First-Century gospel manuscript

(FROM LIVE SCIENCE)

A text that may be the oldest copy of a gospel of Mark known to exist — written during the first century— is set to be published.

At present, the oldest surviving copies of the gospel texts date to the second century (the years 101 to 200).

The first-century gospel fragment was written on a sheet of papyrus that was later reused to create a mask that was worn by a mummy. Although the mummies of Egyptian pharaohs wore masks made of gold, ordinary people had to settle for masks made out of papyrus (or linen), paint and glue. Given how expensive papyrus was, people often had to reuse sheets that already had writing on them.

In recent years scientists have developed a technique that allows the glue of mummy masks to be undone without harming the ink on the paper. The text on the sheets can then be read.

The first-century gospel is one of hundreds of new texts that a team of about three-dozen scientists and scholars is working to uncover, and analyze, by using this technique of ungluing the masks, said Craig Evans, a professor of New Testament studies at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

“We’re recovering ancient documents from the first, second and third centuries. Not just Christian documents, not just biblical documents, but classical Greek texts, business papers, various mundane papers, personal letters,” Evans told Live Science. The documents include philosophical texts and copies of stories by the Greek poet Homer.

The business and personal letters sometimes have dates on them, he said. When the glue was dissolved, the researchers dated the first-century gospel in part by analyzing the other documents found in the same mask.

Scholars who work on the project have to sign a nondisclosure agreement that limits what they can say publicly. There are several reasons for this agreement. One is that some of the owners of these masks simply do not want to be made known, Evans said. “The scholars who are working on this project have to honor the request of the museums, universities, private owners, so forth.”

Evans said that the only reason he can talk about the first-century gospel before it is published is because a member of the team leaked some of the information in 2012. Evans was careful to say that he is not telling Live Science anything about the first-century gospel that hasn’t already been leaked online.

Evans says that the text was dated through a combination of carbon-14 dating, studying the handwriting on the fragment and studying the other documents found along with the gospel. These considerations led the researchers to conclude that the fragment was written before the year 90. With the nondisclosure agreement in place, Evans said that he can’t say much more about the text’s date until the papyrus is published.

Evans said that the research team will publish the first volume of texts obtained through the mummy masks and cartonnage later this year. It will include the gospel fragment that the researchers believe dates back to the first century.

http://www.livescience.com/49489-oldest-known-gospel-mummy-mask.html

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39 thoughts on “First-Century gospel manuscript

  1. What interests me is the fact that the discovery is described in the text as a ‘fragment’. While in the headlines it is described as a ‘copy’ of Gospel of Mark. That is interesting and a bit suspect.

    Rian.

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      • You’re quite right of course, but the term ‘a manuscript’ certainly gives the impression of a full copy. Anyway, halfway through the article you still do have to change your idea of just what it is.

        A problem of course with brief bits of a passage from scripture, is that you just cant be quite certain that the original piece it came from was precisely what can be identified today in our terms. just supposing Rabbi X or some traditional and forgotten individual made a statement which then went into folklore or tradition, then a teacher like Jesus or whoever in quoting it is assumed to have been the originator of it. We do have a couple of lines or quotes given in the Gospels if I recall correctly that on the spot appear to have been attributed to some OT scripture that we dont have any more nowadays.

        anyway, interesting stulf.
        Rian.

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      • More speculation Rian.
        The most important established fact about this papyrus, at this point, is that it has not yet been published—which is to say, only a small handful of individuals have seen the text and are able to say anything at all about it.

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      • Crumbs Bryan,
        You do love your little put-downs on my ‘speculations’ dont you? Unfortunately that practice leads unsuspecting readers to question the whole lot of what I am saying.

        Now in regard to the matter of the possibility of there being more than just one ancient text with a particular phrase or sentence in it, let me give you one very famous example of just that. It is a most interesting thing, and could point the reader toward assuming that the reported message was created by the writer who already knew the original. Or maybe St Paul automatically applied those words that he already knew, to the vision, since he might not have registered the precise words of the message he received.

        in the Book of Acts, there are three reports of the ‘vision’ of the Risen Christ that Paul received, and in two of them, the vision said the line: “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (the last word strictly referring to the ‘goad’ on the shoulders of a beast of burden). Now in a strikingly parallel situation to that of Paul, almost that exact same line appears in one of the classic tragedies written by Euripides, called ‘the Bacchae’.

        It is simply not just ‘my opinion’ or speculation about this issue. Understand that any scholar or archaeologist who uncovers a detached line in a piece of scroll or whatever, will always be on the lookout for examples like this. They do happen. Some anecdotes or parables that are attributed to Jesus are not necessarily original to him. I read once that some are actually based on obscure fables told by the famous Aesop.

        This is absolutely no reflection on Jesus in any way. He is frequently described as quoting old lines and passages. If he was as you suggested a couple of days back far better educated than the proverbial image of the Gallilean peasant describes, he may well have read and studied all sorts of literature from the Pagan world.

        Again, I am merely pointing out that sure, a tiny manuscript scrap like the one being discussed, is still something of a mystery to us; and I am not saying that it simply is NOT from the Gospel according to Mark. So I would recommend that you dont just dismiss my comments quite so readily in future. I have read a lot of books by ‘real’ scholars, you know. And real scholars are not necessarily believers in Bible Inerrancy. I personally dont believe that you are really an absolute believer in it either. (and THAT, my dear Bryan is a little challenge that I’m tossing at you in order to see if you will respond.)
        Rian.

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      • A favorite argument by non-believers is that Jesus Christ’s existence is confined to the pages of the Judeo-Christian Bible. When presented with documentary evidence of his historical existence, Bible critics then use another ploy: they attack the credibility of those who confirmed the existence of Jesus Christ and/or they attack the credibility of what was written about Jesus Christ.

        Below are three non-Christians from the 1st Century AD who mentioned Jesus Christ in their secular writings.

        Read more: http://www.city-data.com/forum/religion-spirituality/1514922-jesus-history-confirmed-1st-century-non.html#ixzz3WsOvWEmH

        Below are three non-Christians from the 1st Century AD who mentioned Jesus Christ in their secular writings.

        PERSON #1:
        Name and Occupation: Cornelius Tacitus, Roman Historian

        DOB to Date of Death: A.D. 55 to A.D. 120

        Attitude Towards Christianity: Hostile

        What He Said: He confirmed that CHRISTUS (a common misspelling of Christ at the time) was executed by Pilate.

        Highlights on Tacitus: A Roman historian who lived through the reign of over a half-dozen Roman emperors, Tacitus has been called “the greatest historian of ancient Rome.”

        PERSON #2:
        Name and Occupation: Flavius Josephus, Jewish Historian

        DOB to Date of Death: 37 AD — Died after 100 AD

        Attitude Towards Christianity: Apathetic (could care less about them)

        What He Said: He confirmed that Christ who performed miracles was executed by Pilate.

        Highlights on Josephus: A Jewish historian of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD (the century in which Jesus Christ lived and died). He has been credited by many as recording some of the earliest history of Jesus Christ outside of the gospels. Flavius Josephus belonged to the group of Jewish religious leaders–the Pharisees–responsible for Jesus’ death.

        Flavius Josephus joined the zealots who rebelled against Roman rule between 66 and 74 AD, becoming a leader of their forces in Galilee, and living through the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. He was captured by the Romans, and would have been executed, but he went over to their side and ended up becoming the Roman emperor’s Adviser on Jewish Affairs.

        PERSON #3:
        Name and Occupation: Pliny The Younger (born Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus), Roman Governor

        DOB to Date of Death: 61 AD to 112 AD

        Attitude Towards Christianity: Hostile. He executed Christians

        What He Said: Referred to Christ as a “god of the Christians.”

        Highlights on Pliny: Pliny condemned Men, Women, and children to death if they refused to curse Christ and if they refused to deny they were Christians.

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      • Hi JohnR,
        I’m afraid your comments there are rather flawed. Neither of the two Roman historians you mention wrote about Jesus DURING the 1st century, but rather in the early 2nd century. Pliny in particular demonstrates in his famous letter, that he knows very little about the Christians. Also like Tacitus, he doesnt mention the actual name of Jesus. Both are dealing purely with reports and hearsay. Of course we well know that at the beginning of the 2nd century, the Roman world knew about Christians and was just starting to get some idea of what they believed, so neither reference really says much at all about the history of some Jew who was executed some 70 or more years before.

        Todate, we have absolutely no Roman manuscripts or inscriptions of the 1st century which even refer to Jesus or to Christ or to Christians.

        As far as good old Josephus is concerned, his main passage has been regarded as suspect by most scholars for centuries. Most believe that it was either interpolated with supposed Christian references by early Fathers like Eusebius in the 4th century, or even that it was completely fabricated by Christians in those early days. I have an account of a recent linguistic investigation of the passage that demonstrated quite clearly that it carries little veracity.

        The fact that the passage includes the statement that Jesus was ‘the Christ’ in itself demonstrates its fraudulent nature, since Josephus as a Jew would not be making such a statement.

        Of course, none of this actually proves that Jesus was non-existent. I leave myself completely open to the question.

        Cheers, Rian.

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      • Thank you JohnR. That is fascinating.

        As they say, all three of the individuals described above were people in powerful positions who were anti-Christian and belonged to groups that actively killed Christians. All three individuals belonged to organizations that were responsible for Jesus’ death. What did they have to gain from mentioning the existence of Jesus Christ in their writings–thereby confirming his earthly existence?

        Flavius Josephus, a Jew, was born a mere four years after Jesus was executed. He became a Jewish Pharisee as an adult, in addition to becoming a respected historian and advisor to the Roman emperor. Do you see anything significant to his being a Pharisee, a historian, and Roman emperor advisor–and the fact that he mentioned Jesus Christ in his writings?

        Cornelius Tactitus was known as the greatest historian of his time, during which he lived through the reign of over a half-dozen Roman emperors. It’s significant that he mentioned Jesus Christ in his writings

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      • Futhermore John, I think you are correct when you say A favourite argument by non-believers is that Jesus Christ’s existence is confined to the pages of the Judeo-Christian Bible. When presented with documentary evidence of his historical existence, Bible critics then use another ploy: they attack the credibility of those who confirmed the existence of Jesus Christ and/or they attack the credibility of what was written about Jesus Christ.

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      • Christ is a title not a name.

        Why don’t any of those references refer to JESUS ??

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      • Well Bryan, I sincerely trust that you and a number of our brothers and sisters on this blog were watching SBS just now.

        The details given there in the programme on the Roman Martyrdoms, accords perfectly with what I’ve been stating here for months. Real Scholars are the ones that I have been researching and quoting. At the point the presentation left off this evening, it was the Decius martyrdoms that were being looked at with all the evidence of sheer fraud and other escape routes being taken by Christians in order to escape punishment.,

        Those same troubles under Decius lasted for about three years, and then after just two or three years, a further twelve months or so occurred. The scene was relatively peaceful then for Christians for just under fifty years, when the worst literal persecution occurred. This was under Diocletian, and was actually the first such during which Christians were commanded to actually surrender their Scriptural books. This went on for about two years.

        We have to keep in mind the fact that there is a huge difference between Persecution and Prosecution; and the latter is a more accurate term for most of the troubles suffered by Christians up till this time. The first to suffer under Diocletian were essentially the clergy, and association was proscribed, while church buildings were destroyed.

        It is interesting to note too that though once again as in the time of Decius, all the population was required to make sacrifice, once again there was a lot of fraud and evasion done on the part of the Christians. Some parts of the Empire took the whole business rather lightly and scarcely troubled the faithful. One other fact of interest is that surprisingly, numbers of Christians held high civic office round Rome and were forced to relinquish their jobs. Again, relatively small numbers of the faithful were martyred.

        Just a few short years later under Maximinus Daia, a further brief persecution went on between about 311 – 313. And shortly after that came Constantine. It is calculated that in those whole 300 years, there were little more than some twelve years altogether during which there was any genuine persecution of Christians by Rome.

        If anyone wants to familiarise themselves more with the whole subject, then I recommend ‘The Myth of Persecution’ by Professor Candida Moss of Notre Dame University in America.

        Cheers, Rian.

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      • Hi Terry, some interesting material there. Thanks.

        Just one little niggle. The ‘Great Persecution’ lasted from 303 to 305, the occasion of Diocletian’s retirement. It was briefly renewed by Daia from 311 to 313. Moss states that if by any chance it continued in any form straight after Diocletian’s retirement, then while in many regions of the Empire it was only a couple of years, in Rome itself it would not have been more than approx a decade. In any case there is very little documentation, other than the tales and legends that developed in later centuries.

        When you think of it, about the easiest way for Christians to evade the troubles, was just to leave town. And many did just that. A classic example of course, was the influential Bishop of Carthage, Cyprian, who made a point of escaping to the country when things got hot there. When he came back in safer times, he had the difficult job of discussing just what to do with Christians who had defaulted and renounced their faith under the pressure.

        Cheers, Rian.

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    • Due to the informal and personality-driven nature of the Roman legal system, nothing “other than a prosecutor” (an accuser, including a member of the public, not only a holder of an official position), “a charge of Christianity, and a governor willing to punish on that charge”[ was required to bring a legal case against a Christian. Roman law was largely concerned with property rights, leaving many gaps in criminal and public law. Thus the process cognitio extra ordinem (“special investigation”) filled the legal void left by both code and court. All provincial governors had the right to run trials in this way as part of their imperium in the province.

      In cognitio extra ordinem, an accuser called a delator brought before the governor an individual to be charged with a certain offense—in this case, that of being a Christian. This delator was prepared to act as the prosecutor for the trial, and could be rewarded with some of the accused’s property if he made an adequate case or charged with calumnia (malicious prosecution) if his case was insufficient. If the governor agreed to hear the case—and he was free not to—he oversaw the trial from start to finish: he heard the arguments, decided on the verdict, and passed the sentence. Christians sometimes offered themselves up for punishment, and the hearings of such voluntary martyrs were conducted in the same way.

      More often than not, the outcome of the case was wholly subject to the governor’s personal opinion. While some tried to rely on precedent or imperial opinion where they could, as evidenced by Pliny the Younger’s letter to Trajan concerning the Christians, such guidance was often unavailable.In many cases months’ and weeks’ travel away from Rome, these governors had to make decisions about running their provinces according to their own instincts and knowledge.

      Even if these governors had easy access to the city, they would not have found much official legal guidance on the matter of the Christians. Before the anti-Christian policies under Decius beginning in 250, there was no empire-wide edict against the Christians, and the only solid precedent was that set by Trajan in his reply to Pliny: the name of “Christian” alone was sufficient grounds for punishment and Christians were not to be sought out by the government. There is speculation that Christians were also condemned for contumacia—disobedience toward the magistrate, akin to the modern “contempt of court.

      Given the lack of guidance and distance of imperial supervision, the outcomes of the trials of Christians varied widely. Many followed Pliny’s formula: they asked if the accused individuals were Christians, gave those who answered in the affirmative a chance to recant, and offered those who denied or recanted a chance to prove their sincerity by making a sacrifice to the Roman gods and swearing by the emperor’s genius. Those who persisted were executed.

      During the Great Persecution which lasted from 303 to 312/313, governors were given direct edicts from the emperor. Christian churches and texts were to be destroyed, meeting for Christian worship was forbidden, and those Christians who refused to recant lost their legal rights. Later, it was ordered that Christian clergy be arrested and that all inhabitants of the empire sacrifice to the gods.

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      • We can almost reconstruct the gospel just from early non-Christian sources: Jesus was called the Christ (Josephus), did “magic,” led Israel into new teachings, and was hanged on Passover for them (Babylonian Talmud) in Judea (Tacitus), but claimed to be God and would return (Eliezar), which his followers believed, worshipping Him as God (Pliny the Younger).

        There is overwhelming evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ, both in secular and biblical history. Perhaps the greatest evidence that Jesus did exist is the fact that literally thousands of Christians in the first century A.D., including the twelve apostles, were willing to give their lives as martyrs for Jesus Christ. People will die for what they believe to be true, but no one will die for what they know to be a lie.

        Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/did-Jesus-exist.html#ixzz3X8ikz8xZ

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      • James,
        Apart from the inevitable Josephus, none of the authorities you quote there as evidence was writing in the first century. And Josephus is still most suspect for the authenticity of his quotes on Jesus. Some of your references are from much later times. Strictly speaking, all of those anyway are the sorts of things that the writers could easily have picked up from whatever talk they heard in their own times.

        A question, please give me some documentation from the first century as well about these ‘thousands of Christians’ giving up their lives as martyrs? Also, where, apart from in apocryphal works and legends, are there any records of the death of all of the Apostles? If you were looking at the programme on SBS last evening, you will have seen how there is no evidence for the huge numbers of Christian martyrs claimed during the Roman time.

        Cheers, Rian.

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      • Josephus confirms the accuracy of the Canonical Gospels (and Acts) in the following recollections:

        • The time frame that the Gospels place Jesus in,

        • Jesus had a reputation for teaching wisdom,

        • Jesus was believed to have performed miracles,

        • Jesus had a brother named James,

        • Some Jewish leaders were involved with Jesus’ execution,

        • Pilate was Prefect and had Jesus executed,

        • Jesus was executed by crucifixion,

        • Jesus was known as a messianic figure,

        • Jesus was the founder of Christianity,

        • Acts’ portrayal of James as the leader of the Jerusalem Church is confirmed,

        • The existence of early Jewish persecution of Christians in Jerusalem, and,

        • That the early Christians reported that Jesus was raised from the dead as foretold by the Jewish prophets (based on Eisler’s reconstruction and Mason’s comments on linguistic similarities).

        Evidence of this is contained in these books.

        Barnett, Paul Jesus and the Rise of Early Christianity Downer’s Grove, 1999

        Bruce, FF, The New Testament Documents Downer’s Grove, 2000

        Charlesworth, James, “Research on the Historical Jesus Today: Jesus and the Pseudigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi Codices, Josephus, and Archeology,” Princeton Seminary Bulletin, vol. vi

        Charlesworth, James H. Jesus within Judaism New York, 1988

        Cohen, Shaye J.D. Josephus in Galilee and Rome Brill, 1979

        Doherty, Earl The Jesus Puzzle Canadian Humanist Publications, 1999

        Eisler, Robert The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist Alexander Haggerty Krappe trns., Methuen, 1931

        Eusebius, The History of the Church ed. Andrew Louth, tr. G. A. Williamson, Penguin 1990

        Feldman, Louis H., “The Testimonium Flavianum: The State of the Question,” Christological Perspectives, Eds. Robert F. Berkley and Sarah Edwards, New York, 1982

        Feldman, Louis H. Josephus and Modern Scholarship New York, 1984

        Feldman, Louis H., “Josephus,” Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 3, Doubleday, 1992

        Feldman, Louis H., “Josephus: Interpretative Methods and Tendencies,” in Dictionary of New Testament Background Downer’s Grove, 2000

        France, RT, The Evidence for Jesus Downer’s Grove, 1982

        Fredriksen, Paula Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews Vintage, 2000

        Grant, Robert The Apostolic Fathers, Vol. 4, London, 1966

        Johnson, Luke T. The Real Jesus Harper San Francisco, Reprint ed., 1997

        Lowder, Jeffery, “Josh McDowell’s ‘Evidence’ for Jesus,” http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/jury/chap5.html (accessed 12/28/03)

        Kirby, Peter, “The Testimonium Flavianum” http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/testimonium.html (accessed 12/28/03)

        Mason, Steven Josephus and the New Testament Hendrickson Publishers, 1992

        Meier, John P. A Marginal Jew, Volume 1, Anchor Bible, 2001

        Pearse, Roger, “Josephus in the Ante-Nicene Fathers: All the Citations” http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/josephus/josephus.htm (accessed on 1/4/04)

        Price, Christopher “Response to Ken Olson on the Testamonium Flavianum” http://www.geocities.com/christiancadre/member_contrib/cp_josephus.html (accessed 9/1/04)

        Sanders, EP The Historical Figure of Jesus New York, 1993

        Stanton, Graham The Gospels and Jesus Oxford Univ. Press, 1989

        Thackeray, Henry St .John ed. and trans., Josephus, vol. 4, Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge, 1930

        Van Voorst, Robert Jesus Outside the New Testament Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2000

        Vermes, Geza, “The Jesus Notice of Josephus Re-Examined,” Journal of Jewish Studies, Spring 1987

        Whealey, Alice, The Testimonium Flavianum Controversy from Antiquity to the Present, 2000 SBL Josephus Seminar (available online at http://josephus.yorku.ca/pdf/whealey2000.pdf, accessed 12/28/03)

        Winter, Paul, “Josephus on Jesus and James,” in E. Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, rev. and ed. by G. Vermes and F. Millar (Edinburgh: Clark, 1973), pages 428-441

        Yamuchi, Edwin M, “Jesus Outside the New Testament”, in Jesus Under Fire, Eds. Michael J. Wilkin and J.P. Moreland, Zondervan, 1996

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      • Reports of Christians dying for their faith almost doubled between 2012 and 2013, with more Christians martyred in Syria last year than the worldwide total for 2012.

        Open Doors, a non-denominational group that supports persecuted Christians, said Wednesday that 2,123 Christians were killed because of their faith in 2013, up from 1,201 last year, and that 1,213 martyrs were recorded in Syria alone, Reuters reports.

        The organization named North Korea as the most dangerous country for Christians for the 12th year in a row, followed by Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S.-based group also said that radical Islamists were the main source of persecution in many of the countries on the list, and that hostility towards Christians was increasing in Africa.

        [Reuters]

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      • Hi James,

        I’m struggling to see just what is proven by the references you give there. I am familiar with a number of your authorities and books. Obviously they are offering arguments based on the only information that is currently available today. Individuals like Geza Vermes will have extra inside details of processes, legal points and general history; but none of them has information specifically about Jesus, that is not commonly available to us all.

        In the arguments I’ve been putting forward on this blog about the Roman Persecutions and the Christian Martyrs, I’ve given details that no-one else here had apparently come across; but I was not offering general arguments about the matter. None of it was purely my own personal opinion and none of it was specifically dealing with the life and person of Jesus, which is simply not documented other than in story and in Christian Scripture.

        Now everyone, I think, whatever their view of Christianity might be, agrees that there were Christians around the Roman world at the end of the 1st century, and into the beginning of the 2nd century. That means that stories, accounts, images and details of the life and death of Jesus were circulating and available to anyone by then. (The Apostle Paul makes it plain that even in his own early day, different and presumably false representations of Jesus were raising their ugly heads, and duly giving him problems.) None of the authorities you mention can detail any extra historical information about Jesus than was readily available at that time; and therefore the fact that Josephus gives accurate descriptions of things that were generally known and believed, really proves nothing.

        Sure, the evidence does give every indication that at least the bare bones of the life and death of Jesus were most probably accurate. Beyond those essential facts, there is no actual evidence about him that anyone can point to. Still no contemporary writings about Jesus by non-Christians. The rest of the claims in the Canonical Gospels are simply not proven by these later reports.

        So as I said at the beginning here, I cant really see just what you are claiming to prove by your list of authorities, excellent as they are.

        Cheers, Rian.

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      • I must get hold of some of those books James. Thank you for listing them.

        Question: “Did Jesus really exist? Is there any historical evidence of Jesus Christ?”

        Answer: Typically, when this question is asked, the person asking qualifies the question with “outside of the Bible.” We do not grant this idea that the Bible cannot be considered a source of evidence for the existence of Jesus. The New Testament contains hundreds of references to Jesus Christ. There are those who date the writing of the Gospels to the second century A.D., more than 100 years after Jesus’ death. Even if this were the case (which we strongly dispute), in terms of ancient evidences, writings less than 200 years after events took place are considered very reliable evidences. Further, the vast majority of scholars (Christian and non-Christian) will grant that the Epistles of Paul (at least some of them) were in fact written by Paul in the middle of the first century A.D., less than 40 years after Jesus’ death. In terms of ancient manuscript evidence, this is extraordinarily strong proof of the existence of a man named Jesus in Israel in the early first century A.D.

        It is also important to recognize that in A.D. 70, the Romans invaded and destroyed Jerusalem and most of Israel, slaughtering its inhabitants. Entire cities were literally burned to the ground. We should not be surprised, then, if much evidence of Jesus’ existence was destroyed. Many of the eyewitnesses of Jesus would have been killed. These facts likely limited the amount of surviving eyewitness testimony of Jesus.

        Considering that Jesus’ ministry was largely confined to a relatively unimportant area in a small corner of the Roman Empire, a surprising amount of information about Jesus can be drawn from secular historical sources. Some of the more important historical evidences of Jesus include the following:

        The first-century Roman Tacitus, who is considered one of the more accurate historians of the ancient world, mentioned superstitious “Christians” (from Christus, which is Latin for Christ), who suffered under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius. Suetonius, chief secretary to Emperor Hadrian, wrote that there was a man named Chrestus (or Christ) who lived during the first century (Annals 15.44).

        Flavius Josephus is the most famous Jewish historian. In his Antiquities he refers to James, “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ.” There is a controversial verse (18:3) that says, “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats….He was [the] Christ…he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.” One version reads, “At this time there was a wise man named Jesus. His conduct was good and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who became his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.”

        Julius Africanus quotes the historian Thallus in a discussion of the darkness which followed the crucifixion of Christ (Extant Writings, 18).

        Pliny the Younger, in Letters 10:96, recorded early Christian worship practices including the fact that Christians worshiped Jesus as God and were very ethical, and he includes a reference to the love feast and Lord’s Supper.

        The Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 43a) confirms Jesus’ crucifixion on the eve of Passover and the accusations against Christ of practicing sorcery and encouraging Jewish apostasy.

        Lucian of Samosata was a second-century Greek writer who admits that Jesus was worshiped by Christians, introduced new teachings, and was crucified for them. He said that Jesus’ teachings included the brotherhood of believers, the importance of conversion, and the importance of denying other gods. Christians lived according to Jesus’ laws, believed themselves to be immortal, and were characterized by contempt for death, voluntary self-devotion, and renunciation of material goods.

        Mara Bar-Serapion confirms that Jesus was thought to be a wise and virtuous man, was considered by many to be the king of Israel, was put to death by the Jews, and lived on in the teachings of His followers.

        Then we have all the Gnostic writings (The Gospel of Truth, The Apocryphon of John, The Gospel of Thomas, The Treatise on Resurrection, etc.) that all mention Jesus.

        Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/did-Jesus-exist.html#ixzz3X9aX0x1C

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      • You are most welcome Kerrie.
        Every decent scholar now concludes that Jesus existed and was crucified and that many of his followers went to their deaths because of Him.

        Here is a list of eye-witness martyrs as compiled from numerous sources outside the Bible, the most-famous of which is Foxes’ Christian Martyrs of the World:

        Stephen was preaching the gospel in Jerusalem on the Passover after Christ’s crucifixion. He was cast out of the city and stoned to death. About 2,000 Christians suffered martyrdom during this time (about 34 A.D.).

        James, the son of Zebedee and the elder brother of John, was killed when Herod Agrippa arrived as governor of Judea. Many early disciples were martyred under Agrippa’s rule, including Timon and Parmenas (about 44 A.D.).

        Philip, a disciple from Bethsaida, in Galilee, suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia. He was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified (about 54 A.D.).

        Matthew, the tax-collector from Nazareth who wrote a gospel in Hebrew, was preaching in Ethiopia when he suffered martyrdom by the sword (about 60 A.D.).

        James, the Brother of Jesus, administered the early church in Jerusalem and was the author of a book in the Bible. At the age of 94 he was beat and stoned, and finally had his brains bashed out with a fuller’s club.

        Matthias was the apostle who filled the vacant place of Judas. He was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.

        Andrew, the brother of Peter, preached the gospel throughout Asia. On his arrival at Edessa, he was arrested and crucified on a cross, two ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground (thus the term, St. Andrew’s Cross).

        Mark was converted to Christianity by Peter, and then transcribed Peter’s account of Jesus in his Gospel. Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria in front of Serapis, their pagan idol.

        Peter was condemned to death and crucified at Rome. Jerome holds that Peter was crucified upside down, at his own request, because he said he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord.

        Paul suffered in the first persecution under Nero. Because of the converting impact he was having on people in the face of martyrdom, he was led to a private place outside the city where he gave his neck to the sword.

        Jude, the brother of James, was commonly called Thaddeus. He was crucified at Edessa in about 72 A.D.

        Bartholomew translated the Gospel of Matthew in India. He was cruelly beaten and crucified by idolaters there.

        Thomas, called Didymus, preached in Parthia and India. He was thrust through with a spear by pagan priests.

        Luke was the author of the Gospel under his name. He traveled with Paul through various countries and was supposedly hanged on an olive tree by idolatrous priests in Greece.

        Barnabas, of Cyprus, was killed without many known facts about 73 A.D. Simon, surnamed Zelotes, preached in Africa and Britain, where he was crucified in about 74 A.D.

        John, the “beloved disciple,” was the brother of James. Although he suffered great persecution, including imprisonment where he wrote the book of Revelation, he was the only apostle who escaped a violent death. –

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      • If anyone is interested in watching the SBS program, ‘Jesus: Rise to Power’ that Rian is talking about, you can do so here on SBS On Demand:

        http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/program/1528/jesus-rise-to-power

        Of interest is a comment by Dr Leonard Pinto concerning this program. Yes, I am inclined to agree with him:

        “Jesus: Rise to Power series, like many other documentaries consider Jesus, Christians, their faith and the Church sceptically as materialist do. Here the preference is given to Roman secular history, sociology and politics and downplays the faith of Chrisitans, their consciousness, their values and their application to the modern world. It brands the heroic death of persons for their conviction, as a cult of martyrdom and baptism of blood. Ironically, we would consider a person dying for his/her country as a hero! There is no theological or martyrological input to the document, but archaeological, historical and anthropological inputs from academics. Evidence in texts is searched assiduously, but the evidence in consciousness of people and their faith consciientization are rejected. The documentary justifies the actions of Romans in killing Christians for their faith-convictions as an attempt to keep the Roman Empire united in recognising their gods and sacrifices. It takes seriously the malicious or ignorant Roman writings, and rejects as fabrications, the Gospels, Epistles, Acts which presents the consciousness of the early Christians and the writings of the Fathers of the Church and Lives of the Saints, the consciousness of later Christians. The documentary, while providing useful information, attempts to demythologise or deChristianise, Christianity. The take-home message on a Sunday night from SBS is Christian martyrs are good for nothing! I strongly question this attitude of the western materialsm, in their so-called investigations into Christianity.

        Indeed, materialiasm has engulfed the West. All the culture, transcendence and spirituality that Christianity brought to the West for many centuries is gone, and now the West is looking for a religion in atheism, paganism, Buddhism or Hinduism. The rise of Islam is partly a response to materialism of the West!

        In biblical terms, we are coming to the times of the Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah or Noah’s Ark; a rejection of the spiritual and the transcendental, God, Jesus, first Christians and the Church for the sake of materialism, its pleasures and we take pleasure in ridiculing Faith.”

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      • James and all,

        First I completely agree on the truth of all the horrendous deaths that have been inflicted on Christians in modern times. In fact early in the SBS programme on Sunday evening that very fact was mentioned. However, just because Christians are murdered by nasties, it doesnt necessarily follow that they can be termed as martyrs. Surely a martyr has to have been actually faced with the ‘Question’, and has duly chosen to remain faithful. The word means Witness of course.

        Second, regardless of the possibly skeptical approach of the makers of the programme or of other modern researchers towards the Romans and the Christians, there is still no evidence at all of huge numbers of the martyrs under Rome. There is simply no documentation or historical research that can back up the matter. However, we do have lots of information about the Roman laws and the attitudes of the Roman authorities in different parts of the Empire.

        Upwards of 50 Christians were killed in France and are remembered as the Martyrs of Lyons. In other places, certain named victims are well documented like Blandina, and Perpetua, Ignatius, Polycarp etc. But very few others are recalled in any particular detail.

        And Monica, you quote Dr Leonard Pinto who deplores the mood of the SBS programme. Does that good Doctor have any evidence from the ancient world that contradicts the programme? You didnt indicate that he was stating that the record of persecutions and martyrdoms was wrong, – rather more in the way that the spiritual truth of Christianity is being ignored by the researchers.

        The stories of the martyrs were generally told and written down centuries after the claimed events. Again I say, just bring up the evidence, – quote for me any modern historians on the matter. Surely if the matter has been distorted by skeptics, then detail some modern Christian HISTORIANS who can detail and correct the matter with evidence. The lady historian whose book I quote, – Professor Candida Moss is a practicing Catholic, I might add. On the programme itself we saw comments given by Elaine Pagels who is a practicing Anglican. In the Vatican, the official attitude is that the greater part of the martyr records are little more than ‘edifying romances’. The other day, I detailed here some information about the Jesuit Bollandists and their enormous research over three centuries into the Martyrologies.

        Third, in regard to the deaths of the Apostles, we do have the deaths of a couple in the New Testament. But there is no authentic history of the rest of them other than in apocryphal gospels and other legendary writing. Those writings have always been rejected by the Church. If the ones quoted are actually true, then why weren’t they included in the pages of the Christian New Testament? In any case, apart from their deaths, where are any records of thousands of other Christians who willingly died for their faith during the first century?

        Cheers, Rian.

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      • The Persecution of the Apostles Was Anticipated by the Gospel Authors
        The New Testament Gospel authors (writing the earliest accounts of the life of Jesus and his followers) described the threat of persecution even while Jesus was alive. They documented Jesus’ repeated warnings to his followers related to persecution (i.e. Matthew 24:9, John 15:18-21, John 16:1-4, Luke 14: 25-33).

        The Persecution of the Apostles Was Described by the Author of Acts
        Luke described the immediate persecution of the disciples following the Ascension of Jesus in his Book of Acts (written in the 1st Century):

        Peter and John were arrested (Acts 4:3 and Acts 5:18),

        Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 6 and 7),

        The believers were persecuted as a group (Acts 8:1),

        Members were pulled from their homes and taken to prison (Acts 8:3),

        King Herod put James (the brother of John) to death and arrested Peter (Acts 12).

        The Persecution of the Apostles Was Described Personally by New Testament Authors
        Paul (writing again the 1st Century) described his consistent persecution (i.e. 2 Corinthians 11:24-28) and Luke corroborated Paul’s suffering:

        In Jerusalem, Paul spoke openly and challenged the Hellenists. They, in turn, tried to kill him (Acts 9:28-30)

        In Antioch, the Jewish leadership encouraged persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and eventually expelled them from the area (Acts 13:48-52)

        In Iconium, both Jews and Gentiles attempted to stone Paul and Barnabas, forcing them to flee to Lystra (Acts 14:5-6)

        The Jewish residents of Lystra convinced the citizenry to stone Paul as well. He nearly died from this stoning but was rescued by the disciples (Acts 19-20)

        Paul and Silas were beaten openly and thrown into prison in Philippi (Acts 16:19-40)

        In Berea, the Thessalonian Jewish believers incited the crowd and forced Paul to flee by sea (Acts 17:13-14)

        Paul was eventually arrested in Caesarea and taken Governor Felix (Acts 24:1). He was ultimately taken to Rome where he was placed in house arrest under guard (Acts 28)

        The Persecution of the Apostles Was Described by the Second Generation of Christian Authors

        The early students of the Apostles described the martyrdom of their teachers in ancient non-Biblical documents. They also described the persecution of other early Christians.

        Clement of Rome (80-140 AD) confirmed Peter “endured not one but many labors, and thus having borne his testimony went to his appointed place of glory” (1 Clement 5:4). Clement also confirmed Paul “had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned” (1 Clement 5:5) and “when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance” (1 Clement 5:6). Clement also described “sudden and repeated calamities and reverses which are befalling us” (1 Clement 1:1).

        Ignatius (105-115 AD) described Paul as a martyr (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians, Chapter 12). He also described himself as a “a condemned man” and anticipated his martyrdom in Rome, where he would “become food for the wild beasts, through whose instrumentality it will be granted me to attain to God” (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans, Chapter 4). Ignatius also referred to the persecution of the Church in Antioch (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians, Chapter 10).

        Polycarp (110-140 AD) described the martyrdom of Paul “and the rest of the Apostles” in addition to the martyrdom of “Ignatius and Zosimus and Rufus” along with “others also who came from among yourselves” (Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians 9:1)

        The Persecution of the Second Generation of Christians Was Described by Subsequent Authors\

        Followers of the Church Fathers wrote about the martyrdom of these early Church leaders, claiming they were following the examples of the Apostles.

        Clement was banished from Rome by Emperor Trajan and forced to work in a stone quarry reportedly drowned as a martyr (c. 99AD)

        Ignatius was reportedly martyred in the Roman Colosseum under Emperor Trajan (c. 117AD)

        Polycarp was reportedly martyred (along with six others) by Antoninus Pius (c. 160AD). After refusing to recant his faith, he told his persecutors, “Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never did me wrong, how then can I blaspheme my king who hath saved me?”

        Justin Martyr was prosecuted (together with his companions) by Junius Rusticus. Justin was ultimately beheaded as a martyr (c. 165AD)

        The Persecution of 1st and 2nd Century Christians Was Described by Ancient Non-Christians

        Early non-Christian sources confirm the persecution accounts of the early Church.

        Tacitus described the persecution of Christians in Rome (c. 64-68AD) within 30 years of Jesus’ crucifixion. “Nero falsely accused and executed with the most exquisite punishments those people called Christians.” According to Tacitus, some Christians “were seized who admitted their faith, and then, using the information they provided, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much for the crime of burning the city, but for hatred of the human race.” These early Christians were brutally executed, “and perishing they were additionally made into sports: they were killed by dogs by having the hides of beasts attached to them, or they were nailed to crosses or set aflame, and, when the daylight passed away, they were used as nighttime lamps.” (Annals)

        Suetonius (69-122AD) also described the persecution of the early Christians. He said Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) “expelled them from Rome,” (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars;Claudius 25)and reported that, under Nero, “punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition” (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars;Nero 16)

        Pliny the Younger (Governor of Pontus / Bithynia) confirmed the persecution of Christians in his letter to Emperor Trajan (c. 112AD). He asked the Emperor “whether pardon is to be granted for repentance, or, if a man has once been a Christian, it does him no good to have ceased to be one; whether the name itself, even without offenses, or only the offenses associated with the name are to be punished.” Pliny told Trajan, “I interrogated these as to whether they were Christians; those who confessed I interrogated a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; those who persisted I ordered executed.” Pliny excused those who rejected Christ and proved their allegiance to the Roman gods: “Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ–none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do–these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshipped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.” Trajan, in his response to Pliny, confirms the means by which early Christians could avoid persecution: “If they are denounced and proved guilty, they are to be punished, with this reservation, that whoever denies that he is a Christian and really proves it, that is, by worshiping our gods, even though he was under suspicion in the past, shall obtain pardon through repentance.”
        – See more at: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/were-the-early-christians-really-persecuted/#sthash.5yLMy7ho.dpufmore at: http://www.allaboutfollowingjesus.org/voice-of-the-

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      • Read Rodney Stark’s Early Christianity. He’s a modern historian and sociologist who addresses this exact issue through a historiological perspective. While we don’t have numbers, he primarily argues that the number the martyrs were a statistically significant percentage of the Christian population, but perhaps not a large aggregate number.

        But no-one really knows. Rian claims that she knows but she doesn’t. None of us were there. It is a moot point and not worth focussing on. The facts are that many Christians died for their faith.

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      • I quite agree John. Thanks for echoing what a lot of people probably think. There’s much more to life than arguing over things that don’t really matter and can’t be proven one way or another.

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      • Yes, thanks John. You’ve spoken for me also. The numbers aren’t important, but it is fact that there were genuine Christian martyrs who died for their faith, and always will be. That is faith in action— these people were living by faith when they died. May we also be found living by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

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      • Terry and JohnR,

        It’s not important, but Rian is a he and not a she. look, I don’t claim personally to KNOW. But I claim to have read the latest and relevant historical detail from numerous historians and encyclopaedic references. And of course I know that many Christians suffered in the early days. In small Christian communities even a tiny handful of casualties represented (as Stark states) a sad loss to them.

        As far as Rodney Stark is concerned, one of the first articles I found about him on the internet put it this way. Stark states that ‘the number of martyrs was never very large, and the persecutions broke out intermittently and never focused on Christians everywhere.’ So there is an historian, (-actually it appears a Sociologist rather, but I wont quibble on it.) Anyway, Stark is confirming what I have been saying that there were not a large number of martyrs under Rome. He actually doesn’t do anything much for your argument.

        Now as to that list you offer Terry, I notice that though it looks long and impressive, in the first half of it, many of the instances are actually of acts perpetrated on the same individuals over and over again. 8 of these for example were about Paul being attacked but not killed, not to mention the reports of it by Polycarp and Ignatius as well, and it is taken for granted that Paul was executed in Rome eventually. It doesn’t really leave very many. We certainly have reports in Scripture about the persecution of Paul, but no reference there to his death. Interesting that though there are the comments in the Scriptures, about Saul before his conversion, imprisoning Jewish Christians, there’ is no mention of any of them being killed.

        You quote that ‘the persecution of the Apostles was described by the second generation of Christian authors. I take it that you are referring to the testimonies of Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp and Justin. None of these details was written during that all important 1st century. And I am intrigued by that comment you make about how ‘Early non-Christian sources confirm the persecution accounts of the early church.’ But persecution does not necessarily mean the death of the martyr; and as well, I doubt that you will find any non-Christian source speaking of ‘persecution’. Prosecution or punishment yes. You had demonstrated that in the multiple attacks on Paul, that didn’t kill him. ‘Martyrdom’ by Christian definition means witnessing to the death.

        Of course we well know the quotes from Tacitus, Pliny and Suetonius, and actually the latter’s comments just consist of a sentence about how the Emperor expelled them from Rome (hardly to be seen as martyrdom), and that punishment was inflicted on them. Again not actually stating they had been killed. There was obviously very little known about the Christians – just no precedent, when Pliny dealt with them. He knew so little that he had to write to Trajan to check it out.

        Despite Tacitus being a great historian, there are many scholars who believe his Nero/great fire story to be suspect as an interpolated Christian forgery. The text comes only on a late copy of the 8th century, speaks of an ‘immense multitude’ killed by Nero in Rome. There is no evidence either from Paul or anyone else that there was anything like a big number of Christians in Rome in 64AD. This is acknowledged by most Christian authorities. None of the Church Fathers ever mentions Christians being killed by Nero, in connection with the great fire.

        Just to repeat. Of course there were –as Rodney Stark states – some minor persecutions, but until the ‘Great Persecution’ under Diocletian in 303AD, the greater part of the suffering of Christians was from either mob complaints and violence, or ‘Prosecution’ which took place not because they were Christians, but because they were failing in the correct Roman duties; and execution was relatively seldom. My statements about the relatively small number of actual Martyrs has been ridiculed here. But no-one has succeeded in providing evidence to the contrary. Rodney Stark just backs me up.

        And finally, for the third or fourth time, I freely acknowledge that the important issue is the faith and courage of those who did go to their deaths. However, if the traditional history is actually wrong, then we have been fed lies for some 1600 odd years. Is that okay with you – perpetuating lies?

        Cheers Rian.

        Like

      • In a chapter on the first martyrs of Christianity, Rodney Stark asks the usual question, “What makes them do it?” but does not give the normal answers of secular sociologists, who considers the first Christians slightly mad or masochistic at worst and irrational at best. Stark claims that they were simply exercising a rational choice, between renouncing their faith through sacrifices to the gods, and dying to achieve a perceived greater good, paradise: “Martyrs are the most credible exponents of the value of a religion, and this is especially true if there is a voluntary act to their martyrdom. By voluntarily accepting torture and death rather than defecting, a person sets the highest imaginable value upon a religion and communicates the value to others. Indeed Christian martyrs typically had the opportunity to display their steadfastness to large numbers of other Christians, and the value of Christianity they thereby communicated often deeply impressed pagan observers as well.”

        Why did Christianity grow then? According to Stark, “It grew because Christians constituted an intense community, able to generate the ‘invincible obstinacy’ that so offended the younger Pliny but yielded immense religious rewards. And the primary means of its growth was through the united and motivated efforts of the growing numbers of Christian believers, who invited their friends, relatives, and neighbors to share the ‘good news’.” At the heart of this willingness to share one’s faith was doctrine, that which was to be believed. “Central doctrines of Christianity prompted and sustained attractive, liberating, and effective social relations and organization.” The chief doctrine, of course, which was radically new to a pagan world groaning under a host of miseries and saturated with capricious cruelty and the vicarious love of death, was that “because God loves humanity, Christians may not please God unless they love one another.”

        Like

  2. Meanwhile on Andrew Bolt’s column they now debate some guy that habitually rolls his joints in paper made of Bible pages. I wonder what the archeologists of the future will think about the Bible origins should they find a stack of joints hidden up some drug smuggler’s behind.

    Like

    • This is how a God hater saw Andrew Bolt’s blog on using Bible pages as joint paper:

      “Quote: “Turning Bibles into joint paper”

      1 Timothy 4:4-5
      “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected…”

      Shocking – a religion that promotes dope smoking…..no wonder our society is going downhill on pot.

      P. Darvio (Reply)
      Tue 07 Apr 15 (08:29am) ”

      If God haters can get it so wrong a few days after Andrew published that incident, one has to wonder how scholars who are biased against God to begin with, will look at an alleged 2000 year old gospel fragment.

      Chances are, that if they are willing to give the New Testament the benefit of the doubt, they will convert to Christianity with or without this gospel fragment. If not, even though the gospel fragment might add further evidence in favour of the Bible, they will rationalise away the evidence and come up with some philosophical theory why it is not genuine.

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    • Dom,
      The gospel of Luke as well as the book of Acts of the Apostles was written in Greek for a Greek speaking recipient.

      The Acts of the Apostles tell us that the fledgling Christian Church suffered persecution from the Jews first, almost from its inception. Hence it would be impossible to find the Aramaic documents that you seek. it is the usual practice of the persecutors to destroy the documents of the persecuted, in the way that Islam destroyed the Library of Alexandria, in the way that Christians in later centuries destroyed the books of their opponents.

      And if you know your history from that period you would know that the Romans did not always distinguish between Jewish Christian and Judaism, persecuting both.

      You would also know that as a result of the Jewish wars, the Jewish Christians fled to Greek speaking communities such as the Decapolis, eventually losing their Aramaic background.

      Unlike Islam who started life slaughtering infidels left, right and centre, the Christian Church faced persecution left right and centre from Judaism and later Rome.

      Therefore it is totally unreasonable for Islam to request Aramaic manuscripts of the gospel. We grew in spite of persecution, by integrating in the foreign communities that accepted us. Because of our integration in the general community, we might have lost our original language manuscripts, but survived persecutions.

      In contrast, you boast that you have the original manuscripts of the Quran. But you fail to mention that you grew by destroying everyone that stood in your path, that disagreed with your religion. The latest destruction is the Buddhist temples of Afghanistan and the Assyrian artefacts in Iraq, by Islam.

      And then you have the nerve to ask your opponents for original artefacts to back up their position.

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      • No Dom, it’s the truth.

        Every time someone persecutes someone else, the literature of the persecuted suffers. A prime example of this is what the Catholic Church did in the Albigensian Crusade. We don’t have any manuscripts written by Albigenses/Cathars any more. All we know about the doctrines of the Albigenses and the Cathars are from documents written by their enemies the Roman Catholics.

        You ask for Aramaic originals of the New Testament. How do you know that the originals were not destroyed first by the Jew, then by the Roman, and then by the Muslim (when they burnt the Library of Alexandria)? That is assuming that some of the Aramaic manuscripts ever found their way in the Library of Alexandria?

        My point is a reasonable one. How can you ask for Aramaic originals when your religion has the same propensity as Judaism and Catholicism of burning the literature of their opponents?

        Islam is not alone in behaving this way. But only Islam has the nerve of asking for original manuscripts from their opponents, after habitually destroying the books of their opponents.

        Get the picture?

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      • Mr D

        In 391 Paganism was made illegal by Emperor Theodosius I. Many of the pagan temples were destroyed of Alexandria including the library.

        John Julius Norwich, Byzantium: The Early Centuries

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      • Typical Islamic whitewash.

        Portions of the Library of Alexandria were burnt down a number of times during antiquity. Some accidentally, some deliberately.

        What you omitted to say was that the last remains of this library was destroyed during the reign of Caliph Omar. Arab sources tell us that the Muslims destroyed the remains of this library, not Christians. The Christian sources dealing with the event merely embellished on stories that they had heard from Arab sources.

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      • Looking at the historical records;

        Orazius visited Alexandria in the first part of the fifth century and told that at his visit of the library he saw the shelves without books.

        In one historians account it states 700,000 books in the library heated 4000 baths for months. If you divide 700,000 by 4000 you get 175 books. So 175 books was enough to heat up a bath for months.

        During the truce for those leaving they had time to carry several libraries back to the capital.

        This is yet another example of history being changed. It would seem part of recruiting people in the 11th and 12th century to fight in the crusades was to paint Muslims as savages.

        “While books written in the 11th and 12th century indignantly details the shocking tale of the burning of the library of Alexandria, the historians Eustichius and Elmacin, both Egyptian Christians, who wrote soon after the Saracen conquest of their country, are significantly silent about the savage act. The former, a patriarch of Alexandria, could be hardly suspected of partiality to the enemies of Christianity. An order of Caliph Umar has been usually cited as evidence of the barbarous act ascribed to his general. It would have been much easier not to record that order than to suppress any historical work composed by Christian prelates who had endless possibilities of concealing their composition. A diligent examination of all relevant evidence enabled Gibbon to arrive at the following opinion on the matter: ‘The rigid sentence of Omar is repugnant to the sound and orthodox precept of the Mohammedan casuist; they expressly declare that the religious books of the Jews and Christians, which are acquired by the right of war, and that the works of profane scientists, historians or poets, physicians or philosophers, may be lawfully applied to the use of the faithful.’ (The Decline and Fall of Roman Empire)

        M. N. Roy, ibid., p. 64

        Byzantine barbarism had undone the meritorious work of the Ptolemies. The real destruction of the Alexandrian seat of learning had been the work of St. Cyril who defiled the Goddess of learning in the famous fair of Hyparia. That was already in the beginning of the 5th century.”

        M. N. Roy, ibid., p. 65

        The Muslims of that era that continued to innovate and build up impressive libraries in Baghdad, while Europe burned books and languished in the dark ages, would burn books of knowledge ?

        Like

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