. This guy just gives up. Why? He had personal reasons we did not know about, and I suspect that's the case with most such cases. Atheist like to flatter themselves that they are paragons of reason, I would be willing to bet that true reasoning rarely decides the matter either way.

The first of Davis's principles:

(1) “The Truth has Nothing to Fear.”  "We should seek 'unadorned truth,' no matter the cost or no matter where it leads." Sure no one says "I just want to be wrong, hopefully falling prey to deceptions." Truth may have nothing to fear but deception not so much. What happened to the truth he accepted as the Gospel before? He is going to play a game with this concept of truth, as we will see, It seems his hidden assumption is that if he is seeking the truth he can't be deceived but there was a time when he thought Jesus was truth.

(2) 'Humans are Not Objective.'
Rather, we are interpreting beings who operate on the basis of received assumptions about the way the world really is. He doesn’t use this word, but my assumption is that by being “not objective,” he is simultaneously acknowledging that humans are thoroughly subjective creatures–people whose subjectivity shapes, influences, limits, and colors our perception of reality.  Thus, there is no reality as such (unmediated, pure, “objectively” accessible); rather, there is only reality as it appears to me. I’m saying more than Davis said there, perhaps, so he can correct me if I’ve imported something he doesn’t say or believe.  
Note that saying 'there is no truth' and 'we are subjective' are not the same things. There has to be a nature of the case if there is any semblance of reason or order in reality. If there is not then what the hell are all of these atheists doing talking about science? There could be truth but we can't find it. Then which general direction is closer to it might become the paramount issue. This means one could go in a better or worse direction; if we equate truth with 'better.' So the fact that we are subjective does not mean there is no truth or that it does not matter in which way we turn. I've preached  for years that there is no objective truth (meaning from human perspective) I also accept the correspondence theory of truth [3] so there is a "nature of the case," then it matters how close we can come to understanding that nature, or the correspondence to reality.

I think he will find that atheists do not appreciate the notion of subjective truth. It is my experience from 15+ years of message boarding that, even though there are different kinds of atheists a hallmark of the "new atheists" (aka Dawkamentalists, or "Dawkies,") is their fear of subjectivity. They need to believe that science gives them the objective truth. They tend to equate subjectivity with emotionalism which they see as the worst aspect of life, they seem to equate it with sheer stupidity. There is also the concept of inter-subjectivity. [4] By this notion we can correlate our subjective experiences with each other. Paul Tillich had a major aspect of his theological method that was based upon the correlation between scripture and doctrine, scientific data, an d personal experience. Tillich holds that understanding the human condition is a philosophical task the Philosopher must draw upon interpretive materials from all realms and aspects of culture, this includes science. This vast array of material is given focus by one central question "what does it mean to exist?" Science cannot deal with this issue. Science does not deal with questions of meaning, that is a philosophical issue. Such a question is totally beyond the domain of science. [5]

(3)  “Religious beliefs have been socially constructed.”
He refers there to The Social Construction of Reality by Berger and Luckmann, making the point that religions are disseminated, passed on, through the mechanisms of cultural inheritance and social influence. The problem is that many people are not quite aware of the way religious beliefs get passed on to them (or of how they come to believe this or that) and so they have naive assumptions about and unfounded certainty in those beliefs. And this is no doubt true.
.I have not read Berger and Luckman but this notion of social constructs is all over postmodernism. One of the major influences is Derrida, and it probably goes back to structuralism or post structuralism. [6] A lot of people seem to equate "construct" with "made up." Construct does not mean fictional. It means that a concept is understood in cultural terms. Everything is a construct even true things are constructed in that our concepts of them are filtered through cultural understanding. One example is the idea of separate restrooms for men and women. It is not a fact of nature than the sexes should segregate what the commercials call "the go." A compound construct (my term) is the idea of representing the restrooms by pictorial symbols such as a butterfly and a crab. Which is which? I bet every readers knows: men = crab, women = butterfly. How do we know? Our culture has so construed the difference and communicated it to us in so many subtle ways that we just know. That is a construct.

Why would that equate to falsehood? If our concept of God is constructed and taught to us though culture, does that make it untrue? How else would it be passed on? What he's missing is the fact that science itself is a pile of constructs. Science works by paradigm shifts paradigms are nothing but constructs

The claim that the consensus of a disciplinary matrix is primarily agreement on paradigms-as-exemplars is intended to explain the nature of normal science and the process of crisis, revolution, and renewal of normal science. It also explains the birth of a mature science. Kuhn describes an immature science, in what he sometimes calls its ‘pre-paradigm’ period, as lacking consensus. Competing schools of thought possess differing procedures, theories, even metaphysical presuppositions. Consequently there is little opportunity for collective progress[7]. 

One of the most crucial concepts in science is cause and effect. This Davis wants to call himself an "empiricist" and apparently he hasn't read Hume (the most important empiricist), because the concept of cause as Hume construed it is nothing but a construct. He says we don't see causes the whole point of empiricism is the construal of cause based upon tight correlation and how that feeds into probability in the construction of inductive methods in science.[8] If he is scraping belief in God because it's s construct and he's becoming an empiricist because he thinks that guarantees a factual approach free from constructs, I have some sad news for him. Empiricism is itself a construct. If he argues that he doesn't think empiricism guarantees objectivity but it's closer than belief in God, I still have news; I not only can remain a Christian and use empirical scientific data  to bolster my view, but I have done so in my book, The Trace of God: Rational Warrant for Belief (available on Amazon).[9] 

(4) “the necessity of critical thinking.” Roberts quotes Davis:,

"My doctoral program in adult education introduced me to the specifics of critical thinking. I came to realize that adopting and implementing a critical thinking strategy would provide me with the best methodology for applying guiding principles 1 and 2."  He needed a doctoral program to tell him to use critical thinking? Roberts adds:
By applying the skills of critical thinking, one can “accurately assess his social construct” and “discover, challenge, and expose inaccurate assumptions.” This makes sense. As a theology professor myself, I extoll the merits of critical reflection and “deconstruction” of inherited assumptions. This is all part of the educational, formational, and theological process. 
Had he done that he wouldn't have ditched one construct for another under the guise of being more objective.

(5) “apologetics requires engaging counter-arguments.”

"The apologist can’t keep her head in the sand, but must bravely face all “comers”–otherwise the apologist is basically admitting defeat." Shall I repeat myself Calling yourself an empiricist without reading Hume might qualify as keeping your head in the sand, or someplace...

As Roberts reports he doesn't really pin down a reason why he changed his assumption that Christianity was true. He could defend it in spite of its constructed nature as long as he assumed it was true. For some reason he changed that assumption. He seems to be setting himself up for the same probablematic in assuming that there is nothing beyond the material. Roberts observes a contradiction between the assumption of human subjectivity vs, scientific empiricism.
Should we really trust our critical thinking to give us something like “objective” truth, particularly when it comes to the question of whether there is a God/god/gods or not? 
Davis now calls himself a “Rational-Empiricist.” He defines this as, “the epistemological position and methodological approach of modern science.” and believes it to be “the best way humanity has for discovering, understanding, and anticipating facts about our world is when reason and experience (empirical data) work together.”
Someone should send Davis a copy of  Stephen J. Gould. Science and religion do not compete. They pertain to different sphere's of influence (magisteria). They exist for different purposes and they answer different questions. Even in areas where they seem to overlap they don't. The most contested area is literal reading of Genesis vs. evolution. That's just a case of the literalist not understanding that her literalism transgresses upon the scientific domain, Why? Because the question is about understanding physical nature not about how to be saved.

One can use scientific evidence to bolster one's faith, as Tillich discusses with his method if coloration (see aboveaa0. That's what I did in my book, Through the arguments that I make backed up by a huge body of scientific research from peer reviewed journals there is no reason to give up the faith due to some ill-conceived need for scientific objectivity. See my article on the universal nature of mystical experience. The evidence resulting from Professor Hood's studies using the mysticism scale indicates that mystical experiences are universal to all faiths. Since religious beliefs are cultural constructs this can't be because they are the result of human brain structure. The constructed nature of belief means the symbols that communicate religion are culturally relative. That would imply that to be universal they would have to be the result of an objective external object which is being experienced inter-subjectively. The M scale has been used in cultures as far ranging as Iran and Sweden and Japan, with the same results; when the specific names and doctrinal references are taken out the experiences themselves are the same. These studies are discussed in my book. The argument from universal mystical experience can be read on the Trace of God blog.[10]


[1] Kyle Roberts," Losing God: From Christian Apologetics Professor to Skeptical Atheist,"     , Unsystematic theology, November 6, 2015, (blog) URL:

Roberts: (PhD) is Associate Professor of Public and Missional Theology at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (beginning in fall of 2014). Roberts has published essays on Kierkegaard and modern theology, including several essays in the series Kierkegaard Research: 2014-10-14 10.26.51Sources, Reception and Resources (Ashgate / University of Copenhagen) and other collected volumes on various topics, including Pietism, Karl Barth, and Christian spirituality. Roberts has published Emerging Prophet: Kierkegaard and the Postmodern People of God (Cascade, 2013) and is currently co-authoring a theological commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Eerdmans).

[2] CADRE: "The Christian Cadre," an apologetics group started way back around 2001. The group reached it's zenith about 2009. It evolved from merely being a lose knit gang of Christians on CARM who where just trying help each other argue with atheists, to a somewhat renowned apologetics group with a huge website ( and a prestigious and active blog (cadre comments). We also conducted campaigns to invade various atheist boards other than CARAM  such as secular web. We where somewhat successful for a couple months. At least one atheist remarked "where did all these Christians come from all of a sudden."

[3] David, Marian, "The Correspondence Theory of Truth", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

Narrowly speaking, the correspondence theory of truth is the view that truth is correspondence to, or with, a fact—a view that was advocated by Russell and Moore early in the 20th century. But the label is usually applied much more broadly to any view explicitly embracing the idea that truth consists in a relation to reality, i.e., that truth is a relational property involving a characteristic relation (to be specified) to some portion of reality (to be specified). This basic idea has been expressed in many ways, giving rise to an extended family of theories and, more often, theory sketches.
[4] Webster 
Definition of intersubjective. 1 : involving or occurring between separate conscious minds ;intersubjective communication; 2 : accessible to or capable of being established for two or more subjects : objective ;intersubjective reality of the physical world.

[5] Guyton B. Hammond, "An Examination of Tillich's Method of Correlation," Journal of Bible and Religion, Vol. 32, No. 3 (Jul., 1964), Published by: Oxford University Press, 248-251

Stable URL: (accessed 26 Dec 2015).   

[6] Definitions of Anthropological Terms, Anthropological Resources, Updated:Wednesday, 26-Dec-2012 18:00:08 PST. Website URL  (accessed Dec 27, 2015)

cultural construct - the idea that the characteristics people attribute to such social categories as gender, illness, death, status of women, and status of men is culturally defined

[7] Bird, Alexander, "Thomas Kuhn", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

[8] Morris, William Edward and Brown, Charlotte R., "David Hume", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL =

[9] Joseph Hinman, The Trace of God, Rational: Warrant for Belief. Colorado Springs: Grand Viaduct 2014. Available on Amazon

[10] ____________, "The M Scale and the Universal Nature of Mystical Experience," The Trace of God Blog, no date given. URL (accessed Dec. 26, 2015).
The M scale or Mysticism scale was invented by Ralph Hood Jr. Ph.D. professor in psychology of religion at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  The M scale is a survey but it is constructed in such a way as to test theory of W/T.l Stace. See the article.



Long time readers may have noticed that I occasionally mention Charlie Brown in these pages. I do so because I love Peanuts. Charlie Brown remains in my opinion the hallmark of what makes a great comic strip.  In fact, I have decorated my office with several choice items of Christmas memorabilia.

What makes Peanuts so special? I think that a lot could be said about why Peanuts is so appealing to so many people. For one thing it really does capture the innocence of youth – or, at least, the innocence that society formerly associated with youth; back in the days before children decided that being cool trumped learning to be an adult. The last I can recall, Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and the gang never showed any real concern about being gunned down at school, buying drugs or engaging in any number of other activities that seem to be bogging down our youth. Charlie Brown was concerned about winning the baseball game (which he finally did), kicking the football (which I cannot recall him doing) and impressing (or, at least, meeting) the little red-haired girl. Wouldn’t it be great if those were the things that today’s kids were confronting?

Another thing that makes Peanuts special is its charm. There is something about Snoopy and the gang that just strikes a fancy in us. It is attractive. Millions of people read the comic daily, even though new strips stopped being produced shortly before Charles Schultz, the author, died several years ago. The new Peanuts movie has grossed $126 million dollars on the domestic market as of the writing of this post, and that amount does not include money generated from the sales of Peanuts related merchandise. When the movie is released on DVD, it will undoubtedly up its profits tremendously. Why are people going to see this movie? Largely because there is simply something likeable about the innocence and cleanliness of the Peanuts world.   

Another large attraction about Peanuts is the Christian angle. For some, I know they will object that the Christian element that is always below the surface of the Peanuts strips (but which comes to the fore occasionally) should be attractive, but it is very definitely part of the attraction of the strip to many, many people. One place that the Peanuts commitment to a Christian worldview comes to the fore at this time of year is, of course, Linus’ quotation of Luke 2 in A Charlie Brown Christmas (which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year). For those of you sentimentalists out there, you can re-live Linus’ charming (there’s that word again) recitation of Luke 2:8-14 here: Linus quoting Luke 2

To some, Linus quoting Luke is too much. When W.R. Castle Elementary School in Johnson County, Kentucky decided to have the students do A Charlie Brown Christmas as their school play, the school found the quoting of Luke 2:8-14 as being a little too much for the students, and acted to remove the offending verses from the play. Of course, this leaves one to wonder what they filled in for the missing portion of the story. Recall, Linus responds to Charlie Brown’s plaintive cry for someone to explain what Christmas is all about. Linus says, “I can tell you what Christmas is about, Charlie Brown,” then recites Luke 2. Without the Luke 2 passage, the entire story becomes meaningless. (Interestingly, when the children doing the play came to the lines from Luke, some members of the audience jumped in and recited the missing passages.) 

Even President Obama seems to have missed this portion of A Charlie Brown Christmas. In the 50th Anniversary episode, President Obama proclaimed that the special teaches that “tiny trees just need a little love, and on this holiday we celebrate peace on earth, goodwill to all.”   Well, that’s not quite what I get out of A Charlie Brown Christmas, but then I suppose it is possible that President Obama may have watched the W.R. Castle Elementary School version of the play which, by omitting Luke 2, could lead someone to conclude that the special is, in fact, about loving tiny trees.

This year, however, Jason Soroski over at “The Way I See It” published a piece about A Charlie Brown Christmas that made an observation that I had personally never noticed. The blogpost, entitled “Just Drop the Blanket”, points out that during the reading of the Luke 2 passage, Linus drops his blanket to complete the recitation. Linus? Dropping his beloved security blanket? Really? Yes, as the picture above, which is taken from the Christmas special, shows, Linus did indeed drop his blanket while telling Charlie Brown the true meaning of Christmas. Jason notes,

Looking at it now, it is pretty clear what Charles Schulz was saying through this, and it’s so simple it’s brilliant.

The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears.

The birth of Jesus frees us from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves.

The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to Him instead.

The world of 2015 can be a scary place, and most of us find ourselves grasping to something temporal for security, whatever that thing may be. Essentially, 2015 is a world in which it is very difficult for us to “fear not”.

But in the midst of fear and insecurity, this simple cartoon image from 1965 continues to live on as an inspiration for us to seek true peace and true security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found.

I am not as convinced as Jason that Linus' dropping of his blanket was intentional given that Linus is shown to be holding the blanket again near the end of the recitation (but then is also shown picking up the blanket when he completes the passage). But regardless of intent, the meaning that Jason derived from the gesture is true. Jesus came to take our burdens from us. With Christmas, we need fear nothing because the worse that anyone can do is kill us. What they cannot do is take away our eternal salvation that is brought to us through the gift of God in the manger.

With Christ's coming in the flesh, we don’t need a security blanket. We just need and cling to God. And that is another message of A Charlie Brown Christmas that is just below the surface. 

So, back around 2000, some smugglers were caught smuggling antiquities around Turkey, and a quite interesting text was picked up while raiding them (or so the story goes), written in gold(ish?) ink in Syriac on leather.

Now it's mid-December 2015, and more importantly Christmas time, and more importantly than that it's time to generate some hits on websites y'all! So let's see just how much anti-Christian conspiracy we can wring out of this curiosity!

Or maybe get some web-hits out of pouring cold water on the feverish fires of anti-Christian conspiracy. Y'know, whichever. Option 2 sounds more fun, so let's go with that.


No, because it isn't a "Bible". It's one text. Which would still be pretty interesting, but don't be fooled by hysterical claims of it being a "Bible" (except in the sense of it being a book, loosely speaking). There are actual collections of scriptural texts that are 1500 years old, but this isn't one of them.



Only if whoever inscribed it thought that the year 500(ish) was the fifteen hundredth year of the "Lord" of whoever inscribed it "in the name of the Lord". Probably the "Lord" is Jesus, based on contexts of the work. If the "Lord" is supposed to be God (and not Jesus), or for that matter anyone else, it's hard to figure out why the inscriber is reckoning a 1500 year count of that person's Lordship.

So, no, the text itself is 500 years old. (Maybe, unless it's totally a hoax.)


I dunno. Maybe? Who knows? Scholars haven't been able to study it very well yet.


No, it was being held by the Turkish government, who are increasingly Muslim in their sympathies (and who govern a largely Muslim nation), until they could get enough reassurance that they could legally claim ownership (in case the smugglers stole it from a rightful owner), whereupon they sent it to a Turkish antiquities museum in Ankara. Now that it's at an actual scholarly museum, the Vatican has applied for permission to send scholars to study it.


Maybe the identities of whoever is paying millions of dollars for photocopies of its pages are supposed to be secret. But, and I think this is important to stress, Turkey (and/or the museum, and/or some enterprising fellow at the museum) is selling photocopies of its pages for millions of dollars. It's only "secret" if you can't afford to look at it. Which probably means you, yes you, aren't worthy to see its secrets. Because you have better things to spend your million dollars on. Or you don't have a million dollars.

Please note that if anyone wants to donate two million dollars to me, I will try my hardest to post a photocopy of one of the pages here on the Cadre Journal. I promise!


Because the Vatican has a lot of renowned antiquity geeks who are interested in the history of the church, warts and all, including the ancient opponents to the orthodox party because those are also part of the history of the church. And any antiquity geek, whether Christian or not, would want to study it. Including to evaluate whether it's even legitimately 500 years old. (See: ridiculous amounts of money being paid for photocopies.)


Why does a plush figure of Baragon from Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidora: Giant Monsters All-out Attack sell for $150 on Amazon? He isn't even in the title of the movie!

Honestly, you'd have to ask those people. I suspect the buyers are largely wealthy Muslims wanting to see if this is, as rumored, a(nother) copy of the Gospel of Barnabas.


No, no, you're thinking of the Epistle of Barnabas.


No, no, you're thinking of the Acts of Barnabas.


Ah. Well, there's a tale. Settle back while I history-geek a bit.

The writers of very late Christian antiquity (500s and 600s, just prior to the rise of Islam) knew of a "Gospel of Barnabas" but did not regard it highly enough to mention it by anything other than name; neither did they censor or warn against it, other than to reject its authenticity. So the best inference in light of what little data we have is that they thought it was a Catholic text (whether Eastern or Western) of respectable doctrine, popular in some small areas, but of late composition and so while harmless not to be promoted as legitimate.

We don't have a surviving copy of this Gospel. We do have exactly two copies of another text called "the Gospel of Barnabas", which for convenience I'll call GosBarn2.

Possibly GosBarn2 was based originally on a surviving copy of GosBarn1, but it is impossible to tell. The GosBarn2 text is a harmonization of the four canonical Gospels, and that would explain the relatively neutral attitude toward the now lost GosBarn1.

However, the earliest known reference anywhere to the current GosBarn2 is the writing of a Spanish Muslim in the mid 1600s, and only two versions of the text survive today, one in Spanish and one in Italian (the Spanish version of the text having been fairly recently rediscovered).

Obviously the text must predate the earliest known reference, and the Moriscan author regards it as being easy enough to find in his area (wherever that is, probably Turkey where many Spanish Muslims fled). No ancient Arabic versions of the text have been found by scholars so far as I know, nor ancient versions in any other relevant language (Syriac, Hebrew, Coptic, Ethiopian, Greek or even Latin which might show translation from an earlier language). Attempts have been lately made to identify a Gospel found in the late 400s (supposedly) buried with the body of St. Barnabas as GosBarn (1 or 2), but at the time of its burial the text was regarded as GosMatt and a Christian scholar not long afterward in the early 500s studied it looking for a Matthean textual variation that it happened (on examination) not to have, indicating no other problems and thus confirming that however late that Gospel text may have been penned it was nothing other than GosMatt. This text was last heard of in the 1000s (when an Eastern bishop reported it without controversy to be a unical manuscript, an early form with all capital letters), but has since been lost. (Recovering a text of GosMatt from 400 or earlier would be squee-worthy to textual critics and similar text geeks, but wouldn't be controversial in other regards much less in favor of Islam.)

The Italian text of GosBarn 2 was certainly printed sometime in the late 1500s or early 1600s. There are notes in Arabic but written by a native Italian. The text has 42 blank pages (apparently intended for an introduction and commentary), with 457 pages devoted to translating GosBarn2, providing a wordcount approximately the same as all four canonical Gospels (partly due to the work being a harmonization of all four canon texts). Not incidentally, legitimate photos of the Turkish Syriac text that the internet is all atwitter about this week, show a text that cannot possibly be nearly that size. (Don't be fooled by stock photos of an old text, photographed in a close up end view, showing numerous "quires" or collections of paper bound together as in modern hardback books. Those aren't photos of the new Ankara text.)

This Italian text was the basis for the most popular English version (known as the Ragg version after Larua Ragg, one of the translators). It was then translated from English to Arabic by Rashid Rida for its first Egyptian publication in 1908. The Italian translator was not a professional scribe by the standards of the time, but does appear to have intended the text for scholarly publication. The underlying text is late medieval Tuscan (Italian) in dialect although a Venetian Italian produced the current text, so there was at least one Italian translation behind this one, apparently from a Turkish language copy. The now-lost Tuscan version was probably translated from Turkish about 100 years earlier. It is impossible to even guess the history of the Turkish edition.

A Spanish edition printed in the 1700s was recently rediscovered (in the 1970s), but was well known among English scholars of that time who translated it into English (which may still survive somewhere, along with some references to it among various English scholars and as one of the Bampton Lectures of 1784). The rediscovered Spanish text claims to have been translated from Italian by an Aragonese (Spanish) Muslim named Mustafa de Aranda writing in Istanbul (thus after the Turkish conquest of Constantinople), and includes a preface by someone calling himself Father Marino (specifically a false name to avoid discovery, created from the name of the suburb of Rome where the preface author's patroness of the Colonna family lived) who claims to have stolen the Italian text (behind the Spanish translation but different from the surviving Italian text) from the library of Pope Sixtus V. "Fra Marino" claims to have been posted in the Inquisition Court where he acquired several works from which he decided the canonical Biblical text had been corrupted and genuine apostolic works had been excluded -- but so far as I can tell the preface author makes no mention of the sensational Muslim claims of GosBarn2. He also claims to have previously heard of the Gospel of Barnabas from an allusion in a work supposedly written by the late 2nd century Irenaeus against St. Paul, citing a citation in a book presented to him by his patroness; but this vague trail cannot be reproduced and no such known text from Irenaeus (or even purportedly by him) exists. It would be super-weird for such a text to be legitimately from Irenaeus, who liked to cite Rom 5, Rom 11, and 1 Cor 15 as evidence of Christ's high Christology (especially in Christ's capability of saving sinners) against the heretic groups of his day.

The Spanish text of GosBarn2 is smoothly written in a Castilian dialect of the 1500s, without indications of translation from Italian. There are a number of chapters missing, but few other differences in actual content between the surviving Italian and Spanish texts.

There is literally no reason to believe GosBarn2 was composed any earlier than the 1300s (and more likely later as the surviving texts show some familiarity with phrases from Dante and Latin Gospel harmonizations, although these may be due to subsequent copies or translations touching up the language with popular styles of the time). The Arabic annotations of the Italian text are so riddled with elementary errors that it is unlikely to have been actually written by an Italian living in Istanbul (much less transcribed from any original Arabic commentary).

So little is known about the history of the text, that there is a lively debate among scholars of it, whether the non-orthodox/Muslim portions are original to the text or were late additions to it. If Turkish Istanbul was indeed part of its transmission, at that time there were radical anti-trinitarian Protestants fleeing Catholic (and orthodox Protestant) persecutions, who set up small publishing companies in the city and its region, protected by the Muslim rulers for their anti-trinity stances but not generally hired by them for translation; because at the time Muslim teaching strongly opposed printing (rather than handwriting) Islamic or even Arabic non-religious texts. In other words, the Muslim authorities regarded them as useful propaganda tools against their Catholic neighbors to the west.

The Spanish text shows signs of a supposed Catholic conspiracy popular among known forgeries from this time and place: we know there were radical non-Muslim anti-trinitarian Protestant publishers in Istanbul during the first Protestant centuries, who definitely forged texts, trying to pass them off in Catholic countries like Italy and Spain by pretending they had been discovered by Catholic priests now doubting Catholic orthodoxy and canon. GosBarn2 fits this profile very well, except for its strongly Muslim color; but on the other hand there are details which run strongly against accepted Muslim belief, such as Mary giving birth without pain, Jesus permitting the drinking of alcohol, Jesus commanding monogamy, hell being only for those who commit the seven deadly sins, paradise requiring circumcision, God having a soul (as well as a spirit), and a rejection of the idea of God predestining the saved and the lost, all of which contradict the Koran or mainstream Muslim religious tradition of the time. GosBarn2 includes the tale from the late but (in our day) recently rediscovered Gnostic Gospel of Judas (from the Cainite sect who revered traitors of the Bible back to Cain as a way of opposing majority authority in their day), that Judas miraculously substituted for Jesus on the cross; but until very recently (after GosBarn2 began to be promoted by some Muslims in the 20th century as a dangerous early threat to orthodox Christianity) this was not a popular Muslim belief (although Jesus being taken alive to heaven is a major Islamic teaching, the idea being that God would not allow crucifixion for such a faithful prophet.)

The text has a few similarities to the teachings of Spaniard anti-trinitarian Christian universalist Michael Servetus (whom Calvin misled to be murdered), coming close to a purgatorial universalism: only persistently impenitent sinners will stay in hell, with true penitents being offered salvation out of hell. Certainly this is not any kind of mainstream Muslim belief either.

One of the versions of GosBarn2 involves Jesus denying being the Messiah, prophesying that the Messiah would be from the tribe of Ishmael (thus Arabic).

GosBarn2 is sometimes cited by Muslim counter-Christian apologists who don't know much (or perhaps don't care) about evidence in favor of late medieval composition, and who either aren't familiar with the text's occasional anti-Muslim stances or who know about them but obscure the differences in order to promote the apparently prophetic references to Mohammad and to Islam. I don't know any good reason to regard this text as being historically accurate to Jesus and early Christianity (aside from details it picks up from the canonicals), and we can be sure it certainly wasn't written by anyone directly knowledgeable of 1st century Palestine (such as St. Barnabas) because of the numerous errors and anachronisms which happen to fit late medieval times much better.


It might if this was even the Gospel of Barnabas, but (per The Christian Post) theology professor Ă–mer Faruk Harman told Today Zaman, "Muslims may be disappointed to see that this copy does not include things they would like to see and it might have no relation with the content of the Gospel of Barnabas." Unfortunately, details are still sketchy about what the text does say. Some sites are reporting details from GosBarn2 as though this text at Ankara is GosBarn2, but if it was obviously excerpts from GB2 (it can't possibly be all of GB2 in any case) there would be no question about whether it has any relation to GB2.


No, it's written in Syriac, which is a late dialect of Aramaic. I don't know yet what kind of dialect of Syriac. Syriac is related to Aramaic, the way modern Italian is related to late medieval Latin. Like the Latin being written back around when this Syriac text was produced! (Heh.)


{shrug} Sure. We already have scads and oodles of texts written fifteen hundred years ago, and even longer ago, that preserve historically accurate data about Jesus; so that isn't impossible. You can go read them on the internet or buy critical editions of those texts at any time, if you want to read fifteen hundred year old texts.

You can even get good translations of nearly-two-thousand-year-old texts with historically accurate data about Jesus, texts written much closer to the time Jesus lived, with some strong connections to the Aramaic of Jesus' day if you think that sort of thing is important (which I agree you should). You may have to look around a little to find English translations of those texts -- like in a hotel room, or at a doctor's office, or handed out on the street corner, or piles of them thrown away in garbage dumps -- but they're on the internet and in bookstores, too. And scholars like to spend a Godawful amount of time, energy, and ink, talking about those older texts (mainly because they're so much older than the texts that are only fifteen hundred years old in composition (for example Olympidorious, a Christian philosopher writing in the 500s CE), or only five hundred years old, and because ancient people thought those oldest texts were so important that they translated them into a bunch of ancient languages, including yes into various Syriac dialects), so I don't think you'll have any trouble finding analyses and commentaries on all kinds of things about those older texts. I mean, if you're hot to read and to read about the oldest historical claims about Jesus.

Whereas, you may have to wait a year or two or five, now that the Turkish government has started selling -- ahem, I mean releasing -- information about this one five hundred year old Syriac text, before you get to read it or much scholarly discussion about it.

Meanwhile, I recommend not getting your hopes up, that this one text is going to accurately report anything new that hasn't been reported, inaccurately or not, a long time before.


Because it's Christmas time, silly. And Christmas is boring old news. Except when people think or pretend that Christmas is being threatened somehow.

Today, Charisma News published a very interesting article by Joseph Mattera entitled "10 Ways Muslims ViewChristians." Mr. Mattera asserts at the outset of the article that the list was compiled based upon his "numerous personal conversations with Muslims, personal study and intensive training I received from a missions organization in preparation for one month of outreach in a Muslim nation in 1979."

According to Mr. Mattera, the following ten things are true of how Muslims view Christians:

1.           Muslims see Christians as wimps.
2.           Muslims see Christians as espousing idolatry.
3.           Muslims see Christians as morally decadent.
4.           Muslims see the church as compromising true religion.
5.           Muslims connect Christianity with radical feminism.
6.           Muslims view the Bible as filled with contradictions.
7.           Muslims view the church as espousing feminism
8.           Muslims believe Christians hate them.
9.           Muslims believe that Christians have conformed to this world with regard to bearing of children.
10.        Muslims view the church as full of impractical mystics who separate the spiritual from the natural world.

Personally, I can see how Muslims see Christians in this light. Certainly, Christians are directly told by the Bible to turn the other cheek. To many, this seems as if we are told to be pushovers by any bully that comes along. So, some of these problems arise because Christians have not done a good job at articulating what Christianity actually teaches about self-defense and standing up to evil. (See, e.g., Proverbs 24:11-12)

But some of the criticisms Muslims hold about Christians is based upon the fact that Christians in the Western world live in society that upholds freedom of conscience and does not force religious practices on everyone. Thus, Christians in the Western world do live in a morally decadent society. We do compromise true religion (mainline protestant denominations have long ago abandoned teaching the Bible as the true Word of God). Some mainline denominations do support radical feminism and many Christians have conformed to this world with regard to bearing children.

I think that this list is very instructive both with respect to speaking to Muslims and learning about ourselves.

So I was catching up with the half-season finale of Season Two of The Flash this week (the modern hit on the CW network, not the 90s version), which was also the Christmas episode, and what to my wondering ears should appear but a character (Caitlin) tries to explain Christmas to someone (Jay) she thinks has never heard of it.

"Oh! -- uh, well, it's this holiday we have where we cut down trees and sing songs to celebrate the birth of a baby two thousand years ago, but then the Romans killed him, so we give each other gifts..."

Admittedly, a third character in the scene (Cisco) is making a face during this and as she runs out of any idea for Christmas he snarks, "That's your explanation?" But he leaves soon afterward, and Jay reveals he was joking, he knows what Christmas is, and let's just move on to the important thing which is Caitlin and Jay making googly eyes at one another.

This is just the kind of reply we could expect from writers who, when coming up with heroes for the main character (Barry), think of Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson. They think Christmas, as "Christmas", is confusing and pointless at best: it's just about this guy who was born and died a long time ago and yet we somehow still bother to give gifts to each other on a day long set aside to celebrate his birth. Anything more or better than that isn't about that guy, or might as well be about stories we made up about a jolly fat guy in a red suit giving presents to good children (who never has anything to do with that guy whoever he was, maybe someone named Chris?)

Now, maybe this is only because I'm a blazing genius, but I could have come up with a thematically better and historically accurate (as far as it goes) and still totally naturalistic explanation of why more than one third of all people on the planet still think Christmas means something important enough to celebrate, even if they don't agree with the religious ideas of Christmas.

"Oh! -- uh, well, it's a holiday we have where we celebrate the birth of a guy two thousand years ago who taught that we ought to love even our enemies enough to die for them, and he let the Romans kill him to show how serious he was about that, so we give each other gifts..."

If Caitlin as a character might not have been up to speed enough (see what I did there) on the meaning of Christmas to come up with that, there were two characters right there on the scene who could have done so: Cisco, who as already written thinks her stumbling explanation is lame; and Jay who as already written is a highly honorable and moral old-fashioned guy who (having been clearly patterned after the Marvel Cinematic Universe's portrayal of Steve Rogers, Captain America) often brings that perspective to scenes. He could even, being from an alternate Earth, have offered it as a comparison. The writers could have even aimed a sting at Christians who (they think) are missing even this basic point about that Chris guy.

But why bother sticking even that much meaning of Christmas into the episode? Because it would have been entirely appropriate to an ongoing theme of the show -- including especially in this episode (as in the climactic scene, among some other places) -- whether or not good people should try to be merciful even to their enemies. The writers have tried to be realistically messy about that theme, which I think is admirable; and one might argue they've been so messy as to be incoherent about it, which I think is sloppy; but that theme is definitely there.

Ah, but what does Christmas as "Christmas" have to do with any of that? Or maybe we don't want to give even that much credit to the reason people all over the world have celebrated Christmas as "Christmas".

And besides, that idea must also look pointless and confusing, or foolishly silly at best, if ethics are only the equivalent of passing genetic gas; or if morality is only something we invent for some people to have power over other people (especially by those who know better, manipulating the system from outside it). Being willing to die to save your own enemies? That's some screwed up genetic impulses right there! -- it sure doesn't help spread those genetics, and their impulses, farther into the gene pool! And sure, maybe that's an idea worth a few people propagating so that they can find a way to exploit it if other people come to believe it, but it sure didn't help that Chris guy when he was dumb enough to go ahead and die for it on that big plus sign! Someone else probably came up with that idea and suckered Chris and a lot of his subsequent followers into agreeing with it, maybe some Roman Imperials, eh, doesn't really matter unless we can find a way to exploit people who still believe it for our benefit today.

Not that the show's writers denigrate the idea of loving your enemy enough to sacrifice yourself for them, even when that's painfully hard to do. But they, or maybe the show's producers, or maybe the network execs, didn't think that that was an idea worth connecting to the reason they have a "Christmas" episode per se.

And after all, the meaning of the story, the meaning of Christmas as such, as generally practiced throughout Christian history, is stronger even than that: as much stronger as the Most High can be.

Because even if the story is only regarded as a fiction, the idea of the fable is this: that the one and only foundational ground of all reality not only truly loves personal creatures, and not only loves them enough to voluntarily suffer with them, and not only loves them enough to show this by living a human life from birth to death in suffering with them, and not only loves them so much as to die for their sake, but loves even His worst enemies enough to sacrifice Himself for their sake so that He and they can live happily ever after together someday.

If any credit was given to even a naturalistic explanation of the meaning of Christmas, someone might go on to discover that a naturalistic meaning of Christmas isn't important enough, and hasn't been important enough historically for most of those who believe in any good meaning for Christmas, for centuries and millennia -- even far back beyond the time when December 25th was chosen to celebrate the birthday of that man. The fullest value of full humanity and even of all of Nature, isn't an idea of one more male baby being born somewhere who died as a man for some obscure reason that probably doesn't make sense, but by the Greatest Beyond Nature loving Nature enough to voluntarily sacrifice Himself for everything in Nature including for His own enemies.

And not so that Nature and personal creatures will cease to exist someday as such; and not so that Nature and personal creatures will never come someday to fully cooperate with each other as such; but so that someday, sooner or later, there will most assuredly be a happily ever after for all together, however much suffering in childbirth must come first -- which Justice Himself voluntarily suffers together with us, even when we are currently insisting on being unjust.

Now, admittedly, most of us Christians throughout history have thought, for various reasons, that not all personal creatures will in fact be brought by God to do love and justice someday for happily ever after. Some of us agree and teach that God intends and acts toward bringing this about; and some of us agree that God will surely succeed in bringing this about for whomever He intends and acts to do so; and only a relative few of us think both assurances of the good news of God's salvation are true. Why we think only one and not the other, or why we think both, of those assurances are true, is a whole other debate, and one we've debated for all our history -- sometimes hotly and insultingly so. And we've also debated among each other for all our history on how and why exactly God intends and acts toward one or the other or both assurances.

But both assurances have been passed down, to one extent or another, through all our history, as the meaning for why a particular Jewish baby was born to a Jewish mother to be handed over by Jewish leaders to be slain by Roman leaders one day, long ago in a small little knife of a country far away from where most of my readers will be reading this.

Even if it was only a story, it's still the greatest story ever told for a reason.

And maximally more great than only the greatest story ever told, if it's true.

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Peter's house in Capernaum

In this third part I will examine positive evidence that Peter and Paul existed. I do want to point out, however, that we don't need to prove their existence. History has accepted them for 2000 years. The mythers want to change that they must prove their assertions and doubts. They have the burden of proof because they seek to make the change. Yet there is some evidence that they existed, aside from the fact of Pauline letters in the NT. But the letters themselves are a good place to start.The ignorance of Jesus mythers has gotten to the point where they just dogmatically regard the Bible as practically non existent. But that's par for the course with all of "new atheism" (Dawkamentalism). The Dawkies don't understand the concept of treating text as artifacts. Someone wrote of them, the texts illustrate what the people who compiled them or copied and passed them on believed. Scholars accept that a core of Pauline corpus is authentic since it is consistent, clearly by the same author and fits what we have come to think of as characteristics of Pauline theology and tendencies from Acts..[1]The extra Biblical case for Paul is not that strong but there is a case to be made. For Peter there isn't much of a case he's pretty much part of the package for the Gospels. But Paul speaks of confronting Peter in Galatians, one of the authentic books. So Paul confirms the existence of Peter.

Of course Acts is the major extra Pauline evidence for Paul since it is mostly about Paul. The real theme of Acts seems to be that Paul was a team player, the early church had unity. For that reason Mythyers like Humphrey's take the spin doctoring of "Luke" as proof that Paul did not exist. Mind you no real academic scholars take this seriously.[2] There is good evidence that whomever wrote Acts was on the first missionary journey.

True basic proof of this is, as pointed out in previous post, he get's the names and titles right of all the functionaries they met on the trip. As Stephen Neil said:

The author of Acts knew the correct titles and used them with varying precision. In the words of Ramsey: 'the officials with whom Paul and his companions were brought into contact are those who would be there. Every person is found just where he ought to be; procounsuls in senatorial provences, asiarchs in Ephesus, strategoi in Philippi, politarchs in Thessolonica, magicians and soothsayers everywhere.' The Most remarkable of these titles is Politarch the ruler of the city used in Acts 17:6...previously this word had been completely unknown except for this passage in Acts. It has now been found in 19 inscriptions dating from he second century[3]
For much more on defending of Luke as historian and Acts as historical see my page on refuting Richard "Bayes Boy" Carrier's attack on Acts; on my website The Religious A priori.[4] There is more archaeological evidence documented there. The point being Luke (the author) was on the trip, he travailed to those places at that time. No one would do that to gain authentication for a made up story so the odds are he really was on the trip. We should assume, therefore, that Paul was there too and he knew Paul. He claims Paul was there. It would make sense that one might use the doings of a famous figure to write propaganda. It makes no sense to make up such a figure then tell people he was famous and use that for propaganda.

Moreover, there may be archaeological evidence for PeterThere is a possibility that archaeologists have found Peter's house:

The house was built in the first century, it became a center of religious activity [in Capernaum] already in the second half of the first century Jewish-Christians (or they were called) were numerous and lived continuously in Capernaum and kept this tradition alive [the site for the house of Peter--which is mentioned in Mark; their graffiti on the plaster wall of the place of worship testify to their faith in Jesus, the Lord, the Most High, the good, and to their veneration of Peter.[5]

The house was taken over by Gentile Christians in the 5th century, and then over it was built a splendid basilica. Now of course the skeptic will say "O, they just chose any old spot and said it was the right place for the pilgrims in the middle ages." But Pilgrims did troop to the Holy land as early as the fifth century, however, as Corfeld shows, most of these sites were already old by the fourth century. The tomb, Peter's house, The Bethlehem Grotto, Mary's house in Nazareth, and many other such sites, were already venerated as far back as the first century. While there is no definitive proof that these sites are the actual locations, the evidence is stronger than it seems at first glance. Pilgrims marked the site early on with a synagogue and that was used to keep track of where it was. In Constantine's time or after that site was covered with an octoganol fountial that was part of a church.

The site was a regular house at first then it was transformed into a place of worship. This change took place after the death of Christ but questions remain as to weather it was first or second century. It is possible that the evidence points to first century. It also points to the original owners being fishermen (they found fishing tackle). The description of the roof matches it's description in Mark 2:1-12. J. Murphy O'Connor asserts authenticity, but of courser others do not. One key to the issue is that the name Peter is on the wall and the plastering that marks the change from home to worship site is probably first century[6]

Biblical archaeology discoveries are not cut-and-dry cases. Though there is no definitive proof in this instance that the house ruin uncovered by the excavators actually is the ancient house of Peter, there is layer upon layer of circumstantial evidence to support its importance in early Christianity and its association with Jesus in Capernaum and his foremost disciple, Peter. Were it not for its association with Jesus and Peter, why else would a run-of-the-mill first-century house in Capernaum have become a focal point of Christian worship and identity for centuries to come?[7]
As I said Paul proves Peter existed by confronting him in gelation's. There are two NT sources that mention Paul and post NT sources as well. 2 Peter 3:16 mentions Paul. James mentions Paul. Both are too disputed to be of much use.

I Clement, is the earliest known example of extra Biblical Christian writing. It dates to A 95, and according to tradition is the work of the Biship of Rome, Clement, to the Church at Corinth. The issue was rebellion in the ranks of Presbyters. Be that as it may, the author does mention the Apostle Peter and Paul as having been with them in Rome during his own time.

Let us come to the Heroes nearest out own times. Let us take the noble examples of our own generation; by reason of rivalry the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the church] were persecuted and battled to the death. Let us set before our eyes the nobel Apostles; Peter who...frequently endured suffering and thus wen to the glorious place which he merited...Paul showed how to win the prize for patient endurance.... (5:2-5). a foot note of the editor adds that this is good evidence for Peter's martyrdom in Rome[8]
This not only documents the connection to Paul, but also to Peter. He speaks of them as part of "our own generation" indicating that this was common knowledge to all of them, that he himself was witness to the presence of these men in Rome. Writing in 95, the events described (64 AD) would have been within living memory of the older members of the congregation. While it is true that this is not direct evidence for Jesus existence, it is evidence that Peter was a real historical person. Since Peter was involved in the center of the action, it is absurd to claim that those events recorded in the Gospels did not take place. We can be certain that they at least had their referent in actual historical events. It is also hard to see how Peter would give his life to a lie, if he made it up or participated in a hoax, never gain from it, and eventually die for that lie.

1 Clement talks about both Peter and Paul placing them both in Rome and perhaps implying that the author (Clement of Rome--a Bishop writing to the Church at Corinth).Traditionally the book is ascribed to 90-95 AD. It is the first known Christian writing outside the NT (if that date is accepted). There are scholars who place it as late as 135-165.The traditional date hinges upon general statements about "troubles" being taken for the Domitian persecution. That need not be the case. Welbourn: "There are references to the letter by the middle of the next century in the works of Hegesippus and Dionysius of Corinth (apud Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 3.16; 4.22; 4.23). Thus one may place the composition of 1 Clement between A.D. 80 and 140."[9]

Loisy maintains that the author of 1 Clement was a distinguished Roman elder who flourished 130-140 and that this Clement was named in the Shepherd of Hermas (Vision, 8:3), which is also to be dated to the mid second century. Notably, a writing is mentioned in 1 Clement 23:3 in which the challenge is quoted, "These things we did hear in the days of our fathers also, and behold we have grown old, and none of these things hath befallen us." Because this source document for 1 Clement must have been written when the hope of the imminent parousia was waning, and because 1 Clement itself must have dealt with the same issue, the document can scarcely be dated to the time of the first Christian generation. Other indications of lateness include the tradition in chapter 5 that Paul traveled to the extremities of the west (i.e., Spain) and the emphasis on the appointment of "bishops and deacons" (42:1-5). Most notably, there is stated to be "a
[10] Clement is not the only apostolic "parent" to speak of apostles. Ignatius speaks of Peter and Paul. It's clear he considered them to be real people. To the Romans (as he said to the Trillions), in speaking of strife in their ranks, “I do not order you as did Peter and Paul"(Romans 4:3). He is grounding the order of church in authority of Bishop and that, in teachings and ordination given by Apostles. This means that to him Peter and Paul were not mythological legends but real to people. Their memories are preserved in community and passed on from real people of real people. But these are not just anonymous communal memories passed from forgotten shadow people. Ignatius knew John. Polycarp said he did. That's important because Polycarp also claimed to have known the apostle John, and he said, as reported by his student Irenaeus that both he and Ignatius learned under John together.

According to Iranaeus Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna (Martyred in AD 155?) knew the Apostle John. This doesn't seem likely and has been denounced by the great Church historian B.H. Streeter (The Primitive Church ,1923) and others. The date of Ploycarp's Martyrdom is fixed by W.A. Waddington [11] The tradition recorded in the Martyrdom of Polycarp says that he was 86 years old when he went to his glory as a martyr. This would place his birth in the year 69 AD. Assuming he was a teenager (and he was supposed to be very young) when he knew John, this would place their friendship around the late 80s. Is it possible that John lived this long? Clearly legend has it that John lived to be over 100, returned from Patois and worked in the church of Ephesus. But those legends are probably driven by the statements in the Gospel which imply that John would not die or would be very old when he did die. If Johannie authorship holds up, and John was in Ephesus in 90 to write his Gospel, than it is possible that he knew Polycarp. The information that these two men did know each other comes through Iraneaeus who did know Polycarp.
For I have a more vivid recollection of what occurred at that time than of recent events (inasmuch as the experiences of childhood, keeping pace with the growth of the soul, become incorporated with it); so that I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and discourse-his going out, too, and his coming in-his general mode of life and personal appearance, together with the discourses which he delivered to the people; also how he would speak of his familiar intercourse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; and how he would call their words to remembrance. Whatsoever things he had heard from them respecting the Lord, both with regard to His miracles and His teaching, Polycarp having thus received [information] from the eyewitnesses of the Word of life, would recount them all in harmony with the Scriptures. These things, through, God's mercy which was upon me, I then listened to attentively, and treasured them up not on paper, but in my heart; and I am continually, by God's grace, revolving these things accurately in my mind.[12]
So Polycarp knew John, maybe other apostles. Is it likely that John never told him about Peter? Ignatius also studied under John, never told them Peter was real? Ignatius mentions Peter. Is it likely h never mentioned Paul? Polycarp speaks of Paul:“For neither am I, nor is any other like me, able to follow the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul.” (Philippians 3:1–2).[13]

The real point, however, is not the house or who knew the Apostles. Let's assume all of this evidence is wrong in terms of direct proof. Say none of these men knew Apostles and it's not Peter's house. The house still shows us that as early as some time in first century Peter was already famous and revered and identified with some local(the graffiti and the church was built close to mid century).).[14] The study of the Passion narrative shows Peter is part of the story mid first century (pre Mark redaction).Moreover the Gospel of Peter uses that same narrative in a version independent of the synoptic tradition. That means that even though GPete was written second century it draws upon an early pre Mark redaction that is independent of the canonical Gospels)[13] Yes the gospel of Peter has a lot of Peter in it, including the only long first person account supposedly rom Peter. I am not suggesting that Peter wrote it but that he was understood to be as real guy ads early7 as mid first century.

The main thing that myths do is change. Given enough time, a myth will transmography until the names of the heroes are different, how they died is forgotten and retold so many times, there came to be multiple versions of their death. Myths change over time, but history does not. People remember a basic event they know its real, they don't forget it. Hercules has two deaths, in one he's poisoned, in another shot with an arrow. There are about 14 versions of the Tamuz myth. But there is only one way for the guys at the Alamo to die, there is only one death for Arthur, and there is only one way that Jesus Christ is ever portrayed as dying, that's by the cross. Why? Because that's how he really died. No one could deny it, so no one ever proposed another method.

I have made the argument, on message boards, that there are no alternate versions of the basic Gospel story. The point being, there are many versions of most myths. The fact that with tons of "other Gospels" not a one of them before the fourth century gives an alternate account of Jesus life, death, burial and resurrection is a good indication that everyone knew the basic facts, they were public knowledge because they were history; these things happened before the community of Jerusalem, the whole community was a witness and no one could deny it. Now skeptics have responded that certain alternate Gospels deny the resurrection. They name the Apochraphon of James. This is not true. As will be seen from what I quote below James does mention the resurrection. Some of the latter Gnostics denied the theology of the Virginal conception, but they still allude to the story. They denied that Jesus' death was real, but they do not deny that it happened, only that he was not a flesh and blood being and so could not die. What they accept is that the illusion of a flesh and blood man lived on the earth and was taken for a real person why all who saw him.

This argument also works for Peter and Paul. There are no versions of the Jesus story in which is top side kick is Harvey rather than Peter. There is no Acts of Irving and Theckla. If you think this I all a bit speculative, it's teir burden of proof.

[1] James Taber, "Quest for the Historical Paul," Bible History Daily, Biblical Archeological Society,(Aug 14, 2014) on line resource URL: core books accepted as authentic by most scholars: 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Philippians, and Philemon (50s-60s A.D.)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Stephen Neil, The Interpriation of the New Testament:1861-1961, London: Oxford Univesity press, 1964, 143.

[4]Joseph Hinman, "Richard Carrier: Acts as Historical Fiction, Or Atheit Fictional History. The Religious A Priori, website URL: accessed 12/6/15.

Note: my position on Acts is that it is more historically reliable than Taber thinks. Taber doesn't rule it out. I think it's reasonable to see it as "spin" but spin does not mean fiction or lie it means told in such a way as to favor a certain view, not made up from scratch. Taber offers criteria for accepting Acts:

1.Never accept anything in Acts over Paul’s own account in his seven genuine letters.
2.Cautiously consider Acts if it agrees with Paul and one can detect no obvious biases.
3.Consider the independent data Acts provides of interest but not of interpretive historical use.

[5] Gaylia Cornfeld, Archaeology of The Bible: Book by Book. New York: Harper and Row, 1976, 288.

[6]Peder Johan Borgen, David Edward Neotestamentica Et Philonica: Studies in Honour of Peder Borgen, Leiden, Netherlands: Koninklyke.2005, 61.

the fising hooks in fn 90 page 61

[7] Staff writer, "The House of Peter: Home of Jesus in Capernaum," Bible History Daily, (March 29, 2011). on line URL

[8]Peter Richardson and Eugene R.Fairweather, et al. Early Christian Fathers, New York: MacMillian, 1970,45-46.

[9]Peter Kirby quoting Welborn writes (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 1, p. 1060) in Earky Christian Wriutungs, URL:

[10]Loisy in Kirby Op.cit.

[11] Richardson, Early Christian Fathers,op. cit., 144.

[12]Alexander Roberts,The Ante-Nicene Fathers: The Writings of the Fathers Down to A. D. 325 .New York:Cosimo, Inc., .edited by Alexander Roberts, 2007, 583.

[13] Richardson, op cit

[14] Helmutt Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development. Bloomsbury: T&T Clark, 1992, 218.

[15] Raymond Brown, Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave, A commentary on the Passionnarratives in the Four Gospels. Volume 2. New York: Dobuleday 1994 1322 [15]

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Kenneth Humphreys Is probably the major Paul Myther.I can't find out much about him, but he wrote a Jesus Myth book, The Christos Mythos. See a review by major historian James omerea. His anti-Paul arguments are laid out on a blog: A Fabricated Apostle: Two Different Pauls.

Humphreys has many argumens but I will deal with six, and to summarize them:

(1)Argument from silence on Paul's great acts

(2) Disparities between Epistles and Acts

(3)Conflicts between Paul's Roman citizenship and Jewishness

(4) Paul's conversion story is implausible.

(5)Supposedly parallel passages with Josephus.

(6)No evidence of Paul in Ephesus His First Argument is an Argument from Silence (OF COURSE). There's no record of Paul being assigned to enforce Jewish sanctions against heretics. Moreover, Paul was always meeting Kings and civic dignitaries yet there is no record of it in secular history. "The trail-blazing Christian missionary and apostle, St Paul, appears nowhere in the secular histories of his age (not in Tacitus, not in Pliny, not in Josephus, etc.) Though Paul, we are told, mingled in the company of provincial governors and had audiences before kings and emperors, no scribe thought it worthwhile to record these events."

Humphreys seems to assume that there's some archives to which we can go to look up all that happened in first century Palestine. There is no such place. They did not have a vast governmental achieve, if they did we don't have it now. We have little from the first century. The list of all first century writings that don't mention Jesus (excluding prolific Philo) is so small it's not much bigger than those that do. Any authority granted Paul if even written, would be so totally obscure it's silly to expect to have it.[1] As for meeting with important people a lot of that was due to Paul claiming rights of Roman citizenship when charged with crimes. There's nothing remarkable about that so no reason to expect to find the records. That's like saying "my son [the drug addict] is always talking to layers and judges so he's an important guy." Moreover, Stephan Neil points out that Luke gets the titles of all the functionaries correct in all the different regions.Neil thinks that one of the most impressive aspects of Luke as an historian is that he always gets the titles right. Many of the titles of local officials which Luke provides us with were not validated until modern times. "The writer of Acts knew the correct titles and used them with varying precision. In the words of Ramsey: 'the officials with whom Paul and his companions were brought into contact are those who would be there. Every person is found just where he ought to be; proconsuls in senatorial provinces, asiarchs in Ephesus, strategoi in Philippi, politarchs in Thessolonica, magicians and soothsayers everywhere.' The Most remarkable of these titles is Politarch the ruler of the city used in Acts 17:6...previously this word had been completely unknown except for this passage in Acts. It has now been found in 19 inscriptions dating from he second century..." Neil argues that titles are the hardest things to get right, modern French writers never get English titles right, and this is something that would easily and surely betray an anachronism (147)Historians of the modern day judge Luke a superb historian.This is good evidence that he did make the journey because getting such title's right is very hard to do.[2]It seems the author really was on the trip and thus it's not made up out of whole cloth. He probably knew Paul as well.

His second argumentis that the Pauline Epistles and the book of acts portray widely divergent views of Paul. Paul of the epistles is independent and confident, not intimidated by authority of the Apostles. He confronts Peter (Galatians); the Paul of Acts is cooperative, dedicated to the team, and willing to be commanded and led:

Now part of the brethren ("with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem" - 9.28), he is "managed" by the elders. Disciples "took him" from Damascus (9.25) and Barnabas "brought him" to the apostles (9.27). They "brought him" to Caesarea and then they "sent him" to Tarsus. Barnabas "brought" Paul back to Antioch (11.26) and then with him was "sent" to Jerusalem with famine relief (11.30) – (as it happens, a visit to Jerusalem completely unknown to Paul himself). Eventually the brethren "send" Paul on his first missionary journey (13.4). As a missionary, Paul is very much on the collective message:"And as they went through the cities they delivered them the decrees for to keep that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established." – Acts 16.4,5.

From Thessalonica, Paul is "sent away" to Berea by the brethren (17.10). He is also "sent away" by sea and "brought" to Athens (17.14,15). In Cenchrea, Paul even takes a Jewish vow and shaves his head! (18.18).
On this point there's an ironic but obvious counter. Humphrey's says of the Paul of Acts: "The closest Acts comes to bestowing the title [Apostle] is 14.14 where his name follows Barnabas and the plural is used." Then: "Full of his own importance, in all his letters Paul hammers home the point that he is an apostle and that his appointment comes directly from the divine." Do you see a relationship there? That is certainly not proof that he didn't exist. All it really proves is that once got out on his own he realized how they treated him and decided to do it this own way; more a proof of his historicity because it shows he was human. Moreover the fact of shaving his head means he was in conflict with them. He was commanded to do it, it was a PR move and Paul's own idea. My argument is not that here is no disparity but that Humphreys is making much more out of it than should be made. First you have the difference between Paul's account of himself (ok so he's not Mother Teresa--he has an ego)juxtaposed to Luke's understanding of him. In fact Luke's account might have been recorded and embellished from verbal recollections by a well meaning acolyte. Secondly you have to consider the tine and the on text. Luke is writing to put Paul's life in a light that would flatter him and promote unity, and he was writing in the 80s, 20 years after Paul's death. Paul was writing to churches ad hock about immediate problems confronting. Humprey's argues that Paul, in his letters, doesn't tell them about the things in the book of Acts. Yet he was not writing an auto biography. He also did not tell them about his mother, we can safely assume he had one. At worst all this proves is that the Greek physician was a spin doctor not that Paul did not exist.

In his third argument, implausible and contradictory aspects of Paul's story, Humphrey's real ignorance is showing. He thinks that if Paul was a hotshot student of the major rabbi, there would be some Jewish polemics about it. Then an even more egregious and telling display of how little he really knows: "How likely is it that Paul really studied under the Pharisaic grandee (Acts 22.3)? Paul clearly had difficulty with the Hebrew language: all his scriptural references are taken from the Greek translation of Jewish scripture, the Septuagint." He also compounds the ignorance by questioning if a Roman citizen could have any authority in Judaism and asserts nothing in the texts spell out official authority.

First, Paul's status as a hotshot student. No one ever really said, nor did Paul say, "I was the best student.." He said he learned from Gamaliel he did not say "I was the top student." He said "I was zealous" and he said kept the law he didn't say "I was brilliant I was the best." Of course there is also the possibility that such polemics did exist but are lost to posterity; I've already shown that we have little in the way of documents surviving that era. The Romans may well have destroyed any achieves they had in 70 or in 135. When they destroyed Jerusalem the second time they put Roman temples over Christian and Jewish holy sites such as the site of Jesus' tomb. hy would they not destroy archives?[3]

Secondly, the Septuagint gaff. It is common knowledge that the LXX (Septuagint) was the Bible of the early church. In fact the Jews were so angry that the Christians made so much of the Greek scripture and used it to link Jesus to Messiah that they commissioned a new Greek Translation in 100 AD. Why? Because Palestinian Jews spoke Greek. obviously Paul had no trouble with either language he used LXX because that was the favorite of the people.
This translation became very popular among Jews in the first two centuries before Christ because many Jews in those days did not understand Hebrew. Their ancestors had left Israel centuries before, and generation after generation gradually lost the ability to read the Scriptures in Hebrew.Many of the Jews in Jesus' day used the Septuagint as their Bible. Quite naturally, the early Christians also used the Septuagint in their meetings and for personal reading; and many of the New Testament apostles quoted it when they wrote the Gospels and Epistles in Greek. What is most fascinating is that the order of the books in the Septuagint is the same order in our Bibles today, and not like the Hebrew scrolls....

As for Roman citizenship in Judaism apparently he doesn't know, what anyone well versed in Paul should know, that the Jews of Asia minor did have Roman citizenship and they were full fledged Jews and had rabbis and everything (Tarsus, where Paul was from, is in Asia minor).[5] The fourth argument with which I will deal is argument from incredulity; has a lot of little parts, part of his spread on implausibility. The doubts the conversion story, saying if Paul was not convinced by Jesus' miracles why would the Damascus road experience.

Perhaps because it happened to him? Let's assume Paul saw Jesus from afar as a member of a huge crowd, a hostile spectator who never said one word tov Jesus. Probably didn't get close. For all we know he could have been back in Cilicia during Jesus ministry, but let's assume he was there. He's watching Jesus surrounded by hundreds, or thousands, of followers what's he going to do attack him? He was smart enough to know he wouldn't get very far. He was a scholar not a son of Hercules. Would he be convinced by Jesus? I imagine he would think of Jesus in the same way that Modern atheists think of faith healers. Having the experience himself could be transformative.

The fifth argument is not one argument but kind of argument he makes many times. He compares passages in Josephus to those in Acts to show that "this is where they got their ideas." This takes an absurd form even counting passages that have nothing more in common than the uses of two names that are the same: John and Silas. Josephus in his Life (auto biography) says (as Humphries summarizes) "Josephus was himself betrayed by 'John', chose an ally named 'Silas', and made a miraculous escape!" While in Acts (16:25-29) Paul sees some reason not to take John and does take Silas. Jo is betrayed by a John, and has an ally named Silas. In a second such example(also from Life but not cited so we don't know where Jo tells Jews not to force circumcision on some gentiles and Paul says the same thing in relation to Timothy.

This is typical of myther thinking (see part 1). Two stories share the same word so one must have copied the other or must be referring to the other. read the parallels see that the stories are not about the same things it's only veg references like negative about a John and Silas is a friend.[6]

The Sixth Argument no evidence of Paul in Ephesus. He argues that all the legends have John founding the church of Ephesus not Paul. Paul was supposed to have lived there for three years a d founded the church there.

Just left our one little thing, mythers have so thoroughly purged the Bible from their consciousness he doesn't even consider it to exist. So he doesn't dawn on them that the txt is an artifact itself, like pot shard. All he can see is the pastoral epistles not written by Paul. But they were written in Ephesus. So why are people in Ephesus trying to attribute works to Paul? Not just because he was important but, perhaps, because he was in Ephesus. Otherwise why attribute the work to someone who was never in that city. What's really odd is that suddenly we trust these legends. The Bible is rubbish and has no authenticity, full of mythys and copied after pagan religion but in this one area the Christian legends (they are really legends) are right that John started the church in Ephesus. Praise God, We found one historical church figure who actually existed! In reality of course we better reason to think Paul was there than was John. On the other hand there is no reason why they both could not have been there. The most up to date scholarship shows us that there ere many Christian communities in Ephesus. There was no on church community that was the true official church.[7] Some were gnostic some had nothing to do with each other. There could have been a core community started by Paul that eventually merged with the Johanine community, if John was even there. Another possibility is that is that Paul could still exist even if he never went to Ephesus.

Even if we accept his major thesis that Acts is a gloss on Paul for propagandistic purposes, that still doesn't prove there was no historical man who wrote Romans and was named Paul, and was from Tarsus. none of these arguments actually prove there was no Paul. The author of Acts could have propagandized weather Paul existed or not. Just for the record, I can accept that Luke did propagandize or spin or gloss to some extent, but Acts is too well verified by Sir William Ramsey not to be a valuable historical source. But that's another blog. I will do a part 3 giving positive reasons to believe that Paul existed. Remember Paul is a source for proving that Jesus existed. see Cadre blog pieces on historicity of Acts (Nov 4, 2007 by BK and one by me against Richard "Bayes Boy" Carrier's views im marfh of 14).


[1] E.M. Blaiklock, Jesus Christ: Man or Myth? Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984.

Non Christian writings of Roman empire (excluding Philo) that don't mention Jesus. This is all of them, the point being we don't have much first century stuff.

* An amateurish history of Rome by Vellius Paterculus, a retired army officer of Tiberius. It was published in 30 A.D., just when Jesus was getting started in His ministry.
* An inscription that mentions Pilate.
* Fables written by Phaedrus, a Macedonian freedman, in the 40s A.D.
* From the 50s and 60s A.D., Blaiklock tells us: "Bookends set a foot apart on this desk where I write would enclose the works from these significant years." Included are philosophical works and letters by Seneca; a poem by his nephew Lucan; a book on agriculture by Columella, a retired soldier; fragments of the novel Satyricon by Gaius Petronius; a few lines from a Roman satirist, Persius; Pliny the Elder's Historia Naturalis; fragments of a commentary on Cicero by Asconius Pedianus, and finally, a history of Alexander the Great by Quinus Curtius.

Of all these writers, only Seneca may have conceivably had reason to refer to Jesus. But considering his personal troubles with Nero, it is doubtful that he would have had the interest or the time to do any work on the subject.
* From the 70s and 80s A.D., we have some poems and epigrams by Martial, and works by Tacitus (a minor work on oratory) and Josephus (Against Apion, Wars of the Jews). None of these would have offered occasion to mention Jesus.
* From the 90s, we have a poetic work by Statius; twelve books by Quintillian on oratory; Tacitus' biography of his father-in-law Agricola, and his work on Germany. [Blaik.MM, 13-16]

"To this Meier adds [ibid., 23] that in general, knowledge of the vast majority of ancient peoples is "simply not accessible to us today by historical research and never will be." It is just as was said in his earlier comment on Alexander the Great: What we know of most ancient people as individuals could fit on just a few pieces of paper. Thus it is misguided for the skeptic to complain that we know so little about the historical Jesus, and have so little recorded about Him in ancient pagan sources. Compared to most ancient people, we know quite a lot about Jesus, and have quite a lot recorded about Him!"

So there just aren't that many overall sources to go by in the first palce. But why wouldn't more of Jesus' contempoaries write about him?

[2] Stephen Neil, The Interpretation of the New Testament:1861-1961, London: Oxford University press, 1964,143.

[3]G.Cornfeld,Archaeology of The Bible: Book by Book, New York: Harper and Row, 1976, 271-2).

[4] John Barnett, "What Bible Did Jesus Use? " on line resource URL:

[5] Paul Trebilco, The Early Christians in Ephesus From Paul To Ignatius,Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007.

article about Tarsus then and now, archeological excavations and pictures.

[6] compare the two passages
" But when John [of Gichala] was come to the city of Tiberias, he persuaded the men to revolt from their fidelity to me ...

A messenger had come to me from Silas, whom I had made governor of Tiberias ...

Upon the receipt of this letter of Silas, I took two hundred men along with me, and traveled all night ...
"But Paul thought not good to take John with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia ...
And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.– Acts 15.38,40
" And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them

" And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

We can see there is almost nothing parallel about these passages. The names are about all they have in common.

[7] Trebilco, op,cit., 2-4.

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