Review of “The Case Against Miracles”, Part 7: The Ascension Story was a Christian Invention to Convert Romans

Image result for image of the ascension of jesus

“I have neither found nor expect to find any solid modern reports of ascensions, which pure invention might create perhaps to evoke very exceptional biblical narrative.”

–Pentecostal Christian apologist, Craig Keener, author of Miracles

[David] Hume or Strauss couldn’t have said it better!  They viewed tales of ascensions, including Jesus’, as “pure invention created to evoke very exceptional biblical narrative,” which in Jesus’ case evoked the narrative of Elijah’s ascent to heaven via a whirlwind “which some texts regard as a cloud.” The author of the ascension scene in the book of Acts even “employed many of the same Greek terms from the story of Elijah’s ascent to heaven in the Greek Old Testament version of 2 Kings.”

Furthermore, “a paucity of ascension narratives in the Old Testament are replaced by an abundance in Second Temple Jewish and Greco-Roman literature.”  In other words, increasing numbers of ascension narratives began to appear in Jewish and Hellenistic literature right before the New Testament was written.

…So if Jesus “ascended” to heaven, and heaven is not literally “up there” [but in another dimension, as many modern Christian apologists allege] then did God arrange an Indian Rope Trick in which Jesus vanished into another dimension only after he was out of sight of those on the ground?

Image result for image of the indian rope trick
The Indian Rope Trick

…there are only two narrative depictions of Jesus’s ascent into heaven in the New Testament, and both come from the same author.

—Angels in the ascension story speak like the author of the Luke-Acts!  They use the phrase, “Men of Galilee,” just as the author used similar phrases such as, “Men of Judea,” “Men of Israel,” “Men of Athens,” “Men of Ephesus” (Acts 2:14, 22; 3:12; 5:35; 13:16; 17:22; 19:35; 21:28).  The phrase, “They were gazing intently” in the ascension scene (Acts 1:10), is used frequently by the author of Luke-Acts (Luke 4:20; 22:56; Acts 3:4,12; 6:15; 7:55; 10:4; 11:6; 13:9; 14:9; 23:1), but is found only twice in the New Testament outside of Luke-Acts.

…The ascension scene is just one of several in Luke-Acts in which beings return to heaven.  There is Luke 1:38 (“Then the angel left her.”); 2:15 (“When the [multitude of] angels had left them and gone back to heaven”); 9:33 (“Moses and Elijah were leaving”); 24:51 (“he [Jesus] left them and was taken up to heaven”).  Such scenes are common to that author.

Image result for image of moses and elijah in the transfiguration
The Transfiguration: Jesus, Moses, and Elijah

The author of Luke-Acts was plainly willing to alter stories in earlier Gospels to make them fit his new theological agenda, his new sacred history, which has its “…beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 23:47) including resurrection and ascension scenes in or near Jerusalem.  Therefore when Jesus is resurrected in the Gospel of Luke he first appears to disciples in or near Jerusalem and commands them, “Do not leave Jerusalem…” (Acts 1:4), unlike the message delivered at Jesus’s tomb in the earliest Gospel, Mark, which was to meet the resurrected Jesus in Galilee.

…The evidence above favors the idea that the “Jerusalem-based” post-resurrection appearances and ascension narratives in Luke-Acts were primarily invented by the author.  He knew he had to compete with ascension narratives told by ideologues of the Roman Empire.  He also had to combat the embarrassing questions raised as to why Jesus, allegedly resurrected in Jerusalem, chose to wander off immediately into the hinterlands of Galilee to be seen.  [Emphasis, Gary’s]

–Edward Babinski, The Case Against Miracles, chapter 5

 

Gary:  The Ascension Story as told only by the author of Luke-Acts is Christian propaganda to convince Romans throughout the Empire that Jesus was superior to the Roman gods; Jesus could perform the same if not greater magic tricks.  The Ascension Story is a work of propaganda.  It is yet another example of what I call “tabloid evangelism”:  inventing fantastical, mind-blowing stories for the sole purpose of selling print (and saving souls).  The Ascension Story is an obvious tall tale which no modern, educated person should believe was an historical event.

The Case Against Miracles

 

 

 

 

End of post.

 

One thought on “Review of “The Case Against Miracles”, Part 7: The Ascension Story was a Christian Invention to Convert Romans

  1. If I may Gary, here’s a slightly different twist on “ascension” or what magicians today call levitation:

    But on a more serious note, Hellenistic Romans (or Gentiles) especially the senatorial, equite, and triari classes (the upper classes in Roman society) loved to entertain other well-known guests, dignitaries, and famed entertainers in their homes/plantations. This was a popular way to demonstrate their rank and station within Rome. This also meant that they and the lower classes were susceptible, gullible to trickery and cons like the video above or as you are pointing out Gary, the “tall tales” of a biased Luke-Acts propagandist. Yet, in my opinion and research here is the smoking-gun: Was Jesus a Jew and the/a Messiah?

    Yes, he was most certainly a Jew. And Messiah? That is a question that CANNOT be accurately answered without knowing and understanding everything there is to know about Second Temple Sectarian Judaism and Messianism. Period.

    Here is the part addressing your two categories of Roman society Gary: A) Gentiles (Romans), and B) Messianic Jews. I recently wrote a blog-post on this subject “Christ: The Roman Ruse,” and I’d like to quote a bit from it please, if you don’t mind.

    A SIMPLE QUESTION, RIGHT?

    Was Jesus a Jew? It is a straightforward question. It is a question that can be answered with a simple yes or no. But can he be both at the same time? Can he be a Jew and also be a non-Jew? If these three questions can’t be answered simply yes or no, then why or why not? There are approximately 2.18 billion people in the world today that claim the answer is very simple, but when each one personally explains, it becomes very complicated, very controversial, and includes fabricated history that will never be understood by any intelligent, neutral person. And certainly not by consensus of other 2.18 billion Christians (minus 1) world wide. Why is this? Why all the ambiguity?

    Now THAT answer is quite simple: the three cancerous D’s to genuine, pure, authentic Messianism. What are they? They are deform, deface, and divert. In other words, ambitious Hellenic Romans were always on the lookout for a new cult, a new better God-Goddess, took a weird Jewish concept of Messiah(s) and they deformed it, defaced it, and diverted it into a wholly distinct and new, but illegitimate religion.

    ROMAN REPUBLIC and IMPERIAL CULTURE
    The full history of Greco-Roman society undeniably demonstrates few-to-no delineations between matters of state, expansion, conquest, and religion. They were for the most part one in the same. There is one facet of Greco-Roman culture that can never be overstated and I must drive this home to you. The early Roman Republic, the Principate, as well as the final Imperial Eras all followed the same inclusionist arrangements as Alexander the Great employed on conquered peoples. In more precise terms, Rome, her leaders, officials, and her citizens always absorbed to some large or small degree foreign cults and practices from cultures they conquered and/or annexed. As victors, they generously modified them, rejected them, or overhauled them into an almost unrecognizable new religion/cult proud of their ingenious creativity with the gods for the envious glory of Rome. This was centuries-old Hellenistic convention over their vanquished or enslaved for all the world to see. Hellenist people always tinkered with, reinvented, and disassembled any and all new and foreign concepts or ideologies. In three words, syncretism on steroids.

    With this understanding, let’s consider what actually was done to Jesus’ full Jewishness, steeped in the full meaning of Torah, 3-D’d by the post-74 CE Patristic Greek Church Fathers and Archbishops.

    For anyone interested in the full post go here:

    https://professortaboo.com/2019/09/07/christ-the-roman-ruse/

    And so in the end—by 325 CE as well as the Seventh Ecumenical Greek Council in 787 CE—the complete overhauling and rewriting of Jewish Messianism (by Saul of Tarsus, most likely a Herodian Jew)… For the Victor Go the Spoils. The final product (modern Christianity/Christology) in the Greek-Hellenic Canonical New Testament represents almost NOTHING of what the actual Jewish heritage and educational background of Yeshua bar Yosef had descended from and within. Nothing. Hence, today’s Christ is simply a Roman ruse.

    Liked by 1 person

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